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29.05.2020 – Pressenza New York

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Awaiting Justice 
(Image by David Andersson)

By Gabriella Callender

The American conscience has cancer. Another Black man is killed in America by the hands of the police while we despairingly await justice.

How can justice ever really be served in an America that was built on the flesh torn backs of Black human beings? Our African history was intentionally hidden so that our enslavement could be justified. We were made to worship an image of a god who looked nothing like us. We are still at the mercy of the overseers knee on our neck. How far have we come from those “slavery days”? Not far enough when police officers can kill Black people like George Floyd and we are here still hoping for the crumbs of someone’s justice.

I don’t think there could ever be any justice in America. Not unless White people hand over the land.

If we really want to start somewhere we can do so by ending student loan debt for every Black college student in the United States. It won’t be justice but it will be something. Besides, the debt for Black education was paid long ago by the first enslaved African who ever set foot on American soil. Then it was repaid over and over and over again. Rest in Peace, George Floyd.

“Not only do we have to be concerned about our physical health but our emotional health is continuously being damaged by watching all of these videos of Black people being murdered while jogging. Black women being murdered in their beds. Black men being murdered like animals on the streets of Minneapolis. This is unacceptable and this must end.” Andrea Jenkins May 2020

29.05.2020 – US, United States – David Swanson

The War Industry Threatens Humanity

I’m adding Christian Sorensen’s new book, Understanding the War Industry, to the list of books I think will convince you to help abolish war and militaries. See the list below.

Wars are driven by many factors. They do not include protection, defense, benevolence, or public service. They do include inertia, political calculation, lust for power, and sadism — facilitated by xenophobia and racism. But the top driving force behind wars is the war industry, the all-consuming greed for the all-mighty dollar. It drives government budgets, war rehearsals, arms races, weapons shows, and fly-overs by military jets supposedly honoring people who are working to preserve life. If it could maximize profits without any actual wars, the war industry wouldn’t care. But it can’t. You can only have so many war plans and war trainings without an actual war. The preparations make actual wars very hard to avoid. The weapons make accidental nuclear war increasingly likely.

Sorensen’s book completely and refreshingly avoids two common pitfalls of discussions of war profiteering. First, it does not claim to be presenting the single simple explanation of militarism. Second, it does not suggest that the corruption and financial fraud and privatization is itself the whole problem. There is no pretense here that if the U.S. military would simply set its books straight and nationalize the war business and properly pass an audit and stop hiding slush funds, then all would be right with the world, and mass-murder operations could be conducted with a clear conscience. On the contrary, Sorensen demonstrates how the corruption and the sociopathic destruction feed off each other, generating the real problem: organized and glorified homicide. Most books on corruption in the war business read more like discussions of excess profits in the business of torturing bunnies, where the authors clearly believe that bunnies should be tortured without excessive profiteering. (I use bunnies merely to help readers who don’t sympathize as much with human beings as with bunnies understand.)

Understanding the War Industry is not so much analysis as an effort to persuade through the repetition of examples, countless examples, naming names and laid out over hundreds of pages. The author admits that he’s only scratching the surface. But he’s scratching it in lots of different places, and the result ought to be persuasive for most people. If your mind doesn’t go numb, you will feel an urge to take a shower after closing this book. When the Nye Committee held hearings in the 1930s exposing shameful war profiteering, people cared because war profiteering was considered shameful. Now we get books like Sorensen’s that expose war profiteering as a fully developed industry, one that generates the wars from which to profit, while simultaneously and systematically generating shamelessness in the hearts and minds of the people paying for it all. Such books have the task of re-creating shame, not just exposing what is already shameful. Whether they’re up to the task remains to be seen. But we ought to spread them around and give it a try.

Sorensen does occasionally stop to point out what his endless examples lead to. Here’s one such passage:

“Some people think it’s a chicken-or-egg scenario. They argue that it’s difficult to tell which came first — the war industry or the need to go after bad guys in the hemisphere. But it’s not even a situation where there’s a problem, and then the war industry comes up with a solution for the problem. It’s just the opposite: The war industry inflates an issue, avoids addressing the root causes, manufactures weaponry, and markets the weaponry, which the Pentagon purchases for use in military operations. This process is comparable to the process Corporate America uses to get you, a consumer, to purchase a product that you don’t need. The only difference is that the war industry has more incisive forms of marketing.”

Not only does this book provide endless research and documentation leading to the appropriate conclusions, but it does so with highly unusually honest language. Sorensen even explains up front that he is going to refer to the Department of War by that, its original name, that he is going to call mercenaries by the name “mercenaries,” etc. He even gives us four pages of explanations of common euphemisms in the war industry. I’ll give you the first half a page:

acquire the full range of counterspace capabilities: develop weaponry to blow up other countries’ satellites

additional contract requirement: exorbitant public treasure spent on mediocre weapons platform

administrative detention: solitary confinement

advisor: CIA officers / special operations personnel

anticipatory self-defense: Bush Doctrine of pre-emptive strike, regardless of validity of threat

arms trade: selling weapons of death

armed combatant: civilian or resistance fighter, armed or unarmed

“at the request of the [allied govt.], the United States is conducting unarmed reconnaissance flights accompanied by armed escorts who have the right to return fire if fired upon”: “we bomb civilians” to assure the survival of client governments

outpost, facility, station, forward operating location, defense staging post, contingency operating site: base

Read these books, THE WAR ABOLITION COLLECTION:

  • Understanding the War Industry by Christian Sorensen, 2020.
  • No More War by Dan Kovalik, 2020.
  • Social Defence by Jørgen Johansen and Brian Martin, 2019.
  • Murder Incorporated: Book Two: America’s Favorite Pastime by Mumia Abu Jamal and Stephen Vittoria, 2018.\
  • Waymakers for Peace: Hiroshima and Nagasaki Survivors Speak by Melinda Clarke, 2018.
  • Preventing War and Promoting Peace: A Guide for Health Professionals edited by William Wiist and
  • Shelley White, 2017.
  • The Business Plan For Peace: Building a World Without War by Scilla Elworthy, 2017.
  • War Is Never Just by David Swanson, 2016.
  • A Global Security System: An Alternative to War by World Beyond War, 2015, 2016, 2017.
  • A Mighty Case Against War: What America Missed in U.S. History Class and What We (All) Can Do
  • Now by Kathy Beckwith, 2015.
  • War: A Crime Against Humanity by Roberto Vivo, 2014.
  • Catholic Realism and the Abolition of War by David Carroll Cochran, 2014.
  • War and Delusion: A Critical Examination by Laurie Calhoun, 2013.
  • Shift: The Beginning of War, the Ending of War by Judith Hand, 2013.
  • War No More: The Case for Abolition by David Swanson, 2013.
  • The End of War by John Horgan, 2012.
  • Transition to Peace by Russell Faure-Brac, 2012.
  • From War to Peace: A Guide To the Next Hundred Years by Kent Shifferd, 2011.
  • War Is A Lie by David Swanson, 2010, 2016.
  • Beyond War: The Human Potential for Peace by Douglas Fry, 2009.
  • Living Beyond War by Winslow Myers, 2009.
  • Enough Blood Shed: 101 Solutions to Violence, Terror, and War by Mary-Wynne Ashford with Guy Dauncey, 2006.
  • Planet Earth: The Latest Weapon of War by Rosalie Bertell, 2001.

 

28.05.2020 – LUND, Sweden – IDN InDepthNews

Africa Can Still Be on the Top
Johannesburg, the largest and wealthiest city in South Africa (Image by Africa Facts.)

Viewpoint by Jonathan Power

Africa is suffering a double whammy after many years of success. The Coronavirus, while not taking down great numbers of people like in Europe, Asia and the Americas, has had a severe impact by curbing its exports in the face of the formers’ severe economic depression.

For example, flowers grown in Kenya and Ethiopia have been particularly hit. Kenya’s flower industry employs up to 70,00 people. Ethiopia’s horticulture provides 180,00 jobs. Kenya’s overnight exports of cut flowers to Europe have been worth almost 770,000 US dollars a year, up from 134 million in 2000. Now sales are on their way to rock-bottom.

At the same time parts of East Africa have been hit by plagues of locusts, the likes of which have not been seen for over 70 years. They eat everything that comes their way. For the first time in a decade in Africa many people are going hungry in countries that had had no trouble feeding all. Young, newly unemployed, people in the cities have been pushed to return home to their family villages and take up the hoe. Many are trying to migrate into Europe, although it is not in the numbers that the over-reacting media suggest. Only 2.5% of Africans live abroad compared with the global average of migrants living abroad, 3.5%.

Even so there are many reasons for hope. Before these calamities struck Africa was beginning to bounce. Africa had six of the world’s ten fastest growing economies. Over the past decade half of sub-Saharan Africa has grown at 5-6% a year. Some, such as Ethiopia, have seen growth of 10% a year, the highest in the world.

There is no good reason why Africa should not return to that benign state once the northern part of the world gets on top of the Coronavirus. A silver lining is that the Coronavirus has been well contained in Africa. This is partly because Africa had time to see it coming and got itself well organized to test and trace. Second, densely populated West Africa had experienced Ebola and had learnt from that. When Ebola raged, Nigeria, Africa’s most populated country, managed to keep deaths down to seven. It was well organised- in a way that shames Europe’s and North America’s response today.

Africa’s eyes are still set on its future. In August last year African leaders announced the creation of a continent-wide free trade area. If successful over the next decade it will bring together 1.3 billion people in a 3.4 billion US dollar economic zone.

Already the “young continent”, with 60% of its population below the age of 25, has the highest rate of private entrepreneurship in the world. 22% of working age-Africans have launched new businesses. This compares with 13% in Asia and 19% in Latin America.

More that 400 African companies already take in at least 1 billion dollars in annual revenue. BBC World runs a weekly program on African business. New viewers will be struck by how much the African economy has going for it. Mobile phone ownership has grown at a faster rate than anywhere else. 20% are smart phones enabling users to leapfrog into the modern age.

In some parts of Africa one can visit villages buried in the countryside which are using smart phones to transfer money and to get advice from doctors and nurses living in the big city. This is a fast growing phenomenon.

The Chinese are making great inroads into Africa- although not as much as is often reported. It makes about 20% of total outside investment. It has been estimated that the Chinese have created 10,000 businesses in Africa. India, Turkey, the UK and the European Union invest more. Regrettably, US investment, trade and aid have fallen.  The EU has announced that it will give €40 billion in grants from 2021 to 2027, building on Germany’s “Marshall Plan for Africa”, launched in 2017.

Political interest and diplomacy are responding to this economic advance. According to a study made by the University of Denver more than 320 embassies and consulates were opened in Africa between 2010 and 2016. Turkey alone opened 26. The Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan has paid more than 30 visits to the continent. Emmanuel Macron of France has made 10 visits; Narendra Modi of India 8 times. But Barack Obama only visited three times during his presidency despite having a Kenyan father. Donald Trump has not visited once.

Turkish Airlines now flies to 50 African destinations, nearly every country. Ethiopian Airlines, Africa’s premier airline, which has a low accident rate, comparable to European airlines, has rapidly added to its world-wide destinations. (Sometimes its planes are staffed by all-female Ethiopian crews.)

Over the last decade Africa has seen a return to democracy, (admittedly some countries have gone backwards). The democracies have higher rates of national income growth. Wars have decreased. Even the Congo after decades of conflict has gone almost quiet. Increasingly, countries have sounder economic policies- although it is tragic that Nigeria is not one of them after the sensible and effective years of President Olusegun Obasanjo when all looked possible. Three presidents later, present day economic and financial policy is a mess.

Primary education has grown fast. Girls are being educated at a steady pace. This should bring down the birth rate, forestalling those prophets of doom who predict an over-fast population growth that swamps economies.

A former president of South Africa, Thabo Mbeki, spoke of the present being “the African century”. There is no good reason why it shouldn’t be, despite the present day double whammy.

Note: Copyright Jonathan Power. Website: www.jonathanpowerjournalist.com. The writer was for 17 years a foreign affairs columnist and commentator for the International Herald Tribune. [IDN-InDepthNews –  26 May 2020]

Photo: Johannesburg, the largest and wealthiest city in South Africa. Source: Africa Facts.

 The original article can be found on our partner’s website here

Ensuring Biodiversity Now will Prevent Pandemics Later

27.05.2020 – Uniet Nations – Inter Press Service

Ensuring Biodiversity Now will Prevent Pandemics Later
South Africa’s white rhinoceros recovered from near-extinction thanks to intense conservation efforts. Experts around the world have called for international and local cooperation for biological preservation to prevent future pandemic. (Image by Kanya D’Almeida/IPS)

A future repetition of the current COVID-19 pandemic is preventable with massive cooperation on international and local levels and by ensuring biological diversity preservation around the world, experts recently said.

How to prevent the current crisis in the future

  • According to the World Health Organisation the coronavirus originated in bats, and original theories had circulated the virus spread to humans from a wet market in Wuhan, China.

In celebration of the International Day for Biological Diversity held on Friday, May 22, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) held a series of panels, bringing together experts to speak about this year’s theme “Our solutions are in nature”.

The current COVID-19  pandemic was the key theme in all the discussions and various experts from around the world shared their thoughts on topics such as the link between the current coronavirus crisis and biodiversity, methods and practices that can unite different communities and solutions that humans can carve out from our access to nature.

Many of the experts echoed the notion that better conservation can play a crucial role in preventing such a crisis in the future.

“Better conservation of large intact natural areas, including natural world heritage sites and urgent measures to address illegal wildlife trade are really considered important to limit the emergence of new diseases in the future,” Mechtild Rössler, director of the World Heritage Centre (WHC), said at the panel. 

“Focus should not only be gazetting protected areas but also on creating and [enabling] conditions [where] these areas can fulfil their biodiversity conservation objectives,” she added.

Paul Leadley, a researcher at the University of Paris-Saclay, pointed out that human health is “linked indissociably” with the condition or health of nature, and that about 70 percent of emerging diseases are a result of human contact with animals, including causes such as deforestation and trade and consumption of wild animals.

As such, he said, it’s crucial that we have preventative measures instead of carving out measures only in response to a crisis, as is happening now.

“We need to be more proactive and researchers and decision makers must understand that we need it to be upstream,” he said at the “What changes are necessary?” panel. “We need to identify diseases that could emerge before they spread, [and] we [need to] start to better understand the change from transmission from animals to man.”

And these issues have an economic impact as well.

Rössler noted that heritage sites in 90 percent of the countries where heritage properties are located have been partially or fully closed due to loss of entrance fees, thus contributing to the local economy in a negative way.

Closures of sites have caused major socioeconomic impact for communities living in and around these sites, Rössler said, including disruption of community life, aggravated poverty and serious issues related to the monitoring of conservation practices.

Rössler isn’t alone in this observation.

Roderic Mast, co-chair of the International Union for Conservation of Nature SSC Marine Turtle Specialist Group, recently told IPS that they have been receiving reports of how a lack of monitoring and enforcers on the ground have caused increased illegal poaching in places such as Indonesia and French Guiana.

International and local cooperation

Leadley, who is also an Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) expert, further said it’s crucial for international and local cooperation in order to prevent such transmissions.

Rössler echoed a similar thought, and called for a “stronger commitment” between all parties.

“We need a stronger commitment from all governments to conserve and manage these areas, to exclude them from unsustainable development activities and we need increased solidarity and cooperation among nations to achieve that,” she said, adding that it will also help communities further contribute to actions surrounding climate change.

Tim Christophersen, coordinator of the Nature for Climate Branch at United Nations Environment, highlighted the youth’s activism on the matter.

“We see the emergence of a global restoration movement from youth networks to communities that want to rebuild their livelihoods all across the world so this movement is already emerging,” he said at the panel “What are the possible ways to regenerate ecosystems and restore our connections with biodiversity?”

Christophersen is also a focal point for the U.N. Decade on Ecosystem restoration 2021-2030, and said the next decade has a lot of opportunities for learning between local and international communities.

“What we can do with the U.N. decade is to link local activities to a global umbrella to give people at a local level more tools and hopefully more resources, more inspiration and a connectedness to a global movement where we can learn from each other,” he said.

 The original article can be found on our partner’s website here

What is the Circular Economy?

27.05.2020 – US, United States – Pressenza New York

What is the Circular Economy?
(Image by courtesy of Health in the Hood and Foodprint.)

Turning bike tires into bags, sugar cane waste into to-go boxes, and reclaimed wood to new flooring is what the circular economy looks like.

By Mary Meade – Green American

Each of these trash-to-treasure concepts are real practices by real businesses: Green Guru, which makes outdoor gear out of busted bike tubes and old climbing rope; Greenline Paper Company, which offers compostable to-go clamshells from bagasse (sugar cane waste fiber); and Pioneer Millworks which takes wood from dilapidated buildings for new home building projects. These are just a few examples of business leaders redefining capitalism as a mechanism to care for the planet instead of taking advantage of it.

While this concept is getting more press in recent years, it is not a new phenomenon—compassionate businesses have been coming together for decades under Green America’s Green Business Network® to demonstrate unity for a circular economy.

While there are several schools of thought that inform a circular economy—from cradle to cradle, to natural capitalism, to industrial ecology—at its most basic level, a circular economy is about rethinking supply chains to minimize waste. The Ellen MacArthur Foundation describes it in three parts: “designing out waste and pollution, keeping products and materials in use, and regenerating natural systems.” This economic model takes the principles of reduce, reuse, and recycle, and scales them throughout society. Read more about the various schools of thought at the Ellen MacArthur Foundation’s website.

Conversely, our country runs on a linear economy: we take resources, make products, and when we tire of them or they outlive their usefulness, throw them away. This take-make-toss model operates as if resources are infinite—whereas the circular economy makes the most of the planet’s resources while giving back. The following case studies from Wrangler, TerraCycle, and Green America’s Center for Sustainability Solutions demonstrate examples of each piece in the Ellen MacArthur Foundation definition of designing out waste, keeping things in use, and regeneration.

Design Out Waste

Most pollution and waste occur early in the supply chain, not from consumer purchasing. For example, the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) states that about one-fifth of the world’s industrial water pollution occurs in textile mills, long before the finished clothing items make it to the hands of buyers. Green America’s winter 2019 issue, “Unraveling the Fashion Industry,” took a deep dive into the world of harmful fashion be an authoritative resource on issues and victories throughout the industry.

Jeans alone will go through several chemical-intensive washes to get that “lived in” look (unless you’re buying raw denim, yours have gone through this too), generating a significant amount of wastewater; however, by designing out waste at the beginning of the supply chain, businesses have the opportunity to generate industry- wide positive impacts.

Wrangler’s newest denim collection is one such example. In 2019, the brand released Indigood™, a collection that uses a foam-dyeing process to eliminate 100 percent of wastewater from the indigo dyeing process. Wrangler collaborated with Texas Tech University, Indigo Mill Designs and the Spanish fabric company Tejidos Royo to bring the foam-dyed denim to market.

Compared to conventional denim manufacturing, which uses around 1,500 to 2,000 liters of water by dipping denim yarn in 12 to 14 different dyeboxes—imagine bathtubs filled with dye—the foam dyeing processes uses almost no water.

“Instead of using water to carry the indigo dye, this process uses foam, which is comprised mostly of air. The foam is introduced via applicator brushes and the yarn runs over it,” says Roian Atwood, Wrangler’s director of sustainability, who states the technology is a totally different system than conventional methods.

The Indigood Collection was originally released in 2019 and is currently available in stores. Atwood says Wrangler intends to increase the amount of foam-dyed denim throughout their entire collection.

“We want to incorporate foam-dyed denim into our products as fast as possible, because without water, you eliminate wastewater,” says Atwood. “And a denim mill that isn’t producing wastewater as a result of its operations is almost unheard of.”

Additionally, Atwood states that Wrangler won’t monopolize the foam-dyed denim market. Wrangler has already shared the technology with competitors because of its potential to completely change the denim industry.

For a notoriously water-intensive item of clothing, the foam-dyeing process offers a clear solution to designing out waste near the beginning of the supply chain—the first piece in the Ellen MacArthur Foundation’s definition of a circular economy.

models for Wrangler
Models in Wrangler’s Indigood collection. Courtesy of Wrangler.

Keep in Use

A linear economy turns a profit off waste: Americans threw away 4.51 pounds of trash per person per day in 2017, according to the EPA. Most of that discarded material comes from goods that are used briefly, such as food waste and packaging materials. As these items are replaced, they perpetuate the take-make-waste model of a linear economy.

Combating this model begins with re-imagining how these materials are wasted and is also the second part of the Ellen MacArthur Foundation’s circular economy definition: keeping items in use longer. In the Wrangler example, pollution and waste must be managed by businesses and therefore, are out of the average person’s control; however, we do have control over how often we buy items, how long we use them, and how we repurpose them. Food waste and some paper materials can be composted, which gives them a new life as fertilizer. Certain plastics, metals, and glass can be recycled in curbside bins, too.

But what about household items that can’t be composted, repaired, or recycled? Empty toothpaste tubes, dead car batteries, and dried out markers are a few examples of “unrecyclables”— in other words, items that are not accepted by municipal recycling and thus, landfilled. This is where TerraCycle comes in.

“TerraCycle’s mission has always been ‘to eliminate the idea of waste,’” says Sue Kauffman, the North American public relations manager of the recycling company, which has been in operation for over a decade.

TerraCycle is a leader in recycling the unrecyclable—the company partners with major consumer goods manufacturers to offer recycling programs. In 2019 alone, TerraCycle collected and diverted over 30 million pounds of post-consumer and post-industrial waste from landfills. The company won Green America’s People and Planet Award in 2015 for recycling innovation and has since won additional accolades and expanded to 21 countries.

The recycling company offers multiple programs for collecting unrecyclables, from the Zero Waste Box program for picking up nearly every type of waste, to the Regulated Waste program for items like fluorescent lamps and batteries that would be hazardous in a landfill.

To make these programs possible, TerraCycle works with a variety of third-party processing subcontractors that sort and reprocess the waste into usable raw materials for new product manufacturing. Whenever possible, these processing locations are located near where the collections take place.

TerraCycle’s newest project, Loop, follows the “milkman model”—like when the milkman came to the doorstep with a fresh delivery and picked up used containers. Loop expands on this concept with familiar consumer brands by delivering reusable and recyclable packaging of everyday products instead of single-use packaging.

“With the launch of Loop, a fully circular economy was our desired outcome,” says Kauffman. “Through all of the waste reduction programs offered by TerraCycle, we have redefined the concept of what truly is waste and encouraged consumers and the packaged goods industry alike to reconsider what can be given a second life through recycling.”

terracycle courtyard with infinity sign mural
Mural on the side of the TerraCycle office in Trenton, New Jersey. Photo courtesy of TerraCycle.

Regenerate Natural Systems

In nature, waste does not exist. When a leaf falls, it becomes food for microorganisms, then becomes part of the soil to feed the tree. While there are multiple schools of thought educating circular economy theory, the concept of ‘waste as food’ is an underlying theme. Thus, the third foundational pillar of a circular economy is regenerating natural systems; not only does this principle close the loop of a circular economy, it has the potential to protect and improve the environment by returning nutrients to ecosystems.

Vermicomposting (composting using live worms) is an example: in a household vermicompost system, earthworms are fed kitchen waste, from eggshells to orange peels. Their eliminated waste can be used as a nutrient-dense fertilizer. Now imagine that process on a much larger scale, considering increased biodiversity, soil health, and surrounding ecosystems. This is the idea of regenerative agriculture.

Mary Johnson, the Carbon Farming Innovation Network director at Green America, explains that regenerative agriculture is an approach to farming that mimics nature to create a healthy and symbiotic ecosystem.

“Over the last hundred years, conventional and tillage-based farming systems have not reflected how important living organisms are,” says Johnson. “Regenerative agriculture uses knowledge of how nature works on a deep, complex systems level to farm in harmony with those systems, rather than dumbing them down to the most reductionist, controlled approach that relies heavily on applications of toxic chemicals and sterilized soils.”

Regenerative agriculture also has the capacity to capture carbon and store it in the ground, reducing the effects of the climate crisis and sequestering global carbon emissions. Read more in “Planting Seeds of Climate Hope.”

With this in mind, regenerative agriculture has the potential to not only protect natural ecosystems but improve deteriorated conditions caused by conventional agriculture. Project Drawdown ranks regenerative agriculture as its 11th highest-impact solution to climate change.

The practices of farming regeneratively are applicable to both small, worker-owned or family farms as well as large corporations are looking to incorporate regenerative methods in their supply chains. In 2018, Green America announced its collaboration with DanoneWave—a maker of dairy and plant-based products such as coffee creamer and yogurt—to implement regenerative agriculture practices in its supply chain, as well as to develop a certification for regenerative farms. If regenerative agriculture becomes widely adopted, it has the potential to drastically alter our economic relationship with food, the land, and the climate.

Closing the Loop

Collectively, each of these case studies offer a glimpse at what is possible in a circular economy. The shift would require all facets of society to participate—from government and business, to cities and individuals—but the momentum is already growing. Climate change has never mattered more to American voters. Businesses across the nation are increasingly taking the initiative to be greener. A circular economy is the only economic model that can support humanity on planet Earth—and it is more important than ever.

 The original article can be found on our partner’s website here

ICAN condemns U.S. consideration of resuming nuclear testing

25.05.2020 – Geneva, Switzerland – International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons

ICAN condemns U.S. consideration of resuming nuclear testing
A nuclear device is detonated at Eniwetok Atoll in the Marshall Islands in 1952 (Image by US government)

Beatrice Fihn, Executive Director of the Nobel Peace Prize winning International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, released the following statement condemning reported U.S. consideration of resuming nuclear testing:

“A Trump nuclear test would cross a line no nation thought the US would ever cross again, and is threatening the health and safety of all people. Testing poisons environments, food and lives – Americans are still dying from the original nuclear weapons tests. It would also blow up any chance of avoiding a dangerous new nuclear arms race. It would complete the erosion of the global arms control framework and plunge us back into a new Cold War. Only a multilateral solution can shore up these bilateral treaties Trump is ripping up. The TPNW is that solution.”

Available for Interview

Beatrice Fihn, Executive Director of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, beatrice@icanw.org (GENEVA)

Alicia Sanders-Zakre, Policy and Research Coordinator of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, alicia@icanw.org (GENEVA)

Contact

Alicia Sanders-Zakre
alicia@icanw.org
+41 76 723 79 18

It’s Healthy to Cut the Military Budget

24.05.2020 – US, United States – Jhon Sánchez

It’s Healthy to Cut the Military Budget
(Image by BRANDY BURKE / U.S. AIR NATIONAL GUARD)

By Jhon Sánchez

I’m not planning to spend money on haircuts. Since I don’t go out, I decided to buy a pair of scissors and do it myself, at least for now. It’s not only a budgetary decision but also consideration regarding my health because I want to limit my exposure to public spaces. I guess many of us are making those decisions now. As a nation, we need to ask ourselves if we need the same level of military expenditure for 2020. How likely is the need for the United States to defend itself from a foreign attack in the middle of a pandemic? What are soldiers doing right now?

Professor Joshua Rovner, former scholar-in-residence at the National Security Agency and US Cyber Command, gives us some guidance in an interview granted to Emily Priborkin, at American University, “The problem is that COVID-19 makes it difficult to maintain ready forces. Pandemics encourage militaries to stand down, just as they encourage people to stay home. Naval patrols are especially hard because ships are at risk of becoming hot spots for the virus, as we saw with the USS Theodore Roosevelt. But the problem doesn’t stop with the Navy; land forces also are struggling to maintain training and exercise routines.”

Rep. Mark Pocan

@repmarkpocan

Billions of dollars in defense spending increases won’t solve this pandemic.

It’s about time we see taxpayer dollars support the American public—not line the pockets of defense contractors.

I led 29 Democrats who agree: we must decrease defense spending. https://www.thenation.com/article/politics/pentagon-budget-unemployment-coronavirus/ 

‘America Needs a Coronavirus Cure, Not More War.’

Progressive democrats look to reduce the defense budget.

thenation.com

147 people are talking about this

Other countries are taking the same initiative as Derek J Grossman highlighted.

Derek J. Grossman@DerekJGrossman

Please note: decrease in official Chinese defense spending hike this year (6.6%) compared to last year’s rise (7.5%) doesn’t mean the PLA is any less lethal. Also hard to believe spending figures accurate to begin with, but that’s another story altogether. https://www.stripes.com/news/pacific/china-hikes-defense-spending-by-6-6-lowest-rate-in-years-1.630815 

China hikes defense spending by 6.6%, lowest rate in years

China will increase its defense spending by 6.6% in 2020, the lowest rate in years as it battles an economic crisis brought on by the coronavirus outbreak, the government said Friday.

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Regarding this, Professor Rovner says, “[t]hat does not necessarily mean giving up on great power competition. A more modest approach would rely on other US advantages and put less stock in military swaggering. For decades, the United States has reaped the benefits of political stability, economic strength, and educational excellence. The pandemic may inspire a serious effort to shore up these sources of power, even it if means reducing our foreign military footprint. The blessings of geography give us the time and space to make this happen. Of course, this requires that we view great power competition as a long-term effort to ensure national security, not a daily struggle to demonstrate military might.”

This idea also has sounding among Republicans, according to Mackenzie Eaglen, a former congressional adviser on defense matters. (Military Faces another Potential Coronavirus Toll. Military Cuts by Missy Ryan,Washington Post)

Maybe, the COVID19 crisis is giving us the opportunity to redirect our priorities, and peace activists would have good ground to seed their ideas for the future. Today, more than ever, we can gain from the military budget cuts and make permanent investments in education, health, and housing.

THE ORIGINAL QUAKER ON (AUTHENTIC) RELIGIOUS LIBERTY DAY!

Religious Liberty? A New Quaker Idea, or an Old One?

Old enough to be foundational, not just for Friends, but (should be) for all for Christianity. (And NEW enough to be sending concerned people into the streets — in Alabama, Missouri, Georgia, many other states, and to the steps of Congress  & the Supreme Court.) Let’s hear the ringing endorsement it received from The Original Quaker:

He was reading aloud a passage from the prophet Isaiah (Isaiah 61:1).

But Jesus did more than that. He identified it as his mission; he finished by saying, “Today, this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.” (Luke 4:21)

Today, there are voices that want to turn “religious liberty” on its head; as if Jesus’ message was liberty for captors; and liberty for oppressors; and definitely bad news for the poor. These voices claim their “liberty” should compel the state to preserve public space or approval for such dubious ventures as:

— ignoring and mocking social distancing & wearing masks for protection against coronavirus;
— demeaning treatment of persons or groups who are marginalized and stigmatized;
— propagating false and injurious slurs to create fear and panic, especially for political purposes;
— propping up systems of unfair advantage and unearned power;
— denying access to justice for those who have been mistreated — even to deprive them of the ability to earn more for their honest labor.

Is that what Quakers in England suffered and lobbied for, through almost thirty years of persecution  in England? Is it what Lucretia Mott and the Grimke sisters agitated for? Is it what Bayard Rustin went to jail to uphold?

Is that really the Original Quaker’s message, and what brought him to an ignominious fate?

When Jesus taught, he often used stories, or parables. Many of these include themes of liberation, or denouncing oppressors

Let’s recall a few of these, in observance of final passage of the Toleration Act, May 24, 1689, in England, which made Quakerism and many other dissenting groups legal:

In one, a poor widow takes on a crooked judge, single-handed: Luke 16:19-31Widow-Judge

In another, an indifferent rich man and a beggar change places: Luke 18:1-8

Rich-man-Lazarus

And Jesus describes a Last Judgment which is not about doctrine, ritual purity or church membership. In it he declares: “What you did for the least of these, you did it for me”: Matthew 25:40

Matt-25-40There are more. Such examples. Then after he’s gone, among his early followers, terms for “liberty” frequently recur:

James 2:12: “So speak and so act as those who are to be judged under the law of liberty.” 

Galatians 5:13: “For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another.” 

2 Cor 3:17: “Now the Lord is that Spirit: and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.”

Today is AUTHENTIC Religious Liberty Day. 
Remember. Celebrate. Keep it Real.

cartoon-JC-rel-lib

This year, the American struggle for authentic religious liberty (rather than repackaged religious favoritism & theocracy) has heated up considerably. Friends are part of this struggle, like it or not.

Freedoom

Today in #Quaker history: After many years of struggle and persecution, Parliament passed the Act of Toleration in 1689, which repealed the earlier anti-Quaker laws and allowed Friends to freely and openly worship together. May 24, 1689 #quakers #actoftoleration

“Stay at Home, Stay Alive, Organize, Organize”

23.05.2020 – New York City – Amy Goodman

This post is also available in: Spanish

“Stay at Home, Stay Alive, Organize, Organize”
(Image by Pressenza archives)

We’re between two historical epochs now: BC and AC — Before COVID-19 and After COVID-19. Established institutions, entrenched regimes and powerful corporations are well-positioned to navigate the uncharted waters of this in-between, “DC,” or “During COVID-19” time. Less equipped are the poor and working class, unable to gather safely, to protest, to rally for better conditions. The novel coronavirus has amplified the gross inequality that dominates our society. Just look at the disconnect between the stock market and the plight of workers. It seems with every announcement of historic job losses, the Dow Jones and the S&P 500 shoot upward. On Wall Street, they’re counting gains, while on Main Street, they’re digging graves.

“These are hard times,” Rev. William Barber II said Wednesday, appearing on the Democracy Now! news hour. “A lot of the pain is by choice. It didn’t have to be. It’s not because of the virus, per se. It is because of the pandemic of greed and lies and trickle-down economics that caused us to move in the wrong direction from the beginning.”

Reverend Barber went on, “Even before COVID hit, too many people in power were too comfortable with other people’s deaths. We have 140 million poor and low-income people in this country, 43% of the nation, 700 people dying a day from poverty and low wealth, two-and-a-quarter million a year and 80 million people either uninsured or underinsured before COVID hit.”

Barber is co-chair of the Poor People’s Campaign and president of the non-profit Repairers of the Breach. He and Campaign co-chair Reverend Liz Theoharis of the Union Theological Seminary are calling on people from all walks of life to join a digital, online Mass Poor People’s Assembly & Moral March on Washington on June 20th at June2020.org. “Don’t you believe these lies these governors are telling us about the time to open back up,” Barber implored. “Stay at home. Stay alive. Organize. Organize.”

Despite the incredible challenges, despite the demands to stay at home (for those fortunate enough to have a home), people are organizing and taking creative and courageous action. As has been the case throughout U.S. history, movements drive change. Now is no exception.

Shortly after his interview on Democracy Now!, Barber spoke at a virtual mass action, a nationwide strike staged by workers at McDonalds restaurants. Fast food workers there and at other restaurant chains have been organizing the “Fight for $15” campaign for a living wage for years. One worker after another spoke on the live video stream, detailing the challenges and risks they face daily as part of our sprawling, underpaid and virtually ignored essential workforce:

“I’m a McDonalds worker here in Kansas City, Missouri,” Fred Marion said. “I’m going on strike because, as you see me and you hear me, I am a human just like you. I may not be a doctor or a paramedic, but I’m out here on the front lines just like them, and I’m human just like them. We deserve PPE, hazard pay, healthcare, and $15 per hour – it’s just a living wage.” Angélica Hernández spoke in Spanish, inspired to strike by her co-worker who was stricken by COVID-19 and is currently on a ventilator. McDonalds, she said, showed no interest in providing protective gear for workers. Katerra Wilkins added, “We’re risking our lives for $7.25 per hour.”

In solidarity with striking workers were speakers like Mary Kay Henry, International President of SEIU, the Service Employees International Union and epidemiologist David Michaels, who served as head of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration under President Obama. New York Democratic Senator Kirsten Gillibrand spoke, pointing out that “even after Congress passed an emergency paid sick leave law in March, 75% of workers were left out, thanks to carve-outs for big businesses like McDonalds…Making sure everyone can afford to stay home when they are at their most contagious is crucial to combatting this virus.”

Meanwhile, in front of McDonalds’ corporate headquarters in Chicago, activists installed a symbolic picket line of sign-holding, cardboard silhouettes of striking workers. The ACLU drove an electronic billboard truck through the streets of downtown Chicago, broadcasting the workers’ demand for a living wage.

These are difficult, dangerous times. Armed, overwhelmingly white, rightwing vigilantes storm state capitals, while the undocumented, the poor, communities of color — those most at risk, keep our economy moving — growing our food, working in slaughterhouses and warehouses, delivering packages and meals, cleaning our hospitals and caring for our elderly — they face COVID-19 infection on a daily basis, with practically no safety net. Whatever future we collectively forge in the “After COVID-19” era, the needs of these essential workers and of the poor must be front and center.

 The original article can be found on our partner’s website here

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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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