control of water
Outrage after police slaying of Atlanta forest defender
Protests and vigils have been held across the US following the police slaying of environmental activist Manuel Teran, 26, also known as Tortuguita, on Jan. 18 in Georgia's Dekalb County. A protest over the killing turned violent in downtown Atlanta Jan. 21, with a police car burned, windows smashed, and several arrested. Tortuguita was shot in a police raid on an encampment in the Weelaunee Forest, a threatened woodland within the South River Forest conservation area. The Atlanta Police Foundation seeks to clear hundreds of acres in order to build a $90 million Public Safety Training Center, referred to as "Cop City" by local residents.
ICJ rules in Chile-Bolivia water dispute
The International Court of Justice (ICJ) Dec. 1 delivered its judgment in a water dispute between Chile and Bolivia. In the case formally referred to as the Dispute over the Status and Use of the Waters of the Silala, the court found that the Río Silala is governed by international law, meaning that Bolivia cannot assert complete control over the waterway, and that Chile is entitled to the "equitable and reasonable use" of its waters. The court further found that Chile is not responsible for compensating Bolivia for its past use of the Silala's waters.
Syria faces 'dire water crisis'
Syria's cholera outbreak has now spread to every one of the country's 14 provinces, with 24,000 suspected cases and more than 80 deaths since early September. Severe water shortages—exacerbated by war, politics, and climate change—have forced people to drink unsafe water and allowed cholera bacteria to spread in the extremely low Euphrates River. There are other dangerous impacts from what the UN calls an "already dire water crisis" that is likely to get worse: Pastures dry up, and farmers have to sell their livestock. Crop yields are low, prices go up, and more families are forced to skip meals.
Podcast: climate change and the global struggle II
In Episode 147 of the CounterVortex podcast, Bill Weinberg notes the recent statement from the UN Environment Program that "only a root-and-branch transformation of our economies and societies can save us from accelerating climate disaster." Studies from similarly prestigious global bodies have raised the prospect of imminent human extinction. An International Energy Agency report released last year warned that new fossil fuel exploration needed to halt by 2022 in order to keep warming within the limits set by the 2015 Paris Agreement. Adoption of new technologies and emissions standards does mean that CO2 emissions from energy generation (at least) are likely to peak by 2025. But the IEA finds that this would still lead to global temperatures rising by 2.5 C above pre-industrial levels by century's end—exceeding the Paris Agreement limits, with catastrophic climate impacts. And the catastrophic impacts, already felt in places like (just for example) Chad and Cameroon, win but scarce media coverage. Climate-related conflict has already escalated to genocide in Darfur, and possibly in Syria. The oil companies, meanwhile, are constitutionally incapable of writing off the "stranded assets" of vast hydrocarbon investments. Climate protests in Europe—at oil terminals and car shows (as well as, less appropriately, museums)—do win some attention. But the ongoing resistance to still-expanding oil mega-projects in places like Uganda and Tanzania are comparatively invisible to the outside world. The dire warnings from the UN and IEA raise the imperative for a globalized resistance with an explicitly anti-capitalist politics. Listen on SoundCloud or via Patreon.
Attacks, displacement in post-coup Burkina Faso
When mutinous soldiers ousted Burkina Faso's democratically elected president in late January, they vowed to do a better job of securing the Sahelian country from attacks linked to al-Qaeda and the so-called Islamic State. But violence has only increased over the past months, draining public confidence in the junta, threatening coastal West African states, and worsening a humanitarian crisis that has now displaced almost two million people–around one in 10 Burkinabé.
ISIS militants 'besiege' targets near Suez Canal
Dozens of militants believed to be associated with the Islamic State's "Sinai Province" (Wilayat Sinai) on Aug. 11 attempted to besiege targets including power transformers and railway facilities in the city of El Qantara Sharq, on the eastern bank of Egypt's Suez Canal. The militans barred access to the sites, but dispersed as security forces advanced. Attacks by the ISIS affiliate have been mounting in the Sinai Peninsula, which has seen a sporadic insurgency for over a decade. In May, militants attacked a water pumping station near the Canal, killing 16 members of the military force guarding it. (MEE, The New Arab)
Karakalpakstan retains right to secede after unrest
Following a day of angry protests that left 18 dead and hundreds wounded, Uzbekistan's President Shavkat Mirziyoyev on July 2 announced that he will not proceed with a planned constitutional change to revoke the right of the autonomous Republic of Karakalpakstan, in the country's remote northeast, to secede via referendum. The announcement came as Mirziyoyev made an emergency visit to Nukus, the riot-stricken regional capital of Karakalpakstan. He also imposed a month-long state of emergency in the region.
Tanzania: troops fire on Maasai herders
Tanzanian security forces on June 10 fired on Maasai herders in a dispute over seizure of traditional grazing lands for a new game reserve. The trouble started when hundreds of troops of the Field Force Unit arrived in Wasso village of Loliondo division, in northern Ngorongoro district, to demarcate a 1,500 square-kilometer area for the new reserve. Maasai gathered to protest, and were met with bullets. Some 30 were reportedly shot, and two killed. Video footage shared on social media shows residents running from live fire. Other images show some Maasai with gunshot wounds. Afterwards, troops went house-to-house in local villages, beating and arresting those they believed took part in the protests, or distributed images of the violence. Thousands of Maasai have fled their homes into the bush following the raids.
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