Tuesday, September 27, 2022

Haiti's desperate catastrophe

 A chronic gang, economic and political crisis has led to a humanitarian catastrophe in Haiti, Helen La Lime, the country's UN envoy has said.

World Food Program's (WFP) executive director Valerie Guarnieri, said: "The situation in Haiti has sadly reached new levels of desperation".

La Lime told the UN Security Council that an estimated 2,000 tonnes of food aid, valued at close to $5m (£4.6m), were lost following repeated attacks on local warehouses of the UN Food Programme.

"That would have collectively supported up to 200,000 of the most vulnerable Haitians over the next month", she said.

Thousands are calling for Prime Minister Ariel Henry's resignation. Civil unrest across the island escalated after he announced an end to government fuel subsidies on 11 September, which caused petrol and diesel prices to skyrocket. Since then, protests and looting have intensified, with the capital, Port-au-Prince, at the heart of it. Rates of gang violence, which had already shot up since the assassination of President Jovenel Moïse by mercenaries a year ago, have reached shocking new levels since a battle erupted on 8 July between two criminal alliances, known as G9 and G-Pèp.

Inflation has risen to its highest level in a decade, and 40% of the country is relying on food assistance to survive. Food security is expected to deteriorate further this year, with 1.3 million people in a state of emergency due to the crisis.

Haiti in a humanitarian catastrophe - UN envoy - BBC News

What Climate Crisis?

 According to the Global Energy Monitor (GEM), more than 24,000km of new oil pipelines are under development around the world, a distance equivalent to almost twice the Earth’s diameter. The oil pumped through the pipelines would produce at least 5bn tonnes of CO2 a year if completed, equivalent to the emissions of the US, the world’s second-largest polluter. The oil industry enjoyed record profits in the last year, the report said, and “is using this moment of chaos and crisis to push ahead with massive expansions of oil pipeline networks”.

“For governments endorsing these new pipelines, the report shows an almost deliberate failure to meet climate goals,” said Baird Langenbrunner at GEM. “Despite climate targets threatening to render fossil fuel infrastructure as stranded assets, the world’s biggest consumers of fossil fuels, led by the US and China, are doubling down on oil pipeline expansion.”

The UN secretary-general, António Guterres, said on Wednesday: “The fossil fuel industry is killing us, and leaders are out of step with their people, who are crying out for urgent climate action.”

Huge expansion of oil pipelines endangering climate, says report | Oil | The Guardian

The heirs of Il Duce.

Italy never underwent a process equivalent to Germany’s de-Nazification after World War II. At the start of the Cold War, the Allies wanted to block Western Europe’s largest Communist party from power. They took a minimalist approach to purges of fascists and other punitive measures that could cause social unrest in Italy. They also looked the other way when Giorgio Almirante and other fascists who had served Mussolini founded the Italian Social Movement (MSI),  in 1946. 

Brothers of Italy was formed a decade ago to carry forth the spirit and legacy of the extreme right in Italy. Meloni’s predecessor as the head of the Brothers of Italy declared, “We are all heirs of Il Duce.” The tricolor flame in the Brothers of Italy logo celebrates the party’s connection with its fascist past by reviving the MSI’s emblem. Meloni’s party slogan—“God, Fatherland, Family” came from Mussolini’s dictatorship.

Ruth Ben-Ghiat, professor of history and Italian studies at New York University, wrote for The Atlantic last week that "Meloni's enemies list is familiar: 'LGBT lobbies' that are out to harm women and the family by destroying 'gender identity'; George Soros, an 'international speculator,' she has said, who finances global 'mass immigration' that threatens a Great Replacement of white, native-born Italians."

Avoiding Tax


An analysis by academic economists found that 26,000 people granted non-dom tax status by HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) collect an average of £420,000 a year in unreported overseas income and capital gains.

Super-rich overseas people in the UK registered as having non-domicile status are being legally allowed to avoid paying more than £3.2bn of tax on at least £10.9bn of offshore income a year, according to a report. 

Andy Summers, associate professor at LSE Law School, said: “Non-doms receive ten times as much investment income offshore as they report in the UK. By rewarding non-doms for keeping their investments abroad, the current tax rules harm our economy as well as being unfair on ordinary taxpayers who must pay tax on their worldwide income.”

The Warwick and LSE research, which is based on HMRC filings, claims that “only 0.3% of those affected would leave the country (fewer than 100 people), most of whom are paying hardly any tax under the current regime”.

The vast majority of non-doms are foreigners living in the UK who use the status so they are only taxed on income and capital gains arising in the country, but not on those generated overseas. Most ordinary people living and working in the UK pay tax on income and capital gains arising here and abroad.

Super-rich UK non-doms avoiding £3.2bn in tax each year, report finds | The super-rich | The Guardian

Meanwhile, another investigation has found that two companies – Anglo Beef Processors UK and Pilgrim’s Pride Corporation (owned by Brazilian beef giant JBS) – appear to have reduced their tax bill by structuring their companies and loans in a way that allows them to take advantage of different tax systems, in what one expert has described as “aggressive tax avoidance”.

The meat companies concerned have branches both in the UK and in the Netherlands and Luxembourg, which have different tax regimes. By lending money from a company in one country to a related company in the other, and then borrowing it back at a different interest rate, the companies can significantly and legally cut their tax bills.

“These companies get financed by 0% loans and they pay very little tax because they’re holding companies and Luxembourg and the Netherlands apply special taxing rules to holding companies in order to attract business,” said Avi-Yonah, who is also a former consultant to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).

Alex Cobham, CEO of the Tax Justice Network, suggested that “this gives all the appearance of tax avoidance, designed to prevent the declaration and taxation of profits in the location of the underlying real activity – ie, the place where the profits actually arise. What I may consider abusive is not necessarily unlawful, however, such are the failings of the international tax rules.”

Revealed: world’s biggest meat firm appears to have avoided millions in UK tax | Meat industry | The Guardian

Sunday, September 25, 2022

What is Starving to Death?

Lack of money means there is still a dearth of research into both the short- and long-term impacts of malnutrition. 

“This is not a subject that people put a lot of medical research into. The money is in obesity and overnutrition, and research follows money."  Dr Neal Russell, a paediatric adviser with Médecins Sans Frontières, explains. Though malnutrition affects millions of people, especially children, there is still much that is unknown about it. “Much of what we thought we knew 20 years ago has since been questioned,” Russell says.

If it [the human body] doesn’t have enough food to convert into energy it will burn through its own fat reserves, breaking down fat cells into fatty acids to be used for energy or converted into glucose by the liver.

How long it takes for the body to use up all its fat deposits depends on multiple factors: the amount and nutritional value of food being eaten; the individual’s metabolism; their activity levels; their body mass index; and their age and overall health.

It could take a month, six months, a year. People don’t go from some food to zero food. They start to reduce the number of meals. In places like the Horn of Africa, people may go entire days without a meal.

After a sustained period of severe lack of food, the only fat left in the body will be between muscles, in joints and organ cells. In women, in the worst-case scenario, you will notice they have no more breast tissue because every single ounce of fat is converted in places that are usually spared.

While this is happening, low glucose levels in the blood make the person feel weak and dizzy. It is at this point – feeling woozy, irritable and struggling to concentrate – that many people are forced to make difficult decisions.

 If food deprivation continues once the fat is gone, the body will start to break down muscle cells to access the fatty acids and proteins contained within them. The result of this is muscle atrophy – the medical term for loss of muscle mass – as the muscle cells lose their structural integrity. Within a few weeks, there’s no longer enough muscle to support the body, even in a seated position. Lying down is the only option.

As muscle cells break down they release chemicals, including potassium, chloride and sodium, and cellular debris into the bloodstream. These chemicals, combined with a lack of vital minerals and vitamins from malnutrition, cause an imbalance that affects multiple parts of the body, from individual cells to organ function. Lack of zinc can cause diarrhoea and cracked skin, and reduces the ability to fight infections. Salt imbalance may be associated with oedema or swelling, which can also lead to kwashiorkor, or severe malnutrition in young children, causing swollen bellies and faces.

 Until they are at a late stage, deficiencies can be corrected by giving food, but beyond a certain point the body cannot regulate itself, even with treatment.

The last thing to stop is the heart – in some cases, because the weakened heart is simply not powerful enough to pump blood around the body; in others, chemical imbalance in the bloodstream stops the heart. A person may not be conscious at this point: unable to function without energy, the brain begins to shut down. In the last hours before falling into a coma, a person may lose their vision as the brain zones in and out.

Globally, malnutrition underlies almost half of child deaths in under-fives. The majority will die of infection because their immune systems suffer by lack of nutrients. Your general defences against infection are reduced, your skin becomes thinner, your gut wall is thinner, the defences in your respiratory tract are weaker [and] less likely to cough things up.

What is known is that most people suffering from malnutrition die from disease or infection rather than starvation itself. Lack of food affects the immune system, shrinking the lymph nodes so they produce fewer white blood cells. The existing white blood cells don’t have sufficient energy to do their job in fighting off bacteria or healing a wound. A person is much more vulnerable to diseases such as malaria or conditions such as pneumonia and sepsis.  

Measles, malaria, pneumonia and diarrhoea are all common killers among children suffering from malnourishment; in many cases these children are moderately, as opposed to severely, malnourished. The malnutrition can be just enough to tip the balance in children, causing them to contract an infection that will kill them.

For every 10 children admitted to an intensive therapeutic feeding centre, one will probably die. Research published in the Lancet in May 2022 suggests that for every one that dies in hospital another will die after they are discharged.

Children who survive can suffer long-lasting effects. Impaired cognitive and physical and behavioural development can affect their education. The condition is also intergenerational – an adolescent girl or young woman who is undernourished may give birth to an undernourished baby.

Russell describes watching this crisis unfold before his eyes as “dystopian”. He struggles to find the right words. “... I have never found the language to describe the horror and injustice of seeing a child dying from malnutrition...One of the most haunting things about a children’s malnutrition centre is the deadly quiet of some children,” Russell says. “Their childhood has evaporated away. Young children regress, and stop walking or become incontinent – and they stop doing normal things like playing.” He continued, “Hunger takes something away from you. You can see how that breaks down a society and leads to more insecurity, conflict and anger.”

A letter to UN member states, “In a world of plenty, leaving people to starve is a policy choice.” The letter signed by 238 NGOs says, “The lack of political will and institutional failure to act quickly before the worst case hits means people are being left to lurch from crisis to crisis. People are not starving; they are being starved.”

These are needless deaths that will be largely ignored by a world distracted by extreme weather, the cost of living crisis and political upheavals says Alexandra Rutishauser-Perera, head of nutrition at Action Against Hunger UK. 

A study published by BMC Pediatrics found the prevalence of moderate to severe depression among mothers of malnourished children was significantly higher (64.1%) compared with mothers of normal weight children (5.1%).

“When you don’t have the money to have psychologists onboard, agencies don’t have the means to identify and measure the extent of the problem, and offer appropriate support,” Alexandra Rutishauser-Perera points out.

‘There’s a path towards death that people travel’: how hunger destroys lives and communities | Global development | The Guardian

Another Migrant Tragedy at Sea

 After a boat carrying migrants from Lebanon sank off Syria's coast, the overall toll has risen to 94. At least 14 survivors were recovering in hospitals in Syria, while six others were discharged. Two remained in intensive care. As many as 150 people were on board the small boat that sank off the Syrian port of Tartus, some 50 kilometres north of Tripoli in Lebanon, from where the migrants set sail. Those on board were mostly Lebanese, Syrians and Palestinians, and included both children and elderly.

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), Filippo Grandi, described the shipwreck as a "heart-wrenching tragedy".

Nearly three years of economic collapse have turned Lebanon into a launchpad for migrants, with its own citizens joining Syrian and Palestinian refugees clamouring to leave by dangerous sea routes.

Philippe Lazzarini, head of the UN agency for Palestinian refugees said: "No one gets on these death boats lightly. People are taking these perilous decisions, risking their lives in search of dignity." Lazzarini said more must be done "to offer a better future and address a sense of hopelessness in Lebanon and across the region, including among Palestine refugees".

Antonio Vitorino, head of the International Organization for Migration (IOM), said: "People looking for safety should not be compelled to take such perilous and often deadly migration journeys."

More than 90 dead in Lebanon migrant shipwreck off Syria (france24.com)

Saturday, September 24, 2022

Covid Continues to Kill

 Biden said "the pandemic is over"—an assertion he made as Covid-19 kills nearly 11,000 people across the planet each week, including roughly 3,000 in the U.S. alone. More than 1 million people worldwide died from the disease during the first eight months of 2022, and the number of fatalities caused directly and indirectly by the ongoing public health crisis that began in late 2019 surpassed 15 million earlier this year.

 WHO senior adviser Bruce Aylward warned that richer nations must not step back from tackling COVID-19 as a global problem now, ahead of future potential waves of infection. Aylward said that the group he co-ordinates, which focuses on equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines, treatments and tests worldwide, is not yet ready to move out of the emergency phase of tackling the pandemic and that countries need to be ready and have treatments in place for any further waves of infection.

"If you go to sleep right now and this wave hits us in three months... God - blood on your hands," he said.

Experts are anticipating a coronavirus surge this fall and winter that could infect hundreds of millions of people around the world, potentially leading to millions of hospitalizations and hundreds of thousands of additional deaths. Epidemiologists have long warned that the persistence of a massive inoculation gap between rich and poor countries allows the coronavirus to keep circulating and mutating, increasing the likelihood of a vaccine-resistant variant emerging.

People in Africa and other parts of the world remain completely unprotected due to a combination of dose hoarding by high-income nations and knowledge hoarding by pharmaceutical corporations.

 In June Big Pharma lobbied policymakersand defeated a widely supported proposal to temporarily waive the World Trade Organization's (WTO) corporate-friendly intellectual property rules, which sought to unleash generic production and boost the global supply of jabs, diagnostics, and therapeutics.

Last week, The Lancet's Covid-19 commission declared that "widespread failures during the Covid-19 pandemic at multiple levels worldwide have led to millions of preventable deaths and a reversal in progress towards sustainable development for many countries."

Economist Philip Schellekens wrote, "Not only is the pandemic not over, the world remains underprepared to deal with the adverse contingency of a highly contagious and potentially more lethal variant."

'Blood On Your Hands' If Global Poor Hit With Covid Wave, WHO Official Tells Rich Nations (commondreams.org)

Friday, September 23, 2022

Immigration Controls. Who Benefits?


A positive message about Canada's immigration that is worth quoting.

"There are basically two ways to respond to immigration... accuse immigrants of taking jobs, housing, and social services away from White Canadians. These racist messages are openly promoted by... the mainstream People’s Party of Canada that campaigns to “Substantially lower the total number of immigrants and refugees” because (they claim) immigrants “cost Canadian taxpayers billions of dollars” and undermine “Canadian values.”

The socialist response to immigration is based on working-class solidarity: the belief that an injury to one is an injury to all and that the best way to raise our living standards is for all workers to stand together against the employer class...

...For hundreds of thousands of years, there were no human obstacles to migration, and people travelled freely from our origins in Africa to populate every corner of the globe. The freedom to travel ended with the emergence of private property, no-trespassing laws, and the rise of nation states.

Nation states are defined by policed borders and by the nationalist myth that people on one side of the border share a common identity and values that are not shared by people on the other side. This is nonsense. Borders are arbitrarily drawn and redrawn...

...We are indoctrinated in nationalism from childhood. ..This practice accustoms us to embrace the interests of our rulers as our interests, and their goals as our goals. The myth of a united nation binds workers to their rulers and, in the process, divides them from their own class, including migrant workers in their own communities who are stigmatized as ‘them,’ not ‘us.’...Nationalism is inherently racist because it distinguishes who is and is not worthy of entry to the nation...

All wealthier nations, including Canada, have a birth rate below replacement level, meaning not enough babies are born to replace those who die. Canada also has an aging population. Since 2001, the number of people over age 85 has doubled. Presently, immigration accounts for more than 80 percent of Canada’s population growth and almost 100 percent of its labour force growth. This has not been enough, and the business class is calling for more migrant labor.

The COVID pandemic caused more than 44,000 deaths in Canada, disabled many thousands more, pulled people out of work to care for the sick and disabled, and prompted a record number of older workers to retire early. This past June, unemployment hit its lowest level in 50 years. Statistics Canada reports over one million unfilled jobs across all provinces and sectors, especially in health care, construction, accommodation, food, retail, and manufacturing...

It’s not as though everyone seeking a job can have one. There are a million unemployed workers in Canada because the wages being offered in many sectors are lower than most workers will accept. People need more. Compared with last year, nearly twice as many workers left lower-paid jobs for higher-paid ones. This has increased the number of unfilled low-waged jobs.

Because of the shortage of workers or, more accurately, the shortage of wages, existing workers are being forced to work extra shifts and extended hours that increase workplace stress, injuries, and deaths. When workers at one scaffolding company refused to work regular overtime, the company threatened to fire them and have them jailed for engaging in an illegal strike. When workers are difficult to attract, employers are forced to compete for them. Some fast-food outlets are offering $17 an hour to start. Other companies are offering thousands of dollars in sign-on bonuses. While offering higher pay does attract workers, it cuts into profits. It also gives workers confidence to push for more.

Governments fear that existing conditions could lead to a wage explosion, so they are raising interest rates to slow the economy, increase unemployment, and dampen workers’ demands.

They also plan to import more low-waged workers with fewer rights to resist substandard conditions. Canada’s immigration system provides this kind of labor by offering mostly temporary and conditional permits that tie workers to a single employer. When temporary and conditional permits inevitably expire, they are difficult to renew because the application process is complicated, and the system is seriously backlogged, with more than 1.5 million applications for study permits, work permits, temporary visas, and visitor extensions waiting to be reviewed. Until their applications are approved, which can take years or even decades, migrants without documents have no legal rights or protections, no access to social services or medical care, and must work for cash under the table. Currently half-a-million people in Canada are undocumented, mostly because of expired permits. They live in poverty, and the threat of deportation makes them vulnerable to wage theft, sexual assault, and other abuses...

There are plenty of workers willing to migrate. Many are desperate to leave homelands ravaged by colonialism, war, poverty, and climate change. Wealthy nations use these migrants to regulate their own labor force. They open their borders to migrant workers when they need more or cheaper labor, and close them when they don’t. A global migration industry has developed to exploit this situation...

anada produces more than enough cookies for everyone. Last year, workers in this country produced $3 trillion worth of goods and services. That’s two-and-a-half times more than we produced 20 years ago. Our wages haven’t gone up two-and-a-half times. On the contrary, wages have stagnated or fallen in real terms. That’s because employers took all the cookies, leaving workers to fight over the crumbs: low wages; threadbare social supports; back-breaking, soul-killing work; and a falling standard of living.

Are bosses taking too much, so there’s not enough for the rest of us? Or are there too many of us, and not enough to go around, so we need to reduce our numbers? This second explanation is based on the myth of scarcity. For over 200 years, the belief that there are too many needy people has been used to justify social inequality and working-class deprivation. Consider the lack of affordable housing. Most people living in large Canadian cities cannot afford the cost of rent. In the US, a full-time minimum-wage worker cannot afford rent in ANY state. Is the problem too many people, not enough housing, or wages too low to access what housing is available? There are millions of vacant homes in the world, including over a million in Canada...

If we think the problem is too many people chasing not enough goods, then we should close the door to immigrants. If we think the problem is rich people hoarding the wealth, the food, and everything else, then we should change society to ensure that what we produce meets people’s needs...

We were lied to and robbed! The benefit of rising productivity went exclusively to the employers, who got richer and more powerful as trillions of dollars were transferred from workers to bosses. During the first two years of the pandemic alone, the world’s 10 richest men more than doubled their fortunes. Today, just 10 individuals command more wealth than the annual value of all goods and services produced by most nations. That is truly mind-boggling! The reason why most people today work so hard and so long for so little has nothing to do with immigrants. We are victims of grand theft capitalism...We were lied to and robbed! The benefit of rising productivity went exclusively to the employers, who got richer and more powerful as trillions of dollars were transferred from workers to bosses.

During the first two years of the pandemic alone, the world’s 10 richest men more than doubled their fortunes. Today, just 10 individuals command more wealth than the annual value of all goods and services produced by most nations. That is truly mind-boggling! The reason why most people today work so hard and so long for so little has nothing to do with immigrants. We are victims of grand theft capitalism...

While the capitalist class want more migrant labor, they oppose giving them permanent resident status because precarious labor is more profitable, and dividing workers makes them easier to manage...we must build a united, anti-racist workers’ movement that replaces nationalist barriers with the invitation, “You are welcome here!”...

The full unabridged article can be read here

Immigration: Who Benefits? Who Suffers? - Susan Rosenthal

Thursday, September 22, 2022

Wasting in Children

 “An escalating malnutrition crisis is pushing millions of children to the brink of starvation – and unless we do more, that crisis will become a catastrophe,” said UNICEF Executive Director Catherine Russell. 

“The majority of children facing severe malnutrition – nearly two-thirds of children who need treatment – live in places not currently in crisis, places that don’t normally receive humanitarian aid,” said USAID Administrator Samantha Power. 

“We are witnessing an unprecedented child malnutrition crisis. The fact that many millions of children have to experience severe malnutrition in their first few years of life is unacceptable,” said Co-founder and Chair of CIFF Chris Hohn.

“Acute malnutrition can be prevented, and the effects mitigated, if detected and treated early." said Canada’s Minister of International Development and Minister responsible for the Pacific Economic Development Agency Harjit S. Sajjan.

“The world has reached a crossroads where climate change, continuous conflict in many regions, the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, and now the war in Ukraine have converged to deepen and accelerate global food and nutrition insecurity." said Ireland’s Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney.

 “Millions of children are currently being affected by the floods in Pakistan and the drought in Somalia, the latest signs of an accelerating climate crisis. People in these countries have done next to nothing to contribute to the crisis, yet they are among the ones being affected the most." said Climate and environmental activist Greta Thunberg.

 Over half a billion dollars pledged to tackle severe wasting since July in unprecedented international response to deepening child malnutrition crisis - World | ReliefWeb

The LNG Lobbyists

 The Russian invasion of Ukraine did not only bring bountiful returns to the armament corporations, the oil industries and the grain market but as this article pointed out, the American gas producers benefited profitably from the conflict.

The crisis in Ukraine has helped several LNG companies record bumper profits this year. The export company Cheniere earned $3.8bn more in cash from its operations in the first half of 2022 compared to the same period last year, while Sempra, a gas liquifying company, has enjoyed an eight-fold increase in LNG sales to Europe.

Just one day after the Russian attack upon Ukraine, the gas lobby issued to Biden a   list of demands: more drilling on US public lands; the swift approval of proposed gas export terminals; and pressure on the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, an independent agency, to green-light pending gas pipelines, to avoid the anticipated energy shortage.

 The US gas industry has achieved almost all of its initial objectives. Within weeks, Biden adopted the gas industry’s major demands as policy, paving the way for new pipelines and export facilities, establishing a new taskforce to boost gas exports to Europe. 

“I can’t even begin to tell you how much the momentum has changed for companies in the United States that have wanted to bring their projects forward and just haven’t been able to get long-term contracts,” said a jubilant Fred Hutchison, president of LNG Allies, the industry group. Biden administration, which styled itself as deeply committed to tackling the climate crisis, had “changed substantially” within just a week, Hutchison noted. 

 US LNG Association group wanted six specific gas export applications to be expedited, and within three weeks the US department of energy granted two of them, Cheniere Energy’s Sabine Pass project in Louisiana and its Corpus Christi operation in Texas. By the end of April, two further LNG export licenses had been issued. “Four down and two to go! 

American LNG exports are set to grow an additional 20% by the end of this year.  Biden  has vowed to supply the European Union with at least 15 billion cubic meters of gas, equivalent to about half the amount of gas burned by Spain each year, by the end of 2022.

But the embrace of liquified natural gas (LNG) dismayed climate activists who warn it will lock in decades of planet-heating emissions and push the world closer to climate catastrophe. The International Energy Agency has said no new fossil fuel infrastructure can be built if the world is to avoid dangerous global heating.

Zorka Milin, senior advisor at Global Witness, said, the US gas industry was “licking its lips” at the onset of the Ukraine war. 

“There is no doubt that Biden’s apparent capitulation to the gas industry has opened the door for these companies to continue to profit off the backs of those suffering in Ukraine, those living close to new gas infrastructure in the US and the millions affected by climate change globally.”

Milin explained, “Russia’s aggression in Ukraine, rising energy prices and the devastating impacts of climate change should be the biggest prompt yet to end the world’s dependence on fossil fuels,” said Milin. “Instead, an already rich industry is trying to seize the moment and force the world to double down on the very mistakes that have led us to this situation.

Much of the new gas infrastructure won’t be operational for several years, which may be beyond the timeframe of the Russia-Ukraine conflict that has squeezed supplies and caused gas prices to spike. So much LNG export is planned or under construction, adding up to around a half of all total US gas production, that it will likely cause gas prices to climb for domestic American users, according to Clark Williams-Derry, analyst at the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis.

“It’s beginning to eat into the amount of gas available to domestic consumers,” said Williams-Derry. “We will see very severe impacts on domestic US gas prices, we will see the impacts for as long as the eye can see.”

Gas has long been touted as a helpful “bridge fuel” in dealing with the climate crisis as it emits less carbon dioxide than coal or oil and provides energy for processes such as steel making that renewables can’t quite manage yet. But the extraction, transportation and liquefaction required to create LNG for export creates almost as much emissions as burning the gas itself.  LNG’s greenhouse gas impact is “at best, only modestly smaller than that of other fossil fuels”.

How the gas industry capitalized on the Ukraine war to change Biden policy | Gas | The Guardian

Survival of the Richest and the Broken Promises

 All but forgotten, its failure is no longer newsworthy

Two-thirds of countries are yet to meet the target of vaccinating 70 percent of people in all countries against COVID-19 set a year ago

The death toll from COVID-19 is four times higher in lower-income countries, where less than half (48 percent) of the population have had their full initial round of vaccinations. At the current rate, it will take almost two and a half years for 70 percent of people in the poorest countries to be fully vaccinated.

 Meanwhile, rich countries are already beginning to roll out booster programmes and in some cases fifth shots, using the new generation vaccines, the majority of which have been ordered by rich nations.

At the same time, Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna continue to reap huge profits while refusing to work with the WHO to share their vaccine technology. 

Maaza Seyoum, Global South Convenor of the People’s Vaccine Alliance, said: “Everyone everywhere should have access to the tools needed to fight a pandemic, But COVID-19 has been a case of survival of the richest. For most of this pandemic, big pharmaceutical companies left people in developing countries to die without vaccines and treatments while they sold doses to rich governments in the global north.

“Now, big pharma is trying to rewrite history, claiming that the industry will voluntarily ensure global access to medicines in the next pandemic. We know from COVID-19 that this isn’t true. Governments cannot rely on the goodwill of pandemic profiteers to do the right thing. We need to overhaul this system to put human life before private profit.”

Anna Marriott, Oxfam’s Health Policy Manager, said: “This massive failure to meet promises to protect the world from Covid-19 is indefensible. While the end of the pandemic should be in sight, hundreds of millions of people in developing countries are still unprotected from COVID-19. We are calling on President Biden and other world leaders not to turn their backs on them while the virus continues to kill and cause devastation to people’s livelihoods." She continued, “It is time to radically redesign a system that puts pharma profits ahead of people’s lives. Developing countries need access to vaccines, tests, and treatments at the same time as rich countries, not years later after people have died. We are seeing the same deadly inequality for COVID-19 treatments and now for monkeypox vaccines, governments must not allow this to continue.”

Lack of vaccination means the need for COVID-19 tests and treatments is even greater in poorer nations but inequality in access is even starker, yet rich nations are at this moment fiercely resisting any attempt to extend the WTO agreement on vaccines to tests and treatments. Reports from the ACT-Accelerator indicated that almost no doses of any outpatient antivirals are available in low-and middle-income countries. The campaign groups said this persistent gap demonstrates the massive failings in the international response to COVID-19, which continually ignored the need to diversify manufacturing so that developing countries could make their own doses and manage their own supply concurrently with deliveries to rich countries. 

A recent report found that a combination of unpredictable vaccine supplies, lack of antiviral treatments, and poor funding for health systems led to lower vaccination rates in developing countries, and that vaccine hesitancy was being used as an excuse to mask the international failures in the COVID-19 response.

The International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers Associations (IFPMA) is pressuring governments to take a greater role to fund, support, de-risk, and provide data for research and development. But they want governments to hand companies a monopoly on the resulting drugs and to waive liability for any adverse impacts. In return, the industry claims it will do better to improve “equity” in the next pandemic, proposing the same voluntary measures that failed during COVID-19 in a lobbying paper dubbed the “Berlin Declaration”.

World leaders’ UNGA pledge to vaccinate world falls woefully short as only a third of countries meet target - World | ReliefWeb