3 September 2019   Leave a comment

Raoni Metuktire is chief of the indigenous Brazilian Kayapó people and he has written an essay on the importance of the Amazon basin for The Guardian. The essay comes partially in response to the fires which are currently burning in the basin, but it is primarily a cri de coeur against the depredation of the Amazon which has been ongoing since the arrival of European colonists. Metuktire writes:

“We call on you to stop what you are doing, to stop the destruction, to stop your attack on the spirits of the Earth. When you cut down the trees you assault the spirits of our ancestors. When you dig for minerals you impale the heart of the Earth. And when you pour poisons on the land and into the rivers – chemicals from agriculture and mercury from gold mines – you weaken the spirits, the plants, the animals and the land itself. When you weaken the land like that, it starts to die. If the land dies, if our Earth dies, then none of us will be able to live, and we too will all die.

“Why do you do this? You say it is for development – but what kind of development takes away the richness of the forest and replaces it with just one kind of plant or one kind of animal? Where the spirits once gave us everything we needed for a happy life – all of our food, our houses, our medicines – now there is only soya or cattle. Who is this development for? Only a few people live on the farm lands; they cannot support many people and they are barren.”

President Bolsonaro is unlikely to be moved by the essay, but one can only hope that Metuktire’s plea will be heard by many who can put pressure on Brazil to protect the Amazon. Unfortunately, the US did not agree to participate in the plan to begin to protect the Amazon at the recent G7 meeting.

Conservative MP Phillip Lee has defected to the Liberal Democrats, erasing the one-vote majority held by the Tories in the British Parliament. The defectors from the Conservative Party are joining with the Labour Party to pass legislation barring a “no-deal” Brexit, an option that Prime Minister Boris Johnson regards as an essential lever to force concessions from the European Union. But the defectors believe that a “no-deal” Brexit would destroy the British economy. Johnson will likely call for a new election to secure a more supportive House of Commons, but that strategy is a real roll of the dice. We shall see if the Labour Party and the defectors from the Conservative Party can pass legislation to demand an extension from the European Union, a possibility that is probably unlikely. It is very difficult to see the outcome of this very convoluted political strategy.

The International Monetary Fund publishes a journal called Finance and Development. The most recent edition of the journal is focused on how the international financial system allows corporations and individuals to avoid paying taxes through offshore banks. The scale of tax avoidance is truly amazing. According to the report:

“Global GDP last year was $87 trillion, up from just $11 trillion in 1980. While GDP is just one among many measures of well-being, the improvement is remarkable. But before we start celebrating, consider these numbers, which point to the dark side of the global economy:

$7 trillion

“That figure, equal to 8 percent of global GDP, represents the amount of private wealth estimated to be hidden in offshore financial centers, much of which likely comes from illicit activities.

$1 trillion

“That’s the gain in government revenue, by one calculation, that could be achieved by reducing corruption around the world by one-third.

The chances that these loopholes will be closed by the current governments of the rich world is essentially zero. The poor will continue to subsidize the rich.

Posted September 3, 2019 by vferraro1971 in World Politics

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