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World farmers’ alliance Vía Campesina challenges food profiteers (excerpt from new pamphlet)

The following review is an excerpt from a new pamphlet, La Vía Campesina: Farmers North and South Confront Agribusiness, by John Riddell and Adriana Paz, published by Socialist Voice in Canada. To download the pamphlet, please click HERE.

More on Via Campasina.

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Review by John Riddell

La Vía Campesina: Globalization and the Power of Peasants by Annette Aurélie Desmarais. Fernwood Publishing, 2007.

May 31, 2009 -- The neoliberal assault that has driven labour into retreat over the last two decades has also sparked the emergence of a peasants’ international, La Vía Campesina. Based in 56 countries across five continents, this alliance has mounted a sustained and spirited defence of peasant cultivation, community and control of food production.

Annette Desmarais’s book on La Vía Campesina has given us a probing and perceptive account of the world peasant movement’s origins, outlook and activities. (”La Vía Campesina” means “Peasant Path” or “Peasant Way”. See “Peasants or Farmers?” at the end of this article.)

What’s wrong with a 30-hour work week?

By Don Fitz

May 30, 2009 -- With millions of jobs lost during the first part of 2009, who is calling for a shorter work week to spread the work around? Not the Republicans. Not even the Democrats. But why is there nary a peep from unions?

In the US, the vehicle industry sets the pace for organised labour. The only discussion at the top levels of the United Auto Workers Union (UAW) is how quickly the gains won during the last 50 years can be given back. Does the UAW have no memory of the 1930s and 1940s when a shorter work week was at centre of organising demands?

The gross domestic product is plummeting at the same time that jobs are disappearing. Why should there be any connection between the two? If society produces 10% less, why don’t we all just work 10% less? Didn’t things work like that for hundreds of thousands of years of human existence? When people figured out easier ways to get what they needed, they spent less time doing it.

Ten reasons why population control is not an answer to climate change

By Simon Butler

June 1, 2009 -- Climate change is the greatest challenge humanity has ever faced. The scientific evidence of the scale of the threat is overwhelming, compelling and frightening. Climate tipping points -- points which if crossed will lead to runaway global warming -- are being crossed now.

We live in a time of consequences. So it’s crucial that the climate justice movement -- made up of those determined to take a stand now to win a safe climate future -- campaigns for the changes that can actually make a difference.

A discussion has surfaced about whether population-control measures should be a key plank in the climate action movement’s campaign arsenal. Below are 10 reasons why such a decision would hinder, rather than help, the necessary task of building a movement that can win.

1. Population does not cause climate change

Advocates of population control say that one of the most effective measures we can take to combat climate change is to sharply reduce the number of humans on the planet. This wrongly focuses on treating one symptom of an irrational, polluting system rather than dealing with the root causes.

Envisioning ecological revolution -- Excerpt from John Bellamy Foster's new book, `The Ecological Revolution'

With the permission of John Bellamy Foster and Monthly Review Press, Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal is publishing an exclusive excerpt from Foster's latest book, The Ecological Revolution: Making Peace with the Planet.

Links readers are encouraged to purchase a copy of this important new book HERE.

The roots of the present ecological crisis, John Bellamy Foster argues in The Ecological Revolution, lie in capital’s rapacious expansion, which has now achieved unprecedented heights of irrationality across the globe. Foster compellingly demonstrates that the only possible answer for humanity is an ecological revolution: a struggle to make peace with the planet.

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Blood for oil in Nigeria: Military launches massive attack on Niger Delta villages

May 21, 2009 -- Democracy Now! -- The Nigerian military has been accused of killing hundreds, maybe thousands, of civilians in the oil-rich Niger Delta. The military offensive began eight days ago (May 13, 2009) but has received little international attention. We go to Nigeria to speak with Denzil Amagbe Kentebe of the Ijaw National Congress. We’re also joined by Sandy Cioffi, director of the new documentary Sweet Crude about the Niger Delta. The village of Oporoza, where much of the film was shot, has just been burned down.

Biochar: An answer to global warming or a menace?

By Renfrey Clarke

May 21, 2009 -- Sometimes you have to hand it to capitalism. It’s sheer magic the way the system takes promising concepts, steeps them in the transformative power of the market – and turns them into howling social and environmental disasters.

Take biofuels, for example. With fossil fuels warming the planet, why not, indeed, take advantage of the fact that plants use carbon dioxide from the atmosphere to produce sugars and oils that can be turned into substitutes for petrol and diesel?

Malaysian socialist MP on `free market fallacies'

Michael Jeyakumar Devaraj delivers his speech. Photo by PSM.

By Dr Michael Jeyakumar Devaraj

May 18, 2009 -- The Nut Graph -- The Socialist Party of Malaysia (PSM) organised a fundraising dinner at the Petaling Jaya Civic Centre on May 9, 2009, which was attended by some 600 members, friends and supporters. I was invited to give a short speech, and this is what I said:

Friends,

Humankind is facing a serious crisis. On one hand we are witnessing the unfolding of a recession many experts think will be the worst since the Great Depression of the 1930s. Recessions are commonplace in the free-market economy. They occur once every 10 or so years.

Capitalism in Wonderland: Why mainstream economists can't deal with the ecological crisis

By Richard York, Brett Clark and John Bellamy Foster (posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with permission)

In a recent essay, “Economics Needs a Scientific Revolution”, in one of the leading scientific journals, Nature, physicist Jean-Philippe Bouchaud, a researcher for an investment management company, asked rhetorically, “What is the flagship achievement of economics?” Bouchaud’s answer: “Only its recurrent inability to predict and avert crises”.[1]

Mexico's Revolutionary Workers Party (PRT) statement on swine flu epidemic

Statement by the Revolutionary Workers Party (PRT)

April 30, 2009 -- The health emergency brought about by the swine flu epidemic has important political and social repercussions, in addition to consequences for public health, that need to be explained in the midst of the confusion and distrust that contradictory governmental versions generate. It is also necessary to open the way to scientific information, truth and political criticism.

Australian agriculture -- a carbon-neutral future?

By Renfrey Clarke

May 8, 2009 -- With its belching cows and giant diesel-powered tractors, the farm sector is widely understood as an important contributor to Australia’s impact on climate change. Just how important, however, is not often recognised.

In its latest National Greenhouse Gas Inventory, for the year 2006, the Australian Greenhouse Office calculates the share of national greenhouse gas emissions coming from agriculture and stock-raising at 15.6 per cent, expressed as carbon dioxide equivalent. Though substantial, this figure is much less than the 49.9 per cent attributed to “stationary energy”, which consists mainly of power station emissions.

But scientists are increasingly recognising the figure of 15.6 per cent for the farm sector as misleading –- and only partly because the official greenhouse data count the tractors and other farm machinery under the headings of stationary energy.

Australia: Has PM Kevin Rudd taken `a significant step forward on climate change'?

By David Spratt

May 5, 2009 -- Kevin Rudd's announced changes to the proposed Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme (CPRS) has again split the climate movement, and this time it's very serious, with three large, rusted-on-to-Labor [Party] groups running cover for an appalling policy that won't guarantee a reduction in Australian emissions for decades.

The grassroots movement which gathered in Canberra in January 2009, with 500 people and 150 groups, for the first national Climate Action Summit and unanimously opposed the CPRS legislation, appears uniformly angry. Sixty-six climate action groups have written to the Prime Minister Kevin Rudd saying that: “We believe that you have abandoned your duty of care to protect the Australian people as well as our species and habitats from dangerous climate change.”

Bolivia: Rich countries must pay their `ecological debt'

Retreat of the Chacaltaya Glacier, Bolivia 1940-2005.

Submission by Republic of Bolivia to the Ad Hoc Working Group on Long-term Cooperative Action under the [UN Framework Convention on Climate Change] (AWG-LCA)

April 25, 2009 -- We call on developed countries to commit to deep emission reductions in order to advance the objective of avoiding dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system and its consequences, to reflect their historical responsibility for the causes of climate change, and to respect the principles of equity and common but differentiated responsibilities in accordance with the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

Swine flu and a sick social system: Why the poor die and the rich sniffle

April 27, 2009 -- A World to Win News Service -- It is impossible to predict the spread, severity and consequences of the swine flu epidemic that broke out in Mexico. But influenza epidemics have occurred regularly –- with three pandemics (global epidemics) in the 20th century -- and scientists and public health authorities have known for a long time that new pandemics are inevitable. Some possible parameters and paths of development can be scientifically understood, in both the biological and social spheres.

There are two separate and mainly independent factors at work. One is the nature and evolution of the disease itself, which is not caused by human activity. Although social factors -- for instance industrial pig farming -- may have played a contributing role in the appearance of this particular disease, human beings didn't invent viruses or human and animal vulnerability to them.

The other factor is just the opposite: What kind of society people live in, what drives the economic organisation of those societies and their social and political relations. In short, if the first factor concerns natural phenomena, the second is the capitalist and imperialist world in which they occur.

Mike Davis: Capitalism and the flu

Agri-biz at root of swine flu? Real News Network report, April 30, 2009.

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April 27, 2009 -- Socialist Worker (USA) -- Mike Davis, whose 2006 book The Monster at Our Door warned of the threat of a global bird flu pandemic, explains how globalised agribusiness set the stage for a frightening outbreak of the swine flu in Mexico.

(Updated May 27, 2009) Wiwa versus Shell: Oil company to stand trial for complicity in repression of the Ogoni people

Shell on trial: Landmark trial set to begin over Shell’s role in 1995 execution of Nigerian human rights activist Ken Saro-Wiwa

May 26, 2009 -- Democracy Now! -- A landmark trial against oil giant Royal Dutch Shell’s alleged involvement in human rights violations in the Niger Delta begins this Wednesday in a federal court in New York. Fourteen years after the widely condemned execution of the acclaimed Nigerian writer and environmental activist Ken Saro-Wiwa, the court will hear allegations that Shell was complicit in his torture and execution.

Guests:

Steve Kretzmann, executive director of Oil Change International. He was at Shell’s annual shareholder meeting in London earlier this month and has been following the case against Shell. He also worked closely with Ken Saro-Wiwa in the last two years before Saro-Wiwa’s death.

The fight to be a society of good ancestors -- capitalism and ecosocialism

Ian Angus addresses the World at a Crossroads conference. Photo by Alex Bainbridge.

By Ian Angus

[Ian Angus was a featured guest at the World at a Crossroads: Fighting for Socialism in the 21st Century conference, in Sydney Australia, April 10-12, 2009. The event, which drew 444 participants from more than 15 countries, was organised by the Democratic Socialist Perspective, Resistance and Green Left Weekly. Below is Angus’ talk to the plenary session on “Confronting the climate change crisis: an ecosocialist perspective”. It first appeared on Climate and Capitalism and has been posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with permission.]

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(Updated April 23) `Capitalism is putting an end to humanity and the planet' -- ALBA on the 5th Summit of the Americas

Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez greets Cuba's President Raul Castro.

Translated by Federico Fuentes

Cumaná, April 17, 2009

The heads of state and governments of Bolivia, Cuba, Dominica, Honduras, Nicaragua and Venezuela -- member countries of the Bolivarian Alternative for the Peoples of Our Americas (ALBA) -- consider that the proposed Declaration of the 5th Summit of the Americas is insufficient and unacceptable for the following reasons:

Audio: Capitalism and Climate Change -- Ian Angus

Left Click -- Ian Angus is the editor of climateandcapitalism.com and a founder of the Eco-socialist International Network. He is also associate editor of Canada's Socialist Voice and the director of the Socialist History Project. Ian toured Australia (Perth poster, left) in the run up to the World at a Crossroads conference held in Sydney on April 10-12, 2009, which was organised by the Democratic Socialist Perspective.

Fourth International: Draft report on climate change

By Daniel Tanuro

Below is a reworked version of the report on climate change and climate campaigns, drafted by Daniel Tanuro and presented at February 2009 meeting of the International Committee (IC) of the Fourth International. This report has been adopted as the basis of a resolution to be written for the coming Fourth International world congress. This first appeared on the International Viewpoint website.

I. THE CLIMATIC THREAT: CAUSES, RESPONSIBILITIES, SOCIAL AND ECOLOGICAL IMPACTS

1. Climate change is a fact without precedent

Climate change is a fact. In the 20th century, the average temperature of the surface of the Earth increased by 0.6°C, the sea level went up from between 10 and 20 cm, glaciers retreated almost everywhere in significant proportions, the violence of cyclones increased in the North Atlantic, and more extreme weather phenomena, such as storms, floods and droughts, were recorded.

La revolucion energetica: Cuba's energy revolution

By Laurie Guevara-Stone, photos by Mario Alberto Arrastia Avila

April 2, 2009 -- A new revolution is sweeping the island of Cuba, which is making massive progress on energy efficiency and renewable generation. Indeed, such is the success of the two-year old program on this small island of 11 million people, that many other countries could learn from its efforts to be energy independent and curb climate change.

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