US to designate Wagner Group 'transnational criminal organization'
The US Treasury Department announced Jan. 20 that it will designate the Russian mercenary organization Wagner Group as a "transnational criminal organization," imposing further sanctions on the group's financial activities. White House national security representative John Kirby accused the Wagner Group of "committing atrocities and human rights abuses in Ukraine and elsewhere," especially citing Syria, Libya and the Central African Republic. He also presented satellite photo evidence purporting to show missile deliveries to the Wagner Group from North Korea, via rail across Russia. He added that there are now some 50,000 Wagner mercenaries fighting in Ukraine. (CNN, BBC News)
New York City mayor: 'no room' for migrants
New York Mayor Eric Adams on Jan. 15 traveled to the US-Mexico border and declared that "there is no room" for migrants in his city. At a press conference with El Paso Mayor Oscar Leeser, Adams called on the US government to help cities manage unprecedented levels of immigration, and claimed that the influx of migrants could cost New York City up to $2 billion. "The federal government should pick up the entire cost," Adams said. "[W]e need a real leadership moment from FEMA. This is a national crisis." He also criticized the governors of Texas and Colorado for contributing to a "humanitarian crisis that was created by man," citing busloads of migrants sent to New York and other northern cities.
Bolsonaro supporters storm Brazilian congress
Crowds supporting former Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro on Jan. 8 infiltrated and vandalized the country's seats of power, one week after the inauguration of left-wing President Luiz Inácio "Lula" da Silva. Demonstrators smashed the windows of the the National Congress building and stormed its senate chamber. Protesters then breached the Supreme Federal Tribunal (STF), entering the main courtroom clad in Brazillian flags. Many also forced their way into the Planalto Palace, the presidential building. In an event eerily reminiscent of the January 2020 attack on the US Capitol, a large mass of protesters could be seen gathering outside the National Congress building while others streamed into its hallways and chamber. Protests have also been reported outside the country's Presidential Palace. Clashes between police and protesters have been reported, but one journalist tweeted a video of what appears to be a Federal District Military Police officer taking a selfie with demonstrators.
Biden admin to expand Title 42 expulsions
President Joe Biden on Jan. 5 announced that the US is to extend a parole program previously offered only to migrants from Venezuela to those from Cuba, Nicaragua and Haiti, allowing them to apply for residency—but reiterated that his administration will continue to enforce Title 42, in compliance with a recent order from the Supreme Court. In fact, under his new policy, Title 42 expulsions are to increase, with Mexico agreeing to accept expelled Cubans, Nicaraguans and Haitians. A provision of the Public Health Service Act allowing for summary expulsion of migrants at the southern border, Title 42 has been in effect pursuant to a Centers for Disease Control order of March 2020 as a COVID-19 emergency measure.
Chile to open embassy in Palestine
Chile is planning to open an embassy in Palestine, President Gabriel Boric announced Dec. 23. Speaking at a private ceremony hosted by the local Palestinian community in the capital Santiago, Boric acknowledged that he is "taking a risk" with the move, but added: "We are going to raise our official representation in Palestine from having a charge d'affaires. Now we are going to open an embassy." The Palestinian Ministry of Foreign Affairs immediately commended the decision, saying it "affirms the principled position of Chile and its president in support of international law and the right of the Palestinian people to establish their independent state."
Podcast: against pseudo-left disinformation on Ukraine II
In Episode 150 of the CounterVortex podcast, Bill Weinberg calls out the panelists at The People's Forum event on "The Real Path to Peace in Ukraine"—including the inevitable Noam Chomsky and Medea Benjamin—for actually spreading Russian war propaganda, in Orwellian manner. As Ukraine makes advances on the ground, liberating the city of Kherson (which Moscow had declared as "annexed"), Russia retaliates with massive missile strikes targeting civilian infrastructure such as heating plants as the bitter Ukrainian winter approaches—clearly war crimes, aimed at breaking the will of the populace. But rather than protesting the Russian bombardment, these pseudo-anti-war voices join with the Trumpian right in calling for an end to Western military aid to Ukraine. And rather than Russian mass atrocities and illegal annexation of Ukrainian territory, they point to imaginary pressure on Kyiv from the West not to negotiate as the obstacle to peace.
Wagner Group revelations expose Kremlin lies
Russia's heretofore secretive private mercenary force, the Wagner Group, has opened its first official headquarters, in an office building in the city of Saint Petersburg—with a stylized W logo and the words "Wagner Center" in Russian emblazoned on the glass door facing the street. Putin-allied oligarch Yevgeny Prigozhin last month also publicly confirmed for the first time that he is the founder of the mercenary outfit. (Al Jazeera) These are amusing developments after years of claims that the Wagner Group—which is accused in a string of horrific human rights abuses both in Ukraine and across Africa—doesn't actually exist.
GOP lawmaker threatens new Indian war
In a little-noted interview on the Oct. 28 episode of right-wing online video show "In The Trenches with Teddy Daniels," Arizona Republican Rep. Paul Gosar suggested that his party's gubernatorial candidate, Kari Lake, could order the state's National Guard to surround and blockade the Tohono O'odham Nation, a Native American reservation that borders Mexico, ensuring that "no one passes." Gosar also offered the notion that Lake could go to the US Supreme Court to seek state authority over the reservation.
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