East Asia
Zhanjiang

China and Russia launch joint naval exercise

Chinese and Russian naval forces have begun a joint exercise at a southern Chinese military port, China’s Ministry of National Defense┬áannounced. The “Maritime Joint-2024” exercise is taking place off Zhanjiang, Guangdong province, on the South China Sea. The operations encompass reconnaissance, anti-submarine warfare, anti-missile and air defense maneuvers.┬áThis naval cooperation unfolds against a backdrop of mounting tensions between China and NATO allies. At their Washington summit, NATO members designated China as a “decisive enabler” of Russia’s war in Ukraine, citing the two nations’ declared “no-holds-barred partnership” and China’s support for the Russian defense industry. (Map: Google)

Planet Watch
ASAT

Russia vetoes UN resolution to bar nuclear arms in space

Russia┬ávetoed a UN Security Council resolution sponsored by the US and Japan which called on all nations to contribute to the peaceful use of outer space and to prevent a dangerous arms race in space-based weapons. The resolution reaffirmed the principles set out in the 1967 Outer Space Treaty, which compels states to “not place in orbit around the earth any objects carrying nuclear weapons or any other kinds of weapons of mass destruction.”┬áThe resolution was announced after the US accused Russia of developing an anti-satellite nuclear weapon to put in space. President Vladimir Putin and Moscow’s ministry of defense have denied the accusations. Russia’s UN ambassador called the resolution a “cynical ploy.”┬á(Photo via University of Portsmouth)

The Amazon
Ibama

Brazil: Amazon deforestation drops rapidly under Lula

The rate of deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon has fallen significantly since President Luiz In├ício “Lula” da Silva took office in January 2023, according to government data. The area of deforestation detected by space agency INPE‘s forest monitoring system amounted to 2,649 square kilometers in the first half of the year, a 34% decline from the same period last year. The loss in the first six months of 2023 is the lowest since 2019, according to the satellite-based tracking system. Lula has prioritized reining in deforestation since assuming the presidency. Last month, he announced his administration’s plan to eliminate deforestation by 2030 as part of Brazil’s pledge to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. (Photo: Mongabay)

North America

Native, ecology groups sue over SpaceX explosion

Four environmental advocacy groups and one Native American people┬ásued the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), alleging the agency failed to undertake a thorough environmental impact analysis after a SpaceX rocket exploded in Boca Chica, Texas, last month. The complaint alleges the FAA violated the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) which requires federal agencies to examine and consider environmental effects before granting licenses or allowing federal projects. Specifically, the plaintiffs claim the FAA allowed SpaceX to launch its rocket without “fully analyzing the significant environment and community impacts” of the launch, including damage to the region’s wild bird habitat, and without requiring the company to pursue mitigation efforts to offset this habitat disruption. (Photo: Carrizo Nation of Texas)

Planet Watch
anti-artemis

Podcast: against space imperialism

In Episode 146 of the CounterVortex podcast, Bill Weinberg protests the unprovoked imperialist attack on the asteroid Dimorphos, and rants against the sacrosanct dogma of space expansionism. The much-hyped asteroid threat is being used as a cover for militarization of space to achieve global hegemony on EarthÔÇöand eventual corporate pillage of the heavenly bodies. Finally, a long-overdue voice of space skepticism emerges from academe, with the book Dark Skies: Space Expansionism, Planetary Geopolitics, and the Ends of Humanity by Daniel Deudney. But hubristic notions of “space communism” have been seen on the political left, as discussed in the book I Want to Believe: Posadism, UFOs and Apocalypse Communism by AM Gittlitz. Listen on SoundCloud or via Patreon. (Image altered from NASA)

Planet Watch
spacedebris

Dangerous debris from Russian space kablooie

Russia destroyed one of its own satellites with a ground-based missile, in a test of its PL-19 Nudol DA-ASAT (direct-ascent anti-satellite) system. The blast created thousands of pieces of debris that have spread out into Earth orbit. The US says it has identified more than 1,500 trackable pieces of debris from the strike, and many thousands of smaller ones. That same day, the Russia’s┬áRosCosmos┬áspace agency┬áreported that the astronauts aboard the International Space Station had to shelter in place due to a cloud of debris passing by the station every 90 minutes, the time it takes for the ISS to orbit the Earth. It was unclear if the debris threatening the space station came from Russia’s ASAT test. But Washington charges that the new debris field poses a danger to the space station. (Image: MIT News)

Planet Watch
Mars probe

Podcast: US robo-imperialism hands off Mars!

In Episode 64 of the CounterVortex podcast, Bill Weinberg notes the maddening and telling irony that while we’re all supposed to be ga-ga with triumphalism over NASA’s latest Mars probe, it has received practicailly no attention that Afro-Brazilian peasant communities are being forcibly removed from their traditional lands to make way for a US-backed expansion of the Alc├óntara Satellite Launch Center in impoverished Maranh├úo state. This juxtaposition of news stories is paradigmatic of the whole global struggleÔÇösustainable, Earth-rooted cultures against a┬áhypertrophing technosphere that is now colonizing the very heavens. Meanwhile, there are already so many satellites in orbit that near-Earth space is experiencing a fast-growing “space junk” problem. And economic austerity down here on terra firma is compounding the agonizing impacts of the pandemic. Whatever useful knowledge may be gleaned from the Mars probe, accounts don’t note that Halliburton is drawing up plans for mining operations on Mars. We recall Gil Scott Heron’s wry reaction to the 1969 Moon landing (“Whitey on the Moon“), and say with Marvin Gaye: “Spend it on the have-nots!” Listen on SoundCloud or via Patreon. (Image adapted from NASA photo)

Southern Cone

Chinese ‘spaceport’ military outpost in Argentina?

Announcement of a joint Chinese-Argentine satellite production company comes amid growing concern within Argentina about activities at the Chinese-operated "spaceport" at Bajada del Agrio in Patagonia—and the apparent role of the People's Liberation Army in the facility. The Bajada del Agrio facility played a part in tracking China's recent lunar probe, but is overseen by companies that answer directly to the PLA's General Armaments Department. Only personnel authorized by Beijing have access to the facility, arousing much suspicion about the site in Argentina's news media. (Photo via InfoBae)

Planet Watch

Will world war be October surprise?

Will an "October surprise" in the prelude to the mid-term elections in the US be the outbreak of world war—that is, direct superpower conflict? Things are escalating fast on the frontlines with both of the United States' major imperial rivals. The US Navy's Pacific Fleet is preparing to carry out a "global show of force" as a warning to China, after a near-skirmish between a US warship and a Chinese destroyer in the disputed South China Sea. Meanwhile, NATO is planning to conduct its largest military exercises since the end of the Cold War, Trident Juncture 2018, along Norway's border wth Russia. This comes as Washington and Moscow are odds over missile deployments, accusing each other of violating the 1987 Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces Treaty. (Image: Lockheed Martin)

The Amazon

Peru: satellite to monitor rainforest

Peru launched its first satellite into space this month, to monitor illegal mining, logging and other extractive activities in the country's vast stretch of the Amazon rainforest.

East Asia

China adopts new national security law

China's top legislature, the NPC Standing Committee,  adopted a controversial new National Security Law that increases cyber security powers and "ideological control over the public."

Southern Cone

Argentina: Chinese spaceport plan protested

Protesters marched to a construction site in Argentina's Neuquén province where plans are moving ahead for a spaceport to be overseen by China's space agency.