Category Archives: Environment

The collapse of Saudi Arabia is inevitable

Nafeez Ahmed wrote at the end of September:

On Tuesday 22 September, Middle East Eye broke the story of a senior member of the Saudi royal family calling for a “change” in leadership to fend off the kingdom’s collapse.

In a letter circulated among Saudi princes, its author, a grandson of the late King Abdulaziz Ibn Saud, blamed incumbent King Salman for creating unprecedented problems that endangered the monarchy’s continued survival.

“We will not be able to stop the draining of money, the political adolescence, and the military risks unless we change the methods of decision making, even if that implied changing the king himself,” warned the letter.

Whether or not an internal royal coup is round the corner – and informed observers think such a prospect “fanciful” – the letter’s analysis of Saudi Arabia’s dire predicament is startlingly accurate.

Like many countries in the region before it, Saudi Arabia is on the brink of a perfect storm of interconnected challenges that, if history is anything to judge by, will be the monarchy’s undoing well within the next decade.


Indonesia is burning: Why is the world looking away?

George Monbiot writes for The Guardian:

[…] Why is this happening? Indonesia’s forests have been fragmented for decades by timber and farming companies. Canals have been cut through the peat to drain and dry it. Plantation companies move in to destroy what remains of the forest to plant monocultures of pulpwood, timber and palm oil. The easiest way to clear the land is to torch it. Every year, this causes disasters. But in an extreme El Niño year like this one, we have a perfect formula for environmental catastrophe.

The president, Joko Widodo, is – or wants to be – a democrat. But he presides over a nation in which fascism and corruption flourish. As Joshua Oppenheimer’s documentary The Act of Killing shows, leaders of the death squads that helped murder a million people during Suharto’s terror in the 1960s, with the approval of the west, have since prospered through other forms of organised crime, including illegal deforestation.

They are supported by a paramilitary organisation with three million members, called Pancasila Youth. With its orange camo-print uniforms, scarlet berets, sentimental gatherings and schmaltzy music, it looks like a fascist militia as imagined by JG Ballard. There has been no truth, no reconciliation; the mass killers are still treated as heroes and feted on television. In some places, especially West Papua, the political murders continue.

Those who commit crimes against humanity don’t hesitate to commit crimes against nature. Though Joko Widodo seems to want to stop the burning, his reach is limited. His government’s policies are contradictory: among them are new subsidies for palm oil production that make further burning almost inevitable. Some plantation companies, prompted by their customers, have promised to stop destroying the rainforest. Government officials have responded angrily, arguing that such restraint impedes the country’s development. That smoke blotting out the nation, which has already cost it some $30bn? That, apparently, is development.


Despite Military Crackdown in Papua and Other Rights Abuses, Obama Recently Hosted Indonesian President: Interview with John Sifton and Allan Nairn

Last Monday, President Obama met Indonesia’s new president, Joko Widodo, at the White House to discuss climate change, trade and strengthening U.S.-Indonesian ties. President Obama described Indonesia as one of the world’s largest democracies, but human rights groups paint a different story, citing the military’s ongoing repression in West Papua as well as discriminatory laws restricting the rights of religious minorities and women. Indonesia has also been criticized for attempting to silence any discussion about the 50th anniversary of the 1965 Indonesian genocide that left more than 1 million people dead. (Democracy Now!)

Industrial farming is one of the worst crimes in history

Yuval Noah Harari reports for The Guardian:

Pig carcasses hanging in an abattoir[…] The fate of animals in such industrial installations has become one of the most pressing ethical issues of our time, certainly in terms of the numbers involved. These days, most big animals live on industrial farms. We imagine that our planet is populated by lions, elephants, whales and penguins. That may be true of the National Geographic channel, Disney movies and children’s fairytales, but it is no longer true of the real world. The world contains 40,000 lions but, by way of contrast, there are around 1 billion domesticated pigs; 500,000 elephants and 1.5 billion domesticated cows; 50 million penguins and 20 billion chickens.

In 2009, there were 1.6 billion wild birds in Europe, counting all species together. That same year, the European meat and egg industry raised 1.9 billion chickens. Altogether, the domesticated animals of the world weigh about 700m tonnes, compared with 300m tonnes for humans, and fewer than 100m tonnes for large wild animals.

This is why the fate of farm animals is not an ethical side issue. It concerns the majority of Earth’s large creatures: tens of billions of sentient beings, each with a complex world of sensations and emotions, but which live and die on an industrial production line. Forty years ago, the moral philosopher Peter Singer published his canonical book Animal Liberation, which has done much to change people’s minds on this issue. Singer claimed that industrial farming is responsible for more pain and misery than all the wars of history put together.

The scientific study of animals has played a dismal role in this tragedy. The scientific community has used its growing knowledge of animals mainly to manipulate their lives more efficiently in the service of human industry. Yet this same knowledge has demonstrated beyond reasonable doubt that farm animals are sentient beings, with intricate social relations and sophisticated psychological patterns. They may not be as intelligent as us, but they certainly know pain, fear and loneliness. They too can suffer, and they too can be happy.


Flawed methodology and assumptions behind claim that business is losing Brussels lobby wars

Corporate Observatory Europe writes:

Spare a thought for big business lobbyists in Brussels. According to a blog on the website of the London School of Economics, they are supposedly “less successful than citizen groups at lobbying EU legislators”. If only. The authors of the blog (academics Andreas Dür, Patrick Bernhagen and David Marshall) make this claim off the back of their analysis of 70 European Commission proposals introduced between 2008 and 2010, which they say show business actors to be less able to achieve their desired outcomes in EU legislative decisions. Let’s examine the main assumptions, methodology, and findings from the blog to try to explain how they could have gotten Brussels’ lobbying power picture so backward.

Essentially, the blog’s conclusions can be explained by the questionable method that was used to determine lobby ‘success’. On the basis of interviews with 95 Commission staff (see page 13 of the longer underlying research article), the researchers determined a long term lobby objective for business groups and citizens groups, as well as “initial” European Commission and European Parliament positions on a scale of 0 – 100. To use computer geek slang, this seems like a case of GIGO (garbage in garbage out): “if you input the wrong data, the results will also be wrong.” The figures that the researchers used to make their elaborate calculations of lobbying success are just a numerical expression of value judgements of a group of officials who had particular responsibilities for the relevant legislative proposal. Not exactly a neutral, unbiased group! On top of this, the scale of 0 – 100 to measure lobby positions and outcomes is insufficient. Many legislative proposals have hundreds of amendments and there can be wins and losses on different elements of a proposal. Real assessments of success cannot be so one-dimensional.


If this scandal goes beyond Volkswagen (VW), the wheels will come off an entire industry

The Guardian writes:

Cartoon by David Simonds showing VW executives driving a collapsing BeetleEveryone does it. These are the words that have often sparked history’s great corporate scandals. Companies or industries become detached from reality, and illegal or improper practices become seen as normal. It eventually ends in disaster.

This was the case for traders and Libor, and now it could be the case for the automotive industry.

At present, only Volkswagen has admitted using a “defeat device” to rig emissions tests on diesel engines. Other leading carmakers, such as BMW and Daimler, the owner of Mercedes-Benz, have fiercely denied manipulating data. However, the slide in the shares of all carmakers last week suggests that many people aren’t so sure.

Whether other carmakers are dragged into the scandal or not, the events of the last week will have a profound impact on the automotive world.


Inside Exxon’s Great Climate Cover-Up: Interview with Neela Banerjee and Ed Garvey

A new report by InsideClimate News reveals how oil giant ExxonMobil’s own research confirmed the role of fossil fuels in global warming decades ago. By 1977, Exxon’s own senior experts had begun to warn the burning of fossil fuels could pose a threat to humanity. At first, Exxon launched an ambitious research program, outfitting a supertanker with instruments to study carbon dioxide in the air and ocean. But toward the end of the 1980s, Exxon changed course and shifted to the forefront of climate change denial. Since the 1990s, it has spent millions of dollars funding efforts to reject the science its own experts knew of decades ago.” (Democracy Now!)

French spy who sank Greenpeace ship apologises for lethal bombing

Kim Willsher reports for The Guardian:

A French secret service diver who took part in the operation to sink Greenpeace ship the Rainbow Warrior 30 years ago has spoken publicly for the first time to apologise for his actions.

Jean-Luc Kister, who attached a mine to the ship’s hull, says the guilt of the bombing, which killed a photographer, still weighs heavily on his mind.

“We are not assassins and we have a conscience,” the former agent told investigative website Mediapart. “I have the weight of an innocent man’s death on my conscience … It’s time, I believe, for me to express my profound regret and my apologies,” Kister said.

He said he wanted to apologise to the family of the dead man, Fernando Pereira, “especially his daughter Marelle … for what I call an accidental death but what they consider an assassination”, to the Greenpeace crew aboard the ship and the people of New Zealand where the Rainbow Warrior was sunk.


The Arctic and the Next Not-So-Cold War: Interview with James Bamford

Amy Goodman talks to investigative journalist James Bamford about his recent article: “Frozen Assets: The Newest Front in Global Espionage is One of the Least Habitable Locales on Earth—the Arctic.” Bamford is the author of a number of books including Body of Secrets: Anatomy of the Ultra-Secret National Security Agency and The Shadow Factory: The Ultra-Secret NSA from 9/11 to the Eavesdropping on America. (Democracy Now!)

Frozen Assets: Inside the Spy War for Control of the Arctic

James Bamford writes for Foreign Policy:

Arctic Circle Map[…] Worth an estimated $17.2 trillion, an amount roughly equivalent to the entire U.S. economy, these resources have been trapped for eons under a dome of ice and snow. But now, with the Arctic warming faster than anywhere else on the planet, that dome is getting smaller and smaller. According to scientists at the University of Washington’s Polar Science Center, about 65 percent of the ice layer above the Lomonosov Ridge melted between 1975 and 2012. In layman’s terms, says Peter Wadhams, a professor of ocean physics at Cambridge University, this means one thing: The ice cap is in a “death spiral.”

For the countries that border the Arctic Ocean—
Russia, the United States, Canada, Norway, and Denmark (through its territory of Greenland)—an accessible ocean means new opportunities. And for the states that have their sights set on the Lomonosov Ridge—possibly all five Arctic Ocean neighbors but the United States—an open ocean means access to much of the North Pole’s largesse. First, though, they must prove to the United Nations that the access is rightfully theirs. Because that process could take years, if not decades, these countries could clash in the meantime, especially as they quietly send in soldiers, spies, and scientists to collect information on one of the planet’s most hostile pieces of real estate.

While the world’s attention today is focused largely on the Middle East and other obvious trouble spots, few people seem to be monitoring what’s happening in the Arctic. Over the past few years, in fact, the Arctic Ocean countries have been busy building up their espionage armories with imaging satellites, reconnaissance drones, eavesdropping bases, spy planes, and stealthy subs. Denmark and Canada have described a clear uptick in Arctic spies operating on their territories, with Canada reporting levels comparable to those at the height of the Cold War. As of October, NATO had recorded a threefold jump in 2014 over the previous year in the number of Russian spy aircraft it had intercepted in the region. Meanwhile, the United States is sending satellites over the icy region about every 30 minutes, averaging more than 17,000 passes every year, and is developing a new generation of unmanned intelligence sensors to monitor everything above, on, and below the ice and water.


Bush, ‘Brownie’, FEMA and Katrina: Interview with Russ Baker

Thom Hartmann interviews Russ Baker, editor of WhoWhatWhy and the author of Family of Secrets, on his five part investigative series on the corruption that led to FEMA’s disastrous response to Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans ten years ago. (The Big Picture)

An Unequal Recovery: New Orleans 10 Years After Hurricane Katrina

‘We spend the hour today marking the 10th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, the 2005 storm that devastated the Gulf Coast and New Orleans, killing more than 1,800 people, forcing more than a million people to evacuate. Ten years after Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans has become a different city. The population is now about 385,000—about 80 percent of its pre-Katrina population. The number of African Americans has plunged by nearly 100,000 since the storm. According to the Urban League, the income gap between black and white residents has increased 37 percent since 2005. Thousands of homes, many in African-American neighborhoods, remain abandoned. On Thursday, President Obama spoke in New Orleans, remembering what happened 10 years ago. “We came to realize that what started out as a natural disaster became a man-made disaster — a failure of government to look out for its own citizens,” Obama said.’ (Democracy Now!)

Greg Palast on New Orleans 10 Years Later: I’m Not Celebrating

Greg Palast, creator of the documentary film Big Easy to Big Empty, recently wrote on the 10th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina:

Screw the celebration.  New Orleans hasn’t “come back.”  That is, there are still the Bourbon Street bars serving “Hurricanes” to sloshed tourists and Mardi Gras when white Americans can catch trinkets from floats floating over the ghosts of the drowned.

New Orleans is back to 79% of its pre-flood population.  Why am I not cheering? Because the original residents—that is, the majority of the pre-flood Black residents—are still wandering inAmerica’s cruel economic desert.

And the pols of Louisiana love it. Louisiana had a Democratic governor.  The purge of the voter rolls by flood has changed that forever.

Watch my film and meet Stephen Smith, who couldn’t swim, but floated on a mattress from rooftop to rooftop to save the lives of his neighbors.  Smith brought them to a bridge over the rising waters.  They waited for four days without food or water, as helicopters buzzed overhead.  Undoubtedly, one was President Bush’s copter, heading to his self-congratulatory press conference.


Change Everything or Face A Global Katrina

Naomi Klein, author of This Changes Everything, recently published an excerpt from The Shock Doctrine:

For me, the road to This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. the Climate begins in a very specific time and place. The time was exactly ten years ago. The place was New Orleans, in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. The road in question was flooded and littered with bodies.

Today I am posting, for the first time, the entire section on Hurricane Katrina from my last book, The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism. Rereading the chapter 10 years after the events transpired, I am struck most by this fact: the same military equipment and contractors used against New Orleans’ Black residents have since been used to militarize police across the United States, contributing to the epidemic of murders of unarmed Black men and women. That is one way in which the Disaster Capitalism Complex perpetuates itself and protects its lucrative market.

This material is free for reproduction.

From the Introduction:

I met Jamar Perry in September 2005, at the big Red Cross shelter in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Dinner was being doled out by grinning young Scientologists, and he was standing in line. I had just been busted for talking to evacuees without a media escort and was now doing my best to blend in, a white Canadian in a sea of African-American Southerners. I dodged into the food line behind Perry and asked him to talk to me as if we were old friends, which he kindly did.

Born and raised in New Orleans, he’d been out of the flooded city for a week. He looked about seventeen but told me he was twenty-three. He and his family had waited forever for the evacuation buses; when they didn’t arrive, they had walked out in the baking sun. Finally they ended up here, a sprawling convention centre, normally home to pharmaceutical trade shows and “Capital City Carnage: The Ultimate in Steel Cage Fighting,” now jammed with two thousand cots and a mess of angry, exhausted people being patrolled by edgy National Guard soldiers just back from Iraq.


We’ve Consumed More Than the Earth Can Produce This Year

Gabe Bullard reports for National Geographic:

It may feel like Christmas comes earlier each year, but there’s a less joyful day that really is moving closer on the calendar.

Earth Overshoot Day is the day when—according to estimates—the total combined consumption of all human activity on Earth in a year overtakes the planet’s ability to generate those resources for that year.

How is it measured?

“It’s quite simple,” says Dr. Mathis Wackernagel of the think tank Global Footprint Network. “We look at all the resource demands of humanity that compete for space, like food, fiber, timber, et cetera, then we look at how much area is needed to provide those services and how much productive surface is available.”

Here’s his bottom line metaphor. Earth Overshoot Day is like the day you spend more than your salary for a year, only you are all humans and your salary is Earth’s biocapacity.

Ideally, Overshoot Day would come after December 31.  It wasn’t too far off in 1970, when it occurred on December 23. But Overshoot Day creep has kicked in ever since. August 13 is the earliest yet—four days ahead of last year’s previous record.


Tokyo Electric executives to be charged over Fukushima nuclear disaster

Kentaro Hamada and Osamu Tsukimori report for Reuters:

A Japanese civilian judiciary panel on Friday forced prosecutors to indict three former Tokyo Electric Power (Tepco) executives for failing to take measures to prevent the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster.

The decision is unlikely to lead to a conviction of the former executives, after prosecutors twice said they would not bring charges, but means they will be summoned to appear in court to give evidence.

Tokyo prosecutors in January rejected the panel’s judgment that the three should be charged, citing insufficient evidence. But the 11 unidentified citizens on the panel forced the indictment after a second vote, which makes an indictment mandatory.

The three are former chairman Tsunehisa Katsumata, 75, and former executives Sakae Muto, 65, and Ichiro Takekuro, 69.

Citizens’ panels, made up of residents selected by lottery, are a rarely used but high-profile feature of Japan’s legal system introduced after World War Two to curb bureaucratic overreach.


UN: Expect 11.2 billion population by the end of the century

Cara Anna reports for the Associated Press:

Move over: The world’s population is expected to reach 8.5 billion by 2030 and 9.7 billion in 2050, a new United Nations report says. And there should be 11.2 billion people on Earth by the end of this century.

Meanwhile, India’s population is set to pass China’s in size around 2022, according to the report released Wednesday.

The population estimates play a huge role as the international community tries to figure out how to slow the danger of global warming, while pursuing the ambitious goals of eliminating both poverty and hunger.

The current world population is 7.3 billion. China and India each have more than one billion people.’


British oil company’s hand behind Congo army action

Marc Santora writes for Business Day Live:

When a British oil company began prospecting in Africa’s oldest national park, drawing worldwide concern and inspiring an Oscar-nominated documentary last year, the company was adamant in denying any wrongdoing.

Though soldiers in the Democratic Republic of Congo may have engaged in a campaign of intimidation and coercion against residents who were opposed to drilling in the park, the company said it could not be held responsible for their actions.

“We can’t tell the army to go and kiss off,” Roger Cagle, the deputy chief executive director of the oil company, SOCO International, told The Telegraph newspaper. He said the soldiers had been assigned by the Congolese government to keep the company safe.

But according to documents obtained by Global Witness, an advocacy group, SOCO appears to have paid tens of thousands of dollars to an army officer who has been accused of leading a brutal campaign against those objecting to the company’s oil exploration in the Virunga National Park.’


What Paul Ehrlich Missed (and Still Does): The Population Challenge Is About Rights

Schuyler Null reports for New Security Beat:

2015-06-03-1433350350-5787894-CountdownpopulationtruckposterfromLibraryFoundationofLosAngelesAlanWeisman.jpgIn 1968, Stanford University biologist Paul Ehrlich predicted hundreds of millions would starve to death over the next decade, many of them Americans, and the world would generally decline into chaos in his book The Population Bomb.

A retrospective on Ehrlich’s forecast is the subject of a new “Retro Report” in The New York Times. A 12-minute video feature produced by Sarah Weiser with support from the Pulitzer Center is accompanied by a column from Clyde Haberman.

“I do not think my language was too apocalyptic in The Population Bomb,” Ehrlich says in an interview, “my language would be even more apocalyptic today.” His basic premise remains true, he says: “We have a finite planet with finite resources and in such a system you can’t have infinite population growth.”

“I was trying to bring people to get something done,” he says, and he still sees humanity’s dominance over the natural world as a danger to our own life-support system.

But things have changed since The Population Bomb was published almost 50 years ago. Population growth has not continued unabated and in most parts of the world has slowed to at or below replacement level.

One aspect of the story that is somewhat glossed over but helps explain these changes is about rights.’


Stanford researcher Paul Ehrlich warns sixth mass extinction is here

Editor’s Note: Paul Ehrlich is well known for making predictions of doom about the future going back decades starting with his 1968 book ‘The Population Bomb’. You can learn more about his work (including criticisms) in the links below.

NASA: The Earth is Running Out of Water

Lauren McCauley reports for Common Dreams:

Two new NASA studies led by researchers from the University of California Irvine and published Tuesday show that the depletion of global groundwater resources, due to the dueling impacts of global warming and growing human demand, has caused the world’s water supply to drop to dangerous levels.

The first report compares statistical analysis of water withdrawal to GRACE satellite analysis, which measures variations in gravity on the Earth’s surface, between January 2003 and December 2013. The study compares the difference between the use and availability of these resources to determine the amount of overall renewable groundwater stress, or RGS.

According to the findings, at 21 of the 37 largest aquifers, water is being drained at a greater rate than it is being naturally replenished, 13 of which fell into the most troubled category.’


Protesters Press Secluded G7 Leaders on Harmful Policies: Interview with Gawain Kripke, Eric LeCompte and Nomi Prins

‘As leaders of the seven wealthy democracies known as the Group of Seven hold talks in a secluded castle in Germany, thousands of protesters have been met with 20,000 police in the largest security operation in the history of Bavaria. Issues on the G7 agenda include climate change, a $10.4 billion bailout package for Greece, and more austerity measures. We are joined by three guests: Gawain Kripke of Oxfam America, which just published the new report, “Let Them Eat Coal”; Eric LeCompte of the Jubilee USA Network; and former banker Nomi Prins, author of “All the Presidents’ Bankers.”‘ (Democracy Now!)

WikiLeaks Launches Campaign to Offer $100,000 “Bounty” for Leaked Drafts of Secret TPP Chapters

Amy Goodman speaks to Julian Assange about Wikileaks seeking to raise a $100,000 reward for anyone willing to leak the remaining unseen chapters of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). The TPP is a global trade deal between the United States and 11 other Asia-Pacific countries. It would cover 40% of the global economy, but despite this details have been hidden from the public. A recently leaked “Investment Chapter” highlighted the intent of US-led negotiators to create a tribunal where corporations would be able to sue governments if their laws interfered with a company’s  potential future profits. This is known as the Investor State Dispute Settlement (ISDS). WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange warns that the plan could create a chilling effect thereby preventing the adoption of health, environmental and other regulations. (Democracy Now!)

The Palace of the Soviets: A Brief History

A Toxic Affair: How the chemical lobby blocked action on hormone disrupting chemicals

Corporate Observatory Europe reports:

An investigation led by research and campaign group Corporate Europe Observatory (CEO) and journalist Stéphane Horel exposes corporate lobby groups mobilising to stop the EU taking action on hormone (endocrine) disrupting chemicals (EDCs). The report sheds light on how corporations and their lobby groups have used numerous tactics from the corporate lobbying playbook: scaremongering, evidence-discrediting, and delaying tactics, as well as using the ongoing TTIP negotiations as a leverage. But industry’s interests were also defended by actors within the Commission.

Endocrine disruptors are chemicals that are present in everyday products – from plastics and cosmetics to pesticides. Because of their ability to interact with the hormonal (endocrine) systems of living organisms, they are suspected of having severe health and environmental impacts.

EU law demands action be taken on endocrine disruptors, with clear deadlines set. According to these rules, if a chemical is identified as an endocrine disruptor, a ban follows. The current approach is that chemicals are assessed following risk assessment procedures and safe levels of exposure are set accordingly. However, for endocrine disruptors it might be impossible to set such ‘safe’ levels.

The Directorate-General (DG) for the Environment of the European Commission was put in charge of establishing a set of scientific criteria for ‘what is an endocrine disruptor’. The chemical industry lobby was up in arms at the potential banning of some EDCs. The main lobby groups involved were the chemical and pesticide lobbies (CEFIC – European Chemical Industry Council & ECPA – European Crop Protection Association), and the corporations at the forefront were BASF and Bayer. But they found allies in various member states, actors within the European Commission, and in the European Parliament.’


How NATO deliberately destroyed Libya’s water infrastructure

Nafeez Ahmed writes at The Cutting Edge:

‘The military targeting of civilian infrastructure, especially of water supplies, is a war crime under international law and the Geneva Conventions.

Yet this is what NATO did in Libya, and the results have worsened today.

Numerous reports comment on the water crisis that is escalating across Libya as consumption outpaces production. Some have noted the environmental context in regional water scarcity due to climate change, but what they ignore is the fact that the complex national irrigation system that had been carefully built and maintained over decades to overcome this problem was targeted and disrupted by NATO.

During the 2011 military invasion, press reports surfaced, mostly citing pro-rebel sources, claiming that pro-Gaddafi loyalists had shut down the water supply system as a mechanism to win the war and punish civilians.

This is a lie.’


Want to Help Nepal Recover from the Quake? Cancel its Debt, Says Rights Group

Kanya D’Almeida writes for IPS News:

[…] Questions abound as to how this impoverished nation, ranked 145 out of 187 on the United Nations Human Development Index (HDI) – making it one of the world’s Least Developed Countries (LDCs) – will recover from the disaster, considered the worst in Nepal in over 80 years.

One possible solution has come from the Jubilee USA Network, an alliance of over 75 U.S.-based organisations and 400 faith communities worldwide, which said in a press release Monday that Nepal could qualify for debt relief under the International Monetary Fund’s (IMF) new Catastrophe Containment and Relief Trust (CCR).

The IMF created the CCR this past February in order to assist poor countries recover from severe natural disasters or health crises by providing grants for debt service relief. Already, the fund has eased some of the financial woes of Ebola-impacted countries by agreeing to cancel nearly 100 million dollars of debt.

Quoting World Bank figures, Jubilee USA said in a statement, “Nepal owes 3.8 billion dollars in debt to foreign lenders and spent 217 million dollars repaying debt in 2013.”

Nepal owes some 1.5 billion dollars each to the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank, as well as 54 million dollars to the IMF, 133 million dollars to Japan and 101 million dollars to China.’


Green Revolution? Russell Brand Interviews Caroline Lucas and Natalie Bennett of the Green Party

Spring Break’s Hidden Underbelly

116 Environmental Defenders Were Murdered Last Year, Mostly in Latin America: Interview with Billy Kyte

‘As we continue to mark Earth Day, we look at a new report that finds killings of environmental activists on the rise, with indigenous communities hardest hit. According to Global Witness, at least 116 environmentalists were killed last year — more than two a week. Three-quarters of the deaths occurred in Central and South America. Just recently, three indigenous Tolupán leaders were gunned down during an anti-mining protest in northern Honduras, which has become the most dangerous country for environmental activists. We speak to Billy Kyte, campaigner for Global Witness and author of their new report, “How Many More?“‘ (Democracy Now!)