Thursday, August 11, 2022

Wage levels to fall

 Pay rises could fall behind inflation by almost 8% later this year, marking the biggest fall in real wages for 100 years, according to analysis by the TUC

The TUC said a prediction by the Bank of England that inflation would jump to 13% in the fourth quarter of this year at a time when wages were expected to increase by just 5.25% meant living standards would fall by an unprecedented 7.75%.

The TUC said that workers had not suffered such a severe and prolonged decline in wages relative to inflation since the 1920s.

The TUC said  “Real pay has fallen by more on only one occasion, a decline of 13.3% in the fourth quarter of 1922 – as the post first world war pay and price inflation went sharply into reverse. The only other comparable figure was 7.2% in the first quarter of 1940.”

TUC general secretary, Frances O’Grady, said large businesses could accept lower profits by refusing to pass on all the higher costs they face.

O’Grady said: “...Too much goes into profits and to those who are already wealthy, and too little goes into wages and to working families. To change this, working people need stronger bargaining power to get a fair share of the wealth they produce..."

,Biggest UK fall in real wages for 100 years looms, warns TUC | UK cost of living crisis | The Guardian

Organize the Unions

 


A new report from Chris Bohner, who runs the labor research firm Radish Research, has done an amazing service by systematically assembling thousands of financial records from unions over the past decade to assemble a report that gives the most comprehensive picture.

The report shows that even as union density has continued its long decline over the past decade, the financial coffers of unions have expanded. That money, however, has not been used to do the organizing necessary to prevent all of those unions from shrinking.

 Key findings: 

  • Since 2010, union density has declined from almost 12% to just over 10%, and there are more than 700,000 fewer union members as an absolute number. Yet the finances of unions are only improving: In 2020, organized labor had $35.8 billion in assets, and $6.8 billion in liabilities, leaving approximately $29.1 billion in net assets.” That figure has almost doubled since 2010. That growth has been driven primarily by increased dues income, as wages and salaries rise, as well as investment income. 
  • During the same time period, however, there has been no investment in the army of union organizers necessary to meet demand. “[Organized] labor employs 23,440 fewer employees in 2020 compared to 2010, a 19% decline in the workforce (with a steep drop in 2020 likely due to the pandemic). However, management positions within organized labor have increased by 28%, with more than 10,000 employees earning a gross salary over $125,000.” Union assets have swelled because they have not chosen to spend: As total revenues increased by 28%, total spending has only increased by 17% since 2010.”
  • As union density has declined in the past half-century, so too have the number of major strikes in America — the number of workers involved in major work stoppages has fallen from a high of 1.8 million in 1974 to just 80,000 in 2021. Just as unions have not used their surplus of money to bolster organizing, the report finds that they have also failed to invest in supporting strikes: “[Financial] filings show that organized labor paid out an average of $70 million a year in strike benefits since 2010, less than half-a-percent of net assets or revenues in most years.”
The $29.1 billion in net assets for unions, by the way, does not include the value of union pensions — which hold trillions of dollars in assets themselves. Those pension assets could and should be strategically invested with the goal of strengthening the labor movement.

 Those tens of billions, though, could accomplish a lot. Bohner, in his report, has a few suggestions: Hiring 20,000 new union organizers ($1.4 billion per year), supercharging spending on strike benefits ($1 billion per year), and funding a new $3 billion entity (or entities) that could engage in riskier civil disobedience activities, like illegal strikes, secondary boycott activities, or defying restrictive court injunctions on picketing and protest.”

The conclusion of the report is that:
 "There is no “One Big Union,” but over ten thousand union entities grouped in over 100 union affiliations. Some unions have doubled down on spending, others have run large surpluses and kept their spending lower than the growth in revenue. Unions in growing sectors have prospered, other unions have struggled to maintain relevancy in declining sectors. Nevertheless, looking at organized labor collectively, the trends are clear: over the last decade, labor has nearly doubled its net assets, run large surpluses, reduced the workforce while increasing pay at the top, and spent less than the rate of inflation–all while union membership has declined.
Rather than from leaders at the top like Shuler, change is most likely to come from the broad movement of workers striking against global corporations in defiance of their union leadership, and winning, such as at Deere and Kellog; reform movements seeking to democratize their bloated and/or corrupt union bureaucracies (such as the Teamsters and UAW); public sectors workers, many without a formal union, disobeying state bans on strikes (like the Red Ed teacher strikes); members defying the political directives of their union leadership to back left candidates offering real structural change (like the members of the Culinary Workers Union supporting Bernie Sanders in the 2020 caucus); the autonomous wildcat labor actions during the pandemic by “unorganized” workers; independent unions like the Amazon Labor Union defying conventional wisdom and winning at one of the most powerful companies in the world; and most critically, the young workers and union organizers who are impatient for change, intolerant of bureaucratic hierarchies, and far more open to consider alternatives to capitalism than a union leadership still trapped in the ideological straightjacket of the Cold War. It is this constellation of forces that could seize the assets from a labor movement that has failed to seize the moment."

Myanmar’s Spring Revolution: A Socialist Analysis

 The Tatmadaw (Myanmar's military junta) detained State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi and took control of the government on February 1st. This recent coup is not the first in Myanmars history. Following independence, a civil war between various ethnic groups with disparate interests began to escalate. In 1962, General Ne Win, a military leader, staged a coup. He oppressed workers, students, and democracy activists to maintain his power. In 1988, a massive mass strike occurred, which the world knows as the "1988 Uprising." In 2007, the Saffron Revolution occurred against the military government as well. A pseudo-democratic election was promised by U Thein Sein's paramilitary administration in the 2010s, in which the military made up 25% of the parliament and the constitution was drafted in support of military governments. The military regime and its political influence were never overthrown, even during the NLD government's term.

Mass strike

A revolutionary-scale movement had been set in motion because of the coup. The extensive and expanding strikes as well as the protest movements that have been unleashed demonstrate how determined the general populace is to prevent the military from seizing power. Clearly, the military junta misjudged the strength of the opposition they would encounter. During the coup attempt, the military junta ensured that the electricity was turned off. Additionally, they restricted any form of communication they could think of. As soon as people noticed what was happening, they began using deceptive propaganda and false hopes to stifle the population's spontaneous revolutionary movements. The very first false information is propagated by unidentified sources, but populist pro-democracy advocates primarily share it or host it on their platforms. There was a strong reactionary belief that was prevalent on the first day following the coup. It states that "the United Nations will deploy R2P to Myanmar in order to remove the military junta if the people don't carry out the strikes within 72 hours."

However, the civil disobedience movement (CDM), started spontaneously by health professionals and students, disputed this “72-hour propaganda”. In the meantime, the FGWM, once known as the Federation of Garment Workers Myanmar but now grown into a general workers' union, which has thousands of members, is credited with starting the mass movement in Yangon. Their first strike has rallied huge crowds to participate in the streets to protest against the new junta.

Unfortunately, these facts are being covered up by some prominent liberals. Instead of acknowledging a general workers' union as the first revolutionary union that started the revolution, the liberals tried to portray the workers as some sort of followers who were led by a populist politician called Ei Thinzar Maung, a center-left civil rights activist.

According to an interview Thomson Reuters Foundation featured with Moe Sandar Myint, a popular FGWM leader, its apparent that workers were already activated and spontaneous as far as the strikes and protests were concerned. During the day, she went around organising the workforce and urging them to "fight against the military government till the end." Moreover, she evaded the military authorities who raided her home at night to silence her. She, unfortunately, encountered a less aggressive response when she urged other unions to intervene, with union organisers urging restraint. However, since government employees and medical professionals began to participate in strikes, pressure from below has increased. Since the workers were ready for the strikes, a united front of multiple union organisations was forced to be created.

Meanwhile, the CDM movement was absorbed into the population along with the mass strikes. Later, the CDM movement was innovated by new ways of showing their disobedience against the military junta by a noisome new night-time ritual of banging pots and pans. Even though banging pots and pans, as well as singing anti-dictatorial songs, were not rationally effective, they acted as catalysts to raise the revolutionary motivation of the population. Street demonstrations took place in 2007 during the "Saffron Revolution," but there were not as many widespread strikes directed specifically at the military's economic interests as in the spring revolution. As a result, sections of the state bureaucracy, including the investment and transportation ministries, the tax office, and the General Administrative Department, which oversees a number of public services and governmental operations, have been paralysed by strikes. According to reports, 34% of Myanmar's civil servants are currently on strike. Entire sectors, like private banking, have been shut down, and more employees at state-run banks are now participating in the strikes. According to estimates, 60% of state electrical employees are on strike. Myanmar’s governments have faced student protests and civil rights protests in the past. But this time, it’s the working class itself that’s participating in the protests and CDM movements. The working class is the force that has the power to transform society, just as it has the power to paralyse the entire nation. The misfortune of Burma is that the working class lacks a vision that is willing to go above and beyond the demands of liberal democracy. However, if the working class managed to hold the leadership position, it could rally all the other social classes—youth, middle class, peasants, and national minorities—behind it, not only to overthrow the military regime but also to eradicate capitalism. The military-run corporations were impacted by the strikes. More than 2,000 miners walked out of a copper mine in the northern Sagaing district that is a joint venture between the Chinese state and Myanmar military. At a telecommunications firm called Mytel that the military owns in part, hundreds of engineers and numerous employees have also gone on strike. Five thousand employees in Yangon's industrial district of Hlaing Tharyar have joined the strike movement and declared that they would continue to be on strike as long as the military junta is in charge. Large numbers of bank employees have also joined the wave of strikes and joined the civil disobedience movement. One of the biggest private banks, KBZ, also had to shut down. Government salaries are paid through the state-owned Myanmar Economic Bank, but it has also been impacted. The number of workplaces that have participated in strikes is limitless.

Armed struggle

According to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners, since Myanmar's military performed the coup, security forces have killed more than 700 people within the first two months for participating in the protests. In some cases, even children staying peacefully in their own homes were shot from the streets by the military officers. To elaborate on the inhumane and oppressive measures of the military junta, a few unique cases should be cited as examples.

The pro-democracy campaign had won the hearts of a fourteen-year-old micro-influencer, Pan Ei Phyu, who had created numerous TikTok videos of herself singing pro-democracy songs. On March 27, 2021, Pan Ei Phyu was shot while trying to open her door to demonstrators who were trying to avoid a military operation. Hein Htut Aung, a cab driver, and his wife, Ma Zin Mar, were travelling to an anti-coup demonstration on February 28. They had been on a bus to the demonstrations. However, due to gunshots, the bus came to a stop, and the passengers had to get off. Hein Htut Aung was fatally shot in the interim and taken to the hospital. But he couldn’t make it. The hatred towards the military arose as more and more people were getting killed by the military. The gun, submachine guns, and launchers were used to launch the strikes. Protesters were under surveillance and were raided at night for taking part in protests. If the protesters managed to escape from the raid, their family members, such as old people and young children, were arrested instead of them, in some cases, resulting in the death of them because of the inhumane treatments in the jail.

Out of the anger and hatred against the military, the people had no choice but to defend themselves. In Myanmar, people are not allowed to own guns. However, there are some rural areas where some people own hunting guns because they hunt for their basic needs. Hunters and people from those areas started to rile the professional-grade military army with their hunting guns. As a result, the whole villages were burned down and attacked by air strikes. Such kinds of oppressive measures remind me of the "red terror" of the Bolshevik regime. The tactics are also the same, even though the reasons are slightly different. During the Bolshevik era, pro-bandit villages were singled out. In relation to this massive terrorism, a special sentence was pronounced on these villages, in which their crimes against the Bolsheviks are enumerated. The Bolsheviks claimed they were defending the socialist values of the October Revolution, whereas the Myanmar military junta claimed they were defending the democratic values of the last election. However, both claims are as true as the theory of the flat earth.

The educated youths from the metropolitan area fled the cities and joined the ethnic armies to get military training. Some people had to sell all of their life savings in order to buy a gun. Early in April, poorly organised organisations started to appear, mostly in the hinterlands of western Chin State and the north-western Sagaing Region, where the Chin Land Defense Force (CDF) proclaimed its establishment on April 4. By mid-July, approximately 125 distinct groups in both urban and rural areas had formally announced their opposition to the State Administration Council of the military. This resistance came about because of a significant multiplication of groups with various capabilities in late April and early May. All of these spontaneous, loosely connected militias declared an alliance with each other and collectively adopted the name "People’s Defense Force." Some of them, but not all, also swore loyalty to the National Unity Government (NUG), the opposition's shadow government that was established in mid-April. The rest of the PDFs chose to struggle against the military junta on their own, without any allegiance to an exile government. Urban PDFs, based on covert cells, have concentrated almost exclusively on two main strategies: targeted killings and bombings, using primarily crude improvised explosive devices (IEDs). Most of their targets have been "soft" targets, such as local ward offices and other government buildings, civil administrators, alleged military informants, and members of the Union Solidarity and Development Party, the Tatmadaw's political proxies (USDP). In the remote rural areas, the PDFs have emerged more brazenly as infant rebel bands with minimal weapons. They have repeatedly attempted to repel Tatmadaw incursions into villages with ambushes by local volunteers using hunting rifles and improvised landmines, in addition to hitting many of the same soft target-sets seen in the cities and have frequently claimed to inflict significant casualties on the military. All of these military struggles were led collectively by the proletariats, peasants, and all labouring people, including mothers, unemployed social workers, and students, rather than by the NUG government.

Reconciliation or Revolution


In ethnic minority areas, rural-based operations have been noticeably more successful because newly formed PDFs have been able to work with or form relationships with pre-existing ethnic insurgent organisations like the Kachin Independence Army (KIA), the Karen National Liberation Army (KNLA), the Karenni Army (KA), and others. Some ethnic armed groups have decided to work with the military junta to achieve a win-win situation for their geopolitical and economic objectives over the last six decades of civil war.

ASEAN is in favour of the compromised dialogue between all the stakeholders in Myanmar's politics, including the PDFs and the military junta, which reminds me of a quote by Ghassan Kanafani of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, "a conversation between the neck and the sword".

If reconciliation is the path in post-revolution, Myanmar will be back to the neoliberal pathway to corporate capitalism where NGOs, CSOs, and some other neoliberal hypocrites will cosplay as socialists to create new political situations such as a newly created bipartisan party politics and so on. The over-privileged, rich, western-trained academia and their fellow reactionary reformists, cosplaying themselves as leftists, will drive the pathway to defend the neoliberal status quo, which in turn protects their families’ wealth, accumulated by exploiting the workers.

The need for socialist revolution

The primary objectives of most PDF components are restricted to liberal democracy and federalism, neither of which are at all critical of capitalism or the fundamental status quo of the imperialist powers. Following the revolution, neither the governments nor the capitalist class was able to influence the working class. The working class has come to understand the dignity of their labor as well as their potential for revolution. The country's GDP is drastically falling as more and more working-class people join militias and abandon the conflict area. The nation will soon become a failed state where the government's institutions, like the police and banking, are no longer able to handle the problems. All these symptoms of a failing state can only be seen once the working class and peasantry have decided to rebel against capitalist structure and its tyranny.

Liberal democracy is not a democracy; rather, it is a de facto authoritarianism that has been advertised as a pro-freedom. It is a system of representation which is anti-thesis to the grassroots democratic movements. Liberal democracy is not representing the people. Its representing the rich class and the privileged people who have enough power to influence the situations. To preserve their bipartisan politics, liberal democrats will permit wealthy individuals, well-educated professors, and opportunistic center-left activists to dress themselves as oppressed people. These woke opportunists will disregard the actual voices and demands of the genuine oppressed members of the poor working class of all races and the marginalized minority groups. Instead, they will divide the working class based on the racial, gender, and sexual lines to let them fight among themselves.

In this way, the working class will be busy fighting for the political climates that are created by these capitalists and their agent (i.e., NGOs, and CSOs) of imperialism. Thats why the class-struggle is essential to make a revolution properly. For this reason, it's crucial to have a class-based revolution. Only a socialist revolution can provide the working class, proletariat, students, and the general populace with true freedom and democracy free from capitalist wage-salaries and alienations. Its the only way where we can tackle the sexism, racism and other issue that are strongly linked with the existence of capitalism.

How do we fight for Socialism?

Here, its important to note that the only way socialism will come about is for most people on a worldwide basis to believe in the superiority of this alternative social system. Even though Arm struggle is essential for the people to defend themselves against the military junta, but majority of the people must voluntarily prefer socialism to eradicate capitalism. If socialism doesnt come from the people but from some top vanguardist tyrants, it still will be an authoritarian oppressive regime such as Bolshevik regime, Maoist regime, Titos regime, and Min Aung Hlaings military regime. Since the working class doesnt have nationality, we, the international working people, should work together to initiate a socialist revolution. We should share our struggles in solidarity with each other. Our grievance is international; our only hope is international, and our enemy is international as well. Therefore, socialism in one country theory of Stalin is irrational and contradictory with scientific socialism. Socialism in one country theory is based on the imperialism of Soviet state capitalism itself. To sum up, the fight for socialism should not be restricted to the nation in which we currently reside. To prosper together in a democratic socialist society, we must cooperate with our international working-class comrades.

HEIN HTET KYAW

False Answers to Climate Change

 The Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) is being hailed as a life-saver for the planet and Biden’s presidency.

It is all smoke and mirrors.

Jean Su of the Center for Biological Diversity explains.

“This was a backdoor take-it-or-leave-it deal between a coal baron and Democratic leaders in which any opposition from lawmakers or frontline communities was quashed,” Su said. “It was an inherently unjust process, a deal which sacrifices so many communities and doesn’t get us anywhere near where we need to go, yet is being presented as a savior legislation.”

Jacobin's commentator, Branko Marcetic writes ""People need to understand the realities of the bill—that it's a legislative ransom note written by a fossil fuel industry that backed and now celebrates it, one we had no choice but to go along with given the political realities..."

 The New Republic's Kate Aronoff noted that it "...consigns more people to living next to more fossil fuel infrastructure for longer; in many cases, that means consigning more people—predominantly poor people, Black people, and Brown people—to disease and death."

Food & Water Watch managing director of policy Mitch Jones said that "it's no surprise that climate policy tailored to meet the demands of a coal baron would fall well short of what's needed to adequately address the severity of the climate crisis we face...The fact that oil and gas executives seem pleased with this legislation speaks volumes about its glaring shortcomings,"

"This new bill is genocide, there is no other way to put it," said Siqiniq Maupin, executive director of Sovereign Iñupiat for a Living Arctic. "This is a life-or-death situation and the longer we act as though the world isn't on fire around us, the worse our burns will be."

Greenpeace USA says the IRA "...pours gasoline on the flames."

Ebony Twilley Martin, Greenpeace USA's co-executive director, called the bill "a slap in the face to the frontline communities, grassroots groups, and activists that made this legislation possible."

"The IRA is packed with giveaways to the fossil fuel executives who are destroying our planet," she continued. "It sacrifices the same people who have always borne the brunt of oil, gas, and coal infrastructure and climate crisis: Black, Indigenous, Latinx, and low-income communities. Folks living on the Gulf and in the Permian Basin." She added,  added that a side deal on reforming the federal permit process for energy infrastructure "is simply a disaster" but that "is what happens when the industry responsible for climate change also calls the shots on climate policy."

Center for Climate Integrity president Richard Wiles also emphasized that "the long shadow of Big Oil's climate deception hangs over this legislation...the fossil fuel industry continues to wage a relentless campaign of disinformation, deception, and dark money to block climate progress and keep the nation hooked on its products."

Tom Solomon and Jim Mackenzie, co-coordinators of 350 New Mexico, concurred that "the Inflation Reduction Act is a stark example of the naked corruption of government in Washington D.C....The continued ability of the fossil fuel corporations to buy their way into business as usual in the face of accelerating climate catastrophe is alarming and depressing," 

Historic Climate Bill, Say Clear-Eyed Critics, Still 'Pours Gasoline on the Flames' (commondreams.org)

Wednesday, August 10, 2022

Failure to protect the ocean

 Negotiations on deep-sea mining ended with no agreement, meaning that less than a year remains before a legal clause kicks in that could see seabed mining commence without any environmental or economic regulations in place. Three weeks of discussions ended in a stalemate.

 Spain, Ecuador, Costa Rica and Chile called on the International Seabed Authority (ISA) – the UN body that oversees mining in international waters,  to slow or halt the race towards deep-sea mining, while Micronesia became the first country to officially propose a moratorium. Other countries, including the UK, are pushing for the regulations to be in place as soon as possible.  In July 2021 when the Pacific nation of Nauru declared its plan to start seabed mining.

Pradeep Singh, fellow at the Institute for Advanced Sustainability Studies in Potsdam, Germany, said that contractors such as Nauru Ocean Resources Inc, a wholly owned subsidiary of the Metals Company (formerly DeepGreen, one of the most prominent firms lining up to start mining the ocean floor for rare minerals), could be granted interim approval of their exploitation plans.

Deep-sea mining talks end with no agreement on environmental rules | Deep-sea mining | The Guardian


In Debt

 


Many households are falling behind on energy payments with total debt owed three times higher than in September last year, a survey has suggested.

Almost a quarter of households (six million) owe £206 on average


"Every day we hear from people who can't afford to turn the lights on or cook their kids a hot meal," said Morgan Wild, head of policy for Citizens Advice.


 Eight million households have no credit balances, meaning they have no cushion against the bill rises this winter.


"This is an alarming situation, as summer is traditionally a time when households are using less power for heating, which helps bill payers to build up energy credit ahead of the winter," said Justina Miltienyte, head of policy at Uswitch.com. "It suggests the cost-of-living crisis is already squeezing budgets dramatically, even during the summer months, as families struggle with rising bills in all areas," she said.


Households already in debt as energy bills rise - BBC News


How many people is too many people?

 The concept of human overpopulation, once common, is now rarely used in the scientific literature. The global population is set to surpass eight billion later this year, according to a United Nations forecast. It says that the planet should hit 8.5 billion people in 2030 and 9.7 billion in 2050, peaking at around 10.4 billion in the 2080s before steadying at that level until 2100. All analysts and population models agree that without any totalitarian or coercive measures, populations will start declining.  The question is simply when.

The UN’s Secretary-General António Guterres said the milestone was something to welcome, calling it an occasion to “celebrate our diversity, recognise our common humanity, and marvel at advancements in health that have extended lifespans and dramatically reduced maternal and child mortality rates”. 

Population growth fell to less than 1% in 2020 according to the report, mainly due to a decline in fertility in many countries, which has fallen “markedly” in recent decades. 

Today, some two-thirds of the global population live in a country or area where lifetime fertility is below 2.1 births per woman, “roughly the level required for zero growth in the long run, for a population with low mortality”, according to the UN. 

In 61 countries or areas, the population is expected to decrease by at least 1% over the next three decades, as a result of “sustained low levels of fertility” and in the case of some countries, “elevated rates of emigration”. 

More than half of the projected increase in the global population up to 2050 will be concentrated in just eight countries: the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Egypt, Ethiopia, India, Nigeria, Pakistan, the Philippines and the United Republic of Tanzania.

Indeed, India is set to pass China next year to become the world’s most populous nation, while Nigeria is expected to leapfrog the US into third place by 2050. 

China's population will be dropping to 770 million by 2100, while the Russian Federation's population of 145 million dropping to just 133 million by 2050 and 112 by the end of the century. 

Since the start of the millennium, “UN reports show that global resource use has been primarily driven by increases in affluence, not the population”, said The Washington Post.   This is “especially true in high- to upper-middle-income nations, which account for 78% of material consumption, despite having slower population growth rates than the rest of the world”, said the paper.  Meanwhile, in low-income countries, whose share of the global population has “almost doubled”, the demand for resources has “stayed constant at just about 3% of the global total”.

When concern about population becomes central to environmental policy, said researcher Betsy Hartman, “racism and xenophobia are always waiting in the wings. It just shifts the discourse away from the real problem of who has power and how the economy is organized.”

Are overpopulation fears unfounded? | The Week UK

Tuesday, August 09, 2022

Sri Lanka's Mutual Aid

 As in so many similar situations when the capitalist State begins to fail, working people start to organise themselves as this article shows. 

"Sri Lanka’s unprecedented economic and political crisis has created new kinds of solidarities among citizens, as they try and help each other ride through fuel and food shortages in the absence of assistance or information from the government...

...Tamil and Sinhala, Christian and Muslim, Buddhist and Atheist find themselves next to each other and end up talking about – what else – politics and economics...

...Soup kitchens have been started to feed people. Some of these kitchens have hired nutritionists to advise them on how to provide a simple and nutritious meal. People are also trying to grow vegetables in home and rooftop gardens. Expatriate Sri Lankans are sending much-needed medicine to help tide over the shortage of essential drugs. People visiting Sri Lanka have been besieged with requests to bring medicine..."

As The State Collapses In Sri Lanka, Citizens Fill The Vacuum| Countercurrents

Monday, August 08, 2022

Indigenous Communities Need Support

  Hollywood has constantly depicted the “indians” as savage and ruthless, uncivilised people who devastate the lands of well-intentioned colonisers, burn their homes, steal their horses, kill them, and hang their scalps as trophies.

The number of indigenouos peoples is estimated at nearly 500 million, similar to the combined population of the European Union’s 27 member countries, or the total inhabitants of two of the world’s biggest nuclear powers–the United States and the Russian Federation. The figure refers to those who identify themselves as being indigenous or indegenous descendants. Many others opt for no admitting themselves as such, due to worldwide growing wave of xenophobia.

According to the United Nations, Indigenous Peoples consider 22% of the world’s land surface their home. They live in areas where around 80% of the Planet’s biodiversity is found on not-commercially-exploited land.

And at least 40% of the 7,000 languages used worldwide are at some level of endangerment. Indigenous languages are particularly vulnerable because many of them are not taught at school or used in the public sphere.

Century after century, the indigenous peoples have been living in their lands in perfect harmony with Nature, on which their life dependens. They know how to guard precious natural resources and are the custodians of 80% of biodiversity.

Their right to self-determination, self-governance and control of resources and ancestral lands have been violated over centuries.

The giant private corporations,  the big businesses of timber, livestock, intensive agriculture, mono-culture, mining, carbon, oil, dams, land grabbing tourist resorts, golf courses and general urbanisation, have been systematically depleting those natural resources for the sake of making profits.

  • While humanity used to cultivate more than 6.000 plant species for food, now instead fewer than 200 of these species make major contributions to food production, now only 9% account for 66% of total crop production. Once depleted, big business supplants Nature with synthetic food.
  • Over the last 50 years, the global economy has grown nearly fivefold, due largely to a tripling in the extraction of natural resources and energy that has fuelled growth in production and consumption.
  • Three-quarters of the land and two-thirds of the oceans are now impacted by humans. One million of the world’s estimated 8 million species of plants and animals are threatened with extinction, and many of the ecosystem services essential for human well-being are eroding.
  • Around one million animal and plant species are now threatened with extinction.

  • The planet is losing 4.7 million hectares of forests every year – an area larger than Denmark.
  • here are in fact more than 476 million Indigenous Peoples in the seven socio-cultural regions of the world, in 90 countries, belonging to more than 5,000 different groups.
  • Asia has the largest concentration of Indigenous Peoples with 70.5 %, followed by Africa with 16.3 %, and Latin America with 11.5 %. In Canada and the United States of America, Indigenous Peoples represent 6.7 % of the total population.
  • Indigenous Peoples make up 6.2% of the global population with the majority living in middle-income countries.
  • Indigenous Peoples represent more than 19% of the extreme poor.
  • Indigenous Peoples’ territories encompass 28% of the surface of the globe and contain 11% of the world’s forests.
  • Indigenous Peoples’ food systems have high levels of self-sufficiency ranging from 50 % to 80% in food and resources generation.
  • Globally, 47% of all Indigenous Peoples in employment have no education, compared to 17% of their non-indigenous counterparts. This gap is even wider for women.
  • More than 86% of Indigenous Peoples globally work in the informal economy, compared to 66% for their non-indigenous counterparts.
  • Indigenous Peoples are nearly three times as likely to be living in extreme poverty compared to their non-indigenous counterparts.
  • Indigenous women particularly suffer high levels of poverty; low levels of education and illiteracy; limitations in access to health, basic sanitation, credit and employment; limited participation in political life; and domestic and sexual violence

 the world’s human ancestors have systematically fallen defenceless victims to subjugation, marginalisation, dispossession, exclusion, stigmatisation and discrimination.

Simply, claiming their due rights implies losing business profits.


Indigenous Peoples - Of the Far West, the 'Good Cowboys'… And the ‘Bad Indians’ | Inter Press Service (ipsnews.net)


Our Diseased Future

 “We are opening a Pandora’s Box of disease,” said Camilo Mora, a geographer at the University of Hawaii. “Because of climate change, we have all these triggers all over the world, over 1,000 of them. There are diseases out there just waiting to be unleashed. It’s like we are poking a stick at a lion – at some point the lion will come and bite us in the ass.”

More than half of the human diseases caused by pathogens have been worsened at some point by the sort of impacts associated with the climate crisis, a new and exhaustive study of the link between disease and climatic hazards has found. The researchers combed through more than 70,000 scientific papers that analysed the links between different climatic hazards and infectious disease.

Diseases such as Zika, malaria, dengue, chikungunya and even Covid-19 have been aggravated by climate impacts such as heatwaves, wildfires, extreme rainfall and floods, the paper found. Global heating and changed rainfall patterns are expanding the range of disease vectors such as mosquitoes, ticks and fleas, resulting in the spread of malaria, Lyme disease, West Nile virus and other conditions. Storms and flooding have displaced people, bringing them closer to pathogens that cause outbreaks of gastroenteritis and cholera, while climate impacts have weakened humans’ ability to cope with certain pathogens – drought, for example, can lead to poor sanitation, resulting in dysentery, typhoid fever and other diseases.

The World Health Organization has warned that the climate crisis “threatens to undo the last 50 years of progress in development, global health, and poverty reduction” and has estimated that an additional 250,000 people will die each year from 2030 to 2050 due to proliferating diseases such as malaria and diarrhoea, as well as malnutrition and heat stress.

Climate impacts have worsened vast range of human diseases | Climate crisis | The Guardian

HIV/AIDS Still Endemic

 About 1.5 million people got HIV in 2021 — a million more than predicted. There were 650,000 deaths associated with AIDS in 2021 — that is more than one death every minute. UNAIDS says infection rates started to rise after global resources were diverted away from AIDS to tackle the coronavirus.

26 million people are on HIV treatment in low and middle-income countries.

 New infections disproportionately affect young women and adolescent girls, mostly in African countries, where young women are three times more likely to contract HIV than young men. 

In richer countries, HIV rates are higher among people of color than white people. That is true for the US and UK, including in indigenous communities in Australia, Canada and the US. 

Men who have sex with men have 28 times the risk of acquiring HIV compared with men of the same age and gender who do not have sex with men. 

A new drug called long-acting injectable cabotegravir (CAB-LA). The drug can be injected every 2-3 months to prevent HIV infection.   It works by blocking the HIV genome, which means that the virus is prevented from  integrating itself into human DNA and that stops it from replicating. So, it can't spread and take hold in the body. 

WHO notes that it is currently too expensive for most people. 

HIV/AIDS need billions in funding to avoid ′deep trouble′ | Science | In-depth reporting on science and technology | DW | 04.08.2022