OpenDemocracy

Leaked documents show Brazil’s Bolsonaro has grave plans for the Amazon

Leaked documents show that Jair Bolsonaro's government intends to use the Brazilian president's hate speech to isolate minorities living in the Amazon region. The PowerPoint slides, which democraciaAbierta has seen, also reveal plans to implement predatory projects that could have a devastating environmental impact.

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Lesson Learned: Revolution Doesn't Come From NGOs

As African feminists, we face multiple systems of oppression including the effects of colonization, neo colonization, white supremacy, militarism, the globalization of capitalism and neoliberalism. Yet our movements are more vibrant and radically political than ever before.

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Environmental and Land Activist Killings Hit an All-Time High

Last year was the deadliest on record for environmental activists, according to new figures released by the UK NGO Global Witness.

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In the Age of Trump, Resistance Movements Have to Get Offline

When I reached over to switch off my alarm on the morning of 9 November, I wished I had stayed asleep. In the few seconds that I searched for the snooze button, my phone’s notifications had revealed that Trump would almost certainly be the president-elect of the US. I was paralysed.

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Zoos Are the Problem, Not the Solution, to Animal Conservation

In the past month the deaths of animals in captivity have highlighted continuing concerns around conservation. Zoos are entertainment, and while they contribute to conservation they don’t provide any real solution. Wildlife can only be saved by empowering their protection in their own natural habitats—and that means we have to work with local communities and not against them.

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What's Happening to the Millions of People Displaced by Climate Change?

The World Humanitarian Summit, which concluded last month in Istanbul, aimed to reform the humanitarian system. But that system was created for a climate that no longer exists.

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Exposing the Wave of Flimsy Anti-Semitism Allegations Thrown at UK Progressives

An offensive against the elected Labour leadership and the Palestine solidarity movement is being waged under the guise of fighting antisemitism. The attack began back in February, when a co-chair of the Oxford University Labour Club (OULC) resigned claiming that ‘a large proportion of both OULC and the student left in Oxford more generally have some kind of problem with Jews’. This sweeping condemnation boiled down to a handful of allegations, most of which were made anonymously and none of which were accompanied by evidence. The only claim whose veracity can at this point be checked – that an OULC member was disciplined by his college for organising a group of students to harass and shout ‘filthy Zionist’ at a Jewish student – turns out to be a sheer fabrication: according to the (late) Principal of that college, the student in question has never been the subject of complaint or disciplinary proceedings, for antisemitism or anything else. 

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Is Pope Francis an Ecofeminist?

Usually, letters written by a pope to all members of the Catholic Church seldom interest the broader community. But Pope Francis has been making headline news throughout his papacy as a result of his encyclicals, especially Laudato Si’(“Praise be to you”), his letter on ecological issues that was released on June 18th 2015.

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Why Is a Major Foundation Investing in Fossil Fuels and Ignoring Grassroots Action?

The Chicago-based MacArthur Foundation recently announced that it’s giving $50 million towards curbing global climate disruption by significantly reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Great news right? Maybe, or maybe not—this amount is tiny when compared to the scale of the problem, so it all depends on how the resources are utilized in practice. And on that question, the Foundation’s strategies reveal the ongoing limitations and contradictions of conventional philanthropy.

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Lessons from Bolivia: Re-Nationalizing the Hydrocarbon Industry

President Evo Morales came to power in Bolivia in 2006 amid widespread discontent. The country had been experiencing a long-term economic growth failure, with income per capita in 2005 lower than it was 27 years prior, and privatization efforts had been widely unpopular, including with the indigenous majority. Conflicts over natural resources, most notably the water and gas wars of 2000 and 2003, respectively, led to the resignations of Presidents Gonzalo Sánchez de Lozada in 2003 and Carlos Mesa in 2005. The Morales administration marked a dramatic turn-around for the country. The economy began to grow, experiencing its fastest growth in decades. Bolivia increased its sovereignty over economic policy; social spending increased by 45 percent from 2005-2012 and poverty was reduced by 25 percent from 2005-2011. In order to achieve these results, President Morales nationalized the hydrocarbons sector by decree early during his first year in office, allowing his government to engage in effective redistribution and macroeconomic policies that benefited the poorest segments of society.

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Wasted Blood and Treasure: The Futility of Invading Afghanistan

On 16 December 2013 David Cameron, the British Prime Minister, told British soldiers in Helmand in Afghanistan that they had accomplished their mission, and that they could come home in 2014 with their heads held high.

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World of Drones: How Unmanned Aircraft Are Extending American Hegemony

Drones were initially developed for surveillance missions. The iconic MQ-1 Predator debuted during the Balkan wars, surveying the operations over Bosnia, tracking the movement of Serbian troops in real time and providing hours of surveillance data by staying in the air for longer than previously possible. The use of drones for offensive operations was only fully realised with the US-led ‘war on terror’, targeting al-Qaida and its associates. ‘Signature strikes’ in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Yemen have generated much controversy, especially covert operations by the Central Intelligence Agency, with many civilians killed, many more feeling targeted and little or no accountability from the authorities.

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How a Russian Dissident Became a Thorn in Vladimir Putin's Side

On 18 July, the Lenin District Court in the city of Kirov sentenced opposition activist Aleksey Navalny to five years in a prison camp for alleged embezzlement of funds at the Kirovles Timber Enterprise. I will not go into the details of the case against him and co-defendant Petr Ofitserov. Suffice to say that in the opinion of the former Finance Minister Aleksey Kudrin, whose competence in the legal regulation of economic activity in Russia should not in doubt, ‘Navalny’s sentence shows up our selective system of justice: any official involved in the management of a company could be given the same sentence.’  In Kudrin’s view, his sentence is a way of ‘isolating a politician from public life and the electoral process’, and the majority of Russia’s legal experts agree with him.

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Fuel on a Mideast Fire: U.S. Intervention in Syria Would Make Catastrophic Situation Even Worse

Politically-driven demands for direct US intervention in Syria – more arms to the rebels, establishing a 'no-fly' zone, creating a safe area somewhere – have been flying around for months. So far, President Obama and the Pentagon leadership have resisted the political pressure. But Obama’s resistance has been weak and cautious; we don’t have enough evidence yet, it’s not clear the red line has been crossed. The clear implication is that if there is more evidence, if some claimed red line is crossed, then all bets are off – and in today’s diplo-speak, “all options are on the table.”

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Genocide Trial of Guatemalan Dictator Offers Historic Chance For Justice

On March 19, the trial against General Efraín Ríos Montt, the former de facto Guatemalan head of state, and his former head of military intelligence, General José Mauricio Rodríguez Sánchez, began in Guatemala City. Ríos Montt took power in a military coup in March 1982 and the two of them are accused of orchestrating genocide and crimes against humanity against rural Mayan communities as the intellectual authors of the killings of 1,771 individuals and the forced displacement of thousands from the Ixil triangle region of southern Quiché department. 

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Is Austerity Behind the Spike in Heart Attacks in Greece?

In Greece, austerity has caused more than just tear gas usage to rise. Heart attacks have spiked in the republic, in line with the economic crisis in the Eurozone, a new study shows. Studying 22,093 patients admitted to Kalamata’s General Hospital, researchers noted a distinct spike when comparing pre-crisis and crisis periods, especially amongst women. Pre-crisis (January 2004-December 2007) Kalamata recorded 841 heart attacks, compared to 1,084 between January 2008 and December 2011, an overall increase of 29%. In women, heart attacks rose by 39.2%, with acute myocardial infarctions spiking by 51%.

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Tony Blair Refuses to Repent: The Man Who Helped Destroy Iraq is Licking His Lips At Intervening in Syria

Shortly after Tony Blair set up shop as the Quartet Representative in the luxurious American Colony Hotel in Jerusalem he met a group of former Parliamentary colleagues. To the jangle of jaws dropping on the floor, he confessed that before he had come out there, he had not realised just how little he really understood about the Israel-Palestine conflict as Prime Minister. The reality on the ground was so much worse then he had ever imagined. 

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Remote-Control War on Mali and Afghanistan Risks Major Blowback On Western Powers

The evolving western military operation in Mali continues to offer insight into the changing nature of 21st-century war. The French campaign is proceeding in the north of the country, with Britain (as an earlier column in this series anticipated) directly involved in combat operations via its Sentinel R1 radar reconnaissance-aircraft. The Sentinel missions aid French forces as they target rebels who are seeking to regroup (see Tony Osborne, “Dodging the Ax”,Aviation Week, 18 February 2013 ). Britain's capacity here is needed by the French, who lack this kind of capability since their Horizon helicopter-based system was scrapped (and who are also finding that they are in urgent need of armed-drones).

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And the Winner is...Nobody: Italian Government Deadlocked After Election

Italians woke up on the morning of Tuesday, 26 February with the realisation that not one of the numerous opinion polls was correct in predicting the outcome of the elections held between Sunday and Monday, and that the country was probably facing a period of turbulence without parallel in its post-war history.

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10 Reasons Why British Security Firm G4S is the World's Worst Company

War on Want has nominated G4S as the world’s worst company in this year’sPublic Eye Awards, an initiative of the Berne Declaration and GreenPeace. The winner of the award for the worst record of corporate human rights abuses and environmental misdeeds will be announced on 24 January at the World Economic Forum in Davos.

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How Syria is Being Ripped Apart by Foreign Meddling and Sectarian War

Everything about Syria is steeped in miasma: is this conflict politically and sociologically definable as a civil war? Has it become a sectarian war? How strong and widespread is the Salafist (and global Jihadi) presence? Was militarization wise or did the opposition have no choice in this regard? Are the armed groups able to defeat the regime’s forces or will there be a perpetual, bloody stalemate whose only certainty is Syria’s complete physical destruction and long-term division? Is a negotiated outcome, that is, a political solution the only possibility, or is it uninformed to speak of political solutions at this stage of the conflict?

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