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30.09.2019 – Robert Burrowes

The Global Climate Movement is Failing: Why?
This first image of the global biosphere which was produced by combining data from two different satellite sensors show for the first time the productive potential of the Earth’s vegetative biomass. Source: NASA on The Commons

It has been satisfying to note the significant response to two recent climate campaigns: the actions, including the recent Global Climate Strike, initiated by school students inspired by Greta Thunberg and the climate actions organized by Extinction Rebellion.

While delighted that these campaigns have finally managed to mobilize significant numbers of people around the existential threat the climate catastrophe poses to life on Earth, I would like to briefly raise some issues for consideration by each of those involved in the climate movement as well as those considering involvement.

I do this because history provides clear-cut and compelling lessons on how to make such movements have the impact we need and, so far, the climate movement is not doing several vital things if we are to indeed be successful. And I would like to be successful.

So here are five key issues that I would address as soon as possible:

  1. Analyze the climate catastrophe within the context of the ongoing and broader environmental disaster that is currently taking place.
  2. Analyze the climate catastrophe and environmental disaster to better understand the political, economic and social systems and structures, as well as the individual behaviours, that are driving them.
  3. Based on these analyses, reorient the movement’s strategic focus: that is, who and what is the movement trying to change?
  4. And then identify the nature of the behavioural changes we are asking of people and their organizations, and how these will be achieved.
  5. In what timeframe?

Let me briefly elaborate why I believe these issues are so important.

  1. Earth’s biosphere is under siege, not just the climate.

There is no point mobilizing action to halt ongoing destruction of the climate while paying insufficient attention to the vast range of other threats to key ecosystems that make life on Earth possible. I understand that most movements, whether concerned with peace, the environment or social justice, for example, tend to confine their concern to one issue. Unfortunately, however, we no longer have the luxury of doing that given the multifaceted existential threats to life on Earth.

The biosphere is under siege on many fronts with military violence, radioactive contamination (from nuclear weapons testing, nuclear waste from power plants including Fukushima and Chernobyl, depleted uranium weapons…), destruction of the rain forests and oceans, contamination and depletion of Earth’s fresh water supply, geoengineering, 5G and many other assaults inflicting ongoing and uncontained damage on Earth and its species. See, for example, ‘5G and the Wireless Revolution: When Progress Becomes a Death Sentence’.

This has critical implications for the strategic goals we set ourselves in our struggle to save not only the climate but the many vital ecosystems of Earth’s biosphere. In short, if we ‘save the climate’ but rainforests are destroyed or nuclear war takes place, then saving the climate will have been a pyrrhic victory.

  1. Politicians are a ‘sideshow’ with negligible power.

Hence, it is a waste of time lobbying them to do such things as ‘declare a climate emergency’, ‘phase out all fossil fuel extraction and transform our economy to 100% renewable energy by 2030’, ‘recognize indigenous sovereignty’ and ‘implement a Green New Deal’.

The global elite, which is insane, is ‘running the show’, including the key political, economic, military and social structures and the bulk of the politicians we supposedly elect. This means that the global elite holds the levers of power over the world capitalist system, national military forces and the major international political and economic organizations such as the United Nations, the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund. For brief explanations of this, with references to many more elaborate accounts, see the section headed ‘How the World Works: A Brief History’ in ‘Why Activists Fail’, as well as ‘Exposing the Giants: The Global Power Elite’ and ‘The Global Elite is Insane Revisited’.

But separately from the role of the global elite in managing the major political, economic and social systems and structures in order to extract maximum corporate profit, individual behaviours, particularly the consumption patterns of people in industrialized countries, are also driving the destruction of Earth’s biosphere. Why? Because our parenting and teaching models are extraordinarily violent and leave the typical human living in an unconsciously terrified, self-hating and powerless state and addicted to using consumption as a key means to suppress awareness of how they feel. See ‘Love Denied: The Psychology of Materialism, Violence and War’ and ‘Do We Want School or Education?’ and, for more detail, ‘Why Violence?’ and ‘Fearless Psychology and Fearful Psychology: Principles and Practice’.

3 & 4. If we understand the above two points, we can reorient our efforts.

This means that instead of powerlessly lobbying politicians, we can change our strategic focus to maximize our strategic impact. So, on the one hand for example, we can tackle corporations profiting from the manufacture, sale and use of military weapons, the extraction and sale of fossil fuels or the manufacture and sale of the poison glyphosate (‘Roundup’), by designing and implementing thoughtful strategies of nonviolent action to end their manufacture and sale of these life-destroying products. For comprehensive guidance on campaigning strategically, see Nonviolent Campaign Strategy. For a list of the strategic goals necessary to effectively tackle the climate catastrophe or end war, for example, see ‘Strategic Aims’. And for a brief explanation of how to make a nonviolent action have maximum impact, see ‘Nonviolent Action: Why and How it Works’.

On the other hand, we can encourage responsible and systematic reductions of consumption in all key areas – water, household energy, transport fuels, metals, meat, paper and plastic – while dramatically expanding individual and community self-reliance in 16 areas in industrialized countries as outlined in ‘The Flame Tree Project to Save Life on Earth’. Or, more simply, we can encourage people to make the Earth Pledge (below).

Once enough people commit to one or the other of these two approaches (to substantially reduce consumption and increase local self-reliance), then three vital outcomes will be achieved:

  1. it will progressively reduce resource extraction from, and pollution of, Earth’s biosphere,
  2. it will functionally undermine capitalism and the ongoing industrialization process, and
  3. it will remove the fundamental driver of the global elite’s perpetual war: our collective demand for the goods and services made available by the elite’s theft of resources from countries they invade and exploit on our behalf.

I am well aware of the captivating power of turning up in a shared space with a vast bunch of other people  with whom we agree. Unfortunately, while it might be a lot of fun, it is usually a waste of time strategically. Even the largest worldwide mobilization in human history (against the imminent US-led war on Iraq) on 15 February 2003, in which 30,000,000 people participated in more than 600 cities around the world, was ineffective. See ‘Why Activists Fail’.

Of course, if you still want a large public action, then you need to make sure the gathering has strategic focus. For example, instead of using it to powerlessly beg politicians to fix things for us, make it an occasion where participants can publicly commit to taking powerful action themselves by signing the Earth Pledge.

The Earth Pledge

 Out of love for the Earth and all of its creatures, and my respect for their needs, from this day onwards I pledge that:  

  1. I will listen deeply to children (see explanation below)
  2. I will not travel by plane
  3. I will not travel by car
  4. I will not eat meat and fish
  5. I will only eat organically/biodynamically grown food
  6. I will minimize the amount of fresh water I use, including by minimizing my ownership and use of electronic devices
  7. I will not buy rainforest timber
  8. I will not buy or use single-use plastic, such as bags, bottles, containers, cups and straws
  9. I will not use banks, superannuation (pension) funds or insurance companies that provide any service to corporations involved in fossil fuels, nuclear power and/or weapons
  10. I will not accept employment from, or invest in, any organization that supports or participates in the exploitation of fellow human beings or profits from killing and/or destruction of the biosphere
  11. I will not get news from the corporate media (mainstream newspapers, television, radio, Google, Facebook, Twitter…)
  12. I will make the effort to learn a skill, such as food gardening or sewing, that makes me more self-reliant
  13. I will gently encourage my family and friends to consider signing this pledge.

To reiterate: It is delusional to believe that we can sustain the existing levels of consumption and preserve Earth’s biosphere. Because, in the end, it is our over-consumption that is driving the destruction. As an aside, this is also why the various Green New Deal proposals being put forward are misconceived: each of the versions that I have checked is essentially a wish-list of desirable changes ‘demanded’ of governments while missing the fundamental point that if people still want to fly, drive, eat meat and fish, or food that is poisoned, use electronic devices…, they are paying the elite to maintain existing structures of violence and exploitation, to continue killing people (to steal their resources) and to destroy the biosphere. And this, of course, means that we are directly complicit in the violence, exploitation and destruction. After all, why should the elite listen to our demands for change when we spend our money supporting their existing profit-maximizing, people-killing and biosphere-destroying behaviours?

If this all seems too challenging, then I invite you to consider doing the emotional healing necessary so that you can act powerfully in response to this crisis. See ‘Putting Feelings First’. If you want to help children to do so, consider making ‘My Promise to Children’ which will require capacity in ‘Nisteling: The Art of Deep Listening’.

  1. The timeframe to which we are working is vital.

Given the ever-increasing body of evidence that suggests human extinction will occur by 2026, there is no point working to the elite-sponsored IPCC time frame, designed to maximize corporate profits-as-usual for as long as possible. We do not have, for example, until 2030 to contain the temperature increase to 1.5 degrees celsius above the pre-industrial level or, say, mid-century to fully reign in carbon, methane and nitrous oxide emissions. We have nothing like this much time. Moreover, anyone paying attention to the state and ongoing destruction of the world’s rain forests and oceans, the ‘insect apocalypse’ and the accelerating rate of species extinctions (with one million species now under threat) should perceive this intuitively unless (unconsciously) terrified and hence delusional.

But for a fuller elaboration of the short time frame we have left, if we take into account the synergistic psychological, sociological, political, economic, climate, ecological, military and nuclear considerations that each play a part in shaping this time frame, see ‘Human Extinction by 2026? A Last Ditch Strategy to Fight for Human Survival’.

Conclusion

By now, of course, many people will be overwhelmed by what they have read above (if they got this far). So this is why those who feel able to grapple with the evidence presented are also the ones most likely to have the courage to join me in taking the action outlined and gently encouraging others in the movement to reconsider and reorient movement strategy too.

It also means that the climate movement and those with whom we must work, such as those in the labour, women’s, antiwar, indigenous rights and environment movements, have considerably more work to do if we are to achieve the outcomes we all want.

Unless enough of us are able to embrace the path outlined above, human extinction in the near term is inevitable because our efforts will be wasted on actions that cannot have the necessary impact given the full dimensions of the crisis.

Dear Friend,
please find enclosed and attached updated information relative to the 59th Course of the International School on Disarmament and Research on Conflicts (ISODARCO) (www.isodarco.it).
We hope that you will find this information of interest and you will join us in this intellectually challenging experience. We also hope that you will pass this information to your friends and colleagues and forward it to your mailing list.
Attached is a pdf poster that you can print; we hope that you will kindly post it on your bulletin board.
Thank you for your collaboration and best personal regards
Carlo Schaerf

59th Winter Course of the International School on Disarmament and Research on Conflicts (ISODARCO)
Subject: Emerging Technologies, Evolving Nuclear Postures, and Deteriorating Norms: is the Global Nuclear Order Eroding?
Venue: Andalo (Trento, Italy)
Date: 8-15 January 2020
Director of the School: Carlo Schaerf (ISODARCO, Rome, Italy).
Directors of the Course:  Francesca Giovannini (Center for International Security and Cooperation, Stanford University (Affiliate), USA) and Steven Miller (Belfer Center, Harvard University, Cambridge, USA)
Information on the school and application form: www.isodarco.it
Principal Lecturers: Joan S. Johnson-Freese, Naval War College; Rebecca Gibbson, Belfer Center, Harvard University; Vladimir Kozin, Moscow State Institute of International relations; Adil Sultan Muhammad, Centre for Aerospace and Security Studies, Islamabad; Theodore Postol, Massachusetts Institute of Technology; Tariq Rauf, Canada; Philip Reiner, CEO, Technology for Global Security, Palo Alto,; Carl Robichaud, Carnegie Corporation of New York; Frank Sauer, Bundeswehr University, Munich; Scott Smitson, US Southern Command; Nina Tannenwald, Brown University; Beyza Unal, Chatham House; Heather Williams, King’s College, London; Wu Riqiang, Renmin University of China.
Confirmations are expected from other eminent experts who have been invited to lecture at the course.

29.09.2019 – Inter Press Service

10,000 People a Day Must be Freed to End Slavery by 2030
(Image by Survivor Alliance site)

GENEVA, Sep 27 2019 (IPS) – “Six years after initiating my term as Special Rapporteur, it is sobering to say that the way to freedom from slavery remains long in spite of the legal abolition of slavery worldwide,” said UN expert on contemporary forms of slavery, Urmila Bhoola.

“Clearly, preventing and addressing slavery is not as simple as declaring it to be illegal but much more can and must be done to end slavery by 2030.”

According to the International Labour Organization, over 40 million are enslaved around the world. While presenting her latest report to the Human Rights Council in Geneva, Bhoola pointed out that servitude will likely increase as the world faces rapid changes in the workplace, environmental degradation, migration and demographic shifts.

“Slavery is economically clearly unprofitable; it leads to broader public health costs, productivity losses, negative environmental externalities and lost income,”
Urmila Bhoola, UN expert on contemporary forms of slavery

She further indicated that over 64 percent of those enslaved work in the private sector, a quarter of global servitude is of children, and a chocking 98 percent of enslaved women and girls have endured sexual violence.

People in the informal sector, which represents 90 percent of the workforce in developing countries, are at higher risk of being exploited or enslaved, Bhoola added.

“By 2030, some 85 percent of the more than 25 million young people entering the labour force globally will be in developing and emerging countries. Their perspectives to access jobs offering decent work will determine their level of vulnerability to exploitation, including slavery,” Bhoola said.

The figures she presented were a “wake-up call” for countries to prepare themselves to tackle slavery more effectively as “10,000 would need to be freed each day if we are to eradicate contemporary forms of slavery by 2030,” she added quoting recent figures from the NGO Walk Free.

Bhoola said that some States had already elected to exclude from public contracts suppliers whose supply chain presented risks of slavery. Other Governments were using anti-money laundering systems to encourage companies to prevent proceeds of slavery from entering the financial system.

The expert regretted, however, that efforts to end slavery had been insufficient. She pointed out that convictions against perpetrators and their risk to face justice remain minimal.

“Slavery is economically clearly unprofitable; it leads to broader public health costs, productivity losses, negative environmental externalities and lost income,” Bhoola stressed, proposing a new approach against slavery that is “systematic, scientific, strategic, sustainable, survivor-informed and smart.”

Bhoola urged States to commit more resources to end slavery, and adopt and implement public policies that effectively address that scourge.

This story was originally published by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights

GOD’S LOVE

God’s love

And God’s care

Are with us

Every where

David Herr

28.09.2019 – London, UK – Silvia Swinden

Climate Strike part 2: 27/9/19. In total more than 6 million in the streets
Young demonstrators join the Climate Strike in Buenos Aires (Image by Climate Strike Facebook)

Between last week’s marches and yesterday, massive demos have taken place all over the world to demand urgent action on fossil fuels responsible for climate change, pollution induced illness and death and to end the culture of business as usual as long as there is profit to be made.

Images speak louder than words…

Barcelona by Pressenza

Florence by Pressenza

Santiago de Chile by Pressenza

Madrid by Pressenza

Barcelona, Indonesia, Finland, Greece, India, Kenya, Hungary, Russia, Mexico. Iraq, Austria, Pakistan, Peru, UK, Canada, Israel, etc, etc, etc, by Greta T Facebook

Rome by Pressenza

27.09.2019 – International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons

This post is also available in: ItalianGreek

12 States join the Nuclear Ban Treaty on International Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons 2019
(Image by ICAN)

September 27, 2019

On the International Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons, 12 states took another significant step towards achieving this goal by signing or ratifying the UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, during a special High-Level Ceremony at the UN Headquarters in New York.

The five nations that ratified during the ceremony are:

  • Bangladesh
  • Kiribati
  • Laos
  • Maldives
  • Trinidad & Tobago

These states are also joined by Ecuador, which became the 27th state to ratify the Treaty on September 25th, one day before the ceremony.

The following states signed on to the Treaty:  Botswana, Dominica, Grenada, Lesotho, St Kitts and Nevis, Tanzania and Zambia, as well as the Maldives and Trinidad and Tobago (as the latter two states both signed and ratified the Treaty during the ceremony).

The treaty now has 79 signatories and 32 States Parties. By signing, a State commits to not take any action that would undermine the treaty’s object and purpose. Upon depositing its instrument of ratification, acceptance, approval or accession, a state becomes legally bound by the terms of the treaty. When the Treaty has 50 states Parties it will enter into force, making nuclear weapons illegal under international law.

The ceremony was hosted by long-time champions of the Treaty: Austria, Brazil, Costa Rica, Indonesia, Ireland, Mexico, New Zealand, Nigeria, South Africa and Thailand and enabled presidents and foreign ministers to take this important step while they were gathered at the UNGA.

Newly-elected President of the UN General Assembly, Mr Tijjani Muhammad-Bande of Nigeria, opened the ceremony, and spoke passionately in support of the Treaty’s importance in ending nuclear weapons. “We commend states that have joined TPNW and urge those who have not done so to do join in this most vital action,“ he said during his address to the UNGA Plenary event earlier in the day.

Beatrice Fihn, Executive Director of ICAN, celebrated the move by these 12 countries and the outspoken support for the Treaty around the world throughout the day.  “Away from most cameras, we come together to do the actual work of nuclear disarmament. For the good of your people and the good of the world you propel the Treaty toward entry-into-force […]  Today, in this room, I feel the scale tilting toward the Elimination of Nuclear Weapons. This day of action gives us all hope at a bleak time.”

After today, the treaty is almost two-thirds of the way to its entry into force, and this momentum is expected to continue. Several countries have confirmed to ICAN that their ratifications are imminent, and campaigners around the world will not stop until every country is on board.

26.09.2019 – International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons

International Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons 2019
(Image by ICAN)

September 26th is the International Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons, and it’s going to be a big day.

All around the world, ICAN campaigners will be marking the occasion with activities calling for the end of these inhumane immoral weapons, and promoting the UN Treaty that will end them. And at 17:00 EDT, in the United Nations Headquarters in New York, a high level ceremony for the signature and ratification of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons will take place.

Tune into the livestream here at 17:00 EDT ⬇

Tune into the livestream here at 17:00 EDT ⬆

For governments: Find more practical information about the Ceremony

The High-Level Ceremony will be hosted by Austria, Brazil, Costa Rica, Indonesia, Ireland, Mexico, New Zealand, Nigeria, South Africa and Thailand, states which have historically been at the forefront of the process towards the adoption and entry into force of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.

Other events to mark International Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons

The UNGA will also be marking the International Day with a plenary event where nations and representatives of civil society will speak to the urgency of ending nuclear weapons for good. Campaigner Mitchie Takeuchi, second generation Hibakusha and granddaughter to the director of the Red Cross hospital in Hiroshima at the time of the bombing, will deliver ICAN’s statement.

 Tune in to the UNGA Livestream 

In addition to the events in New York, ICAN campaigners around the world will also be marking the occasion with a variety of activities. Follow the different events happening around the world:

25.09.2019 – Pressenza London

UN Climate Action Summit missed a key ingredient: climate action
Solar Towers of the PS10 and PS20 solar thermal plants in Spain (Image by Koza1983 • CC BY 3.0, Wikipedia)

Nicholas BeuretUniversity of Essex for The Conversation

A summer of civil unrest. A global climate strike bringing millions of people to the streets. A stark warning from scientists that climate breakdown is accelerating, and that we must triple our climate ambition at the very least. All of the conditions were there for this year’s UN Climate Action Summit to be a turning point in the climate crisis.

But after 24 years of inaction by governments on climate breakdown, it’s hard to feel surprised that the moment never arrived. In fact, the summit was an abject failure.


Read more:
Don’t bet on the UN to fix climate change – it’s failed for 30 years


Almost 80 countries pledged to reach “net zero” – that is, to balance carbon emissions with carbon removal – by 2050. But not only is this number far too little too late given the state of the science, none of the major carbon polluters made any significantly improved commitments.

US President Donald Trump – who previously pulled the country out of the Paris Agreement – briefly dropped by before moving on to the religious freedom, anti-abortion summit he had pledged to attend. His main contribution was to mock Greta Thunberg’s impassioned speech to world leaders at the start of the summit.

You’d have thought that the EU would seize the opportunity to finally announce a unified commitment to net zero by 2050. But it had little more to offer than highlighting that most of its members supported the goal, and offering vague suggestions that it would at some point improve its current commitment of a 40% cut in emissions by 2030. Even this goal is unlikely to get past the veto power of Poland, a significant coal producer determined to defend what it sees as its economic interests.

China, as the world’s biggest polluter, made no significant pledges nor commitments at the summit. The country did suggest that it would demonstrate “the highest possible ambition” when reviewing its climate commitments next year. But it argued that the US and the EU needed to lead on making significant reductions because of their historical responsibility for emissions. China also suggested it would use its massive Belt and Road initiative – aimed at building infrastructure networks across the globe – to tackle climate change, despite the project being linked to a massive expansion in carbon emissions.

This lack of concrete action by those most responsible for our planetary predicament was starkly contrasted by commitments from countries at the other end of the spectrum. The world’s “least developed countries” (LDCs) said that all 47 of its members would commit to net zero emissions by 2050, despite being least responsible for carbon emissions, and often still suffering the legacies of colonialism, slavery, and structural adjustment programmes – that is, enforced privatisation of major industries and programmes of austerity – inflicted by the world’s wealthiest nations.


Read more:
Not convinced on the need for urgent climate action? Here’s what happens to our planet between 1.5°C and 2°C of global warming


But despite unprecedented strikes, protests and scientific warnings, most countries, cities and companies did not unite behind UN Secretary-General António Guterres’ call for a collective commitment to net zero by 2050.

Worse still, there was a near complete absence of commitment to immediate action. To have a reasonable chance of limit global heating to 1.5℃ – a level above which the effects of climate breakdown become dramatically more severe – we need to cut emissions by between 10 and 20% per year at the very least, starting in a couple of years at the latest. Were those wealthy countries most responsible for climate change to take on a fair, increased share of reductions, they would need to cut their carbon footprint by 24% a year. This amounts to a 75% cut in the next five years for countries such as the UK.

To kickstart this process, Guterres wanted world leaders to tackle subsidies for fossil fuels, implement taxes on carbon, and end new coal power beyond 2020. This did not happen. India, China and Turkey are all still planning to expand coal power well beyond 2020. Fossil fuel subsidies are still growing – and so is production. New carbon taxes are nowhere to be seen.


Read more:
2050 is too late – we must drastically cut emissions much sooner


Even countries with net-zero pledges in line with the UN’s 2050 call are nowhere near on track to realise them. The UK, for example, is forging ahead with plans for a third runway at Heathrow, supporting fracking and opening coal mines.

As it stands, we’re still on track for a catastrophic 3℃ to 4℃ of global heating by 2100. And after 24 years of abject failure, it’s clear that if there is any chance of halting global heating, it won’t be enough to just take to the streets. People will have to take matters into their own hands, and find new ways to bring about a just transition to a zero-carbon future – despite the efforts of their governments.The Conversation

Nicholas Beuret, Lecturer in Management and Marketing, University of Essex

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

25.09.2019 – New York City – Pressenza New York

NYC: Income Savings Plan Program (ISP)
(Image by Ed Yourdon/wikimedia)

On the Department of Homeless Services proposal to amend the Rules of the City of New York to establish an income savings program for shelter residents with earned income, to be known as “ISP” or “Income Savings Plan Program”

By Diane R. Pagen

The Department of Homeless Services Income Savings Plan program (ISP) proposal to amend Title 31 of the Rules of the City could only have been cooked up by people who are not poor and not homeless. It is a bad idea. It is not innovative. It is not evidence-based. It is discriminatory. I explain why here in this document.

The ISP will create new bureaucracy. Homeless New Yorkers do not need new bureaucracy. They need new housing, and more income support to pay for housing. Their current incomes are precarious and below the amount we know people need to remain alive—being forced to save part of an already insufficient income will only increase the precarity and anxiety they already have daily. Making New Yorkers in poverty save 30% of an already insufficient income is the same as taking food out of their mouths, warm clothing out of their closets, and opportunities out of their lives. The ISP will create a new mechanism that shelter operators will use to justify kicking single adults out of shelter. The result will be more DHS spending on enforcement bureaucracy and staff, greater financial hardship every month for New Yorkers in shelter, worse health and nutrition, and more single adults leaving shelters, not for real homes, but to sleep on the streets.

Important Points:

  • The ISP proposal does not tell us the cost of implementing and running the program. We need to know the dollar cost of the administration, new staff, and the compliance bureaucracy. We need to know what DHS is intending to spend to run this program so we can ask if this program is the best use of these public funds.
  • The ISP as planned discriminates against people of color. We know that the median income of black New Yorkers ($57K) and Latino New Yorkers ($48K) is less than half of white New Yorkers ($124K). We can logically conclude that to apply a savings requirement that is the same for all when we know there is a racial disparity in their incomes makes the savings requirement discriminatory. It is likely that the black and Latino single adults will have a harder time saving and will end up on the street in disproportionate numbers. 
  • The ISP proposal does not cite data that show the model has been successful in another large, high cost city. This is problematic for reasons too obvious to list.
  • The ISP proposal forces New Yorkers living on poverty incomes to get by on less of their income putting their health and lives at risk. People who are earning between $10 to 15 per hour, and even less than that, cannot afford sufficient food, toiletries, and clothing even when spending their full income. Single adults in shelter often have to spend more for food because they do not have kitchens to prepare meals—this means they need more money for food, not less.
  • The ISP does not increase the incomes of homeless adults. The fundamental cause of homelessness is the widening affordability gap. ISP does not address this cause. The incomes of adults in shelter are insufficient for them to afford a rent. Even if an adult is able to comply with the requirement that he deposit 30% of his wages into the ISP program, he still has the same insufficient income to work with to get out of shelter. The ISP does not raise the incomes of single adults in shelter, therefore, it is not resolving the primary problem that drives poverty—inadequate incomes.A single adult in shelter is in shelter because that person is unable to afford to pay a New York City rent despite having a paid job. Let’s consider a person who earns $12 an hour and works 40 hours a week. That is $1920 a month gross income, of which the ISP program expects them to save $600 per month, leaving them with about $1000 cash after taxes for all their needs for the whole month. Even if they managed to go without basics to make the savings deposits during 6 months in shelter, they would only have saved $3600 at the end of 6 months. Within a month or two of moving out of shelter and paying rent, they will be back where they started, with inadequate income and in danger of losing their new home.
  • The ISP is not equitable nor realistic. It requires single adults in paid employment to set aside 30 percent of their gross income each month, a behavior that is not required of the general population. According to data, the average American does not have $500 in cash to use for an emergency, and the average American is not as poor as a single adult in shelter. If the average American does not earn enough to save money, why would we make saving a condition of staying in shelter and becoming eligible for housing?If saving money is such a positive and do-able practice for people who are earning at the poverty line or near it, then surely the population earning far more than homeless adults in shelter should have to set aside savings, too. The “normal” American does not have $500 in cash in an emergency, and the normal American earns far more than a person in shelter. If we do not expect the average American to save and understand why he can’t, why expect it of homeless adults? 
  • The ISP program holds on to the participants’ savings for too long. The standard time lag to give participants their savings once out of shelter is 30 to 45 days. The participants are New Yorkers with low incomes who need their funds upon moving out to meet their basic needs and pay their new rent. There is no sensible reason to make New Yorkers already living on low incomes and in precarity to wait a month to get the money they saved. Participants who want to and can save should be permitted to save in an ordinary bank where they can get their money immediately, like the rest of us. The proposal also does not tell us whether the participants earn interest on the savings. We need to know.
  • The ISP program embraces negative myths about poor people. The median rent In NYC is $2980 a month for a one bedroom apartment. This is unaffordable to median income earners, much less to single employed adults earning poverty line incomes, yet the ISP pretends that it can help “such employed individuals get back on their feet and exit shelter by budgeting for and developing savings…” Creating a compulsory savings requirement to remain in shelter embraces the myth that people are poor because they have money but mismanage it. Our principle homeless services agency should not be embracing that colonial era myth. It also legislates continued infantilizing of poor people—why should they have to explain why they chose to buy food, or a bicycle, or a present for their niece, instead of making the ISP deposit? It’s insulting to the intelligence of poor people.
  • The ISP will increase the number of single adults put out of shelter and onto the streets. When they cannot comply with the savings requirement because they choose to eat and pay their bills instead of saving, the “non-compliance” allows DHS workers to kick them out of shelter. They also lose their eligibility for whatever housing they were in line for. This practice will be a gross violation of the NYS right to shelter.
  • The ISP excludes more innovative, evidence-based approaches to reducing homelessness, like implementing a local Universal Basic Income. A Universal Basic Income is an agreed upon amount of income, paid to all in a community at regular intervals, regardless of their other income and whether or not they have a paid job. The World Health Organization has recommended a UBI as an effective way to reduce homelessness (see WHO, Universal Basic Income Policies and Their Potential for Reducing Health Inequities). There are UBI pilots in various stages of launch in Mississippi, in California, in Newark, and in Kenya (and one in Ontario that was improving lives, cancelled by their new government) yielding good results for these communities; so why is NYC, a mecca and leader in so many areas unwilling to join these innovators? Instead, DHS is proposing a costly, means tested, discriminatory and compulsory savings program rather than propose a UBI trial for New York City. This does not make sense to any rational person looking at the facts.Universal Basic Income goes to everyone in a community, so it would not discriminate; studies show cash is the least costly way to address homelessness and poverty; and Universal Basic Income would not require the outdated means tests that oppress poor New Yorkers and subject them to the mistreatment that they suffer in DHS and HRA facilities such as was exposed this year in the press. A Universal Basic Income for NYC would reduce homelessness for all single adults and it would provide adults already living on the streets to use their UBI to immediately get off the streets. There is abundant data that show that UBI works; there is no data to show forcing poor people to exist on a smaller portion of their income works.
  • ISP data will mislead the public. As participants fail to comply because they don’t have enough money to save 30% of their gross income, they will forced to leave the shelter. Data will show reductions in the numbers of single adults in shelter, which may lead the public to believe these people are no longer homeless, and that ISP is helping people. Moving people from shelter to the streets is not helping them. In the bigger picture, it harms not just those put into the streets, but also will harm those who somehow manage to go without basics to comply.

Final Comments:

Making this program compulsory perpetuates one of the core flaws of the shelter system, which is that rather than being focused on helping homeless people find and pay for permanent homes, it focuses on putting financial resources toward behavior modification of poor people. DHS already makes poor single adults participate in mental health services, job training, and adhering to purposeless curfews that impede their freedom to find new opportunities, network, spend time with family and friends. The premise of these costly services is to enhance their lives, but in reality all the behavior modification is isolating, time consuming, expensive for NYC and frustrating for homeless New Yorkers who entered shelter with one purpose: to find an apartment. There is no evidence that compulsory savings for people with low incomes reduces homelessness. It can’t because it is not raising their incomes. These DHS non-housing related services cost millions of dollars and have absolutely nothing to do with the construction of permanent housing nor with moving homeless adults into apartments. The Department of Homeless Services should be devoted to building housing, collaborating with other agencies to create income supplements, and moving homeless New Yorkers into that housing.

One additional final comment: this year, galvanized by the assault of a New Yorker seeking public assistance, as well as the release of a report on the mistreatment of low income New Yorkers in welfare offices, the City Council agreed to place a licensed social worker in every welfare center to assure decent treatment. I would like to review here a few of the elements of the social work code of ethics, which says that public policies need to be 1) socially just 2) provide dignity to the person aided 3) and operate with integrity. The ISP program does none of these things. It is unjust, because it blames the homeless person for his homelessness when we know it is not his fault; it is undignified because it doesn’t respect his decisions; and it does not operate with integrity because it promises to help homeless people when the designers know it won’t. 


Prepared by Diane R. Pagen, Social Worker, Resident of the City of New York

Co-Founder, Basic Income March

23.09.2019 – DiEM25

How military industries poison our planet

Aleksandar Novaković for DiEM25
21/09/2019,

The U.S. military is the single greatest institutional contributor to growing natural disasters. We must bring an overall reduction in military spending onto the political agenda.

Media coverage of massive heatwaves and forest fires in the heart of the Amazonia and Subsaharan Africa has somehow overshadowed the awful truth that military industries are significant contributors to climate change.

It is easy to fathom that with CO2 emissions, coming mostly from coal and petrol, newspaper stories about multinationals exploiting Third World countries, we tend to forget about the military. After all, in most of the Western world, the military is professional and soldiers are not a large part of population, hence the assumption that their role in ecological disasters is not significant.

Wrong!

In fact, the US Army alone pollutes at a rate greater than 140 countries combined. Indeed, the United States insisted on an exemption to the reporting of military emissions in the 1997 Kyoto Protocol. This is no surprise since the USA has one of the largest military industries in the history of the world and the US Air Force (USAF) is the largest single consumer of jet fuel in the world. In 2006, the USAF spent more on fuel than during the Second World War.

Climate & Capitalism sums it up: “The U.S. military is the single greatest institutional contributor to the growing natural disasters intensified by global climate change.“

The Munich Institut für sozial-ökologische Wirtschaftsforschung reports the scale of these emissions: the modern Eurofighter consumes about 70 to 100 litres of kerosene per minute and at Ramstein Base (Germany) alone, 1.35 billion m³ of climate-damaging gases are released each year.

Furthermore, the US Army has a long history of chemical weapons use dating back to the Vietnam War, including the herbicide Agent Orange that killed Vietnamese and US soldiers alike. Today, the US Army is doing the same by emitting toxic waste from their military bases in the Philippines and Okinawa, not to mention shooting depleted uranium shells in the NATO campaign in Yugoslavia in 1999 and war in Iraqin 2003.

While the public outcry against climate change continues, military industries are booming, and not only in the USA.

According to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), military expenditure is rising in China (by 5%) as well as in the whole of Europe (Ukraine is leading with an increase of 21%), most of Asia and Oceania and of course the USA with 716 billion dollars in 2019. The US Army is not only the world leader in the accumulation of arms but also damaging the planet with 5429 military basesworldwide, 1000 of which are located in 80 different countries outside of the US.

The conclusion is obviousWe must bring an immediate reduction in military spending onto the political agenda.

There is no room for mistakes such as the recent support by progressives in the US House of Representatives for Trump’s colossal military budget giving the Pentagon carte blanche for the next two years. While Europeans can’t influence the American legislature they can decrease their own military budgets, stop exporting weapons abroad, ban storage and use of nuclear warheads in Europe, withdraw from military campaigns around the globe.

I hope that our choice will not be poisoning ourselves with military industries while, at the same time, trying to protect our lives with those very industries.

Aleksandar Novaković is a historian and dramatist, and member of the Thematic DSC Military and Foreign Policy 1

Photo: Todd Diemer (no joke)

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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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