Archives

Uncategorized

Cuba’s Achievements Over the Decades

TeleSUR

March 18, 2016

Despite a fierce U.S. economic blockade, Revolutionary Cuba has made tremendous gains.

 

 Gender equality: Cuba was the first country to sign and the second to ratify the Discrimination against Women convention. Nearly half of the parliamentary seats in the Cuban National Assembly are occupied by women.
Gender equality: Cuba was the first country to sign and the second to ratify the Discrimination against Women convention. Nearly half of the parliamentary seats in the Cuban National Assembly are occupied by women. Photo:EFE
Health: For all Cubans, healthcare is completely free. Cuba created the Meningitis-B vaccine in 1985, and later the vaccines for Hepatitis-B and Dengue.
Health: For all Cubans, healthcare is completely free. Cuba created the Meningitis-B vaccine in 1985, and later the vaccines for Hepatitis-B and Dengue. Photo:EFE
Global humanitarian programs: Since 1969, a total of 325,710 Cuban health workers have participated in missions in 158 countries.
Global humanitarian programs: Since 1969, a total of 325,710 Cuban health workers have participated in missions in 158 countries. Photo:EFE
Under Cuba
Under Cuba’s constitution “any form of discrimination harmful to human dignity” is prohibited and gender reassignment surgeries have been available under its national healthcare, free of charge, since 2008. Photo:EFE
Education: The literacy rate in the country is 99 percent. Cuba offers free education from elementary school through university.
Education: The literacy rate in the country is 99 percent. Cuba offers free education from elementary school through university. Photo:EFE
Employment: The unemployment rate in Cuba as of 2014 was 2.7 percent. International Worker
Employment: The unemployment rate in Cuba as of 2014 was 2.7 percent. International Worker’s Day, or May Day, is a major national workers celebration in Cuba. Photo:Reuters

White Pedagogy: The Exclusivity of White Hegemony

Odyssey

October 18, 2016

By Patrick J. Derilus

“Most persons have accepted the tacit but clear modern philosophy which assigns to the white race alone the hegemony of the world.” — W.E.B. Du Bois

White Hegemony is a systemic structure administered in pedagogical and societal practice, which emphasizes and reinforces the racist ideology of White superiority linguistically, socially, and intellectually. Within White supremacist culture, formal English is the so-called “perfect” and “articulate” and “intelligent-sounding” way most individuals are subject to learn how to speak. In a White eugenicist context, this racist notion suggests that Whiteness is the apex of both genetic and intellectual life. Moreover, it is indicative of White normativity.

James Baldwin v. William F. Buckley Jr. Debate

“Throughout, and especially in its higher reaches, higher education is a White and male dominated system. The reproduction of Whiteness and White (and male and upper-middle-class) dominance is part of the ‘hidden curriculum’ of higher education.” — Jessica M. Charbeneau, Enactments of Whiteness in Pedagogical Practice

If I, an American-Haitian man, speaks formal English, White people will find it patronizingly enlightening and sometimes surprising to understand that I’m able to articulate myself so eloquently. White people have not seen my humanity because of my Blackness. White people have recognized my Blackness in the way they have been conditioned to perceive me. Thus, I supposedly have sounded like them, which was conforming to the White hegemonic standard. In the past, Black people have shied away from me here and there, while having the assumption that I talk “white.”

In retrospect, I had not acknowledged a lot of white supremacist ideals that I have been living with. Because of this, my past assumption on the way that I spoke and carried myself, made me feel as though I was exceptional among Black people. On the contrary, using big words never made me smarter. I’ve always been smart. The whole time I was unconsciously pacifying myself to appease white overseers who are both covertly and overtly racist. But language is the universal tongue of human interaction which brings us to understand one another beyond face value. White Hegemony is not inclusive. White Hegemony is exclusive. Additionally, White Hegemony racializes linguistics. White Hegemony makes it so that people who cannot speak properly, are both incomprehensible and incompetent.

Malcolm X - Who Taught You To Hate Yourself Speech
White people, unable to see their particularity, cannot take account of other people’s; white people don’t quite see that they thus construct the world in their own image. — Richard Dyer, Whiteness: The Power of Invisibility

Growing up and city-hopping through suburban neighborhoods most my life, and being surrounded by racist White people and being victim to internalized racism, I had previously conceded with the bigoted sentiment that, for instance, slang is a “sub-par” way of articulating oneself.

Kai Davis - Fuck I Look Like (Poem)

You looking at me like I’m not supposed to be standing here next to you
like, we in the same class but your idea of advance is too advanced
and my mind can’t match you, I think it’s my vernacular,
how I got half the consonants and twice the apostrophes
so my philosophy can’t be valid. — Kai Davis, F*ck I Look Like (Spoken Word Poem)

I’ve been practicing to unlearn the ignorance I’ve been taught, slowly understanding that slang is not a substandard way of talking or writing. It never was. Ebonics, or perhaps a more politically correct way of phrasing the term, A.A.V.E. (African American Vernacular English), is the language of the Black diaspora. Oftentimes, if someone from a country (that was once colonized) is coming to America, they are required to speak correct and fluent English. The idea is, if someone from outside the United States is not speaking “correct” English, and yes I quoted the word “correct” because the correct pronunciations of words are subjective, the person will be ridiculed by Americans (predominantly White Americans), presuming that the language or the way the individual is talking is “inferior” or “wrong.”

Language is language. Outside of White supremacist culture, there exists no “perfect” or “superior” language.

Hands Off! Russian Envoy Stands Against Imposing Color Revolution on Venezuela

Libya 360 | Internationalist News Agency

October 3, 2016

 

hands-off

© AFP 2016/ FEDERICO PARRA

Foreign Ministry statement on the situation in Venezuela

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation

The recent political developments in Venezuela are evidence of attempts by the irreconcilable internal forces to escalate tensions using external support. Their goal is to remove the Venezuelan Government from power at all costs.

The pretext used for the latest attempt to fuel tensions was the National Electoral Council’s decision on a procedure for preparing a nationwide recall referendum, which is the equivalent of a popular no-confidence vote.

We must state in this connection that respect for the Constitution and the law is the only basis for dealing with internal political issues in Venezuela, or any other country. Sidestepping the legal framework or using external pressure to provoke this are unacceptable, no matter the pretext for justification. Only the Venezuelan people, as the holders of sovereignty, can determine their future based on constitutional processes.

As for the international community, including some of Venezuela’s neighbours, it would be good if their policies helped normalise the internal political situation in Venezuela. In turn, this would help bring about the Venezuelan people’s hopes for peace and stability, a settlement of their economic problems and the continued development of their country.

Operation Condor: For More Than 50 Years the CIA Went Deep into Ecuadorean Society

teleSUR

June 8, 2016

The U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), according to declassified documents and testimonies of previous agency officials, had a permanent operation to intervene in political and social decisions of Ecuador.

Starting from the 60s, the CIA infiltrated governments, police, civilian groups, and NGOs to advance U.S. interests in the country, and continues to fight for its power and influence in the region.

Unfortunately, few have knowledge of the political moves that led to the intervention of foreign intelligence forces and the deadly consequences it had for South and Central America, as well as the impact on the new world order.

Background

The Cuban Revolution had succeeded in 1959 and anti-colonial resistance groups began to flourish in Latin America. The Soviet Union maintained its geopolitical strength in part through supporting its new ally, Cuba. It was the beginning of another Cold War for the U.S.

In the early 1960’s, nationalist Ecuadorean President Jose Maria Velasco Ibarra and his later successor, Vice President Carlos Julio Arosemena Monroy, were pressured by the agency to break diplomatic relations with the new socialist government of Fidel Castro in Cuba. When both refused to isolate Castro’s government, both were successively ousted by the country’s military forces, backed by CIA operations.

Ecuador, like other South American countries, was part of the U.S.-backed Operation Condor in the 1970s. This plan endorsed state-sponsored terror to control what was perceived to be the threat of communism and eliminate subversive sectors of society.

Operation Condor’s targets were activists, organizers, and opponents of the dictatorships the U.S. helped set up in the region. Two prominent presidents in Latin America, Panama’s Omar Torrijos and Ecuador’s Jaime Roldos, strongly opposed the U.S. measures.

Roldos and Torrijos were both killed in a plane crash, and according to declassified CIA documents their deaths could have been connected to this plan, as other leftist leaders were also targeted throughout the region.

Investigators continue to believe that Roldos’ death is tied to a CIA operation in the country, since the president wanted to reorganize the hydrocarbon sector, a strong threat to U.S. interests in Ecuador.

CIA Going Deep

Among the agency’s less known activities include the infiltration of hundreds of its agents into diplomatic offices, political parties and military forces in Ecuador.

Agents at airports would report on passengers traveling to socialist countries such as Cuba and Russia, and mail sent to these countries was opened and recorded for the CIA to analyze. Any “special interest” guest in a hotel would be surveilled constantly. Even the medical staff in charge of President Velasco Ibarra reported on their weekly tasks to a CIA station in the country.

Spies kept extensive lists of data on targets such as full name, residences, workplace, phone number, preferred leisure activities and locations, hobbies, the name and dossier of spouses, and the names of schools attended by the children of targets, among other information.

Relevant information of interest to the agency was then passed onto U.S. headquarters.

The agency’s main targets at the time were the young socialist or communist political groups in universities. The Revolutionary Union of Ecuadorean Youth (URJE) was considered the most dangerous organization and the main target for destabilization, along with its parent party, the Communist Party of Ecuador.

Agents would infiltrate social groups and systematically work to discredit their popularity while fabricating or planting evidence to ensure that leaders were falsely prosecuted for crimes such as the bombing of right-wing political headquarters or even churches.

The CIA counted on the support of right-wing media outlets who published false information and didn’t question the sources or veracity of facts.

It was through such methods that the leftist movement lost unity and power in political and social spaces in the country.

Despite the documentation and testimonies verifying these activities, the CIA so far hasn’t acknowledged that its mission in the country also involved infiltrating social movements, radio stations, airlines, hotels and even hospitals.

New Methods, Same Strategy

The current Ecuadorean government has maintained that U.S. financial aid groups linked to the CIA are acting against leftist organizations in Latin American.

The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) are seen by many as tools used by the U.S. government to advance their political, economic and social interests.

Many opposition groups and media networks in Latin America are funded by USAID, the NED or other U.S. based private and public institutions. In addition to Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa, other leftist presidents have denounced that these institutions are operating to destabilize their governments as was the case with the late Hugo Chavez in Venezuela and NED funding to opposition groups, and more recently the civil liberties groups behind the impeachment process against Brazilian president Dilma Rousseff.

According to President Correa, these organizations were acting politically to promote social unrest and opposition towards his government’s policies. In 2012, Correa threatened to kick out the USAID after accusing it of financing opposition groups and of involving itself the country’s internal politics.

The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) are seen by many as tools used by the U.S. government to advance their political, economic and social interests.

Many opposition groups and media networks in Latin America are funded by USAID, the NED or other U.S. based private and public institutions. In addition to Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa, other leftist presidents have denounced that these institutions are operating to destabilize their governments as was the case with the late Hugo Chavez in Venezuela and NED funding to opposition groups, and more recently the civil liberties groups behind the impeachment process against Brazilian president Dilma Rousseff.

According to President Correa, these organizations were acting politically to promote social unrest and opposition towards his government’s policies. In 2012, Correa threatened to kick out the USAID after accusing it of financing opposition groups and of involving itself the country’s internal politics.

He said other progressive governments were analyzing whether or not to take the same actions.

Some reports also indicated that President Rafael Correa could be targeted by the CIA, given his strong opposition to U.S. intervention in the country and region. Since taking office, he has closed a U.S. military base in Manta and expelled two U.S. diplomats who worked for the CIA. He has also given asylum in the Ecuadorean embassy in London to Julian Assange.

As it did 50 years ago, the CIA continues to intervene and infiltrate through new methods and new assets in Ecuador.

Operation Condor: An Era of State Terror Made in Washington, DC

teleSUR

For those who opposed U.S.-backed dictatorships in South America, “Operation Condor” was either a living nightmare or a death sentence — or both.

Officially, Operation Condor was an intelligence-sharing arrangement that was established in 1975 among Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Paraguay, and Uruguay, later joined by Ecuador and Peru. However, it is now widely understood that the notorious Cold War-era “black operations” plan was masterminded, funded, and backed to the hilt by the U.S.A.

Operation Condor was the culmination of a U.S.-orchestrated campaign that entailed the ruthless silencing, murder, torture, and disappearance of tens of thousands of left-wing opponents of U.S. imperialism and the fascistic military dictatorships backed by the CIA and supported by infamous Secretary of State Henry Kissinger.

As the U.S. renews its attempts to dislodge democratically-elected governments through various means in a continuation of its historic offensive against the popular movements of Latin America, we look back at the still-fresh memories of Operation Condor and the major human rights abuses perpetrated by Washington and its allies.

The logo of the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency is shown in the lobby of the CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia. Declassified documents have revealed that U.S. security agencies viewed Operation Condor as a legitimate operation designed to "eliminate Marxist terrorist activities."
The logo of the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency is shown in the lobby of the CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia. Declassified documents have revealed that U.S. security agencies viewed Operation Condor as a legitimate operation designed to “eliminate Marxist terrorist activities.” Photo:Reuters
According to the CIA "the consensus at the highest levels of the US Government was that an Allende Presidency would seriously hurt US national interests (in Chile)." In this photo, Supporters of President Salvador Allende are rounded up by General Augusto Pinochet
According to the CIA “the consensus at the highest levels of the US Government was that an Allende Presidency would seriously hurt US national interests (in Chile).” In this photo, Supporters of President Salvador Allende are rounded up by General Augusto Pinochet’s troops following the former’s ouster. Photo:EFE
Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet shaking hands with U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger in 1976. Pinochet
Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet shaking hands with U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger in 1976. Pinochet’s dictatorship lasted 17 years and claimed thousands of lives. Photo:Ministerio de Relaciones Exteriores de Chile
Paraguayan dictator General Alfredo Stroessner (L) and Chilean dictator Gen. Pinochet (R) wave to crowds in Santiago, Chile.
Paraguayan dictator General Alfredo Stroessner (L) and Chilean dictator Gen. Pinochet (R) wave to crowds in Santiago, Chile. Photo:Reuters
In Bolivia, a CIA-backed military coup led to the overthrow of leftist President Juan Torres. Following the coup, dictator Hugo Banzer had over 2,000 political opponents arrested without trial, tortured, raped and executed.
In Bolivia, a CIA-backed military coup led to the overthrow of leftist President Juan Torres. Following the coup, dictator Hugo Banzer had over 2,000 political opponents arrested without trial, tortured, raped and executed.
Members of the "Madres de Plaza de Mayo" human rights organization hold a banner demanding information on their missing sons and daughters before marching from the Congress to the Presidential Palace, Oct. 28, 1982.
Members of the “Madres de Plaza de Mayo” human rights organization hold a banner demanding information on their missing sons and daughters before marching from the Congress to the Presidential Palace, Oct. 28, 1982. Photo:AFP
Worker being arrested during a protest against the Argentine dictatorship in Buenos Aires, March 30, 1982
Worker being arrested during a protest against the Argentine dictatorship in Buenos Aires, March 30, 1982 Photo:AFP
Photographs of the disappeared in Argentina.
Photographs of the disappeared in Argentina. Photo:Colección AGRA, Archivo Memoria Activa
Graffiti in Buenos Aires, 2011 demanding justice for victims of the "Dirty War" and a trial for the military junta.
Graffiti in Buenos Aires, 2011 demanding justice for victims of the “Dirty War” and a trial for the military junta. Photo:Wikipedia
One of the cells used during the reign of Paraguayan Dictator Alfredo Stroessner, now a museum in Asuncion dedicated to those murdered under Operation Condor.
One of the cells used during the reign of Paraguayan Dictator Alfredo Stroessner, now a museum in Asuncion dedicated to those murdered under Operation Condor. Photo:EFE
An exhibit of photographs displaying the victims of Operation Condor in Sao Paolo, Brazil, Sept. 23, 2014.
An exhibit of photographs displaying the victims of Operation Condor in Sao Paolo, Brazil, Sept. 23, 2014. Photo:EFE
An exhibit of images relating to human rights violations during Operation Condor in Sao Paolo, Brazil, September 23, 2014.
An exhibit of images relating to human rights violations during Operation Condor in Sao Paolo, Brazil, September 23, 2014. Photo:EFE
Argentine forensic expert Rogelio Agustin Goiburu (r.) of human rights group
Argentine forensic expert Rogelio Agustin Goiburu (r.) of human rights group ‘Verdad, Justicia y Reparacion’ (Truth, Justice and Amends) works with others to excavate human remains discovered in the grounds of a police barracks in Asuncion, Paraguay in August 2010. The skeletal remains of 11 people were found based on information that they were victims of the government of General Alfredo Stroessner, dictator from 1954 to 1989. Photo:Reuters
Flowers are left behind on the memorial of disappeared persons at a general cemetery in Santiago, Chile.
Flowers are left behind on the memorial of disappeared persons at a general cemetery in Santiago, Chile. Photo:Reuters
Former Argentine dictator and general, Rafael Videla (2-R) and other defendants are seen during their trials to investigate crimes committed during Operation Condor, in Buenos Aires.
Former Argentine dictator and general, Rafael Videla (2-R) and other defendants are seen during their trials to investigate crimes committed during Operation Condor, in Buenos Aires. Photo:AFP
Former Argentine military members Santiago Riveros (2-L) and Eugenio Guanabens (C) are seen in Buenos Aires in 2013 among other defendants during their trials over crimes committed during Operation Condor.
Former Argentine military members Santiago Riveros (2-L) and Eugenio Guanabens (C) are seen in Buenos Aires in 2013 among other defendants during their trials over crimes committed during Operation Condor. Photo:AFP
A man holds a sign with the image of Chile
A man holds a sign with the image of Chile’s late former president Salvador Allende during the May Day demonstration in Valparaiso city, Chile, May 1, 2016. Photo:Reuters
A group of victims of the Stroessner dictatorship in Paraguay meet in downtown Asuncion, February 2, 2013.
A group of victims of the Stroessner dictatorship in Paraguay meet in downtown Asuncion, February 2, 2013. Photo:EFE
Protester holds sign listing deceased dictators that notes "One common past, one destination."
Protester holds sign listing deceased dictators that notes “One common past, one destination.” Photo:Reuters
Brazilians take part in an annual national march commemorating the anniversary of the 1964 coup, which overthrew President Joao Goulart from the progressive Labor Party in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, 2016.
Brazilians take part in an annual national march commemorating the anniversary of the 1964 coup, which overthrew President Joao Goulart from the progressive Labor Party in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, 2016. Photo:Reuters
A woman holds up a portrait of U.S. President Barack Obama with the words "persona non grata" during a demonstration to commemorate the 40th anniversary of Argentina
A woman holds up a portrait of U.S. President Barack Obama with the words “persona non grata” during a demonstration to commemorate the 40th anniversary of Argentina’s 1976 military coup in Buenos Aires, March 24, 2016. Under Barack Obama’s tenure, Brazil has seen the installation of a new, unelected, and unpopular right-wing coup government.

Declaration of the Revolutionary Government of the Republic of Cuba on Brazil Coup

Cuba MINREX

Sitio oficial del Ministerio de Relaciones Exteriores de Cuba

August 31, 2016


The Revolutionary Government of the Republic of Cuba strongly rejects the parliamentary and judicial coup d’état perpetrated against President Dilma Rousseff.

The Government’s estrangement from the President, without presenting any evidence of corruption or crimes of responsibility against her, as well as from the Workers’ Party (PT) and other left-wing allied political forces, is an act of defiance against the sovereign will of the people who voted for her.

The governments headed by Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva and Dilma Rousseff implemented a socio-economic model that made it possible for Brazil to take a step forward in areas such as production growth with social inclusion, the creation of jobs, the fight against poverty, the eradication of extreme poverty among more than 35 million Brazilians who used to live in inhumane conditions and income increase for another 40 million; the expansion of opportunities in the areas of education and health for the people, including those sectors who had been previously marginalized. During this period, Brazil has been an active promoter of Latin American and Caribbean integration.  The defeat of the Free Trade Agreement of the Americas (FTAA), the celebration of the Latin American and Caribbean Summit on Integration and Development (CALC) which led to the creation of CELAC and foundation of UNASUR are transcendental events in the recent history of the region which show the leading role played by that country.

Likewise, Brazil’s approach to the Third World nations, particularly Africa; its active membership in the BRICS Group (made up by Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa); and its performance at the United Nations Organization, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO); and the World Trade Organization, among others, are an acknowledgement of its international leadership.

Equally praiseworthy has been Brazil’s performance under the Workers’ Party governments in crucial international issues for the defense of peace, development, the environment and the programs against hunger.

The efforts made by Lula and Dilma to reform the political system and organize the funding of parties and their campaigns as well as in support of the investigations started against corruption and the independence of the institutions responsible for such investigations are too well known.

The forces that are currently exercising power have announced the privatization of deep water oil reserves and social programs curtailments. Likewise, they are proclaiming a foreign policy focused on the relations with the big international centers of power. Quite a few among those who are impeaching the President are currently under investigation for acts of corruption.

What happened in Brazil is another expression of the offensive of imperialism and the oligarchy against the revolutionary and progressive governments of Latin America and the Caribbean which threatens peace and stability of nations and is contrary to the spirit and the letter of the Proclamation of Latin America and the Caribbean as a Zone of Peace, signed at the Second CELAC Summit in January, 2014, in Havana by the Heads of State and Government of the region.

Cuba reiterates its solidarity with President Dilma and comrade Lula as well as with the Worker’s Party, and is confident that the Brazilian people will defend the social achievements that have been attained and will resolutely oppose the neoliberal policies that others may try to impose on them and the plundering of its natural resources.

Havana, August 31, 2016.

 

Further reading: Neoliberal Offensive and the Death of Democracy in Brazil

 

 

The Dark Side of Renewable Energy: The Bottleneck of a Low-carbon Future

China Dialogue

August 25, 2016

by Liu Hongqiao

 

Rare earth metals are essential for wind turbines and electric vehicles but potential short supply may become a limiting factor, writes Liu Hongqiao

Main untreated water flow in rain season meitu 1

When it rains untreated residual chemicals from an abandoned leaching pond flow into Ganzhou’s surface water. (Image by Liu Hongqiao)

Main pre treatment pool at a mine site meitu 4

A pre-treatment pool at a mine site. These pools are a requirement of China’s new environment standards. (Image by Liu Hongqiao)

Main leaching pools meitu 6

A leaching pond in an open-air mining site in Ganzhou. (Image by Liu Hongqiao)

Main pipes pools and the hills in distance meitu 7

Weeds growing over abandoned leaching ponds and PVC pipes at the Zudong mine site. (Image by Liu Hongqiao)

Main abandoned factory meitu 8

An abandoned factory in Zudong mine site in Ganzhou. (Image by Liu Hongqiao)

Main abandoned factory 4 meitu 9

An abandoned rare earth factory at the Zudong mine site in Ganzhou. (Image by Liu Hongqiao)

Main a board saying conserve water and soil is to protect human being meitu 10

A board in Ganzhou saying, “to conserve water and soil is to protect human life”. (Image by Liu Hongqiao)

Rare earth metals, hard-to-find materials, with unfamiliar names such as lanthanum, neodymium and europium, are used in wind and solar energy projects, but dwindling supplies could hinder a roll-out of low carbon technologies and slow China’s shift away from coal power.

These compounds, which are highly toxic when mined and processed, also take a heavy environmental toll on soil and water, posing a conundrum for policymakers in China, the world’s biggest producer and consumer of rare earths.

In 2012 the Chinese government named the city of Ganzhou, in the southeastern province of Jiangxi, a “rare earths kingdom”; even though at that time its rare earth reserves were already almost depleted.

According to a rare earths white paper issued by the State Council News Office in 2012, the reserves to extraction ratio for rare earth elements in southern China was 15. In other words, if mining continued at the existing rate, those reserves rich in medium and heavy rare earth elements (MHREEs) would only last for another 15 years.

Three years later and 6,000 miles away in Paris, 190 countries signed the historic Paris Climate Agreement, including plans to introduce a greater share of wind and solar power in a “decarbonised” future. But few of the delegates gathered in Paris seemed to realise how important one small south-central Chinese city would be to achieving this target; as almost all the clean, smart and low-carbon technologies are reliant on rare earths.

This prompts the questions: do we have enough rare earths to build the clean and smart future we’re imagining; can China, supplier of 90% of the global rare earths over the last 20 years, meet expected growth in demand; and what will the environmental consequences be.

Rare earths kingdom

Chinese geologists working in Ganzhou fifty years ago discovered ion-absorbing rare earths; a discovery that restructured the world’s supply of rare earths. China replaced the US as the biggest producer of rare earths and Ganzhou rapidly became the world’s largest producer of MHREEs.

Despite rapidly depleting reserves Ganzhou still accounts for more than half of all MHREEs produced in China.

MHREE: Medium heavy rare earth metald. LREE: Light rare earth metals.

A visit to the mines and industrial parks of Ganzhou gives no sense of a glorious “kingdom”. It’s a scene of devastation: crude open air mines and smelters, and rough muddy attempts at restoring the landscape. It’s a sight hard to associate with the environmental technologies that rare earths are used in.

Water in and around the mining area is severely polluted. According to China Environmental News, the water supply for 30,000 people in the county of Longnan alone has been affected by rare earth mining, with 40,000 mu (6,589 acres) of farmland seeing reduced yields or complete harvest failure.

Over a decade of excessive extraction has left the surface water in the Zudong mining area, China’s biggest source of ion-absorption rare earths, with ammonia and total nitrogen levels far above safe standards; while groundwater is nowhere near up to minimum drinking water standards.

In April 2012 a cross-ministry investigation headed up by the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology found 302 abandoned rare earth mining sites in Ganzhou, with 97.34 square kilometres affected. It would take 70 years just to deal with the 190 million tonnes of mining waste left behind.

Industrial profile of Ganzhou

Black market

China’s government says the country “meets 90% of the world’s demand for rare earths, but has only 23% of global reserves.” In the early 1990s China overtook the US to become the world’s biggest producer and exporter of rare earths and since then has virtually become a monopoly supplier, with some rare earth products produced only in China. If you trace them back to the source the vast majority of fluorescent lamps, off-shore wind turbines, electric and hybrid cars, smartphones and personal electronic devices have, thanks to the rare earths used in their components, “Chinese DNA”.

According to the US Geological Survey, at one point China was accounting for 98% of global rare earth output. In 2015 that figure still reached 85%.

China plays an even bigger role in the world’s rare earth trade than is apparent on the surface because of its black market. The main importers who benefit from China’s rare earths production, such as the US, Korea and Japan, as well as the manufacturers and brands who use rare earths in their products, often tap into a substantial black market in rare earths. Every year tens of thousands of tonnes of rare earth ores are illegally mined and traded, leaving China through the black market.

Those higher up the supply chain turn a blind eye to this, and international cooperation on law enforcement is minimal. With no international traceability system, such as that for conflict minerals, companies have no way of monitoring supply chains and we cannot know if the electric cars we drive or the smartphones we use contain illegally mined and smuggled rare earths.

The huge profits to be made means Ganzhou is plagued by illegal mining. The China Rare Earth Industry Association estimates that in 2013 the actual supply of rare earths in southern China was over 50,000 tonnes, and over 40,000 tonnes in 2014. However the Ministry of Land and Resources only permitted output of 17,900 tonnes per year for that period. That means the black market may be two to three times the size of the legitimate market.

And rare earth mining, whether legal or not, entails shocking environmental costs. Research has found that producing one tonne of rare earth ore (in terms of rare earth oxides) produces 200 cubic metres of acidic waste water. The production of the rare earths needed to meet China’s demand for wind turbines up to 2050 (in a scenario of radical wind power expansion) will result in the release of 80 million cubic metres of waste water – enough to fill Hangzhou’s West Lake eight times over. Not to mention the emissions from the rest of the product lifecycle; smelting, separation, processing, transportation.

Business, policy-makers and consumers all need to think again: what actions can we take to ensure we meet our low-carbon goals in a way which is friendlier to both the environment and the climate? It is after all both contradictory and unjust to sacrifice public health and the environment in a resource-producing area for the sake of low-carbon development.

Source: China Water Risk

New challenges in a post-Paris era

In April over 170 countries visited New York to sign up to the Paris Agreement, buttressing attempts at “decarbonisation”.

That means now is the time to look again at the link between China’s rare earth resources and the clean, low-carbon and smart technologies relying on those.

Over the last 20 years the environment has paid the price for China’s economic successes.

The country’s rare earth reserves are much depleted; environmental costs in the trillions of yuan have not been factored into market prices; and a rampant black market in rare earths, both at home and abroad, has exacerbated environmental damage and the loss of resources.

This has left the Chinese government with no option but to cover huge environmental remediation costs, while those living near rare earth mines are directly or indirectly suffering environmental and health problems.

Another issue is that China is no longer simply a supplier and exporter or rare earths as domestic demand for these resources has increased sharply. China is the main driver of global investment in wind power. In a scenario for radical expansion of wind power produced by the National Development and Reform Commission’s Energy Research Institute, China could see installed wind power capacity of 2,000,000 megawatts (2 terawatts) by 2050. A typical 2 megawatt turbine contains 341-363 kilograms of the rare earth neodymium and about 59 kilograms of dysprosium.

The quantities of rare earths needed just to allow for wind power growth are astounding, and this is before the increased rare earth demand arising from the “China Manufacturing 2025” plan, which aims to prioritise development in electric vehicles, marine engineering equipment and astronautic and aeronautic manufacturing, are considered.

China may not even be able to meet domestic demand, never mind increasing demand from other nations. According to UN Conference on Trade and Development estimates, global demand for rare earths will be between 200,000 and 240,000 tonnes annually by 2020, with 70% of that demand coming from China. Even if China makes full use of its entire mining quota, there is still a gap of 35,000 to 63,000 tonnes between new annual output and expected growth in demand. How will that gap be met?

Looking at rare earths throws up other unanswered questions about our low-carbon future. How will all that waste water be handled? Will there be new drinking water safety issues? Will the costs of better technology and management, intended to reduce emissions, be reflected in rare earth prices?

Back in 2014 the Chinese government declared a “war on pollution”, which was followed up by “history’s toughest” environmental protection law and standards for the rare earth industry on emissions and the use of water and energy. This means compliance costs for the industry are bound to rise; low-cost rare earth mining and processing are a thing of the past in China. EU and US research bodies have pointed out that there will be a shortage of light rare earths in the short and mid-term, while the shortage of medium and heavy rare earths will be in the mid and long-term. The combination of increased costs and shortages mean price rises are inevitable.

The world must ask if its low-carbon future may be limited by these “industrial vitamins”.

[Liu Hongqiao is lead author in the China Water Risk report, Rare Earths: Shades Of Grey – Can China continue to fuel our clean and smart future? ]

Cognitive Dissonance Reigns in Louisiana – The Transition from Myth to Reality

WKOG Op-ed

August 18, 2016

By Forrest Palmer with Cory Morningstar

 

flood 3

Residents wade through floodwaters from heavy rains in the Chateau Wein Apartments in Baton Rouge, La., Friday, Aug. 12, 2016. Heavy downpours pounded parts of the central U.S. Gulf Coast on Friday, forcing the rescue of dozens of people stranded in homes by waist-high water and leaving one man dead who became trapped by floodwaters. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

As the current political nominees pander to their bases over the next few months in hopes of occupying the White House where the next occupant will be in the driver’s seat of the United States as it leads the Western world in destroying the biosphere we depend on for species continuance, there is a deluge of epic proportions happening in Louisiana. Although there are some mainstream news stories concerning this ongoing catastrophe, it has not reached the level of everyday importance that it should considering the ramifications of this being one of an ever increasing amount of climate catastrophes, domestically in the U.S. and globally across the world. As Louisiana is a notoriously conservative state whose elected representatives comprise a who’s who of climate change denial, a cynical individual would have to say that it is poetic justice for this region to now experience the end result of policies supported by the masses collectively by way of its chosen leaders.

Floods 2

A handout picture provided by the U.S. Coast Guard shows a flooded area of Baton Rouge, Louisiana, on Aug. 15, 2016. MELISSA LEAKE/US COAST GUARD/HAN / EPA

Therefore, in an unbiased look at the political extremists that comprise the state house in Louisiana and those in Washington, D.C., it must be asked what has been learned by the residents of Louisiana from the time of Hurricane Katrina, one of the most horrific of ‘natural disasters’ in modern U.S history, to the present day? Even though the truth is that the levee system was faulty due to a crumbling, under maintained, neglected infrastructure and its inevitable collapse caused the New Orleans flooding, the intensity level of the storm was ultimately the catalyst for the levee breach and storms of its kind have increased since that moment in history, all due to climate change. Yet, since that time we have seen the following responses by the inhabitants of that woeful state:

  • Former Louisiana State Representative Lenar Whitney has called climate change a hoax
  • Louisiana senators David Vitter and Bill Cassidy signed a letter asking that FEMA eliminate the requirement that states address climate change in disaster planning to receive federal funding
  • Former Governor Bobby Jindal said that climate change was a ‘trojan horse’ for more government regulation
  • S. House Representative Steve Scalise (R-LA) stated that climate change is a myth and doesn’t need to be addressed
  • Congressman John Fleming (R-LA) said that climate change isn’t a threat and is fighting even the toothless White House legislation with a National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) amendment to curtail government spending in this regard

 

What do these people have in common? They are all individuals that were elected in the state of Louisiana AFTER Hurricane Katrina in 2005.  Therefore, this has been the response by the masses to the death spiral of their state: open and blatant disregard of the truth by the populace in electing officials such as these. Even among the presumptive more ‘climate change friendly’ Democrats in the state, there hasn’t been much discussion by these party politicians regarding the cause being climate change, as Democratic governor John Bel Edwards has discussed the problem, yet has not come out and placed the flooding at the feet of climate change. Hence, at best, the establishment is sidestepping the issue presently and will continue to act like it is nonexistent by its actions in-between these occurrences, which are becoming shorter and shorter in duration.

This August 14, 2016 US Coast Guard handout photo shows Coast Guard personel evacuating people from a floodwaters in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Emergency crews in flood-devastated Louisiana have rescued more than 20,000 people after catastrophic inundations that left at least five dead, news reports said August 15. As many as 10,000 people are living in shelters after a weekend of torrential rains that has prompted the federal government to declare a disaster, according to Louisiana governor John Bel Edwards. Petty Officer 3rd Class Brandon GILES / US Coast Guard / AFPThis August 14, 2016 US Coast Guard handout photo shows Coast Guard personel evacuating people from a floodwaters in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Emergency crews in flood-devastated Louisiana have rescued more than 20,000 people after catastrophic inundations that left at least five dead, news reports said August 15. As many as 10,000 people are living in shelters after a weekend of torrential rains that has prompted the federal government to declare a disaster, according to Louisiana governor John Bel Edwards. Petty Officer 3rd Class Brandon GILES / US Coast Guard / AFP

 

Also among right wing pundits, who are the voice of the primarily conservative citizens inhabiting the state of Louisiana that are underwater now, there is denial of climate change being a factor in this catastrophe or its presence at all. Of course, these pundits offer words, but no resources to address the ongoing disaster, other than more plaudits for the same market economy which is the cause of their undoing.

So, it begs the question:  when will Americans stop being their own worst enemies?  As there is much debate by some people regarding the efficacy of Near-Term Human Extinction (NTHE), it is the modern day American citizens, like those in Louisiana, that continue the behavior which lends the most credence to the argument that we will face species extinction in the not too distant future. The individual actions of the majority of voters in the state of Louisiana and their elected officials is a microcosm of the American mentality as a whole, where it can’t and won’t accept the fragility of our existence on this Earth or digest the ramifications of these set of living circumstances.

Floods 3

This aerial image shows flooded areas in Denhamp Springs, La., on Aug. 13, 2016. (Patrick Dennis / The Advocate)

Hence, these disasters will continue unabated in the near term and definitely continue to grow in ferocity and intensity with the coming years. When will the masses of people begin to take this with seriousness that it needs to be taken is anyone’s guess. Yet as the old saying goes, the best predictor of future behavior is past behavior.  Since that is the case, the future does not bode well for those in Louisiana or any of us in the West or the world as a whole since we continue to be the enemy of the drastic changes necessary to circumvent the ongoing ecocide to any type of appreciable degree.

Although these words are not hopeful or positive, they are honest. This is something that is wholly missing in the mainstream discussion about climate change. Or more importantly, the dialogue regarding what we must do to address it in attempt to stave it off, be it futile at this juncture or otherwise.

As religious faith, especially of the Christian persuasion, is a pillar of the American landscape, what we are now learning is that close to 40 inches of rain are to be feared a lot more than a biblical (or mythical) rain inundation of 40 days and 40 nights. Will we heed the warning? All signs point to this not being the case.

And like any time that faith is put before facts, an open, honest conversation about climate change is literally heresy in these times. Yet, the truth is the truth. And the current washing away of Louisiana is proof of this whether anyone wants to accept it or not.

 

Podcast: Steve Best – The Politics of Total Liberation

Animal Rights Zone

November 17, 2014

steve-best-in-genoa-july-102

Steve Best is an associate professor of philosophy at the University of Texas at El Paso, but he’s perhaps best known as an advocate for the liberation of the earth and all who live on it – humans as well as other animals.

Steve Best has published 13 books and hundreds of articles and has been active nationally and internationally for more than 3 decades, challenging the conventional wisdom on topics ranging from environmentalism to sexual liberation to animal rights. Dr. Best joined Animal Rights Zone to speak about his new book, The Politics of Total Liberation: Revolution in the 21st Century. Audio podcast, approx. 65 minutes.

To listen to the podcast:

http://arzone.ning.com/forum/topics/arzone-podcast-84-steve-best-the-politics-of-total-liberation

The Predictable and Pathetic End of Sanders’ “Political Revolution”

World Socialist Website

July 13, 2016

by Patrick Martin

Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vermont, is confronted on the Westlake Park stage by Mara Jacqueline Willaford CQ over "Black Lives Matter" issues.  She and another activist took over the rally at this point leading to the Senator leaving the stage, making his way through the crowd which thanked him for coming, and getting in a car and being driven away. Saturday August 8 2015,

Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vermont, is confronted on the Westlake Park stage by Mara Jacqueline Willaford over “Black Lives Matter” issues. She and another activist took over the rally, leading to the Senator leaving the stage. Saturday August 8 2015

Bernie Sanders ended his presidential campaign Tuesday, not with a bang but a whimper. The Vermont senator formally endorsed his rival in an undignified prostration before the Democratic Party establishment and Wall Street’s favored presidential candidate, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

The unity rally featuring Sanders and Clinton in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, had all the spontaneity and enthusiasm of a going-out-of-business sale. The funereal atmosphere was perhaps fitting, because with the demise of the Sanders campaign, the Democratic Party has demonstrated, for the thousandth time, its historical role as the graveyard of progressive movements and efforts to achieve reform through the capitalist two-party system.

The Sanders campaign has provided a major lesson in politics to millions of young people and workers who rallied to support the Vermont senator because he called himself a “democratic socialist” and because he denounced Wall Street and the domination of US politics by “millionaires and billionaires.”

The mass support for a self-proclaimed socialist shocked the US ruling elite, the Democratic Party establishment, and, no doubt, Sanders himself. It demonstrated that, despite decades of incessant media propaganda against socialism and communism, the experiences of masses of working people and youth are driving them to the left.

This was particularly true among the younger generation. Sanders won by huge margins—70, 80, even 90 percent—among primary and caucus voters under 30 years of age. More than 1.5 million people attended his rallies, with college students and youth of college age predominating.

The Sanders campaign did not create the broad radicalization demonstrated in these figures. The Vermont senator’s bid for the Democratic Party nomination rather served to uncover what was already developing, the product of decades of deepening economic inequality, ceaseless war, attacks on democratic rights and the growing realization that the profit system is leading mankind toward catastrophe.

Once the Democratic primary campaign was fully engaged, however, Sanders’ political task—in the eyes of the US ruling elite—became clear. It was his responsibility to put the genie back into the bottle. He had to deliver his millions of supporters, particularly the youth, to the candidate chosen by the Democratic Party establishment.

In the beginning was the end. From the start of his campaign, Sanders understood the role assigned to him. He abandoned his longstanding pretense to being a political “independent,” and pledged to remain within the framework of the Democratic Party regardless of the outcome of the contest for the nomination.

Throughout the Sanders campaign, the Socialist Equality Party has welcomed the broad shift to the left that it revealed in the thinking of millions of working people and youth, while warning that the Vermont senator would inevitably disappoint his supporters.

We drew attention to two key aspects of the Sanders campaign: his silence on foreign policy and the growing danger of war, and his refusal to criticize the Obama administration for bailing out Wall Street and spearheading the corporate attack on the jobs and living standards of working people, beginning with the 50 percent wage cut imposed on new hires in the auto industry at the insistence of the White House.

Tuesday’s “unity” rally with Hillary Clinton demonstrated both these tendencies. Sanders spoke for 30 minutes without ever mentioning foreign policy, only days after Obama announced an extension of the US military intervention in Afghanistan and approved the dispatch of another 560 US troops to Iraq.

In his tribute to Clinton, Sanders never referred to her four-year tenure as secretary of state, where she was consistently the most hawkish member of the Obama cabinet, instigating the US-NATO war with Libya and advocating even greater US intervention in the Syrian civil war.

As for the Democratic Party’s domestic record, Sanders praised Obama’s actions during the 2008-2009 Wall Street crash. “I thank President Obama and Vice President Biden for their leadership in pulling us out of that terrible recession,” he said, although Obama and Biden saved the bankers and billionaires at the expense of the working class.

Similarly, Sanders hailed Clinton’s agreement on several minor and meaningless changes in the Democratic Party platform, on health care, student debt and the minimum wage, claiming that the result was “the most progressive platform in the history of the Democratic Party.”

Clinton’s own remarks at the rally were equally demagogic and deceptive. She denounced “trickle-down supply-side economics” which were responsible for “30 years of a disastrous Republican philosophy that gave the huge breaks to those at the top.” She conveniently left out that those “30 years” included the eight-year administration of her own husband, who followed the dictates of the financial markets no less slavishly than the Republicans.

She pledged to “open the doors to everyone who shares our progressive values,” although the political careers of both Bill and Hillary Clinton have been based on moving the Democratic Party ever further to the right—abolishing welfare, promoting harsh policing and mass imprisonment, deregulating the banks, and generally distancing the Democrats from any association with policies of liberal reform.

In his remarks Tuesday in New Hampshire, Sanders declared that his campaign would continue, in the form of an all-out effort to elect Hillary Clinton president and elect Democratic majorities in the Senate and House of Representatives. To call such an outcome a “political revolution” is, to say the least, a cynical fraud.

The Democratic Party is, like the Republican Party, an instrument of the financial aristocracy that rules America. While the Republican Party generally expresses the ruling class’s appetite for wealth and power in its most unrestrained form, the Democratic Party has long served as the principal vehicle for neutralizing any challenge to the corporate elite from below.

Despite the best efforts of the media, the Democratic Party and the political establishment as a whole, including Sanders himself, the social and economic opposition that found an initial expression in support for his campaign will not disappear. Whoever wins in November will oversee a society riven by social conflict and will implement deeply unpopular policies, including a sharp expansion of war abroad and the attack on the working class at home.

Workers and young people attracted to the Sanders campaign must draw the necessary conclusions. The Democratic Party cannot be transformed and capitalism cannot be reformed. A leadership must be built to unite the developing struggles of the working class in a revolutionary movement against the corporate and financial elite and the profit system they defend.

 

Does Anyone Really Need Another ‘Political’ Article?

The Soapbox

April 9, 2016

by Mickey Z.

 

documenting photo

 

“I am documenting our collective self-annihilation. I am not writing to change your mind.” (Cory Morningstar)

 

I deeply relate to my friend Cory’s quote above — but to take things further: I often wonder why any of us even bothers with the documenting. This line of thought reminded me of an e-mail I received in 2006 from a man who’d been following my work for quite some time.

“Reading your writing makes me think that expressing your opinions is what helps,” he began, “but I now wonder if it actually does any good.” He states his belief that, yes, the pen is mightier than the sword, but quickly conceded that the pen “takes a lot longer to be effective.”

His e-mail wrapped up: “In a world full of inequalities, I see your writing as an attempt to combat this situation but I wonder what provides the motivation in the face of such daunting odds. I might have it all wrong and that is not what motivates you at all in which case I’d be interested in what does.”

To be blunt, part of what motivates me to document these days is that I very much need the money I’m paid to write such articles. This is not to say I take this work lightly (never do and never will) but it is to say that, given the chance, I might stop writing “political” articles for a while.

Such a break might enable me to gain a valuable new perspective on the issues I write about but in a more immediate sense, it’d also provide me with a much-needed reprieve from the childish name-calling, passive-aggressive stalking, vile slander, and promises of violence (including death threats) I endure due to my endless questioning and evolution. (FYI: Such responses rarely come from outside radical (sic) or activist (sic) circles but rather, almost always from those whom I once called comrade or even friend.)

Trust me, if I could somehow delude myself that my work ever truly mattered and made even a tiny bit of difference, I might at least perceive all the abuse as “worth it.” But if all I’m doing is “documenting our collective self-annihilation” to an ever-dwindling and progressively less receptive (even hostile) audience, well… you know the rest.

So here we are:

The stakes have never been higher.

Accordingly, the distractions have never been louder.

Does anyone really need another “political” article?

 

[Michael Zezima (known as Mickey .) is a writer, editor, blogger and novelist living in New York City. He writes a bimonthly column, “Mickey Z. Says”, for VegNews magazine and he has also appeared on the C-SPAN network’s Book TV program. He is also a regular contributor to Planet Green, ZNet, CounterPunch, OpEdNews, Countercurrents.org, Animal Liberation Front, and other websites.]