China’s Quest for Foreign Technology: Beyond Espionage

China, Policies

China’s Quest for Foreign Technology: Beyond Espionage

A 2013 book by Hannas and two other contributors to the present volume focused on the many ways that China gets hold of advanced U.S. technology. Since then, as reported by contributors to this new, deeply researched and sophisticated volume, the Chinese government has vastly increased its technology-acquisition programs, not only in the United States but also in Australia, Japan, South Korea, and Europe.

As before, some Chinese methods are illegal, such as hacking and theft, but many are carried out in the open, including investing in foreign companies, conducting joint research projects with foreign universities and companies, using “talent programs” to bring Chinese and non-Chinese scientists to China, and offering returned scholars venture capital to start businesses. Thousands of university centers, technology-transfer parks, and startup incubators convert the imported technology into products that increase China’s competitiveness, upgrade its military, or strengthen the government’s ability to control society.

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The weapon of criticism cannot replace the criticism of the weapon: What knowledge do we need for revolution against capitalism

Economy, Policies

The weapon of criticism cannot replace the criticism of the weapon: What knowledge do we need for revolution against capitalism

A world in crisis

The ongoing pandemic has resulted in millions of death.1 Millions of people have been pushed to extreme poverty due to COVID-19. According to the World Bank, “The COVID-19 pandemic is estimated to push an additional 88 million to 115 million people into extreme poverty this year, with the total rising to as many as 150 million by 2021, depending on the severity of the economic contraction”.2 The consequences of the 2007 economic contraction have not been fully neutralized. Hundreds of millions are under- or unemployed: “Almost half a billion people are working fewer paid hours than they would like or lack adequate access to paid work” (ILO, 2020). And those who are lucky to be employed are subject to “a global wages scandal, with some countries even having a minimum wage that is lower than the poverty line”.

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Red Alert: Only one Earth

Ecology, Threats

Red Alert: Only one Earth

A new report from the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), Making Peace with Nature (2021), highlights the ‘gravity of the Earth’s triple environmental emergencies: climate, biodiversity loss, and pollution’. These three ‘self-inflicted planetary crises’, the UNEP says, put ‘the well-being of current and future generations at unacceptable risk’. This Red Alert, released for World Environment Day (5 June), is produced with the International Week of Anti-Imperialist Struggle.

What is the scale of the destruction?

Ecosystems have degraded at an alarming rate. The Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) report from 2019 provides stunning examples of the scale of the destruction:

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Who’s making — and funding — the world’s plastic trash?

Ecology, Threats

Environment Who’s making — and funding — the world’s plastic trash?

ExxonMobil is the world’s single largest producer of single-use plastics, according to a new report published today by the Australia-based Minderoo Foundation, one of Asia’s biggest philanthropies.

The Dow Chemical Company ranks second, the report finds, with the Chinese state-owned company Sinopec coming in third. Indorama Ventures — a Thai company that entered the plastics market in 1995 — and Saudi Aramco, owned by the Saudi Arabian government, round out the top five.

Funding for single-use plastic production comes from major banks and from institutional asset managers. The UK-based Barclays and HSBC, and Bank of America are the top three lenders to single-use plastic projects, the new report finds. All three of the most heavily invested asset managers named by the report — Vanguard Group, BlackRock, and Capital Group — are U.S.-based.

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5 things to know as wildfire season heats up

Ecology, Threats

5 things to know as wildfire season heats up

New research sheds light on how increasing wildfires are affecting ecosystems and communities. In early May scientists discovered a plume of smoke wafting from a smoldering sequoia that ignited during 2020’s Castle fire, which set California’s Sequoia National Forest alight last August.

The fiery remnant is the result of another too-dry winter in California and an ominous marker for the beginning of the 2021 fire season, which experts say looks “grim” for California and across much of the West. March and April were the driest in more than 126 years for Arizona, New Mexico, Nevada and Utah, and the third and fourth driest for California and Colorado. Oregon, meanwhile, had its driest April ever. Things are predicted to continue to be both hotter and drier than normal across the West and Plains, according to the National Interagency Fire Center.

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A sweeping study shows how humans changed the environment over 12,000 years

Ecology, Threats

A sweeping study shows how humans changed the environment over 12,000 years

One environmental narrative, common to dystopian science fiction, goes like this: humans start to colonize the planet, and slowly take up more and more space until there’s nothing wild or untouched on Earth. Humanity’s infectious spread over the globe slowly eats the planet’s resources alive.

As it turns out, this narrative is all wrong — at least for the past 12,000 years, according to a new study. Humans, researchers found, occupy roughly the same amount of land on Earth that they always have in that span. That means that our planet’s myriad environmental problems aren’t exactly the cause of human societies spreading, but rather the way that we misuse resources that exist. Evidently, humans roamed about the same places they always had on Earth without stirring up too much trouble, at least until the advent of industrial capitalist societies.

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‘Ocean in crisis’: Global plan to protect world’s seas

Policies, Water

‘Ocean in crisis’: Global plan to protect world’s seas

A new global marine initiative has been launched to protect and conserve 18 million square kilometres of the ocean (seven million square miles) over the next five years, an area larger than the continent of South America.

The collaboration, known as Blue Nature Alliance, established on Wednesday is led by several philanthropic organisations and plans to work with national governments, local communities, Indigenous peoples, scientists, and academics.The Alliance’s initial protection work will cover 4.8 million sq km (1.9 million sq miles) across three marine locations: Fiji’s Lau Seascape, Antarctica’s Southern Ocean and the volcanic archipelago of Tristan da Cunha in the southern Atlantic Ocean.

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The classes of capitalism

Policies, Society

The classes of capitalism

Capitalist society is divided into different classes, and the relationships between those classes shape the production of wealth, the dissemination of ideas and the nature of politics.

In 1848, Marx and Engels wrote that “society as a whole is more and more splitting up into two great hostile camps, into two great classes directly facing each other: bourgeoisie and proletariat”. By bourgeoisie they meant the capitalist class, those who made their living by owning capital, which means both factories and other equipment used in the production process, and the money used to invest in production. By proletariat they meant the modern working class—wage-earners who don’t own land or equipment, and who have to make money by selling their time to capitalists.

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Just 3% of world’s ecosystems remain intact, study suggests

Ecology, Threats

Just 3% of world’s ecosystems remain intact, study suggests

Just 3% of the world’s land remains ecologically intact with healthy populations of all its original animals and undisturbed habitat, a study suggests.

These fragments of wilderness undamaged by human activities are mainly in parts of the Amazon and Congo tropical forests, east Siberian and northern Canadian forests and tundra, and the Sahara. Invasive alien species including cats, foxes, rabbits, goats and camels have had a major impact on native species in Australia, with the study finding no intact areas left.

The researchers suggest reintroducing a small number of important species to some damaged areas, such as elephants or wolves – a move that could restore up to 20% of the world’s land to ecological intactness.

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Artificial intelligence and the future of warfare

Other Atrocities, Threats

Artificial intelligence and the future of warfare

Artificial intelligence is changing the world we live in. It will redefine the workplace and have significant implications for everything we do, probably by the end of this decade. Some AI applications are already a part of our everyday lives, such as intelligent car navigation systems.

So, what is artificial intelligence? AI can be defined as ‘the ability of machines to perform tasks that normally require human intelligence’. AI has in fact been around for several decades. The IBM chess-playing computer called ‘Deep Blue’ defeated world chess champion Garry Kasparov as far back as 1997. But the development of AI has been accelerating rapidly in recent years with a substantial increase in the number of real-world applications where AI is now practical.

According to the US Department of Defense’s Joint Artificial Intelligence Center, the reasons for this are more massive datasets, increased computing power, improved machine-learning algorithms, and greater access to open-source code libraries.

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