Coal India is the largest coal mining company in the world and produces 82% of India’s coal every single year. However due to the declining cost of solar power in India the company has announced that 37 mines are going to close on the grounds that they are “financially unviable”. This round of closures amounts to Coal India closing around 9% of the total number of mines that the company operates, and as a result will significantly reduce the amount of coal being extracted per annum. The important aspect of this development, and the growing commercial trend, is that companies are beginning to notice that fossil fuel extraction is, in many cases, more costly than investing in green technology. This needs to be promoted and celebrated as much as possible.
Iraqi Kurdistan is an autonomous region in the north-east of the country and has a somewhat fractured relationship with the government in Baghdad. Relations between the two authorities is much better than under Saddam Hussein, although this is a very low bar, but there remains a perception in Erbil that the Iraqi central government is both corrupt and incompetent. It is this perception that last week resulted in leading politicians announcing that the region would hold a referendum on independence from Iraq. This development is something that I have long argued for and could be a game-changer for the Middle East.
One of the most inspirational movements of political history was the movement for female suffrage in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. This was a struggle by a disenfranchised group that sought to radically transform how the existing political order functioned, and succeeded despite the fact that none of their group were in the corridors of power. Men and women came together to rectify an injustice that in modern discourse could only be conceived of as a thought experiment rather than as a serious policy proposal. Thankfully in democratic countries this arbitrary distinction has been removed, but the campaign for women’s suffrage can, in my view, easily compared to the struggle for Kurdish liberation. On the surface this may seem like a bit of stretch but hopefully this article will convince you of my case.
In Western media there has been justifiable outrage over the reports of concentration camps being established in Chechnya. Naturally such a move should be condemned and pressure need to be put on the Russian government to either stop the persecution or permit the safe passage of those under threat out of Chechnya. However, this doesn’t require any substantive political analysis as even those who do not especially care about LGBT rights would oppose the establishment of concentration camps. The subject of this piece is concerning the discourse around this news story, particularly the view that seeks to link this new development with Chechnya’s status as a Muslim-majority area.
On the campaign trail Donald Trump paid lip service to the idea of non-intervention by arguing from a position of economic nationalism. Any illusion that he was intending to reduce the role of the American military in the world has now been shattered, but this is not especially surprising given his temperament. In response to the suspected chemical attack in Idlib province on Tuesday, the US military has launched 59 Tomahawk missiles at Syrian military installations. The targets are centred on the Shayrat Airfield south of the Syrian city of Homs and were designed to cripple the Assad government’s aerial capability. Everything about this is situation is terrible.
The Indian state of Uttar Pradesh recently had an important election. Prime Minister Narendra Modi was on the campaign trail in order to get the BJP elected as the next government of the country’s most populous state. Evidently the BJP’s electoral strategy and message was spot on as the PM’s party 312 seats out of 403. The scale of the party’s victory is best illustrated by comparing the results to the last UP election in 2012. In 2012 the BJP won only 47 seats and garnered 15%. However in the latest election they were the recipient of a 24.7% swing, and thus were swept into power with a significantly higher number of seats than the 202 majority required to single-handedly govern. The results of this will be a the stoking of ethno-religious tensions and the radicalisation of discourse as a consequence.
Malaysia has decided to adopt incredibly antiquated and oppressive views to sexual minorities by endorsing gay conversion therapy. Federal authorities claimed in a video that a person’s sexual orientation can be ‘cured’. Ironically, the video in question was an attempt by the Malaysian government to prevent people in the country’s Muslim communities to be hostile towards LGBT people. Indeed, the video says at one point: “the fact is, there are those among Muslims that have non-heterosexual orientation but remain steadfast on the path of Islam”. The video may have been intended to reduce discrimination towards the LGBT community, but the language used reveals just how far equality campaigners have yet to go.