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).

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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.

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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.

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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

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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.

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