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Karen Silkwood: an inspiration to fighters for environmental justice and workers' rights

Karen Silkwood.

By Sharyn Jenkins

Thirty-five years ago, on November 13, 1974, US anti-nuclear activist and trade unionist Karen Silkwood was killed in a car crash many suspect was deliberately caused. Karen Silkwood will be remembered as someone who fought an uphill and often unpopular battle against the ruthless nuclear industry. She is an inspiration to all who believe in environmental justice and workers' rights.

Silkwood grew up in Nederland, the petrochemical heart of Texas. Following an unhappy marriage and bitter divorce, in which she lost custody of her three children, she moved to Oklahoma City to look for work. In 1972 she began work in the Kerr McGee Metallography Laboratory.

John Bellamy Foster: `The roots of the world ecological crisis'

October 29, 2009 -- "We have no other word but crisis to describe it, really. It's very different than the economic crisis that we are now in, in the sense that even a very, very severe economic crisis, such as the one that has been present since late 2007 ... still is, in many ways, a cyclical event... These crises are periodic -- it's part of the nature of capitalism...

Corporate investors lead rush for control of poor countries' farmland

By GRAIN, October 2009

With all the talk about "food security," and distorted media statements like "South Korea leases half of Madagascar's land,"[1] it may not be evident to a lot of people that the lead actors in today's global land grab for overseas food production are not countries or governments but corporations. So much attention has been focused on the involvement of states, like Saudi Arabia, China or South Korea. But the reality is that while governments are facilitating the deals, private companies are the ones getting control of the land. And their interests are simply not the same as those of governments.

Fourth International debates `ecosocialism'

By Michael Löwy

International Viewpoint -- October 10, 2009 -- Daniel Tanuro’s report on climate change [Report on climate change at the IC of the Fourth International] is one of the most important documents produced by our movement in recent years. It is an invaluable contribution to the political arming of revolutionary Marxists and to making them capable of facing up to the challenges of the 21st century.

Climate change: The carbon trading debacle

By Carter Burke

October 28, 2009 -- The next major international summit on climate change will be held in Copenhagen in early December, 2009. The position of the United States in these talks remains ambiguous. The latest climate legislation to move through the US Congress is H.R. 2454, the American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009. It passed the US House of Representatives in June 2009, mostly along party lines, to the applause of President Obama and house speaker Nancy Pelosi.

When the climate change centre cannot hold

By Patrick Bond

October 26, 2009 -- After the October 24-25 weekend in which 350.org and thousands of allies around the world valiantly tried to raise global consciousness about impending catastrophe (see slideshow below, photos from 350.org), we can ask some tough questions about what to do after people have departed and the props packed up. No matter the laudable big-tent activism, let's face it: global climate governance is gridlocked and it seems clear that no meaningful deal can be sealed in Copenhagen on December 18.

`Monthly Review' at 60: Six decades of campaigning for `social and ecological revolution'

On September 17, 2009, Monthly Review celebrated its 60th anniversary at the New York Society for Ethical Culture in New York City. Five-hundred enthusiastic supporters gathered to hear remarks by Robert McChesney, Grace Lee Boggs, John Bellamy Foster, Fred Magdoff, Rev. Jeremiah Wright, Michael Tigar, and hear music by Toshi Reagon.

More than six decades ago, Paul Sweezy and his good friend, the labour journalist Leo Huberman, had long dreamed of founding a magazine offering a forum for insightful comment and analysis of world and national events from a specifically socialist perspective. The two already had a history of activism in the radical cauldron spawned by the Great Depression, the rise of the labour movement, and the World War II. By 1948, with the accelerating crises of Cold War and domestic repression – and with seed money from Sweezy's good friend and Harvard colleague, the literary historian and critic F.O. Matthiessen – they pressed forward with their plan for what would become Monthly Review.

Hugo Blanco: Indigenous people are the vanguard of the fight to save the Earth

October 13, 2009 -- Socialist Voice -- Peruvian peasant leader Hugo Blanco, who edits the newspaper La Lucha Indigena, was interviewed on August 28, 2009, in Arequipa, in southern Peru. The previous day he gave a presentation at a conference entitled “40 Años de la Reforma Agraria” at the city’s Universidad Nacional de San Agustín.

You said last night that today the Indigenous peoples of the Amazon are in the vanguard of the struggle in Peru. Can you say more about this?

India: Statement condemns government military offensive against the Indigenous people

Adivasi women protest in West Bengal.

October 14, 2009 -- Sanhati is a collective of activists/academics who have been working in solidarity with peoples' movements in India by providing information and analysis (see http://www.sanhati.com).

We have been profoundly disturbed by the Indian government's reported plans to launch an unprecedented military offensive in the huge forested regions of central India, populated by millions of Indigenous tribes (adivasis), for stamping out an alleged Maoist insurgency. We feel that this will be a democratic and humanitarian disaster. Hence we have taken the initiative, in consultation with progressive intellectuals, to draft a statement of protest against the Indian government's military offensive and have circulated it among democratic and peace-loving citizens of India and the world for endorsement.

Below is the statement, the list of signatories (which includes many eminent intellectuals/academics) and a background note which puts the current conflict into perspective.

* * *

To Dr. Manmohan Singh Prime Minister,

Science and empire in the Pacific

Mai (aka Omai), the first Pacific Islander to visit Europe, with Joseph Banks in 1774. Painting by William Parry.

By Barry Healy

More than 240 years ago, on April 13, 1769, the peace of Tahiti was interrupted by the visit of Captain James Cook, supposedly observing the transit of Venus across the Sun, but really following secret orders to investigate the Pacific Ocean and its islands for the benefit of British colonialism.

Mainstream Australian history raises James Cook to a pinnacle because he established a white, British dominion on the Australian continent. However, at the time his fame was eclipsed because on board his ship was gentleman scientist Joseph Banks with a posse of staff.

Banks’ star outshone Cook’s because his work acquired the botanical treasures of Oceania for the British Empire, paving the way for Britain to dominate vital areas of science for its own benefit.

Philippines socialists: `Moratorium on foreign debt to pay for a modern weather forecasting service'

Scenes from Manila in the aftermath of Typhoon Ondoy. Photos: Vitamin OC.

By Partido Lakas ng Masa

Moratorium on foreign debt servicing to pay for essential and basic services! Upgrade Pagasa’s equipment now!

London climate justice conference: A model of ecosocialist collaboration

By Ian Angus

September 17, 2009 -- Climate and Capitalism -- On September 12, about 100 people attended “Climate and Capitalism”, a one-day conference in London, England, organised by Green Left and Socialist Resistance.

I was invited to participate as editor of the Climate and Capitalism website, and as editor of The Global Fight for Climate Justice, published this summer by Resistance Books (Britain). (The meeting was in part a launch event for the book.) I spoke at the opening plenary [see Ian Angus' presentation below] and in a workshop on the global South.

Australian socialists demand `green jobs'

A worker welds a wind turbine mast. Photo from Greenpeace.

By the Socialist Alliance

[The following leaflet was distributed at the ``switch off Hazelwood'' power station protest in Victoria on September 12 and 13, attended by more than 300 people.]

September 13, 2009 -- The transition from a fossil fuel dependent society to renewable energy is perhaps the most urgent question facing humanity. The public debate about climate change has shifted from a discussion about the reality of global warming to a discussion focused on how to transition to renewable energy.

John Bellamy Foster: Financial crisis, imperialism and environment -- `Socialism is humanity's best chance'

On September 17, 2009, John Bellamy Foster appeared on Democracy Now! to discuss the financial meltdown, social change and democracy. Click HERE to read the transcript.

* * *

A conversation with John Bellamy Foster, editor of the US-based socialist magazine Monthly Review, professor of sociology at the University of Oregon and co-author (with Fred Magdoff) of The Great Financial Crisis: Causes and Consequences (Monthly Review Press, 2009). He was interviewed by Farooque Chowdhury for the Bangladesh daily newspaper New Age. It was published on September 8, 2009.

* * *

Declaration of the Africa People's Movement on Climate Change

Confronting the climate crisis: Preparing for Copenhagen and beyond

Nairobi, Kenya, August 30, 2009 -- We, the leaders of various people's movements, community-based groups, academia, NGOs and civil cociety organisations, met in Nairobi under the banner of the People's Movement on Climate Change (PMCC) to discuss strategies to confront the climate change crisis for Copenhagen and beyond from August 27 to 28 , 2009.

Do hereby affirm that:

Call for a ‘Seattle’ approach to Copenhagen climate talks, Africans demand reparations

A `Seattle' in Copenhagen could scuttle a climate deal that only serves the richest countries.

By Patrick Bond

September 5, 2009 – Durban -- Here’s a fairly simple choice: the global North would pay the hard-hit global South to deal with the climate crisis, either through the complicated, corrupt, controversial ``Clean Development Mechanism’ (CDM), whose projects have plenty of damaging sideeffects to communities, or instead pay through other mechanisms that must provide financing quickly, transparently and decisively to achieve genuine income compensation plus renewable energy to the masses.

The Copenhagen climate summit in December is all about the former choice, because the power bloc in Europe and the US have put carbon trading at the core of their emissions reduction strategy, while the two largest emitters of carbon in the Third World, China and India, are the main beneficiaries of CDM financing.

Young Venezuelan revolutionary and environmentalist: `Tomorrow is too late’

August 23, 2009 -- Australia-Venezuela Solidarity Network national co-convenor Frederico Fuentes spoke to Heryck Rangel (pictured), an environmental activist and leader of the United Socialist Party of Venezuela Youth (JPSUV), about the challenges that the global environment crisis poses for Venezuela’s Bolivarian Revolution, and the planet. He also discussed the role of young people in Venezuela's revolution.

“More than just an economic crisis, what humanity faces today is a systemic crisis”, Rangel said. “We can see this if we look at the energy crisis, and the social crisis that is generating a lot of poverty and misery. But above all, we can see this in the ecological crisis. There is a grand ecological crisis in the world today and I believe we are at a pivotal point, a moment when we need to make tough decisions. The current mode of development is incompatible with life.”

Rangel explained that this is why, “in Venezuela, we believe in a model for life and sustainable development where we can generate the greatest possible sum of happiness, not only for this generation, but for future generations”.

`Amanzi Ngawethu' (water is ours); Health and environmental victories for South African activists

On September 2 and 3, 2009, the Constitutional Court of South Africa will hear the final appeal in a case brought by five Soweto residents challenging Johannesburg's discriminatory prepaid water meter system. Their six-year legal battle would reaffirm the constitutional right to water for all South Africans.

Low-income communities in Johannesburg's townships do not have sufficient water resources and do not receive the same water services as residents in wealthier, often white, suburbs. Yet, the Bill of Rights of South Africa guarantees everyone's right to have access to sufficient water.

The false promise of energy efficiency and a real alternative

By Don Fitz

August 22, 2009 -- An action can have opposite effects, depending on it s social contexts. An isolated individual who protests company policy by refusing to go to work could well get fired and become an example used to intimidate others. When an entire workforce stays off the job, it’s called a “strike” and has a very good chance of forcing the company to change its policy.

As positive as they may be for friends and family, individual lifestyles of non-violence do not stop wars from being fought. But a society that eliminates corporate control of the economy gets rid of the need for expansion and takes an enormous step towards non-violence. In this context, non-violent lifestyles solidify non-violent global politics.

It is even more so with “energy efficiency”. It is impossible for individual choices to purchase energy-efficient products to have any positive effect on climate change. But, in a democratically run economy, energy efficiency would be a cornerstone of resolving the catastrophic legacy of production for profit.

Lucas Aerospace -- When workers said `no' to military production, `yes' to green jobs

Photo by Alex Bainbridge.

By Rob Marsden

August 22, 2009 -- Socialist Resistance -- Today, the twin drivers of economic recession and the possibility of catastrophic climate change are beginning to push working people towards action. A series of small-scale but high-profile occupations of threatened factories, not just at Vestas wind turbine plant but also at Visteon car plant, where 600 workers took on the might of Ford and won a greatly enhanced redundancy package, show what is possible. In the 1970s workers at Britain's Lucas Aerospace went even further. We look back at the lessons of Lucas Aerospace.

It is clear that if we are to avert catastrophic climate change by moving rapidly to a low-carbon economy, certain industries will have to be wound down or drastically scaled back, for example, the power generation, aviation and car industries. However, rather than this leading to a net loss of jobs, efforts must be put into creating new green jobs or ``converting'' old jobs.

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