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21.07.2018 – Israel David Swanson

Tell Israel to Allow Thinking in Its Schools
Ministry of Education offices on Street of the Prophets in Jerusalem

By David Swanson

Israel has passed a law allowing its Minister of Education to ban from its schools any person or group who criticizes Israel — apparently something that no teachers or students in Israel are supposed to do either (though some do). The hasbara, or pro-war propaganda, spin on this is that it is protecting Israel’s brave Troops from (rhetorical) “attacks.” But one of the chief targets of the law is understood to be Israeli troops who speak about what it is they do. And the law explicitly identifies for banning from schools those who advocate “legal or political” actions, which tend to be taken against those who make laws and political decisions, not against Troops.

Are recruits told that their military training will reduce them to such pitiful beings that they will magically suffer if children in a school somewhere speak critically of Israeli government policies?

If Israel were doing nothing wrong, if it had the ability to show with reasonable argument that it was doing nothing wrong, it would not need to go to such efforts to shield its young people from undesirable viewpoints. If it were trying to educate them to be thinkers and pursuers of justice, it would welcome all viewpoints. Instead it is banning advocates for peace and nonviolent rational debate and conflict resolution — violating basic principles of liberalism and also violating the law.

As Pat Elder has pointed out to me, Israel is party to the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the involvement of children in armed conflict, which makes the minimum age for military recruitment 18, while allowing 17-year-olds to voluntarily enlist, as Israel does, if . . .

(a) Such recruitment is genuinely voluntary;
(b) Such recruitment is done with the informed consent of the person’s parents or legal guardians;
(c) Such persons are fully informed of the duties involved in such military service;
(d) Such persons provide reliable proof of age prior to acceptance into national military service.

But how can this be voluntary and fully informed in a state where anyone who mentions the actual “duties involved in such military service” is banned from entering any school?

When Israel ratified the above Protocol, it added this language:

“The Government of the State of Israel maintains the following safeguards in respect of voluntary recruitment into the armed forces so as to ensure that such recruitment is not forced or coerced: . . . Clear and precise explanation of the nature of the duties involved in military service is provided to both the person and the person’s parents or legal guardian.”

Clear and precise? What about true or accurate or complete?

What does Israel have to hide?

Well, nuclear weapons. Maintaining the threat of ending the world will be the task of some recruits.

Apartheid. Israel just passed another law to encourage the creation of Jewish-only towns, or what the United States calls sundown towns (Get your [black/Palestinian] ass out of [town name] before sundown). That will require help from military recruits.

Arming Nazis. Israel can’t get enough weapons to Nazis in Ukraine without the work of some of its well-educated recruits.

Genocide. Israel is gradually killing the entire population of the territories it seizes and occupies. An open discussion by honest seekers of truth and understanding might end up including some slight questioning of the morality of this.

That won’t happen in Israeli schools, unless the world condemns fascism EVERYWHERE it arises. Here’s an email address for the Ministry of Education: edusite@education.gov.il

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19.07.2018 – Uk George Monbiot

Dark money lurks at the heart of our political crisis

Democracy is threatened by organisations such as the Institute of Economic Affairs that refuse to reveal who funds them

By George Monbiot for The Guardian

A mere two millennia after Roman politicians paid mobs to riot on their behalf, we are beginning to understand the role of dark money in politics, and its perennial threat to democracy. Dark money is cash whose source is not made public, and which is spent to change political outcomes. The Facebook/Cambridge Analytica scandal, unearthed by Carole Cadwalladr, and the mysterious funds channelled through Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionist party to the leave campaign in England and Scotland have helped to bring the concept to public attention. But these examples hint at a much wider problem. Dark money can be seen as the underlying corruption from which our immediate crises emerge: the collapse of public trust in politics, the rise of a demagogic anti-politics, and assaults on the living world, public health and civic society. Democracy is meaningless without transparency.

The techniques now being used to throw elections and referendums were developed by the tobacco industry, and refined by biotechnology, fossil fuel and junk food companies. Some of us have spent years exposing the fake grassroots campaigns they established, the false identities and bogus scientific controversies they created, and the way in which media outlets have been played by them. Our warnings went unheeded, while the ultra-rich learned how to buy the political system.

So what is this organisation, and on whose behalf does it speak? If only we knew. It is rated by the accountability group Transparify as “highly opaque”. All that distinguishes organisations such as the IEA from public relations companies such as Burson-Marsteller is that we don’t know who it is working for. The only hard information we have is that, for many years, it has been funded by British American Tobacco (BAT), Japan Tobacco International, Imperial Tobacco and Philip Morris International. When this funding was exposed, the IEA claimed that its campaigns against tobacco regulation were unrelated to the money it had received. Recently, it has been repeatedly dissing the NHS, which it wants to privatise; campaigning against controls on junk food; attacking trade unions; and defending zero-hour contracts, unpaid internships and tax havens. Its staff appear on the BBC promoting these positions, often several times a week. But never do interviewers ask the basic democratic questions: who funds you, and do they have a financial interest in these topics?

The BBC’s editorial guidelines seem clear: “We should make checks to establish the credentials of our contributors and to avoid being ‘hoaxed’.” In my view, the entire IEA is a hoax. As the documentary filmmaker Adam Curtis has revealed (ironically, on the BBC’s website), when the institute was created, in 1955, one of its founders, Maj Oliver Smedley, wrote to the other, Antony Fisher, urging that it was “imperative that we should give no indication in our literature that we are working to educate the public along certain lines which might be interpreted as having a political bias. … That is why the first draft [of the institute’s aims] is written in rather cagey terms”.

The two men were clear about its purpose: to become a public relations agency that would change society along the lines advocated by the founder of neoliberalism, Friedrich Hayek. It should not, Hayek urged them, do any actual thinking, but become a “second-hand dealer in ideas”. The IEA became the template for other neoliberal institutes. It was financed initially from the fortune Fisher made by importing broiler chicken farming into the UK. Curtis credits him with founding 150 such lobby groups around the world.

While dark money has been used to influence elections, the role of groups such as the IEA is to reach much deeper into political life. As its current director, Mark Littlewood, explains, “We want to totally reframe the debate about the proper role of the state and civil society in our country … Our true mission is to change the climate of opinion.”

Astonishingly, the IEA is registered as an educational charity, with the official purpose of helping “the general public/mankind”. As a result it is exempted from the kind of taxes about which it complains so bitterly. Charity Commission rules state that “an organisation will not be charitable if its purposes are political”. How much more political can you get? In what sense is ripping down public protections and attacking the rights of workers charitable? Surely no organisation should be registered as a charity unless any funds it receives above a certain threshold (say £1,000) are declared.

The Charity Commission announced last week that it has decided to examine the role of the IEA, to see whether it has broken its rules. I don’t hold out much hope. In response to a complaint by Andrew Purkis, a former member of the Charity Commission’s board, the commission’s regulatory compliance department claimed that the IEA provides a “relatively uncontroversial perspective accepted by informed opinion”. If the commission sees hard Brexit, privatising the NHS and defending tax havens as uncontroversial, it makes you wonder what circles its members move in.

I see such organisations as insidious and corrupting. I see them as the means by which money comes to dominate public life without having to declare its hand. I see them as representing everything that has gone wrong with our politics.

George Monbiot is a Guardian columnist

  • This article was amended on 18 July 2018 to correctly attribute a quote.

18.07.2018 Pressenza New York

Earth First
(Image by Kevin Gill)

By Hadrien Coumans

With any bit of discernment it’s abundantly clear that we are rapidly heading towards catastrophe. Earth has a fever and is heating up. The scientific evidence of feedback loops, severity of storms, rising temperatures, rising oceans, disappearing of fresh water, acidifying oceans, species extinction, all point to a collision of contemporary civilization with reality. This is the result of humanity having created a uncalibrated, artificial existence to feed on an organic Earth. And yet an organic Earth in which humanity is undeniably a part of. We are entirely made of Earth.

An organic or Earth-centered existence, such as indigenous ways of life, is based on fundamental natural laws of reciprocity, balance and harmony, in other words, the very same definitions of health.

Earth is balancing our artificial human existence with climate change. In simple terms what we give to Earth, she gives back to us. We exist in her system and we are suffering the consequences of our own doing.

In current politics, the direction which Trump has taken up of “America First” policies of economic isolationism, xenophobia, anti-immigration and border walls on a political level clearly appease his base. A base of fear and anger –fueled often struggling lower and middle classes who have been fed the scraps of hyper-capitalism. There is poverty in the U.S. and as the saying goes in America, “someone’s got to pay.”

This toxic mixture of poverty and abrahamic style vengeance is igniting racism that has always been, at best, smoldering in the fabric of America. America First is terrifying and sickening, and familiar sounding to those of us who heard the stories of the horrors of the World Wars, Native American genocides, apartheid and slavery. It adds a permanent stain to the current U.S. human rights record. It’s 2018, children are missing and locked in cages after having been ripped from their parents’ arms.

The current human rights violations are reminiscent of the worst of the 20th century, but it is a different period.

The difference is that today these oppressive forces seek to maintain a dominance of artificial existence over Earth, in the face of climate change.
Science isn’t only working in and for academia. The U.S. intelligence body has known about climate change and its effects for a long time. They have models predicting outcomes, and it is doubtful that a rosy picture emerges for the coming decades in the classified research besides what’s been made public.
America First is the writing on the wall.

The U.S. will maintaining a position of extreme nationalism and isolationism in the storms of climate change. In the great disruptions of the disappearance of entire areas such as Florida and other coastal areas, massive drought in the center states, calamity will prevail and resources won’t be used for anyone else on Earth. Aid will only be allocated to citizens born on U.S. soil. Many nations such as India, running out of water and yet drowning under oceans will be left to manage on their own.

Massive movements of populations from coasts and areas literally on fire or too hot to sustain human life, will cause massive migrations across continents. The U.S. is anticipating massive internally displaced peoples and many attempting to enter the country. After all, the U.S. has been selling the American Dream for centuries and shouldn’t be surprised by the success of this campaign nor blame the consumers of this brilliant marketing.

The reality is that America is absolutely not ready for what is to come. It will inflict more suffering than is necessary.

As evidenced by Hurricane Katrina, Hurricane Sandy, Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico, the U.S. consistently showed it’s mighty mythology to be a projection of a sad and ineffective mouse. This is not a criticism of heroic individuals who have gone beyond the call of duty for country, it’s a spotlight to the bluff of a Nation which isn’t ready for receiving the destructive forces it has unleashed on Earth- for centuries. We exist in Earth’s system, therefore what we do the system, it is given back to us.

A revolution isn’t the answer. That would lead us to more of the same fragmented artificial ideas of political, economic, social “solutions”

We don’t have the luxury of time of indulging in more human attempts of artificiality separating ourselves from Earth.

We need a healthy existence which is Earth-Centered. We need to evolve.
There are people on Earth who have the knowledge to design a human existence from a blank slate, but the roots of knowledge run deep. They are the people who don’t subscribe to the Western constructs of humans separated from Earth, and understand that life is only because of Earth. They are the people who have always lived Earth-First.

The current leadership of the U.S. must get out of the way and let original, indigenous peoples step in and take the wheel, along with those who understand biology, ecosystems and natural laws.

Earth-First is our only future and we are running out of time.


Hadrien Coumans , Co-founder and co-director of Lenape Center – http://www.thelenapecenter.com

13.07.2018 Pressenza London

This post is also available in: Italian

Angry Trump Baby Takes Flight as UK Protests Tell President He’s Not Welcome
(Image by Chris J Ratcliffe/Getty Images)

“The Crooked Rigged System threw everything it could at Me. But I am the most successful baby at everything I do (unparalleled)—I told you I would fly and here I am!”

 

The Ego has landed” in the United Kingdom, and the Trump Baby has taken flight.

As U.S. President Donald Trump made clear just how offended and “unwelcome” the 20-foot-tall blimp depicting him as a frustrated, diapered infant grasping a cell phone made him feel upon arriving in Britain for his first official visit, demonstrators let the balloon fly in front of the Houses of Parliament Friday morning to kick off anti-Trump protests that are expected to be historic in size and enthusiasm.

Trump’s arrival in the U.K. was marked by the release of a wide-ranging and bizarre interview the president conducted earlier this week with the British tabloid The Sun, in which he went on a tirade against London Mayor Sadiq Khan that was “dripping in racism” and admitted that he was bothered by the mass demonstrations in London and throughout the U.K.

“I guess when they put out blimps to make me feel unwelcome, no reason for me to go to London, I used to love London as a city,” Trump told The Sun. “I haven’t been there in a long time. But when they make you feel unwelcome, why would I stay there?”

After calling Trump’s attack on him “preposterous,” London Mayor Sadiq Khan—who initially rejected organizers’ efforts to fly the Trump Baby blimp—explained why he ultimately decided to allow the balloon to fly over London.

“Can you imagine if we limited freedom of speech because somebody’s feelings might be hurt?” Khan said.

14.07.2018 Craig Murray

The Holes in the Official Skripal Story
(Image by Craig Murray blog)

In my last post I set out the official Government account of the events in the Skripal Case. Here I examine the credibility of this story. Next week I shall look at alternative explanations.

Russia has a decade long secret programme of producing and stockpiling novichok nerve agents. It also has been training agents in secret assassination techniques, and British intelligence has a copy of the Russian training manual, which includes instruction on painting nerve agent on doorknobs.

The only backing for this statement by Boris Johnson is alleged “intelligence”, and unfortunately the “intelligence” about Russia’s secret novichok programme comes from exactly the same people who brought you the intelligence about Saddam Hussein’s WMD programme, proven liars. Furthermore, the question arises why Britain has been sitting on this intelligence for a decade and doing nothing about it, including not telling the OPCW inspectors who certified Russia’s chemical weapons stocks as dismantled.

If Russia really has a professional novichok assassin training programme, why was the assassination so badly botched? Surely in a decade of development they would have discovered that the alleged method of gel on doorknob did not work? And where is the training manual which Boris Johnson claimed to possess? Having told the world – including Russia -the UK has it, what is stopping the UK from producing it, with marks that could identify the specific copy erased?

The Russians chose to use this assassination programme to target Sergei Skripal, a double agent who had been released from jail in Russia some eight years previously.

It seems remarkable that the chosen target of an attempt that would blow the existence of a secret weapon and end the cover of a decade long programme, should be nobody more prominent than a middle ranking double agent who the Russians let out of jail years ago. If they wanted him dead they could have killed him then. Furthermore the attack on him would undermine all future possible spy swaps. Putin therefore, on this reading, was willing to sacrifice both the secrecy of the novichok programme and the spy swap card just to attack Sergei Skripal. That seems highly improbable.

Only the Russians can make novichok and only the Russians had a motive to attack the Skripals.

The nub of the British government’s approach has been the shocking willingness of the corporate and state media to parrot repeatedly the lie that the nerve agent was Russian made, even after Porton Down said they could not tell where it was made and the OPCW confirmed that finding. In fact, while the Soviet Union did develop the “novichok” class of nerve agents, the programme involved scientists from all over the Soviet Union, especially Ukraine, Armenia and Georgia, as I myself learnt when I visited the newly decommissioned Nukus testing facility in Uzbekistan in 2002.

Furthermore, it was the USA who decommissioned the facility and removed equipment back to the United States. At least two key scientists from the programme moved to the United States. Formulae for several novichok have been published for over a decade. The USA, UK and Iran have definitely synthesised a number of novichok formulae and almost certainly others have done so too. Dozens of states have the ability to produce novichok, as do many sophisticated non-state actors.

As for motive, the Russian motive might be revenge, but whether that really outweighs the international opprobrium incurred just ahead of the World Cup, in which so much prestige has been invested, is unclear.

What is certainly untrue is that only Russia has a motive. The obvious motive is to attempt to blame and discredit Russia. Those who might wish to do this include Ukraine and Georgia, with both of which Russia is in territorial dispute, and those states and jihadist groups with which Russia is in conflict in Syria. The NATO military industrial complex also obviously has a plain motive for fueling tension with Russia.

There is of course the possibility that Skripal was attacked by a private gangster interest with which he was in conflict, or that the attack was linked to Skripal’s MI6 handler Pablo Miller’s work on the Orbis/Steele Russiagate dossier on Donald Trump.

Plainly, the British governments statements that only Russia had the means and only Russia had the motive, are massive lies on both counts.

The Russians had been tapping the phone of Yulia Skripal. They decided to attack Sergei Skripal while his daughter was visiting from Moscow.

In an effort to shore up the government narrative, at the time of the Amesbury attack the security services put out through Pablo Miller’s long term friend, the BBC’s Mark Urban, that the Russians “may have been” tapping Yulia Skripal’s phone, and the claim that this was strong evidence that the Russians had indeed been behind the attack.

But think this through. If that were true, then the Russians deliberately attacked at a time when Yulia was in the UK rather than when Sergei was alone. Yet no motive has been adduced for an attack on Yulia or why they would attack while Yulia was visiting – they could have painted his doorknob with less fear of discovery anytime he was alone. Furthermore, it is pretty natural that Russian intelligence would tap the phone of Yulia, and of Sergei if they could. The family of double agents are normal targets. I have no doubt in the least, from decades of experience as a British diplomat, that GCHQ have been tapping Yulia’s phone. Indeed, if tapping of phones is seriously put forward as evidence of intent to murder, the British government must be very murderous indeed.

Their trained assassin(s) painted a novichok on the doorknob of the Skripal house in the suburbs of Salisbury. Either before or after the attack, they entered a public place in the centre of Salisbury and left a sealed container of the novichok there.

The incompetence of the assassination beggars belief when compared to British claims of a long term production and training programme. The Russians built the heart of the International Space Station. They can kill an old bloke in Salisbury. Why did the Russians not know that the dose from the door handle was not fatal? Why would trained assassins leave crucial evidence lying around in a public place in Salisbury? Why would they be conducting any part of the operation with the novichok in a public area in central Salisbury?

Why did nobody see them painting the doorknob? This must have involved wearing protective gear, which would look out of place in a Salisbury suburb. With Skripal being resettled by MI6, and a former intelligence officer himself, it beggars belief that MI6 did not fit, as standard, some basic security including a security camera on his house.

The Skripals both touched the doorknob and both functioned perfectly normally for at least five hours, even able to eat and drink heartily. Then they were simultaneously and instantaneously struck down by the nerve agent, at a spot in the city centre coincidentally close to where the assassins left a sealed container of the novichok lying around. Even though the nerve agent was eight times more deadly than Sarin or VX, it did not kill the Skripals because it had been on the doorknob and affected by rain.

Why did they both touch the outside doorknob in exiting and closing the door? Why did the novichok act so very slowly, with evidently no feeling of ill health for at least five hours, and then how did it strike both down absolutely simultaneously, so that neither can call for help, despite their being different sexes, weights, ages, metabolisms and receiving random completely uncontrolled doses. The odds of that happening are virtually nil. And why was the nerve agent ultimately ineffective?

Detective Sergeant Bailey attended the Skripal house and was also poisoned by the doorknob, but more lightly. None of the other police who attended the house were affected.

Why was the Detective Sergeant affected and nobody else who attended the house, or the scene where the Skripals were found? Why was Bailey only lightly affected by this extremely deadly substance, of which a tiny amount can kill?

Four months later, Charlie Rowley and Dawn Sturgess were rooting about in public parks, possibly looking for cigarette butts, and accidentally came into contact with the sealed container of a novichok. They were poisoned and Dawn Sturgess subsequently died.

If the nerve agent had survived four months because it was in a sealed container, why has this sealed container now mysteriously disappeared again? If Rowley and Sturgess had direct contact straight from the container, why did they not both die quickly? Why had four months searching of Salisbury and a massive police, security service and military operation not found this container, if Rowley and Sturgess could?

I am, with a few simple questions, demolishing what is the most ludicrous conspiracy theory I have ever heard – the Salisbury conspiracy theory being put forward by the British government and its corporate lackies.

My next post will consider some more plausible explanations of this affair.

 

Originally posted here

UK Government preparing for Anti-Trump protests as “if London was burning down

11.07.2018 Pressenza London

This post is also available in: Spanish, Italian, Greek

UK Government preparing for Anti-Trump protests as “if London was burning down
“We’ve seen the rise of the far right in Britain and Europe, and the one lesson we should learn from history is that when racists and the far right mobilize, you fight back, you don’t let them march and rise to power,” said Guardian columnist Owen Jones. (Image by Stop Trump Coalition/Screengrab Via Common Dreams)

We need to show the world what millions of people in this country think of the bigotry and the hatred that he represents,” said one organizer

As U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May’s “embarrassing sham of a government” continued its slow-motion collapse on Monday with the resignation of Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, British authorities scrambled to prepare for “unprecedented” protests against U.S. President Donald Trump’s upcoming visit by launching a major police mobilizationaimed at containing what organizers have dubbed “The Carnival of Resistance.”

“Donald Trump likes to pose as an international tough guy, but it looks like he’s too scared to face protesters in London. If true, this is already a huge victory for protesters.”
Stand Up to Trump

Hundreds of thousands of Britons are expected to take to the streets nationwideon Friday in opposition to Trump, who is scheduled to arrive in the U.K. Thursday evening. The protests—which will include a 20-foot-tall angry Trump baby blimp flying over London—are expected to be so large that White House officials are reportedly concerned that the crowd-obsessed Trump could lash out at his British hosts.

“We need to show the world what millions of people in this country think of the bigotry and the hatred that he represents,” Owen Jones, a Guardian columnist who helped organize the anti-Trump demonstrations, told TIME on Monday. “We’ve seen the rise of the far right in Britain and Europe, and the one lesson we should learn from history is that when racists and the far right mobilize, you fight back, you don’t let them march and rise to power.”

According to the British Sunday Times, White House officials are planning to do all they can to “shield” Trump from the demonstrations by keeping him on a tightly organized schedule, but this will be difficult as Britons have organized enormous demonstrations in major cities throughout the country.

Speaking to the Guardian on Monday, one chief constable said the police resources requested by the government to contain the mass demonstrations were on the level that would be required “if London was burning down.”

“Donald Trump likes to pose as an international tough guy, but it looks like he’s too scared to face protesters in London,” the group Stand Up to Trump declared in a statement, alluding to the U.S. president’s reported plans to steer clear of the streets of London. “If true, this is already a huge victory for protesters.”

The Stop Trump Coalition—a group of organizations that played a role in planning the nationwide actions—provided a map of the protests Trump’s team will be attempting to avoid.

Amid reports that the government is working to bring a major police presence to the demonstrations, Amnesty International warned British authorities against attempting to stamp out freedom of expression in an effort to “appease their visitors.”

Allan Hogarth, head of policy at Amnesty International U.K., said Trump’s visit is a major “opportunity for the U.K. to show that peaceful protest is an essential component of a free and fair society, not something to be shut down as a political embarrassment.”

Acknowleging that Trump must “be defeated primarily in the U.S.,” Global Justice Now organizer Sam Lund-Harket wrote in a blog post that it is the job of progressives in the U.K. to show solidarity with their American allies by turning out in large numbers to denounce the president’s destructive and hate-filled agenda.

“Under Theresa May, the U.K. is a key Trump ally, so it’s important that he can’t waltz in without significant opposition,” Lund-Harket concluded. “Luckily tens of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, will be flooding to London on Friday, July 13 to march against hi

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12.07.2018 Robert Burrowes

Starving and Bombed Children of Yemen Seek Entrapment in Flooded Thai Cave
(Image by social nets)

While the world watched and waited with bated breath for the outcome of the substantial global effort – involving over 100 cave divers from various countries, 1,000 members of the Thai Army and 10,000 others in various roles – to rescue a team of 12 young football players and their coach, who were trapped inside a flooded cave in Thailand for 17 days, 850,000 children were killed by human adults in other parts of the world, many of them simply starved to death in Yemen or other parts of Africa, Asia and Central/South America.

But other children were killed in ritual sacrifice, many children were killed after being sexually trafficked, raped and tortured, many were killed in wars (including in Yemen), many were killed while living under military occupation, many died as child soldiers or while working as slave laborers, and vast numbers of other children suffered violence in a myriad other forms ranging from violence (including sexual violation) inflicted in the family home to lives of poverty, homelessness and misery in wealthy industrialized countries or as refugees fleeing conflict zones. See ‘Humanity’s “Dirty Little Secret”: Starving, Enslaving, Raping, Torturing and Killing our Children’.

Why did the world’s corporate media highlight the flooded Thai cave story so graphically and why do so many ordinary people respond with such interest – meaning genuine emotional engagement – in this story? But not the others just mentioned?

And what does this tell us about human psychology and geopolitics?

Needless to say, a great deal.

During the Thai cave drama, major corporate media outlets, such as the Washington Post and the BBC, were routinely releasing ‘breaking news’ updates on the status of the rescue effort. At high points in the drama, reports on this issue were overshadowing major political and other stories of the day. At the same time, there were no ‘breaking news’ stories on any of the many myriad forms of violence against children, which were (and are still) killing 50,000 children each day.

So why the corporate media interest in this essentially local (Thai) story about a group of 12 children trapped in a cave? And why did it attract so much support, including foreign cave divers, engineers and medics as well as technology billionaire Elon Musk, who flew in to investigate rescue options and assist with the rescue effort. They and their equivalents are certainly not flying in to rescue children in a vast number of other contexts, including where the provision of simple, nourishing meals and clean water would do wonders.

Well, in essence, the story was a great one for the corporate media, simply because it reported on something of little consequence to those not immediately impacted and enabled the media to garner attention for itself and other (western) ‘heroes’ drawn into the story while engaging in its usual practice of distracting us from what really matters. And it was an easy story to sell simply because the media could use a wide range of safe emotional triggers to draw people into the dramatized story without simultaneously raising difficult questions about the (appalling) state of the world and responsibility for it.

In simple language: like sports events and other forms of entertainment, the cave rescue provided a safely contained time and space for people to feel emotionally engaged in (this case) a real-life drama (with feelings like fear and relief allowed an outlet) while carefully reinforcing their unconscious feeling of powerlessness to do anything about it and their acceptance of this. This is why it was so important that expert rescue efforts were highlighted: the key media message was that ‘there is nothing you can do’.

Of course, in this context, this was largely true. The problem is that the corporate media coverage wasn’t aimed at this context. It was aimed at all those other contexts which it wasn’t even discussing, let alone highlighting: the vast range of issues – including the many ongoing wars and endless military violence, the threat of nuclear war, the climate catastrophe and innumerable threats to our biosphere posed by such activities as rainforest destruction, the refugee crisis, military occupations, as well as the ongoing violence against children in so many contexts as touched on above – that need a great deal of our attention but for which the elite uses its corporate media to distract us and reinforce our sense of powerlessness.

Another aspect of the story was the way in which it highlighted the ‘accidental’ nature of the incident: no one was really responsible, even the hapless coach who was just trying to give his young players an interesting excursion and whom, according to reports, none of the parents blamed.

By focusing on the logistical details of the story (the distance into the cave, the narrowness of certain passages, rescue possibilities, equipment, the threat of monsoon rains…), without attributing blame, the media could reinforce its endless message that ‘no-one’ is responsible for the state of the world. Hence, no individual and no organization is responsible for doing anything either. Again, this message is designed to deepen a sense of powerlessness and to make people disinclined to act: to make them powerless observers rather than active participants in their own fate.

As an aside, of course, it should be noted that in those contexts where it serves elite interests to attribute blame, it certainly does so. Hence, elites might contrive to blame Muslims, Russians, Palestinians or the other latest target (depending on the context) for some problem. However, in these contexts, the story of ‘blame’ is framed to ensure that elites have maximum opportunity to act as they wish (often militarily) while (again) engendering a sense of powerlessness among the rest of us.

The tragedy of the Thai cave incident is that one man died and many boys spent 17 days in a situation in which they were no doubt terrified and suffering genuine physical privation. But elite media cynically used the event to distract us from vitally important issues, including ongoing grotesque violence against children in a large number of contexts, and to reinforce ‘The Delusion “I Am Not Responsible”’.

In short, while the 12 boys and their coach were rescued after 17 days trapped in a flooded cave in Thailand which required a sophisticated and expensive international effort, during the same period around the world, 850,000 children were killed by human adults. Even in Thailand during this 17-day period, apart from those children violated and killed as a result of sex trafficking and other violence, 119 children drowned (at the rate of seven each day). See ‘Swim Safe: Preventing Child Drowning’. Obviously, these children were ignored because there was no profit in reporting their plight and helping to mobilize an international effort to save them.

So what can we do?

Well, for a start, we can boycott the corporate media and certainly not spend any money on it. What little truth it contains is usually of even less value (and probably gets barely beyond a good sports report). Instead, invest any money you previously spent on the corporate media by supporting progressive news outlets. They might not have reported events in relation to the Thai cave rescue but they do report on the ongoing violence inflicted on children in more grotesque circumstances such as the war in Yemen. They will also report and analyze important global events from a truthful and life-enhancing perspective and will often offer strategies for your engaged involvement.

If you want to understand why most people are suckered by the corporate media, whose primary function is to distract and disempower us, you will get a clear sense from reading how adults distract and disempower children in the name of ‘socialization’. See Why Violence?’ and Fearless Psychology and Fearful Psychology: Principles and Practice’.

If you want to nurture children to be powerful agents of change who will have no trouble resisting attempts (whether by the corporate media or any other elite agent) to distract and disempower them, you are welcome to consider making ‘My Promise to Children’.

If you are easily conned yourself, you will vastly enhance your capacity to discriminate and focus on what matters by ‘Putting Feelings First’ which will, among other things, restore your conscience, intuition and ‘truth register’, vital mental functions suppressed in most people.

You are also welcome to consider participating in ‘The Flame Tree Project to Save Life on Earth’ which maps out a fifteen-year strategy for creating a peaceful, just and sustainable world community so that all children (and everyone else) has an ecologically viable planet on which to live.

And for the vast range of other manifestations of violence against children touched on above, you might consider using Gandhian nonviolent strategy in any context of particular concern to you. See Nonviolent Campaign Strategy or Nonviolent Defense/Liberation Strategy.

You might also consider signing the online pledge of ‘The People’s Charter to Create a Nonviolent World’ which explicitly identifies the role of the corporate media, among many other elite agencies, in promoting violence.

Am I pleased that the 12 children and their coach in Thailand were rescued? Of course I am. I just wish that an equivalent effort was being made to rescue each of the 50,000 children we will kill today, tomorrow, the next day and the day after that….

11.07.2018 – Brussels, Belgium World beyond War

Peace Activists Gather in Brussels to say No to War – No to NATO
(Image by Vrede.be)

By Pat Elder, World BEYOND War

The weekend of July 7th and 8th witnessed the European peace movement come together in Brussels, Belgium to send a clear message to the world community, “No to war – No to NATO!”

The mass demonstration on Saturday and the No-to NATO counter summit on Sundayrejected American calls for all 29 NATO member states to increase military expenditures to 2% of GDP. Currently, the US spends 3.57% for military programs while European nations average 1.46 percent. President Trump is pressuring NATO members to spends hundreds of billions of additional Euros annually on various military programs, many which involve the purchase of American weapons and the expansion of military bases.

NATO members will meet in Brussels on July 11th and 12th. President Trump is expected to come down strongly on the Europeans while most member states are hesitant to increase military spending.

Reiner Braun is the Co-President of the International Peace Bureau, (IPB),  and one of the organizers of the Brussels counter-summit. He said increasing military spending is “a totally stupid idea.”  Braun reflected the beliefs of most Europeans by saying, “Why should the European countries spend billions of dollars for military purposes, when we need money for social welfare, for health care, for education, for science? It is the wrong way to solve global problems.”

Saturday’s demonstration, which attracted about 3,000, and Sunday’s counter-summit, which drew 100 representatives from 15 NATO member countries and 5 non- NATO states, came together over four points of unity. First – a rejection of the 2%; Second – resistance to all nuclear weapons, particularly the production and deployment of the new American B 61-12 “tactical” nuclear bomb; Third –  a condemnation of all arms exports; and Fourth – A call to ban drone warfare and what they call the “robotization” of war.

Participants seemed to agree that the lowest-lying fruit for the peace community is the eradication of nuclear weapons from the continent. Currently, American B 61 bombs are ready to be dropped from aircraft launched from military bases in Belgium, the Netherlands, Italy, Germany, and Turkey. Many of these weapons are 10-12 times larger than the bomb that destroyed Hiroshima. Russia is the presumed target today. A deep irony was apparent on Friday night in Brussels when the Belgian football team defeated the Brazilian team during the World Cup Quarter-finals in Kazan, Russia. Belgian television widely reported that the Russians have been gracious hosts. European opinion polls reflect a European population that is overwhelmingly opposed to these American weapons on European soil.

Ludo de Brabander, a leader of Belgium’s Vrede peace organization, said nuclear weapons continue to lose support while Belgians, and inhabitants of the vibrant and beautiful city of Brussels have no love for President Trump. After all, Trump said during his campaign that the great city was “like living in a hellhole.”

The antiwar activists also believe that it is possible to convince NATO member-  states to leave the alliance. De Brabander framed it this way, “Why do we need NATO? Where are the enemies?”

Indeed, the alliance outlived its initial objective which was, ostensibly, to contain the Soviet Union. When the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, rather than advocating for peaceful co-existence, the US-led NATO military club gradually expanded to Russia’s border, gobbling up nations to Russia’s border.  In 1991 there were 16 NATO members. Since then, 13 more have been added, bring the total to 29: The Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland (1999), Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia (2004), Albania and Croatia (2009), and Montenegro (2017).

The No-to-NATO organizers ask us all to take a moment to see the world from the Russian perspective. Reiner Braun captures this sentiment, “NATO is developing confrontational politics against Russia. They have always done this, and this is definitely, absolutely, the wrong way. We need cooperation with Russia, we need dialogue with Russia; we need economic, ecological, social, and other relations.”

Meanwhile, on July 7, 2018, the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) marked the one-year anniversary of the United Nations Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, (TPNW). The Nuclear Weapon Ban Treaty is the first legally binding international agreement to comprehensively prohibit nuclear weapons, with the goal of leading towards their total elimination. 59 countries have signed the treaty.

A recent ICAN survey shows a clear rejection of nuclear weapons by those Europeans living closest to U.S. nuclear weapons, and who are likely to be targets of any nuclear attack or at risk from any nuclear weapons accident.

Preparations are being made by European and American peace groups to prepare for organized resistance to the 70th anniversary of the founding NATO in April 2019.

09.07.2018 +972 Magazine

British Jews are speaking out on Israel. Will the progressive community have our back?
Left-wing Jews hold a protest in solidarity with Gaza, Parliament Square, London, May 16, 2018. (Image by 972)

We expected attacks on anti-occupation voices by Britain’s Jewish communal leaders. Now our progressive Jewish institutions are turning their backs on us when we need them most.

By Emily Hilton

In May of this year, a group of U.K.-based Jewish anti-occupation activists held a demonstration in London’s Parliament Square, where we recited the kaddish, the Jewish mourner’s prayer, for the Palestinians who have been killed by the IDF during the Great Return March. The views on Israel and Zionism amongst the participants were diverse, but one thing unified all of us: we care about what being done in the name of Judaism, and that our community does not cherry pick who deserves to be treated with equality, respect, and dignity.

What happened next was not totally clear. There was, as anticipated, serious backlash to the event, with a many loud voices outraged at the idea of saying “kaddish for terrorists.” However, it appeared that a number of closed-door meetings followed the protest, in order to put pressure on both RSY-Netzer, a Jewish youth movement, as well as the Movement of Reform Judaism, to censure their members who attended the event.

One young woman, Nina Morris-Evans was barred from leading Israel Tour, a month-long trip around Israel in which young British Jews tour the country, see sites, and form their poignant teenage memories on the backdrop of an archaic Zionist narrative, following targeted attacks from right-wing activists. Suffice it to say, Kaddish for Gaza has triggered a real moment of polarization in the Jewish community in Britain.

Around half of British Jews participate in Israel Tour, and those who do end up going to Israel go with the progressive movements such as RSY-Netzer and Reform synagogues regularly meet with left-wing Israeli groups. These same British Jews are educated about the occupation in their summer camps, their schools, and their synagogues

The ousting of Morris-Evans, a passionate and committed Reform Jew, is an own goal for the Jewish establishment in Britain. Beyond that, it symbolizes the fundamental flaw in the logic of liberal Zionism that the MRJ has spent the best part of a decade trying to cultivate: that one can love Israel and hate occupation. Yet when this hatred of occupation manifests in showing solidarity and empathy with Palestinians, it is immediately condemned.

There is a reason the establishment has come down so hard on those who publicly mourned the Gaza dead: they know that we are a threat to their power. The handling of this incident has brought to light the weakness and cowardice of Jewish communal leaders in supporting their members, especially among the progressive movements. Morris-Evans was a target of vicious, misogynistic attacks from far-right activists, yet MRJ’s decision to discipline her suggests that they are more interested in placating the worst elements of our community than supporting a young woman who dared to show compassion, empathy, and humanity towards Palestinians.

The former Chair of the Jewish Leadership Council Sir Mick Davis and the Senior Rabbi for the Reform Movement Laura Janner-Klausner have both said that infighting and lack of civility over Israel will tear us apart, eventually forcing young Jews out. But this is only part of the story. Our communal leaders are declare loudly to young Jews that we are not welcome in these spaces. We expect this kind of treatment from centrist and right-wing Zionist organizations and youth movements, which is precisely why many of us are progressive Jews in the first place. Now is the moment for the Reform movement and other progressive leaders to show us that they have our backs.

Emily Hilton is an anti-occupation activist living in London. She is fellow of the Center for Jewish Nonviolence and a founder of Na’amod: British Jews against the Occupation.

09.07.2018 Democracy Now!

“What to the American slave is your 4th of July?”: James Earl Jones teads Frederick Douglass’s historic speech
(Image by Democracy Now!)

In a Fourth of July holiday special, we begin with the words of Frederick Douglass. Born into slavery around 1818, Douglass became a key leader of the abolitionist movement. On July 5, 1852, in Rochester, New York, he gave one of his most famous speeches, “The Meaning of July Fourth for the Negro.” He was addressing the Rochester Ladies Antislavery Society. This is actor James Earl Jones reading the speech during a performance of historian Howard Zinn’s acclaimed book, “Voices of a People’s History of the United States.” He was introduced by Zinn.

Transcript
This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: Today, in this special broadcast, we begin with the words of Frederick Douglass. Born into slavery around 1818, Douglass became a key leader of the abolitionist movement. On July 5th, 1852, in Rochester, New York, he gave one of his most famous speeches, “The Meaning of July Fourth for the Negro.” He was addressing the Rochester Ladies’ Anti-Slavery Society. This is James Earl Jones reading the historic address during a performance of Howard Zinn’s Voices of a People’s History of the United States. James Earl Jones was introduced by Howard Zinn.

HOWARD ZINN: Frederick Douglass, once a slave, became a brilliant and powerful leader of the anti-slavery movement. In 1852, he was asked to speak in celebration of the Fourth of July.

FREDERICK DOUGLASS: [read by James Earl Jones] Fellow-citizens, pardon me, allow me to ask, why am I called upon to speak here to-day? What have I, or those I represent, to do with your national independence? Are the great principles of political freedom and of natural justice, embodied in that Declaration of Independence, extended to us? And am I, therefore, called upon to bring our humble offering to the national altar, and to confess the benefits and express devout gratitude for the blessings resulting from your independence to us?

I am not included within the pale of this glorious anniversary! Your high independence only reveals the immeasurable distance between us. The blessings in which you this day rejoice are not enjoyed in common. The rich inheritance of justice, liberty, prosperity, and independence bequeathed by your fathers is shared by you, not by me. The sunlight that brought life and healing to you has brought stripes and death to me. This Fourth of July is yours, not mine. You may rejoice, I must mourn. To drag a man in fetters into the grand illuminated temple of liberty, and call upon him to join you in joyous anthems, were inhuman mockery and sacrilegious irony. Do you mean, citizens, to mock me, by asking me to speak today?

What, to the American slave, is your Fourth of July? I answer: a day that reveals to him, more than all other days of the year, the gross injustice and cruelty to which he is a constant victim. To him, your celebration is a sham; your boasted liberty, an unholy license; your national greatness, swelling vanity; your sounds of rejoicing are empty and heartless; your denunciation of tyrants, brass fronted impudence; your shouts of liberty and equality, hollow mockery; your prayers and hymns, your sermons and thanksgivings, with all your religious parade and solemnity, are, to Him, mere bombast, fraud, deception, impiety, and hypocrisy—a thin veil to cover up crimes that would disgrace a nation of savages. There is not a nation of the earth guilty of practices more shocking and bloody than are the people of these United States at this very hour.

At a time like this, scorching irony, not convincing argument, is needed. O! had I the ability, and could reach the nation’s ear, I would, to-day, pour forth a stream, a fiery stream of biting ridicule, blasting reproach, withering sarcasm, and stern rebuke. For it is not light that is needed, but fire; it is not the gentle shower, but thunder. We need the storm, the whirlwind, the earthquake. The feeling of the nation must be quickened; the conscience of the nation must be roused; the propriety of the nation must be startled; the hypocrisy of the nation must be exposed; and the crimes against God and man must be proclaimed and denounced.

AMY GOODMAN: James Earl Jones, reading the words of Frederick Douglass.

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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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