World News Digest – Issue 6

With the fast pace of today’s news cycle it can be hard to know what to pay attention to, and information overload is often the inevitable result. Listed under the categories of Economy, Energy, Environment and Geopolitics, our selected news highlights bypass celebrity gossip and partisan politics, cutting through the crap to shine the spotlight on the world affairs that affect us most strongly.

The SHIFT team has trawled through hundreds of news sources and stories, turning up our bullshit filter to maximum volume, to bring you August and September’s global affairs highlights…

Economy

Get Ready for another Global Crash

Another financial crash is on its way – even UK Prime Minister David Cameron acknowledges it, warning of instability and uncertainty, and alluding to imminent crisis. The only questions that remain are what the immediate catalyst will be, and when it will begin.

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Challenges to the Orthodoxy of Economic Growth

More and more academics and thought leaders are publicly questioning the orthodoxy of economic growth. The endless pursuit of economic growth is making us unhappy and risks destroying the Earth’s capacity to sustain us; it is also the key driver of climate change. The good news is that taking steps to make our lives more sustainable will also make us happier and healthier.

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Australia’s G20 Grief

Australia finally has a high profile on the geopolitical stage, but not for the reasons one might wish. Now infamous for its blasé attitude to climate change, obsession with fossil-fuelled economic growth, and inhumane treatment of refugees, the G20 provided the golden opportunity to voice dissent and demand better from Australia.

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Has the Political Right has Won Control of the English-Speaking World?

Over the last three decades, left-wing parties in the English-speaking world have taken on much of the right’s antidemocratic program. Each country has its own internal political dynamics, and in each case the right has come to power in different ways – yet they share a lot of ideological common ground. This is no accident — multinational corporate lobbying, a global network of think-tanks, and the planetary echo chamber afforded by organisations like Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation keeps right-wing ideas circulating and resonating throughout the English-speaking world. However, fresh alternatives from the left are showing they can adapt and thrive in a crisis.

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Energy

Oil Price Plunge a Challenge to Geopolitical & Energy Industry Assumptions

Global oil prices have fallen 25 percent since June, marking the return of oil-price fluctuation as a geopolitical wild card. Although oil prices have been relatively stable — about $100 a barrel — for the past five years, the historical pattern has seen high oil prices boost the strategic clout of producing countries by boosting government coffers, and falling prices have had the opposite effect. Low prices are expected to hurt the economies of Russia and Iran are expected to suffer while the US and Saudi Arabia weather the storm.

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China Levies Import Tariffs on Coal Imports, Hitting Australia and Russia, but Sparing Indonesia

China, the world’s top coal importer, will levy import tariffs on coal imports after nearly a decade, in its latest bid to prop up ailing domestic miners who have been buffeted by rising costs and tumbling prices. The sudden move by China to levy import tariffs of between 3 percent and 6 percent from October 15 is set to hit miners in Australia and Russia – among the top coal exporters into the country – while exempting Indonesia, the second largest shipper of the fuel to China.

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Environment

Planetary Boundaries Update

The habitats of 140 Australian threatened species are found not to be protected according to the WWF; the UN announces CO2 emissions must be zero by 2070 to prevent climate disaster; fish show signs of failure to adapt to rising levels of CO2 in the oceans; rising sea levels in Jakarta, Indonesia, cause city to sink by up to 6 inches per year; and pharmaceuticals flushed into the environment appear to be a new source of chemical pollution threatening wildlife.

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Nobel Laureates Call for Revolutionary Shift in Resource Use

Eleven Nobel laureates have pooled their clout to sound a warning, declaring that mankind is living beyond its means and darkening its future. At a conference in Hong Kong coinciding with the annual Nobel awards season, holders of the prestigious prize pleaded for a revolution in how humans live, work and travel. Only by switching to smarter, less greedy use of resources can humans avert wrecking the ecosystems on which they depend, the laureates argued.

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Environmental Protests Against Big Oil Gather Speed in the Niger Delta

A new wave of anger, manifesting in large protests, is sweeping through Nigeria’s Ogoni enclave. Following a year of direct action, blockades have forced shut-downs of two oil refineries and a seaport, protests against Shell’s oil exploitation in the Niger Delta – and the devastating environmental consequences – are gathering momentum.

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Geopolitics

Are we Re-entering the Cold War?

Ukraine, Iran’s nukes, the price of oil: There are ties worthy of a Bourne film, if the media connected the dots. With parity between West and non-West, US hegemony be damned – it looks as though we are re-entering the Cold War.

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Why the Ukraine Crisis is the West’s Fault

According to the prevailing wisdom in the West, the Ukraine crisis can be blamed almost entirely on Russian aggression. Russian President Vladimir Putin, the argument goes, annexed Crimea out of a long-standing desire to resuscitate the Soviet empire, and he may eventually go after the rest of Ukraine, as well as other countries in eastern Europe. In this view, the ouster of Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych in February 2014 merely provided a pretext for Putin’s decision to order Russian forces to seize part of Ukraine. But this account is wrong: the United States and its European allies share most of the responsibility for the crisis. The taproot of the trouble is NATO enlargement, the central element of a larger strategy to move Ukraine out of Russia’s orbit and integrate it into the West.

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The Geopolitics of Climate Change

For over a decade, the Pentagon and other Western militaries such as Australia have put serious thought into the medium and long-term implications of climate change. For example, in 2003, the Pentagon released a paper titled “An Abrupt Climate Change Scenario and its Implications for United States National Security.” The report predicted massive flooding, storms, forced migration, food shortages, starvation and water crises. Moreover, as a result of diminishing carrying capacity, the report also foresaw a dramatic growth in violent political and social unrest over dwindling resources.

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Media AWOL on Public Responsibility when Governments go to War & Botched CIA Missions Backfire

Recent research shows that when governments go to war, the mainstream media fails to live up to its brief of providing fair and unbiased information to the public. The mainstream media obediently echoes and reiterated the aims and goals of “the mission”, and reports campaign announcements uncritically. Historical facts, context, and comparisons are avoided, allowing the “official version” to gain momentum. Meanwhile, the CIA continues to arm rebels in Syria despite evidence of this being counter-productive to the aim of peace in the region.

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Disclaimer: SHIFT magazine does not take responsibility for the content of any of the articles linked to in our World News Digest. Selection for the Digest does not imply endorsement of any of the positions expressed in any given article.

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