Brazil: Cattle-raising trashes atmosphere

The Greenpeace report, “Slaughtering the Amazon,” newly available on its web site, states that the publicly-funded National Bank of Economic and Social Development has loaned billions in dollar equivalents to livestock enterprises responsible for 80 per cent of the trees removed from the Amazonian rain forest.

There, 500 acres are cleared every hour. The resulting carbon emissions put Brazil, already the world’s leading meat producer, in fourth place as a climate abuser. Five companies, partially state-owned or subsisting on government loans, export half the meat. The cattle industry is accused of violating indigenous forest preserves and utilizing slave labor.

The government envisions a 72 percent reduced deforestation rate by 2018, despite projections of meat exports doubling by then.

Pakistan: U. S. super embassy raises questions

Plans approved by the U.S. Congress last month to build a new embassy in Islamabad with 500 apartment units and to expand regional consular facilities reminded parliamentarian Khurshid Ahmad of “a replay of Baghdad … for the micro and macro management of Pakistan.”

U.S outlay will include $736 million in construction costs and $600 million for social and development aid. Official explanations cited by McClatchy News centered on “long term U.S. commitment to war-torn South Asia.” Author Ibrahim Warde, however, saw “some symbolism in building what is perceived as a fortress, at the expense of … humanitarian aid.”

In his book, “Pakistan at 60,” Tariq Ali notes that because of malnutrition, “60 percent of children under five were moderately or severely stunted.”

South Africa: Zuma on economy, unity

In his first state of the nation address since becoming president, Jacob Zuma offered a sobering view last week of upcoming social and economic challenges.

Zuma claimed the government’s Expanded Public Works Program has created a million jobs already and will produce 500,000 more within six months. Continuing his focus on reducing poverty, Zuma named as priorities, according to the Cape Argus, “economic growth, rural development, health and education, poverty alleviation and making it easier to do business.” He promised assistance for the jobless.

A week earlier the presence of recession was officially acknowledged following a 6.4 percent first-quarter economic contraction. Afrol news reported 250,000 jobs would soon be lost in the mining and automotive sectors.

Turkey: Union repression has “anti-terrorist” cover

Police invaded offices of the Confederation of Public Employees’ Unions (KESK) and its affiliate teachers’ union Egitim Sem in cities throughout the nation on May 28. Of the 30 Egitim Sem members who were arrested, 24 remain in prison, several allegedly having been sexually harassed. Authorities took possession of computers and CDs.

The International Trade Union Confederation condemned the raids and detention of unionists, billed by the Turkish press as “anti-terrorist” operations.

Assaults on unions are taking place as part of ongoing police actions against the pro-Kurdish Democratic Society Party, according to the web site. Protests against police repression were launched in Ankara, Istanbul, and other cities. Labor federations came together to issue joint statements of condemnation.

United Nations: Economic conference re-scheduled

The General Assembly on May 26 rescheduled its Conference on the World Financial and Economic Crisis from June 1-3 to June 24-26. Rumors circulated that the G20 group of economically powerful nations sought the delay for the sake of preparing responses to demands for international banking reforms, debt forgiveness, and assistance to impoverished countries, according to Inter Press Service.

Assembly President Miguel d’Escoto explained that member states, particularly those of the global south, are demanding “open, comprehensive, transparent and inclusive” negotiations.

The conference had been called two months earlier “as a counterweight to the prescriptions of the G20.” The Global Policy Forum says there is an impetus for a democratic world economic system that would “involve everyone in the decision making.”

Cuba: Blockade restricts Internet access

Last month Microsoft denied Cubans access to its Windows Live Messenger service. Google followed suit in early June, restricting use of its new Google Wave in Cuba. “You are accessing this page from a forbidden country,” the Google message reads.

Google Earth, Google Desktop Search, Google Code, and Google Toolbar have intermittently been unavailable in Cuba.

In February, Reuters reported that to bypass Microsoft collaboration with the U.S. blockade and its use of codes available to U.S. intelligence, Cuba launched its own version of the Linux operating system featuring free and open source software.

Reporting on, Carlos Martinez wonders if those protesting limited Internet access in Cuba extend such criticism to the two corporations.

World Notes are compiled by W.T. Whitney Jr. (


W. T. Whitney Jr.
W. T. Whitney Jr.

W.T. Whitney Jr. is a political journalist whose focus is on Latin America, health care, and anti-racism. A Cuba solidarity activist, he formerly worked as a pediatrician, lives in rural Maine. W.T. Whitney Jr. es un periodista político cuyo enfoque está en América Latina, la atención médica y el antirracismo. Activista solidario con Cuba, anteriormente trabajó como pediatra, vive en la zona rural de Maine.