Timing isn’t everything but it sure helps. After the mid-term elections, the mood in climate circles was getting pretty grim. We faced the prospect of a Republican-dominated House and Senate overturning emission controls, ramming through Keystone XL and elevating a climate denier (James Inhofe) to chair of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee. Already there was talk that upcoming UN climate negotiations were dead on arrival.
Your alarm rings, you take a shower, or maybe a bath if you’re time-rich, maybe you go unbathed if you’re time-poor. Then, the most treasured of modern drug-taking rituals: that morning cup of joe. You might brew it yourself, you might clump powdered whitener into a cup of instant crystals, or cough up a bill for an artisanal fair-trade cappuccino, or maybe even buy it at one of those chain shops with the interiors that strain to deliver the impression of comfort.
The siege of Knightsbridge is a farce. For two years, an exaggerated, costly police presence around the Ecuadorean embassy in London has served no purpose other than to flaunt the power of the state. Their quarry is an Australian charged with no crime, a refugee from gross injustice whose only security is the room given him by a brave South American country. His true crime is to have initiated a wave of truth-telling in an era of lies, cynicism and war.
The persecution of Julian Assange must end. Even the British government clearly believes it must end. On October 28, the deputy foreign minister, Hugo Swire, told Parliament he would “actively welcome” the Swedish prosecutor in London and “we would do absolutely everything to facilitate that”. The tone was impatient.
It’s almost a political cliche. If a country is battered by economic disaster, its ever poorer citizens will turn in droves to the crude xenophobia of the populist right. A lack of secure jobs and affordable homes, plummeting living standards: Johnny Foreigner proves an all-too-convenient scapegoat. This is a script that seems to have been followed to the letter in austerity Britain. Anti-establishment fury has been funnelled into an anti-immigration party led by an ex-City broker who wants to stick it to the man by privatising public services, slashing taxes on the rich, and attacking hard-won British workers’ rights. But, as Spain shows us, it doesn’t have to be this way.
With the launch of a new U.S.-led war in Iraq and Syria against the Islamic State IS, the United States has engaged in aggressive military action in at least 13 countries in the Greater Middle East since 1980. In that time, every American president has invaded, occupied, bombed, or gone to war in at least one country in the region. The total number of invasions, occupations, bombing operations, drone assassination campaigns, and cruise missile attacks easily runs into the dozens.
Isis: Iraqi army retakes control of oil refinery town as Kurds stand firm against overstretched Islamic State
Iraqi forces have recaptured the refinery town of Baiji and broken the siege of the giant oil refinery nearby, say officials in Baghdad – in the most important success for the Iraqi government since Isis seized a third of Iraq in June.Isis fighters, after their spectacular victories in Iraq and Syria over the summer, are overstretched as they seek to extend or defend the vast territories they have seized. A Kurdish general, Najat Ali, commanding Peshmerga soldiers in the town of Makhmour, 50 miles north of Baiji, said yesterday that “Isis has big administrative problems in supplying food and ammunition to its forces in the front line”.
War with Isis: The forgotten, plucky Kurds under siege in their enclave on Syria’s border with Turkey
The skies are grey-black from the oilfields and refineries at Rumeilan, a dingy, depressing cover that stretches from this Kurdish enclave far to the southern horizon where the Islamists of Isis are sucking their own wealth out of the ground. Not that the Kurds have much money. Without refining chemicals, the “Democratic Self-Administration of Kurdistan West” – the wedge of territory that Syria allows the Kurds to hold between Qamishli and the Iraqi-Kurdish border – can only produce 30,000 barrels a day, and that’s for their own use.
If there were any remaining doubts about the unlimited stupidity Western corporate media is capable of dishing out, the highlight of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation APEC summit in Beijing has been defined as Russian President Vladimir Putin supposedly “hitting” on Chinese President Xi Jinping’s wife – and the subsequent Chinese censoring of the moment when Putin draped a shawl over her shoulders in the cold air where the leaders were assembled. What next? Putin and Xi denounced as a gay couple?
Near the classrooms in the dusty schoolyard of the Chibok Government Secondary School, the Whuntaku girls hold court beneath the green lele mazza tree. There is no sign on the tree, no discernible markings; everyone just knows it’s their spot — where they gathered in the mornings, between classes, and after school to hang out, talk about boys, whatever.
During the recent U.N. Climate Summit, it was hard not to think of the quip, attributed to Charles Dudley Warner, “Everyone complains about the weather, but no one does anything about it.” A parade of global leaders (including Barack Obama) made all the right noises, but there was little action. So it was notable when Norway announced a deal with Liberia: Norway will give Liberia up to a hundred and fifty million dollars in aid, in exchange for which Liberia will work to stop the rapid destruction of its trees.