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‘Entire Species Are Being Wiped Out’: Ecologists Say Half a Billion Animals May Have Been Killed by Australia Wildfires

5 Jan

Published on Thursday, January 02, 2020 by

Ecologists at the University of Sydney are estimating that nearly half a billion animals have been killed in Australia’s unprecedented and catastrophic wildfires, which have sparked a continent-wide crisis and forced tens of thousands of people to flee their homes in desperation.

News Corp Australia reported Wednesday that “there are real concerns entire species of plants and animals have been wiped out by bushfires following revelations almost 500 million animals have died since the crisis began.”

“Ecologists from the University of Sydney now estimate 480 million mammals, birds, and reptiles have been lost since September,” according to News Corp. “That figure is likely to soar following the devastating fires which have ripped through Victoria and the [New South Wales] South Coast over the past couple of days, leaving several people dead or unaccounted for, razing scores of homes and leaving thousands stranded.”

The horrifying figures come as images and videos of animals suffering severe burns and dehydration continue to circulate on social media.

Mark Graham, an ecologist with the National Conservation Council, told the Australian parliament that “the fires have burned so hot and so fast that there has been significant mortality of animals in the trees, but there is such a big area now that is still on fire and still burning that we will probably never find the bodies.”

Koalas in particular have been devastated by the fires, Graham noted, because they “really have no capacity to move fast enough to get away.”

As Reuters reported Tuesday, “Australia’s bushland is home to a range of indigenous fauna, including kangaroos, koalas, wallabies, possums, wombats, and echidnas. Officials fear that 30 percent of just one koala colony on the country’s northeast coast, or between 4,500 and 8,400, have been lost in the recent fires.”

 

The new normal, except it isn’t. It’s going to get much worse.
And the longer we delay climate action, the worse it will get https://www.nzherald.co.nz/world/news/article.cfm?c_id=2&objectid=12297648 

 

 

There are real concerns entire species of plants and animals have been wiped out by bushfires following revelations almost 500 million animals have died since the crisis began.

Ecologists from the University of Sydney now estimate 480 million mammals, birds and reptiles have been lost since September.

That figure is likely to soar following the devastating fires which have ripped through Victoria and the NSW South Coast over the past couple of days, leaving several people dead or unaccounted for, razing scores of homes and leaving thousands stranded,

 

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Australia’s coal-touting Prime Minister Scott Morrison has faced growing scrutiny for refusing to take sufficient action to confront the wildfires and the climate crisis that is driving them. Since September, the fires have burned over 10 million acres of land, destroyed more than a thousand homes, and killed at least 17 people—including 9 since Christmas Day.

On Thursday, the government of New South Wales (NSW) declared a state of emergency set to take effect Friday morning as the wildfires are expected to intensify over the weekend.

“We’ve got a lot of fire in the landscape that we will not contain,” said Rob Rogers, deputy commissioner of the NSW Rural Fire Service. “We need to make sure that people are not in the path of these fires.”

 

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The lost images of anarchist Barcelona, Anarchist militias in Barcelona. Photo: Antoni Campañà

26 Dec

Re-discovered after 80 years, the photographic legacy of the CNT which brings the libertarian revolution in Barcelona back to life, is now exhibited for the first time.

This post was originally published by eldiario.es. Text by Pol Pareja. Translation from Spanish by Andrew Hakes.

 

 

The lost images of anarchist Barcelona

 

 

It was a Barcelona where taxis were prohibited, waiters and shoe shiners did not accept tips, hats were frowned upon, and the notes of The International rang out from every corner. A city where approximately 70 percent of the businesses were collectivized, with their offices occupied by workers and militiamen.

Anarchist Barcelona, a unique libertarian experiment in Europe which had its decisive moment between July 1936 and May 1937, has been the subject of various studies and textbooks. However, the studies and textbooks of this exceptional period have been lacking the graphic history which had been presumed lost.

The exposition Gràfíca anarquista, fotografia i revolució social (1936-1939) puts to rest this anomaly and offers an interesting testimonial to this period where Barcelona was transformed into the first large city where workers assumed total control of a good part of business and industry.

The exhibition offers a journey through the photographic collection of the Office of Information and Propaganda, created by the CNT-FAI in Barcelona during the Civil War with the intent of spreading revolutionary ideology in the face of fascism’s advance in Europe.

One can see in the exhibition dozens of images of well-known photographers, such as Katy Horna, Pérez de Rozas, Antoni Campañá and David Marco, among others. Also on display are anarchist publications of the era, postcards, credentials and CNT documents like the Militant Manual (Manual del militante).

Coming from a propaganda office, the images lend to a benevolent vision of the city during those months. In contrast to the wretched image that Francoism tried to establish of to the libertarian revolution — placing emphasis on the burning of churches, summary executions and the existence of gunman roaming the city at their leisure — the exposition shows a more favorable side of anarchism.

There are photos of children playing in the Palace of Pedralbes’ pool, which was converted into a children’s school in 1936. There are also photos of the popular university established in the modernist Casa Golferichs and images of collectivized businesses functioning at full capacity. In many snapshots the primary focus is humble workers posing in the very same offices where only months ago their bosses sat. Portraits of militants and snapshots of bullet-ridden churches and church bells prepared for smelting round-out the exhibition.

“The exposition tries to dismantle the image of anarchism constructed by the bourgeoisie over the years,” says Andrés Antebi, one of the commissioners of the exposition. “The propaganda office of the CNT focused on dismantling the stigma of anarchism being roaming bandits and irrational violence.”

The exhibition, which can be seen in the Arxiu Fotográfic de Barcelona, also offers an interesting vision over the agrarian collectivizations outside of the Catalan capital, photographed by Carlos Pérez de Rozas and his son for the weekly periodical ¡¡Campo!!, demonstrating that the illustrious dynasty of photographers worked for all sides in spite of their conservative ideology.

 

 

THE PHOTOS’ LONG JOURNEY THROUGH EUROPE

The delay in presenting such an exposition in Barcelona was created by — among various factors — the long journey the CNT’s photographic exposition took around Europe.

In January 1939, before the eminent arrival of Francoist troops in Barcelona, those in charge of the CNT-FIA’s propaganda placed their section’s graphics in 43 wood boxes designed to transport Mauser rifles. The revolutionaries had signed an accord with the International Institute of Social History in Amsterdam that had the Institute promise to preserve the memory of the union. The images were loaded onto a train and sent to the Dutch capital.

 

 

On the way to Amsterdam, the transport halted in Paris. With the threat of a German invasion looming over the Netherlands, the boxes changed course and finally arrived in the United Kingdom. They were first in London (where some archives were lost during the bombings) and later located in Oxford. When the conflict ended, they were finally transferred to Amsterdam.

When the collection arrived there, a legal battle erupted between the representatives of the now exiled-CNT and the International Institute of Social History, who did not acknowledge the anarchist union’s representatives outside of Spain.

 

 

 

After 80 years, an agreement was reached between the two parties which recognized the CNT as owners of the collection, with the exception that the collection stays in the Netherlands at the International Institute of Social History, given its great importance as the most important institute of workers’ history in the world. The process of cataloging and organizing a large part of the archives started without the lost office of propaganda’s photographic collection.

Thirty more years would have to pass before the photos were discovered in 2016. “Until this date they were sealed, they couldn’t be examined and virtually no one knew they existed,” the commissioner said. After a journey of more than 80 years, the photographs have returned to Barcelona.

 

 

ROAR Collective

The ROAR Collective publishes ROAR Magazine, an online journal of the radical imagination providing grassroots perspectives from the front-lines of the global struggle for real democracy.

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US Is Again Complicit in an Illegal Coup, This Time in Bolivia

27 Nov

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Once again, the United States is complicit in an illegal coup d’état in Latin America, this time in Bolivia. On November 10, a right-wing, anti-Indigenous group seized power after the Bolivian military’s removal of President Evo Morales, who had declared victory in the October 20 presidential election.

The United States’ fingerprints are all over the coup. Advisers from the U.S. Southern Command have been stationed on Bolivia’s border with Argentina, Ivanka Trump made a surprising visit to an Argentine province near the Bolivian border in September, the pro-U.S. Organization of American States (OAS) cast unfounded doubt on Morales’s election victory, and the U.S.’s National Endowment for Democracy provided suspicious grants to Bolivia.

At least 32 people have been killed and hundreds injured since the coup began. Sacha Llorenti, Bolivian ambassador to the United Nations, told Democracy Now!, “We are going through not just a coup d’état, but a violent one.” Indeed, it has resulted in “the rise of a far-right regime of terror,” professor Gabriel Hetland wrote in The Washington Post.

Morales — Bolivia’s first Indigenous leader in a country where 65 percent of the people are Indigenous — received 10 percent more votes than Carlos Mesa, the second-place candidate who has close ties to the U.S. government. Mesa was in regular communication with U.S. officials who were trying to destabilize Morales, U.S. government cables published by WikiLeaks reveal.

The day after the election, the U.S.-funded OAS sought to delegitimize the election results. “The OAS Mission expresses its deep concern and surprise at the drastic and hard-to-explain change in the trend of the preliminary results revealed after the closing of the polls,” it stated.

But the Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR) published a comprehensive statistical analysis on November 8 that found no evidence of fraud or irregularities in the election and determined that the results reflected highly similar patterns from past elections. Other research conducted by CELAG (Centro Estratégico Latinoamericano de Geopolítica) confirmed CEPR’s findings and identified insufficient evidence to support the assertions in the OAS statement.

CEPR co-director Mark Weisbrot noted in an op-ed for Market Watch, “The OAS isn’t all that independent at the moment, with the Trump administration actively promoting this military coup, and Washington having more right-wing allies in the OAS than they did just a few years ago.”

 

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U.S. complicity in the coup in Bolivia is illegal under both U.S. and international law.

The OAS was established during the Cold War to prevent the proliferation of leftist governments. USAID considers OAS a critical tool in “promot[ing] US interests in the Western hemisphere by countering the influence of anti-US countries” such as Bolivia.

The November 10 military coup led to the forced resignation of Morales, who received asylum in Mexico. Right-wing politician Jeanine Añez declared herself interim president, and Donald Trump immediately recognized her illegitimate claim to the presidency. Añez then issued a decree immunizing the military from criminal liability “for carrying out necessary actions in their legitimate defense while performing their constitutional duties.” Morales supporters accused Añez of giving soldiers “carte blanche” to shoot demonstrators. Bolivia’s human rights ombudsman and reporters have documented widespread injuries and fatalities from gunshots.

U.S. Involvement in the Coup

During Morales’s nearly 14 years in office, his Movement Towards Socialism (MAS) party reduced poverty by 42 percent and extreme poverty by 60 percent. It cut unemployment by 50 percent and nearly tripled the per-capita G.D.P. “It’s indisputable that Bolivians are healthier, wealthier, better educated, living longer and more equal than at any time in this South American nation’s history,” Anthony Faiola wrote in The Washington Post.

There was discontent about Morales seeking a fourth term among some sectors in Bolivia, who thought there should be space for new leadership. But Morales had a strong record of establishing policies to help the people of Bolivia, which angered the U.S. government, Western corporations and the corporate media, “who function as ideological shock troops against leftist governments in Latin America,” Alan MacLeod wrote at Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting.

The U.S. and Argentine governments helped to engineer the Bolivian coup, Stella Calloni reported in Resumen: Latinoamerico. She cited the presence of advisers from the U.S. Southern Command on the Argentine border with Bolivia.

Calloni also documented “the surprising trip of Ivanka Trump” to the Argentine province of Jujuy near the Bolivian border on September 4-5. Accompanied by 2,500 U.S. agents and Undersecretary of State John Sullivan, Ivanka Trump was ostensibly there to “visit” a small NGO dedicated to furthering women’s rights, and she delivered an “aid” package of $400 million for “road works.” Alicia Canqui Condori, national representative of MAS, said that, “in Jujuy Donald Trump’s daughter had met with Gov. Gerardo Morales to plan what happened in Bolivia.”

Moreover, according to Calloni, Bolivian Gen. Williams Kaliman, who “suggested” that Morales resign after the election, traveled to the United States 72 hours after the coup began and he received $1 million from the U.S. embassy in Bolivia. Like many Latin American strongmen over the years, at least six of the top military leaders involved in the coup, including Kaliman, were trained at the notorious U.S. Army School of the Americas (now called the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation) in Fort Benning, Georgia.

Months before the coup, Bolivia concluded a $2.3 billion deal with a Chinese consortium to mine lithium. Bolivia has 70 percent of the world’s supply of lithium, which is used in car batteries, electronic devices and weapons systems. “The idea that there might be a new social compact for the lithium was unacceptable to the main transnational mining companies,” Vijay Prashad wrote. U.S. and Canadian companies sought to make a lithium agreement with Bolivia but they could not meet Morales’s conditions. “Morales himself was a direct impediment to the takeover of the lithium fields by the non-Chinese transnational firms,” according to Prashad. “He had to go.”

 

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Sordid History of U.S. Meddling in Latin America

U.S. complicity in the Bolivian coup follows in a sordid tradition of meddling in the political and economic affairs of Latin American countries. “For many years, the US government has provided overt financial support to opposition political parties and civic groups, including to many of the groups that have been engaged in violent insurrections and coup plotting since at least 2008,” Thomas Field wrote in Jacobin.

This is the time to urge senators and Congress members to end all U.S. support for the illegitimate regime.

One key vehicle that the U.S. government uses as a cover for its imperialist policies is the National Endowment for Democracy (NED). After disturbing revelations of covert CIA operations in the second half of the 1970s, NED was established under Ronald Reagan. “The idea was that the NED would do somewhat overtly what the CIA had been doing covertly for decades, and thus, hopefully, eliminate the stigma associated with CIA covert activities,” William Blum wrote in 2005. NED co-founder Allen Weinstein concurred, stating in 1991, “A lot of what we do today was done covertly 25 years ago by the CIA.” Although ostensibly a private, nonprofit organization, NED is largely funded by the United States. “In effect,” Blum noted, “the CIA has been laundering money through NED.”

Peter Haberfeld, a retired lawyer and labor organizer who has studied the “Pink Tide” governments in Latin America, documented NED grants in Bolivia. He told Truthout that “between 2016 and 2019, NED gave grants to over 30 organizations for ‘democracy promotion’ in Bolivia. The grants total $3,209,887.”

Haberfeld said the grants were officially earmarked for “lofty objectives such as expanding participation by women, youth, media and entrepreneurs in a vibrant political process, particularly in connection with elections,” but cautioned “it is wise to be suspicious.” Haberfeld cited author Neil A. Burron, who wrote in The New Democracy Wars: The Politics of North American Democracy Promotion in the Americas, that “democracy promotion is typically formulated to advance commercial, geopolitical and security objectives that conflict with a genuine commitment to democracy development.” Burron noted, “For the US, the political manipulation of democracy promotion in support of a North American-led regional order is a continuation of long-standing forms of intervention [that have been] used as a license to meddle in the domestic affairs of others.”

NED was complicit in the Iran-Contra affair in the 1980s, manipulated the 1990 Nicaraguan elections, heavily funded the 2002 failed coup attempt against socialist President Hugo Chavez in Venezuela, and supported the opposition to progressive President Jean-Bertrand Aristide in Haiti in the 1990s. Between 1990 and 1992, NED donated a quarter-million dollars to the Cuban-American National Foundation, the violent anti-Castro group based in Miami.

In 2018, under the guise of “democracy,” “human rights” and “entrepreneurship,” NED funneled more than $23 million to opposition groups in Latin American countries, including Venezuela, Nicaragua, Cuba and Bolivia.

Former National Security Adviser John Bolton called Venezuela, Cuba and Nicaragua the “Troika of Tyranny” in November 2018. A few months later, in April 2019, the U.S. government orchestrated another unsuccessful coup in Venezuela. Juan Guaidó, Washington’s chosen puppet to seize power from President Nicolás Maduro, was funded by NED.

Trump not only took aim at the progress Barack Obama had made toward normalization of relations with Cuba, he has escalated the U.S. economic war on Cuba and unleashed untold numbers of lawsuits that threaten to destroy the fragile Cuban economy.

The Obama administration, led by former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, supported the 2009 coup in Honduras. The fraudulent election following the coup was financed by NED and the State Department, ushering in a repressive and militarized regime. Conditions deteriorated, leading to the exodus of thousands of Honduran children fleeing north.

U.S. Complicity in the Coup in Bolivia Is Illegal

U.S. complicity in the coup in Bolivia is illegal under both U.S. and international law. The United Nations Charter prohibits the use of or threat to use force against the territorial integrity or political independence of another nation. The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights guarantees the right to self-determination.

The Charter of the Organization of American States, to which the U.S. is a party, forbids any country from intervening in the internal or external affairs of another country. The OAS charter declares that, “Every State has the right to choose, without external interference, its political, economic, and social system and to organize itself in the way best suited to it, and has the duty to abstain from intervening in the affairs of another State.”

The Foreign Assistance Act forbids the United States from assisting a country “whose duly elected head of government is deposed by military coup or decree.”

There has been global condemnation of the coup. Sixty-four organizations of jurists, lawyers, NGOs, social movements and trade unions from around the world, including the International Association of Democratic Lawyers and the National Lawyers Guild, sent a letter to the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet, urging her to strongly condemn the human rights violations resulting from the coup.

Fourteen members of the House of Representatives sent a letter to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo saying they were “deeply concerned” about the contribution of the Trump administration to the “escalating political and human rights crisis” in Bolivia.

Over 800 scholars, activists and public figures published an open letter demanding that the United States and the international community halt all support to the right-wing, anti-Indigenous regime that took power after the military coup.

Veterans For Peace condemned the racist coup in Bolivia and demanded an end to U.S. intervention in Latin America:

Veterans For Peace stands in solidarity with the Indigenous majority in Bolivia who are resisting the racist, right-wing takeover of their democracy. We demand that the coup be stopped and democracy restored in Bolivia. As military veterans who have been used and abused in too many unjust wars, we demand an end to 200 years of U.S. intervention in Latin America.

The situation in Bolivia is volatile and there is danger it could devolve into civil war. This is the time to urge senators and Congress members to end all U.S. support for the illegitimate regime, demand free and fair elections with all political parties represented, and insist that fundamental human rights of all Bolivians are protected.

Trump’s real troika of tyranny — Bolton, Pompeo and Abrams — has failed in its coup attempt in Venezuela.
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