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30.05.2017 Pressenza New York

Declaring That Poverty Is Illegal Before The United Nations
A homeless woman named Penny panhandled on San Francisco’s Embarcadero. (Image by Thomas Hawk. Flickr Creative Commons)

By Leonardo Boff

The scandalous increase in world poverty has given rise to movements to eradicate this affliction of humanity.

On May 9th, there was an event at the National University of Rosario, Argentina, organized by the Chair of Water Sciences, a department of the Faculty of Social Sciences, coordinated by Professor Anibal Faccendi, to formulate a Declaration about the illegality of poverty. I had the opportunity to participate and deliver a motivational talk. The idea is to get support from the National Congress, from society at large and people from all over the continent, to take this demand to the United Nations, that it give it the highest priority. Previously, on October 17, 1987, Joseph Wresinski created the ATD International Movement, (from the Spanish, Movimiento Internacional Actuar Todos para la Dignidad, ATD), that included the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty. This year, it will be celebrated on September 17th, in many countries that have joined the Movement.

The Declaration of Rosario strengthened this Movement, pressing the international organs of the United Nations to effectively declare hunger to be illegal. The Declaration cannot remain only on paper. Its intent is that in the different institutions of countries, municipalities, neighborhoods, the city streets, the schools, movements be created to identify people, whether in situations of extreme poverty (living on less than two dollars a day, and without access to basic services) or of simple poverty, those who survive with a little more than two dollars and with limited access to infrastructure, housing, schools and other minimum humanitarian services. And then to organize actions of solidarity, to help them overcome this crisis, through their own actions.

In 2002, Kofi Annan, former UN Secretary General, firmly declared: «It is not possible for the international community to tolerate the fact that nearly half of humanity has to survive on two dollars a day, or less, in a world of unprecedented wealth».

In truth, the data are alarming. OXFAM is a Non Governmental Organization, (NGO), that collaborates with many other organizations in numerous countries, and has specialized in the study of the levels of inequality in the world. Every year it publishes its results, which are ever more terrifying. OXFAM generally goes to Davos, Switzerland, where the richest of the world are, to publish the data that unmasks them. In January 2017, OXFAM revealed that 8 people (the majority live there in Davos), possess wealth equivalent to the combined wealth of 3.6 billion people. That is, nearly half of humanity lives in a state of penury, whether extreme poverty, or, simple poverty, along side the most scandalous wealth.

If we take this data seriously, as we should, we realize that an ocean of suffering, illnesses, and the deaths of millions of children and adults, occur strictly as a consequence of hunger. Then we must ask ourselves: what has happened to the minimum of solidarity? Are we not cruel and without mercy towards our fellow human beings, those who are as human as we, who desire only a minimum of nourishment, just as we do? It makes them sick to see their children who cannot sleep because of hunger, and they themselves can eat only the scraps of old food they gather from the large city dumps, or received through the charity of people or some institutions (generally religious ones) that offer them enough that they may survive.

The poverty that causes hunger is murderous. It is one of the most violent forms of humiliating people, wrecking their bodies and wounding their souls. Hunger can lead a human being to delirium, desperation and violence. Here it is good to remember the ancient doctrine: extreme need does not know law, and theft in order to survive cannot be considered a crime, because life is more valuable than any material goods.

Hunger is systemic these days. Thomas Piketty, famous for his study about Capitalism in the XXI Century, showed how is hunger present, but hidden, in the United States, with 50 million in poverty. In the last 30 years, affirms Piketty, the income of the poorest remained static, while that of the wealthiest 1% grew by 300%. As Piketty concludes: «If nothing is done to overcome this inequality, it could destroy the whole society. Criminality and insecurity will increase. People will live with more fear than hope».

We have abolished slavery in Brazil. But when will we abolish hunger?

29.05.2017 – Gaza, Palestine Countercurrents

Palestinian Hunger Strike Ends, Prisoners Declare Victory
Palestinians in Gaza City celebrate after hundreds of Palestinian political prisoners in Israeli jails suspended a 40-day hunger strike on 27 May. The end of the strike, which coincides with the start of Ramadan, came after marathon negotiations between Israeli prison authorities and strike leaders. (Image by Ashraf Amra APA)

By Ali Abunimah

After 40 days without food, hundreds of Palestinian prisoners have suspended their hunger strike in Israeli jails.

The end of the strike came after 20 hours of intense negotiations between the strike’s leaders, including imprisoned Fatah figure Marwan Barghouti, and the Israel Prison Service, according to a statement issued Saturday morning by the prisoners solidarity committee.

The committee hailed the agreement as a “victory for the Palestinian people and the prisoners in their epic defense of freedom and dignity.”

It added that Israel was forced to negotiate after realizing that the prisoners “were ready to continue until victory or martyrdom and that the use of oppression, violence and other violations failed to weaken them, but rather strengthened their resolve.”

The statement says Israeli authorities accepted some of the demands of the prisoners, but does not provide details.

However Israel Prison Service sources told the Ma’an News Agency that the agreement, reached between Israel, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), and the Palestinian Authority, would grant prisoners a second monthly family visit to be funded by the PA.

“The move effectively reinstated the number of family visits that were traditionally provided to Palestinian prisoners, before the ICRC reduced the number of visits they facilitated last year from two to one visit a month, sparking protests across the Palestinian territory,” according to Ma’an.

But the Israeli prison spokesperson reportedly “declined to comment on whether any of the other demands were met.”

Strike-breaking efforts

Some 1,500 prisoners began their hunger strike on 17 April to demand improvements in conditions and an end to solitary confinement, heavy restrictions on family visits and administrative detention – prolonged imprisonment without charge.

They also called for Israel to ease restrictions on the entry of books, clothing, food and other items from family members.

Israel quickly resorted to harsh punitive measures in its effort to break the strike, including transferring prisoners between prisons, subjecting leaders to solitary confinement, blocking visits by lawyers and confiscating personal belongings.

As the strike continued and the health of many prisoners sharply deteriorated, Israel increased psychological pressure: media reports suggested Israel would resort to the dangerous and medically unethical practice of force-feeding and Israeli ministers publicly smeared Marwan Barghouti in an apparent effort to discredit him and break the strike’s unity.

By Friday night, 834 prisoners remained on hunger strike, according to the Tel Aviv newspaper Haaretz, and 18 remained hospitalized.

Solidarity

Activists in Palestine and around the world have organized solidarity actions with the hunger strikers. Many posted on social media about taking the “salt water challenge” – symbolically drinking only salty water, as the hunger strikers do, to raise awareness about their struggle.

The last mass hunger strike occurred in 2014, when hundreds of prisoners protested the use of administrative detention. Before and since, individuals have waged individual hunger strikes, in some cases reaching three months.

The end of this strike coincides with the beginning of Ramadan. Some prisoners had announced the intention to fast by refusing even salt and water during the hours of sunrise to sunset. This could have placed their already weakened bodies in even graver danger, and sharply increased pressure on Israel.


Ali Abunimah is Co-founder of The Electronic Intifada and author of The Battle for Justice in Palestine, now out from Haymarket Books. Also wrote One Country: A Bold-Proposal to End the Israeli-Palestinian Impasse. Opinions are mine alone.

Originally published in Electronic Intifada

27.05.2017 – London, United Kingdom Silvia Swinden

This post is also available in: Spanish

Terrorism in Manchester
It Shoots Further Than He Dreams by John F. Knott. War cartoon depicting the Kaiser shooting a canon labeled “Militarism.” (Image by Knott, John F. (1918) War Cartoons public domain, Wikimedia Commons)

Nothing happens in isolation. Everything happens in a context. Difficult as it may be – since what we know about it changes day by day – an analysis of the Manchester suicide bombing has to be carried out within the various aspects of the situation that surrounded it.

Nothing can be more painful than the loss of life of young and old, the horror, the disbelief that someone can actually carry out such a heinous act. The response from services, the police, the paramedics, the hospitals and the people, the blood donors queuing to do something useful, the taxi drivers moving people for free, those offering shelter and accommodation, the vigils, the sense that Manchester came together to deal with the horror with love, that’s the first image, the first context. Here is hope.

Context 2, the Politics

After a long campaign by the media to extol the qualities of right wing PM Theresa May and destroy the image of the leader of the opposition, Jeremy Corbyn, finally the Tory lead in opinion polls for the June 8th election had started to shrink following a forced U-turn on the cap on care for the elderly and other manifesto gaffes. This, coupled with the Labour manifesto hailed as the most interesting set of proposals by Corbyn’s supporters and some detractors had managed to begin to close the gap between the parties.

After the Manchester bomb which killed 22 and left more than a hundred injured, political parties agreed to stop campaigning for the election. But of course Mrs May continued to appear widely in the news looking tough on the terrorists, chairing important meetings with the police, putting the army in the streets to make people feel more ‘secure’ and admonishing Trump for his security service leaking information shared by the British about details of the bomber and the possible network that supported him. This is free political advertising and whether intended or not the terrorists have given it as a present to the Conservatives.

Context 3. Austerity

An emerging detail is that when she was Home Secretary, May cut the police force by 19,000 in spite of being told they would not be able to keep the country safe. This would have included monitoring the people with possible terrorist links, exactly as in this case. The bomber had been in the books of the police after members of his own community communicated his extreme views. But surveillance is labour intensive and needs more manpower. According to Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) published in March this year: “Government austerity blamed in the report, which shows stretched forces downgrading calls and leaving suspects at large… “potentially perilous state”…due to budget cuts in excess of 20%.” “Ch Supt Gavin Thomas, the president of the Police Superintendents’ Association of England and Wales, said: The public will be worried by this report and I share their concerns. There are now 34,000 fewer staff working in policing than there were in 2010, including 19,000 fewer police officers. The amount of money available for policing has also reduced over time.” The Guardian

Furthermore, the cuts to education and services as well as community projects and youth clubs have affected more those areas of low income where ethnic minorities tend to reside. And racism exacerbated by the anti-immigration Brexit campaign has also affected the sense of integration for those minorities. Disaffection can go in any direction. The guy who killed Jo Cox MP was an extreme right wing fascist radicalised by fascist websites. The Manchester bomber was a disaffected youngster, ripe for radicalisation. The only way to prevent disaffection is to have a fair society that looks after everybody’s needs. Economic inequalities and discrimination are forms of violence. And violence begets more violence.

Context 4, the Foreign Policy

How do you radicalise people against eating meat? You show them animals suffering unspeakable horrors whilst being reared for food. How do you radicalise people against animal testing? You show them unspeakable horrors of animals being vivisected, suffering pain and distress. How do you radicalise people against the West? You show them unspeakable horrors like children blown to pieces or struggling to breathe after a chemical weapons attack and people killed by drones, armies, becoming “collateral damage” during efforts to carry out regime change with spurious justifications: non-existing weapons of mass destruction, the “protection of human rights”, of civilians, of “democracy”.

Then anybody can ideologise the images or put them into a religious format but without the human quality of feeling in one’s own body the pain of others that we see suffering, it is less likely. So in a context of love and solidarity these images make you run to give blood and help the injured. In a context of hatred and revenge they produce suicide bombers and wars. Jeremy Corbyn has stated that “Many experts, including professionals in our intelligence and security services, have pointed to the connections between wars our government has supported or fought in other countries and terrorism here at home.” “That assessment in no way reduces the guilt of those who attack our children. Those terrorists will forever be reviled and held to account for their actions. But an informed understanding of the causes of terrorism is an essential part of an effective response that will protect the security of our people that fights rather than fuels terrorism.” For this he is being criticised, even if Boris Johnson himself, our faux-pas-prone Foreign Secretary agrees with him. See Channel 4 News in which journalist Krishnan Guru-Murthy reads out the relevant quote.

There is little doubt that the creation of war-induced chaos in Iraq, Libya and Syria has removed the structures that kept extremism at bay, even if those structures were less than ideal.

Supporters of Middle East wars contend that Islamic fundamentalism is previous to recent interventions but we must remember that in 1953 the Iranian coup d’état, known in Iran as the 28 Mordad coup was the overthrow of the democratically elected Prime Minister Mohammad Mosaddegh in favour of strengthening the monarchical rule of Mohammad Reza Pahlavi … orchestrated by the United Kingdom and the United States to prevent the nationalisation of the Oil industry. Wikipedia

Context 5, Generations

This has been an attack on youngsters by a youngster. Young people tend to be more likely to show solidarity to immigrants, to be against wars, to be idealistic. Ariana Grande, the singer in the Manchester bombing whose music is popular with children and teenagers had a history of activism on social issues, in particular against LGBT+ discrimination. This assault may change some young people’s views. Perhaps the bomber was chosen precisely because being young he would blend better and raise less suspicions. Whatever the intentions, the ‘clash of civilisations’ has moved down one generation.

Context 6, Dehumanisation and Spiritual Malaise

Life without a sense of purpose is meaningless and depends exclusively on getting the next provisional meaning, the latest phone, a house, a car, a shirt. The endorphins rush from our material defences against despair is short lived and there we are, seeking the next one, whilst comparing ourselves and competing with others. This is the existential culture created by the ideology of neoliberalism. Shrink the state, (the only thing that can give responses to terrorism or natural disasters! The private sector, so appreciated by this brand of capitalism, is completely useless in such situations) and compete. Objectify others, use them, abuse them, it’s all OK. Solidarity and compassion are for the weak. This dehumanisation and living through material pursuits breaks the link with our own spiritual being, whether we are religious or not, that dwells in the depths of every human being’s consciousness, a sacred flame which alone can give a permanent meaning and a sense of communion with everybody else. When it’s lost and uncompensated by the hypnosis of retail therapy many search for it in extreme forms of religion that offer the Ecstasy effect: belonging and being at ease with others. Islam is not the only one but thanks to the need of NATO to find an enemy to justify its existence after the fall of the Soviet Union, it is now the most visible.

There is a new spirituality being born and growing, promoting peace and nonviolence, solidarity, non-discrimination, equal rights and equal opportunities for all and compassion. But it does not get column inches; violence is more useful for the survival of this violent system, so it gets all the headlines.

If we want to give a response to the Manchester bombing that halts instead of perpetuates the vicious circle of violence let us breathe, share, vote and build active nonviolence wherever we are. This is not about being right or left, it’s about being human.

23.05.2017 – London, UK Pressenza London

Scientists welcome draft UN nuclear ban treaty
(Image by hiroshima_dome_tw)

Scientists for Global Responsibility (SGR) warmly welcomes the publication yesterday of a draft UN treaty on the prohibition of nuclear weapons.

This draft is the result of negotiations involving 132 nations, which addresses the legal gap which currently exists whereby some weapons of mass destruction – such as chemical and biological weapons – are covered by ban treaties, but nuclear weapons are not. This new treaty is a critical next step
on the road to eliminating nuclear weapons.

The draft text of the treaty requires nations never to develop, manufacture, test, possess or use nuclear weapons.

Much evidence has been gathered, including by SGR, on the immense and indiscriminate suffering that these weapons would cause should they ever be used again in war. This evidence also covers global and long-lasting impacts. Such evidence has been essential in helping to build support for this treaty
among so many governments.

Unfortunately, the UK, along with many of the other nuclear weapons nations, are opposing this treaty, despite 75% public support for the UK to take part. Dr Philip Webber, Chair of SGR, said “Far from keeping us secure, thousands of nuclear weapons put us all at risk every day. SGR therefore calls on the UK government to follow through on its stated commitment to multilateral nuclear disarmament by supporting this treaty, and joining it once it is adopted.” The next step in the UN process is the reconvening of negotiations to finalise the treaty, beginning on 15 June in New York.

Notes

1.      The text of the draft UN treaty on the prohibition of nuclear weapons can
be downloaded from:
http://www.icanw.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/05/DraftTreaty.pdf

2.      Scientists for Global Responsibility (SGR) is an independent UK membership
organisation of about 750 natural scientists, social scientists, engineers,
and other professionals in related areas. It was formed in 1992. SGR’s work is
focused on a range of issues, including security and disarmament, climate
change, sustainable energy, and who controls science and technology? For more
information, see http://www.sgr.org.uk/

3.      SGR’s work on nuclear weapons can be found at:
http://www.sgr.org.uk/projects/nuclear-weapons-threat-main-outputs

4.      Opinion poll data on support for the nuclear ban treaty can be found here:
http://home.bt.com/news/uk-news/75-think-uk-should-attend-nuclear-disarmament-talks-at-un-poll-shows-11364166211350

Contact: Dr Philip Webber: philw@sgr.org.uk; 07929 827322

23.05.2017 Transnational Foundation for Peace and Future Research

Trump in Riyadh – A Gulf NATO to gang up against Iran and Syria

Today, I am proud to say that NATO has a new home in the Gulf region. And that we have opened a new chapter in our deepening partnership.

NATO S-G, Jens Stoltenberg, in Kuwait on January 24, 2017

By Jan Oberg

The Secretary-General also said this new home’s “potential is enormous”.

President Trump arrived on his first trip abroad to Saudi Arabia on May 19, 2017 and big things are supposed to happen, including Saudi Arabia presenting itself as a innovative, visionary leader of the region.

His visit must be seen in the light of a number of events and trends, and in what follows we do like the military when it scans the horizon for enemies: we look for patterns – not the least Saudi Arabia’s “surprising new military goals” as Forbes’ Ellen Wald appropriately calls them.

Or, as they say – we connect some dots that, invariable, Western mainstream media have no capacity and probably also no interest in connecting.

This pattern consists of at least these events and long-term trends:

1. The broadening of NATO cooperation with Gulf countries – one may even see a Middle Eastern NATO branch emerge.

2. Saudi Arabia’s evident leadership in building a new multi-national army announced a couple of years ago and allegedly having 100.000 troops as a goal. This is an extension of the Gulf Cooperation Council’s and its old to-be-replaced military arm, the Peninsula Shield Force

3. The intensified image in the US under Trump of Iran as a threat and a ‘ganging up’ against it.

4. The war on Syria’s territory with hundreds of foreign conflict participants including NATO country Turkey and allies such as Saudi Arabia, the Gulf States and NATO members such as England and France – all in support of anti-government/regime change and pro-terrorists.

5. The second Cold War – very different from the first – between NATO and Russia which also has a Middle East dimension in that Russia is a vital partner of the Syrian government and the Syrian Arab Army.

6. The conflict formation that has Israeli as it’s centre – Hezbollah, Iran, Syria (the Golan Heights), etc. If you want to know what Israel wants to use Trump’s visit for it’s clear from this analysis: More confrontation with Iran and cooperation with Saudi Arabia, also concerning Syria.

7. NATO’s obvious crisis – the new Cold War around Ukraine; its second largest military member, Turkey, working closely with arch enemy Russia, ongoing trans-Atlantic conflicts about burden sharing etc.

This will suffice as an illustration of the complex web of inter-connected issues. There are surely more and we can’t go through them all in this short article.

By way of introduction it should be mentioned that NATO has, as alliance, been engaged in the Middle East for a long time – through the Mediterranean Dialogue begun in 1994 and “elevated” to the Istanbul Cooperation Initiative ten years later in 2004.

What’s going on now is, however, on a quite different scale.

The US-Saudi Arabia arms deal

The US and Saudi Arabia are to sign a huge – yet another – arms deal, valued at US$ 110 billion and, over a ten-year period perhaps mounting to as much as US$ 300 billion. It’s been facilitated by Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner in a rather unconventional way.

Given that Saudi Arabia is the world 3rd largest military spender – i.e. directly after the US and China and, thus, bigger than Russia – this project must be seen in the realm of irrational militarism outside any domain of policies for peace in the Middle East.

And it’s important to keep proportions and priorities clear in these affairs. OECD’s Development Assistance Committee (DAC) spent more than $135bn (£90bn) in 2015 – i.e. the world’s richest countries give about half of the value of this single arms deal to help poor countries manage and eradicate poverty.

It is a clear example of the vested interests of the Military-Industrial-Media-Academic Complex (MIMAC) that threatens the very survival of humanity and is way beyond democratic control. Western mainstream media’s very subdued coverage of this – extreme – dimension of US foreign policy in general makes them complicit and justifies their inclusion in the MIMAC concept.

It goes without saying that this deal is marketed to the world as promoting stability, security and peace and as an important element in the global War On Terror. Given all the other weapons that have been pumped into the Middle East region the last 4-5 decades and all the countries that have been more or less turned into ruins – it’s quite obvious why, as usual, there is no intellectual connection between this deal and the said goals.

For NATO and the mantras, media and marketing is everything.

Russia Today has done a rather decent piece of research on this (see below). Among other things, it makes clear that the deal includes weapons that have little, if anything, to do with fighting terrorism. One of them is the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) missile defense system from Lockheed Martin that the US is also stuffing down the throat of South Korea.

To be able to win war, not to prevent them.

If for a moment one applies some kind of security political logics to this deal, it’s obvious that this build-up is directed – in the longer term perspective and with Israeli support, one must assume – against Iran and Syria. Israel’s official view is expressed here – official because otherwise this minister would have been fired for such statements.

The military expenditure “correlation of forces”

Military expenditures is not the only measure of military might. Neither is it an indicator of who would win a war; contemporary history is full of examples of big spenders losing wars when attacking countries with smaller military budgets.

That said, if you do a search on “world military expenditures” you’ll get a sense of who is willing and able to invest in the military and, also, a rough measure of both proportional allocation to the military sector and, above a certain level, an index of on dimension of militarism.

There are indexes by SIPRI and by the IISS and others – and here are the rough ‘correlation of forces’ pertaining to the countries we talk about here:

• Saudi Arabia is the 3rd or 4th largest military spender on earth after the US, China and perhaps Russia.

• Saudi Arabia spends about between US$ 64 and 82 billion annually (depending on source you consult), growing 20% per year and that is the extremely high 10 % of its GDP.

• Iran spends around US$ 12 bn which is 3% of its GDP.

• This means that Saudi Arabia military expenditures is already at least 5 times higher than Iran’s.

• Add to Saudi Arabia Bahrein with about US$ 1 bn, Oman 9, Qatar 4, United Arab Emirates (UAE) 23 and Kuwait 6 – sum total US$ 43 bn – and include Saudi Arabia and you land at US$ 100-120 billion or
10 times Iran’s.

• In a future war, it is obvious that Israel – if it joins anyone – would join an anti-Iran and anti-Syria – so add US$ 17-18 bn (Israel alone with 1/10 of the population of Iran has 1,5 times larger military budget and is a nuclear weapons power).

• Figures for Syria’s military expenditures seem to be very complicated and unrealiable but most sources estimate it in the order of US$ 3 bn.

The conclusion based on facts, not marketing and mantra, is rather obvious: the military expenditures of Iran and Syria are max about 1/10 of a Saudi-lead regional coalition should there be a war between them in the future. And, if so, you’d find Israel, ISIS and other terrorist groups safely in this Western-dominated camp.

Iran, for instance, has not committed aggression against any neighbour the last 250 years. It is militarily engaged with Syria and Hezbollah but that is a basically defensive mutual-benefit cooperation cannot be seen as an indicator of future attacks, invasion or occupation of other states.

The Syrian Golan heights are occupied by Israel.

With the figures presented here it should be quite obvious that Iran and Syria would have to have suicidal or mentally sick leaders to start a war against the mentioned countries in this region.

In spite of these facts, Western media and politicians do not refrain from painting the image of Iran and Syria as dangers to the region and the whole world. Neither do they tell what the rough correlation of forces is, as stated here.

Since the above data are readily available to anyone who cares to look them up at the Internet, the reason for that omission must be either lack of research and competence, political self-censorship or, worse, having been told that such information shall not be part of the report on issues pertaining to, say, Iran, the Syria war or arms deals such as the one with Saudi Arabia.

Fake news are not only – or even predominantly – about lies, slant, planting of invented stories, framing and perspectives. It is as much about omissions. And invented narratives disseminated by PR and marketing companies to an extent not seen in the past.

18.05.2017 Robert Burrowes

Truth or Delusion?
(Image by Marcela Contardo)

One inevitable outcome of the phenomenal violence we all suffer as children is that most of us live in a state of delusion throughout our lives. This makes it extraordinarily difficult for accurate information, including vital information about the endangered state of our world and how to respond appropriately, to penetrate the typical human mind.

‘Phenomenal violence?’ you might ask. ‘All of us?’ you wonder. Yes, although, tragically, most of this violence goes unrecognised because it is not usually identified as such. For most people, it is a straightforward task to identify the ‘visible’ violence that they have suffered and, perhaps, still suffer. However, virtually no-one is able to identify the profoundly more damaging impact of the ‘invisible’ and ‘utterly invisible’ violence that is inflicted on us mercilessly from the day we are born.

So what is this ‘invisible’ and ‘utterly invisible’ violence?

‘Invisible’ violence is the ‘little things’ that adults do to children every day, partly because they are just ‘too busy’. For example, when adults 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 adults 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 adults blame, condemn, insult, mock, embarrass, shame, humiliate, taunt, goad, guilt-trip, deceive, lie to, bribe, blackmail, moralize with and/or judge a child, they 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, religious figures 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. In brief, this means that the child now lives in a state of delusion. And because this state was caused by terrorizing the child, the child is unable to perceive the series of delusions in which they now live.

Moreover, unless the child (or, later, adult) consciously feels their fear and terror, it will be extraordinarily difficult for them to perceive anything beyond the delusions that they acquired during childhood. This is simply because the various elements of the child’s delusional state (the ‘values’, beliefs, attitudes, prejudices, biases) were the ones approved by the key adults – parents, teachers, religious figures – in the child’s life.

Needless to say, living in a delusional state has many outcomes that are disastrous for the individual, for society and for nature because the individual will now behave on the basis of their delusions rather than in response to an accurate assessment of all available information through appropriate sensory, emotional, intellectual and conscientious scrutiny. For a full explanation of this process, see ‘Why Violence?’ and ‘Fearless Psychology and Fearful Psychology: Principles and Practice’.

In essence then, the typical human being lives in a delusional state and this state is held in place by enormous, but unconscious, terror: the unfelt and hence unreleased childhood terror of being endlessly threatened and punished (for not complying with parental or other adult ‘authority’ throughout childhood).

And if you have ever tried to persuade someone, by argument of an intellectual nature, that a belief they hold is inaccurate and wondered why you couldn’t get anywhere, it is because you have run into their unconscious terror. And sheer terror beats the best argument in the world ‘hands down’.

So when you listen to people like Donald Trump and Marine Le Pen, or ponder those politicians and military generals who conduct endless wars, or watch those people on the street protesting against Muslims and refugees, or watch police beating up another indigenous or black person, or hear someone else deny the climate science, remember that you are witness to a person or people living in a terrified and delusional state that prevents them from perceiving and responding intelligently to reality. And that, in the case of political and corporate leaders, they only have the support to do what they do because a great many other delusional individuals (including voters and employees) enable them.

Equally importantly, however, it is also necessary to recognise that a delusional state afflicts many of those we like to regard as ‘on our side’. It is just that their delusions work differently, perhaps, for example, by making them believe that only token ‘make it up as you go along’ responses (rather than comprehensive strategies) are necessary if we are to work our way out of the multifaceted crisis in which human society now finds itself. This is why many ‘leaders’ of liberation struggles as well as activist movements concerned with ending war(s) and the climate catastrophe, for example, are so unable to articulate appropriately visionary and functional strategies. But the problem afflicts many other ‘progressive’ social movements as well, which limp along making only occasional or marginal impact, if they have any impact at all.

So what are we to do? Well, the most important thing you can do is to never consciously participate in a delusion, whether your own or that of anyone else. I say ‘consciously’ of course because unless you identify the delusion, you will not be able to avoid participating in it. And there are probably few humans in history who have avoided all of the delusions their culture threw at them. If they did, they were probably outcast or killed. Christ, Gandhi and King are reasonably good examples of people in this latter category. But, historically speaking, many activists have been killed for refusing to participate in elite-promoted delusions. And many others have been marginalised, one way or another, depending on the culture.

The value of not participating in a delusion, whether someone’s personal delusion or a widespread social one, arises from the impact you have on those around you: some of these people will have the courage to reflect on your behaviour and reconsider their own.

If you believe you are relatively free of delusion and are committed to taking serious steps to tackle one or more aspects of our multifaceted global crisis, then you are welcome to consider making ‘My Promise to Children’, and 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 using the strategic framework on one or the other of these two websites for your campaign or liberation struggle: Nonviolent Campaign Strategy and Nonviolent Defense/Liberation Strategy.

Living the truth on a daily basis is a tough road. And it will never come without cost. But living in the comfort of delusion, rather than taking action, is the path of cowards.

20.05.2017 Pressenza London

Sweden drops investigation of WikiLeaks’ Assange, but threats in US, UK Remain
(Image by David G Silvers. Wikimedia Commons)

UK police say they can arrest Assange if he leaves embassy, while AG Sessions said his arrest is ‘priority’
by Andrea Germanos, staff writer for Commons Dreams

Though Julian Assange’s advocates welcomed the news Friday that Swedish prosecutors dropped their seven-year investigation of sex crimes allegations into the WikiLeaks founding editor, they expressed continued concern over the threats he still faces from the U.S. and U.K..

“In order to proceed with the case, Julian Assange would have to be formally notified of the criminal suspicions against him. We cannot expect to receive assistance from Ecuador regarding this. Therefore the investigation is discontinued,” said Sweden’s top prosecutor, Marianne Ny.

“The decision to discontinue the investigation is not because we’ve been able to make a full assessment of the evidence, but because we didn’t see possibilities to advance the investigation,” Ny said.

For his part, Assange, who’s been stuck at the Ecuadorian embassy in London for roughly five years, tweeted Friday morning: “Detained for 7 years without charge by while my children grew up and my name was slandered. I do not forgive or forget.”

His accuser said it was a “scandal” to drop the investigation, while Assange’s lawyer, Per Samuelsson, said it marked a “total victory.”

But he could still be arrested as “Mr. Assange remains wanted for a much less serious of offense,” a spokesperson for the British Metropolitan Police said Friday. He skipped bail and did not turn himself in or “surrender to the court” in 2012, and instead sought asylum at the Ecuadorian embassy.

Further, Wikileaks tweeted that the “U.K. refuses to confirm or deny whether it has already received a U.S. extradition warrant for Julian Assange.”

As Common Dreams noted earlier this month,

While speculation has long been that the U.S. government has a sealed indictment against Assange, the government refuses to openly say whether or not criminal charges exist against the man whose media organization has published troves of classified material, much of which has exposed secrets that paint the global superpower—and many of its top political leaders—in a negative light.

And it appears that the Trump administration has renewed interest in pursuing Assange.

In a statement Friday referencing the ongoing “major threats issued against WikiLeaks and its staff for their journalistic work,” I Am WikiLeaks, a campaign run by the Courage Foundation, said: “Just last month, CIA director Mike Pompeo declared that the publisher was a ‘hostile intelligence service.’ Attorney General Jeff Sessions stated that Assange’s arrest was ‘a priority,’ amidst reports charges were being prepared against WikiLeaks members.”

“The U.S. Department of Justice [DOJ] has been running an unprecedented and wide-ranging investigation into WikiLeaks for its publishing and sourcing work since 2010,” the statement continued.

Given such threats, noted figures including artist Patti Smith and National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden called on President Donald Trump to stop pursuing charges against WikiLeaks and Assange. They wrote in an open letter this week that a “threat to WikiLeaks’ work—which is publishing information protected under the First Amendment—is a threat to all free journalism. If the DOJ is able to convict a publisher for its journalistic work, all free journalism can be criminalized.”

Summing up the current situation, Glen Greenwald writes at The Intercept that “[t]he termination of the Swedish investigation is, in one sense, good news for Assange. But it is unlikely to change his inability to leave the embassy any time soon.”

“If anything,” he continues, “given the apparent determination of the Trump administration to put him in a U.S. prison cell for the ‘crime’ of publishing documents, his freedom appears farther away than it has since 2010, when the Swedish case began.”

18.05.2017 Pressenza New York

This post is also available in: Italian

Tour of Standing Rock native defenders in Europe

From May, the 20th to June, the 20th 2017

Several European citizen’s movements and organizations are currently organizing a tour in Europe for Standing Rock native defenders and their allies who oppose the DAPL pipeline and other fossil fuel projects on their territories.

Context and intentions

Currently, the main focus of worldwide grassroots movements involved in climate issues is the protest against fossil fuel infrastructure. The struggle is articulated around two axes: a broad divestment campaign, and non-violent civil disobedience actions. The purpose of the European tour of Standing Rock defenders is to further these actions.

At Standing Rock, the indigenous people resistance, led by women and youth is emblematic and exemplary. Mobilizing thousands of people locally and throughout the United States for a year already, they managed to maintain a posture of dignified non-violent resistance in the face of brutal repression and very difficult climatic conditions. Standing Rock defenders have been able to create important alliances with different native and non-native groups across the country (veterans, religious people, Black Lives Matter, etc.), showing how the climate issue can combine our struggles in a period of repetitive and violent attacks against us all.

This fight is essential for the defense of the environment as well as for the defense of human rights; for people’s participation in projects which impact our territories and communities; for the struggle for self-determination of native people and the respect of their free, prior and informed consent concerning projects on their lands of Turtle Island (North America) ; and for the future of future generations.

Today, the brutal repression of Standing Rock defenders by the Trump government calls for a strong solidarity response.

Even if the oil now runs in the veins of the DAPL, the battles continue against the «black snakes» – including the Keystone XL pipeline, which will route the oil from the tar sands of Alberta to the Gulf of Mexico and several other projects approved by the Trump administration. Resistance is growing throughout Turtle Island (North America).  The activists evicted from Standing Rock have spread across the country, creating a dozen new points of resistance. In addition to physical resistance, hundreds of legal actions against the DAPL are being engaged. Divestment campaigns are growing and winning victories in the United States and Europe. The climate-sceptic counter-attack of the Trump administration threatens the climate at the global level. However, our grassroots resistance – coordinated and determined – can defeat it.

For these reasons, Standing Rock is an exemplary struggle which can inspire others in Europe and merits our support. The tour will be an opportunity to learn more about the Standing Rock mobilization, to allow an intercultural sharing of experiences and mobilizing practices, to strengthen ourselves collectively, to decolonize our solidarity practices and to legitimize, popularize and put into practice actions of non-violent civil disobedience for the climate. All this will be associated with artistic and festive moments of sharing.

Cities on the Tour

The tour will take place from May, the 20th to June, the 19th 2017. We are planning a minimum of 3 days per stop (travel and rest included). The key moments with fixed dates include:

Paris, May, the 23rd, during the stockholders meetings of several big French banks (BNP Paribas, Société Générale)

Brussels, May, the 24th, for the big demonstration against the visit of Donald Trump, and the one against the NATO summit on the 25th

The Netherlands, May 28th to the 2nd of June, to connect with the resistance against coal, gas, and nuclear energy, to support local activists mobilizing for divestment actions, and to show solidarity with territories affected by earthquakes

Köln, June 3rd-4th, to link with the fight against lignite in Germany and all over Europe

Geneva, June 6th to June 8th, to attend a UN work session on the responsibility of transnational companies and push for Swiss banks and institutional divestment.

Madrid, Barcelona, Bilbao, June 9th – 14th, to participate in various meetings such as the Fearless Cities Meeting and also social movements and city council representatives, as well as mass-demonstrations.

Bologna June 9th-11th, to join the Environmental G7 counter summit and demand the respect of first nations rights.

Rome, from June 15th – June 16th and Naples, June 17th-19th, to meet the Naples city council, discuss the local transition and connect with the No Trans-Adriatic Pipeline movement.

Program

The organizations involved in each city will be free to organize their stop in their own way, within the general framework, the objectives, concept of action agreed upon. Ideally, the stops would include:

  • An important effort to inform and mobilize as widely as possible – beyond the usual activists, reaching in particular: the precarious and racialized youth, circles interested in indigenous cultures, associations for human rights, groups implied in disinvestment actions, etc.
  • A moment of exchange and meeting (practices and experiences)
  • A moment of information: talk-debate
  • A mobilization, including if possible a wide demonstration and a civil disobedience action (ideally related to the divestment of European banks which finance the DAPL)

Standing Rock Defenders

Rachel Heaton is a member of the Muckleshoot Tribe of Auburn, WA, (Duwamish descendent). She is a member and one of the indigenous leaders in the Seattle Action No DAPL Coalition and co-founder of Mazaska talks whose strong mobilization forced the City of Seattle to divest $3 billion dollars from Wells Fargo, one of the many banks invested in the Dakota Access Pipeline. Since the beginning of the Standing Rock movement, she has travelled several times back and forth to North Dakota (between August-December) bringing her children to camp to support the efforts at Standing Rock through fund-raising efforts, holding ceremonies and providing help and support to other water protectors at camp and locally. Planting seeds of resistance from Standing Rock Camp in her community, she has made manifest the links between DAPL and local destructive projects around Seattle, empowered others to get involved in the struggle and raised her voice to show that indigenous people are devoted to making this world a better place for us and our future generations. She has also worked for her Tribe in the Department of Education for the last 19 years.

James Robideau is a member of the lake spirit nation of north Dakota. He is the president du Dakota Youth Project, road man from Wounded knee and spiritual leader in Europe, activist and co founder of the American Indian movement. He dedicates his life helping natives people and tribes to survive in a non indigenous society. (James will only participate in the stop in Paris)-

Nataanii Means, is an Oglala Sioux and Navajo activist and hip-hop artist, son of the historic American Indian activist Russell Means. He has been supporting the #NoDAPL movement at the Oceti Sakowin Camp from August until the expulsion of the camp in February. This young water protector has been on the front lines of the non-violent resistance despite the police brutality and several arrests. He is also very active in divestment actions and campaigns across the country. Native hip hop artist, he also raises awareness through his music on Native American issues and inspires/empowers indigenous youth. He is now touring in the United States with the Voices of Water: Wake Up the World Tour and dedicated to sharing his front line narrative through performance, public speaking and divestment actions.

Rafael Gonzales aka. Tufawon (Dakota/Puerto Rican), With his latest project The Homecoming, Southside Minneapolis rapper and producer Tufawon returns to his local roots with a new global perspective, having realized the dream of exploring the world highlighted on his previous effort, The Send-Off. With smooth and soulful boom-bap production, Tufawon expands on the themes of politics, culture, social awareness, and self-care that has defined his approach, showcasing the growth that travel and personal development have brought to his life and his work. Rafael Gonzales put his music career on hold to fight the Dakota Access Pipeline. With a genuine connection to a team of water protectors, he found a home at the Oceti Sakowin resistance camp north of the Standing Rock reservation. For 4 months, he fought alongside his new family of warriors and comrades both on the front lines and doing bank divestment actions. He is now touring in the United States with the Voices of Water: Wake Up the World Tour and dedicated to sharing his front line narrative through performance, public speaking and divestment actions.

Wašté Win Young Wichiyena Dakota and Hunkpapa Lakota from Standing Rock. She was present from August 2016 to February 2017 with her family camped at the confluence of the Cannonball and Missouri Rivers–on ancestral land her people hold title to under the Fort Laramie Treaty of 1851 and 1868. This location was the epicenter of the #NODAPL movement also known as the Očeti Šakowin Camp. She continues to be involved in divestment efforts against the Dakota Access Pipeline, the Keystone XL pipeline and other fossil fuel projects. She is the mother of 4 children and currently resides in the Long Soldier Community on Standing Rock.

Additional info on Standing Rock and its main actors

https://nodaplsolidarity.org

http://nativenationsrise.org

http://standwithstandingrock.net

https://indiancountrymedianetwork.com

http://www.dailykos.com/story/2017/3/5/1638879/-Native-Nations-Sioux-Water-Protectors-March-On-Washington-3-7-Through-3-10

http://www.ienearth.org

http://ww.honorearth.org

http://indigenousrising.org

Calendar of NoDAPL actions: http://everydayofaction.org

Organizations and Collectives

Alternatiba, Break Free Genève, Coordination Justice Sociale, Alternatives Canada, CETIM,  Agir Pour La Paix, Climate Express, INTAL, Transnational Institute (TNI), Ausgeco2hlt, Entrepobles, ANVCOP21, CSIA Nitassinan,  350.org, Friends of the Earth Europe,  i-boycott, I Love Therefore I am, Nuit Debout, UNIA Genève, CGAS, ATTAC GE,  GreenPeace Genève, Solidarité Tattes, CADTM, REFEDD, Women’s March Global.

In solidarity,

        Guillaume Durin        guillaume_durin@hotmail.com

+33 6 64 94 84 43

        Isabelle L’Héritier        lheritier.isabel@gmail.com

+41 78 705 98 05

        Olivier de Marcellus        elviejo@riseup.net

+41 793427025

Stand up with Standing Rock European Tour Organization Group

17.05.2017 – Tel Aviv, Israel Pressenza Muenchen

This post is also available in: Italian, German

Women in Israel: Ready for Peace
(Image by http://www.womenwagepeace.org.il)

On May 22nd President Trump will be travelling to Israel in order to meet with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Earlier this month he received President Mahmoud Abbas in the White House and declared that he wants to help achieving an Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement.

The grassroots peace movement Women Wage Peace, which was founded during the last Gaza war and which counts 11,000 women “beyond all political, religious, ethnic, social and geographical dividing lines” as members by now, has taken this opportunity to send a powerful message to all political leaders: women in Israel are ready for peace.

The campaign calls on everybody to replace their facebook profile tomorrow, 18th May, with the logo “Ready for Peace”. Instructions on how to do this can be found here (with English subtitles). Alternatively a selfie with the three words on it or simply the logo can be posted.

The same day a photo shooting will take place in Midron Jaffa Park in Tel Aviv, to which everybody is invited to join, wear white clothes and form a human READY FOR PEACE writing. An open letter written by the two women Hiam Tanous (Haifa) and Anat Saragusti (Tel Aviv), which is directly addressed to President Trump, has been published in Haaretz, one of Israel’s big news papers.

Those who would like to support the campaign can visit Women Wage Peace on their facebook page, which already has over 33,000 followers, and create their own READY FOR PEACE post. There are no limits to how this could look. And in this sense the brave wo/men of Women Wage Peace also won’t stop their nonviolent fight for peace: everything is possible if we are ready for it!

 

Free Gas For Your Think Tank (A blog to jog your mind and unclog your heart . . .)

Meeting to wait on the Lord is different than meeting to follow a program. However, meeting that way is off the beaten path of religious Christianity. The body of Christ is called to assemble as an army actively obeying its Commander — the risen Jesus — not just as an audience.

The Kingdom of God has a powerful army, “fighting the good fight of faith.” Are you an active part of God’s army? The Kingdom Of God first; above all other nations. (Matthew 6:33)

Jesus is like a power outlet. To receive His power we must plug in & let His current freely flow through us when we gather for worship and when we are alone.

Don’t just sit and mope; get up and hope! Many surrender to drugs to try & feel good. I surrender to Jesus & feel great! Getting on the innernet and live streaming Jesus is…

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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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