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June 20, 2019

Greece : Updates 19.6.19 , for anarchist comrades K. Sakkas and G. Dimitrakis

The justice ministry in good cooperation with the anti-terrorism is engaging in a strong war of nerves against our comrades.
Today the comrades K. Sakkas and G. Dimitrakis were transferred from the General Police headquarters to the Nigrita Serres prisons and Komotini prisons (North Greece) respectively, which are located many kilometres away from their places of residence, thus making contact with their relatives and visitors even more difficult.

In addition, when he arrived in Komotini (12 noon) comrade Giannis Dimitrakis is put in the prison isolation cell, initially without any justification, so he and his lawyer later received the “explanation” that the prison is full of prisoners and there is no room in the wing!

The comrade stated that he will not spend the night in the punishment cell and that in order to force him to do so, they must use violence against him.

We for our part will not sit hands folded waiting for the direction of the Komotini prisons to do the self-evident.



Translated from Greek by Act for freedom now!
via: mpalothia.

by actforfreedom at June 20, 2019 06:09 AM

Santiago of Chile – Fire, fire and memory of Mauricio Morales (12/05/2019)

‘We don’t withdraw: we are here. We don’t try: we can. We don’t beg: we steal. We don’t delete: we burn. We don’t wait: we are burning with impatience…
The Conspiracy will never be stopped because it is not only an organization but a flux of ideas, and ideas cannot be stopped…’
CCF Illegal Section
On the night of 12th May we gathered to conclude our mission. To remember, ten years after his departure, anarchist comrade Mauricio Morales, who died following the unexpected activation of the explosive device he was carrying early in the morning on 22nd May 2009. The device had the Chile gendarmerie training school as its sole target.  
To respond and contribute to the international call for action and propaganda in memory of Mauricio Morales….

We claim the fire on bus 103, at the crossroads between 5 de Abril and Calle Quemchi Villa Francia. Equipped with fuel and armed with pistols, we stormed the bus and made the passengers get off, because our goal was to set the vehicle on fire and not to hurt people. Let’s make it clear, our enemies don’t use Santiago suburban public transport.
Today we are affirming our will to fight, we are not prepared to give up one millimetre of our lives. We are armed because we believe in the clash, we are prepared to fend off any attempt at stopping us. If we use our weapons, they will run off.
We are aware that power and its apparatuses of order and surveillance have made their techniques more complex, have doubled their staff, patrols, cameras… But this has not been nor will it be a reason not to act. Precaution must never be a reason for not acting.
With this action we want to send a fraternal and warm hug to the Italian comrades recently sentenced: Nicola Gai, Alfredo Cospito, Marco Bisesti, Anna Beniamino, Alessandro Mercogliano. This is also for you.
To comrades Nikos Romanos and Konstantinos Yagtzoglou, who continue to resist with dignity in the prisons of the Greek state.
We don’t forget: Juan Aliste, Joaquin Garcia, Marcelo Villaroel, Alejandro Astorga, Juan Flores, Tamara Sol, the prisoners in Villa Francia and all those who day by day put themselves at stake for antagonist informal action. 
‘This is why I call you to gather together, the flag is already waving. IT IS BLACK.
The cry of vengeance is music sweet and dear. Today it is necessary to kill, to destroy… tomorrow we will be daisies’
Bruno Filippi
Translated by Act for freedom now!

by actforfreedom at June 20, 2019 05:59 AM


(en) Greece, AN ANARCHIST FESTIVAL IN EVERY CITY - report from the 5th anarchist book festival in Patras [machine translation]

"Anarchist books are a weapon against modern totalitarianism" ---- On 30-31 of May and 1 of June, the 5th anarchist book festival took place in the center of Patras city (in Esperos, King George's square). During these three days many people passed from the festival venue, where they came in touch with anarchist/radical books and they attended political and cultural events, in a particularly successful organization, both politically and organizationally, and at the level of address and acceptance. Thus, an area free from state and commodity was formed, a public space which was transformed into a meeting place for discussion, interaction and criticism. ---- As we have also mentioned in the political call: ---- "The aim of this festival is to bring out the wealth of anarchist, anti-authoritarian and libertarian concepts and diffuse anarchist ideas into society, ...

by A-infos ( at June 20, 2019 05:36 AM

(en) Britain, freedom news: Mutu: rethinking our radical media

The seriousness of our times hardly needs restating. In contrast to the temporary "tightening of belts" we were promised, we're now over a decade into what is increasingly being understood as a permanent austerity that the ruling class wanted all along, while Britain's biggest far-right demonstrations since the 1930s combine with Tory overtures towards overt white nationalists. ---- Yet on the other side, while the rise of Corbyn channelled energy away from the post-crisis student and anti-austerity movements into reanimating the corpse of social democracy, increasing dissatisfaction with Corbynism - and its promise of better-funded borders, increased police numbers, etc. - means that a return to extra-parliamentary working-class politics seems not just necessary, but inevitable. ...

by A-infos ( at June 20, 2019 05:36 AM

(en) France, Alternative Libertaire AL #295 - Campaign of actions, The nuclear exit network is reviving (fr, it, pt)[machine translation]

The Nuclear Exit Network, still weakened by the divergences that crossed it a dozen years ago, launches a campaign with a line of sight, an opposition to EDF projects to start the construction of a new generation of nuclear power plants. ---- The Nuclear Departure Network never really recovered from the crisis that rocked it in 2009-2010. Disagreements began with the so-called "Climate Ultimatum", signed by WWF-France, Greenpeace France, the Nicolas Hulot Foundation and Friends of the Earth, a call that "resented " an acceptance of nuclear power as an alternative to the effect greenhouse ». The differences of opinion of this call led to a blockage of the network. Since then, the network remains largely weakened. Although there are 110 groups and associations specifically antinuclear in France, only 34 of them would be up to date dues within the network. This situation is ...

by A-infos ( at June 20, 2019 05:34 AM

(en) France, - Communiqué of the Libertarian Communist Union (UCL) -- Greece: Fascist aggression against Yannis Youlountas (fr, it, pt)[machine translation]

A well-known libertarian activist, filmmaker and debater, our comrade Yannis was hospitalized after being molested by three neo-Nazis in Piraeus. ---- The Communist Libertarian Union learned this Friday, June 14, the aggression of our comrade Yannis Youlountas by neo-Nazis while leaving the self-managed social center " Favela " in Piraeus (Greece). Our thoughts of support are directly addressed to him and to Maud his companion and all his relatives, especially his comrades in the neighborhood of Exarcheia in Athens, a popular area and high place of social struggles where Yannis sits safely and where he treats his wounds, which are fortunately light. ---- We have often crossed the course of Yannis in the struggles that we lead. He tirelessly propagates through his interventions anti-capitalist and self-managing libertarian ideas by informing and ...

by A-infos ( at June 20, 2019 05:30 AM


Noam Chomsky discusses socialism, anarchism, and the fight for social change in U.S. politics today. This interview originally appeared in the Boston Review. ---- Scott Casleton: In the past you've suggested that the Democrats and Republicans aren't too far apart where it counts, such as in their support for corporate power. Do you still think this, or is the small but growing shift in the younger wing of the Democratic Party a promising sign of change? ---- Noam Chomsky: There have been changes, even before the recent shift you mention. Both parties shifted to the right during the neoliberal years: the mainstream Democrats became something like the former moderate Republicans, and the Republicans drifted virtually off the spectrum. There's merit, I think, in the observation by Thomas Mann and Norman Ornstein that increasingly since the Newt Gingrich years-and ...

by A-infos ( at June 20, 2019 05:30 AM

Publicación “Madre Tierra”, propaganda anárquica

(Hace unos meses circula por las calles una nueva publicación anárquica con la intención de aportar a la colectivización de ideas antagónicas al Poder. Al mes de junio son en total tres las ediciones que se han ido propagando por algunos territorios e instancias, siempre desde la calle, entre quienes con sinceridad compartimos un mismo horizonte y prácticas.
Periódicamente iremos subiendo los textos que han dado vida a esta nueva publicación, haciendo de nuestras ideas y tensiones elementos que se nutren en lo colectivo y no en su estancamiento, porque creemos que la propaganda es un arma y no un botín del cual aferrarnos.)
Editorial (Septiembre 2018)
De la lectura a la acción. De la lectura a la complicidad…
“Madre Tierra” es una publicación anárquica que busca analizar la realidad en la que nos desenvolvemos, como también puntualizar sobre temas trascendentes a cualquier coyuntura. Así mediante la colectivización de argumentos y visiones buscamos contribuir al debate y la discusión entre compañerxs anárquicxs.
Las ideas y prácticas que confrontan el mundo de la autoridad son el motor que impulsa el avance de la guerra social, están en constante tensión, combatiendo el estancamiento y el acomodo. Por ello, retroalimentarnos entre compañerxs nos parece de vital importancia y allí buscamos ser un aporte.

Madre Tierra, toma el nombre de una antigua publicación anárquica editada por Emma Goldman, Louise Berger y Alexander Berkman, que apareció en EEUU por primera vez en 1906. Mediante esta publicación se agitó contra las prisiones, la explotación del trabajo asalariado, las guerras capitalistas, el servicio militar, el patriotismo, etc.
La revista fue el vehículo para diferentes campañas de solidaridad, exigiendo la liberación de distintxs compañerxs en prisión, algunxs de ellxs condenadxs a muerte, también a través de sus páginas se agitó contra el militarismo y la enfermedad patriótica antes y durante la I Guerra Mundial.
Estas campañas que hoy pueden verse tan “inocentes” o simples, significaron amenazas y castigos para lxs compañerxs que elaboraban la publicación. Pero ante el peligro, decidieron no cesar en su labor, fueron perseguidxs, encarceladxs y finalmente expulsadxs de EEUU. Nos hermanamos con esa inquebrantable osadía de persistir.
Elegimos el nombre Madre Tierra, porque apunta hacia un horizonte de liberación total, donde nos asumimos parte de la naturaleza, sin una lógica antropocéntrica y jerarquizada, comprendiendo la Liberación de la Tierra como un aspecto inseparable de la Anarquía.
Madre Tierra además, trae implícito el mensaje contra las fronteras. La Tierra es una sola, con diferentes senderos y territorios, pero las fronteras y países solo son concepciones del mundo autoritario.
Como individuxs anárquicxs no reconocemos nada que provenga desde las lógicas autoritarias del Poder, sus banderas, escudos, culturas, deportes o fronteras no son nuestro lenguaje, ni elementos que nos entreguen un sentido comunitario, colectivo ni de pertenencia.
Las fronteras son funcionales a las pretensiones del dominio, y tras ellas se justifican guerras, invasiones, genocidios, saqueos, etc., hechos que responden solo a los intereses del capital y los poderosos. Dentro de las delimitaciones territoriales de una patria se erige un sentido nacionalista de gran importancia, donde la defensa exacerbada de una bandera provoca el odio al/la extranjerx o sentimientos de superioridad.
Todo esto solo perpetúa la existencia de la Autoridad y como anárquicxs avanzamos decididamente hacia la libertad absoluta, sin banderas, ni fronteras que coarten nuestro andar. Desde siempre lxs compañerxs se han encargado de levantar la práctica internacionalista para combatir el virus patriota, haciendo del apoyo mutuo y la solidaridad apátrida un conjunto de acciones contra todo parásito nacionalista.
Esta nueva publicación Madre Tierra nace con el interés de contribuir a que las ideas y prácticas anárquicas se expandan y contagien otras voluntades. Resulta vital la presencia constante de material de propaganda circulando por todos los rincones posibles, haciendo de la palabra uno de los vehículos más poderosos para la proliferación de sentires antagónicos al mundo de la Autoridad.
Si hoy podemos vivir decididamente con ideas, convicciones y valores que se han sostenido activos en diferentes épocas y lugares, es porque años atrás otrxs compañerxs se han encargado de propagarlos a través de los medios que han tenido al alcance, utilizándolos como un elemento más en el extenso abanico de herramientas dispuestas para la confrontación anárquica.
Ahí radica la mayor importancia de la propaganda, permitir la sobrevivencia de una idea de liberación total capaz de cruzar kilómetros y tiempos, que no se adecua a las comodidades que ofrezca el mundo del Poder, sino que al contrario, donde sea que esté, combate sin vacilación la maquinaria de la dominio.
Publicación Madre Tierra
Septiembre Negro, 2018
publicacionmadretierra (at) riseup (dot) net

by actforfreedom at June 20, 2019 05:28 AM

European Games Honest Tourist Guide for Belarus 2019

Tourist from around the Europe are expected to visit Belarus during European Games in Minsk. Official mascot “Lesik” is presenting several facts about Belarus that you won’t hear in tourist advertisements. Share the information and boycott the games organized in the dictatorship.

by Прамень at June 20, 2019 04:00 AM

Why I Am an Anarchist

From Dog Section Press By Benjamin Zephaniah

I got political after I suffered my first racist attack at the age of seven. I didn’t understand any political theory, I just knew that I had been wronged, and I knew there was another way. A few years later, when I was fifteen a marked police car pulled up to me as I walked in Birmingham in the early hours of the morning, three cops got out of the car, they pushed me into a shop doorway, then they beat me up. They got back into their car, and drove off as if nothing had happened. I had read nothing about policing policy, or anything on so-called law and order, I just knew I had been wronged. When I got my first job as a painter, I had read nothing on the theory of working class struggles or how the rich exploited the poor, but when my boss turned up every other day in a different supercar, and we were risking our lives up ladders and breathing in toxic fumes, I just knew I had been wronged.

I grew up (like most people around me) believing Anarchism meant everyone just going crazy, and the end of everything. I am very dyslexic so I often have to use a spellchecker or a dictionary to make sure I’ve written words correctly. I was hearing words like Socialism and Communism all the time, but even the Socialists and Communists that I came across tended to dismiss Anarchists as either a fringe group, who they always blamed if there was trouble on demonstrations, or dreamers. Even now, I just checked a spellchecker and it describes Anarchism as chaos, lawlessness, mayhem, and disorder. I like the disorder thing, but for the ‘average’ person, disorder does mean chaos, lawlessness, and mayhem. The very things they’re told to fear the most.

The greatest thing I’ve ever done for myself is to learn how to think for myself. I began to do that at an early age, but it’s really difficult to do that when there are things around you all the time telling you how to think. Capitalism is seductive. It limits your imagination, and then tells you that you should feel free because you have choices, but your choices are limited to the products they put before you, or the limits of your now limited imagination. I remember visiting São Paulo many years ago when it introduced its Clean City Law. The mayor didn’t suddenly become an Anarchist, but he did realise that the continuous and ubiquitous marketing people were subjected to was not just ugly, but distracting people from themselves. So more than 15,000 marketing billboards were taken down. Buses, taxis, neon and paper poster advertisements were all banned. At first it looked a little odd, but instead of either looking at, or trying not to look at advertising broads, I walked, and as I walked I looked around me. I found that I only purchased what I really needed, not what I was told I needed, and what was most noticeable was that I met and talked to new people every day. These conversations tended to be relevant, political, and meaningful. Capitalism keeps us in competition with each other, and the people who run Capitalism don’t really want us to talk to each other, not in a meaningful way.

I’m not going to go on about Capitalism, Socialism, or Communism, but it is clear that one thing they all have in common is their need for power. Then to back up their drive for power they all have theories, theories about taking power and what they want to do with power, but therein lies the problem. Theories and power. I became an Anarchist when I decided to drop the theories and stop seeking power. When I stopped concerning myself with those things I realised that true Anarchy is my nature. It is our nature. It is what we were doing before the theories arrived, it is what we were doing before we were encouraged to be in competition with each other. There have been some great things written about Anarchism, and I guess that’s Anarchist theory, but when I try to get my friends to read these things (I’m talking about big books with big words), they get headaches and turn away. So, then I turn off the advertising (the TV etc.) and sit with them, and remind them of what they can do for themselves. I give them examples of people who live without governments, people who organise themselves, people who have taken back their own spiritual identity – and then it all makes sense.

If we keep talking about theories then we can only talk to people who are aware of those theories, or have theories of their own, and if we keep talking in the round about theories we exclude a lot of people. The very people we need to reach, the very people who need to rid themselves of the shackles of modern, Capitalistic slavery. The story of Carne Ross is inspiring, not because he wrote something, but because he lived it. I love the work of Noam Chomsky and I love the way that Stuart Christie’s granny made him an Anarchist, but I’m here because I understand that the racist police who beat me have the state behind them, and the state itself is racist. I’m here because I now understand that the boss-man who exploited me to make himself rich didn’t care about me. I’m here because I know how the Marrons in Jamaica freed themselves and took to the hills and proved to all enslaved people that they (the Marrons), could manage themselves. Don’t get me wrong, I love books (I’m a writer, by the way), and I know we need people who think deeply – we should all think deeply. But my biggest inspirations come from everyday people who stop seeking power for themselves, or seeking the powerful to rescue them, and they do life for themselves. I have met people who live Anarchism in India, Kenya, Jamaica, Ethiopia, and in Papua New Guinea, but when I tell them they are Anarchists most will tell me they have not heard of such a word, and what they are doing is natural and uncomplicated. I’m an Anarchist because I’ve been wronged, and I’ve seen everything else fail.

I spent the late seventies and the eighties living in London with many exiled ANC activists – after a long struggle Nelson Mandela was freed and the exiles returned home. I remember looking at a photo of the first democratically elected government in South Africa and realising that I knew two thirds of them. I also remember seeing a photo of the newly elected Blair (New Labour) government and realising that I knew a quarter of them, and on both occasions I remember how I was filled with hope. But in both cases it didn’t take long to see how power corrupted so many members of those governments. These were people I would call and say, “Hey, what are you doing?”, and the reply was always something along the lines of, “Benjamin, you don’t understand how having power works”. Well I do. Fuck power, and lets just take care of each other.

Most people know that politics is failing. That’s not a theory or my point of view. They can see it, they can feel it. The problem is they just can’t imagine an alternative. They lack confidence. I simply blanked out all the advertising, I turned off the ‘tell-lie-vision’, and I started to think for myself. Then I really started to meet people – and, trust me, there is nothing as great as meeting people who are getting on with their lives, running farms, schools, shops, and even economies, in communities where no one has power.

That’s why I’m an Anarchist.


Benjamin Zephaniah is a writer, poet and anarchist. His Latest book is The Life and Rhymes Of Benjamin Zephaniah (Simon and Schuster).

by thecollective at June 20, 2019 12:09 AM

June 19, 2019

Anarchy Radio: 06-18-2019

06-18-2019 [audio] Some dates/anniversaries of note (e.g. 6-18-99 anarchist eruption in Eugene). Heat waves, permafrost going fast. Rhinos, seals, insects, etc. also going fast. Brain-eating amoebas in New Jersey. Shooting of the week, (Lion Share Fund) ad of the week. Grid ever more vulnerable, undependable. Time for healing? Resistance news. Virtual celebrity, health slippages. Tech companies to lose trillions soon to cool off servers. One call.


by thecollective at June 19, 2019 10:51 PM

InterPressService (global south)

Executive Director of the Geneva Centre: World society must not turn a blind eye to refugees in the Arab region

By Geneva Centre
GENEVA, Jun 19 2019 (IPS-Partners)

Ambassador Idriss Jazairy, Executive Director of the Geneva Centre for Human Rights Advancement and Global Dialogue, has appealed to international decision-makers to express greater solidarity to destitute refugees from the Arab region.

Ambassador Jazairy made this call of action on the occasion of the 2019 World Refugee Day which is observed annually on 20 June. The Executive Director of the Geneva Centre highlighted that there are more than 3 million refugees in the Arab region owing to the proliferation of conflicts and the rise of violent extremism and to the imposition of blockades. He said that the efforts of numerous Arab countries such as Jordan and Lebanon in hosting and in providing assistance to refugees stand out as shining examples of countries driven by the principles of international solidarity and justice. It serves as a source of inspiration for other regions witnessing much more modest inflows of people on the move such as in Europe, in the US and in Latin America, Ambassador Jazairy remarked.

In relation to the situation in Europe, the Executive Director of the Geneva Centre averred that the inflow of displaced people has been exploited by a populist tidal-wave fuelling xenophobia and in particular Islamophobia. In this regard, he highlighted that the refugee crisis is not a “number crisis” as European countries most hostile to the arrival of people on the move are those that have hosted the smallest numbers. “The current massive displacement of people worldwide has thus turned into a politicized crisis of solidarity, with closed border policies and the rise of xenophobic, populist trends that may impact adversely on the medium-term interests of their economies,” he said.

In this connection, Ambassador Jazairy expressed concern at a recent proposed draft decree by the Minister of Interior of Italy, Matteo Salvini, to fine organizations and individuals who attempt to rescue sea stranded refugees and migrants and even to revoke or suspend the licence of boats used by NGOs.

Ambassador Jazairy added that the refugee crisis is man-made, mainly triggered by decades of violence, conflict and war, and should be acknowledged as such, despite some political narratives seeking to externalize its causes and to obscure responsibilities. One of its many consequences – Ambassador Jazairy underlined – is social upheavals and mass exodus which have contributed to the extraordinary cohorts of people on the move that are left with no other option than to flee their home societies in search of better living opportunities.

In this connection, the Executive Director of the Geneva Centre appealed to decision-makers to restore peace and stability in the Middle East so as to cull the outflows of people in search of livelihoods and to enable destitute refugees to safely return to their home societies. This calls for – Ambassador Jazairy concluded – “a radical political change of approach in problem solving in the region and to phase out the use of foreign military interventions, respecting sovereignty, supporting democracy and human rights through peaceful means only.”

The post Executive Director of the Geneva Centre: World society must not turn a blind eye to refugees in the Arab region appeared first on Inter Press Service.

by Geneva Centre at June 19, 2019 03:37 PM


Why Bernie Talks About the New Deal

The pundits are puzzled that Bernie Sanders sees socialist values in the New Deal. They shouldn’t be. That’s how socialists around the world — and their enemies — saw it at the time.

alt President Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Rex Tugwell (left), a member of the New Deal brain trust, visiting the town of Greenbelt, MD in 1937. MPI / Getty

Many in the pundit class claim to be confused about Bernie Sanders’s big socialism speech. For one thing, what was Franklin Roosevelt doing in it?

“There’s something a little strange about saying ‘I meant socialism like the kind advocated by the guy who very explicitly and intentionally did not call his project socialism,’” MSNBC’s Chris Hayes said on Twitter, referring to FDR. Slate’s Jordan Weissmann expressed the same thought on his website’s What Next podcast. “Bernie now wants to talk about democratic socialism as the continuation of FDR’s legacy. And it’s kind of weird rhetorically. He’s sort of latched on to this identity as a socialist even as he’s just sort of a New Deal liberal.”

More sympathetic observers saw political logic in the move, even as they agreed it made no sense on a factual level. Jamelle Bouie, in a perceptive column for the New York Times, wondered why Sanders would attempt to — in Bouie’s words — “defend himself as a ‘democratic socialist’ by defining ‘democratic socialism’ as something that is not actually socialism.” He concluded that the Vermont senator, having spent so much of his life in socialist circles, is simply trying to “bring the term itself into the mainstream of American politics.”

That is surely true. But there’s another reason why Sanders points to the New Deal as an expression of socialist values: that’s how it was perceived by many observers at the time.

Some of these observers, of course, were reactionary Republicans. Senator John Bricker of Ohio, for example, the 1944 GOP vice-presidential nominee, liked to rant about how “Communist forces have taken over the New Deal.”

But they also included “progressive” Democrats like Al Smith, the Irish-American former New York governor, whose 1928 presidential campaign had mobilized millions of immigrant voters with its inclusive message opposing nativist bigotry. Smith was a lifelong Democrat, but like many leading Democrats today he felt distaste for “demagogues that would incite one class of our people against the other.” By the end of FDR’s first term, Smith had seen enough of the New Deal.

“Just get the platform of the Democratic Party, and get the platform of the Socialist Party, and lay them down on your dining room table, side by side, and get a heavy lead pencil and scratch out the word ‘Democrat,’ and scratch out the word ‘Socialist,’ and let the two platforms lay there,” Smith quipped in a 1936 speech. “Then study the record of the present administration up to date. After you have done that, make your mind up to pick up the platform that more nearly squares with the record, and you will put your hand on the Socialist platform. You couldn’t touch the Democratic.”

It wasn’t only red-baiting opponents of socialism who saw the resemblance. So did many socialists — including Norman Thomas, the longtime leader of the Socialist Party of America. In the words of his biographer, Thomas “viewed Roosevelt’s program for reform of the economic system as far more reflective of the Socialist Party platform than of his own [Democratic] party’s platform,” in particular its embrace of a shorter workweek, public works, abolition of sweatshops, a minimum wage, unemployment insurance, and old-age pensions. Though always highly critical of Roosevelt — who never embraced “our essential socialism” — Thomas acknowledged that FDR built a rudimentary welfare state by adopting “ideas and proposals formerly called ‘socialist’ and voiced in our platforms beginning with Debs in 1900.”

Nor was it just American socialists who saw the affinity. French prime minister Léon Blum — a genuine, red flag–waving, Marx-reading European socialist — was almost lyrical in his praise of Roosevelt. Elected in 1936 as the candidate of the French Section of the Workers’ International, in a coalition with the French Communist Party, Blum made no secret of the fact that he took the New Deal as his governing model: “Seeing him [FDR] act,” Blum said in a 1937 speech in Paris, “French democracy [i.e. the French left] has had the feeling that an example was traced for it, and it is this example that we wish to follow.” When Roosevelt won reelection, Blum rushed to the US embassy, where, according to the ambassador’s report to Roosevelt, he displayed “as genuine an outpouring of enthusiasm as I have ever heard….Blum himself said to me that he felt his position had been greatly strengthened because he is attempting in his way to do what you have done in America.”

Rank-and-file Communists shared that feeling as well. The historian Eric Hobsbawm, a lifelong member of the party who joined it in Berlin in 1931 and remained an active militant into the 1950s, recalled in his memoirs the admiration he and his fellow European Communists felt for Roosevelt:

In the 1920s and early 1930s America was a by-word for the hardfaced pursuit of profit, for injustice, for ruthless, unscrupulous and brutal repression. But F. D. Roosevelt’s USA not only disclaimed this reputation; it turned it sharply to the left. It visibly became a government for the poor and the unions.

What is more, Roosevelt was passionately loathed and denounced by American big business, that is to say by the very people who more than any others represented the evils of capitalism to us. It is true that, as usual, the Communist International, stuck in its ultra-sectarian phase, took its time to recognize what was obvious to everyone else and denounced the New Deal, but by 1935 even it had come round.

In short, in the 1930s it was possible to approve of both the USA and the USSR, and most youthful communists did both, as did a very large number of socialists and liberals. Franklin D. Roosevelt was certainly not Comrade Stalin, and yet, if we had been Americans, we would have voted for him with genuine enthusiasm. I cannot think of any other “bourgeois” politician in any country about whom we felt that way.

That so many observers saw a connection between socialism and the New Deal shouldn’t be surprising. In 1932, FDR was a fairly conventional progressive Democrat, but the wave of mass strikes that started in 1934 forced him to the left. By 1936, the newly formed industrial unions that grew out of those strikes had become the core of his political base, and most were led or had been organized by socialists and communists: Walter Reuther of the United Auto Workers, Sidney Hillman of the Clothing Workers, Harry Bridges of the Longshore Workers, John Brophy of the CIO. At the same time, thousands of socialist and communist experts flooded into the New Deal agencies, including the National Labor Relations Board and the Treasury, Agriculture, and Commerce departments.

In 1944, Roosevelt called for an Economic Bill of Rights: the right to a job and adequate income; to decent housing and medical care; to protection from the risks of old age and unemployment. As reform momentum in Washington slowed in the face of war and congressional conservatism, the CIO took up the mantle in its “People’s Program for 1944,” distributed in pamphlet form to millions of voters.

The CIO program laid out an aggressive social-democratic platform for postwar America: guaranteed full employment, progressive taxes, public works, day care programs, a national health insurance plan, and expanded old-age and unemployment insurance, all backed by price controls and “planning for plenty.” (Its civil rights program included voting rights guarantees for Southern blacks and a permanent federal job discrimination commission.) As the historian Isser Woloch has shown, the CIO program closely echoed the contemporaneous postwar programs of Britain’s Labour Party and France’s National Council of the Resistance — both written largely by socialists.

Utterly dependent on CIO support, Harry Truman’s 1948 presidential campaign — the last of the New Deal era — embraced the union federation’s rhetoric and program almost in their entirety, including a single-payer health care system, a full-employment guarantee, a higher minimum wage, and continued postwar price controls. When news of his victory reached London, the British Labour Party — “a Socialist Party, and proud of it,” in the words of its 1945 manifesto — released an exultant statement: “We are not suggesting that Mr. Truman is a Socialist. It is precisely because he is not that his adumbration of these policies is significant. They show that the failure of capitalism to serve the common man . . . is not, after all, something we invented . . . to exasperate Mr. Churchill.”

The same message came from the Labour Party’s internal left-wing dissident group, Keep Left (the “Bevanites,” followers of socialist leader Aneurin Bevan), which was otherwise bitterly critical of Truman’s emerging Cold War foreign policy: “The Fair Deal, backed by a politically conscious labour movement, is based on . . . moral principles which inspire our socialism . . . Over a wide field the Truman Administration and the Labour Government have the same interests and ideals — and the same enemies.”

The socialists who saw their likeness in the New Deal, it should go without saying, were hardly representative of socialism’s most radical currents. There were always factions on the left, including most Trotskyist groups, that could see no common ground between themselves and the patrician from Hyde Park. And Roosevelt, of course, never called for the collective ownership of the means of production (at least outside a few sectors, like rural electrification) let alone a dictatorship of the proletariat.

But real-life politics is more than just a battle of philosophical position papers about ultimate goals, and socialism, as Marx said, is about the “real movement” more than any blueprint for a distant future. Maybe it’s precisely the absence of a mass socialist tradition in this country that accounts for the pundits’ oddly rigorous and literal-minded definitions of socialism: in Britain, no one in the commentariat seems to question Jeremy Corbyn’s self-description as a socialist, though he’s not calling for wholesale nationalization either.

Republicans have spent decades ludicrously insisting that anyone to the left of Calvin Coolidge is a socialist. The Democrats, it now seems, want to claim that anyone to the right of Bob Avakian couldn’t possibly be one. When did the party of Joe Biden start sounding like a bunch of Maoist sectarians?

by Seth Ackerman at June 19, 2019 03:30 PM

InterPressService (global south)

SDGs, Currently Off-Track, Need Bold Decisive Action

Tariq Ahmad is Senior Policy and Research Advisor – Aid Effectiveness at Oxfam America

By Tariq Ahmad
WASHINGTON DC, Jun 19 2019 (IPS)

It has been four years since governments agreed on the most ambitious set of international commitments to fight poverty and inequality to date. The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), otherwise known as the Global Goals, are ‘a universal call to action to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure that all people enjoy peace and prosperity.’ The goals ambitiously aim to “Leave No One Behind.”

Cecilia, 43, and her grandchildren are pictured amongst drowned maize in the village of Malambwe, southern Malawi, on April 3, 2019. Cecilia farmed 1½ acres, but two thirds of her farmland was flooded, due to Cyclone Idai. Vegetables were washed away, interplanted between maize, which drowned. Cecilia’s house, where she lives with her six children and two grand-children, collapsed with flooding caused by Cyclone Idai. Credit: Philip Hatcher-Moore/Oxfam

Yet, 4 years into the SDGs, we starting to see that we’re quite off-track to achieve the goals and many are being left behind.

We need to see nations, civil society, the private sector and individuals monitor each goal in its own right, without failing to see how the goals – and these actors meant to address them – are all inherently connected.

But focusing just on the implementation of the goals and indicators is technical and only part of the formula needed to achieve the SDGs. More importantly, we also need to be honest about the real political challenges keeping us from achieving the goals.

We need bold, decisive action now – we have run out of time for platitudes and empty promises.

We are approaching a few key moments in the process – the High-Level Political Forum will bring key stakeholders together, July 9-18, and the 2019 UNGA will be a critical moment to check in on progress, and adjust course on the SDGs.

We have a lot of work to do to make sure the SDGs don’t fail – and everything at stake. We need to bring global leaders together to serious consider the commitments we made and ensure that UN forums are strengthened to be places for increased mutual accountability and political agreements.

And we must also watch as movements and issues evolve around us. The SDG’s must follow its track, but it must also be adaptable and react to these dynamic issues and actors driving them.

Oxfam is committed to further all 17 SDGs through its campaigning, advocacy and program work and will continue to challenge the status quo and to work with other CSOs and partners in order to help ensure the global community secures the will, means and mechanisms required to achieve the SDGs.

Civil Society Space

Effective realization of the SDGs depends on a free, vibrant, and protected civil society. Civil society is a key partner in ensuring success for the entire SDG agenda. If civil society is to be called up on to convene, lead and hold this process accountable, it must also be given the opportunities to do so, both in countries and in global decision-making bodies.

In many nations ostensibly signed up to the SDG’s, civil society space is shrinking. Civil society need resources and respect to uphold their crucial piece – without them this process will fail.


Gender issues must be considered in their own right, and they must also be factored in across each of the goals and issues. Women, just as men, must be able to lift themselves out of poverty and this can only happen through a full realization of their human rights and by ensuring gender equality.

The majority of people living in poverty are women and girls; with less income and fewer assets than men, they comprise the greatest proportion of the world’s poorest households, and that number is growing. Women are afforded less opportunities to make decisions about their futures, through policy or even in communities.

Evidence shows that unless the poorest countries can make huge strides in tackling both poverty and economic and gender inequalities, it will be impossible to meet global goals, and the SDGs as a whole will fail. This is yet another example of how all of these goals are inextricably linked – if women and girls don’t have a chance to realize their potential, no one will.

Chhatiya with her baby son at their house in Kaushal Nagar, Patna, Bihar. Her family of 6 belong to a marginalized group and live in a rundown house in Kaushal Nagar, an urban slum in Patna, India, which has no toilet or safe drinking water. The extreme gap between rich and poor is undermining the fight against poverty, damaging our economies and fuelling public anger. Yet inequality continues to grow and all too often it is women and girls who are hit hardest. Credit: Atul Loke, Panos / Oxfam

Tackling Inequality, Climate Change – and How to Pay for it all

In the last several years, inequality has risen on the international agenda, ranking regularly as a top risk in the World Economic Forum’s Global Risks Report. Fighting extreme inequality has become a widely cited cause and symptom of millions of people’s struggles and frustration.

Tackling economic inequality has also become a key principle in the development strategies of major institutions, including the IMF, the World Bank, the OECD and the UN, with a specific SDG 10 targeting inequality.

Oxfam has argued that extreme inequality impedes poverty alleviation, slows economic growth, compounds gender inequality, drives inequality in health and education outcomes, undermines economic mobility over generations, fuels crime, undermines social cohesion, and harms democracy.”

Climate change is another issue escalating in urgency both from institutions and thought leaders, as well as the general public. And, we are seeing more and more the connections being made between climate change, who is affected by it most, and who is contributing.

Climate change is at its core, a consequence of our deeply unequal global economy. The richest countries and people are overwhelmingly responsible for causing this crisis and often feel the least of its consequences.

It’s largely women and minorities on the front lines of extreme weather; with the lowest paid, least secure jobs; in unsafe housing, and without enough information or resources to prepare for or recover from disasters.

Tackling each of the SDG’s takes money, obviously, but four years after the world endorsed the goals and the Addis Ababa Action Agenda, there has been very little progress filling the SDG financing gap – leaving us without the resources necessary to achieve what we have set out to do.

But four years into this ambitious vision, financing levels mobilized are totally inadequate to implement the goals effectively. There is a reported gap of $2.5 trillion, and despite this, trends are going in the wrong direction.

Too many of the solutions governments propose, such as the reliance on private sector finance to close this gap, are not being realized. And many innovative financing proposals exaggerate and miscalculate their potential to meet the demands of those who are being left behind by the SDG agenda.

They in fact risk further increasing inequality at the very moment when inequality most threatens humanity’s progress. This financing challenge isn’t just about filling the financing gap. It’s also about taking concrete measures to make sure the right types of finances, the types of finance that help fight poverty, inequality, and gender inequality are being used.

Without financing and actions to improve the quality of that finance, we’re actually pushing some further into poverty, not just leaving them behind.

In order to meet the promises they set out in the SDGs, the world’s governments must use all available tools to mobilize additional resources. Tightening rules to prevent tax dodging at all levels could have a significant impact.

Fairer trade rules and labor rights are also important examples of where global collective action is needed to help rebalance the power and resources.

We must also continue to recognize the significant potential of aid, or Official Development Assistance (ODA), to reduce inequality both between and within countries, which will give countries more resources to meet all of the goals – not just those explicitly calling out inequality. This redistribution is not an act of charity, it’s a matter of justice that will help every country ensure a more stable, equal and safe future.

Looking Ahead

We need all people – wherever they sit on the geographic, gender, economic, age spectrum – to all recognize their role in this crisis and act accordingly. The SDG’s have the potential to be a powerful, game-changing agenda that can change countless lives.

But we can’t let ourselves believe that its current pace and results can have those effects – we need to hold the process and its leaders accountable, and we need this to be helpful guiding principles for real people’s everyday life-changing work to save our planet and give those who need it the tools to lead safe, healthy, fulfilling lives.

During the HLPF, UNGA, other summits and meetings, and every day in between, we need to see sweeping, committed and coordinated action from nations, leaders, companies and individuals to have enough impact to avert a true economic and climate crisis. We need to see action like our planet’s and billions of lives depend on it, because they do.

The post SDGs, Currently Off-Track, Need Bold Decisive Action appeared first on Inter Press Service.


Tariq Ahmad is Senior Policy and Research Advisor – Aid Effectiveness at Oxfam America

The post SDGs, Currently Off-Track, Need Bold Decisive Action appeared first on Inter Press Service.

by Tariq Ahmad at June 19, 2019 03:24 PM

Facing the front line: Iraqi journalists on safety training for reporting

في خط المواجهة: صحفيون عراقيون يتلقّون تدريبات على السلامة خلال ممارسة العمل الصحفي

يتعرض الصحفيون العراقيون للهجوم من جميع الجهات، ولهذا السبب، تم اطلاق سلسلة من برامج تدريبية حول السلامة خلال التغطية الصحفية في ساحات المعارك، ومكافحة التهديدات والأخطار اليومية في شوارع المدن. التقرير التالي من إعداد المدرّبة والصحفية لورا سيلفيا باتاليا

يقف الصحفي والمذيع التلفزيوني العراقي محمود الحسناوي في غرفة التدريب ثم يقول: “لأكون صادقاً معك، إنها المرة الأولى التي فهمت فيها الحاجة لوضع قواعد أمنية للصحفيين في هذا المجال. لم يخبرني أحد من قبل ذلك. عملت في تغطية ساحة المعركة ضد داعش مع الجيش العراقي عدة مرات، لكن كان لدي فقط سترة واقية من الرصاص وكاميرا. لو متّ، لم يكن أحد ليكترث”.

حسناوي هو صحفي عراقي شاب وموهوب من كربلاء، احدى أهم المدن في العراق وهي مدينة مقدسة لدى المسلمين الشيعة في البلاد. كان يعمل كمقدم في قناة كربلاء التلفزيونية، وفي أبريل ٢٠١٤ بدأ يفكر في الانخراط في التغطية الإخبارية لعمليات الجيش العراقي في خط المواجهة ضد داعش. بعد شهرين، قام بتغطية أحداث المعركة في بابل، قبل أن يذهب إلى الرمادي.

حضر الحسناوي دورة تدريبية مدتها خمسة أيام، أدارها المركز الإعلامي المستقل في كردستان، وهي واحدة من عشرات الدورات التدريبية المخصصة للصحفيين العراقيين في أربيل والبصرة وكربلاء. وتتضمن المهارات التي تغطيها الدورات تعلم كيفية تفحص البيئة المحيطة بحثًا عن مصادر الخطر، والتعرّف على أنواع الأسلحة من خلال صوت المقذوفات، واستخدام الدروع الواقية للبدن، واستخدام الانترنت المظلم للأمان، ومهارات القرصنة الأساسية. كما تعلم الحسناوي الإسعافات الأولية في ساحة المعركة. يقول: “الآن أعرف كيف أطبق التنفس الاصطناعي ووقف النزيف في حالة قام تنظيم داعش بإطلاق قنبلة في اتجاهي وسقطت جريحا”.

كصحفي مجهّز لتغطية المعارك، يمكن لهذا التدريب أن ينقذ حياته. مثلا، أثناء الاحتجاجات أو بعد التفجيرات الانتحارية، فإنه من المهم أن يعمل الصحفيون بأمان، ويقوموا باختيار أفضل الزوايا لالتقاط الصور، وكذلك تجنب الاعتقال أو الغاز المسيل للدموع أو انفجارات أخرى محتملة. يقول الحسناوي “مرّة وصلت الى منطقة الانفجار وتردّدت في الركض على الفور نحو السيارة التي كانت قد انفجرت للتو، كانت تلك الغريزة مفيدة لأنه وقع انفجار ثاني ولكن لم يكن أحد قد شرح لي من قبل أين يجب أن أتموضع في مكان الهجوم”.

كان الحسناوي واحدا من ٧٥ صحفي عراقي (١٥ في كل مجموعة) التحقوا بهذه الدورة في أكتوبر الماضي. في كربلاء، عبّر الرجال الثلاث عشر والامرأتان الذين حضورا الدورة عن حاجتهم لأن يتضمن التدريب أيضا الاضطرابات النفسية. وهكذا نظرت الدورة الى كيفية الحد من الإجهاد واضطراب ما بعد الصدمة والصدمة المنتنقلة. في نهاية الجلسات، دعا الصحفيون إلى التزام أقوى من جانب المنظمات الدولية بتقديم التدريب في العراق وبلدان أخرى بما فيها لبنان وتركيا والأردن.

أصبح التدريب على السلامة أكثر أهمية اليوم، حيث أدّى ظهور جبهة داخلية جديدة مع داعش الى قيام صحفيين محليين غير مدرّبين بمرافقة الجيش العراقي أو البشمرجة في كردستان العراق. يقول العديد من الصحفيين الذين تمت مقابلتهم إن تجاربهم في مرافقة (العسكريين) تضمنت نقلهم إلى الخطوط الأمامية من قبل الجيش العراقي لكن دون أن يعرفوا أين كانوا بالضبط وإلى متى كانوا سيبقون في تلك المناطق. كما أنهم لم يتلقوا أي تدريب على السلامة، ولم يفهموا كيف يجب أن تستخدم الأجهزة الإلكترونية في ساحة المعركة بأمان، ولم يوقعوا أبدًا على أي اتفاق مع الجيش. ويقول معظمهم أنه لم يكن لديهم سوى سترة خفيفة واقية من الرصاص، وأحيانًا كانوا يرتدون خوذة. لا يعرف الكثيرون كيف ينقذون حياة رفيق في المعركة كما أنه يوجد بين الكثير من الصحافيين جهل شبه كامل حول كيفية تشفير البيانات، فضلاً عن بعض التوجس من استخدام التشفير، خوفًا من أن يقوم الجيش أو الشرطة أو الميليشيات باتهامهم بالإرهاب.

طلبت منظمة النساء من أجل السلام، التي تعد جزءًا من مجموعة أكبر من المنظمات غير الحكومية المحلية بما فيها منتدى الصحفيات العراقيات، عقد دورتين تدريبيتين في بغداد، واحدة للصحافيين والناشطين في مجال حقوق الإنسان تحت سن الثلاثين؛ وأخرى للصحفيات. كما طلب كثير من الذين حضروا الدورات المزيد من التدريب المكثف.

هالة المنصور هي صحفية تبلغ من العمر ٤٠ عامًا من البصرة، وكانت من بين الذين حضروا الدورة. تردّدت في الأول بشأن التحدّث عن تجربتها ولكن في نهاية الدورة قالت: “لقد شهدت عمليات القتل في البصرة وقت الحرب. طلبت المساعدة النفسية التي تلقيتها بنجاح. الآن أحاول مساعدة النساء الأخريات اللواتي يجدن أنفسهن في نفس الوضع. المشكلة هي أن العراق يدخل في مرحلة سيئة أخرى وقد تعبت من الفساد في المجتمع والتهديدات ضد المدنيين والصحفيين. أريد أن أتعلّم كيف أدافع عن نفسي. “

تعمل المنصور، مثلها مثل معظم الصحفيين في ورشة التدريب، في وسائل الإعلام المحلية. أما المشاركين الأكبر سناً وأكثر خبرة في المجموعة فالعديد منهم كانوا يعملون كأدلّاء لوسائل الإعلام الدولية أثناء الاحتلال الأمريكي، أو خدموا كمترجمين مع القوات الأمريكية أو الجيش البريطاني خلال حرب الخليج الأولى. تم تهديد الكثيرين فيما بعد بوصفهم “متعاونين” وكانت معظم هذه التهديدات تأتي من الميليشيات.

طارق الطرفي، ٤٠ عامًا، كان أحد المشاركين الآخرين في ورشة التدريب وهو صحفي متمرس يعمل مع المدى بريس في كربلاء، وهو متزوج من زميلة له ولديه ولد صغير. ذهب الى الخطوط الأمامية للعمليات ضد داعش مرة واحدة فقط. يقول: ” أنا اقوم بتغطية الأخبار العاجلة من العراق ومن منطقة كربلاء منذ ٢٠ عامًا. لقد حضرت هذه الورشة لأنه في كل يوم يتعين علينا التعامل مع الميليشيات. داعش ليست المشكلة الرئيسية بالنسبة لنا “.

يلتزم الطرفي بالحيادية في عمله الصحفي في العراق. يقول “على الصحفيين أن يدافعوا عن الشعب العراقي، وليس عن اللصوص والمجرمين الذين يجلسون في البرلمان”. كما يزعم الطرفي إنه اختطف من قبل الميليشيات المحلية في عام ٢٠١٠، بعد أن “كتب مقالًا عن مسؤول سياسي محلي، منتقدا فشله في توفير الأمن في منطقة كربلاء”. اختُطف الطرفي من قبل مجموعة من السكان المحليين، واحتُجز لليلة واحدة في مكان سرّي، بعد أن تم تعليقه على السطح وتعذيبه. ثم أُطلق سراحه، بعد أن وعد باتباع ” سلوك أفضل “. ما زال يبتسم لكنه أصيب بصدمة.

يوجد عدد قليل جدا من الصحفيين المستقلين في العراق. ويظل من الصعب كسب الرزق كصحفي حر دون العمل في الشبكات العربية أو الدولية مثل الجزيرة أو العربية أو “فايس” أو “بي بي سي”. يتعرض الصحفيون الأجانب الذين يعملون في العراق أيضًا للعديد من التهديدات، وأحيانًا للاحتجاز، من قبل الشرطة أو الجيش العراقي. نادر دندون هو صحفي فرنسي أسترالي، وقد اعتُقل واحتُجز لمدة ثلاثة أسابيع في عام ٢٠١٣ بسبب قيامه بالتقاط صور فوتوغرافية في منطقة محظورة في بغداد. وتنظر الحكومة بعني الريبة الى تغطية موضوعات مثل الفساد والتلوث الناتج عن اليورانيوم المنضب والتهديدات ضد الصحفيين أو النشطاء المحليين، ولا تشجعها.

يواجه الصحفيون العراقيون المستقلون وضعًا أسوأ بكثير من وضع الصحافيين المستقلين من أوروبا وأمريكا الشمالية، وفقًا للجنة حماية الصحفيين. بحسب مؤسسة “روري بيك تراست”، التي تدعم الصحفيين المستقلين، فإن الصحفيين المحليين يواجهون إلى حد بعيد العدد الأكبر من التهديدات وهم يشكلون الغالبية العظمى من ضحايا جرائم القتل والسجن والاختطاف. وتدعو هذه المؤسسة الحكومات والمقاتلين والمنظمات في جميع أنحاء العالم إلى احترام حياد الصحفيين ووضع حد فوري لدائرة الإفلات من العقاب.

إذن، على المنظمات الدولية واجب قديم التدريب على السلامة للصحفيين والناشطين العراقيين في مناطق الخطر. إن مفتاح تشجيع حرية الصحافة في احدى أكثر الدول فسادًا في الشرق الأوسط، وفقًا لمنظمة الشفافية الدولية، هو دعم الناشطين والصحفيين الذين يريدون أن يكونوا مستقلين عن الأحزاب السياسية أو المصالح الطائفية.

لقد قام المجتمع المدني العراقي بتنظيم نفسه في جمعيات صغيرة، مثل المجموعات النسائية والنقابات ومجموعات النشطاء الإلكترونيين الذين يريدون جميعًا أن يكون لهم دور نشط في إدارة شؤون البلاد. هؤلاء الناس جميعهم بحاجة الى الحماية.

أحيانًا كمدربة على السلامة، أصادف صحفيين عراقيين يعتقدون أنهم لا يحتاجون إلى التدريب. الجواب المعتاد هو: “نحن لسنا في حاجة إليها. نحن عراقيون”. يظهر هذا التعليق صلابة أولئك الذين يبقون في العراق.

لكن العمل الصحافي المحلي ذات النوعية العالية هو أمر ضروري إذا أراد الشعب العراقي أن يعرف ما يحدث في بلده، ولكي يفعل ذلك يحتاج الصحفيون إلى حماية أنفسهم حتى يتمكنوا من أداء وظائفهم.

The post Facing the front line: Iraqi journalists on safety training for reporting appeared first on Index on Censorship.

by Laura Silvia Battaglia at June 19, 2019 03:13 PM

Joy Hyvarinen: The internet shouldn’t become a place just for pre-approved opinions

Under pressure to be seen to be doing something, the UK government has rushed out the proposals in the online harms white paper without thinking through the consequences. Index on Censorship’s Joy Hyvarinen explores.

Content bans won’t just eliminate “bad” speech online

Social media platforms have enormous influence over what we see and how we see it. We should all be concerned about the knee-jerk actions taken by the platforms to limit legal speech and approach with extreme caution any solutions that suggest it’s somehow easy to eliminate only “bad” speech. Those supporting the removal of videos [...]

The UK government’s online harms white paper: implications for freedom of expression

Parliament must be fully involved in shaping the government’s proposals for online regulation as the proposals have the potential to cause large-scale impacts on freedom of expression and other rights.

Joint letter to Information Commissioner on “age appropriate” websites plan

We write to you as civil society organisations who work to promote human rights, both offline and online. As such, we are taking a keen interest in the ICO’s Age Appropriate Design Code.

European Commission must mitigate concerns on automated upload filters

We consider that, in order to mitigate these concerns, it is of utmost importance that the European Commission and Member States engage in a constructive transposition and implementation to ensure that the fears around automated upload filters are not realized.

The post Joy Hyvarinen: The internet shouldn’t become a place just for pre-approved opinions appeared first on Index on Censorship.

by Joy Hyvarinen at June 19, 2019 03:09 PM

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by Stimulator at June 19, 2019 02:58 PM

InterPressService (global south)

An Economic No-Brainer: Empower Women, Empower Economies

Christine Lagarde

By Katja Iversen
NEW YORK, Jun 19 2019 (IPS)

As the first woman to lead the International Monetary Fund (IMF), and a leader in advocating for increased investment and action toward gender equality, Christine Lagarde helps Deliver for Good explore the steps needed to build sustainable financing & economic opportunities for girls and women.

Evidence shows that girls and women play a significant role in boosting economic growth, reducing inequality, and strengthening financial resilience for families and their communities. For example, when companies have a higher percent of women on their boards, it results in greater financial stability for their business. Research further reveals that when women have access to financial services, economic growth booms – creating a ripple effect benefitting entire families, communities, and countries, across generations.

Evidence like this forms the basis for the International Monetary Fund’s (IMF) commitment to identify the case for investing in programs and policies that prioritize girls and women. Now, the IMF is releasing several new reports to further demonstrate, and call for, strengthening women’s economic participation and leadership within sectors. It isn’t just the right thing to do, it’s the smart thing to do with significant social and economic returns on investment.

In this conversation with Katja Iversen, President/CEO of Women Deliver, Christine Lagarde, Managing Director of the IMF, sheds light on the importance and urgency of investments that advance gender equality and equity for girls and women around the world. As the first woman to lead the IMF, and a leader in advocating for increased investment and action toward gender equality, there is no one more qualified to help Deliver for Good explore the steps needed to build sustainable financing for girls and women.

Katja Iversen: As part of its core mandate, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) works to help countries build and maintain strong economies. How do girls and women factor into this mission, and how does the IMF put this into action?

Christine Lagarde: Empowering girls and women can be critical to economic development in countries.

    The IMF has found that the positive economic effects of greater gender equity cover several crucial dimensions of an economy’s performance. It can boost growth, reduce income inequality, help economies diversify their exports, and partly mitigate the economic effects of demographic change. Therefore, even besides the obvious moral and social dimensions, empowering women is an economic “no-brainer.”

An economy should work for women—helping, not hindering.

As well as conducting research in these areas, the IMF has increasingly taken gender considerations into account in our policy advice, programs, and capacity development. For example, since 2015 we have actively incorporated gender analysis and advice in 39 of our annual economic health-checks with member countries, known as Article IV consultations. We are now moving to incorporate gender analysis and advice into broader country work.

IMF-supported programs have contained measures to help empower women economically. With the Jordanian authorities, for instance, we have discussed reforms to help women including more flexible working hours, greater access to childcare, and more efficient and affordable public transport. Under its IMF-supported program, the Egyptian government has increased funding for public nurseries and other facilities to help women seeking work.

Our capacity development work has included training courses, technical advice, and peer-learning workshops with country authorities. These have covered areas such as gender budgeting, which seeks to understand the impact of fiscal policies on gender equity goals.

Katja Iversen: Research shows when women have the opportunity to participate in the formal labor force and have an income, it increases their influence and decision-making power within their families and communities. It also shows that women to a larger extent reinvest their earnings in their children’s health and education, creating a ripple effect that benefits future generations. Beyond the social benefits, can you also expand on the economic benefits of empowering girls and women?

Christine Lagarde: Empowering women can transform lives and society. Women’s empowerment can strengthen an economy in several ways—greater gender equity can support growth, social inclusion, and economic resilience.

A recent study by IMF found that the macroeconomic benefits of greater gender inclusion are actually even greater than previously estimated.

It looked at the economic consequences that men and women bringing different skills and ideas to the workplace can have. Because of these differences, men and women actually complement each other, creating more value than if workplaces were less gender diverse. As a result of such complementarities, raising women’s participation in the labor force – including in leadership – can bring greater gains than raising male participation.

    It is estimated that if a country with a 30 percent gap between women’s and men’s labor force participation could close that gap, then GDP would increase by 25 percent. Between 3 and 7 percentage points of that rise in GDP would be from productivity gains caused by greater gender diversity.

It is important to note as well that men would stand to win—because higher productivity would help to increase men’s wages.

This kind of research provides the IMF – and decision makers at large – with a robust analytical foundation on which to make the case with our member country authorities that empowering women truly matters not only from a moral perspective but from an economic one too.

Katja Iversen: Despite the fact that we know women’s participation in the economy drives both social and economic benefits, women continue to face a range of barriers – legal, social, and cultural. For example laws that prevent women from opening bank accounts or social norms that place women primarily in the informal, unpaid care sector. What solutions/recommendations can the IMF and financial institutions provide to tackle these barriers?

Christine Lagarde: IMF research shows that when legal barriers are removed, women’s participation in the workforce increases. In half of the countries studied, when gender equity was reflected in the law, women’s participation in the labor force increased by at least 5 percentage points in the following five years. The IMF highlights these legal barriers and their economic costs in our discussions with member country governments.

Aside from removing legal obstacles, the IMF regularly offers recommendations on other ways to help women participate in the economy.

    In many advanced economies, our advice to governments tends to focus on how women can juggle work and family life—including ensuring parental leave provisions, affordable and high-quality childcare, and tax policies that do not penalize secondary earners (who are usually women).

In many emerging and developing economies we emphasize education. Gender gaps in education can be reduced through higher public spending on education, better sanitation facilities, reduced teenage pregnancy rates, and delaying the age of marriage.

It is evident that women are making economic contributions that often are not reflected in the official statistics. For example, women carry out the majority of care work—work that they are often not compensated for financially and for which they may not receive necessary support. The IMF is working on a paper on the value of unpaid care work too help inform this debate.

Lastly, we emphasize the need for greater financial inclusion of women because improving access to finance, including by women, has major macroeconomic benefits. This year, for the first time, we released gender-disaggregated supply-side data on financial inclusion though the IMF’s Financial Access Survey (FAS) which highlighted factors that help to close the gender gap in financial access, such as simplified deposit accounts regulations. The FAS has also identified lack of gender-disaggregated data in many countries. We will continue to work with country authorities to improve the availability and comparability of financial access data.

Katja Iversen: From borrowers to regulators, there are relatively few female leaders in the financial sector. We have heard you champion the importance of gender balance and diversity on boards of financial institutions by explaining that it “will perhaps lead to better decision making and fewer unnecessary risks.” You are the first woman to serve as Managing Director of the IMF. Why does this matter and what are some key actions that can be taken to move toward gender parity at all levels in the financial sector?

Christine Lagarde: Globally, women hold less than 20 percent of board seats in banks and bank supervision agencies and account for less than 2 percent of bank CEOs. Interestingly, many developing economies have higher shares of women on bank boards and banking supervision boards compared to advanced economies.

Research reveals that greater shares of women on bank boards and banking supervision boards are associated with greater bank stability. Banks with higher shares of women leaders have higher capital buffers and lower non-performing loans ratios. Banking systems with more women on supervisory boards are less likely to get in distress.

What can we do to help more women succeed in finance? It is important to repeatedly emphasize to young women that banking isn’t solely a “man’s job.” Strong female mentors are valuable, as are further efforts to make work environments more women-friendly, including through flexible working practices. As an industry, the financial sector is lagging behind on that front.

    More broadly, not just in finance, I used to think that there should not be quotas, but I have changed my mind on that. To work, quotas should be distributed along the hierarchy of a company, and there needs to be a pipeline from which women are selected.

Katja Iversen: How did you become a passionate advocate for gender equity?

Christine Lagarde: Gender equity is a personal and professional passion of mine. As a child, my parents were loving and supportive, which gave me confidence. I also took some risks. When I was 16, my father had just passed away, and I took an American Field Service scholarship to study in the U.S. I was away from my family when we were grieving. I stayed with a host family, and I am grateful to my mother for having encouraged me to take this risk. It is at times like these when you absorb, digest, and enrich yourself. So, you could say that I grew up as an independent young woman.

Despite this, I was aware of the glass ceiling, particularly when I began my legal career. At one of my first job interviews with a major law firm, I was told that, as a woman, I would never make partner. I left the interview and looked elsewhere, but the experience was a stark reminder of discrimination, and there would be other episodes throughout my career.

When I became Managing Director of the IMF in 2011, I began to see gender equity through an additional prism, which is that it also carries large, and potentially transformative, value in economic terms. During my visits to IMF member countries, I have met many inspirational women from all walks of life, and they have really helped to sustain my passion for gender equity, offering a constant reminder that behind all the analysis and advice there are people whose lives can be transformed.

This story was originally published by Deliver for Good

The post An Economic No-Brainer: Empower Women, Empower Economies appeared first on Inter Press Service.

by Katja Iversen at June 19, 2019 02:52 PM

Channel Zero

“No God Nor Country” Album Announcent & Kickstarter Pre-order

This post was originally published on this site

Pre-order here via kickstarter

No God Nor Country
is Sole and DJ Pain 1’s third album. Its a record about carving out a meaningful life of joy and resistance in uncertain and oppressive times. Since their last album, sole had a kid, bought a farmhouse in Maine, and Pain 1 also bought a house, as his career as an educator, producer and music mentor continues to accelerate. Over the last few years, the pair has recorded dozens of songs, thrown away all the songs that weren’t poignant or musically solid enough and kept the best songs, the songs that speak to most to the current state of affairs.

This record is a major step forward for their song writing, production and overall aesthetic, and while the record has strong anti-authoritarian themes it also explores existential questions: what it means to be a parent, the emptiness of fame and careers, what resistance means amid everyday life. Although the album title is an expression of atheism and anarchism, the album is more of a testament to fighting for liberation and fulfillment while living in uncertain times.

The precarity of the music business is a major theme of this album and albums past, and fittingly, all of Sole and Pain 1’s albums have been DIY releases without investors, large labels or PR machines behind them. Both musicians handle the heavy lifting and deliver the music directly to the listeners, without whom these albums would literally not exist.

Do you want to help get this album out? An act as simple as a pre-order can cover the manufacturing costs, the creation of the record, the production of videos, the mixing and mastering and publicity. If they exceed the initial pre-order goals it will give this record– their strongest, most timely and possibly most important album yet– the fighting chance it needs to reach more listeners in a world of noise.

by Sole at June 19, 2019 02:16 PM

"No God Nor Country" Album Announcent & Kickstarter Pre-order

No God Nor Country is Sole and DJ Pain 1’s third album. Its a record about carving out a meaningful life of joy and resistance in uncertain and oppressive times. Since their last album, sole had a kid, bought a farmhouse in Maine, and Pain 1 also bought a house, as his career as an educator, producer and music mentor continues to accelerate. Over the last few years, the pair has recorded dozens of songs, thrown away all the songs that weren’t poignant or musically solid enough and kept the best songs, the songs that speak to most to the current state of affairs. This record is a major step forward for their song writing, production and overall aesthetic, and while the record has strong anti-authoritarian themes it also explores existential questions: what it means to be a parent, the emptiness of fame and careers, what resistance means amid everyday life. Although the album title is an expression of atheism and anarchism, the album is more of a testament to fighting for liberation and fulfillment while living in uncertain times. The precarity of the music business is a major theme of this album and albums past, and fittingly, all of Sole and Pain 1's albums have been DIY releases without investors, large labels or PR machines behind them. Both musicians handle the heavy lifting and deliver the music directly to the listeners, without whom these albums would literally not exist. Do you want to help get this album out? An act as simple as a pre-order can cover the manufacturing costs, the creation of the record, the production of videos, the mixing and mastering and publicity. If they exceed the initial pre-order goals it will give this record-- their strongest, most timely and possibly most important album yet-- the fighting chance it needs to reach more listeners in a world of noise.

by james holland at June 19, 2019 02:16 PM

Soft Steps & Solid Heart at Rhoby’s Ranch

CVM sheep

Despite numerous farming and crafting projects, from fiber to culinary, Rhoby’s Ranch is not hectic. There is a serene quality in the air. Everyone is working together: the sheep, the geese, the dog, the shade tree, the hugelkultur, the hedgerow, the grasses and microbes, the soil — and everyone helps each other work.

by Marie Hoff at June 19, 2019 01:23 PM

Are independent judiciaries in jeopardy latest Index on Censorship magazine asks

Judged: How governments use power to undermine justice and freedom. The summer 2019 edition of Index on Censorship magazine

In a world when journalists are operating in increasingly harsh and difficult conditions, and are hit by lawsuits to stop them doing that, they need lawyers independent enough to stand up with them in court. This is an issue that the latest edition of Index on Censorship magazine looks at in detail.

“While at a conference, I spoke to journalists under extreme pressure. They told me: ‘When the independence of the justice system is gone then that is it. It’s all over.” We need to make a wider public argument about the importance of the judiciary. It’s something we should all be talking about in the local cafe. The average citizen needs to be vigilant to make sure the line between those making the laws and those sitting in judgement is not blurred. Our fundamental rights depend on it,” Rachael Jolley, editor of Index on Censorship, said.

In the latest magazine we look at a global phenomena where powerful governments are trying to unpick the independence of legal systems, to bring them under more direct influence, and the implications for global freedom of expression and freedom of the media.

With contributions from Kaya Genc in Turkey; Stephen Woodman on the Mexican government’s promises to rebuild the pillars of democracy and what hasn’t happen; Jan Fox on Donald Trump’s trampling of democratic norms; Karoline Kan on China’s retaliation against lawyers who argue for human rights, Caroline Muscat on independent news in Malta, Melanio Escobar and Stefano Pozzeban on Venezuela’s abuse of judicial power, Viktoria Serdult on how the Hungarian prime minister is pressurising independence in all its forms, Silvia Nortes on the power of the Catholic church in increasingly secular Spain.

In China, hundreds of human rights lawyers are in prison; in England and Wales, it has become more of a financial risk for ordinary people to go to court; in Brazil, the new president has appointed a judge who was very much part of the election campaign to a super-ministerial role. In Turkey, the Erdogan government is challenging the opposition candidate’s win in Istanbul’s mayoral elections. Hungary’s Orban has been set out plans to introduce new types of courts under the nose of the EU (although there appears to have been a U-turn).

We have an exclusive interview with imprisoned author and journalist Ahmet Altan, who was accused of inserting subliminal messages in support of the attempted July 2016 coup into a television broadcast and was sentenced to life in prison, told us: “I came out against the unlawful practices of both the era of military tutelage and that of the AKP [the ruling Justice and Development Party]: I believe I am a target of their anger.” The issue also includes the first English translation of an extract from his 2005 novel The Longest Night.

“Ahmet’s case is a perfect illustration of what can happen when the rule of law and courts are aligned with the political will of an increasingly authoritarian government,” Jolley commented.

About Index on Censorship Magazine

Since its establishment in 1972, Index on Censorship magazine has published some of the greatest names in literature including Samuel Beckett, Nadine Gordimer, Mario Vargas Llosa, Hilary Mantel and Kurt Vonnegut. It also has published some of the greatest campaigning writers of our age from Vaclav Havel to Amartya Sen and Ariel Dorfman plus journalism from Mexico, Argentina, South Africa, China, India, Turkey and more. Editor Rachael Jolley was named British Society of Editors’ editor of the year in the specialist publication category (2016) and the magazine has received numerous awards including the APEX Award for Excellence and the Hermann Kesten prize.

With each new issue of the magazine, an archival issue will become available for students, researchers and supporters of free expression. The four latest issues of the magazine are available for purchase in print or digital formats via SAGE Publishing, bookshops and Exact Editions.

Subscription information

Annual digital subscription (four issues) £18

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Annual print subscription (four issues) £35

Four high-quality print editions delivered to your door

Available at these bookshops

BFI, Serpentine Gallery and MagCulture (London), News from Nowhere (Liverpool), Home (Manchester) and Red Lion Books (Colchester).


  • iPad/iPhone £1.49 (USD $2.90) per issue
    • Buy one or more issues. Download the preview app (21 pages of latest issue for free), free upgrade the preview app to a 30-day subscription.
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The post Are independent judiciaries in jeopardy latest Index on Censorship magazine asks appeared first on Index on Censorship.

by Index on Censorship at June 19, 2019 01:21 PM


The SPD Must Change Course or Die

The Social Democrats’ subordination to Angela Merkel has brought the German center-left to its knees. If the party wants to stop its voters from fleeing to the Greens and the far right, it needs to decide what side it’s on — and fight for it.

alt German chancellor Angela Merkel and vice chancellor, Olaf Scholz (SPD), arrive for the weekly government cabinet meeting on January 30, 2019 in Berlin. Michele Tantussi / Getty

Germany’s oldest political party, the Social Democratic Party (SPD), is today trapped in a seemingly irreversible downward spiral. The party’s latest calamity came at the end of May, as it slumped to a crushing defeat in the European elections. After the results came in, leader Andrea Nahles announced her resignation, explaining that she would be departing the political stage in order to make way for “renewal” at the top of the party. With the loss of yet another short-lived leader, a three-person commission has now taken the reins while the SPD plots what to do next.

Nahles is just the latest casualty of a deeper crisis in the SPD, as the party struggles to shore up its weakened brand or appeal to an increasingly alienated electorate. As other ideas for reviving the party flounder, SPD elites have floated the idea of a membership-wide ballot to choose the next chairperson and perhaps even a co-chairpersonship split between a man and a woman. But with the party still caught in a grand coalition with Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats (CDU) and its leadership largely populated by out-of-touch careerists and bureaucrats, it seems unlikely that merely cosmetic changes will lift the party out of its rut.

However, the SPD is not simply a monolith, and a minority of party functionaries are pressuring the leadership to take bolder, more radical action. One such figure is the Social Democratic member of parliament Hilde Mattheis. Having joined the party as a schoolteacher in the 1980s, she spent years active at the local level in her hometown of Ulm, rising up the ranks of the SPD women’s organization before entering the state leadership and becoming a member of parliament in 2002. From the outset a sharp critic of the party’s turn to the center, since 2011 she has served as chairwoman of the “Forum Demokratische Linke” (DL21), the main current representing the SPD’s left wing.

Mattheis spoke with Ines Schwerdtner and Steve Hudson of the podcast about the debates currently raging in the SPD, the struggle to renew the party’s internal democracy, and the crucial role the wider membership can play in reviving the German left.

Hilde, what’s the state of the SPD right now?

Hilde Mattheis

It’s really quite tragic. It seems like we’ve made every effort to bring about our own downfall and have now basically perfected it. I’m being blunt, because right now I don’t see a way out. The debates kicking off now — some calling for a membership-wide vote on the new leader, others for a co-chairpersonship — I think they’re all too shallow. We need a more comprehensive response. I don’t even feel confident saying the SPD needs a clear political profile, given that all previous attempts to develop one have flopped.

In my eyes, the track we have gone down as a party is already so well-worn that we can’t turn around. I don’t see any easy answers right now. Rather, I have the impression that the party has a long, hard road ahead of it. More than anything, the important thing now is that the local and regional chapters get involved and demand more influence. The glass ceiling that’s separating the party elite from the broader membership has to be shattered.

Wouldn’t a membership-wide vote be a first step? Even that would be revolutionary for the SPD.

Hilde Mattheis

I’m not opposed to the membership-wide vote. But based on my experience, I think a lot of people believe that it represents the answer to all of our problems. This kind of easy solution doesn’t exist anymore.

Then what should we do? I welcome the vote, because even the referendum on the grand coalition with Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union (CDU) after the 2017 election led to a small revival and lots of new members. They were of course disappointed that they had no more involvement after that. But we at least have to demand that people should be able to join and vote.

Hilde Mattheis

We have to work on that, because it’s about actually being able to decide. The vote alone is perhaps a small sliver of hope, but it has to mean that actual policies are up for debate and members are involved in an ongoing way. Will we have party leaders who embody and represent the membership’s political demands? The leadership has to be scrutinized so that it doesn’t slip back into the same direction as recent years.

Someone who’s been opposed for decades to the neoliberal labor reforms involved in Agenda 2010 and Hartz IV would probably be a better fit than someone who just started thinking that way a few days ago, right?

Hilde Mattheis

Exactly. That’s why I say people have to come after the policies. We need people who represent crystal-clear policies.

You could almost say that the interim three-person leadership, and all the debates about striking a balance between the party’s different wings, are really a distraction from the real changes needed?

Hilde Mattheis

The co-chairpersonship might look revolutionary at first glance, but it’s still too narrow. After all, we already had “debate camps” in recent years where discussions were held. But in the end what happens is that the only thing discussed was the party executive’s main policy paper. If that’s the case, the co-chairpersonship doesn’t give us anything.

So, we can talk of a democratization of internal party structures. But what, in your eyes, are the new political positions that are needed? When I spoke at an SPD debate camp about class politics, the debt brake [a constitutional limit on state borrowing introduced in 2009], and appealing to working-class milieus, people looked at me like I was crazy. What issues are the left wing of the party emphasizing?

Hilde Mattheis

Our points are pretty close to what you just described. The whole issue of distribution justice and sustainability must be core planks of our renewal. This can’t be done in just a few weeks or months, but it’s important that in the years to come we work on rebuilding trust. What I mean by that is when a political issue becomes a hot topic, the SPD’s position is reliable, the SPD’s answer is predictable.

Let me give you an example: the issue of asylum and refugees. In fact, on this very topic, the SPD just passed a stricter immigration law. It has to become clear again that we won’t let anyone drown in the Mediterranean, that we support rescue programs, and that we can be relied on to take such a stance.

We claim that compromises are unavoidable in a grand coalition. But that’s precisely the problem: for it means that you can be sure that we will engage in this kind of political calculation, but you can’t be sure about our policies. That has eroded the public trust in the SPD down to the bare bones.

The SPD publishes a lot of position papers on these issues for voters to read. But when you look at the reality — with the right-wing Seeheimer Kreis current on one side and the Parliamentary Left on the other, though both voted in favor of the grand coalition — a lot of people get the feeling that the leadership likes to talk left, but when push comes to shove they’re more than happy to strike compromises. How could the left wing of the party organize to take power? You’re still a minority in the parliamentary group, after all — or is that changing?

Hilde Mattheis

I can’t tell yet, but roll-call votes always show who positions themselves and how. In that regard I think we as DL21 have an important job in parliament, but it’s more important that the local chapters and members become more influential. They should nominate the candidates. The members have to become aware of their power again and assert it within the party.

That’s something the SPD forgot a long time ago: we don’t just want to be right, we want to win. I’m quite active in Momentum in Britain’s Labour Party, which taught us that the struggle for leadership also has to be organized.

Hilde Mattheis

The membership should feel confident enough to ask party leaders: how did you vote? Members of parliament and delegates need to be held accountable.

But what other political points need making? There’s obviously the self-destructive policy of the leadership. As members, we hung up posters that said “Tax Google and Co.”, but our finance minister, himself an SPD member, just blocked precisely such a tax in Brussels. You already mentioned sea rescue of refugees. What else?

Hilde Mattheis

We have to go back to a fair distribution of financial resources, through taxation. We are one of the wealthiest countries on Earth, and yet still we have some of the greatest wealth inequality. The health care system cannot be subjected to further privatization.

We’ve lost touch with the promise of sharing prosperity. We have never had such an extreme divide between rich and poor in this country as we do now. These are injustices that we can’t just gloss over or reassure ourselves about by invoking growth statistics. We’ve utterly lost our political bearings.

The biggest tragedy is that after pushing this kind of policy for twenty years, the SPD itself is largely responsible for neoliberalism. Do you think it will take another twenty for the SPD to re-social-democratize itself? The way you’re talking, it sounds like there’s a very long road ahead. Sometimes there are windows of opportunity for left-wing politics, like what’s arguably happening with the Labour Party or Bernie Sanders, where things can move pretty fast. Do you see anything like that coming about in Germany?

Hilde Mattheis

Even these two examples remain under severe threat. They represent two iconic figures that are on the right path, yes, and their success would also help us a lot. But the window of opportunity remains open. And experience shows that to really, deeply change politics we need ongoing grassroots work — and neither Corbyn nor Sanders is in power yet. I do think a comparable figure in Germany would be very useful, but we need many, many, many people like that to really change things.

Many of the current elites were socialized to believe that parties could be run like businesses. A lot of people have forgotten that a political party represents a shared understanding about how society should function and constitutes a labor of love. Thus, it will take a while to push back against this kind of thinking.

The iron law of oligarchy, I guess. But the SPD is at 12 percent in the polls right now — surely, even cynical careerists must see the need to change course?

Hilde Mattheis

Yes, but too many still think: “No matter how big the SPD island is, at least I’m still on it.” And as long as there are so many who think that way, we’ll continue to sink.

It seems like now sea levels are really starting to rise, even for those people.

Hilde Mattheis

by Hilde Mattheis at June 19, 2019 12:54 PM

Transition Towns: An Evolutionary Perspective

Transition US

It’s been said before, but these are truly the best of times and the worst of times. More frequent natural disasters, supercharged by climate change, as well as the ongoing circus in Washington, are waking more and more people up every day to the realization that we can no longer afford to be merely passive consumers of somebody else’s products.

by Don Hall at June 19, 2019 12:44 PM

Alberta Imposes New Fracking Restrictions Near Dam after Quakes


In a significant development, the Alberta Energy Regulator has acknowledged that hydraulic fracturing operations can impose high risks to critical infrastructure such as dams, an issue of growing concern at British Columbia’s Site C mega-project on the Peace River.

by Andrew Nikiforuk at June 19, 2019 12:39 PM

12 Rules for What podcast

A podcast about fascists, nazis, and far right, from the perspective of the left.

by Ed at June 19, 2019 12:10 PM


Tenants Won This Round

Last week, New York tenants overcame the state's powerful real-estate lobby to win a historic package of renter protections. Next stop: universal rent control.

alt A woman walks down a street on February 27, 2014 in Fort Greene, New York. Spencer Platt / Getty Images

Last Friday, when New York’s expanded rent regulations were signed into law, was not the first time I’d seen tenants cry at the state capital. For a very long time, the state capital building in Albany was the place where New York’s renters suffered crushing legislative defeats. Then, for a few years, it was where we made incremental progress, too small and too slow to beat back the rush of gentrification and displacement encouraged by rental deregulation. Last week’s gathering to celebrate the historic expansion of rent stabilization, rent control, and anti-eviction measures, however, was the first time I’d ever seen tenants in the state capital crying tears of joy.

It was a powerful moment, in every sense of the word: it held tremendous emotional power, and it was also a striking expression of tenants’ power. This victory was decades in the making, and therefore its realization was thanks in large part to tenant leaders who have fought for stronger rent laws for all those years. Some of them were there on Friday, including many friends, comrades, and former co-workers of mine. Many more did not live to see this day, including countless tenant activists who died along the way — often prematurely, undoubtedly due in part to the poor housing conditions they struggled against in their lifetimes. The tears, then, were tears of joy and mourning, exhaustion and relief, and endurance and excitement for all the work that is yet to come.

What Was Won

Listing everything included in the Housing Stability and Tenant Protection Act of 2019 could take a while. It’s a big law — seventy-four pages of dense legal text — and so tenants, landlords, and lawyers are still poring over the details to understand each of the clauses and look out for any surprises. Some of its provisions address specific ways tenant protections have been weakened over the past forty years, and roll back those landlord victories in meaningful ways. Other aspects of the bill are altogether new, and strengthen the rent laws beyond their original scope.

Rather than recount every provision, here are some of the highlights:

  • Rent regulation is now a permanent feature of New York’s housing law, rather than one that expires periodically and needs to be renewed. In the past the New York tenant movement has generally fought against moves to make the law permanent because it was so flawed, and each renewal would prompt another opportunity to mobilize for their improvement; with rent regulations now significantly expanded, this laws’ indefinite tenure is generally seen as a major achievement for tenants.
  • Rent stabilized apartments will no longer be eligible for deregulation simply because they cross a certain rental rate upon vacancy. Of equal importance, the law also removes what tenants called the “eviction bonus,” or an up to 20 percent increase every time an apartment turned over. When combined, the eviction bonus and vacancy decontrol created a strong incentive for landlords to churn through tenants and exit the regulatory scheme; this opportunity for landlords is now foreclosed.
  • The law also makes it more difficult for apartments to exit rent stabilization through three other means: “owner occupancy,” conversions, and nonprofit use. In the past, landlords have been able to claim — often fraudulently — multiple apartments within a building for their own or their family’s use, and in so doing remove them from rent stabilization; the new law limits this practice to one apartment per building. Rent stabilized rental buildings used to be eligible for conversion into condos or coops if just 15 percent of tenants bought in; now that percentage has been raised to 51 percent, and additional protections have been added for rent stabilized, senior, or disabled tenants who remain in buildings that undergo a coop or condo conversion. Building owners who offered apartments to homeless people used to be allowed to take those units out of the rent stabilization system; the new law closes this nonprofit loophole, providing additional security to formerly homeless tenants and keeping those units in the regulatory system.
  • For the past sixteen years, in places where legally permissible rents for rent stabilized apartments had outpaced market rates, landlords could opt to charge tenants a lower “preferential rent.” Upon lease renewal, however, the landlord could raise rents all the way up to the maximum legal rent, thus forcing tenants to move. Roughly a quarter of rent stabilized tenants — me included — fell into this category, which made our tenancy and rent protections highly precarious. The new rent laws make the “preferential rent” permanent as long as the tenant remains in the apartment, thus providing a great deal more stability to hundreds of thousands of renters.
  • In the past, due in large part to pro-landlord amendments to the rent laws, tenants have had to pay a permanent and painful rent increase for work done on their building or apartments — known as Major Capital Improvements (MCIs) and Individual Apartment Improvements (IAIs). Sometimes these were important upgrades, but other times they were pointless schemes to raise rents. In either case, tenants paid too much, and for too long. The new law lowers the percentage landlords can raise rents, and puts a thirty-year cap on these payments.
  • New York’s rent regulations include two types of apartments: rent stabilized (the vast majority, almost one million apartments) and rent controlled (a small minority, approximately twenty-two thousand apartments). The arcane formula for rent controlled apartments’ rent increases permitted rent hikes far higher than those for rent stabilized tenants; meanwhile, almost all rent controlled residents are seniors living on fixed incomes. The new laws ensure that these tenants no longer see rent increases higher than their rent stabilized neighbors, and are spared the onerous “fuel pass-along” that they alone had to endure.

While the previous reforms have impacted tenants in rent stabilized and rent controlled apartments — a significant group, given that they make up roughly half of New York City’s private rental market — others affect all tenants across the state.

  • The bill takes on the “tenant blacklist,” a list of names of tenants who have been to housing court either as defendants or plaintiffs, which landlords and brokers have used to discriminate against tenants with any kind of court record. It is now illegal for court systems or their contractors to sell such data, or for landlords to refuse tenancy after consulting such records.
  • Landlords can no longer charge more than one month’s rent as a security deposit, and new measures have been added to help tenants get their deposits back after leaving an apartment.
  • Unlawful eviction is now a crime, and new protections have been added to prevent landlords from “retaliatory evictions,” or evictions based on tenants’ complaints or organizing. Tenants now have additional time to find a lawyer, fix conditions that violate their lease, or raise money to pay owed rents, and courts now have more opportunities to stay evictions.

Perhaps most important of all, the new laws expand regulatory rent protections to a new group of tenants and an expanded geography.

  • Tenants living in mobile/manufactured homes — a growing area of speculation for predatory investors, who are buying up parks and lots and raising tenants’ rents and fees — have a slew of new protections, including limits on rent increases and new anti-eviction protections.

Whereas New York’s regulatory system has previously been available only to tenants in New York City and suburban Nassau, Westchester, and Rockland counties, the new law removes these geographical restrictions and allows municipalities statewide to declare “housing emergencies” and opt in to rent stabilization. In those areas, apartments constructed before 1974 and containing more than five units will go under rent stabilization. This will be crucial in addressing the affordability and eviction crisis that plagues upstate cities, towns, and villages.

What’s Left Out, and What’s to Come

While the 2019 rent laws are thus historic, they are not everything the tenant movement demanded. Specifically, one major aspect of “universal rent control” is missing, and another was negotiated down.

Absent from the bill is the “good-cause eviction” provision (language I can’t help but put into quotation marks because poverty should not be considered good cause for eviction). This bill would have provided significant protections to non–rent stabilized (or “market-rate”) tenants, including a right to guaranteed lease renewal and a cap on rent increases. Such a reform would have not only protected millions of tenants statewide, but would have helped unite different categories of tenants. It also would have empowered more non-stabilized tenants to join organizing campaigns without fear of being denied a renewal when their current lease expires. This was probably the most controversial tenant movement demand, and it was ultimately excluded from the final legislation.

Renters were also demanding that MCIs and IAIs be abolished altogether. Instead, the law lowers the allowable rent increase and stretches it out over thirty years. This was a major win, but not everything the movement demanded.

One common chant at rallies leading up to this June was “All Nine Bills!” This slogan referenced the nine legislative demands made by the Housing Justice for All campaign, a coalition of over seventy organizations from across the state demanding “universal rent control.” The bill that passed last week contains something like seven and a half out the nine bills, or 83 percent of the coalition’s demands. It’s not universal rent control since it doesn’t provide lease renewals and rent caps to all tenants, but it’s an enormous step in that direction.

Now that the rent laws are permanent, tenant organizations are already making plans for the next legislative session, in which the demand for “good cause eviction” protections will be a top priority.

The movement is also gearing up for a major fight around enforcement. The agency tasked with enforcing New York’s rent laws — Homes and Community Renewal — is perpetually understaffed, under-budgeted, and technologically deprived. Now that agency is going to be busier than ever, which means they’ll need a whole lot more resources, as well as greater enforcement power and oversight.

Finally, the tenant movement is preparing for ideological battle against landlord logic, pervasive not only among building owners but also much of the media covering housing and the neoclassical economists they often turn to for analysis. Landlords and those carrying their water claim that rent control in general — and this bill in particular — deprives supposedly struggling landlords of the funding necessary to invest in their buildings. This could generously be termed horseshit.

Owners of rent stabilized buildings are not at all in the situation faced by the New York City Housing Authority, which has been systematically defunded by the federal government over the past thirty years. New York City rents — even stabilized rents — are more than high enough to cover maintenance and taxes; the bill retains landlords’ ability to completely recoup the cost of building investments, and make a 5 to 6 percent return on top of ordinary rents and their annual increases. If this demotivates landlords from investing in their buildings, it is only because they are engaged as a class in a slow-motion capital strike, in which they let their buildings deteriorate in order to extort higher rent increases out of the Rent Guidelines Board and/or more permissive laws from the legislature.

Similarly, developers are complaining that the law removes their ability to decontrol some very expensive apartments while also receiving an obscene tax break; this is a nonsense argument premised on the idea that private developers should be twice rewarded for building luxury properties — first with a tax break, then with endlessly escalating rents.

This ideological and rhetorical back and forth about the merits of rent control has already begun, and much more is on the horizon — as well as a probable landlord lawsuit, electoral challenges, and counter-legislation. There is therefore much to prepare for, and much more of a fight to come.

How Tenants Won

For years, activists and scholars will be reflecting, studying, debating, and — in all likelihood — fighting about what was and was not achieved in June 2019, and how it all happened. From this early vantage, three elements seem crucial to understanding how this victory was achieved: 1) decades of tireless tenant organizing from long-established groups; 2) extra pressure and organizing power from insurgent groups; and 3) a new set of legislators in power with allegiance to tenants and their movements.

Day in and day out, New Yorkers have been organizing at every scale — the household, the building, the block, the neighborhood, the borough, the city, the metropolitan area, the state, the region, the nation, and the globe — for their housing. This organizing has taken place through informal community networks as well through individual tenant associations, but it has also been taken on by citywide groups like Tenants & Neighbors (where I once worked as an organizer then served as a board member) and the Metropolitan Council on Housing, as well as tenant organization in the suburbs and upstate.

Those groups, along with many others — including smaller but no less longstanding or effective neighborhood-based organizations — have been organizing in buildings and pushing legislators for a very long time, and helped build up the movement infrastructure necessary to achieve wage this legislative fight. For this round of struggle, the established tenant organizations took a more intentionally geographical approach to organizing, and formed the Upstate-Downstate Tenant Alliance, which worked to ensure that various regions — not just New York City — saw their housing needs addressed by the legislation. This was crucial in assuring that rent regulation and anti-eviction measures were not framed as “downstate problems.”

On top of this long-term organizing by established political actors, radicals grouped into multiple different formations, acting independently, and working as members of long-standing tenants’ organizations contributed toward this victory. The biggest and most visible component of this bloc was the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA), whose New York branches and members contributed countless hours to canvassing efforts, but they were certainly not alone. Members and branches of a constellation of radical organizations, including anti-gentrification groups and tenant unions organizing outside the nonprofit infrastructure, contributed in various ways, building up the militancy of the movement and the radicality of its demands.

Finally, and perhaps most obviously, this legislative victory could not be achieved without a change in the legislature. In the last statewide election cycle, New Yorkers — including the DSA, tenant organizations incorporated as 501-c4s (and thus eligible to do electoral work), and the No IDC NY coalition (formed to take down the so-called “Independent Democratic Caucus”) — organized to primary a slew of Democrats who were holding up rent law reforms and other items on the left legislative agenda. Their victories resulted in not just a functional Democratic majority in the state senate, but a group of reformers in office with strong allegiances to tenants and the tenant movement. Many of them had forsworn contributions from the real estate industry, and were thus harder for the landlord lobby to capture in an effort to block or water down the bill.

While some might give greater weight to one of these factors over the others, it seems unlikely that this victory would have been achieved without all three. As Tom Waters, a housing policy analyst at the Community Service Society and veteran tenant activist, summed it up, “To me the big thing is the convergence of long haul organizing and fast political opportunity seizing.”

Why Rent Control Matters

Though the expansion of the rent laws fell short of universal rent control, this legislation is nonetheless a major victory over the real estate industry and a blow to the real estate state. Landlords and developers have fought for years to weaken tenant protections, and now their fortunes are turning. Of course real estate remains the dominant strain of capital in state politics, but strengthening the rent laws shows that they are vulnerable, and that they can in fact be defeated. That alone should jump start our political imaginations to consider what else tenants can achieve, and what it would take to win more. In the meantime, it is worth reflecting on why rent control matters to our movement.

Rent control (or, in New York’s case, rent stabilization) is often thought of as a tool for securing housing affordability. It most certainly is that — in New York City, median regulated rents are about 25 percent lower than unregulated rents, and median incomes for rent stabilized tenants are a third lower than market-rate tenants. By closing several loopholes in the existing law, the new legislation will help keep those apartments relatively affordable and slow the rate of rent increases.

It will also make it harder for speculators to make a killing off of the rent gaps exhibited by rent stabilized apartments. It has become increasingly common for predatory equity firms to buy up rent stabilized buildings and complexes at severely inflated prices, under the assumption that they could exploit the old rent laws’ weaknesses to raise rents, churn through tenants, and deregulate the apartments. That business model took a major hit last Friday, when many of the key mechanisms for rent increases were diminished or disappeared, and decontrol was eliminated altogether. The law does not, however, roll back rents — something the various Rent Guidelines Boards are empowered to do, but never have — and so many tenants are still paying way too much for their homes.

Even with overinflated rents, rent control is also a way of creating stability in tenants’ lives. It ensures that people can keep living where they want to, rather than living at the whim of a landlord who may or may not offer them a chance to stay another year (or even another month). This bill expands the stability rent stabilization offers beyond its current geographical boundaries, and out into the rest of the state. This will be particularly important to tenants in cities like Albany, Newburgh, and Rochester, where tenants are obscenely rent burdened and forced to move (either by eviction, rent increases, or simple failure to offer a lease) at a terrible clip.

By deepening and expanding rent protections, the new laws deepen and expand the possibilities for tenant organizing. This could be the longest lasting impact of the new rent laws. Rent regulated tenants are in a much stronger organizing position than those in market rate arrangements. When lease renewals are guaranteed and rent increases are limited to specific amounts under specific conditions, landlords cannot easily retaliate against tenants who join with their neighbors to demand better conditions or take political action to weaken real estate power.

Being a rent regulated tenant also puts you in political community with millions of others in a similar housing arrangement, and allows for people to join together and raise their collective voices. By making these protections more meaningful and — crucially — by expanding access to these protections to tenants across the state, this legal change creates a historical opportunity for state-wide housing organizing, which can bring together tenants in hyper-invested cities and deeply disinvested cities, both of which face tremendous housing pressures for working class renters. This in turn can add momentum to rent control campaigns around the country.

Rent control has one other additional function of crucial importance to the Left, though it’s not as often discussed as rent control’s effects on housing affordability, stability, and organizing capacity: rent control helps de-couple public investment from rent increases, and thus shifts the political terrain for urban planning. In a largely deregulated rental market, public actions to improve urban space (such as transit expansions, park improvements, better schools, or new housing construction) are quickly translated by nearby land and building owners into inflated housing costs.

Landlords thus reap the economic benefits of social investments, while tenants pay a higher premium to enjoy them or are displaced from their neighborhoods altogether. Under universal rent control, landlords could not raise rents simply because public actions made the space more enjoyable or desirable. The link between the social benefits of public investment and the private interests of real estate capital would be severed, enabling working class residents not only to advocate for better planning and services, but to do so with the security that they could remain in their homes to enjoy those social goods.

Rent control is not the decommodification of housing, though it does make predatory investments less lucrative; it is not community control or public ownership, though it does exert public pressure over private landlords’ rent-gauging tendencies. While it may not be a socialist housing program in and of itself, it is certainly a crucial element of an anticapitalist urban agenda, as it cools the speculative housing market, and provides the stability tenants need to organize and take collective action.

We’re not there yet; in fact, we’re still pretty far from universal rent control, even in New York. We need to keep fighting for the elements of the legislative agenda not included in the final bill, including most immediately “good cause eviction” protections, and we need to fight to expand the types of buildings covered under the law. On top of universal rent control, we need to fight further for a socialist program that includes fully funded public housing, community land trusts, limited equity cooperatives, and other forms of decommodified housing.

The struggle continues. Last Friday may have been the first time I witnessed tenants crying tears of joy at the state capital, but if the movement can maintain its momentum it surely won’t be the last.

by Samuel Stein at June 19, 2019 12:04 PM

Amsterdam: SADC demands eviction Lutkemeerpolder

This thursday june 20th, there will be summary proceedings on the Lutkemeerpolder (at 9.30 am, Parnassusweg, Amsterdam). On that day, the project developer, (employed by the municipality (*), who wants to turn the expensive Lutkemeerpolder into a grey business park), filed a lawsuit. It is demanded that the Gardens of Lutkemeer be evicted and that no one be allowed to enter the site for two years.
This is the next step towards starting the construction activities. When those building activities begin – by driving trucks with construction sand out of the polder, it will become permanently unusable for (organic) agriculture. So even if they then decide not to cultivate the polder, irreversible damage will have occurred. Moreover, there is a motion from the city council that they may only start preparing the land if there are also demonstrable customers for the piece of land in question.
The lawsuit is on Thursday 20 June at 9:30 am at Parnassusweg 220 in Amsterdam. Come and take your ID with you otherwise you may not come in. Prepare yourself for upcoming actions. And come along every weekend at the Gardens of Lutkemeer.


The Lutkemeerpolder is a 45 ha agricultural area near Osdorp. The polder is also home to the Boterbloem, an organic farm. In 2009, the then Groen Links alderman Maarten van Poelgeest, together with the VVD deputy of North Holland, Ton Hooijmaijers, presented a plan to build the entire polder for a SADC business park. Hooijmaijers was later sentenced to more than two years in prison for corruption, and the Lutkemeerpolder was one of his small businesses. But in spite of this, the plans went ahead. As if there was no corruption and as if no climate disaster had erupted in the meantime, and we do not realise with the whole of Amsterdam that this kind of green pearl should no longer be thrown out of the window for corporate profits.

Both the Boterbloem and the Lutkemeerpolder as a whole have made great alternative development plans, as an alternative to yet another area for companies and multinationals. SADC has already developed many other business parks with our tax money, which are half empty waiting for another 24-hour open McDonalds (no joke, that’s their last customer on the business park next to Lutkemeer).

See Plan Biopolder:
and Plan Akkerpark:

(*) Officially, the interlocutory proceedings are brought by GEM-lutkemeer. This was set up by the municipality of Amsterdam to manage the land. Developer Schiphol Area Develepmont Company (SADC) in turn consists of municipalities Amsterdam, Haarlemmermeer, NH province and the Schiphol Group. Politically, the City of Amsterdam and Groen Links alderman Marieke van Doorninck are the ones who are pushing the project.
Read here the hilarious summons, which states that the area occupied by opponents of the industrial estates has been used, among other things, to have a brass band play on it.

More info here:

Some squats in the Netherlands:
Some squats in Amsterdam:
Groups (social center, collective, squat) in the Netherlands:
Events in the Netherlands:


by fawda at June 19, 2019 12:00 PM

Monitoring and Advocating for Media Freedom methodology

How does Monitoring and Advocating for Media Freedom work?

The project relies on a network of independent journalists who monitor local news sources, speak to individuals involved in the situations and interface with journalist unions to understand the facts of the situation and help put the press freedom violation in a larger context.

Correspondents, who are each responsible for a particular country, submit narrative summaries of the facts of the situation to a research editor, who works with the correspondent to verify the information. The narrative reports are then published in summary form in periodic roundups of developments. Once monthly, a themed article is published highlighting a particular aspect of press freedom drawing on the submitted narratives. Periodically reports summarising the issues for a particular country are published to highlight the situation for journalists on the ground.

Who is a journalist?

Monitoring and Advocating for Media Freedom defines a journalist a person who gathers, assesses, verifies, organises, and presents news and information, via print, digital or broadcast media; who holds government, business, and other institutions and authorities accountable; who provides citizens with the information they need to make the best possible decisions about their lives, their communities, their societies, and their governments; and who puts the public good above all else, without regard for the political viewpoint of the outlet.

What is a press freedom violation?

Monitoring and Advocating for Media Freedom defines a “press freedom violation” against a set of categories to help understand the incident and place it in a larger analytical framework.

For example, a journalist barred from reporting in a country’s parliament; a reporter injured by police or demonstrators at the site of a protest, despite presenting press credentials and identifying safety gear. An independent journalist refused entry to a press conference because of material they had previously published. Press freedom violations can take many different forms and the above examples are just a small sampling.

How does Monitoring and Advocating for Media Freedom evaluate press freedom violations?

Each narrative report that is sent to Monitoring Media Freedom is run against a set of categories to place it in a larger context and allow for analysis.

  • Limitation to Media Freedom
    1. Death/Killing – Media worker killed as a result of their work
    2. Physical Assault/Injury – Media worker subjected to violence as a result of their work  
    3. Arrest/Detention/Interrogation – Media worker arrested, detained or called in for questioning as a result of their work
    4. Criminal Charges/Fines/Sentences – Media worker charged in connection with their work
    5. Intimidation – Media worker (and/or their family/friends) menaced as a result of their work
    6. Blocked Access – Media worker prevented from covering a story or speaking to a source; media worker prevented from entering a place/institution/country
    7. Attack to Property – Media worker’s computers, cameras or other tools damaged while on assignment; media worker’s home or vehicle sabotaged as result of their work; media office sabotaged
    8. Subpoena / Court Order/ Lawsuits – Media worker sued as a result of their work; Media worker ordered to court; This would also include SLAPP suits where a journalist is targeted with legal action. Libel, defamation suits:
    9. Legal Measures – Legislation or court rulings that directly curtail media freedom
    10. Online Defamation/Discredit/Harassment/Verbal Abuse – Media worker harassed, bullied, threatened, ridiculed online (via email/social media/website comments/on forums)
    11. Offline Defamation/Discredit/Harassment/Verbal Abuse  – Media worker harassed, bullied, threatened, ridiculed verbally, in a public or private setting
    12. DDoS/Hacking/Doxing – News site or journalist targeted with or without violation of privacy
    13. Censorship — Journalist’s material altered, removed or spiked
      1. Previously published work substantially edited or removed from public access
      2. Journalist’s work altered beyond normal editing or withheld from publishing
      3. Commercial interference: Threats by companies to pull adverts over coverage; Pressure from media owners; Bribing journalists, editors or media outlets to publish fake news or favorable coverage about a company
      4. Soft censorship: indirect government pressure on media groups through advertising decisions and restrictive legislation;
      5. Self-censorship: Journalist says they have not reported on a subject because of pressure or fear
      6. Loss of Employment: Journalist fired, suspended, or forced to quit their job because of their reporting
    14. Other Serious Issues — other cases that don’t fit into existing categories
  • Source of Violation
    1. Employer/Publisher/Colleague(s)
    2. Police/State security
    3. Private security
    4. Government/State Agency/Public official(s)/Political party
    5. Court/Judicial
    6. Corporation/Company
    7. Known private individual(s)
    8. Criminal organisation
    9. Another media
    10. Unknown — any other type. If the abusing party is known but there’s also an unknown mastermind, we use two categories – the one that applies to the known party, and Unknown.

State security v freedom of the press: Protecting sources does not mean journalists are pro-terrorism

In discussing the scope of the recent Counter-Terrorism and Border Security Act 2019, international human rights lawyer Alex Bailin QC called the powers created by the new legislation “breathtakingly broad.”

Blogger and human rights defender Ismail Nalgiev extra-judicially deported from Belarus

On 8 May 2019 the Belarussian authorities ordered the extra-judicial deportation of Russian blogger Ismail Nalgiev after his arrest in Minsk Airport. Nalgiev was preparing to travel to Prague, but was detained by border guards at the airport and told that he was on the Russian Federation’s wanted list

The post Monitoring and Advocating for Media Freedom methodology appeared first on Index on Censorship.

by Index on Censorship at June 19, 2019 11:42 AM

Mass Movement and the “Femininization” of Agriculture

Gender and agroforesty

Van Noordwijk is one of the foremost researchers when it comes to investigating the interplay between climate change and human movements, oftentimes through the lens of agroforestry.

by Gabrielle Lipton at June 19, 2019 11:23 AM

Global Inequality in a Time of Climate Emergency

Global climate map

If we had to choose one voice, one single slogan, to represent the pivot we’re now passing through, as Wen Stephenson suggests in the Nation, we might well pick the Czech playwright and ex-president Vaclav Havel and his notion of “living in truth.”

by Tom Athanasiou at June 19, 2019 11:01 AM


People Are Taking Emotional Support Animals Everywhere. States Are Cracking Down.

People Are Taking Emotional Support Animals Everywhere. States Are Cracking Down.
More Americans are saying they need a variety of animals — dogs, ducks, even insects — for their mental health. But critics say many are really just pets that do not merit special status.
By Farah Stockman
Jun 18 2019

A 26-year-old Starbucks barista in the suburbs of Tampa known as Vayne Myers has suffered from anxiety ever since he was a child. A co-worker suggested he try an emotional support animal.

So Mr. Myers bought a duck and named it Primadonna. The snow-white bird has worked wonders for his state of mind.

“Whenever I felt like I didn’t matter in the world,” he said, Primadonna would waddle over and remind him that “something does love you.”

But Mr. Myers’s landlord objected, and demanded proof that Primadonna was a medical necessity and not simply a pet. Mr. Myers provided a letter from a therapist in California who spoke to him over a video chat, and then another note from a counselor who met in person with him (and the duck). But neither document satisfied the landlord, who threatened eviction.

Mr. Myers hired a lawyer and filed a complaint of housing discrimination with the Department of Housing and Urban Development using his legal name, Jesse Calfas. His filing was one of more than a thousand similar complaints the agency has received nationwide so far this year.

The number of people claiming they have a right to live with animals for their mental health — as well as to take them onto planes and into restaurants and stores — has been growing rapidly.

In 2011, the National Service Animal Registry, a for-profit company that sells official-looking vests and certificates for owners, had 2,400 service and emotional support animals in its registry. Now the number is nearly 200,000.

But the spread of such animals — the vast majority of them dogs — has also been met by concerns from landlords, airlines and other businesses that many Americans may be abusing the system. Critics say that pet owners are obtaining phony certifications or letters from online therapists to avoid paying fees or to get permission to bring creatures where they wouldn’t normally be allowed.

“We’ve seen everything from reptiles to insects,” said Amanda Gill, government affairs director for the Florida Apartment Association, which represents landlords.

“Obviously, you want to accommodate people with legitimate requests, but that’s harder to do when you have so many bogus requests,” Ms. Gill said. “Everyone is recognizing that this is a growing problem right now.”

More than two dozen state legislatures have enacted new laws to crack down on fraud.

A law passed in Utah this year makes it a misdemeanor to lie about a pet being an emotional support animal, or E.S.A., expanding a law already on the books that made it a crime to misrepresent a pet as a Seeing Eye dog.

Oklahoma just passed a law clarifying that restaurants and stores have a right to keep support animals out. Virginia’s law cracks down on websites that promise to provide E.S.A. verification letters for a fee, without having any therapeutic relationship with the animal’s owner.

“A true service animal is a highly trained dog,” said Tammy Townley, a state representative in Oklahoma who supports her state’s new law. “When someone comes in with an emotional support animal, they are saying, ‘It’s my service animal.’ No — it’s something you bought a vest for.”

Advocates point out that therapy animals are protected by the Fair Housing Act, which requires landlords to make “reasonable accommodations” for people with disabilities, like a wheelchair-accessible parking space. They worry that the new laws will embolden landlords to deny animals to tenants who need them.

Even some supporters of the new measures struggle over how to distinguish a legitimate need from a fraud.

“It’s really hard to draw a bright line,” said Todd Weiler, a state senator in Utah who said that an old high school classmate of his keeps an emotional support pig. “To a large extent, everybody could benefit from having a pet,” Mr. Weiler said. “When is it an emotional support animal and when it is a pet?”

Sam Killebrew, a Florida state lawmaker who sponsored a bill to curb emotional support animal claims, said he went online and registered Ophelia, a stuffed baboon in his office, as his “emotional support animal,” even though she’s been frozen, her fang-filled mouth agape, by a taxidermist.

“As long as you pay your money, you’re going to get that card,” he said.

He sponsored a bill this year that would allow landlords to require that tenants who claim a need for an animal obtain a letter from a licensed medical professional based in Florida. Mr. Killibrew later withdrew the bill, but he said he planned to reintroduce it next year.

Sara Pratt, former assistant secretary for fair housing at HUD, agreed that the certificates sold online can be a problem. “They are useless,” she said. But she warned that state lawmakers who rush to criminalize people for seeking documentation of a need for a support animal are sending the wrong message to landlords, who are at risk of getting slapped with hefty federal fines.

The Americans with Disabilities Act defines service animals as dogs or small horses that are trained to perform specialized tasks, like leading a blind person or detecting seizures. Service animals must be allowed in restaurants, stores and other public places, even where animals are otherwise barred.


by wa8dzp at June 19, 2019 10:35 AM

Climate Change: Why is it So Often “Sooner than Predicted”?


Acting with malice takes a toll on both perpetrator and victim. In our case, the victim is the planet and she’s turning the tables on us, on her own schedule, whether we see it coming or not. Heads up!

by Kollibri terre Sonnenblume at June 19, 2019 10:29 AM


Developers Want to Destroy Chicago. We Won’t Let Them.

We’re in a nationwide crisis of affordable housing. In Chicago, momentum is growing to fight back.

alt A rally for rent control in Chicago, IL in May 2019. Chicago Democratic Socialists of America / Twitter

On April 10, 2019, half a dozen newly elected Chicago city council members took part in a direct action with dozens of protesters, blocking traffic on LaSalle Street outside the chambers of city council. They were protesting the approval of up to $2.4 billion of public subsidies to Lincoln Yards and The 78, two massive real estate development projects along waterfronts in the city’s north and near south sides, respectively.

The 78 and Lincoln Yards developments embody the power of developer interests over political decision-making in the city. As unemployment, poverty, and physical deterioration of infrastructure afflict the west and south sides of the city, these billion-dollar deals with developers Sterling Bay and Related Midwest would fund new bridges, transit stations, streets, and bike lanes around affluent neighborhoods for the convenience of their future affluent inhabitants.

While Related Midwest has promised up to two thousand affordable units in The 78, this would be merely 20 percent of the projected ten thousand units, just meeting the city’s minimum affordability requirements. The vast majority of residential units will be luxury apartments and condominiums. These developments would perpetuate the massive displacement of Latino and black families from their neighborhoods, many through forced evictions, exacerbating the “reverse Great Migration” of black families out of Chicago.

Despite growing opposition, these funding proposals were rushed through a last-minute, lame-duck city council by elected officials, many of whom have received tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars from the real estate lobby. In Chicago, as in cities across the country, private developers are at the helm.

The reaction to these mega-developments, however, also exemplifies what could be an important turning point in Chicago politics. For the first time in Chicago’s history, six socialists will be on its city council (beating the record of three socialist aldermen elected in the 1910s), in addition to several other progressive candidates who come out of activist and organizing backgrounds.

For all of these candidates, issues of housing — affordability, new developments, and displacement — played a central role in their campaigns. Organizing around housing proved a successful way to engage residents, build broad coalitions, and begin to reshape the narrative from the confining laws of supply and demand to new horizons of community voice and economic justice. Chicago’s newly elected officials and the movements that helped propel them to power can build on these gains to move toward housing for all.

A Growing Movement

The socialists elected to city council built on the long-term work of many housing justice organizations, including those the newly elected officials helped launch. Alderman and Chicago DSA member Byron Sigcho-Lopez, whose ward includes the historic Mexican-American neighborhood of Pilsen and the working-class community of Chinatown, was one of the founding members of the Lift the Ban coalition to lift the statewide ban on rent control.

Across Chicago, more than half of households are rent-burdened, or paying over 30 percent of their income in rent. This problem is especially prevalent in Sigcho-Lopez’s ward, which has faced rapid gentrification and displacement in the last decades. The 78 development, located in the ward that Sigcho-Lopez now represents, would further escalate this trend.

In Illinois, as in other states, a wave of statewide bans on rent regulations in the 1990s led by the right-wing lobby group American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) effectively blocked localities from setting any limits on skyrocketing rents. To take on the entrenched power of real estate developers, Lift the Ban has assembled a diverse range of political, labor, and community organizations in a coalition that includes the Chicago chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America; community organizations like Pilsen Alliance, the Kenwood-Oakland Community Organization (KOCO), the Lugenia Burns Hope Center, ONE Northside, and Northside Action for Justice; citywide organizations like United Working Families; housing rights organizations, tenant unions, senior rights and legal justice groups; and progressive labor unions including the Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) and SEIU Healthcare Illinois.

While Lift the Ban aims to pass a statewide bill, it has been building support locally through advisory referenda and direct actions in precincts across the city over the past two years. These efforts have been overwhelmingly supported by local residents, and real estate developers are beginning to take notice.

The growing movement for rent control demonstrates that rising rent is a powerful issue for organizing working-class Chicagoans. More so than inscrutable zoning laws or affordability regulations, limiting the rise in rent from year to year addresses tenants’ fears that landlords might raise rents unpredictably, pushing them out with no notice or recourse.

Rent control is a universal policy that would address the immediate crisis of housing in the homes in which residents already live. As canvassers have found in thousands of conversations in neighborhoods across the city, the cost of rent and fears of displacement are straightforward conversation starters that do not require wading into the jargon of housing policy.

And for socialists, conversations about rent are an effective way to connect a specific, everyday grievance — the cost of living in one’s home — directly to the power of corporate interests blatantly on display in neighborhoods across the city. In discussions about the power of absentee landlords and real estate developers to reshape neighborhoods with no democratic checks, the shared interests of a broad working class become apparent.

In many neighborhoods, this campaign had built support not only among renters but among homeowners and small landlords, many of them long-term residents who resent the power of developers to displace their neighbors and local establishments for profit. The lines of this class conflict are becoming clearer in the growing fight for rent control across the country in states like California, Oregon, and New York, which just passed a landmark agreement to expand its rent regulation system.

The power of this working-class movement for housing justice has already elicited strong pushback from the real estate lobby, suggesting how difficult actually winning rent control will be. The Rogers Park Builders Group in Chicago launched an aggressive anti–rent control campaign in the weeks leading up to the November 2018 referendum; since then, the opposition has mounted through the Chicago-wide Neighborhood Building Owner’s Association and a new statewide campaign, SHAPE (Supporting Housing Affordability, Progress and Equality) Illinois.

The rhetoric of these groups reveals their strategy: to position themselves as promoters of affordable housing, which they argue can only be achieved by allowing the free market to adjust to the pressures of supply and demand. Public regulations will stifle housing supply and upkeep; public housing is a discredited government strategy. In their neoliberal vision of the city, only for-profit developments can bring housing, jobs, and prosperity into communities. These groups often refer to economic studies to suggest these are not matters up for debate — they reflect immutable laws of nature.

Empirical studies of the effects of rent control in California, Massachusetts, New Jersey, and New York do not support developers’ claims that rent control would drive down new construction, decrease maintenance, or cause rents in unregulated units to increase. Rather, rent control has been found to be a crucial tool toward housing stability and affordability for the most vulnerable  populations.

But it’s also easy to get sucked into technical policy debates and miss the forest for the trees. Successful housing organizing will have to reframe this debate not as a technical one to be determined by economists and urban policy experts, but as a moral one about democratic control of the community and the right of all people to a home.

An Issue That Touches All Issues

From a political perspective, organizing around housing on a neighborhood basis offers some unique advantages. Local housing issues that affect a resident’s immediate neighborhood can build on long-standing neighborhood relationships and a sense of community in which many local residents are invested.

The imbalance of power that shapes housing is also blatantly visible in the built environment. The dramatic disparity between a new luxury development on one block and crumbling infrastructure on another can starkly reveal the ways the private interests of capital override public interest. In a broad analysis of the role of private developers and investors in the political system, from the local to the national level, distinct conditions facing different neighborhoods can be understood as stemming from the same problem. Far from just an urban issue, housing affordability and displacement affect suburban and rural areas, some of which are already joining in statewide struggles. Organizing residents against the power of profit-seekers controlling their neighborhood can build working-class power from the ground up.

Housing is not an issue that can be separated from immigration, race, education, labor, gender, accessibility, and the environment. The most powerful housing movements will continue to integrate these fundamentally connected issues, just as many of Chicago’s new public officials highlighted in their campaigns.

Housing security is essential for a true sanctuary city, where immigrant and undocumented families disproportionately face the burden of rising rents, eviction, and displacement. It is crucial to combat the deep structures of racial injustice embedded in urban policy that have resulted in persistent residential segregation, disproportionate police brutality, disparate public funding, and an ongoing pattern of black families being pushed out or choosing to leave the city.

An end to kickbacks for private developers and new forms of progressive taxation will be essential to fund public services like schools, clinics, and infrastructure. The fight for labor rights and a living wage is directly connected to the growing burden of rent as wages have failed to keep up with the increasing costs of housing. Housing shapes the conditions of gender violence, as survivors of domestic abuse are pressured to choose between homelessness and remaining with their abusers because they can’t afford a place to live on their own.

New housing construction will be tied to struggles for accessibility, including for people with disabilities and seniors, and environmental sustainability, including eco-socialist campaigns to municipalize major utility companies. Through these overlapping concerns, housing organizers can strengthen relationships with other social justice organizations across the city and nation.

A Citywide Demand

Organizing around housing directly fed into Chicago’s recent aldermanic races in several wards. With the influx of private developments, the neighborhoods of Wicker Park and Logan Square (1st and 35th wards), Pilsen (25th ward), and Albany Park and Avondale (33rd ward) have faced rapid gentrification and the displacement of long-term working-class, especially Latino, residents.

In March 2018, residents in the 25th and 33rd wards voted overwhelmingly in support of rent control on an advisory referendum, with some precincts voting in favor by more than 86 percent. The 35th ward registered its 71 percent support in November 2018, and precincts in the 1st ward supported the initiative by between 67 and 75 percent in February 2019.

By April 2019, all these wards had elected democratic socialists as their representatives: Byron Sigcho-Lopez in the 25th ward, Carlos Ramirez-Rosa reelected in the 35th ward, Rossana Rodríguez-Sánchez in the 33rd ward, and Daniel La Spata in the 1st ward. These city council members openly criticized the cozy relationship between current elected leaders and private developer interests responsible for expelling residents and refused to accept developer dollars in their campaigns. They ran on a bold housing platform including implementing rent control, community-driven zoning, and new affordability standards and eviction laws; and protecting and expanding public housing.

In the 35th ward, Carlos Ramirez-Rosa recently shepherded a new 100 percent affordable housing development by nonprofit Bickerdike Redevelopment Corporation that would bring one hundred new affordable units to the ward, which is now being held as a model for new developments in the city and an argument against developers who decry any increase to minimum affordability requirements. Sigcho-Lopez, Ramirez-Rosa, and Rodríguez-Sánchez have also, along with another newly elected democratic socialist, Andre Vasquez of the 40th ward, shifted the council’s Latino Caucus significantly to the left.

A similar trajectory unfolded on the far north side of the city in Rogers Park (the 49th ward), a racially diverse neighborhood also facing rapid development and the displacement of working-class black and Latino residents. After voting 66 percent in favor of lifting the rent control ban in November 2018, the ward then ousted longtime alderman Joe Moore, chair of the powerful Housing and Real Estate committee, the following February.

While Moore positioned himself as a progressive in his campaign, he was responsible for blocking several ordinances to strengthen affordability requirements and increase accountability for the Chicago Housing Authority. In his career as alderman, Moore had pocketed thousands of developer dollars. To replace him, voters chose community organizer Maria Hadden, who refused to accept money from developers and vowed to bring affordable housing and more community involvement in zoning decisions to the ward.

Local housing fights on display in the aldermanic races put in sharp relief the way developer interests have dictated urban development at the expense of local residents, even if the manifestations of the housing crisis look very different in distinct neighborhoods. The campaign of Jeanette Taylor is a case in point.

Taylor is a long-term community organizer, a leader of a hunger strike against the closure of Dyett High School on Chicago’s South Side in 2015, and a DSA member. Her ward, the 20th, includes gentrifying neighborhoods like Woodlawn in the east, adjacent to the University of Chicago, as well as neighborhoods like Back of the Yards and Englewood on its western side that have experienced declining property values, neglected public services, deteriorating housing stock, and an increasing number of vacant lots.

In these western parts of the 20th ward, renters, who make up the majority of residents, have little leverage to demand that landlords maintain their properties, push back against unjust evictions, and ensure that the city invest in public infrastructure, public schools, and basic public services like garbage collection. Taylor was able to demonstrate the common ground shared by residents across the ward by running on a platform of keeping working-class black and brown families in Chicago and speaking to the feeling of abandonment by the city’s African Americans.

To address the concerns of Woodlawn residents around the displacement pressures that would come with the planned Obama Presidential Library in neighboring Jackson Park, Taylor championed the community benefits agreement (CBA) that would ensure community control over the new development. Taylor also called out the city’s neglect of its poorest communities of color like Back of the Yards and Englewood by highlighting the way political decisions in the city have favored wealthy corporate interests, including real estate developers who received millions in taxpayer-funded subsidies.

Chicago’s new socialist leaders and their progressive allies can now push for a bold vision of housing from within the halls of city government. To turn this vision into a reality, we can draw some lessons from a longer history of housing activism in the city. We will need to continue to build locally through neighborhood struggles in which residents and community organizations already have a stake. These neighborhood fights can then be connected to broader campaigns at the city, state, and national levels.

Another lesson is about narrative and framing. Housing campaigns should continue to be framed in broad terms: not solely about one specific developer or corrupt politician, but about the wider power of economic elites and a political system that allows them to run our cities.

As the arguments of the real estate lobby against rent control ramp up, we will need to keep from ceding the debate to policy wonks and stay focused on the moral arguments about the power of profits over people, and the need to build democratic socialism to confront the injustices of capitalism. This framing will be essential not only to push for rent control, but to build a much larger movement for socialized housing that will ensure housing is a right and not a means of profit-making. Finally, we will need to link housing to other working-class struggles for racial justice, labor rights, environmental sustainability, and against gender violence and police brutality.

With housing as a central issue, Chicagoans have built a mass movement of working-class residents that propelled a new slate of socialists to city leadership. Chicago now has the opportunity to demonstrate what a bold vision of housing for all looks like.

by Cristina Groeger at June 19, 2019 10:17 AM


Cities Start to Question an American Ideal: A House With a Yard on Every Lot

Cities Start to Question an American Ideal: A House With a Yard on Every Lot
Townhomes, duplexes and apartments are effectively banned in many neighborhoods. Now some communities regret it.
Jun 18 2019

Single-family zoning is practically gospel in America, embraced by homeowners and local governments to protect neighborhoods of tidy houses from denser development nearby.

But a number of officials across the country are starting to make seemingly heretical moves. The Oregon legislature this month will consider a law that would end zoning exclusively for single-family homes in most of the state. California lawmakers have drafted a bill that would effectively do the same. In December, the Minneapolis City Council voted to end single-family zoning citywide. The Democratic presidential candidates Elizabeth Warren, Cory Booker and Julián Castro have taken up the cause, too.

A reckoning with single-family zoning is necessary, they say, amid mounting crises over housing affordability, racial inequality and climate change. But take these laws away, many homeowners fear, and their property values and quality of life will suffer. The changes, opponents in Minneapolis have warned, amount to nothing less than an effort to “bulldoze” their neighborhoods.

Today the effect of single-family zoning is far-reaching: It is illegal on 75 percent of the residential land in many American cities to build anything other than a detached single-family home.

That figure is even higher in many suburbs and newer Sun Belt cities, according to an analysis The Upshot conducted with UrbanFootprint, software that maps and measures the impact of development and policy change on cities.

If this moment feels like a radical shift, said Sonia Hirt, a professor at the University of Georgia’s college of environment and design, it was also a radical shift a century ago when Americans began to imagine single-family zoning as possible, normal and desirable. That shift led Minneapolis to look like this:

70% of residential land is zoned for detached single-family homes

Minneapolis’s new policy will end single-family zoning on 70 percent of the city’s residential land, or 53 percent of all land. The Upshot used public zoning data compiled by UrbanFootprint to calculate this and draw similar maps for 10 other American cities.

Zoning codes vary significantly by city. But in each place, we sought to identify codes devoted to detached single-family homes, grouping rowhouses more common in older East Coast cities like Washington and New York into a second category covering all other housing types. (The earliest American zoning advocates clearly did not put rowhouses in the same category: A home, they believed, was a house “which one can drive a yoke of oxen around.”)

Many cities allow additional housing in nonresidential zones: for instance, in apartments built over offices or stores. These maps highlight the land exclusively set aside for housing.

Washington, D.C.
36% of residential land is zoned for detached single-family homes

About one-third of D.C.’s residential land is zoned for rowhomes, which predominate east of Rock Creek Park.

Such maps reflect the belief that denser housing can be a nuisance to single-family neighborhoods just as a factory would be. That conviction is at least as old as the 1926 Supreme Court decision that upheld zoning in America.

Apartments, the court warned, block the sun and air. They bring noise and traffic. They act as a parasite on single-family neighborhoods — “until, finally, the residential character of the neighborhood and its desirability as a place of detached residences are utterly destroyed.”

Today, the very density that the court scorned is viewed by environmentalists as an antidote to sprawling development patterns that feed gridlock and auto emissions. It’s viewed by planners as an essential condition to support public transit, and by economists as the best means of making high-cost cities more affordable.

Single-family zoning “means that everything else is banned,” said Scott Wiener, a California state senator, speaking this spring at the Brookings Institution in Washington. “Apartment buildings — banned. Senior housing — banned. Low-income housing, which is only multi-unit — banned. Student housing — banned.”

Cities regularly “upzone” individual neighborhoods or properties to allow more housing options. Minneapolis’s remarkable approach was to upzone every single-family neighborhood at once. That was the fairest solution, officials argued.

“If we were going to pick and choose, the fight I think would have been even bloodier,” said Heather Worthington, director of long-range planning for the city.


by wa8dzp at June 19, 2019 10:02 AM

It’s Time to Switch to a Privacy Browser

It’s Time to Switch to a Privacy Browser
By David Nield
Jun 16 2019

There’s a new battleground in the browser wars: user privacy. Firefox just made its Enhanced Tracking Protection a default feature, Apple continues to pile privacy-focused features into its Safari browser, and people are more aware than ever before of the sort of information they can reveal every time they set a digital footprint on the web.

If you want to push back against online tracking, you’ve got several options to pick from when choosing a default browser. These are the browsers that put user privacy high on the list of their priorities.

DuckDuckGo (Android, iOS, browser extension)

You might know DuckDuckGo as the anti-Google search engine, but it’s also branched out to make its own mobile browsers for Android and iOS. Not only do they keep you better protected online, they give you plenty of information about what they’re blocking.

DuckDuckGo starts by enforcing encrypted HTTPS connections when websites offer them, and then gives each page you visit a grade based on how aggressively it’s trying to mine your data.

To keep you anonymized online, DuckDuckGo blocks tracking cookies that are able to identify you and your device, and even scans and ranks sites’ privacy policies. You can clear tabs and data automatically at the end of each session, or you can wipe this data manually with a single tap. You can even set a timer to automatically clear out your history after a period of inactivity.

The browser extensions for Chrome and Firefox do a very similar job, so you don’t have to abandon your favorite desktop browser to take advantage of DuckDuckGo’s tight privacy controls. Again, the extensions rank sites for their privacy features, and block attempts to track your activities online.

What really appeals about the DuckDuckGo apps and browser extensions is how simple they are to use. You don’t really need to do anything except install them, so it’s a good pick for getting maximum protection with minimal effort.

Ghostery (Android, iOS, browser extension)

Get Ghostery for Android or iOS installed, and straight away it gets to work blocking adverts and tracking cookies that will attempt to keep tabs on what you’re up to on the web.

Like DuckDuckGo’s mobile apps, the Ghostery browser tells you exactly which trackers it’s blocking, and how many monitoring tools each website has installed—if you find certain sites that are well-behaved, you can mark them as trusted with a tap.

Or, if you find a site that’s packed full of tracking technology, you can block every single bit of cookie technology on it (for commenting systems, media players and so on), even if the site might break as a result.

Ghostery also develops an extension that works with just about every desktop browser out there—again, you can view the trackers on each site you visit, then take appropriate action on them or let Ghostery decide and its AI smarts decidewhat needs blocking.

Ghostery’s tools are a little more in-depth and advanced than the ones offered by DuckDuckGo, so you might consider it if you want to take extra control over which trackers are blocked on which sites.

Tor Browser (Android, Windows, macOS)

Tor Browser stands for browsing “without tracking, surveillance, or censorship” and is worth a look if you want the ultimate in anonymized, tracker-free browsing—unless you’re on iOS, where it isn’t yet available.

The browser app for Android, Windows and macOS is actually part of a bigger project to keep internet browsing anonymous. The Tor Project routes your web navigation through a complex, encrypted network of relays managed by its community, making it much harder for anyone else to work out where you’re going on the web.

As well as this additional layer of anonymity, Tor Browser is super-strict on the sort of background scripts and tracking technologies sites are allowed to run. It also blocks fingerprinting, a method where advertisers attempt to recognize the unique characteristics of your device across multiple sites, even if they can’t tell exactly who you are.

At the end of each browsing session, everything gets wiped, including cookies left behind by sites and the browsing history inside the Tor Browser app itself. In other words, private browsing mode is the default.

Because of the extra encryption and anonymity measures, Tor Browser can run slightly slower than other browsers, but in terms of staying invisible on the web, it’s the best there is. It can even help you get online in countries where the internet is blocked or censored.

Brave (Android, iOS, Windows, macOS)

Brave is a project from Brendan Eich, once of Firefox developer Mozilla, and its mission includes both keeping you from being tracked on the web, and finding a better way to serve you advertisements. It’s a dichotomy that doesn’t fully fit together just yet.

There’s no doubt about the effectiveness of its tracker blocking technologies, though. The browser apps block ads by default and put tight restrictions on the information sites can gather on you through cookies and tracking scripts.

You can block trackers, scripts, and fingerprinting technologies—where sites attempt to identify your particular device—individually, but unlike DuckDuckGo and Ghostery you don’t get a detailed breakdown of what’s been stopped.

Brave also tries to block phishing attempts over the web, and will force HTTPS encryption where it’s available. It’s a comprehensive package that strikes a well-judged balance between simplicity and power.

Time will tell whether Brave’s attempts to create a new privacy-respecting ad platform are successful, but it’s testing the idea of paying users to watch adsand splitting the revenue with content creators. You can also give micropayments to sites you like directly, though all of this is completely opt-in.


by wa8dzp at June 19, 2019 10:00 AM

Chennai water crisis: City’s reservoirs run dry

Chennai water crisis: City’s reservoirs run dry
The southern Indian city of Chennai (formerly Madras) is in crisis after its four main water reservoirs ran completely dry.
Jun 18 2019

The acute water shortage has forced the city to scramble for urgent solutions, including drilling new boreholes.

Residents have had to stand in line for hours to get water from government tanks, and restaurants have closed due to the lack of water.

“Only rain can save Chennai from this situation,” an official told BBC Tamil.

The city, which, according to the 2011 census, is India’s sixth largest, has been in the grip of a severe water shortage for weeks now. 

As the reservoirs started to run dry, many hotels and restaurants shut down temporarily. The Chennai metro has turned off air conditioning in the stations, while offices have asked staff to work from home in a bid to conserve water.

Vinoth Kaligai, the general secretary of an IT workers’ association, confirmed that some firms had told employees to stay at home. “But homes are also running out of water, so what are we supposed to do?” he added. 

The situation has also prompted clashes to break out between residents. Last week, police arrested a man for stabbing his neighbour during a fight over water-sharing in the neighbourhood. 

Officials are trying to find alternative sources of water, with the city’s water department starting to identify and extract water from quarries. 

But the big concern is the dry reservoirs and low groundwater levels.

“The only way to make this better is to improve the groundwater level,” Nakkeeran, a social activist, said. “We’ve had dry years before but the groundwater was our saviour.”

The water crisis has also meant that most of the city has to depend solely on Chennai’s water department, which has been distributing water through government trucks across neighbourhoods. 

“The destruction has just begun,” an official said. “If the rain fails us this year too, we are totally destroyed.”

by wa8dzp at June 19, 2019 09:42 AM

In Los Angeles, only people of color are sentenced to death

[Note:  This item comes from friend David Rosenthal.  DLH]

In Los Angeles, only people of color are sentenced to death
The county’s prosecutor has won death sentences for 22 defendants, none of them white, report shows
By Sam Levin
Jun 18 2019

Los Angeles has sentenced more people to death than any other county in the US, and only people of color have received the death penalty under the region’s current prosecutor, a new report shows.

LA county’s district attorney, Jackie Lacey, has won death sentences for a total of 22 defendants, all people of color, and eight of them were represented by lawyers with serious misconduct charges prior or after their cases, according to a new analysis by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).

Lacey’s office has also continued to pursue death penalty trials this year despite the fact that California’s governor, Gavin Newsom, issued a moratorium on capital punishment, with an executive order officially halting executions in the state.

In addition to severe racial disparities and ethical concerns around legal representation, LA’s system is costing taxpayers millions of dollars in pursuit of a punishment the region’s voters and California leaders have rejected, activists said. Some key findings:

• In California, 222 people currently sentenced to death are from LA county, representing 31% of all death sentences in the state. (The LA population is only 25% of the statewide figure.)

• LA is one of only three counties in the country to have more than 10 death sentences from 2014 to 2018.

• In the last five years, LA produced more death sentences per capita than any large county in Texas, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Utah or Washington – and sent more people to death row than the states of Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, Tennessee and Virginia combined.

• Last year, out of 3,100 counties nationwide, LA was one of only four to have more than one death sentence.

• Under Lacey’s tenure, which began in 2012, zero white defendants have been sentenced to death, and her capital punishment sentences disproportionately targeted cases involving white victims. Although 12% of homicide victims in LA county are white, 36% of Lacey’s death penalty wins involved white victims.

• Of the 22 defendants sentenced under Lacey, 13 were Latinx, eight were black and one was Asian.

“This should be profoundly troubling to all of us,” Cassy Stubbs, director of the ACLU Capital Punishment Project, told the Guardian. “Los Angeles is really in a class of its own … It is just such an enormous producer of death sentences in a way that really does not make sense for where we are today.”

Asked about the ACLU’s findings, Lacey sent a general statement to the Guardian on Monday defending her continuing support for capital punishment: “As a career prosecutor, I believe the death penalty is the appropriate punishment for some crimes – a serial killer, someone who tortures and kills a young child, the person who rapes and then kills the victim to silence his only witness or someone who kills a police officer trying to do her job safely.”

The governor’s moratorium affects the 737 inmates currently awaiting execution in California, who will not be put to death while Newsom is in office. Lacey, however, is continuing to seek the death penalty, despite the fact that a majority of voters in LA county have twice voted in favor of death penalty repeal measures.

Defense lawyers in five of the 22 cases under Lacey were suspended or disbarred, which is the most serious discipline for ethics violations, the ACLU said. Defense counsel for two other defendants was put on probation, and the attorney for another is currently facing multiple bar charges.

The ACLU, which reviewed lawyer misconduct records, cited one particularly egregious case in which an attorney declined to make an opening statement – offering no defense at all – and then repeatedly fell asleep during the trial.

“I have serious doubts about the constitutionality of these sentences,” said Stubbs, noting that inadequate representation can have long-lasting consequences.

Failures of defense counsel are key contributors to wrongful convictions, but problems with California’s appellate system means these kinds of mistakes are often exposed decades later, the ACLU said. The last two California death row inmates who were exonerated gained their freedom roughly 25 years after conviction, and those delays could get worse, as the state has an expanding backlog of cases and appeals.

All five people removed from death row after exoneration in the state were people of color.


by wa8dzp at June 19, 2019 09:31 AM

Scientists Are Aiding Apartheid in China

[Note:  This item comes from friend Jen Snow.  DLH]

Scientists Are Aiding Apartheid in China
By Mark Munsterhjelm
Jun 18 2019

The Chinese government has effectively created a system of apartheid in its resource-rich and strategically important northwestern Xinjiang region. It is targeting Uyghurs and other Turkic minorities based on their racial identity with its use of internment camps, mass surveillance, repression of political and cultural expression, and other forms of discrimination.

As part of these efforts, the Chinese government has genetically profiled much of the population of Xinjiang — everyone between 12 and 65 — as part of the most comprehensive and intrusive system of biometric surveillance ever implemented.

On the face of it, trying to use forensic genetic technologies to distinguish one group of people from another may not seem too problematic if it helps police or national security investigations. But when you consider the history of using science for the purpose of oppression, the ongoing genetic research is a serious potential threat to human and legal rights.

Following the horrors of Nazi medical experimentation and the attendant decline of eugenics, the use of racial categories in science lost much of its credibility and legitimacy. However, in the aftermath of 9/11, by using euphemisms like biogeographic ancestry and phenotypical appearance, the international forensic genetic community resurrected once discredited notions of race, arguing that these categories can potentially assist police investigations and national security. But scholars, like Troy Duster of University of California, Berkeley, and Duana Fullwiley of Stanford University, have argued that this normalization of racial categories in forensic genetic research could make these technologies of oppression against marginalized peoples. In Xinjiang, we see the realization of the draconian potential of this resurrection of race.

Many scientists in the field of forensic genetics have participated in this process, which raises the question of whether they have been complacent or even complicit in the crime of apartheid under international law. The U.N. Convention on Apartheid defines this crime as “inhuman acts committed for the purpose of establishing and maintaining domination by one racial group of persons over any other racial group of persons and systematically oppressing them.”

International research cooperation with Chinese Ministry of Public Security researchers has contributed to building the capacity to engage in racial differentiating genetic testing. For example, in this 2015 article, 21 co-authors, including Kenneth Kidd and other Yale researchers, James Robertson of FBI Labs in Quantico, Va., and Li Cai-xia and Wei Yi-liang of the Chinese Ministry of Public Security in Beijing, tested a set of 55 ancestry inference genetic markers (developed by Kidd and his colleagues) on over 7,000 people from 125 populations, including Uyghurs and other Turkic minorities. This research cooperation on Kidd’s set of 55 ancestry marker continued in a 2017 paper co-authored by 16 researchers — including Kidd and Bruce Budowle, a former FBI Labs scientist who is a prominent figure in forensic genetics – which added a further 14 populations (including several Chinese minorities). This 2017 paper brought the total tested to over 8,000 individuals from 139 populations, including Uyghur and other Turkic peoples’ samples supplied by Li Caixia of the Chinese Ministry of Public Security. This set of 55 ancestry markers has now been incorporated into genetic sequencer systems produced by Thermo Fisher and Illumina, which are both being marketed to police agencies in China.

Major international journals routinely publish articles by Ministry of Public Security researchers. For example, a 2018 paper in Forensic Science International Genetics – published online in May 2018 by Elsevier BV, a major academic publishing company – included co-authors from the Ministry of Public Security, the People’s Liberation Army and Bingtuan Public Security Bureau scientists. In the paper, they tested a set of 27 ancestry inference genetic markers on 10,350 individuals including 957 Uyghurs. They also tested the set on 2,266 people’s DNA extract representing 46 populations, which was provided by Kidd. Though there have been extensive reports of mass internment and mass surveillance in Xinjiang, academic journals and their publishers continue to act with indifference.

In China, this isn’t just academic research. Chinese security agency scientists have been engaged in a long-term effort to develop technologies that will be able to racially distinguish Han Chinese from Uyghurs and other minorities, so that the government can more effectively target its oppressive measures. An important center of this research is the Chinese Ministry of Public Security’s Institute of Forensic Science (IFS) in Beijing, whose scientists have filed a number of Chinese patents and patent applications. For example, the China National Intellectual Property Administration granted the IFS a patent in 2014 for a genetic test to determine if an unidentified sample is Han Chinese, Tibetan, or Uyghur.


by wa8dzp at June 19, 2019 09:30 AM


“Ulysses” Truthers Are the Latest Threat to Corbyn

Jeremy Corbyn recently mentioned that he’d read James Joyce’s Ulysses and liked it. It triggered a deranged uproar from Britain’s elite cultural gatekeepers. They’re just mad we’re coming for their stuff.

alt Jeremy Corbyn reads the book We're Going on a Bear Hunt to children at a visit to Brentry Children's Centre in Bristol, England. (Matt Cardy / Getty)

Centrism is a nightmare from which I am trying to awake. Jeremy Corbyn’s election as Labour leader almost four years ago has made a sizable portion of the center-ground commentariat and a horde of online pundits rabid with fury, with certain tropes that veer toward conspiracy theory endlessly returning, more deranged with each coming.

One persistent myth began when Corbyn was asked, in an online forum for middle-class mothers, what his favorite book was, and he replied, “Ulysses, on the grounds that it’s very hard to understand the first time and doesn’t get much easier on the third or fourth reading of it.” It wasn’t the most obvious choice: a more cynical politician might have prepared an answer to make political capital — perhaps choosing The Ragged-Trousered Philanthropists, in a nod to a pivotal scene in the eerily familiar A Very British Coup, with its Tony Benn–style leader, Harry Perkins, now embodied by Corbyn.

But no matter: plumping for James Joyce’s Ulysses led to surging histrionics from Corbynsceptics and the Right. In time for Bloomsday this year, the Guardian released an interview with Corbyn on Joyce and Ulysses, predictably enticing yet another centrist meltdown. Corbyn was lying; he hadn’t read Ulysses, and was only saying so to appear intelligent. And if he had read it, he hadn’t fully understood it. Literary texts have only one monolithic reading, as any fool knows, and Joyce’s thickest text is simply a puzzle to be solved and read through one lens, rather than as a dense psychological text, a postcolonial meditation, a musing on Irish nationalism, or a deep-cover guerrilla marketing campaign by the Dublin tourist board.

One commentator even mounted a bizarre challenge to the leader of the opposition to engage in some sort of excruciatingly embarrassing interpretive duel, the parameters and scoring system of which remained unspecified. Another argued that Corbyn’s admission that he had returned to the novel multiple times showed he was terrifyingly unfit to govern the country. If not having finished hefty texts in one sitting is a measure of aptitude for power, everyone I met during four years of studying literature should be disqualified.

The Ulysses truthers’ fervor is a cipher for their wider view on politics. The anger aimed at the Labour leader is a form of cultural gatekeeping: literature isn’t an art form open to all, a transformative experience that should be universal, but functions merely as a series of cultural markers that confer value upon an individual. Libraries are venerated in theory but not practice by a facet of middle-class Britain, not because access to knowledge should not depend on wealth, but because of the self-congratulatory associations of describing yourself as a reader.

Corbyn cannot have read Joyce, because he does not conform to the idealized figure of the centrist politician; he is routinely described as “thick” because he did not attend Oxford or Cambridge, nor finish a college degree. Even though Corbyn was raised and remains squarely middle class, his refusal to follow the standard “philosophy, politics and economics” route to power means he is still excluded from the very narrow definition of the acceptable middle-class political sphere. Furiously rejecting the notion that a person may be capable of reading a book without college tutorials, and even the concept of an autodidact, is essential to actually existing centrism, because anything that lies outside the narrow parameters that have defined decades of political leaders is a threat to the status quo.

But if Corbyn is dismissed and attacked for having read a book while middle class, what do his critics think of the rest of society? If intellect is so closely guarded, and cultural markers so rigorously policed, how can those now insisting Corbyn hasn’t read Ulysses view people from working-class backgrounds as anything other than illiterate? My social and economic background is far more modest than Jeremy Corbyn’s, and I was the first person in my family to study past the age of sixteen, but my father gave me a copy of Ulysses on a trip to Dublin as a young teenager. He’d read it without a university degree, working in aircraft construction, not academia. Perhaps he took different pleasures and meanings from the text compared to my own readings at the time, and later in writing undergraduate essays. Why does it matter? I reread books constantly and take more from them as I grow, emotionally and in terms of social and intellectual experience.

Publicly dismissing a politician who praises a book and argues that literature is for everyone is nothing more than a jealous attempt to exclude people from approaching the canon by designating a text as a work of high culture fit only for some. If Corbyn, who came from a comfortable background and attended a good school, is considered incapable of enjoying or reading Joyce, these people must doubt I can even hold a pen.

Like most attacks on Corbyn for such trivialities, this one reveals far more about the assailants than about the leader himself. The Joyce/Corbyn saga is far more about class contempt and fervent regard for the status quo than anything else.

Hopefully for the next round of Ulysses-gate, Corbyn will announce he’s taken to reading Finnegans Wake, and, like the text, the attacks can go on in an infinite loop.

by Dawn Foster at June 19, 2019 09:21 AM


An Expert on Concentration Camps Says That’s Exactly What the U.S. Is Running at the Border

[Note:  This item comes from friend Ed DeWath.  DLH]

An Expert on Concentration Camps Says That’s Exactly What the U.S. Is Running at the Border
“Things can be concentration camps without being Dachau or Auschwitz.”
Jun 13 2019

Surely, the United States of America could not operate concentration camps. In the American consciousness, the term is synonymous with the Nazi death machines across the European continent that the Allies began the process of dismantling 75 years ago this month. But while the world-historical horrors of the Holocaust are unmatched, they are only the most extreme and inhuman manifestation of a concentration-camp system—which, according to Andrea Pitzer, author of One Long Night: A Global History of Concentration Camps, has a more global definition. There have been concentration camps in France, South Africa, Cuba, the Soviet Union, and—with Japanese internment—the United States. In fact, she contends we are operating such a system right now in response to a very real spike in arrivals at our southern border.

“We have what I would call a concentration camp system,” Pitzer says, “and the definition of that in my book is, mass detention of civilians without trial.”

Historians use a broader definition of concentration camps, as well. 

“What’s required is a little bit of demystification of it,” says Waitman Wade Beorn, a Holocaust and genocide studies historian and a lecturer at the University of Virginia. “Things can be concentration camps without being Dachau or Auschwitz. Concentration camps in general have always been designed—at the most basic level—to separate one group of people from another group. Usually, because the majority group, or the creators of the camp, deem the people they’re putting in it to be dangerous or undesirable in some way.”

Not every concentration camp is a death camp—in fact, their primary purpose is rarely extermination, and never in the beginning. Often, much of the death and suffering is a result of insufficient resources, overcrowding, and deteriorating conditions. So far, 24 people have died in the custody of Immigration and Customs Enforcement under the Trump administration, while six children have died in the care of other agencies since September. Systems like these have emerged across the world for well over 100 years, and they’ve been established by putative liberal democracies—as with Britain’s camps in South Africa during the Boer War—as well as authoritarian states like Nazi Germany or the Soviet Union. Camps set up with one aim can be repurposed by new regimes, often with devastating consequences. 

History is banging down the door this week with the news the Trump administration will use Fort Sill, an Oklahoma military base that was used to detain Japanese-Americans during World War II, to house 1,400 unaccompanied migrant children captured at the border. Japanese internment certainly constituted a concentration-camp system, and the echoes of the past are growing louder. Of course, the Obama administration temporarily housed migrants at military bases, including Fort Sill, for four months in 2014, built many of the newer facilities to house migrants, and pioneered some of the tactics the Trump administration is now using to try to manage the situation at the border.

The government of the United States would never call the sprawling network of facilities now in use across many states “concentration camps,” of course. They’re referred to as “federal migrant shelters” or “temporary shelters for unaccompanied minors” or “detainment facilities” or the like. (The initial processing facilities are run by Border Patrol, and the system is primarily administered to by the Department of Homeland Security. Many adults are transferred to ICE, which now detains more than 52,000 people across 200 facilities on any given day—a record high. Unaccompanied minors are transferred to Department of Health and Human Services custody.) But by Pitzer’s measure, the system at the southern border first set up by the Bill Clinton administration, built on by Barack Obama’s government, and brought into extreme and perilous new territory by Donald Trump and his allies does qualify. Two historians who specialize in the area largely agree.


by wa8dzp at June 19, 2019 09:18 AM

Scientists shocked by Arctic permafrost thawing 70 years sooner than predicted

[Note:  This item comes from friend Ed DeWath.  DLH]

Scientists shocked by Arctic permafrost thawing 70 years sooner than predicted
• Ice blocks frozen solid for thousands of years destabilized
• ‘The climate is now warmer than at any time in last 5,000 years’
By Reuters
Jun 18 2019

Permafrost at outposts in the Canadian Arctic is thawing 70 years earlier than predicted, an expedition has discovered, in the latest sign that the global climate crisis is accelerating even faster than scientists had feared.

A team from the University of Alaska Fairbanks said they were astounded by how quickly a succession of unusually hot summers had destabilised the upper layers of giant subterranean ice blocks that had been frozen solid for millennia.

“What we saw was amazing,” Vladimir Romanovsky, a professor of geophysics at the university, told Reuters. “It’s an indication that the climate is now warmer than at any time in the last 5,000 or more years.“

With governments meeting in Bonn this week to try to ratchet up ambitions in United Nations climate negotiations, the team’s findings, published on 10 June in Geophysical Research Letters, offered a further sign of a growing climate emergency.

The paper was based on data Romanovsky and his colleagues had been analysing since their last expedition to the area in 2016. The team used a modified propeller plane to visit exceptionally remote sites, including an abandoned cold war-era radar base more than 300km from the nearest human settlement.

Diving through a lucky break in the clouds, Romanovsky and his colleagues said they were confronted with a landscape that was unrecognisable from the pristine Arctic terrain they had encountered during initial visits a decade or so earlier.

The vista had dissolved into an undulating sea of hummocks – waist-high depressions and ponds known as thermokarst. Vegetation, once sparse, had begun to flourish in the shelter provided from the constant wind.

Torn between professional excitement and foreboding, Romanovsky said the scene had reminded him of the aftermath of a bombardment.

“It’s a canary in the coalmine,” said Louise Farquharson, a postdoctoral researcher and co-author of the study. “It’s very likely that this phenomenon is affecting a much more extensive region and that’s what we’re going to look at next.“

Scientists are concerned about the stability of permafrost because of the risk that rapid thawing could release vast quantities of heat-trapping gases, unleashing a feedback loop that would in turn fuel even faster temperature rises.

Even if current commitments to cut emissions under the 2015 Paris agreement are implemented, the world is still far from averting the risk that these kinds of feedback loops will trigger runaway warming, according to models used by the UN-backed Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

With scientists warning that sharply higher temperatures would devastate the global south and threaten the viability of industrial civilisation in the northern hemisphere, campaigners said the new paper reinforced the imperative to cut emissions.


by wa8dzp at June 19, 2019 09:14 AM

InterPressService (global south)

The Immense Cost 200 Million Migrant Workers Pay to Rescue their Families

On average, migrant workers send between 200 and 300 dollars home every one or two months. Contrary maybe to popular belief, this represents only 15 per cent of what they earn: the rest –85 per cent – stays in the countries where they earn the money. Credit: IFAD/Christine Nesbitt.

By Baher Kamal
MADRID, Jun 19 2019 (IPS)

Straight to the point: while right and far-right politicians keep marketing their image with intensive campaigns of hatred, discrimination and stigmatisation against migrants, 200 million migrant workers worldwide will sacrifice over half a trillion dollars from their hard-earned money, to rescue 800 million members of their impoverished families. And that’s only this year 2019.

This huge amount adds up to more than three times the level of Official Development Assistance (ODA) and surpasses Foreign Direct Investment (FDI), stated the Rome-based International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) ahead of the 16 June 2019 International Day of Family Remittances.

In fact, IFAD’s president, Gilbert F. Houngbo, on 14 June announced that remittances from international migrant workers to their families are expected to rise to over 550 billion dollars in 2019, up some 20 billion from 529 billion in 2018.

An impressive figure given that it corresponds to only 15 per cent of migrant workers’ earnings who total around 200 million out of the world’s estimated 260 million migrants.

An essential fact that is most often under-reported or even unreported at all is that 85 per cent of their earnings remain in the host countries.

“Behind the numbers are the individual remittances of 200 dollars or 300 dollars that migrants send home regularly so that their 800 million family members can meet immediate needs and build a better future back home. Half of these flows are sent to rural areas, where they count the most,” IFAD’s chief explained.


Though the benefits of migration outweigh the costs, public perception is often the opposite and negatively impacts migration policy.

Pakistani migrant workers build a skyscraper in Dubai. Credit: S. Irfan Ahmed/IPS


8.5 trillion dollars in just 15 years

An additional staggering fact is that if current trends continue, it is projected that 8.5 trillion dollars will be transferred to families in developing countries over the 15-year life of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

”By then, it is estimated that over 2 trillion dollars (on average 25 per cent of remittances received) will have been saved or invested. If leveraged effectively, remittances can have an unprecedented multiplier effect on sustainable development,” said Houngb.

Remittances from international migrant workers to their families are expected to rise to over 550 billion dollars in 2019, up some 20 billion from 529 billion in 2018.

Gilbert F. Houngbo, IFAD President


Five big facts

Here are 5 facts provided, among others, by the UN about the transformative power of these often small – yet major – contributions to sustainable development worldwide:

  1. About one in nine people globally are supported by funds sent home by migrant workers

Currently, about one billion people in the world – or one in seven – are involved with remittances, either by sending or receiving them. Around 800 million in the world – or one in nine people– are recipients of these flows of money sent by their family members who have migrated for work.

  1. 2. What migrants send back home represents only 15 per cent of what they earn

On average, migrant workers send between 200 and 300 dollars home every one or two months. Contrary maybe to popular belief, this represents only 15 per cent of what they earn: the rest –85 per cent – stays in the countries where they actually earn the money, and is re-ingested into the local economy, or saved.

  1. Remittances remain expensive to send

These international money transfers tend to be costly: on average, globally, currency conversions and fees amount to 7 per cent of the total amounts sent.

  1. The money received is key in helping millions out of poverty

Although the money sent represents only 15 per cent of the money earned by migrants in the host countries, it is often a major part of a household’s total income in the countries of origin and, as such, represents a lifeline for millions of families.

In fact, it is estimated that three quarters of remittances are used to cover essential things: put food on the table and cover medical expenses, school fees or housing expenses. In addition, in times of crises, migrant workers tend to send more money home to cover loss of crops or family emergencies.

The rest, about 25 per cent of remittances – representing over 100 billion dollars per year – can be either saved or invested in asset building or activities that generate income, jobs and transform economies, in particular in rural areas.

  1. Half of the money sent goes straight to rural areas, where the world’s poorest live

Around half of global remittances go to rural areas, where three quarters of the world’s poor and food insecure live. It is estimated that globally, the accumulated flows to rural areas over the next five years will reach $1 trillion.


Why do migrants migrate

Having said that, a harsh question arises: why all these millions and millions of human beings have been forced to abandon their homes and families to fall prey to smugglers, deadly voyages, separation of their children, detention, torture, forced repatriation, etcetera?

Let alone being victims of human traffickers who buy and sell them as just human flesh merchandise to feed the business of prostitution, child recruitment as soldiers, slave-labourers and even for trading their organs?


Three chief reasons lay behind most of the migrants need to flee:

  •   Impoverishment: Most migrants and refugees proceed from former European colonies in Africa, Asia and Latin America and the Caribbean, from countries which had been practically enslaved under European military occupation and which, since their formal independence, have been easy prey to intensive exploitation by big private business. One of the dramatic consequences of that occupation and the ongoing exploitation is the deepening impoverishment of native populations, a fact that has been aggravated by the dominant neo-liberalism-led ‘globalisation.’
  •   Conflicts: most of the around 40 ongoing armed conflicts are due to either the fictitious splitting of nations and compact ethnic communities through aribitrarian borders imposed by former European colonisers, or more recently directly or indirectly fuelled by the voracious exploitation of natural resources by huge translational private business,
  •   Climate crisis: the growing wave of unusual droughts, floods, loss of harvests, of homes and lives, which is caused by climate change, which an immense number of the migrants’ countries of origin did no generate.


Just know that a whole continent like Africa, which is home to around 1,2 billion human beings, has contributed only 4 per cent to greenhouse gas emissions, while bearing the brunt of more than 80 per cent of its dramatic consequences.

These three main reasons lay behind the forced migration of so many millions of human beings, should suffice to explain why the number of people fleeing exploitation, wars and climate change-driven disasters, need to search for other places to feel safer or simply just survive, while working hard to help their families also survive.


NOTE: This article is a follow up to previous two reports of the same author, both published in Human Wrongs Watch: The Most Expensive 529 Billion Dollars, which details the huge human and economic cost of migrants remittances, and The Hellish Cycle focusing specifically on the case of Southeast Asia migrants.

Baher Kamal is Director and Editor of Human Wrongs Watch

The post The Immense Cost 200 Million Migrant Workers Pay to Rescue their Families appeared first on Inter Press Service.

by Baher Kamal at June 19, 2019 08:55 AM

Rising Population Trends Threaten UN’s Development Goals in Asia & Africa

By Thalif Deen

The world’s developing nations, currently fighting an uphill battle in their attempts to implement the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), are facing another stark demographic reality: a rise in world population by 2.0 billion people in the next 30 years: from 7.7 billion to 9.7 billion in 2050.

The population of sub-Saharan Africa alone is projected to double by 2050 (99% increase), according to a new report, The World Population Prospects 2019: Highlights, published by the Population Division of the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA), and released June 17.

Of the nine countries, which will make up more than half the projected growth of the global population– eight are in Africa and Asia.

The eight include: India, Nigeria, Pakistan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Ethiopia, Tanzania, Indonesia and Egypt, plus the United States (in descending order of the expected increase).

Around 2027, India is projected to overtake China as the world’s most populous country, according to the report.

Asked if this increase will have an impact on the implementation of the UN’s 17 SDGs, Joseph Chamie, a former director of the UN Population Division and currently an independent consulting demographer, told IPS: “Without a doubt, the population increases, especially for countries in Africa and South Asia, will have serious consequences on the implementation of the SDGs by 2030, with repercussions extending beyond those regions”

High population growth rates, he pointed out, outpace efforts to educate, employ, house and achieve fundamental development goals.

Chamie described the report as “a major achievement” because it provides invaluable demographic information about the past and likely future for the world, regions and countries.

While world population continues to grow but at a slower pace, enormous demographic diversity exists and numerous population changes are underway across regions and countries, he noted.

Asked if the anticipated increase in world population was a positive or negative factor, Chamie said: “Certainly, several billion additional people will have an enormous impact. More people mean more items consumed and more resources used.”

A world population reaching 8 billion in several years, nearly 10 billion by 2050 and close to 11 billion at the century’s close, poses critical challenges for humanity and the world’s environment, he argued.

Prominent among those challenges, especially relevant for the rapidly growing developing countries in sub-Saharan Africa, are concerns about food, water, housing, education, employment, health, peace and security, governance, migration, human rights, energy, natural resources and the environment.

Purnima Mane, a former President and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Pathfinder International, told IPS rampant and unplanned population growth always has negative consequences. But the situation is not the same everywhere.

“As you know, in parts of the world, population is growing rapidly with limited access to contraception while in others population is not growing adequately to meet the economic demands of the country,” said Mane, a former UN Assistant Secretary-General and Deputy Executive Director (Programme) at the UN Population Fund (UNFPA).

If the anticipated population growth happens mainly in the developing world, as is expected, resources are more likely to fall short of the needs of the people, she warned.

This would not foster national development and individual and family well-being, she noted.

“Ironically, many countries which have low population growth are shutting their doors to immigrants who could take on economic roles which would benefit those countries as well as the immigrants who are moving away for a better life and to leave behind the political and economic instability in their own countries,” Mane added.

Liu Zhenmin, UN Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs, said the report offers a roadmap indicating where to target action and interventions.

“Many of the fastest growing populations are in the poorest countries, where population growth brings additional challenges in the effort to eradicate poverty, achieve greater equality, combat hunger and malnutrition and strengthen the coverage and quality of health and education systems to ensure that no one is left behind,” he added.

The report also confirmed that the world’s population is growing older due to increasing life expectancy and falling fertility levels, and that the number of countries experiencing a reduction in population size is growing.

The resulting changes in the size, composition and distribution of the world’s population have important consequences for achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the globally agreed targets for improving economic prosperity and social well-being while protecting the environment.

The world’s population continues to increase, but growth rates vary greatly across regions

But many regions that may experience lower rates of population growth between 2019 and 2050 include Oceania excluding Australia/New Zealand (56%), Northern Africa and Western Asia (46%), Australia/New Zealand (28%), Central and Southern Asia (25%), Latin America and the Caribbean (18%), Eastern and South-Eastern Asia (3%), and Europe and Northern America (2%).

According to the report, life expectancy at birth for the world, which increased from 64.2 years in 1990 to 72.6 years in 2019, is expected to increase further to 77.1 years in 2050.

While considerable progress has been made in closing the longevity differential between countries, large gaps remain.

In 2019, life expectancy at birth in the least developed countries lags 7.4 years behind the global average, due largely to persistently high levels of child and maternal mortality, as well as violence, conflict and the continuing impact of the HIV epidemic.

Asked about the credibility of the figures, Chamie said past UN global projections have been found to be impressively close to reality and the current world population projections are expected to be similarly reliable and insightful.

Asked about the longstanding concept of zero population growth, he said while ZPG may not be as visible as it was in the 1960s, it remains an important goal for many people.

Without global population stabilization, governments will increasingly struggle to address critical issues including global warming, biodiversity, environmental degradation, as well as shortages of energy, food and water supplies.

High-growth countries, particularly those in Africa, should endeavor to pass as quickly as possible through demographic transition to low death and birth rates as has already been realized throughout much of the world, he noted.

World Population Prospects 2019: Highlights and related materials are available at

The writer can be contacted at

The post Rising Population Trends Threaten UN’s Development Goals in Asia & Africa appeared first on Inter Press Service.

by Thalif Deen at June 19, 2019 08:50 AM

Terni, Italy: June 19 – A greeting for Juan and a scream of struggle for the imprisoned anarchists on hunger strike

A greeting for Juan and a scream of struggle for the imprisoned anarchists on hunger strike
On 19 June 2019, from 6.00 pm, we will be outside the prison of Terni, in Via delle Campore 32, to give a greeting to Juan, an anarchist arrested on 22 May in the province of Brescia and recently transferred to this structure where there are a section AS2 and different sections of 41bis.
We will shout our hatred for the prison, in solidarity with Juan, with Anna and Silvia since 29 May on hunger strike in the prison of L’Aquila and with the anarchists on hunger strike in other prisons.
Wednesday 19 June • 6 pm
At the prison of Terni
at via delle Campore 32
via:insuscettibile di ravvedimento

by actforfreedom at June 19, 2019 07:31 AM

SPAIN : Communiqué from Anarchist Prisoner Lisa in Solidarity with Hunger Strikers in Italy

Dear comrades,
I want to send a strong greeting of solidarity and rebellion to the anarchist comrades who are right now on hunger strike in the prisons of Italy, and the same to all those who are persecuted in the streets.
The need to fight against prisons, isolation and all the increasingly advanced measures of security that apply to all the prisoners and especially to the fighters, supposedly conflictive or dangerous or socially maladjusted, is evident.
Control (social, physical and psychological) as well as punishment and isolation are the basic pillars of the prison system, here and throughout the world. The rules of power are very simple, and whoever opposes them, both on the street and inside the prison, will be punished and isolated from a more social and calmer environment … locked in prison even in isolation modules that are nothing other than a prison inside the prison. Sometimes, they are isolated modules that have no contact with the normal modules; and in other places they are punishment cells that are in the same module, where the prisoners can interact, show solidarity, communicate but also threaten, ignore or stigmatize the punished.

In the Spanish state there is the FIES system (internal file of special monitoring), a system that controls, registers and conditions the political or conflictive prisoners. The FIES III is designed for the prisoners of armed groups, originally designed for ETA and other organized groups, but where they include the anarchists condemned, accused or investigated for terrorism.
Obviously, it depends much on the degree of danger according to which the state classifies us to apply the rules of the FIES to each unit as jail sends us … it can be a fairly light insulation and already similar to the normal closed regime or it can be a super hard isolation and super strict.
In principle, we go through the isolation module in Soto del Real (Madrid). There are 4 galleries – 3 for men and one for women. The gallery of women has ten cells and according to the article that each one has, it goes out to the patios, together or not. The patio is tiny, with wire in the ceiling. There is absolutely nothing there except a basin of shit and trash.
In the cells, the bed, the wardrobe, the table and the shower are built in. It is only allowed to have a few belongings in the cell, at most 2 books that can be changed weekly.
You cannot have “dangerous” objects such as blades, cut nails or tweezers for more than a maximum of half an hour (then they are collected). The commissary runs once a day and has very few products. Requests and letters are collected once a day, so that if one wants to consult or change something, it has to wait for the next day. The light can be regulated from inside the cell, but only if the operators allow it, if they do not turn it on and turn them off from the outside.
The number of searches depends on them, according to the time or reason they want, but there are many, as well as many controls by metal detectors or metal rackets (scanners) each time they leave the cell.
The ‘good’ here – especially compared to the isolation of other countries – is that they tend to be more permissive with communication both abroad (daily calls, vis a vis, booths also in FIES) and between prisoners (talking hours for windows, to pass letters between prisoners …) so one does not live the isolation as strict as it can be, for example, in the countries in the north of Europe.
But if they want to punish someone very much, they can keep them in much harder insulation modules, create galleries of total isolation …
The food is passed through a hole that is waist high and only from there, one communicates with the officials – which is nothing more than another humiliation to try to break the strength of the prisoner.
After a period of interim observation in isolation that usually lasts a few months, it usually passes into modules of the first degree, which are designed to ‘make life’ there for years. But they can also keep prisoners, especially those punished – usually for terrorism – in total isolation, without communication with other prisoners, or apply items of maximum security in cases of supposedly very dangerous people … as always, by punishment or prevention …
In Germany, there are also insulation modules. In Koln, only for men, for example … but also women can end up isolated in these modules or isolated in modules of normal regime. Then there are the cells of extreme punishment, called ‘bunker’ where one is only allowed to have a dress provided by the jail, where one spends 24 hours alone, no window and no minimum connection with the outside … but usually one is not there more than a few days or maximum a few weeks. Even so, the injustice and impotence lived there are enormous.
The isolation always leaves strong aftermaths; it is something that who has lived it will never be able to forget, and the madness and the rage of having lived it only increase. There are many people who do not survive. Everything depends a lot on the mental (and physical) strength of each individual and a lot of support and solidarity from outside.
At the political level, it is more obvious that they try to isolate us, not only from society outside, but also from other prisoners with whom we could create complicities and awareness of struggle against this system of punishment, jail and authority. But every gesture of companionship and solidarity that is lived inside and outside, and every firmness and determination to oppose their isolation, as against all their system of oppression and misery, show that they can never finish us, our struggle and our passion for total freedom.
LISA, C.P Brians 1, June 2019

by actforfreedom at June 19, 2019 07:24 AM

InterPressService (global south)

Conference in Vienna: Executive Director of the Geneva Centre received by the Chairman of the Caucasus Muslims’ Board and the Director of the Diplomatic Academy in Vienna

By Geneva Centre
VIENNA, Jun 19 2019 (IPS-Partners)

In relation to the organization by the Geneva Centre for Human Rights Advancement and Global Dialogue together with its partners in Vienna on the theme of “From the Interfaith and Inter-Civilizational Cooperation to Human Security”, the Executive Director of the Geneva Centre Ambassador Idriss Jazairy participated in several high-level meetings in Vienna.

The aim of these meetings was to enhance the Geneva Centre’s collaboration with inter-religious organizations and academic institutions in the field of interfaith dialogue and the promotion of mutual understanding and cooperative relations between societies.

In the meeting with the Chairman of the Caucasus Muslims’ Board His Virtue Sheikh-ul-Islam Allahshukur Pashazadeh, in the presence of the Ambassador of Azerbaijan to Austria HE Galib Israfilov and the Head of the Parliamentary Committee on International Relations of the National Assembly of Azerbaijan Mr Samad Seyidov, Ambassador Jazairy expressed his appreciation to his interlocutors for the fruitful cooperation which has led to the organization of this important conference.

The Executive Director of the Geneva Centre likewise commended the outcome of the Fifth World Forum on Inter-Cultural Dialogue, held from 2-3 May 2019 in Baku, as it examined appropriate ways to support diversity, dialogue and mutual understanding as foundations for sustainable peace.

In response to Ambassador Jazairy’s remarks, the Azeri officials expressed their appreciation to the endeavours of the Geneva Centre to promote mutual understanding and cooperative relations between people and societies.

His Virtue Pashazadeh and Ambassador Jazairy agreed that they were united in the same vision to promote equal citizenship rights in multi-cultural and multi-religious societies worldwide. Ambassador Jazairy gave copies of the Geneva Centre’s book on “Islam and Christianity, the Great Convergence: Joining Forces to Enhance Equal Citizenship Rights” to the Azeri officials.

In light of this discussion, the participants highlighted the need to capitalize on the momentum of the 25 June 2018 World Conference on religions and equal citizenship rights, the 2018 World Tolerance Summit, the Joint Document on Human Fraternity for World Peace and Living Together signed on 4 February 2019 by HH Pope Francis and the Grand Imam of Al Azhar His Eminence Ahmad Al-Tayib in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, as well as the Fifth World Forum on Intercultural Dialogue held in Baku to examine inventive ways to carry the process forward to harness the collective energy of religions in the pursuit of equal citizenship rights. The 19 June conference – it was agreed – serves as a timely opportunity to harness unity in diversity and promote mutual understanding, tolerance and empathy.

In this connection, the parties agreed to further explore the possibility of organizing joint conferences on inter-faith dialogue and to conduct further research on points of commonalities of religions, creeds and value systems in the pursuit of joint values. Ambassador Israfilov and Mr Seyidov expressed their readiness to cooperate with the Geneva Centre on these matters.

In a second meeting, Ambassador Jazairy was received by Ambassador Emil Brix, the Director of the famous Diplomatic Academy in Vienna. Ambassador Jazairy used the occasion to inform Ambassador Brix about the Geneva Centre’s endeavours to organize panel debates at the United Nations Office in Geneva (UNOG) to promote a value-driven human rights system and to act as a platform for dialogue between a variety of stakeholders involved in the promotion and advancement of human rights in the Arab region and beyond.

Ambassador Brix highlighted that that the Diplomatic Academy in Vienna was established in the 18th century to enhance inter-civilizational dialogue and to build bridges of understanding between the West and the Ottoman Empire. In fact, Austria was one of the first countries in Europe to recognise Islam as an official religion, which it did in 1912, following the annexation of Bosnia-Herzegovina in 1908. The promotion of cooperative relations between peoples and societies – Ambassador Blix said – remains therefore one of the founding values of the Diplomatic Academy.

In light of this discussion, the parties expressed their readiness to explore joint avenues in the holding of conferences and thematic workshops as well as to facilitate student exchange visits. They highlighted the importance of addressing matters related to the reform of the multilateral system, enhance the long-term efficiency of the United Nations and transform inter-religious dialogue into political awareness.

The post Conference in Vienna: Executive Director of the Geneva Centre received by the Chairman of the Caucasus Muslims’ Board and the Director of the Diplomatic Academy in Vienna appeared first on Inter Press Service.

by Geneva Centre at June 19, 2019 07:21 AM

Sardinia, Italy: Anarchist Maddalena from Uta prison on a hunger strike from 10 to 12 June

From a letter dated 6/6 2019 written by anarchist comrade Maddalena Calore from Uta prison (arrived yesterday, June 14, at the Cassa AntiRepressione delle Alpi occidentali):
“… I too send a hug to Anna and Silvia with a hunger strike that I will undertake on June 10th, 11th and 12th, in solidarity with the protest that the comrades are carrying out for the conditions of detention to which they are subjected.
Against differentiated regimes and each a form of isolation!
A heartfelt all rebels everywhere, with those who seek to maintain their dignity and for those who strive for true freedom!
Greetings to all the comrades.
An embrace for freedom.

via: insuscettibile di ravvedimento

by actforfreedom at June 19, 2019 07:13 AM


The CLOC at 25 years

In February 1994, in Lima (Perú), under the slogan “United in Defense of Life, Land, Work and Production” the Latin American Coordination of Rural Organizations (CLOC) was officially established.  Eighty-four (84) organizations from 18 countries across Latin America and the Caribbean came together for this historic moment.  This became possible as a result of a process of several years of work of weaving together various social movements within the context of the Continental Campaign celebrating 500 years of Indigenous, Black and Popular Resistance.

This process has as its initial epicenter a rapprochement of indigenous campesino organizations from the Andean Region, through a learning exchange workshop focused on education and communications (October 1987) in which the participants considered that the need to overcome the sporadic character of their relations was urgent, stating that: “the fact that we understand the importance of walking together does not mean that the road is easy. After having ignored each other forever, we have a world of ignorance that separates us. “

Because by then, the ravages of the impacts of the prevailing neoliberal policies had already torn away at the organizational social fabric, this perspective of the need for unity found fertile ground and is thus projected to the other regions with the impetus of the Continental Campaign 500 Years of Indigenous Resistance , Black and Popular, which takes place between October 1989 and October 1992, on the occasion of the V Centennial of the Spanish arrival on American soil.

The special thing about that campaign was that it did not fizzle out or end by itself, but rather it was transformed into a pioneering alternative, led by the people’s movements, to the phenomenon of neoliberal globalization.  This was, among other things, because as advocates for traditionally marginalized and excluded social sectors, under the banner of unity in diversity, they were able to weave together local and global struggles; thus combatting the localism that neoliberalism intended  to impose on social justice struggle; they built a melting pot where networks of various sectors of social movements melded together with new organizing criteria and strategies; and they were able to generate a significant international solidarity movement,  among others.

At the same time, the sense of a matrix  that  this campaign signified for the CLOC  was  not only  due to the fact that it  provided a gathering space where  exchanges between like-minded organizations from differing social sectors, but also because its undertaking required a series of conceptual and organizational reformulations that were aimed at countering fragmentation and dispersion  among the varied social movements.  

And it is thus that, since its birth, the unity proposed by the CLOC has sought to  go beyond mere formalities in agreements and political commitments to instead , materialize in concrete struggles which has meant  that national organizations with the capacity to  truly represent  their base and thus are of the front lines; definitions that have been maintained as reference points for the development of the coordination.  What’s more, it is under these parameters that 2 years later , in Tlaxcala, Mexico ( April of 1996) the CLOC formalized participation in La Via Campesina.   


The founders confirmed that: “Neoliberal policies in Latin American agriculture were expressed in clearly regressive agrarian reforms, with anti-peasant legislation that aimed to launch millions of hectares of land into the market and facilitate processes of re-concentration of those lands. These policies also caused an alarming growth of poverty, migration to the cities and destruction of peasant economies “, in the founding period they establish the premise that marked the CLOC’s subsequent development.

“In the agrarian arena we conclude that peasants’ right to land, and indigenous rights to their territories are unequivocal and irrevocable and are part of human rights. That a true agrarian reform implies profound changes in social and productive structures and relations, a reordering of the anti-peasant legislation that guarantees forms of social property and direct management of the land. No more land in a few hands, nor many hands without land, “says the Declaration.

 It is fundamental, it notes, “to promote the access of small and medium producers to credit, technical assistance and research, safe markets and fair prices for their products, agricultural insurance and basic services; to promote alternative forms of self-development and economic integration based out of our organizations, both locally, nationally, and at the Latin American level and work for a self-sustaining agriculture that guarantees the improvement of the quality of life of the population, the rational use of natural resources and the preservation of our genetic resources. “

It also indicates the commitment to the “struggle for respect for cultural identity, self-determination and for the territories of the indigenous peoples”; and with the promotion of “a Latin American vision to overcome all types of discrimination and violence against women, facilitating and supporting their active participation and guaranteeing equal rights as men in the different decision-making bodies”; and in addition with a commitment  “that childhood and youth be given special attention … So that there will be no more exploited children or youth without employment”.

It also demands ” an educational program that responds to the problems and needs of transformation and integral development of the countryside, which affirms the cultural values of peasant communities and indigenous peoples”. The declaration also recognized that it is necessary to “readjust our forms of organization and struggle, taking into account the political and economic changes imposed by neoliberalism,” as well the need to strengthen the autonomy of rural organizations.  While at the same time, it denounces “the repression and persecution of militants and peasant leaders”.

To Dispute the Dominant Agricultural Model

Given the time that has passed, for some time now the CLOC-VC’s agenda has taken up the challenge of moving forward to build a popular political project and the generate proposals for public policies, from the defense of a new matrix of production of agricultural goods based on agroecology:  a model opposed to the agribusiness (agribusiness) model that only manages to produce food with agrotoxics and thus has serious consequences for the health of the population and environmental destruction.

Agribusiness is the expression of the structural rearrangement in agricultural production of the new phase of capitalism.  According to João Pedro Stedile, leader of the Landless Workers Movement of Brazil, this model “is succinctly characterized by: organizing agricultural production in the form of monocultures (a single product) in increasingly large areas; intensive use of agricultural machines, expelling agricultural labor from the field; the practice of agriculture without farmers; the intensive use of agricultural poisons, the agrotoxins, which destroy the natural fertility of soils and their micro-organisms, contaminate the water in the water table and even the atmosphere by adopting the defoliants and drying agents that evaporate in the atmosphere and return with the rains. And above all, they contaminate the food produced, with very serious consequences for the health of the population. The more and more standard use of transgenic seeds and attack the environment with their production techniques that seek only larger outputs, in less time “1.

Agroecology, on the other hand, is more than a set of alternative techniques to produce, and rather constitutes a new technical and scientific basis for the production of food, fibers and biomass, in sufficient quantity and quality for national supply and exports, which preserves and conserves the base of existing natural resources in the biomes and ecosystems. As the seeds determine the adopted production model, the native seeds – since they are adapted to the soil and the climate of their region- are determinants of the quality, diversity and quantity of food produced, therefore they are linked with Food Sovereignty; a concept developed by CLOC-LVC based on the principle that food cannot be a commodity, because food is a right of survival of humanity. Therefore, in all parts of the world, each people has the right and duty to produce their own food. And the issue of food is a strategic issue for the autonomy of a people and for the Sovereignty of the Nation.

In this dispute, which ultimately has to do with the future of life – due to the seriousness of the destruction of nature caused by the agribusiness model when prioritizing profit; the formulation of proposals for public policies has become an indispensable component to propose, advance and consolidate conquests. Although, with the adverse correlation that prevails in the region such a challenge demands greater efforts, there is a key achievement: the “Declaration on the Rights of Peasants and Other Persons Working in Rural Areas” adopted by the United Nations (UN) on September 28, 2018.

New Challenges

Like the other social organizations, the CLOC-VC now has to face the ramifications that are under way due to changes in technological platforms related to digitalization, robotization, big data and artificial intelligence. In fact, the “datafication” (or systematization of recordable data) of the agricultural sector is not new: it has been several decades since the varieties of seeds were registered, which are stored in repositories to be patented by companies.

With the recent processes of digitalization, changes are accelerating and are increasingly impacting many countries of the global South. One aspect is the monitoring of the fields with digital machinery, cameras and sensors, which record data on crops, climate, land, irrigation, pests and weeds, etc., with which companies that sell seeds and agrochemicals can remotely identify problems and dictate, for example, to the farmer which pesticides or fertilizers to use. This implies an erosion of community knowledge and the ancestral and agroecological ways of managing biodiversity and the quality of soils, generating new forms of dependency on agro-industrial corporations.

Another field to keep in mind is what happens with the incursion of the “electronic commerce” platforms in the agro-food chain that not only involves distribution, since the companies concerned are buying large tracts of land, particularly in countries of the South, to be able to control the whole chain of food production and distribution, with which they can also set prices. At first, this allows them to make unfair competition with local producers by selling at lower prices, which monopolizes the market. Later, when they already have a captive market, they can increase prices at will.

With this panorama ahead, it is important to expand the sphere when it comes to refining policies of alliances to, for example, to build bridges with those who work for rights and digital justice, and to confront the big corporations.

Osvaldo León – Revista ALAI (América Latina en Movimiento)

The post The CLOC at 25 years appeared first on Via Campesina English.

by nyoni at June 19, 2019 06:58 AM


(en) Britain, anarchist communist group ACG: Sudan - the rebellion continues!

Despite the horrendous repression against the Sudanese masses, the rebellion continues. An all out indefinite general strike continues, shutting down the capital and many other towns. This despite the murderous rampage of the Rapid Support Force Islamist militias which tied concrete blocks to people before throwing them in the Nile. ---- Barricades were erected in the northern part of Khartoum to block roads and bridges. Meanwhile in Omdurman a demonstrator was shot dead. ---- It should be pointed out that the Sudan regime is a close ally of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, who have said that they will finance the Transitional Military Council (TMC) to the amount of $3 billion. RSF miltias have fought with Saudi forces in the Yemen against Houthi rebels in a vicious war, and the leader of the RSF, Hamdan Dagalo, has expressed support for Saudi Arabia's opposition to ...

by A-infos ( at June 19, 2019 04:43 AM

(en) asran-arshism: We support the libertarian struggles of the Sudanese people and their resistance against military rule [machine translation]

United Front for Freedom, Fairness & Equality (UFFFE) along with its comrades of East Java (Indonesia) Anarchist, joins the Solidarity for the Liberation of Sudan: ---- -We fully support all resistance activities in Sudan against dictators, military groups as well as right-wing fascist groups ---- -We condemn Military Government, SudanMassacre and declare total resistance to state and military repression in Sudan ---- -we will join the fight for freedom through possible ways that could help the battle of Sudanese people ---- -We urge all Freedom Fighters of the world to join solidarity with the people of Sudan ---- -We express full support towards every liberation effort in this world ---- Long Live Humanity ---- Long Live International Solidarity ---- ...

by A-infos ( at June 19, 2019 04:42 AM

(en) WELCOME TO THE SUCCESSFUL - Call for solidarity with the arrested of the attempted expropriation of the money transfer to AHEPA by dwarf horse APO [machine translation]

WELCOME TO THE APPLICATIONS ---- Call for solidarity with the arrested people of the attempt to expropriate the money transfer to AHEPA ---- "The slave is always in self-defense situation against the master" ---- Q. Malatesta ---- But what distinguishes the slave from the emancipated man is not the condition of oppression, which is common to all non-privileged ones, but the movement of resistance against it. And all the moves that undermine the enslavement system, let's not laugh, are ultimately always illegal. You can not get to freight with a coach. ---- Let's be clear. The arrested people of the AHEPA affair enjoy our absolute solidarity, not just because they are now in the brutish hands of our worst enemy, the worst enemy of humanity and the state, but because for years they have consistently and unselfishly carried a lot of water into the mill of the case of ...

by A-infos ( at June 19, 2019 04:30 AM

(en) ait russia - Brazil: Anarcho-syndicalists supported the general strike [machine translation]

Anarcho-syndicalists from the Brazilian Working Confederation of the Council for Social Development (Section of the International Association of Workers) supported a general strike on June 14 against the pension reform of the neoliberal-right-conservative President Bolsar. ---- Across the country, hundreds of thousands of people took to the streets. Protesters threw work, blocked the streets, conducted mass marches, erected burning barricades and clashed with police. ---- Because of the strike, many schools and universities, banks and government offices were closed. The strike embraced 8 refineries. In Sao Paulo, traffic has stopped ... ---- The anarcho-syndicalist trade union COB-AIT supported the strike, but added its own demands to it, including extending the rights of employees, women and Indians, improving health care, social services, housing and ...

by A-infos ( at June 19, 2019 04:30 AM

(en) France, Alternative Libertaire AL #295 - Energy Alternatives: Anaerobic digestion misguided by agribusiness (fr, it, pt)[machine translation]

Government policy for the development of anaerobic digestion leads to the creation of large units. This policy will create serious environmental problems and will only accentuate the desertification of the countryside in favor of an ever increasing concentration of farms. ---- In the January 2019 issue of Alternative Libertaire we wrote: " The development of bio-methane production on farms seems much more promising. It allows recovers waste to produce both renewable energy and organic fertilizer " . If this remains valid, methanization industrial projects characterized by gigantic installations and technical choices to reduce costs to the maximum, result in serious damage to the environment. Thus the Gramat methanizer (Lot) - which produces methane, converted into electricity and ...

by A-infos ( at June 19, 2019 03:55 AM

(en) Libertarian Atheneon of Volos (Greece)

It was unanimously decided that the space should be shaped and functioned in such a way in order to avoid any attempt to be either an alternative amusement area or a space of narcissistic self-confirmation of micro-hegemonies. ---- The Libertarian Atheneon of Volos is a collective venture. Its foundation is the culmination of a long-term exchange of thoughts and reflections on the necessity of creating a social space in the city of Volos, a social space that will promote libertarian values and will be a pole of attraction and participation for those radically conscious, all those who perceive the projects of self-organisation, equality, freedom and solidarity, as strategic points and by virtue of their substantive implementation, and not by their client-based pretext. ...

by A-infos ( at June 19, 2019 03:55 AM

Contents: Judged: How governments use power to undermine justice and freedom

With contributions from Xinran, Ahmet Altan, Stephen Woodman, Karoline Kan, Conor Foley, Robert Harris, Stefano Pozzebon and Melanio Escobar

Judged: How governments use power to undermine justice and freedom. The summer 2019 edition of Index on Censorship magazine

The summer 2019 Index on Censorship magazine looks at the narrowing gap between a nation’s leader and its judges and lawyers. What happens when the independence of the justice system is gone and lawyers are no longer willing to stand up with journalists and activists to fight for freedom of expression?

In this issue Stephen Woodman reports from Mexico about its new government’s promise to start rebuilding the pillars of democracy; Sally Gimson speaks to best-selling novelist Robert Harris to discuss why democracy and freedom of expression must continue to prevail; Conor Foley investigates the macho politics of President Jair Bolsonaro and how he’s using the judicial system for political ends;  Jan Fox examines the impact of President Trump on US institutions; and Viktória Serdült digs into why the media and justice system in Hungary are facing increasing pressure from the government. In the rest of the magazine a short story from award-winning author Claudia PineiroXinran reflects on China’s controversial social credit rating system; actor Neil Pearson speaks out against theatre censorship; and an interview with the imprisoned best-selling Turkish author Ahmet Altan.

Special Report: Judged: How governments use power to undermine justice and freedom

Law and the new world order by Rachael Jolley on why the independence of the justice system is in play globally, and why it must be protected

Turkey’s rule of one by Kaya Genc President Erdogan’s government is challenging the result of Istanbul’s mayoral elections. This could test further whether separation of powers exists

England, my England (and the Romans) by Sally Gimson Best-selling novelist Robert Harris on how democracy and freedom of expression are about a lot more than one person, one vote

“It’s not me, it’s the people” by Stephen Woodman Mexico’s new government promised to start rebuilding the pillars of democracy, but old habits die hard. Has anything changed?

When political debate becomes nasty, brutish and short by Jan Fox President Donald Trump has been trampling over democratic norms in the USA. How are US institutions holding up?

The party is the law by Karoline Kan In China, hundreds of human rights lawyers have been detained over the past years, leaving government critics exposed

Balls in the air by Conor Foley The macho politics of Brazil’s new president plus ex-president Dilma Rousseff’s thoughts on constitutional problems

Power and Glory by Silvia Nortes The Catholic church still wields enormous power in Spain despite the population becoming more secular

Stripsearch by Martin Rowson In Freedonia

What next for Viktor Orbán’s Hungary? Viktoria Serdult looks at what happens now that Hungary’s prime minister is pressurising the judiciary, press, parliament and electoral system

When justice goes rogue by Melanio Escobar and Stefano Pozzebon Venezuela is the worst country in the world for abuse of judicial power. With the economy in freefall, journalists struggle to bear witness

“If you can keep your head, when all about you are losing theirs…” by Caroline Muscat It’s lonely and dangerous running an independent news website in Malta, but some lawyers are still willing to stand up to help

Failing to face up to the past by Ryan McChrystal argues that belief in Northern Ireland’s institutions is low, in part because details of its history are still secret

Global View

Small victories do count by Jodie Ginsberg The kind of individual support Index gives people living under oppressive regimes is a vital step towards wider change

In Focus

Sending out a message in a bottle by Rachael Jolley Actor Neil Pearson, who shot to international fame as the sexist boss in the Bridget Jones’ films, talks about book banning and how the fight against theatre censorship still goes on

Remnants of war by Zehra Dogan Photographs from the 2019 Freedom of Expression Arts Award fellow Zehra Doğan’s installation at Tate Modern in London

Six ways to remember Weimar by Regula Venske The name of this small town has mythic resonances for Germans. It was the home of many of the country’s greatest classical writers and gave its name to the Weimar Republic, which was founded 100 years ago

“Media attacks are highest since 1989” by Natasha Joseph Politicians in South Africa were issuing threats to journalists in the run-up to the recent elections. Now editors have built a tracking tool to fight back

Big Brother’s regional ripple effect by Kirsten Han Singapore’s recent “fake news” law which gives ministers the right to ban content they do not like, may encourage other regimes in south-east Asia to follow suit

Who guards the writers? Irene Caselli reports on journalists who write about the Mafia and extremist movements in Italy need round-the-clock protection. They are worried Italy’s deputy prime minister Matteo Salvini will take their protection away

China in their hands by Xinran The social credit system in China risks creating an all-controlling society where young people will, like generations before them, live in fear

Playing out injustice by Lewis Jennings Ugandan songwriter and politician Bobi Wine talks about how his lyrics have inspired young people to stand up against injustice and how the government has tried to silence him


“Watch out we’re going to disappear you” by Claudia Pineiro The horrors of DIY abortion in a country where it is still not legal are laid bare in this story from Argentina, translated into English for the first time

“Knowing that they are there, helps me keep smiling in my cell” by Ahmet Altanm The best-selling Turkish author and journalist gives us a poignant interview from prison and we publish an extract from his 2005 novel The Longest Night

A rebel writer by Eman Abdelrahim An exclusive extract from a short story by a new Egyptian writer. The story deals with difficult themes of mental illness set against the violence taking place during the uprising in Cairo’s Tahrir Square


Index around the world – Speak out, shut out by Lewis Jennings Index welcomed four new fellows to our 2019 programme. We were also out and about advocating for free expression around the world


End note – Hanging truth out to dry by Sally Gimson Documentary maker Maxim Pozdorovkin explains why propaganda these days is all about disorientation and creating a situation where it is hard to figure out what is true


In print, online, in your mailbox, on your iPad.

Subscription options from £18 or just £1.49 in the App Store for a digital issue.

Every subscriber helps support Index on Censorship’s projects around the world.



The summer 2019 magazine podcast, featuring interviews with best-selling author Xinran; Italian journalist and contributor to the latest issue, Stefano Pozzebon; and Steve Levitsky, the author of the New York Times best-seller How Democracies Die.


The post Contents: Judged: How governments use power to undermine justice and freedom appeared first on Index on Censorship.

by Lewis Jennings at June 19, 2019 12:54 AM

Judged: How governments use power to undermine justice and freedom


Claudia Piñeiro
Robert Harris


Every subscription helps Index’s work around the world


The post Judged: How governments use power to undermine justice and freedom appeared first on Index on Censorship.

by Index on Censorship at June 19, 2019 12:01 AM


Remaining Charges Dropped Against Vaughn 17

On Wednesday, June 12, Delaware announced it was dropping its last two cases against former Vaughn prisoners accused of participation in the 2017 prison takeover. Lawrence Michaels and Alejandro Rodriguez-Ortiz, whom the state claimed helped subdue correctional officers at the beginning of the takeover, will no longer be facing trial in the fall. The state also announced that it would not be retrying defendant Obadiah Miller, for whom the jury in a previous trial could not come to a decision about whether he had fought and stabbed the officer who later succumbed to his injuries.

June 19, 2019 12:00 AM

Letter From Anarchists Inside a Thessaloniki Prison

Thessaloniki, Greece: Letter from Giannis, Kostas and Dimitra, from the dungeons of the General Police headquarters From the dungeons of the General Police headquarters of Thessaloniki, we send comradely greetings to our comrades who once again stand in solidarity in our new adventures with the police-law repressive mincer. We declare that we remain strong, with our dignity intact, our principles and values guiding our being. We will stand up to the new sufferings that the rulers of this world are preparing for us.

June 19, 2019 12:00 AM

Lemay Vice President's Car Set on Fire on June 11th

Anonymous submission to MTL Counter-info On the day of solidarity with long-term anarchist prisoners, the BMW belonging to André Cardinal, parked in front of his private residence in NDG, was set on fire. André Cardinal is the Vice President of Lemay, the architecture firm designing the migrant prison in Laval. May fires burn for all that the worlds of prison and borders have stolen from us. From:

June 19, 2019 12:00 AM