Syria

Syria: Idlib displaced march on Turkish border

Thousands of displaced residents of Syria’s northwest Idlib province—under Russian-backed bombardment by the Assad regime, which has killed some 300 over the past month and displaced more than 300,000—marched on the Turkish border, demanding entry or international action to stop the bombing. With more than 3.6 million refugees already in Turkey, Ankara has blocked any further entry. But the regime bombing campaign and ground offensive, that has shattered a so-called “demilitarized zone,” now threatens a “humanitarian catastrophe,” in the words of the United Nations. Protesters at the border wall assailed the international community for its inaction. One said, “If you cannot save us, we will break the border and come to Europe to find a safer place to live.” (Photo via EA Worldview)

North America

Judge blocks emergency funding for Trump’s wall

A federal judge blocked construction of Donald Trump’s border wall, ruling that Trump cannot use a “national emergency” to take money from government agencies for the barrier. Judge Haywood Gilliam of the US District Court for Northern California ruled that the diversion of the money likely oversteps a president’s statutory authority. The injunction specifically limits wall construction projects in El Paso, Tex., and Yuma, Ariz. (Photo via Jurist)

North America

Legal challenge to Trump emergency declaration

A 16-state coalition filed a lawsuit against the Trump administration, requesting the court to issue a judicial determination that Trump’s national emergency declaration over the southern border wall is unconstitutional. California Attorney General Xavier Becerra announced the lawsuit, stating: “Unlawful southern border entries are at their lowest point in 20 years, immigrants are less likely than native-born citizens to commit crimes, and illegal drugs are more likely to come through official ports of entry. There is no credible evidence to suggest that a border wall would decrease crime rates.” (Photo via Jurist)

North America

Trump declares state of emergency for border wall

President Donald Trump announced a state of emergency to obtain $8 billion for a border wall between the US and Mexico. A significant amount of the funds are expected to be from the Department of Defense budget, but Trump was not clear regarding funding or spending plans. Legal challenges are expected to be filed soon regarding the reach of national emergency powers under a 1975 law that has been invoked 58 times. (Photo via Jurist)

Watching the Shadows

Podcast: fascism and the digital dystopia II

In Episode 25 of the CounterVortex podcast, Bill Weinberg protests that he has now been deprived of phone and Internet access by Verizon for more than two months, and discusses the greater social implications of this dilemma. Donald Trump, who is a fascist by any reasonable definition, has now shut down the federal government and is threatening to declare a national emergency in order to build his border wall. Lack of other net access at this critical moment has forced Weinberg to use a cell phone in order to have any voice as a writer and activist—while cellular technology is itself inherently abetting the descent into fascism. Not only does it create a totalizing propaganda environment, but it is degrading our attention spans, literacy and critical thinking skills. It also creates a totalizing surveillance environment that can ultimately be exploited by government as well as private interests. But we accept it in the name of "convenience" and the illusion of consumer "choice," and few even recognize technological "progress" (note: propaganda word) as something that needs to be resisted. This emerging dystopia combines the worst aspects of George Orwell's 1984 and Aldous Huxley's Brave New World: we are complicit in the extinguishing of our own freedom because we have been conditioned. Weinberg calls for practical action to slow (at least) the totalizing aspect of this dystopia: keeping alive space for the print world and the meat world, and demanding that Verizon and other service providers maintain landline infrastructure. Listen on SoundCloud, and support our podcast via Patreon. (Photo: IBEW)

Syria

Kurdish forces turn Manbij over to Assad: report

Following the announcement of a US withdrawal of its troops embedded with Kurdish forces in Syria, the Kurds are again making overtures for a separate peace with the Assad regime. Kurdish fighters of the People’s Protection Units (YPG) are reported to have turned over the flashpoint town of Manbij to regime forces—marking the first time that the Assad regime’s flag has flown over the northern town for more than six years. “The aim is to ward off a Turkish offensive,” said Ilham Ahmed, an official of the Kurdish autonomous administration. “If the Turks’ excuse is the [YPG], they will leave their posts to the government.” However, a Kurdish deal with Assad could cement the split between the Syrian rebels and the YPG, and holds risk of opening an Arab-Kurdish ethnic war in northern Syria. (Photo via Kurdistan24)

Europe

Russia completes Crimea-Ukraine border wall

Russia completed a high-tech security fence along annexed Crimea's border with mainland Ukraine. The fence, more than 60 kilometers long, is topped with barbed wire and equipped with hundreds of sensors. Russia's FSB security agency called the fence a "boundary of engineering structures," and said it is necessary to prevent "infiltration attempts by saboteurs," also citing traffic in drugs, arms and other contraband. The statement boasted of "the most complicated system of alarm sensors in the Isthmus of Perekop," the stretch of land where annexed Crimea borders the Ukrainian mainland. (Photo via ??? ???????)

North America

Environmentalists challenge border wall plans

A group of environmental advocacy organizations filed suit against the Department of Homeland Security over concerns that the border wall will result in detrimental environmental impacts to the areas surrounding the construction sites. The Secretary of Homeland Security's office has issued a series of waivers, dubbed the Lower Rio Grande Valley Border Wall Waivers, that would exempt construction projects related to the planned border wall from federal environmental laws, including the National Environmental Policy Act, the Endangered Species Act and the National Wildlife Refuge System Administration Act. The advocacy groups argue that the broadness of the waivers would violate separation of powers and other constitutional doctrines. (Photo via Jurist)

Mexico

Mexico: AMLO-Trump populist convergence?

Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador—known by his initials AMLO—will be Mexico's next president, following his victory in the July 1 election. This marks the first time a Mexican presidential candidate of the left has had his victory honored. An obvious question is how AMLO will deal with Donald Trump—who attained office by demonizing Mexicans and pledging to build a wall on the border (and make Mexico pay for it). Last year, AMLO actually filed a complaint with the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights against Trump's proposed wall. But he also hired Trump's current crony Rudolph Giuliani as anti-crime czar when he was mayor of Mexico City in 2002. As populists and opponents of free-trade economics, there may be unlikely common ground between the two men. (Photo: El Txoro)

North Africa

Western Sahara headed back towards war?

The UN Security Council extended the mandate of the peacekeeping force for Western Sahara (MINURSO) through the end of October 2018, while calling for Morocco and the Polisario Front to finally negotiate an end to the decades?old conflict. Western Sahara is claimed by Morocco, while the Polisario Front seeks independence for the territory. The territory has since the 1975-1991 war that followed its independence from Spain been divided by a series of sand berms and a "buffer zone." These separate the territory's Morocco-occupied west and a Polisario-controlled eastern strip. Recent months have seen growing tension between Morocco and Polisario over the borders of the buffer zone, with Polisario seeking to expand control into contested areas. (Photo: MINURSO via Yabiladi)

North America

Judge dismisses challenge to Trump’s border wall

US District Judge Gonzalo Curiel in San Diego granted summary judgment for the Trump administration, allowing construction of a border wall between the US and Mexico to proceed. Plaintiffs, including several environmental groups and the state of California, were challenging waivers to public oversight issued by the Department of Homeland Security that designated San Diego and El Centro as "high areas of illegal entry" in need of replaced border fences. This new San Diego border fence would of course be but the first leg of Trump's proposed border wall.  (Photo: BBC World Service via Flickr)