“A disgraceful attack on the Jewish state” is how one conservative American publication responded to Amnesty International’s most recent report on the 2nd February. The Amnesty report, which bears the title ‘Israel’s Apartheid Against Palestinians: Cruel System of Domination and Crime Against Humanity’ was published by Amnesty on the 1st February this year – predictably attracting the wrath of Israel whilst generating much controversy. The Israeli government responded as maturely as ever, with Foreign Minister Yair Lapid alleging that “Instead of seeking facts, Amnesty quotes lies spread by terrorist organizations.” Meanwhile, a range of wilfully ignorant journalists and public figures have labelled the report “anti-semitic”. Here we go again.
Owen Jones recently pointed out that the far right is now at its strongest since the 1930s. A horrifying reality of today’s populist Europe. These groups have been unfailingly and cynically opportunistic in using terrorist attacks in Europe to galvanize hatred against Muslims, whilst presenting themselves as protecting white European innocents from the depravity of the Qu’ran, or simply as “not racist” concerned citizens who feel that we should help “our own” (read: white) homeless before helping others. This mindset has contributed to the election of far right governments in Poland, Hungary and Italy and demonstrates that we should not view these groups as fringe street-movements – they are effecting political change with horrifying efficiency through influencing voters.
Mainstream media is in on this, of course. As Chris Jarvis wrote in October 2016, the media’s reaction to refugees and migrants has been nothing short of inflammatory. The influence of mistruths presented in the media has led to vilification of refugees and migrants. In our failure to protect vulnerable people who are unable to seek protection in their country of origin, we have failed to learn history’s lesson. Enoch Powell would be proud of us. We should all be fucking ashamed of ourselves.
The earth is facing major – and quite possibly irreversible – environmental catastrophe and ecological breakdown. No need to panic. The Paris climate agreement was a resounding success, was it not?
On the one hand, one set of researchers estimate that at our current trajectory, we have about a 5% chance of remaining below the 2C threshold set out in the Paris agreement in 2015. On the other, a recent audit of the agreement conducted by the United Nations (UN) made it clear that even if the Paris agreement was to be met in full, it won’t be enough of a shift to avoid a total planetary clusterfuck of epic proportions. In his statement on the matter, head of UN Environment Erik Solheim suggested that “if we invest in the right technologies, ensuring that the private sector is involved, we can still meet the promise we made to our children to protect their future”.
What if the “private sector” is the problem? In order to decode the question we need to be clear what the private sector is, what its objectives are, and the kind of power it has over environmental policy.
“The army has an assassination list of 18 wanted human rights fighters with my name at the top. I want to live, there are many things I still want to do in this world but I have never once considered giving up fighting for our territory, for a life with dignity because our fight is legitimate. I take lots of care but in the end, in this country where there is total impunity I am vulnerable…when they want to kill me, they will do it.”
Berta Cáceres (2013)
In the early hours of Thursday 3rd March 2016 in La Esperanza, Honduras, an unknown number of assailants broke into the house of environmental and human rights campaigner Berta Cáceres and killed her. The only witness to the crime, Gustavo Castro Soto, a Mexican national, has been denied permission to leave the country with a 30-day immigration alert put in place against him. According to Global Witness, at least 109 people have been killed between 2010 and 2015 in Honduras, all with links to campaigns against a number of projects, including mining, logging and dams.