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military & warfare

Bolivia, Brazil and South America’s never-ending resource curse

From The Intercept: Anthropologist and Bolivia scholar Bret Gustafson offers a nuanced analysis of how the coup in Bolivia unfolded, who benefits from the present crisis, and what is at stake for the overwhelmingly indigenous population. Also, Glenn Greenwald talks about his recent conversation with Brazil’s former president Lula, who was recently released from prison.

War on Earth: US military is a bigger polluter than as many as 140 countries

From The Intercept: Industrialized militaries are a bigger part of the climate emergency than we know. If the US-military were a country, its fuel usage alone would make it the world’s 47th largest greenhouse gas emitter, says a new study. Another study found that America has spent an astonishing $5.9 trillion on wars since 2001.

Daniel Ellsberg: The military-industrial complex is an existential threat to humanity

The growth of the military-industrial complex poses an existential threat to humanity. Daniel Ellsberg, peace activist and whistleblower best known for his expose dubbed the ‘Pentagon Papers’, discusses with Allen White the precise nature of the threat posed by the military-industrial complex— and what needs to be done about it. [Courtesy the Great Transition Initiative]

Arturo Escobar: Farewell to Development

Over the years, ‘development’ has undergone multiple modifications, such as sustainable development, participatory development, development with gender equity, integrated rural development, and so forth. All these approaches stay within the conventional understanding of development: they don’t constitute a radical departure from the prevailing paradigm. What we need to do is get rid of ‘development’ itself

Neoliberalism or death: The U.S.’ economic war against Venezuela

Once the richest country in Latin America, today Venezuela lies in shambles, with food and medicine inaccessible to most, and sparking widespread protests and massive violence. In this interview, Venezeulan President Nicolás Maduro speaks on the politics behind the crisis, and specifically the role of the U.S. Also, an analysis by Marxist scholar Vijay Prashad.

Our new, happy life? The ideology of development, by Charles Eisenstein

People in older cultures, connected to community and place, held close in a lineage of ancestors, woven into a web of personal and cultural stories, radiate a kind of solidity and presence that I rarely find in any modern person. Whatever the measurable gains of the Ascent of Humanity, we have lost something immeasurably precious.

Does Iran’s water crisis play a role in its growing political turmoil?

Louis Proyect writes: As a rentier state, Iran’s economy was based on handouts rather than the production of manufactured goods. Cheap oil and subsidies made the massive use of pumps feasible just as was the case in neighbouring Syria. Groundwater extraction nearly quadrupled between the 1970s and 2000 while the number of wells rose five-fold.

How climate change and water woes drove ISIS recruiting in Iraq

From National Geographic: Already battered by decades of shoddy environmental policies, which had hobbled agriculture and impoverished its inhabitants, villages across rural Iraq and Syria were in no state to navigate the extra challenges of climate change. When ISIS came along, many of them quickly emerged as some of the deep-pocketed jihadists’ foremost recruiting grounds.

Incredible India? GDP is growing, yet hunger getting worse

From Down to Earth: GDP does not reveal the ground truth about progress in development. The top 10% of Indians control the wealth basket while the common people—more than one billion—slide down along ‘Hunger Index’. While the government flaunts a surging economy, prevalence of hunger in India is at the “high end of serious category”.

The oil economics and land-grab politics behind the Rohingya genocide

Ethnic differences have been widely considered the cause of the Rohingya genocide. However, these reports show that the killings and forced displacement of several of Myanmar’s minority communities may also be fuelled by global corporations’ growing interest in the Rakhine’s mineral wealth, and the competing geopolitical interests of the United States, China, India and Bangladesh.

New report ranks India near the bottom of the global heap on inequality

Huffington Post reports: India ranks 132nd out of 152 countries on a new index that measures the commitment by a country towards reducing inequality. The index is composed of 21 data points with varying weights; including health and education, share of tax revenue in the GDP, share of tax exemptions, minimum wage and maternity benefits.

What tames inequality? Violence and mayhem, says new book

From Chronicle.com: In his new book, The Great Leveler: Violence and the History of Inequality from the Stone Age to the Twenty-First Century, Stanford University professor Walter Scheidel puts forth the following thesis: that historically, it took four kinds of violent ruptures  –mass-mobilization warfare, transformative revolution, state failure, and lethal pandemics– to reduce widespread inequality.

Viral essay: The Uninhabitable Earth

It is not often that an article about climate change becomes the most hotly debated item on the internet. But David Wallace-Wells’ lengthy essay published in New York Magazine did exactly that. The full text of the essay –admittedly a worst-case scenario- which has kicked up a firestorm of debate online, along with selected responses.

Is the fight over a gas pipeline fuelling the world’s bloodiest conflict?

With the U.S. and Russia headed for a direct confrontation in Syria, the war in that country is moving a new, more dangerous phase. The Syrian war often seems like a big confusing mess but one factor that’s not often mentioned could be the key to unlocking the conflict: the struggle to control energy markets.

Red alert: A timeline for global collapse

This review by Alice Friedmann of Nafeez Ahmed’s new book has 3 parts: 1) Why states collapse for reasons other than economic and political 2) How Bio-Physical factors contribute to systemic collapse in Syria, Yemen, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Nigeria 3) Predictions of when collapse will begin in Middle-East, India, China, Europe, Russia, North America

Information theory pioneer John Scales Avery on the planet’s converging crises

From Countercurrents.org: Human cultural evolution can be regarded as an enormous success in many respects. However, thoughtful observers agree that civilization is entering a period of crisis. As all curves move exponentially upward: population, production, consumption, etc, one can observe signs of increasing environmental stress, while the existence of nuclear weapons threaten civilization with destruction.

Stephen Hawking: This is the most dangerous time for our planet

We face awesome global environmental challenges. Climate change, food production, overpopulation, the decimation of other species, epidemic disease, acidification of the oceans. Together, they are a reminder that we are at the most dangerous moment in the development of humanity… Now, more than at any time in our history, our species needs to work together.

George Monbiot: The 13 impossible crises we are facing now

Please don’t read this unless you are feeling strong. This is a list of 13 major crises that, I believe, confront us. From Trump to climate change, this multi-headed crisis presages collapse. And there’s no hope of exiting the ‘other side’ if political alternatives are shut down. Sorry to say that it’s not happy reading.

Watch: Pentagon video warns of “unavoidable” dystopian future

The Intercept reports: This startling five minute video from the Pentagon’s Joint Special Operations University depicts an “unavoidable” future of brutal and anarchic supercities and offers an apocalyptic list of ills endemic to this new urban environment. In addition, “Growth will magnify the increasing separation between rich and poor,” the narrator warns at one point.

An open letter to our fellow Indians on the Indus Water Treaty

Soumya Dutta writes: Pakistan is a dry country, with average annual rainfall of less than 250 mm, less than our desert district of Bikaner. The Indus, which India is now threatening to block, irrigates around 70% of the ‘food basket’ farmlands in Punjab & Sindh; it’s literally the life line for the people of Pakistan.

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