Wednesday, August 31, 2022

Socialist Sonnet No. 75

Doing Business


Twenty twenty two; six years of Brexit

And the Tory headed plan realised.

Surely then, no one can be surprised

Their country is actually in the shit.

British sovereignty means freedom for sure

For every water company that dumps

Raw sewerage overflows through off-shore pumps,

And each beach becomes an open sewer.

This septic isle set in an ordure sea,

Where pursuit of profit and private wealth

Must take precedence over public health:

Such is this effluent society.

Lapped by crusted waves of filth, Britain sinks

While capitalism literally stinks.


D. A.

The New Indian Raj

 Indian Gautam Adani has been named the world’s third richest person with an estimated $137bn (£117bn) fortune and becomes the first Asian person to break into the top three of world’s wealthy.

His wealth has soared by $61bn so far this year.

Many of his businesses are involved in natural gas, coal mining and electricity generation, and are likely to have benefited from the global energy price increase.

Adani’s conglomerate owns India’s largest private sector seaport and airport operator as well as a huge coalmine in Queensland, Australia.

When six Indian airports were lined up for privatisation on 2018, Modi relaxed the rules to allow companies with no experience in running airports to bid for them. Adani’s company bought all six and became the country’s biggest airport operator. The Kerala state finance minister, Thomas Isaac, described it as an “act of brazen cronyism”.  Adani’s wealth has risen from an estimated $8bn at the time of Modi’s election in 2014 to $137bn today, a rise of more than 1,600%.

Last week, Adani increased his influence by buying a 29% stake in television network New Delhi Television (NDTV), which is seen as one of few remaining independent TV channels in India.

Indian tycoon Gautam Adani named world’s third richest person | Rich lists | The Guardian

Tuesday, August 30, 2022

Afghani Agony

 UN humanitarian chief Martin Griffiths told the United Nations Security Council that six million people were at risk of famine in Afghanistan.

Conflict, poverty, climate shocks and food insecurity “have long been a sad reality” in Afghanistan, but he said what makes the current situation “so critical” is the halt to large-scale development aid. He urged donors to restore funding for development in Afghanistan that was frozen when the Taliban took over a year ago.

“Poverty is deepening, the population is still growing, and the de facto authorities have no budget to invest in their own future. It’s clear to us that some development support needs to be restarted,” Griffiths said.

More than half of Afghanistan’s 39 million people need humanitarian help and six million are at risk of famine. More than a million children are “estimated to be suffering from the most severe, life-threatening form of malnutrition” and could die without proper treatment, he said. With more than 70 percent of Afghans living in rural areas, Griffiths warned that if agriculture and livestock production are not protected “millions of lives and livelihoods will be risked, and the country’s capacity to produce food imperilled.”

UN says six million Afghans are at risk of famine as crises grow | United Nations News | Al Jazeera

Our melting world

 There has always been a suspicion that climate scientists were being far too cautious in their predictions and not fully explaining the seriousness of the imminent threats to the planet and its people. They feared they would be considered scare-mongering. However, more research now reveals the catastrophic consequences we face with global warming.

Major sea-level rise from the melting of the Greenland ice cap is now inevitable, scientists have found, even if the fossil fuel burning that is driving the climate crisis were to end overnight.

The research shows an absolute minimum sea-level rise of 27cm (10.6in) from Greenland alone as 110tn tonnes of ice melt. With continued carbon emissions, the melting of other ice caps and thermal expansion of the ocean, a multi-metre sea-level rise appears likely. If Greenland’s record melt year of 2012 becomes a routine occurrence later this century, as is possible, then the ice cap will deliver a “staggering” 78cm of sea-level rise, the scientists said.

The only thing missing from the research is a firm timescale.

Prof Gail Whiteman, at the University of Exeter, who was not part of the study team, said: “The results of this new study are hard to ignore for all business leaders and politicians concerned about the future of humanity. It is bad news for the nearly 600 million people that live in coastal zones worldwide. 

“It is a very conservative rock-bottom minimum,” said Prof Jason Box from the National Geological Survey of Denmark and Greenland (Geus), who led the research. “Realistically, we will see this figure more than double within this century.” The 27cm estimate is a minimum because it only accounts for global heating so far and because some ways in which glacier ice is lost at the margins of the ice sheet are not included.

Monday, August 29, 2022

Russians Against War

 30-year-old Aikhal Ammosov is a member of the local punk rock group Crispy Newspaper. For allegedly "discrediting the Russian army" he faces a possible 3 years in prison. The reason for the case was that he and his partner tried to hang a banner "Yakutian punk against war" in the center of Yakutsk before the visit of Prime Minister Mishustin. Ammosov's actions were extremely noticeable. Not only in Yakutsk, with a population of 341 thousand, but all over Russia.

Aikhal's real name is Igor Ivanov. This year, city court of Yakutsk, the capital of the Republic of Sakha, has already fined him 30,000 rubles under an anti-war administrative article three times.

Until now, my generation was not interested in anything. Many people drink, some go hunting, others are just passive. I have been waiting for someone to publicly present my thoughts and the thoughts of my peers. The fact is that today no politician seems worthy to be called a "man" or "woman." So I decided to do everything myself”, he said in an interview with Rolling Stone. "I grew up in a poor family. As a child, I was aware of the vast differences that exist in our society. Today, some might think that I'm an abnormal punk because I don't drink or smoke. But here we have our own way of understanding things. In the first place is knowledge and intelligence...All the conflicts that Russia starts are similar and tragic. Are meaningless. People are dying because of the whims of officials and oligarchs. Those in power start the aggression, and we, ordinary people, pay the price..."

In a June interview with Sadwave, he said:

"I'm against any wars. It is strange to be for it. Any conscious person who thinks with his own head will be against armed conflicts. We all watched war films. We watched Soviet films. War is always bad. War does not bring anything good. Only death, hunger and poverty. These are elementary things that even a child knows! But people are so stupid that they say that we must fight. They say that war is good. That sooner or later it would happen. Wars must be prevented, not fomented. And do not contribute to their development. I am not a hippie and have never been a peace-loving person. Was not a pacifist. But I have never been for the war. I have read many books about wars. About the Great Patriotic War, about Afghanistan, about Chechnya. I will always be against wars..."

"People are confused. They were deceived. People don't understand what they are doing. Why do they need this war? Everyone wants to live in peace. Everyone wants to live in peace. But they are told that it is necessary. That it is forced. That there was no other way....We want to live. We want freedom. We want to make history."

Siberian punk may be imprisoned for anti-militarist agitation |

Poor Nations Punished

 It is understandable that local home-news gets the most in-depth coverage in the media. Consequently, in the UK the present drought and the water-hose bans are making the headlines. But a broader survey of world events and we witness all manner of extreme weather.

In Italy, the worst drought in decades has triggered a state of emergency, while fires have broken out in the cities of Palermo and Sicily. In Southwest France, 10,000 people have fled a massive wildfire that has been smoldering since July. In Germany, record-low water levels in the Rhine threaten to run aground river traffic. . In Kansas, a June heatwave killed so many cattle so quickly that thousands of their carcasses were disposed of in a landfill. This spring in South America, record temperatures across southern Brazil, Paraguay, Argentina and Uruguay have heavily impacted grain and other crop harvests. Widescale flooding in Pakistan and in China.

The effect of climate has social and political consequences.

Olayinka Ajala, a lecturer in politics and international relations at Leeds Beckett University in the United Kingdom, pointed to simmering animosity between pastoralist herdsmen who move cattle from one place to another and sedentary farmers — groups that had long peacefully coexisted — in 11 countries in Sub-Saharan Africa. Traditionally, sedentary farmers would plant crops, harvest them, then the pastoralists would swoop in and clean off the rest, explained Ajal. But erratic changes in rainfall patterns have led to the pastoralist herdsmen getting to the farms before the crops have been harvested. When this happens, Ajal said, the herdsmen’s cattle destroy the plants, leading to tensions and conflict. 

“This has resulted in lots of deaths,” said Ajala. Indeed, between 2020 and 2021, he said, “this conflict resulted in more deaths than terrorism in Africa.”

Back in 2009 by some of the world’s richest nations to deliver $100 billion annually by 2020 to poorer countries. The developed world has really been very resistant of setting up this loss and damage fund. Indeed, the UN has estimated that climate adaptation costs in the developing world alone could hit $300 billion annually by 2030, and as much as $500 billion annually by 2050. 

Climate change is “the greatest market failure on earth if you think about the basics of economics and capitalism,” said Vanessa PĂ©rez-Cirera, director of the World Resources Institute’s Global Economics Center. But, she added, more economists are slowly shifting away from one driven by a profit motive. At the end of the day, she said, “we should move to societies that really value life and value equity in a much greater way.”

Poor Countries Are Suffering the Worst Climate Woes But Getting the Least Help (

Sunday, August 28, 2022

Peru and Gold

 As gold prices have surged so have rates of killings, extortion and violent land invasions in Peru. Criminal gangs have taken advantage of lax law enforcement, unemployment and rising poverty. Where they need land they steal it. In 2019, the authorities  launched a clampdown on illegal mining, Operation Mercury. The goal was to raze La Pampa, home to about 25,000 people, from the map. It did get results. Deforestation caused by illegal mining dropped by 92%But a lack of strategy and political will has undone the advances, according to Karina Garay, a former environmental prosecutor in the 2019 taskforce.\

“We advanced one step with Mercury, now we’ve gone back two steps,” she says. “There have always been mafias here. Now that the illegal miners have returned, so have the criminals.”

There are more than 46,000 people mining in Madre De Dios, according to a recent report, far more than the 2020 report by Peru’s mines ministry, which estimated there were about 50,000 in the entire country.

‘They attacked with machetes’: murder, mafias and illegal mining in Peru’s gold fields | Global development | The Guardian

Why stop at free school dinners?

 Hunger will be the “single biggest challenge” schools face as children return to classrooms in the coming weeks, according to the Child Poverty Action Group

Already, 800,000 children living in poverty in England do not qualify for free school meals sparking calls for the government to introduce universal free school meals to help tackle the crisis.  Headteachers are bracing for rising numbers from homes that cannot afford to feed them properly.

In England, all infant schoolchildren are entitled to free school meals from reception to year two, but beyond that only children whose parents earn less than £7,400 a year are eligible. But the rise in the price cap for the average gas and electricity bill to £3,549 a year from October will mean many who earn more than this will face a stark choice between food and heating.

Andy Jolley, a former school governor and campaigner for free school meals, said: “It’s incredibly difficult to become eligible for free school meals. A lot of people who have lost their jobs, who you would imagine must be eligible, just aren’t.” He added: “Registration isn’t automatic. Parents have to tell the school and then go through a complicated process to apply. Often because of barriers such as language or fear of stigma, families don’t claim.”

Paul Gosling, head of Exeter Road community primary school in Exmouth and who is president of the National Association of Head Teachers union, said “We will have far more children turning up to school hungry.” and adding that his school was worrying about how to afford to keep the lights on, “let alone helping families”.

Jonny Uttley, CEO of the Education Alliance academy trust, which runs seven schools in Hull and East Riding, said: “This food poverty is the single biggest challenge schools will face. More and more children will turn up to school hungry. It will go well beyond the definition of free school meals now.” He explained that “even before the horrific energy cap rises”, he was planning measures such as breakfast clubs and uniform vouchers because of rising poverty in his schools. But now “the potential scale of the problem is so much worse”.

Uttley believes the government needs to introduce universal free school meals because so many families will be in desperate need despite falling outside the government’s poverty threshold.

Richard Murphy, economic justice campaigner and professor of accounting at Sheffield University, said free school meals for all children in state schools was the only possible solution. “Within months we will be facing the worst economic crisis that anyone alive has witnessed,” he said. “The government must move rapidly and universally as the cost of not doing so is not just child poverty but child hunger, and that cannot be acceptable.”

Fears of widespread child hunger spark calls for universal free school meals in UK | UK cost of living crisis | The Guardian

The real scam-artist is the Home Office

 Home Office statistics expose the hollowness of Home Office propaganda. The story about asylum seekers that has become almost received wisdom is that most, especially those coming across the Channel, are scammers jumping the queue and that they deserve locking up and deportation. The statistics not only help unpick that Home Office myth but point also to a different story. They show that there is no “queue” to jump; that the real problem is Britain’s refusal to open legal routes, even for those whose lives are in mortal danger, and to whom Britain owes a moral obligation; that those who cross the Channel on small boats are mostly genuine refugees forced to make that journey because of Home Office intransigence; that the policy of mass deportation of unauthorised migrants is dangerous and immoral.

The latest migrant panic is all about Albanians. In an article in the Daily Mail, drawing on a “secret military intelligence report”, the claim was that 40% of cross-Channel migrants were Albanian. 

Radio 4’s Today programme on Thursday claimed that “government officials believe the majority” of people arriving on small boats were from Albania, a claim presented without challenge as a fact. 

That same day, the Home Office unveiled an agreement with Tirana to “fast-track” the removal of Albanians, who apparently don’t require asylum because they come from a “safe and prosperous nation”.

The statistics tell a different story. 

The number of Albanians crossing the Channel has certainly increased, but in the first six months of this year stood at around 17% of the total. It is possible that the figures have dramatically changed since the end of June, but we have little evidence for that except for unverified Home Office sources and a secret document from military intelligence.

The claim that Albanians don’t need asylum because they come from a “safe” country is also belied by the data. In the year ending this June, 53% of Albanian claimants had been granted asylum, or other forms of leave to stay in the country, on first decision, and a higher proportion on appeal. Between January and June this year that amounted to 385 people; fewer than half that figure were formally refused. What happens to the majority of Albanians who might otherwise have been granted asylum when they are placed in a “fast-track” deportation lane, no one will say.

The data also gives the lie to the claim made by Home Secretary Priti Patel that most asylum claims are bogus and that “70% of people crossing the Channel… are economic migrants”. In the year ending this June, three-quarters of all those claiming asylum were successful. Half of those who appealed against refusals were also successful, pushing the total success rate to almost 90%.

What of cross-Channel migrants? Of all the migrants who have arrived on small boats since 2018, 82% are still waiting for a verdict on their asylum claim. It shows how unresponsive is the Home Office process; this is not just because of higher numbers – though numbers have gone up, they are still below the figures seen in the early 2000s – but because it’s a system that seems almost designed to be glacially slow.

Of the fewer than one in five whose cases have received a decision, 49% were successful. Just 8% had their application turned down. 

And the remainder? The government refused to make a decision because they were deemed to have come from a “safe” country. But, given that the majority of Albanians, who come from a supposedly “safe” country, are granted asylum, one would imagine that a large proportion of those whose application the Home Office refused to consider would also, in a less ideologically driven system, have been successful.

The figures also question the claim that there is no need for unauthorised journeys to Britain. In 2018, just three Afghans – 1% of arrivals – came by boat across the Channel. In the first six months of this year that figure had shot up to 2,066 – about 16% of the total. The main cause is, of course, the Taliban takeover of a year ago. There are supposed to be two official routes for Afghan asylum seekers. So why are so many arriving by boat from Calais? Because not only is it murderously difficult to apply for a visa under the eyes of the Taliban, but even those who might be thought of as the most deserving are often refused asylum. Last week, the story emerged of a former female Afghan judge who had jailed dozens of Taliban fighters, many of whom have been freed from jail since the Taliban victory and many of whom are now in government. She is in hiding with her son, in fear of her life. She has family in Britain. Nevertheless, the Home Office rejected her asylum application. It’s almost as if the government wants Afghans to trust to people smugglers to help them make the perilous journey to Calais and then to embark on a rubber dinghy.

Britain also grants asylum status to many Rwandan refugees – at least seven so far this year. So, while the government has signed a deal with Rwanda for the mass deportation of unauthorised migrants, insisting that it is a “safe and prosperous” nation, it acknowledges at the same time that the country is unsafe enough for people to be forced to flee and be granted asylum.

There are lies, damn lies, and then there is Home Office propaganda about migrants | Kenan Malik | The Guardian

The Union Fight-Back


The value of average wages has fallen steadily for 12 years. 

Christina McAnea, general secretary of the biggest union, Unison, estimates that the real terms wages of her 1.3 million mainly public service members, some at or near the national minimum wage of £9.50 an hour, have fallen by up to 25%.

McAnea says the “mood has changed and people are much angrier”, not just because they feel “cheated” after the pandemic but because they think the services they provide are so poor in some areas that striking won’t make them worse. “Our health workers are saying: ‘We know the consequences of us going on strike, but I’ve had patients sitting in my ambulance for 10, 12 hours. And we need to be doing something that shows the government this isn’t acceptable.’”

McAnea estimates that Unison membership in the care sector has risen post-pandemic by a third to 150,000: in the sector’s whole beleaguered workforce, only “a drop in the ocean,” she says, “but way more than other unions”.

TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady believes what finally ignited the anger was the pandemic. 

“Millions of workers got us through Covid,” she says. “For the first time people realised how important their labour was and thought it would be rewarded.” And that the “opposite happened” was a “kick in the teeth”. Shapps “describing rail workers as heroes and now suddenly they’re the enemy” is just one example, she says. Workers, O’Grady says, have also been “discovering what is happening in boardrooms” – to City bonuses, CEO salaries, up 39% last year to £3.4m on average, and company profits.

 Sharon Graham of Unite has been especially adept at emphasising employer profits. At Felixstowe docks on Wednesday Graham told several hundred striking dockers in orange hi-vis Unite vests, warmed up by speakers blasting out Bob Marley (Get Up, Stand Up) and Aretha Franklin (Respect), that the company made £79m profit last year, distributing £42m to shareholders. It could pay the workers 50% more and still make a profit, she claimed. “So what’s wrong with asking for 10%?” She then promised to apply “leverage” on management by approaching the shipping companies disrupted by the eight-day stoppage and investors in the holding company, CK Hutchinson, controlled by Hong Kong billionaire Li Kai-Shing, “the 32nd second richest man in the world”. This is Graham’s trademark technique of what she calls “strike plus”. Having hired a team of “fantastic forensic accountants” to comb through company results, she says: “I want employers to do well, to make a profit. I just want workers to get a better piece of that pie.”

Graham has reduced Unite’s affiliation fees to Labour, recasting the union as an industrial organisation rather than immersing it in the party’s “internal machinations”. Arguing that “parliament has been captured by business” she adds: “Labour’s too scared to say that business is wrong even when there’s profit and workers are taking a pay cut. So now we’ve got to be in the workers’ corner.”

At next month’s TUC Congress, Unite will propose a motion calling on the TUC to “facilitate and encourage industrial coordination between unions so that workers in dispute can … win”. The aim would be to synchronise – or deliberately stagger – industrial action in separate disputes to maximise their impact.

Despite GMB and Unite campaigns at Amazon, the GMB’s attempts to negotiate a bigger rise than the 35p on offer, on hourly rates between £10.50 and £11.45, met with flat rejection despite walkouts. One GMB Amazon member says he is more concerned about the mental health impact of an isolated job “stuck in a cage” on a robotic production line than pay. But, he adds: “Amazon are too big and too powerful. If you had 200,000 members protesting, things would happen. But when you’ve got under 5,000 across all their places trying to do this, they’re just laughing.” Longer term, Unite’s Graham envisages UK, German and US unions pressuring corporate and governmental clients of Amazon’s highly profitable cloud business to require “neutrality” deals allowing them to organise such workers.

TUC research also shows that lower-paid younger workers are likeliest to be in insecure, less unionised private sector workplaces. Most of these “grandchildren” of the Thatcher era have scant knowledge of unions. Yet it also shows “that younger workers are even likelier to support our values than other workers”, says O’Grady. Raising the proportion of unionised workers aged between 20 and 29 to that across all ages – 23.4% – would bring in another 500,000 members.

Andrew Bailey, the Bank of England governor, has argued that workers seeking pay rises to protect themselves from inflation will make the problem worse, declaring that “the people who are least well-off … are worst affected because they don’t have the bargaining power”. Yet since the pandemic, CEO salaries in the top FTSE 100 companies rebounded to an expected average 67 times that of their own employees’ median earnings.

RMT's Mick Lynch rejects Bailey’s “ridiculous prescription” that rather than pull “the many poor people” who are not in unions out of low pay, “the mission of union members who are moderately or modestly paid is to join the very low paid”. 

And Graham is adamant that current inflation is the result first of external shock and then from profiteering and price gouging by some businesses.

‘People are much angrier now’: why Britain is going on strike | Industrial action | The Guardian

Vaccine Inequality

 Thanks to dose hoarding by wealthy governments and knowledge hoarding by pharmaceutical corporations, less than 21% of people in low-income countries have received at least one Covid-19 shot, compared with 79% of people in high-income nations—prolonging the circulation of the virus and increasing the chances of a vaccine-resistant variant emerging.

Big Pharma and its allies have tried to infer low inoculation rates in poor countries to vaccine hesitancy, but a new transnational survey published documents how low-income nations have been forsaken during the global response to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, with numerous barriers still preventing billions of people from obtaining lifesaving jabs, tests, and treatments.

 Public health researchers have spent the past several months studying access to Covid-19 vaccines, diagnostics, and therapeutics across 14 low- and middle-income countries and territories: Bangladesh, Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Haiti, Jamaica, Liberia, Madagascar, Nepal, Nigeria, Peru, Senegal, Somalia, Somaliland, Uganda, and Ukraine.

As detailed in a report compiled by Matahari Global Solutions, the People's Vaccine Alliance, and the International Treatment Preparedness Coalition (ITPC), they found that "a combination of undersupply of vaccines and treatments, underfunding of health systems, undervaluing of health workers, and poor adaptation to local needs were the key drivers behind low vaccination rates," a summary states.

Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla has repeatedly tried to downplay his role in perpetuating unequal access to Covid-19 medical tools, blaming poor countries for having "way, way higher" levels of vaccine hesitancy. "Our report finds this allegation to be false," Dr. Fifa A Rahman, principal consultant at Matahari Global Solutions, said in a statement. "These are issues of equity."

Key findings include:

  • Testing and vaccination sites have been inaccessible, meaning true infection and death rates are likely to be far higher than official figures. PCR test results can take anywhere from 8-12 hours in Bangladesh to more than two weeks in rural DRC. People cannot leave work at short notice, travel long distances to a vaccination/testing site, and then wait for a long unpredictable period of time. For rural populations and nomadic people in countries like Somalia, this problem is particularly acute. Mobile vaccination and testing are not widespread enough.
  • Vaccine supply is still a major problem. Vaccines have been delivered inconsistently and in insufficient numbers, leading to stock fluctuations at vaccination sites. Doses arrive with little or no notice or information about what kind of vaccine will be delivered or whether they are suitable to conditions in a country. Dr. Saeed Mohamood from Somaliland's Ministry of Health said, "Sometimes we will find out that the Somaliland shipment is on a plane in the air, en route, and we do not know when it's going to expire and how much resources we will have."
  • Access to antiviral treatments is nonexistent in most countries surveyed. Health workers on the ground in some countries are not even aware that treatments like Paxlovid exist. Some countries will have access to doses through generic licensing agreements, but that is unlikely to happen this year, meaning the grave inequities experienced with the global vaccine rollout will be repeated with treatments. Peru, among other middle-income countries, is considering overriding patents to secure access.
  • People cannot access accurate information in a format that is accessible to them, reducing the likelihood of vaccine uptake. Information campaigns are often in the "official language" of former colonizers (e.g. English, French, Spanish), instead of local languages, and use technical terms that are hard to understand. Richard Musisi, executive director of MADIPHA in Uganda, said: "When the key vaccinations started, the fact [was] that people could not find access to such information, most of the information was communicated in English, it was not put into local languages."
  • A history of colonial oppression and racist medical experimentation means that people in some areas distrust Western medical products delivered by white doctors and Western aid programs. This has compounded with access issues and a broader distrust in government in certain areas. Building more pharmaceutical manufacturing in lower-income countries could help tackle these perceptions, campaigners say.
  • Oxygen supply planning and financing have been poor. A public health officer at WHO Nigeria told researchers, "The Oxygen plant breaks down whenever there's high demand and it needs upgrading in other wards and further installation of another one with regular maintenance." Governments need multiyear oxygen supply and infrastructure plans that include national inventories on oxygen infrastructure and technical support, and modified donor requirements that include medical oxygen.
  • Essential community health workers often go unpaid. Vuyiseka Dubula, former head of the Treatment Action Campaign, described the erratic and sometimes non-existent payment as "a form of modern-day slavery." In DRC, nurses in North Kivu earn just $80 per month, and some reported not having been paid since the beginning of the pandemic. A clinician in Haiti, Dr. Marie Delcarme Petit-Homme, told researchers: "Sometimes doctors and nurses can go 6 months, a year without receiving remuneration. Lower bands have it worse, they don't really have access to remuneration. Sometimes we are forced to leave the country if we want a better pay."

"This report shows that communities have repeatedly been let down by a system geared towards protecting people in wealthy countries," said Maaza Seyoum, Global South convenor of the People's Vaccine Alliance. "People in the Global South have been abandoned. Their lives have been treated as an afterthought."

"Local populations are expected to shoulder blame and be grateful for what vaccines they do receive, when there has been little effort to meet their needs," Seyoum added.

Global Survey Details How Poor Nations Have Been 'Abandoned' During Covid Response (

The Pakistan Flood

 While many parts of the world endure heatwaves and drought, Pakistan's monsoon rains have brought deadly floods.

Almost a thousand dead including children, over 3.1 million people displaced, 710,000 livestock drowned and thousands of kilometres of roads and many bridges destroyed. 

It isthe worst floods in a decade which have destroyed homes, crops, livelihoods and infrastructure and leaving millions vulnerable. Pakistan is experiencing abnormal monsoon rainfall nearly ten times higher than usual, resulting in uncontrollable urban and flash floods, landslides, across the country.

Chairman of Pakistan Red Crescent, Abrar ul Haq said, “The situation is worsening by the day. These torrential floods have severely restricted transportation and mobility... and damage to vehicles, infrastructure and connectivity are further making our emergency relief works almost impossible. Most of those affected are also immobile or marooned making us hard to reach them..." He added, “We fear the worst is yet to come as these kinds of waters could mean the risk of water-borne diseases are looming over the heads of our people."

Double the Punishment

 In the United States those who have committed crimes and have been punished by being put into prison, emerge after their period of sentence to further retribution. 

All but two states have so-called “pay-to-stay” laws that make prisoners pay for their time spent in jail. Critics say it’s an unfair second penalty that hinders rehabilitation by putting former inmates in debt for life. 

"Pay-to-stay" laws were put into place in many areas during the tough-on-crime era of the 1980s and ’90s. As prison populations swiftly rose, policymakers questioned how to pay for the cost. So, instead of raising taxes, the solution was to shift the cost burden from the state and the taxpayers onto the incarcerated, themselves.

Laws vary from state to state. To collect prison debt by attaching an automatic lien to every inmate, claiming half of any financial windfall they might receive for up to 20 years after they are released from prison, said Dan Barrett, legal director for the American Civil Liberties Union of Connecticut. That included things like insurance settlements, inheritances and lottery winnings, and even money awarded to inmates in lawsuits over alleged abuse by prison guards. 

In Connecticut, onve released, an ex-prisoner will face a debt of $249 for each day behind bars. 

At $249 per day, prison stays leave ex-inmates deep in debt | AP News

UN Ocean Treaty Fails

 Discussions that were meant to lead to a UN Ocean Treaty that would protect biodiversity in international waters have ended without agreement.

The fifth round of discussions, which began two weeks ago, were intended to establish a UN Ocean Treaty that would set rules for protecting biodiversity in two-thirds of the world’s oceanic areas that lie outside territorial waters.

UN members failed to agree on how to share benefits from marine life, establish protected areas, or to prevent human activity with life in international waters.

Environmental campaigners, who noted that discussions had been continuing on and off for 15 years, expressed disappointment and blamed wealthy countries, including the US, of being too slow to compromise. Among the issues holding up the treaty is agreement on a process for creating protected areas as well as environmental impact assessments.

 Laura Meller of Greenpeace’s Protect the Oceans campaign, explained, “Time has run out. Further delay means ocean destruction. We are sad and disappointed. While countries continue to talk, the oceans and all those who rely on them will suffer.” 

Greenpeace had already warned that treaty talks were on the brink of failure because of the greed of countries in the High Ambition Coalition and others such as the US and Canada. At issue, the group said, was prioritizing hypothetical future profits from Marine Genetics Resources over protecting the oceans.

Also, Russia had blocked negotiations, refusing to engage in the treaty process and in attempts at compromise as a diplomatic lever involved with its war in Ukraine.

‘Time has run out’: UN fails to reach agreement to protect marine life | United Nations | The Guardian

Saturday, August 27, 2022

Why is there war?


Modern capitalist production is no longer carried on in tens of thousands of small businesses employing three or four workers. Where such enterprises continue to exist, their influence and effect on economic life are negligible. Their place has been taken, by huge corporations employing tens or even hundreds of thousands of workers at one time across the world.

The idea that monopolies can be eliminated and replaced by free-market competition among numerous small-scale independent producers, is an idle dream which can never become a living reality. Multinational monopolies are not the creation of “evil men” which can be undone by “good men.” It is an inevitable and inescapable product of capitalist development. The capitalist class itself has become largely divorced from production.

 They have become shareholders, owners of stocks and bonds with the actual work of management and superintendence, which is necessary and valuable in any society, is no longer done by the capitalist or owner of industry. It is performed by hired executives. They are simply highly skilled workers in the profession of organising production, albeit often rewarded in share options and sharing in the profits and dividends.


Capitalist production means the accumulation of capital and production for the market. Capitalism is a world system. It has created a world market. It has brought the entire world under its complete domination. But capitalism is divided into a number of more or less independent national powers. It is among them that the struggle for world control goes on fiercely. It is a struggle frightful in its consequences. The economic competition among the various nation-states is exceedingly sharp. It becomes sharper when the capitalists of every country seek new markets abroad or protect existing spheres of influence from encroachment by other nations. No capitalist class can possibly rest content with the markets it already has. Capital accumulation is always the goal for investors.


Profits made by the neo-colonial exploitation of developing and undeveloped countries are extraordinarily high. Foreign workers are employed and are made to toil incredibly long hours at incredibly low wages. In many cases, of sweat-shops, are outright slaves. Secondly, they are a rich source of raw materials which may be obtained cheaply with little concern for the workers and the environmentThese resources are obtained from the indigenous ruling class rulers by corruption and bribery, and if necessary simply seized and kept by force.  Wealth is sucked out of these vulnerable countries, depriving them of any independence regardless of the blood spilt in various national liberation struggles.


 Once the world is divided, and there were no more defenceless nations and peoples that can be controlled, occupied, dominated and exploited, the bigger stronger nations can only expand their share of the world market by cutting the share of some other power. And as the iron law of capitalism is that you must expand or stagnate and die, the stage becomes set for military conflicts. For a period, it is possible to confine the rivalries to mere economic warfare and trade wars. But the point is reached where, such economic pressure for one side, is not enough, or sufficiently menacing. The economic struggle turns into a military confrontation. That is the origin of modern wars. The cause of wars are fto caputure lucrative areas of capital investment and trade expansion. Working people fight them, die  and get maimed in them. The capitalist always wins them.


Naturally if the plain and simple truth about the reason for wars were told it would be impossible to recruit or garner support for them. That is why the capitalist media keep filling the heads of the people with propaganda and poisonous ideas so that they are willing to kill and be killed. Patriotism and nationalism are imbued into the minds of every citizen from birth. Foreigners are depicted as possible and potential foes who must be defended against. Social spending must be cut for the welfare services to ensure adequate budgets are directed towards acquiring weaponry from the armament industries.

 Capitalism is not production for use. All the statesmen, all the industrialists, all the bankers, all the politicians and economists of capitalism, are unable to make capitalism serve the needs of the people. For capitalism, war functions excellently.  Money flows like water. There are undreamed-of profits. 

Capitalism stands self-condemned. Its usefulness of the past is now long gone. If it is allowed to continue, the world will only plunge deeper into suffering and destruction.