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September 19, 2019

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The Ex-Worker #65: Greek Anarchists Fight Back in Exarchia

From Crimethinc.

Summary


On August 26th, riot police under orders from the newly elected right-wing government stormed and evicted four squatted social centers in the Exarchia neighborhood of Athens, Greece, in a serious attack on both precarious migrants and the anarchist and anti-authoritarian movements. In response, Greek anarchists have organized assemblies and demonstrations, while solidarity efforts have poured out from across the world. Both shaken and inspired by these events, the Ex-Worker podcast has emerged from hibernation to ask anarchists in Exarchia what’s going on and what needs to be done. This episode explores the situation in Exarchia through three interviews with anarchist residents of the renowned radical neighborhood. The first is an audio version of “The New War on Immigrants and Anarchists in Greece,” published on the CrimethInc. blog on August 28th, which gives an in-depth analysis of the evictions with historical context and insight into the dynamics of the Greek anarchist movement, supplemented by an excerpt from the 2015 piece “Syriza Can’t Save Greece.” The second is a long discussion with a squatter from the Lelas Karagianni 37 squat in Exarchia, the oldest squat in Greece and a central hub for assemblies and anarchist organizing in Athens; it touches on the role of the media and the previous Syriza regime in paving the way to this wave of attacks; the anarchist movement’s strategy for regaining the initiative from the state; and the significance of international solidarity. The third and shortest interview with the Void Network reports back on the September 14th anti-repression demonstration in Athens and reflects on the prospects for ongoing resistance. Tune in to learn more about this critical struggle to defend freedom and autonomy in an inspiring enclave of radical experimentation.

Notes and Links

by thecollective at September 19, 2019 03:38 PM

War Wounds

From IGD

New article from incarcerated anarchist Noah Coffin out of Texas.


We live in a world perpetually at war. If you want to know the horrors of conflict, just switch on world news and listen or watch for a time. All you need is a few moments before you’ll learn of some travesty or another. Children orphaned and people’s lives snatched from them in wars they often want nothing to do with. But I want to open your eyes to how deep the wounds of war penetrate.

We may be unconscious of much that many nations face when it comes to wartime, as American conflicts are fought abroad. When the remnant of war returns to our land, it’s a silent shadow of destruction which haunts the victims called soldiers and bleeds through into every life connected to their own. Just ask any child raised in a home where post-war fathers or mothers struggle to maintain any semblance of normalcy, often damaging the children in terrible ways.

When we consider damages of wartime, things like missing limbs or lives lost come to mind, however the damage which effects the most people runs much deeper than flesh and bone. A person disturbed by the carnage of war and the stress of military training will cope with it in many ways. Some will fall into depression so absolute that nothing short of substance abuse could be effective enough to drown out the memory. Others try to maintain sanity by keeping up the mechanical process of military discipline and pushing it onto the family. That discipline was not meant for children, but for creating minds of a single focus while disregarding things like emotion. This discipline is needed to train people to charge out into a hail of bullets, but in the home it destroys families.

What’s the cost of war? Look at the vagrant population and you’ll find 1 in 6 homeless are veterans. I can guarantee you that 99.9% of them are substance abusers and most if not all of them became so following enlistment. Vietnam was notorious for turning young men into casualties, amputees, and heroin addicts too. Opiates are brutally addictive and the physical withdrawal alone can kill. This article is to expose the many lives that were destroyed in one home by the ugliness of war.

The Degen brothers were raised in a WWII veteran’s home. Dad coped by keeping up the harsh and emotionless military discipline and pushing it at home with an iron fist. George escapes the physical and emotional punishment by running away. As children, we all want only to please our parents, and in a desperate attempt to do so, George Degen volunteers to join the Vietnam War. During this time, young Richard remains at home, suffering military discipline while racked with emotions that he must bury while his brother and best friend has gone off to one of the most terrible wars in history.

Like many who returned from ‘Nam, George came back haunted by the conflict and hopelessly addicted to heroin. That addiction led to another tragedy, which destroyed so very many who were then unaware that such a destroyer even existed: H.I.V. This killer sucked the life out of George Degen, who never knew the monster lurked inside the loaded needle which held the only escape from his personal hell. But this is still not the end. This destructive path which trickled down from WWII and saw the despair of yet another war, claiming life along the way, still continues to haunt even now.

My dear friend Richard Degen has borne all the turmoil and carries the wounds of wars which he never saw, didn’t want and cannot shake. He’s still struggling to keep the memory and love of George Degen alive and share the tragic story of George’s stolen life while he himself is on the laughable “government assistance,” can barely keep his tortured and damaged mind straight, and is facing another New York winter ahead as “government assistance” can’t seem to approve him for housing, leaving him homeless – some assistance that is!

My name is Noah and I’m a victim of another kind of war. A class war, a domestic war and I’m a P.O.W. languishing in a Texas prison, which is where I write these little rants. My request for you today is that you consider the war victims of the world. Most of all the Degens…

We all in some way suffer from the greed and corruption of the elite who never fight the wars they wage, nor do they suffer from them. What will you do to help to push back against the tyranny, or help to aid in the aftermath?

In Love & Rage, Noah Coffin

Love and support Richard at:

Richard Degen
PO BO 1581
NYC, NY 10276

Even just a call at (347) 989 7507

Love & support to me:

Noah Coffin #1795167
2665 Prison Road #1
Lovelady, Texas 75851

by thecollective at September 19, 2019 03:32 PM

A Call For Radical Interventions In The Global Climate Strike

From IGD

Call to participate and intervene within the upcoming climate strike actions happening across the world from the week of September 20th – 27th.

On the 20th of September, around the world, thousands of people are coming together under the banner of Earth Strike to hold a general strike for the climate. Many unions and workers from various industries have also pledged to join the strike. 1,006 Amazon employees have said that they plan on walking out in support of the strike.1

Anarchists, autonomists and anti-authoritarians are also joining in the strike bringing revolutionary, anti-capitalist and inter-sectional perspectives. This past week the Anarchist Federation in the UK endorsed Earth Strike and is organizing around it.2

The Green Anti-Capitalist Front will also have a presence at climate strikes across the UK. The UK based group is doing radical organizing around climate action challenging the green capitalist agenda of many organizations trying to lead the resistance.

The international demands of the Earth Strike are as follows:

• An immediate start on global co-operation to reverse the damage done to the Earth’s climate, through unambiguous and binding agreements, by both world leaders and corporate entities, following IPCC projections of halving carbon net emissions by 2030 and zero net emissions by 2050.
• International, unambiguous and binding commitments to halt the destruction of rainforests and other wildlife habitats.
• International, unambiguous and binding agreements designed to hold corporations accountable for the greenhouse gases they produce.

We believe that anti-authoritarian radicals in the so-called united states should participate in the strike. This is an opportunity to bring an anti-capitalist perspective to thousands of people seeking system change. As the reformist demands of the movement fail to yield results, many people who have only recently joined the movement may be seeking revolutionary paths forward. In this moment ruled by existential dread, fear, increasing nihilism and despair, it is important to find paths forward and empower one another through direct action and mutual aid. We must find ways to process and move through the stages of grief [denial, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance] and towards a culture of resilient, enduring action capable of withstanding the many losses and sorrows we will collectively experience until liberation of the earth and all inhabitants is achieved.

The global youth are inheriting these crises, and are collectively realizing the shit hand they’ve been dealt — born into a largely alienated and dying world with uncertain futures. Because of this many youth and students have largely been at the front of recent climate campaigns. For example, Fridays for a Future youth strikes have mobilized thousands of people and brought awareness and urgency of these issues to the forefront. There is so much power and revolutionary potential in this generation of youth. Youth are a marginalized group in almost every modern society — pushed into the background of political movements and processes. The climate strike is an opportunity to connect with youth who are well aware of the seriousness of the crisis we are living in. Old institutions offer them tired solutions, and capitalists, and NGOs will try to co-opt their struggles. As anarchists, anti-authoritarians and autonomists we must come together with youth; only through inter-generational struggle can we actualize our revolutionary potentials and find a path forward.

Points of Intervention:

⦁ Attend the Climate Strike
⦁ Bring zines and radical literature
⦁ Engage in discussion with other strikers
⦁ Bring anti-capitalist and anti-authoritarian banners and banner making material
⦁ Offer strikers information about upcoming events and ways to engage in anti-authoritarian and anti-capitalist movements
⦁ Connect strikers to existing environmental struggles
⦁ Offer existing radical spaces and resources for youth to organize themselves
⦁ Work towards organizing a radical climate convergence in your community

FIND CLIMATE STRIKE NEAR YOU

Links
1 https://www.ecowatch.com/global-climate-strike-amazon-employees-26402857...
2 http://afed.org.uk/anarchist-federation-back-earth-strike/?fbclid=IwAR0B...
3 https://greenanticapitalist.org/

by thecollective at September 19, 2019 03:29 PM

Contribution to the international meeting against the techno-sciences by anarchist Dinos Giagtzoglou, prisoner of the Greek state

From Act for Freerom Now

Comrades

I start this letter with a certainty. I am sure that our life experiences are very different as well as the starting points of the struggle of each and every one. I also think that with many of you we have different ideological origins and disagreements or contrasts on individual issues. But I firmly believe that the will to resist the plans of Domination, stemming from the awareness of the fundamental social alienation that alienates us from ourselves and nature as a whole, and the revolutionary passion for the destruction of the mega-machine of Power unite us in a common vision of a world free from the shackles of civilization. By going through a variety of analyzes, striding kilometer distances and eliminating in practice the language obstacles, since we recognize that there is the community of struggle for total liberation, we can really keep the flame of the revolt lit and the wager of the social revolution open. I therefore send a warm greeting to the Resistenze Al Nanomondo collective and to all the participants in the international meeting against the techno-sciences, expressing in advance my eagerness to fill the gaps in knowledge, that my absence will undoubtedly cause, by studying your reflections, your conclusions and everything you can get me through the actions and collaborations that will come from your fermentations in Italy.

But let’s take things in turn. For 21 months now, I have been pre-trial detained in the Greek prisons because I made the decision, like many fighters around the world, to realize my ideas by taking a battle position in the social war and fighting against power, here and now. So I am in prison because I put my ideas into practice beyond the limits of the law and certainly not by accident. With the firm conviction that the revolution will either be lawless or it will be nothing, I wanted to give a concrete example – in the first person and at present tense – of what revolutionary solidarity could mean, beyond the dipoles of innocence and guilt, of legality and illegality, by providing shelter to a persecuted comrade. That is why I am buried in tons of cement and iron, risking to be condemned for the “terrorist” attacks with booby-trapped letter envelopes on EU officials, executives of economic organizations and credit rating agencies sent in the spring of 2017, with which I have denied my correlation since my arrest, but the odds of my conviction for them remain high. Of course no one was found in prison simply because one decided to fight against oppression and exploitation. My current status is the actual proof that I made mistakes. Mistakes in some decisions I made in relation both to myself and to other individuals with whom I misguidedly felt we have been sharing a common struggle. Mistakes that cost dozens of years of imprisonment, mistakes that may be unforgivable, but certainly neither them nor prison itself can cancel my permanent determination for struggle, struggle, struggle… under any circumstances. So I can only breathe through the endeavors of the comrades who are outside the walls and continue the struggle. I want to support such efforts because through them I am inspiring and essentially exist, I live for them! And so I see these three days too.

But is it just that? Is it just a meeting of individuals and groups struggling? In my opinion, certainly not. Having studied only a small part of the work of some of the speakers today, I know that they are comrades who have gone the extra mile in analyzes and critiques of the modern technological paradigm and not only… But I want to emphasize the up-to-date anti-technological critique developed by the comrades, alongside individual struggles and respected analyzes of other themes, not only because it falls within the topic of today’s meeting but also because I think it is something that is too absent from our broader milieus of struggle. Unfortunately, critique of technology (and I am talking about complex and high technology), which is never neutral, but it is the tangible expression of the scientifically structured power, is very disproportionate to the conditions it forms at environmental, social, political and economic level. And if what I say looks like a more general criticism of the radical-revolutionary front then it is definitely a criticism that also targets me personally. I think that in this area, not to get away from the topic by entering other fields, our analyzes (and “our” refers to a more general context and certainly not to the speakers of the event) are extremely behind, and consequently the current struggle against Domination is both ineffective and in the wrong direction. The above conclusions are briefly documented, but I gradually realize the various manifestations of this problem that we can clearly see around us, at least in these lands. In Greece, the comrades (anarchist or not) who have studied modern technologies and the ways they affect humans and life as a whole are just a few. In the last few years, with a delay but in a hurry, I watch with great concern and awe the technological developments trying to develop a critical analysis of the current state of the civilized world of Power and its various intertwined structures, systems, institutions and mechanisms, by seeking and studying thoughts of companions who thoughtfully shed light on this ubiquitous dimension of domination, either their analytical tools are derived from the class struggle perspective, radical ecology or the anti-civilization anarchist views.

A very recent event that made me very nervous was on 19-20 November 2018, just two months after Thessaloniki International Fair with the USA being the honored country and the contracting of a memorandum of understanding between Microsoft and the largest public university institution in Greece, AUTH, when one of the summits of the Singularity University was held at the Athens Concert Hall next to the US Embassy, for the first time in this country. One day later, the 20th InfoCom World conference, which is an institution for Telecommunications, IT & Media in Southern East Europe, took place in the same venue. This is the annual meeting of digital market executives in order to implement the Digital Transformation in the GIGAbit era and its central theme was the development of 5G networks. Also this year, from 10th to 12th of January 2019, the 2nd Symposium of Assisted Procreation “New Horizons in IVF” took place again at the Concert Hall, focusing on the latest developments in assisted procreation with the participation of scientists from all over the world and themes such as in vitro activation of ovarian tissue, creation of the first human egg in the laboratory, therapeutic modification of genes in vitro, and news from the wider use of «Spindle Transfer» in clinical application. At this conference, through a videoconference on the role of mitochondria in procreation, which was broadcast live online, by the American Society for Reproductive Medicine to 7,000 scientists from 100 countries, the first pregnancy using the method of maternal spindle transfer to a Greek woman was announced.

Here I want to talk about the first event. Both days of the Singularity Summit* were live-streaming broadcast to many public universities in Athens and the Greek province as well as to the collaborating with SingularityU and on the face of it “neutral” national research centre Demokritos, where a few days ago in early July in co-operation with the Singularity’s faculty the Singularity Youth Summer School was organized for the second time to introduce young people to artificial intelligence and biotechnology. The magnitude of the Singularity Summit, regardless of where it takes place each time, in accordance with other international industrial, business and research ventures (e.g. Human Genome Project and Human Brain Project and certainly IBM’s Smart Planet vision), in my opinion, is similar to that of NATO conferences and the summits of relevant international organizations for the military-industrial complex, as it is a powerful symbol of the global domination of transnational techno-scientific lobbies. I point out the multinational character of this organization despite the on paper American “aegis” because, contrary to the outdated anti-imperialist view of one and absolute Empire, I have come to deem a worldwide ruthless struggle against the representatives and the structures of the armed wing of modern civilization, which is the techno-science of Domination, to be the only pertinent and consistent “anti-imperialism”.

The Singularity, in this case, is just a figure of speech, a metaphor, perhaps a marketing technique, without this reducing the importance of the singular crime that is happening at all. As you may already know, it is a concept derived from Physics, of course detached and drained from its true meaning and content, so as to fit into the techno-scientific propaganda of the time it was born. Originally responsible for this plagiarism (because this is what it is about) is the polymath mathematician and computer scientist John von Neumann (with a significant contribution, inter alia, to thermonuclear reactions and the construction of a hydrogen bomb suitable for intercontinental ballistic missiles), who spoke first about singularity because of technological progress, following the working hypothesis of mathematician Irving John Good about the “super-intelligent machine,” that is, the point in earthly space-time when Artificial Intelligence will reach a higher level of transcendence of the most advanced human intelligence, after which no prediction for the future of humanity will no longer have any sense. Later, technological singularity became popular by the also mathematician Vernor Vinge, while other futurists such as the futuristic transhumanists Ray Kurzweil and Peter Diamandis, founders and decision makers of the University of the… Singularity, also embraced this techno-maniac theory. However, the real crime is not the expropriation of a concept widespread in good part amongst the scientific community. Artificial singularity has absolutely nothing to do with the essential uniqueness, distinctness, diversity and the limitless and unexplored wealth of the natural world… And how could it? The University, which is a Silicon Valley think tank and is headquartered in a NASA-owned site, collaborates with the DARPA of US Department of Defense, MIT and the world’s leading technology behemoths, and its main sponsor is Google, could be nothing but a bloodsucking organization that purpose to accumulate profit and power, through the façade of scientific leading expert, until the small “armies” it trains colonize the whole biosphere. Of course, as in every individual technological innovation, here too the pretexts are in abundance (like the title of Peter Diamandis book). Pretexts and disguises of the most abominable plans of tomorrow, a figment of the morbid imagination of the most awful mechanistic and reductionist perceptions of today, while tracing their authoritarian genealogy, we find their cultural origins in the Inquisition and the Witch-Hunt of the Middle Ages. This is because, among others, also the “movement” of transhumanists and techno-scientists apply and aspire to expand similar interrogation practices of torturing experimentation on the whole biosphere in order to completely objectify, quantify, standardize, instrumentalize, automatize, homogenize and domesticate wildlife and nature, with an uncanny ideology as a bootstrap that attempts to propagate through these summits each year in various countries across the globe. Unfortunately, however, it is not about some “mad scientists” or “science fiction”. The Singularity undertakes to nurture the best researchers and prepare world leaders to implement plans to address the so-called “great challenges of humanity”. Thus technology takes on the role of “the saviour of humankind”. Who cares if for all human suffering, environmental pollution, ecological crisis the capitalist, technological and industrial society is to blame? After all, history teaches us over time that more technology does not come with a happier or more free world…

Many times the most on paper innocent, insignificant and harmless research programs and experiments have historically led to the most heinous atrocities with devastating effects on human and the planet. Exactly the same technological developments that are presented through supposedly beneficial and entrancing applications in civil society are used for military purposes. The research itself begins for military purposes and ends up in our home in the form of an “innocuous” microwave oven or an internet connection (see ARPANET). For example, scientists who discovered nuclear power in their time were considered upright researchers (one was actually against the Third Reich and the persecution of Jews) and their subject matter studied in their exclusive (and isolated from the rest) field of interest a neutral research work, with the well-known to everyone now results of the atomic bomb. And the examples of interconnecting military and civil applications from the same techno-scientific research are not over. So let us wonder how we can consider one research to be good, while another bad, when a small and seemingly irrelevant piece of it can be used and is used as a complement to the puzzles of a more general development, the plan of which is always determined by the powerful. Obviously, not all researches are of the same significance and the same consequence, this is an easy finding. However, it is not necessary one to carry out research and projects especially on nanotechnology or genetic engineering, for example, one’s work to be utilized for harmful purposes (which are definitely presented as a public service as well as the “benevolent” institutions of the banking groups). Fortunately, some comrades reject easy inferences and convenient analyzes and avoid bringing reality to their political alignment because, unfortunately, reality is relentless. A researcher – always – operates within the dominant techno-scientific paradigm. She cannot escape this even if she is the most “moral” person across the world. The ills and problems caused by a system of domination and exploitation are impossible to be cured and solved once and for all with the tools and methods of the same system in its predetermined frameworks. Scientific research is never neutral. Even if it can be temporarily used for beneficial purposes (see cancer treatment), the direction of the plans of Domination cannot be changed from within. Of course, every participatory system (such as democracy) does not only need those who research, execute, obey and blatantly support and protect its operation, but also those who – always within acceptable contexts – disagree, question it, criticize it, counterpropose, improve it and therefore equally support it. When looking at the technological world from a radical point of view, we should not slip into the case-based reasoning, because this is not a question of custom solutions to our personal problem or our personal comfort and the full range of technological possibilities that we may enjoy (or even use in the war against power) on a daily basis. I think the right thing is not to focus on a single tree, but on the burning forest. Because, at the end of the day, to be free and not to be limited by anything but the laws of nature, all laboratories, factories and machines should be destroyed just like prisons…

But the techno-fetishist fanatics of the Singularity, at the… University, have another opinion. The atonement of human (and not only) nature is undertaken by the new “deus ex machina” of the transhumanists: the “god-man” Cyborg. So, they wander around the globe undisturbed and trot out their merchandise as solutions to all the problems of the world. So, we hear about various inconceivable “patches” on the multiform holes that human civilization has opened in the bodies of all animals and the body of Earth. From brain-computer interfaces to overcome human natural limits and digital automated governmental “ecosystems” to “solutions” to climate change, “treatments” for diseases caused by the existence of industrial civilization, or even “immortality”. Transhumanists have an artificial or robotic “solution” for everything, as they have contrived to create a metaphysical absolutistic ideology that dictates the causality of transformation of human beings into trans-humans and then to post-humans or their decline to subhumans. In short, they claim that physical “flaws”, “unnecessary” emotional and biological processes, genetic and procreative frailties, mental deficiencies can and should be eliminated through the intervention and the literal integration of technology into the human body, including the brain. In this context, natural human procreation will become obsolete, or even useless, as the new techno-children with advanced technological intelligence will be able to reproduce and plan their own evolution. Sons and daughters will no longer belong to families, communities or natural environments, but will be property of those who own the laboratories in which they were either built or replicated. Consequently, the transhumanistic ideology embraces the human-machine fusion with religious reverence. And as it is known some of the greatest crimes against humanity have been committed in the name of religion… It would be “unnecessary” to refer here further to the treatment these guys hold in store for the rest of the living beings (in the footsteps of the anthropocentrism established for centuries now), since I have already outlined what this technological onset marks for human nature. For all this and many other things, the “prominent personalities” of Singularity University, among other technophiles, cultivate the ground – already fertile due to contemporary technological addictions – through these conferences in the various countries they visit as a touring theatre of the techno-scientific community. Most important, however, is not the presentation of their plans, but the design of the future itself, which in their sessions takes place too! It is not about advertising campaigns and trade fairs, nor about “bazaars” of new technologies. No, not at all. The ultimate goal of all this, of course, is the dominance and absolute control of data, information, materials, vital functions, natural phenomena, food reserves and energy resources. But above all the control of the way people think, the image they have about the relations between them and with nature, their perception of the world itself, since what has always been the real target is the mind…

With already applied and widespread GPS and RFID technologies, sophisticated facial recognition software, “augmented reality”, the Internet of Things (IOT) applications, precision agriculture and cloud computing and Big Data systems (the Next Internet in two words), diffusing exponentially and their full development being imminent, we can see that the convergence of the various techno-sciences and exponential technologies in combination with the above is far more pervasive and threatening than the – known to everyone – “smart” technologies that flood the technological world. It goes far beyond a mere upgrade, and we would say that this is a fundamental restructuring of Domination as a whole. Threatening both for humans and for the natural environment. It is indeed a “revolution”, which has been defined as the 4th industrial revolution and is already under way. Its key element is the “harmonization” of both the industrial and the digital world. Or, the merging of tangible physical reality with the virtual reality of cyberspace and whatever follows on from this. The building of cyber-physical systems, with “physical” being a very relevant and vulnerable concept. As a result, the digital organization and control of all the global systems – physical and artificial, business and societal – in real time, by the powerful who hold the power, can foreshadow only an insurmountable technological dystopia… With the prospects of monitoring patients via digestible computer sensors and wearables, interconnected social insurance registers and criminal records with banks and other public and private entities, and interviews of work applicants by artificially “intelligent” robots being only a foretaste of what will follow. The convergence of Nanotechnology, Biotechnology, Information Technology and Cognitive Sciences is the no. 1 wager of the 21st century for leading technology companies – and not only – world-wide, and is already happening to a certain extent. It is also the first step on the ladder of the transhumanistic vision. The further development and deepening of nanotechnology, genetic engineering and reverse engineering, neurosciences, artificial procreation, and robotics, in direct interaction with the computer world, shape the prospect of a radical mesh of the cyberspace with the material world on an interplanetary scale. They eventually convert all living beings and ecosystems from living and inaccessible organisms, complex natural processes and chemical compounds into algorithms, and digits into binary codes that can be encoded and redesigned at will by any fucker who holds the power. Bytes, Atoms, Neurons, and Genes all come into the scientific scales and are priced according to their utility in the meat grinder of civilization.

From all of the above, I think it can be understood that the world, as we know it so far, undergoes a gradual but profound transformation. One could object here that human history is full of “world-changing” incidents, conflicts and rearrangements, but the basic structure of the world remains the same for centuries. I would disagree, starting by posing the argument of the ignorance of the majority of the world’s human population, including most of us, about the structure of the existing technological order, the functioning of the machines and the capabilities of complex technological apparatuses. Of course, this does not mean that people are to blame or that they should learn how to construct, develop and run complex technological apparatuses. Unlike the massive internet connection’s use, for example, and the information that is widely available, we, “ordinary people”, even if we wanted to, are not able to know the real potential of technology and science before they come to light and get a fair extent of publicity as well as they become available in the retail market. But even so, the potentialities offered through technology to the general public are infinitely less than the power of the major multinational companies in the field, a fact that reveals, among other things, the inherent inequality of the techno-scientific system, since it usually offers trivial and banal functions and capabilities that people have developed for millennia through the basic physical capacity of senses and mental perception. These are applications and tools of piddling importance in comparison with the range of power that their technologies hold and provide to the bosses of the world and usually totally superfluous since for thousands of years people have served the same needs and functions without them. The buzz around a technological invention usually stimulates illusions and stupidity rather than true senses and intelligence. The illusion, for example, that internet would lead to the liberation of humanity and wisdom, has completely collapsed. I am not going to enlarge upon the development of this idea and its collapse now, but the examples are countless… It is enough to remember the events of the Arab Spring where the internet was initially used by the insurgents, but then it became apparent in a deafening way who really keep it in their grip. Technological fate is thus written by the elites who, in constant interaction and collaboration with research centers, universities, state institutions and international organizations, on the face of it, “innocent” and “innocuous”, are planning the future of the world. The ever-expanding conjunction between industry and research no longer requires barbed wire fences and military outposts, since it takes its form in facilities fully legit in the social imaginary. If DNA and biometric data banks (embedded elements in the upcoming Citizen’s Card, which is already being prepared by the Greek state under the direction of its foreign patrons to replace the identity card) are the first tiles in the mosaic of the direct and visible bio-political control, then sensors, nano-chips, invisible implants make up an inconceivably deep and vast grid of domination and exploitation not only for humans but also for every living being. CCTV cameras and the military, police and intelligence agencies’ monitoring systems are “drops in the ocean” in the face of the impending colonization of every social activity, every natural process, every person, every object, animals, plants, waters, the soil and the atmosphere. We can imagine a future (not too distant) where the boundaries between public and private will be from too vague to invisible, since everything around us will be in live and direct connection with digital systems of power. Two quick examples of such – simple (and yet so far) – massive applications have been developed in the states of Estonia and the United Arab Emirates. Of course, the aforementioned transformation does not only concern the repression of the defiant. Repression and social control are just the most indicative examples that concentrate the essence of Domination. As it is known, those who hold power have always had imperialistic aspirations. The transformation of the world therefore affects and will affect even more all the areas of social life, even the most intimate moments of private life, from our most innermost thoughts and emotions up to the unexplored aspects of the whole natural world, first striking the wildlife and then the excluded, the unskilled, the weakened, the marginalized, until they eliminate them or make them gears in the social apparatus.

The major problem for us, WHO WANT FREEDOM and we want to fight for it along with other people, is that most people prepare and are keen on such a perspective if they are not actively involved in the work to achieve it. Thus, we will experience the dead ends of a totalitarian society, in which, on the one hand the possibilities of resistance and the opt-outs will be continually diminishing, and on the other, new technological applications will be claimed as a “right” and the effort to access and acquire them will be baptized “struggle” (as is already the case with medically assisted procreation and surrogate gestation who find supporters among postmodern and liberal tendencies such as queer theory and trans-feminism adherents). We will face conditions where outsiders who do not conform to technological developments and imperatives will be automatically flagged to the authorities via the Internet and the outlaws will probably be automatically locked-up inside their home or car until they get arrested and sent to a concentration camp… China’s example now holds the lead in this perspective through the pilot implementation of a social credit system’s programs for bank deposits, supermarket shopping, social media activity, road behavior etc., and has developed the largest panoptic control networks with countless both steady CCTV cameras and camera drones (even in the form of birds) that are directly connected to the police and operate with facial recognition technologies, i.e. artificial intelligence of person identification. Been accused of kidnapping Turkish Muslims, while chasing maniacally political dissidents and their families and thus setting up a grid of modern “McCarthyism”. Besides, it extends its technological experiments through the “sinicization” of the African continent and using Nigerian faces to refine the machine learning technologies that develops, say, the giant company Alibaba and not only. By the way, it is remarkable that at this time, if I’m not mistaken, the world’s largest investments are made in the field of Artificial Intelligence, creating a Cold War climate between China and the USA (with some obvious samples sounding the alarm already given by the dispute of corresponding tension more for control than for the trade of the new 5G telecommunication networks, which is the basis for the development of “smart cities”) and reminding of a war that probably never ended with unpredictable consequences, proportional to the development and use of nuclear weapons… In our continent, Finland is at the cutting edge of its growth, having already developed a national strategy for artificial intelligence, claiming titles and grants from the European Commission, taking also advantage of the presidency of the Council of the European Union since 1st July, for the mega-project it develops. It has invested in working with Estonia and Sweden to become Europe’s first “laboratory” for artificial intelligence applications. The director general of the Ministry of Economy said that AI is the flagship for the development of a series of digitalization applications, namely digital governance. I only mention that the Finnish company Nokia said it will train its entire workforce in AI.

But when I talk about techno-scientific totalitarianism I do not mean that the machines will rule people but that the ones who control these machines will have a totalitarian authority so powerful and diffused that their overthrow will be impossible, since neither the knowledge, nor the agency will be available for the aspiring rebels to stop it. As noted above, the unhorsing of the Prince-Human is made by a new “deus ex machina”, the mechanical “god-man” or Cyborg, but in full alignment and compatibility with the desires of the rulers and the needs of the free market economy. The “free” choice of technological interventions and modifications in body and nature will be as given and predetermined as the choice of voting one or the other political party in democratic elections. In conclusion, the delegation of our lives to technological giants and bosses (since the economy is moving fast towards the full assimilation of technology if the latter has not already integrated the first) will mean the delegation of freedom and welfare of all biosphere to the machines for which it would be wise to remember what the Luddites did in their age, except that the survival and existence of our own and the entire planet is now literally threatened. That is why we need to see what we are willing and able to do and how we will fight. That is why the importance of the three-day international meeting is tremendous and I hope it has the best prospects so that with calmness and accountability, without arrogance and in the spirit of cooperation and respect of all comrades, we see how we can jointly devise plans for the destruction of this authoritarian monstrosity that is the modern civilization.

For the end, I would like to quote briefly and just informatively four events that caught my attention and I want to share with you because they made me feel too troubled as they will certainly make you too in case you do not already know them. Although I do not have to contribute some in-depth analysis and criticism at this time and with all due respect, I bring to your attention up for consideration the genetic modification of children in China, the robotic womb transplantation in Sweden, the artificial procreation with maternal spindle transfer in Greece and the three-dimensional bio-printing of human heart that recently happened in Israel.

I’m sure some of you have already gone crazy with all that, but believe me, I can understand how you feel and imagine the stifling atmosphere in the place when such conversations are opened with real indignation and anguish about where this world is heading to…

I wish you good luck in your discussions and a good fight!

Dinos

*This year the SingularityU Summits, among other countries, are going to be held again on 8-9 October in Milan and on 11-12 November at the Athens Concert Hall.
———————————–

pdf: Contribution Dinos

via: resistenzealnanomondo

by thecollective at September 19, 2019 03:22 PM

Athens, Greece: About my Abduction by State Security Police on August 26th, 2018

From Anarchists Worldwide

via Athens Indymedia

“They’ve got something to tell you upstairs”

Monday, 26th of August at 10 in the morning, some hours after the police invasion into the anarchist squat GARE, the migrant housing squats Sp. Trikoupi 17 and 15, and in the building where Rosa de Foc squat was housed in the past, in Exarchia. Coming out of Bouboulinas squat, where I had entered half hour before –the building which had been reoccupied last May by the Self-organized Community of Squatters, Migrants and Internationalist Comrades, which was born out of the Ground of Occupied Gini, following the last barrage of squat evictions by the syriza government against migrant squats and one feminist squat- I am surrounded by four cops who ask me if I am I, by my name. One of them, whom I recognized from my imposed frequent signings on at the police station, part of many years of suspended captivity, turned to me and says in a friendly manner: -They’ve got something to tell you upstairs. Shortly after, I am transferred, handcuffed, to the police hq, by an opke (heavily armed unit) squad.

It was certain that they wouldn’t ask me any questions. They would not expect to find out anything. The interrogation threats and the tortures have been curbed years now, by the stamina and perseverance of the fighters who get arrested and by the response of the movement. Neither did they intend to make suggestions, give me “alternative options”, negotiate some capitulation (methods that the state experiments on with its opponents). After years of arrests, trials, different kinds of suspended captivity, constant tete a tete with the bastards of the repressive mechanisms, they would not waste their time talking. For one hour I remained sat on the bench, on that familiar to so many comrades corridor of the ‘state security police’ on the 6th floor, along with the three arrestees from GARE, who were not allowed to contact a lawyer since the cops would not announce their arrest, and five migrants from Sp.Trikoupi who were led to court the following day on heavy charges. Nonetheless, they had something to “tell” me, “tell” us upstairs.

A civil cop calls me: -Come with me.

-Where are we going?

-For an investigation

-What investigation and where?

-I don’t know. The prosecutor knows.

We return to Exarchia, a convoy of civil cops and opke. They park and we get off on Ippokratous near the corner with Kallidromiou. The parading circus, with me in the middle, goes into the pedestrian street Methonis. Twenty meters down the way, a civil cop points to an abandoned university building (probable option for a squat). It must be this one.

At the same time a suit turns up. I immediately turn to him.

-You are the prosecutor?

-Yes.

-Whats going on? Why am I here?

-There is a report that you are hiding drugs and weapons in this building.

It doesn’t take much to realize, in this sequence of events, that what they are trying on you is a repressive method without precedent in the forty five years of veiled dictatorship. A scenario with unlimited options. My abduction, on this particular scenario, is a clear message to all those who fight against the state: “We can trap you whenever we decide, pin whatever charges we want on you, bury you in the prisons, eliminate you from the social field, physically and as political subjects.” Here is what they had to tell us upstairs, at the political cadres of repression.

The show continued as an ekam team (special operations unit) raided the abandoned building, followed by the rest of them, civil cops, the prosecutor, opke. I said to the prosecutor that their scenario is unreal and that the only way they would find anything is if they have planted it themselves. Then they announced that there would be an investigation also in my home. The “investigation” in the abandoned building “was completed without any findings”. Afterwards the show continued at my home, which they have raided twice before. After the end of the investigation, from which certainly no one expected to reap the results anticipated by the media, “drugs and weapons”, the prosecutor gave the order to uncuff me. The parading show was rounded up as if nothing had happened.

From this leap that the state made, the threat of planting drugs and weapons on fighters and squats with a legal stamp, to the next step, the materialization of this threat, the distance is minuscule. Within the evolving conflict in the ground of Exarchia and the squats front, this event disappears, it is registered as yet another legally arbitrary and politically targeted investigation in a comrade’s home. It is crucial not to lose the significance of this particular event. What is unfolding is a political method of penal, militaristic and even paramilitary annihilation, familiar from parts of the planet and from recent history where counter-insurgent terrorism has become totally bold.

The pre-trial detention of ex-political prisoner Christoforos Kortesis and the persecution of unionists on charges of “robbery”, on the occasion of a common and daily social practice of appropriating basic goods, had already marked the turn of the state towards the unpretentious physical and political annihilation of fighters. The boundless stretch of legal terms, also to the opposite direction, as confirmed by the court decision to release the murderer of Alecis Grigoropoulos, aims to become the new institutional form of repression, at a time when the new penal code of syriza (reinforced by new democracy) provides for mass incarceration (obligatory prison sentence) as a measure of subjugation of the movement and of social discipline (‘little’ prison time for a lot of people).

In the current conditions of radical militarization of the greek (and of every state), and of total devaluation of political representation, the only trench against the implementation of such and other, paramilitary, methods is the power of resistance and of solidarity. The state has shed all pretenses. The only thing they consider is the insurrection that they will inevitably be faced with. The movement needs to acknowledge the evolving conditions of the conflict. Let nothing take us by surprise. The threats of the state should be returned to their sender, thereby confirming their fears. Let’s freeze the designs of the state and the bosses by our unexpected mobilization.

Let the brainless dictators keep trying. We will not abandon the centers of struggle, we will not live head down, with cops in every corner and inside our homes, we will no perish in poverty and in their terrorism. We will fight for anarchy, in all times.

Anarchists? Drugs! Drugs in the squats. Drugs in Exarchia. Drugs in the universities. Drugs in Omonoia. Drugs in the camps. Drugs in the neighborhoods. Drugs, drugs, drugs!

The practice of dressing up the political and social repression with the pretext of drugs is not merely a tactic for slandering, depoliticizing and demonizing the enemies of the state. The “war (against) of drugs” is, for decades now, the dominant strategy as much in terms of repression as in financial hegemony, globally. On the one hand, it aims at the fragmentation and annihilation of the excluded, at the militarization of the social ground, at the isolation and elimination of social movements. On the other hand, it serves the flow of private funds into the banks of the monopolies at the top (constant primary accumulation), the over-concentration of profits into shady business networks, and their unhindered transfer and investment. The drugs war funds the state and para-state militarism directly (covert war and counter-insurgency campaigns), and indirectly (official counter-criminality campaigns that flood state and private money into the police-military organs).

The favelas of brazil and the ghettos of the usa, which are bombarded with chemical drugs and shot at by the cops, the fighters who are murdered by mafia paramilitaries in mexico and elsewhere, in the forests and rivers of latin america, the “counter-drugs” guerrilla war in Colombia, the related interventions by the usa, these are not distant situations. Here also, it is the fat cats, the media lords, the drug barons and the big sponsors of the state and especially of the police and army, who govern the place. Xrisochoidis, who voted for the memorandum agreements even though he “never had the time to read through them”, never heard about the impounded tones of drugs which the customs neglected to record, never heard about serial murders of witnesses and about court cases that have mysteriously got stuck, which implicate big industry owners, the ones who control the mainstream flow of information and appoint mayors. He never heard, just like his predecessors in the ministry of state terrorism, that the distribution of drugs in the greek territory is entirely controlled by cops, that everyone in their ranks get a monthly share of the black market proceeds, that the greek prisons, which will now come under the supervision of the police force, are controlled through drugs throughout the past two decades.

The barons and their institutional servants, the governments, the judiciary, the scientists and technocrats, they attack the plebe in the camps, in the poor neighborhoods of Athens, in the alleys, in the hills, parks and universities. The last pogrom in Exarchia was initiated by the “social” fascist government of syriza, with sweep arrest of replaceable dealers and users on the square and with evacuations of housing squats coupled with house raids in known drug dealers’ houses. In every case the target was migrants. Regardless of the penal development of these small scale sweeps in the drugs market, the desirable aim of the state is the prevention of the self-organization and radicalization of migrants. The far right government continues the counter-drug sweep, this time broadening its scope: Anarchists who struggle and co-organize within the world of migrants, are threatened to be eliminated as drug dealers.

I will not divert here into expressing my opinion and practice regarding the drugs of the bourgeois world, the position of the oppressed within the pyramids of their control, the militarization of the neighborhood, the proposition for struggle from a proletarian revolutionary perspective. There are several collective statements published on these subjects and existing experience from the movement. This is an issue of the social movement on the ground of struggle. Certainly though, the language and methods of counter-insurgency, the war (“against”) of drugs, is not our way.

The social movement and anarchists must keep the resistance within our lines of conflict: Socialization of the ground, in a way of equality and participation, combatively, with abundant solidarity. And to return terrorism to its birth place. If the state takes the responsibility to plant drugs and weapons on fighters, it is a common duty of the movement to start planting the heads of the bourgeoisie, the drug and war lords. They are trying to choke us in smoke? Let’s roast them in the fire.

Dimitris Xatzivasileiadis

2/9/2019

From the social front of the universal bourgeois prison

by thecollective at September 19, 2019 03:16 PM

Anarchists’ Unlikely Tool for Fighting Climate Change: Farming

from the daily beast

This story is part of Covering Climate Now, a global collaboration of more than 220 news outlets to strengthen coverage of the climate story.

In the waning months of 2011, Tim Holland was deeply involved in Occupy Denver, the local arm of the international Occupy movement. The 41-year-old anarchist and hip-hop artist, who goes by the stage name Sole, had been living in the Mile High City since 2009. When Occupiers first set up an encampment at Lincoln Park, Holland organized street protests, public assemblies, fundraisers, reading groups, and more. Protesters interrupted city council meetings and repeatedly attempted to take over government buildings before the movement was quashed when their second encampment in Civic Center Park went up in a haze of flames. Following Occupy Denver’s suppression by law enforcement, gentrification in the city seemed to shift into hyperdrive, forcing Holland to rethink living there.

“I wanted to pull myself out of the rat race and reimagine what a new form of my political interventions and practices could be,” he said.

Holland had visited intentional communities in France, where radicals were successfully supporting themselves through farming. The idea of anarchists in North America doing the same captured his imagination. He left Denver in 2018, relocating with his wife and young child to an old farmhouse on the outskirts of Brunswick, Maine.

“Earlier in the year that I moved, I learned about the Ogallala Aquifer, which feeds all of the farmland of the breadbasket—and Colorado as well,” Holland said. “It’s going to be depleted in 20 years from now.” Wanting to reorient his life and politics around “food autonomy”—or self-sustaining food production—Holland saw the depletion of the Ogallala Aquifer as not only a strike against staying in Denver but grim proof of what awaited much of American society, which depends on conventional food production to survive.

The dire threat that climate change poses to conventional food production in the United States has been anticipated for years. In a 2012 report, the U.S. Department of Agriculture predicted that post-2050 most crop and livestock production would suffer from a combination of rising temperatures, variable precipitation, and more frequent extreme weather events, such as droughts or floods. The USDA anticipates that, even in the short-term, these effects will exacerbate hunger among the poorest and most vulnerable.

For anarchists like Holland, the anonymously written text Desert was a wake-up call. The 80-page zine, published both online and in print in 2011, argues that the inevitability of climate change will lead to widespread desertification, which governments are incapable of preventing. As extreme as that may sound, Holland felt that he could see the writing on the wall, even from the relative privilege of Denver.

If Desert’s diagnosis rang true, so too did its prognosis. The text’s author suggests that while the consequences of climate change are unavoidable, anarchists may yet prevail against both capitalism and the state. Positing that desertification will cause both markets and governments to retract, Desert argues that in their absence, anarchists could thrive—if only they could first survive.

“In this metaphor of the desert, where does life emerge?” Holland wondered. “If we end up unable to create some mass movement to overthrow the government, what does it look like to build a material force capable of sustaining itself, capable of struggle, capable of being the grounds that make government obsolete?”

In Brunswick, Holland is beginning the search for answers. These days, Holland commits much of his time to gardening, but doesn’t see it as a step away from his anarchist politics. Rather, he sees it as a step forward.

On an acre and a half of land, his budding interest in gardening blossomed into greater study and practice of permaculture, a form of agriculture that emphasizes the creation of sustainable ecosystems with minimal need for external resources, such as fertilizer. With only the occasional help from family and friends, he has cleared half the land of brush, planted 100 fruit, nut, and berry trees and shrubs in addition to a variety of greens and root vegetables. Holland has managed to eek out some staples like lettuce and tomatoes, but has had greater success with perennials like hablitzia, Turkish rocket, and asparagus chives. He’s also learned to forage for berries and wild greens, such as raspberries and sorrell. Many of the plants will take years to mature, especially the fruit trees, but his efforts are already providing daily salads and he expects to harvest hundreds of pounds of carrots, potatoes, and pumpkins.

Although Holland has been unable to provide all of his family’s food, he says that’s not necessarily the goal. (“If I had been living off the land, 100 percent I would have died this year,” he joked.) Belief in the anarchist ideal of mutual aid, which encourages sharing and cooperation to build collective strength, led Holland to think beyond his family. To that end, he has been forming a network across his new home state.

by thecollective at September 19, 2019 03:10 PM

Call for new volunteers for the re-launching of Anarres Infoshop

Greetings Portland anarchists, Anarres Infoshop is holding an open meeting for people interested in joining the collective. This meeting will be held at the Social Justice Action Center on Saturday the 14th of September, 2019 from 5-7pm. The focus will be on developing the division of labor and code of conduct. If you know you want to join, please email us a brief letter describing:

Who you are (your name, political alignments, or whatever else you feel is relevant to share)

Why you want to be a part of the collective

What you would like to accomplish as part of the collective

For more information on Anarres mission and history check out this link: https://www.facebook.com/pg/anarresinfoshop/about/
Join Us!:

5-7PM Saturday September 14th
400 SE 12th Avenue
Portland, OR

Event link: https://www.facebook.com/events/1408600362615753/

Hope to see you there. Solidarity forever.

by thecollective at September 19, 2019 03:04 PM

Anarchist Bookfair Amsterdam

The Anarchist Book Fair Amsterdam will be organized in November 2019. This is the 3rd year in a row that we have organized this anual book fair. The first two years were so succesful that we had a taste for more. So this year you can come to the Dokhuis again for all your anarchist books, zines, stickers, posters, buttons, clothing and much more!

The specific date still has to be confirmed, but we are going to organize it at the Dokhuis in November. Keep an eye on our website and facebook for updates. As soon as we have confirmed the date we will let you know there.

Do you want to run a stand, give a workshop or help out at the book fair? Let us know!

Plantage doklaan 8, Amsterdam

November

anarchistbookfairamsterdam@riseup.net
Anarchistbookfairamsterdam.blackblogs.org

by thecollective at September 19, 2019 02:49 PM

Dewayne-Net

Cities, not rural areas, are the real Internet deserts

Cities, not rural areas, are the real Internet deserts 
The solution to the digital divide is not more broadband, but persuading non-users to join the Internet society
By Blair Levin and Larry Downes
Sep 13 2019
https://www.washingtonpost.com/technology/2019/09/13/cities-not-rural-areas-are-real-internet-deserts/

The “digital divide” is back in the news, with both Democratic presidential candidates and incumbent government officials promising billions to provide high-speed Internet to millions of Americans in rural areas who don’t currently have access to it at home.

The digital divide, however, is not exclusively or even most significantly a rural problem. Due to inaccurate coverage maps, it is difficult to know where specifically access is lacking. But we know from regular Census Bureau surveys that three times as many households in urban areas remain unconnected as in rural areas. And regardless of geography, access isn’t the main reason these homes are without Internet service. The vast majority of U.S. homes without broadband service could have it today, but they don’t want it. The real problem is convincing those who are offline of the value of being part of our digital life.

The singular focus on infrastructure deployment distracts policymakers from the actual explanation for why so many Americans are still offline.

To put the access in perspective: In a recent Pew Research Center survey, only a fifth of respondents said they don’t have broadband at home because they can’t get it. Based on Census Bureau and Federal Communications Commission data, that correlates to between 4.5 and 7.5 million households, total, with no high-speed provider. For context, 3 million American homes still don’t have indoor plumbing, a problem the U.S. has been working a lot longer to solve.

Over the last 20 years, in fact, home broadband in the U.S. has witnessed one of the fastest adoptions of a new technology ever seen. That’s especially impressive given that the FCC has, as new technologies and services have been deployed, repeatedly increased the speeds required to qualify as broadband. The current minimum is 125 times faster than what the agency started with in 1999.

Yet even at the current standard, nearly 200 million Americans have broadband at home, where it’s useful for everything from entertainment to homework. And there is ample reason to believe the broadband picture will continue to improve, especially as high-speed mobile technologies fill in some of the gaps.

The remaining Americans who can’t get wired broadband will have new options soon. In the last several months, for example, the FCC has offered three different solutions to the rural access problem: low-orbiting satellites it argues will offer service to remote areas, merger conditions it claims will provide 99% of Americans service at four times the current minimum speed within six years, and $20 billion of public infrastructure money, to be spent over 10 years.

Let’s also be clear about who isn’t connected. According to John Horrigan, a senior fellow at the Technology Policy Institute who’s been measuring broadband use for many years, our adoption problem is more urban than rural by a factor of three. That’s because those without home Internet service are predominantly poorer, older, and less educated Americans — demographics more prevalent in cities.

We know not only who is offline but also why. Over the last decade both the Pew Research Center and the Commerce Department’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration have been carefully tracking the reasons respondents give for not having taken the digital plunge.

Early on, the most frequent reason was that broadband service was too expensive. But the percentage of non-adopters who cite affordability as their principal or even a significant reason has declined rapidly.

In part, that’s because the FCC, starting in 2016, shifted Universal Service support from subsidized telephone service to subsidized broadband. Today, low-income Americans can receive about $10 each month to help pay for a qualified broadband connection, wired or wireless. As of 2017, nearly 11 million households were taking advantage of this program, known as Lifeline.

At the same time, many Internet providers began offering service targeting low-income consumers. Of these, the leader has been Comcast. It began its Internet Essentials (IE) program in 2011, and has since connected eight million low-income consumers, who pay just under $10 a month.

Last month, Comcast announced it was doubling the pool of eligible consumers — basically, any home already receiving some kind of federal aid, including food stamps or Medicaid. The company expects to add millions of new IE subscribers in the near-term.

So, increasingly the digital divide isn’t about access or affordability. What then? In both private and governmental surveys, a growing number of the holdouts cite a lack of relevance. According to the most recent NTIA report, as of 2017 the percentage of respondents who say they don’t have broadband at home because they have “no need” or “no interest” reached almost 60%, nearly double the percentage who consistently gave that response from 2003 to 2009.

[snip]

by wa8dzp at September 19, 2019 02:27 PM

resilience.org

This Crop is Helping us Understand Humanity’s Nomadic Past — and Prepare for a Hotter, Drier Future

wild cowpeas

Cowpea production has declined in the U.S. in recent decades. But with drought caused by climate change and depleted aquifers leaving farmlands in regions of India, the U.S., Africa and elsewhere high and dry, Close thinks the time is right to bring cowpeas back in vogue — and he’s doing his part.

by Becky Mackelprang at September 19, 2019 02:10 PM

For the Sake of Life on Earth, We Must Put a Limit on Wealth

wealth

A meaningful strike in defence of the living world is, in part, a strike against the desire to raise our incomes and accumulate wealth: a desire shaped, more than we are probably aware, by dominant social and economic narratives. I see myself as striking in support of a radical and disturbing concept: enough.

by George Monbiot at September 19, 2019 01:47 PM

Humanity and Nature are Not Separate – We Must See them as One to Fix the Climate Crisis

Reconnecting to nature

Though a varied and complex story, the widespread separation of humans from nature in Western culture can be traced to a few key historical developments, starting with the rise of Judeo-Christian values 2000 years ago.

by Heather Alberro at September 19, 2019 01:18 PM

InterPressService (global south)

Do Women Suffer Greater Loss of Employment than Men in Morbidity?

By Farhana Haque Rahman and Raghav Gaiha
ROME and MASSACHUSETTS, Sep 19 2019 (IPS)

In a life peppered with tragedy, Mary Shelley wrote in 1818, “Have I not suffered enough, that you seek to increase my misery?” That this accurately sums up the fate of many women in South Asia who suffer a major health shock such as a serious illness or a disability or both, is hard to dispute.

Farhana Haque Rahman

The rising burden of non-communicable diseases (NCDs), like cardiovascular, diabetes and cancer, hamper growth in different ways. They reduce the supply of labour and redirect resources from productive investments to health care, and thus drain the public and private budgets, raise business costs and undermine competitiveness.

An important channel through which NCDs affect aggregate output involves labour and productivity losses. A direct impact is a reduction in the number of working-age individuals, due to both increased mortality and reduced on-the-job productivity for the sick. If employees die or suffer from a disease that reduces their productivity, their corresponding contribution to total output is lost for the economy. Indirect productivity impacts involve reduced cognitive abilities and increased absenteeism and worker turnover. Both direct and indirect impacts lead to ripple effects, such as reduced household earnings and reluctance of firms to invest in workers’ training and capacity development, which in turn further hinder economic growth.

NCDs force people into early retirement, and thus reduce overall labour market participation and increase the ratio of dependents to workers. The retired persons often require special medical care and specialized services, which reduce the amount of resources that can be employed in productive activities and add to the cost of firms that provide retiree health care or health insurance. The new replacement workers raise firms’ hiring and training costs. Besides, the expectation of shorter post-retirement life expectancy can lead to lower savings during active life, which in turn contributes to the reduction of the stock of physical capital per worker.

Irrespective of health indicators used – difficulty in activities of daily living such as bathing, dressing (ADLs), self-assessed health, BMI, any illness – adverse health outcomes are associated with reduction in labour force participation and/or work time. Evidence for urban slums in Dhaka (Bangladesh) shows that more than 20 % of adults out of 12000 interviewed take days off from work due to illness in 12 months preceding the survey. In Vietnam, in households where an adult is bed-ridden for 2 weeks or more in the last year, annual workdays are reduced by 8 %.

Larger health shocks are associated with greater income losses. While households in Indonesia are able to fully smooth income losses from minor illness (eg, fever, respiratory congestion) and 71 % of the income losses from moderate illness (inability to perform an intermediate activity of daily living (for example, walk for 5 km, take water from a well), only 38 % of the income loss from severe illness shock (inability to perform basic ADLs such as bathe yourself, feed yourself) is smoothed.

Raghav Gaiha

Household members other than the sick also suffer employment losses. For example, in Bangladesh, the death of a household member in the preceding two years lowered work participation of household members by an average of 8.6 hours in the last week.

More often than not poorer households fail to protect their non-medical consumption in response to health shocks while better-off households are able to deal with them more effectively. Besides, health insurance provides partial protection to those insured.

A more detailed analysis of employment losses by gender due to NCDs and disabilities in India offers new insights.

Adapting the categories of duration of employment in the Human Development Survey 2015, we classify individuals into (i) did not work, (ii) worked for a low duration, (iii) medium and (iv) long duration in 2012, the most recent year for which detailed employment data are given. Serious health shocks are measured as more than one NCD and more than one disability. Their employment outcomes are compared with (i) those who were not subject to these shocks, and (ii) between men and women who suffered the health shocks.

Let us first consider women who suffered these shocks.

An overwhelming majority of them did not work – at least 10 percentage points more than those who did not suffer the health shocks. Besides, in low and medium durations of employment, women afflicted with NCDs fared much worse than women without these illnesses. Somewhat surprisingly, in the long duration category, the difference was slight.

Turning to women with serious disabilities, the differences in duration of employment are more glaring. A larger majority of disabled women did not work-13 percentage points higher than those without any disability. In all other categories of duration of employment as well, disabled women consistently performed worse than non-disabled women. In fact, in the long duration category, the share of disabled women was 65 % lower than that of non-disabled women.

The difference between men afflicted with NCDs and those without in not working was minor but the share was higher among the former. However, in medium and long durations of employment, the shares of those afflicted with NCDs were moderately lower than those of without.

As in the case of women, the differences in duration of employment between the disabled and non-disabled were more pronounced. The share of disabled not working was considerably higher than that of non-disabled -about 14 percentage points higher. In all other categories except low duration, the shares of disabled men were markedly lower than those of non-disabled men. In fact, the share of disabled men in long duration of employment was about half that of non-disabled men.

Comparisons between women and men inflicted with NCDs show substantially larger losses of employment among the former. A similar picture emerges from a comparison between disabled women and men.

In sum, overburdened with domestic and other chores, victims of domestic violence, malnourished, and denied high quality of medical care when seriously ill, women’s immiseration in morbidity is exacerbated by larger losses of employment. If there is an interplay of male attitudes that allow severe morbidities to develop through negligence, and there is a compounding through resistance of employers to hire sick and disabled women, the challenge of preventing the immiseration is daunting.

(Farhana Haque-Rahman, a former senior United Nations official is a communications expert, and Raghav Gaiha is (Hon.) Professorial Research Fellow, Global Development Institute, University of Manchester, England).

The post Do Women Suffer Greater Loss of Employment than Men in Morbidity? appeared first on Inter Press Service.

by Farhana Haque Rahman and Raghav Gaiha at September 19, 2019 12:12 PM

Dewayne-Net

Digital privacy evolves in class actions

Digital privacy evolves in class actions
With two recent failed digital privacy class-action certifications, litigators say certification is becoming a higher hurdle to pass
By Aidan Macnab
Sep 16 2019
https://www.canadianlawyermag.com/practice-areas/privacy-and-data/digital-privacy-evolves-in-class-actions/304123

Though privacy class actions have surged since 2012, and PIPEDA’s new mandatory breach-reporting requirements should keep applications rolling in, two recent failed certifications show judges may be stingier at the certification stage, say litigators.

Though it had previously existed in the United States, the tort of intrusion upon seclusion has been in play in Canada since the 2012 Ontario Court of Appeal case Jones v. Tsige. In this invasion of privacy case, the two parties were both employees at the same bank and the dispute began when Tsige shacked-up with Jones’s ex-husband and used her position at work to access Jones’ personal banking information 174 times. The appeal centred on whether the lower-court judge erred in taking the position that Ontario law does not recognize a tort for breach of privacy – a question that has been debated for 120 years, said the ruling by Justice Robert Sharpe. His overturning the decision to dismiss the claim created that tort.

Jones v. Tsige has provoked numerous privacy law suits – aided by the rise of technology capable of collecting, holding and monetizing data, organizations of all kinds digitizing their records systems and Canada’s new Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act.

“There certainly was an increase in these types of claims brought, in general, be it in a class action format, on an individual setting, post 2012,” says Scott Robinson a class action and international arbitration lawyer in McCarthy Tétrault LLP’s national litigation group.

Jones v. Tsige has been significant for class-action practice because it made it possible for a plaintiff to get up to $20,000 without proof of economic loss, if they could prove the information intruded on was “particularly sensitive” and caused emotional or mental distress, says Catherine Flood, partner at Blake Cassels & Graydon LLP in Toronto.

Since Jones v. Tsige, digital privacy incidents have ranged from rogue employees accessing customer files, to people posting intimate photos of their ex-lovers without consent, says Flood. Also proliferating are thieves hacking into the computer systems of organizations, stealing data and demanding a ransom for the return of the information, she says.

“We, unfortunately, are increasingly seeing ransom demands,” she says. “In some cases, it’s a hacker who has encrypted a system, in some cases it’s a hacker whose stolen data. And then in some cases, it’s someone just making up a story and hoping that if they ask for a small enough amount of Bitcoin people will just pay it rather than take the risk that they actually have something.”

While Flood says Canada is seeing a “steady stream” of privacy class actions, the view of privacy by courts is evolving.

“I think that courts are increasingly recognizing that privacy is inherently subjective and individual,” says Flood. “And so, while there are some types of privacy cases that are certifiable, there will be other cases where you’re dealing with situations either where there’s no damages, or where if there are damages, they’re so individual, that they should be dealt with through small claims or through the Privacy Commissioner process instead of through class proceedings.”

Two examples of judges taking a harder line on allowing certifications for privacy breaches class actions are Broutzas v. Rouge Valley Health System and Kaplan v. Casino Rama, says Flood.

In the latter case, doubly unfortunate was Casino Rama – first the victim of a cyber-attack, where hackers stole information on their employees, vendors and patrons and asked for a ransom in exchange for the data’s return. Rebuffed in their ransom request, the thief posted the personal information of more than 10,000 people online, creating a class to pursue Casino Rama for the breach of privacy.

Though Justice Edward Belobaba said he found there was a valid case to be made for negligence, breach of contract and intrusion upon seclusion, he said it was the hacker and not Casino Rama who invaded the class members’ privacy. More importantly, as the intrusion would have to be shown to be offensive to a reasonable person class-wide, there was “no evidence” that scope of consistent harm could established without individual inquiries, said the decision.

Casino Rama’s response to the hack was “prompt and exemplary,” says Nicole Henderson, who is a class-action litigator with a focus on cyber-security and product liability and partner at Blake, Cassels & Graydon LLP. They notified law enforcement, regulatory agencies and everyone affected by the cyber-attack and offered some free credit-monitoring, she says.

“Nonetheless, you see a class action arrive anyway,” she says.

In Kaplan v. Casino Rama, Belobaba said that though class action was not the preferable recourse, class members still had the option of individual actions, in small claims court and under PIPEDA.

[snip]

by wa8dzp at September 19, 2019 11:56 AM

resilience.org

The UC is Going Fossil Free for Exactly the Reasons we Think it Should

University of California at Santa Barbara

Today UC administrators confirmed that the University of California will be going fossil free at their quarterly UC Regents’ meeting. After a 6-year campaign, led by UC students and faculty, the UC will be divesting their $13.4 billion endowment and $70 billion pension funds from fossil fuel companies.

by Theo LeQuesne at September 19, 2019 11:45 AM

InterPressService (global south)

International Cooperation Required to Solve World’s Severest Problems

Sven Lilienström is Founder of the Faces of Democracy initiative & Faces of Peace initiative

By Sven Lilienström
STOCKHOLM, Sep 19 2019 (IPS)

In an interview with Dan Smith, Director of the renowned Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) and Professor of Peace and Conflict at the University of Manchester. The native Londoner, he has been researching conflicts and peace for decades and served in the UN Peacebuilding Fund Advisory Group, which he chaired for two years.

SIPRI Director Dan Smith. Credit: SIPRI

Lilienström: What does “peace” mean for you personally?

Smith: Peace is the situation in which it is possible to pursue conflicts and disagreements – between states, between individuals and at every level in between – without damage to those involved in the conflict, to others, or to others’ ability to live in peace with each other.

Lilienström: After the demise of the INF Treaty, the USA has announced that it intends to deploy intermediate-range missiles in the Indo-Pacific region. The Chinese government is responding with threats of its own. How dangerous are the power games with China?

Smith: The difficult US-China relationship holds many risks including the trade war and confrontations at sea as well as a potential arms rivalry.

Lilienström: China was never part of the INF Treaty. As a result, the People’s Republic is now believed to have 2,000 ballistic missiles. Do we need a new treaty that includes the Chinese?

Smith: There are various estimates of how many missiles China has of the ranges covered by the INF Treaty (500-5500 km); the highest estimate is about 1,700, plus a maximum estimate of some 300 cruise missiles. The total includes both nuclear and conventional warheads. In total, China is widely estimate to have about 300 nuclear warheads. The US and Russia have over 6,000 nuclear warheads each.

A new treaty that includes China would be a positive development!

Accordingly, including China in a future arms control treaty would probably exert a downward pressure on US and Russian warhead numbers, as it is hard to see why China would otherwise agree to sign up. A new treaty that includes China would therefore be a positive development. It is, however, unclear whether China will find the proposal of joining a new treaty credible when the old has just been abandoned.

Lilienström: The Strait of Hormuz, a chokepoint for international trade, has become the stage for an international conflict. What do you think of a US-led mission to protect oil tankers in the Persian Gulf?

Smith: Safe passage by sea should be secured by agreement, subject to international law; neither a US-led military mission nor any other military deployment will contribute this aim.

Lilienström: Cyber-attacks, propaganda, and disinformation are means of conducting a hybrid conflict. How vulnerable are Germany, the EU and the NATO countries to becoming targets of hybrid threats and campaigns?

Smith: All European countries are already subject to cyber incidents of various scales from a wide variety of sources. What is called “hybrid warfare” normally also involves the use of armed force; currently, NATO and EU countries face a relatively low risk of experiencing that kind of conflict.

Lilienström: Regarding climate conflicts: The drought in the region around the drying Lake Chad demonstrates the effects of global warming. Is climate change a global security risk?

Smith: Climate change leads to violent conflict in a context of poor governance. Unfortunately, many areas that will face the strongest direct impact of global warming lack the structures and capacities in government needed to adapt to it. In these locations there are and will be severe climate-related security risks.

Lilienström: Mr. Smith, our seventh question is always the same: What three trouble spots are in your opinion currently the most dangerous and what measures do you suggest to de-escalate conflict and stabilize peace?

Dan Smith: Northeast Asia, the Gulf, the wider Sahel. The great need is for dialogue, respect for the rule of international law and a clear recognition that international cooperation is required to solve any and all of the world’s severest problems.

The post International Cooperation Required to Solve World’s Severest Problems appeared first on Inter Press Service.

Excerpt:

Sven Lilienström is Founder of the Faces of Democracy initiative & Faces of Peace initiative

The post International Cooperation Required to Solve World’s Severest Problems appeared first on Inter Press Service.

by Sven Lilienstrom at September 19, 2019 11:38 AM

resilience.org

How Then Shall We Live?

Owl in garden

This will be a transition that could lead to a world that is increasingly more just and less desecrated, but we will be doing hard things that we’ve never done. Surprising allies may appear.
We may or may not see the fruit of our work. But we’re here now, capable of doing our part, and the world and her inhabitants are still full of beauty and wonder, and there’s no time to waste.

by Laurie Cone at September 19, 2019 11:25 AM

InterPressService (global south)

World is in Crisis– & Multilateral Approach is the Key

Contaminated flood waters in Beira, Mozambique after Cyclone Idai hit presented a significant risk for water-borne diseases like cholera. Credit: Sergio Zimba/Oxfam

By Abby Maxman
BOSTON, USA, Sep 19 2019 (IPS)

As the UN General Assembly begins, we are once again ringing the alarm on the urgent issues of climate and development that demand our global attention and action. And I worry yet again leaders will not heed the warnings and not act with the clarity and at the scale the issues we’re here to tackle demand.

This year the global meetings open with the electrifying cry of young people demanding our attention and our action on climate. I hope this will push us to refocus and deliver on the promises we have made to the world’s most vulnerable people—and to future generations to whom we are bequeathing a planetary disaster.

When we’re talking about the climate crisis and the profound problems the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) aim to address, we cannot stress enough just how high the stakes are. These high-level meetings are the perfect platform for nations to step up and take action – and we hope to see that, but initial signs from countries have been discouraging.

If not now, then when can we expect to see these actions taken?

We can’t keep pushing pledges and actions to a future date – we are in crisis now. Oxfam believes that multilateral approaches are key, and will continue pressing for action on these issues, holding the powerful to account to ensure the voices and needs of the world’s most vulnerable – who these meetings are designed to serve – are addressed.

The unprecedented and remarkable activism led by young people must be heeded and translated into concrete action. Intent to act is not enough – we need to see every nation, especially the wealthy and high-emitting ones, committing to combat this crisis together with urgent and drastic steps.

Abby Maxman, President and CEO of Oxfam America

The science is telling us that we’re running out of time to avert climate change’s worst impacts. Some world leaders have gotten the message, but there is more work to be done, and Oxfam is joining urgent calls for politicians, businesses, and individuals to take ambitious and urgent action to save our planet.

Particularly in making good on wealthy nations’ climate finance commitments which are continuing to fall short of what is needed to protect the world’s poor from the devastating impacts of climate change.

We welcome any commitments made, but we don’t expect to hear enough of those to show leaders are taking this seriously. Too many are delaying, and we are still lacking leadership from the world’s major players and polluters. If anything, we are seeing potentially devastating rollbacks on climate issues in countries like the United States, when we have no time to waste.

Politicians need to go further and faster and to listen and act on the leadership of the students and strikers on the streets, the indigenous peoples and communities on the frontline of climate change, and to the constituencies that they represent. Oxfam is working with our partners to ensure that climate solutions don’t come at the expense of vulnerable communities.

The climate crisis is a defining issue of our day, and it is inextricably linked with other challenges we must face together like the growing global economic equality – the fact that too many still live in poverty and without the basic services and resources to live a healthy, safe and happy life. The SDG’s aim to address these issues and more, but they are far off track.

Two successive cyclones hit southern Africa within 6 weeks of each other, and Oxfam has been responding with clean water, sanitation, and hygiene support to avert cholera and other water-borne diseases.

Oxfam is disappointed by the lack of progress made on the SDGs – the latest Secretary General report shows that the world will not meet the SDGs by 2030. The lack of proper financing, growing inequality, gender injustice, and closing civic space are fundamental constraints to the achievement of the SDGs.

Oxfam is highly concerned that the world is not coming together to make the right political choices and fulfill previous commitments on development finance, which is key for reaching any of the SDGs. We need healthy national fiscal and monetary policies, and people-centered multilateralism with new rules and institutions that seek a more human economy.

At high-level meetings on the SDGs, civil society is provided with very limited time and opportunities to engage in the political process and outcome documents. This year, the outcome document for the SDG Summit was finalized before the actual proceedings of the events in both July and September, which is a clear signal these moments aren’t open for dialogue.

We need to have an open and inclusive process, with more concrete and aggressive actions to address the urgent and interrelated issues the SDGs tackle. We can only achieve the SDGs if we collectively strengthen global and national movements for human economics, accountable capitalism, and a new generation of public and private institutions and norms.

These are massive and complex issues that need sweeping yet specific actions. We must see countries step up and commit to making those now. This work at the UNGA is an opportunity to bring the voices, priorities, challenges and solutions to the table.

I hope we leave this General Debate, Climate Action and SDG Summits with a feeling of momentum – that we are not letting down our young people and the people facing the harsh realities of the climate crisis. Oxfam works with the world’s most vulnerable communities impacted by climate change, disasters, and poverty every day—and we are committed to being a part of the solution that addresses the crisis they feel so acutely.

*Prior to joining Oxfam in 2017, Abby Maxman served as Deputy Secretary General of CARE International in Geneva, providing leadership across the CARE confederation. She previously served as Vice President of International Programs and Operations for CAREUSA, and in other country and regional leadership roles in Africa, Latin America, Asia and the Middle East. Before CARE, Maxman had assignments with the U.S. Peace Corps, German Agency for Technical Cooperation, UN World Food Programme, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

The post World is in Crisis– & Multilateral Approach is the Key appeared first on Inter Press Service.

Excerpt:

Abby Maxman is President, Oxfam America

The post World is in Crisis– & Multilateral Approach is the Key appeared first on Inter Press Service.

by Abby Maxman at September 19, 2019 11:17 AM

Ecosia

Introducing Green Search: make better decisions

Introducing Green Search: make better decisions

Before making a decision, big or small, we tend to search the web. Where to grab lunch? Search the web. Need a new coat? Search the web. Do dogs like hugs? You guessed it.

Ecosia is the world's first search engine that helps you make better informed decisions by providing additional information about your search results. Here’s how it works!

The Green Leaf

We’ve been placing a green leaf icon alongside the websites of planet-friendly organizations since early 2019.

Introducing Green Search: make better decisions

Where appropriate, these organizations and businesses have been assessed by ecological labels such as Hilfswerft, Economy for the Common Good, and Natrue. Many, like Ecosia, are also certified B Corporation members.

The “green leaf” search highlights aren't ads or paid results. Their sole purpose is to help you make smarter, more sustainable choices. You’re welcome!

The Coal Plant

Coal is the single biggest contributor to climate change. It damages our health and destroys the environment. But many companies are still promoting the expansion of coal mining.

These companies are now highlighted with a coal plant icon:

Introducing Green Search: make better decisions

We draw on The Global Coal Exit List, compiled by our friends at Urgewald, to highlight 746 companies that mine coal, transport coal, supply mining machines, search for new mines, or sell the dirty energy. It's the world's most comprehensive list.

"Our 2019 data shows that the time for patient engagement with the coal industry has definitely run out." — Heffa Schuecking, director of Urgewald

We’re even highlighting search results which, at first sight, don’t seem to be connected to coal mining or fossil fuels. Texhong, for instance, is known as a textiles producer, but is also planning to build a 2,100 MW coal power station in Vietnam. With the coal icon next to their website, you’ll know.

We believe that our new green search features will have a real impact on the planet by empowering you to make fully informed decisions – and, if you are so inclined, sustainable ones. The next green search feature is already being developed!

by Joshi at September 19, 2019 10:30 AM

jacobinmag

The New Benchmark for Progressives on Housing

You want to call yourself a progressive? Demand national rent control, just-cause eviction, and billions of dollars of funding for new affordable and social housing, as Bernie Sanders and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez have recently endorsed. Anything less is an unacceptable concession.


alt Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders speaks during the Democratic Presidential Debate at Texas Southern University's Health and PE Center on September 12, 2019 in Houston, Texas. (Win McNamee / Getty Images)

Yesterday, Bernie Sanders released his plan for housing justice in America. Drawing on the ideas of tenants’ rights groups on the ground, it’s the most ambitious housing plan put forward by any presidential candidate in living memory. And it’s set to become the new benchmark for progressive housing politics. Anything less is a concession.

In the United States today, 18 million households pay more than half of their income for a roof over their head. Half a million people sleep on the streets. The median rental price for a one-bedroom apartment in San Francisco is $3,700, but the problem extends far beyond expensive urban centers. As CityLab reports, a forty-hour-a-week minimum-wage job covers a one-bedroom apartment in only twenty-eight of the country’s 3,007 counties. This isn’t just a housing crisis. It’s a housing catastrophe.

Sanders’s solution comes as no surprise: he wants to tax the rich to pay for public investment in housing. In particular, he wants to invest $1.48 trillion over ten years to build, rehabilitate, and maintain 7.4 million affordable homes for low-income renters. He wants to build 2 million mixed-income social housing units, to build and preserve affordable housing in rural areas and Indian Country, to repair and modernize our current public housing stock, to fully fund the Section 8 housing voucher program, and to invest $26 billion in building permanent supportive housing for the homeless.

His plan points out that many of these provisions will create good jobs in construction and maintenance. In addition to his already-proposed taxes on the rich, Sanders plans to help fund these plans by imposing a 25-percent tax on speculators who flip houses for easy money, and a 2-percent empty homes tax on the property value of vacant homes. For reference, an estimated 1.684 million homes sit empty in the United States, more than three times the number of homeless people.

Sanders’s program also contains an ambitious raft of tenant protections. He wants to stop landlords from being able to discriminate based on source of income, and to impose national rent control and national just-cause eviction. These would make it so that landlords can’t turn away tenants because they don’t like how they make ends meet, can’t raise the rent to whatever price they want, and can’t evict tenants for any reason whatsoever.

His campaign team assembled his plan after months of talks with activist and community groups focused on housing justice. It closely tracks the “A Home to Thrive” plan put forward by the group Center for Popular Democracy, particularly its organizational arm, CPD Action. Many of the ideas in Sanders’s plan appear to come from CPD Action, which calls for national rent control and just-cause eviction as well as an end to discrimination based on source of income. CPD Action’s plan also calls for massive investment in public housing as a way to allay the housing crisis, which Sanders’s plan echoes.

CPD Action is a coalition of nineteen organizations across the country that pursue housing justice in a local context — organizations like the Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment in California, the Kenwood-Oakland Community Organization in Chicago, and New York Communities for Change, Make the Road New York, and Churches United for Fair Housing in New York City. These groups have been working on the ground for years to protect working-class people from displacement and eviction in their cities, and they have come together to demand changes on a federal level. In Sanders’s plan, their ideas are reaching a wider audience and a greater legitimacy than ever before.

The demands put forward by local housing activist groups are set to find legislative expression soon, too. Four progressive congressmembers — Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ayanna Pressley, Chuy García, and Rashida Tlaib — have publicly backed CPD Action’s program. “We need a complete overhaul of housing policy,” Ocasio-Cortez said at an event promoting the plan, attended by tenants’ rights activists. “We need to stop commodifying the housing market because it’s not a speculative good; it’s a human right. Everyone needs a home to thrive.” Ocasio-Cortez is rumored to be dropping legislation this fall that contains many of the same provisions in CPD Action’s and Sanders’s plans.

Politicians like Sanders and Ocasio-Cortez are taking the grassroots tenant movement’s boldest visions for housing mainstream. And from here, there’s no turning back. If a national politician wants to claim the mantle of “progressive,” they’re going to have to call for aggressive rent control. They’re going to have to champion just-cause eviction. They’re going to need to present a plan for building millions of units of affordable and social housing. If they don’t, they’re not meeting the new criteria, and they’re failing to keep pace with the escalating fight for tenants’ rights.


by Meagan Day at September 19, 2019 10:22 AM

Viacampesina

Terminate the recently signed United Nations-World Economic Forum strategic partnership agreement: Open Letter to the UN

The World Economic Forum (WEF)-UN partnership agreement is a dangerous threat to UN System.

This agreement will de-legitimize the United Nations and provide transnational corporations preferential and deferential access to the UN System. The UN system is already under a big threat from the US Government and those who question a democratic multilateral world. However, this corporatization of the UN poses a much deeper long-term threat, as it will reduce public support for the UN system in the South and the North.

La Via Campesina has joined a group of civil society organisations, unions and movements in writing an open letter to the Secretary General of the United Nations and also copied to the President of the General Assembly, the President of the Security Council and the Chair of the G77, with a request that this letter be circulated to all Governments as an official document.

We urge all like-mided organisations, allies and friends to sign on to this open letter and make our voices of resistance louder and clearer.

Click here to sign the letter.

The post Terminate the recently signed United Nations-World Economic Forum strategic partnership agreement: Open Letter to the UN appeared first on Via Campesina English.

by abhilash at September 19, 2019 10:09 AM

Dewayne-Net

Richard Stallman and the Fall of the Clueless Nerd

Richard Stallman and the Fall of the Clueless Nerd
The controversial pioneer of free software resigned from MIT over his remarks on Jeffrey Epstein and Marvin Minsky. Stallman won’t be the last.
By STEVEN LEVY
Sep 18 2019
https://www.wired.com/story/richard-stallman-and-the-fall-of-the-clueless-nerd/

A few days ago I got a tweet directed to me:

If I find another copy of the Blue Cover version of Hackers could I get you to autograph it again? The one I currently have was signed by you and Richard Stallman at LinuxWorld in 1999, and I’m afraid I’m going to have to burn or shred it.

This requires some decoding: Thirty-five years ago I wrote a book called Hackers. The last section centered on a hugely odd young man who considered himself the lone survivor of an unsung subculture of information sharing at MIT. He was, he said, like Ishi, the last of the Yahi people, the sole member of his indigenous tribe. Stallman, aka RMS (his email handle), later achieved fame in the digital realm as the champion of free software. Last week Stallman (who has in the past written for WIRED) penned some comments related to the Jeffrey Epstein case that implied sex with young women was not “sexual assault.” A deep dive into his archive revealed some questionable comments about pedophilia. Now Stallman is a pariah, even to former fanboys who find themselves flinging books into the flames to immolate his signature.

Yesterday RMS resigned from MIT and the Free Software Foundation he founded. For those who have followed his free-software movement, Stallman leaving MIT is like the big dome on Massachusetts Avenue itself getting an eviction notice. But after decades of tone-deaf comportment and complaintsnow emerging from women about his behavior, Stallman’s time was up.

The moment goes beyond Stallman, a MacArthur “genius” grant recipient and author of key pieces of the open source software that basically runs our world these days. MIT itself is melting down because of Epstein, the now deceased serial rapist who insinuated himself into the Media Lab with his money and what its leaders considered his charm. The lab’s director, Joi Ito (who was a contributing writer to WIRED), resigned under pressure, and now people are calling for the ouster of MIT’s president, who apparently OK’d the payments. But the Stallman affair touches on something else: a simmering resentment about the treatment of women by the scruffy brainiacs who built our digital world, as well as the Brahmins of academia and business who benefited from the hackers’ effort. With the Epstein revelations that resentment has boiled over.

Stallman put himself in the path of that outrage by contributing to a CSAIL mail thread defending the late artificial intelligence guru Marvin Minsky. (The acronym stands for the MIT Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Lab.) In a deposition, one of Epstein’s victims says he instructed her to have sex with Minsky. Stallman reacted in a way that anyone who knew him would not be surprised to see. Instead of considering the pain of a young person treated in such a manner, he nitpicked about whether such a case would be a proper instance of “sexual assault,” since the young woman, he reasoned, would have seemed to be presenting herself to Minsky willingly. (It is far from resolved whether Minsky had sex with the woman.) In the email thread there is another classic Stallman-ism: He wanted to read the actual deposition, but it was only available in a Google Doc. Stallman boycotts all commercial software, and had to ask someone to send it to him.

Stallman showed a similar blindness more than 10 years ago with idiotic comments on pedophilia, opining that 14-year-old girls have free will and therefore may not be victims of older men who have sex with them. More recently he recanted, saying that people took pains to explain to him that girls actually suffer harm from those interactions, and that his mind was changed. He did not respond to requests for comment by the time of this article’s publication.

Stallman’s foibles are legend in the computer science world. People who never met him know about his quirks. There are many. When he travels to give speeches, he likes to stay with hosts rather than at hotels. A few years ago, a list of instructions emerged for those lucky hosts. It made the Rolling Stones look easy to please. He specifies, for example, that he likes parrots and would love to interact with a friendly parrot, but he hoped his hosts would not feel obliged to therefore buy a parrot just for his visit.

[snip]

by wa8dzp at September 19, 2019 09:34 AM

jacobinmag

James Connolly, a Socialist for the Present

In his recent James Connolly lecture, Labour’s John McDonnell praised the Irish revolutionary as a formative influence on his politics. Connolly’s republicanism isn’t just of historical interest — it tells socialists how to think about democratizing society today.


alt Statue of James Connolly, March 2016, Dublin, Ireland. William Murphy / Wikimedia

Even after being thrust from the margins of British political life to its center, Labour’s John McDonnell has hardly hidden his Marxist sympathies. There’s still much to learn from Marx’s Capital, the Shadow Chancellor declared in a 2017 interview on national television. But if Lenin and Trotsky were his inspirations on the backbenches, the likes of Joseph Stiglitz appear to figure more prominently as influences in his Shadow Treasury team. It’s striking, then, that last month McDonnell delivered the James Connolly lecture in Belfast, named after the great socialist leader of Ireland’s fight for independence.

In the lecture at the newly opened Connolly visitor center, McDonnell pointed to the Irish revolutionary as a figure formative for his own political development. He recalled how decades ago he read Connolly as well as Marx in an afterwork reading group in the basement of the Trade Union Congress (TUC) headquarters. For a socialist politician with a historic commitment to the Irish republican struggle, this was hardly a surprise. More impressive was the sharpness with which McDonnell appraised Connolly’s politics, highlighting the enduring relevance of his principles of cooperation, industrial democracy, and internationalism. He went further, to claim that these same principles are reflected in Labour’s mission today.

It was quite brilliant to see McDonnell — a politician now not so far from taking up the reins of the British state — asking what about Connolly’s politics lives on in Labour’s program. This, not only because it implies that, beneath the statesmanlike tones, McDonnell has lost little of his own radicalism, but more importantly because the Shadow Chancellor took Connolly seriously as a political thinker and theorist — something few scholars and historians have yet managed.

Connolly’s political theory didn’t stand in isolation from practical struggle but was formed in and through it. He was a “philosopher of the barricades” — and as McDonnell suggested, he should interest us as an organic intellectual whose political thinking has been neglected. In this sense, recognizing Connolly’s revolutionary intellect means restoring him, rescued from condescension, to his proper place in history. Yet where such a bid to historicize revolutionaries’ thought merely consigns them to the past, this can be its own, equally reactionary, form of condescension — we need only think of historian Gareth Stedman Jones’s recent attempts to reduce Marx to a purely nineteenth-century figure.

There are many examples of how we can use the approaches of past thinkers to address today’s challenges. In the late 1980s, balancing past and present, Stuart Hall sought to “‘think’ [contemporary] problems in a Gramscian way.” Connolly’s writings do not approach the philosophical depth of Antonio Gramsci’s Prison Notebooks, though there are lots of intriguing, unexplored intersections. The former’s Labour in Irish History, for instance, might be seen as a prefigurative attempt at thinking through the category of the subaltern, universalizing revolutionary agency beyond the metropolitan, industrial proletariat. But for our purposes, the guiding similarity between Connolly and Gramsci is simply that we can take useful signposts for the present from the fragmented texts of both. The question towards which McDonnell was gesturing is the right one, then: how we should think with James Connolly today?


Economic Democracy

At the top of McDonnell’s agenda is a push for economic democracy. Alternative Models of Ownership — a report he commissioned together with Shadow Business Minister Rebecca Long-Bailey, which was released shortly after the 2017 general election — begins by outlining the need to democratize the British economy. It points to addressing the challenges of automation, tackling the failures of privatization, and championing democracy and equality. Inclusive share ownership — where large and medium-sized companies are compelled to afford 10 percent of their total share value to their workers — was the headline policy announcement at last year’s Labour Party conference and was promoted on a broadly similar basis.

Bernie Sanders, too, is proposing an agenda for economic democracy (for instance, with his employee ownership proposal) but in articulating its animating principles has begun to go further to foreground discussion of freedom. Such an effort from the Left to reclaim and reinvigorate the politics of freedom is long overdue and has gathered particular momentum in the United States. The absence of this discourse in Britain isn’t so surprising and might (rather obviously) be attributed to historically rooted differences in political and intellectual culture: namely the relative dearth of republican traditions and languages of politics. In British politics, in other words, there is less to contest or reclaim when it comes to the question of what it means to be free. It is here, first, that we can most helpfully think with Connolly today.

In a 2011 essay, Corey Robin urged that the Left should reclaim the politics of freedom as part of a broader return to first principles. McDonnell’s Connolly lecture, and Labour’s strategy more broadly, doesn’t quite heed this call. The concept of economic democracy, as research from the New Economics Foundation has suggested, has limited cut through with the wider electorate. Excavating and explaining the powerful principles that underly it, then, is far from an academic concern. The Shadow Chancellor, for example, pointed to Connolly’s support for co-operative ownership (as against state socialism) but omitted that the Irish revolutionary’s support for a “co-operative commonwealth” was driven by a desire to challenge relations of domination. For Connolly, economic democracy and the institutional forms he envisioned as enshrining it were principally means by which republican freedom could be realized.


Republican Freedom

Simply stated, the republican ideal conceives freedom as non-domination or the absence of subjection. In ancient Rome, to which this concept traces its origins, free persons were considered those who weren’t enslaved, with slavery defined as “an institution … by which someone is, contrary to nature, subjected to the dominion of someone else.” Through the early modern period, this idea, with its stress on relations mastery and subjection, was revived as a language of political liberty. But from the mid-nineteenth century, as work by Alex Gourevitch and William Roberts has brilliantly shown, the idea of republican freedom was seized upon by labor militants, who sought — in theory and practice — to radicalize and universalize it.

Their key conceptual innovation, also present in some of Marx’s writings, was to refuse a formal or strictly political delimitation of republican freedom, insisting instead that freedom from domination and dependence must extend to relations of production and the structure of social life. They focused in particular on a critique of “wage-slavery,” attacking wage-labor as a condition of unfreedom and subjection. Gourevitch dubbed this tradition one of “labor republicanism,” though his history of it doesn’t stretch much beyond the early 1890s.

But from around 1897 onwards, Connolly enthusiastically took up this labor republican critique. In early articles he variously denounced “industrial slavery,” “social slavery,” and “economic slavery,” and he commissioned reportage for his paper, the Workers’ Republic, on the struggle against “wage-slavery” on Dublin’s tramways. Connolly’s time in America was crucial for furthering his commitment to radical republican freedom. The only liberty he had discovered in the United States, he wrote in 1908, was “the liberty to go hungry.” Across two decades, his writings consistently evince an understanding of wage-labor as a condition of structural dependence and domination — a state of unfreedom:

From being citizens with rights the workers were … driven into the position of slaves with duties. Some of them may have been well-paid slaves, but slavery is not measured by the amount of oats in the feeding trough to which the slave is tied. It is measured by his loss of control of the conditions under which he labours.

Connolly thus fought for a socialist republic — or a “co-operative commonwealth” — as the only type of state compatible with winning Ireland’s freedom from both political (colonial) domination and social (capitalist) subjection. For Connolly, in an evident convergence of republican and Marxist thought, the push for workers’ control was fundamentally about extending the realm of freedom: he wrote in 1898 calling for “the application to agriculture and industry of the … principle of the republican ideal.”

Despite the historical chasm between the “proletarian moment” Connolly struggled in (his early twentieth-century conjuncture, alive with revolutionary possibility) and our time, his political economy of freedom clearly speaks to the present. Though Labour’s nascent push to democratize ownership in the economy is hardly an assault on the capitalist system of wage labor itself, we can see it as beginning from first principles congruent with Connolly’s own. The party and movement alike have much to gain from striving to articulate this more clearly— the radical promise of these proposals lying precisely in that they are (implicitly or otherwise) premised on a push for freedom from capitalism’s degrading structures of domination. Socialists, as Connolly suggested, are those “enthusiastic in the cause of human freedom.” Such a language is no less compelling today.


The Sovereignty of Those Who Labor

Ireland’s republican tradition began with the French revolution, and the way it was seen from Irish soil. One result was a long-lasting tendency to valorize France and its radical history. Connolly, for instance, wrote in 1915 of France as “the mother of European democracy, the apostle of the right of rebellion, the century-long sword of the revolution of peoples.”

Another consequence was that Irish republicanism was suffused, from its inception, with an explicit focus on popular sovereignty — demands for which obviously held particular currency in the context of anti-colonial struggle. Connolly’s intervention here, deeply influenced by the Young Irelander James Fintan Lalor, was to again insist on the inextricability of the social and the political. Popular sovereignty ultimately meant little if its exercise was contained to the political sphere: the Irish people had to be socially sovereign too. As he wrote in the founding manifesto of the Irish Socialist Republican Party (ISRP) in 1896, he and his comrades believed:

That the agricultural and industrial system of a free people, like their political system, ought to be an accurate reflex of the democratic principle by the people for the people, solely in the interests of the people.

That Connolly thought the causes of nationalism and socialism in Ireland to be inseparable is well-known, but the underpinnings of this socialist republicanism are less often considered. In this particular instance, the precondition for his socialization of popular sovereignty was to suggest that the Irish working class and the Irish people were one. “Who are the people?,” reads a subtitle in his 1897 pamphlet Erin’s Hope, to which Connolly answers: “the Irish working class — the only secure foundation on which a free nation can be reared.”

The architects of “true Republican freedom … will and must be the Irish working class,” he wrote sixteen years later in Jim Larkin’s Irish Worker. Connolly often named the insurrectionary political subject he dedicated his life to mobilizing as “the working-class democracy of Ireland”. In other words, he consistently sought to couple and subsume class and nation, conceiving the Irish body politic as itself proletarian.

As we have suggested, Connolly’s ideas lend themselves to wide application, beyond the particular historical context in which they were formed. Anti-colonial struggles are alive from Palestine to Kashmir, and the fight for Ireland’s unity — and the formation of a socialist republic — remains. But Connolly’s radical approach to popular sovereignty is especially useful for thinking through democratic-socialist moment and the Corbyn project, in ways that McDonnell didn’t highlight.

If talk of freedom is scarce in British politics, the same cannot be said for sovereignty. Demands for a reclamation of national sovereignty have proved to be hugely powerful, politically. How the Left relates to this trend is a complicated question — and with the far right on the rise across Europe, an urgent one too, its pertinence hardly unique to Britain.

In the debate over Brexit the language of popular sovereignty continues to be abused by hard-right demagogues and supporters of supranational neoliberalism alike — but it’s largely unused by the Left. This abdication is striking. With the deeply undemocratic nature of the United Kingdom’s constitution thrown into stark relief by the current parliamentary impasse, Corbyn’s Labour clearly offers the best hope of democratic transformation in the political sphere. But more importantly, the push for economic democracy chimes with Connolly’s insistence that popular sovereignty can only really be meaningful if it is social.

For all their insight, Connolly’s interventions befitted the anti-colonial insurgencies of the twentieth century rather than twenty-first century electoral politics in an old imperialist metropole. Nevertheless, it’s testament to Connolly’s brilliance that his conceptual apparatus remains useful, offering a vision of sovereignty that can be coupled with class rather than nation — while allowing us to contest the same political terrain. It’s less a matter of “take back control,” as the Leave campaign put it, than “seize control” – fighting for sovereignty not over national borders but the shop floor.

Advocating not only the social extension of popular sovereignty but its coupling with class politics has the potential to speak to those suffering the dislocation and disempowerment of life under neoliberal capitalism. Here, therefore, thinking with Connolly can help point us towards an ambition fit for an insurgent radical left in government: to make popular power proletarian again, in pursuit of “the ultimate sovereignty of those who labour.” If we are to be collectively both free from domination, and free to flourish, nothing less will do.


From Marx to Rousseau

Connolly’s socialist republicanism was rich and consisted precisely in an innovative fusion of the Marxist and republican traditions. Connolly, perhaps before anyone else, embodied in his praxis the marriage of Marx and Rousseau that Lucio Colletti once pointed to in Fidel Castro. This has too often been missed by Connolly’s interpreters, who either overlook his theoretical insights completely or badly misread socialist and republican politics as necessarily counterposed.

McDonnell’s turn to Connolly was no doubt a good start. Of course, it would do a disservice to Connolly if Labour’s socialist leaders were to struggle for his principles in Britain without also recovering their historic support for a united Ireland. But there’s also a lot more to learn from the Irish revolutionary.

At a moment of deep crisis, Labour should seize the opportunity, and argue more explicitly for a socialist republican politics. Here, Connolly provides both the first principles of, and a powerful language to argue for, the cutting edge of Corbynism — a policy agenda centered on the extension of democracy into all fields of life.


by Ed McNally at September 19, 2019 09:10 AM

About the Genes and Cultures conference

@natacha wrote:

Peasants and Informatics, Vegan and Biotech, are the topic of this Genes and Cultures conference.
This place is to explore together the congruence of a number of difficult to sort out occurrences, from veganism to silicon valley investments in Biotech or from the goods of digital community organisation and the colonisation of rural space by automated machines drones, precision mapping and precision data analysis, as explained in the latest nyeleni newletter.

By collecting sources of information in this conference I will try to approach this issue as an extension of my experience with free software and open source communities. The goal here is to understand the complexity of the situation and while acknowledging the technological problematic, never loose the political scope, that is with or without technology we are looking to:

  • address the relation of domination embedded in capitalist system that affects peasants and nature all over the wold but mostly in the global south.
  • acknowledge and foster the autonomy of communities and independence of individuals, freedom of thinking out from ideologies and imposed beliefs.
  • envision a non essentialist relation to technology that puts it to the service of people, that includes knowledge transmission, autonomy, acknowledgement of the diversity of needs.

Posts: 2

Participants: 1

Read full topic

by @natacha at September 19, 2019 09:05 AM

InterPressService (global south)

GGGI joined Ethiopia Green Legacy Campaign to plant 200 million tree seedlings in a day

Credit: Fanabc

By GGGI
Sep 19 2019 (IPS-Partners)

In 2019, the Ethiopia government, led by Prime Minster Dr. Abiy Ahmed, launched the ambitious Green Legacy campaign that set a milestone to plant 200 million tree seedlings within 12 hours as integral part of an annual target to plant 4 billion tree seedlings.

July 29, 2019 was declared to be Green Legacy day, which aimed to plant 200 million seedlings in a day countrywide by all stakeholders based on the Prime Minister declaration to all Ethiopian citizens, governmental and Non-governmental institutions, Civil and Private organizations, Embassies, Agencies and others. Subsequently, the GGGI Ethiopia country office joined the campaign, with Environment, Forest and Climate Change Commission (EFCCC) as a key partner on the country’s green growth initiatives, to be part of this historic event.

This campaign has shown substantial government dedications towards green development actions, mobilizing stakeholders and forest development initiatives as a country.

Following the Prime Minster national call, a core national technical committee was established and led this campaign to coordinate and ensure tree planting activities across different parts of the country properly and effectively at respective planting sites.

Moreover, a national archive and communication center was established to record and communicate planting tallies as they happen on the site through the application of GPS and modern communication technology. National and international medias have recorded and broadcasted the events, which enabled global outreach to demonstrate Ethiopia’s efforts and achievements on tree planting.

 

Credit: Fanabc

 

The core technical team disclosed the outcome that both targets have been met, in which annual achievement has reached more than 4 billion seedlings. It’s also reported that more than 350 million seedlings have been plated on a single day, which was recorded to be the world’s highest tree seedling planting event ever.

This is a significant measure for Ethiopia to address forest problems, especially to reduce deforestation and enhance forest development, and thereby, improve forest goods and services that have crucial social, economic and environmental roles.

Various scholars have reported that historically, Ethiopia is said to have about 40% forest coverage, which currently has declined to less than half. A recent EFCCC report indicated that Ethiopia has about 15.5 percent forest cover. Apparently, no one would argue about the fact that Ethiopia forest resources have been declining in size and quality through time and deficit between annual forest gain and loss.

 

Credit: Fanabc

 

For Ethiopia, forest development and management is not a matter of choice, rather it’s compulsory to ensure sustainable development and to achieve overarching Climate Resilient Green Economy (CRGE) and Growth Transformation Plan (GTP) strategies.

Ethiopia’s land features are characterized by mountainous and rugged topographic landscapes that are suitable for natural resources conservation including flora and fauna, water reservoirs and multiple functions.  Therefore, landscapes and watersheds management though natural regeneration and restoration have important contributions for the country and beyond the territory. For instance, forestry development has a critical role to address climate changes effects through mitigation and adaptation measures, which have national and international significance.

 

Credit: Fanabc

 

Ethiopia hydro dams have been under serious challenges due to watershed degradations that led to soil erosion and siltation that impacts electricity generation and power supply. In turn, this has been impacting industry and manufacturing sectors due to power shortages, which have direct implications on the economy and livelihoods.

Afforestation and reforestation activities reduce wood supply and demand gaps, as Ethiopian rural communities significantly depend on the forest products for their livelihood, which includes income generation, construction materials, energy, farm tools, foods and so on, both for home consumption and commercial uses. Agroforestry practices have critical roles to improve land management and productivity, which contribute to household incomes and reducing forest pressure.

The forest sector is one of the four pillars under the CRGE strategy to promote green growth development and address climate change mitigation actions.  Generally, this forest development action has multiple contributions and effects that encompasses social, economic and environmental aspects at local, national and global scales.

 

Credit: Fanabc

 

This event is the beginning of long journey, which requires building on this momentum and transforming it into an institutional and strategic approach to realize the intended objectives. It’s believed that the ultimate goal of tree planting is to enhance forest resources to provide improved goods and services sustainably.

Hence, it needs silvicultural and management interventions, scientific knowledge and technology to devise a sustainable management system, demonstrate economic contributions and impacts, forest products value addition and benefit sharing mechanisms, technical supports and law enforcement, knowledge management and sharing on best practices and lessons.

Finally, beyond the accomplishment, this is a lesson that demonstrates how leadership, coordination and joint efforts can make a difference on a pertinent issue. Furthermore, it’s good to reiterate that many individuals, organizations and countries have witnessed how the Ethiopia Green Legacy action has been landmark and exemplary. With this, GGGI commends and is honored to be part of this event and looks forward to further supporting the country’s inclusive green growth efforts.

 

The post GGGI joined Ethiopia Green Legacy Campaign to plant 200 million tree seedlings in a day appeared first on Inter Press Service.

by GGGI at September 19, 2019 08:29 AM

A-infos

(en) Poland, WORKERS' INITIATIVE: People first, then profits - enough savings on health and safety in the construction industry [machine translation]

On Thursday, September 12, at the building of the Ministry of Family, Labor and Social Policy, a press conference of the Warsaw Inter-Enterprise Construction Committee was held devoted to OHS issues in the construction industry. During the conference, actions were taken that in the field of health and safety will soon be undertaken by the construction committees of the OZZ IP (apart from the Warsaw commission, also the Malopolska Tower Crane Operators Commission). ---- The starting point of the conference was the event that took place last Thursday, September 6 in Warsaw's Wola district. The fire brigade had to carry out a rescue operation on a 140-meter crane on which the operator collapsed. The evacuation lasted over two hours, because the man had to be transported from the machine to the roof of the building - the crane was not equipped with an elevator. According to ...

by A-infos (a-infos-en@ainfos.ca) at September 19, 2019 07:58 AM

(en) Poland, WORKERS' INITIATIVE: Global business service chains - Employee Initiative Committees at Accenture and Medtronic [machine translation]

Accenture office in the Czech Prague (source: Wikimedia Commons) ---- This year, two employees' committees associating people working in the business services industry joined the Employee Initiative - in the Polish branches of international Accenture and Medtronic corporations located in Warsaw. To better understand the specifics of this industry and the problems affecting the people employed there, we interviewed Michal and Dominik from the Factory Committee at Accenture (KZA) and Mateusz from the Factory Committee at Medtronic (KZM). ---- The interview was published in the 52 issue of the Employee Initiative Bulletin. ---- Why did you set up employee initiative initiatives in your companies? KZA: In our case, it started with a change in the rules of remuneration for night work. We ...

by A-infos (a-infos-en@ainfos.ca) at September 19, 2019 07:58 AM

(en) Czech, AFED, A3: To push the alternative into the ground [machine translation]

With the political support of the Conservatives, the cops are killing self-governing projects in the Exarchia district of Athens. But the desire for freedom and dignity does not stop. Download, print and distribute the September issue of the A3 wall paper! ---- We dream of a better world, without chains of hierarchy and oppression, where quality food, clothing, housing and space for a full life are right, not commodity or privilege. Dreams alone are not enough, it is necessary to work to fulfill them. We do not suck on visions from our finger, we do not write them from the table and do not realize them using tables. The proven method of anarchists around the world is direct action. He assumes that people are able to manage their affairs themselves, and it certainly works better than politicians preach, which they never had to calculate if they lasted until the end of the ...

by A-infos (a-infos-en@ainfos.ca) at September 19, 2019 07:56 AM

(en) Britain, Bristol AFED: DORSET RADICAL BOOKFAIR - ANARCHY IN THE STICKS!

Bristol AFed rarely miss a chance to get down to support our friends in Dorset, and this year's Dorset Radical Bookfair was a great opportunity to do so again. It's Dorset's third bookfair, and took place at a fantastic and friendly venue, the Corn Exchange, in central Dorchester. But before going any further, it's probably worth asking ‘why a bookfair'? ---- Anarchist (and radical) bookfairs have been a staple of the anarchist movement since the 1980s in Europe and beyond, and serve various roles. First and foremost, they are one of the most coherent public faces of anarchism, giving us the opportunity to counter the negative stereotypes and misconceptions around anarchism, in a (mostly) welcoming setting. Secondly, they also give us a chance to raise much-needed funds for various projects. Thirdly, we use the bookfairs as a chance to go over and advance our theories. And last ...

by A-infos (a-infos-en@ainfos.ca) at September 19, 2019 07:51 AM

(en) Britain, AFED, organise magazine: Hongkongers Ain't Nothing To Fuck With | International

In 2018 a man from Hong Kong murdered his girlfriend while on vacation in Taiwan. The horrible crime would soon become the spark of resistance in Hong Kong to the authority of the Chinese Mainland in protests that would confuse comrades the world over. ---- Let's make the situation clearer. ---- Hong Kong is not a democracy. ---- It has no free elections. ---- While "democracy" here in the UK maybe nothing more than a shallow mockery of the concept, now more than ever, in Hong Kong it is seen as the last line of defence from an ever encroaching empire. The Chinese Communist Party has no use for any system which would threaten it's grasp, it is moving in to deliver the killing blow to freedom in Hong Kong which is aims to bring into the fold. Hongkongers are being passed from one empire to another and the world shrugs it's shoulders. China is an economic power house, ...

by A-infos (a-infos-en@ainfos.ca) at September 19, 2019 07:51 AM

(en) Greece, SOLIDARITY CONCENTRATION TO TRIED MEMBERS OF THE COOK WORKER'S ASSOCIATION MONDAY 16/9, 9:00 AM - COURT OF JUSTICE by vogliamo tutto [machine translation]

CLASSIC RACE IS NOT A BLACKBAR ---- About five years ago, at the end of the interventions and the claiming of accredited, stamped, and re-recruited colleagues in the Saladin (Pottery) and Vegetable (Petralona, Mercury Square) stores , the PWA was informed that it had already started threat of harm to the business and the ethics of the above attempt against 7 of its members. The postings had been made by the bosses of Saladin and the Vegetable Shop, and the case was then handled by the Department of State and Democratic Protection! ---- A labor fight began in January 2014 at the Saladin Restaurant in Kerameikos, when 3 members of the union retaliated and demanded their reinstatement, accrual and real insurance coverage.The colleagues, after filing a complaint with the Labor Inspectorate, the IKA, but also with the lawsuit in the civil courts, chose to move ...

by A-infos (a-infos-en@ainfos.ca) at September 19, 2019 07:44 AM

(en) Britain, AFED, organise magazine: Interview With An Earth Strike Organiser | Interview

Sab is the organiser for Earth Strike UK in the South West. He's an active and well known voice in Bristol's syndicalist and Environmental movements. He kindly took the time to meet us down the pub for a chat about Earth Strike and the upcoming Global Climate Strike. ---- Organise: Could you start by giving us an introduction to Earth Strike? ---- So, Earth Strike is a grass roots organisation, that is creating a worker led movement to tackle climate change. We believe that the most effective way of doing that is to organise both in unions and in autonomous groups, and build towards a global general strike to shut down capitalism. Thus removing peoples participation in the system that is fundamentally the cause of ecological crisis. ...

by A-infos (a-infos-en@ainfos.ca) at September 19, 2019 07:43 AM

resilience.org

A Sea Change Moment?

Tomorrow begins the Global Climate Strike. What many hope will be a sea change moment in the struggle to mobilize a real response to this existential threat had a humble start a year ago when a young Swedish student, Greta Thunberg, began spending her Fridays protesting in front of the Swedish Parliament. Inspired by Greta’s example—and her blunt, uncompromising stance—millions of students have since joined her in the “Fridays for the Future” movement. This week is an opportunity for the rest of us to participate.

by Asher Miller at September 19, 2019 07:11 AM

Dewayne-Net

What Really Brought Down the Boeing 737 Max?

[Note:  This item comes from friend Jock Gill.  DLH]

What Really Brought Down the Boeing 737 Max?
Malfunctions caused two deadly crashes. But an industry that puts unprepared pilots in the cockpit is just as guilty.
By William Langewiesche
Sep 18 2019
https://www.nytimes.com/2019/09/18/magazine/boeing-737-max-crashes.html

On Oct. 29, 2018, Lion Air Flight 610 taxied toward the runway at the main airport in Jakarta, Indonesia, carrying 189 people bound for Bangka Island, a short flight away. The airplane was the latest version of the Boeing 737, a gleaming new 737 Max that was delivered merely three months before. The captain was a 31-year-old Indian named Bhavye Suneja, who did his initial flight training at a small and now-defunct school in San Carlos, Calif., and opted for an entry-level job with Lion Air in 2011. Lion Air is an aggressive airline that dominates the rapidly expanding Indonesian market in low-cost air travel and is one of Boeing’s largest customers worldwide. It is known for hiring inexperienced pilots — most of them recent graduates of its own academy — and for paying them little and working them hard. Pilots like Suneja who come from the outside typically sign on in the hope of building hours and moving on to a better job. Lion Air gave him some simulator time and a uniform, put him into the co-pilot’s seat of a 737 and then made him a captain sooner than a more conventional airline would have. Nonetheless, by last Oct. 29, Suneja had accumulated 6,028 hours and 45 minutes of flight time, so he was no longer a neophyte. On the coming run, it would be his turn to do the flying.

His co-pilot was an Indonesian 10 years his elder who went by the single name Harvino and had nearly the same flight experience. On this leg, he would handle the radio communications. No reference has been made to Harvino’s initial flight training. He had accumulated about 900 hours of flight time when he was hired by Lion Air. Like thousands of new pilots now meeting the demands for crews — especially those in developing countries with rapid airline growth — his experience with flying was scripted, bounded by checklists and cockpit mandates and dependent on autopilots. He had some rote knowledge of cockpit procedures as handed down from the big manufacturers, but he was weak in an essential quality known as airmanship. Sadly, his captain turned out to be weak in it, too.

“Airmanship” is an anachronistic word, but it is applied without prejudice to women as well as men. Its full meaning is difficult to convey. It includes a visceral sense of navigation, an operational understanding of weather and weather information, the ability to form mental maps of traffic flows, fluency in the nuance of radio communications and, especially, a deep appreciation for the interplay between energy, inertia and wings. Airplanes are living things. The best pilots do not sit in cockpits so much as strap them on. The United States Navy manages to instill a sense of this in its fledgling fighter pilots by ramming them through rigorous classroom instruction and then requiring them to fly at bank angles without limits, including upside down. The same cannot be expected of airline pilots who never fly solo and whose entire experience consists of catering to passengers who flinch in mild turbulence, refer to “air pockets” in cocktail conversation and think they are near death if bank angles exceed 30 degrees. The problem exists for many American and European pilots, too. Unless they make extraordinary efforts — for instance, going out to fly aerobatics, fly sailplanes or wander among the airstrips of backcountry Idaho — they may never develop true airmanship no matter the length of their careers. The worst of them are intimidated by their airplanes and remain so until they retire or die. It is unfortunate that those who die in cockpits tend to take their passengers with them.

It was a blue-sky morning in Jakarta, with a few clouds floating offshore to the north. The flight was assigned a standard departure route over the Java Sea. At 6:20 a.m., it was cleared for takeoff. To anyone observing the airplane externally, for instance from the control tower, the takeoff would have appeared ordinary as the Boeing lumbered down the runway and lifted into the air. The first external hint of trouble came about a minute later, after a departure controller cleared the flight for a climb to 27,000 feet. Harvino asked the controller to confirm the airplane’s current altitude as shown on the controller’s display. The request was unusual, and it went unexplained. The controller answered that he showed the altitude as 900 feet, and Harvino acknowledged him without comment as if he concurred.

Twenty-five seconds later (a long interlude in flight), Harvino requested a clearance to “some holding point” where the airplane could linger in the sky. The request was surprising. The controller did not provide a holding point but asked about the nature of the problem. Harvino answered, “Flight-control problem.” He did not mention which kind, but before they die, pilots are rarely so descriptive. Harvino did not declare an emergency. The controller asked about their intended altitude. Harvino answered 5,000 feet, which was strangely low and to this day remains unexplained.

Two and a half minutes after takeoff, as the airplane was climbing through 2,175 feet, it suddenly went into a violent 700-foot dive, rounding out of it at 1,475 feet and pulling into an uncertain climb. No turn was associated with the plunge, so the airplane’s problem seemed to be unrelated to roll control and the age-old menace of a spiral dive. Right from the start of the investigation, suspicions focused on Lion Air 610’s trim mechanism — and specifically on the possibility of a failure known as a runaway trim. Trim refers to an aerodynamic condition related to pitch — the nose-up-or-down attitude of an airplane in flight. It can be thought of as a balance point, or the nose attitude at which an airplane naturally rides when no up-or-down elevator-control deflections are applied. That is a slight simplification, but good enough. Trim is routinely adjusted in flight. In the Boeing 737, the adjustments are made by the use of thumb switches on the control wheels when the pilots are “hand flying” the airplane manually, as they would on takeoff and landing. The thumb switches control an electrohydraulic mechanism that changes the angle of the horizontal stabilizer — the all-important tail surface that counteracts the natural pitching effects of the wings and provides the necessary aerodynamic balance for flight. In its functioning, the electric trim is smooth, powerful and usually well behaved. On occasion, however, it may start running on its own volition and prompt the airplane to nose up or down. That’s a runaway trim. Such failures are easily countered by the pilot — first by using the control column to give opposing elevator, then by flipping a couple of switches to shut off the electrics before reverting to a perfectly capable parallel system of manual trim. But it seemed that for some reason, the Lion Air crew might not have resorted to the simple solution.

[snip]

by wa8dzp at September 19, 2019 04:07 AM

AMW

Statement by Marcelo Villarroel on Political Prison in Chile

From the high security jail of Santiago de Chile I send these words of greeting to all who meet today in Villa Francia to share visions and experiences around the political prison. The jail that I live in today is the same one that has taken more than 20 years of my life. I arrived here at the age of 21, transferred from the former penitentiary at its inauguration on February 20, 1994, leading me in 2004 with the anti-jail fight started with Kamina Libre in 1996.

September 19, 2019 12:00 AM

New Democracy Headquarters in Greece Bombed

A regional headquarters of New Democracy (ND), Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, was attacked at dawn on Thursday (12⁄09) with an explosive device, in another incident of these characteristics in just two weeks. Tenants from a neighboring building alerted the fire department. The attack caused extensive property damage. So far, no group has taken responsibility for the offensive. “This is the second attack on ND’s offices in a few days, this time in Pefki, it’s a continuous attack on democracy.

September 19, 2019 12:00 AM

Armed Attack Against Police by Antagonistic Cells of the New Urban Guerrilla

On September 11, in the midst of a street riot, members of the Antagonistic Cells of the New Urban Guerrilla fired at cops who fled an armored van crash. The van had come under attack by an incendiary device. Two enemy police were wounded by the shotgun pellets. Here is their statement: “The diverse, autonomous and decentralized anti-capitalist attack cannot be crushed because in each one of these rebels there exists the possibility of subverting the dominant order via a direct attack against the structures and institutions of the Capitalist State…We may die or go to prison as our brothers have died and have been imprisoned, but others will come after us.

September 19, 2019 12:00 AM

September 18, 2019

anarchistnews.org

Release under judicial supervision for Embers and others

The two people still detained (one of whom had published a letter written behind their walls https://anarchistnews.org/content/france-letter-anarchist-prisoner-ember... ), among the three arrested near the Gare du Nord on May 1 in Paris, were released Monday, September 2, following the non-compliance. renewal of their deposit mandate.

With the deadline of the first 4 months of pre-trial detention, at the time when the investigating judge was asked whether or not to renew the detention, she ordered their release with judicial review. As the prosecutor did not appeal, the Prison Administration informed them of their "release" under certain conditions. For one, it is forbidden to appear in Paris, leave the territory of the French state and see the other two. No clues to the clerk. For the other, we do not have the details yet.

No one will be free until one is shut up and controlled

Freedom for all!

https://anarchistnews.org/content/france-letter-anarchist-prisoner-ember...

by anon at September 18, 2019 09:31 PM

actforfree.nostate.net

Milan, Italy : GATHERING AGAINST SINGULARITY UNIVERSITY SUMMIT ITALY 2019

SINGULARITY UNIVERSITY SUMMIT ITALY
GATHERING 8TH OCTOBER 2019
From 7am to 2pm – Milano Congressi – Via Gattamelata 5
Trans-humanism is already here 
Trans-humanism is not some eccentric researchers’ marginal tendency or a side effect of technological development; it is the logical outcome of the techno-scientific system.
The slogan of the meeting is: ‘Plan the future. Build the future. Be the future’. A future which is already becoming present. The logics of trans-humanism – overcoming all limits, making man better and more powerful, re-planning the living and making it artificial – are not mere abstract speculations, but they become researches, trans-genetic dreams, military drones, new apparatuses in smart cities, Medically Assisted Procreation and genetic editing.
Trans-humanism and the techno-scientific system produce imaginaries, desires, needs, they transform the world and our perception of reality. 
The most prominent world directors and researchers come from Singularity University, one of the most important expressions of trans-humanism; some of them go on to join the MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology), one of the most important research universities in the world, DARPA, a USA Defence Department government agency for the development of new technologies, Google, Microsoft, to mention only a few…Among the major financiers of Singularity University are companies such as Google, certainly known for information technology but less known for its investments in genetic research.
Precisely in this convergence of high level sectors and research, a bunch of scientists, entrepreneurs, military men and politicians find their meeting point.
We don’t want to be machine men in a machine world!
Spazio di documentazione La Piralide
 lapiralide.noblogs.org
Collettivo Resistenze al Nanomondowww.resistenzealnanomondo.org
Translated by act for freedom now!

by actforfreedom at September 18, 2019 06:51 PM

Contribution to the international meeting against the techno-sciences (Italy – July 2019) by anarchist Dinos Giagtzoglou, prisoner of the Greek state

Comrades
I start this letter with a certainty. I am sure that our life experiences are very different as well as the starting points of the struggle of each and every one. I also think that with many of you we have different ideological origins and disagreements or contrasts on individual issues. But I firmly believe that the will to resist the plans of Domination, stemming from the awareness of the fundamental social alienation that alienates us from ourselves and nature as a whole, and the revolutionary passion for the destruction of the mega-machine of Power unite us in a common vision of a world free from the shackles of civilization. By going through a variety of analyzes, striding kilometer distances and eliminating in practice the language obstacles, since we recognize that there is the community of struggle for total liberation, we can really keep the flame of the revolt lit and the wager of the social revolution open. I therefore send a warm greeting to the Resistenze Al Nanomondo collective and to all the participants in the international meeting against the techno-sciences, expressing in advance my eagerness to fill the gaps in knowledge, that my absence will undoubtedly cause, by studying your reflections, your conclusions and everything you can get me through the actions and collaborations that will come from your fermentations in Italy.
But let’s take things in turn. For 21 months now, I have been pre-trial detained in the Greek prisons because I made the decision, like many fighters around the world, to realize my ideas by taking a battle position in the social war and fighting against power, here and now. So I am in prison because I put my ideas into practice beyond the limits of the law and certainly not by accident. With the firm conviction that the revolution will either be lawless or it will be nothing, I wanted to give a concrete example – in the first person and at present tense – of what revolutionary solidarity could mean, beyond the dipoles of innocence and guilt, of legality and illegality, by providing shelter to a persecuted comrade. That is why I am buried in tons of cement and iron, risking to be condemned for the “terrorist” attacks with booby-trapped letter envelopes on EU officials, executives of economic organizations and credit rating agencies sent in the spring of 2017, with which I have denied my correlation since my arrest, but the odds of my conviction for them remain high. Of course no one was found in prison simply because one decided to fight against oppression and exploitation. My current status is the actual proof that I made mistakes. Mistakes in some decisions I made in relation both to myself and to other individuals with whom I misguidedly felt we have been sharing a common struggle. Mistakes that cost dozens of years of imprisonment, mistakes that may be unforgivable, but certainly neither them nor prison itself can cancel my permanent determination for struggle, struggle, struggle… under any circumstances. So I can only breathe through the endeavors of the comrades who are outside the walls and continue the struggle. I want to support such efforts because through them I am inspiring and essentially exist, I live for them! And so I see these three days too.

But is it just that? Is it just a meeting of individuals and groups struggling? In my opinion, certainly not. Having studied only a small part of the work of some of the speakers today, I know that they are comrades who have gone the extra mile in analyzes and critiques of the modern technological paradigm and not only… But I want to emphasize the up-to-date anti-technological critique developed by the comrades, alongside individual struggles and respected analyzes of other themes, not only because it falls within the topic of today’s meeting but also because I think it is something that is too absent from our broader milieus of struggle. Unfortunately, critique of technology (and I am talking about complex and high technology), which is never neutral, but it is the tangible expression of the scientifically structured power, is very disproportionate to the conditions it forms at environmental, social, political and economic level. And if what I say looks like a more general criticism of the radical-revolutionary front then it is definitely a criticism that also targets me personally. I think that in this area, not to get away from the topic by entering other fields, our analyzes (and “our” refers to a more general context and certainly not to the speakers of the event) are extremely behind, and consequently the current struggle against Domination is both ineffective and in the wrong direction. The above conclusions are briefly documented, but I gradually realize the various manifestations of this problem that we can clearly see around us, at least in these lands. In Greece, the comrades (anarchist or not) who have studied modern technologies and the ways they affect humans and life as a whole are just a few. In the last few years, with a delay but in a hurry, I watch with great concern and awe the technological developments trying to develop a critical analysis of the current state of the civilized world of Power and its various intertwined structures, systems, institutions and mechanisms, by seeking and studying thoughts of companions who thoughtfully shed light on this ubiquitous dimension of domination, either their analytical tools are derived from the class struggle perspective, radical ecology or the anti-civilization anarchist views.
A very recent event that made me very nervous was on 19-20 November 2018, just two months after Thessaloniki International Fair with the USA being the honored country and the contracting of a memorandum of understanding between Microsoft and the largest public university institution in Greece, AUTH, when one of the summits of the Singularity University was held at the Athens Concert Hall next to the US Embassy, for the first time in this country. One day later, the 20th InfoCom World conference, which is an institution for Telecommunications, IT & Media in Southern East Europe, took place in the same venue. This is the annual meeting of digital market executives in order to implement the Digital Transformation in the GIGAbit era and its central theme was the development of 5G networks. Also this year, from 10th to 12th of January 2019, the 2nd Symposium of Assisted Procreation “New Horizons in IVF” took place again at the Concert Hall, focusing on the latest developments in assisted procreation with the participation of scientists from all over the world and themes such as in vitro activation of ovarian tissue, creation of the first human egg in the laboratory, therapeutic modification of genes in vitro, and news from the wider use of «Spindle Transfer» in clinical application. At this conference, through a videoconference on the role of mitochondria in procreation, which was broadcast live online, by the American Society for Reproductive Medicine to 7,000 scientists from 100 countries, the first pregnancy using the method of maternal spindle transfer to a Greek woman was announced.
Here I want to talk about the first event. Both days of the Singularity Summit* were live-streaming broadcast to many public universities in Athens and the Greek province as well as to the collaborating with SingularityU and on the face of it “neutral” national research centre Demokritos, where a few days ago in early July in co-operation with the Singularity’s faculty the Singularity Youth Summer School was organized for the second time to introduce young people to artificial intelligence and biotechnology. The magnitude of the Singularity Summit, regardless of where it takes place each time, in accordance with other international industrial, business and research ventures (e.g. Human Genome Project and Human Brain Project and certainly IBM’s Smart Planet vision), in my opinion, is similar to that of NATO conferences and the summits of relevant international organizations for the military-industrial complex, as it is a powerful symbol of the global domination of transnational techno-scientific lobbies. I point out the multinational character of this organization despite the on paper American “aegis” because, contrary to the outdated anti-imperialist view of one and absolute Empire, I have come to deem a worldwide ruthless struggle against the representatives and the structures of the armed wing of modern civilization, which is the techno-science of Domination, to be the only pertinent and consistent “anti-imperialism”.
The Singularity, in this case, is just a figure of speech, a metaphor, perhaps a marketing technique, without this reducing the importance of the singular crime that is happening at all. As you may already know, it is a concept derived from Physics, of course detached and drained from its true meaning and content, so as to fit into the techno-scientific propaganda of the time it was born. Originally responsible for this plagiarism (because this is what it is about) is the polymath mathematician and computer scientist John von Neumann (with a significant contribution, inter alia, to thermonuclear reactions and the construction of a hydrogen bomb suitable for intercontinental ballistic missiles), who spoke first about singularity because of technological progress, following the working hypothesis of mathematician Irving John Good about the “super-intelligent machine,” that is, the point in earthly space-time when Artificial Intelligence will reach a higher level of transcendence of the most advanced human intelligence, after which no prediction for the future of humanity will no longer have any sense. Later, technological singularity became popular by the also mathematician Vernor Vinge, while other futurists such as the futuristic transhumanists Ray Kurzweil and Peter Diamandis, founders and decision makers of the University of the… Singularity, also embraced this techno-maniac theory. However, the real crime is not the expropriation of a concept widespread in good part amongst the scientific community. Artificial singularity has absolutely nothing to do with the essential uniqueness, distinctness, diversity and the limitless and unexplored wealth of the natural world… And how could it? The University, which is a Silicon Valley think tank and is headquartered in a NASA-owned site, collaborates with the DARPA of US Department of Defense, MIT and the world’s leading technology behemoths, and its main sponsor is Google, could be nothing but a bloodsucking organization that purpose to accumulate profit and power, through the façade of scientific leading expert, until the small “armies” it trains colonize the whole biosphere. Of course, as in every individual technological innovation, here too the pretexts are in abundance (like the title of Peter Diamandis book). Pretexts and disguises of the most abominable plans of tomorrow, a figment of the morbid imagination of the most awful mechanistic and reductionist perceptions of today, while tracing their authoritarian genealogy, we find their cultural origins in the Inquisition and the Witch-Hunt of the Middle Ages. This is because, among others, also the “movement” of transhumanists and techno-scientists apply and aspire to expand similar interrogation practices of torturing experimentation on the whole biosphere in order to completely objectify, quantify, standardize, instrumentalize, automatize, homogenize and domesticate wildlife and nature, with an uncanny ideology as a bootstrap that attempts to propagate through these summits each year in various countries across the globe. Unfortunately, however, it is not about some “mad scientists” or “science fiction”. The Singularity undertakes to nurture the best researchers and prepare world leaders to implement plans to address the so-called “great challenges of humanity”. Thus technology takes on the role of “the saviour of humankind”. Who cares if for all human suffering, environmental pollution, ecological crisis the capitalist, technological and industrial society is to blame? After all, history teaches us over time that more technology does not come with a happier or more free world…
Many times the most on paper innocent, insignificant and harmless research programs and experiments have historically led to the most heinous atrocities with devastating effects on human and the planet. Exactly the same technological developments that are presented through supposedly beneficial and entrancing applications in civil society are used for military purposes. The research itself begins for military purposes and ends up in our home in the form of an “innocuous” microwave oven or an internet connection (see ARPANET). For example, scientists who discovered nuclear power in their time were considered upright researchers (one was actually against the Third Reich and the persecution of Jews) and their subject matter studied in their exclusive (and isolated from the rest) field of interest a neutral research work, with the well-known to everyone now results of the atomic bomb. And the examples of interconnecting military and civil applications from the same techno-scientific research are not over. So let us wonder how we can consider one research to be good, while another bad, when a small and seemingly irrelevant piece of it can be used and is used as a complement to the puzzles of a more general development, the plan of which is always determined by the powerful. Obviously, not all researches are of the same significance and the same consequence, this is an easy finding. However, it is not necessary one to carry out research and projects especially on nanotechnology or genetic engineering, for example, one’s work to be utilized for harmful purposes (which are definitely presented as a public service as well as the “benevolent” institutions of the banking groups). Fortunately, some comrades reject easy inferences and convenient analyzes and avoid bringing reality to their political alignment because, unfortunately, reality is relentless. A researcher – always – operates within the dominant techno-scientific paradigm. She cannot escape this even if she is the most “moral” person across the world. The ills and problems caused by a system of domination and exploitation are impossible to be cured and solved once and for all with the tools and methods of the same system in its predetermined frameworks. Scientific research is never neutral. Even if it can be temporarily used for beneficial purposes (see cancer treatment), the direction of the plans of Domination cannot be changed from within. Of course, every participatory system (such as democracy) does not only need those who research, execute, obey and blatantly support and protect its operation, but also those who – always within acceptable contexts – disagree, question it, criticize it, counterpropose, improve it and therefore equally support it. When looking at the technological world from a radical point of view, we should not slip into the case-based reasoning, because this is not a question of custom solutions to our personal problem or our personal comfort and the full range of technological possibilities that we may enjoy (or even use in the war against power) on a daily basis. I think the right thing is not to focus on a single tree, but on the burning forest. Because, at the end of the day, to be free and not to be limited by anything but the laws of nature, all laboratories, factories and machines should be destroyed just like prisons…
But the techno-fetishist fanatics of the Singularity, at the… University, have another opinion. The atonement of human (and not only) nature is undertaken by the new “deus ex machina” of the transhumanists: the “god-man” Cyborg. So, they wander around the globe undisturbed and trot out their merchandise as solutions to all the problems of the world. So, we hear about various inconceivable “patches” on the multiform holes that human civilization has opened in the bodies of all animals and the body of Earth. From brain-computer interfaces to overcome human natural limits and digital automated governmental “ecosystems” to “solutions” to climate change, “treatments” for diseases caused by the existence of industrial civilization, or even “immortality”. Transhumanists have an artificial or robotic “solution” for everything, as they have contrived to create a metaphysical absolutistic ideology that dictates the causality of transformation of human beings into trans-humans and then to post-humans or their decline to subhumans. In short, they claim that physical “flaws”, “unnecessary” emotional and biological processes, genetic and procreative frailties, mental deficiencies can and should be eliminated through the intervention and the literal integration of technology into the human body, including the brain. In this context, natural human procreation will become obsolete, or even useless, as the new techno-children with advanced technological intelligence will be able to reproduce and plan their own evolution. Sons and daughters will no longer belong to families, communities or natural environments, but will be property of those who own the laboratories in which they were either built or replicated. Consequently, the transhumanistic ideology embraces the human-machine fusion with religious reverence. And as it is known some of the greatest crimes against humanity have been committed in the name of religion… It would be “unnecessary” to refer here further to the treatment these guys hold in store for the rest of the living beings (in the footsteps of the anthropocentrism established for centuries now), since I have already outlined what this technological onset marks for human nature. For all this and many other things, the “prominent personalities” of Singularity University, among other technophiles, cultivate the ground – already fertile due to contemporary technological addictions – through these conferences in the various countries they visit as a touring theatre of the techno-scientific community. Most important, however, is not the presentation of their plans, but the design of the future itself, which in their sessions takes place too! It is not about advertising campaigns and trade fairs, nor about “bazaars” of new technologies. No, not at all. The ultimate goal of all this, of course, is the dominance and absolute control of data, information, materials, vital functions, natural phenomena, food reserves and energy resources. But above all the control of the way people think, the image they have about the relations between them and with nature, their perception of the world itself, since what has always been the real target is the mind…
With already applied and widespread GPS and RFID technologies, sophisticated facial recognition software, “augmented reality”, the Internet of Things (IOT) applications, precision agriculture and cloud computing and Big Data systems (the Next Internet in two words), diffusing exponentially and their full development being imminent, we can see that the convergence of the various techno-sciences and exponential technologies in combination with the above is far more pervasive and threatening than the – known to everyone – “smart” technologies that flood the technological world. It goes far beyond a mere upgrade, and we would say that this is a fundamental restructuring of Domination as a whole. Threatening both for humans and for the natural environment. It is indeed a “revolution”, which has been defined as the 4th industrial revolution and is already under way. Its key element is the “harmonization” of both the industrial and the digital world. Or, the merging of tangible physical reality with the virtual reality of cyberspace and whatever follows on from this. The building of cyber-physical systems, with “physical” being a very relevant and vulnerable concept. As a result, the digital organization and control of all the global systems – physical and artificial, business and societal – in real time, by the powerful who hold the power, can foreshadow only an insurmountable technological dystopia… With the prospects of monitoring patients via digestible computer sensors and wearables, interconnected social insurance registers and criminal records with banks and other public and private entities, and interviews of work applicants by artificially “intelligent” robots being only a foretaste of what will follow. The convergence of Nanotechnology, Biotechnology, Information Technology and Cognitive Sciences is the no. 1 wager of the 21st century for leading technology companies – and not only – world-wide, and is already happening to a certain extent. It is also the first step on the ladder of the transhumanistic vision. The further development and deepening of nanotechnology, genetic engineering and reverse engineering, neurosciences, artificial procreation, and robotics, in direct interaction with the computer world, shape the prospect of a radical mesh of the cyberspace with the material world on an interplanetary scale. They eventually convert all living beings and ecosystems from living and inaccessible organisms, complex natural processes and chemical compounds into algorithms, and digits into binary codes that can be encoded and redesigned at will by any fucker who holds the power. Bytes, Atoms, Neurons, and Genes all come into the scientific scales and are priced according to their utility in the meat grinder of civilization.
From all of the above, I think it can be understood that the world, as we know it so far, undergoes a gradual but profound transformation. One could object here that human history is full of “world-changing” incidents, conflicts and rearrangements, but the basic structure of the world remains the same for centuries. I would disagree, starting by posing the argument of the ignorance of the majority of the world’s human population, including most of us, about the structure of the existing technological order, the functioning of the machines and the capabilities of complex technological apparatuses. Of course, this does not mean that people are to blame or that they should learn how to construct, develop and run complex technological apparatuses. Unlike the massive internet connection’s use, for example, and the information that is widely available, we, “ordinary people”, even if we wanted to, are not able to know the real potential of technology and science before they come to light and get a fair extent of publicity as well as they become available in the retail market. But even so, the potentialities offered through technology to the general public are infinitely less than the power of the major multinational companies in the field, a fact that reveals, among other things, the inherent inequality of the techno-scientific system, since it usually offers trivial and banal functions and capabilities that people have developed for millennia through the basic physical capacity of senses and mental perception. These are applications and tools of piddling importance in comparison with the range of power that their technologies hold and provide to the bosses of the world and usually totally superfluous since for thousands of years people have served the same needs and functions without them. The buzz around a technological invention usually stimulates illusions and stupidity rather than true senses and intelligence. The illusion, for example, that internet would lead to the liberation of humanity and wisdom, has completely collapsed. I am not going to enlarge upon the development of this idea and its collapse now, but the examples are countless… It is enough to remember the events of the Arab Spring where the internet was initially used by the insurgents, but then it became apparent in a deafening way who really keep it in their grip. Technological fate is thus written by the elites who, in constant interaction and collaboration with research centers, universities, state institutions and international organizations, on the face of it, “innocent” and “innocuous”, are planning the future of the world. The ever-expanding conjunction between industry and research no longer requires barbed wire fences and military outposts, since it takes its form in facilities fully legit in the social imaginary. If DNA and biometric data banks (embedded elements in the upcoming Citizen’s Card, which is already being prepared by the Greek state under the direction of its foreign patrons to replace the identity card) are the first tiles in the mosaic of the direct and visible bio-political control, then sensors, nano-chips, invisible implants make up an inconceivably deep and vast grid of domination and exploitation not only for humans but also for every living being. CCTV cameras and the military, police and intelligence agencies’ monitoring systems are “drops in the ocean” in the face of the impending colonization of every social activity, every natural process, every person, every object, animals, plants, waters, the soil and the atmosphere. We can imagine a future (not too distant) where the boundaries between public and private will be from too vague to invisible, since everything around us will be in live and direct connection with digital systems of power. Two quick examples of such – simple (and yet so far) – massive applications have been developed in the states of Estonia and the United Arab Emirates. Of course, the aforementioned transformation does not only concern the repression of the defiant. Repression and social control are just the most indicative examples that concentrate the essence of Domination. As it is known, those who hold power have always had imperialistic aspirations. The transformation of the world therefore affects and will affect even more all the areas of social life, even the most intimate moments of private life, from our most innermost thoughts and emotions up to the unexplored aspects of the whole natural world, first striking the wildlife and then the excluded, the unskilled, the weakened, the marginalized, until they eliminate them or make them gears in the social apparatus.
The major problem for us, WHO WANT FREEDOM and we want to fight for it along with other people, is that most people prepare and are keen on such a perspective if they are not actively involved in the work to achieve it. Thus, we will experience the dead ends of a totalitarian society, in which, on the one hand the possibilities of resistance and the opt-outs will be continually diminishing, and on the other, new technological applications will be claimed as a “right” and the effort to access and acquire them will be baptized “struggle” (as is already the case with medically assisted procreation and surrogate gestation who find supporters among postmodern and liberal tendencies such as queer theory and trans-feminism adherents). We will face conditions where outsiders who do not conform to technological developments and imperatives will be automatically flagged to the authorities via the Internet and the outlaws will probably be automatically locked-up inside their home or car until they get arrested and sent to a concentration camp… China’s example now holds the lead in this perspective through the pilot implementation of a social credit system’s programs for bank deposits, supermarket shopping, social media activity, road behavior etc., and has developed the largest panoptic control networks with countless both steady CCTV cameras and camera drones (even in the form of birds) that are directly connected to the police and operate with facial recognition technologies, i.e. artificial intelligence of person identification. Been accused of kidnapping Turkish Muslims, while chasing maniacally political dissidents and their families and thus setting up a grid of modern “McCarthyism”. Besides, it extends its technological experiments through the “sinicization” of the African continent and using Nigerian faces to refine the machine learning technologies that develops, say, the giant company Alibaba and not only. By the way, it is remarkable that at this time, if I’m not mistaken, the world’s largest investments are made in the field of Artificial Intelligence, creating a Cold War climate between China and the USA (with some obvious samples sounding the alarm already given by the dispute of corresponding tension more for control than for the trade of the new 5G telecommunication networks, which is the basis for the development of “smart cities”) and reminding of a war that probably never ended with unpredictable consequences, proportional to the development and use of nuclear weapons… In our continent, Finland is at the cutting edge of its growth, having already developed a national strategy for artificial intelligence, claiming titles and grants from the European Commission, taking also advantage of the presidency of the Council of the European Union since 1st July, for the mega-project it develops. It has invested in working with Estonia and Sweden to become Europe’s first “laboratory” for artificial intelligence applications. The director general of the Ministry of Economy said that AI is the flagship for the development of a series of digitalization applications, namely digital governance. I only mention that the Finnish company Nokia said it will train its entire workforce in AI.
But when I talk about techno-scientific totalitarianism I do not mean that the machines will rule people but that the ones who control these machines will have a totalitarian authority so powerful and diffused that their overthrow will be impossible, since neither the knowledge, nor the agency will be available for the aspiring rebels to stop it. As noted above, the unhorsing of the Prince-Human is made by a new “deus ex machina”, the mechanical “god-man” or Cyborg, but in full alignment and compatibility with the desires of the rulers and the needs of the free market economy. The “free” choice of technological interventions and modifications in body and nature will be as given and predetermined as the choice of voting one or the other political party in democratic elections. In conclusion, the delegation of our lives to technological giants and bosses (since the economy is moving fast towards the full assimilation of technology if the latter has not already integrated the first) will mean the delegation of freedom and welfare of all biosphere to the machines for which it would be wise to remember what the Luddites did in their age, except that the survival and existence of our own and the entire planet is now literally threatened. That is why we need to see what we are willing and able to do and how we will fight. That is why the importance of the three-day international meeting is tremendous and I hope it has the best prospects so that with calmness and accountability, without arrogance and in the spirit of cooperation and respect of all comrades, we see how we can jointly devise plans for the destruction of this authoritarian monstrosity that is the modern civilization.
For the end, I would like to quote briefly and just informatively four events that caught my attention and I want to share with you because they made me feel too troubled as they will certainly make you too in case you do not already know them. Although I do not have to contribute some in-depth analysis and criticism at this time and with all due respect, I bring to your attention up for consideration the genetic modification of children in China, the robotic womb transplantation in Sweden, the artificial procreation with maternal spindle transfer in Greece and the three-dimensional bio-printing of human heart that recently happened in Israel.
I’m sure some of you have already gone crazy with all that, but believe me, I can understand how you feel and imagine the stifling atmosphere in the place when such conversations are opened with real indignation and anguish about where this world is heading to…
I wish you good luck in your discussions and a good fight!
Dinos
*This year the SingularityU Summits, among other countries, are going to be held again on 8-9 October in Milan and on 11-12 November at the Athens Concert Hall.
———————————–
pdf: Contribution Dinos
via: resistenzealnanomondo

by actforfreedom at September 18, 2019 06:46 PM

crimethinc

The Ex-Worker #65: Greek Anarchists Fight Back in Exarchia : Evictions and Resistance in Exarchia; Interviews with LK37 Squat, Void Network

Listen here. On August 26th, riot police under orders from the newly elected right-wing government stormed and evicted four squatted social centers in the Exarchia neighborhood of Athens, Greece, in a serious attack on both precarious migrants and the anarchist and anti-authoritarian movements. In response, Greek anarchists have organized assemblies and demonstrations, while solidarity efforts have poured out from across the world. Both shaken and inspired by these events, the Ex-Worker podcast has emerged from hibernation to ask anarchists in Exarchia what’s going on and what needs to be done.

This episode explores the situation in Exarchia through three interviews with anarchist residents of the renowned radical neighborhood. The first is an audio version of “The New War on Immigrants and Anarchists in Greece,” published on the CrimethInc. blog on August 28th, which gives an in-depth analysis of the evictions with historical context and insight into the dynamics of the Greek anarchist movement, supplemented by an excerpt from the 2015 piece “Syriza Can’t Save Greece.” The second is a long discussion with a squatter from the Lelas Karagianni 37 squat in Exarchia, the oldest squat in Greece and a central hub for assemblies and anarchist organizing in Athens; it touches on the role of the media and the previous Syriza regime in paving the way to this wave of attacks; the anarchist movement’s strategy for regaining the initiative from the state; and the significance of international solidarity. The third and shortest interview with the Void Network reports back on the September 14th anti-repression demonstration in Athens and reflects on the prospects for ongoing resistance. Tune in to learn more about this critical struggle to defend freedom and autonomy in an inspiring enclave of radical experimentation.

Oh, and we’ll be back with more reports on global rebellions… sooner than you think. So stay tuned!

September 18, 2019 06:39 PM

InterPressService (global south)

The Geneva Centre and the UAE Permanent Mission to the UN in Geneva co-organized a panel debate on the rights of the child on 18 September

By Geneva Centre
GENEVA, Sep 18 2019 (IPS-Partners)

A panel debate was organized by the Geneva Centre for Human Rights Advancement and Global Dialogue (The Geneva Centre) and the Permanent Mission of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to the UN in Geneva on the enhancement of access to justice for children in the UAE and the implementation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC). It was held on the margins of the 42nd regular session of the Human Rights Council.

The purpose of the panel was to raise awareness about the need to protect the rights of children in vulnerable situations, in particular to seek redress for injustices, to gain a deeper understanding of the root causes and risk factors of child abuse and neglect, and to identify best practices in this domain.

In this connection, the panel took stock of the progress achieved in the UAE to enhance the legal empowerment of children, and identify areas of improvement in line with the provisions set forth in the CRC and other relevant international legal frameworks. It included the participation of Safety Ambassadors, created under the precept of the Wadeema Law.

The Executive Director a.i. of the Geneva Centre Dr Umesh Palwankar served as the panel moderator. The panel was opened by introductory remarks made by HE Obaid Salam Al Zaabi, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of the UAE to the UN in Geneva.

This was followed by panel statements by the following panellists:

    – (1) Professor Velina Todorova – Vice-Chairperson and Member of the Committee on the Rights of the Child;

    – (2) Ms Fatma Ghulam Murad Albooshi – Head of Section of the Department of Child and Woman Protection. General Department of Human Rights, Dubai Police;

    – (3) Ms Beate Andrees – Chief, Fundamental Principals and Rights at Work Branch, ILO;

    – (4) Mr Phenny Kakama – Child Protection Specialist, UNICEF Regional Office for Europe and Central Asia.

Professor Velina Todorova stressed the need for actions to be taken for prevention, protection and support to child victims. She referred to target 3 of SDG 16: “Promote the rule of law at the national and international levels and ensure equal access to justice for all” as the standard bearer with regard to enhancing access to justice for children.

Ms Murad Albooshi presented the endeavours made by the Dubai Police and the UAE to promote access to justice for children, in particular through the adoption of Wadeema Law and to spread the culture of child rights, enhance child security, monitor and report violations of their rights and seek redress through appropriate mechanism and institutions. In this regard, she explained the innovative role of the Safety Ambassadors who are in fact schoolchildren themselves.

Ms Andrees commended the endeavours made by the UAE to end the worst forms of child labour and for having been one of the first countries to have ratified the Child Labour Convention 182 of 1998. She echoed the recommendations made by ILO to the Government of UAE to continue to provide any information relating to the nature, extent and trends of the worst forms of child labour, and in particular statistical data on the number of children covered by the measures giving effect to the Convention.

Mr Kakama highlighted amongst others that access to justice means more than just the procedural process and that access to justice is the gateway to other rights. He stressed that it is of utmost importance to strengthen accountability mechanisms, enhance transparency and collaboration across sectors that will ensure the full realisation of all the rights of children.

In the panel discussion that followed, the Safety Ambassadors presented their activities and objectives and the positive results obtained in terms of addressing violations of child rights and in providing remedies to address such injustices.

The post The Geneva Centre and the UAE Permanent Mission to the UN in Geneva co-organized a panel debate on the rights of the child on 18 September appeared first on Inter Press Service.

by Geneva Centre at September 18, 2019 06:37 PM

actforfree.nostate.net

Sweden : Mink farm raided in Blekinge

In the early hours of September 3, 2019, all of the prisoners on a small mink farm in Hölkemåla, Blekinge, Sweden, escaped from the cages. In total about 1500 persons managed to get free.
We gave a helping hand by disassembling the fence of the farm and then opening all the cage doors. We removed parts of the fence using a wrench to ensure a way out. The fur farm was situated right next to a lake where we hope that as many as possible now get to live.
In a world where freedom exists only in moments of rebellion and insurrection, we still think that the possibility of a life in the forest and lake is quite the opposite of that in a cage. We do recognize that the already destroyed eco-systems and colonised nature is nothing like a dream, but since it is all that we have it is where we will go from our imprisoned existences. A passion for freedom is what drove us to this hidden killing facility to increase the freedom for all of us. Our desire to share this moment of freedom with the minks is rooted in solidarity and love as well as anger and hatred towards those who dominate us and try to steal our lives.
We strongly believe that there is no limit to the things we can do, all we need is to make up our minds and pick a target.
We send our love to Eric King, Matthias in Switzerland and all other prisoners around the world!
via: 325

by actforfreedom at September 18, 2019 06:36 PM

Hotwire / The Ex-Worker

#65: Greek Anarchists Fight Back in Exarchia

On August 26th, riot police under orders from the newly elected right-wing government stormed and evicted four squatted social centers in the Exarchia neighborhood of Athens, Greece, in a serious attack on both precarious migrants and the anarchist and anti-authoritarian movements. In response, Greek anarchists have organized assemblies and demonstrations, while solidarity efforts have poured out from across the world. Both shaken and inspired by these events, the Ex-Worker podcast has emerged from hibernation to ask anarchists in Exarchia what’s going on and what needs to be done. This episode explores the situation in Exarchia through three interviews with anarchist residents of the renowned radical neighborhood. The first is an audio version of “The New War on Immigrants and Anarchists in Greece,” published on the CrimethInc. blog on August 28th, which gives an in-depth analysis of the evictions with historical context and insight into the dynamics of the Greek anarchist movement, supplemented by an excerpt from the 2015 piece “Syriza Can’t Save Greece.” The second is a long discussion with a squatter from the Lelas Karagianni 37 squat in Exarchia, the oldest squat in Greece and a central hub for assemblies and anarchist organizing in Athens; it touches on the role of the media and the previous Syriza regime in paving the way to this wave of attacks; the anarchist movement’s strategy for regaining the initiative from the state; and the significance of international solidarity. The third and shortest interview with the Void Network reports back on the September 14th anti-repression demonstration in Athens and reflects on the prospects for ongoing resistance. Tune in to learn more about this critical struggle to defend freedom and autonomy in an inspiring enclave of radical experimentation.

{September 18th, 2019}

 

-------SHOW NOTES------

 

 

 

September 18, 2019 06:36 PM

Channel Zero

#65: Greek Anarchists Fight Back in Exarchia

This post was originally published on this site

On August 26th, riot police under orders from the newly elected right-wing government stormed and evicted four squatted social centers in the Exarchia neighborhood of Athens, Greece, in a serious attack on both precarious migrants and the anarchist and anti-authoritarian movements. In response, Greek anarchists have organized assemblies and demonstrations, while solidarity efforts have poured out from across the world. Both shaken and inspired by these events, the Ex-Worker podcast has emerged from hibernation to ask anarchists in Exarchia what’s going on and what needs to be done. This episode explores the situation in Exarchia through three interviews with anarchist residents of the renowned radical neighborhood. The first is an audio version of “The New War on Immigrants and Anarchists in Greece,” published on the CrimethInc. blog on August 28th, which gives an in-depth analysis of the evictions with historical context and insight into the dynamics of the Greek anarchist movement, supplemented by an excerpt from the 2015 piece “Syriza Can’t Save Greece.” The second is a long discussion with a squatter from the Lelas Karagianni 37 squat in Exarchia, the oldest squat in Greece and a central hub for assemblies and anarchist organizing in Athens; it touches on the role of the media and the previous Syriza regime in paving the way to this wave of attacks; the anarchist movement’s strategy for regaining the initiative from the state; and the significance of international solidarity. The third and shortest interview with the Void Network reports back on the September 14th anti-repression demonstration in Athens and reflects on the prospects for ongoing resistance. Tune in to learn more about this critical struggle to defend freedom and autonomy in an inspiring enclave of radical experimentation.

{September 18th, 2019}

 

——-SHOW NOTES——

 

 

 

by CrimethInc Ex-Workers Collective at September 18, 2019 06:36 PM

actforfree.nostate.net

Extension of detention, about Matthias in Switzerland

Placed in detention since the end of November 2018, Matthias*, an antispeciesist activist suspected of material damage, was due to be released on 5 August 2019. But on 29 July, the Public Prosecutor’s Office requested a further two-month extension, citing a potential risk of recurrence. The decision of the Tribunal on coercive measures fell on 5 August : extension confirmed, on the pretext that the accused was part of the antispeciesist movement. Various support groups will strongly oppose it, notably through a mobilization on August 7 in front of the Geneva Palace of Justice.
After ordering a third extension of Matthias* detention (alias) last June, the Court of Coercive Measures at the request of Prosecutor Adrian Holloway has just ruled on a further extension. His motive ? The fact that it is part of the antispeciesist movement and would, as a matter of principle, present a risk of recidivism in the event of release. Failing to consider full release and while existing alternative measures (house arrest or electronic bracelet) should be considered according to the principles of proportionality, the authorities do not deign to think about it, claiming that they would be insufficient in preventing recidivism since the accused “adheres a priori with the same conviction and commitment” to the anti-speciesist ideology. The accused’s new lawyer, Olivier Peter, opposed this decision by contesting the existence of a risk of repetition. He will appeal against this decision, which justifies the continued detention due to the political position of the detainee, in serious violation of the freedom of conscience guaranteed by the Federal Constitution and the European Convention on Human Rights. It should be recalled that Matthias* is currently only suspected of broken windows, ripping off posters and tags. It therefore seems obvious that the situation is the result of the abusive political repression of an activist held hostage by a legislative system that protects economic interests at the expense of human and animal dignity.

Several groups are firmly opposed to this judicial persecution by encouraging militant circles to unite by taking solidarity actions. Among them : solidarityS Vaud, CUAE, Anti-repression Geneva, Comité de soutien aux 3+4 de Briançon, Association Co&xister, COA – Animalist Coalition, 269 Libération Animale – Switzerland and Deep Green Resistance France.
Together, they denounce imprisonment as the symbol of a deeply unequal and unjust society, which finds in the deprivation of freedom the treacherous way to coerce those who do not want to correspond to expected societal norms. Thus, radical activists against forms of domination (animal, ecological, racial, patriarchal,…), in solidarity with the sacrificed of colonialism and capitalism, precarious people, are all more or less violated by this system systematically protecting the interests of privileged population groups. The latest examples of repression of environmental groups are yet another example of this.
An alternative reading, outside of societal dogmas, convinces us without flinching that it is indeed the system as a whole that creates institutionalized violence against vulnerable populations, both human and animal. Power relations over humans and animals have also proven their catastrophic impacts on the climate situation. Finally, today, thanks to the many militant mobilizations throughout the world, coupled with the latest scientific reports, the public debate on the consequences of capitalist and unequal human activity on climate change is in place. So it is not the activists who need to be incarcerated, but the system that needs to be changed if we want to preserve the possibility of living on this land.
Factual background
On November 29, 2018, Matthias and another activist were sent to Champ-Dollon, suspected of material damage to restaurants, butcher shops and speciesist posters. The second activist will be released after a week of detention. Matthias* will be there locked up until this day. Mirabelle*, a third activist will also be imprisoned there for a month before being released.
Antispeciesism is a political struggle like feminism, the recognition of rights for LGBTIQ+ people and anti-racism. It advocates the need to speak out for the 77.5 million animals killed each year in Switzerland, the 60 million animals killed each year and the 60 million animals killed each year.
via: renverse.

by actforfreedom at September 18, 2019 06:33 PM

Bremen, Germany: Arson Attack Against a Bundeswehr (German Armed Forces) Coach

Nocturnal disarmament in the centre of Bremen!
We know that the only thing stronger than the urge for freedom is hatred against those who take our comrades from us.
Bremen Central Station has been upgraded with 52 high quality surveillance cameras and a big new cop station. People who don’t fit into the clean image of consumers and commuters are harassed, criminalized and repressed by the police. Also under red-green-red* the cop presence continues to increase.
This development is no coincidence. We are supposed to get used to the supposed strength of the state regulatory power and the sight of heavily armed and well-equipped cops. We are supposed to perceive the presence of uniforms, be they Public Order Office, Property Protection, cops or soldiers as something normal. As normal as the advertising for the murderers and fascists of the Bundeswehr (German Armed Forces) that surrounds us every day. We should give the cop a lot of space in our head for the greatest possible control and discipline of our lives.

Your normality kills!
It is important to combat this normality from authorities that causes guilt and fear, from uniforms that require anticipatory obedience, from monsters of technology that become independent and lead to permanent (self-)surveillance. This normality is opposed to a self-determined life, the construction of collective structures and non-commercial projects.
The Bundeswehr is part of this authoritarian, patriarchal, killing, bullshit normality. That’s why we set fire to a Bundeswehr coach at the main railway station on the night of the 4th-5th of September, 2019.
This smoke signal is for those who are imprisoned. Solidarity greetings to:
The Park Bench 3, the Autobahn 3, the comrade Loic, the Basel 18, the comrades in Zurich, Andreas Krebs, Lisa…
We think of you and continue our common struggles.
Translation Note: 
*Refers to German State political coalitions of Social Democratic and Green parties.
via: anarchistsworldwide.

by actforfreedom at September 18, 2019 06:25 PM

Hamburg, Germany: Letter from One of the Park Bench 3 from Holstenglacis Prison

Saturday August 10, 2019
Hello everyone !
It has now been a little over a month since we three of the Park Bench were arrested and, in a second time, two of us were taken into custody. In this letter, I would like to describe a little bit about my personal situation, here in jail. I can not say anything about the charges or the progress of the court process, because we can not communicate between people involved. I can only agree with the council not to indulge in speculation, gossip and panic.
The solidarity and support we receive here are wonderful and breathtaking. The many letters, the words of greetings, the photos and the gather give us strength and confidence. You are awesome.
Now, preventive detention. This means, here, at least during the first months, 23 hours of confinement in 10 square meters, with bed, table, chair, wardrobe, toilet and sink. An hour’s walk in the courtyard, in my case with the other prisoners on my floor, alternately morning or afternoon. We wake up at 6:30, with a loud alarm, lunch is at 11:30, dinner is served at 16:30 and must also be enough for breakfast, because in the morning there is only hot water or tea. Food is usually enough to make ends meet, but those who want a balanced diet depend on the “canteen” to buy things from the prison. Every Wednesday, the lists of orders, in German language, are collected the next day. Saturday, we will get our order. It’s not exactly cheap and it’s paid with the money from our account at the prison. On top of that there is the money we had in our pocket at the time of the arrest, the money sent from the outside and our insignificant salary, if we work during preventive detention. Unlike detention following a conviction, here work is not an obligation and we work mainly in prison services – cooking, cleaning, painting, laundry ….
Other “privileges” – a rental radio, a rental television, participation in sports groups, discussion circles, courses, etc. must be requested from the school management and, of course, all the prison bureaucracy works only in German. Processing of these requests takes at least a few weeks. The prison guards are extremely abrupt and all information on daily life in prison must be drawn through their noses, the questions annoy them and they give answers reluctantly and in anger; only a few speak English.
The registration procedure, including naked bending, the first night in the “observation cell”, where you take off your civilian clothes and they put you in a cell where the light stays on all night, as well as that the disconcerting marathon through the establishment, looks like an initiation, which must make you understand that now you are part of a judicial process that must be administered, nothing more. A humiliating experience. After dark in the observation cell, one recovers his civilian clothes; this is probably a small exception, because in many other remand prisons, the norm is the clothes of the establishment.
The clear majority of people I meet here are imprisoned for drug-related offenses or so-called drug-related offenses, and either do not have a German passport or have a another nationality in addition to the German one, which explains the danger of flight. Non-German-speaking prisoners are often exposed to the condescending ignorance of guards, who often carry racist underpinnings. In the early days, the bureaucracy of the jail was already very opaque for me, who is accustomed to the illusion of German order. It becomes quite clear that the legally stated purpose of pre-trial detention, that is to say that the persons concerned by the “guarantee of procedure” are there, is only one aspect among the useful elements of pretrial detention.The purpose of these harassing conditions, of which I can describe here only partially the level, are clearly the maximum uncertainty, humiliation, isolation and discipline. This is especially true for the first few weeks – before we can phone, write letters, talk; for many days, one is delivered to oneself, with only a pen and paper, for 23 hours. The first opportunity to get out of jail is still two weeks after incarceration. No surprise therefore, if it is precisely these first weeks that make prison a factory that works perfectly for the purpose of producing accusations (often false), confessions (often hasty) and successful convictions (for the State). In this way, this system is constantly legitimized.
In addition to the people who are imprisoned here during the proceedings and who often leave quickly because they admit, sway or because the preliminary hearing gives a lenient result, I meet here many convicts who are fined pecuniary form of this called “substitution penalty.” Who does not pay a fine, at one point receives a prison warrant and at the next police check ends in. A day in detention is therefore a fixed daily rate, I heard here figures between 6 and 10 euros per day. Those lucky get in touch with friends or relatives, who then pay all or part of the fine, which can be deducted from the length of incarceration. Those who have no one serve their debts in prison. People who are in detention for an alternative sentence are not allowed to work, even if many of them would like to do so, to exchange a pittance for a few days of anticipated freedom.
The list of possible examples, anecdotes that can only enrage, is of course quite long and beyond the scope of this letter.
If we take a closer look, we will notice that the argument often made, that the jail is a mirror of society, is undoubtedly true. Not only do I encounter, of course, the same cowardice, the same racism, the same lack of solidarity and the indifference that we find on the outside. The same mechanisms of exclusion, privilege, discipline, coercion and exploitation, which cover such a support role for the order of this world, are concentrated as if under a magnifying glass. to inculcate people imprisoned here, and with an intensive course, the way to walk right.
The fact that concepts such as integration, discipline (or disciplinary measures) or good behavior, found in almost all the coercive institutions of this society, be it school, office, labor, social service (in many cases, certainly not all) or even prison, and all of which have a military background, reveals that none of these aspects of domination and control can be considered independently others.
Those who have a fundamental problem with authority and domination, unless they have an ideologically different variant of a coercive and disciplined society in mind, should not be silent about these correlations.
When the state imprisons us, as opposed to its regime, it does so for the same reasons that it has to imprison the homeless who have not paid their fine for a bet of vodka in the supermarket or those those who, because of a plantation of grass and their family name supposedly belonging to the false “big Arab family,” are sentenced to a much heavier penalty than their blond accomplices.
To be bound to certain prisoners and to feel solidarity with them is quite understandable and for me it is a fundamental element of a real solidarity, which must for me have a character of reciprocity. A culture of prisoner support and assistance to those affected by repression would, however, be at a premium for further integrating repressive state attacks into a general analysis of the relations of domination.
Our imprisonment is not a particular injustice, but a necessary consequence of the logic that this world works. And we must put an end to this logic, for the liberation of all!
A warm and supportive embrace!
Until all are free!
One of the Park Bench 3

Attack Note: The prison (UHA) in Hostelglacis, Hamburg, is for people in pre-trial detention (and those locked up for unpaid fines). In Germany, in prisons for convicts (JVA) work is compulsory, seemingly apparently with rates (and wages) worthy of industrial workers of the nineteenth century…
From: https://attaque.noblogs.org/post/2019/09/09/hambourg-allemagne-les-trois-de-la-parkbank-une-lettre-depuis-la-prison-de-holstenglacis/#more-28612
via: .amwenglish.

by actforfreedom at September 18, 2019 06:21 PM

jacobinmag

Israel Elects Apartheid

Benjamin Netanyahu might have taken a hit in the Israeli elections. But whether or not he forms the next government, Israel’s occupation will continue — and Palestinians will have their democratic rights snuffed out.


alt Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu greets supporters at the Likud Party after vote event on September 18, 2019 in Tel Aviv, Israel. (Amir Levy / Getty Images)

On Tuesday, Israelis cast their votes in a do-over election that is widely seen as a referendum on prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s political fate.

With nearly all ballots counted (none of them from Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza, nor Palestinian residents of East Jerusalem, who are barred from voting), former army chief Benny Gantz appears to hold a narrow lead over Netanyahu’s Likud party. Gantz’s Blue and White party will likely have the first chance to form a government.

Once again, Israelis are bracing for weeks of coalition negotiations and political deal-making to decide Israel’s next government, amid early predictions that the age of Netanyahu has come to an end. Battling for survival, Netanyahu made a post-election appeal to “my friend, President Trump, whose plan of the century will be presented soon,” and “the existential threat to Israel from Iran and its malignant cells.”

The Joint List of Arab parties, which is projected to become the third-largest party in the next Knesset, thanks to Netanyahu’s campaign of anti-Arab scaremongering and voter suppression, is likely to be excluded from coalition negotiations. Both Gantz and Netanyahu pledged not to form a coalition government with Arab parties. This makes Avigdor Lieberman, an unabashed advocate of Arab transfer, the kingmaker. Lieberman, who has declared sitting in government with the Joint List “absurd,” is calling for a national unity government in which his ultranationalistic party Yisrael Beiteinu (Israel Our Home), which is expected to come in fourth, would hold key cabinet positions.

For Palestinians, though, it hardly matters who forms the new government.

None of the leading candidates has a plan for peace. None seeks to end the occupation, let alone the blockade over Gaza. All are committed to maintaining and expanding the illegal settlements. And all have touted proposals to annex much of the West Bank.

Just days before the election, Netanyahu renewed his pledge to annex the Jordan Valley and “all Jewish settlements” in the West Bank. “Thanks to my personal relationship with President Trump,” he boasted before supporters, “I will be able to annex all the settlements in the heart of our homeland.”

Not to be upstaged, Gantz rushed to claim ownership over the annexation plan, saying in a statement: “Blue and White have made clear that the Jordan Valley is part of Israel forever. Netanyahu drafted a plan to cede the Jordan Valley in 2014. We are happy that the Prime Minister has come around to adopt the Blue and White plan to recognize the Jordan valley.”

The tragedy is that Israel has effectively ruled the West Bank for over half a century, more than twice as long as it lived within its own borders. It seizes land and resources, transfers settlers, and displaces natives — substantially altering the demographic landscape and the legal system of the occupied territory, while denying Palestinians meaningful self-government and civil rights.

Regardless of who leads Israel’s next government, Palestinians will wake up to this tragic reality.

If they wake up. Days before the election, Netanyahu floated the prospect of a new attack on Gaza, telling supporters “there probably won’t be a choice but to launch an operation.”

Eager to outdo Netanyahu, Gantz launched his campaign with a video boasting about how he had bombed Gaza “back to the stone age” as military chief of staff in 2014. On Election Day itself, a Dutch court heard a war crime case against Gantz brought by a Dutch national of Palestinian descent, whose family home in the al-Bureij refugee camp in Gaza was bombed that year leading to the death of six family members. More than two thousand Palestinians, mostly civilians, were killed altogether in the bombings.

In short, the election has been a referendum on who can crush Palestinians more harshly. The choice is not between centrist and right, as the mainstream media would have it, but between right and far right — and where Palestinians are concerned, two types of hawks. It is with good reason that many Palestinians dub Gantz’s opposition party the second Likud.

The picture is equally grim for Palestinian citizens in Israel.

Netanyahu never tired of reminding supporters that “Israel is not a state for all its citizens,” but “the nation-state of the Jewish people, and the Jewish people only.” Nor did he shy away from telling Arab citizens that “other minorities have a national representation in other countries.”

Parroting his rival, Blue and White cochair Yair Lapid rushed to remind Israelis that “I am against a state of all its citizens, completely and throughout my whole life. Israel is a Jewish and democratic state and will remain such.”

When it comes to Palestinian citizens, Israel’s leaders refuses to even offer democracy the dignity of hypocrisy.

To alienate Arab voters still further, all leading candidates vowed not to sit in a government coalition with an Arab party. In the words of Gantz: “We’re willing to sit in government with anyone Jewish and Zionist.” However horrific, this is hardly surprising. Never has an Arab party sat in an Israeli government (which perhaps explains why there are so many snap elections in Israel — Zionist leaders would rather pass on the chance to form a coalition than sit in a government with Arab parties).

Leaders of the Arab Joint List have also ruled out joining a government coalition, after Netanyahu’s rivals rejected their demands for equal rights guarantees. At stake is the Jewish Nation-State Bill. The law, which took effect last year, makes explicit what Israeli leaders have tried to mask for decades: Israel is a democracy only for its Jewish citizens. It enshrines Israel as the “national nation-state of the Jewish people only,” and officially designates Arab Palestinians — more than 20 percent of the country’s population — second-class citizens.

Arab disenfranchisement in Israel goes beyond the Nation-State Law. Adalah, the Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel, counts more than sixty basic laws that disenfranchise and discriminate against Arab citizens. Together, they bear a striking resemblance to the Jim Crow South, where black political participation was systematically suppressed.

Arab disenfranchisement is also deeply entrenched in the political discourse. For decades, senior Israeli politicians have portrayed Arab citizens as enemies from within, a demographic time bomb, and a fifth-column population. The so-called Lieberman Plan, named for Avigdor Lieberman, proposes transferring territory in Israel populated by Arabs to the Palestinian National Authority in exchange for territory in the West Bank populated by Israeli settlers. Lieberman has also suggested imposing loyalty tests for the Arab minority, threatening to deny citizenship to those who failed. Echoing his foreign minister, Netanyahu has mused about stripping Arabs of their citizenship, citing their “lack of loyalty to the State of Israel.”

Is it any wonder that many Palestinian Arabs continue to view their Israeli citizenship as a mere political fiction, and Israel as a sham democracy? To see elections where only one group enjoys full democratic rights as nothing but a fig leaf for apartheid?

Whoever forms the next government, Israel’s trajectory is clear: more settlements and more annexation of Palestinian land, fewer civil and democratic rights for Palestinian citizens inside, and continued demonization of Palestinians everywhere.

Netanyahu’s rivals may declare victory today, but for Palestinians, the election promises nothing but defeat.


by Seraj Assi at September 18, 2019 06:09 PM

Warm Roads

Traffic Exists. Hitchhiking Possible; (15) Der kanadische Arzt

Mittwoch, 18. Juli 2012 um 22:06 auf Facebook:
Tired. I worked almost 30 hours in the last 2 days. On the way back home is stopped at Michendorf to pick up hitchhikers. Found two in direction south. One of them, Steven, was 57 years old from Canada, first time hitchhiking in his life. They ripped off all his stuff in the night train to Berlin and he was on the way to Frankfurt airport to fly back home to Canada. Without money or anything else, starving, just a backpack with dirty clothes with him. I gave him 200€ and drove Steven to the train station. In Leipzig.

Damals hatte ich noch einen Dienstwagen und habe illegalerweise Tramper mitgenommen. Das hätte mich meinen Job kosten können, war mir aber egal. Das ich Steven an diesem Tag helfen konnte, hat mich außerordentlich glücklich gemacht. Ich bin sogar extra mit ihm zum Geldautomaten gefahren und habe Geld abgehoben. Anschließend hab ich ihm meine Mailadresse und Telefonnummer gegeben und eine gute Reise gewünscht.

Es ging mir nie ums Geld, aber es hat mich schon etwas gewurmt, als ich nichts von ihm gehört hatte. Es vergingen ein paar Monate, bis ich angefangen habe zu recherchieren. Ich wußte, dass er Handchirurg in einer Unfallklinik in Kanada war. Ich wußte von seiner akademischen Karriere. Dass er in Deutschland ein Auslandssemester gemacht hat und um sein Engagement für eine internationale Konferenz der Handchirurgen, wo er viele Freundschaften zu Chirurgen aus anderen Ländern pflegte. Ich hatte leider nur seinen Vornamen, aber einen Arzt mit einer solchen Spezialisierung sollte doch zu finden sein.

So begann meine Recherche. Ich durchforstete Google nach Bildern und stellte alsbald fest, dass Steven wie ein Durchschnittskanadier aussah und ich sein Gesicht nicht von anderen Ärzten mit dem Namen Steven auseinanderhalten konnte. Ich schrieb verschiedene Kliniken an, die auf die Beschreibung passen könnten. Unfallklinik für komplizierte Handgelenkfrakturen, nahe den großen Skigebieten in den kanadischen Rocky Mountains. Wenige antworteten. Eine Klinik gab mir zwar eine Rückmeldung, sie würden das abklären, schrieb mir aber in der zweiten Mail, dass sie mir leider nicht erlaubt wären, Auskunft zu erteilen. War das der Weg zu Steven? Sollte es da eine Spur geben?

Als ich auf meiner Reise durch Kanada kam, erzählte ich diese Geschichte meinen kanadischen Bekanntschaften, um wenigstens die Klinik eingrenzen zu können. Wir kamen zum Ergebnis, dass nur eine Klinik in Calgary hierfür infrage kommen würde. Ich war bereit dort hin zu fahren und persönlich nachzufragen. Ich wollte einfach nur wissen, wieso er sich nicht gemeldet hatte. Vielleicht, weil er den kleinen Zettel mit meinen Kontaktdaten verloren hat? Mir war es ein Bedürfnis, das auf zu klären.

Zur Klinik bin ich letztendlich nie gefahren. Die Geschichte sollte ungelöst im Sande verlaufen. Bis zum Sommer 2017.

Mein Kumpel Alex und ich waren gerade auf einem Vortreffen zum European Hitchgathering in der Altmark. Wir wollten zurück nach Leipzig. Es war gegen Mittag, als wir an einer Tankstelle einen Lift Richtung Magdeburg bekamen. Alex hatte seine Standartfrage, die er den FahrerInnen oft stellte: „Haben sie schon mal jemanden mitgenommen?“ Unser Fahrer meinte: „Ja, aber ich hab da schlechte Erfahrungen.“ Schlechte Erfahrungen? Sowas interessiert mich immer. Wir kamen also ins Gespräch und er erzählte: „Ich wurde da mal übers Ohr gehauen.“ „Wie denn?“ „Ich hab da mal einen mitgenommen und ihm Geld gegeben.“ Meine Ohren waren gespitzt. „Von wo nach wo mitgenommen?“ „Von Hamburg nach Berlin.“ „Was war das für ein Typ?“ „Irgendsoein kanadischer Arzt. Ich hab sogar seinen Namen. Der wurde ausgeraubt und stieg bei mir ins Auto. Sehr netter, höflicher Mensch. Der hat mir seine ganze Lebensgeschichte erzählt, mit allen Details zu seinem Haus in den Rocky Mountains, seiner Arbeit und seiner Familie.“ „War das ein Handchirurg?“ „Ja, woher weißt du das?“ In dem Moment drehte sich Alex um und schaute mich erwartungsvoll an: „Kennst du den oder wie?“

In der Tat. Unser Fahrer erzählte uns im folgenden die ganze Geschichte und sie kam mir sehr bekannt vor. Kanadischer Arzt, ausgeraubt, trampt mit ihm, spricht gebrochen deutsch, wirkt aber sehr vertrauensvoll und am Ende hat er ihm 70€ gegeben. Das Geld, was er gerade noch in seinem Geldbeutel hatte. „Das verrückte war ja, er hat nie nach Geld gefragt! Ich hab ihm das von mir aus gegeben.“ Genauso wie ich, dachte ich mir. Nur mit dem Unterschied, dass ich extra noch an den Geldautomaten ran gefahren bin und ihm nochmal extra was drauf gepackt habe. Auch unser Fahrer konnte danach nicht glauben, dass Steven (oder wie auch immer er heißen mag) gelogen hätte. Auch er hat nach ihm im Internet recherchiert. Auch er hat versucht in über verschiedene Wege ausfindig zu machen. Das ganze passierte „vor ungefähr 5- Jahren“. Also zur gleichen Zeit, als ich auch ihn mitgenommen habe.

Es ist eine verrückte Geschichte und ein großer Zufall, dass ich mit einem Menschen getrampt bin, der denselben Typen mitgenommen und auf denselben Typen reingefallen ist, wie ich. Als ich ihn mitnahm, hat er erzählt, dass er im Zug von München nach Berlin ausgeraubt wurde und auf dem Weg nach Frankfurt ist, um dort seinen Flug zu kriegen. Er hatte, laut eigener Aussage, keinen Reisepass und kein Geld mehr, ist noch nie getrampt, sein 80 jähriger Vater ist gerade tausend Kilometer durch Kanada gefahren, um die nötigen Dokumente für ihn zu besorgen, damit er wieder zurück fliegen kann. Das alles war so echt und detailliert erzählt, dass man es glauben musste. Ich dachte mir nur: Der kann kaum Deutsch, ist noch nie getrampt, ein gestandener, zurückhaltender Mann. Das schafft der nie! Ich geb ihm Geld für den Zug und ein Hotelzimmer, dass er sicher wieder nach Hause kommt.

Und ich würde das jederzeit wieder tun. Ich trauere dem Geld nicht hinterher. Das schlimmste war für mich (wie auch für unseren Fahrer aus der Altmark): Ich konnte und wollte nicht glauben, dass ich mich so dermaßen in einem Menschen täuschen würde und der Typ wirklich ein Betrüger war. Obgleich die Anzeichen dafür schon lange existierten. Steven meinte, er hätte sich bei der Bundespolizei in Potsdam gemeldet und wegen dem Raub eine Anzeige gemacht. Er schilderte mir noch im Detail, wie grob ihn die Beamten behandelt hätten. Wir haben daraufhin eine Recherche gemacht und herausgefunden, dass niemals an dem Tag eine Anzeige bei der Bundespolizei einging und dass wohl Betrüger mit dieser Masche unterwegs seien. Aber selbst da konnte ich es nicht glauben. Steven wirkte so authentisch und freundlich. Und er hat nie nach Geld gefragt.

Es gibt immer wieder Geschichten, dass beim Trampen etwas negatives vorgefallen ist. Aber das ist nicht die Regel. Man kann im Leben immer an einen falschen Menschen geraten. Egal, wo man hin geht. Das sollte aber nicht auf Trampen generell bezogen sein. Steven war einer aus tausend. 0,1%. Die anderen 99,9% der Tramper sind durfte Typen. Ich kenn sie fast alle! Die nächsten 999 werden gute Bekanntschaften werden und wenn jemand in Not ist, dann helfe ich auf jedenfall wieder.

Vielleicht hat diese Geschichte auch etwas positives. Sowohl ich als auch unser Fahrer waren recht zufrieden, dass sich das nun aufgeklärt hat. „Da hab ich wenigstens was zu erzählen, wenn ich nach Hause komme. Das werden die mir nie glauben!“, meinte er. Und auch ich hab jetzt Gewissheit. Ich kann das abhaken.

Allerdings kommen nun neue Fragen: Wer warst du, Steven? Und wieso bist du durch Deutschland getrampt und hast dich von ahnungslosen Menschen beschenken lassen? War das Spaß? Brauchtest du wirklich Geld? Oder war das eine alternative Urlaubsform? Was hat dich dazu getrieben? Und woher konntest du so gute Lügengeschichten erzählen?

Vielleicht wird sich auch dies irgendwann aufklären. Und die Geschichte war letztendlich ihr Geld wert. Wahrscheinlich ist das eher nicht. Wenn ihr was wisst, dann teilt es gerne mit mir. Ich bin auf jedenfall neugierig.

Der Beitrag Traffic Exists. Hitchhiking Possible; (15) Der kanadische Arzt erschien zuerst auf Warm Roads.

by korn at September 18, 2019 05:52 PM

anarchistnews.org

Alien Love Disaster Virus, by Abbey Mei Otis

From We Will Remember Freedom

We Will Remember Freedom is a monthly fiction podcast series edited by Margaret Killjoy. Each episode brings a new story written by authors who are willing to imagine worlds without oppression or worlds where we fight against that oppression.

If you would like to support the podcast, please consider signing up for Margaret’s Patreon We Will Remember Freedom

We Will Remember Freedom is a monthly fiction podcast series edited by Margaret Killjoy. Each episode brings a new story written by authors who are willing to imagine worlds without oppression or worlds where we fight against that oppression.

If you would like to support the podcast, please consider signing up for Margaret’s Patreon.

***

Alien Love Disaster Virus, by Abbey Mei Otis

Read by Bea Flowers

This story appeared in the book Alien Love Disaster Virus Stories, published by Small Beer Press.

Alien Love Disaster Virus

What happens first is people in hospital masks come banging on our doors before it’s even light out. They herd us out of our houses and down the block to what used to be the football field of Paige Clifton Senior High School. They make us strip and pile our clothes on the bleachers. It’s August but the mist hasn’t burned off the morning yet and we shiver. Especially Mrs. Todd shivers, who’s eighty-two. There’s like two hundred of us, everybody who lives on James Row plus 12th Street plus whoever they could prod out of the Amorcito apartments. Megaphones all over blaring state of emergency, please proceed in an orderly manner, this is a matter of public safety.


They push us naked into the field.


Near me are the Naylors who never come out of their corner house, the Sherman sisters I’ve known all my life, Trini with her baby who always cries but is dead quiet now. People hunch like peeled shrimp with giant scared eyes. “Man, what is this bullshit?” asks Dean, my little brother, he’s twelve and I should smack him for that kind of language but that’s when they turn the fire hoses on us.


Everyone lifted off their feet, everyone hurled into everyone else. Legs hair ribs nails. Mrs. Todd folds in half. Dean goes facedown so hard his nose snaps on the mud. I want to scream but I think if I opened my mouth I’d be filled with water, windsock-in-a-hurricane style. Somebody’s wet foot tangles with my shin and I smack down into the wet earth. Mouthful of torn-up grass and grit and slime. I roll over. Lying on my back I can see past the wreck of water and bodies. Way above us the sun’s coming up. The rising spume fills the sky with rainbows. On a normal day I’d be awake by now. I’d be about to take a shower.


People stumble down next to me, over me. The hoses blast away everything, dirt, skin, memory. I’m starting to disintegrate just like the earth. My brain is going to mingle with the soup. Bye Trini, bye baby, bye Dean, you were so right, what is this bullshit? I for sure don’t know.


The hoses go off.


Your clothing will be incinerated, the megaphone says. You can fill out a form for compensation from the Office of Toxin Containment. You’ll get an information packet detailing Follow-Up Action in seven to ten business days.


We’re all shaky trying to get out of the muck. People pull on each other to stand and slip and drag someone else down with them. Everybody’s got a painted camo warrior face and some of us have red streaks where our noses bled or our skin flayed away. Someone is like, “Well, guess we better get cleaned up,” and someone else has the balls to laugh.


Where Dean and I live is the downstairs left side of a fourplex with linoleum floors even in the bedroom. They call it a fourplex but really it’s five because they put some plywood around the water heater in the basement and rented the extra space out to an immigrant family. The only window they have down there is the hole in our kitchen floor where sometimes I peek through and see them all clustered around a hot plate. What’s in front is weeds and the spot where Mrs. Todd couldn’t get any squash to grow and a Jobs With Justice sign some little guy came by and stuck in the yard five years ago. What’s in back is kind of a deck but the boards are sagging in the middle so it’s shaped like a U. You might think there’s more weeds under the deck but wrong: Just concrete. And beyond the concrete there’s some chain link and beyond the chain link there’s this enormous dirt field and way out in the middle of the dirt is the low-down grey building everybody calls the Magic Factory.


Why it’s called that is because that place puts on better shows than Fourth of July, I’m serious. Fourth of July only might be better because you always know when it’s coming: right after the third, duh. Magic Factory shows are always a surprise but once it gets going somebody will yell and then everybody comes out to watch. The Sherman sisters have a whole set up with folding chairs but mostly people just stand in their backyards or press faces to the chain link or climb it if they’ve got tiny feet. (You can’t climb all the way over because of the razor wire.) Back when Mom lived with us and Benning was sniffing after her, he’d lift me or Dean up on his shoulders so we could see better. The best thing was when someone was doing a cook-out the same night as a Magic Factory show. Like you’re chomping down, boiling hotdog juice squirting into your mouth, and then you look over and there’s glitter pouring out of the smokestacks on top of the building. I say glitter but every time is different. Sometimes big spreads of color that hover over the roof pulsing like heartbeats. Or sometimes just rivers of stars gushing up and up and spreading across the night and then falling. You clamp your hotdog in your mouth and stretch out your arms but just when the stars are about to land on your wrists they disappear, they always disappear.

Or sometimes you’ll be picking corn out of your teeth and suddenly the air is full of sound. Like music but no tune and no words so maybe not like music. Always it’s way too loud to talk over and it kind of hurts your ears, but also it kind of hurts your heart in a way I think everybody secretly enjoys. Like the most beautiful animal in the world is trapped in a cage somewhere inside there. And we are the ones who have to listen to it, and we are the ones who get to listen to it.


The day after they hose us down there’s a bunch of caution tape wrapped around the Magic Factory. And down on Marion Street there’s a big padlock on the gate that leads into the dirt field. The sign that said Property of the Federal Government, No Trespassing is gone and now there’s just one that says Decommissioned. I’m going to be honest there’s definitely no geniuses living on this block, but you don’t need to be a genius to figure out everyone who got hosed lives in a house that backs up against the Factory. I think probably you could even be a little, I know I’m not supposed to use this word but, retarded, and still make something of that.


What happens next is an email comes with a list of drug prescriptions and a pharmacy voucher for fifty bucks. Consumers in the listed neighborhoods may have come into contact with dispersed agents (see notification 103C). The following regimen is recommended but not endorsed by the FDA.


At the drug store the pills come to sixty-four forty so I start counting out change.


“You got a day off for these?” The drug store lady taps a bottle.


“What’s that?”


“This one’s gonna keep you at home for a day. How come everybody’s asking for these? Tell you what I don’t envy none of you one bit.”


“Like what do you mean?”


“You got a question you call the number. Number’s on the receipt.”


“What—”


“Sweetheart there’s a long line behind you.” She points and it’s true. Old man and lady and a woman with a baby on each hip and everybody’s clutching their printed-out voucher.


So I’m walking out past them and I get this idea to be like, “Oh I think I remember you from somewhere? You were the one all muddy and screaming? Maybe you remember me, I was all muddy and screaming too?” But nobody laughs.


Little brother is on the sofa when I get back to the apartment.


“Oh Dean I know you did not get sent home the first day of school.”


He rolls his eyes because obviously. “Mrs. Shipley lied. Mrs. Shipley said I was in the hall after bell but she saw me coming and she shut the door early. She slammed it in my face. Why does she hate me so bad?”


“You need to quit the excuses and start the explainings. Like now.”


“What she said was I was banging on the door threatening her. Like yeah Mrs. Shipley you think I care about your dumbass study hall? Like shit. She hates me.”


“I’m serious if you swear one more time—She doesn’t hate you. You’re making trouble for yourself.”


Instead of listening he gathers his limbs together in a gangly bouquet. He digs at the sole of his barefoot, peels off a big nugget of callus and flicks it onto the rug.


“Omigod Dean gross pick it up pick it up!” I smack his head with the bag of pills and he skitters into the bathroom.


Now I’m alone. The room is still. The basement family isn’t rustling around. Late afternoon sun turns everything gold, even the dead skin crumbs on the floor. I line up the pill bottles on the table. They all have long names full of Xs and Zs, and I know that’s how you trust something’s authorized scientific but it still makes me kind of nervous. The labels say something about don’t take on an empty stomach so I put two patties in the microwave. “Dean? Come out here. You got to take some of these.” He doesn’t answer so I count out pills for myself, line them up in my hand. Little blue moons, pink circles, orange-and-white ovals. One deep breath then they all go down together. I wash them down with red juice out of the bottle, so sweet I kind of stop being able to breathe for a moment.


“Dean? Seriously come here.”


The bathroom door stays closed.


There’s too much to do in the mornings. There’s do we still have enough minutes on the prepaid, is there enough money left in checking, where’s the credit card, the other credit card, does Dean have his bus pass, backpack, shoes, homework. There’s has anyone messaged for a nail appointment, because don’t laugh but I’m still hoping this small business thing will take off. I can do all these things at once, I’m a multitasker like that, but it’s a dance, if I get messed up I can’t start again.


What happens this morning is, right in the middle of counting out a dollar for Dean: pain. No joke pain. Like someone tangled their hand deep in my guts and yanked. I shriek in Dean’s face and his hand that was held out for a nickel instead gets a big gob of my spit.


“The hell, big sister?” But I can’t do anything except double over and make noises like someone’s pulling saws out of my throat. There’s a fat python clenched around my insides. There’s a cat hanging by its claws from between my legs. I shriek and shudder again and see Dean staring at me, mouth open, still cupping my spit in his palm.


“Noma—are you—?”


He looks younger when he’s afraid. There’s a seeping warmth in my underwear and I’m pretty sure I don’t want his help on this one.


“It’s okay. Get out of the way.”


Somehow I get into the bathroom and pull my jeans down and wow is my underwear a mess. Rust and pink and bright red jelly down my legs. All I can do is collapse on the toilet and hunch over my knees. The pain rolls through in spurts and I bite the heel of my hand so Dean won’t hear me yell. Spit slicks down my wrist.


I wrench my brain away from panic and try to get my breath to slow down. Blue light filters down from the high up window. There’s the plink plink of the sink leaking and the sigh of the toilet tank and no other sounds. It smells like how I imagine a cave smells. I lay my forehead against the cool of the toilet seat and peer between my legs. The cramps turn everything blurry like Vaseline smeared on a camera lens. Every task I was trying to finish falls away. Nothing to do except inhale, exhale, and watch the blood fall out of me in ropes.


When Dean inches open the bathroom door and peeks around I’m in a numb ball on the tile, pants still around my ankles. He puts his hand in my armpits and lifts me like a child.


“Dean? You missed school?”


He doesn’t say anything. He gets a washcloth and runs the water until it warms. He gathers up my ruined clothes and carries them away.


I sit in the tub until I stop shaking. Then I tell Dean to go get the bottles on the table. He still doesn’t speak.


“Just pour them in the toilet.”


He doesn’t ask why. The toilet bowl is scattered with pastel constellations. I think about how such tiny things can have such long names. I think about the constellations that rose out of the Magic Factory. I think about the spray from the fire hoses that made bruises on our bodies and rainbows on the sky. I push the lever and the toilet glugs and everything disappears.


“Like hell I took them.”


Trini and Trini’s cousin and Georgia Sherman and I sit on Georgia’s front porch, and I’m working on Trini’s cousin’s nail beds. Trini’s joggling her baby on her knee and explaining why she didn’t take her pills. “He’s still nursing, you know? Like I’m all about natural weaning. And I don’t ingest nothing unless my doctor says. And you know my doctor hasn’t called me back in a year, so.” She clicks her tongue and shrugs.


I’m thinking come on Trini, you were feeding that baby chicken poppers before he had teeth. But I like that she’s with me on the pill thing so I just keep pushing her cousin’s cuticles.


“Well I took them.” Georgia says it in her I’m-old-and-I-don’t-have-time-for-this voice. “Just to be on the safe side. They still won’t even say what happened to us. I think I’m having a reaction, though. I got this spot.” She pulls up her shirt. Above her hip there’s a red bump wide as a quarter. Trini is going “Uh, yeah, what’d I tell you?” but then she looks and goes “Oh. But I—I got one like that.”


Hers is on the small of her back, to the right of her spine. “That is so weird, you know?”


I stop in the middle of applying a base coat and ask can I touch them. The bumps feel hard and round like everybody’s got ping-pong balls buried inside them. Trini giggles. “Dang Noma your fingers are ticklish.”


Then I lift up my shirt and show them the three bumps on my stomach and Trini stops giggling. “Oh what. Oh what the. Oh wow.”


Trini’s cousin is from the coast and she’s looking at us like she doesn’t even want to know what’s going on in this neighborhood. I reach out to finish putting on her enamel and she hesitates before giving me her hand.


The sun is going down and painting the sky so pretty someone should put it in a museum. I make each of that cousin’s nails disappear under three strokes of Copper Wildfire. Nobody gets up to go into the backyard. Nobody looks for magic shows anymore. We never said anything about it to each other but we all just know.


So like you expect a lot of things to be hard in life. Like there will always be bills and always landlords and your mom’s always gonna have creepy boyfriends and fake friends are always gonna be stabbing you in the back. Like even when you get fired from the nail salon where you’ve worked for two years and you weren’t even ever late except that one time, even that isn’t too surprising. But having weird bumps sprouting up all over your body, and now there’s way more and they’re growing bigger—that’s the kind of thing you just don’t really plan for.


At this point I have nine and Dean has fourteen. I don’t know how many other people have because it would be weird to go around counting but I’m sure it’s a bunch. Hardly anybody sits outside on James Row anymore. Dean’s quit making up excuses for skipping school. I’m supposed to be mad about that but it’s like the mad part of me has shriveled up and blown away. Instead this afternoon I’m like let’s treat ourselves, why not. We walk down to the carry-out by the highway and get shrimp fried rice and wings and crazy fries and we don’t even wait to get back to the house to start eating. We shovel orange rice into our mouths with our hands.


Dean wipes his fingers on his shirt and rubs the lump swelling on his neck. Then he drops his hands to his sides and stares out at the eighteen-wheelers charging down the highway. “Nothing like this has ever happened before.”


His voice is so empty that I swallow a whole shrimp without chewing at all. I keep coughing for longer than I need to because I’m trying to figure out what to say back.


“Hey. You don’t know that. Maybe there’s some fancy doctor somewhere and all he does is study this. Maybe we find him and he fixes us.”


Dean doesn’t look away from the highway. “Seriously, big sister? You think I got lumps on my brain?”


“You shut up. I was just trying to think positive or something. I don’t know.”


We finish the fried rice without speaking. We start on the crazy fries. So many cars fly by. I wonder what would they think if they slowed down to look at us. What if they saw what was under our clothes.


“Naw,” Dean goes, “This is something new. We got to start thinking totally different about this.”


“Different like putting a fry in your nose?”


“What?” But he’s too distracted and I get one in each of his nostrils before he can duck, and then it’s just like when he was six and I was twelve and he’s yelling “Fry monster, fry monster!” and chasing me all the way home.


I lose him going up the hill, he’s still faster even with fourteen lumps, and so I’m walking and huffing toward home when I see a car parked on the corner of James Row and Marion Street. Little hatchback, shiny red like a toy, no exhaust pipe—nobody around here owns one of those cars. I stare at it for a moment but then Dean is yelling for me to come unlock the door, so I go on.


For a while Trini had this guy friend but now he says he’s not going to come around anymore. Just to be safe, he says.


“What a useless coward, you know?” Trini holds both her eyes open with her fingers. “No way am I going to cry over him.”


I pull her hands away from her eyes. I get out my little soak tub and set her fingers in hot water. “Honestly I think you’re kind of lucky. Like if I was betting on which of you was going to be giving out diseases, I would not put my money on you. Just saying.”


“What is that, supposed to make me feel better?”


“Yeah.”


“You know what Noma? You are pretty cold sometimes.” She’s tipped way forward on the couch because by now the lumps are all over her back like little mountains. “That coward said it was his ‘survival instinct,’” she goes on. “Said I couldn’t blame him for just following his survival instinct.”


The baby sits on the floor in front of her. He’s got just this one lump between his shoulder blades. It makes it look like maybe he’s about to sprout wings. I lift Trini’s hands from the soak and start to massage her wrists. I work my way over the tendons in the back of her hand, feel them shift over her bones. I’m standing up because the lumps make it hard for me to bend in the middle. Our skin is stretched shiny in the places where the domes grow. Sometimes I think I can feel them rasping against each other inside me.


“They’re kinda like elegant, you know?” Trini says. “Like better than some tattoo or something. And, I’m serious, way better than being pregnant. No offense baby.” She tickles the baby who breathes funny now that his lump is basically as wide as his whole back. I rub moisturizer into Trini’s knuckles, knead each of her fingers, our hands are fragrant with cucumber-melon. Then without really thinking I reach up and stroke the lump below her shoulder. Her skin slides just a little bit over the hardness. I imagine them all hidden in the darkness of her, baseball-sized diamonds buried in black earth. White hot lumps of star stuff buried in black space.


Now that I’ve seen it once I see it every day, that little red car parked on Marion Street. This time it’s right by the taped up magic factory gate, and through the back windshield I notice a silhouette in the driver’s seat, upright and still.


I walk up along the sidewalk and tap on the passenger window. “What you still doing here?”


Inside there’s a man looking like a lawn gone to seed. Wrinkled dress shirt done up wrong and stubble patching his jaw. His head jerks when I knock. “Huh?”


“Yeah, huh. What are you still doing here?”


His eyes are big and dark as holes and his mouth works soundlessly.


“What, you can’t hear me? How about you open the window?”


Long hesitation and then, without taking his eyes off me, he raises his hand and toggles the window down.


“That’s better. Look I was just curious, I guess. What are you doing here?”


“I’m sorry.” He brings a thumb to his mouth and gnaws on the nail. He still hasn’t blinked. “I don’t know what you’re talking about.”


“You worked in there.” I jerk a thumb at the Magic Factory. “I used to see your car go in. Plus my girl Trini was first shift security guard, that little booth right there. But you know, it’s closed now. So why are you still here?”


He so slowly raises his hands, turns them palm up like he’s about to receive a present from the steering wheel. Then he methodically, mechanically lowers his face into those palms.


I hold on to the door rim and use one big toenail to scratch an itch on my other ankle. I wait.


He slides his hands down an inch. “I don’t know. I ask myself. I can’t—I can’t seem to let it go.”


“What’s it?” “I was a researcher. I was helping to—” Then his eyes change like he’s remembering other things about me, “—But you know already. You must have seen.”


“We saw the magic shows, yeah.” I put my elbows down on the door rim and lean through the window into his car. “Tell me.”


He starts to laugh. “It’s all gone! Poof! I never worked here. Your memory must be tricking you. Check the records, there was never even a lab.”


He’s not really getting it. “Research-man I don’t have a lot of time.” I lean farther into his car and smell the unwashed smell. “You didn’t call it magic show, I bet.”


“We had longer words. We thought that meant we understood it better.”


“But you didn’t.”


“No.”


“You didn’t know shit.”


He reaches for my face, stops his hand halfway across the distance between us. “Look at you. It glows inside you. Even I can see that.”


His dark hole eyes widen like he wants to take in every inch of me. I try to imagine him in lab coat, ironed, clean-shaven. Probably at one point he was the kind of person I’d be scared to talk to, which almost makes me laugh. Like imagine you spend your whole life afraid to look on the face of God, and then you finally do and it turns out he’s just one more eyes-nose-mouth combo, just another blur to be learned in a minute, remembered or forgotten without much work.


Instead I hiss. “If I dragged you out the car right now and stomped your head into the curb, would you fight me?”


He shakes his head and I can hear small dry things rattling in his hollow body. “No.”
“Would it change anything?”


His eyes meet mine and between us we hold the answer unspoken.


“Why don’t you leave us alone, then? You didn’t before. You could now.”


He flinches. “I—I wanted you to know. I had to tell someone. For whatever it’s worth. I’m sorry. It was a mistake. I’m so sorry.”


I don’t really sleep anymore. Kind of I just lie in bed and sweat and imagine shapes in the dark. Once in the deepest part of the night I hear a weird noise coming from the front of the house. A shivery kind of croon. I coax the orbs of my body into a standing position and feel my way to the living room. Dean sits up on the sofabed, shaking. I turn the lamp on and see his face shiny with tears.


“Little brother? You okay?”


He can barely get out words between sobs. “It was—just a dream.”


I haven’t seen him cry so hard since he was three. “Aw, shh. That’s right. Just a nightmare. It’s gone now.”


He’s still crying but he manages to shake his head. “It—it wasn’t—wasn’t a nightmare.”
“Oh yeah? What was it?”


“It was—so beautiful.”


“Oh. Well, like, that’s not so bad then, huh? What was beautiful?”


He snorks a big load of snot back into his head. Wipes his face on the edge of my t-shirt. “The things—the things that are growing in us. That are getting ready to come out.”


And it’s like all my insides have vanished which is good because otherwise I might throw up. “But I didn’t—but I never said—”


His sobs have stopped and now he’s just laughing really quiet. “Noma I wish you’d quit acting like I’m in diapers. It won’t do you any good. Everybody can feel it. We’re the Magic Factories now.”


Next morning Dean is gone. He spends most of his time now by the dumpster outside the Amorcito Apartments, passing roaches around with high rise delinquents. I always thought those kids were kind of dead in the eyes but whatever, I guess so are we. I walk down there and find him laying into this pale kid with more lumps than anyone I’ve seen.


“What are you, sad? You think this is some kind of therapy session?” Dean kicks the dumpster to punctuate his sentences. “There isn’t a thing to be sad about. There’s never been anything like us. We’re the next stage. The whole world is going to pay attention.”


The wispy kid has a hard time stringing together a response. “I know. It’s just. It’s scary. Sometimes. When you think about it.”


“Scary?” Dean’s voice goes all smooth. “I know. But you can’t be scared either. You have to welcome it. Think how pretty a butterfly is.” I get shivers listening to him talking like an adult while his voice still seesaws between high and low. His voice that used to beg me to go to the splash park or call me over to look at some weird bug he’d found. He’s almost six feet tall now though he doesn’t look it. Just a jumble of elbows and shins and Adam’s apple and hair that hasn’t been washed in too long. It makes his lumps stand out even more. Now he reaches out and strokes the kid’s bumpy head. “When you see the butterfly, you understand why the cocoon rejoices as it breaks.”


Rejoices as it breaks, rejoices as it breaks, I start walking and the words churn around my brain, faster and faster as my steps speed up. I see the little red car parked by the lab gate and I head straight for it, blood rough in my ears. The passenger side door is unlocked, of course it’s unlocked, and I get in and slam it behind me. I stare straight ahead. Outside the sun is going down and the sky is a smooth creamsicle field.


After a moment he says, “Is something happening? Do you feel different?”


Yeah I knew he’d ask this, and I wanted him to, except now it only pisses me off. Out the corner of my eye his hands are folded in his lap; he scrapes the cuticle of one thumb with the nail of the other.


“Can you describe the sensations in your torso right now?”
Now I look at him. “You’re serious?”


“If you can tell me what you’re experiencing, I might be able to get some sense of the progression of—”


“Jesus, mister scientist man, I don’t fuckin know.” I kick my sandals off and arrange my feet on his dashboard. “How about you drive already?”

He is still and silent for a moment, then he pushes the ignition. The car hums to life quieter than an electric razor. In the side mirror the Magic Factory slides away behind us. I don’t say anything until we’re coming down the ramp onto the highway. “You want to know how I’m feeling? I’m feeling like I want to see someplace pretty. You know anywhere like that? Take me someplace really fuckin pretty.”

We stand on the edge of a river. The water is cloudy and clogged with floating islands of sticks and muck and lost flip-flops. On the far bank the sunset licks the trees with copper. I exhale and feel something more than air flow out of me.


The scientist grazes my wrist with his bitten up fingernails. “They found it near here, you know. In a field. Not far away. Not out in space. It fell right here. And we thought we were so lucky—we got to name it. We got to do something wonderful for humanity. We weren’t bad people.” He twists toward me. “If you had the chance to touch something utterly unknown, something not of this world—wouldn’t you take it?”


I keep my eyes on those far bright trees. “I didn’t have a choice.”


Like he was struck, “Right.”


We stand next to each other for a long time. He keeps opening and closing his mouth. Finally he goes, “I wish you could have seen how beautiful it was.”


There’s something in his voice I recognize. His hunger chimes with mine. Like maybe if we devoured each other, deep inside the other’s gut, we’d both find peace.


He puts a hand on my waist, doesn’t flinch when he feels the lumps. He lays two fingers on my face. “You’re so beautiful.”


I start to shake. “You should get me home.” I’m feeling full of fire, I’m feeling untouchable, I’m thinking no, no, he couldn’t kiss me anymore than he could kiss the hot edge of a knife.


Our lips meet.


One of his hands slides between my legs. We both gasp. He kisses my neck.


“You don’t deserve pain,” he says to my skin, “you don’t deserve any of this. Let me—please?”


There’s some sad little part of me that thinks he’s offering to undo it all. The rest of me knows this is a stupid weak hope, not God nor Jesus and certainly no scientist has power like that. But still. The huge sweetness of this thought, I lean into it.


He peels off my clothes there by the river. I pull or he pushes us back against a tree. The bark scrapes my back and I shiver like way back on that cold morning in August. My heart is exploding blood through me. Every beat hurls the globes against my skin. He stares at me for a minute and I think he’s forgotten how to breathe. Then he pulls me to him, wet kisses down the center of my chest and each rib and my belly. His knees press into the mud.


“So beautiful, so beautiful.” His breath tickles my stomach. “I’m so sorry, so sorry.”


He kisses the lumps, lips brushing the crest of each dome. His kisses make them churn. “Who ever deserved to see beauty like this?” He lays his cheek against them, nuzzles them with his nose. “I don’t deserve it. I don’t deserve this.”


I stare across the river at the trees though the sun is almost down now, their fire smoldering out. The river under its sluggish skin runs fast and cold. They brought me here when I was little, once, they taught us about the water cycle. The scientist enters me like a plea, like somewhere at my core lies the promise of his own absolution. He seeks it again and again.


What happens the next week is pale blue slips show up tacked to our doors. Properties in the indicated area have been designated unfit for habitation. Domain is hereby transferred to a redevelopment firm. Current residents have two weeks from notification date to complete relocation.


I know there was a time when I would have gotten mad about this. When I would have looked around at the apartment—the view through our window and the spot where Dean rollerbladed into the door and the Eiffel Tower picture I taped to the wall—and gone wild at the thought of leaving. But now it’s like someone’s yelling at me from very far away, almost too far for me to hear, and I just can’t see how it could be that important.


“They’re tearing down our houses?” Trini says from the couch. Trini doesn’t get off the couch anymore. Then she just starts laughing and laughing except her laugh sounds basically like a grunt.


Dean and I start to pack our stuff. At least I think we’re packing but I can’t tell if we’re really getting anything done. I keep putting things in boxes and taking them out and refolding them. Dean finds mom’s clothes crammed onto a high shelf and pulls them all down, fluttering avalanche of rayon and polyester over his head. He presses his face into her dresses, gasps in like he wants to pull the fabric into his lungs.


Out in the street we show each other the blue notices, we ask where are people headed, we shake our heads. One thing that’s changed is we touch each other more. Even people I barely know, instead of saying hi we just brush our palms over the hills in each other’s skin. We move like people who are sleepwalking, we move like people who are about to wake up.

The only person who doesn’t act like they’re dreaming is Dean. He stands on the bleachers in Paige Clifton field wearing one of mom’s old nightgowns. The dead-eye kids crowd the grass in front of him, reach up to touch his hem.


He howls, “We are the mothers of new creation! Do you feel the power growing inside you? Why do you think they want to drive us out?”


His face is unspeakable. More people pause at the edge of the field, listening.


“They fear us. They fear our children.” His voice climbs up to a shriek. “They may cast us out of here, but we will spread across the country! We will spread across the planet! When it comes it will come to all of us, and it will not be denied, and every place on earth will know our glory!”


Everyone listening starts to whoop and sway. A breeze picks up and Mom’s nightgown billows around him and fills with light and his bony lumpy body is silhouetted through the white fabric. Really I have no idea anymore, who can even say, he could be my little brother or he could be a goddess born in the center of the sun, come to walk with us through the fire of these last days.


On our final night in the fourplex I go out into the back yard. It really wasn’t that long ago that we stood here and whooped for the Magic Factory to get going already. There’s no glitter or glow anymore. Only the plain sky, filthy with regular stars. For every one I count, there’s one more. For every world that lets you down there’s another, and another, promising redemption. It’s strange looking up at them. They flicker and pulse and from inside me come answering pulses and I know without knowing that what’s inside me is the same as what’s up there. I’m flayed down to nothing but a thin boundary of skin between two fields of stars.


You know when I think about my life there’s not really a lot I got to choose. Mostly what I did was because we’d be evicted otherwise or because there was a coupon for it and I never spent too much time freaking out about that. But now I have this new feeling like something has loosened I didn’t even know was tight. Like the gentlest stream ever is carrying me away. Like I don’t have to worry anymore about anything, no regrets or what-ifs, because before I go, I’m going to make something beautiful.


Maybe I’ll be the sound, the music that was never music. People all over will hear me and freeze and just start crying where they stand. Or I’ll be the stars that gush up into the sky and rain down over the highway. All the cars will come screeching to a halt and everybody will reach out their windows for the lights falling around them and laugh and know that there is love everywhere in the world even where you don’t imagine it could survive. Or I’ll pour into a spring of clear shining liquid, I’ll flood the streets and wash away the sticks and trash and broken glass and you can come out and dip your Dixie cup in and gather me up. One drop on your tongue and your scrapes will heal, your teeth will straighten, your feet will soothe. One sip and your daddy will come home. A cupful and, come close now, no one will ever lie to you again. The world will be set on fire with justice. All the things you hunger for will fly close like tame hummingbirds. Just reach out—oh God—just take it.

by thecollective at September 18, 2019 05:34 PM

jacobinmag

Striking GM Workers Aren’t Backing Down

Nearly 50,000 UAW members are on strike for the third day. For years, they’ve been hit with plant closings, pay cuts, and two-tier contracts — and they aren’t ready to make concessions.


alt General Motors workers wave at passing cars in front of the GM Powertrain Plant on September 18, 2019 in Toledo, Ohio. (J.D. Pooley / Getty Images)

The ongoing United Auto Workers (UAW) strike against General Motors (GM) — now in its third day — will be remembered for the corporation’s aggressiveness. Usually details of negotiations are kept under wraps. But as the UAW announced it was striking, the corporation outlined its offer. Dangling an $8,000 ratification payment in front of workers, it didn’t mention that temps, who make up 7 percent of the workforce, wouldn’t even be eligible.

The company touted the offer as generous because it offered five thousand new jobs and $7 billion in investments — with wage increases or lump-sum payments in each of the four years of the contract. Corporate spokespeople maintained there was no reason to strike. They remained silent on the hot-button issue of tiered wages and benefits and sidestepped the question of job security.

After all, the just-expired contract had a “no plant closings” clause — but three of five North American plants tagged as having an “unallocated” product are now shuttered. The Detroit-Hamtramck plant is slated to close in January. For months, when skilled tradespeople needed to replace a part at D-Ham, they found the storeroom empty; they had to put in a requisition order and pick up the part at a Flint plant more than an hour away.

Walking the picket line outside the D-Ham plant, strikers told me they see themselves as GM’s hostages. They believe the company intends to keep the plant open. The corporation has installed solar panels, just finished constructing a system to recycle their water, and suspended plans for building a new paint shop. They ask: What are the concessions the company wants in exchange for keeping the plant open?

As if in response, GM dropped strikers’ health coverage yesterday. And earlier today, they threatened to arrest picketers in Flint.


The Scourge of Two-Three-Many-Tier

GM temps earn $15 an hour, receive three unpaid days off per year, and can be fired at any time. They accrue no seniority, meaning they are assigned the hardest jobs and the most onerous shifts. During the 2015 negotiations, many were already working alongside union members who make twice their pay. In addition to the more than three thousand “permanent” temps, GM has fifteen thousand “in progression” workers. These second-tier workers were first hired in 2007 at $15.50 an hour.

When tiers were first negotiated in 2007, UAW officials insisted it was a concession that membership must support in order to save jobs and preserve higher standards, at least for the current workforce. Those of us who opposed this concession pointed out the danger: abuse on the part of the company, permanent inequality, and a fraying of solidarity. In fact, the UAW constitution states that the union’s purpose is “to create a uniform system of shorter hours, higher wages, health care and pensions.”

By the 2015 contract, GM and Fiat Chrysler had recovered from bankruptcy. The Big Three were doing well. Yet UAW officials failed to negotiate parity, and workers rejected the deal. Newspapers later reported that the UAW negotiating team was celebrating their victory at a fancy downtown restaurant when they learned the tentative agreement was voted down. Forced back to the bargaining table, they worked with management to build an eight-year bridge to advance the second tier. It would take eight years (the life of two contracts), and the benefits remain inferior. When these workers retire, there will be no company pension or health-care plan. For those who worked in parts plants and distribution centers, the wage ceiling was lowered.

Many also questioned whether the contract really passed the second time around. At Chrysler, workers were intimidated into voting for the contract by officials who later went to prison for taking bribes; at one of the last Ford plants to vote, ballot boxes were left unsealed.


What Concessions Brought

When two-tier wages went into effect in 2007, GM had a workforce of seventy-three thousand. Labor costs supposedly ran about 8 percent of total production costs. Today GM has forty-six thousand workers, and labor costs have been reduced to 5 percent. That has been accomplished by shaving off a few minutes per day in break time, implementing differentiated wages and benefits, shrinking overtime pay through weekend shifts, and using teams to maximize production. GM points out that it spends a billion dollars a year on health care. Its demand: workers pay 15 percent of health-care costs instead of 3 percent.

GM has also outsourced a number of vital jobs, including janitorial, food service, and storeroom work. However necessary, these positions don’t produce a product for the company and are treated as dispensable. In the places where these workers are still part of the UAW bargaining unit — as with the 850 janitors at five Michigan and Ohio plants — their top pay is $15 an hour.

While UAW negotiators point out that some of these workers make so little that they receive food stamps, they do not demand an end to this inequality. Maintenance workers employed by Aramark have been under a contract that has been repeatedly extended since March 2018, but union officials have organized no informational pickets or campaigns to bring their story to the public. When their contract was up the evening of September 14, they were told to walk out, even though production workers were to report for work. UAW members in those plants actually walked through picket lines just one day before they themselves were on strike. Most didn’t think they should, weren’t happy about it, and many brought food to the strikers or walked the picket line before they did report for work. A few refused to cross the line.

Since the last UAW-GM contract, the company has raked in $35 billion in profits, including almost $11 billion last year. Like Ford and Fiat Chrysler, GM claims they need workers to be “flexible” in order to compete with other firms. But flexibility means that GM workers are expected to take any shift or move to any place in the country where needed.

What we need is a different kind of flexibility: the nimbleness to shift away from manufacturing cars and instead construct the infrastructure for a sustainable economy. GM’s proposal that D-Ham produce electric vehicles, Lordstown reopen to manufacture battery cells, and the sprawling Oshawa, Ontario plant work on aftermarket stamping and parts isn’t an adequate solution. Nor do the UAW or its sister union in Canada, Unifor, have a bold plan.

A network of autoworkers called Autoworker Caravan (of which I’m an active member) had the right idea a decade ago during the economic crisis. They called for retooling plants to build mass transit, solar panels, and wind turbines — all while reducing the intensity and length of work. This doesn’t seem possible in our present market economy, but frankly this economy is unsustainable.


The Strike This Time

With GM losing an estimated $50 million a day and teamsters refusing to cross the picket lines, the pressure is on to settle a contract. But many workers feel they must take a stand against concessions. They want the temps to be made permanent; they want to end inequality in pay and benefits that tiers and outsourcing have brought.

Many also see through the self-serving statement GM issued just three days before the strike: “GM is outraged and deeply concerned by the conduct of union officials as uncovered by the government’s investigation and the expanding charges revealed today. These serious allegations represent a stunning abuse of power and trust. There is no excuse for union officials to enrich themselves at the expense of the union membership they represent.”

This, too, is part of the propaganda GM has unleashed to get workers to accept another round of concessions. Yet strangely enough, it is GM that needs UAW officials to sell the agreement. Strikers are less likely, this time around, to trust their own team. They know that one of the officials charged with embezzling UAW funds, Vance Pearson, is at the bargaining table. So the UAW negotiators will have to produce for the strikers or face a massive “no” vote.

In the meantime, pickets are up at all the GM plants. Trucks and cars honk as they drive by. People come with food and drinks and join the picket for a while. Jobs with Justice and Democratic Socialists of America are calling everyone to come out and walk the picket lines. Solidarity is alive in the hearts of the strikers and their supporters.


by Dianne Feeley at September 18, 2019 04:06 PM

InterPressService (global south)

As Climate Crisis Worsens & Poverty Rises, UN Appears Off-Track on Development Agenda

Credit: United Nations

By Thalif Deen
UNITED NATIONS, Sep 18 2019 (IPS)

The two key goals in the UN’s development agenda are the eradication of extreme poverty and hunger by 2030.

But most of the world’s developing nations, currently fighting a losing battle against rising poverty and hunger –and suffering from the devastating impact of climate change– are likely to miss the deadline for most of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), according to the latest report by Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.

Jens Martens, executive director of Global Policy Forum (New York/Bonn), told IPS that four years after the adoption of the 2030 Agenda, most governments are off-track to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.

He said recent reports of the UN, including the Global Sustainable Development Report and the Spotlight Report 2019 show that in many areas there is no progress at all, and in some even regression.

“Destructive production and consumption patterns have further accelerated global warming, increased the number of extreme weather events, created plastic waste dumps even in the most isolated places of the planet, and dramatically increased the loss of biodiversity,” said Martens, who has coordinated the international Civil Society Reflection Group on the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

He pointed out that most governments have failed to turn the proclaimed transformational vision of the 2030 Agenda into policies that bring about real change.

“Even worse, national chauvinism and authoritarianism are on the rise in a growing number of countries, seriously undermining the social fabric, and the spirit and goals of the 2030 Agenda,” he noted.

And on the eve of a high-level summit meeting on SDGs on September 24-25, the UK based Overseas Development Institute (ODI) has released a new report predicting that at least 430 million people are expected to live in extreme poverty by 2030, – an increase of 7.5% on previous projections.

In a worrying sign that global efforts to reduce extreme poverty are failing, new ODI calculations find that, compared to figures released last year, an additional 30 million people will be living on less than $1.90 a day by the end of the next decade.

Credit: United Nations

Asked if poverty figures have declined in the world’s two most populous nations, namely China and India, Jesse Griffiths, head of the Development Strategy and Finance programme at ODI, told IPS that while many emerging market economies like China and India have been rapidly reducing poverty, in many of the world’s poorest countries the situation has been getting worse.

He said ODI research suggests that 430 million people will be living in poverty by 2030, and poverty will be increasingly concentrated in the poorest countries.

In the report titled Financing the end of extreme poverty: 2019 ODI, researchers say extreme poverty could be eradicated if governments in poor countries increased their tax revenues by a quarter and all donors met the UN 0.7 aid spending target.

Lead author Marcus Manuel, senior research associate at ODI, said: ‘We know that extreme poverty could be eliminated but this research shows that without major change hundreds of millions of people will remain living on less than $1.90 a day by 2030.

‘While economic growth will continue to help lift millions of people out of extreme poverty, many are being left behind. This does not have to be the case”.

The key challenge for countries and donors is whether they are willing to increase their financial effort and better target their spending in order to meet their commitment of ensuring nobody has to live in extreme poverty.

Martens told IPS that the implementation of the 2030 Agenda is not just a matter of better policies. The current problems of growing inequalities and unsustainable production and consumption patterns are deeply connected with power hierarchies, institutions, culture and politics.

Hence, policy reform is necessary but not sufficient. “What we need are fundamental governance reforms at all levels, including at the United Nations,” he noted.

Martens said Governments established the High-level Political Forum (HLPF) as the central UN body in overseeing SDG follow-up and review processes at the global level.

But compared to other policy arenas, such as the Security Council or the Human Rights Council, the HLPF remained weak, he argued.

“With an agenda of equal importance, the HLPF should be transformed to a Sustainable Development Council, supported with complementary machinery at regional and thematic levels”.

Unfortunately, he noted, the SDG Summit on September 24-25, is not expected to make this kind of necessary fundamental decisions. The official result is already clear: a political declaration with the ambitious title “Gearing up for a Decade of Action and Delivery for Sustainable Development”.

The governments promise a “higher level of ambition” in the further implementation of the SDGs and stress the “urgent need for accelerated action at all levels”.

“The fact that governments have left it at this level of abstraction and vagueness was the price of being able to agree a consensus declaration with Trump, Bolsonaro & Co. at all,” he added.

But there is a rapidly growing global movement for change, a movement that takes the commitment of the 2030 Agenda to “work in a spirit of global solidarity” seriously.

“Let’s hope that the year 2020 with its official occasions, particularly the 75th anniversary of the UN, will provide an opportunity to translate the calls of this movement for social and environmental justice into political steps towards a new democratic multilateralism,” he declared.

Meanwhile, asked how far behind donor nations are from the 0.7 aid targets, ODI’s Griffiths, said: ‘While ODI’s report reveals that if donors met their 0.7% aid commitment and channelled half their aid to the poorest countries, all countries could have enough resources to end poverty, sadly donors are collectively less than half way there, giving just 0.31% of their GNI in 2018.’

In 2018 five OECD DAC (Development assistance committee, that sets the rule for what counts as aid) members met the 0.7 target: UK, Sweden, Norway, Luxembourg, Denmark. (Owing to its small size, Luxembourg might not be counted as a ‘major’ donor. Netherlands used to but not recently.

The ODI report makes key recommendations for governments and donors to end extreme poverty by 2030.

Governments in the poorest countries should:

Increase their tax revenues by a quarter, to the maximum level that is economically feasible

Allocate half of their public spending to health, education and social protection, as Ethiopia and Tanzania have come close to doing

Donors should:

Ensure all donors meeting the UN target for ODA, following the example of other major donors the UK, Sweden, Norway and Denmark

Double the share of collective aid given to the poorest countries from one quarter to a half, following the example of Ireland

The writer can be contacted at thalifdeen@ips.org

The post As Climate Crisis Worsens & Poverty Rises, UN Appears Off-Track on Development Agenda appeared first on Inter Press Service.

by Thalif Deen at September 18, 2019 03:00 PM

jacobinmag

A Shit Job for One Is a Shit Job for All

Last week’s passage of a bill in the California state legislature ending the rampant misclassification of workers as independent contractors was a huge win. The bill was animated by the spirit of unions fighting for the entire working class — the exact principle that should animate all unions.


alt Rideshare drivers hold signs during a protest outside of Uber headquarters on August 27, 2019 in San Francisco, California. (Justin Sullivan / Getty Images)

Last week, California legislators passed Assembly Bill 5 (AB 5), expanding legal protections to more than a million workers, including gig workers like rideshare drivers for companies like Uber and Lyft, who had been misclassified as “independent contractors.” The misclassification scheme is popular in Silicon Valley as well as industries like trucking, construction, and even adult entertainment, because it shifts risks and operating costs onto workers while maintaining company control over the price, pace, and style of labor.

Worst of all, misclassified workers are legally barred from organizing unions. As part of a broader divide-and-conquer attack on worker organizing, companies have exploited misclassification to slash unions’ membership rolls and undermine wages, benefits, and protections for all workers.

Naturally, Uber, Lyft, and other companies fought tooth and nail to block AB 5. Instead of accepting defeat, they’re escalating their resistance by threatening to bring a ballot measure to undo the law in 2020 while promising lawsuits to delay its implementation.

While AB 5 ends the relegation of gig and other workers to a hyper-exploited underclass (assuming companies’ efforts to roll back the law fail), other inequalities between workers will continue to undermine workers’ organizing. These inequalities — including on the basis of race, gender, skill, and geography — not only hurt workers directly, but empower companies to pit workers against one another, because a divided working class allows for an unchecked ruling class.

That’s why it’s essential that organizers bring lessons from the AB 5 victory into all sectors while uniting unions and militant workers to fight for the whole working class.


The Solidarity Strategy

How was AB 5 won in California, despite the immense pressure of major companies and even public lobbying on their behalf from former Democratic senator Barbara Boxer?

It turns out that even in Silicon Valley’s home state, organized labor — with 15 percent union density in California compared with 10.5 percent nationally, and far less in Southern states — can still throw its political weight around to great effect. Outside the legislature, AB 5 was championed not only by militant but mostly unorganized gig workers, but also major unions, including the Teamsters and the building trades, in conjunction with their statewide umbrella group, the California Labor Federation.

While gig workers are not unionized, unions recognize the need to fight for those workers’ rights for two major reasons. First, newly reclassified employees of Uber, Lyft, port trucking “dispatchers,” and other companies can now be organized into unions like the Teamsters (who already represent truck drivers, among others), the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) (who could organize food delivery workers at DoorDash or Postmates), and building trades unions (who can now organize formerly misclassified construction workers).

More profoundly, these unions have an interest in protecting and expanding the rights of all workers, union and nonunion alike. The old motto of the radical Industrial Workers of the World (IWW), “an injury to one is an injury to all,” isn’t just a statement of morals — it’s also workers’ best political strategy. California Labor Federation leader Art Pulaski invoked the spirit of the IWW in a statement celebrating AB 5: “The misclassification of workers creates a corrosive effect that ripples through our entire economy, undermining our laws to protect and support working people.”

Companies use the misclassification scam to pull workers out of the legal framework protecting workers and out of the unions helping enforce those protections. “Traditional employers” are then able to pit these hyper-exploited workers against union workers: those “independent contractors” are getting paid below minimum wage and working terrible hours, so either you can accept a worse contract now or expect your job to be misclassified into the gig economy sooner or later.

In cases where misclassification allows pay so low as to sustain businesses that wouldn’t survive paying at least minimum wages, companies are able to use the threat of layoffs to bully employers and legislators alike into protecting the status quo. Meanwhile, standards for workers fall across the board.


An Injury to All

This divide-and-conquer approach is how employers have beaten worker organization time and again, from erecting racial disparities in compensation and skill to threatening to relocate to China (and horribly mistreating and underpaying Chinese workers) if unions don’t accept lower wages and shattered benefits. There is some truth to companies’ threats: differentials in compensation allow companies paying less to charge customers less, and they put pressure on better-paying employers to cut their wages and benefits and increase demands on worker productivity.

Since the 1980s, unions’ approach to these attacks has been primarily defensive: concessions are made, further divisions are sown, and membership has plummeted to a third of its 1950s height. At their worst, unions like the politically conservative building trades have even encouraged these divisions while backing employers’ political efforts.

Unions are crucial institutions for defending workers, but they often revert to defending their own narrow interests in their sector or for their own dues-paying members, instead of fighting for the whole working class. Weakened unions are only able or willing to protect their dues base, which often means giving concessions to their members’ employers to give union companies a competitive advantage. The result is a race to the bottom for workers everywhere.

In fact, in July we learned that the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) was in secret talks with Uber and Lyft to help them kill AB 5. In return, SEIU would ostensibly receive neutrality in their own bid to win union representation rights for those workers, in a company-friendly scheme that would not reclassify drivers as employees.

Today in the United States, some unions oppose Medicare for All, which would help all workers and dramatically empower all unions once implemented. Why? Because in the immediate term, universal health care eliminates the relative advantage of union-negotiated health-care plans, which organized labor relies on in part to sell union membership. (Also, given the precarious position so many union members are already in, with their members’ health-care plans under attack, defending the status quo feels safer than striking out into the great unknown of Medicare for All.)

This nearsighted strategy is ultimately self-defeating: by only protecting what little we’ve won from the boss so far, we narrow the constituency of our movement and demobilize the organized sections of the working class.

Some building trades unions have voiced strong opposition to the Green New Deal on grounds it would hurt the companies that pay their members. In California, some of the same union leaders that helped win AB 5 protested against the Green New Deal this summer. Meanwhile, workers in every industry across the world face an existential threat from climate change caused by those same companies.

The reality is that it’s rational for workers to fear that risky workplace action and radical politics will cost them. With the union movement weak and on the defensive, many workers are not convinced that it’s possible to fight back and reverse the losses of the last forty years.

The AB 5 fight shows the better angles of organized labor, including among unions like the Teamsters and the building trades that are not generally known for their progressive and inclusive vision. If we want to see this sort of ambitious and progressive unionism become the norm, we will have to fight for it.


Kicking Ass for the Working Class

How can unions and the Left consolidate and build upon the gains of AB 5 in California and beyond? One answer is clear after these last two historic years: strikes.

Nearly half a million workers went on strike last year, including hundreds of thousands of teachers fighting not just for their own jobs but for the education and well-being of their working-class students. Teachers in West Virginia and Arizona violated state laws against public-sector strikes. This sort of militancy has more often than not come from militant rank-and-file currents within the labor movement, leading some socialists to argue for a rank-and-file strategy for revitalizing and democratizing unions from below. Democratic, militant unions have the confidence and power to fight for the whole working class.

We saw this in rank-and-file-driven strikes across the country. In West Virginia, teachers fought against the union bureaucracies’ internal divisions to include all school workers in their strike. In Los Angeles, teachers won huge gains for students, including smaller class sizes and an end to racially discriminatory “random searches.” The reformer-led Massachusetts teachers union, after hard-fought victories against billionaire-backed privatization campaigns, called for a national teachers’ strike to demand a Green New Deal.

Now it is the task of the Left and progressive labor leaders to follow these teachers’ lead and put forward a compelling plan for militant, solidaristic resistance that can win workers away from the conservatism of shell-shocked union bureaucracies and to a radical vision of a working class united in struggle.

But there will always be intense structural pressures working against radicalism in unions as long as capitalism demands that companies’ — and therefore unions’ — survival depends on competitive profitability. As Barry Eidlin argues, labor-based political parties in Europe, Canada, Australia, and elsewhere have created a national basis for a sense of working-class solidarity beyond the confines of individual workplaces and unions. These workers’ parties have articulated the common political interests of all workers as a class.

Without having ever established a major independent labor party, the US working class has been unable to unite unions and workers of all kinds into a cohesive and powerful movement fighting for the interests of all workers. As a result, US unions are considered merely one petty “special interest” among many.

One horrendous example of the price US workers have paid for not having a labor-based party is that, while the civil rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s mobilized millions of working-class people of all races in a fight for social and economic justice, conservative union leaders failed to seriously back the movement — and in some cases actually opposed it. The damage that this division between the labor and civil rights movements has caused since cannot be overstated.

Meanwhile, as Eidlin argues, in Canada, a labor-based political party, the New Democratic Party (NDP), helped to integrate the new social movements of the 1960s and ’70s with the labor movement, revitalizing the latter while investing the former with massive social power. The party has turned rightward in recent years, like many workers’ parties around the world. But even so, the presence of such a party has kept alive in Canada what Eidlin calls the “class idea” and the organization of Canadian politics around the struggle between the working class and the employer class. One result: the successful generations-long fight, led by the NDP and its predecessor the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (CCF), for universal, single-payer health care.

A mass working-class political party could help to unite workers across sector, geography, and identity, even as capitalists devise new and creative ways to undermine workers’ solidarity and displace operations around the world. Over the long run, American workers will need their own political party to represent their interests and reinstall class struggle at the center of US politics. As the slogan of the 1990s American Labor Party went, “The bosses have two parties. We need one of our own.”

It will take years to build a national independent labor-based party. But unions and progressive workers can fight now to build the movement around Bernie Sanders’s presidential campaign. In addition to his most well-known plans for Medicare for All and tuition-free college, Sanders’s proposed Workplace Democracy Plan will not only establish the rights of AB 5 in federal law, but, through sectoral bargaining, a $15 hourly minimum wage, universal “just cause” for termination, and repealing Taft-Hartley and “right to work” laws, will help undo the laws that allow employers to divide and conquer workers.

And Sanders’s proposed Green New Deal would create 20 million union jobs to construct a new, clean-energy economy. This would effectively end unemployment in the United States, taking away the threat of jobless destitution that employers use to scare workers from organizing.

Not only is Sanders’s the most radical and ambitious platform of a major presidential candidate in memory, but his campaign is helping to build an independent current of working-class resistance and organization in the United States. His lists are used to turn out supporters to local picket lines. He condemns the leaders of both major parties for being beholden to the obscene wealth and power of what he regularly calls an “oligarchy.” In the wake of his 2016 campaign, Democratic Socialists of America has grown tenfold into an organization able to run an independent campaign to support Sanders’s run in nearly every state. True to his campaign slogan — “Not Me, Us” — Bernie Sanders is inspiring a new generation of disaffected workers of all races to have confidence in their own ability to organize and fight back. And this is exactly the confidence the working-class needs if it is going to overcome the divisions capitalism sows among our ranks.

The AB 5 win shows that unions can forcefully assert the interests of all workers in a political system that is, most of the time, preoccupied with protecting employers’ profits and pitting workers against one another. Unions in California fought for nonunion gig workers to build a stronger working class. We can extend that spirit of solidarity much further.


by Jeremy Gong at September 18, 2019 02:37 PM

InterPressService (global south)

Key Changes in International Agriculture and Rural Development Issues: Three Priority Areas in the Context of the 2030 Development Agenda

By Karim Hussein
ACCRA, Sep 18 2019 (IPS)

Transformations in international agricultural and rural development issues

Some major changes in international agricultural and rural development over the last 30-40 years need to be taken into account in efforts to promote sustainable development and an inclusive rural transformation (IFAD 2016) as we approach the third decade of the millennium. This opinion piece, drawing on a longer article published in Agriculture for Development Journal (Summer 2019 Issue), seeks to stimulate reflection and debate on how work to support agricultural and rural development can evolve to address key challenges and opportunities related to migration, sustainable urbanization and youth in a changing global policy context.

Karim Hussein

Current issues and challenges

While key themes have remained on the agenda such as enhancing productivity, environmental sustainability, inclusion and participation, availability and access to food and addressing trade issues, since the 1980s the global development landscape has evolved. The transformations occurring in the global economy and society are moving at a rapid pace, particularly in the context of the application of new technologies and innovations, information and communications technologies (ICTs) and digital approaches in agriculture or ‘digitalisation’ (Dahlberg Advisers and CTA 2019), all in an increasingly complex and globalised development context. A key question has become how do agricultural and rural development adapt in a world of rapid globalisation and urbanization to reduce hunger, food insecurity and contribute to eliminating poverty FAO 2019 and Jacquet et al, 2011)?

The roles of partnerships among all stakeholders to address food systems challenges and build resilience to shocks among smallholders are key. Smallholders constitute the majority of the world’s rural producers, and among these special attention is needed to empower women and youth and to address the challenges faced by vulnerable groups, including migrants, in the context of rapid transformations in the global economy and food systems.

Major challenges to an inclusive and sustainable rural transformation in the 21st Century are reviewed in more detail in the paper published in Agriculture for Development cited above. Clearly, the pace of innovation has to increase to address these challenges. Here, I will highlight just three areas: migration; rapid urbanization; and youth (https://taa.org.uk/publications/journals/).

Migration is a dramatic global and regional phenomenon shaping the policies and decisions of governments and populations around the world. The roles of mobility in agriculture and rural development require more attention than they have received to date. They are increasingly significant given rapid growth in youth populations in developing countries, along with dynamic rural-urban connectivity, and the impacts of climate change and spread of conflict (Suttie 2018, ‘Migration and rural advisory services’, GFRAS Issues Paper 2). Tailored, context-specific approaches to promoting agriculture and access to advisory services for young people and women is critical to the 2030 Agenda, especially SDGs 1, 2, 5, 8 and 11. There is a need to work on how to adapt technical agricultural analysis, advice and rural advisory services to respond to the needs of mobile populations in both rural and urban areas.

Rapid urbanisation. A rapid rate of urbanization has occurred and will likely accelerate in the coming years such that in 2050 some 66% of the world’s population is expected to live in urban areas (see FAO 2019 cited above). In 2013, over 58 % of the total population in developing countries was considered to live in rural areas with most involved in agriculture, mainly smallholder farming (Hussein and Suttie, 2016). Given the major transitions related to the global trend of urbanization, the roles that rural economies and societies will have to play in creating sustainable and inclusive food systems require more attention in the years ahead. Rural-based populations are increasingly connected to urban areas and markets, but many are primarily engaged in informal sector economic activities and low productivity agriculture and lacking access to basic services. The incentives for people in rural areas and for those engaged in agriculture to migrate to towns, cities and abroad in search of better jobs and income earning opportunities are very powerful, particularly for young people.

Youth. In many developing countries, the population of young people is growing and youth have become the centre of attention for development practitioners and decision makers. Addressing the challenges related to a bulging population of young people seeking better work and incomes in developing countries, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa, will be vital in the years ahead. This is critical to work to strengthen rural-urban linkages and food systems to facilitate youth migration for real job opportunities but also to ensure they have attractive economic opportunities in agriculture and rural areas.

Suttie argued that higher incomes, urban growth, increasing demand for food, the spread of technologies and greater rural-urban connectivity have created new opportunities for skilled remunerative work in agri-food systems (Suttie 2018). In this context, skills development tailored to opportunities for young people (particularly smallholder family farmers, rural workers and rural women) in agriculture – whether in urban or rural contexts – is strategically important for making progress towards achieving the SDGs.

Concluding remarks

Hunger, poverty, environmental crises and sustainability remain as important if not more important than they were 40 years ago. While the issues have perhaps not changed so much over this period, the context has in this rapidly changing, fluid and globalised world where technology and innovation are leaping ahead. In order to achieve the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, and an inclusive and sustainable agricultural and rural transformation, special attention needs to be paid by development actors to addressing issues related to migration, rapid urbanization and youth.

This opinion piece is drawn from a longer article published in Agriculture for Development journal, No. 37, Summer 2019 (see: https://taa.org.uk/publications/journals/)

The post Key Changes in International Agriculture and Rural Development Issues: Three Priority Areas in the Context of the 2030 Development Agenda appeared first on Inter Press Service.

by Karim Hussein at September 18, 2019 02:34 PM

Human trafficking: A Disorganised Response to an Organised Crime

Human trafficking is perhaps one of the most well-organised crimes being committed in India. How else do we explain the phenomenon of adolescent girls and young women from remote villages across India being found in brothels in our cities?

Rescuing a sex worker and institutionalising or criminalising them is not a solution | Picture courtesy: Sanjog.

By Uma Chatterjee
KOLKATA, India, Sep 18 2019 (IPS)

Human trafficking is perhaps one of the most well-organised crimes being committed in India. How else do we explain the phenomenon of adolescent girls and young women from remote villages across India being found in brothels in our cities?

This trend has sustained itself, despite laws that criminalise child sexual exploitation and trafficking, because of the demand for adolescents in the sex trade and the steady supply of girls from rural India, made vulnerable by poverty. Unforgivably, those who profit from trafficking the vulnerable enjoy impunity.

 

Where are the gaps in the fight against human trafficking?

Disorganised response to an organised crime

While the criminal network of trafficking is very well organised, the response of the police, the state, and nonprofits, is disorganised. The investigators entrusted with trafficking cases are from local police stations, which are essentially meant to maintain law and order and address issues of the precinct in which they are located. They are not meant to investigate crimes that are transborder. And so, the police investigate cases either at destination or source, but hardly ever in conjunction.

State governments also have no coordinated systems and work in silos. Over a decade ago, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) issued directives to state governments to create specialised investigation units, called the Anti Human Trafficking Units (AHTUs). On paper, there are more than 220 AHTUs across the country, but less than five percent of them are notified.

This means that existing police officers have been given additional responsibility to man AHTUs, but do not have the time, resources, or infrastructure to investigate these cases. Bad investigations lead to low conviction rates, which break the morale of the police, who then avoid filing FIRs, because they believe it is a waste of their effort.

 

Failure to look at the lifecycle of trafficking

We often find that a child or a young person who gets victimised today may become part of the criminal network for her or his own survival tomorrow. For instance, brothel managers or madams, as they are known, have shared that they too were once trafficked, and recruited girls and women to work for them when they got older.

The investigators entrusted with trafficking cases are from local police stations, which are essentially meant to maintain law and order and address issues of the precinct in which they are located. They are not meant to investigate crimes that are transborder. And so, the police investigate cases either at destination or source, but hardly ever in conjunction.

Because this is stigmatised labour, there is no easy supply of younger women. Consequently, brothel managers rely on traffickers to supply young girls, which is where the demand lies.

When the state does manage to rescue girls and young women from sexual exploitation, they put them up in closed institutions that are referred to as shelter homes.

Shelter homes have however failed to rehabilitate survivors. They are unable to provide skills and training that make survivors employable with reasonable incomes, but instead make them feel punished and incarcerated.

In addition, sex workers are often in debt bondage. They cannot open bank accounts due to lack of proof of residence and are therefore unable to save and borrow through financial institutions.

This makes them dependent on moneylenders who operate in these communities and borrow at high interest rates of 25-50 percent. This keeps them in perpetual debt.

We need to invest in the financial and social inclusion of survivors. Rescuing a sex worker of 35 or 40 years of age and institutionalising or criminalising them is not a solution.

 

Gaps in law and its implementation

Laws on human trafficking—the Immoral Traffic Prevention Act, the Bonded Labour Act, and even certain sections of the Indian Penal Code—have not been very successful in securing convictions or increasing rehabilitation for survivors of trafficking.

These laws criminalise brothel managers and employers, but not traffickers. They try to fight the crime at one end (the destination) while allowing impunity at the other (the source).

 

What is the role of civil society in the anti-trafficking sector?

Most nonprofits working on human trafficking have taken over responsibilities of service delivery, such as running shelters, but do so amidst many challenges. They are dependent on either foreign funding or state budgets. With foreign funding many have created large facilities with a sizeable workforce, who are not always trained for the job.

Government funding for service delivery remains frugal and inefficiently disbursed. This leads to poor quality of services resulting in poor benefits to survivors. There needs to be a shift in the role of civil society organisations (CSOs) from being service providers to becoming facilitators. Five approaches that we advocate for are:

 

Build survivor leadership

There is a tendency in the anti-trafficking sector to label survivors of trafficking as ‘victims’, who need to be protected and spoken for. Nonprofits must transition out of being ‘saviours’ and focus on building leadership among survivors, encouraging them to fight for their rights and services from panchayats and governments.

There is an assumption that survivors do not want to come to the fore or show their faces. In my experience, survivors seldom feel the shame that our society associates with them. When CSOs help them to resist and challenge stigma, they reject that shaming and are able to fight for their own justice.

Instead of being the voice for survivors, nonprofits must assist them to speak for themselves. Often, nonprofits themselves treat sex work as a sin or a reason to feel shame. However, when trafficking gets treated as a crime, the strategies to fight it will be different.

The focus will shift from saving survivors, to empowering them to fight through robust legal aid, training, sharing information, collectivising, collaborating, and so on. As leadership gets built among survivors’ groups, they will take the lead in this effort.

 

Secure compensation

India has a strong provision for compensating survivors, but it is poorly implemented. According to the State Legal Services Authority, no compensation has been awarded to survivors of trafficking in many states, because there were no applications.

This happens because survivors do not know that they are entitled to compensation and are unable to secure legal aid to access these funds. The Nirbhaya Fund of the central government, which pays for this, has been poorly used by many state governments and nonprofits.

But some lawyers like Kaushik Gupta and Anirban Tarafdar have managed to secure compensation amounting to INR 4 to 6 lakhs. This enables survivors to pay for their own rehabilitation rather than having to depend on CSOs.

 

Make rehabilitation community-based rather than institutional

The focus of rehabilitation for governments and nonprofits has been on shelter homes. But it needs to shift to helping survivors return to their families, and then helping the families combat stigma and poverty, and claim services from panchayats, police, and healthcare providers. Working in groups and collectives helps to fight stigma and challenge traffickers.

 

Facilitate work that is already happening

To effectively counter human trafficking, nonprofits working separately in source and destination areas must come together. This is an opportunity for larger organisations to play the role of the facilitator—bring together organisations from the villages as well as those working in red-light areas in cities, so that they can communicate with each other and coordinate their efforts.

There will be barriers to this, such as language and mobility, and nonprofits can work to remove them. Nonprofits can also facilitate dialogue between survivor leaders and the state. Instead of speaking on behalf of survivors, nonprofits can bring survivor leaders to the same platform as parliamentarians, so that they can speak for themselves, and present their concerns using their own voice.

 

Gather and disseminate information

For any kind of policy advocacy or activism against a social issue, evidence is key. Here, nonprofits can play the role of researcher, evidence builder, and synthesiser of information. They can then arm survivors’ groups with this information.

For instance, government departments often release legal and policy documents, which have a direct bearing on the lives of survivors, but which could be difficult for them to understand.

We, at Sanjog, took one such document, translated it to Bengali, because the survivors’ groups that we were working with were from West Bengal. We took each clause of that document, and explained its implications through the use of examples, over a 3-day workshop. As a result, they are now better equipped to negotiate with the government for their rights and justice and can respond to questions that are thrown at them.

 

What lies ahead?

The MHA has introduced a National Investigation Agency (Amendment) Bill (NIA), which, despite being controversial, promises to investigate human trafficking cases and improve infrastructure in the judiciary for prosecution. We wait to see how these cases will be referred to the NIA, how the NIA will engage with the AHTUs, the role boundaries and convergence issues, etc.

The previous government tried to reform the law in human trafficking, but the Trafficking of Persons (Prevention, Protection and Rehabilitation) Bill, 2018 lapsed, and it is yet to be seen whether the present government will revive it. Perhaps there will be changes made based on earlier objections, particularly on issues of shelter homes and lack of community-based rehabilitation.

Meanwhile, there are organisations that help survivors of human trafficking form their own collectives and create SHGs and federations; and leadership is emerging from these groups. The volume of discussion on trafficking in the past two years is unprecedented.

The media and the parliamentarians are talking about it, and while it hasn’t yet become a mass issue, it is no more just a social sector issue. These are all positive developments, and herein lies the dream of making our societies free of human trafficking.

This story was originally published by India Development Review (IDR)

The post Human trafficking: A Disorganised Response to an Organised Crime appeared first on Inter Press Service.

Excerpt:

Uma Chatterjee is the co-founder and executive director of Sanjog, a technical resource organisation based in Kolkata

The post Human trafficking: A Disorganised Response to an Organised Crime appeared first on Inter Press Service.

by Uma Chatterjee at September 18, 2019 01:45 PM

Driving the grassroots green economy

Kathmandu at night

By GGGI
Sep 18 2019 (IPS-Partners)

Sonika Manandhar, Aeloi Technologies’ co-founder, knows the Kathmandu public transportation system inside out. Her family has been running micros (vans that operate as buses) as a business for over twenty years. She also insists on taking public transportation every day, although most of her peers in the technology industry rather save up and buy a motorbike. “Buses are just safer and more environmentally friendly,” says Sonika. “Unfortunately, all the buses, micros, and tempos stop after 8 pm. Then taxis or motorcycle hailing apps are the only options. I don’t feel safe with either, so I often miss out on networking opportunities or professional meetings over dinner,” she adds.

Sonika trying to negotiate with a taxi driver

Sonika’s frustrations inspired our team to dig deeper into the public transportation industry. We found out that Kathmandu is actually a green city pioneer, with over 700 electric minibuses, locally called safa tempos, that have been steadily servicing the city for 20 years. This industry is uniquely suited to Nepal because of Nepal’s immense hydropower potential, which is predicted to be sufficient for all electricity and fossil fuel use in the country by 2020. In particular, safa tempos are majority owned and operated by women, even though the rest of the public transportation sector is dominated by men. Aeloi’s team thought: what a perfect industry for us to start in!

A typical safa tempo which is an electric minibus that seats 11

Sachita is the owner and driver of her safa tempo

Aeloi Technologies – token powered finance

Aeloi is a fintech social enterprise in Nepal. We are making micro-impact investments accountable and accessible for green microentrepreneurs using digital tokens. Digital tokens are a flexible form of shop credit only usable at pre-vetted vendors. Our SMS platform doesn’t require smart phones or mobile data and is specifically designed for first time digital financial services users. We digitally link impact investors, local microfinance institutions, entrepreneurs, and vendors in real time, ensuring each dollar of investment is used productively.

Investments with an impact focus – such as subsidized loans, social impact bonds, or carbon offsets – are usually not “user-friendly” for microenterprises in emerging markets. Stringent reporting requirements means layers of management and high administration costs, rendering small investments unfeasible. Therefore entrepreneurs in the grassroots green economy are left behind in the move towards a sustainable future, as indicated by the US$2 trillion credit gap for 65 million emerging market microenterprises.

A problem of trust between lenders and borrowers, we believe, is the fundamental reason for the continued lack of affordable financing at the grassroots level. Aeloi’s digital token platform helps increase trust between lenders, borrowers, impact investors, vendors, and other stakeholders.

For example, an impact investor invests US$1 million into a microfinance cooperative in Nepal as a fixed deposit. The deposit generally earns about 12% interest per annum at such microfinance institutions. Then, 4% is returned to the investor, 4% is used to subsidize loans for microentrepreneurs, and 4% is Aeloi’s operations fee. The subsidized loan is issued in digital tokens, therefore ensuring the investment is spent on business expenses. A transparent record is automatically generated in real-time.

Green Energy Mobility (GEM)

Initial online research showed us that the number of safa tempos had not increased since the mid-2000s. Curious about the reason, we started interviewing a lot of safa tempo drivers and owners to understand their challenges. We found out that actually there are an estimated 100 safa tempos just sitting and slowly rusting in garages. It was a sad sight to behold.

Some garages had many safa tempos that sat rusting because of a lack of financing to buy batteries

The reason behind this is that one of the main challenges for safa tempo owners and drivers is to upgrade their battery and engine technology. For example, the owners often buy a pair of lead acid batteries that last only 1 to 1.5 years. This costs about US$4500. Lithium ion batteries that last 5-8 years are available and the technology is quite mature, but they cost almost US$10,000, which is completely out of reach for most women employed in the informal sector. So if an owner cannot afford a new set of batteries, they tend to leave the safa tempo at a garage because it is not worth the loan amount and interest rates. The interest rates can go as high as 26% p.a., depending on if the borrower has any collateral or credit history. If the owners have to take credit from loan sharks, then the interest rates are unpredictable and can go as high as 120% p.a. Often, they can’t access any loan, even with very high interest rates.

We believe our technology platform can help safa tempo owners and drivers. We envision a way to directly connect impact investors and customers to safa tempo owners and drivers through digital tokens. Not only will we help them access more affordable loans, we’ll also be able to help with the savings and repayment process. In addition, we’ll be able to use these digital footprints to create alternative credit scores for access to future loans if they want to expand their business.

With all of this information brewing in our minds, we reached out to the Electric Vehicle Association of Nepal and a safa tempo union to learn more about potential for partnership. We also started doing more customer market research, seeking companies that wanted to provide daily commute support for their employees, events that wanted to provide pooled transportation options for their attendees after 8 pm, and gated communities that wanted to provide transportation options to their elderly and children. We are continuing our customer interviewing process to make sure we can discover and target specific segments that will become our early adopters.

We are also engaging microfinance institutions and banks to see who would be interested in piloting digital token loans for safa tempo owners and drivers. The loans will be small at first to help with daily operations costs, which provides us data to construct an alternative credit score to ultimately access a loan for lithium ion batteries.

As a startup, we are continuously iterating to make sure our product truly addresses our stakeholders’ pain points. The Greenpreneurs program has been tremendously helpful in helping us carve out time to look at each part of our business from a holistic point of view. We also iterated on our business model to make our value proposition for each stakeholder stronger. We will continue to use the knowledge and skills we learnt from Greenpreneurs to move forward with our pilots.

Our vision is for detailed behavioural data from thousands of microfinance products to feed into our big data platform. In fact, we launched our agriculture product pilot, named ReGrow, two months ago and we are receiving very encouraging data. We will be launching our GEM pilot in October this year.

We are actively seeking impact investors who are interested in our model for partnership. Please reach us at hello@aeloi.com.

The global impact investing market was US$502 billion in 2018. Join us in helping grassroots green entrepreneurs directly access such financing!

 

Biography

Tiffany Tong (CEO) and Sonika Manandhar (CTO) are co-founders of Aeloi Technologies. They bring a combined 20 years of experience in fintech, international development, and computer engineering. While working with the World Bank and the Microsoft Innovation Center, they both graduated from the Singularity University based in Silicon Valley. Passion for using exponential technologies to improve livelihoods fuels their partnership. Aeloi’s mentors include advisors and staff from the Greenpreneurs program, Civil Society Academy (Welthungerhilfe), the UN Capital Development Fund, and the UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific.

The post Driving the grassroots green economy appeared first on Inter Press Service.

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