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)
Pakistan floods highlight climate injustice
As world leaders meet at the COP27 in Egypt to try to reinvigorate stalled global climate talks, survivors of Pakistan's heaviest flooding in living memory are facing a health crisis, with stagnating floodwaters fuelling a rise in malaria, dengue, and diarrhoea. The unprecedented scale of the disaster—up to $40 billion in economic damage, 1,700 killed since mid-June, eight million displaced, and almost half the country's farmland submerged—has given impetus to calls for COP27 to take up the question of climate reparations.
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)
Colombia joins 'new partnership' with NATO
US President Joe Biden issued an executive order May 23 that designates Colombia as a Major Non-NATO Ally (MNNA) of the United States, under terms of the Foreign Assistance Act and the Arms Export Control Act. The designation will facilitate further weapons transfers from the US to Colombia, and increased military cooperation between the two countries. Colombia is now the third MNNA in Latin America, after Brazil and Argentina. Other MNNAs include Egypt, Morocco, Israel, Jordan, Pakistan, Japan, South Korea, Thailand, the Philippines, Australia and New Zealand. On May 2-6, a delegation of NATO staff visited Colombia to discuss the South American country's participation in the alliance's Defense Education Enhancement Program (DEEP). Colombia became NATO's newest "global partner" in 2018, but this relationship was reinforced last December, when it became a member of the NATO Individually Tailored Partnership Program (ITPP). (More at El Espectador)
Middle East: 'peak wheat' fears amid deep drought
Facing long lines and bread shortages, Lebanon's government has been forced to give private importers $15 million to bring more wheat into the country. But it's a short-term fix for a government that is broke and waiting for the IMF to approve a bailout deal. And nations across the Middle East may be looking for similar solutions as they struggle with the fallout from Russia's invasion of Ukraine—both countries are key wheat producers, and exports are effectively cut off by the war. Oxfam is warning that wheat reserves could run out within weeks in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. Mercy Corps reports that food prices are up in rebel-held northwest Syria, where food security was already a major concern. Last month Egypt put a cap on unsubsidized bread prices before they could get too high. Yemen, which imports the vast majority of its food, is of particular concern as it already has so many hungry people and is heavily dependent on Ukrainian wheat. Last week, UNICEF said that "the number of malnourished children [in the region] is likely to drastically increase."
Israel: detention of 'terror suspects' without charge
Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett instructed security services March 28 to hold any "terror suspects" in "administrative detention," even without charge. The order extends to Palestinians within Israeli a policy long applied to Palestinians on the West Bank. Bennett cited "a new situation that requires suitable preparations and adjustment by the security services to the circumstances within which extremist elements of Arab society, directed by extremist Islamic ideology, are carrying out terror attacks and taking lives." The order came a day after two Border Police officers were killed in a shooting attack at the coastal city of Hadera by two Israeli citizens who were said to be supporters of the so-called "Islamic State." The assailants were both shot dead by security forces.
Egypt: rights group closes under regime pressure
The Arabic Network for Human Rights Information (ANHRI), one of Egypt's last independent human rights organizations, officially closed Jan. 10. ANHRI made the announcement in a statement posted to its website, citing government pressure as the reason for its closure.The group charged that in today's Egypt there is an "absence of the bare minimum of the rule of law and respect for human rights."
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