Up until recently I dismissed the hypothesis that the coronavirus that causes COVID-19 escaped from a Chinese lab as a crackpot conspiracy theory meant to increase anti- China sentiment in the US. Then two friends gave me very well researched articles making the case that the Lab Theory, as I will call it, was credible and should not be dismissed. There is as yet no proof for either the Lab Theory hypothesis, or for the From Nature hypothesis. Still, the issue will rage in the mainstream media. If we don’t address it properly, we will look ignorant, and we will be dismissed. Here are the key points to make in discussing it:
Saturday morning, the Black Alliance for Peace (BAP) got word the neoliberal, right-wing Colombian state was deploying its military into the predominantly Afro-Colombian city of Calí. To top it off, the internet was not working. That prompted us to put out an alert on Twitter. Later in the day, we heard from our folks that the internet appeared to be up and running again. But we remain vigilant because the national government had deployed the military to Calí and other cities after issuing a decree on Friday forcing governors and mayors to cooperate with the militarized response to the national strike. This move came after a month of unrest and severe state repression sparked by opposition to the government’s attempt to impose an austerity plan that would have transferred the economic crisis created by neoliberalism onto the backs of the working class.
We are tired of parades, memorials and pageantry. Take back your “thank you for your service” and 50% off sales. We want people to live without threats of U.S. bullets and bombs. We remember the enormous loss of civilian life that is forgotten in today’s memorials and hidden from view in the U.S. consciousness. America has no space on its calendar to memorialize these victims. We grieve the loss of friends and the death of veterans unable to forget the tragedies and forgive themselves. We are ANGRY that there is a holiday that glorifies nationalism and patriotism and ignores the trauma that U.S. militarism enacts all over the globe.
As a citizen of the Nez Percé, or Nimíipuu, which means the People, I look at gold mining as a symbol of broken promises. In 1855, when my ancestors entered into a treaty with the United States, we ceded millions of acres in what eventually became Idaho, Oregon and Washington. In exchange we reserved an exclusive homeland and rights to fish, hunt, gather and pasture throughout our vast aboriginal territory. Then in 1860 gold was discovered, and thousands of prospectors flooded across our borders in violation of the treaty, damaging our sacred places and natural resources and causing unspeakable injury to our people. The United States failed to uphold the terms of the 1855 Treaty and instead forced the Nez Percé to enter into a new treaty in 1863.
The idea that humans are a danger to nature is deeply rooted in some minds. However, it is based on an ethnocentric vision of what the term ‘human’ encompasses. Not all human beings destroy the earth. It is our consumerist lifestyle and economic model based on infinite growth that are at the root of the climate crisis and the decline of biodiversity. Other human societies have a completely different relationship with nature and do not, like Western societies, have this profound dissociation between human and nature. As the famous French anthropologist and student of Claude Lévi-Strauss, Philippe Descola, says: “the opposition between nature and culture is not universal”.
As most of us sat at home during the past year, seeking safety from the pandemic and isolated from each other, we had little to protect us from the onslaught of historic national traumas and anxieties. We watched in horror as over half a million Americans died, millions lost their livelihoods while others had to face the virus at work, an unarmed Black man was slowly murdered by a policeman on camera, and our President encouraged a white rightwing insurrection. All of this is superimposed on the global existential crisis of climate change and the economic abandonment of many places across the country. If years can be ranked by their impact on the mental health and well- being of people, 2020-2021 would easily be near the top of the list.
On May 29, local activists in Sedro-Woolley, Washington, (population 11,739) and the greater Skagit County area held a march against racism marking the one year anniversary of the murder of George Floyd. Marchers gathered at Hammer Heritage Square in downtown Sedro-Woolley for sign-waving followed by a march of about 75 people through the business district starting at noon.
During Exxon's annual shareholder meeting, an activist hedge fund called Engine No. 1—which "owns only about 0.02%" of the oil company's stock, according to climate reporter Emily Atkin—ran four of its own director candidates in opposition to the fossil fuel corporation's hand-picked board members. At least two of Engine No. 1's candidates won, with the races for additional boardroom seats too close to call as of this writing.
The world’s population was about 7.8 billion people in 2020. About 2.2 billion people do not have access to safe drinking water, and over 4 billion do not have safe sanitation.(1) About 800 million suffer from chronic undernourishment. A fifth of all children under 5 suffer from stunted growth.(2) Each year approximately 6 million children and many millions of adults die of easily preventable diseases(3) and 9 million people die of hunger.(4) Some progress has been made on some of these issues, particularly in China. However, things have been getting worse in other regions, such as Africa.(5) Since 1960, the income gap between rich countries and poor countries has roughly tripled in size.
Amidst all the pageantry and military worship going on around the country this weekend, few people will recognize the millions of civilians and foreign fighters who have perished due to the endless wars fought by the United States, and no one will honor the dissenters who have resisted morally bankrupt wars from within the ranks of the U.S. military.
A leaderless social movement gathering millions of people across Chile began in October 2019. After decades of protests over healthcare, pensions, education and other issues, these multiple demands converged as one general clamour for social justice and dignity. The referendum for the new constitution, one of the core objectives, would reveal that the status quo had lost legitimacy and that the Chilean people were demanding the re-foundation of the country. This meant dismantling the legacy of the Pinochet regime which benefited a handful of people who today own companies that once belonged to the Chilean State. These were privatised very quickly and cheaply during the dictatorship.Con
Over the last two weeks around 120 people have been arrested and charged, most with violating an injunction obtained by a logging company. But with more people streaming in by the day and the RCMP trying to secure an area the size of a small country, there’s no end in sight. This is the latest from southwest Vancouver Island, which has become an international hotspot in the fight to save old-growth forests. Last August, a group of environmental activists set up a series of blockades of logging roads deep in the bush surrounding Port Renfrew, B.C. Their goal was to preserve stands of old-growth in the Fairy Creek watershed, one of the largest and most significant ancient forests remaining in North America.
The International Mission of Solidarity and Human Rights Observation arrived to Colombia on May 25 to verify denouncements of human rights violations committed by the Colombian forces during the National Strike. Teri Mattson of CODEPINK who is part of the delegation sends a report from Pereira where she and other members of the mission have been meeting with human rights organizations and movements.
The United Educators of San Francisco has become the first American K-12 public school union to endorse the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement (BDS). The resolution passed on May 19, at the height of Israel’s recent assault on Gaza.
Bogota - For exactly one month now, a nationwide strike has crippled Colombia and has been met with deadly repression by the far-right government of Ivan Duque. As trade unions have shut down major cities, halting mass transit and bringing economic gridlock to the country, government forces have responded with violence. According to government figures, at least 44 people have been killed in protests that began on April 28. A further 500 people have been “disappeared,” more than 100 shot with live fire, and at least 28 have been wounded in the eye by police, the notorious ESMAD riot squad, or by paramilitary organizations linked to the state. The crackdown on dissent is being abetted by the Israeli government, which itself is dealing with widespread economic, military and social revolt from its captive Palestinian population.