China's growth: still real

Cross-posted at River Twice Research.

This week, the Chinese government announced that China’s economy had expanded by a stronger-than-anticipated 10.7 percent in the last quarter of 2009 and that it had grown 8.7 percent for the entire year. This news, however, was not greeted with relief but with the skepticism that has typically met such news emanating from China in recent years. The Wall Street Journal ran a story on its front page with the headline “China Seeks to Tame Boom, Stirs Growth Fears.”

There's more...

What Secretary Clinton Can Do to Support Internet Freedom

Tomorrow, in her planned speech at the Newseum, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has the opportunity to explain what the Administration's previously stated commitments to Internet freedom mean in practice. Here are three immediate actions she could announce that would make clear that protecting freedom of expression on the Internet is a priority for the United States government:

There's more...

Innovation of the Week: Land Grabs

Cross posted from Nourishing the Planet.

Over the last few years, China, India, and the Middle East have invested heavily in African land, spurred on by the global food and economic crises—as well as the threats of climate change, population growth, and water scarcity. By controlling agricultural land in Kenya, Ethiopia, and elsewhere on the continent, these nations hope to secure future food supplies for their populations, even as sub-Saharan Africa faces increasing hunger. At least 23 million people are currently at risk for starvation in the Horn of Africa. And this increasing foreign investment in African land has largely remained under the global radar. In addition, the push for alternative energy sources is driving investors to purchase land for energy crops, like corn and sugar cane, which can be used to produce biofuels instead of food.

Some experts argue that “land grabbing” or the investment in foreign soil is progress for agriculture, by bringing development and big agriculture to impoverished countries through the introduction of new technologies and jobs. But, as the article, The Great Land Grab, co-authored by Nourishing the Planet Advisory Group member Anuradha Mittal, explains, “corporate agribusiness has been known to establish itself in developing countries with the effect of either driving independent farmers off their land or metabolizing farm operation so that farmers become a class of workers within the plantation.”

Land grabs can come at a great cost to local farmers and communities. In Pakistan, for example, the United Arab Emirates purchased 324,000 hectares of land in the Punjab province. According to a local farmer’s movement, this purchase will displace an estimated 25,000 villagers in the province, where 94 percent of the people are subsistence farmers only utilizing about 2 hectares of land each. Because of these “land grabs,”not only are farmers removed from land, but the local economy also suffers.  Many hunger-stricken countries, such as Sudan and Kenya, will have to import foods that were once grown locally.

The Mulch: Peaceful Protests Turn Violent in Copenhagen

By Alison Hamm, Media Consortium Blogger

The United Nations Climate Change Conference (Cop15) turned ugly today when police officers beat back hundreds of demonstrators, including a group of 50 to 100 delegates that were trying to meet with the protesters.

More than 250 people were arrested, including spokespeople for Climate Justice Action (CJA), a global network of NGOs that organized a walkout at the Bella Center today. CJA's spokesperson Dan Glall told Mantoe Phakathi at Inter Press Service that "as a condition for going back to the negotiations, we demand industrialized nations uphold the Kyoto Protocol, commit adequate funds to adaptation and reduce greenhouse gas emissions significantly."

OneClimate has video (below) of today's walkout.

"More than 1,000 people have been arrested, detained and released over the course of the past week,"Jennifer Prediger writes for Grist. "Some were made to sit on freezing sidewalks for six hours in a nasty version of time out. The people who threw rocks and set cars on fire were rightfully detained.  But the droves who were dragged in last night for dancing awkwardly in Christiana?  Seems like overkill to me."

The chaos outside reflects the increasing pressure inside the Bella Center, as delegates turn to the United States and China for leadership in the final days of the summit. Together these countries account for 42 percent of the world's carbon emissions.

In order to finalize a global climate agreement in Copenhagen, both countries need to take a big step forward, as David Doniger and Barbara Finamore report for Grist. For the U.S., this means aid for the world's poorest and most vulnerable people; for China, this means making steady progress to meet the country's carbon reduction goals.

The U.S. has already committed to pay its share of a $30 billion fund to last through 2012. "But to lead in Copenhagen, the U.S. needs to back even larger investments to meet these core needs for the longer-term--2015 or 2020," Doniger and Finamore write. "China has the opportunity to enhance its standing as a responsible world leader by building global confidence in the implementation of its carbon reduction goals."

But as David Corn reports for Mother Jones, China and the U.S. are apparently "stuck in a standoff." An Obama administration official insisted that it's not about the money: "'We have to get the developing nations into an international agreement,' the official said... Yet China has forcefully resisted the idea of incorporating their self-professed emissions goals (essentially, slowing the growth rate of emissions) into a binding agreement. China has also repeatedly said that it will not submit its performance to official outside vetting."

Corn writes, "But with 115 heads of states beginning to arrive, the Copenhagen talks have left some fundamental gaps for the last minute. Even if those gaps are bridged, the resulting agreement could fall far short of what experts say is necessary to redress the dire consequences of rising global temperatures. Just ask the scientists roaming the halls."

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton arrived in Copenhagen today in a last minute appearance. Clinton has booked a full day of meetings on Thursday and will join President Barack Obama in negotiations when he arrives Friday. Like Obama's schedule switch at the conference (he originally planned to be there last week and instead will arrive Friday), Clinton's arrival could indicate the U.S.'s intention to seal a deal by the end of the week.

For live updates of the negotiations and protests, check out The Uptake's live video stream from the Bella Center.

<This post features links to the best independent, progressive reporting about the environment by members of The Media Consortium. It is free to reprint. Visit the Mulch for a complete list of articles on environmental issues, or follow us on Twitter. And for the best progressive reporting on critical economy, health care and immigration issues, check out The Audit, The Pulse, and The Diaspora. This is a project of The Media Consortium, a network of leading independent media outlets.

There's more...

Mitch McConnell: Stifles the Chuckle of the Beast

Crossposted from Hillbilly Report.

Mitch McConnell. As a citizen of Kentucky I must apolegize yet again to the whole enlightened world that my state has elected and re-elected an evil, little man that works his ass off for the greediest and least patriotic among us all while representing the oppressive Communist government of China in the process. This man cares nothing of his country or the majority of the people within it as long as he has power he can wield to insure that 99% of Americans are at the mercy of the Chinese government and any Corporation with a checkbook.

There's more...

Diaries

Advertise Blogads