Tag Archives: South Korea

War Industry ‘Celebrating Christmas Early’ as House Passes $858 Billion NDAA

“There is no justification to throw… $858 billion at the Pentagon when we’re told we can’t afford child tax credit expansion, universal paid leave, or other basic human necessities,” said the consumer advocacy group Public Citizen. “End of story.”

By Brett Wilkins.  Published 12-8-2022 by Common Dreams

Class of 2022 cadets participate in a live-fire exercise as part of their Cadet Field Training. Photo: Matthew Moeller (US Army)/flickr/CC

Peace advocates on Thursday slammed the House of Representatives’ passage of a mammoth $858 billion military spending bill as an early holiday gift for the Pentagon and the weapons corporations who benefit from the United States’ ongoing—but largely forgotten—War on Terror.

House lawmakers voted 350-80 in favor of the 2023 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), with 45 Democrats and 35 Republicans voting “no.”

The new NDAA authorizes an $80 billion military spending increase over the 2022 bill, and $118 billion more than when President Joe Biden took office in 2021. The 2023 allocation is more than the combined military budgets of China, India, the United Kingdom, Russia, France, Germany, Saudi Arabia, Japan, and South Korea, according to the National Priorities Project at the Institute for Policy Studies (IPS). It’s also more than the annual gross domestic product of countries including Saudi Arabia, Sweden, Switzerland, and Turkey, based on United Nations figures. Continue reading

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‘Heartbreaking’ and ‘Pathetic’: US Obstructs Patent Waiver for Covid Tests and Treatments

“There have been at least 290,000 deaths from Covid-19 since the WTO punted on the question of global access to tests and treatments back in June,” said one advocate. “How many more need to die before the U.S. joins the right side of history?”

By Kenny Stancil.  Published 12-6-2022 by Common Dreams

Global health campaigners denounced U.S. President Joe Biden’s administration for refusing to support a temporary suspension of patents for Covid-19 tests and treatments this year, a move that further delays the possibility of securing a World Trade Organization intellectual property waiver aimed at increasing access to lifesaving medical tools in developing nations.

In a statement released on Tuesday morning, U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai said that “over the past five months, USTR officials held robust and constructive consultations with Congress, government experts, a wide range of stakeholders, multilateral institutions, and WTO members.” Continue reading

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Governments are blocking abortion info online. Here’s how we’re fighting back

How rights group Women On Web is resisting digital attacks on reproductive rights

By Venny Ala-Siurua  Published 10-14-2022 by openDemocracy

 

Screenshot: Women on Web

More and more people are looking on the internet for information about sexual and reproductive health and accessing these services online. For young people, the internet is an important, if not the only, resource for this information. This is why criminalising and restricting abortion is not the only way to attack abortion rights today. Limiting or banning information about abortion or putting out deliberately confusing material can have a devastating impact on abortion access.

Since 2005, Women on Web, where I am the executive director, has used the internet and digital technology to break down the barriers. We have provided more than 100,000 safe medical abortion services. Our website offers comprehensive and easy-to-read information about abortion in 27 languages and our multinational helpdesk team has responded to more than a million emails in 16 different languages in the past 17 years. Continue reading

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‘Hidden Killer’: Experts Urge Action After Study Shows How Air Pollution Causes Lung Cancer

“If you want to address human health, you have to address climate health first,” said Charles Swanton, who led the research team.

By Jessica Corbett  Published 9-11-2022 by Common Dreams

Steam rises from the cooling towers of the Jänschwalde lignite-fired power plant—which is to be taken off the grid and shut down by 2028 as Germany phases out coal. Photo: Julia Seeliger/flickr/CC

Experts emphasized the importance of more ambitiously addressing air pollution from fossil fuels after the presentation of a new breakthrough on lung cancer in Paris on Saturday.

Scientists at the Francis Crick Institute and University College London (UCL) shared their findings—part of the TRACERx lung study funded by Cancer Research U.K.—at the annual conference of the European Society for Medical Oncology (ESMO).

“Our study has fundamentally changed how we view lung cancer in people who have never smoked,” said Cancer Research U.K. chief clinician Charles Swanton, who led and presented the research.

The way air pollution causes cancer differs from cigarettes and sunlight. Tobacco smoke and ultraviolet light damage the structure of DNA, creating mutations that cause cancer. Air pollution causes inflammation in the lungs, affecting cells that carry mutations.

“Cells with cancer-causing mutations accumulate naturally as we age, but they are normally inactive,” Swanton explained. “We’ve demonstrated that air pollution wakes these cells up in the lungs, encouraging them to grow and potentially form tumors.”

The team analyzed 463,679 individuals from England, South Korea, and Taiwan, and examined lung tissue samples from humans and mice following exposure to particulate matter, or PM2.5—air particles that are no larger than 2.5 micrometers in diameter.

They found higher rates of epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) mutant lung cancer—and other types of cancers—in people who lived in areas with higher levels of PM2.5 pollution. They also found that, at least in mice, blocking a molecule which causes inflammation and is released in response to PM2.5 exposure prevents cancers from forming.

“According to our analysis, increasing air pollution levels increases the risk of lung cancer, mesothelioma, and cancers of the mouth and throat,” noted Emilia Lim, co-first author and postdoctoral researcher at the Francis Crick Institute and UCL. “This finding suggests a broader role for cancers caused by inflammation triggered by a carcinogen like air pollution.”

“Even small changes in air pollution levels can affect human health,” she said, adding that 99% of the global population lives in areas that exceed annual World Health Organization (WHO) limits for PM2.5, “underlining the public health challenges posed by air pollution across the globe.”

The WHO—when updating guidelines on air quality last September for the first time in over 15 years—warned that “the burden of disease attributable to air pollution is now estimated to be on a par with other major global health risks such as unhealthy diet and tobacco smoking, and air pollution is now recognized as the single biggest environmental threat to human health.”

While most of the human population is exposed to unhealthy levels of air pollution—which is tied to other health issues including asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), dementia, and heart disease—research has repeatedly shown it’s often worse in the poorest communities.

One 2021 study found that air pollution reduces the average global citizen’s life by over two years. Citing an estimate that it is tied to more than eight million deaths worldwide per year, Swanton called air pollution a “hidden killer,” according to Agence France-Presse.

Swanton stressed in a statement that “the same particles in the air that derive from the combustion of fossil fuels, exacerbating climate change, are directly impacting human health via an important and previously overlooked cancer-causing mechanism in lung cells.”

“The risk of lung cancer from air pollution is lower than from smoking, but we have no control over what we all breathe,” the scientist said. “Globally, more people are exposed to unsafe levels of air pollution than to toxic chemicals in cigarette smoke, and these new data link the importance of addressing climate health to improving human health.”

“It’s a wake-up call on the impact of pollution on human health,” he told The Guardian. “You cannot ignore climate health. If you want to address human health, you have to address climate health first.”

Tony Mok of the Chinese University of Hong Kong, who was not involved in the study, similarly said in a statement that “as consumption of fossil fuels goes hand in hand with pollution and carbon emissions, we have a strong mandate for tackling these issues—for both environmental and health reasons.”

Like the scientists who conducted the study, Mok also pointed out how it could help with the prevention of lung cancer among nonsmokers.

“This research is intriguing and exciting as it means that we can ask whether, in the future, it will be possible to use lung scans to look for pre-cancerous lesions in the lungs and try to reverse them with medicines,” Mok said.

“We don’t yet know whether it will be possible to use highly sensitive EGFR profiling on blood or other samples to find nonsmokers who are predisposed to lung cancer and may benefit from lung scanning,” he added, “so discussions are still very speculative.”

Suzette Delaloge, head of the cancer prevention program at France’s Gustave Roussy institute, was also not involved in the research but discussed it with AFP in Paris this weekend.

“The study is quite an important step for science—and for society too, I hope,” she said, noting that it was “quite revolutionary, because we had practically no prior demonstration of this alternative way of cancer forming.”

“This opens a huge door, both for knowledge but also for new ways to prevent” cancer, added Delaloge. “This level of demonstration must force authorities to act on an international scale.”

This work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0).
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Death Valley Floods Deemed a ‘1,000-Year Event’

“With climate change models predicting more frequent and more intense storms, this is a place where you can see climate change in action,” said the park superintendent.

By Kenny Stancil  Published 8-11-2022 by Common Dreams

Three cars at the Inn at Death Valley pushed together by flash floods are towed on August 6, 2022. (Photo: National Park Service)

Last week’s historic rainfall and flash flooding that caused widespread damage and left hundreds of staff and tourists stranded in Death Valley National Park is another clear sign of how extreme weather is being intensified by the fossil fuel-driven climate emergency, experts say.

The otherwise bone dry landscape between California and Nevada was pummeled by multiple downpours last week. Friday’s storm dumped an estimated 1.46 inches of rain at Furnace Creek—75% of the annual average total for the park, where less than two inches of precipitation per year is typical—in just three hours. Continue reading

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It’s getting harder for scientists to collaborate across borders – that’s bad when the world faces global problems like pandemics and climate change

International scientific collaboration has boomed since the end of the 20th century.
Yuichiro Chino/Moment via Getty Images

Tommy Shih, Lund University

The United Nations and many researchers have emphasized the critical role international collaborative science plays in solving global challenges like climate change, biodiversity loss and pandemics. The rise of non-Western countries as science powers is helping to drive this type of global cooperative research. For example, Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa formed a tuberculosis research network in 2017 and are making significant advancements on basic and applied research into the disease.

However, in the past few years, growing tensions among superpowers, increasing nationalism, the COVID-19 pandemic and the war in Ukraine have contributed to nations’ behaving in more distrustful and insular ways overall. One result is that it is becoming increasingly difficult for researchers to collaborate with scholars in other nations. Continue reading

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Workers Mark May Day With Pro-Labor Protests Worldwide

“It’s a May Day of social and civil commitment for peace and labor,” said Daniela Fumarola, head of Italy’s CISL union.

By Jessica Corbett  Published 5-1-2022 by Common Dreams

Immigrants and allies marching in Washington DC on May 1, 2022. Photo: United We Dream/Twitter

Workers and labor rights advocates across the globe came together Sunday for demonstrations marking International Workers’ Day, or May Day.

Organizers held about 250 actions across France, many pressuring newly reelected French President Emmanuel Macron to ditch his plan to raise the retirement age from 62 to 65. Reuters reported that “marchers carried banners reading ‘Retirement Before Arthritis,’ ‘Retirement at 60, Freeze Prices,’ and ‘Macron, Get Out.'” Continue reading

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Global Military Spending Tops $2 Trillion for First Time in History

“If global leaders actually care about charting a more secure future, then we need a massive realignment in spending priorities,” said one prominent peace group.

By Brett Wilkins  Published 4-25-2022 by Common Dreams

U.S. warplanes and the aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan are seen during a deployment in the Indian Ocean on June 32, 2021. (Photo: U.S. Pacific Fleet/Flickr/CC BY-NC 2.0)

Global military expenditures surpassed $2 trillion for the first time ever last year, with the United States spending more on its war-making capacity than the next nine nations combined, according to new data published Monday.

The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) reported an all-time high of $2.1 trillion in worldwide military spending for 2021, a 0.7% increase from 2020 levels and the seventh straight year of increased expenditures. Continue reading

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Misogyny helped South Korea’s president win. Now feminists are fighting back

Yoon Suk-yeol was swept to victory on a wave of ‘anti-feminism’ among young Korean men. Now, he wants to abolish the Ministry of Gender Equality

By Hannah Pham.  Pubished 3-26-2022 by openDemocracy

Yoon Seok-youl leaves the main opposition People Power Party’s headquarters in Seoul on July 30, 2021 Photo: 고려/Wikimedia Commons/CC

“I threw up and cried.” This was 30-year-old Haein Shim’s reaction to the results of South Korea’s presidential election, held on 9 March. As the senior director of foreign media of Seoul-based feminist group Haeil (translated as ‘Tsunami’), Haein had felt neither candidate was necessarily a strong or progressive choice. But ultimately it was Yoon Suk-yeol of the People Power Party – in Haein’s eyes, the worse of two evils – who won.

“We have to choose the head of the state, but there is no candidate for women to choose from,” says Haein, who originally hails from Gwangju in south-west South Korea and now lives in the US. “No candidate sees women as they really are.” Continue reading

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Putin’s attack on Ukraine isn’t going as planned. What will happen next?

With an unexpectedly strong Ukrainian resistance, harsh global sanctions and low morale among Russian troops, we face an unpredictable few months

By Paul Rogers.  Published 3-4-2022 by openDemocracy

Photo: The Resistor Sister/Twitter

Nine days into Russia’s assault on Ukraine and it is clear the Kremlin’s original plan has been derailed. The aim was to move rapidly on the capital, Kyiv, seizing the international airport to airlift troops in, then link with ground forces moving in from Belarus, occupy the city and take down the government in, at most, 72 hours.

From the start, Russia would make a concerted effort to take control of the Ukrainian air space, mainly with missile attacks on air bases, air defences and logistics support. This, combined with troops spread across the whole country, would induce a fear factor to help cower the people of Ukraine into submission, rather like the ‘shock and awe’ approach used by the US at the start of the Iraq War. Continue reading

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