This Week’s Under-reported News Summary – Aug. 30, 2023

Compiled by Bob Nixon

  • Ecuador voters reject Amazon oil drilling
  • Biden cracks down on Cytrox and Intellexa spyware
  • The push for zero-emission trains and good union jobs

After a decade-long campaign organized by indigenous and eco-activists, voters in Ecuador overwhelming rejected oil drilling in Block 43, inside Yasuni National Park, one of the most bio-diverse regions in the Amazon rainforest. The referendum vote, taken during Ecuador’s first round presidential election, requires the state oil company, Petro-Ecuador to dismantle its oil operations in the region, which includes 12 drilling platforms and 225 oil wells.

(“Ecuadorians Reject Oil Drilling in the Amazon, Ending Operations in Protected Area,” Associated Press, Aug. 21, 2023; “Ecuador Votes to Halt Oil Drilling in Biodiverse Amazon National Park,” Guardian, Aug. 21, 2023)

In mid-July, the Biden administration added two European based spyware companies (Cytrox and Intellexa) to its export controls blacklist in response to privacy concerns and a pattern of human rights abuses linked to the use of spyware against journalists and civil society groups.  Foreign Policy magazine reports that both companies are controlled by  former Israeli intelligence officer Tal Dilian, and operates in Greece, Hungry, Ireland and North Macedonia.

(“Biden Crackdown on Spyware Scourge,” Foreign Policy, July 31, 2023)

A new California clean air mandate could lead the way to building a new generation of zero-emission rail locomotives in the U.S. The initiative is backed by rail unions and environmentalists, but the railroad industry filed a lawsuit challenging the rule, charging that states do not have the right to pass regulations stricter than federal limits on emissions.

(“A New Climate Rule Could Change the Face of American Railroads,” In These Times, July 27, 2023)

This week’s News Summary was narrated by Anna Manzo.

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