police state

Kenya backtracks on tax bill after deadly protests

Kenyan President William Ruto has backtracked on a contentious tax-hiking finance bill, after street protests on June 25 left at least 13 people dead and 150 injured as police opened fire with live ammunition. The youth-led protests were triggered by a range of proposed new taxes that critics say will increase the financial burden on families already struggling with rising prices.

China: death penalty for advocating 'Taiwan independence'

China on June 21 instated the death penalty for "particularly serious" cases involving supporters of Taiwanese independence. New judicial guidelines outline severe punishments for activities deemed as fragmenting the country or inciting secession. The new standards, entitled "Opinions on Punishing the Crimes of Splitting the Country & Inciting Splitting the Country by 'Taiwan Independence' Diehards," were jointly issued by the Supreme People's Court, the Supreme People's Procuratorate, the Ministry of Public Security, the Ministry of State Security and the Ministry of Justice. The document sets forth a legal framework with the goal of combatting "separatist" activities by proponents of Taiwan's independence.

Honduras implements 'Crime Solution Plan'

The National Defense & Security Council of Honduran President Xiomara Castro announced in a national broadcast June 14 a sweeping plan to crack down on crime and safeguard public security. The Crime Solution Plan calls on the Defense and Security secretaries, the Armed Forces, and the Military Police are to immediately plan and execute interventions in municipalities with the highest incidence of major gang-related crimes, such as assassination, drug trafficking, extortion, kidnapping, drug trafficking, arms trafficking, and money laundering.

Russia's 'demobilization' movement under attack

Russian citizens' groups campaigning for "demobilization"—returning conscripts and reservists from the front in Ukraine—are increasingly finding themselves in the crosshairs of the authorities. On May 31, The Way Home, the most prominent organization campaigning to bring Russia's mobilized reservists home, was branded a "foreign agent" by the Justice Ministry, as was one of its most prominent leaders.  The label, reminiscent of the "enemy of the people" designation of the Soviet era, imposes harsh constraints on activities and requires sources of funding to be disclosed.

Mexico's new presidenta and the human rights crisis

Mexico has made history with the election of its first woman president, former Mexico City mayor and environmental scientist Claudia Sheinbaum. But the ongoing human rights crisis that will obviously pose a grave challenge for Sheinbaum was dramatically exemplified by the record number of political assassinations that marred the elections. And she inherits a pending constitutional reform from her perceived political mentor, the incumbent populist Andrés Manuel López Obrador, which would further unleash the military to engage in internal law enforcement. Bill Weinberg explores in Episode 230 of the CounterVortex podcast.

Mexican elections see record number of assassinations

The results are in from Mexico's June 2 presidential election and Claudia Sheinbaum of the ruling left-populist National Regeneration Movement (MORENA) has won by some 60%, handily defeating a rival backed by an alliance of the country's more traditional political parties. The former mayor of Mexico City as well as an environmental scientist with a PhD in energy engineering from UC Berkeley, Sheinbaum was a researcher with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) when it earned a Nobel Peace Prize in 2007. Despite this prestigious and somewhat technocratic background, her status as the chosen hier of incumbent populist Andrés Manuel López Obrador has caused her victory to be viewed with suspicion if not panic in elite quarters. Both the peso and Mexican stock exchange slided on the news.

Podcast: a cannabis coup in the Congo?

The attempted coup d'etat in the Democratic Republic of the Congo may or may not have been assisted by the CIA, but one of the Americans arrested in the affair is named as a "cannabis entrepreneur"—pointing to the possibility of legal cannabis playing the same destructive role in Central Africa that bananas have played in Central America. Yet while corporate power sees a lucrative new cash crop, lives (and especially Black lives) are still being ruined by cannabis prohibition in the United States. In Episode 228 of the CounterVortex podcastBill Weinberg argues that the old anarchist slogan "Neither your war nor your peace" can be updated as "Neither your prohibition nor your legalization!"

Kenya court approves suit opposing Haiti deployment

The Kenya High Court on May 17 ordered that a lawsuit seeking to prevent the deployment of police troops to Haiti be served on top government officials. Leaders of the civil organization Thirdway Alliance Kenya, Dr. Ekuru Aukot and Miruru Waweru, filed the complaint to block the deployment, which is part of a UN-backed mission to assist Haiti's battle against gang violence. The plaintiffs argued that the government's agreement with Haiti to deploy the troops is in contempt of a January court order that deemed the deployment unconstitutional. The plaintiffs emphasized the urgency of the matter, noting that the deployment is scheduled to begin this month.

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