23.07.2017 Countercurrents

Iraqi Sources Place Real Death Toll In US-Led Siege Of Mosul At 40,000

By Bill Van Auken

According to intelligence reports from Iraq, the US-led massacre in Mosul has claimed a staggeringly higher toll of Iraqi civilian lives then had previously been reported.

More than 40,000 men, women and children were killed in the grinding nine-month-long siege of Mosul, Iraq’s second-largest city, according to a report published Thursday by the veteran Middle East correspondent for the British daily Independent Patrick Cockburn.

Cockburn’s source is the former finance and foreign minister of the Iraqi government, Hoshyar Zebari, an Iraqi Kurd with close ties to Iraq’s Kurdistan Regional Government. The figure was supplied by Kurdish intelligence.

“The figure given by Mr Zebari for the number of civilians killed in the nine-month siege is far higher than those previously reported, but the intelligence service of the Kurdistan Regional Government has a reputation for being extremely accurate and well-informed,” reports Cockburn.

The sheer scale of the killing makes the siege of Mosul one of the greatest war crimes of the post-World War II era. While before the city fell to the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) in June of 2014 it had a population of approximately 2 million, by the time the siege began, there were still at least 1.2 million civilians trapped in Mosul. This population was subjected to horrific violence.

Earlier, the UK-based monitoring group Airwars had provided an estimate of 5,805 civilians killed in airstrikes by the US-led “coalition” between February 19 and June 19. This figure excluded those killed in the four preceding months of the siege, as well as those who died in the last three weeks of the intensive bombardment that reduced western Mosul’s Old City to rubble.

In his interview with Cockburn, Zebari attributed a significant share of the carnage to the relentless artillery bombardment of western Mosul by Iraq’s militarized federal police, using weapons that are inaccurate and of use only in terms of demolishing entire neighborhoods rather than targeting fighters of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria.

The report issued earlier this month by Amnesty International, “At Any Cost: The Civilian Catastrophe in West Mosul,” also pointed to the devastating effect of these bombardments, which were used to compensate for the lack of sufficient numbers of adequately trained Iraqi troops to throw into combat in the crowded streets and alleyways of Mosul’s Old City.

“Pro-government forces relied heavily upon explosive weapons with wide area effects such as IRAMs (Improvised Rocket Assisted Munitions),” Amnesty charged. “With their crude targeting abilities, these weapons wreaked havoc in densely populated west Mosul, where large groups of civilians were trapped in homes or makeshift shelters. Even in attacks that seem to have struck their intended military target, the use of unsuitable weapons or failure to take other necessary precautions resulted in needless loss of civilian lives.”

The report described the artillery and rocket launchers employed by the Iraqi forces, working closely with US special forces “advisors,” as “indiscriminate weapons” that “must never be used in the vicinity of civilians.”

One indication of the scale of the killing has come, unintentionally, from the Iraqi government itself. Since proclaiming Mosul’s “liberation” on July 10, Iraqi officials have put out a statement claiming that its forces had “liquidated 16,467 terrorists.” When the siege began, US commanders estimated that there were somewhere between 3,000 and 5,000 ISIS fighters in the city. An obvious explanation for this discrepancy is that any male Iraqi killed in the city, fighters and civilians alike, has been designated as a member of ISIS.

Despite the fanfare by the Baghdad government over Mosul’s “liberation” and victory over ISIS, fighting is still being reported within the city, with guerrilla bands carrying out lethal attacks on Iraqi government units.

At the same time, there have been multiple reports indicating that the government forces and allied militias have been engaged in savage acts of collective punishment against Mosul’s survivors, including mass summary executions and torture.

Human Rights Watch reported Wednesday that international observers had discovered an “execution site in west Mosul.” It recounted their testimony that they found inside an empty building “a row of 17 male corpses, barefoot but in civilian dress, surrounded by pools of blood. They said many appeared to have been blindfolded and with their hands tied behind their back.” The human rights group cited a large number of similar incidents along with “relentless reports, videos, and photographs of unlawful executions and beatings by Iraqi soldiers.”

Iraqi Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi made it clear that the government will do nothing to halt these atrocities. He described them as “individual acts and not widespread.”

The US corporate media has all but blacked out the reports of massive civilian casualties and the war crimes carried out since the retaking of Mosul. The Iraqi government itself has sought to bar reporters from the city in order to conceal the scale of the bloodshed and continuing executions.

While largely dropping its coverage of the ongoing humanitarian catastrophe in Mosul, the New York Times Thursday published a hypocritical editorial titled “Avoiding War With Iran,” which expressed some trepidation over the increasingly bellicose acts of the Trump administration aimed at provoking just such a conflict.

The “newspaper of record” suggests that “It is useful to recall the lead-up to the 2003 Iraq War arguably America’s biggest strategic blunder in modern times.” It criticizes the Bush administration for launching a war to overthrow the regime of Saddam Hussein “even though he had nothing to do with Sept. 11 and had no nuclear weapons.” It adds, “Mr. Bush decided to fight a pre-emptive war without a solid justification or strategy. Such a stumble into war could happen again.”

Conveniently forgotten in this cynical presentation is the fact that the Times as an institution played a major role in advocating and facilitating the Iraq war.

Its senior correspondent Judith Miller worked intimately with US officials to promote and embellish upon phony “intelligence” on non-existent Iraqi “weapons of mass destruction.” Thomas Friedman, the paper’s chief foreign affairs columnist, churned out columns advocating what he openly acknowledged would be a “war of choice” against Iraq, justifying it in the name of democracy, human rights and oil.

The newspaper set the tone for the rest of the media in terms of propaganda that paved the way to a criminal war of aggression that claimed the lives of over one million Iraqis and continues to generate mass murder in Mosul.

Even more chilling was an editorial column on Mosul titled “The City Is the Battlefield of the Future,” that appeared in the Wall Street Journal Thursday under the byline of one Maj. John Spencer, deputy director of the Modern War Institute at the US Military Academy in West Point, New York.

“The battle for Mosul represents the future of warfare,” Major Spencer argues, adding “U.S. commanders ought to imagine how they would handle a similar environment.”

Clearly, they have more than imagined it–in terms of Iraq–with US commanders directing much of the destruction rained down on the city.

Echoing what is now standard Pentagon doctrine, the major insists that the wars that the US military will confront will be fought in “cities — dense, often overpopulated and full of obstacles: labyrinthine apartment blocks, concealed tunnels, panicking civilians.”

His primary concern is that the Pentagon presently has no systematic training of its troops for urban combat, and that the word “siege”–the barbaric strategy employed against Mosul–does not appear in its training manuals.

He insists that US forces “need to be equipped to operate in large cities with new equipment, formations and doctrine.” He advances a modest proposal for meeting this need: “Major cities such as Detroit and the outer boroughs of New York have large abandoned areas that could be safely redeveloped as urban training sites.”

In other words, American troops are to be trained in the art of urban combat and siege warfare inside American cities. The proposal suggests that what the major is really urging Pentagon commanders to “imagine” is using the military to suppress revolutionary upheavals in the US itself.

Originally published in WSWS.org


This post is also available in: Italian

Why War? Building On The Legacy of Einstein, Freud And Gandhi

In 1932, Sigmund Freud and Albert Einstein conducted a correspondence subsequently published under the title ‘Why War?’ See ‘Why War: Einstein and Freud’s Little-Known Correspondence on Violence, Peace, and Human Nature’. In many ways, this dialogue between two giants of the 20thcentury is symbolic of the effort made by many humans to understand that perplexing and incredibly damaging feature of human experience: the institution of war.

In a recent article, the founder of peace research, Professor Johan Galtung, reminded us of the legacy of Freud and Einstein in this regard and reflected on their dialogue, noting some shortcomings including their failure to ‘unpack conflict’. See ‘Freud-Einstein on Peace’.

Of course, Freud and Einstein weren’t the first to consider the question ‘Why War?’ and their dialogue was preceded by a long sequence of individuals and even some organizations, such as the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom and War Resisters’ International, who sought to understand, prevent and/or halt particular wars, or even to understand and end the institution itself, as exemplified by the Kellogg-Briand Pact in 1928 outlawing war. Moreover, given the failure of earlier initiatives, many individuals and organizations since Freud and Einstein have set out to understand, prevent and/or halt wars and these efforts have taken divergent forms.

Notable among these, Mohandas K. Gandhi was concerned to develop a mode of action to deal with many manifestations of violence and he dramatically developed, and shared, an understanding of how to apply nonviolence, which he labeled satyagraha (holding firmly to the truth),  in overcoming large-scale violence and exploitation. He successfully applied his strategic understanding of nonviolence to the Indian independence struggle against British colonial rule. But while Gandhi was happy to acknowledge his debt to those who had gone before, he was not shy in proclaiming the importance of finding new ways forward: ‘If we are to make progress, we must not repeat history but make new history. We must add to the inheritance left by our ancestors.’

My own journey to understand human violence was caused by the death of my two uncles, Bob and Tom, in World War II, ten years before I was born. My childhood in the 1950s and 1960s is dotted with memories of my uncles, stimulated through such events as attending memorial services at the Shrine of Remembrance where their war service was outlined. See ‘My Brothers’ on my father’s website.

But by the early 1960s, courtesy of newspaper articles and photos, I had become aware of exploitation and starvation in Africa and elsewhere, and as a young university student in the early 1970s I was reading literature about environmental destruction. It wasn’t just war that was problematic; violence took many other forms too.

‘Why are human beings violent?’ I kept asking. Because I thought that this question must have been answered somewhere, I kept reading, including the work of Freud and Karl Marx as an undergraduate, but also the thoughts of many other scholars, such as Frantz Fanon, as well as anarchists, feminists and those writing from other perspectives which offered explanations of violence, whether direct, structural or otherwise.

By the early 1980s I had started to read Gandhi and I had begun to understand nonviolence, as Gandhi practised and explained it, with a depth that seemed to elude the activists I knew and even the scholars in the field that I read.

Separately from this, I was starting to gain asense that the human mind was not somethingthat could be understood well by viewing it primarily as an organ of thinking and that much of the literature and certainly most of the practitioners in the field of psychology and related fields, especially psychiatry, had failed to understand the emotional depth and complexity of the human mind and the implications of this for dealing with conflict and violence. In this sense, it was clear to me, few had understood, let alone been able to develop, Freud’s legacy. This is because the fundamental problem is about feeling (and, in relation to violence, particularly suppressed fear and anger). Let me explain why.

Violence is something that is usually identified as physical: it involves actions like hitting, punching and using weapons such as a gun. This is one of the types of violence, and probably the one now most often lamented, that is inflicted on indigenous peoples, women and people of colour, among others.

Separately from this, Gandhi also identified exploitation as violence and Galtung elaborated this concept with his notion of ‘structural violence’. Other forms of violence have been identified and they take many forms such as financial violence, cultural violence and ecological violence. But violence can be more subtle than any of these and, hence, much less visible. I have given two of these forms of violence the labels ‘invisible violence’ and ‘utterly invisible violence’. Tragically, ‘invisible violence’ and ‘utterly invisible violence’ are inflicted on us mercilessly from the day we are born. And, as a result, we are all terrorized.

So what are ‘invisible’ and ‘utterly invisible’ violence?

In essence, ‘invisible’ violence is the ‘little things’ we do every day, partly because we are just ‘too busy’. For example, when we do not allow time to listen to, and value, a child’s thoughts and feelings, the child learns to not listen to themSelf thus destroying their internal communication system. When we do not let a child say what they want (or ignore them when they do), the child develops communication and behavioural dysfunctionalities as they keep trying to meet their own needs (which, as a basic survival strategy, they are genetically programmed to do).

When we blame, condemn, insult, mock, embarrass, shame, humiliate, taunt, goad, guilt-trip, deceive, lie to, bribe, blackmail, moralize with and/or judge a child, we both undermine their sense of Self-worth and teach them to blame, condemn, insult, mock, embarrass, shame, humiliate, taunt, goad, guilt-trip, deceive, lie, bribe, blackmail, moralize and/or judge.

The fundamental outcome of being bombarded throughout their childhood by this ‘invisible’ violence is that the child is utterly overwhelmed by feelings of fear, pain, anger and sadness (among many others). However, parents, teachers and other adults also actively interfere with the expression of these feelings and the behavioural responses that are naturally generated by them and it is this ‘utterly invisible’ violence that explains why the dysfunctional behavioural outcomes actually occur.

For example, by ignoring a child when they express their feelings, by comforting, reassuring or distracting a child when they express their feelings, by laughing at or ridiculing their feelings, by terrorizing a child into not expressing their feelings (e.g. by screaming at them when they cry or get angry), and/or by violently controlling a behaviour that is generated by their feelings (e.g. by hitting them, restraining them or locking them into a room), the child has no choice but to unconsciously suppress their awareness of these feelings.

However, once a child has been terrorized into suppressing their awareness of their feelings (rather than being allowed to have their feelings and to act on them) the child has also unconsciously suppressed their awareness of the reality that caused these feelings. This has many outcomes that are disastrous for the individual, for society and for nature because the individual will now easily suppress their awareness of the feelings that would tell them how to act most functionally in any given circumstance and they will progressively acquire a phenomenal variety of dysfunctional behaviours, including many that are violent towards themselves, others and/or the Earth.

Moreover, this emotional (or psychological) damage will lead to a unique combination of violent behaviours in each case. And some of these individuals will gravitate to working in one of the social roles that specifically requires, or justifies, the use of ‘legitimized violence’, such as the violence carried out by police, prosecuting lawyers, magistrates and judges, as well as that inflicted by the military. Others, of course, will operate outside the realm of legitimized violence and be labelled as ‘criminals’.

But, you might be wondering, what is the link between what happens in childhood and war?

The answer is simply that perpetrators of violence, and those who collaborate with them, are created during childhood. And these perpetrators and collaborators are all terrified, self-hating and powerless – for much greater detail of the precise psychological characteristics of perpetrators of violence and their collaborators, see Why Violence? and Fearless Psychology and Fearful Psychology: Principles and Practice – and they go on to perform all of the key roles in creating, maintaining, equipping, staffing and legitimizing the institutions of war and in conducting it.

If it weren’t for the violence to which we are all mercilessly subjected throughout childhood, there would be no interest in violence or war of any kind. If we were raised without violence, we would be naturally peaceful and cooperative, content to spend our time seeking to achieve our own unique evolutionary potential and to nurture the journey of others as well as life itself, rather than just become another cog in someone else’s military (or other bureaucratic or corporate) machine.

If any of the above resonates with you, then I invite you to make ‘My Promise to Children’.

In addition, if further reducing the violence in our world appeals to you, then you are also welcome to consider participating in ‘The Flame Tree Project to Save Life on Earth’, signing the online pledge of ‘The People’s Charter to Create a Nonviolent World’ and/or considering using the strategic framework on one or the other of these two websites for your campaign to end violence or war in one context or another: Nonviolent Campaign Strategy and Nonviolent Defense/Liberation Strategy.

A child is not born to make war. But if you inflict enough violence on a child, and destroy their capacity to become their own unique and powerful self, they will be terrorised into perceiving violence and war as their society wants them to be perceived. And violence and war, and the institutions that maintain them, will flourish.

If we want to end war, we must halt the adult war against children as a priority.

19.07.2017 Countercurrents

Not Just Black or Muslim, ALL Lives Matter!

By Dr Mansoor Durrani

United States of America has been the leader of nations for a while. From fashion and food to “war on terror” other nations simply follow the leader. But people embrace American products like McDonald, Nike, iPhone and other American lifestyle by choice. So it is unfair to say that the US gets the world to follow it under the gun. Of course US does compel and bully others, but only for big-ticket games like wars, arm sales etc. And it is not just consumers or governments who follow the US practices worldwide. Even the social movements picking up slogans from the US. So there is Black Lives Matter movement, and then the white Americans have their own Native Lives Matter movement.

In the aftermath of recent hate crimes against Muslims in the US and Europe and lynching terrorism that the New India has unleashed on its Muslim population, the civil society in support of helpless victims has come up with the slogan Muslim Lives Matter. Being a universal faith that is meant for the entire humanity and not just for Muslims, I have an issue with this narrow focus – no matter how justified it may seem under the current situation. Even though under the hate crimes and lynching terrorism a vast majority victims are Muslims, but Islamic faith teaches that all human lives are equally precious. If innocent Muslim lives are taken by saffron terrorists on the streets of Northern or Southern Indian states are precious then the innocent Hindu lives taken while returning from a pilgrimage in Kashmir are important too. Beyond India, Christian lives matter in South Sudan as much as Buddhist lives matter in Tibet. And Shi’a lives matter in Pakistan as much as Sunni lives matter in Syria and Iraq!

If other narrow, self-centered and petty ideologies create high walls around their ethnic or faith groups, it is understandable. But the Muslim civil society in India (and elsewhere) should have given one-and-only slogan to safeguard innocent lives and that slogan must be Human Lives Matter. The human angle resonates a bit more in the Indian context because the entire lynching terrorism shows to the world that cows (even if the beef eatingor beef carrying allegations are true) are more important than human lives in New India! It is this primitive mindset combined with cold barbarity that sets the current situation apart from all the atrocities intermittently unleashed on Muslims over the past seven decades.

In the midst of these challenging times, an encouraging fact that requires both recognition and appreciation is large scale support that the victims of lynching terrorism receiving from Indians of all other faiths. Though we are yet to see a Portland, Oregon style defense where in May 2017 three white American men gave their lives for defending a young Muslim girl in headscarf who was being terrorized on a train by a white Muslim-hater. But a fair section of Indian media, specially alternate news outlets on social media, have strongly condemned endless killings of innocent Muslims. These aspects point to the need for a worldwide movement under the banner of Human Lives Matter. Depending upon which part of the world we are discussing, innocent lives of all faith groups are being taken mercilessly by hate groups who operate under various banners and who have established lawless dictatorships under the garb of democracies in a number of countries – including our incredible India!

There is a general impression (and correct to some extent) that while Muslims claim to be the followers of a universal faith that preaches perfect equality regardless of cast, color, class or creed.But in practice their reaction or protests against atrocities are largely confined to their own faith groups. This is fundamentally contrary to the teachings of their Islamic faith. It may be just fine for the saffron brigade to differentiate the value of human lives. For example, they condemn and grieve SEVEN Amarnath pilgrims killed by terrorists and then the very next week coldly ignore the deaths of SEVENTEEN Amarnath pilgrims when their bus falls into a gorge – just because there was no Muslim link to these SEVENTEEN deaths.

This hypocrisy is not confined to civilian deaths alone. Even the political value of military causalities is assessed by who actually the killer is. So when a senior Indian army officer Major ShikharThapa, of 71 Armoured Regiment is killed in J&K on 17 July by his subordinate NaikKathiresan who pumped five bullets in Major’s back, no hashtags is launched in sympathy of Major Shikhar’s 3 month old son!

More than 100 cases of suicide are reported every year in the Indian armed forces. But no tears are shed on these losses of lives. Human lives!!

But Muslims claim to have a different value system. This is why there are two strong reasons for them to take a lead on a new Human Lives Matter initiative (A) they are the principal victims (worldwide) of Western-led war on terror and (B) Qur’an, their Holy book, most explicitly says this:

Whoever saves one (human) it is as if he saved the entire humanity [Chapter 5: verse 32]

Dr Mansoor Durrani is a PhD in Islamic Banking from UK. He is currently serving as a Senior Vice President at a top bank in the Middle East. Views are personal.

19.07.2017 Pressenza New York

Zia Mian on the Nuclear Weapons Ban and Prohibition Treaty
Voting on the treaty to ban nuclear weapons, UN, July 7, 2017 (Image by Xanthe Hall / ICAN)

I had the privilege of attending the opening and penultimate sessions of the Nuclear Weapons Ban and Prohibition Treaty negotiations at the U.N. this spring and summer. And, midst considerable celebration, on July 7, representatives of the majority of the world’s governments agreed to a treaty designed to outlaw the development, testing, producing, possession, stockpiling, use and threatened use of nuclear weapons and considerably more.

The next major steps will be to get those governments to agree to sign the treaty by September 20 and then to ratify it. Our other priority is educating the public about the treaty so that we can build the popular pressure needed to move the nuclear weapons and umbrella (NATO, Japan, South Korea etc.) to eventually eliminate their nuclear arsenals.

My e-mail in box has been flooded with articles about the Ban Treaty, but by far, and not surprisingly, the best article has been written by Zia Mian of the Woodrow Wilson School at Princeton. It appears in the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists.

PLEASE READ AND SHARE it at: http://thebulletin.org/after-nuclear-weapons-ban-treaty-new-disarmament-politics10932

For Peace, Justice and Environmental Sustainability,

Joseph Gerson, Director of American Friends Service Committee (AFSC)’s Peace and Economic Security Program.


19.07.2017 Human Wrongs Watch

The Sexualities Revolution

By Johan Galtung and Antonio C. S. Rosa

Like the feminist revolution, this one may be said to have originated in USA.  The two are related.  There is a long, painful history.  From use and abuse of women, also inside marriage, for male sexual satisfaction only, still going on. To an awakening, realizing that there is female sexuality, maybe a little different, maybe with several orgasms rather than a big one.

Kinsey played a major role. Very solid, very empirical, vast, comprehensive, fought by some churches and no doubt by some patriarchs.  But science prevailed.

Before that, another half of humanity, exactly “the other half” in the English sense of lower class, had been accorded another sexuality, but raw, brutal with rape across class and race borders as expression.

Middle-upper class white husbands lived for centuries with a-sexual women whose virtue was threatened by lower class-race males, very fearful that their wives might actually want it.

While they themselves raped, forced their wives to sexual submission, and lawfully so, even protected by the Bible (I Corinthians 4:34-35).

The last decades evened the images of sexuality across gender, class and race borders to one humanity in sexuality, with rights to fulfillment and duties to solidarity, compassion, consideration.

At the same time, the steps from awareness of a somewhat different but vibrant–literally speaking–female sexuality to other sexualities became easier, even to LGBTQI-lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans-gender, queer, intersex and to ideas of male-female as yin-yang of sexuality with male only, female only, neither male nor female, both male and female, articulations.

The whole sexual landscape became more diverse.  The idea of what is normal and natural expanded.  No doubt increasing social gender, class and race tolerance, mobility and equality played a major role.

And so did the step from one sexuality to sexualities in plural.

Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Intersex, Hetero

A truly symbolic beginning: The Stonewall riots (also referred to as the Stonewall uprising or the Stonewall rebellion) were a series of spontaneous, violent demonstrations by members of the gay community against a police raid that took place in the early morning hours of June 28, 1969, at the Stonewall Inn, a gay bar located in Greenwich Village, New York City.

They are widely considered to constitute the single most important event leading to the gay liberation movement and the modern fight for LGBT rights in the United States and in the world. (Wikipedia).

Male homosexuality was the norm in Ancient Greece where males were supposedly bisexuals in mature age and homosexuals in youth—having intercourse and love affairs with older men, their mentors.

Plato, Socrates, Aristotle, Alexander the Great are just the most famously cited examples of a society with a chosen morality quite different from ours. Women were just for procreation, not for fun.

The beauty and grace of male bodies were set in stone in Greek sculptures, paintings, literature. The ‘unspeakable vice of the Greeks,’ as puritanical British scholars referred to such love among men. Women: down under, without a social life.

Enters contemporary Mosuo culture in the Chinese provinces of Yunnan and Sichuan near Tibet. They present a matriarchal society where males are used exclusively for procreation in nocturnal secret visits.

Men are segregated to own quarters and depend on the women for everything. Famously, they spend their days smoking and waiting to be chosen. No love or monogamous relationships to talk about. Women do all the work, raise children, govern, and choose their nightly mates. Men: down under, without a social life.

Enters Western culture with Abrahamic religions (Judaism, Christianity, Islam) putting a prize on heterosexual practice and behavior, procreation and family. Homosexuality is deemed as contra-natura, a crime, a disease, a mortal sin, socially shamed by ostracism, immoral, even lethal.

Some societies still condemn homosexuals to death nowadays as Hitler and fascists confined them to concentration camps; both male and female homosexualities having been religiously, legally, socially, morally, medically unacceptable. Bullying against perceived homosexuals becomes socially acceptable and even encouraged.

Missing from the debate: serious, unbiased research on homosexuals as homosexuals in history, leadership roles, science, literature, in religion & spirituality, for instance. For we know their contributions to sexualities-blind activities such as the arts, music, theater, dance, haute-couture. Prejudice means pre-judgment, judgment a priori, and engenders racism, homophobia, sexism, ethnocentrism, among other social and personal deviations.

Stereotype: Alan Turing, the man who cracked the Nazi Enigma code, was homosexual. He is widely seen as the father of computer science and artificial intelligence and is credited with helping to shorten the course of WWII by few years.

Yet, “Despite his achievements, in 1952 he was prosecuted for homosexuality, which was then illegal in England. To avoid prison, Turing agreed to receive injections of oestrogen for a year, which was intended to reduce his libido in a process known as chemical castration. He subsequently died of cyanide poisoning aged 41 – an inquest recorded a verdict of suicide.” (The Telegraph, 23 Dec 2013)

Prototypes: Leo Varadkar, the prime minister of Ireland and son of Indian immigrants, is gay. Iceland’s Jóhanna Sigurdardóttir was the country’s first open lesbian prime minister. Ana Brnabic is Serbia’s first female gay prime minister.

Apple Computers’ CEO Tim Cook revealed being homosexual. Celebrated TV host Ellen Degeneres came out publicly as being a lesbian on The Oprah Winfrey Show. Defensive Michael Sam became the first openly gay player in the NFL. My-King Johnson is the first openly gay teen recruit in major conference college football. The ones inside their closets cannot be counted of course.

The point is not the (de)merits of a given sexuality but the recognition that moralities, moralists, moralisms, societal norms, mores and laws change according to time, place and circumstance. Western religions are a major force but warring states also need children to replace those who die in battle.

Thus, they need heterosexual behavior-actions even if individuals are not heterosexuals. Citizens conform to avoid punishment, or hell, or both. So, homosexuals either married opposite sex or joined some monastery—to later become pedophiles as history shows us abundantly today. Social structures, not sexualities, are the problem.

These constructs of the mind are the ones that determine what-who is right/wrong. It is not something intrinsic in the behavior, not subjective [natural, innate, inborn], but an object of the factors above [culturally & structurally specific]. As the case of abortion, imposed on the population in patriarchic societies. In two words: Social Control.

It is a fact that sexuality, much like skin color, eye or hair color, is innate; a person is born with it. There may be cases where people change sexuality from hetero to homo or vice versa but these are the exceptions. As are transgenders, who decide to change the form of their genitals after grown-up.

Homosexuality may be defined as the inclination to love someone of the same gender. One in unable to choose it in the same way that one cannot choose to like tea or coffee, sour or sweet: one just does, naturally, not through a decision making process.

Sexuality is not a choice, a preference or lifestyle; it is an imposition from nature like personality traits as tendencies to music, engineering, sports, writing, and so on. Questions for heterosexuals against homosexuality: Did you choose your own sexuality? Or just follow your heart? Could you change it at whim or even by imposition?

Patriarchal cultures and societies demand that males compete for females, territory, dominance, superiority; in life, in battle, in sports, in private and social settings. A man is not supposed to love another man unless he is family or a close friend. You must not love your adversaries. Among women the rules are more relaxed; they enjoy more freedom to express affection.

The Greeks defined love in its three aspects: Agape, unconditional love; Philia, brotherly love; and Eros, erotic or romantic love. Opposite of love is Phobia, that which a male must feel for another male—not biological but social, moral.

Unfortunately sex is generally confused with love both in literature and in reality. Sex is ephemeral pleasure of the genitalia—any genitalia. Love is emotion, energy, synergy between two human beings.

Love and sex complement but do not replace each other, being of utterly different natures. Thus love, affection, romance, loyalty and commitment transcend the sexuality aspect and are present in any union between two persons who love each other whether homo or hetero. Bisexuals enjoy the best of two worlds.

In old age sexual desire and intercourse tend to vanish becoming non important. Not so with love! The point is fulfillment, happiness, friendship, companionship, human warmth, respect, complicity, devotion—what makes us humans. To love without artificial constraints, above so-called lower animals that merely respond to instinctive sexual arousal.

Countries That Allow Same-Sex Unions around the World:

Argentina (2010) Denmark (2012) Greenland (2015) New Zealand (2013) Spain (2005)
Belgium (2003) England / Wales (2013) Iceland (2010) Norway (2009) Sweden (2009)
Brazil (2013) Finland (2015) Ireland (2015) Portugal (2010) United States (2015)
Canada (2005) France (2013) Luxembourg (2014) Scotland (2014) Uruguay (2013)
Colombia (2016) Germany (2017) The Netherlands (2000) South Africa (2006)

Countries Where Gay Marriage is Legal in Some Jurisdictions:

Mexico (2009)

19.07.2017 David Swanson

Ethics of Not Ruining Everything

Today I listened to the audio book of Entangled Empathy: An Alternative Ethic for Our Relationship With Animals by Lori Gruen while reading the hardcopy of From Bacteria to Bach and Back: The Evolution of Minds by Daniel Dennett. As a result I have been better able to empathize with Dennett’s obsession with the uniqueness of human consciousness, and I have been better able to marvel at the complex precision of Gruen’s theorizing. But I don’t seem to be any better off than I was before when it comes to knowing how to persuade or otherwise mobilize people to stop humanity from wrecking this planet or harming various life forms on it. In that and other senses, both books read/listen to me like eternal introductions that never get around to the tofu of the matter.

In the end I don’t place an emphasis on thinking about human consciousness. Once we’ve established that humans’ brain power is neither a reason to value nor a reason to devalue non-human animals, and rejected silly dualist conceptions of it as non-physical, the one thing we can be certain of — pace Descartes — is that thinking about our thinking is self-indulgent. Of course our thinking is interestingly unique and interestingly engaged with an accumulating cultural collection of knowledge and habits and verbal language — though that uniqueness may be eroded by computers. But either we’re going to stop rendering the planet uninhabitable or we are not, and how our experience of apocalypse differs from chimpanzees’ experience of apocalypse gains my interest less than whether we can prevent the apocalypse.

Dennett objects to expanding ethics to include those who suffer, because he says we do not know who suffers. We must — simply must — he insists, draw “the moral line” somewhere between microbes and humans. But we simply don’t know where to draw it. The clear conclusion is that we must do what we have no ability to do, which would seem to be a radically extreme failure as an ethical system.

On the other hand, Dennett’s demystifying of human consciousness seems to place it in greater proximity to the lives of at least some other beings — something that might be appreciated by Gruen, who proposes an ethics of empathy in place of, or in addition to, an ethics of justice or an ethics of rights. Certainly, empathy is a practice that greatly benefits human thinking as we relate to people and other living things — perhaps even non-living things. (If Gruen can feel empathy for trees, why can’t I for rocks?) And Gruen helpfully points us toward the need to engage in careful and respectful empathy that does not desire for other creatures what we would want if we were they. (Desiring that chimps never fight is probably harmful to chimps.)

But what I want is an ethics of not ruining everything. If I respect every bit of an ecosystem out of humility and enlightened self-interest, based on the overly well documented fact that arrogantly screwing with things often has extremely negative consequences, do I really have to worry about the mental state of rats or slugs or oak trees or humans?

I’m not just proposing this as an ethical system for broad public policies that fails to apply to small-scale interactions. I think it helps there too. Why not treat other humans with humility and respect? I often suspect various humans of lacking certain cognitive abilities: those in a coma, infants, admirers of one or the other of the two big U.S. political parties, etc. In fact, I often suspect various humans of something worse than lacking mental abilities; I suspect them of possessing evil ones, of scheming for greed or power or sadistic pleasure.

I don’t mean to reject the value of thinking in terms of empathy or rights or utilitarianism or any other valuable framework. And the fact that none of them is working does not necessarily mean that another could have. I just think they’ve all rather fallen behind the wisdom contained in the simple injunction to first do no harm. Combining that with proper humility about which actions risk doing harm to an environment understood as planetary and therefore containing all variety of mental capacities known to us seems of urgent importance.

18.07.2017 – Rome, Italy IDN InDepthNews

Not Just Numbers: Migrants Tell Their Stories
(Image by Mauricio Alvarez)

By Baher Kamal

Every single day, print and online media and TV broadcasters show images and footage of migrants and refugees adrift, salvage teams rescuing their corpses–alive or dead, from fragile boats that are often deliberately sunk by human traffickers near the coasts of a given country. Their dramas are counted –and told– quasi exclusively in cold figures.

Every now and then a reporter talks to a couple of them or interviews some of the tens of humanitarian organisations and groups, mostly to get information about their life conditions in the numerous so called “reception centres” that are often considered rather as “detention centres” installed on both shores of the Mediterranean sea.

It is a fact that their numbers are shocking: 101,417 migrants and refugees entered Europe by sea in 2017 through 9 July, the UN International Organization for Migration (IOM) has reported. Of this total, 2,353 died.

Beyond the figures, migrants and refugees live inhumane drama, are victims of rights abuse, discrimination, xenophobia and hatred–often encouraged by some politicians. Let alone that tragic realty that they fall easy pry to human traffickers who handle them as mere merchandise. See: African Migrants Bought and Sold Openly in ‘Slave Markets’ in Libya..

On top of that, another UN organisation—the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) reports that the Central Mediterranean from North Africa to Europe is among the world’s deadliest and most dangerous migrant routes for children and women.

“The route is mostly controlled by smugglers, traffickers and other people seeking to prey upon desperate children and women who are simply seeking refuge or a better life,” it reports. See: A Grisly Tale of Children Falling Easy Prey to Ruthless Smugglers.

On this, Afshan Khan, UNICEF Regional Director and Special Coordinator for the Refugee and Migrant Crisis in Europe, said that this route “is mostly controlled by smugglers, traffickers and other people seeking to prey upon desperate children and women who are simply seeking refuge or a better life.”

Moreover, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) has estimated that 7 of 10 victims of human traffickers are women and children.

True that statistics help evaluate the magnitude of such an inhumane drama. But, is this enough?

1,200 Migrants Tell Their Dreams and Realities

In a singular initiative, IOM launched “i am a migrant” – a platform to promote diversity and inclusion of migrants in society.

It’s specifically designed to support volunteer groups, local authorities, companies, associations, groups, indeed, anyone of goodwill who is concerned about the hostile public discourse against migrants, says IOM.

i am a migrant” allows the voices of individuals to shine through and provides an honest insight into the triumphs and tribulations of migrants of all backgrounds and at all phases of their migratory journeys.”

“While we aim to promote positive perceptions of migrants we do not shy away from presenting life as it is experienced. We seek to combat xenophobia and discrimination at a time when so many are exposed to negative narratives about migration – whether on our social media feeds or on the airwaves.”

The IOM campaign uses the testimonials of migrants to connect people with the human stories of migration. Thus far, it has seen 1,200 profiles published. The anecdotes and memories shared on the platform help us understand what words such as “integration”, “multiculturalism” and “diversity” truly mean.

Through stories collected by IOM teams around the world, “diversity finally finds a human face.” While inviting migrants to share their stories with its teams, IOM informs that “i am a migrant” is part of the UN TOGETHER initiative that promotes respect, safety and dignity for everyone who has left home in search of a better life.

Read their stories here.

From the Ashes of World War II

IOM is among the world’s most experienced international agencies dealing with migrants. No wonder– it rose from the ashes of World War Two over 65 years ago.

“In the battle-scarred continent of Europe, no government alone could help survivors who wanted no more than an opportunity to resume their lives in freedom and with dignity. The first incarnation of IOM was created to resettle refugees during this post-war period,” it reminds.

The agency’s history tracks the man-made and natural disasters of the past over 65 years – Hungary 1956; Czechoslovakia 1968; Chile 1973; the Viet Nam boat people 1975; Kuwait 1990, Kosovo and Timor 1999; the 2003 invasion of Iraq; the 2004 Asian tsunami, the 2005 Pakistan earthquake and Haiti’s 2010 earthquake.

Now under the United Nations umbrella as part of its system since 2016, IOM quickly grew from a focus on migrant and refugee resettlement to become the world’s leading inter-governmental organisation dedicated to the well-being, safety and engagement of migrants.

Over the years, IOM has grown into 166 member states. Its global presence has expanded to over 400 field locations. With over 90 per cent of its staff deployed in the field, it has become a lead responder to the world’s worst humanitarian emergencies.

Shall these facts –and the stories migrants tell—help awaken the consciousness of those European politicians who ignore the fact that their peoples were once migrants and refugees as a consequences of wars their predecessors provoked? And that the migration agency was born for them?

16.07.2017 Samar Abbas

This post is also available in: Italian, German

Enforced disappearances continue in Pakistan
(Image by Samar Abbas)

Pakistani officials answered to the UN Commission on Human Rights over forced abductions carried out by the military and intelligence services.

It is the first time that United Nations authorities review Pakistan’s policies on human and civil rights.

In the past few years cases of enforced disappearances have reached a critical level.

The prominent social activist Samar Abbas reportedly went missing on January 7h, 2017. He was one of the founders of the Civil Progressive Alliance, a campaign created to counter the dominant public narrative after the Peshawar Army Public School attack in 2014, when six gunmen affiliated with the Tehrik-i-Taliban killed 141 people, including 132 schoolchildren.

Brad Adams, the director of Human Rights Watch Asia, has said “The nature of these apparent abductions puts the Nawaz Sharif government on notice that it can either be part of the solution or it will be held responsible for its role in the problem.” He added that “The government needs to reduce the insecurity faced by journalists and activists, which has a severe chilling effect on their work”.

In recent weeks political activists have gone missing in Sindh and Baluchistan.  On Friday, the standing committee of the Senate on Human Rights declared that the police and local administration have no clue about the whereabouts and condition of the missing persons.

On Eid day – the holiday which marks the end of Ramadan and during which Muslim families celebrate with their loved ones – the families of the abducted activists organised a sit-in in front of the Karachi Press Club to demand justice for their family members and fellow comrades. Different social and political activist groups joined in the protests, but government officials were nowhere to be seen.

After the sit-in protest they decided to march from interior Sindh to the city of Karachi. On Friday, after 10 days of marching, the families of the victims entered Karachi and were warmly welcomed by civil society.

Sindhi nationalist and political activists Dodo Chandio went missing on July 11th along with his fellow comrades Mehran Chandio , Asif Buledi, Nadeem Kolachi and Saif Jatoi. Most of them are members of Jiye Sindh Qoumi Mahaz (JSQM) and Jiye Sindh Muthahida Mahaz (JSMM), the renowned nationalist parties of the Sindh province, with many followers in rural and urban areas.

Moreover, the party’s president Qambar Shahdadkot, party member Ejaz Tunio, central committee member Sabir Chandio as well as the supporters Murtaza Junejo, Hidayat Lohar, Suhbat Khoso, Khadim Hussain Arijo and Mohammad Ayub Kandhro also went missing from different parts of the Sindh province. According to various sources, Subghat Khoso has been missing since 2011.

Shabir Azad Buledi (Sindh Human Rights Organization Karachi Division’s Secretary) has been abducted by Law Enforcement Agencies on Saturday morning. He was very active in the long march for safe recovery of Sindhi missing persons and now has joined them.

The issue of enforced disappearances had never been covered by the mainstream media.

The journalist Malik Asad reported to Daily Dawn that during the last six years the inquiry commission on enforced disappearances received 3’740 complaints from different parts of the country.

Of these, 121 cases were reported from the country’s capital Islamabad; 752 cases from the country’s largest province Punjab; 1’010 cases were registered from the Sindh province, where the country’s largest port city Karachi is located; 276 cases came from Baluchistan and 112 cases from the Federally Administrated Tribal Area ( FATA). 296 of these cases were dropped as the victims were kidnapped for ransom. According to the commission’s report the total number of cases that has been processed up to 31 March 2017 is 2’652.

The National Commission for Human Rights (NCHR), an independent commission for human rights which was instituted by the government of Pakistan to work with civil society on the issue of enforced disappearances, has succeeded in bringing back Wahid Baloch, who was abducted from the suburbs of Karachi.

The Government of Pakistan should call to order Law Enforcement Agencies to question them about the disappearances. Legal aid should be given to those who were disappeared. They should be allowed to go to court and given the right to a free trial. These unlawful activities by the Law Enforcement Agencies aren’t in anyone’s interest; not even in the interest of those who carry them out.




16.07.2017 David Swanson

Pentagon Recruiting Playbook Revealed

By Pat Elder

Ominous developments in three states this summer – Oregon, Texas, New Jersey, and one city – Chicago, provide a glimpse into the Pentagon’s new playbook to recruit soldiers from high schools across the country. In brief, the military has been engaged in a robust lobbying campaign to lower academic standards to make it easier to recruit youth.

New recruits have long been required to hold a high school diploma or a GED certificate. This requirement is a major impediment to finding enough soldiers to meet annual targets, but even when struggling students barely manage to graduate, the Pentagon has developed a plan to marshal more of them into the military.

The Oregon Department of Education recently endorsed the Oregon National Guard’s Credit Proficiency Program for use in high schools across the state. The program gives juniors and seniors the chance to earn academic credits while training for military service at Oregon National Guard facilities. The program is expected to cut the state’s drop-out rate while increasing the on-time graduation rate. In 2015 Oregon’s 74.8% graduation rate was the third lowest in the country.

Under the program, if a senior in high school realizes a few weeks before graduation that he doesn’t have enough credits to graduate, he could enlist, go to Basic Training and Advanced Individual Training (AIT), and those pesky graduation requirements are satisfied. Some are even allowed to walk with their graduating class.

Juniors may enlist in a split training program by attending Basic Training for 11 weeks in the summer to earn high school credits, returning to school as a senior, graduating, and then attending AIT.

Press reports announcing the Oregon Department of Education’s endorsement of the military program have repeated the blatant lie that “some school systems have taken a stance against allowing military recruiters to be active on their campuses.” There is no record of a single public high school in Oregon that forbids military recruiters. To do so would jeopardize federal funding.

In New Jersey, where students must pass senior year exit exams to graduate, school officials will allow seniors to earn a diploma if they can manage a score of a 31 on the military’s enlistment test, the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery, or ASVAB. A 31 on the ASVAB is the lowest score the Army will allow. It is equivalent to an 8th-grade mastery of English and Math.

DOD regulations say recruits must be high school graduates or GED-holders.

Remember Dylan’s:

“Join the army, if you fail!” 

Now, it’s:

“Join the Army;
we’ll make sure you pass,
‘Cause that’s the way
we’ll get your _ss.”

Military planners have long complained that too many high school dropouts were precluded from becoming soldiers. There were 8,000 high school drop outs in New Jersey alone in 2016.  Meanwhile, New Jersey has an 89% on-time graduation rate.  Allowing students to score a 31 on the ASVAB may be expected to help with drop out and graduation rates while significantly lowering standards.

Nationally, the “status dropout rate” stood at 5.9 percent in 2015. The “status dropout rate” is the percentage of 16-to 24-year-olds who are not enrolled in school and have not earned a high school credential (either a diploma or a GED).  This group is of keen interest to the recruiting command. Relaxing high school graduation standards will help to ease the current crisis in recruiting. This is the Pentagon’s game plan in all fifty states.

The Texas Legislature recently passed a law, SB 1843, that requires all high schools in Texas to offer the ASVAB Career Exploration Program, “or a similar vocational aptitude test.” The Army’s recruiting commander in Dallas led the successful lobbying campaign. The alternative aptitude test “must assess aptitude for success without college, be free to administer, require minimal support and training from school faculty, and provide a professional interpretation of the results.” The ASVAB is the only instrument that meets the bill. Soon, nearly all high school students in Texas will be required to take the military’s 3-hour enlistment test.

Recruiters receive ASVAB scores, social security numbers, and detailed demographic information through the administration of the test. At first blush, however, it appears that if the ASVAB becomes an officially mandated testing requirement, “It would mean that the military would be acting as an agent for the school and would thus have to comply with laws protecting pupil privacy (e.g., provisions of FERPA and NCLB/ESEA),” explained Rick Jahnkow of Project YANO in San Diego.  The ASVAB Career Exploration Program, therefore, could only be administered as a graduation requirement if it is given under ASVAB Release Option 8, meaning that results cannot be provided to recruitment services. Otherwise, parents would have to give written permission to release the test data to recruiters.

ASVAB results are currently the only student information leaving American schools without first providing for parental consent. Meanwhile, The Pentagon refuses to sign on to the Student Privacy Pledge, an effort to safeguard student privacy regarding the collection, maintenance, and use of student personal information.

Another Texas law, SB 1152 allows high school students to receive up to four excused absences from school when pursuing enlistment in any branch of the armed services and it provides for an additional opportunity to take the ASVAB at Military Entrance Processing Stations.

Chicago Public Schools, the third largest school system in the country with nearly 400,000 students, will withhold high school diplomas unless students have a job, college, or military plans lined up. The program, Learn. Plan. Succeed will require students to meet at least one of the following requirements in addition to regular credit requirements, to graduate:

  • a college acceptance letter;
  • acceptance at a job program;
  • acceptance into a trades pre-apprenticeship/apprenticeship;
  • acceptance into a “gap-year” program;
  • current job/job offer letter;
  • a military acceptance/enlistment letter.

The last point is problematic.  This horrendous social engineering scheme will disproportionately shepherd black and brown students into military service. For many entrenched in deep poverty, college and “gap-year programs” are out of the question. Job and trade programs are complicated and have limited offerings. Jobs, especially for those lacking essential skills are limited, but the military is always an option and it will soon become a more attractive one in Chicago.

The United States Military Entrance Processing Command is having trouble finding enough recruits so they’ve turned to working with legislators and school officials to approve laws and policies that’ll make it easier to find new soldiers.

Oregon will allow those who cannot graduate to complete coursework through military service. New Jersey will allow kids with abysmal academic records to graduate if they can pass a military exam that requires them to have an 8th-grade education. Texas kids will have to take the military’s enlistment test and they’ll get four excused absences for exploring military careers. In Chicago, even if students meet the academic requirements to graduate, a program requiring additional hoops is likely to funnel large numbers to recruiters.

It’s time for a national discussion on military recruitment, something not likely to happen while the media moguls continue to ignore this important story.
“Look out kid; you’re gonna get hit.”


14.07.2017 Pressenza London

The most foolish NHS privatisation yet?
(Image by Heiko Gorski for Wikimedia Commons)

If private staffing agency fees are damaging the NHS so much, why on earth does the government keep trying to privatise the in-house agency set up to help the NHS avoid the problem?

For the third time since 2010, the government is planning to sell off NHS Professionals, the NHS in-house temporary staffing agency. This is the latest in a long series of gradual and covert moves to privatise our NHS. The obscurity in the privatisation process is no surprise. 84% of us want a publicly owned NHS. Those who want to place it in private hands know they can’t do so transparently.

Plans for the sale of NHS Professionals in 2010 and 2014 were shelved. This time around, the government’s schedule has been disrupted by the election, and now Eleanor Smith, Labour MP for Wolverhampton South West, has tabled an Early Day Motion (number 152) for concerned MPs to sign, calling on the government to halt the sell-off, co sponsored by the SNP health spokeswoman Dr Philippa Whitford MP and Green Party co-leader Caroline Lucas MP.

Lucas has also tabled written questions to the Department of Health in an effort to find out more information about the sale process. Through parliamentary pressure and a wider campaign by We Own It, this move to privatise yet another part of the NHS can be stopped.

NHS recruitment

NHS Professionals was set up in 2001 as a response to the unsustainable costs of recruiting temporary healthcare staff through private agencies. It consists of a bank of 88,000 healthcare professionals and is used by around 60 out of 250 NHS Trusts. The organisation saves the NHS £70 million per year and turned a profit of £6.4 million in 2015-16. It is currently owned entirely by the Department of Health, but the government plans to sell 74.9% of it to the highest bidder.

Despite the success of NHS Professionals, agency staffing poses a significant financial problem for the NHS. The costs of agency staff have have risen each year from 2011 to 2015-16, in which they reached £3.64 billion – £1.4 billion over budget.

Unsurprisingly, a large chunk of this expenditure ends up as profit for recruitment agencies, which is not reinvested in the NHS. Of the £3 billion spent in 2016, between £300 and £600 million went into the pockets of recruitment agencies. While hospitals struggle to function, the heads of recruitment agencies earn salaries of almost £1 million a year.

In October 2015, controls were introduced in an effort to curb extortionate recruitment charges. While this is reported to have saved the NHS £300 million in six months, some trusts have struggled to fill vacancies since the imposition of caps on recruitment charges. Even after the controls were introduced, there were reports of recruitment agencies taking a commission as high as 49%.

NHS privatisation

The staffing problems facing the NHS look set to continue, not least given the net loss of nurses reported earlier this year. But the solution is not to hand NHS Professionals over to private control, which would effectively turn it into the kind of organisation it was meant to allow the NHS to avoid.

Privatisation damages the NHS is an at least three ways, and the current proposal is no exception.

First, privatisation drives up costs. The millions funnelled to recruitment agencies’ shareholders could be reinvested in the NHS under a publicly owned system. The additional bureaucratic costs of running the NHS as a market are also astronomical, estimated to be at least £5bn-£10bn a year.

Second, privatisation has led to lower standards of healthcare. Services outsourced to private companies which have repeatedly failed to provide adequate treatment for patients. For example, the handing over of Nottingham’s dermatology centre to Circle – who won NHS contracts worth nearly £1.5 billion in 2014 – left it on the brink of collapse in 2015. In 2013, it emerged that Serco had been tampering with data and was forced to pull out of a contract to run out-of-hours GP services in Cornwall. A 2014 inquiry led by Debbie Abrahams MP also found evidence on an international scale that privatisation reduces quality of healthcare.

Third, privatisation damages accountability. The ‘Clinical Commissioning Groups’ established by the Health and Social Care Act in 2012 frequently outsource work to organisations. Outsourcing companies can also avoid disclosing information by appealing to “commercial confidentiality” rules.

Next steps

The government has already spent £2 million arranging the sale, half of which went to the consultancy giant Deloitte. The recruitment agency Staffline is one known bidder. The other bidders remain undisclosed, though Caroline Lucas has asked them to disclose the other bidders. Ultimately, though, we know who is responsible for the sale at the Department of Health: Jeremy Hunt, the Health Secretary; Philip Dunne, Minister of State for Health; and Ben Masterson, Head of Companies Management.

These are the actors which the We Own It campaign will target. A petition to stop the sell-off has already reached 15,000 signatures. Given the government’s weakened mandate there is hope that public outrage, together with action in Parliament from Eleanor Smith MP and others, will force the government to abandon the sale.

Pressenza Note: Today it was reported that “NHS ranked ‘number one’ health system” (BBC)

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Dietrich Bonhoeffer

We must act and dare the appropiateness and not whatever comes to our mind not floating in the likelihood but grasp the reality as brave as we can be freedom lies in action not in the absence of mind obedience knows the essence of good and satisfies it, freedom dares to act and returns God the ultimate judgment of what is right and what is wrong, Obedience performs blindly but Freedom is wide awake Freedom wants to know why, Obedience has its hands tied, Freedom is inventive obedient man respects God’s commands and by virtu of his Freedom, he creats new commands. Both Obedience and Freedom come true in responsability (Dietrich Bonhoeffer)

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