Planet Watch

Vatican rejects 'Doctrine of Discovery'

The Vatican on March 30 announced a formal rejection of a 15th century theory known as the "Doctrine of Discovery." In a statement, the Church said it "repudiates those concepts that fail to recognize the inherent rights of indigenous peoples." The Doctrine of Discovery arose from several Vatican documents, or papal bulls. Key amongst them was the Inter Caetera, issued by Pope Alexander VI in 1493. The document effectively granted Spain the right to claim and spread Christianity to newly "discovered" areas unoccupied by Christians.

CounterVortex going on one-month hiatus

CounterVortex editor, chief blogger, podcaster and ranter Bill Weinberg will be in Mexico for personal reasons for next three weeks and change. So for the next month, we are going on hiatus. Bill may or may not do some blogging or podcasting from Mexico, but we will certainly be at a very reduced level of activity at best. This is neither a vacation nor a journalistic assignment, although Bill may do some journalism if a story presents itself. All will be explained on the CounterVortex podcast when he gets back, with a full account of his travels and experiences in early March. Please don't forget us. Your pledge of just one or two dollars per podcast on Patreon or $10 monthly subscription to support the blog on PayPal will really help to keep this voice and this project alive. We pledge that we will in fact resume regular weekly podcasts and daily blogging in early March. 

Ecologists challenge approval of new Texas oil port

A group of environmental organizations filed a petition in the US Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit on Jan. 19 for review of the US Maritime Administration (MARAD) decision to license the Sea Port Oil Terminal (SPOT), to be built off the coast of Texas. The deepwater terminal is projected to expand production in the oil-rich Permian Basin. The activist groups said that expansion facilitated by the installation–to be largest offshore terminal in the US–threatens "disastrous levels of greenhouse gas pollution."

Doomsday clock moves, Russia nixes talks

The Science & Security Board of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists on Jan. 24 moved the hands of the Doomsday Clock forward, citing the mounting dangers of the war in Ukraine. The Clock now stands at 90 seconds to midnight—the closest to global catastrophe it has ever been. The press release announcing the move spared no criticism for Russia, excoriating Moscow for breaking its commitment to respect Ukraine's sovereignty and borders in the 1994 Budapest Memorandum, and violating international protocols by bringing its war to the Chernobyl and Zaporizhzhia nuclear plants.

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The world faces multiple, urgent converging crises at this moment: the war in Ukraine and relentless Russian disinformation campaign in its defense; the attendant threat of imminent nuclear war; democracy under attack from the fascist right in Europe, AsiaSouth America and here in North America; regimes of mass detention and genocide proliferating worldwide; country after country collapsing into chaotic warfare; an unprecedented global crisis of displacement; the rapid fraying of the planet's life-support systems, and the endemic incapacity of the capitalist system to do anything about it. We are an admittedly small voice amid the online cacophony of bloggery, but we think it is a voice needed more than ever—ongoing coverage of under-reported conflicts, a critical dissident-left perspective with 0% unvetted provocation or state propaganda, a CounterVortex to the general downward spiral. We need your support to do it. Please give what you can.

Bicycling in China & the origins of Critical Mass

Legendary transportation activist George Bliss will be presenting a slideshow and hosting a discussion of his 1991 trip to China at the Museum of Reclaimed Urban Space (MoRUS) in New York City on Friday Dec. 9.

What would NYC be like if we got rid of cars and everybody rode bikes? In 1991, filmmaker Ted White and bicycle researcher George Bliss visited Guangzhou, China (then pop. six million). Only one in a thousand owned cars. Chinese-produced bikes cost about $50. There was no theft because cheap attended bike-parking was everywhere. Riding en masse was fun, and traffic flowed safely and efficiently with almost no red lights. The term "critical mass"—first applied to this phenomenon by Bliss in White's film Return of the Scorcher—soon became a rallying cry in the global bike movement.

Podcast: climate change and the global struggle III

In Episode 151 of the CounterVortex podcast, Bill Weinberg notes a tellingly ironic juxtaposition of simultaneous news stories: the COP27 global climate summit in Egypt and the World Cup games in Qatar—where mega-scale stadium air-conditioning betrays the fundamental unseriousness of our civilization in addressing the impending climate apocalypse. The COP27 agreement for a "loss and damage" fund stops short of demands for climate reparations—a critical question for island nations that stand to disappear beneath the waves, flood-devastated Pakistan, and indigenous peoples of the fire-ravaged Bolivian Amazon. Petro powers like Russia and Saudi Arabia formed a bloc to bar any progress on limiting further expansion of oil and gas exploitation, while the Ukrainian delegation called for a boycott of Moscow's hydrocarbons, and pointed to the massive ecological toll of Russia's war of aggression. Meanwhile, the world population reached 8 billion, providing an excuse for groups like PopulationMatters to proffer the Malthusian fallacy even as the rate of population growth is actually slowing. Worldwide indigenous and peasant resistance to hydrocarbon exploitation points to a revolutionary response to the crisis.

COP27: progress on 'loss and damage,' not mitigation

The 27th UN Climate Change Conference (COP27) closed Nov. 20 with what was hailed as a breakthrough agreement to establish a "loss and damage" fund for vulnerable countries on the frontlines of climate disasters. Yet no action was taken to stop oil and gas expansion from fueling further disasters. India had pushed a proposal to extend to all fossil fuels the agreement to "phase down" coal reached last year at COP26 in Glasgow. A broad coalition of more than 80 countries took up the call, but host country Egypt, holding the presidency of the conference, was able to block the measure, acceding to powerful opponents prominently including Saudi Arabia and Russia. (ENS, NYT, Jurist, Climate Home News)

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