• The Biden administration caused a big stir when it signed a deal to provide Australia the technology needed to build eight nuclear submarines to patrol the Indo-Pacific region to counter China’s growing clout. French President Emanuel Macron protested, as it voided France’s contract to build Australia 12 diesel-powered subs. Asia observers say a new U.S.- U.K.-Australia security pact will be seen in Beijing as a threat and is likely to trigger an expensive and dangerous regional arms race.
(“Brazil Might Get Nuclear Power Submarines Before Australia,” Economist, Sept. 30, 2021 )
• Five years after the historic Colombia peace deal which ended decades of civil war, farmers have returned to growing coca leaves in the rainforest, reviving the lucrative cocaine trade. Conservative President Ivan Duque is threatening to renew aerial spraying of coca plantations, which was halted in 2015 after the World Health Organization labeled the herbicide glyphosate as a probable cancer-causing agent. According to Al-Jazeera, aerial fumigation caused contamination of rural water supplies and negative health effects in isolated farm communities.
(“Colombia’s Aerial Fumigation Push Bring Fear of Coca Conflict,” Al-Jazeera, Sept. 28, 2021; “5 Years Later, Peace Deal has Yet to Lift Rural Colombia,” New York Times, Sept. 26, 2021)
• California’s agricultural heartland — including the San Joaquin Valley, home to almond groves, fruit and vegetable fields — was hard hit by the summer’s record heat wave and second major drought in a decade. It also exposed the water divide between poor Latino farmworker communities and powerful agri-businesses which consume nearly 90 percent of the region’s water.
(“In California’s Water Wars, Nuts are Edging Out People,” Mother Jones, Sept. 22, 2021)
This week’s News Summary was narrated by Anna Manzo.