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December 12, 2018

Hambach Forest Occupation

Report Hambi Bats Action Group

This personal report from Christiane, written on November 19, 2018, is not yet completely translated.

All tree caves are open again!

5 weeks of intensive commitment to the opening of tree holes are behind us – now the goal is reached!

A GREAT THANK YOU to all who were involved with heart and hand: activists, friends, visitors, biologists. Everyone helped in … more…

by hambacherforst at December 12, 2018 01:22 AM

Channel Zero

Trumpism, Fascism, & Algorithms: Talking with Cody Johnston of Some More News

This post was originally published on this site

The post Trumpism, Fascism, & Algorithms: Talking with Cody Johnston of Some More News appeared first on It’s Going Down.

In this episode of the It’s Going Down podcast, we talked with comedian Cody Johnston who along with Katy Stoll is behind both the podcast and online show, Some More News. Every week, the pair along with their wider team produce a hysterical take on mainstream news, while also diving deep into broader political topics. We here at It’s Going Down first started paying attention to SMN after they put out a fantastic series on fascism and Trumpism. The series looked at fascism historically as well as the ways in which it attempts to appeal to the public, and in doing so SMN created both a damning indictment of Trumpism as well as a useful introduction to fascism in general.

We begin our discussion by talking about how Johnston grew from working on an earlier version of SMN on the website version of the comedy publication, before moving onto independent success. During our conversation, we also talk about the work load of writing, editing, and recording the podcast and show each week, as well as the production process of creating the content.

The larger theme which comes up several times, is what does it mean to produce online – especially video content on platforms like YouTube in an age where the Alt-Right and reactionary MRA forces already have both a head start and an advantage on the field of algorithms. While coming to no final conclusions, Johnston reiterates the power of humor in not only the pursuit of a better understanding of the world, but also as a weapon against the forces of reaction.

More Info: Some More News on Patreon and Even More News Podcast

by It's Going Down at December 12, 2018 12:47 AM

December 11, 2018

InterPressService (global south)

Lives of the poor

By Noman Ahmed
Dec 11 2018 (Dawn, Pakistan)

The past few weeks in Karachi have seen an anti-encroachment drive that has affected livelihoods and living. Those spearheading the drive justify their actions, saying they are legal, and those using the spaces are painted as land grabbers. Meanwhile, another cause for concern is the intended clearing of land along the route of the moribund Karachi Circular Railways.

Noman Ahmed

The underprivileged in Karachi require a comprehensive plan so that they can have a legal right to exist and operate, with the city benefiting from their services.

The foremost issue is land for housing. About half a century ago, land was distributed by city authorities to various categories of urban dwellers according to their need. Land use was determined on the basis of individual and collective social requirements. Today, land is acquired through clout, capital and clandestine coercion of the institutions concerned.

The poor cannot acquire land through purchase or force as they possess neither surplus capital nor political influence. The state institutions have a responsibility to ensure the poor can access the land market. Existing legal instruments such as the fair implementation of Sindh Katchi Abadis Authority (SKAA) Act, 1987, is an option.

Karachi’s poor must have the legal right to live and operate.

This law was promulgated during the tenure of prime minister Mohammad Khan Junejo. The objective of the law was to regularise those squatter settlements which had come up and evolved till March 1985 (revised to June 1997), that existed in ecologically safe locations, had acquired the approval of the land-owning agency/ department concerned, and comprised over 40 households. By implementing the law, more than 300 squatter settlements were regularised. The past few years have seen the work of regularisation slowing down due administrative reasons.

As migrations to the city have continued unabated, survey and subsequent regularisation of squatter settlements must be undertaken along scientific lines. With advanced digital mapping tools available, the exercise can be done with greater accuracy.

In the absence of an institutionalised option of accessing shelter, Karachi’s poor developed settlements on left-over and marginal land. An elitist view of such neighbourhoods — referred to as katchi abadis — is that they are breeding grounds and safe havens for criminals and the inhabitants are not deserving of social interaction with the rest. In other words, katchi abadis are looked upon with contempt and as an eyesore. They are viewed as a part of the problem, not the solution.

In fact, katchi abadis are not built with criminal intent, isolated cases notwithstanding. They emerge from unusual sites as there are no alternative locations. When the residents of settlements along the KCR were interviewed recently, they said as much.

The right to run hawker stalls, small- to medium-sized shops and other services also require serious review. The poor do not have the means to purchase or rent shops and commercial spaces that are formally available. But their services and merchandise are needed in shopping areas, transport terminals, business districts, railway stations and traffic junctions.

In many parts of the world, open public spaces are made available to hawkers according to land-utilisation plans. These plans demarcate the limits and conditions within which vending activity is allowed. In India, the Street Vendors Act, 2014, is an important legislative tool that regulates this activity in urban areas. A town-vending committee, with representatives of street hawkers, is constituted to oversee the management of vending activity. Matters relating to space adjustments, vending licences and extortion and bribery are dealt with by the committee. Similar laws and provisions exist in the UK, the US and many other countries.

Sindh can consider introducing an amendment in the existing local government laws to make provisions for vending activity to exist on formal and legal grounds. The affectees of various anti-encroachment operations should be documented and accommodated in formally created places to save them from financial destruction.

The provincial government and KMC must identify locations for setting up temporary bazaars to facilitate vendors and retailers in areas where a greater number of shops and stalls have been razed. The design and construction of stalls should ensure both functionality and aesthetics. Women entrepreneurs and sales staff must be encouraged. The same support should be extended to the disabled.

Image lifting and communication is another strategy that can help in scaling up the operations of such bazaars. Innovative ads and campaigns can be designed to boost commercial potential. Introduction of banking kiosks and provision of credit card facility can enhance the performance of bazaars. Similarly bazaars can also become tools for stretching target subsidies in underprivileged localities.

The writer is chairman, Department of Architecture & Planning, NED University, Karachi.

This story was originally published by Dawn, Pakistan

The post Lives of the poor appeared first on Inter Press Service.

by Noman Ahmed at December 11, 2018 08:07 PM

The merry mix of economic indicators in December

By Editor, The Manila Times, Philippines
Dec 11 2018 (Manila Times)

So far, December has been a month of mixed messages in terms of economic indicators here in the Philippines. While the seemingly contradictory data might be taken as a sign of a weakening economy, we believe that a closer look shows there are positive portents for the beginning of the new year.

On the negative side, there is a somewhat wider trade deficit for the month of October (with official data due out today, Tuesday), a peso that has weakened slightly after earlier gaining strength, signs of slower credit growth, and less business and consumer optimism for this quarter and next.

On the positive side, gross international reserves (GIR) for November marked a three-month high. Central bank data released on Friday showed that gross reserves rose to $75.486 billion in November, representing a 1.03-percent increase from October and the biggest since August, when the GIR stood at $77.933 billion.

Although the reserves figure for November was only slightly higher than the preceding month, what the central bank mentioned as partially tempering the rise were payments made by the national government for its foreign exchange obligations, which should also be viewed positively for the economy from a longer-term perspective.

The economy also showed other favorable factors, such as the savings rates among Filipino households being higher, and of course, inflation seems to have turned a corner, easing slightly to 6 percent in November from a nine-year high of 6.7 percent the previous two months.

All of this is happening against a backdrop of a global economy that seems increasingly unstable. Given the fact the Philippines is so reliant on external resources — such as remittances and BPO revenues — concerns that external turmoil will affect us here are not completely unjustified.

Things are not quite what they seem, however. As a recent report by HSBC explained, the higher trade deficit can be attributed to capital imports needed for infrastructure development; this will have a significant multiplier effect.

Slowing credit growth, in the context of concerns about debt bubbles, reflects the conservative approach of the country’s stable banking system. Add to these factors the near-certainty of higher remittances in this holiday month, not to mention the recent declines in oil prices, prospects for at least the first part of 2019 are looking bright.

The lesson in all of this is that the most accurate picture of the economy is the biggest one, and taking precipitous action on the face value of a few indicators is unwise.

In other words, don’t panic. The world may not be in the best shape, but we are well-equipped to weather any coming storms.

This story was originally published by The Manila Times, Philippines

The post The merry mix of economic indicators in December appeared first on Inter Press Service.

by Editor Manila Times at December 11, 2018 07:55 PM

Radio Migration – the Station with a Different Message about Migration

Radio Migration aims to raise awareness of the importance of the central topic and those in the middle of it: migration and migrants. Courtesy: Radio Migration

By Moez Jemai
MARRAKECH, Morocco, Dec 11 2018 (IPS)

The topic of migration has been beaming across the airwaves of Marrakech, Morocco, to bring light to the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration conference (GCM) and all its myriad components.

Organised by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and other international organisations, Radio Migration began broadcasting on Dec. 4, ahead of the conference, covering various side activities and events organised by local and international civil society components, and by migrant rights activists.

Now that the conference is underway—and the Compact has been adopted, as of the morning of Dec. 10—the station’s programmes are focusing on decisions and issues as they happen. It all aims to raise awareness of the importance of the central topic and those in the middle of it: migration and migrants.

“The radio station has a clearly defined focus on migration from a human rights perspective, in order to ensure recognition and dissemination of migrants’ rights,” says the radio station project’s coordinator Mohyi El Ghattass, who notes how the station was given a special dispensation by the government.

“We obtained a formal and temporary authorisation from the Moroccan government, because community radio stations of this country do not yet have licenses to broadcast on FM radio.”

The radio employs 20 people, comprising Maghrebi nationalities from Algeria, Tunisia and Morocco, who received special training on covering thematic migration issues. This team of technicians and journalists has been broadcasting for 8 hours a day while covering a panorama of migration-related events happening around the city both before and during the GCM.

The station’s editorial approach has been to disseminate information that addresses both civil society and government actors to create a positive debate and spur evaluation of the factors involved in order to benefit the overall issue at stake.

The station has also striven to create open dialogue between different parties involved on migration issues by hosting independent experts, official organisations and activists involved in the rights of migrants, as well as discussing causes of migration and how they relate to specific groups such as women and young people.

Such an approach makes for a contrast with much of the reporting about migrants in mainstream media around the world, much of which focuses on stereotypes and negative narratives, says Carolina Gottardo with the Jesuit Refugee Service in Australia, one of the 400 civil society groups that has come to Marrakech to be involved in the conference and its discussion on migration.

One element of this radio station’s operation, which sets it apart from the other 700 registered media at the conference, is the involvement of a number of migrants in the editorial team to ensure the migrants’ concerns both directly influence the station’s programs and are addressed by broadcast content. The station has also opened its shows to several different nationalities to talk about the particularities of migration across different countries.

But the station’s policy of inclusive employment for migrants doesn’t mean those individuals are reassured by the Compact they are reporting on.

“Will the migrant move freely where he wants and with dignity after this? No,” says Armel, a Cameroon migrant and volunteer facilitator at Radio Migration. “For me, nothing will change. The pact itself is written in English, while the majority of migrants are francophones, so we do not control what is in this long text.”

When it comes to ownership of its own message, the station has striven to maintain its independence.

“Independence is a fundamental principle for the success of the radio station achieving its objective of delivering good quality news about its subject matter,” Ghattass says.

This means, he says, the station has avoided political or religious angles influencing its migration coverage, an aspect that many are increasingly concerned about when it comes to how immigration stories are often shaped in the global press.

“Always include the voice of migrants and civil society for fair reporting,” Gottardo says. “Use the term undocumented or irregular migrant rather than illegal—the vast majority of the world’s migrants are regular.”

“I find that, in general, journalists tend to opt for the sensational news rather than to go to the bottom things, Abel says. “And then, the speech can be hateful and does not push for improving the situation of migrants.”

Those involved with the station hope it ultimately underlines the importance and role of community media in defending human rights.

The station became the voice of civil society that is concerned by immigration issues,” says Jalal al-Makhfy, a volunteer radio journalist from another Moroccan station who has been producing a daily talk show that features guests from numerous walks of life related to immigration.

The post Radio Migration – the Station with a Different Message about Migration appeared first on Inter Press Service.

by Moez Jemai at December 11, 2018 07:40 PM

“No to the pact of Marrakech!”

By Houda Hasswane
MARRAKECH, Dec 11 2018 (IPS)

At the same time more than 160 countries adopted the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration (GCM), on the streets of Marrakech pro-migration groups and activists gathered in the city centre to chant: “No to the pact of Marrakech!”

The historic Compact has found itself caught between a rock and a hard place: It has been criticised by nationalists and those arguing for stronger borders on one side, and by human rights and migrant activists on the other.

The protest in Marrakech brought together people from the National Federation of the Agricultural Sector, the Moroccan Association of Human Rights, the Maghreb Coordination of Human Rights Organisations and the Platform of Associations and sub-Saharan communities in Morocco among other movements and communities.



The Compact, protestors say, does not represent a change in anti-migration policies, or in the current offensive against migrants and refugees by many countries in the northern hemisphere.

“The pact is a setback in terms of human rights, protection of migrants and their families as provided for in international conventions already approved by the United Nations and other institutions,” says Camara Alpha, general secretary of Platform of Associations and Sub-Saharan Communities in Morocco.

Protestors say they want to see a new global pact of solidarity for the rights of migrants, one which will guarantee the inalienable right to free movement of all people, by promoting regional and international cooperation, and public policies protecting migrants.

The post “No to the pact of Marrakech!” appeared first on Inter Press Service.

by Houda Hasswane at December 11, 2018 03:50 PM


Sheryl Sandberg’s Trickle-Down Feminism Stands Exposed

Facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg has been exposed as a corporate thug. But that was implicit in her lean-in philosophy all along.

alt Facebook chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg looks on during a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing concerning foreign influence operations' use of social media platforms, on Capitol Hill, September 5, 2018 in Washington, D.C. Twitter CEO. Drew Angerer / Getty

In Sheryl Sandberg’s business-manual-cum-self-help-book Lean In, she recounts an anecdote about a meeting in New York. Pitching a deal, a senior figure suggested a break for refreshments. Sandberg asked where the women’s bathroom was, and none of the all-male office occupants knew. The tale is designed to show how few women had reached her position — but is far more revealing than that: plenty of women would surely work in the office, providing the coffee and sweeping the floors. But in Sandberg’s anecdote, they remain entirely invisible.

Lean In was remarkably successful, with accessible prose and promises of greater success for readers if they acted on Sandberg’s advice. But this form of feminism is entirely individual, with no blame apportioned for workplace disputes or the attitudes of the entirely male executives Sandberg dealt with. The problem, apparently, is that women hold themselves back. Women have a tendency to mentally check out of their workplace in the late stages of pregnancy, Sandberg opines; but she fails to mention that the United States has some of the weakest maternity leave rights in the world: in the forty-two countries that comprise the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development, women are given an average of eighteen weeks of maternity pay. The US offers none.

Focusing on individual behavior as the sole source of success and failure lets structural sexism in the business world entirely off the hook. An individualist looking to get ahead will always rely on class interests and links with other successful colleagues rather than solidarity with colleagues of the same gender. The Sandberg image is carefully calibrated to appear nonthreatening, hard-working, and friendly: her goal is to help people, and she just happens to be a crucial cog in the biggest social media company in the world. That image has taken a battering in the last few weeks, with Facebook increasingly attacked for playing fast and lose with users’ data, and for accusations that the site has unduly influenced democratic elections and inflamed racial tensions that have led in some cases to extreme violence.

Recently, Facebook admitted that Sandberg ordered senior Facebook staff to research George Soros’s finances and holdings, and ordered up opposition research from the Republican-linked Definers Public Affairs company, after the financier publicly criticized the company in a speech at the World Economic Forum. Sandberg and Mark Zuckerberg went on the attack, digging up dirt on critics and peddling conspiracy theories aggressively. None of these revelations are a surprise: the exponential growth of Facebook has been accompanied by a lackadaisical approach to the company’s social impact.

Much of Lean In skewers individual women for failing themselves. Even as the Me Too movement proves sexual harassment is rife in workplaces — and that women who speak out generally find that doing so intensifies attacks on them, from colleagues, professional networks, and a cavalcade of horrific sexist abuse on Twitter and Facebook — the book contains no structural analysis of the roadblocks that stop women from succeeding. Yet addressing the gender imbalance in senior positions is impossible without genuine maternity and paternity rights, paid leave, and protected jobs for women who take time out. Sexism reproduces gender roles in the workplace, and bias is rife in hiring and firing, with little to no legal protection for people subject to such injustices.

Feminists decried Sandberg’s capitalism-friendly repackaging of the movement from the start, and were criticized for it, being stereotypically described as catty and infighting. Now we can see that it was clearly a warning from history: a defanged feminism that never once blamed bosses or addressed structural issues and inequalities wasn’t remotely threatening to capital. Nor was it meant to be: “lean-in feminism” placed the blame for inequality on women’s shoulders. Didn’t get that promotion? You probably didn’t try hard enough. Nor did the other women who were routinely overlooked and stuck in low-paid, undervalued work. There’s no pattern, simply your own collective failure to aim high enough.

The Facebook revelations may at last put the concepts of lean-in feminism to bed. Her individualistic and unthreatening feminism will not change the world since it refuses to challenge it in the first pace. Trickle-down feminism is as much of a myth as trickle-down economics. The only things that have furthered feminist causes in living memory is collective action, unionism, and a refusal to pander to those in power.

by Dawn Foster at December 11, 2018 03:50 PM

Macron’s Climate Tax Is a Disaster

The Yellow Vests movement in France is raising up a vital message: blame the fossil-fuel industry and the rich for the ecological crisis, not ordinary people.

alt Tear gas is thrown at demonstrators of the "Yellow Vests" movement near the Arc de Triomphe on December 08, 2018 in Paris. Jeff J Mitchell / Getty

Hundreds of thousands of French protesters have flooded into the streets and the Right is salivating, broadcasting the “Yellow Vest” (gilets jaunes) riots there — sparked by an environmentally framed fuel tax — as definitive proof that the fight for climate action is a losing battle.

Bowing to pressure, Emmanuel Macron’s government agreed to quash the tax and caved to a slew of other demands just last night, with the first installment earning praise from Donald Trump. The Rupert Murdoch–owned Wall Street Journal cast its lot in with the rabble, lauding what it called a “Global Carbon Tax Revolt” as the death knell of an “ecological transition” — scare quotes and all. The timing on theirs and Trump’s end couldn’t be better, as talks to finalize the Paris Agreement enter their second week in Poland — talks Macron will skip to attend to matters at home.

In trying to stir up a conflict between working people and the planet, though, the WSJ ends up raising an uncomfortable truth in spite of itself: “voters don’t believe that climate change justifies policies that would raise their cost of living and hurt the economy.”

Nor should anyone. The enemy here isn’t climate policy, though. It’s neoliberalism.

The fuel taxes were less the cause of this wave of protests than the straw that broke the camel’s back. Macron has overseen a massive transfer of wealth to the country’s elites. His tax reforms will leave the bottom fifth of French households worse off as the top 1 percent — and corporations like Total, one of the world’s largest oil companies — reap massive gains, all while the cost of living continues to tick upward, public services are consolidated, and the unemployment rate hovers around 9 percent. Proposed fuel taxes were felt most acutely in rural communities that face cuts to both public transportation and speed limits, leaving many with longer and more costly commutes.

“We’ve been in the context of rising inequalities for a few years now,” Lucille Dufour, international policy adviser for Reseau Action Climat-France, told me at COP 24, the climate summit in Poland. “Obviously the protests started with a protest against the carbon tax, but it’s much broader than that. What is really disappointing is that the only response the government is giving at the moment is on the fossil-fuel tax, when the answer should be much broader than that to respond to the social crises.” Many of those demonstrating, she added, support an energy transition; during Saturday’s “Part IV” demonstrations, Yellow Vests joined with climate marchers in Paris.

With just twelve years to curb emissions — per the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s latest report — we can’t afford for other policymakers to make the same kind of blunders Macron has, looking to bolster his credentials as an environmental hero (allegedly “Making The Planet Great Again”) while making life harder for ordinary people. The causes of climate change, after all, aren’t French commuters but the one hundred fossil-fuel producers responsible for 71 percent of greenhouse gas emissions since 1988.

As such, there’s no good reason for decarbonization and economic hardship to go together; the only punishments doled out by climate policy should be to corporations at the heart of the problem. For all but the world’s richest and most carbon-hungry inhabitants — the two are one in the same — climate change isn’t an issue of sacrifice so much as investment, and the most realistic solutions to it could dramatically improve the lives of millions of people. Congresswoman-elect Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s resolution to create a Select House Committee on a Green New Deal spells this out, noting that “a national, industrial, economic mobilization of this scope and scale is a historic opportunity to virtually eliminate poverty in the United States.” The International Labor Organization (ILO) has estimated that a rapid transition to clean energy could create 18 million more jobs around the world by 2030.

There’s disagreement among those who stake a claim to climate policymaking, though. Neera Tanden — the consummately online president of the Center for American Progress — wondered aloud “why any progressive is cheering French protesters who are amassing against a carbon tax,” echoing concerns heard in the more elite enclaves of COP 24. As WWF France’s Pierre Cannet put it bluntly: “If France is putting a brake on the carbon tax, it puts a brake on energy transition.”

While acknowledging the contradictions and shortcomings of such an organic uprising — particularly around immigration — the Yellow Vests movement is a welcome development for many climate campaigners. Nicolas Haeringer, a global organizer with based in southeastern France, told me that “this movement is reminding us that the problem is supply, not demand” of fossil fuels. “Whenever you try to act on demand first you put the burden on individuals — not on structures, and not on transnational companies. It’s also a reminder that those transnational companies that are responsible for the destruction of climate, livelihoods, and neighborhoods are not paying at all.”

That the people hardest hit by Macron-style climate plans aren’t the people doing most of the polluting is precisely why taxing carbon is the policy of choice for oil companies ranging from ExxonMobil and Royal Dutch Shell to BP — the fifth, ninth, and eleventh biggest polluters in the world, respectively.

It’s certainly possible to design a carbon tax with an eye toward equity. When Washington voters actually tried to pass one, however, the industry spent over $13 million to defeat it. As those companies know well, any earnest attempt at decarbonization will also have to liquidate their business model by mid-century at the latest, not only through market signals but with direct and stringent regulation.

In such a context, the Left needn’t cede the ground of taxing carbon entirely to the Right in order to recognize what’s so appealing about it for the industries that need to be urgently constrained. What’s certainly clear is that it’s not the silver bullet either liberals or the fossil-fuel industry pretend it is, and could unnecessarily poison the waters of climate policy debates as our time runs out.

The Green New Deal — now supported by thirty-one House Democrats — suggests a more populist and ecologically sound way forward, rightly twinning a plan to rapidly phase out fossil fuels along a science-based timeline with measures that would put millions of people to work, upgrade public transit and housing, and jumpstart the economy from the bottom up.

With a ready alternative to Macron’s failures on the table, the Yellow Vests protests should serve as an eleventh-hour warning to the policymakers now gathering in Poland: not that climate action is politically toxic, but that coupling it with austerity and handouts to the 1 percent — failing to place blame on the corporate executives who deserve it — is a recipe for planetary disaster.

by Kate Aronoff at December 11, 2018 02:34 PM

InterPressService (global south)

A Migrant Turned Saviour of Others

Armand Loughy is a migrant from Cameroon. Her own experiences pushed her to campaign on migration issues, shifting from being a refugee herself to becoming an activist. Credit: El Mahdi Hannane/IPS

By El Mahdi Hannane
MARRAKECH, Morocco, Dec 11 2018 (IPS)

Seven years ago, when Cameroon began experiencing inter-regional conflict, Armand Loughy, a 55-year old Cameroonian psychiatrist, strapped her youngest child on her back and with her five other children embarked on the dangerous Journey from Cameroon towards Rabat, Morocco’s capital.
They fled the deteriorating security situation in Cameroon, looking for a better life.
Loughy, who is now also a migrant activist based in Morocco, listened attentively to the on-going discussions during the opening ceremony of the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration (GCM) in Marrakech.

Her own experiences pushed her to campaign on migration issues, shifting from being a refugee herself to becoming an activist—one of the most vocal personalities in the Moroccan civil society space.

“We went through the desert and where the fear consumed us. Many of my fellow migrants got hurt by bandits and died—in the most horrible way with their bodies dumped in the desert,” Loughy recalls.

After arriving in Morocco, she faced many difficulties in finding a job before finally securing work at a psychiatric clinic in Rabat.
With a well-paying job, Loughy could easily have forgotten her traumatic journey and suffering and moved on. But she chose not to—her decision to start helping migrants came at the right time as Morocco was also establishing favourable policies on how to handle migrants.

This policy shift, according to Loughy, enabled her to become “a candle that would light up the darkness of migrants.”

In 2014, she founded the Association of Women Migrants in Morocco, working to attract other migrants. Gradually, her association gained respect in the civil society space.

“In the beginning, the children of the poor neighbourhood where I was active threw stones at me,” Loughy says. “But after many months of continuous work, I became familiar and respected by locals and migrants.”

Her organisation is active in the Sidi Musa district of Salé—about 330 km north of Marrakech—where hundreds of migrants occupy small rooms, either working or begging on the streets, and then returning to the ghetto in the evening.

The children of these migrants, some of whom were born in Morocco, until recently had nothing to do. Some accompanied mothers to beg, others played in the neighbourhood all day without any clear future—a painful reality that Loughy and her organisation acted upon.

She presented a proposal to Salé’s Regional Directorate of Education and Training, and her ideas were welcomed. Classrooms were allocated within the public educational institutions for migrants’ children.

These have now become independent departments with their own teaching staff, and now even teach local Moroccan students.

“We are trying to use education as a tool for integration,” Loughy says, adding the association is making a big drive to inform migrants about the importance of education to ensure as many children as possible are enrolled into school.

Many migrants, especially those who do not have residence documents, remain sceptical of these types of initiatives, Loughy says. But the hope is that better educated children of migrants can inspire change at home and between communities.

Loughy dreams of a united African continent and believes that the best way to achieve coexistence among the continent’s peoples is through education and knowledge. After listening to discussions at the GCM about the tools and partnerships needed to give that dream a chance, she will leave Marrakech to return to spreading education among the children of Morocco’s migrants

“We have learnt that when students start living together, then parents can also learn how to coexist,” Loughy says.

The post A Migrant Turned Saviour of Others appeared first on Inter Press Service.

by El Mahdi Hannane at December 11, 2018 02:23 PM


On the 6th of December 2008, the cop, Epaminondas Korkoneas with his collaborator Vasilis Saraliotis, confronted with young people in the Mesologiou pedestrian street in the district of Exarcheia. Korkoneas moves away and returns by opening fire against Alexis Grigoropoulos.
Alexis was murdered by the cop’s bullet at the age of 15.
Right after this incident, significant revolts were erupted all over Greece, which were recognized as the first reaction against the global capitalist crisis and as a picture from the future.
Today, 10 years later, the reasons which led to this revolt, not only did not cease to exist but they have also multiplied.
On the other hand, the repression, the anti-seizure strategy ofauthority and the attack from the state and capital, against theexploited and oppressed people, have also been multiplied.
The state and capital, rally and unleash a fierce attack by all thepower which possess; propaganda, arrests, repression towards the students and the uprising people.
In the memory of our deads.

by actforfreedom at December 11, 2018 01:52 PM

InterPressService (global south)


Over a night in December acts of vandalism were carried out in Dublin against banks and ATM’s. 3 banks had locks glued up, 2 banks had message of “Homes for all” sprayed across windows, and 3 ATM’s were glued up. These acts were carried out in conjunction with struggle for housing being waged across Ireland.
Dublin: Acts of Vandalism
These acts were but small acts of defiance and revolt against this prison society, to subvert the capitalist spectacle, if even only for a few hours. Actions like these expose the vulnerable spots of capitalism.
Reforms wont bring liberation, the state will never grant freedom. Reforms might make this prison society a little bit more nicer, but a prison is still a prison. The delusions and cowardice of the left has clearly failed. It’s parties and unions betray and sell out every time.

by actforfreedom at December 11, 2018 01:38 PM

InterPressService (global south)

Migration and the Economy—an Inseparable Pairing

Migrants on a street in Casablanca, Morocco. Courtesy: Alié Dior Ndour

By Alie Dior Ndour
MARRAKECH, Morocco, Dec 11 2018 (IPS)

On the streets of Casablanca there is only one thought on the mind of Ibrahima, a young Senegalese migrant.

“I want to go to Europe to give meaning to my life and to help my family back in my home country live a better life,” Ibrahima says.

This is the most familiar answer that most young and energetic migrants give when asked about the reasons for leaving their countries, as they often are part of a constant flow northward from the Global South (although migration between countries of the South actually far outweighs this South to North flow).

While many migrants flee wars and political persecutions, economic causes are often a major influence too. In poor countries where unemployment is sky high, all too often people, especially the poorest, have no choice but to go elsewhere in search of economic opportunities.

To achieve this they are ready to risk lives by getting on shaky and unreliable boats run by unscrupulous operators making a living out of ferrying people across dangerous waters to the fabled other side where, it is believed, a better life awaits.

It is this relentless trend that propelled global leaders to come up with the first ever intergovernmental Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration (GCM). During the Dec. 10 to 11 gathering of leaders and representatives from more than 160 countries in Marrakesh—about 250 kilometres south of Casablanca—to adopt the Compact, the economic factors triggering migration dominated the discourse.

Antonio Guterres, Secretary-General of the United Nations discussed how migrant remittances reached 650 billion dollars in 2017, representing three times the official development aid that developing countries receive from the developed community.

Guterres pointed out that this amount, as important as it is, represents only 15 percent of migrants’ revenues. Hence 75 percent of their money stays in the countries in which they work through taxes and consumption—a sizeable contribution to the prosperity of their host country.

“The countries of the North need migrants,” Guterres said.  “They occupy jobs abandoned by nationals and help offset the demographic decline observed in most Western countries.”

This point was echoed by German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who stressed that “migration for work creates prosperity for all,” adding how Europe “needs a lot of manpower.”

Erol Kiresepi, CEO of Santa Farma Pharmaceuticals and a representative of the private sector at the GCM, said companies around the world are facing a lack of talent, hence they are paying particular attention to migrants with the skills to meet the surfeit in skilled labour.

Against the narrative of Africans racing to escape the continent, people point out how, as with everywhere in the world, people prefer to live and work in their home environment if conditions permit.

“We want partnership, exchange and investment and not aid,” said Julius Maada Bio, president of Sierra Leone, while emphasising the importance of partnerships and investments in the Global South.

But when preoccupied with economic survival, the likes of Ibrahima, the young Senegalese, often do not know or care that the leaders of the world appear to be on their side in Marrakech.

Those global representatives have, in theory, adopted what could provide an economic lifeline to Ibrahima and millions of other young Africans trekking the dangerous journey across deserts and oceans in search of economic success.

For now, though, until the economic factors pushing people away from their countries are tangibly addressed—read changed—migration and economics will remain an inseparable pair.

“We do not have the choice,” Ibrahima says. “Either we stay in the country to do nothing because politicians think only of themselves, or we take the risk of leaving.”

The post Migration and the Economy—an Inseparable Pairing appeared first on Inter Press Service.

by Alie Dior Ndour at December 11, 2018 01:35 PM


Trees, community and how Peru’s farmers fight deforestation

Trees, community and how Peru’s farmers fight deforestation

Felipe, Samuel and Oswaldo have never met. Yet they depend on each other.

In Peru, Felipe lives at the cold top of a mountain range, Samuel on its milder slopes, while Oswaldo is half across the country in a lower, tropical region.

Only now, when one million hectares of Peru’s forests have disappeared in the past 15 years, has the missing link that connects them all become clear - trees. The way Felipe, Samuel or Oswaldo decide to treat their forests has an effect on all of them individually and on their respective communities.

Trees, community and how Peru’s farmers fight deforestationWhichever side of the mountain one lives on: deforestation affects you in one way or the other.

For Felipe and his family in Santo Domingo, deforestation means that every year he needs to walk further to collect firewood. It’s cold at the top of a mountain and families are dependable on wood for cooking and heating.

The biggest change he has seen to the landscape is the forests that have disappeared. Now, since he is part of the reforestation project with Progreso, which your searches are supporting, Felipe is careful not to cut down entire trees but just selected branches when he collects wood.

“In the past, us farmers cut down trees without thinking what it did to us and to those around”, he told us. Today Felipe plants trees. He has built a tree nursery next to his house and sometimes his daughter, Noelia, helps him plant them on their fields when she comes back from school.

Trees, community and how Peru’s farmers fight deforestationFelipe standing in front of his tree nursery which he has built right in front of his house.

Trees, community and how Peru’s farmers fight deforestation Sometimes, after school, Noelia goes plant trees with her father.

Trees, community and how Peru’s farmers fight deforestationPopulations on the top of hill ranges walk for hours to collect wood for cooking and heating.

Like Felipe, Samuel is originally from a village at the top of a hill range. After a difficult childhood in a region with harsh climatic conditions, he decided to settle in a lower region as soon as he became of age.

Temperatures in Frias were milder and he could now grow many more crops, including tomatoes, mandarins and coffee. But things have changed.

“We feel it here, how the climate has become hotter than before”, he says. Samuel told us that each year there is less water coming down from the mountains. Each year he struggles a little bit more to water his crops.

Without trees on the mountains, “the weather has become extreme”. His fields are partly flooded in the rainy season but they don’t get enough water during summer. Working with Progreso, Samuel has seen his suspicion confirmed: trees, or the lack of these, are undoubtedly connected to his access to water.

Today he, too, plants trees on his fields, which “gives shade and life” to his coffee plants. He has also set up a simple watering system which he proudly presented to us. This way he uses the little water still coming downhill more efficiently.

Trees, community and how Peru’s farmers fight deforestationSamuel told us that he also plants trees to teach his children that they need to take care of their soils to secure their future.

Trees, community and how Peru’s farmers fight deforestation Growing trees next to his crops has helped Samuel grow better, healthier fruit.

Finally, Oswaldo lives in Santa Rosa, a community settled around the Alto Huayabamba river in the country’s inland. With tropical temperatures, lush forests and a very fertile soil, the conditions are perfect for his cocoa cultivation.

But deforestation is affecting Santa Rosa too. Rising temperatures in the entire country are accelerating and reinforcing certain plagues, spreading diseases on cocoa harvests.

Through Choba-Choba, a chocolate association Oswaldo and his community founded some years ago, he has experienced the power of a tight-knit community. He has also seen the effect it can have on everyone, near and far, if one community neglects the forests around them.

Trees, community and how Peru’s farmers fight deforestation Oswaldo is proud to be one of the best chocolate makers in Peru.

Trees, community and how Peru’s farmers fight deforestation Climate change is threatening Oswaldo's cocoa plants.

A large part of Peru has already been deforested, driving up temperatures and endangering Felipe, Samuel and Oswaldo's communities only source of food, medicine and fuel.

Together they have taught us that with empathy, time and effort, we can re-invent our communities to improve everybody's situation.

Thank you for choosing to do so with us every day.

Trees, community and how Peru’s farmers fight deforestationPeru holds around 70% of the world's biodiversity and an estimated 13% of the Amazon Forest.

by Fátima at December 11, 2018 01:24 PM


America’s New Religions

America’s New Religions
Political cults are increasingly filling the empty space in our lives left by the decline of organized faiths
By Andrew Sullivan
Dec 7 2018

Everyone has a religion. It is, in fact, impossible not to have a religion if you are a human being. It’s in our genes and has expressed itself in every culture, in every age, including our own secularized husk of a society.

By religion, I mean something quite specific: a practice not a theory; a way of life that gives meaning, a meaning that cannot really be defended without recourse to some transcendent value, undying “Truth” or God (or gods).

Which is to say, even today’s atheists are expressing an attenuated form of religion. Their denial of any God is as absolute as others’ faith in God, and entails just as much a set of values to live by — including, for some, daily rituals like meditation, a form of prayer. (There’s a reason, I suspect, that many brilliant atheists, like my friends Bob Wright and Sam Harris are so influenced by Buddhism and practice Vipassana meditation and mindfulness. Buddhism’s genius is that it is a religion without God.)

In his highly entertaining book, The Seven Types of Atheism, released in October in the U.S., philosopher John Gray puts it this way: “Religion is an attempt to find meaning in events, not a theory that tries to explain the universe.” It exists because we humans are the only species, so far as we can know, who have evolved to know explicitly that, one day in the future, we will die. And this existential fact requires some way of reconciling us to it while we are alive.

This is why science cannot replace it. Science does not tell you how to live, or what life is about; it can provide hypotheses and tentative explanations, but no ultimate meaning. Art can provide an escape from the deadliness of our daily doing, but, again, appreciating great art or music is ultimately an act of wonder and contemplation, and has almost nothing to say about morality and life.

Ditto history. My late friend, Christopher Hitchens, with a certain glee, gave me a copy of his book, God Is Not Great, a fabulous grab bag of religious insanity and evil over time, which I enjoyed immensely and agreed with almost entirely. But the fact that religion has been so often abused for nefarious purposes — from burning people at the stake to enabling child rape to crashing airplanes into towers — does not resolve the question of whether the meaning of that religion is true. It is perfectly possible to see and record the absurdities and abuses of man-made institutions and rituals, especially religious ones, while embracing a way of life that these evil or deluded people preached but didn’t practice. Fanaticism is not synonymous with faith; it is merely faith at its worst. That’s what I told Hitch: great book, made no difference to my understanding of my own faith or anyone else’s. Sorry, old bean, but try again.

Seduced by scientism, distracted by materialism, insulated, like no humans before us, from the vicissitudes of sickness and the ubiquity of early death, the post-Christian West believes instead in something we have called progress — a gradual ascent of mankind toward reason, peace, and prosperity — as a substitute in many ways for our previous monotheism. We have constructed a capitalist system that turns individual selfishness into a collective asset and showers us with earthly goods; we have leveraged science for our own health and comfort. Our ability to extend this material bonanza to more and more people is how we define progress; and progress is what we call meaning. In this respect, Steven Pinker is one of the most religious writers I’ve ever admired. His faith in reason is as complete as any fundamentalist’s belief in God.


by wa8dzp at December 11, 2018 01:23 PM

InterPressService (global south)

Undermining Human Rights of Women Trapped In Sex Trade

Jessica Neuwirth is founder of Donor Direct Action, an international organization which partners with women’s groups working to end commercial sexual exploitation on the front lines around the world.

By Jessica Neuwirth
NEW YORK, Dec 11 2018 (IPS)

Seventy years ago, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) was signed in the Palais de Chaillot in Paris. Following two devastating world wars the United Nations General Assembly set out a brand new vision of human rights that the world could agree on going forward. It is still the benchmark by which most modern-day human rights organisations live.

Mickey Meji, South African sex trade survivor. Credit:

The first line of the Declaration states in a clear and compelling way that all human beings are born free and equal. In practice, freedom and equality are the foundation from which every other fundamental human right is derived.

The Universal Declaration also recognizes that nobody should be held in slavery or servitude. This includes the many million women and girls who are caught in the devastating sex trade.

Despite the clarity of this issue in the minds of women’s rights advocates and survivors of prostitution some United Nations agencies – including UNAIDS and UNDP, as well as some high profile human rights groups such as Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International – have ignored this basic tenet and have instead called for the decriminalization of pimping, brothel-owning and patronizing prostitution.

Over the last twenty years the evidence against decriminalizing all aspects of the sex trade has become much clearer. The Netherlands, Germany and New Zealand removed sanctions on the purchase of sex and either decriminalized or legalized pimping and brothel-keeping.

As a result, Germany has been compared to a “giant teutonic brothel” by The Economist while Amsterdam has been backtracking from its failed experiment to protect prostituted persons.

Meanwhile, the growing evidence on what does work points to the Nordic or Equality model, pioneered by Sweden in 1999 and followed by Iceland, Norway, Canada, Northern Ireland, France and the Republic of Ireland.

Israel and others are also looking at this policy approach. It is no coincidence that many of these countries rank highest in terms of gender equality.

While the groups listed above support the right of men to buy sex, they have inexplicably ignored evidence of the Equality model’s success.

We all support the decriminalization of prostituted persons, but it is hard to justify the decriminalization of those who willfully and systematically exploit them.

The fact that gender and other structural inequalities are at the root of prostitution appears to have also been conveniently ignored. When such respected groups officially condone the purchase of sex and the horrifying human rights violations experienced by women trapped in prostitution they create an inexcusable veil of legitimacy, behind which those forced into the sex trade by poverty become collateral damage for maintaining the “rights” of men to buy sex.

Unfortunately, Human Rights Watch and Amnesty, both male-led organizations, have in effect disowned the UDHR as it relates to the modern day subjugation of women.

As the South African sex trade survivor Mickey has said, prostitution is not only the embodiment of sexism and violence against women and girls, it is also a deep reflection of racism, poverty and other inequalities: “it is no coincidence that the majority of individuals in prostitution in South Africa are poor black women.”

Let’s be very clear about it: prostitution preys on the vulnerable – mostly women – and continues to exist because men who freely choose to buy sex want to enact their privilege in a dominant and abusive way. I have not heard any counter-argument from Amnesty or Human Rights Watch that negates this basic concept.

We can never achieve any form of equality in society as long as this extreme abuse of power by one human being over another is legitimized as a “commercial transaction”. These organizations should re-read Article 1 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights: All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.

The post Undermining Human Rights of Women Trapped In Sex Trade appeared first on Inter Press Service.


Jessica Neuwirth is founder of Donor Direct Action, an international organization which partners with women’s groups working to end commercial sexual exploitation on the front lines around the world.

The post Undermining Human Rights of Women Trapped In Sex Trade appeared first on Inter Press Service.

by Jessica Neuwirth at December 11, 2018 01:16 PM

Brexit: Stage One in Europe’s Slow-Burn Energy Collapse

French protests

The energy turning point is unequivocal. In the years preceding the historic Brexit referendum, and the marked resurgence of nationalist, populist and far-right movements across Europe, the entire continent has faced a quietly brewing energy crisis.

by Nafeez Ahmed at December 11, 2018 01:12 PM

Legacies Crucial for the Commons

Bullet train protest

And so we must turn for hope to the many movements of sangharsh (resistance) and nirman (construction) throughout the world. These movements realise that the injustices they are facing, and the choices they must make, are not bound by the divides that ideologues play games with.

by Ashish Kothari at December 11, 2018 01:11 PM

Strengthening a Transformative Agroecology Learning Approach in Europe: Four Pillars

EAKEN gathering

Is there something distinctive about an agroecological approach to training and learning? How is learning a part of the struggle for food sovereignty, or other social movements for social justice and sustainability? What examples are there of this in Europe? And how can these projects be supported and developed?

by Colin Anderson at December 11, 2018 01:11 PM


More seniors, more foreigners: How Japan is changing

More seniors, more foreigners: How Japan is changing
The quickly ageing nation faces huge gaps in the workforce. Now, it’s taking historic steps to lower barriers for foreigners in a place that’s long been resistant to immigration.
By Bryan Lufkin
Dec 11 2018

When I lived in the Japanese countryside 10 years ago, I rarely came across other non-Japanese residents. Even in Tokyo, as a tall, white American, I’d sometimes get surprised glances from local residents.

But when I visited last month, I was struck by how much had changed. Hotels, shopping centres and cafés seemed to have at least one immigrant working there. Some of the young people staffing reception desks and video game arcades wore badges with non-Japanese names.

At one pub-restaurant in Kanazawa, a mid-sized city north of Tokyo, I saw a young Caucasian assistant behind the counter assisting the sushi chef. At another restaurant, we were served by a non-Japanese waiter from an Asian nation – and ended up communicating in English.

In short? Japan is internationalising – and this process is on the cusp of rapid acceleration.

The driving force is demographic change: Japan’s population is ageing rapidly and shrinking. Add in other factors including never-before-seen levels of foreign tourism, plus massive preparations for the 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympics, and the result is a nation that desperately needs more workers to fill jobs.

Japan has been aware of a looming demographic crunch for decades, but because successive governments have been reluctant to take major steps, the problem has become more urgent.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe wants to bring in more foreign, low-wage workers. But his proposal to accept hundreds of thousands of people to fill blue-collar jobs by 2025 is highly controversial in a nation that has traditionally shunned immigration.

On Saturday, Japan’s parliament accepted that proposal in a contentious and unprecedented move to let in more immigrant workers than ever before – 300,000 throughout the next five years, starting in April. The new bill comes at a time of historic change in Japan. And how everything shakes out could shape the country for generations.

Spike in seniors, spike in foreigners

Bhupal Shrestha is a university lecturer living in Tokyo’s Suginami ward, a residential area known for its narrow alleys lined with second-hand clothing and antique shops. He’s lived in Japan for 15 years, but the road to a “permanent resident” visa hasn’t always been a smooth one.

He says he’s experienced “discrimination on basic things, such as searching for rooms for residences or businesses, opening bank accounts, applying for credit cards”. He also says it’s hard for immigrants themselves to have much say in the government policy that affects them.

“Japanese society is opening up to immigrants, but they are still conservative in some places,” he says. “I think it is due to the lack of chances [they have] for cultural exchange with immigrants.”

Originally from Nepal, Shrestha is one of the 1.28 million foreign workers living in Japan. It’s a record number, up from 480,000 in 2008. Yet the figure constitutes just 1% of Japan’s population, compared to 5% in the UK or 17% in the US. Almost 30% of Japan’s foreign workers come from China, with significant populations from Vietnam, the Philippines and Brazil.

The low figure is because immigration has traditionally been unpopular in Japan. An island nation, it was once fiercely isolationist. Up until the mid-1800s, those entering or leaving the country could be punished by death. Now, however, modern Japan views itself as homogenous, with a strong cultural identity.

Historically, domestic anxieties toward immigration stem from perceived job losses, cultural disruption and fears of spiking crime rates in what is a famously low-crime nation. 

But the big problem is this: the number of native Japanese is going down.


by wa8dzp at December 11, 2018 01:09 PM

InterPressService (global south)

Women’s Resistance, Inequality Marks 2018

United Nations Women and partners in Colombia organised a public concert in November and lit public buildings in orange calling for women’s right to live a life free of violence. However, despite the rise in women’s resistance, women’s rights continue to be sidelined and increasingly face blatant attacks, according to Amnesty International. Courtesy: UN Women

By Tharanga Yakupitiyage

Despite the rise in women’s resistance, women’s rights continue to be sidelined and increasingly face blatant attacks, Amnesty International said.

Marking the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), Amnesty International launched its annual report reviewing the state of human rights around the world—and it doesn’t look good.

“In 2018, we witnessed many of these self-proclaimed ‘tough guy’ leaders trying to undermine the very principle of equality – the bedrock of human rights law. They think their policies make them tough, but they amount to little more than bully tactics trying to demonise and persecute already marginalised and vulnerable communities,” said Amnesty International’s Secretary-General Kumi Naidoo in the foreword of the report.

Amnesty’s Director of Gender, Sexuality, and Identity Yamini Mishra echoed similar sentiments to IPS, noting that these “tough guys leaders” have come into power using misogynistic, xenophobic, and homophobic platforms.

“It is very distressing,” she said.

But among the rays of hope is women-led movements, Mishra added.

While the #MeToo movement has captured international attention, women have mobilised mass movements on women’s rights around the world in the past year at a scale never seen before.

In Argentina, one million women took to the streets demanding the legalisation of abortion, while in Nigeria thousands of displaced women mobilised for justice for the abuses they suffered at the hands of Boko Haram and Nigerian security forces.

“Mobilisation really comes from people,” Mishra told IPS.

While some of these movements were galvanised in response to newer forms of oppression, others are against old forms of discrimination that have no place in today’s society.

Mishra pointed to India where earlier this year, a group of women activists advocated for their right to participate in a historic pilgrimage to Sabarimala temple, one of the holiest sites in Hinduism which has long barred entry to women of menstruating age.

While the Right to Pray movement successfully led to the Supreme Court overturning the ban, violent protests have erupted in the southern state of Kerala as devotees block women from entering the temple.

It is thus hard to celebrate the rise of women’s activism as the stark reality is that many governments and societies continue to support policies and laws that oppress women, this year’s ‘Rights Today’ report found.

This can especially be seen around sexual and reproductive health rights.

El Salvador has some of the stricter abortion policies in the world as women can be jailed if they are suspected of having an abortion.

Almost 30 women are reportedly incarcerated under the policy.

In February, Teodora del Carmen Vasquez was released after spending a decade in prison after having pregnancy-related complications which resulted in a stillbirth.

Despite protests against the draconian law,  the country failed to pass a reform to decriminalise abortion in April, leaving women and girls with no control over their reproductive and sexual health.

Mishra particularly expressed concern over the increasing attacks on women human rights defenders (WHRDs).

According to Front Line Defenders, approximately 44 WHRDs were killed in 2017, an increase from 40 in 2016 and 30 in 2015.

Among those killed in 2018 was Marielle Franco, a Brazilian politician and human rights activist who was shot in her car in March.

Women activists have also been jailed around the world including Loujain al-Hathloul, Iman al-Nafjan and Aziza al-Yousef, Saudi activists who led the movement fighting for women’s right to drive.

Amnesty International recently found that several Saudi Arabian activists, including women, have also faced sexual harassment and torture while in detention.

Such attacks on human rights defenders is not happening in a vacuum, but rather in a world where civil society space is shrinking, Mishra noted.

“It is important for us to recognise that even the shrinking of civil society space is not gender-neutral…women human rights defenders as opposed to male human rights defenders face specific kinds of vulnerabilities and heightened vulnerabilities,” she said.

Mishra highlighted the need for action at all levels to achieve human rights for all, but civil society in particular must step up.

“All these years, human rights organisations have really not done enough on women’s rights. We’ve always treated it as a secondary kind of issue…now that it has been 70 years of UDHR, it is time for us to think how do we really bring women to the centre of our work,” she told IPS.

The report urges civil society and governments to raise their commitments to uphold women’s rights, and implement changes to harmful national laws.

Naidoo particularly pointed to the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), whose 40th anniversary is soon approaching, will be an “important milestone that the world cannot afford to overlook.”

While CEDAW is the second most ratified human rights treaty, with 189 state parties, the non-legally binding document allows states to reject provisions.

For instance, Kuwait reserved its right to not implement Article 9 which grants women equal rights with men with respect to the nationality of their children.

Niger expressed reservation to Article 2 which states the need to refrain from engaging in any act of discrimination against women and to modify and abolish existing laws and practices which constitute such discrimination.

“Governments must stop merely paying lip-service to women’s rights. If the undeniable surge of women’s activism this year proves anything, it is that people will not accept this. And neither will we,” Naidoo wrote.

The post Women’s Resistance, Inequality Marks 2018 appeared first on Inter Press Service.

by Tharanga Yakupitiyage at December 11, 2018 12:59 PM

Study Shows How African Countries are Preparing for Green Development

A wind energy generation plant located in Loiyangalani in northwestern Kenya. The plant is set to be the biggest in Africa, generating 300 MW. Credit: Isaiah Esipisu/IPS

By Isaiah Esipisu
KATOWICE, Poland, Dec 11 2018 (IPS)

In order for African countries to implement their Nationally Determined Contributions (NDC) and Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), they will require further human capacity building, and there must be involvement of the private sector from the start of the planning process.

This is according to preliminary findings of a study on green growth trends and readiness across the continent jointly conducted by the Global Green Growth Institute (GGGI) in collaboration with the African Development Bank (AfDB).

The NDCs spell out the actions countries intend to take to address climate change, both in terms of adaptation and mitigation, and the SDGs are a universal call to action to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure that all people enjoy peace and prosperity.

The early findings of the report titled Green Growth Readiness Assessment in Africa was released on the sidelines of the 24th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP24) in Katowice, Poland yesterday Dec. 10. Seven countries; Morocco, Tunisia Senegal Gabon, Rwanda Kenya and Mozambique, were selected for the pilot phase.

The scientists presented the findings as climate talks in Katowice entered the second week of negotiations, a stage where political leaders decide whether or not to adapt recommendations brought forth following the first week of technical engagements.

The report stated that high-level political commitment, appropriate policies and implementation of government strategic plans are the key drivers of green growth among African countries.

“Governments need to look at this [NDCs and SDGs] as commercial business opportunities,” said Dr. Frank Rijsberman, the Director General for GGGI. Surprisingly, he said, “I have asked a number of private investors as to why they do not invest in this sector, and the answer is not lack of finances, instead they say it is because of government policies.”

The need for sound policies was reiterated by Anthony Nyong, Director for Climate Change and Green Growth at the AfDB, who said that there must be an enabling environment for countries to achieve the much-desired green growth.

“After this assessment report, findings will be shared across the board so that countries can learn from each other,” said Nyong.

According to Dr. Pranab Baruah, one of the lead researchers from GGGI, some of the seven countries in the study have demonstrated high level leadership commitment that confirms their willingness to implement a green growth model.

In Kenya, for example, the researchers said that there is a National Climate Change Council that is chaired by the country’s President Uhuru Kenyatta. The council oversees the implementation of the National Climate Change Action Plan and also advises national and sub-national bodies on mainstreaming, legislative and implementation measures for climate change.

Kenya is currently producing the highest amount of geothermal energy in Africa with an output of 534 megawatts (MW), and 84 percent of all electricity installations consist of green energy.

The country is also in the process of constructing the largest wind firm in Africa with a potential capacity of 300 MW.

This is despite the government’s unpopular plan to construct the largest coal plant in sub-Saharan Africa. However, yesterday Kenya’s Environment Cabinet Secretary Keriako Tobiko told IPS  that the government is likely going to reconsider whether to proceed with construction of the coal plant.

But above all, said Baruah, the study found that Kenya’s recent introduction of a green growth curriculum in schools was key to the development of human capacity.

Rwanda is another country whose green growth is spearheaded from the highest political level. While most countries around the world wait for finances for mitigation projects to come from the Green Climate Fund, Rwanda is already mobilising and disbursing funds nationally.

The researchers said that Rwanda has created a 100-million-dollar National Fund for Climate and the Environment (FONERWA) as an instrument for financing the country’s needs on environment, climate change, and green growth.

In the same vein, Senegal is in the process of removing financial barriers for private sector participation through pilot projects. The country has a 200-million-dollar Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Fund (REEF), which provides financial incentives to private sector led pilot projects, such as lengthening the refinancing period for the small businesses.

The study also found that countries require urgent financing readiness, especially with the emergence of Green Climate Fund and that there is an urgent need for the strengthening of policy and planning frameworks for green growth. Countries studied also needed to address weak monitoring and reporting systems and work to enhance wider stakeholder buy-in to the green growth agenda.


The post Study Shows How African Countries are Preparing for Green Development appeared first on Inter Press Service.

by Isaiah Esipisu at December 11, 2018 12:19 PM

Berlin: Auf zur “Freiheit für Musa Asoglu”-Demo nach Hamburg (Deutschland)

Deutsch | Arabisch | Türkisch | Farsi | Englisch

Hallo liebe Freund*innen,

wir möchten am Samstag, den 15. Dezember 2018, gemeinsam von Berlin aus
zur “Freiheit für Musa Aşoğlu”-Demo nach Hamburg fahren. Hierzu treffen
wir uns am 15. Dezember um 7.30 Uhr am Ostbahnhof, Gleis 7. Wir besorgen
uns zusammen Wochenendtickets. Der Zug fährt dann um 7.52 Uhr ab. Wir
wären dann pünktlich in Hamburg, wo die Demo um 12 Uhr vor der Roten
Flora beginnen soll. Im Anschluss an die Demo würden wir gemeinsam
wieder zurück nach Berlin reisen.

Musa Aşoğlu wurde am 2. Dezember 2016 verhaftet und befindet sich
seitdem in Hamburg in Isolationshaft. Ihm wird nach §129b
(Mitgliedschaft in einer verbotenen terroristischen Vereinigung)
vorgeworfen, Mitglied der in der Türkei kämpfenden DHKP-C (Revolutionäre
Volksbefreiungspartei-Front) zu sein. Dass Oppositionelle in der Türkei
verfolgt, gefoltert und ermordet werden, stört die BRD in keinster Weise
– ist er doch enger Verbündeter und politischer Stabilidsator des immer
offener faschistisch agierenden Regimes in der Türkei.

Der §129b-Prozess gegen Musa Aşoğlu dauert seit dem 25. Januar 2018 an
und wir gehen davon aus, dass dieser im Frühjahr 2019 enden könnte.

Wir möchten Musa Aşoğlu und alle §129b-Gefangenen durch unsere
Teiilnahme an der Demo supporten. Schließt euch uns an.


تظاهرة “الحرية لموسى أشولو” – ألمانيا

اعتقلت السلطات الألمانية الناشط الشيوعي “موسى أشولو” في مدينة هامبورغ
بتاريخ ٢ ديسمبر ٢٠١٦ بعد أن ألقت القبض على “أشولو” بإيعاز من السلطات
التركية التي أصدرت مذكرة إعتقال بحقه واتهمته بالانتماء لحزب التحرير
الشعبي الثوري DHKP-C, أُعتقل أشولو بموجب المادة ١٢٩-ب (129b) من قانون
“مكافحة الارهاب” الألماني (تحت بند “الانتماء لمنظمة إرهابية محظورة”).
ومنذ ذلك الحين يقبع “موسى أشولو” في سجن اعتقال مؤقت في مدينة هامبورغ

يقاتل حزب DHKP-C (حزب التحرير الشعبي الثوري) في تركيا. وحقيقة أن
الناشطين المعارضين في تركيا تجري مقاضاتهم وتعذيبهم في السجون وقتلهم هو
أمر لا تكترث له الجمهورية الألمانية، علما بأن ألمانيا هي حليفة سياسية
واقتصادية داعمة لاستقرار النظام التركي السلطوي.

بدأت السلطات الألمانية بمحاكمة “موسى أشولو” بموجب “قانون ١٢٩-ب لمكافحة
الإرهاب” الألماني في تاريخ ٢٥ يناير ٢٠١٨، ومن المتوقع أن تنتهي محاكمته
في الربع الأول من سنة ٢٠١٩.

انطلاقا من جهودنا السياسية المستمرة لدعم “موسى أشولو” ودعم السجناء
السياسيين المعتقلين داخل السجون الألمانية ندعوكم جميعا للتضامن عبر
الانضمام للتظاهرة يوم ١٥ ديسمبر ٢٠١٨ في مدينة هامبرغ، ألمانيا.

سنتوجه معاً من برلين نحو هامبورغ ، يوم السبت ١٥ ديسمبر ٢٠١٨ ، للانضمام
إلى تظاهرة ” الحرية لموسى أشولو” وسنقوم بالانطلاق من مدينة برلين في
الساعة ال ٧ ونصف صباحا، من محطة “أوست-بانهوف” مسار رقم ٧. سوف نقوم بشراء
تذاكر القطار سوية في عطلة نهاية الأسبوع. سيغادر القطار برلين في الساعة
٧:٥٠ صباحا ويصل إلى هامبورغ في الوقت المناسب للانضمام إلى جموع
المتظاهرين عند موقع “غوتا فلورا” Rote Flora الساعة ال ١٢ ظهرا، حيث ستبدأ
المظاهرة. وسنعود إلى برلين سوية في نفس اليوم بعد انتهاء التظاهرة.

بيان نداء الانضمام للتظاهرة – (رابط):

Merhaba arkadaşlar,

cumartesi günü 15 Aralık 2018’te Hamburg’daki “Musa Aşoğlu’na Özgürlük”
yürüyüşüne katılmak için Berlin’den hep beraber yola çıkacağız. Bunun
için 15 Aralık’ta sabah saat 7.30’da Ostbahnhof, peron 7’de buluşmak
istiyoruz. Orada birlikte Haftasonu Bileti alacağı. Tren saat 7.52’de
yola koyulacak. Böylece saat 12’de Hamburg’daki Rote Flora’nın önünde
başlayacak olan yürüyüşe yetişmiş olacağız. Yürüyüşün ardından hep
birlikte Berlin’e geri döneceğiz.

Musa Aşoğlu, 2 Aralık 2016’da Hamburg’ta tutuklanarak hapsedildi ve iki
yıldır tecrit altında tutulmaktadır. Musa Aşoğlu, 129b yasası (Yabancı
asıllı yasadışı terörist örgüte üyelik) çerçevesinde Devrimci Halk
Kurtuluş Partisi-Cephesi’ne üye olmakla suçlanıyor. Türkiye’de
muhaliflerin takibe alınması, işkenceye maruz bırakılması ve
katledilmesi Alman devletini pek ilgilendirmiyor. Tam aksine Alman
devleti, gittikçe açık biçimde faşistçe hareket eden AKP-rejiminin yakın
ortağı ve siyasi dostudur.

Musa Aşoğlu’na karşı yürütülen 129b davası 25 Ocalk 2018’den beri devam
etmektedir ve 2019’un ilk aylarında sona erebilir.

Yürüyüşe katılımımızla Musa Aşoğlu ve diğer 129b tutsaklarını
desteklemek istiyoruz.

Almanca yürüyüş çağrısı:

تظاهرة “الحرية لموسى أشولو” – ألمانيا

اعتقلت السلطات الألمانية الناشط الشيوعي “موسى أشولو” في مدينة هامبورغ
بتاريخ ٢ ديسمبر ٢٠١٦ بعد أن ألقت القبض على “أشولو” بإيعاز من السلطات
التركية التي أصدرت مذكرة إعتقال بحقه واتهمته بالانتماء لحزب التحرير
الشعبي الثوري DHKP-C, أُعتقل أشولو بموجب المادة ١٢٩-ب (129b) من قانون
“مكافحة الارهاب” الألماني (تحت بند “الانتماء لمنظمة إرهابية محظورة”).
ومنذ ذلك الحين يقبع “موسى أشولو” في سجن اعتقال مؤقت في مدينة هامبورغ

يقاتل حزب DHKP-C (حزب التحرير الشعبي الثوري) في تركيا. وحقيقة أن
الناشطين المعارضين في تركيا تجري مقاضاتهم وتعذيبهم في السجون وقتلهم هو
أمر لا تكترث له الجمهورية الألمانية، علما بأن ألمانيا هي حليفة سياسية
واقتصادية داعمة لاستقرار النظام التركي السلطوي.

بدأت السلطات الألمانية بمحاكمة “موسى أشولو” بموجب “قانون ١٢٩-ب لمكافحة
الإرهاب” الألماني في تاريخ ٢٥ يناير ٢٠١٨، ومن المتوقع أن تنتهي محاكمته
في الربع الأول من سنة ٢٠١٩.

انطلاقا من جهودنا السياسية المستمرة لدعم “موسى أشولو” ودعم السجناء
السياسيين المعتقلين داخل السجون الألمانية ندعوكم جميعا للتضامن عبر
الانضمام للتظاهرة يوم ١٥ ديسمبر ٢٠١٨ في مدينة هامبرغ، ألمانيا.

سنتوجه معاً من برلين نحو هامبورغ ، يوم السبت ١٥ ديسمبر ٢٠١٨ ، للانضمام
إلى تظاهرة ” الحرية لموسى أشولو” وسنقوم بالانطلاق من مدينة برلين في
الساعة ال ٧ ونصف صباحا، من محطة “أوست-بانهوف” مسار رقم ٧. سوف نقوم بشراء
تذاكر القطار سوية في عطلة نهاية الأسبوع. سيغادر القطار برلين في الساعة
٧:٥٠ صباحا ويصل إلى هامبورغ في الوقت المناسب للانضمام إلى جموع
المتظاهرين عند موقع “غوتا فلورا” Rote Flora الساعة ال ١٢ ظهرا، حيث ستبدأ
المظاهرة. وسنعود إلى برلين سوية في نفس اليوم بعد انتهاء التظاهرة.

بيان نداء الانضمام للتظاهرة – (رابط):

Dear Friends,

together we want to go from Berlin to Hamburg, on saturday december 15.
2018, to join the demonstration „Freiheit für Musa Asoglu“ (freedom for
Musa Asoglu). We will meet at at 7.30 at Ostbahnhof track 7. we are
planning to buy weekend tickets together at location. The train is going
to leave at 7.52 and we will reach Hamburg in time to join the others at
the Rote Flora at 12.00, where the Demonstration is going to start.
After the Demonstration we are going to return to Berlin together.

Musa Asoglu was arrested on december 2. 2016, and is in isolation
detention in Hamburg since then. He is beeing accused of beeing a
memmber of the DHKP-C, after article 129b (member in an forbidden
terroristic organisation). The DHKP-C (The Revolutionary People’s
Liberation Party/Front) is fighting in Turkey. The fact that in Turkey
the opposition is being prosecuted, tortured and murdered, does not
affect the german republic, though Germany is an allie and a political
stabilizer for the more and more openly fascist regime in Turkey.

The 129b trial against Musa Asoglu started january the 25. and we think
it might end in spring 2019.

We want to support Musa Asoglu and all §129b- prisoners by joining the

Demonstration call:

by admin at December 11, 2018 12:10 PM


It’s time to look at the (political) science behind climate change

It’s time to look at the (political) science behind climate change
By Charles Lane
Dec 10 2018

This year, California recorded its deadliest wildfire in state history. The combined intensity and duration of the Atlantic and eastern Pacific oceans’ tropical storms and hurricanes reached a new recorded high. A group of researchers reported that worldwide fossil-fuel-related carbon dioxide emissions are projected to hit 37.1 billion tons in 2018, yet another annual record.

It’s time to take a clear-eyed look at the science behind these developments — the political science.

The data show that, for all the evidence that climate change is real, manmade and dangerous, and despite wide public acceptance of those propositions, people in the United States do not necessarily want to stop climate change, in the sense of being willing to pay the cost — which is the only sense that really matters.

“The public’s level of concern about climate change has not risen meaningfully over the past two decades, and addressing the problem with government action ranks among one of the lowest priorities for Americans,” according to a comprehensive review of public opinion literature published in 2017 by Patrick J. Egan of New York University and Megan Mullin of Duke University.

In a series of open-ended Gallup surveys this year asking Americans to name the “most important problem facing the country,” environmental issues never scored above 3 percent.

Even before the recent riots against President Emmanuel Macron’s climate-change-related fuel tax hike in France, there was a quieter backlash of sorts in the United States: Anti-fossil-fuel referendums lost in Colorado, Washington state and Arizonaduring last month’s elections.

Undoubtedly, there have been well-funded efforts to sow climate-change skepticism in recent decades, as Egan and Mullin note. President Trump is now amplifying that message. This could not have helped the climate-change movement, even if scholars have yet to identify a “causal link” between such campaigns and individual attitudes, according to Egan and Mullin.

Of course, the climate-change movement was not exactly silent during recent history. What’s crucial, after accounting for the battle between the movement and its opponents, is the inherent nature of climate change as a political issue: It requires voters to accept “up-front costs that, if successful, will stave off never-to-be experienced long-term damage — policy for which election-oriented politicians can easily foresee receiving blame instead of credit,” Egan and Mullin note.

Slashing carbon emissions is a cause that “has no core constituency with a concentrated interest in policy change,” while “a majority of people benefit from arrangements that cause” climate change.

The United States, with its multiple veto points for various regional and economic interests, tends to postpone dealing with long-range crises even more than most democracies, as our failure to shore up the solvency of federal entitlement programs shows.

Climate change and environmentalism more broadly have gotten caught up in the partisan polarization corroding U.S. politics, with support for “green” policy increasingly a badge of Democratic Party loyalty, and opposition to it defining what it means to be Republican.

A Pew Research Center study this year found that the public ranked climate change 18th out of 19 possible top priorities for the Congress and Trump, with 46 percent choosing it. However, this was an average that included 68 percent of Democrats and only 18 percent of Republicans.

Democratic concern does not necessarily translate into support for specific, costly policies, however. Washington, a deep blue state, rejected a state-level carbon tax in a 2016 initiative and did so again in 2018, by large margins each time.

The most politically feasible climate-change proposals, Egan told me in an email, may be those which “address the problem in a more piecemeal and thus less visible fashion,” such as raising automobile fuel economy standards, or, at the state level, requiring that a minimum share of energy come from low-emission renewable sources.

It didn’t work in Arizona, where 69 percent of voters, obviously including Democrats and independents, opposed a measure this year that would have required utilities to derive 50 percent of electricity from renewables by 2030.

In California, though, voters this year did retain the state’s 12-cent per gallon gas-tax increase, which was enacted in 2017, possibly because Gov. Jerry Brown (D) defended it as a way to pay for better highways, not to fight climate change.


by wa8dzp at December 11, 2018 11:58 AM

That was awkward — at world’s biggest climate conference, U.S. promotes fossil fuels

That was awkward — at world’s biggest climate conference, U.S. promotes fossil fuels
By Griff Witte and Brady Dennis
Dec 10 2018–at-worlds-biggest-climate-conference-us-promotes-fossil-fuels/2018/12/10/aa8600c4-f8ae-11e8-8642-c9718a256cbd_story.html

KATOWICE, Poland — President Trump’s top White House adviser on energy and climate stood before the crowd of some 200 people on Monday and tried to burnish the image of coal, the fossil fuel that powered the industrial revolution — and is now a major culprit behind the climate crisis world leaders are meeting here to address. 

“We strongly believe that no country should have to sacrifice economic prosperity or energy security in pursuit of environmental sustainability,” said Wells Griffith, Trump’s adviser.

Mocking laughter echoed through the conference room. A woman yelled, “These false solutions are a joke!” And dozens of people erupted into chants of protest.

The protest was a piece of theater, and so too was the United States’ public embrace of coal and other dirty fuels at an event otherwise dedicated to saving the world from the catastrophic effects of climate change. The standoff punctuated the awkward position the American delegation finds itself in as career bureaucrats seek to advance the Trump administration’s agenda in an international arena aimed at cutting back on fossil fuels.

“There are two layers of U.S. action in Poland,” said Paul Bledsoe, an energy fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute and former Clinton White House climate adviser.

One is the public support of fossil fuels, which Bledsoe said is “primarily aimed at the president’s domestic political base, doubling down on his strategy of energizing them by thumbing his nose at international norms.”

The quieter half is the work of career State Department officials who continue to offer constructive contributions to the Paris climate agreement that President Trump loves to loathe.

Which facet of the American presence proves more influential in Poland could have a big impact on whether this year’s climate summit, now in its second week, ends in success or failure.

Because greenhouse gases do not pay attention to national borders, a global front on climate action is crucial. The summit provides the only venue for countries to coordinate their push to curb ongoing global warming.

“This week is going to be telling,” said Helen Mountford, vice president of climate and economics at the World Resources Institute.

Monday’s presentation came after a weekend in which the U.S. delegation undercut the talks by joining with major oil producers Russia, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait in blocking full endorsement of a critical U.N. climate report. The report, by some of the world’s leading scientists, found that the world has barely a decade to cut carbon emissions by nearly half to avoid catastrophic warming.

But the United States balked at a proposal to formally “welcome” the finding, setting off a dispute that, while semantic in nature, carried ominous portents that the United States could become an obstacle to progress in Katowice.

“The worrying issue is the signal that it sends,” Mountford said.


by wa8dzp at December 11, 2018 11:50 AM

Two years after #Pizzagate showed the dangers of hateful conspiracies, they’re still rampant on YouTube

Two years after #Pizzagate showed the dangers of hateful conspiracies, they’re still rampant on YouTube
By Craig Timberg ,Elizabeth Dwoskin ,Tony Romm and Andrew Ba Tran
Dec 10 2018

A year after YouTube’s chief executive promised to curb “problematic” videos, it continues to harbor and even recommend hateful, conspiratorial videos, allowing racists, anti-Semites and proponents of other extremist views to use the platform as an online library for spreading their ideas.

YouTube is particularly valuable to users of and 4chan, social media sites that are popular among hate groups but have scant video capacity of their own. Users on these sites link to YouTube more than to any other website, thousands of times a day, according to the recent work of Data and Society and the Network Contagion Research Institute, both of which track the spread of hate speech.

The platform routinely serves videos espousing neo-Nazi propaganda, phony reports portraying dark-skinned people as violent savages and conspiracy theories claiming that large numbers of leading politicians and celebrities molested children. Critics say that even though YouTube removes millions of videos on average each month, it is slow to identify troubling content and, when it does, is too permissive in what it allows to remain.

The struggle to control the spread of such content poses ethical and political challenges to YouTube and its embattled parent company, Google, whose chief executive, Sundar Pichai, is scheduled to testify on Capitol Hill on Tuesday amid several controversies. Even on the House of Representatives YouTube channel that is due to broadcast the hearing, viewers on Monday could see several videos peddling conspiracy theories recommended by the site’s algorithm.

“YouTube is repeatedly used by malign actors, and individuals or groups, promoting very dangerous, disruptive narratives,” said Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.). “So whether it is deliberate or simply reckless, YouTube tends to tolerate messaging and narratives that seem to be at the very, very extreme end of the political spectrum, involving hatred, bias and bigotry.”

YouTube has focused its cleanup efforts on what chief executive Susan Wojcicki in a blog post last year called “violent extremism.” But she also signaled the urgency of tackling other categories of content that allow “bad actors” to take advantage of the platform, which 1.8 billion people log on to each month.

“I’ve also seen up-close that there can be another, more troubling, side of YouTube’s openness. I’ve seen how some bad actors are exploiting our openness to mislead, manipulate, harass or even harm,” Wojcicki wrote. But a large share of videos that researchers and critics regard as hateful don’t necessarily violate YouTube’s policies.

False claims live on

The recommendation engine for YouTube, which queues up an endless succession of clips once users start watching, recently suggested videos claiming that politicians, celebrities and other elite figures were sexually abusing or consuming the remains of children, often in satanic rituals, according to watchdog group AlgoTransparency. The claims echo and often cite the discredited Pizzagate conspiracy, which two years ago led to a man firing shots into a Northwest Washington pizzeria in search of children he believed were being held as sex slaves by Democratic Party leaders.

One recent variation on that theory, which began spreading on YouTube this spring, claimed that Democrat Hillary Clinton and her longtime aide Huma Abedin had sexually assaulted a girl and drank her blood — a conspiracy theory its proponents dubbed “Frazzledrip.”

Although some of these clips were removed after first appearing in April and being quickly debunked by fact-checkers, a Washington Post review found that dozens of videos alleging or discussing these false claims remain online and have been viewed millions of times over the past eight months. YouTube’s search box highlighted the videos when people typed in seemingly innocuous terms such as “HRC video” or “Frazzle.”

YouTube does not have a policy against falsehoods, but it does remove videos that violate its guidelines against hateful, graphic and violent content directed at minorities and other protected groups. It also seeks to give wide latitude to users who upload videos, out of respect for speech freedoms and the free flow of political discourse.

“YouTube is a platform for free speech where anyone can choose to post videos, subject to our Community Guidelines, which we enforce rigorously,” the company said in a statement in response to questions from The Washington Post.


by wa8dzp at December 11, 2018 11:49 AM

Regenerative Hubs in Costa Rica

Rancho Margot

The world’s first bioregional-scale regenerative hubs were launched in July of this year. A gathering of experts from more than 20 organizations gathered at the eco-tourism retreat center of Rancho Margot in the high mountain rainforests of northern Costa Rica.

by Joe Brewer at December 11, 2018 11:18 AM


Against the Repression in Greece

In 2015 the international left invested its hopes in Syriza and its promise of a break with austerity. Today, it must call out the repression of social movements in Greece by Alexis Tsipras’s government.

alt Greek riot police on December 6, 2018 in Athens, Greece. Milos Bicanski / Getty Images

One of the myths spread by the Greek government and its supporters abroad is that, unlike its predecessors, it does not resort to repression in the face of opposition and resistance to its policies. It is true that the Syriza government has never had to deal with mass mobilizations comparable in scale and duration to those that marked the country from 2010 to 2012.

Yet though social resistance to bailout policies has been considerably weakened by the loss of morale after Alexis Tsipras’s capitulation to the troika of European institutions in the summer of 2015, it certainly has not disappeared. Particularly important has been the resistance against the auction sales of foreclosed homes. These auctions are a very sensitive issue for Greek society, but also a crucial demand by the banks that have imposed their priorities on successive governments.

Resistance against the auctions policy has faced increasing repression from the Greek state and public authorities. At present dozens of people across the country are facing prosecution for actions they have taken against auction sales. Their numbers have increased significantly since December 2017, when the government passed a law specifically targeting these actions.

The escalation of repression became blatant in September 2018, when five well-known activists in the anti-auction movement were summoned by a special section of the security services, the so-called Department for the Protection of the State and Democratic Polity. The activists summoned included Panagiotis Lafazanis, the secretary of the left-wing Popular Unity party and former minister of energy in the first Syriza government, as well as Leonidas and Elias Papadopoulos, spokespersons of the I Won’t Pay network.

Despite hypocritical statements issued by government and Syriza officials expressing concern over the persecution of Lafazanis, this was an obvious display of authoritarianism. Moreover, it was far from an isolated event. Only a few days ago, in early December, three more members of the anti-auction movement, including the well-known activists Thanasis Gounaris, and Avgi Voutsina, received summons to appear in front of the same department of the security services.

This repressive spiral must necessarily raise concerns about the fate of democratic rights and civil liberties in Greece — concerns today spreading among wide circles of the European and international left as well as in social movements and among left-wing intellectuals. This concern is reflected in the following open letter, which has been published in international media. The signatories include Jean-Luc Mélenchon and the entire parliamentary group of La France Insoumise: MPs and MEPs from Spain’s Podemos; Germany’s Left Party and Portugal’s Left Bloc. Signatories also include emblematic personalities of the international left, such as Noam Chomsky, Tariq Ali, Alain Badiou, and Frédéric Lordon.

Their protest is important in helping the European and international left come to terms with the real character of Alexis Tsipras’s government.

The Greek crisis is no longer headline news, but the Greek people continue to suffer from the relentless austerity imposed for more than eight years. Those who oppose bailout policies are facing escalating repression. Actions opposing the foreclosure of properties are especially targeted. During the last two years, the Syriza government, complying with the dictates of the lenders to Greece, have intensified tremendously the pressure on home owners to help private banks collect on loans. Special legislation was adopted in December 2017 potentially imposing penalties of up to six months of prison for those opposing foreclosures. Furthermore, the government has moved auction procedures away from courtrooms to an electronic platform activated by solicitors within the closed doors of their offices.

Since the start of the year dozens of activists across the country have faced charges and several trials are already in progress. Among them, Panagiotis Lafazanis, former minister of energy in the first Syriza government and now secretary of the political party Popular Unity; as well as Elias and Leonidas Papadopoulos, both of whom are founding figures of the I Won’t Pay campaign and Elias Smilios, municipal councilor in the region of Thessaloniki.

It is the first time since the fall of the dictatorship that the leader of a democratic political party has faced persecution for political activities. Moreover, the charges against these activists have been initiated by a special branch of the security services, the Department for the Protection of the State and of the Democratic Polity, which has no record of action against the fascist Golden Dawn or other far-right activists. These activists face potential prison sentences up to eight and half years.

This is a critical moment for democracy and civil liberties in Greece. We demand that the charges against all the activists of the movement against auction sales be dropped. We express our solidarity to all those in Greece who face repression for their action in defense of social rights.


Organizations, Trade Unions and Associations

CUP (Popular Unity Candidacy), Catalonia

Co.Bas Trade Union, Spain

The parliamentary group of France Insoumise

Habita Association for the Right to Housing and to the City, Portugal

Observatory on Debt in Globalization, Spain

Plataforma de Afectados por la Hipoteca (PAH); Procés Constituent, Catalonia

Sindicat de Llogaters i Llogateres (Union for the Defense of Tenants), Spain

Witten Tenants Association, Germany


First signatories

Gilbert Achcar, SOAS, University of London

Tariq Ali, writer, London

Cinzia Arruzza, New School, New York

Robert Brenner, Professor, UCLA

Alain Badiou, philosopher, Paris

Ludivine Bantigny, University of Caen

Diego Borja, former economy and finance minister of Ecuador

Noam Chomsky, professor emeritus, MIT

Jorge Costa, MP, Left Bloc, Portugal

Sevim Dagdelen, MP, Die Linke, Germany

Jodi Dean, Hobart and William Smith Colleges, Geneva, New York

Fabio De Masi, MP, Die Linke, Germany

Zillah Eisenstein, professor emeritus, Ithaca New York

Irene Escorihuela, president of Observatori DESC, Spain

Stefano Fassina, MP Liberi e Uguali, former vice-minister of finance, Italy

Sònia Farré Fidalgo, MP for En Comú Podem, Spain

Teresa Forcades, Procés Constituent, Catalonia

Heike Hänsel, MP, Die Linke

Pierre Khalfa, Fondation Copernic, France

Stathis Kouvelakis, King’s College London

Costas Lapavitsas, SOAS University of London

Frédéric Lordon, CNRS research director, France

Francisco Louça, professor, University of Lisbon, Portugal

Michaël Löwy, CNRS emeritus research director, France

Jean-Luc Mélenchon, president of the parliamentary group of France Insoumise

Manolo Monereo, MP, Podemos, Spain

Eric Toussaint, CADTM, Belgium

Miguel Urban, MEP Podemos, Spain

Eleni Varikas, professor emeritus, University of Paris


General signatories

Alejandro Andreassi, Autonomous University of Barcelona

Clémentine Autain, MP, France Insoumise

Trond Andresen, Norwegian University of Science and Technology

Josep Maria Antentas, Autonomous University of Barcelona

Emmanuel Barot, Université of Toulouse

Tithi Bhattacharya, Purdue University

Josep Bel, Co.Bas and Procés Constituent, Spain

Ugo Bernalicis, MP, France Insoumise

Hugo Blanco, former MP FOCEP, Peru

Laura Camargo, Podemos MP in the Autonomous Community of Balearic Islands

Raúl Camargo, Podemos MP in the Autonomous Community of Madrid

Rosa Cañadell, Podemos, Spain

Josep Manel Busqueta, economist, Catalonia

Séverine Chauvel, University of Paris-Créteil

Alexis Corbieres, MP, France Insoumise

Pablo Cotarelo, economist, EReNSEP, Barcelona

Sergi Cutillas, economist, Podemos, Barcelona

Alexis Cukier, University of Poitiers

Laura Díaz, MP in the Autonomous Community of Madrid for Podemos

Klaus Draeger, former staff coordinator of GUE/NGL group in European Parliament on Employment and Social Affairs, Germany

Cédric Durand, University Paris 13

Steve Edwards, Prof. Birkbeck, University of London

David Faroult, Ecole Nationale Supérieure Louis Lumière, Paris

Caroline Fiat, MP, France Insoumise

Carme Font, Podemos, Catalonia

Iolanda Fresnillo, Ekona, Catalonia

Isabelle Garo, philosopher, Paris

Franck Gaudichaud, University of Grenoble

Kenneth Haar, Corporate Europe Observatory

Peter Hallward, professor, Kingston University

Eric Hazan, writer and publisher, Paris

Michel Husson, economist, France

Scott Ferguson, University of South Florida, USA

Claudio Katz, UBA-Conicet, Argentina

Razmig Keucheyan, Prof. University of Bordeaux 3

Thierry Labica, University of Paris Nanterre

Wilhelm Langthaler, author and activist, Committee Euroexit, Vienna, Austria

Olivier Lecour-Grandmaison, Prof. University of Evry-Val d’Essone

Bastien Lachaud, MP, France Insoumise

Michel Larive, MP, France Insoumise

Isidro López, MP in the Autonomous Community of Madrid for Podemos

Ramon Luque, Secretary for International relations of EUiA (Izquierda Unida in Catalonia)

Stuart Medina, economist, President of MMT Spain

Bill Mitchell, Newcastle University, Australia

Eva Nanopoulos, Queen Mary University of London

Olivier Neveux, Ecole Normale Supérieure, Lyon

Paul O’Connell, SOAS University of London

Danièle Obono, MP, France Insoumise

Arcadi Oliveres, Procés Constituent, Catalonia

Younous Omarjee, MEP, France Insoumise

Mathilde Panot, MP, France Insoumise

Moreno Pasquinelli, Spokerperson of MPL- Programma 101, Italy

Jaime Pastor, Editor of Viento Sur, Spain

Loïc Prud’homme, MP, France Insoumise

Adrien Quatennens, MP, France Insoumise

Alfredo Saad-Filho, SOAS University of London

Jean-Hugues Ratenon, MP, France Insoumise

Eulàlia Reguant, former MP for CUP, Catalonia

Muriel Ressiguier, MP, France Insoumise

Sabine Rubin, MP, France Insoumise

François Ruffin, MP France Insoumise

Lorena Ruiz-Huerta, former speaker of Podemos group in the Autonomous Community of Madrid

Carlos Sánchez Mato, coordinator of Economy in Izquierda Unida, Spain

Sol Sánchez, Izquierda Unida, Spain

Carmen San José, MP in the Autonomous Community of Madrid for Podemos

Andy Storey, University College Dublin, Ireland

G.M. Tamás, Central European University, Budapest

Bénédicte Taurine, MP, France Insoumise

Alberto Toscano, Goldsmiths University of London

Willy Pelletier, University of Picardie, Fondation Copernic

Ricard Ustrell, Journalist, Catalonia

Luc Vincenti, Prof. University of Montpellier

by Costas Lapavitsas at December 11, 2018 11:06 AM

Regina Lopez-Whiteskunk — Native land, Native Sovereignty

Bears Ears

Regina is council-woman of the Ute Mountain Ute Tribe. She and host Alan Wartes spoke about her work with the Bears Ears Inter-Tribal Coalition fighting for the Bears Ears National Monument in Utah — and why it means so much for her tribe and for her personally.

by Alan Wartes at December 11, 2018 10:56 AM

Big Oil and Gas Nations Sideline the Science at Katowice, Even as Emissions Rise and Warming Accelerates


Just as four big oil and gas producers block the UN climate policymaking conference in Katowice, Poland from welcoming a report on the science of the 1.5 degree Celsius (°C) target which it had commissioned three years earlier in Paris, new evidence has emerged of the striking contradiction between word and deed at COP24.

by David Spratt at December 11, 2018 10:39 AM

InterPressService (global south)

Big Business Capturing UN SDG Agenda?

By Jomo Kwame Sundaram and Anis Chowdhury

Over the last two decades since the Global Compact, the United Nations has increasingly embraced the corporate sector, most recently to raise finance needed to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), i.e., for Agenda 2030. But growing big business influence has also compromised analyses, recommendations, policies and programme implementation, undermining the SDGs.

Changing financing arrangements
Inadequate funding of the UN and its mandates by member States has required this search for additional finance, initially with philanthropy and ‘corporate social responsibility’ efforts by private business, but increasingly, by viewing profit-seeking investments as somehow contributing to achieve the SDGs.

Jomo Kwame Sundaram

While the global economy grew 47 fold from $1.35 trillion in 1960 to $63 trillion in 2010, the UN organization’s regular core budget fell to 0.0037 per cent of global income. Meanwhile, ‘core’ un-earmarked resources fell from nearly half of all UN financial resources in 1997 to less than a quarter today. A recent UN Secretary-General’s report estimated that over 90 per cent of all UN development system activities in 2015 were funded with non-core, earmarked project resources.

An earlier report found total non-core resources for UN-related activities increased 182 per cent in real terms between 1999 and 2014, mostly going through a growing number of UN ‘vertical’ trust funds, beyond Member States’ control, while core resources increased only 14 per cent.

Such ‘siloed’ trust funds – with funding rising three-fold over the last decade – enable both donor governments and corporate interests to determine UN funding, bypassing established decision-making processes. Thus, UN development financing increasingly serves donor priorities.

New development finance discourse
Influential quarters claim that in order to achieve Agenda 2030, financing needs have to rise “from billions to trillions” of US dollars, and that this can only be done by engaging the corporate sector.

According to a 2015 World Bank report, while the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) needed billions in official development assistance, the SDGs require trillions in investments.

Anis Chowdhury

Although most development spending involves national public resources, most Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) governments opposed international tax cooperation at the 2015 Addis Ababa third UN Financing for Development conference.

Thus, instead of helping boost national revenue enhancing capacities and capabilities, the Addis Ababa Action Agenda (AAAA) claimed that private capital had “the potential for scaling up to achieve the demands of the Sustainable Development Goals”.

Corporate funding for sustainable development?
The three major multilateral agreements of 2015 – the AAAA, the Agenda 2030 for SDGs and the Paris climate agreement – were all premised on private financing while the Agenda 2030 Reflection Group stressed the need to mobilize funding from private business, finance and investment.

Multi-stakeholder partnerships have long been advocated by many OECD governments, UN agencies and former UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. This envisaged big business working with governments in public-private partnerships (PPPs), blended finance and various other novel financing arrangements.

A 2015 UN Environment Programme (UNEP) report emphasized the need to “access private capital at scale, with banking alone managing financial assets of almost US$140 trillion and institutional investors, notably pension funds, managing over US$100 trillion, and capital markets, including bond and equities, exceeding US$100 trillion and US$73 trillion respectively.”

Public-private partnerships
The AAAA promoted PPPs and blended finance arrangements, while the Global Infrastructure Forum was set up at Addis to close the ‘infrastructure gap’ in developing countries, estimated by the outcome document at between “$1 trillion to $1.5 trillion” annually.

Thus far, PPPs have been more significant in developed and upper middle-income countries, as low-income countries are rarely able to attract large private investors. Warnings that PPPs and other such modalities, already problematic in OECD member countries, are even less likely to succeed in developing countries, where cost recovery is more difficult, have been largely ignored.

Instead, PPPs have often worsened national budgetary positions in the long-run due to the contingent liabilities governments are required to take on. Consequently, in most cases, governments bear the most risk, subsidize ventures and guarantee revenues to the private partner.

While PPPs have clearly contributed to national financial difficulties, such problems were largely ignored until recently. With changing international relations, they are now being highlighted as leading to national ‘debt bondage’ to China and other non-traditional sources of finance.

Meanwhile, the US and other developed countries have announced major new infrastructure financing initiatives of their own, to draw developing countries from financial reliance on China. This unexpected political rivalry will have mixed consequences for borrowing developing countries.

PPPs involve many unpredictable risks, primarily borne by governments, as well as side and spill-over effects, with the private partners typically setting most terms. Moreover, PPPs in social sectors, such as health and water, are less inclusive, disadvantaging the poor and the less accessible.

Meanwhile concerns have been raised, even by The Economist, about enthusiasm for blended finance as ‘aid’, which typically favours private partners from the donor country. Such aid diversion — from budgetary support, social programmes and essential services — prioritizes private profits, rather than the public interest.

Checks and balances?
The UN Global Compact’s 10 principles from the turn of the century remain the main intergovernmental framework governing non-state partnerships, but remains ill-equipped for meaningful accountability, especially as it pre-dates the SDGs, and hence, are inadequate now.

Promoted and often required by OECD governments, PPPs and blended finance have not received enough critical scrutiny in terms of compatibility with UN mandates, while their extra-budgetary funding status has exempted them from rigorous audit, review and impact assessment.

With financing gap concerns accepted as the rationale for multi-stakeholder partnerships, the private sector is increasingly calling the shots, with occasional lip service to civil society engagement merely providing legitimacy, rather than adequate checks and balances.

The post Big Business Capturing UN SDG Agenda? appeared first on Inter Press Service.

by Jomo Kwame Sundaram and Anis Chowdhury at December 11, 2018 09:41 AM

Indonesia Commits to Low Carbon Development and a Green Economy at COP24

A traffic jam, in Indonesia's capital Jakarta. Air pollution in Jarkarta is triple the the maximum “safe” level recommended by the World Health Organisation. The country's government says it is committed to making the switch to renewables. Credit: Alexandra Di Stefano Pironti/IPS

By Sohara Mehroze Shachi
KATOWICE, Poland, Dec 11 2018 (IPS)

Although Indonesia has attained decent economic growth of over five percent in the last decade, in order to ensure sustainable growth in the future the switch to renewable energy (RE) will be critical, says the country’s government.
“If we don’t focus on low carbon development, we cannot continue this growth,” Bambang Brodjonegoro, Indonesia’s Minister of National Development Planning, said yesterday Dec. 10.

He spoke about Indonesia’s shift to a low carbon, climate-friendly development pathway at a high-level panel discussion at the 24th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP24), which is currently being held in Katowice, Poland. The panel discussion was organised by the Global Green Growth Institute (GGGI), in partnership with the Ministry of National Development Planning of the Republic of Indonesia (BAPPENAS).

The latest report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) warns of catastrophic climatic impacts if global warming is not kept below 1.5 degrees Celsius. This will include severe impact on food production and increasing risks of climate-related disasters.

But according to Brodjonegoro, the Indonesian government is taking this issue seriously.
“We are fully committed to steer our economy for low carbon development. We will mainstream a low carbon framework in our medium-term development plan,” he said, adding that low carbon development in Indonesia would involve improving environmental quality, attaining energy efficiency, increasing agriculture productivity, improving reforestation and reducing deforestation simultaneously.

There is a large scope for RE development in Indonesia, as most of its potential is unrealised as of now. According to the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) report on Indonesia’s RE prospects, the country has “an estimated 716 GW of theoretical potential for renewable energy-based power generation”. But of its bioenergy potential of 32.7 GW, it has developed a mere 1.8 GW.

“In order to provide the electricity for remote areas, this is a good time to promote renewable energy as this will increase the percentage of renewable energy in our energy mix,” Brodjonegoro said.

According to the minister, a key issue for scaling up RE in Indonesia lies with developing the capacity of stakeholders to meet the needs of different types of investors to access finance.

Bambang Brodjonegoro, Indonesia’s Minister of National Development Planning, said the switch to renewable energy is critical for his country’s sustainable economic growth. He was speaking at a panel discussion held at COP24 in Katowice, Poland. Credit: Sohara Mehroze Shachi/IPS

Dr. Frank Rijsberman, Director General of GGGI, echoed these thoughts, stating that the critical factor for proliferating renewables in Indonesia is whether it can attract private sector investment.

“Both governments and the private sector have not fully incorporated the idea that green growth is not only nice but it is also affordable,” he said. “Businesses should be investing in renewable energy because there is a business opportunity.”
In this regard, he said that blended finance could be a critical path where every dollar investment from donors could catalyse other investments from private sources.

State Secretary for Climate and Environment in Norway Sveinung Rotevatn, was a panelist at the event. He stated that Norway is encouraged by the low carbon development in Indonesia, and is committing substantial funds to reduce deforestation there. According to Global Forest Watch, Indonesia experienced a drop in tree cover loss in 2017, including a 60 percent decline in primary forest loss. The organisaiton said that this could be in part to the 2016 government moratorium on the conversion of peatland.

“As a developed country we see [Norway] as having a responsibility to contribute,” he said. Norway has been working in partnership with Indonesia since 2010.

The future of oil is not bright, and Rotevatn believes the shift in production to gas from coal could be a useful bridge towards a shift to renewables in the long run. He added that resistance in this transition from fossil fuels to renewables is expected.

“In 1991 Norway introduced a carbon tax. Today we consider it a natural thing but implementing it is always hard,” he said. One estimate from the Norwegian environmental agency shows that since Norway reduced emissions in 1991 it continued healthy economic growth.

However, Indonesia has a long way to go in the transition process as over 90 percent of its energy still comes from fossil fuels. But the government is optimistic of its potential to scale up RE.

“We are focusing on incentivising renewable energy production and increasing infrastructure of renewable energy capacity. We have a lot of isolated islands and remote areas which can be utilised,” said Rida Mulyana, Director General of New, Renewable Energy and Energy Conservation (NREEC) at Indonesia’s Ministry of Energy and Mineral Resources.

However, he noted that several challenges remain. One of these is public acceptance, as there is still a need for systematic and sustainable socialisation and education to minimise community resistance to RE projects.

Moreover, affordability of the available clean energy remains an issue, and the cost needs to be reduced for renewables to be a viable option. This is exacerbated by the fact that liquified petroleum gas is still subsidised, which fosters Indonesia’s dependency on fossil fuels.

While Mulayana pointed out financing as a key issue, he also said the government will not provide any subsidy for renewables and it has to compete with other sources of energy.

David Kerins, Senior Energy Economist at the European Investment Bank and another panelist at the event, said although RE projects are becoming more commercially viable, the private sector is yet to jump in on these investment opportunities. So there is a need to promote investment while providing safeguards to investors on the expected benefits.

“The RE energy sector has moved far beyond the situation it was before. Once people see how possible and straight forward it is, private sector can start targeting projects of its own,” he said.

Glenn Pearce-Oroz, Director for Policy and Programmes, Sustainable Energy for All (SEforALL), one of the attendees of the event, said one of the important next steps will be how to bring along commercial financing for low carbon development.

“Part of what we are seeing is private sector being more and more interested to do business in the green economy. What they are looking for though is clarity of roles and consistency in terms of the markets they are getting into,” he said.

“So the challenge for developing countries is how do you demonstrate that type of consistency and clarity and how do you establish clear rules of the game, good regulatory frameworks, that gives private sector the confidence to come into these markets?” He said Indonesia has the size, dynamism of economy and a lot of favourable elements for attracting private sector investment.

“Green growth as a concept is beginning to take off in different countries,” said Dr. Saleemul Huq, Director of the International Centre for Climate Change and Development (ICCCAD) and a 24-time COP attendee.

“The most important element of any green growth strategy is to make sure it’s nationally determined and nationally owned,” he said, adding that modality of green growth is peculiar to the politics, socio economic conditions and culture of a country.

“Green growth is more of a political process than a technical process. There are vested interests and issues that have to be worked out at the national level,” he said. “The good news is it [green growth] has started to happen.”


  • This story has been published with support from Inter Press Service, the Stanley Foundation, Earth Journalism Network and Climate Change Media Partnership.

The post Indonesia Commits to Low Carbon Development and a Green Economy at COP24 appeared first on Inter Press Service.

by Sohara Mehroze Shachi at December 11, 2018 09:24 AM


What It Means to Be a Marxist

We can only change the world if we understand the actual forces around us. Marxism gives us the tools to do just that.

alt Mural by Diego Rivera showing the history of mexico, detail showing Karl Marx, Mexico City, Palacio Nacional, 2008. Wolfgang Sauber / Wikimedia

It’s unfortunate that there isn’t a better word for “Marxism.” Marx himself famously once said that he himself was “not a Marxist” if certain askew interpretations of his theories of historical materialism and capitalism were “Marxist.” Part of the problem is that the theories and processes that Marx helped create are too big to fall under a single -ism; Marx was a philosopher (and sort of historian) of political economy, that is, the study of production and trade in relationship to laws, customs, and human systems, whose theories helped inform numerous other disciplines and practices: economics, sociology, history, literature, and practical politics, among others.

The closest analogy that I can think of is to what we would today call “Darwinism,” the theories of nineteenth-century biologist Charles Darwin. Darwin didn’t invent biology, paleontology, genetics, or any of the numerous disciplines and practices that are informed by “Darwinism.” And in fact, there are many aspects of classical “Darwinism” — the theories and conclusions arrived at by Darwin and his immediate disciples — that have been outright revised or rejected by people who today would still consider themselves “Darwinists.” Since Darwin published On the Origin of Species and The Descent of Man, hundreds if not thousands of scientists and philosophers have expanded on and improved Darwin’s theories (the so-called “modern synthesis”) — obviously a necessity since during Darwin’s lifetime there was no deep concept of molecular genetics.

It’s useful to think of Marxism the same way. Marxism is not a detailed plan for how to create socialism. Marxism isn’t a moral philosophy, in the way that the Enlightenment philosophers and their progeny — like John Rawls — tried to build up moral systems from first principles to determine what is the most “fair.” It does not instruct us to engage in violent insurrection.

Marx, through his analysis of human society, gave us an understanding of the laws governing how society develops and how we can understand the process of history. His theories of alienation and class struggle inform us as to the causes of human misery and the obstacles to human flourishing. This is the “historical materialism” that is the strongest single thread of his work. Historical materialism is, simply stated, the theory that human societies develop according to how the “forces of production” are ordered, and that the features of a society will, ultimately, relate back to the ordering of the forces of production. People will “relate” to the system of production as a class. Therefore, the core conflict in society has been between classes on opposing sides of the systems of production — this is the dialectical part of his theory.

Just as Darwin was not the first “evolutionist,” Marx was not by any means the first socialist. And as with Darwin and the word “evolution,” “socialism” meant something fairly different before Marx came along. Socialism was basically a moral system, sometimes rooted in Christian values, utopian in character and justified based on what was “fair” or “just.” Marx and Engels spent much of their active years differentiating their theories from prior theories of “utopian” socialism built on moral persuasion — Engels going as far as to publish a book-length pamphlet on it.

Darwin revolutionized existing theories of “evolution” by introducing the concept of natural selection over geologic time — he should better be remembered for the theory of natural selection than evolution; the early title of his book Origin of Species was Natural Selection. In the same way, Karl Marx took existing historical and philosophical analysis of human society and political economy and applied an objective approach, from which he developed the theory of historical materialism/dialectical materialism.

What Marxism teaches us is simply to approach questions of society from a material basis: how does human life persist? Through production of the goods and services needed to live. How are these things produced under capitalist society? Through exploitation of the labor of the working class, that is, by requiring one class of people to sell their labor as a commodity to another class to produce values. What is the result of this system? That workers are “alienated” from their labor, meaning from much of their waking life, constantly required to produce more and more with an ever-precarious access to the means of subsistence.

If we want to engage in political competition and analysis of what Marx would have called “political economy,” there isn’t an alternative to Marxism that has anything near its explanatory power or guidance. That said, I understand the caution many socialists or social democrats may have to subscribing to “Marxism”: Marx’s focus on class “struggle,” the “overthrow” of the capitalist class, and the “dictatorship of the proletariat,” all of which may strike modern American ears as prescriptions for violence and authoritarianism.

It’s important to understand what Marx meant by these things.

The class struggle doesn’t necessarily mean barricades in the streets and summary execution of plutocrats. That these things can result from struggle is a historical fact; but the “struggle” Marx is talking about is the social and political competition between classes, which is always present: whether in the form of wage demands, petitions, law changes, strikes, noncompliance, all the way up to armed revolt. In the Manifesto, Marx describes how sometimes, the capitalists will cave in to demands made via demonstrations and strikes; other times, they will resist until concessions are forcibly extracted. Only the relative strength of the sides determines the nature of the struggle. The whole point of Marx’s method is to understand that the struggle is inherent to the capitalist system; it is objective. How socialists choose strategically to win the struggle depends on many factors, including the avenues available to them to win changes to the system — this is subjective. Whether we like it or not, the way commodities are produced under capitalism will always require struggle between the classes; workers want more, capitalists want them to have less and less.

As for “overthrow,” Marx looks at how previous systems of production were ended and changed into new forms: from hunter-gatherer to militarized, to slave chiefdoms and kingdoms, to feudalism, and then to capitalism. It is true that these transitions were generally marked by periods of violent competition; but (just like with Darwinism) historical study has showed that the violent outbursts were not the chief or only means of change. In fact, decades, sometimes centuries, of smaller changes accumulated over time to put stress on existing systems and bring about major changes. This is especially true of capitalism, which arose in Europe not all at once after the French beheaded enough nobles, but took place over an extended period beginning as far back as the fourteenth century. The growth of state-like kingdoms, “free” trading cities, incremental changes in technology, improvements in communications and logistics, and changes in legal systems eroded the basis of feudalism; the French Revolution was one part of a much longer and broader process of change.

Perhaps most misunderstood is the idea of the “dictatorship of the proletariat,” which comes from the Manifesto and a work called Critique of the Gotha Program, but is often interpreted according to the later theories of Vladimir Lenin. The dictatorship of the proletariat does not mean revolutionary terror against class enemies and the death of freedom. It means something very simple: look around you. Do you see how in “free market” democracies, political power is monopolized (or nearly monopolized) by the ownership class? The “dictatorship” of the proletariat just flips this. For Marxists, the dictatorship of the proletariat simply means a period where political power is held in common for the sole benefit of the working class. Getting to this point requires the working class to realize it is in fact a single class, and acting in its own interests. That this be accompanied by violent revolution isn’t necessary.

Dictatorship is bad. We live under a form of dictatorship today: a dictatorship on behalf of the capitalist class. This doesn’t mean working-class people have zero freedoms; it means that the states we live in are specifically organized to protect the capitalist system of social relations. Some people can own the means of production and the rest of us have to sell our labor to survive. The dictatorship of the proletariat just inverts this: it organizes the state to preserve the common ownership of the means of production.

Marx and Engels were critical of moral and “fairness” arguments for socialism because they were ahistorical; they lacked a truly rational basis, and were therefore just formed by ruling-class ideology. This isn’t unique to Marx, either: a contemporary philosopher, Bernard Williams (no socialist himself) is among the definitive moral philosophers who rejects the idea that we can reason our way to morality. Historically, the forces of production — the thing that determines human flourishing — had never been reordered through moral argument; it had required engaging in struggle — in political competition. Marx was not trying to provoke people into violence. He was merely exposing and acknowledging that the forces of production create a class struggle, which will resolve in a change to the forces of production.

As socialists post-Marx, as with biologists post-Darwin, we merely accept the material reality of the system in which we live. The forces of production rest on exploitation to extract “surplus value” and requires commodifying labor, which alienates workers. Struggle is inherent to the capitalist system. Only when workers become conscious of themselves as a class and act on their own behalf will they act to affirmatively end the system. There isn’t really a deep question of morality here; this isn’t about fairness. It is about the struggle between those who control their own destiny and are not alienated from their means of subsistence (capitalists) and those who want this condition for themselves, but are kept from it (the working class).

A word about violence. Like most people, I abhor violence. Violence degrades its perpetrators as it harms its victims. Marx does not prescribe violence, although he does treat it as an obviously common outcome of periods of dramatic change in the forces of production — that is, in periods of “overthrow.” We need to ask ourselves whether major social change has ever avoided violence, and where that violence came from. Consider the US Civil Rights Movement, treated in historical memory as the best example of change from “nonviolence.” But wasn’t there violence? The fact is that the state, and individuals, reacted to the demands of black Americans with violence. There was violence during the Civil Rights Movement; it just wasn’t meted out on a large scale by those demanding their rights. And once those demands were won, there was “violence” of another sort — when the state prosecuted and rounded up hate groups, like the Klan for example, that was a sort of state “violence” we would consider appropriate. Not to mention that attacks on freedom fighters, whether they were freedom riders, civil rights lawyers, or a person protecting their home from a lynch mob, always entailed violence.

And what about the labor movement? From private guards to local police to the federal army, violence was regularly called down on those engaging in struggle to win rights in the workplace. The US labor movement, in fact, was particularly marked by violence, even over its European counterparts, especially in the mountain west where mining and energy concerns regularly called down armed forces to break strikes. Struggle for the workers were strikes and noncompliance; the reaction was violence.

In historical struggle, those clinging to the system under attack are the first to resort to violence. To be a Marxist doesn’t require belief in an armed uprising to bring about a new world, in violent change or authoritarianism. It just means acknowledging as a fact something that already exists: the class struggle. The tactics and strategies workers employ to achieve class consciousness and act to end the exploitative system are ours to determine.

Why contemporary socialism is entwined with Marxism is this understanding of how history moves and how it will move, based not on the moral arguments we make, but on the objective conditions we live in. Workers will not struggle against abstract principles but against living human beings with material interests. In his Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Napoleon, Marx wrote that “men make their own history, but they do not make it as they please.” We can only change the world if we truly understand the actual forces around us. If we want to change the world, we need to be in it, to build from it; to truly be in it, we need to understand it. That makes us Marxists.

by Ramsin Canon at December 11, 2018 09:04 AM


Nyéléni Newsletter: Food Sovereignty at the rural – urban interface

The rural-urban interface is a complex social space where politics and culture are in constant flux. It can also be a physical place, where the wealth and resources of villages, towns, peri-urban suburbs, and suburbanized rural areas are in dispute. Taken globally, it is a vast territory with potential to grow food sovereignty.

This issue of the Nyéléni Newsletter addresses the challenges and opportunities of building food sovereignty in peri-urban areas, and the ways that the producers and consumers of urban and rural communities form alliances to transform the food system.

Click here to download the English edition

The post Nyéléni Newsletter: Food Sovereignty at the rural – urban interface appeared first on Via Campesina English.

by abhilash at December 11, 2018 07:40 AM

Arming Negativity: Towards the Queerest Attack

(A Response to “Beyond Negativity: What Comes After Gender Nihilism?”)

“We are radicals who have had enough with attempts to salvage gender. We do not believe we can make it work for us. We look at the transmisogyny we have faced in our own lives, the gendered violence that our comrades, both trans and cis have faced, and we realize that the apparatus itself makes such violence inevitable. We have had enough."

“Rather, what comes after Gender Nihilism must be a materialist struggle against patriarchy, white supremacy, and capitalism which understands and is attentive to the complex interrelations between these structures and which refuses to reduce any one of them to any other.” We are not looking to create a better system, for we are not interested in positive politics at all. All we demand in the present is a relentless attack on gender and the modes of social meaning and intelligibility it creates.”

The essay Gender Nihilism: An Anti-Manifesto was an explosive reflection of my own experience with both “gender” and “nihilism”. As a queer who possessed no desire for queer recognition and societal assimilation, the quote above summarized a position of pure negation which I found exciting affinity with.

I wanted to write this essay, not as a critique of Gender Nihilism but as praise, and as a personal response to some of the questions posed in Beyond Negativity: What Comes After Gender Nihilism? In this essay I outline a few quotes from that piece and respond with my own gender nihilist perspective.

“As such we are left with the need for the abolition of gender, the need to push back against reformist projects that simply seek to make an expanded notion of gender. What remains to be created is the establishment of a path forward.”

I think it is important to acknowledge that many individuals craft their own paths of queer negation towards society and its projects of assimilatory reform. For me personally, a path forward means a queer nihilism armed, wild and ferocious against the social standardization of gender and industrial control. This includes but is not limited to an individualized path of destruction which targets the internalized governance and roles that define an assigned gendered identity. The personalization of this governance, which dictates the roles and behaviors of the assigned identity, surrenders the shapeless wildness of individuality to the solitary confinement of politics. Towards the abolition of gender and against reformist projects, my anarchist war does not limit itself to the confines of politics. Instead, it includes a queer nihilist life-experience of becoming ungoverned by gender and any other social constructs intended to subjugate and discourage individual uniqueness. Beyond the limitations of theory, this also includes clandestine attack on the manifestations of society, negating the domestication of law and order.

“Only real, concrete, and organized struggle can move us forward. Mere negation, senseless violence, or embrace of unintelligibility cannot be enough. In short we must move beyond negativity. The project at hand is to adequately account for the violence of gender, the necessity of its abolition, and the strategies for achieving that abolition in material terms. Only then will we have the ability to not only achieve abolition, but to change the world.”

I believe real, concrete, and organized struggle is most powerful when orchestrated at the individual level. Since in daily life, it is the individual who experiences the struggle of survival in this gendered nightmare, no one other than that individual is most qualified to materialize that revolt. Gendered violence is unique to each individual who accumulates a history of struggle against it. Electing identity-based movements or organizations to represent individualized experience often flattens differences found between individuals, erecting a false sense of unity. This often leads to one’s association with an identity determining the legitimacy of one’s experience, rather than the experience being legitimized as individually unique. This point was eloquently summarized by Lena Kafka in Destroy Gender:

“My personal experiences with gendered violence are only taken seriously in light of revealing myself as a trans woman. Our theories should start from the ways we have experienced gender violence in our daily lives, not identity. Our relationships to each other should be based upon our affinities and similarities with each other, rather than based upon the lowest-common-denomintator politics. Daily life is far too complicated to be reduced into two categories.”

From my own individualist perspective, nihilism is so much more than just pessimism, negation and violence; it is the personification of anarchy, the reclaiming of individuality and the embracing of ungovernable uniqueness. Queer negativity is hostility towards socially constructed expectations, those who enforce them, and is subsequently the emancipation of one’s undefinable “self” from gender conformity. This includes the expropriation of violence and the total abandonment of victimhood. Queer nihilism materializes itself as a declaration of war on society. For every possibility of sexual assault there is a blade being sharpened for self-defense. Dangerous spaces are personified, replacing the positive politics of safety. Armed queers don’t just make waves; they are tsunamis against the logic of submission.

“This means recognizing that these things can only be overcome by a communist politics oriented towards the future. Abandon nihilism, abandon hopelessness, demand and build a better world.”

My queerness is an experimentation that never ends. It is the totality of a life lived against the law, insubordinate and wild. It is not a communist politics but a nihilist negation to all systems that attempt to subordinate individuality. It is not the leftist politics of demanding and building a better world but an anarchist insurgency of reclaiming life day to day, and setting fire to its captors. Since gender is embedded in every fabric of this industrial, civilized society, I find no hope in salvaging any part of it- only joy in every second of its calculated demise.

“I think its telling that I am presented as the voice of the gender nihilism, when two of the other largest contributors are indigenous trans women. Their voices matter in this debate more than mine, yet people have completely and consistently centered my voice and perspective. This is harmful.”

Society and those who wish to preserve it require identity politics to categorize people based on socially assigned constructs. Identity politics is where individual experimentation goes to die. Like studying the bricks in a wall rather than venturing beyond the wall itself, identity politics, like all politics promotes the death of imaginative exploration. Politics represent the fixed ideological prescriptions of living, assigned to “the masses” who are treated as if they are incapable of thinking and acting as individuals.

In the realm of academic recognition, identity politics predetermines the popular narrative by reversing the hierarchy; those belonging to the marginalized category become the dominating group who then are given a pass to trivialize the experiences of those they view as opposite. But this hierarchical reversal doesn’t challenge hierarchy itself – it only reforms it in an attempt to create a power masquerading as equality. This power, composed of social capital, is then used as the power to ridicule, coerce and dominate others with impunity.

Anyone who presents a single individual as the voice of something as wide spread as gender nihilism is someone who interprets the world in terms of textbook definitions rather than the organic fluidity of free thought and social interaction. Quite simply, it erases all those individuals who had already discovered and lived gender nihilism but didn’t have the academic language or status to be credited and recognized in the mainstream. Alyson’s experiences with gender are not trivial to mine simply because I am a person of color. Their experiences are unique from mine, and far more complex than the oversimplifying measurement of social constructs and any theoretical Patriarchy, white supremacy, and capitalism have identity politics of their own.

They each essentialize a role and behavior which reinforces their power socially. In addition to physically attacking these institutions, for me it is important to reclaim my self and emancipate from their mental captivity. This means refusing their language to define others, allowing others to define themselves beyond identity-based assumptions. It also means any positive projects that attempt to occupy space in the courtyard of capitalism compromises the integrity of their rebellion. The transforming of “queer” into another rigid, social identity by capitalism and liberalism is one of many examples. The positive politics of queer identity legitimizes the state and glorifies a civilized standard of submission. With the help of internalized and often celebrated victimhood, “queer” soon becomes another identity pacified and manufactured by capitalism.

This is why my queerness is not a positive project. It’s meaning runs contrary to the collectivized subordination in both capitalism and the left. Queer nihilism means arming negativity against the pacifying effects of positive politics, exploring the intimacy of criminal affinity with others, and arming individuality with the queerest savagery against domestication. The fire in my heart burns every gendered prison assigned to me. Queer is confrontation: my desire for freedom has intercourse with my hatred for civilization. What blooms is a lifelong dance that materializes the queerest attack on capital and social control. I find myself immersed in the chaos of bloodied weapons, broken glass and shrieking alarms. My body is a dangerous space of love and rage ungoverned by the morality of non-violence. With love, and in solidarity with the wild, and with all those who embrace queer anarchy with hysterical laughs of joy- towards the queerest attack upon the civilized order!

-Flower Bomb


by Anonymous at December 11, 2018 04:42 AM

Channel Zero

This Is America #45: Fires In the Street

This post was originally published on this site

The post This Is America #45: Fires In the Street appeared first on It’s Going Down.

Welcome, to This is America, December 10th, 2018.

Today we are joined with some very special guests. The first are several comrades from Olympia, Washington, who are part of the group, the Olympia Solidarity Network. A solidarity network is a group of people that come together to organize and mobilize in a given community against bosses, landlords, and beyond. They often engage in fights over lost or stolen wages, unfair firings, stolen deposits, and lock out evictions. Unlike tenant and legal clinics however, solidarity networks use direct action to apply pressure. In Seattle, Washington, which has one of the oldest and best known solidarity networks, literally thousands of people have participated in actions under its banner, carried out delivery of demands to landlords and bosses, and have also benefited from these collective campaigns by getting stolen wages and deposits back, stopping evictions, and fighting back directly at their workplaces.

On today’s episode, we talk with members of Olympia Solidarity Network who discuss their recent campaign against various businesses in the downtown area of the city who were fighting to secure a contract with a private security company which aimed to clear out the houseless community from the downtown area. After a heated and lengthy campaign, the contact was finally defeated. Our interview talks about that struggle and how the group saw things through to the end, as well as the push back that they faced from the police and the downtown business class.

Next up, we speak with two comrades from so-called Halifax who talk about the recent Postal Strike and how members of the IWW and others have supported the pickets. Currently, the State has forced all postal workers to return to work or face massive fines, but members of the IWW and others have kept up pickets in the streets. Several IWW members in Halifax were also recently arrested for taking part in the pickets, and can be supported here.

But first, let’s get to the news.

Living and Fighting

  • After managing to keep police out of The Village houseless encampment in East Oakland, police moved on the space again the next day, evicting the homes inside and making multiple arrests. Stay up on the struggle by following The Village on Twitter.
  • The IWW has joined a larger confederation of anarchist and autonomous anti-capitalist labor unions across the world, such as the CNT. This will hopefully mean more coordination and support of world wide campaigns in the future.
  • An anarchist infoshop in Quebec City was vandalized by fascists. Go here to support them and their cleanup.
  • James Alex Fields was found guilty on all counts of murder in the death of Heather Heyer in Charlottesville. He remains to be sentenced, but currently faces 20 years to life. Many on the Alt-Right have responded with disbelief; some even implying their faith in the American justice system is over and are pushing for a new wave of violence. A march to the place that Heather Heyer was murdered followed the court decision and was led by survivors of the attack, who chanted and gave speeches.
  • Speaking of neo-Nazis, a group of fascist skinheads in the Pacific Northwest were arrested several hours after the James Fields verdict for attacking an African-American DJ. The neo-Nazis, part of various groups such as American Front and the Hammerskin Nation, seem to have been in the area to commemorate the death of Charles R Matthews, the leader of the neo-Nazi paramilitary group the Order, which in the mid-1980s carried out various bombings, murders, and armed robberies, and one of whose members penned the infamous “14 Words.”
  • People gathered in downtown Greensboro, North Carolina to remember the life and death of Marcus Smith who died at the hands of the police after being hogtied on September 8th.
  • IWOC reports that in Rush City, Minnesota, over 100 prisoners went on strike and are now in negotiations with the prison over abuse and conditions. More info here.
  • A new bill passed in California would make sharing food in public places without first applying for an application and a permit with a city government a crime. This bill in theory could be used to target groups like Food Not Bombs, which share food outside in public places.
  • On Sunday, people in New York according to Ash J demonstrated “outside the Whitney Museum…[and] were calling out the museum’s vice chairman Warren Kanders. Kanders owns Safariland, the company that makes the tear gas that was used on migrants at the border.”

It’s Going Down!

In It’s Going Down news, our winter fundraiser is almost over! If you can, please give the gift of revolutionary autonomous media to the world and sign up to become a monthly supporter! Give over 10$ a month an pick out a gift from the store.

Also! Our t-shirt sale is still happening, but we are almost out of shirts! If you want to get a black or white IGD shirt for only $10, now is the time, because after this season we plan on making brand new shirt designs and currently on on our way to running out of the stock we have.

Speaking of orders, about 10 people who recently ordered from us have not told us what size shirts they want, so please, check your emails if you recently ordered a shirt.

Recently someone asked us if we are still excepting audio submissions for the podcast, and the answer is always yes! Remember, if you want to record and event or conversation or interview with someone on your phone and then send us the audio file, we fill run it on this program – just make sure to get the OK first!

Also, if you haven’t done so, on either mobile or desktop, go to the bottom of the page and enter your email address to our mailing list. Lastly, remember you can have It’s Going Down podcasts set to download directly to your phone by subscribing to IGD on iTunes, Stitcher, and other platforms. You can also simply do it through our podcast RSS feed right here!

Until next time, see you soon!

by It's Going Down at December 11, 2018 03:08 AM

Hambach Forest Occupation

Mailing address for letters and Xmas greetings to the family of Sonne / Steffen Meyn

Letters and Christmas greetings to the family of Sonne Steffen Meyn may be sent to the below address. They are happy about the memorial.

c/o Herbertz Bestattungen
Kirschstr 18
40764 Langenfeld


by hambacherforst at December 11, 2018 02:12 AM

Some personal thoughts on police action against Crow’s Nest on Nov.22th,2018

Peace to the huts – War to the palaces
The police action on Thursday, Nov.22th,2018, to destroy all soil structures in the barrio Crow’s Nest (German Name: Krähennest) on Thursday shows once again exemplarily how mischievous are the justifications and press releases of the police and their related media.
Contrary to the claims, in Crow’s Nest there were neither barricades nor escape routes, which could have been cleared.


by hambacherforst at December 11, 2018 01:35 AM

December 10, 2018

InterPressService (global south)

Undertaking the Challenge of a Green Growth Pathway in Northern Mexico

The state of Sonora, Mexico's largest, aims to cut its greenhouse gas emissions by 80 to 90 percent by 2050 and generate 43 percent of its energy from clean sources by 2030, as part of its Green Growth Strategy. Among its many benefits, the plan will reduce pollution in the state capital, Hermosillo, seen in this photo. Credit:

The state of Sonora, Mexico's largest, aims to cut its greenhouse gas emissions by 80 to 90 percent by 2050 and generate 43 percent of its energy from clean sources by 2030, as part of its Green Growth Strategy. Among its many benefits, the plan will reduce pollution in the state capital, Hermosillo, seen in this photo. Credit:

By Emilio Godoy
MEXICO CITY, Dec 10 2018 (IPS)

The northern Mexican state of Sonora seeks to position itself at the forefront in Mexico in the sustainable transformation of its economy. But it faces major challenges, such as greening its energy mix and relying less on mining, which is highly polluting and leaves little benefit to its public coffers.

This federal territory, one of the 32 into which this Latin American country is divided, has a Green Growth Strategy (GGS) and a State Action Plan on Climate Change for the State of Sonora, as well as a local risk atlas and a multisectoral advisory council.

The GGS, launched in 2017, is “quite good, it is a strategy with a vision of green growth that seeks economic growth, human development, social inclusion and productivity of natural resources and resilience to climate change,” said Pablo Martinez, representative in Mexico of the intergovernmental Global Green Growth Institute (GGGI).

The expert explained to IPS that the decarbonisation of the economy is the area that has shown the most progress and highlighted the role of renewable energy sources, energy efficiency and sustainable mobility within the plan.

The Strategy was developed at the request of the Mexican government by the Seoul-based GGGI, created in 2012 with the aim of supporting developing countries in the South to establish a new economic model, based on green growth.

The GGS of Sonora, explained Martínez, includes 33 lines of action and its main objectives include the decarbonisation of the economy and energy independence, the inclusive innovative economy, the responsible use of materials and resources, and a resilient lifestyle.

It also contains 10 strategic themes, including renewable energy, sustainable mobility, water management and sustainable rural and urban development.

Economic activity in Sonora, the second largest Mexican state, with 189,055 square kilometers distributed among 72 municipalities inhabited by 2.85 million people, had a turnover of 30 billion dollars in 2016.

That production has left its ecological footprint. The latest available data shows that in 2010 the state released into the atmosphere 23 million tons of carbon dioxide. The largest emitters were energy (7.5 million), transport (6.5 million), agriculture and livestock (3.7 million) and industry (2.23 million).

The focus on the green economy has expanded widely throughout this decade. UN Environment defines it as an economy “that results in improved human well-being and social equity, while significantly reducing environmental risks and ecological scarcities. It is low carbon, resource efficient, and socially inclusive.”

 Pablo Martínez, the representative in Mexico of the Global Green Growth Institute, takes part in a workshop on the Green Growth Strategy of the northern state of Sonora, held this year in its capital, Hermosillo. Credit: GGGI Mexico

Pablo Martínez, the representative in Mexico of the Global Green Growth Institute, takes part in a workshop on the Green Growth Strategy of the northern state of Sonora, held this year in its capital, Hermosillo. Credit: GGGI Mexico

Within its GGS, in November 2017, the government of Sonora created a Green Growth Cabinet, which includes the ministers of Agriculture, Social Development, Economy and Infrastructure and Urban Development.

On Dec. 4, Sonora launched a Building Efficiency Accelerator programme, included in the GGS with the purpose of introducing new technologies in real estate planning to build more efficiently and reduce energy waste. Due to its dry climate, this state is the largest consumer of electricity for heating and cooling in the country.

Among other projects within the GGS, Sonora is about to receive between 568,000 and 1.13 million dollars in support from the German Agency for Technical Cooperation (GIZ) and the C40 Cities Finance Facility, a network of 96 of the largest cities in the world against climate change, in order to structure a multimodal transport system that discourages the use of private vehicles.

In addition, Martínez explained, a pre-feasibility study is being drawn up for the production of biogas using agro-industrial waste, sponsored by the Danish Agency for International Cooperation and the energy ministry.

Another study being carried out is on pathways to deep decarbonisation by 2050, the first Mexican state to do so, with funds from the Washington-based World Resources Institute, a non-governmental organisation. A state environmental fund is expected to be set up by 2019, but it has no budget yet.

For Luis Carlos Romo, executive commissioner of the Commission for Ecology and Sustainable Development of the State of Sonora (Cedes), the new institutional structure and ongoing projects are achievements of the Strategy.

The official told IPS from Hermosillo, the state capital, that “the strategy aims to develop new motors of development. The main thing is to improve the quality of life of the people of Sonora, to strengthen social inclusion and reduce environmental impacts.”

The state government, he said, submitted the GGS to a public consultation process in March and April in order to promote citizen participation and improve and broaden its objectives, but its implementation faces significant challenges.

Martínez, the GGGI representative, mentioned financing, governance, social inclusion and the gender perspective as central themes.

Luis Carlos Romo, head of the Commission on Ecology and Sustainable Development of the State of Sonora, takes part in the presentation of the state's Green Growth Strategy in September during the Global Climate Action Summit held in San Francisco, California. Credit: Cedes

Luis Carlos Romo, head of the Commission on Ecology and Sustainable Development of the State of Sonora, takes part in the presentation of the state’s Green Growth Strategy in September during the Global Climate Action Summit held in San Francisco, California. Credit: Cedes

“There are obstacles to obtaining financing from development banks or foreign governments. The private sector must be more involved in the strategy. More institutional coordination is also needed. We see a great opportunity for the Strategy to be fulfilled; we don’t want a plan that remains on paper,” he said.

The GGS, he said, identifies challenges such as decreasing energy intensity and air pollutant emissions, strengthening the economic structure, ensuring the integrity of natural resources and decreasing the public’s vulnerability to climate effects.

Abandoning mining

For the state, one of the primary challenges is the gradual abandonment of mining, as it is the largest Mexican producer of gold, copper, molybdenum, graphite and wollastonite.

The mining outlook report for the state of Sonora, prepared by the Mexican Geological Service, a government agency, says gold is mined in 12 municipalities, copper in six and molybdenum in two.

In late 2017, the state had 46 mines in operation and 96 projects in the exploration phase, with a total of 5,974 mining concessions covering 5.55 million hectares, 29 percent of its territory.

In 2014, a stream connected to the Bacanuchi and Sonora rivers was the scene of a 40 million-liter spill of sulfuric acid from the Buenavista del Cobre mine, owned by the private Grupo Mexico, in what was called Mexico’s worst environmental disaster in modern times.

Energy transition

The sustainability of the energy mix is another major challenge, with 224 fossil-fuel-based power generators in operation. The state has strong potential for photovoltaic energy, due to its high level of solar irradiation, which is just beginning to be exploited, with 11 solar farms in operation or under construction.

In this regard, Romo, the head of Cedes, said that “we do not want to demonise any activity. The idea of the strategy is for traditional sectors, through innovation, to transform productive activities and have less environmental impact.”

“We believe that the lever that is going to support the strategy in a very important way is investment in renewables, to export energy instead of importing it. If we achieve this transformation of discarding fossil fuels, we will be able to meet the targets,” he explained.

The Sonora Risk Atlas includes seven municipalities that are highly vulnerable to climate change, so reducing emissions and adapting to the phenomenon are essential.

By 2030, Sonora has pledged to reduce its greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and short-lived climate pollutants by 25 percent, within the targets adopted in September with the Under2 Coalition, whose name alludes to the need to keep the rise in global temperatures to below two degrees Celsius to avoid irreversible catastrophe.

Created in 2015, the coalition is made up of more than 220 local and regional governments, including those of 16 Mexican states.

Sonora projects that its GHG emissions will peak in 2026, before reducing them by 80 to 90 percent by 2050. In the energy sector, it aims to generate 35 percent clean energy by 2024 and 43 percent by 2030.

The post Undertaking the Challenge of a Green Growth Pathway in Northern Mexico appeared first on Inter Press Service.

by Emilio Godoy at December 10, 2018 11:34 PM

Deep Green Resistance News Service

Resistance Newsletter — December 2018

by Max Wilbert

Deep Green Resistance

Current atmospheric CO2 level: 408.02 PPM

A free monthly newsletter providing analysis and commentary on ecology, global capitalism, empire, and revolution.

For back issues, to read this issue online, or to subscribe via email or RSS, visit the Resistance News web page.

These essays also appear on the DGR News Service, which also includes an active comment section.

** *** ***** ******* *********** *************

In this issue:

  1. A New Declaration
  2. Indigenous Solidarity Guidelines
  3. 73 Rules of Spycraft
  4. Blue Angels: The Naked Face of Empire
  5. Activist Guide to Security: Defeating Geolocation and Tracking
  6. DGR France Organizing Update
  7. Amnesia & Lack of Accountability Reign as Wall Street Celebrates Halliburton’s 100-year anniversary
  8. Underground Tactics
  9. Target Selection
  10. Twitter wants me to shut up and the right wants me to join them; I don’t think I should have to do either
  11. Film Review: “First Reformed” Fails to Deliver on Environmental Themes
  12. Guide to Private and Secure Operating Systems
  13. Submit your material to the Deep Green Resistance News Service
  14. Further news and recommended reading / podcasts
  15. How to support DGR or get involved

** *** ***** ******* *********** *************

War and civilization are intertwined. War is not simply an unfortunate byproduct. It’s the driving force in the development of civilization.

–      Peter Turchin, Director of the Seshat Global History Databank

** *** ***** ******* *********** *************

A New Declaration

[Link] by Derrick Jensen

We hold these truths to be self-evident:

That the real world is the source of our own lives, and the lives of others. A weakened planet is less capable of supporting life, human or otherwise. Thus the health of the real world is primary, more important than any social or economic system, because all social or economic systems are dependent upon a living planet: without a living planet you don’t have any social or economic systems whatsoever. It is self-evident that to value a social system that harms the planet’s capacity to support life over life itself is literally insane, in terms of being out of touch with physical reality.

That any way of life based on the use of nonrenewable resources is by definition not sustainable.

That any way of life based on the hyperexploitation of renewable resources is by definition not sustainable: if, for example, there are fewer salmon return every year, eventually there will be none. This means that for a way of life to be sustainable, it must not harm native communities: native prairies, native forests, native fisheries, and so on.

That the real world is interdependent, such that harm done to rivers harms those humans and nonhumans whose lives depend on these rivers, harms forests and prairies and wetlands surrounding these rivers, harms the oceans into which these rivers flow. Harm done to mountains harms rivers flowing through them. Harm done to oceans harms everyone directly or indirectly connected to them.

That you cannot argue with physics. If you burn carbon-based fuels, this carbon will go into the air, and have effects in the real world.

That creating and releasing poisons into the world will poison humans and nonhumans.

That no one, no matter now rich or powerful, should be allowed to create poisons for which there is no antidote.

That no one, no matter how rich or powerful, should be allowed to create messes that cannot be cleaned up.

That no one, no matter how rich or powerful, should be allowed to destroy places humans or nonhumans need to survive.

That no one, no matter how rich or powerful, should be allowed to drive human cultures or nonhuman species extinct.

That reality trumps all belief systems: what you believe is not nearly so important as what is real.

That on a finite planet you cannot have an economy based on or requiring growth. At least you cannot have one and expect to either have a planet or a future.

That the current way of life is not sustainable, and will collapse. The only real questions are what will be left of the world after that collapse, and how bad things will be for the humans and nonhumans who come after. We hold it as self-evident that we should do all that we can to make sure that as much of the real, physical world remains intact until the collapse of the current system, and that humans and nonhumans should be as prepared as possible for this collapse.

That the health of local economies are more important than the health of a global economy.

That a global economy should not be allowed to harm local economies or landbases.

That corporations are not living beings. They are certainly not human beings.

That corporations do not in any real sense exist. They are legal fictions. Limited liability corporations are institutions created explicitly to separate humans from the effects of their actions—making them, by definition, inhuman and inhumane. To the degree that we desire to live in a human and humane world—and, really, to the degree that we wish to survive—limited liability corporations need to be eliminated.

That the health of human and nonhuman communities are more important than the profits of corporations.

We hold it as self-evident, as the Declaration of Independence states, “That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends [Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness], it is the Right of the People to alter or abolish it. . . .” Further, we hold it as self-evident that it would be more precise to say that it is not the Right of the People, nor even their responsibility, but instead something more like breathing—something that if we fail to do we die. If we as a People fail to rid our communities of destructive institutions, those institutions will destroy our communities. And if we in our communities cannot provide meaningful and nondestructive ways for people to gain food, clothing, and shelter then we must recognize it’s not just specific destructive institutions but the entire economic system that is pushing the natural world past breaking points. Capitalism is killing the planet. Industrial civilization is killing the planet. Once we’ve recognized the destructiveness of capitalism and industrial civilization—both of which are based on systematically converting a living planet into dead commodities—we’ve no choice, unless we wish to sign our own and our children’s death warrants, but to fight for all we’re worth and in every way we can to overturn it.


Here is a list of our initial demands. When these demands are met, we will have more, and then more, until we are living sustainably in a just society. In each case, if these demands are not met, we will, because we do not wish to sign our own and our children’s death warrants, put them in place ourselves.

We demand that:


Communities, including nonhuman communities, be immediately granted full legal and moral rights.

Corporations be immediately stripped of their personhood, no longer be considered as persons under the law.

Limited liability corporations be immediately stripped of their limited liability protection. If someone wants to perpetrate some action for which there is great risk to others, this person should be prepared to assume this risk him- or herself.

Those whose economic activities cause great harm—including great harm to the real, physical world—be punished commensurate with their harm. So long as prisons and the death penalty exist, Tony Hayward of BP and Don Blankenship of Massey Coal, to provide two examples among many, should face the death penalty or life in prison without parole for murder, both of human beings and of landbases. The same can be said for many others, including those associated with these specific murders and thefts, and including those associated with many other murders and thefts.

Environmental Crimes Tribunals be immediately put in place to try those who have significantly harmed the real, physical world. These tribunals will have force of law and will impose punishment commensurate with the harm caused to the public and to the real world.

The United States immediately withdraw from NAFTA, DR-CAFTA, and other so-called “free trade agreements” (if it really is “free trade,” then why do they need the military and police to enforce it?) as these cause immeasurable and irreparable harm to local economies in the United States and abroad, and to the real, physical world. They cause grievous harm to working people in the United States and elsewhere. Committees should be formed to determine whether to try those who signed on to NAFTA for subverting United States sovereignty, and for Crimes Against Humanity for the deaths caused by these so-called free trade agreements.

The United States remove all support for the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund. Both of these organizations cause immeasurable and irreparable harm to local economies in the United States and abroad, and to the real, physical world. They cause grievous harm to working people in the United States and elsewhere.

The United States recognize that it is founded on land stolen from indigenous peoples. We demand a four stage process to rectify this ongoing atrocity. The first stage consists of immediately overturning the relevant parts of the 1823 U.S. Supreme Court ruling Johnson v. M’Intosh, which includes such rationalizations for murder and theft as, “However extravagant the pretension of converting the discovery of an inhabited country into conquest may appear; if the principle has been asserted in the first instance, and afterwards sustained; if a country has been acquired and held under it; if the property of the great mass of the community originates in it, it becomes the law of the land, and cannot be questioned.” We demand that this pretense, this principle, not only be questioned but rejected. The second is that all lands for which the United States government cannot establish legal title through treaty must immediately be returned to those peoples from whom it was stolen. Large scale landowners, those with over 640 acres, must immediately return all lands over 640 acres to their original and rightful inhabitants. Small scale landowners, those with title to 640 acres or less, who are “innocent purchasers” may retain title to their land (and this same is true for the primary 640 acres of larger landowners), but may not convey this title to others, and on their deaths it passes back to the original and rightful inhabitants. The third phase is for the United States government to pay reparations to those whose land they have taken commensurate with the harm they have caused. The fourth phase is for each and every treaty between the United States government and sovereign indigenous nations to be revisited, with an eye toward determining whether the treaties were signed under physical, emotional, economic, or military duress and whether these treaties have been violated. In either of these cases the wrongs must be redressed, once again commensurate with the harm these wrongs have caused.

The United States government will provide reparations to those whose families have been harmed by chattel slavery, commensurate with the harm caused.

Rivers be restored. There are more than 2 million dams in the United States, more than 60,000 dams over thirteen feet tall and over 70,000 dams over six and a half feet tall. Dams kill rivers. If we removed one of these 70,000 dams each day, it would take 200 years to get rid of them all. Salmon don’t have that time. Sturgeon don’t have that time. We demand that no more dams be built, and we demand the removal of five of those 70,000 dams per day over the next forty years, beginning one year from today. Remember, physical reality is more important than your belief system.

Native prairies, wetlands, and forests be restored, at a rate of five percent per year. Please note that tree farms or “forests” managed for timber are not the same as native forests, any more than lawns or corn fields are prairies, and any more than concrete sluices are wetlands. Please note also that if all of the prairies and forests east of the Mississippi River were restored, the United States could be a net carbon sink within five years, even without reducing carbon emissions.

An immediate end to clearcutting, “leave tree,” “seed tree,” “shelter tree” and all other “even age management” techniques, no matter what they are called, and no matter what rationales are put forward by the timber industry and the government. All remaining native forests are immediately and completely protected.

An immediate end to destruction of prairies and wetlands. All remaining prairies and wetlands are immediately protected.

The United States government immediately begin strict enforcement of the Clean Water Act, Clean Air Act, the Endangered Species Act, and other acts aimed at protecting the real, physical world. All programs associated with these Acts must be fully funded. This includes the immediate designation of Critical Habitat for all species on the wait list.

Each year the United States must survey all endangered species to ascertain if they are increasing in number and range. If not, the United States government will do what is required to make sure they do.

The United States government do whatever is necessary to make sure that there are fewer toxins in every mother’s breast milk every year than the year before, and that there are fewer carcinogens in every stream every year than the year before.

The United States government do whatever is necessary to make sure that there are more migratory songbirds every year than the year before, that there are more native fish every year than the year before, more native reptiles and amphibians, and so on.

Immediate closure of all US military bases on foreign soil. All US military personnel are to be immediately brought home.

An immediate ban on the direct or indirect use of mercenaries (“military contractors”) by the US government and all associated entities.

A reduction in the US military budget by 20 per year, until it reaches 20 percent of its current size. Then it will be maintained at no larger than that except in case of a war that is declared only by a direct vote of more than 50 percent of US citizens (and to last only as long as 50 percent of US citizens back it). This will provide the “peace dividend” politicians lyingly promised us back when the Soviet Union collapsed, and will balance the US budget and more than pay for all necessary domestic programs.

The United States officially recognize that capitalism is based on subsidies, or as Dwayne Andreas, former CEO of ADM said, “There isn’t one grain of anything in the world that is sold in a free market. Not one! The only place you see a free market is in the speeches of politicians.” He’s right. For example, commercial fishing fleets worldwide receive more in subsidies than the entire value of their catch. Timber corporations, oil corporations, banks, would all collapse immediately without massive government subsidies and bailouts. Therefore, we demand that the United States government stop subsidizing environmentally and socially destructive activities, and shift those same subsidies into activities that restore the real, physical, world and that promote local self-sufficiency and vibrant local economies. Instead of subsidizing deforestation, subsidize reforestation. Instead of subsidizing the oil industry, subsidize relocalization. Instead of subsidizing fisheries depletion, subsidize fisheries restoration. Instead of subsidizing plastics production, subsidize cleaning plastics from the ocean. Instead of subsidizing the production of toxics by the chemical industries, subsidize the cleaning up of these toxics, both from our bodies and from the rest of the real, physical world.

Scientific consensus is that to prevent even more catastrophic climate change than we and the rest of the world already face, net carbon emissions must be reduced by 80 percent. Because we wish to continue to live on a habitable planet, we demand a carbon reduction of 20 percent of current emissions per year over the next four years.

The enshrinement in law of the right for workers to collectively bargain. In case of strikes, if police are brought in at all, it must be to protect the right of workers to strike. If police force anyone to come to terms, they must force the capitalists.

That laws against rape be enforced, even against those who are rich, even those who are famous athletes, even those who are politicians, even those who are entertainers.

The enshrinement in law of the precautionary principle, which states that if an action or policy has a suspected risk of causing harm to the public or the real, physical world, then the burden of proof that it is not harmful falls on those taking the action. In the absence of conclusive proof, no action may be taken. For example, no chemicals would be allowed to be released into the environment without conclusive proof that they will not harm the public or the environment.

No new chemicals be released into the real, physical world until all currently used chemicals have been thoroughly tested for toxicity, and if found to have any significant chance of harming the public or the environment, these chemicals must be immediately and without exception withdrawn from use.

The immediate, explicit, and legally binding recognition that perpetual growth is incompatible with life on a finite planet. We demand that economic growth stop, and that economies begin to contract. We demand immediate acknowledgement that if we do not begin this contraction voluntarily, that this contraction will take place against our will, and will cause untold misery.

That overconsumption and overpopulation must be addressed in methods that are not racist, colonialist, or misogynist. We must recognize that humans, and especially industrial humans, have overshot the planet’s carrying capacity. We must recognize further that while overconsumption is more harmful than overpopulation, both are harmful. We must further recognize that right now, more than fifty percent of the children who are born are not wanted. We demand that all children be wanted. We recognize that the single most effective strategy for making certain that all children are wanted is the liberation of women. Therefore we demand that women be given absolute reproductive freedom, and that all forms of reproductive control be freely available to women. We demand that those who attempt to deny women this freedom be punished by law.

The United States government put an immediate end to absentee land ownership. No one shall be allowed to own land more than one-quarter of a mile from his or her home.

Land ownership patterns change. Land ownership is more concentrated in the United States than in many countries the United States derides as antidemocratic: five percent of farmers in Honduras own 67 percent of the arable land, while in the United States five percent of landowners (not citizens) own 75 percent of the land (California is in many ways worse: twenty-five landowners own 58 percent of the farmland). To rectify this, no one shall be allowed to own more than 640 acres. All title to individual or corporate land holdings over 640 acres are to be immediately forfeited. These lands will be first in line for restoration to native forest, prairie, wetland, and so on. Lands not suitable for these purposes will be used to provide housing for those who cannot afford it.

An immediate end to factory farming and to monocrop agriculture, two of the most destructive activities humans have ever perpetrated. We demand a return to perennial polycultures.

An immediate end to soil drawdown. Because soil is the basis of terrestrial life, no activities will be allowed which destroy topsoil. All properties over sixty acres must have soil surveys every ten years (on every sixty acre parcel), and if they have suffered any decrease of health or depth of topsoil the lands will be confiscated and given to those who will build up soil.

An immediate end to aquifer drawdown. No activities will be allowed which draw down aquifers.

Provision of free food, shelter, and medical necessities to all residents.

Immediate increase in the tax rate to 95 percent for all gross earnings over one million dollars per year by persons or entities.

An immediate and permanent halt to all fracking, mountaintop removal, tar sands extraction, nuclear power, and offshore drilling.

An immediate and permanent halt to all energy production that is harmful to the real, physical world. This includes the manufacture of solar photovoltaics, windmills, hybrid cars, and so on.

Removal of plastic from the ocean. Each year the ocean must have 5 percent less plastic in it than the year before.

Each year the oceans must have 5 percent more large fish than the year before.

The United States Constitution be rewritten to destroy the primacy it gives to the privatization of profits and the externalization of costs by the wealthy, and to make its primary purpose not the preservation of the wealth and power of the already wealthy and powerful, but rather to protect human and nonhuman communities—to protect the real, physical world—and enforcably to deprive the rich of their ability to steal from the poor and the powerful of their ability to destroy the planet.


We hold these further truths also to be self-evident:

That demands without means to enforce them are nothing more than begging. We are not begging. We are demanding.

Power is not a mistake, and those in power will not suddenly have attacks of conscience. Social change has never occurred through waiting for the rich or powerful to develop consciences, and it never will.

Those in power will not act different than they have acted all along, and they will not act against the power of capital. We hold it as self-evident that the rich and powerful have no reason to stop the rich from stealing from the poor nor the powerful from destroying more of the real, physical world than they already have. That is, they have no reason except us. Our lives and the life of the planet that is our only home is on the line. We no longer have the luxury of allowing those in power to continue. If those in power won’t accede to these demands, then they need to not be in power, and we need to remove them from power, using any means necessary.

We hold it as self-evident, as the Declaration of Independence states, “That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends [Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness], it is the Right of the People to alter or abolish it. . . .”

It is long past time we asserted our rights.

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 Deep Green Resistance Indigenous Solidarity Guidelines

[Link] It’s important that members of settler culture ally themselves with indigenous communities fighting for their rights and survival, but there are right and wrong ways to express solidarity. The following guidelines have been put together by Deep Green Resistance members with the help of indigenous activists. They aren’t a complete how-to guide – every community and every situation is different – but they can hopefully point you in a good direction for acting effectively and with respect.

  1. First and foremost we must recognize that non-indigenous people are occupying stolen land in an ongoing genocide that has lasted for centuries. We must affirm our responsibility to stand with indigenous communities who want support and give everything we can to protect their land and culture from further devastation; they have been on the frontlines of biocide and genocide for centuries, and as allies, we need to step up and join them.
  2. You are doing Indigenous solidarity work not out of guilt, but out of a fierce desire to confront oppressive colonial systems of power.
  3. You are not helping Indigenous people, you are there to: join with, struggle with, and fight with indigenous peoples against these systems of power. You must be willing to put your body on the line.
  4. Recognize your privilege as a member of settler culture.
  5. You are not here to engage in any type of cultural, spiritual or religious needs you think you might have, you are here to engage in political action. Also, remember your political message is secondary to the cause at hand.
  6. Never use drugs or alcohol when engaging in Indigenous solidarity work. Never.
  7. Do more listening than talking, you will be surprised what you can learn.
  8. Recognize that there will be Indigenous people that will not want you to participate in ceremonies. Humbly refrain from participating in ceremonies.
  9. Recognize that you and your Indigenous allies may be in the minority on a cause that is worth fighting for.
  10. Work with integrity and respect, be trustworthy and do what you say you are going to do.

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73 Rules of Spycraft

[Link] American diplomat and lawyer Allen Dulles (1893-1969), the 5th Director of Central Intelligence and once head of the CIA listed 73 Rules of Spycraft.

The greatest weapon a man or woman can bring to this type of work in which we are engaged is his or her hard common sense. The following notes aim at being a little common sense and applied form. Simple common sense crystallized by a certain amount of experience into a number of rules and suggestions.

  1. There are many virtues to be striven after in the job. The greatest of them all is security. All else must be subordinated to that.
  2. Security consists not only in avoiding big risks. It consists in carrying out daily tasks with painstaking remembrance of the tiny things that security demands. The little things are in many ways more important than the big ones. It is they which oftenest give the game away. It is consistent care in them, which form the habit and characteristic of security mindedness.
  3. In any case, the man or woman who does not indulge in the daily security routine, boring and useless though it may sometimes appear, will be found lacking in the proper instinctive reaction when dealing with the bigger stuff.
  4. No matter how brilliantly given an individual, no matter how great his goodwill, if he is lacking in security, he will eventually prove more of a liability than asset.
  5. Even though you feel the curious outsider has probably a good idea that you are not what you purport to be, never admit it. Keep on playing the other part. It’s amazing how often people will be led to think they were mistaken. Or at least that you are out ‘in the other stuff’ only in a very mild way. And anyhow, a person is quite free to think what he likes. The important thing is that neither by admission or implication do you let him know.
  6. Security, of course, does not mean stagnation or being afraid to go after things. It means going after things, but reducing all the risks to a minimum by hard work.
  7. Do not overwork your cover to the detriment of your jobs; we must never get so engrossed in the latter as to forget the former.
  8. Never leave things lying about unattended or lay them down where you are liable to forget them. Learn to write lightly; the “blank” page underneath has often been read. Be wary of your piece of blotting paper. If you have to destroy a document, do so thoroughly. Carry as little written matter as possible, and for the shortest possible time. Never carry names or addresses en clair. If you cannot carry them for the time being in your head, put them in a species of personal code, which only you understand. Small papers and envelopes or cards and photographs, ought to be clipped on to the latter, otherwise they are liable to get lost. But when you have conducted an interview or made arrangements for a meeting, write it all down and put it safely away for reference. Your memory can play tricks.
  9. The greatest vice in the game is that of carelessness. Mistakes made generally cannot be rectified.
  10. The next greatest vice is that of vanity. Its offshoots are multiple and malignant. Besides, the man with a swelled head never learns. And there is always a great deal to be learned.
  11. Booze is naturally dangerous. So also is an undisciplined attraction for the other sex. The first loosens the tongue. The second does likewise. It also distorts vision and promotes indolence. They both provide grand weapons to an enemy.
  12. It has been proved time and again, in particular, that sex and business do not mix.
  13. In this job, there are no hours. That is to say, one never leaves it down. It is lived. One never drops one’s guard. All locations are good for laying a false trail (social occasions, for instance, a casual hint here, a phrase there). All locations are good for picking something up, or collecting…for making a useful acquaintance.
  14. In a more normal sense of the term “no hours,” it is certainly not a business where people put their own private arrangements before their work.
  15. That is not to say that one does not take recreation and holidays. Without them it is not possible to do a decent job. If there is a real goodwill and enthusiasm for the work, the two (except in abnormal circumstances) will always be combined without the work having to suffer.
  16. The greatest material curse to the profession, despite all its advantages, is undoubtedly the telephone. It is a constant source of temptation to slackness. And even if you do not use it carelessly yourself, the other fellow, very often will, so in any case, warn him. Always act on the principle that every conversation is listened to, that a call may always give the enemy a line. Naturally, always unplug during confidential conversations. Even better is it to have no phone in your room, or else have it in a box or cupboard.
  17. Sometimes, for quite exceptional reasons, it may be permissible to use open post as a channel of communications. Without these quite exceptional reasons, allowing of no alternative, it is to be completely avoided.
  18. When the post is used, it will be advisable to get through post boxes; that is to say, people who will receive mail for you and pass it on. This ought to be their only function. They should not be part of the show. They will have to be chosen for the personal friendship which they have with you or with one of your agents. The explanation you give them will depend on circumstances; the letters, of course, must be apparently innocent incontinence. A phrase, signature or embodied code will give the message. The letter ought to be concocted in such fashion as to fit in with the recipient’s social background. The writer ought therefore to be given details of the post boxes assigned to them. An insipid letter is in itself suspicious. If however, a signature or phrase is sufficient to convey the message, then a card with greetings will do.
  19. Make a day’s journey, rather than take a risk, either by phone or post. If you do not have a prearranged message to give by phone, never dial your number before having thought about your conversation. Do not improvise even the dummy part of it. But do not be too elaborate. The great rule here, as in all else connected with the job, is to be natural.
  20. If you have phoned a line or a prospective line of yours from a public box and have to look up the number, do not leave the book lying open on that page.
  21. When you choose a safe house to use for meetings or as a depot, let it be safe. If you can, avoid one that is overlooked by other houses. If it is, the main entrance should be that used for other houses as well. Make sure there are no suspicious servants. Especially, of course, be sure of the occupants. Again, these should be chosen for reasons of personal friendship with some member of the organization and should be discreet. The story told to them will once again depend on circumstances. They should have no other place in the show, or if this is unavoidable, then calls at the house should be made as far as possible after dark.
  22. Always be yourself. Always be natural inside the setting you have cast for yourself. This is especially important when meeting people for the first time or when traveling on a job or when in restaurants or public places in the course of one. In trains or restaurants people have ample time to study those nearest them. The calm quiet person attracts little attention. Never strain after an effect. You would not do so in ordinary life. Look upon your job as perfectly normal and natural.
  23. When involved in business, look at other people as little as possible, and don’t dawdle. You will then have a good chance of passing unnoticed. Looks draw looks.
  24. Do not dress in a fashion calculated to strike the eye or to single you out easily.
  25. Do not stand around. And as well as being punctual yourself, see that those with whom you are dealing are punctual. Especially if the meeting is in a public place; a man waiting around will draw attention. But even if it is not in a public place, try to arrive and make others arrive on the dot. An arrival before the time causes as much inconvenience as one after time.
  26. If you have a rendezvous, first make sure you are not followed. Tell the other person to do likewise. But do not act in any exaggerated fashion. Do not take a taxi to a house address connected with your work. If it cannot be avoided, make sure you are not under observation when you get into it. Or give another address, such as that of a café or restaurant nearby.
  27. Try to avoid journeys to places where you will be noticeable. If you have to make such journeys, repeat them as little as possible, and take all means to make yourself fit in quietly with the background.
  28. Make as many of your difficult appointments as you can after dark. Turn the blackout to good use. If you cannot make it after dark, make it very early morning when people are only half awake and not on the lookout for strange goings-on.
  29. Avoid restaurants, cafes and bars for meetings and conversations. Above all never make an initial contact in one of them. Let it be outside. Use abundance of detail and description of persons to be met, and have one or two good distinguishing marks. Have a password that can be given to the wrong person without unduly exciting infestation.
  30. If interviews cannot be conducted in a safe house, then take a walk together in the country. Cemeteries, museums and churches are useful places to bear in mind.
  31. Use your own judgment as to whether or not you ought to talk to chance travel or table companions. It may be useful. It may be the opposite. It may be of no consequence whatsoever. Think, however, before you enter upon a real conversation, whether this particular enlargement of the number of those who will recognize and spot you in the future is liable or not to be a disadvantage. Always carry reading matter. Not only will it save you from being bored, it is protective armor if you want to avoid a conversation or to break off an embarrassing one.
  32. Always be polite to people, but not exaggeratedly so. With the following class of persons who come to know you — hotel and restaurant staffs, taxi drivers, train personnel etc., be pleasant.
  33. Someday, they may prove useful to you. Be generous in your tips to them, but again, not exaggeratedly so. Give just a little more than the other fellow does – unless the cover under which you are working does not permit this. Give only normal tips. however, to waiters and taxi drivers, etc., when you are on the job. Don’t give them any stimulus, even of gratification, to make you stick in their minds. Be as brief and casual as possible.
  34. Easiness and confidence do not come readily to all of us. They must be assiduously cultivated. Not only because they help us personally, but they also help to produce similar reactions in those we are handling.
  35. Never deal out the intense, the dramatic stuff, to a person before you have quietly obtained his confidence in your levelheadedness.
  36. If you’re angling for a man, lead him around to where you want him; put the obvious idea in his head, and make the suggestion of possibilities come to him. Express, if necessary – but with great tact — a wistful disbelief in the possibilities at which you are aiming. “How fine it would be if only someone could… but of course, etc. etc.” And always leave a line of retreat open to yourself.
  37. Never take a person for granted. Very seldom judge a person to be above suspicion. Remember that we live by deceiving others. Others live by deceiving us. Unless others take persons for granted or believe in them, we would never get our results. The others have people as clever as we; if they can be taken in, so can we. Therefore, be suspicious.
  38. Above all, don’t deceive yourself. Don’t decide that the other person is fit or is all right, because you yourself would like it to be that way. You are dealing in people’s lives.
  39. When you have made a contact, till you are absolutely sure of your man — and perhaps even then — be a small but eager intermediary. Have a “They” in the background for whom you act and to whom you are responsible. If “They” are harsh, if “They” decide to break it off, it is never any fault of yours, and indeed you can pretend to have a personal grievance about it. “They” are always great gluttons for results and very stingy with cash until “They” get them. When the results come along, “They” always send messages of congratulation and encouragement.
  40. Try to find agents who do not work for money alone, but for conviction. Remember, however, that not by conviction alone, does the man live. If they need financial help, give it to them. And avoid the “woolly” type of idealist, the fellow who lives in the clouds.
  41. Become a real friend of your agents. Remember that he has a human side so bind him to you by taking an interest in his personal affairs and in his family. But never let the friendship be stronger than your sense of duty to the work. That must always be impervious to any sentimental considerations. Otherwise, your vision will be distorted, your judgment affected, and you may be reluctant, even, to place your men in a position of danger. You may also, by indulgence toward him, let him endanger others.
  42. Gain the confidence of your agents, but be wary of giving them more of yours than is necessary. He may fall by the way side; he may quarrel with you; it may be advisable for a number of reasons to drop him. In that case, obviously, the less information he possesses, the better. Equally obviously, if an agent runs the risk of falling into the hands of the enemy, it is unfair both to him and the show to put him in possession of more knowledge than he needs.
  43. If your agent can be laid off work periodically, this is a very good thing. And during his rest periods, let him show himself in another field and in other capacities.
  44. Teach them at least the elements of technique. Do not merely leave it to his own good judgment, and then hope for the best. Insist, for a long time at least, on his not showing too much initiative, but make him carry out strictly the instructions which you give him. His initiative will he tested when unexpected circumstances arise. Tell him off soundly when he errs; praise him when he does well.
  45. Do not be afraid to be harsh, or even harsh with others, if it is your duty to be so. You are expected to be likewise with yourself. When necessity arises neither your own feelings not those of others matter. Only the job — the lives and safety of those entrusted to you — is what counts.
  46. Remember that you have no right to expect of others what you are not prepared to do yourself. But on the other hand, do not rashly expose yourself in any unnecessary displays of personal courage that may endanger the whole shooting match. It often takes more moral courage to ask another fellow to do a dangerous task than to do it yourself. But if this is the proper course to follow, then you must follow it.
  47. If you have an agent who is really very important to you, who is almost essential to your organization, try not to let them know this. Infer, without belittling him, that there are other lines and other groups of a bigger nature inside the shadow, and that — while he and his particular group are doing fine work — they are but part of a mosaic.
  48. Never let your agent get the bit between his teeth and run away with you. If you cannot manage it easily yourself, there are always the terrible “They.”
  49. But if your agent knows the ground on which he is working better than you, always be ready to listen to his advice and to consult him. The man on the spot is the man who can judge.
  50. In the same way, if you get directives from HQ, which to you seem ill-advised, do not be afraid to oppose these directives. You are there for pointing things out. This is particularly so if there is grave danger to security without a real corresponding advantage for which the risk may be taken. For that, fight anybody with everything you’ve got.
  51. If you have several groups, keep them separate unless the moment comes for concerted action. Keep your lines separate; and within the bounds of reason and security, try to multiply them. Each separation and each multiplication minimizes the danger of total loss. Multiplication of lines also gives the possibility of resting each line, which is often a very desirable thing.
  52. Never set a thing really going, whether it be big or small, before you see it in its details. Do not count on luck. Or only on bad luck.
  53. When using couriers, who are in themselves trustworthy — (here again, the important element of personal friendship ought to be made to play its part) — but whom it is better to keep in the dark as to the real nature of what they are carrying, commercial smuggling will often provide an excellent cover. Apart from being a valid reason for secrecy, it gives people a kick and also provides one with a reason for offering payment. Furthermore, it involves a courier in something in which it is in his own personal advantage to conceal.
  54. To build this cover, should there be no bulk of material to pass, but only a document or a letter, it will be well always to enclose this properly sealed in a field dummy parcel with an unsealed outer wrapping.
  55. The ingredients for any new setup are: serious consideration of the field and of the elements at your disposal; the finding of one key man or more; safe surroundings for encounter; safe houses to meet in; post boxes; couriers; the finding of natural covers and pretext for journeys, etc.; the division of labor; separation into cells; the principal danger in constructing personal friendships between the elements (this is enormously important); avoidance of repetition.
  56. The thing to aim at, unless it is a question of a special job, is not quick results, which may blow up the show, but the initiation of a series of results, which will keep on growing and which, because the show has the proper protective mechanism to keep it under cover, will lead to discovery.
  57. Serious groundwork is much more important than rapid action. The organization does not merely consist of the people actively working but the potential agents whom you have placed where they may be needed, and upon whom you may call, if need arises.
  58. As with an organization, so with a particular individual. His first job in a new field is to forget about everything excepting his groundwork; that is, the effecting of his cover. Once people label him, the job is half done. People take things so much for granted and only with difficulty change their sizing-up of a man once they have made it. They have to be jolted out of it. It is up to you to see that they are not. If they do suspect, do not take it that all is lost and accept the position. Go back to your cover and build it up again. You will at first puzzle them and finally persuade them.
  59. The cover you choose will depend upon the type of work that you have to do. So also will the social life in which you indulge. It may be necessary to lead a full social existence; it may be advisable to stay in the background. You must school yourself not to do any wishful thinking in the sense of persuading yourself that what you want to do is what you ought to do.
  60. Your cover and social behavior, naturally, ought to be chosen to fit in with your background and character. Neither should be too much of a strain. Use them well. Imprint them, gradually but steadfastly on people’s minds. When your name crops up in conversation they must have something to say about you, something concrete outside of your real work.
  61. The place you live in is often a thorny problem. Hotels are seldom satisfactory. A flat of your own where you have everything under control is desirable; if you can share it with a discreet friend who is not in the business, so much the better. You can relax into a normal life when you get home, and he will also give you an opportunity of cover. Obviously the greatest care is to be taken in the choice of servants. But it is preferable to have a reliable servant than to have none at all. People cannot get in to search or fix telephones, etc. in your absence. And if you want to not be at home for awkward callers (either personal or telephonic), servants make that possible.
  62. If a man is married, the presence of his wife may be an advantage or disadvantage. That will depend on the nature of the job — as well as on the nature of the husband and wife.
  63. Should a husband tell his wife what he is doing? It is taken for granted that people in this line are possessed of discretion and judgment. If a man thinks his wife is to be trusted, then he may certainly tell her what he is doing — without necessarily telling her the confidential details of particular jobs. It would be fair to neither husband nor wife to keep her in the dark unless there were serious reasons demanding this. A wife would naturally have to be coached in behavior in the same way as an agent.
  64. Away from the job, among your other contacts, never know too much. Often you will have to bite down on your vanity, which would like to show what you know. This is especially hard when you hear a wrong assertion being made or a misstatement of events.
  65. Not knowing too much does not mean not knowing anything. Unless there is a special reason for it, it is not good either to appear a nitwit or a person lacking in discretion. This does not invite the placing of confidence in you.
  66. Show your intelligence, but be quiet on anything along the line you are working. Make others do the speaking. A good thing sometimes is to be personally interested as “a good patriot and anxious to pass along anything useful to official channels in the hope that it may eventually get to the right quarter.”
  67. When you think a man is possessed of useful knowledge or may in other ways be of value to you, remember that praise is acceptable to the vast majority of men. When honest praise is difficult, a spot of flattery will do equally well.
  68. Within the limits of your principles, be all things to all men. But don’t betray your principles. The strongest force in your show is you. Your sense of right, your sense of respect for yourself and others. And it is your job to bend circumstances to your will, not to let circumstances bend or twist you.
  69. In your work, always be in harmony with your own conscience. Put yourself periodically in the dock for cross examination. You can never do more than your best; only your best is good enough. And remember that only the job counts — not you personally, excepting satisfaction of a job well done.
  70. It is one of the finest jobs going. no matter how small the part you play may appear to be. Countless people would give anything to be in it. Remember that and appreciate the privilege. No matter what others may do, play your part well.
  71. Never get into a rut. Or rest on your oars. There are always new lines around the corner, always changes and variations to be introduced. Unchanging habits of work lead to carelessness and detection.
  72. If anything, overestimate the opposition. Certainly never underestimate it. But do not let that lead to nervousness or lack of confidence. Don’t get rattled, and know that with hard work, calmness, and by never irrevocably compromising yourself, you can always, always best them.
  73. Lastly, and above all — REMEMBER SECURITY.

The above points are not intended for any cursory, even interested, glance. They will bear — each of them — serious attention, and at least occasional re-perusal. It is probable, furthermore, that dotted here and there among them will be found claims that have particular present application for each person who reads them. These, naturally, are meant to be acted upon straightaway.”

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Blue Angels: The Naked Face of Empire

[Link] Editor’s note: We live in a world on the brink. As the climate crisis intensifies, racism and patriarchy rise and corporate control expands. What can be done? We Choose to Speak features a collection of essays by writer and organizer Max Wilbert exploring these topics and their solutions.

by Max Wilbert / Deep Green Resistance

The United States is a military empire that was built and is maintained by organized violence.

The origins of this country lie with the military conquest and either destruction or forced resettlement of indigenous people. Today, the modern American lifestyle is maintained, as Thomas Friedman (someone with whom I agree on very little) writes, by the “hidden fist” of the military.

“McDonalds cannot flourish without MacDonald Douglass,” Friedman wrote. “And the hidden fist that keeps the world safe for Silicon Valley’s technologies to flourish is called the US Army, Air Force, Navy, and Marine Corps.”

I am reminded of this fact every August. August brings Seafair to Seattle, and with Seafair comes the Blue Angels, a Navy/Marines squadron of F/A-18 fighter bombers that travels the US each year, entertaining the public for an annual cost of $37 million.

As these jet aircraft roar overhead, I cover my ears and wince at the spectacle of widespread public adulation. These war machines are worshipped. Earlier today, I watched a five-year-old boy cheering and yelling “yee-haw” as the fighter formation shot overhead. Out on Lake Washington, a toxified remnant of what was once an ecological paradise, other Seattle residents on boats and rafts raised their hands towards the jets in supplication. As five aircraft passed directly overhead, I watched one white American man hold a can of beer above his face and pour the liquid directly down his throat.

For thousands of people, the roar of an F/A-18 fighter bomber is the last sound they ever heard. The F/A-18 aircraft played a major role during the 2001 US invasion of Afghanistan and the 2003 US invasion of Iraq. Between these two conflicts, more than a million civilians were killed—many of them in bombings. The same jet continues to be used in Syria, in Yemen, in Somalia, and elsewhere all around the world.

The US military uses its power to promote and protect a certain vision of prosperity and societal development. In 1948, George Kennan, then the Director of Policy Planning for the US State Department, wrote in Memo PPS23 that “[The United States has] about 50 percent of the world’s wealth but only 6.3 percent of its population… Our real task in the coming period is to devise a pattern of relationships, which will permit us to maintain this position of disparity…”

In the 70 years since Kennan wrote that memo, that “pattern of relationships” has been successfully devised and maintained. The US military is the largest in the world by expenditure, with more than $600 billion in annual funding and more than 2 million personnel (including reservists).

The true costs of this are incalculable. They range from the ecocidal, genocidal destruction of Vietnam and Cambodia to the horrors of Gulf War Syndrome to the toxic remnants of weapons manufactories in cities across the country. In Guatemala and El Salvador, the legacy of US-sponsored right-wing terrorism still echoes through a shattered society. In Nevada and across oceania, indigenous lands remain irradiated from decades of weapons testing, and nuclear waste which continues to leak into groundwater and seep into soils will remain deadly for hundreds of thousands of years.

As Friedman reminds us, military might and corporate power remain inextricably linked in creating consumer culture. We are reminded of this at Seafair, where sponsors include 76, Boeing, Starbucks, Amazon, Uber, Oracle, Microsoft, LG, Samsung, CapitalOne, and many others.

Each F/A-18 costs about $29 million, and is produced by Boeing, the second-largest weapons manufacturer in the world, one of the 100 largest companies in the world, with just under $100 billion in annual revenue. Seattle still fawns over Boeing, which brought so much wealth to this region, just as it now fawns over Amazon and Microsoft. Their digital products colonize our minds, just as Boeing’s weapons help control territory.

Seafair also includes public tours of two warships, the USS Momsen (an Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyer equipped with 96 missiles) and the USS Somerset (a $2 billion troop transport ship equipped to carry 600+ soldiers and vehicles into combat zones). As thousands of people file through the ships, exclaiming over the might of the empire, we must remember that the US military is also the single largest polluter in the world, responsible for more greenhouse gas emissions than any other single entity.

Some people think that because I critique the US military and US empire, I must support this nation’s opponents. This logic is absurd. The Taliban and ISIS, the Nazi regime, the Stalinist Soviet state; US enemies have included countless reprehensible regimes. Repression must be fought, but this nation always has ulterior motives hidden behind humanitarian rhetoric. In the games of empire, the people and the planet are being sacrificed.

Our enemy is empire itself.

But despite my opposition to imperialist wars, I’m not a pacifist. A friend of mine, Vince Emanuele, served in the Marine Corps during the invasion of Iraq. He became disillusioned with the military, left the service, and became a leading voice of dissent against the war.

In the wake of one of the latest calls for mass regulation of firearms, he wrote:

“Sure, I’ll give up my guns, as soon as the NSA, CIA, FBI, DEA, ATF, police, military, and right-wing militias disarm themselves. Until then, my liberal, progressive, and “leftist” friends can eat tofu, watch MSNBC/Bill Moyers, and go fly a kite. Your collective commentary is akin to the “privileged white-classes” that you so often rail against.

Believe me, I’d love to live in a world without guns, violence, and so forth. But, I’m not naive enough to believe these things are going away anytime soon. This nation is extremely sick, twisted, undereducated, and plagued with an exploding prison population, growing inequality, and ever-expanding military empire and surveillance state. We should be expecting much more violence in the future, not less.

Clearly, within the context of rapid climate change, growing social ills, and a collapsing economic system, giving up your weaponry seems a bit insane and utterly naive. Interestingly, it’s the liberals and progressives, who’ve largely grown up in cosmopolitan/suburban areas, who sound like the spoiled little American brats we so often challenge.

If you’ve never carried, fired, cleaned, taken apart, or counted on a weapon to save your life, I suggest taking a more humble approach to this issue. Conversely, if you’ve only fired your daddy’s handgun, shotgun, and rifle in the backyard, I suggest scaling back the glorification of weapons and violence.

If I thought killing and warfare were fun, I would have stayed in the military–but I didn’t. If I though weapons were unnecessary, I wouldn’t own any–but I do.”

Perhaps it’s time for a people’s army—a left-wing guerrilla force, grounded in feminism, anti-racism, and respect for human rights—to fight back against the imperialist empire, to bring the fight home and make CEOs and corporations and right-wing neofascists afraid again.

Interested readers can check out this and other radical books at

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Activist Guide to Security: Defeating Geolocation and Tracking

[Link] by Max Wilbert / November 29th, 2018

We live in a surveillance state. As the Edward Snowden leaks and subsequent reporting has shown, government and private military corporations regularly target political dissidents for intelligence gathering. This information is used to undermine social movements, foment internecine conflict, discover weaknesses, and to get individuals thrown in jail for their justified resistance work.

As the idea of the panopticon describes, surveillance creates a culture of self-censorship. There aren’t enough people at security agencies to monitor everything, all of the time. Almost all of the data that is collected is never read or analyzed. In general, specific targeting of an individual for surveillance is the biggest threat. However, because people don’t understand the surveillance and how to defeat it, they subconsciously stop themselves from even considering serious resistance. In this way, they become self-defeating.

Surveillance functions primarily by creating a culture of paranoia through which the people begin to police themselves.

This is a guide to avoiding some of the most dangerous forms of location tracking. This information is meant to demystify tracking so that you can take easy, practical steps to mitigating the worst impacts. Activists and revolutionaries of all sorts may find this information helpful and should incorporate these practices into daily life, whether or not you are involved in any illegal action, as part of security culture.

About modern surveillance

We are likely all familiar with the extent of surveillance conducted by the NSA in the United States and other agencies such as the GCHQ in Britain. These organizations engage in mass data collection on a global scale, recording and storing every cell phone call, text message, email, social media comment, and other form of data they can get their hands on.

Our best defenses against this surveillance network are encryption, face-to-face networking and communication, and building legitimate communities of trust based on robust security culture.

Capitalism has expanded surveillance to every person. Data collection has long been big business, but the internet and smartphones have created a bonanza in data collection. Corporations regularly collect, share, buy, and sell information including your:

Home address


Location tracking data

Businesses you frequent

Political affiliations


Family and relationship connections

Purchasing habits

And much more

Much of this information is available on the open marketplace. For example, it was recently reported that many police departments are purchasing location records from cell phones companies such as Verizon that show a record of every tower a given cell phone has connected to. By purchasing this information from a corporation, this allows police to bypass the need to receive a warrant—just one example of how corporations and the state collaborate to protect capitalism and the status quo.

Forms of location tracking

There are two main types of location tracking we are going to look at in this article: cell tower tracking and GPS geolocation.

Cell phone tracking

Whenever a cell phone connects to a cell tower, a unique device ID number is transmitted to the service provider. For most people, their cell phone is connected directly to their identity because they pay a monthly fee, signed up using their real name, and so on. Therefore, any time you connect to a cell network, your location is logged.

The more cell towers are located in your area, the more exact your location may be pinpointed. This same form of tracking applies to smartphones, older cell phones, as well as tablets, computers, cars, and other devices that connect to cell networks. This data can be aggregated over time to form a detailed picture of your movements and connections.

GPS tracking

Many handheld GPS units are “receiver only” units, meaning they can only tell you where you are located. They don’t actually send data to GPS satellites, they only passively receive data. However, this is not the case with all GPS devices.

For example, essentially every new car that is sold today includes built-in GPS geolocation beacons. These are designed to help you recover a stolen car, or call for roadside assistance in remote areas.

Additionally, many smartphones track GPS location data and store that information. The next time you connect to a WiFi or cell phone network, that data is uploaded and shared to external services. GPS tracking can easily reveal your exact location to within 10 feet.

Defeating location tracking

So how do we stop these forms of location tracking from being effective? There are five main techniques we can use, all of which are simple and low-tech.

(a) Don’t carry a cell phone. It’s almost a blasphemy in our modern world, but this is the safest way for activists and revolutionaries to operate.

(b) Use “burner” phones. A “burner” is a prepaid cell phone that can be purchased using cash at big-box stores like Wal-Mart. In the USA, only two phones may be purchased per person, per day. If it is bought with cash and activated using the Tor network, a burner phone cannot typically be linked to your identity.

WORD OF CAUTION: rumor has it that the NSA and other agencies run sophisticated voice identification algorithms via their mass surveillance networks. If you are in a maximum-security situation, you may need to use a voice scrambler, only use text messages, or take other precautions. Also note that burners are meant to be used for a short period of time, then discarded.

(c) Remove the cell phone battery. Cell phones cannot track your location if they are powered off. However, it is believed that spy agencies have the technical capability to remotely turn on cell phones for use as surveillance devices. To defeat this, remove the battery completely. This is only possible with some phones, which brings us to method number four.

(d) Use a faraday bag. A faraday bag (sometimes called a “signal blocking bag”) is made of special materials that block radio waves (WiFi, cell networks, NFC, and Bluetooth all are radio waves). These bags can be purchased for less than $50, and will block all signals while your phones or devices are inside. These bags are often used by cops, for example, to prevent remote wiping of devices in evidence storage. If you are ever arrested with digital devices, you may notice the cops place them in faraday bags.

WORD OF CAUTION: Modern smartphones include multiple sensors including a compass and accelerometer. There have been proof-of-concept experiments showing that a smartphone inside a faraday bag can still track your location by using these sensors in a form of dead reckoning. In high-security situations where you may be targeted individually, this is a real consideration.

(e) Don’t buy any modern car that includes GPS. Note that almost all rental cars contain GPS tracking devices as well. Any time a person is traveling for a serious action, it is safest to use an older vehicle. If you may be under surveillance, it is best to use a vehicle that is not directly connected to you or to the movement.


There are caveats here. I am not a technical expert, I am merely a revolutionary who is highly concerned about mass surveillance. Methods of location tracking are always evolving. And there are many methods.

This article doesn’t, for example, discuss the simple method of placing a GPS tracker on a car. These small magnetic devices can be purchased on the private market and attached to the bottom of any vehicle.

However, these basic principles can be applied across a wide range of scenarios, with some modification, to greatly increase your privacy and security.

Good luck! 

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DGR France Organizing Update

[Link] From our Deep Green Resistance comrades in France:

“They talked about DGR twice on Swiss radio RTS. Big station. RTS radio interviewed two members about direct action. We were invited to speak at a big conference festival in Lyon. I talked about how unsustainable this industrial civilization is and how we need more militant and strategic action (50% teenagers 50% adults). Speaking in front of 300+ people was a first for me but it went well. A little chaotic because nobody in the panel had the same analysis.

The DGR book is being published in two volumes. Chapter 1 to 6 is coming out on November 30th. With this launch of the book we will organize membership and local chapters here in France… People are talking a lot about DGR among militant circles. Sociology students want to study us lol.”

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Amnesia & Lack of Accountability Reign as Wall Street Celebrates Halliburton’s 100-year anniversary

[Link] by Lauren Smith, guest author

When it comes to the ruling elite’s corporate plunder and crimes against humanity, the U.S. national memory’s short and no one, not even its political henchmen, assume blame or suffer real consequences: take Halliburton and former chief executive and U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney for example.  Not only did Cheney plan and justify the invasion, occupation and pilferage of Iraq’s oil, gold bars and national museum treasures under treasonous false pretenses, but its subsidiary, Kellogg Brown & Root (KBR Inc.), overcharged the U.S. taxpayer to a tune of more than $2 billion due to collusion engendered by sole source contracting methods and shoddy accounting procedures. It’s even forgotten that Cheney received a $34 million payout from Halliburton when he joined the Vice President ticket in 2000, in advance of his unscrupulous maneuvers, according to news commentator, Chris Matthews; because on November 5th 2018, in celebration of its 100-year anniversary, its chief executives rang the New York Stock Exchange’s (NYSE) opening bell.

Sadly, as a nation, the U.S. doesn’t recall Cheney’s lies, or his role in planning the contemptible “Shock and Awe” saturation bombing campaign that destroyed a sovereign nation, which posed no threat to the United States, and left the world’s cradle of civilization in ruins. Conveniently, it doesn’t recall the over 500,000 deaths from war related causes, as reported by the Huffington Post in its 2017 updated article; nor does it recall that obliterating Iraq’s government created a sociopolitical vacuum that enabled the exponential growth of the CIA’s unique brand of Islamofascism and its resulting terrorism, which has culminated in war-torn Syria and Yemen.

Iraq’s only “crime” against the United States, if you want to call it that, was being hogtied by Washington’s sanctions and embargo against it – in what can only be called a Catch 22 situation.  Iraq couldn’t do business with U.S. corporations not because Saddam Hussein was unwilling to, but because the U.S. government effectively barred Iraq from doing so.  This Catch 22 situation is presently being repeated in Venezuela and Iran in advance of its planned invasion and occupation.

Then there is the cost of war itself: according to The Costs of War project at the Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs at Brown University, “The wars in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Iraq (the war in Pakistan refers to U.S. counterterrorism efforts there, such as drone strikes and other efforts against al Qaeda) cost $4.4 trillion. Included in the cost are: direct Congressional war appropriations; war-related increases to the Pentagon base budget; veterans care and disability; increases in the homeland security budget; interest payments on direct war borrowing; foreign assistance spending; and estimated future obligations for veterans’ care. By 2053, interest payments on the debt alone could reach over $7 trillion.”

Keep in mind that the U.S. taxpayer directly subsidizes the profits of the military industrial complex, and oil & gas industries.  Yet, no U.S. protests against Halliburton are found in the media later than 2007.  And, there are no organized disinvestment campaigns of record.

So Wall Street celebrates Halliburton’s 100-year anniversary with a clear conscience, because no one has graffitied its large four column wide sign or is disinvested from its stock. The nation only recalls, according to IBTimes, in their 2013 article on Iraq war contracts, that Halliburton’s subsidiary, KBR, had the most:  KBR’s war contracts totaled $39.5 billion in just a decade.

Other than the Kuala Lumpur War Crimes Commission, which found Cheney and President Bush et al guilty of war crimes in absentia for the illegal invasion of Iraq, there remains no lasting acknowledgement in the U.S. consciousness of Cheney’s evil doings.  Cheney had recent book deals and continues to ramble on with speaking engagements.  He was scheduled by Cornell University to issue a keynote address as recent as May 2018.  In short, the ruling elite protects those engaged in their dirty work until they prove unnecessary.  In this regard, consider the fact that Saddam Hussein was a former CIA asset and a good corporate customer – as the weapons of mass destruction (WMD), he once possessed, were sold to him by the U.S. and Britain.  However, according to the former United Nations (UN) chief weapon inspector, Scott Ritter, the UN destroyed Iraq’s stockpiles after the Persian Gulf War (1990-1991) – well before the 2003 invasion.  This report was ignored because it contradicted the prevailing narrative that justified the invasion, occupation and looting of Iraq.

Just as the ruling elite engineered Saddam Hussein rise to power when he was useful, they ensured Cheney’s political ascent, and the success of his campaign against Iraq.  To illustrate the persuasive power of the oil & gas industry in politics, note that according to Open, oil & gas lobbyists spent over $175M in 2009 (Obama’s first year in office). Of that amount, ExxonMobil spent the most at $27.4M and Chevron Corp., in second place, spent $20.8M. For the record, ExxonMobil and Chevron are successors of Rockefeller’s Standard Oil Company.  Prior to President Obama & Vice President Biden, the Oil & Gas Industry lobbyists spent approximately half that amount at $86.5M in 2007.  Thus, Bush & Cheney represented a 50% savings for oil & gas lobbyists.

When seeking to “out” the elite, keep in mind that the Rockefeller clan describe themselves “as ExxonMobil’s longest continuous shareholders.”  In Iraq, ExxonMobil has a 60% share of a $50 billion market contract developing the 9-billion-barrels southern West Qurna Phase I field, and ExxonMobil is expanding its oil & gas holdings into the semiautonomous Kurdish region in the country’s north.

Within this context, the enemy is not a corporate office, an oilrig, pipeline or refinery; it’s the ruling elite that own and control the means of production.  If people of conscience don’t hold them accountable for their crimes, they will continue to commit them in countries such as Venezuela and Iran, which are presently locked in their sights.  While henchmen change, the ruling elite remains.  Why should the U.S. allow its military and secret service to be pimped out as corporate stooges and glorified security guards?

Imperialism is insatiable and fascism expedient. The time to hold the ruling elite accountable is now before another invasion and occupation is executed against a fake enemy that just so happens to coincidentally have a large desirable oil reserve.  Let’s follow Iceland’s lead and seek the prosecution of white-collar criminals that hide behind a facade of corporate stock holdings now, before its too late and they strike again in Venezuela and Iran.

So for Halliburton’s 100-year anniversary wish, let’s wish its stock tanks and that its guilty are remembered, held accountable, and that justice is ultimately served.

Lauren Smith has a BA in Politics, Economics and Society from SUNY at Old Westbury and an MPA in International Development Administration from New York University.  Her historical fiction novel based on Nicaragua’s 1979 revolution is due out in 2019.

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Book Excerpt: Underground Tactics

[Story] Editor’s note: The following is from the chapter “Tactics and Targets” of the book Deep Green Resistance: A Strategy to Save the  Planet. This book is now available for free online.

by Aric McBay

Some tactics can be carried out underground—like general liberation organizing and propaganda—but are more effective aboveground. Where open speech is dangerous, these types of tactics may move underground to adapt to circumstances. The African National Congress, in its struggle for basic human rights, should have been allowed to work aboveground, but that simply wasn’t possible in repressive apartheid South Africa.

And then there are tactics that are only appropriate for the underground, obligate underground operations that depend on secrecy and security. Escape lines and safehouses for persecuted persons and resistance fugitives are example of those operations. There’s a reason it’s called the “underground” railroad—it’s not transferable to the aboveground, because the entire operation is completely dependent on secrecy. Clandestine intelligence gathering is another case; the French Resistance didn’t gather enemy secrets by walking up to the nearest SS office and asking for a list of their troop deployments.

Some tactics are almost always limited to the underground:

  • Clandestine intelligence
  • Escape
  • Sabotage and attacks on materiel
  • Attacks on troops
  • Intimidation
  • Assassination

As operational categories, intelligence and escape are pretty clear, and few people looking at historical struggles will deny the importance of gathering information or aiding people to escape persecution. Of course, some abolitionists in the antebellum US didn’t support the Underground Railroad. And many Jewish authorities tried to make German Jews cooperate with registration and population control measures. In hindsight, it’s clear to us that these were huge strategic and moral mistakes, but at the time it may only have been clear to the particularly perceptive and farsighted.

Sabotage and attacks on materiel are overlapping tactics. Oftentimes, sabotage is more subtle; for example, machinery may be disabled without being recognized as sabotage. Attacks on materiel are often more overt efforts to destroy and disable the adversary’s equipment and supplies. In any case, they form an inclusive continuum, with sabotage on the more clandestine end of the scale.

It’s true that harm can be caused through sabotage, and that sabotage can be a form of violence. But allowing a machine to operate can also be more violent than sabotaging it. Think of a drift net. How many living creatures does a drift net kill as it passes through the ocean, regardless of whether it’s being used for fishing or not? Destroying a drift net—or sabotaging a boat so that a drift net cannot be deployed—would save countless lives. Sabotaging a drift net is clearly a nonviolent act. However, you could argue conversely that not sabotaging a drift net (provided you had the means and opportunity) is a profoundly violent act—indeed, violent not just for individual creatures, but violent on a massive, ecological scale. The drift net is an obvious example, but we could make a similar (if longer and more roundabout) argument for most any industrial machinery.

You’re opposed to violence? So where’s your monkey wrench?

Sabotage is not categorically violent, but the next few underground categories may involve violence on the part of resisters. Attacks on troops, intimidation, assassination, and the like have been used to great effect by a great many resistance movements in history. From the assassination of SS officers by escaping concentration camp inmates to the killing of slave owners by revolting slaves to the assassination of British torturers by Michael Collins’s Twelve Apostles, the selective use of violence has been essential for victory in a great many resistance and liberation struggles.

Attacks on troops are common where a politically conscious population lives under overt military occupation. In these situations, there is often little distinction between uniformed militaries, police, and government paramilitaries (like the Black and Tans or the miliciens). The violence may be secondary. Sometimes the resistance members are trying to capture equipment, documents, or intelligence; how many guerrillas have gotten started by killing occupying soldiers to get guns? Sometimes the attack is intended to force the enemy to increase its defensive garrisons or pull back to more defended positions and abandon remote or outlying areas. Sometimes the point is to demonstrate the strength or capabilities of the resistance to the population and the occupier. Sometimes the point is actually to kill enemy soldiers and deplete the occupying force. Sometimes the troops are just sentries or guards, and the primary target is an enemy building or facility.

Of course, for these attacks to happen successfully, they must follow the basic rules of asymmetric conflict and general good strategy. When raiding police stations for guns, the IRA chose remote, poorly guarded sites. Guerrillas like to go after locations with only one or two sentries, and any attack on those small sites forces the occupier to make tough choices: abandon an outpost because it can’t be adequately defended or increase security by doubling the number of guards. Either benefits the resistance and saps the resources of the occupier.

And although in industrial conflicts it’s often true that destroying materiel and disrupting logistics can be very effective, that’s sometimes not enough. Take American involvement in the Vietnam War. The American cost in terms of materiel was enormous—in modern dollars, the war cost close to $600 billion. But it wasn’t the cost of replacing helicopters or fueling convoys that turned US sentiment against the war. It was the growing stream of American bodies being flown home in coffins.

There’s a world of difference—socially, organizationally, psychologically—between fighting the occupation of a foreign government and the occupation of a domestic one. There’s something about the psychology of resistance that makes it easier for people to unite against a foreign enemy. Most people make no distinction between the people living in their country and the government of that country, which is why the news will say “America pulls out of climate talks” when they are talking about the US government. This psychology is why millions of Vietnamese people took up arms against the American invasion, but only a handful of Americans took up arms against that invasion (some of them being soldiers who fragged their officers, and some of them being groups like the Weather Underground who went out of their way not to injure the people who were burning Vietnamese peasants alive by the tens of thousands). This psychology explains why some of the patriots who fought in the French Resistance went on to torture people to repress the Algerian Resistance. And it explains why most Germans didn’t even support theoretical resistance against Hitler a decade after the war.

This doesn’t bode well for resistance in the minority world, where the rich and powerful minority live. People in poorer countries may be able to rally against foreign corporations and colonial dictatorships, but those in the center of empire contend with power structures that most people consider natural, familiar, even friendly. But these domestic institutions of power—be they corporate or governmental—are just as foreign, and just as destructive, as an invading army. They may be based in the same geographic region as we are, but they are just as alien as if they were run by robots or little green men.

Intimidation is another tactic related to violence that is usually conducted underground. This tactic is used by the “Gulabi Gang” (also called the Pink Sari Gang) of Uttar Pradesh, a state in India.4 Leader Sampat Pal Devi calls it “a gang for justice.” The Gulabi Gang formed as a response to deeply entrenched and violent patriarchy (especially domestic and sexual violence) and caste-based discrimination. The members use a variety of tactics to fight for women’s rights, but their “vigilante violence” has gained global attention. With over 500 members, they can exert considerable force. They’ve stopped child marriages. They’ve beaten up men who perpetrate domestic violence. The gang forced the police to register crimes against Untouchables by slapping police officers until they complied. They’ve hijacked trucks full of food that were going to be sold for a profit by corrupt officials. Their hundreds of members practice self-defense with the lathi (a traditional Indian stick or staff weapon). It’s no surprise their ranks are growing.

Gulabi Gang

Many of these examples tread the boundary of our aboveground-underground distinction. When struggling against systems of patriarchy that have closely allied themselves with governments and police (which is to say, virtually all systems of patriarchy), women’s groups that have been forced to use violence or the threat of violence may have to operate in a clandestine fashion at least some of the time. At the same time, the effects of their self-defense must be prominent and publicized. Killing a rapist or abuser has the obvious benefit of stopping any future abuses by that individual. But the larger beneficial effect is to intimidate other would-be abusers—to turn the tables and prevent other incidents of rape or abuse by making the consequences for perpetrators known. The Gulabi Gang is so popular and effective in part because they openly defy abuses of male power, so the effect on both men and women is very large. Their aboveground defiance rallies more support than they could by causing abusive men to die in a series of mysterious accidents. The Black Panthers were similarly popular because they publically defied the violent oppression meted out by police on a daily basis. And by openly bearing arms, they were able to intimidate the police (and other people, like drug dealers) into reducing their abuses.

There are limits to the use of intimidation on those in power. The most powerful people are the most physically isolated—they might have bodyguards or live in gated houses. They have far more coercive force at their fingertips than any resistance movement. For that reason, resistance groups have historically used intimidation primarily on low-level functionaries and collaborators who give information to those in power when asked or who cooperate with them in a more limited way.

It’s important to acknowledge the distinction between intimidation and terrorism. Terrorism consists of violent attacks on civilians. Resistance intimidation directly targets those responsible for oppressive and exploitative acts and power structures, and lets those people know that there are consequences for their actions. The reason it gets people so riled up is because it involves violence (or the threat of violence) going up the hierarchy. But resistance intimidation is ultimately, of course, an attempt to reduce violence. Groups like the Gulabi Gang beat abusive men instead of just killing them. There’s a reasonable escalation that gives men a chance to stop their wrongdoing and also makes the consequences for further wrongdoing clear. Rape and domestic abuse are terrorism; they’re senseless and unprovoked acts of violence against unarmed civilians, designed to threaten and terrorize women (and men) into compliance. The intimidation of rapists or domestic abusers is one tactic that can be used to stop their violence while employing the minimum amount of violence possible.

No resistance movement wants to engage in needless cycles of violence and retribution with those in power. But a refusal to employ violent tactics when they are appropriate will very likely lead to more violence. Many abolitionists did not support John Brown because they considered his plan for a defensive liberation struggle to be too violent—but Brown’s failure led inevitably to a lengthy and gruesome Civil War (as well as continued years of bloody slavery), a consequence that was orders of magnitude more violent than Brown’s intended plan.

This leads us to the last major underground tactic: assassination.

In talking about assassination (or any attack on humans) in the context of resistance, two key questions must be asked. First, is the act strategically beneficial, that is, would assassination further the strategy of the group? Second, is the act morally just, given the person in question? (The issue of justice is necessarily particular to the target; it’s assumed that the broader strategy incorporates aims to increase justice.)

As is shown on my two-by-two grid of all combinations, an assassination may be strategic and just, it may be strategic and unjust, it may be unstrategic but just, or it may be both unstrategic and unjust. Obviously, any action in the last category would be out of the question. Any action in the strategic and just category could be a good bet for an armed resistance movement. The other two categories are where things get complex.

Figure 13-3

Hitler exemplified a number of different strategy vs. justice combinations at different points in time. It’s a common moral quandary to ask whether it would be a good idea to go back in time and kill Hitler as a child, provided time travel were possible. There’s a good bet that this would have averted World War II and the Holocaust, which would have been a good thing, so put a check mark in the “strategic” column. The problem is that most people would consider it unjust to murder an innocent child who had yet to commit any crimes, so it would be difficult to call that action just in the immediate sense.

Once Hitler had risen to power in the late 1930s, though, his aim was clear, as he had already been whipping up hate and expanding his control of Nazi Germany. At that point, it would have been both strategic and just to assassinate him. Indeed, elements in the Wehrmacht (army) and the Abwehr (intelligence) considered it, because they knew what Hitler was planning to do. Unfortunately, they were indecisive, and did not commit to the plan. Hitler soon began invading Germany’s neighbors, and as his popularity soared, the assassination plan was shelved. It was years before inside elements would actually stage an assassination attempt.

Figure 13-4

That famous attempt took place—and failed—on July 20, 1944.5What’s interesting is that the Allies were also considering an attempt on Hitler’s life, which they called Operation Foxley. They knew that Hitler routinely went on walks alone in a remote area, and devised a plan to parachute in two operatives dressed as German officers, one of them a sniper, who would lay in wait and assassinate Hitler when he walked by. The plan was never enacted because of internal controversy. Many in the SOE and British government believed that Hitler was a poor strategist, a maniac whose overreach would be his downfall. If he were assassinated, they believed, his replacement (likely Himmler) would be a more competent leader, and this would draw out the war and increase Allied losses. In the opinion of the Allies it was unquestionably just to kill Hitler, but no longer strategically beneficial.

There is no shortage of situations where assassination would have been just, but of questionable strategic value. Resistance groups pondering assassination have many questions to ask themselves in deciding whether they are being strategic or not. What is the value of this potential target to the enemy? Is this an exceptional person or does his or her influence come from his or her role in the organization? Who would replace this person, and would that person be better or worse for the struggle? Will it make any difference on an organizational scale or is the potential target simply an interchangeable cog? Uniquely valuable individuals make uniquely valuable targets for assassination by resistance groups.

Of course, in a military context (and this overlaps with attacks on troops), snipers routinely target officers over enlisted soldiers. In theory, officers or enlisted soldiers are standardized and replaceable, but, in practice, officers constitute more valuable targets. There’s a difference between theoretical and practical equivalence; there might be other officers to replace an assassinated one, but the replacement might not arrive in a timely manner nor would he have the experience of his predecessor (experience being a key reason that Michael Collins assassinated intelligence officers). That said, snipers don’t just target officers. Snipers target any enemy soldiers available, because war is essentially about destroying the other side’s ability to wage war.

The benefits must also outweigh costs or side effects. Resistance members may be captured or killed in the attempt. Assassination also provokes a major response—and major reprisals—because it is a direct attack on those in power. When SS boss Reinhard Heydrich (“the butcher of Prague”) was assassinated in 1942, the Nazis massacred more than 1,000 Czech people in response. In Canada, martial law (via the War Measures Act) has only ever been declared three times—during WWI and WWII, and again after the assassination of the Quebec Vice Premier of Quebec by the Front de Libération du Québec. Remember, aboveground allies may bear the brunt of reprisals for assassinations, and those reprisals can range from martial law and police crackdowns to mass arrests or even executions.

There’s an important distinction to be made between assassination as an ideological tactic versus as a military tactic. As a military tactic, employed by countless snipers in the history of war, assassination decisively weakens the adversary by killing people with important experience or talents, weakening the entire organization. Assassination as an ideological tactic—attacking or killing prominent figures because of ideological disagreements—almost always goes sour, and quickly. There are few more effective ways to create martyrs and trigger cycles of violence without actually accomplishing anything decisive. The assassination of Michael Collins, for example, by his former allies led only to bloody civil war.


Individuals working underground focus mostly on small-scale acts of sabotage and subversion that make the most of their skill and opportunity. Because they lack escape networks, and because they must be opportunistic, it’s ideal for their actions to be what French resisters called insaisissable–untraceable or appearing like an accident—unless the nature of the action requires otherwise.

Individual saboteurs are more effective with some informal coordination—if, for example, a general day of action has been called. It also helps if the individuals seize an opportunity by springing into action when those in power are already off balance or under attack, like the two teenaged French girls who sabotaged trains carrying German tanks after D-Day, thus hampering the German ability to respond to the Allied landing.

One individual resister who attempted truly decisive action was Georg Elser, a German-born carpenter who opposed Hitler from the beginning. When Hitler started the World War II in 1939, Elser resolved to assassinate Hitler. He spent hours every night secretly hollowing out a hidden cavity in the beer hall where Hitler spoke each year on the anniversary of his failed coup. Elser used knowledge he learned from working at a watch factory to build a timer, and planted a bomb in the hidden cavity. The bomb went off on time, but by chance Hilter left early and survived. When Elser was captured, the Gestapo tortured him for information, refusing to believe that a single tradesperson with a grade-school education could come so close to killing Hitler without help. But Elser, indeed, worked entirely alone.

Underground networks can accomplish decisive operations that require greater coordination, numbers, and geographic scope. This is crucial. Large-scale coordination can turn even minor tactics—like simple sabotage—into dramatically decisive events. Underground saboteurs from the French Resistance to the ANC relied on simple techniques, homemade tools, and “appropriate technology.” With synchronization between even a handful of groups, these underground networks can make an entire economy grind to a halt.

The change is more than quantitative, it’s qualitative. A massively coordinated set of actions is fundamentally different from an uncoordinated set of the same actions. Complex systems respond in a nonlinear fashion. They can adapt and maintain equilibrium in the face of small insults, minor disruptions. But beyond a certain point, increasing attacks undermine the entire system, causing widespread failure or collapse.

Because of this, coordination is perhaps the most compelling argument for underground networks over mere isolated cells. I’ll discuss coordinated actions in more detail in the next chapter: Decisive Ecological Warfare.


Since individuals working underground are pretty much alone, they have very few options for sustaining operations. They may potentially recruit or train others to form an underground cell. Or they may try to make contact with other people or groups (either underground or aboveground) to work as an auxiliary of some kind, such as an intelligence source, especially if they are able to pass on information from inside a government or corporate bureaucracy. But making this connection is often very challenging.

Individual escape and evasion may also be a decisive or sustaining action, at least on a small scale. Antebellum American slavery offers some examples. In a discussion of slave revolts, historian Deborah Gray White explains, “[I]ndividual resistance did not overthrow slavery, but it might have encouraged masters to make perpetual servitude more tolerable and lasting. Still, for many African Americans, individual rebellions against the authority of slaveholders fulfilled much the same function as did the slave family, Christianity, and folk religion: it created the psychic space that enabled Black people to survive.”

Historian John Michael Vlach observes: “Southern plantations actually served as the training grounds for those most inclined to seek their freedom.” Slaves would often escape for short periods of time as a temporary respite from compelled labor before returning to plantations, a practice often tolerated by owners. These escapes provided opportunities to build a camp or even steal and stock up on provisions for another escape. Sometimes slaves would use temporary escapes as attempts to compel better behavior from plantation owners.7 In any case, these escapes and minor thefts helped to build a culture of resistance by challenging the omnipotence of slave owners and reclaiming some small measure of autonomy and freedom.

Individuals have some ability to assert power, but recruitment is key in underground sustaining operations. A single cell can gather or steal equipment and supplies for itself, but it can’t participate in wider sustaining operations unless it forms a network by recruiting organizationally, training new members and auxiliaries, and extending into new cells. One underground cell is all you need to create an entire network. Creating the first cell—finding those first few trusted comrades, developing communications and signals—is the hardest part, because other cells can be founded on the same template, and the members of the existing cell can be used to recruit, screen, and train new members.

Even though it’s inherently difficult for an underground group to coordinate with other distinct underground groups, it is possible for an underground cell to offer supporting operations to aboveground campaigns. It was an underground group—the Citizen’s Commission to Investigate the FBI—that exposed COINTELPRO, and allowed many aboveground groups to understand and counteract the FBI’s covert attacks on them. And the judicious use of sabotage could buy valuable time for aboveground groups to mobilize in a given campaign.

There are clearly campaigns in which aboveground groups have no desire for help from the underground, in which case it’s best for the underground to focus on other projects. But the two can work together on the same strategy without direct coordination. If a popular aboveground campaign against a big-box store or unwanted new industrial site fails because of corrupt politicians, an underground group can always pick up the slack and damage or destroy the facility under construction. Sometimes people argue that there’s no point in sabotaging anything, because those in power will just build it again. But there may come a day when those in power start to say “there’s no point in building it—they’ll just burn it down again.”

Underground cells may also run a safehouse or safehouses for themselves and allies. Single cells can’t run true underground railroads, but even single safehouses are valuable in dealing with repression or persecution. A key challenge in underground railroads and escape lines is that the escapees have to make contact with underground helpers without exposing themselves to those in power. Larger, more “formalized” underground networks have specialized methods and personnel for this, but a single cell running a safehouse may not. If an underground cell is conscientious, its members will be the only ones aware that the safehouse exists at all, which puts the burden on them to contact someone who requires refuge.

Mass persecution and repression has happened enough times in history to provide a wealth of examples where this would be appropriate. The internment of Japanese Canadians during World War II is quite well-known. Less well-known is the internment of hundreds of leftist radicals and labor activists starting in 1940. Leading activists associated with certain other ethnic organizations (especially Ukrainian), the labor movement, and the Communist party were arrested and sent to isolated work camps in various locations around Canada. A few managed to go into hiding, at least temporarily, but the vast majority were captured and sent to the camps, where a number of them died.8 In a situation like that, an underground cell could offer shelter to a persecuted aboveground activist or activists on an invitational basis without having to expose themselves openly.

Many of these operations work in tandem. Resistance networks from the SOE to the ANC have used their escape lines and underground railroads to sneak recruits to training sites in friendly areas and then infiltrated those people back into occupied territory to take up the fight.

Underground networks may be large enough to create “areas of persistence” where they exert a sizeable influence and have developed an underground infrastructure rooted in a culture of resistance. If an underground network reaches a critical mass in a certain area, it may be able to significantly disrupt the command and control systems of those in power, allowing resisters both aboveground and underground a greater amount of latitude in their work.

There are a number of examples of resistance movements successfully creating areas of persistence. The Zapatistas in Mexico exert considerable influence in Chiapas, so much so that they can post signs to that effect. “You are in Zapatista rebel territory” proclaims one typical sign (translated from Spanish). “Here the people give the orders and the government obeys.” The posting also warns against drug and alcohol trafficking or use and against the illegal sale of wood. “No to the destruction of nature.”9 Other Latin American resistance movements, such as the FMLN in El Salvador and the Sandinistas in Nicaragua, created areas of persistence in Latin America in the late twentieth century. Hamas in Palestine and Hezbollah in Lebanon have similarly established large areas of persistence in the Middle East.


Because working underground is dangerous and difficult, effective resisters mostly focus on decisive and sustaining operations that will be worth their while. That said, there are still some shaping operations for the underground.

This includes general counterintelligence and security work. Ferreting out and removing informers and infiltrators is a key step in allowing resistance organizations of every type to grow and resistance strategies to succeed. Neither the ANC nor the IRA were able to win until they could deal effectively with such people.

Underground cells can also carry out some specialized propaganda operations. For reasons already discussed, propaganda in general is best carried out by aboveground groups, but there are exceptions. In particularly repressive regimes, basic propaganda and education projects must move underground to continue to function and protect identities. Underground newspapers and forms of pirate radio are two examples. Entire, vast underground networks have been built on this principle. In Soviet Russia, samizdat was the secret copying of and distribution of illegal or censored texts. A person who received a piece of illegal literature—say, Vaclav Havel’s Power of the Powerless—was expected to make more copies and pass them on. In a pre–personal computer age, in a country where copy machines and printing presses were under state control, this often meant laboriously copying books by hand or typewriter.

Underground groups may also want to carry out certain high-profile or spectacular “demonstration” actions to demonstrate that underground resistance is possible and that it is happening, and to offer a model for a particular tactic or target to be emulated by others. Of course, demonstrative actions may be valuable, but they can also degrade into symbolism for the sake of symbolism. Plenty of underground groups, the Weather Underground included, hoped to use their actions to “ignite a revolution.” But, in general—and especially when “the masses” can’t be reasonably expected to join in the fight—underground groups must get their job done by being as decisive as possible.

Editor’s note: continue reading at Target Selection.

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Book Excerpt: Target Selection

[Story] Editor’s note: The following is from the chapter “Tactics and Targets” of the book Deep Green Resistance: A Strategy to Save the  Planet. This book is now available for free online.

by Aric McBay

A good tactic used on a poor target has little effect.

The Field Manual on Guerrilla Warfare identifies four “important factors related to the target which influence its final selection,”10 later expanded to six with the CARVER matrix.13 These criteria are meant specifically for targets to be disrupted or destroyed, not necessarily when choosing potential targets for intelligence gathering or further investigation. The six criteria are as follows:

Criticality. How important is this target to the enemy and to enemy operations? “A target is critical when its destruction or damage will exercise a significant influence upon the enemy’s ability to conduct or support operations. Such targets as bridges, tunnels, ravines, and mountain passes are critical to lines of communication; engines, ties, and POL [petroleum, oil, and lubricant] stores are critical to transportation. Each target is considered in relationship to other elements of the target system.” Resistance movements (and the military) look for bottlenecks when selecting a target. And they make sure to think in big picture terms, rather than just in terms of a specific individual target. What target(s) can be disrupted or destroyed to cause maximum damage to the entire enemy system? Multiple concurrent surprise attacks are ideal for resistance movements, and can cause cascading failures.

Accessibility. How easy is it to get near the target? “Accessibility is measured by the ability of the attacker to infiltrate into the target area. In studying a target for accessibility, security controls around the target area, location of the target, and means of infiltration are considered.” It’s important to make a clear distinction between accessibility and vulnerability. For a resister in Occupied France, a well-guarded fuel depot might be explosively vulnerable, but not very accessible. For resisters in German-occupied Warsaw, the heavy wall surrounding the Warsaw Ghetto might be easily accessible, but not very vulnerable unless they carried powerful explosives. Good intelligence and reconnaissance are key to identifying and bypassing obstacles to access.

Recuperability. How much effort would it take to rebuild or replace the target? “Recuperability is the enemy’s ability to restore a damaged facility to normal operating capacity. It is affected by the enemy capability to repair and replace damaged portions of the target.” Specialized installations, hard-to-find parts, or people with special unique skills are difficult to replace. Targets with very common or mass-produced and stockpiled components would be poorer targets in terms of recuperability. Undermining enemy recuperability can be done with good planning and multiple attacks: SOE saboteurs were trained to target the same important parts on every machine. If they were to sabotage all of the locomotives in a stockyard, they would blow up the same part on each train, thus preventing the engineers from cannibalizing parts from other trains to make a working one.

Vulnerability. How tough is the target? “Vulnerability is a target’s susceptibility to attack by means available to [resistance] forces. Vulnerability is influenced by the nature of the target, i.e., type, size, disposition and composition.” In military terminology, a “soft target” is one that is relatively vulnerable, while a “hard target” is well defended or fortified. A soft target could be a sensitive electrical component, a flammable storage shed, or a person. A hard target might be a roadway, a concrete bunker, or a military installation. Hard targets require more capacity or armament to disable. A battle tank might have lower vulnerability when faced with a resister armed with a Molotov cocktail, but high vulnerability against someone armed with a rocket-propelled grenade.

Effect. Will a successful attack increase the chances of achieving larger goals? What consequences might result, intended and unintended? An attack on a pipeline might result in an oil spill, with collateral damage to life in the immediate vicinity. Escalation of sabotage might result in increased surveillance and repression of the general populace.

Recognizability. How difficult is it to identify the target during the operation, under different conditions of daylight, weather, and season? A brightly lit facility adjacent to a road is easy to locate, even at night, but it may be difficult to pick out a particular oil derrick owned by a particular company amidst acres of wells, or a specific CEO in a crowd of businesspeople.

From this perspective the ideal target would be highly critical (such that damage would cause cascading systems failures), highly vulnerable, very accessible and easy to identify, difficult and time-consuming to repair or replace, and unlikely to cause undesirable side effects. The poorest target would be of low importance for enemy operations but with high risk of negative side effects, hardened, inaccessible and hard to find, and easily replaced. You’ll note that there’s no category for “symbolic value” to the enemy, because the writers of the manual weren’t interested in symbolic targets. They consistently emphasize that successful operations will undermine the morale of the adversary, while increasing morale of the resisters and their supporters. The point is to carry out decisively effective action with the knowledge that such action will have emotional benefits for your side, not to carry out operations that seem emotionally appealing in the hopes that those choices will lead to effective action.

An additional criterion not discussed above would be destructivity. How damaging is the existence of the target to people and other living creatures? A natural gas–burning power plant might be more valuable based on the six criteria, but a coal-fired power plant could be more destructive, making it a higher priority from a practical and symbolic perspective.

It’s rare to find a perfect target. It’s more likely that choosing among targets will require certain trade-offs. A remote enemy installation might be more vulnerable, but it could also be more difficult to access and possibly less important to the adversary. Larger, more critical installations are often better guarded and less vulnerable. Target decisions have to be made in the context of the larger strategy, taking into account tactics and organizational capability.

One of the reasons that the Earth Liberation Front (ELF) has had limited decisive success so far is that its targets have had low criticality and high recuperability. New suburban subdivisions are certainly crimes against ecology, but partially constructed homes are not very important to those in power, and they are relatively replaceable. The effect is primarily symbolic, and it’s hard to find a case in which a construction project has actually been given up because of ELF activity—although many have certainly been made more expensive.

Most often, it seems that resistance targets in North America are chosen on the basis of vulnerability and accessibility, rather than on criticality. It’s easy to walk up to a Walmart window and smash it in the middle of the night or to destroy a Foot Locker storefront during a protest march. Aggressive symbolic attacks do get attention, and if a person’s main indicator of success is a furor on the 10:00 pm news, then igniting the local Burger King is likely to achieve that. But making a decisive impact on systems of power and their basis of support is more difficult to measure. If those in power are clever, they’ll downplay the really damaging actions to make themselves seem invulnerable, but scream bloody murder over a smashed window in order to whip up public opinion. And isn’t that what often happens on the news? If a biotech office is smashed and not a single person injured, the corporate journalists and pundits start pontificating about “violence” and “terrorism.” But if a dozen US soldiers are blown up by insurgents in Iraq, the White House press secretary will calmly repeat over and over that “America” is winning and that these incidents are only minor setbacks.

The Black Liberation Army (BLA) is an example of a group that chose targets in alignment with its goals. The BLA formed as an offshoot (or, some would argue, as a parallel development) of the Black Panther Party. The BLA was not interested in symbolic targets, but in directly targeting those who oppressed people of color. Writes historian Dan Berger: “The BLA’s Program included three components: retaliation against police violence in Black communities; elimination of drugs and drug dealers from Black communities; and helping captured BLA members escape from prison.”11 The BLA essentially believed that aboveground black organizing was doomed because of violent COINTELPRO-style tactics, and that the BPP had become a reformist organization. They argued that “the character of reformism is based on unprincipled class collaboration with our enemy.”12 In part because of their direct personal experience of violent repression at the hands of the state, they did not hesitate to kill white police officers in retaliation for attacks on the black community.

The IRA was also ruthless in their target selection, though they had limited choices in terms of attacking their occupiers. By the time WWII rolled around, resisters in Europe had a wide variety of potential and critical targets for sabotage, such as rail and telegraph lines, and further industrialization has only increased the number of critical mechanical targets, but a century ago, Ireland was hardly mechanized at all. That is why Michael Collins correctly identified British intelligence agents as the most critical and least recuperable targets available. Furthermore, his networks of spies and assassins made those agents—already soft targets—highly accessible. They were a perfect match for all six target selection criteria.

It’s worth noting that these six criteria are not just applicable to targets that are going to be destroyed. The same criteria are used to select “pressure points” on which to exert political force for any strategy of resistance, even one that is explicitly nonviolent. Effective strikes or acts of civil disobedience can exert more political force by disrupting more critical and vulnerable targets—the more accessible, the better.

These criteria for target selection go both ways. Our own resistance movements are targets for those in power, and it’s important to understand our organizations as potential targets. Leaders have often been attacked because they were crucial to the organization. Underground leaders are less accessible, but potentially more vulnerable if they can be isolated from their base of support. And aboveground groups often have better recuperability, because they have a larger pool to draw from and fewer training requirements; recall the waves after waves of civil rights activists willing to be arrested in Birmingham, Alabama.

Anyone who casts their lot with a resistance movement must be prepared for reprisals. Those reprisals will come whether the actionists are aboveground or underground, choosing violence or nonviolence. Many activists, especially from privileged backgrounds, naïvely assume that fighting fair will somehow cause those in power to do the same. Nothing could be further from the truth. The moment that any power structure feels threatened, it will retaliate. It will torture Buddhists and nuns, turn fire hoses on school children, and kill innocent civilians. A brief perusal of Amnesty International’s website will acquaint you with nonviolent protestors around the globe currently being detained and tortured or who have disappeared for simple actions like letter writing or peaceably demonstrating.

This is a reality that privileged people must come to terms with or else any movement risks a rupture when power comes down on actionists. Those retaliations are not anyone’s fault; they are to be expected. Any serious resistance movement should be intellectually and emotionally prepared for the power structure’s response. People are arrested, detained, and killed—often in large numbers—when power strikes back. Those who provide a challenge to power will be faced with consequences, some of them inhumanly cruel. The sooner everyone understands that, the better prepared we all will be to handle it.

Now, having discussed what makes good strategy, how resistance groups organize effectively, and what sort of culture resistance groups need to support them, it is time to take a deep breath. A real deep breath.

This culture is killing the planet. It systematically dispossesses sustainable indigenous cultures. Runaway global warming (and other toxic effects of this culture) could easily lead to billions of human deaths, and indeed the murder of the oceans, and even more, the effective destruction of this planet’s capacity to support life.

The question becomes: what is to be done?

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Twitter wants me to shut up and the right wants me to join them; I don’t think I should have to do either

[Link] by Meghan Murphy / Feminist Current

In August, I was locked out of my Twitter account for the first time. I was told that I had “violated [Twitter’s] rules against hateful conduct” and that I had to delete four tweets in order to gain access to my account again. In this case, the tweets in question named Lisa Kreut, a trans-identified male, as the individual who targetedFeminist Current’s ad revenue and led efforts to have Vancouver Rape Relief blacklisted at the 2016 BCFED Convention.

I deleted the tweets in question, then publicly complained on Twitter, saying, “Hi @Twitter, I’m a journalist. Am I no longer permitted to report facts on your platform?” I was promptly locked out of my account again, told I had to delete the tweet in question, and suspended for 12 hours. I appealed the suspension, as it seemed clear to me that my tweets were not “hateful,” but simply stated the truth, but received no response from Twitter.

On November 15th, my account was locked again. This time, I was told I must delete a tweet from October, saying, “Women aren’t men,” and another, asking, “How are transwomen not men? What is the difference between a man and a transwoman?”

After dutifully deleting the tweets in question in order to gain access to my account again, I tweeted, angrily, “This is fucking bullshit, @twitter. I’m not allowed to say that men aren’t women or ask questions about the notion of transgenderism at all anymore? That a multi-billion dollar company is censoring basic facts and silencing people who ask questions about this dogma is insane.” This tweet went viral, racking up 20,000 likes before Twitter locked my account again on Monday morning, demanding I delete it. This time they offered no explanation at all — not even a vague accusation of “hateful conduct.”

To be fair, it’s not that insane. Multi-billion dollar companies are clearly primarily interested in profit, not free speech or women’s rights. But Twitter is a company that represents itself as a platform for communication, for debate, and for sharing ideas, news, and information. While of course, as a private company, Twitter has the right to limit who participates on the platform and what is said, we, the public, have become accustomed to understanding this social media platform as a relatively free space, wherein everyone from politicians, to celebrities, to pornographers, to activists, to students, to anonymous gamers, to feminists, to men’s rights activists may say what they wish.

Despite my disinterest in seeing graphic pornography on Twitter and in being called a “TERF cunt” who should “drink bleach,” I accept that this is something I am likely to be exposed to on Twitter, and choose to use the platform anyway. Cruel and graphic comments are things, for better or for worse, I am accustomed to and that, frankly, don’t bother me much at this point. If you are a public figure, you do just get used to this kind of thing.

What is insane to me, though, is that while Twitter knowingly permits graphic pornography and death threats on the platform (I have reported countless violent threats, the vast majority of which have gone unaddressed), they won’t allow me to state very basic facts, such as “men aren’t women.” This is hardly an abhorrent thing to say, nor should it be considered “hateful” to ask questions about the notion that people can change sex, or ask for explanations about transgender ideology. These are now, like it or not, public debates — debates that are impacting people’s lives, as legislation and policy are being imposed based on gender identity ideology (that is, the belief that a male person can “identify” as female or vice versa). That trans activists and their allies may find my questions about what “transgender” means or how a person can literally change sex uncomfortable, as they seem not to be able to respond to them, which I can imagine feels uncomfortably embarrassing, feeling uncomfortable is not a good enough reason to censor and silence people.

As a result of these attempts by Twitter to silence me, the right has leapt to support me, or at least engage with me, and criticize Twitter’s nonsensical, unwritten policies (nowhere in their Terms of Service does it say users may not differentiate between men and women or ask questions about transgender ideology). While the left continues to vilify me, and liberal and mainstream media continue to mostly ignore feminist analysis of gender identity, people like Dave Rubin and Ben Shapiro (and hundreds of right wingers and free speech advocates online), and right wing media outlets like the Daily Wire and The Blaze have either attempted to speak with me and understand my perspective, expressed support, or covered this undeniably ridiculous decision on the part of Twitter.

Anger at Twitter’s now ongoing attempts to silence me (I remain locked out of my account, awaiting an appeal process that is likely to result in nothing, and received a second notice today that I have been locked out doubly, on account of a tweet posted in May, criticizing Lisa Kreut for participating in a smear campaign against a local feminist, anti-poverty activist. Kreut has publicly admitted to “knowing someone” at Twitter Safety, so this is unsurprising, perhaps, albeit disconcerting) is not limited to the right or to free speech advocates, of course. There are numerous feminists around the world and unaffiliated members of the general public who see transgender ideology as dangerous (or simply ridiculous), and are critical of the ongoing silencing and smearing of those who challenge it. But one thing that does seem undeniable to me — something that the left should consider carefully, in terms of their own political strategizing — is that while the left seems to have taken to ignoring or refusing to engage with detractors or those who have opinions they disagree with or don’t like, the right continues to be interested in and open to engaging. And I think this is a good thing.

In light of my years of negative experiences trying to engage progressives on issues like pornography, prostitution, male violence, and now gender identity, I’ve unfortunately come to see many of them as cowardly, hypocritical, lacking in political and intellectual integrity, and disingenuous. While of course there are leftists who are critical of the sex trade and trans activism, far too many of those who represent progressives (in North America, in particular) — politicians and leftist political parties, as well as activists and representatives of the labour movement — will not speak out about these issues nor will they defend the women being ripped to shreds for speaking out. Radical feminists are largely on their own on these issues, and don’t have the numbers or the access to media or platforms that liberals, leftists, or the right do. I have personally been able to create and build a large platform, and am grateful for this. But I am being punished harshly for having succeeded in doing so. Twitter and their trans activist insiders seem to be working force me off the platform entirely, the left has shunned me, and Canadian media has yet to engage with my arguments with regard to gender identity ideology and legislation at all. Members of the left here in Canada who agree with me are afraid to be associated with me, and anyone who fails to disassociate is vilified or bullied.

I have been thinking about all this a lot lately, not only due to the debate around transgenderism and consequent no-platforming of critics, but more broadly, in terms of political strategy and the general advancement of good ideas and policy. As such, I want to acknowledge some things I once believed, but have changed my mind about.

I no longer believe leftist positions are necessarily most right or most ethical. I no longer believe everyone on the right is wrong about everything. I do not believe all those on the right necessarily have ill intentions, and suspect that many, like those on the left, believe they are working towards a better world. I don’t believe that it’s productive to position everyone who disagrees with the left as “right wing,” and therefore an enemy. I regret refusing to engage with or trying to understand those who are called “right wing” or “free speechers,” flat out. I think this is the wrong approach. I think it is, in fact, very important that we engage with those we may disagree with on various issues, and don’t think it serves us to ignore, mock, or dismiss people because they don’t share our exact political ideology. I am genuinely interested in speaking with people I may disagree with on various issues and am open to the possibility that we may agree on some ideas and not others. I think we should, as leftists and feminists, challenge and question our own ideas and mantras, rather than become too comfortable in the echo chamber.

What this means is that I will speak to and engage with whomever I like — left, right, and centre. I do not wish to play the game of guilt by association. I am tired of limiting ourselves to those who already share our views, and think this approach is unproductive if we genuinely want to effect change and understand the world around us. I think we need to open up, rather than shut down. I think we should model the behaviour we are asking of others — that is, to hear us out, and to engage with integrity. Even when that means engaging with ideas we don’t like, that we may find abhorrent or wrong or insulting. I don’t want to write people off any more than I want to be written off. And I regret only coming to this conclusion and speaking out about it recently, though I am grateful for my ability to think critically about discourse and strategy, and change my mind accordingly, regardless of who I may anger in the process.

I think sometimes we are afraid to engage genuinely and fairly with new ideas because we are afraid we might agree or change our minds. I suspect that many of those who support trans activism fear just this. That engaging with radical feminist analysis and other critiques of gender identity might leave them forced to admit we have a point.

The truth is that if we want our ideas to be good and coherent and evidence-based and convincing, we need to challenge ourselves and question those ideas, and even be open to the possibility that we might be wrong or that we might change our minds as a result.

Michael Knowles at the Daily Wire says I now must choose to “ally with conservatives, who support free speech and insist that ‘facts don’t care about your feelings,’ or persist with a Left that would annihilate feminism altogether.”

But I don’t think I need to choose either. I choose to think independently and critically. I choose to make strategic and thoughtful decisions about who to ally with. I choose to support free speech and also to reject right wing positions on things like abortion and the free market. I choose to continue to support universal healthcare, social housing, reproductive justice, and a viable welfare system. I choose to continue to oppose exploitative labour practices, privatization, and war. I choose to continue to advocate against male violence against women, sexual exploitation, porn culture, and legislation I consider to be harmful to women and girls. I choose to consider facts and take what I consider to be ethical positions based on those facts, even if those facts and positions don’t fit whatever is considered to be politically correct.

There are people on the right who are bad and who are good, who are smart and who are stupid, who are wrong and who are right, and then there are a million combinations in between. The same can be said of the left. And to pretend things are any more simple than that is, in my opinion, a mistake. While we may not agree on much else, the right and I both agree that transgenderism is nonsense, which may be awkward, but is better than being wrong or dishonest. Speaking of which, I reserve the right to be wrong about all of this, and change my mind accordingly, though I suspect I am not.

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Film Review: “First Reformed” Fails to Deliver on Environmental Themes

[Link] by Max Wilbert / Deep Green Resistance

“And for destroying the destroyers of the earth…” — Revelations, 11-18

The film “First Reformed” has an interesting premise. Toller (Ethan Hawke) is the sad, solitary  pastor of a small church who is asked to help Michael (Philip Ettinger), an activist and member of his congregation, who is struggling.

The two begin a dialogue, and Michael shares a sense of hopelessness in the face of ecological collapse. “It’s 2017,” he says, “and the IPCC said in 2010 that if drastic changes weren’t made by 2015, the entire planet’s ecology might collapse.” He also points out that hundreds of environmental activists are killed worldwide every year.

As Toller grapples with the existential questions brought on by this conversation, Michael’s wife Mary (played by Amanda Seyfried) finds explosives and a suicide vest hidden in the garage, and shows them to Toller, who takes them away. After discovering that his stash gone, Michael commits suicide.

The first major flaw in the film is the perpetuation of the stereotype that being aware of the state of the planet—toxification, species extinction, global warming, the refugee crisis, etc.—is to be consumed by all-encompassing depression. Michael is also described as having “no friends” and being “barely even sociable.”

These ideas are inaccurate and dangerous. The key message is this: if contemplating ecological collapse will drive you to suicide, then the science and discourse around ecological collapse is dangerous and should be avoided at all costs. This idea strengthens and validates the culture of denial that dominates popular discourse, and the stereotype that revolutionaries are depressed and alone.

In my experience, the opposite is true: those of us who fight back have rich communities and better mental health than the average. These themes resurface later in the film as well.

Toller is left to provide some small support to Mary, now a widow. But he remains deeply troubled by the statistics and trends on ecological collapse that the film accurately depicts.

The film sets up a tension between Toller’s small, struggling church and a massive nearby congregation—generously funded by a large fossil fuel corporation. The subtext is clear, and meant to examine the tension between religion at its best, as a source of moral guidance and inspiration for freedom fighters such as those on the underground railroad, and at its worst, as a narcotic, as the opiate of the masses and a tool of colonization.

At this point in the film, Toller’s simmering rage, sadness, and emotion waiting to explode become more apparent. Hidden beneath the puritan veneer of a small-town preacher lies alcoholism and a deep sadness. “No sooner do I close my eyes than desolation is upon me,” he says at one point in the film, after recounting the death of his son in Iraq—a war he encouraged his son to join, then later came to see as unjust.

After a promising start, the film takes a nosedive. There are two points on which the ending of the film fails completely. The first is feminist, the second environmental.

I thought, at first, naively, that this film wasn’t going to fall into casting the female lead as a sex object. But, predictably, it did, in a strange scene in which Mary, who is presumed to be in her early 30’s and who is pregnant and recently widowed, asks Toller, in his late 40’s, alcoholic and a minister, to snuggle with her. However, the scene seems to remain platonic, despite its strangeness and improbability.

After this, tortured by the thought of environmental collapse and by the collaboration between the oil company and his fellow Christians, Hawke decides to take the suicide vest (which he has kept) into a public event and blow himself—and the oil executives—up. After seeing Mary unexpectedly arrive, he doffs the explosives, wraps himself in rusty barbed wire, and prepares to commit suicide himself by drinking drain cleaner. Then Mary comes into the room, her and Toller begin kissing, and film ends abruptly.

What the fuck?

This is why I hate Hollywood and don’t really watch movies. Provided with a fascinating topic and a talented cast, all the filmmaker can muster is this emotional trainwreck, this pointlessness.

As is so common in popular culture, the artist (the director, in this case) confuses emotional turmoil with deep meaning. The final message might as well be a line Toller reads from his bible: “…the knowledge of the emptiness of all things, which can only be filled by the knowledge of our savior.”

Both of Toller’s final approaches—the suicide vest and the barbed wire—represent the self-flagellation of total helplessness. They are only personal solutions, not social or moral or political ones.

Revolutionaries don’t need this shit. We need cultural products—art, music, film, books, poetry, etc.—which nurture our resistance spirit, encourage our hearts, and teach us about healthy lives and effective ways of fighting empire.

Don’t waste your time on this film, or any other bullshit coming out of Hollywood.

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Guide to Private and Secure Operating Systems

[Link] by Max Wilbert / Deep Green Resistance

We live inside an unprecedented surveillance state. Government and corporations monitor all non-encrypted digital communications for the purposes of political control and profit.

Political dissidents who wish to challenge capitalism need to learn to use more secure methods for communication, research, and other digital tasks. This guide is aimed at serious dissidents and revolutionaries. It is not aimed at the everyday activist, who will likely find these practices to be overkill.

Privacy vs. Security

It is important to understand that privacy and security are two different things. Privacy is related to anonymity. Security protects from eavesdropping, but does not necessarily anonymize.

To use an analogy: privacy means that the government doesn’t know who sent the message, but can read the contents. Security means they know who sent the message, but cannot read it. This is a simplified understanding, but it’s important to distinguish between the two.

In general, most aboveground activists who are already operating in the public sphere prioritize security. Underground operators and revolutionaries generally prioritize anonymity, since being unmasked and identified is the primary danger.  Of course, this is a generalization. Both security and privacy are important for anyone involved in anti-capitalist resistance.

Note that these tools require some relatively advanced technological skills. However, it’s worth learning to use these tools. Whonix is probably the easiest to use for a beginner.

Operating Systems

An operating system, or OS, is the basic software running on a computing device. Windows and Mac OS are the most common operating systems. However, Linux is the most secure family of operating systems. This guide will look at operating systems for desktop computer use.

The following information is copied from the websites for these projects.


Tails is a live system that aims to preserve your privacy and anonymity. It helps you to use the Internet anonymously and circumvent censorship almost anywhere you go and on any computer but leaving no trace unless you ask it to explicitly.

It is a complete operating system designed to be used from a USB stick or a DVD independently of the computer’s original operating system. It is Free Software and based on Debian GNU/Linux.

Tails comes with several built-in applications pre-configured with security in mind: web browser, instant messaging client, email client, office suite, image and sound editor, etc.

Tails relies on the Tor anonymity network to protect your privacy online:

  • all software is configured to connect to the Internet through Tor
  • if an application tries to connect to the Internet directly, the connection is automatically blocked for security.

Tor is an open and distributed network that helps defend against traffic analysis, a form of network surveillance that threatens personal freedom and privacy, confidential business activities and relationships, and state security.

Tor protects you by bouncing your communications around a network of relays run by volunteers all around the world: it prevents somebody watching your Internet connection from learning what sites you visit, and it prevents the sites you visit from learning your physical location.

Using Tor you can:

  • be anonymous online by hiding your location,
  • connect to services that would be censored otherwise;
  • resist attacks that block the usage of Tor using circumvention tools such as bridges.

To learn more about Tor, see the official Tor website, particularly the following pages:

Tor overview: Why we need Tor

Tor overview: How does Tor work

Who uses Tor?

Understanding and Using Tor — An Introduction for the Layman

Using Tails on a computer doesn’t alter or depend on the operating system installed on it. So you can use it in the same way on your computer, a friend’s computer, or one at your local library. After shutting down Tails, the computer will start again with its usual operating system.

Tails is configured with special care to not use the computer’s hard-disks, even if there is some swap space on them. The only storage space used by Tails is in RAM, which is automatically erased when the computer shuts down. So you won’t leave any trace on the computer either of the Tails system itself or what you used it for. That’s why we call Tails “amnesic”.

This allows you to work with sensitive documents on any computer and protects you from data recovery after shutdown. Of course, you can still explicitly save specific documents to another USB stick or external hard-disk and take them away for future use.


Whonix is a desktop operating system designed for advanced security and privacy. Whonix mitigates the threat of common attack vectors while maintaining usability. Online anonymity is realized via fail-safe, automatic, and desktop-wide use of the Tor network. A heavily reconfigured Debian base is run inside multiple virtual machines, providing a substantial layer of protection from malware and IP address leaks. Commonly used applications are pre-installed and safely pre-configured for immediate use. The user is not jeopardized by installing additional applications or personalizing the desktop. Whonix is under active development and is the only operating system designed to be run inside a VM and paired with Tor.

Whonix utilizes Tor’s free software, which provides an open and distributed relay network to defend against network surveillance. Connections through Tor are enforced. DNS leaks are impossible, and even malware with root privileges cannot discover the user’s real IP address. Whonix is available for all major operating systems. Most commonly used applications are compatible with the Whonix design.

Qubes OS

Qubes OS is a security-oriented operating system (OS). The OS is the software that runs all the other programs on a computer. Some examples of popular OSes are Microsoft Windows, Mac OS X, Android, and iOS. Qubes is free and open-source software (FOSS). This means that everyone is free to use, copy, and change the software in any way. It also means that the source code is openly available so others can contribute to and audit it.

Why is OS security important?

Most people use an operating system like Windows or OS X on their desktop and laptop computers. These OSes are popular because they tend to be easy to use and usually come pre-installed on the computers people buy. However, they present problems when it comes to security. For example, you might open an innocent-looking email attachment or website, not realizing that you’re actually allowing malware (malicious software) to run on your computer. Depending on what kind of malware it is, it might do anything from showing you unwanted advertisements to logging your keystrokes to taking over your entire computer. This could jeopardize all the information stored on or accessed by this computer, such as health records, confidential communications, or thoughts written in a private journal. Malware can also interfere with the activities you perform with your computer. For example, if you use your computer to conduct financial transactions, the malware might allow its creator to make fraudulent transactions in your name.

Aren’t antivirus programs and firewalls enough?

Unfortunately, conventional security approaches like antivirus programs and (software and/or hardware) firewalls are no longer enough to keep out sophisticated attackers. For example, nowadays it’s common for malware creators to check to see if their malware is recognized by any signature-based antivirus programs. If it’s recognized, they scramble their code until it’s no longer recognizable by the antivirus programs, then send it out. The best of these programs will subsequently get updated once the antivirus programmers discover the new threat, but this usually occurs at least a few days after the new attacks start to appear in the wild. By then, it’s too late for those who have already been compromised. More advanced antivirus software may perform better in this regard, but it’s still limited to a detection-based approach. New zero-day vulnerabilities are constantly being discovered in the common software we all use, such as our web browsers, and no antivirus program or firewall can prevent all of these vulnerabilities from being exploited.

How does Qubes OS provide security?

Qubes takes an approach called security by compartmentalization, which allows you to compartmentalize the various parts of your digital life into securely isolated compartments called qubes.

This approach allows you to keep the different things you do on your computer securely separated from each other in isolated qubes so that one qube getting compromised won’t affect the others. For example, you might have one qube for visiting untrusted websites and a different qube for doing online banking. This way, if your untrusted browsing qube gets compromised by a malware-laden website, your online banking activities won’t be at risk. Similarly, if you’re concerned about malicious email attachments, Qubes can make it so that every attachment gets opened in its own single-use disposable qube. In this way, Qubes allows you to do everything on the same physical computer without having to worry about a single successful cyberattack taking down your entire digital life in one fell swoop.

Moreover, all of these isolated qubes are integrated into a single, usable system. Programs are isolated in their own separate qubes, but all windows are displayed in a single, unified desktop environment with unforgeable colored window borders so that you can easily identify windows from different security levels. Common attack vectors like network cards and USB controllers are isolated in their own hardware qubes while their functionality is preserved through secure networking, firewalls, and USB device management. Integrated file and clipboard copy and paste operations make it easy to work across various qubes without compromising security. The innovative Template system separates software installation from software use, allowing qubes to share a root filesystem without sacrificing security (and saving disk space, to boot). Qubes even allows you to sanitize PDFs and images in a few clicks. Users concerned about privacy will appreciate the integration of Whonix with Qubes, which makes it easy to use Tor securely, while those concerned about physical hardware attacks will benefit from Anti Evil Maid.

How does Qubes OS compare to using a “live CD” OS?

Booting your computer from a live CD (or DVD) when you need to perform sensitive activities can certainly be more secure than simply using your main OS, but this method still preserves many of the risks of conventional OSes. For example, popular live OSes (such as Tails and other Linux distributions) are still monolithic in the sense that all software is still running in the same OS. This means, once again, that if your session is compromised, then all the data and activities performed within that same session are also potentially compromised.

How does Qubes OS compare to running VMs in a conventional OS?

Not all virtual machine software is equal when it comes to security. You may have used or heard of VMs in relation to software like VirtualBox or VMware Workstation. These are known as “Type 2” or “hosted” hypervisors. (The hypervisor is the software, firmware, or hardware that creates and runs virtual machines.) These programs are popular because they’re designed primarily to be easy to use and run under popular OSes like Windows (which is called the host OS, since it “hosts” the VMs). However, the fact that Type 2 hypervisors run under the host OS means that they’re really only as secure as the host OS itself. If the host OS is ever compromised, then any VMs it hosts are also effectively compromised.

By contrast, Qubes uses a “Type 1” or “bare metal” hypervisor called Xen. Instead of running inside an OS, Type 1 hypervisors run directly on the “bare metal” of the hardware. This means that an attacker must be capable of subverting the hypervisor itself in order to compromise the entire system, which is vastly more difficult.

Qubes makes it so that multiple VMs running under a Type 1 hypervisor can be securely used as an integrated OS. For example, it puts all of your application windows on the same desktop with special colored borders indicating the trust levels of their respective VMs. It also allows for things like secure copy/paste operations between VMs, securely copying and transferring files between VMs, and secure networking between VMs and the Internet.

How does Qubes OS compare to using a separate physical machine?

Using a separate physical computer for sensitive activities can certainly be more secure than using one computer with a conventional OS for everything, but there are still risks to consider. Briefly, here are some of the main pros and cons of this approach relative to Qubes:


  • Physical separation doesn’t rely on a hypervisor. (It’s very unlikely that an attacker will break out of Qubes’ hypervisor, but if one were to manage to do so, one could potentially gain control over the entire system.)
  • Physical separation can be a natural complement to physical security. (For example, you might find it natural to lock your secure laptop in a safe when you take your unsecure laptop out with you.)


  • Physical separation can be cumbersome and expensive, since we may have to obtain and set up a separate physical machine for each security level we need.
  • There’s generally no secure way to transfer data between physically separate computers running conventional OSes. (Qubes has a secure inter-VM file transfer system to handle this.)
  • Physically separate computers running conventional OSes are still independently vulnerable to most conventional attacks due to their monolithic nature.
  • Malware which can bridge air gaps has existed for several years now and is becoming increasingly common.

(For more on this topic, please see the paper Software compartmentalization vs. physical separation.)

Get Qubes

Qubes OS is free to use, can run , and integrates with Whonix for secure web browsing and internet usage via Tor.


  • TAILS is a “live” OS that runs from a USB stick or DVD, and can be used to browse anonymously from any computer. It doesn’t save files or history; it is designed mainly for ephemeral use.
  • Whonix is an OS made to run as a virtual machine, and provide security and anonymity for web browsing by routing all connections via the Tor browser.
  • Qubes OS is made to use as a permanent OS, and uses compartmentalization for security. Whonix is automatically installed inside Qubes. Used by Edward Snowden.

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Contact Deep Green Resistance News Service

[Link] To repost DGR original writings or talk with us about anything else, you can contact the Deep Green Resistance News Service by email, on Twitter, or on Facebook.


Twitter: @dgrnews

Please contact us with news, articles, or pieces that you have written. If we decide to post your submission, it may be posted here, or on the Deep Green Resistance Blog.

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Further news and recommended reading / podcasts

Resistance Radio w/ Graham Linelan – December 9, 2018

Resistance Radio w/ Harriet Wistrich – December 2, 2018

Resistance Radio w/ Benjamin Vogt – November 25, 2018

Resistance Radio w/ Breanne Fahs – November 18, 2018

Resistance Radio w/ George Wuerthner – November 11, 2018

Resistance Radio w/ Ron Sutherland – November 4, 2018

Another End of the World is Possible – Last Born in the Wilderness

Mental Health Under Late Capitalism

Green Tech FAQ

Gas Fracking Industry Using Using Military Psychological Warfare Tactics and Personnel In U.S. Communities

Whose land do you live on?

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How to support DGR or get involved

Guide to taking action

Bring DGR to your community to provide training

Become a member

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I’m sick and tired of middle class liberals telling people to compromise. Compromise has led us to where we are today: on the verge of ecological collapse and the genocide of the human species (if you believe the science). Incessant compromise will kill us all.

–      Vince Emanuele


Please feel free to forward this newsletter to those who will find it valuable. Permission is also granted to reprint this newsletter, but it must be reprinted in whole.

by Deep Green Resistance Great Basin at December 10, 2018 10:38 PM

InterPressService (global south)

Morocco’s Migrant Workers Struggle to Send Money Home

Last year, global diaspora remittances totalled 650 billion dollars, three times the amount of foreign aid given to developing countries. Credit: Kristin Palitza/IPS

By Danielle Engolo
MARRAKECH, Morocco, Dec 10 2018 (IPS)

Morocco may be hosting the United Nation’s historic Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration (GCM) conference. But when it comes to remittances—migrant employees, entrepreneurs and business owners all face the same challenge in Morocco: sending money legally to their home countries.

Remittances is an all-important issue for migrants and their families left in the land of their origin, and one of the compact’s 23 objectives. However, Moroccan legislation limits money transfers abroad, in effect preventing migrant workers supporting their families or investing in their home countries.

“I have been working for more than 4 years now in Morocco, but I have never been able to invest in my home country,” says Esther, a Congolese migrant working as a journalist in Morocco. “I cannot help my family, because Moroccan money cannot be sent abroad.”

Last year, global diaspora remittances totalled 650 billion dollars, three times the amount of foreign aid given to developing countries. This continual familial fiscal flow significantly helps reduce poverty, by providing funds for health, education, and the launching of businesses.

Morocco’s own diaspora plays a significant part in its own economy. Money transfers from the Moroccan diaspora reached more than 60 billion dollars in 2015, representing 6 percent of the country’s GDP, according to a 2017 World Bank report.

Nevertheless, if Morocco is aware of the importance of its diaspora’s role in its economy, that isn’t reflected in its financial policy that does not allow the country’s migrant workers to also contribute to the development of their home countries.

Like most migrant workers in Morocco—the majority of whom come from sub-Saharan countries—Esther fell back on informal money transfer networks to sustain her family, giving money to an agent in Morocco.

“Several times I sent some money to my family through these informal networks, but I was never at ease because it is risky,” Esther says. “Most of the time you don’t know the person you are negotiating with. He or she might steal your money.”

She recalls that two years ago, her cousin, also living in Morocco, fell victim to a dishonest money transfer network that he had used before. “My cousin used to make money transfers with a friend of his. But one day, he gave his friend 17,000 dirhams ($1,900) to transfer to his family. The guy vanished.”

Due to such risks, some migrants adopt other strategies, such as annual fiscal pilgrimages, taking the money limit permitted by Moroccan customs. Emilie, a Congolese hairdresser in Casablanca, travels back to her home country every six months to buy merchandise and deposit earnings in a Congo account.

“I have no choice, I have to travel regularly in order to save my earnings at home, knowing that I cannot leave Morocco with a big amount of money,” Emilie says.

But while this option allows migrants to subvert money transfer barriers and the risks of dishonest brokers, it costs much more because of the flight, which for many migrant workers is unaffordable and hence makes the strategy unfeasible.

Unbeknownst to most migrants, a Moroccan law actually does allow people to send a set amount per year—10 000 dirhams (1,050 dollars)—to each member of a person’s immediate family.

But this method requires lots of paperwork and proofs of identity. Also, members of the same family must have the same name and if not the case—a common occurrence among families in sub-Saharan families—the bank will reject a transfer demand or demand additional papers legalized at the embassy.

Often banks simply decline to assist. Observers note how it’s not just migrant workers who are negatively impacted by tight money transfer rules in countries like Morocco that drive people to use illegal money transfer networks: government exchequers lose out on the likes of fees and taxes generated by legal transfer systems.

“Despite these constraints, I think it is a step [in the right direction] to be able to send money, even if it is only for family support,” says Esther, while noting how investment remains a challenge. “I thought about buying an apartment in my country, but it is not possible to send a big amount of money.”

Objective 22 of the GCM’s cooperative framework aims to “Establish mechanisms for the portability of social security entitlements and earned benefits.” Whether that proves good enough for migrant workers in Morocco remains to be seen, now that the compact has officially been adopted as of the morning of Dec. 10.

“If I leave Morocco today and return back to my home country, there will be nothing there for me,” Esther says. “It is really a pity after so many years of work.”

The post Morocco’s Migrant Workers Struggle to Send Money Home appeared first on Inter Press Service.

by Danielle Engolo at December 10, 2018 10:07 PM


Australia’s war on encryption: the sweeping new powers rushed into law

Australia’s war on encryption: the sweeping new powers rushed into law
Australia has made itself a global guinea pig in testing a regime to crack encrypted communication
By Paul Karp
Dec 7 2018

In the hit US TV series The Wire police are initially baffled when the criminal suspects they are investigating begin to communicate through photographic messages of clock faces.

After several seasons of plots driven by the legalities and logistics of setting up telephone intercepts on suspected drug dealers, the police can’t keep up when overheard conversations are replaced by an inscrutable form of pictorial code.

The Wire cops eventually break the clock-face code but they’d have a great deal more difficulty in 2018 if they were chasing criminals using WhatsApp, Wicker, iMessage or other encrypted communications.

End-to-end encryption is a code so strong that only the communicating users can read the messages.

As a result, law enforcement agencies the world over are struggling with a wicked problem: what can they do when the suspect or target of investigation “goes dark”?

In Australia, the government claims to have found the solution to that problem in the form of a new law not necessarily to break encryption itself – as the equivalent United Kingdom legislation allows – but to co-opt technology companies, device manufacturers and service providers into building the functionality needed for police to do their spying.

The mind-bogglingly complex law, more than a year in the making, passed the Australian parliament on Thursday. The opposition Labor party shelved its plans to improve the scheme and waved it through in response to overwhelming pressure from the Liberal-National Coalition government, desperate to see it made law before Christmas.

But with digital rights and technology experts warning that government amendments are confusing or counterproductive, it’s questionable whether Australia has finally unscrambled the encryption omelette or set its law enforcement agencies and IT industry up to fail.

No back doors but a window into your digital life
The Telecommunications (Assistance and Access) Act starts with a golden rule about what law enforcement agencies cannot do: they cannot require technology companies to build a “systemic weakness”, or back door, into their products.

Instead, agencies gain new powers to issue notices for companies to render assistance, or build a new capability, to help them snoop on criminal suspects.

John Stanton, the chief executive of the Communications Alliance, said it was concerned about “the breadth and range of activities” law enforcement agencies could require companies to do.

The list of acts or things is long and includes: removing one or more forms of electronic protection, providing technical information, facilitating access to services and equipment, installing software, modifying technology, and concealing that the company has done any of the above.

With these compulsory notices subject to varying levels of safeguards police could, for example, send a suspect a notification to update software such as Facebook Messenger that in fact allows police access to their messages.

Agencies may not be able to directly decrypt messages, especially if they are located overseas such as the Russian app Telegram, a key weakness of the UK security architecture.

But using these notices, Australian agencies could install key logging software to enable them to see, keystroke by keystroke, what users type into a message. Similarly, software could take repeated screenshots that don’t break encryption but photograph everything going in and out of the communications app.

Other examples include: modifying a device such as an Apple Home or Amazon Alexa to record audio continuously; requiring a service provider to generate a false website that appears to be protected but isn’t, similar to a phishing email; or requiring companies to hand over more accurate phone geolocation data.


by wa8dzp at December 10, 2018 09:39 PM

InterPressService (global south)

Global Compact for Migration Backed by Most of the World

Today 164 countries agreed to adopt the first-ever inter-governmentally negotiated agreement to cover all dimensions of international migration. Courtesy: Steven Nsamaza

By Steven Nsamaza
MARRAKECH, Morocco, Dec 10 2018 (IPS)

Safe, orderly and regular migration received support today, Dec. 10, with the adoption by 164 countries of the first-ever inter-governmentally negotiated agreement to cover all dimensions of international migration.

After a few last-minute hitches, including more international tension and argument than was welcome, the intergovernmental conference taking place in the Moroccan city of Marrakech agreed to a Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration (GCM), a proactive document that will guide States on all matters related to migration.

Well timed to coincide with the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the historic adoption of the GCM was presided over by United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres who urged countries to treat the Compact as an obligation to human rights that will benefit all.

“We are not establishing a new right to migrate. No. There is not a right for anyone to go anywhere at any time according to his or her whim,” Guterres said during the official ceremony to adopt the Compact. “What we are establishing is the obligation to respect the human rights of migrants—which of course is absolutely obvious when we at the same time celebrate the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. It would be unconceivable to exclude migrants from the scope of the Universal Declaration.”

The conference was preceded by increasing concerns about certain U.N. member States not supporting the Compact. Some declined outright to participate and adopt the Compact, while others said their final decision must await further internal deliberation. The United States was the most notable and voluble naysayer, condemning the compact and labelling it a violation of national sovereignty.

“We believe the Compact and the process that led to its adoption, including the New York Declaration, represent an effort by the United Nations to advance global governance at the expense of the sovereign right of States to manage their immigration systems in accordance with their national laws, policies, and interests,” the U.S. government said in a national statement released on the eve of the conference.

Other countries who bridled against the compact or refused to sign it include Hungary, Australia, Israel, Poland, Slovakia, the Czech Republic, Austria, Switzerland, Bulgaria, Latvia, Italy, Switzerland and Chile.

“It will make an enormous positive impact in the lives of millions of people—migrants themselves, the people they leave behind and the communities that will then host them,” said Louise Arbour, the U.N. Special Representative for International Migration.

“This of course will depend on capturing the spirit of today’s event to move to the implementation of the multiplicity of initiatives that this Global Compact will permit member states to put in place. I am delighted to echo the words of the Secretary-General: it is a wonderful occasion, really a historic moment and a really great achievement for multilateralism.”

The adopted Compact lays out 23 objectives covering all aspects of migration, with each having a general goal and catalogue of possible actions that can be implemented by member states. German Chancellor Angela Merkel has drawn enormous criticism for her decision to welcome hundreds of thousands of refugees from places like Syria and Afghanistan to her country. It is a decision that may well have cost her another term in power as she recently announced she will not seek re-election. However,  Merkel remarked that the adopted Compact is “about nothing less than the foundation of our international cooperation.”

Such potential significance has attracted to the conference, in addition to high-powered diplomats and officials, approximately 400 non-governmental organizations from civil society, the private sector and academia, and over 700 registered press.

The ceremony adopting the Compact also included speaker Cheryl Perera, a prominent representative of migrant communities, and founder of OneChild, a non-governmental organization which seeks to eliminate the commercial sexual exploitation of children abroad. She called for an end to the drivers of irregular migration on the large scale, and for better protection of migrants on the smaller scale.

“We must do better together,” Perera said. “It is important that we involve the private sector, specifically the national airlines, hotels and others to protect children from trafficking.”

The post Global Compact for Migration Backed by Most of the World appeared first on Inter Press Service.

by Steven Nsamaza at December 10, 2018 09:25 PM

‘Respect for the other’ lies at the heart of peace education, say panelists at UN debate

By Geneva Centre
GENEVA, Dec 10 2018 (Geneva Centre)

Respect for the other lies at the heart of peace education and was a key thread through a debate entitled “Education for Peace in a multi-religious world”. It was held on the 2018 World Human Rights Day at the United Nations Office in Geneva.

Geneva Centre for Human Rights Advancement and Global Dialogue and the World Council of Churches held the debate on 10 December on the impact of peace education to promote mutual understanding and cooperative relations between people and societies.

Countering extremist narratives
The conference focused on how education for peace can engage different stakeholders to counter violent, extremist narratives, build peaceful and inclusive societies as well as to promote universally shared values upheld in diverse faiths and creeds.

Ambassador Idriss Jazairy, Executive Director of the Geneva Centre’s Board of Management, a former head of a UN specialized agency and top diplomat for Algeria opened the panel debate. He said, “Today I would say peace is in jeopardy once again.

“We are exposed to a kind of a pincer movement between populism on the one hand and extremism on the other. In those circumstances, we need to see how we can defuse this tension and give the right of way to peace. We have to do this by addressing the problem already at the school level.”

WCC General Secretary Rev. Dr Olav Fyske Tveit, said in a speech opening the debate, “The question of how faith communities can educate for peace in a world torn by war and conflict is most pressing in today’s world.”

Tveit was unable to attend the panel discussion and his speech was read by Rev. Dr Peniel Rajkumar, who heads the WCC’s Interreligious Dialogue and Cooperation programme.

“It is imperative that leaders of religious communities of various kinds recognize that one of the most solemn tasks laid upon them is to pass on a vision for the pursuit of peace to those they lead, those they teach, those whose imaginations they shape and whose consciences they help to form,” said Tveit.

“Faith communities as communities of edification at various levels – formal, informal, religious and secular – have a definite role in this. What are the motivations and means for us to capitalize on the constant opportunities for religious communities to teach their members how to be peacemakers?” he asked.

‘Knowing about each other’
Professor Majeda Omar of the University of Jordan and former director of the Royal Institute for Inter-faith Studies of Jordan said, “What we need to know about is, each other’s religions and cultures.”

She noted that it is the “lack of religious knowledge,” that is the question not “the lack of religions”. Omar said, “What is needed, is not just tolerance, but mutual understanding. We have to learn how to listen to one another.”

Professor Anantanand Rambachan, Professor of Religion at St. Olaf College (US) spoke from a Hindu perspective but also quoted Indian independence leader Mahatma Gandhi who spoke of “the duty of every cultured man or woman to read sympathetically, the scriptures of the world. If we are to respects others’ religions, as we would have them respect our own, a friendly study of the world’s religions is a sacred duty.”

Rambachan said, “Accurate knowledge of other traditions must be complemented by the development of relationships and friendships between people of different traditions.”

After his speech, Jazairy said, “Ecumenism should encompass all the Abrahamic religions, and Hinduism.”

Monsignor Indunil Janakaratne, Undersecretary of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, said, “only by changing education can we can change the world”. He explained that a humanized education” can humanity lay down a pathway for “paternal humanism”.

Dialogue is essential for “your own maturity in confronting other cultures and religions” and that “as we grow, and we develop, and we mature, this dialogue is what creates peace,” said Janakaratne.

“Our goal is unity and not uniformity,” said panellist Dr Debbie Weissman, who as an “Israeli Jew”, a former president of the International Council of Christians and Jews.

Author of “Memoirs of a Hopeful Pessimist: A Life of Activism through Dialogue,” she referred to the biblical story of the creation of the human being in the image of God as “the basis of respect for the Other, which lies at the heart of peace education. Human diversity is the manifestation of God’s greatness.”

Those conducting the panel discussion included: Ms. Maria Lucia Uribe, Director of Arigatou International Geneva – Ethics Education for Children; Mr Renato Opertti, Senior Programme Specialist, IBE-UNESCO; Ms. Beris Gwynne, Founder and Managing Director of Incitare. Former Australian diplomat and aid official and NGO Executive; and Mr. Jan-Willem Bult, Head of Children & Youth Media and Chief Editor of WADADA News for Kids.

*The present press release was prepared by the World Council of Churches for dissemination and approved with some presentational adjustments by the Geneva Centre for Human Rights Advancement and Global Dialogue.

The post ‘Respect for the other’ lies at the heart of peace education, say panelists at UN debate appeared first on Inter Press Service.

by Geneva Centre at December 10, 2018 07:35 PM

FRR Books Podcast: The Unique and Its Property by Max Stirner, a Close Reading Part 5!

listen here:
listen here:

Welcome to episode 5 of the FRR Books Podcast series on Max Stirner’s The Unique and its Property translated by Wolif Landstreicher. In this podcast we cover section 2.1 Ownness and stop at section 2.2.1 My Power
This episode is hosted by Kahar, John, Big Cat, Chuck and rydra wrong. We are back on the sea packed 5 deep like sardines on the FRR sailboat.

Discussed in this episode:

- What is the difference between freedom and ownness
- Does Stirner hate freedom! It has nothing for you! What does that mean? Can he let go !?
- Freedom apparently meanings being “rid of things”
- Occupy Stirner! What the fuck
- We discuss how our dating lives are relevant to Stirner, are they?
- Does consent matter when it comes to ownership and property(in the Stirnerian sense)?
- take when you want and throw away the rest: Is this just a cliche or actually useful
- Concepts! What the fuck is a concept! How do we use them
- Who does Stirner give the status of capital B Being to ?
- Can a slave be inwardly free? Is this trivial?
- Stirner says there is freedom and unfreedom! No such thing as half way crooks! But is he just creating a binary of freedom and unfreedom to destroy the concept! woooooah
- Chuck says romantic relationships are being trained to treasures! Benefits vs a chain!
- John says chosen bondage is freedom, like being in a dungeon! We discuss!
- What the fuck is Stirner’s problems with rocks. Rydra fights with Stirner in a landslide of discontent. Also panpsychism is so last year.
- Kahar likes his Christians out of the closet, he is pleased!
- Kahar and Big Cat argue over Kahar’s belief that selves can be divided into parts
- Impulses and desires and relationship to Taoism

Editing and Sound by the Big Cat

Internet slavery by rydra wrong


by rydra wrong at December 10, 2018 06:50 PM

Channel Zero

Solecast w/ Woodbine NYC: An Experimental Hub Against The End Of The World

This post was originally published on this site

In this episode of the Solecast I chat with folks from Woodbine NYC.  Woodbine is an experimental hub in Queens that has been going for 5 years strong. Its hard to pin down what they do to any specific ideological persuasion, instead they draw from a wide range of influences and backgrounds to try to find new ways of looking at things to the skills to meet the challenges that face us. They host a multitude of events from poetry readings, educational events, assemblies, skill shares, gardening and too many things to list.  At the time of this interview they are fundraising for 2019 operations, please consider donating something here and follow them on fedbook / twitter

In this conversation we talk about:

Why spaces like this are so important under Trump

How Woodbine came about & the thinking that went into it

The concept of the anthropocene and why it serves as a good way to frame things for this century 

Concepts of revolution vs autonomy

What there is to learn from the models of Rojava & Chiapas.

The importance of breaking out of an ideological approach and pointing to specific liberatory practices

Amazon HQ2 coming to Queens and what this means 

Silicon Valleys role in our society

The importance of “sharing” 

by Sole at December 10, 2018 06:27 PM

Solecast w/ Woodbine NYC: An Experimental Hub Against The End Of The World

Woodbine is an experimental hub in Queens that has been going for 5 years strong. Its hard to pin down what they do to any specific ideological persuasion, instead they draw from a wide range of influences and backgrounds to try to find new ways of looking at things to the skills to meet the challenges that face us.

by james holland at December 10, 2018 06:27 PM

Dublin: Sabotage of banks and ATMs (Ireland)

Over a night in December acts of vandalism were carried out in Dublin against banks and ATM’s. 3 banks had locks glued up, 2 banks had message of “Homes for all” sprayed across windows, and 3 ATM’s were glued up. These acts were carried out in conjunction with struggle for housing being waged across Ireland.

These acts were but small acts of defiance and revolt against this prison society, to subvert the capitalist spectacle, if even only for a few hours. Actions like these expose the vulnerable spots of capitalism.

Reforms wont bring liberation, the state will never grant freedom. Reforms might make this prison society a little bit more nicer, but a prison is still a prison. The delusions and cowardice of the left has clearly failed. It’s parties and unions betray and sell out every time.








by admin at December 10, 2018 06:15 PM

‘Out of control’ Home Office should have been in the dock, not us: Stansted 15 respond to guilty verdict

The Stansted 15 protesters, who stopped a government deportation flight from taking off in March last year, have today been found guilty of breaching terror laws.

As the Stansted 15 face their own purgatory... I will be praying that they are shown leniency. Without their actions I would have missed my daughter’s birth, and faced the utter injustice of being deported from this country without having my now successful appeal heard.
Someone who was saved from deportation as a result of the action

read more

by R Totale at December 10, 2018 06:05 PM

Deep Green Resistance News Service

Impersonators Using Printer Vulnerabilities to Spam Small Businesses

This photo shows the flyer in question, and was sent to us by a business making a complaint.

Over the past few days, several organizations from across the United States have reached out to Deep Green Resistance, letting us know about a printer exploit being used to print off DGR-themed flyers at their place of business.

These intrusions seem to be related to a larger wave of forced printings currently affecting unsecured printers (see:

We want to be very clear that these flyers are not official DGR material and have not been approved by us for publication anywhere, and certainly not on private printers without consent. The use of a Printer Exploitation Toolkit to hijack unprotected printers is unethical, unhelpful for anyone, and illegal.

At the moment, we are unsure who is behind these mailings. If this is the work of an unaffiliated DGR supporter, we ask that you please stop immediately and avoid such invasive, unhelpful behavior in the future. If these mailings are the work of agitators attempting to discredit our movement, we would ask that you please find something better to do with your time and stop wasting paper. Either way, we would like to apologize to anyone who has had to deal with this time-wasting stunt. Although we are unable to prevent every unstable or unscrupulous person from deciding to do stupid and unhelpful things, we are taking every step possible to make sure this doesn’t happen again. In the meantime, we encourage everyone – especially activists – to make sure their internet-connected devices are secure.

Here is the official recommendation on how to secure your printers against this type of attack: “Network administrators should never leave their printers accessible from the Internet and disable raw port 9100/tcp printing if not required” (more here).

by Deep Green Resistance Great Basin at December 10, 2018 05:58 PM

Agriculture as Wrong Turn


But wasn’t life before farming miserable? Notoriously “nasty, brutish and short?” Weren’t hunters and gatherers always on the edge of starvation, constantly focused on survival, and never able to enjoy free time? According to experts who study history: No.

by Kollibri terre Sonnenblume at December 10, 2018 05:32 PM

Birth, Marriage and Death: What are we afraid to talk about?

Death Cafés, gay rights on the isle of Lewis, flamboyant coffin culture in Ghana and China’s new two-child policy: birth, marriage and death are global issues that affect us all. So what are we still so afraid to talk about when it comes to birth, marriage and death?

Join Xinran, internationally best-selling author of The Good Women of China (2002), Buy Me the Sky (2015) and The Promise (2018) and the first woman to host a Chinese phone-in radio show, plus CEO & founder of Bloody Good Period, Gabby Edlin to tackle the tricky topics of the taboo and (self-)censorship when it comes to some of our most human experiences at the launch of Index on Censorship’s latest magazine.

Chaired by Index on Censorship magazine editor Rachael Jolley, expect punchy debate, frank conversation and breaking down these barriers head on.

Chinese author Xinran contributed to the autumn 2017 issue of Index on Censorship magazine.


Gabby Edlin

Rachael Jolley

Rachael Jolley

When: Thursday 10 January, 6:30-8:30pm
Where: Foyles, 107 Charing Cross Road, Soho, London WC2H 0DT
Tickets: Free. Registration required via

The post Birth, Marriage and Death: What are we afraid to talk about? appeared first on Index on Censorship.

by Index on Censorship at December 10, 2018 05:21 PM


Scientists identify vast underground ecosystem containing billions of micro-organisms

Scientists identify vast underground ecosystem containing billions of micro-organisms
Global team of scientists find ecosystem below earth that is twice the size of world’s oceans
By Jonathan Watts
Dec 10 2018

The Earth is far more alive than previously thought, according to “deep life” studies that reveal a rich ecosystem beneath our feet that is almost twice the size of that found in all the world’s oceans.

Despite extreme heat, no light, minuscule nutrition and intense pressure, scientists estimate this subterranean biosphere is teeming with between 15bn and 23bn tonnes of micro-organisms, hundreds of times the combined weight of every human on the planet.

Researchers at the Deep Carbon Observatory say the diversity of underworld species bears comparison to the Amazon or the Galápagos Islands, but unlike those places the environment is still largely pristine because people have yet to probe most of the subsurface.

“It’s like finding a whole new reservoir of life on Earth,” said Karen Lloyd, an associate professor at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville. “We are discovering new types of life all the time. So much of life is within the Earth rather than on top of it.”

The team combines 1,200 scientists from 52 countries in disciplines ranging from geology and microbiology to chemistry and physics. A year before the conclusion of their 10-year study, they will present an amalgamation of findings to date before the American Geophysical Union’s annual meeting opens this week.

Samples were taken from boreholes more than 5km deep and undersea drilling sites to construct models of the ecosystem and estimate how much living carbon it might contain.

The results suggest 70% of Earth’s bacteria and archaea exist in the subsurface, including barbed Altiarchaeales that live in sulphuric springs and Geogemma barossii, a single-celled organism found at 121C hydrothermal vents at the bottom of the sea.

One organism found 2.5km below the surface has been buried for millions of years and may not rely at all on energy from the sun. Instead, the methanogen has found a way to create methane in this low energy environment, which it may not use to reproduce or divide, but to replace or repair broken parts.

Lloyd said: “The strangest thing for me is that some organisms can exist for millennia. They are metabolically active but in stasis, with less energy than we thought possible of supporting life.”

Rick Colwell, a microbial ecologist at Oregon State University, said the timescales of subterranean life were completely different. Some microorganisms have been alive for thousands of years, barely moving except with shifts in the tectonic plates, earthquakes or eruptions.

“We humans orientate towards relatively rapid processes – diurnal cycles based on the sun, or lunar cycles based on the moon – but these organisms are part of slow, persistent cycles on geological timescales.”

Underworld biospheres vary depending on geology and geography. Their combined size is estimated to be more than 2bn sq km, but this could be expanded further in the future.

The researchers said their discoveries were made possible by two technical advances: drills that can penetrate far deeper below the Earth’s crust, and improvements in microscopes that allow life to be detected at increasingly minute levels.

The scientists have been trying to find a lower limit beyond which life cannot exist, but the deeper they dig the more life they find. There is a temperature maximum – currently 122C – but the researchers believe this record will be broken if they keep exploring and developing more sophisticated instruments.


by wa8dzp at December 10, 2018 05:07 PM

Response to William Gillis regarding “Diagnostic of the Future”

William Gillis' article, "Megamachines are False Specters,” a response to my “Diagnostic of the Future,” focuses on three topics I engage with: fascism, capitalism, and technology.
“What’s common across these is the projection of solidity to abstractions where the institutional macro structures are privileged as the most relevant causal forces. This glosses over the root dynamics of individuals, ideologies, and tools, treating them in short as mere cogs making up the broader “systems,”” they say.

Notably, William does not base this affirmation on a textual engagement with my article, which would be difficult, seeing as how inaccurate it is.

I certainly mention institutional macro structures like the UN, WTO, and various Central Banks in my text, just never “as the most relevant causal forces.” In fact, I describe them as being largely at the mercy of ideologies like white supremacy, Orientalism, American exceptionalism, or neoliberalism. I mention the changes caused by specific politicians and their political administrations like Trump and May. And I also discuss the ability of individual anarchists and other people on the bottom to influence all of this, recognizing grassroots changes we have brought about in recent years, and finally hanging my pessimistic prognosis on the specific choices most individuals have made.

So no, actually, my article is quite different from the one that William is responding to, even as they go on rather long rants about abstractions that, ironically, are wholly lacking in substance, detail, and particularity. At times their putative review left me feeling like they were responding more to writings by David Watson than to my own. It's just as well: David would also have deserved fairer and more engaged treatment than this.

Their thoughts on fascism hinge on a misreading of my own critique, when they say I claim that fascism should only be critiqued at the institutional level, and never at the ideological level. This is false. What I actually say is that fascist ideology is less important in the historical moment when fascists have little or no elite support than it is in the moment when capitalists and militarists have decided to throw their weight behind it. This is a difficult argument to dispute, which may be why William doesn't engage with it. They claim I only deal with fascism at the level of institutional abstractions, and not the level of specific people. Another falsehood. I talk about how specific capitalists have supported or not supported fascist movements, and what this means. And even though I extensively critique how problematic it is that many contemporary anti-fascists do not define “fascism” as they increasingly toss it around as an alarmist label, William does the exact same thing. Unless we are to take the following minimal phrase seriously as a definition: fascism is “an ideology of hypernationalism” and “a 'might makes right' fetishization of raw power”. So... Winston Churchill was a fascist? Once again, this makes “fascism” a meaningless term.

They tellingly refuse to engage with my historically grounded and detailed distinction between democratic and dictatorial variants of white supremacy, demagogically insisting that it's all fascism without granting readers an explanation of the rationale behind this arbitrary decision. They also present a fairly inaccurate vision of fascist ideology, given how insistent they are on the importance of fascist ideology relative to fascist practice. They claim that fascism is diametrically opposed to anarchism, a naked justification of brute force that “doesn’t bother disguising its lies, flak, and prevarication.”

As comforting as it is to imagine ourselves as the polar opposite of fascists, this view of the supposed honesty of fascism (“refreshingly clearheaded” according to William) doesn't do justice to fascists' actual philosophical output. Adolf Hitler, when speaking with German industrialists in the early 1930s, repeatedly underlined the importance of creating an ideology that would make capitalism seem natural. Aside from being a stark example of the systematic prevarication of fascists—of how habitually they attempt to clothe hierarchy and brute force in supposedly reasoned arguments—it also supports my own contention that what is perhaps most important about fascist ideology is the way it changes once fascists begin to successfully court capitalists and thus make their project of seizing power feasible.

Fascist ideologues work full time inventing harebrained justifications and cultural clothing for the uses of force they propose. They typically mask their use of force with pseudo-scientific arguments about biological purity, racial superiority, and criminal tendencies, along with grand ethnic histories invented from whole cloth. Are they being honest when they claim theirs is a fight for free speech? Are they being honest when they claim new genetic research proves that only an intellectual elite should receive higher education? Are far Right women being honest when they try to claim they are the true feminists? No. These are just examples of the vast ensemble of cultural and rationalistic accoutrements fascists use to disguise their defense of hierarchy and their programs of extermination.

Gillis engages in a wee manipulation. I argue that fascism's vision for society must include some kind of dictatorship (I will add this caveat: given the compartmentalization of theory in hierarchical movements, we can easily imagine a group of street level thugs with no clear vision for society, attracted by turns to military dictators or democratic right-wing parties, or a mystical sect of fascists inebriated with a completely impractical vision of some völkisch state of pure nature. Such segments do not constitute a whole fascist movement, and in actual practice such groups tend to act as henchmen following the guidance of the more theoretically developed and politically engaged upper strata of their movements.) William pretends that the existence of decentralized fascist movements today somehow refutes this. Nice try. Hierarchical movements can use decentralized methods in the furtherance of greater hierarchy. The fact that they organize with cell structures at a certain point in time does not cancel out their aspirations to dictatorship.

Their closing shot on fascism is the worst, striking them directly in the foot. In the midst of a typical leftist trope that puts fascism on one pole and us, the good guys, on the other (the real justification for the alarmist need to declare that those we fight against are fascists), William claims that “But at the end of the day you are either for or opposed to power, you either care about all or just a few. Inevitably the scales tend to fall and everyone is forced — as in the Spanish revolution — to side with anarchism or fascism.”

This reading of the Spanish Civil War is so egregiously wrong, it makes me wonder what exactly William Gillis has read about that conflict. In any case, the successful long games of both Great Britain and the USSR show pretty readily that, no, the Spanish revolution didn't force people to side with either anarchism or fascism, nor was it fascism that destroyed the revolution in Spain.

William starts off on capitalism with a rant about commodification that, fortunately, doesn't pose as a response to anything I said, since it's not. I'm confused why they claim to take me up on my supposedly abstract and “marxist” vision of capitalism in the introduction, when they don't make a single textual reference to what I actually say, except to imply that I don't mention the “causal mechanisms”. I think that in fact I do deal with some causal mechanisms, in the discussion on debt and recession, for example, but maybe responding so specifically to William's off-the-cuff remarks is to take their essay a little too seriously. What I can gather, though, is that some people have accused William of being an anarcho-capitalist, and for some reason that is completely beyond me, they have decided to take this out on me.

Finally, William gets to what I think really irked them: my critique of transhumanism. I think it's unfair of William to get so frustrated with those of us who are “stupid” and don't realize that transhumanism is “fucking correct” when its defenders are so inarticulate. The belief William claims to be “fucking correct” is the idea that “nature and the body are limitations to be overcome.” William cannot validate this ecocidal assertion positively, on its own merits; they instead revert to a strawman, constructing a stilted—and equally Enlightenment—opposite, and in true quixotic fashion William then rains a number of terrifying insults on the absurd position they have arbitrarily decided to do battle with. “Those who would tell you to make do with and embrace the current configuration not just of the world but of your body are reactionaries of the highest order.” Well, I could probably think of a worst kind of reactionary, but it doesn't matter, because I don't hold the view William assigns to me, nor have I ever expressed such a view. It's nonsensical. The world and our bodies are always changing, and we are a part of those changes. Recognizing this reality still doesn't justify the massive sense of entitlement, scorn, and superiority with which a part of the human species re-engineers the planet or breaks down the bodies they deem to be inferior.

Maybe I'll think differently when my mind gets uploaded to the cloud, cause you know, new technologies are always made available to common people to enhance their capacities and their possibilities for a leisurely, self-guided existence. That's how this thing works, right?

In all seriousness, though, what am I supposed to make of anarchists who defend a system for which there is no opt-out?

Their defense of transhumanism is based on a tired old strawman in which transhumanists once again slay the dreadful beast of pristine nature that existed in the liberal imaginary in prior centuries. This is not the vision of nature or of bodies that the anarchists I know entertain. Humans have always modified our bodies and influenced the environment around us. But by equating limits with constraint and oppression, transhumanists reveal that they have the same liberal concept of freedom, and the same sense of entitlement and anthropocentrism that historically and currently has always been connected to ecocide and genocide against non-Western peoples.

William dangerously minimizes what they refer to as “countervailing authoritarian pressures in certain normalizations” of technology with a single line, “bosses in certain sectors of the first world demanding you be on call via a cellphone” that falls astoundingly short of what living people actually face. I don't know if William is actually such a sycophant to Progress, such an enthusiastic cheerleader for every new invention, or if they just haven't actually stopped to think about the situation, but I do know for a fact that anyone who refuses to use a cell phone, to name just one small example in which we can even imagine some kind of choice, is subject to the most extreme forms of economic, social, and emotional exclusion, not just by “bosses” but by the entirety of their society, including friends and family. I have no doubt that most people (in Europe, North America, Japan and South Korea, as well as rapidly growing portions of India and China, which is to say a global majority) would die by suicide or some poverty-related illness within two or three years of “choosing” to go without cell phones.

William's apathetic dismissal of this problem, as well as their complete non-mention of ecological issues (can there actually be cloud computing without the utter sacrifice of large parts of the planet, just for the trendy “positive freedom” of a few fucking hipsters, plus the immense gains in power of the corporations actually building the infrastructure?) shows me that they do not come close to taking the question of technology seriously. (Please, William, point me to the articles where transhumanists show how they can have cloud computing, Mars colonization, and industrial production of implants without nuclear energy, mining, or contamination from solar and wind power, cause, you know, they care about the planet. I'm all for an ecosystem of hacking, scavenging, and grassroots repurposing of tools and machines, but the dominant current of transhumanism is after something quite different).

William concludes by hammering home the central thrust of their article: “There are no magically holistic megamachines, just complex ecologies and chaotic weather systems. And history is not a drama of giant storms, but of the butterflies beating our wings.”

It is true, I analyze capitalism as a system, but William doesn't actually critique any of the particular ways I conduct this analysis. Instead, they consistently conflate “system” and “monolith.” And they would be wholly unable to make any textual argument that I present capitalism or technology as monoliths. In one embarrassing moment, their magic trick falls flat, when they claim that technology is not a “system” but an “ecosystem”. Ummmm, isn't an ecosystem a system? Their ready defense might be that I present technology as a “unified” system. Again, without any textual reference. Does “unified” mean every element is the same? Then that's not a system, that's a monolith. And it's a far cry from how I actually analyze capitalism and technology. Does “unified” mean that every element is connected within a web of influence? Well, that's what a system is, including an ecosystem.

But capitalism, for one, is by no means an ecosystem, and anyone who made that qualification (to be clear, William talks about technology, not capitalism, as an ecosystem, though they demonstrate a very frivolous idea of what technology means) I would most certainly describe as an anarcho-capitalist. Ecosystems don't create monopolies.

In closing, I just want to say that butterflies' wings don't actually create storms. That's a clichéd misunderstanding of how complex systems work. Such systems tend towards dynamic equilibrium, not cascading disorder. In other words, if a storm represents 1000 units of energy, it would take, not a single butterfly but significantly more than 1000 units of butterfly wing energy above the average output of butterflies in the system to create more storms than occur on average within the system (similar to how the total carbon emissions of the human species is far superior to the increase of atmospheric carbon, owing to how much extra carbon the biosphere sequesters as a part of its natural tendency to maintain equilibrium). What that actually means for social movements, I'll leave for the peanut gallery.


by Anonymous at December 10, 2018 04:29 PM

Press freedom organisations call for full justice in the case of assassinated journalist Ján Kuciak

On 6 December 2018, Index on Censorship joined eight partner organisations of the Council of Europe’s Platform for the Protection of Journalism and Safety of Journalists to conduct a press freedom solidarity mission to Slovakia to call for full justice in the case of assassinated journalist Ján Kuciak and his fiancée, Martina Kušnírová, who were murdered on 21 February 2018.

The delegation – from the Association of European Journalists (AEJ), the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), the European Federation of Journalists (EFJ), Free Press Unlimited, Index on Censorship, International News Safety Institute (INSI), International Press Institute (IPI), PEN International, Rory Peck Trust, along with representatives from the Council of Europe’s Platform for the promotion of journalism and the safety of Journalists – met with officials of the Interior Ministry and the Presidium of the Police Force to monitor the progress of the investigation into the assassination.

The delegation welcomed the arrest of four individuals in relation to the assassination but stressed the urgent need for all those who commissioned the assassination to be brought to justice. Authorities assured that the investigators are “rigorously pursuing all lines of inquiry to establish who ordered the assassination.” The delegation notes that personnel changes within the police in the aftermath of the assassination are widely seen in Slovakia as having strengthened the investigation.

The delegation asked for clarification from the authorities as to why an assessment was made that the threats which Ján Kuciak reported to the police prior to his assassination were not considered serious enough to warrant an investigation. The delegation stressed that unless systematic changes – at a legal and policy level – are introduced which ensure the safety of journalists and their sources, journalists in Slovakia will continue to be vulnerable. The delegation urged that current, internal discussions within the Ministry of Culture on legislation relating to the press should lead to measures that materially strengthen the legal framework for the protection of journalists.

The delegation also raised serious concern about recent remarks made by former Prime Minister Robert Fico in November 2018 in which he said in Slovak that journalists should be “hit… very hard.” Such anti-media rhetoric from those in high office is particularly alarming in the aftermath of the assassination of an investigative journalist, and partners regard such language from a leading politician as unacceptable.  Of further concern was the forced confiscation by police on 16 May 2018 of the phone of Pavla Holcová, a Czech journalist who worked with Ján Kuciak, [2]

The delegation also visited the office of to learn more about the climate for press freedom and the safety of journalists in Slovakia following Kuciak’s assassination. Peter Bárdy, editor of Aktuality, said that while prior to Kuciak’s assassination “investigative journalists felt invincible, now we are much more cautious.” Finally, the delegation laid tributes at the memorial for Kuciak and Kušnírová in central Bratislava.

Austria: A nation shrouded in secrecy

In an email sent to all regional police departments on 24 September 2018, Austria’s Ministry of the Interior suggested limiting communication with “certain media outlets”, including the weekly news magazine Falter and the daily newspaper Der Standard

Mapping Media Freedom: “Journalism has become one of the most dangerous professions in the world”

“Today journalism has become one of the most dangerous professions in the world,” said Frane Maroevic, director of the Office of the OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media, at a panel discussion for the launch of Demonising the media: Threats to journalists in Europe at the Foreign Press Association in London on Friday 9 November. [...]

No impunity: Who killed journalist Pavel Shemeret?

Before his death, Pavel Sheremet was one of Ukraine’s leading investigative journalists. He most notably investigated government corruption and border smuggling in his native Belarus, leading to his arrest in 1997 but winning him CPJ’s International Press Freedom Award in the process. He was detained, harassed and arrested because of his work. Then, in 2016, he was assassinated. And Ukrainian authorities still have not uncovered who’s to blame.

Letter: Serbian media facing “very difficult” situation

Five Serbian media associations have written to Index on Censorship to raise their concerns about the media environment in the country. 

The post Press freedom organisations call for full justice in the case of assassinated journalist Ján Kuciak appeared first on Index on Censorship.

by Index on Censorship at December 10, 2018 04:00 PM

InterPressService (global south)

Sexual Harassment in Schools: The Urgency Of Revolutionized Sex Education

Credit: 'Let's talk consent/Drama Queens

By Nana Akosua Hanson
ACCRA, Dec 10 2018 (IPS)

14-year-old Fatima sat opposite me, a defiance to her body language, yet a vulnerability that made me want to tell her it was okay to cry. She was telling me how for the past year she had dropped out of the school theatre club, had no interest in Physics anymore, which used to be her favourite subject, and had no friends. Fatima [not her real name] had been labeled the ‘bad girl’ in her class.

This meant that boys frequently lied that they had had sexual encounters with her, and they intruded her private space, forcibly touching her breasts or spanking her buttocks as she passed by. It also meant that the girls in her class judged her, other-ed her and placed her in the rank of ‘The kind of girl not to be’. She became the marker by which they measured their ‘unspoiled’ virtues.  Teenagers can be vicious. They are reflections of adults after all.

The labeled girl is often hit with an onslaught of ‘petitions’ for sex or sexual activity from boys and most of these ‘petitions’ are violent. They often end up in sexual assault or rape, as happened to Fatima.

One thing that strikes me at every high school I visit is how each time, there are designated ‘bad girls’. ‘Bad girls’ thus labeled mostly because of false rumors spread by boys in class that they are ‘easy.’ The notion of ‘easiness’ suggests yet another girl has managed to be ‘conquered’, language patriarchy teaches boys.

The labeled girl is often hit with an onslaught of ‘petitions’ for sex or sexual activity from boys and most of these ‘petitions’ are violent. They often end up in sexual assault or rape, as happened to Fatima. At just fourteen, she had been raped by a boy in her class. At just fourteen, she had learnt too early how she will be shamed and blamed for rape.  At just fourteen, the boy would learn that he could be violent and get away with it.

This incident probably reminded her in a violent way something she had probably been hearing all her life: Being a girl in this world meant you were the second-class citizen. Your body was not yours. Girls are not equal to boys.

She probably heard this message in Ghanaian rhymes like “Mummy’s in the kitchen cooking rice-water, daddy’s in the living room, watching TV…”. She probably heard this message every time her brothers were allowed to go out and play while she had to stay in the kitchen and learn to cook for her future husband; when her parents constantly told her to ‘stay away from boys and men’, hinting that if any boy or man harmed her it was because she let it happen, yet never once would she hear them tell her brothers not to rape or sexually assault girls or assume girls’ bodies belong to them.

She probably heard it in church when the pastor stressed the need for women to ‘submit’ to men, ‘as Christians do the Church.’ She was given supposedly divine justification of her inferiority. And the rapist was given divine justification for his entitlement.

The problem of sexual harassment in schools is rooted in patriarchy and quite a lot of the time, it is harassment and rape infringed on students by other students. In a patriarchal society, it would mean that teenagers learn about sex through the most unhealthy and violent paradigms of problematic gender role stereotyping. In a patriarchal sex education, consent is non-existent.

Girls learn fast that their bodies do not belong to them and that they are prey, and boys learn fast that they are predators and are allowed to get away with all sorts of violence.

The facts of this reality range from leaked nude photos on twitter of minors to twelve-year-old girls who are forced to engage in other uncomfortable sexual  acts because they want to be liked by boys, yet want to protect their hymen to keep up a semblance of virtue, virtue that would ensure they keep this boy’s respect. Because you see, in the patriarchal philosophy of sex, once a boy has any sexual encounter with a girl, she somehow ‘loses value’ while he gains accolades.

No matter if this is achieved through violent means.  ‘Kiss and Tell’ was a common occurrence during my time in high school, where boys would share with other boys their sexual exploits with girls and usually everyone in the class or school would know. This usually invites even more harassment and shaming. Kissing and Telling was a high school system by which girls were policed and essentially terrorized into standards of sexuality that punished them at every turn. You learnt quickly that you were sexual prey and it will be announced when you were ‘caught.’

I believe to properly tackle the problem of sexual harassment in schools we need to revolutionize our sex education. In many schools, there is no sex education at all. And in those where there are some forms of sex education, it is essentially a half-education rooted in biology and nothing about human behaviour; an education that teaches only that girls can get pregnant and ignore the surrounding violent climate of sexual relationships. You find that a lot of teenagers turn to pornography as a teaching tool. It is no wonder then that dangerous notions about sex and sexual behaviour are learnt and enacted.

My dream sex education kit will be rooted in gender theory, through the lens of dismantling patriarchy. It would include activities that would push teenagers to unlearn patriarchal gender notions, include modules on Value systems [and approaching this from a humanitarian rather than religious point of view], modules on communicating in relationships, modules on gender equality, debunk myths and misconceptions about sex, teach a consent culture to end a rape culture, body intergrity and being sexually safe and healthy, as well as teach bystander interventions.

I also would hope that this education is tied to the larger institutions such that there are safe, non-judgmental spaces for students to report sexual assault, harassment and rape, spaces where perpetrators get punishment. And I hope that this sex education is mainstreamed in every aspect of the school curriculum, fine-tuned to the point of ensuring that even the language teachers use to teach does not perpetuate harmful gender norms and gender role stereotypes.

My bigger dream, however, is that a consent culture is mainstreamed in every grain of society and may we reflect on what that would look like as we commemorate 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Based Violence.  As we hashtag #16daysofactivism, let us remember It is only when our homes, churches, mosques, shrines, offices, and internet communities are free from patriarchy that erasing sexual harassment in schools would be a sustainable achievement.


This article is published as part of an online campaign by the Gender Based Violence Prevention Network, coordinated by the Uganda-based organisation Raising Voices, to prevent violence against women. Use the hashtag #16daysofactivism to join the conversation, or check out @GBVNet via Twitter or visit the GBV Facebook page


The post Sexual Harassment in Schools: The Urgency Of Revolutionized Sex Education appeared first on Inter Press Service.

by Nana Akosua Hanson at December 10, 2018 03:28 PM


Can I Talk to a Manager?

Liberals believe in a society ordered like a restaurant: some eat, some serve, and there is a manager to keep it all going.

alt An umbrella adorned with the European Union flag is carried by a protester during a march in May 2016. Christopher Furlong / Getty

If Guy Debord were alive today, he might say that “in societies where the neoliberal conditions of political economy prevail, all of life presents itself as an immense accumulation of customer service interactions.” That is, to the liberal, all relationships are business transactions.

Nowhere is this tendency more apparent than in the contemporary liberal approach to political organizing, which seems to be reducible to a great cry of “Can I speak to a manager?” And nowhere was it better exemplified than in early October, when several thousand middle-class dog owners marched through central London to protest Brexit. Yet another outgrowth of the “People’s Vote” campaign (which is pushing for a redo of the Brexit referendum), the demonstration was called the “Wooferendum.”

The ur-concept of contemporary liberal politics is faith in the authority of a rule-governed order, and an expectation that the appointed minders of that rule-governed order will operate society, more or less, as a service to those who pay for it. In other words, “Excuse me, I do not mean to cause a fuss, but I’m not entirely satisfied.”

In the two years since its vote to leave the European Union, the UK has seen innumerable marches on parliament advancing the demand that the government cancel Brexit, or at least offer a People’s Vote. These marches, proudly unaffiliated with a political tendency, and frequently tinged with rhetoric suggesting that the Brexit vote was enabled by provincial rubes or spending skulduggery, have been an exhortation to the government of the day to just act, please. They are billed as marches politicians “cannot ignore,” that politicians have gone on to ignore. The political theory of change used by The Wooferendum, and others like it, is that once displeasure is voiced by enough people, the powerful — be they billionaires, political leaders, or whoever else — will then graciously remove the offending policy.

This phenomenon, of course, is hardly confined to the United Kingdom. In the United States, the years since Donald Trump’s election have been marked by a liberal obsession with the prospect of a released tax return or well-placed confession extracted by special counsel Robert Mueller to get rid of him. Just act, please.

“Speaking to the manager” is a sort of tyrannical helplessness; it is the haughty demand for intercession on one’s behalf by an array of greater forces you assume are servile. It is worded like a demand, but it is in fact a plea. It relies on a deeply held belief that society has been ordered for your benefit, because you bought it. And by repeatedly reminding those in charge that society is not entirely to your liking, a number of dutiful institutions or solicitous political Jeeveses will course correct and bring things “back to normal.”

It also assumes a hierarchical society, ordered like a restaurant: some eat, some serve, and there is a manager to keep it all going. This is why these same liberals tend to find the prospect of greater popular control over the media, economy, or society chilling, because they must confront the possibility that they will no longer be served and tended to.

We have been conditioned by the market to believe “the customer is always right.” But the power the customer holds over a business is a thin simulacrum of power. Power is classically understood as the ability to compel others to do what, but for you, they would not have done. Yet “consumer” power relies on businesses doing what customers say when it is in their interest to do so. The human construed as a customer can pull but one lever for change: “no.” The customer can decline to purchase, even voice displeasure, but the role of customer is inherently passive.

What can the call center worker on the phone do other than accept your vitriol, a modern whipping post for your catharsis? After all, a consumer possesses no independent force to shape his or her choices in the world, merely choosing between an array of options presented by actors separate from them.

It is no coincidence that the citizen-as-customer is a phenomenon of neoliberal society, where every day we remold ourselves and our world in the image of the homo economicus, the uber-rational individual who calculates every action according to cold self-interest. The roots of this idea can be traced back to Hobbes, Locke, and other theorists half remembered from Political Science 101. What the contract theorists had in common was the belief that “society” was external to those living in it, a kind of trust all humans transacted with to produce a desired outcome: trade a little liberty, receive the enforcement of contracts in return. It is not a long jump from the social contract thinkers’ view that society exists to serve those bought into it to the Third Way consensus: we agree it’s nice to be compassionate, but taxpayers ought not to fund lavish lifestyles for welfare queens.

This is a classic case of Capitalist Realism — the concept Mark Fisher introduced in his 2009 book of the same name, where those ensconced in late capitalist society cannot imagine any alternatives; it seems so natural, inevitable, and overwhelming. It is obvious to these people that, as taxpayers, they are entitled to influence society, and that no organizing or labor on their part is necessary. It is not only obvious, it is inevitable. I mean, it worked at Liberty’s or Bloomingdales. They are now Aladdins pleading with a disinterested genie.

The Wooferendum, the cute protest signs, politically charged knitted hats — all are bold statements by liberals that society is a thing separate from me, that I bought as a service, which is not actually delivering an outcome that is entirely to my liking. It is, equally, the product of political imaginations that have been irreparably circumscribed by The West Wing and Crooked Media. It is a supreme arrogance (all exists to serve me) combined with supreme impotence (all I can do to change is dependent on the belief that my dissatisfaction can, and should, move heaven and earth).

Tory Brexit is in crisis because its promises were impossible and the Conservatives cannot reconcile their internal squabbles. Donald Trump’s associates are landing in jail because they are small-time political grifters and snake-oil salesman who stumbled into the limelight.

Make no mistake: if Brexit stops tomorrow, or if Donald Trump finds himself in irons, the ongoing humiliating public displays of authoritarian obsequiousness by liberals will have had nothing to do with it.

by RJ Quinn at December 10, 2018 03:20 PM

InterPressService (global south)

Migrant’s Compact Mischaracterized for Political Reasons

By Alice Thomas
MARRAKESH, Morocco, Dec 10 2018 (IPS)

The fact that a handful of countries have indicated their intention not to come to Marrakesh to endorse the compact signifies how the issue of migration has been politicized and become a political flashpoint.

Unfortunately, certain right-wing, political parties in some of these countries have been successful in misleading the public regarding what the compact is, and what it seeks to achieve which is to promote cooperation among countries of origin, transit and destination to ensure that migration is safe, regular and orderly.

Moreover, with respect to countries like Switzerland – which was a co-chair of the process to develop the compact — there is nothing in the compact that is contrary to its current policies and practices. This demonstrates how the compact has been mischaracterized for political purposes.

Ultimately, however, that a handful of countries may not come to Marrakesh should not detract from the fact that over 180 nations will, meaning the compact has received overwhelming global support.

What is unique about this is that countries that are withdrawing are doing so despite the fact that (a) the compact is non-legally binding, and (b) all of these countries (other than the U.S.) participated – presumably in good faith – in the 18-month process to negotiate its terms, yet are now not supporting it.

How effective is the compact if its implementation is only voluntary?

The compact will only be effective if countries move forward with its implementation. However, what is important is that the compact’s 23 objectives embody a comprehensive set of best practices for managing migration in a safe, orderly manner which requires the cooperation of countries of origin, transit and destination.

In other words, implicit in the compact is the understanding that not implementing these practices results in unsafe, irregular, and disorderly human movement, in loss of life, in human trafficking, in exploitation and abuse of migrants in situations of vulnerability including children, etc..

It results in a failure to address the factors in countries of origin that are driving more and more people to migrate out of necessity and desperation, not choice.

It also seeks to protect persons in situations of vulnerability who are not squarely included in the Refugee Convention, including those compelled leave their countries due to disasters and the adverse effects of climate change.

All countries need to address these drivers, to promote practices that ensure that people are moving safely and regularly. At the same time, the compact recognizes the sovereign right of every nation to manage its borders. As such, that a country does not want to implement these best practices is contrary to its own self-interests.

Political parties will come and go, but ultimately, over the longer-term, the compact should prove effective in improving migration governance and in addressing the current challenges of migration in a smarter, more effective way that is everyone nation’s interests.

Has the concept of refugees undergone a dramatic change?

The concept of refugees has evolved. There are over 258 million migrants today (that is 1 in 30 people) most of whom migrate for economic reasons, to gain skills, to fill labor needs in countries of destination, and to support their families and communities back home through remittances.

In fact, unlocking the full economic potential of migration to contribute to GDP and sustainable development in origin and host countries is much of what the compact is about.

What has changed is the fact that increasingly, more and more people are migrating not out of choice – not as “economic migrants” – but because of other drivers like generalized violence, corruption, and the impacts of climate change in their home countries.

These persons are not included in the definition of refugee under the 1951 Refugee Convention, despite the fact that they are in “refugee-like” situations meaning they are in need of some level of international protection.

One of the goals of the compact is to ensure that those migrating out of desperation- and who are not protected under refugee law – are not exploited or abused, and that their human rights are upheld.

The post Migrant’s Compact Mischaracterized for Political Reasons appeared first on Inter Press Service.


Alice Thomas is Refugees International’s Climate Displacement Program Manager.

The post Migrant’s Compact Mischaracterized for Political Reasons appeared first on Inter Press Service.

by Alice Thomas at December 10, 2018 02:51 PM

Introduction to the Economic Design Dimension of Gaia Education’s Online Course in ‘Design for Sustainability’


This is an online course on living well within our means. The pun here is intentional. For, what we are exploring in this course is not just ways of reducing our consumption to levels that enable natural systems to self-regenerate, but that we do so in ways that permit a high quality of life — that we live within our means and that we live well.

by Daniel Christian Wahl at December 10, 2018 02:11 PM

NetBlocks tool tracks cost of internet shutdowns

“Internet shutdowns are increasingly used by governments to control the flow of information, particularly around elections or political unrest,”  Alp Toker, executive director and founder of the NetBlocks group, told Index on Censorship.

NetBlocks, which grew out of the 2017 Freedom of Expression Digital Activism Award-winning Turkey Blocks, is a nonprofit organisation created in 2016 to harness technology to map internet freedom. The civil society group aims to protect and support digital rights, cyber-security and internet governance.

“The goal is to go beyond research into prototyping, implementation and deployment of completely new mechanisms that might be able in future to protect and extend our fundamental rights,” Toker said.

NetBlocks has partnered with the Internet Society to create a new tool, Cost of Shutdown Tool (COST), that will cover social media and key content platforms, as well as full internet blackouts.

“What’s the cost of censorship? How much do internet shutdowns cost ordinary citizens? These are the questions we set out to answer at NetBlocks with COST, because traditional advocacy around freedom of expression doesn’t always make the impact it should, but financial figures make authorities listen,” Toker said.

The COST tool has been in a beta mode throughout 2018. NetBlocks estimated a loss of £23.7 million from the March 2018 Sri Lankan internet shutdowns that took place in response to violent riots.

COST’s main goal is to spread awareness about the true costs and effects of online shutdowns. The NetBlocks teams hopes that this will prompt citizens to put pressure on the authoritarian governments who are most responsible for online censorship.

Gillian Trudeau from Index on Censorship spoke to Alp Toker about NetBlock’s new tool, COST, and what to expect from it.

Index: What is the Cost of Shutdown Tool (COST) and what does it do?

Toker: What’s the cost of censorship? How much do internet shutdowns cost ordinary citizens? These are the questions we set out to answer at NetBlocks with COST, because traditional advocacy around freedom of expression doesn’t always make the impact it should, but financial figures make authorities listen.

The Cost of Shutdown Tool (COST) is a data-driven online tool to quickly and easily estimate the economic cost of internet disruptions. Built around economic methodologies devised by the Brookings Institution and CIPESA, the Cost of Shutdown Tool (COST) estimates economic cost of internet shutdowns, mobile data blackouts and social media restrictions using regional indicators from the World Bank, ITU, Eurostat and U.S. Census. The tool will cover shutdowns affecting social media, key content platforms and full Internet blackouts using key indicators relating to the global digital economy. COST is officially launching Monday 10 December, 2018.

Index: What do you hope to achieve with the project?

Toker: We hope to enable anyone – including journalists, researchers, advocates, policy makers, businesses — to understand how much internet disruptions can cost economies, as well as support advocacy and policy work to end online mass-censorship.

Index: How did your relationship with the Internet Society start and what do they bring to the project?

Toker: The Internet Society (ISOC) is a global organisation with over one hundred chapters around the world dedicated to ensuring that the internet stays free and open. We connected at the Internet Engineering Task Force where we are working to strengthen internet protocols for human rights, and things immediately clicked. The partnership has been very strong because it is built around both impact around human rights and technological development — areas of expertise for both organisations. With the Internet Society’s global access, we’ve been able to explore new ways to identify and push back against internet disruptions that harm human rights around the world.

Index: Why should we be concerned about internet shutdowns?

Toker: Internet shutdowns are increasingly used by governments to control the flow of information, particularly around elections or political unrest. Internet shutdowns create chaos through all facets life, from accessing medical services to getting in contact with family members.

Through our work in the #KeepItOn campaign, we’re continuing to monitor these shutdowns around the world. Open access to internet is a key part of a functioning democracy, and is protected by international law and conventions.

Index: What cost estimates do you have for internet shutdowns in 2018?

Toker: In it’s beta mode, the tool has already been used to bolster advocacy efforts around the world. Our first experience using the tool in advocacy came when Sri Lanka shut down parts of the internet during protests, leading to an estimated loss of $30,000,000 USD. Because we were able to calculate the number instantly, it became the basis of a national campaign launched by Sri Lanka’s Social Media User’s Union. In Iraq, multi-day outages cost the economy an estimated $40,000,000 USD. Again, this figure was picked up widely by local and international media and caught the attention of everyone from street vendors to the oil industry. Another shutdown in Ethiopia had a more modest impact of 3,500,000 birr, but that impact targeted a small region with a developing economy and its impact was felt hard. Working with the #KeepItOn coalition, we wrote to the Ethiopian government to highlight the concern with their policy.

Index: What trends in internet shutdowns can we expect COST to uncover in 2019?

Toker: There is a growing tendency toward mass-censorship online, particularly in developing countries. We’ve been seeing more localised disruptions, and COST is now able to estimate the impact of sub-national shutdowns — a powerful approach that highlights the economic impact to a local community.

We have also seen more precisely timed shutdowns, intended to evade detection and reporting. For these reasons, COST works best when there is hard technical evidence of an internet disruption. Hence, it works great in tandem with real-time monitoring data from the NetBlocks internet observatory, which uses new techniques to accurately track such incidents.

In addition, research shows little evidence that cutting off communications provides relief in these situations, but it has been shown again and again that shutdowns do impact emergency first-response, healthcare and the provision of critical service. This is in addition to their severe impact on the fundamental rights of free expression, free assembly and free association.

Index: What are the worst and best countries for internet freedom and why?

Toker: Pakistan and India face systematic disruptions at massive scale, and the problem is also endemic in sub-Saharan Africa. There are also frequent disruptions in the Middle East, and a new trend emerging of shutdowns in Central America.

Index: When was the NetBlocks group created?

Toker: The idea for NetBlocks came about in 2015 and was recognisable in its current form by 2016. We entered the spotlight in 2017 after the first two modules of the internet observatory was launched. Meanwhile, The Index on Censorship Award helped us focus at a critical moment in time with a backdrop of contested elections, overbearing corporations, and the breakdown of online trust. In a time of rapid change the fellowship gave us a way to channel creative energy into a force for good.

Index: Why was the NetBlocks group created?

Toker: NetBlocks exists to meet the overwhelming need and demand for rights-based technology in support of free expression and access to knowledge. The goal is to go beyond research into prototyping, implementation and deployment of completely new mechanisms that might be able in future to protect and extend our fundamental rights. Internet-scale measurement, data-driven policy and advocacy, rights-based internet protocol design, machine learning to uncover violations of fundamental rights: these are some of the new frontiers. I’m sure there will be more.

There are competent civil society technology programmes out there today, but why not shake things up and put the tech at the forefront of the mission? Journalism, writing, the creative arts now exist largely in digital spaces, more vulnerable than at any time in our history. We need to not only understand those spaces, but to master them if we’re to stand a chance defending free thought for the next generation.

Annual appeal: “Our mission will continue and we will persist”

Don’t let the bullies win – help us champion the people who are fighting back. People like Freedom of Expression Awards fellows Turkey Blocks.

#IndexAwards2017 fellows: “Governments don’t care about the human rights argument”

Since the Index on Censorship Awards, the 2017 fellows have been busy doing important work in their respective fields to further the cause of freedom of expression around the world

#IndexAwards2017: Turkey Blocks defends digital freedom

2017 Freedom of Expression Award-winner Digital Activism award-winner Turkey Blocks continues to monitor internet freedom in Turkey.

Turkey’s post-referendum freedom of expression

A guest panel shared their thoughts on President Erdogan, polarisation and free speech following the referendum result in Turkey

The post NetBlocks tool tracks cost of internet shutdowns appeared first on Index on Censorship.

by Gillian Trudeau at December 10, 2018 02:06 PM