Forced Labour
Sagar picks berries for 16 hours a day in over 100? heat for less than the legal minimum wage on a farm in Odemira, a rural region of south-west Portugal. He is one of over 10,000 migrant workers who risk exploitation and abuse in Portugal’s $270m soft fruit industry. How are people being trapped in these jobs?

Many workers like Sagar feel they cannot leave their jobs despite the exploitation because their hopes of achieving a European passport are tied to their employment status.

Upon arrival in Portugal, foreigners can apply for temporary residency, regardless of whether or not they entered Europe via regular channels, so long as they can prove they have a valid employment contract and are paying taxes.

Five years after obtaining temporary residency, foreign citizens can apply for citizenship. “The passport is the one big dream. It’s your life-changer,” says Sagar. “It’s the colour of a raspberry, about to fall from the tree.”

Many overseas workers endure exploitation to avoid jeopardizing their residency application. “Everyone is very scared,” says Sagar. “Your taxes are connected with your work, and your papers are connected with your taxes. And if you lose one, you lose the other.”

Another factor that traps workers in exploitative jobs is debt. Berry pickers told the Guardian that they had paid up to $20,000 to smugglers to help them enter Europe.

“They feel trapped, not only by the legal procedures but also the loans they got to come here and the money they have to pay to the people who brought them,” says Alexandra Pereira, a migration researcher at the University of Lisbon.

One man explained how he had to wade through neck-high rivers to reach Europe on the dangerous route through Serbia. “I didn’t know if I would die on the way,” he said. “It’s a very, very difficult journey.”
Having risked his life to reach Portugal, his current situation fills him with regret. “My heart is broken,” he says. He would return home to India if he could, but first he needs to pay $8,000 to his smuggler.
Freedom United

Russian Imperialism
While Chomsky has been a clear and much-needed critic of American imperialism over the last 50 years, his reluctance to recognise similarly imperialistic inclinations in Vladimir Putin’s Russia has been frustrating to many of his admirers. This includes Chapeye, who has in the past translated much of Chomsky’s writing into Ukrainian.

A short letter by Chapeye to concerned intellectuals states his position on Russian invasion of Ukraine.

“I can’t write anything long because we’re still on the run, with my kids who are right here next to me. So, in brief: Ukraine was not “dragged into” war, it was attacked. Without even a pretext like Hitler’s attack on Poland. I know other countries have faced their share of foreign intervention, and right now you’re witnessing overt Russian imperialism. I don’t want to make any flawed historical comparisons, but empires have lost wars against smaller peoples before, and in the end, the Russian imperialist government must lose. When you’re being bombed, when you’re thinking of ways to evacuate your kids, you have a different perspective than when you’re sitting cozy in an office somewhere in Arizona. Yes, Noam Chomsky, I’m looking at you, among others.

“I started as a volunteer translator of “The Responsibility of Intellectuals” into Ukrainian—now I’m aghast at how you mention, in one sentence, the lead-up to this invasion: “What happened in 2014, whatever one thinks of it, amounted to a coup with US support that… led Russia to annex Crimea, mainly to protect its sole warm-water port and naval base,” Chomsky said. What if the US occupied Baja, California? Before “overthrowing capitalism,” try thinking of ways for us Ukrainians not to be slaughtered, because “any war is bad.” I beg you to listen to the local voices here on the ground, not some sages sitting at the centre of global power. Please start your analysis with the suffering of millions of people, rather than geopolitical chess moves. Start with the columns of refugees, people with their kids, their elders and their pets. Start with those kids in cancer hospital in Kyiv who are now in bomb shelters missing their chemotherapy”.
Jonny Diamond

1.45 Million Refugees
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres says the United Nations is committed to scaling up its humanitarian operations to help both those who have stayed in Ukraine and the more than 1 million who have fled.

Guterres relayed the promise to Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba in a phone call on March 4.

 The two also discussed the conditions for safely evacuating civilians, including foreigners, from combat zones.

Ten days into Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, 1.45 million people have fled the battered country, according to the UN-affiliated Organisation for Migration in Geneva. The UN has predicted that the total number of refugees could swell to 4 million, to become the biggest such crisis this century.
A Reader

Climate Change
While neo-liberal capitalism has very much accelerated the degradation of Nature or ecology, the degradation is something very much inherent in industrial civilisation.

An iconic novel singing full-throated glory of (actually existing) Socialism is: 'How the Steel Was Tempered'.

From a different angle - a saga of humans' (very hard earned) victory (under Socialism) over untamed wild Nature and its consequent brutalisation.

The Earth's ecology functions both as a vast reservoir of resources - many of these non-renewable, and also a gigantic sink to absorb waste products - gaseous, liquid and solid.

Neither is, however, infinite.

The advent of industrial civilisation changed the rates of extraction of resources and production of wastes from simple to compound.

At 3% compound rate, the original quantity would double in (less than) 25 years, would become 16 times in 100 and 256 times in 200 years.

So, the inevitable is happening.

Even then, "global warming" or "climate change" is just one side of the two-sided problem - linked to the "sink" side, and only partly covers that.

In order to tackle, all possible resources need be mobilised - assuming there's no "tipping point" or it's still quite some distance away.

The assumption may not be quite accurate.

<<Climate change is causing greater impacts than expected at lower temperatures than anticipated, disrupting natural systems and affecting the lives of billions of people around the world, according to the latest report from the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

The new report found that droughts and heat waves are killing off trees and corals; sea level rise is forcing people in vulnerable areas to leave their homes; and extreme conditions may be increasing the likelihood of violent conflict. If warming is not halted soon, and it continues, as many as half the species living on land could become extinct, malnutrition in parts of the world will likely become widespread, and extreme weather events will become increasingly common.

The poor, the very young and very old, ethnic minorities, and Indigenous peoples are at most risk. And while measures to limit the impact of climate change do exist, the only truly meaningful step is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions as soon as possible.

According to Kelly Levin of the Bezos Earth Fund, a foundation that funds efforts to combat climate change, the report “shows clearly how much we need to change course, because delayed action risks triggering impacts that are so catastrophic that our world slowly becomes unrecognizable.”

The report, Climate Change 2022: Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability, was published recently after approval from 195 governments. It runs to nearly 1,000 pages.
[Excerpted from: <>]
Sukla Sen

Varanasi Elections
Given that a DCM truck has been caught by people on 8 March in Varanasi carrying hundreds of EVM machines of the Varanasi North assembly constituency and that in spite of an anger among the people against the ruling party all exit polls are indicating a comfortable win for BJP, we demand from the Election Commission of India that the entire Uttar Pradesh election be rescinded. If this cannot be done then elections in constituencies falling in the seventh phase be cancelled. And if even this cannot be done then elections in constituencies in Varanasi area must be repealed and re-polling should be organised and this time 100% counting of VVPAT slips should be done. If ECI fails to take any action then we'll assume that like the government machinery it is also working actively to ensure a BJP win.
Sandeep Pandey, General Secretary
Socialist Party (India)

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Vol 54, No. 39, March 27 - April 2, 2022