Africa
Sahel

Sahel: deadly violence in mining sector

At least two were killed as security forces attacked protesting gold miners at Burkina Faso’s western HoundĂ© commune. The protesters were demanding release of 12 of their comrades who had been arrested a week earlier, when informal miners angered by government moves to expel their camps overran and ransacked the facilities of HoundĂ© Gold Operation, a subsidiary of UK-based multinational Endeavour Mining. In far greater violence, fighting between rival groups of informal gold miners in the remote north of Chad left an estimated 200 dead. The clashes at Kouri Bougoudi, in the Tibesti mountains on the Libyan border, apparently pitted ethnic Arabs against members of the Tama community. (Map: Wikivoyage)

Planet Watch
nuclear power

Podcast: Nuclear power? No thanks!

In Episode 110 of the CounterVortex podcast, Bill Weinberg rants against the current greenwashing of nuclear power, and hype about a supposedly “safe” new generation of reactors. Every stage of the nuclear cycle is ecocidal and genocidal. Uranium mining has poisoned the lands of indigenous peoples from Navajo Country to Saskatchewan to West Africa. The ongoing functioning of nuclear plants entails routine emissions of radioactive gases, factored in by the bureaucrats in determining “acceptable” levels of cancer. Disposal of the waste, and the retired reactor sites themselves, is a problem that inherently defies solution. They will be deadly for exponentially longer into the future than biblical times stretch into the past. The Waste Isolation Pilot Project (WIPP) in New Mexico, hyped as secure for hundreds of millennia, leaked plutonium after only 13 years. And finally there is the “sexiest” issue, the one that actually gets some media play, at least—the risk of accident. It is a mark of capitalism’s depravity that even after the nightmares of Fukushima and Chernobyl, we periodically get media campaigns about an imminent “nuclear renaissance.” Nuclear versus fossil fuels is the false choice offered us by industry. The imperative is to get off the extraction economy and on to one based on sustainability and resource conservation. Listen on SoundCloud or via Patreon. (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)

Africa
Apiate

Mining disaster wipes out community in Ghana

A rural community in Ghana’s Western Region was virtually flattened when a truck carrying explosives to a gold mine collided with a motorcycle, setting off a massive blast. Some 40 have been hospitalized, and the official death toll of 17 is expected to rise. The truck, owned by a local mining services company called Maxam, was en route to the Chirano gold mine, operated by Toronto-based Kinross Gold. The explosion left a huge crater and reduced dozens of buildings to dust-covered piles of wood and metal in the community of Apiate, near the city of Bogoso, some 300 kilometers west of the capital Accra. The chief executive of Prestea Huni-Valley municipality told local media “the whole community is gone” after the blast. (Photo: Prestea Huni-Valley Municipal Assembly via Mining.com)

Watching the Shadows
antivax

Podcast: antivax is fascist II

In Episode 103 of the CounterVortex podcast, Bill Weinberg, still suffering from possible COVID-19 symptoms, again notes how the radical right, including neo-Nazi elements, is in the vanguard of anti-vax protests, from Germany to Romania to England to Brooklyn. A virtual industry churns out relentless online disinformation that is easily refuted by anyone who makes the effort to break out of the confirmation-bias bubble. Contrary to the conspiranoid propaganda, COVID-19 deaths are actually being underestimated. The juvenile Nazi-baiting of the anti-vax machine is another example of the propaganda device of fascist pseudo-anti-fascism. Meanwhile, Tuskegee experiment survivors are encouraging vaccinations, and the Peoples Vaccine Alliance protests the actual crimes of Big Pharma—failing to make the vaccine available to Africa and the much of the Global South, in what has been decried as “vaccine apartheid.” Listen on SoundCloud or via Patreon. (Photo via Twitter)

North America
thacker-pass

Paiute and Shoshone oppose Nevada lithium mine

Local indigenous peoples and their environmentalist supporters have rallied outside the federal courthouse in Reno, Nev., as they await a decision on their request for an injunction to stop the Thacker Pass Lithium Mine Project, set to be developed on public lands within the ancestral territory of the Paiute and Shoshone. Opponents have also established a protest camp near the mine site. If the injunction is denied, Lithium Nevada, a subsidiary of Canada-based Lithium Americas, will be able to move ahead with an archaeological survey in preparation for breaking ground on the mine. (Photo: Protect Thacker Pass)

Planet Watch
First Nations

Canada law recognizing UNDRIP gets royal assent

A bill by the Canadian Parliament recognizing the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) and establishing a framework for its implementation received Royal Assent. The legislation requires the government of Canada to take measures for bringing the country’s laws into alignment with the UNDRIP as well as preparing an action plan for achieving its objectives. But some advocates for Indigenous peoples’ rights are concerned that the new law may “Canadianize” the UNDRIP, since it is to be construed as upholding the rights of First Nations under Section 35 of the Constitution Act, 1982—which has been subject to long-drawn legal battles over its interpretation. (Photo of anti-pipeline protest in British Columbia: Rogue Collective via Flickr)

Planet Watch
colonial pipeline

Podcast: lessons of the Colonial Pipeline disaster

In Episode 75 of the CounterVortex podcast, Bill Weinberg examines distorted reportage on the shutdown of the Colonial Pipeline by Russian hackers. The disaster illustrates the urgent need for a crash conversion from fossil fuels—but also from digital technology. Signs of hope are seen in the cancellation of the Keystone XL pipeline, the recent indigenous-led protests against the Line 3 Pipeline in Minnesota, and the gas bill strike launched by Brooklyn residents to oppose the North Brooklyn Pipeline that would cut through their neighborhoods. Listen on SoundCloud or via Patreon. (Map: US Energy Information Administration)

Planet Watch
lakota

Keystone XL pipeline cancelled —struggle continues

Calgary-based TC Energy Corporation (formerly TransCanada) confirmed that it has terminated the Keystone XL Pipeline Project. Construction on the project was suspended following the revocation of its presidential permit in January. The pipeline, which was to transport tar sands oil from western Canada, has been a critical concern in the fight against climate change. It has been especially opposed by Native American peoples whose lands lie along the project’s path. Dallas Goldtooth  of the Indigenous Environmental Network reacted to the announcement on Twitter: “We took on a multi-billion dollar corporation and we won!!” However, Canadian oil exports to the US are still expected to rise to over 4 billion barrels per day in the next years—a fourfold increase over levels in 2004, when Canada surpassed Saudi Arabia as the top US foreign supplier. (Photo of Lakota protest against Keystone pipeline: Victor Puertas/Deep Roots United Front via Intercontinental Cry)

Planet Watch
air pollution

Biden: cut US carbon emissions in half by 2030

President Joe Biden announced at the Leaders Summit on Climate that the US will aim to reduce carbon emissions by 50 to 52 percent by 2030. Climate experts have urged world leaders to cut carbon emissions in order to limit the warming of the planet to 1.5 degrees Celsius. The Paris Agreement sets a 2 C rise within the current century as a maximum, but urges countries to work toward a 1.5 C rise. Recent studies have found that the 1.5 C rise will be reached within five years. (Photo: Ralf Vetterle, Pixabay)

Planet Watch
Line 3

Global petro-resistance greets 2021

As the year comes to a close, Native American activists and their allies in Minnesota are launching a weekly protest vigil against the planned Line 3 pipeline, that would bring more Canadian shale-oil to US markets. The self-proclaimed “water protectors” pledge to continue the campaign into the winter. The Conservation Council of Western Australia meanwhile launched legal challenge against approval of the new Burrup Hub liquified natural gas facility, asserting that it is the “most polluting fossil fuel project ever to be proposed in Australia,” and “undermines global efforts [to mitigate climate change] under the Paris Agreement.” While Denmark has pledged to end North Sea oil exploitation by 2050 as a step toward meeting the Paris accord goals, other Scandinavian governments remain intransigent. The Supreme Court of Norway has upheld a judgment allowing the government to grant oil licenses in new sections of the country’s continental shelf. The decision was challenged by environmental groups including Nature & Youth Norway, who claimed that it violates the European Convention on Human Rights. (Photo: Stop Line 3)

South Asia
Karima Baloch

Pakistani rights activist found slain in Toronto

Pakistani human rights activist Karima Baloch, 37, was found dead in Toronto, Canada. Baloch went missing the previous day. The Toronto Police stated that “officers have determined this to be a non-criminal death and no foul play is suspected.” But Baloch, from Pakistan’s restive Balochistan region, fled her country in 2015 because of threats on her life. As a campaigner with the Baloch Students’ Organization, she harshly criticized the Pakistani military and state over ongoing rights abuses in the region. She continued to campaign for the rights of people in Balochistan while in exile, and the threats against her did not stop after she left Pakistan. Baloch’s close friend, Lateef Johar Baloch, told reporters that she had recently received anonymous threats. (Photo via TimesNowNews, India)

Planet Watch
Innu

Innu Nation sues Hydro-Quebec

The Innu Nation of Labrador announced that it is seeking $4 billion in damages from Hydro-Quebec over its mega-dam on the Upper Churchill River. The suit, filed in the Supreme Court of Newfoundland & Labrador, seeks compensation for the theft of ancestral Innu land to build the Churchill Falls hydro-electric project, leading to devastation of their community’s culture and way of life. “The impact of Churchill Falls has been felt across generations of Innu,” said Grand Chief Etienne Rich. He charged that Hydro-Quebec and the provincial utility in Newfoundland, now called Nalcor Energy, “stole our land and flooded it in order to take advantage of the enormous hydro potential of the Churchill Falls. This project was undertaken without consulting us and without our consent.” New York City is pinning many of its hopes to cut carbon emissions on imported Canadian hydropower, but environmentalist opponents point to the impact of planned hydro projects on indigenous lands. (Image: Innu Nation)