In Episode 81 of the CounterVortex podcast, Bill Weinberg takes stock of the fast-mounting manifestations of devastating climate destabilization—from Oregon to Siberia, from Germany to Henan. In Angola, traditional pastoralists are joining the ranks of "climate refugees" as their communal lands are stricken by drought. In Iran's restive and rapidly aridifying Ahwazi region, protests over access to water have turned deadly. These grim developments offer a foreboding of North America's imminent future. Yet media commentators continue to equivocate, asking whether these events are "linked to" or "caused by" climate change—rather than recognizing that they are climate change. And the opportunity for a crash conversion from fossil fuels that was posed by last year's pandemic-induced economic paralysis, when already depressed oil prices actually went negative, is now being squandered. Oil prices are again rising, with the return to pre-pandemic dystopian "normality."
Mozambique's President Filipe Nyusi is usually wary of foreign military intervention. But the grim situation in Cabo Delgado seems to have forced his hand. Last week, Rwanda began deploying a 1,000-strong police and military force to the insurgency-hit northern province. And troops from the Southern African Development Community regional bloc are also set to arrive in the coming days. Some reports suggest the Rwandans will set up around the Afungi peninsula, where a multi-billion dollar gas project is located. Their battlefield enemy—known locally as al-Shabab—is formidable and entrenched, as Mozambique's army and its mercenary allies know well. Lost in the military chatter is much mention of Cabo Delgado's worsening humanitarian crisis: More than 700,000 people have been uprooted—68,000 since late March—and close to a million are now facing severe hunger.
The UN Security Council on July 9 unanimously voted to extend the sole humanitarian aid crossing into Syria—one day before it was set to close—following a deal between the US and Russia. The White House said presidents Joe Biden and Vladimir Putin finally discussed the matter in a phone call. The vote on the Bab al-Hawa (Gate of the Winds) crossing came after weeks of intense negotiations between Washington, which wants to expand the number of aid corridors into Syria, and Moscow, which had threatened to block continuation of the aid program altogether in the name of protecting Syrian sovereignty.
In Episode 77 of the CounterVortex podcast, Bill Weinberg applauds The Young Turks for challenging the increasingly hegemonic pro-Assad consensus on the American "left," with incisive programming on the 2018 Douma chemical attack and this year's sham elections that confirmed the dictator's rule. For calling out the relentless disinformation, they are of course coming under withering attack from Aaron Maté, Jimmy Dore, Katie Halper, Roger Waters and other stateside exponents of the Kremlin propaganda machine. Disgracefully, similar exponents, e.g., Ben Norton, are now predictably lining up behind the Burmese junta. Forthright repudiation of this toxic tendency is long overdue. But does the TYT critique go far enough? Listen on SoundCloud or via Patreon.
Gunfire erupted in the streets of Mandalay, Burma's second largest city, as regime troops raided a building where a cell of the incipient armed resistance movement was sheltering early on June 22. The raid, at Chanmyatharzi township, sparked hours of running street battles. PDF fighters erected barricades of flaming tires to slow the advance of troops. Both the military, known as the Tatmadaw, and the rebel People's Defense Force (PDF) claimed casualties on the opposing side and denied deaths among their own forces. "We've declared war," the Mandalay PDF said in a statement. "The day we've been waiting for is finally here." The PDF has previously targeted Tatmadaw and police patrols in Mandalay. On June 1, a soldier was killed and another injured when the PDF fighters opened fire on military trucks in the city. On June 8, two police officers were shot dead. (Myanmar Now, TRT World, NYT)
Assad regime forces on June 20 shelled a White Helmets civil defense center in northwest Syria, killing a rescuer and wounding three others. The destroyed center was in the town of Qastoun in the al-Ghab Plain of western Hama province. Local sources said that Russian-made Krasnopol guided missiles were used, indicating the deliberate targeting of the rescuers. Regime forces have escalated shelling of southern Idlib and western Hama provinces this month, as civilians return to their homes from displaced persons camps near the Turkish border. At least nine people have been killed, a school destroyed, and crops burned. (EA Worldview, AP)
In Episode 75 of the CounterVortex podcast, Bill Weinberg examines distorted reportage on the shutdown of the Colonial Pipeline by Russian hackers. The disaster illustrates the urgent need for a crash conversion from fossil fuels—but also from digital technology. Signs of hope are seen in the cancellation of the Keystone XL pipeline, the recent indigenous-led protests against the Line 3 Pipeline in Minnesota, and the gas bill strike launched by Brooklyn residents to oppose the North Brooklyn Pipeline that would cut through their neighborhoods. Listen on SoundCloud or via Patreon.
Former Bosnian Serb commander Ratko Mladic on June 8 lost his appeal of a 2017 conviction for genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity. The Appeals Chamber of the International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals (IRMCT) at The Hague upheld the life sentence for his role in the killing of some 8,000 Bosnian Muslim men and boys at Srebrenica in July 1995. The Appeals Chamber also upheld his convictions for the persecution of Bosnian Muslims and Croats, terrorizing the population of Sarajevo with a campaign of shelling and sniping during the nearly four-year siege of the city, and taking UN peacekeepers hostage. The Chamber also reaffirmed his acquittal on charges of carrying out genocide in five other Bosnian municipalities in 1992—a disappointment for surviving residents of Prijedor, Sanski Most, Kotor Varos, Foca and Vlasenica. (BBC News, Balkan Insight, Balkan Insight)