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Assessing the Paris COP and Building on the Outcome

by Alan Thornett
February 5, 2016

The COP21 in Le Bourget Paris in December 2015 adopted an agreement on global warming and climate change, which was signed by all 195 participating countries... It is the first comprehensive agreement after 21 years of meetings and conferences conducted under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. The 1997 Kyoto Protocol applied to just a few countries and was sabotaged by the USA and others. Copenhagen in 2009 broke up in acrimony and emissions were allowed to let rip without any international restriction, legal or political. Much of the media was euphoric about the deal. The governments that signed it hailed it as a great victory: as an historic breakthrough that has delivered a framework for the avoidance of catastrophic climate change.

This is clearly not the case. The deal as it stands is totally (catastrophically) inadequate when set against the scale of the task. There is no doubt about that. It would be wrong, however, in my view, to dismiss it as simply a failure, as if nothing positive was achieved. The issue post-Paris is not just whether the deal reached can resolve the issue of climate change (clearly not), but whether there were gains made that can strengthen the struggle against it. Whether gains were made that can improve the terrain on which the struggle takes place. The deal, from this point of view, is deeply contradictory...

A Michigan City Poisoned: Governor’s Apology Can’t Get the Lead Out

by David Finkel
January 21, 2016

Just weeks ago, Flint’s lead-poisoned water was a local story as the state’s coverup of the disaster crumbled. Today it’s a national and international headline, and most people know the basics: how the state’s appointed “Emergency Manager” for Flint ordered the switchover from Detroit’s clean and safe water system to Flint River water. How anti-corrosive chemicals weren’t added to the heavily polluted and toxic river water, causing it to leach lead from aging pipes directly to the taps and into the bodies of the city’s men, women, and children.
Flint water.
How the state’s Department of Environmental Quality falsified its own test results and lied to the people, telling them that the rust-colored, foul-smelling-and-tasting water coming out of their faucets was perfectly normal and safe.

Snyder has conceded that the Flint water disaster is his “Katrina,” but the comparison is unfair. George W. Bush spectacularly bungled that emergency, but after all he didn’t cause Katrina, which was a massive hurricane compounded by decades of coastal erosion and negligent maintenance of the New Orleans levee system. Governor Snyder directly caused the poisoning of Flint, through the arrogant and cynical exercise of power by an emergency manager who knew nothing and cared less about the most basic issues of running a water system...

A New Political Situation in Latin America

an interview with Claudio Katz
January 6, 2016

Claudio Katz: In my opinion, the so-called progressive cycle of the last decade in South America has been a process resulting from partially successful popular rebellions (Argentina, Bolivia, Venezuela, Ecuador) that altered the relationship of forces in the region. They allowed us to take advantage of higher prices for raw materials and dollar income in a way that differed considerably from what prevailed in other periods. During this interval, neo-developmental and distributionist economic policy schemes existed alongside the neoliberal model. Politically, right-wing governments were now joined by center-left and radical governments. It was a period in which imperialism’s capacity for action was seriously circumscribed, with a retreat from the OAS and recognition of Cuba. David had finally defeated Goliath and the United States had to accept that defeat...


A meeting of Venezuela's new National Communal Assembly.

At year-end we are confronted by two crucial events. First, the triumph of Macri, which is important because it is the first instance of a rightist return to Argentina’s presidency. Beginning with the cacerolazos [the banging of pots and pans in street demonstrations] the Right built its political power, defeated Peronism, and formed a cabinet of the “CEOcracy” for a country now governed by “its proper owners,” a cabinet directly from the capitalist class.

The second event is more partial but more significant. In Venezuela the Right has won not the government but the parliament, in conditions of a brutal economic war, media terrorism, economic chaos generated by reactionaries. And Venezuela is the most complete symbol of the radical processes within the progressive cycle...

Global Lessons of a Catastrophe

from the editors of Against the Current
December 29, 2015

The catastrophe that Syria has become, and the unfathomable refugee crisis it has unleashed, is a stark mirror reflection of the real condition of a failed world system. We have stated in previous editorials that “imperialism creates problems that it cannot solve,” which in these circumstances is a major understatement. It has figuratively--and literally--planted bombs all over the Middle East and elsewhere, blowing whole societies apart, overwhelming neighboring countries and casting refugees onto the borders of Europe and North America.

Two grimly coincidental events symbolize today’s reality. At the same time that Russia launched its air campaign in Syria in support of the Bashar al-Assad regime, the United States bombed a Doctors Without Borders hospital in Kunduz, Afghanistan, killing medical staff and patients and wiping out the only trauma treatment facility serving the desperate local population. While this war crime (so-called “collateral damage”) sums up the bloody futility of the U.S. war in Afghanistan, Russia’s move in Syria will also result in even more civilian carnage--and perhaps, propel the competing jihadist forces on the ground into an alliance (probably with enhanced funding and support from Saudi Arabia and Turkey), just as the American invasion of Iraq in 2003 gave birth to “Al-Qaeda in Mesopotamia” and ultimately the “Islamic State.”

What have the parade of U.S. wars and interventions been about? It’s a huge and complex question beyond the scope of this editorial...

February 5, 2016
by Alan Thornett
The COP21 in Le Bourget Paris in December 2015 adopted an agreement on global warming and climate change, which was signed by all 195 participating countries... It is the first comprehensive agreement...
January 21, 2016
by David Finkel
Just weeks ago, Flint’s lead-poisoned water was a local story as the state’s coverup of the disaster crumbled. Today it’s a national and international headline, and most people know the basics:...
January 6, 2016
an interview with Claudio Katz
Claudio Katz: In my opinion, the so-called progressive cycle of the last decade in South America has been a process resulting from partially successful popular rebellions (Argentina, Bolivia,...
December 29, 2015
from the editors of Against the Current
The catastrophe that Syria has become, and the unfathomable refugee crisis it has unleashed, is a stark mirror reflection of the real condition of a failed world system. We have stated in previous...

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January 26, 2016
Amanda Blackhorse interviewed by Robert Caldwell
Robert Caldwell: Please tell the readers something about yourself. How did you first come to challenge racist mascots?
Amanda Blackhorse: My name is Amanda Blackhorse from the Diné tribe, or what is...
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