Frack off corporate thugs! No to arrests and provocations against environmental protesters!

FRFI supporters in Manchester have been following the emerging campaigns against fracking (hydraulic fracturing) in North West England, which recently have centred on Barton Moss, near Salford. Fracking is a threat to the health and welfare of the local community at a time of savage cuts to social spending, as well as high local rates of poverty. And yet the local Labour council has given the go-ahead for the Igas company to carry out 'exploratory' drilling at a depth of up to 3,000m. We have attended three demonstrations and witnessed the mounting police violence. Martin Harrison reports.

Read more ...

The terrible truth about nuclear power

On 11 March 2011 a massive 9.0 earthquake off north-eastern Japan and a subsequent tsunami triggered the worst nuclear power disaster since Chernobyl in the Soviet Union in 1986. This could not have come at a worse time for politicians and the nuclear industry who were set to launch a massive nuclear power station building programme.

Three out of six reactors were operating at the Fukushima nuclear plant at the time of the earthquake. These shut down automatically. However, the 10-metre tsunami breached the defensive wall, destroying power lines to the plant and emergency generators, leaving back-up batteries with an eight-hour life to pump cooling water over the nuclear material. When they failed, the fuel heated up, causing a build-up of gas which led to several explosions and fires, destroying the roofs of two buildings and releasing radioactive material into the atmosphere. Partial meltdown of at least two reactor cores is likely.

Read more ...

Stop environmental disaster Fight imperialism!

‘It is necessary to point out that the consumer societies are those fundamentally responsible for the atrocious destruction of the environment... A just international economic order must be applied. Pay the ecological debt instead of the foreign debt. Eradicate hunger and not humanity... Tomorrow will be too late for what we should have done a long time ago.’

Fidel Castro at the Rio Earth Summit 1992

Seventeen years after Fidel Castro spoke those words, the imperialists have largely forgone outright denial of the science of climate change, instead preferring economics to justify doing very little to halt the process.  DAVID HETFIELD reports.

Read more ...

Frankenstein foods: 'a piece of the action'

In August 1998, Dr Arpad Pusztai, an expert on genetic modification (GM), gave an interview to World in Action. Pusztai worked for the reputable Rowett Research Institute in Aberdeen. His experiments, feeding genetically-modified potatoes to rats, had shown alarming changes in the rats' major organs, shrinkage of brains and compromised immune systems. Pusztai suggested that the general public are being used as guinea pigs in a vast experiment with food. Three days later he was suspended and denied access to his research results. Everyone pretended that Pusztai was simply a maverick.

Read more ...

‘The unspeakable in full pursuit of the uneatable’ – Oscar Wilde

After a merry chase through English parliamentary procedure, hunting with dogs was finally banned by Act of Parliament on 18 November. Prime Minister Blair tried a final decoy to delay the ban until after the general election (he will need their votes), but with no luck. The horn has been sounded Tally-ho! The hunters are pledged to disrupt the nation, the general election and all things foreign (ie urban) until they get their way and are able to pursue small animals across the countryside and tear them to pieces for pleasure once more (more endearing are their badges enscribed ‘Bollocks to Blair’).

But contrary to Countryside Alliance and pro-hunting claims, according to a Mori Poll published in The Guardian on 18 December 2001, 83% of people in the UK think hunting is cruel, unnecessary or unacceptable. In a Gallup poll for the Daily Telegraph in 1997, 77% of rural dwellers disapproved of fox hunting.

Read more ...

Capitalism’s car culture

The deaths caused by cars in Britain since 1945 outnumber the deaths of British soldiers during the Second World War. The annual carnage on Britain’s roads is equivalent to 30 commercial aircraft crashes. Motor vehicle traffic accidents account for nearly half of all accidental injury fatalities in children in Britain. Children from the most disadvantaged families, with inadequate play facilities and more traffic exposure, are five times as likely to be killed on the roads. Each month 268 children die or are seriously hurt in road traffic accidents. Each week six under 18-year-olds die. Each day in Britain, on average nine people are killed and over 100 are seriously injured. In 2001, road traffic accident casualties in Britain were 313,309 of whom 3,450 were killed and 37,110 seriously injured. The media underplays these dangers and directs us to concentrate on specific tragedies (for example, the Paddington rail crash, 31 killed) or to exaggerate other dangers to children (the average number of children abducted or killed by strangers per year in Britain is seven).

Read more ...

Global warming profits before action

CapitalismGlobalWarming

In a world dominated by imperialism, the needs of the ruling class are not only always put before those of the mass of the people, but also before the needs of the environment. Any attempt to alleviate climate change or global warming by the G8 or the EU or any other amalgam of imperialist powers needs to be seen in this context. LOUIS BREHONY reports.

Read more ...

Tsunami: disaster compounds imperialist devastation

On 26 December 2004, a huge earthquake off the northern coast of Sumatra triggered one of the most powerful tsunamis in living memory. Within 15 minutes, it had swept nearly 220,000 people to their deaths in the north Sumatran province of Aceh. Half an hour later, 8,000 died on the coast of Thailand around the tourist resort of Phuket. Within a further hour, another 10,000 had died along the coast of eastern India, and more than 30,000 in Sri Lanka. The scale of destruction was massive: the city of Banda Aceh, with a population of 400,000, was almost completely destroyed, one in seven of its population dead. 4,000 miles away, tsunami waves hit the coast of eastern Africa, leaving 150 more dead. ROBERT CLOUGH reports.

• The US has promised $350m in aid. The cost of a F-22 Raptor fighter jet is $225m. The total cost to date of the US war on Iraq is $148bn, a daily rate of $270m, or three-quarters of promised tsunami aid.

• Britain’s promised aid has now risen to £200m. This compares to the £1bn military aid it gave to Indonesia to buy Hawk jet fighters.

• The $4bn promised by the international community in emergency aid compares to
the $44bn spent on debt repayments last year by Thailand, Indonesia and India.

Read more ...

Britain's supermarkets – food imperialism

Faced with the growing demands of British consumers for high-quality organic fruit, Sainsbury is planning to invade the Caribbean island of Grenada, to take over and convert most of its good quality agricultural land to organic production. It will do the same on four large farms in St Lucia. Sainsbury will not own or farm the land itself, but will have total control of all aspects of production and distribution.

To sustain its profits in the increasingly cut-throat British food market, Sainsbury needs to ensure a ready supply of high-quality, 'healthily' grown bananas, passion fruit, coconuts and mangoes for its stores. Caribbean agriculture is in dire straits, unable to compete in a global farm economy increasingly dominated by imperialist multinationals and policed by imperialist institutions like the IMF, World Bank and World Trade Organisation (WTO). Caribbean small farmers are being driven off the land and rural communities are destitute. Grenada, with 16% unemployment and 65% of its population dependent on farming, is in no position to resist this invasion by Sainsbury. This is the other side of the good quality, healthy, increasingly exotic and relatively cheap food supplied by highly profitable British supermarkets to middle class and, more recently, increasing numbers of working class consumers. This is a new era of food imperialism. 1

Read more ...

GM Foods - Labour comes a cropper

FRFI 151 Octover / November 1999

As a result of a Friends of the Earth (FoE) legal challenge, recently planted, genetically-modified (GM) crop trials in Lincolnshire and Hertfordshire have been exposed as illegal. Michael Meacher, Environment Minister, acknowledged the illegality as 'only a technicality' with 'no health, safety or environmental issues involved'. This is consistent with the government's gung-ho attitude to GM foods and the profits its agri-business bedfellows will reap if they are given the go-ahead for full-scale production. Meanwhile, however, across the globe the resistance to GM foods is mushrooming as consumers and growers are leading the way.

Read more ...

W$$D does nothing for the oppressed

FRFI 169 October / November 2002

Ten years after the Rio Earth Summit, Johannesburg, South Africa played host to the World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD) in August. Delegates from 190 countries gathered in the formerly whites-only suburb of Sandton for what was claimed to be a major event aimed at reducing poverty and environmental destruction.

Ten years on from Rio things are deteriorating. The forests and coral reefs are disappearing while poverty increases. Climate change has already gone from being a possibility to a disastrous reality. Perversely, climate change means that both floods and droughts increase, as will storms and hurricanes. Even while the WSSD was taking place, flooding in Central and Eastern Europe left over 90 people dead and millions of pounds worth of damage.

Read more ...

Destroying the environment

ff16290f9375edd4ddea818f2d5e8448

Human activity is wiping out 150 species of plants and animals a day. 17 million hectares of forest are destroyed each year. Top soil is being eroded 20-40 times faster than it is being replaced. 44% of commercially targeted marine fish stocks are over-exploited. These are the effects of monopoly capital’s hundred-year rampage across the globe. Twenty companies sell 94% of the world’s
agri-chemicals; five control 90% of the world grain market. Land in underdeveloped nations is purchased or placed under the control of these companies by the Structural Adjustment Programmes of the World Bank and the IMF, which, in recent years, have pressured over 70 countries into changing their mining laws in favour of multinational investment. These bodies force underdeveloped nations into producing cash crops and raw materials for export, using intensive methods that destroy the soil and drain resources.

Read more ...