politics of cyberspace
Angry protests have swept through several provinces of Iran over the past two weeks amid an economic crisis exacerbated by subsidy cuts that have seen the price of basic goods soar as much as 300%. According to reports on social media, at least six people have been killed as security forces have been deployed across the country to quell unrest. The protests have turned political in many areas, such as the Isfahan provincial capital of Golpayegan, with crowds calling for an end to the Islamic Republic. The government has cut off the internet to a number of areas hit by protests, including traditionally restive Khuzestan province.
At least 35 people were killed May 10 when armed men raided an artisanal gold mining camp in Ituri province, in the conflicted northeast of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Local authorities at the rural commune of Mungwalu in Ituri's Djugu territory blamed the attack on the CODECO rebel militia. A four-month-old baby was among the dead. The militiamen also looted and torched homes at Camp Blanquette, and seized quantities of extracted gold. (AfricaNews) Informal mines in the eastern DRC provide much of the country's output of gold, cobalt and other minerals used in the global electronics industry.
In Episode 121 of the CounterVortex podcast, Bill Weinberg notes the grim irony that on the week of International Chernobyl Disaster Remembrance Day, Russian regime and state media figures issued blatant threats to use nuclear weapons in the Ukraine war. This follows criminal recklessness by Russian forces at the Chernobyl and Zaporizhzhya nuclear plants, which itself constituted an escalation on the ladder of nuclear terror. These events clearly illustrate how nuclear power and weapons constitute a single unified threat. Weinberg continues his deconstruction of the industry propaganda about how the "no safe dose" dictum is now obsolete (no, it isn't, actually), and sophistries such as the "Banana Equivalent Dose." Amid the relentless efforts to revive the nuclear industry in the US, China is undertaking a major thrust of nuclear development, with similar plans afoot in France. And this as economies are increasingly based on energy-intensive and socially oppressive activities like "crypto-mining." Nonetheless, respected environmentalists such as acclaimed climate scientist James Hansen and Charles Komanoff of the Carbon Tax Center now advocate a continuance of reliance on nuclear power as an alternative to fossil fuels. This false choice is predicated on the continuance of dystopian "normality"—exactly what needs to be challenged. Listen on SoundCloud or via Patreon.
The junta in Mali is accusing France of spying and subversion after the French military used a drone to film footage that Paris says shows Russian mercenaries burying bodies in a mass grave near a military base. The French government says the bodies were buried outside the base at Gossi, Tombouctou region, in a scheme to falsely accuse its departing forces of leaving behind mass graves. Video from the drone was released after pixelated images appeared on social media of corpses being buried in sand, with text accusing France of atrocities in Mali. France claims the bodies were brought to Gossi from Hombori, immediately to the south, where Malian troops and Russian mercenaries have been carrying out an operation against jihadist insurgents. The junta has acknowledged that 18 militants were killed in the operation. (The Guardian, AfricaNews, BBC News, Al Jazeera)
Four journalists who worked for the independent Moscow student magazine Doxa were sentenced to two years' "correctional labor" April 12 over an online video in which they defended the right of young Russians to engage in peaceful protest. The four—Alla Gutnikova, Armen Aramyan, Natasha Tyshkevich and Volodya Metelkin—had been under house arrest for nearly a year after being detained for posting the three-minute video on YouTube. In the video, posted in January 2021, they asserted that it was illegal to expel and intimidate students for participating in demonstrations in support of imprisoned Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny. Prosecutors claimed that the video encouraged the "involvement of minors" in anti-Kremlin protests, leading to the arrest of over 100 people under the age of 18 in the demonstrations then sweeping Russia.
Belarus has served as a staging ground for one leg of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, and Kyiv officials warn that Belarusian forces may join Putin's war effort. But resistance to the Russian aggression is emerging in Belarus—apparently including acts of sabotage. Ukrainian Railways (Ukrzaliznytsia) announces that the rail links into Ukraine from Belarus have been effectively cut, preventing the transport of Russian reinforcements and equipment. Belarusian news site Zerkalo reports that "in the Mogilev, Gomel and Minsk regions three cases of destruction of signaling equipment, blocking of railways were recorded." Belarusian security forces acknowledge the sabotage was motivated by opposition to the war in Ukraine. Named as behind the sabotage are the banned groups Busly Lyatsyats, a pro-democracy social-media network ordered suppressed by the regime last year, and BYpol, a union of dissident Belarusian security officers. A representative of exiled opposition leader Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya saluted the work of these "partisans," adding: "Ukraine will win! Belarus will also be liberated!" (EuroMaidan Press)
In Episode 115 of the CounterVortex podcast, Bill Weinberg continues to dissect Vladimir Putin's ultra-cynical fascist pseudo-anti-fascism. Putin presides over Nuremberg-type mass rallies celebrating war and conquest, spews overtly genocidal rhetoric, and prepares concentration camps for the Crimean Tatars. Alexander Dugin, "Putin's Rasputin" and the intellectual mastermind of his revanchist imperial project, has openly called for "genocide" of the Ukrainians. In areas of Ukraine occupied by Russia, a forced mass deportation of the populace is reported. Putin is clearly approaching a genocidal threshold in Ukraine—while imposing a totalizing police state within Russia. Yet, with unimaginable perversity, all this is done in the name of a campaign to "denazify" Ukraine. The painting of Ukraine as a "Nazi" state on the (dubious) basis of a few ugly right-wing paramilitaries on the Ukrainian side is vigorously repudiated by the leadership of Ukraine's Jewish community. Yet this "Big Lie" is credulously (or cynically) echoed by elements of the "left" as well as far right in the United States—who arrogantly refuse to listen to Ukrainians. Listen on SoundCloud or via Patreon.
Thousands of people have taken to the streets of cities across Russia in open protest of Putin's invasion of Ukraine—from Kaliningrad in the west to Vladivostok in the east. What began as isolated "solo pickets"—essentially the only legal form of public protest in Russia—quickly snowballed into mass unpermitted marches and rallies. The largest demonstrations were reported from Moscow and St Petersburg, where they were met with riot police in full body armor. In Moscow, Red Square was closed off by military vehicles, preventing protesters from marching on the seat of government power. Independent monitoring group OVD-Info counted some 1,800 protesters arrested by security forces in some 60 cities, including Tyumen, Kazan, Rostov-on-Don, Novgorod, Novosibirsk, Irkutsk and Yekaterinburg. Popular slogans include "No to war" and "Hands off Ukraine." Many demonstrators were heard to shout "Arrest Putin, not me!" as they were dragged away by police. (Euronews, Moscow Times, Al Jazeera, Al Jazeera, The Guardian, LBC, CBC, NYT, OVD-Info, OVD-Info)