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Thursday, July 1, 2010

The Amazon is Dying for Meat Production; Republicans Deny US Citizens Healthcare; Military Spending All Time High; End of Line for Oceans (posted 06/08/09)

- 'The End of the Line' for the World's Oceans "More than four fifths of people support the introduction of a nature reserve in our seas to protect stocks of fish, according to a survey published today on World Oceans Day. The poll came ahead of the launch of a film, The End Of The Line, which reveals the impacts of overfishing on the world's oceans. The documentary, by journalist Charles Clover, claims that industrial fishing is emptying the seas of fish, destroying the livelihoods of poor fishermen in places such as Africa and killing wildlife accidentally caught in the process. Some scientists have warned that globally, without action to bring in marine reserves and stop the most destructive forms of fishing, the world's fisheries could all collapse by 2048. As The End Of The Line was released, Mr Clover warned overfishing of the world's oceans ranked beside climate change as one of the biggest problems facing humans this century." 

- Global Weapons Spending Hits Record Levels "Global military expenditure has risen by 45% over the past decade to $1.46tn, according to the latest annual Yearbook on Armaments, Disarmament, and International Security published by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (Sipri).Though the US accounts for more than half the total increase, China and Russia nearly tripled their military expenditure over the decade, with China now second only to the US in the military expenditure league table."

- Hummer Manufacturer General Motors Gets Billions in Bailout Money, But Says No Money for Crash Victims "U.S. taxpayers have given 50 billion to rescue General Motors, but the company says it should not have to pay a penny to people harmed by known defects in its vehicles."

- Turning Point? by Noam Chomsky "The Obama-Netanyahu-Abbas meetings in May, followed by Obama's speech in Cairo, have been widely interpreted as a turning point in US Middle East policy, leading to consternation in some quarters, exuberance in others. Fairly typical is Middle East analyst Dan Fromkin of the Washington Post, who sees "signs Obama will promote a new regional peace initiative for the Middle East, much like the one championed by Jordan's King Abdullah... [and also] the first distinct signs that Obama is willing to play hardball with Israel." (WP, May 29). A closer look, however, suggests considerable caution."

- Debunking Canadian Health Care Myths "I am frequently asked by Americans and Canadians alike to declare one health care system as the better one. ... if the only way we compared the two systems was with statistics, there is a clear victor. It is becoming increasingly more difficult to dispute the fact that Canada spends less money on health care to get better outcomes."

- 119 Million Americans Must Be Wrong: Republicans Deny US Citizens Health Care "As the health insurance industry and its defenders in Congress lay out their case against permitting a public option in a reform bill, perhaps their most curious argument is that some 119 million Americans are ready to dump their private plans and jump to something more like Medicare - and that's why the choice can't be permitted.

In other words, the industry and its backers are acknowledging that more than one-third of the American people are so dissatisfied with their private health insurance that they trust the U.S. government to give them a fairer shake on health care. The industry says its allies in Congress must prevent that."

The Amazon is Dying
The Brazilian government is legalising deforestation and western superbrands are benefiting from it. This needs to stop now
by John Sauven 
Published on Monday, June 8, 2009 by The Guardian/UK
Brazil's president, Luiz InĂ¡cio Lula da Silva, writing in the Guardian in March, offered us these words of hope: "No country has a larger stake in reversing the impact of global warming than Brazil. That is why it is at the forefront of efforts to come up with solutions that preserve our common future." Lula's words are fine. But we are still waiting for real action.

For the last 10 years, Greenpeace has been working in the Amazon alongside communities to protect the rainforest. Last week, Greenpeace released a report which was the result of a three-year investigation into the role of the cattle industry in driving illegal deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon. The report, Slaughtering the Amazon, reveals the devastating impacts cattle ranching is having on the climate, biodiversity and local communities.
Cattle ranching is the biggest cause of deforestation, not only in the Amazon, but worldwide. The report reveals that the Brazilian government is a silent partner in these crimes by providing loans to and holding shares in the three biggest players - Bertin, JBS and Marfrig - that are driving expansion into the Amazon rainforest.

Greenpeace is now about to enter into negotiations with many of the companies that have either found their supply chain and products contaminated with Amazon leather and beef or who are buying from companies implicated in Amazon deforestation - big brands such as Adidas, Clarks, Nike, Timberland and most of the major UK supermarkets. Meanwhile, back in Brazil, the federal prosecutor in Para state has announced legal action against farms and slaughterhouses that have acted outside of the law. It has sent warning letters to Brazilian companies buying and profiting from the destruction. Bertin and JBS are in the firing line - companies part-owned by the Brazilian government.

While this is a positive step, it's clear that we can't bring about real change and win an end to Amazon destruction for cattle without real action from the government and from big corporations in Europe and the US, who are providing the markets.

Another, worrying example of the widening chasm between rhetoric and reality is a new bill that has just passed through the Brazilian senate. If Lula gives his consent, it will legalise claims to at least 67m hectares of Amazonian land - an area the size of Norway and Germany put together - that is currently held illegally. A second bill, before the Brazilian congress, proposes to more than double the percentage of Amazon rainforest that can be cleared legally within a property. If passed, the effect of both these bills will be to legalise increased deforestation of the Amazon rainforest.

Lula's decision to fund the cattle ranching industry with public money makes no sense when its expansion threatens the very deforestation reduction targets that Lula champions. The laws now waiting for his approval will represent a free ride for illegal loggers and cattle ranchers. It is clear that Brazil now faces a choice about what sort of world leader it wants to be - part of the problem or part of the solution.

Protecting Brazil's rainforest is a critical part of the battle to tackle climate change and must be part of a global deal to protect forests at the climate change talks in Copenhagen at the end of the year. But while world leaders are making speeches, we are losing vast tracts of rainforest. We must also tackle the dirty industries that are driving deforestation if we are to protect the Amazon and the climate for future generations.