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Thursday, 19 April


IT Poll suggests pre-Christmas Brexit euphoria around Taoiseach is starting to wear off Slugger O'Toole

Im generally not minded to bother readers with polls unless they tell us something new or challenging. Todays Irish Times/Ipsos MRBI contains some details I think are well worth noting. Here are the headline figures

Not a lot of change in the general pattern (note that independents still sit on shrinking ground), though as Damian Loscher notes Sinn Fin is up three points to 22%, its highest rating in this poll since early 2016. He also notes that:

Sinn Fin is most popular, attracting 42 per cent of the vote among 18- to 24-year-olds. The gains Sinn Fin has registered in todays poll are sourced exclusively from the 18- to 49-year-old age cohort.

Mary Lou McDonalds performance rating as a leader is a significant improvement on Adams last rating:

In this April poll, post-honeymoon, both party and leader have given up some of their gains, with support for Fine Gael down to 31 per cent and Varadkars satisfaction rating somewhat lower at 55 per cent.

For Sinn Fin and Mary Lou McDonald, the honeymoon has just begun. Sinn Fin is up three points to 22 per cent while McDonalds first satisfaction score comes in at 39 per cent: a healthy improvement of 12 points on her predecessor Gerry Adamss rating in January.

Its a honeymoon, but it is useful to remember that even her boss, ahem, former boss in his early days in the Dail enjoyed the highest approval rating in the Republic and a prolonged period on 24% or more for the party.

The other aspect worth highlighting (though it has already been established in previous polls) it is the high approval ratings in the government, which at 44% is as high as FF was getting prior to 2008

With economic expansion already well underway, and employment even higher than it was back in the boom (and getting boomier) time noughties, the economy should be a strong factor in favou...


The depraved coalition deals the Lib-Dems cooked up with the Tories behind closed doors AAV

Polly Mackenzie was never a Lib-Dem MP, but as one of Nick Clegg's core advisers she played a crucial role during the Tory/Lib-Dem coalition period. She's just admitted the kinds of depraved horse trading that went on between the Lib-Dems and the Tories at the time in a Twitter mini-thread.

She starts off with an unobjectionable and actually rather astute observation about how the Tories seem to announce a new green measure or plastics ban every time they want to move the news away from their latest scandal, but she followed the Tweet up with some more observations that shine a light on the grotesque horse trading the Lib-Dems did with the Tories.

She claims that the clampdown on plastics was actually a Lib-Dem idea, and that they finally secured the limited introduction of 5p charges on plastic bags in return for their support for a toughening of the draconian Tory benefit sanctions regime.

Here are a few facts about the benefits sanctions regime:

  • Benefits sanctions condemn individuals and their families to periods...


Finding Yo Real: fighting machismo in Mexico City openDemocracy

Machismo is widespread in Mexico. One organisation takes aim at negative masculinities with weekly group classes.

In a quiet street tucked away in Roma Sur, in central Mexico City, are the offices of the organisation GENDES short for gender and development. Founded in 2009, for almost a decade it has promoted gender equality in Mexico by fighting machismo and negative masculinities.

The group has done this through research and advocacy but also by creating space for reflection and intervention. Among other things they run group classes for men based on a model from the Training Centre to Eradicate Masculine Intrafamily Violence.

Last year, I attended and observed one of these classes, called Hombres Trabajando(se), which roughly translates to Men Working on Themselves, to produce a short film about the project for openDemocracy 50.50.

I promise to listen and accept the opinions of my partner and I promise to create a healthy environment for myself and for others are two of the 12 promises to maintain healthy relationships that the men repeat each class.

The men sit in a circle with two facilitators Guillermo Mendoza Rivera and Rubn Guzmn Lpez guiding them through a series of reflection exercises designed to help them connect to their true self or Yo Real.

One man says he is 37 and that this is his second class. My acts of violence were against my mother-in-law and my son. With my son, it was physical violence, and also verbal, with my mother-in-law it was verbal, he says.

The men take turns introducing themselves and sharing what kind of violence physical, sexual, emotional, financial, or verbal they may have perpetrated that week and whether or not they practiced a retiro an hour long time-out to anticipate and avoid violence.

The second half of the two-hour class focuses on a specific act of violence that one of the men has committed. Members of the class, led by Rubn, help the man unpack the situation and how it became violent.

Afterwards, Rubn tells me that this part of the class is like breaking down a violent act into movie scenes. By pressing pause at various points, the men consider how they could have acted differently.

During the class I attended, a man said he had recently hit his daughter after she ignored his instructions. It had been a tense evening: they had been waiting for a call from her mother, with whom they hadnt talked in months.  

The men reflected and discussed how problematic social norms allow them to assume roles as punishing fathers when their children disobey them.

Vicente Mendoza, 26, comes to GENDES every we...


The truth about Syria, Assad, the White Helmets & Israel GMMuk Michael Aydinian

If like me you possess a yearning for the truth, a simple rule worth applying whatever mainstream media says IMAGINE THE EXACT OPPOSITE!   Check out this clip (7.52). Whether its an eye-opener or not is for you to decide. For me one thing is certain the narrative being pushed by the media & Western politicians regarding Assad


The civil service must share the blame with the politicians for our faltering administration Slugger O'Toole

Newton Emerson has written a thoughtful piece on that neglected topic, now  blindingly exposed by the RHI inquiry,  of how Northern Ireland is administered. He had already decided that the region is too small to sustain a comprehensive health service.

The inquirys verdict on specific blame could be years away. In the meantime, the first overarching theme to emerge has been something of a surprise namely, that Northern Ireland is too small to have a separate administrative existence.

A key motivation when adapting policies, as explained by inquiry witnesses, is a cargo cult-like focus on getting more money into Northern Ireland no matter how wasteful this is overall. In one instance, officials knowingly cost the British taxpayer 300 million to save Stormont 3.5 million because that was rational from their standalone perspective.

Suddenly, the jaw-dropping mistakes of RHI look like an inevitable feature of how Northern Ireland is run.

As the constitutional question cancels out and cutting services down to an efficient size is unthinkable, there is a chance for the RHI inquiry to provoke more practical ideas.

A sustainable administration in Northern Ireland would need to do less on its own, while looking to east-west and north-south partnerships for delivery.

And yet in the bad old days of monopoly unionism, Northern Ireland adopted the step by step approach to introducing the welfare state the NHS, expanding  income support and  universal secondary education  by adapting  the GB precedents.  The flaws were political rather than essentially administrative. A welfare state can only be based on universal principles which were bound to clash with  institutional discrimination. UK civil servants often came over on secondment to head up NI departments or take up full jobs. This was not always welcome but it seemed to work.  Sue Grays appointment may be the latest example.  I hope she shakes the place up. We cannot  wait for the inquiry  to report . The appalling practice  of  burning off  unspent revenue on any old thing before the end of the financial year must end. 

There is a recognised  problem of what experts in government call capacity as a result of expanding UK devolution  but it doesnt seem unmanageable if the  devolved  governments are not at loggerheads with  Whitehall and Westminster.  Higher and higher tech and ever growing  public demand may be creating a wholly new situation but I doubt it.

The bigger problem  is surely the absence of  effective collective responsibility  at the political level and...


La democracia se vuelve digital openDemocracy

Las plataformas digitales son un instrumento para democratizar la participacin porque superan las tiranas de espacio y tiempo tradicionales. Pero la mejora de la participacin democrtica tiene niveles de cumplimiento variados. English, Portugus

Imagen: Pixabay, Dominio pblico.

Este artculo es un extracto de un artculo original publicado en el eBook El ecosistema de la Democracia Abierta y se puede encontrar aqu.

Las plataformas digitales estn generando un impacto generalizado en la sociedad sin importar si se habla de produccin o consumo, de partidos polticos o de movimientos sociales, de Administraciones Pblicas, sindicatos, universidades o medios de comunicacin, ya que sus caracterizaciones transversales e intergeneracionales provocan un efecto que extiende su impacto prcticamente de manera desmedida.

En este sentido, las plataformas online tambin llegaron a transformar el cooperativismo y el procomn digital, ya que el ADN de este tipo de iniciativas son el cdigo abierto, la innovacin y la sociedad de los bienes comunes.

De esta manera, se destacan ejemplos como el de Fairmondo, un mercado virtual s...


Democracy gone digital openDemocracy

To the extent that they overcome the traditional tyranny of space and time, digital platforms are tools for democratizing participation. But their impact on citizen involvement varies considerably. Espaol, Portugus


Source: Pixabay, Public Domain.

This piece is an excerpt from an original article published as part of the eBook El ecosistema de la Democracia Abierta series, which can be found here.

Digital platforms are generating a societal impact regardless of whether topics of discussion are of production and consumption, political parties or social movements, public administration, trade unions, universities or mass media, seeing as their intergenerational and transcendental characteristics provoke an effect which creates a significant impact on society. 

Accordingly, online platforms have also transformed cooperativism and the collective digital space, as the very DNA of these types of initiatives are open code, innovation and public goods.

Examples such as Fairmondo, a virtual market similar to Amazon of German origin that is a digital cooperative owned by its own users who...


A democracia se tornou digital openDemocracy

As plataformas digitais so um instrumento para democratizar a participao porque superam as tiranias do espao e tempo tradicionais. Mas a melhora da participao democrtica tem vrios nveis de cumprimento. English, Espaol

Fonte: Pixabay, Dominio Pblico.

Este artigo um extrato de um artigo original publicado no eBook El ecosistema de la Democracia Abierta e pode ser encontrado aqu.

As plataformas digitais esto gerando um impacto generalizado na sociedade, independentemente de produo ou consumo; partidos polticos ou movimentos sociais; administraes pblicas, sindicatos, universidades ou meios de comunicao social, uma vez que suas caractersticas transversais e intergeracionais provocam um efeito que estende seu impacto praticamente de forma excessiva.

Nesse sentido, as plataformas online tambm vieram transformar o cooperativismo e os bens comuns digitais, j que o DNA desse tipo de iniciativas so o cdigo aberto, a inovao e a sociedade dos bens comuns.

Desta forma, destacam-se exemplos como Fairmondo, um mercado virtual semelhante Amazon, de origem...


Feminist bots vs right-wing trolls: Brazils gender justice movements cross new frontiers openDemocracy

Abortion has long been criminalised in Brazil. It is an issue that many have all but given up on except for feminist movements.

Abortion rights protest in Sao Paulo, December 2016. Abortion rights protest in Sao Paulo, December 2016. Photo: NurPhoto/SIPA USA/PA Images. All rights reserved.The battle over the criminalisation of abortion is revealing of the overall political scenario in Brazil. Criminalising and controlling issues of gender and sexuality is the moral foundation of a growing right-wing ideology that is driving the countrys political development. Now, with a political system weakened by corruption and collusion, the battle for abortion is playing out on the internet through individuals, movements, and even web robots (also known as bots).

In Brazil today, political institutions have been weakened to their most vulnerable since the military dictatorship ended 30 years ago. Women make up less than 10% of elected representatives, placing Brazil amongst the worst in the world for gender equality in politics.

The countrys first and only female president, Dilma Rousseff, was deposed by a 2016 political coup which showed the systems pervasive and severe sexism. Her predecessor, and the frontrunner for October 2018s presidential elections, Luiz (Lula) Incio Da Silva, is currently on trial for corruption. Almost 46% of the population believe that this is an unfair trial by the media and judiciary.

At the same time, targeted gender-based violence is rising. Marielle Franco, a black, lesbian city councilwoman from a favela in Rio de Janeiro, was assassinated on 14 March. Her murder has caused outrage in Brazil and beyond. Her openly feminist, black and favela-centered politics were a so...


No appetite for a deregulatory post-Brexit Britain: new findings on public attitudes openDemocracy

The transformation of the aims of Brexit emerged during the early days of the referendum campaign, when the cross-party campaign for leave realised where the route to broad-based success lay.

lead April 18, 2018. Peers in the House of Lords, London, as the Government suffers its first defeat over the EU (Withdrawal) Bill when peers voted in favour of a customs union amendment.PA/Press Association. All rights reserved.In January 2013, Prime Minister David Cameron made a long-awaited speech at the Bloomberg offices on the UKs future in the European Union. Camerons pitch that day was clear: the EU needed to adapt to the modern age; it needed to become more competitive and less bureaucratic; and it needed to embrace global trade.

As he argued for an in-out referendum, setting in train the series of events leading to the UKs impending withdrawal, he claimed that Euroscepticism was rooted in a feeling that the EU had turned out very differently to the institution the UK public had originally voted for in 1975.

The EU had become increasingly bloated, inefficient, and meddlesome the public wanted a return to a common market free of unnecessary rules and regulations. The single market, he exhorted, was incomplete; more had to be done to break down barriers in services, energy, and digital. At the same time, he railed against complex rules restricting our labour markets and excessive regulation holding businesses back and called for small firms to be exempted from more EU directives. He didnt once mention immigration.

Mays implausible reversal

Five years later, Prime Minister Theresa May gave a rather different speech in London as the UK prepared for EU withdrawal. Rather than expounding the single markets advantages, she argued that the UK would have to leave it, because to do otherwise would mean continued free movement. Rather than calling for deeper links in services, she acknowledged that trade post-Brexit would be less free. And rather than embracing...


FP April 19 openDemocracy

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Enoch Powells ghost and bigotry still haunt modern Britain openDemocracy

We are better than Enoch Powell but, as recent events show, not by as much as we think.

Image: Enoch Powell, Allan Warren/Wikimedia, Creative Commons.

To mark its 50th anniversary, on Saturday the BBC controversially broadcast Enoch Powells infamous Rivers of Blood speech in full for the first time, recreated by actor Ian McDiarmid.

Powell, then Tory MP for Wolverhampton South West and Shadow Secretary of Defence, argued the case that immigration from the Commonwealth was irreversibly changing Britain for the worse. His speech took place only days after Martin Luther King had been assassinated.

So what of the BBC programme, Archive on Four, itself? It included numerous critical voices. But it opened with presenter (and BBC Media Editor) Amol Rajan describing Powell as a titan - and one of the great post-war politicians in Britain, alongside Clement Attlee, Roy Jenkins and Margaret Thatcher. Powells official biographer Simon Heffer then called him a great national statesman.

Labour MP David Lammy, referring to Powells incendiary prediction that the black man will have the whip hand, said the language was that of slavery reversed. Former Tory MP Matthew Parris thought that the speech was intemperate and filled with evident racism. Former Labour MP Peter Hain observed that the continual use of classical language (the speech notoriously ended with Powell invoking Virgil, Aeneid and the destruction of Rome with the river Tiber foaming with much blood) gave a cloak of legitimacy to racism. Simon Heffer did try to make the pro-Powell argument that he was not making a racist speech, but all the evidence wise suggested this is exactly what it was a racist speech, filled with hate and a lack of the most basic humanity for the people he was describing as the problem.

Much that was important was left unsaid. One such area was the extent to which Powells othering of fellow British citizens and racial paranoia had a distinctively English dimension. This seemed one of the great questions left untouched in the programme. Was Powell tapping into and articulating a ver...


Why the problem is economics, not economists openDemocracy

To avoid hitting an intellectual dead end, economics must embrace a wider diversity of views and focus less on the derivation of abstract models. 

In his excellent book Economics Rules, Dani Rodrik outlined what he saw as the rights and wrongs of the dismal science. One of his key refrains was that the problem was economists, not economics: that is, some economists mistook their models for the real world and applied them inappropriately, abusing a potentially useful set of tools. All too often the consequence was ideology masquerading as science, resulting in economic failures such as quantity-targeting monetarism in the 1980s; the 1990s Russian privatisation; and recently the 2008 financial crisis. According to Rodrik, good economics is about making sure you have picked the right model for the right job, basing your decision on sound theory and evidence. Any economist worth their salt should be pragmatic, not dogmatic. Rodrik is not wrong that there are some economists who are prone to misusing their models, in some cases to an alarming degree. Neither is he wrong about what good economics should entail: intellectual flexibility and a grasp of a wide range of tools for understanding the economy. Despite this, I cannot agree with the general idea that the framework of economics is not the problem with the discipline, and that if this framework were only taught and practiced better many of the disciplines problems would be overcome. In fact, I believe modern economics is characterised by the exact opposite problem: reliance on a single framework is hamstringing the research of capable, conscientious and (to a degree) critical economists. In other words, the problem is economics, not economists. The bad economics Rodrik highlights should be resisted for sure, but it largely a vestige of the past and does not represent the current direction of the discipline. This is what causes researchers who better represent contemporary economics to become exasperated in response to the myriad of articles criticising the discipline as if it consists solely of free-market ideologues who cling to models of perfect markets. Two Manchester colleagues of mine, Rachel Griffiths and Diane Coyle, have been involved in this debate recently, and the hashtag #whateconomistsreallydo illustrates the frustration and perplexity many of these researchers share at criticisms of the discipline. In a...


The UK government must stop detaining LGBTQI+ people fleeing persecution openDemocracy

Here in detention it is the same as where I came from. I was so scared.

Image: Brighton Pride, Jon Southcoasting/Flickr, Creative Commons.

At this weeks Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting in London, the government has taken welcome steps to help protect the rights of LGBTQI+ people globally and the Windrush generation in the UK. However, it has remained silent on one matter that links these two issues: the treatment of LGBTQI+ people in the UK who are fleeing persecution.

On Tuesday, Theresa May acknowledged the role of the UK in putting in place laws criminalising same sex relations during the Colonial era, and said she regrets the legacy of discrimination, violence and even death that persists today.

She also apologised to Caribbean countries over the treatment of the Windrush generation.

These are steps in the right direction, but the government would do well to match its apologetic words with action in the UK to protect LGBTQI+ people who are seeking asylum because of persecution in their countries of origin. It needs to stop detaining LGBTQI+ asylum seekers.

The UK is the only country in Europe that detains people in immigration removal centres indefinitely. Around half the people that the government detains are eventually released back into the community.

Research by Stonewall and the UK Lesbian and Gay Immigration Group has documented the discrimination, harassment and abuse experienced by LGBTQI+ asylum seekers in UK detention centres. Many LGBTQI+ asylum seekers have described how being in detention reminded them of the persecution they were trying to escape. As one man from Pakistan described, Here in detention it is the same as where I came from. I was so scared.

The impact on their...


Changing the conversation on labour migration in Southeast Asia openDemocracy

A regional study interrogates some of the commonly held assumptions about which factors lead to better outcomes for migrant workers.

ILO/JeanPierre Pellissier.

According to the United Nations, the number of migrants from Southeast Asia heading to other countries within the region has increased more than fivefold during the last two and a half decades, reaching nearly seven million. And this official data does not capture the millions more who are employed without legal status in the region.

Despite this rapid growth in the number of women and men migrating within Southeast Asia, the outcomes for migrant workers remain poorly understood. While assumptions are often made about the end result of these movements and how best to ensure safe and rewarding experiences for migrants, the collection and analysis of empirical data has been very limited to date. 

Among the consequences of migration that have been more thoroughly examined, remittance flows have arguably received the most extensive attention. But while this topic is undoubtedly important, the heavy emphasis placed on the scale of remittances can come at the expense of a more balanced and migrant-centred understanding of the results of migration. Evidence suggests that the relationship between remittances and development is varied and complex, which raises the question of whether the often-unrestrained euphoria about their potential is actually justified. 

Another prominent framework through which migration experiences within Southeast Asia are understood is human trafficking. An unending series of studies continue to document the large number of migrant workers who are trafficked into exploitation. However, the probity of categorising migrants experiences into a simplistic binary of trafficked or not trafficked has been strongly questioned. In particular, the focus on victimhood and criminality within the trafficking discourse can serve to whitewash the root causes of migrant workers vulnerability to exploitation, diverting attention away from fundamental questions of economic and social justice.

The focus on victimhood and criminality within the tr...


Kyrgyzstans indispensable women are undervalued openDemocracy

Kyrgyz women still tend to live and work in traditionally female occupations. RU

Gulnaz Mamytbekova. Photo courtesy of the author. All rights reserved.Last Saturday, Gulnaz Mamytbekova, a nurse in the intensive care unit of her towns childrens hospital was getting ready to move to Moscow. Everywhere Mamytbekova went, her daughter went with her. After 25 years working at the hospital, Mamytbekova wants to emigrate so she can earn enough money to give her children a better life. 

Gulnaz lives at her parents apartment 60km from Bishkek, the capital of Kyrgyzstan. She is divorced and is bringing her children up on her own. Her day begins at 4am: Ive never once been late for work. Four hours of sleep is enough for an active life, she says. At a quarter to six, shes already at the bus stop, waiting to go to work. She hasnt been able to save enough to buy her own flat: her monthly pay packet, including all the extras comes to 13,400 som (136).

Gulnaz recalls the reason she couldnt receive any higher education. Back in 1993 and already a nurse, Gulnaz wanted to get into a medical institute, but says that the examiners were demanding a 7,000 som bribe. You could buy a flat for that amount then. We couldnt give them a bribe like that. And I decided to become an indispensable nurse instead, she tells me, clearly proud of her decision.

In Kyrgyzstan, higher education is more or less an essential, although few graduates actually find work in their field of study. People often joke that you only need a degree so that you can show off to your family, and so that they can say that their son or daughter has been to university. Mamytbekova graduated in nursing, with the highest grade, from a secondary level medical college and got a job as a lab technician, although she actually spent her time cleaning the floors in a childrens emergency department.

When Ive got home after a heavy shift I havent been able to r...


Fake News BBC parrot Theresa May's lie as their number one story AAV

Theresa May stood at the dispatch box and lied. She lied that the decision to destroy immigration landing cards was taken by the Labour Party in 2009 when it wasn't. She lied because she was desperately trying to deflect criticism over her grotesque 'hostile environment' policies that led to the dehumanisation, detention, denial of rights and even and deportation of Commonwealth British citizens. And most of all she lied because she thought she could get away with it.

If the British press had any instinct to hold the UK government to account they would have looked into her claim, immediately found it to be contradicted by the previous day's Home Office admission that the documents were destroyed in October 2010, and run a story criticising the Prime Minister for lying to the House of Commons, and for cynically misleading the British public in order to deflect negative attention away from herself.

But that's not what happened. That's not what happened at all. Instead of investigating her claim, the BBC and various other mainstream media outlets uncritically parroted her lie, and helped her misleadingly deflect the Windrush criticism onto others.

Of course the billionaire owned right-wing propaganda rags and the legions of Tory social media propaganda accounts got in on the misdirection act, but the behaviour of the BBC is much more problematic. They didn't just make Theresa May's lie the number one story on their website, they also uncritically regurgitated her lie into millions of homes and workplaces in TV and radio news segments.

When the state broadcaster refuses to...


Motivated by justice: defending the worlds courageous people openDemocracy

Australian human rights lawyer and member of the legal team defending Wikileaks since 2010, talks about the hacker from Queensland who chose to fight against surveillance capitalism. Interview.

lead lead Photograph: George Hughes / Illustration: Celia LeoudiYorgos Boskos (YB): How did you get involved in the first place with WikiLeaks and Julian Assange?

Jennifer Robinson (JR): Julian first reached out to myself and a colleague of mine, the Australian human rights lawyer Geoffrey Robertson, in around September 2010. This was just before WikiLeaks was about to publish the Iraq war logs. Julian was in London, preparing that release, which came several months later, at the end of November. He was working with the Guardian and a group of other international newspapers.

It was around the time when there was concern about what might happen in Sweden, where there was an open investigation into sexual allegations that had previously being dropped. It now seemed that Julian might have to answer those allegations. So, Julian required assistance and advice. It was also the time, of course, that Chelsea Manning was arrested, and a US criminal investigation in grand jury had been announced.

YB: What was your first impression on meeting Julian Assange?

JR: Here was a man with a small group of volunteers and a backpack. And in his interactions with me what he was really doing was making his very brave decisions about what to publish. There were a lot of public threats being made against him at that particular time. He was incredibly security-conscious - conscious of the fact that they were pursuing him, trying to find ways to prosecute and investigate him. So apart from his remarkable work, the other factor was the strength of the state response that was building against him. He was perceived to be the most powerful man in the world, in that period. And why? Because he had access to that information.

YB: During your TEDx speech in Sydney in 2013, you stated that courage is contagious. Do you think that this courage is sufficient to beat the political and judicial establishme...


El va crucis de los emigrantes openDemocracy

La marcha anual que se organiza en Semana Santa para llamar la atencin sobre la situacin en la que se vive en Centroamrica ha conseguido este ao suscitar inters internacional. English

Emigrantes centroamericanos camino de la frontera con Estados Unidos. Image:

Puebla, Mxico, abril de 2018: la marcha anual de Semana Santa para llamar la atencin sobre la difcil situacin de los ciudadanos centroamericanos, que habitan una regin donde el ndice de asesinatos es el ms alto del mundo, ha suscitado este ao el inters de las organizaciones de ayuda humanitaria internacionales, de las Naciones Unidas y del presidente de los Estados Unidos.

Mientras la ONU instaba al gobierno Mexicano a facilitar un salvoconducto que permitiera un trnsito seguro a los cerca de 1.200 ciudadanos que cruzaron la frontera sur del pas, Donald Trump reaccionaba atemorizado, amenazando con desplegar unidades de la Guardia Nacional en su frontera sur, a ms de 2.000 km de distancia.

A la marcha, o caravana, se le conoce popularmente como el Va Crucis del Emigrante. Se trata de un evento de periodicidad ms o menos anual organizado por Pueblos sin Fronteras, una ONG que lleva ms de diez aos operando desde Arizona.

Como es bien sabido, un Va Crucis reproduce el camino que Jesucristo tuvo que recorrer, segn el Cristianismo, hacia su ejecucin: un recorrido en 14 etapas, o estaciones, en las que se relatan las cargas, humillaciones, consuelos, torturas y muerte que sufri antes de resucitar y ascender a los cielos en el da que hoy se conoce como Domingo de Pascua.

En la histricamente muy catlica Centroamrica, recordar el itinerario que marcan dichas estaciones es algo importante.

El Va Crucis del Emigrante, que en aos pasados sola contar con una afluencia de menos de un centenar de personas, creci inesperadamente este ao, aunque e...


Theresa May's despicable response to the Windrush scandal AAV

The Tories know that their treatment of Windrush citizens has been absolutely despicable, but instead of taking personal responsibility for it and resigning, they've resorted to the most ridiculous campaign of bluster, smears, misrepresentations, and outright lies.

The absurd Data Protection excuse

When a whistleblower revealed that the Tories had deliberately destroyed the archive of landing cards from the Windrush generation the first Tory instinct was to lie their way out of trouble.

The Tories initially tried to claim that the archives were destroyed because of Data Protection concerns.

The first thing to note is that this is a Tory government that wilfully sold off our private NHS medical data to drug companies and health insurers without our consent. To hear them suddenly pretending that they care about data protection laws is most absurd.

The next thing to note is that Data Protection rules have a very clear exemption for material of historical importance. You'd have to be completely cracked to imagine that the boarding cards of the Windrush generation who came to help Britian rebuild after WWII had no historical significance whatever and needed to be lobbed into a skip.


Wednesday, 18 April


Who were the 18 MPs who bravely voted against Theresa May's anti-immigrant lunacy in 2014? AAV

Back in 2014 the then Home Secretary Theresa May introduced new immigration rules designed to create a 'hostile environment' for immigrants. The introduction of these harsh new immigration rules was clearly a ploy to appeal to the extreme-right ultranationalist demographic, and it coincided with a significant upsurge in anti-immigrant rhetoric from the Tories, and especially from Theresa May.

In light of the Windrush scandal the Tories simply cannot pretend that they were not warned about the serious consequences of this piece of legislation. They were warned, and these warnings are recorded on the Hansard parliamentary record.

During the debate Diane Abbot raised concerns that these harsh new powers could have negative impacts on could have on "people who are British nationals, but appear as if they might be immigrants" (people like the Windrush generation and other perfectly legal migrants from the Commonwealth).

Theresa May completely dodged this question with the kind of evasive waffle we've all become so familiar with since she became Prime Minister.

The Lib-Dem MP Sarah Teather (who went on to quit parliament in disgust at...


Strange women lying in ponds distributing swords is no basis for a system of government Slugger O'Toole

This morning I  came across this classic clip from The Monty Python and the Holy Grail film. Ever after 40 years, it is still a great send-up of our political system. Enjoy.

A self-perpetuating autocracy

King Arthur: Old woman!
Dennis: Man.
King Arthur: Man, sorry. What knight lives in that castle over there?
Dennis: Im 37.
King Arthur: What?
Dennis: Im 37. Im not old.
King Arthur: Well I cant just call you man.
Dennis: Well you could say Dennis.
King Arthur: I didnt know you were called Dennis.
Dennis: Well you didnt bother to find out, did you?
King Arthur: I did say sorry about the old woman, but from behind you looked
Dennis: What I object to is you automatically treat me like an inferior.
King Arthur: Well, I am king.
Dennis: Oh, king eh? Very nice. And howd you get that, eh? By exploiting the workers. By hanging on to outdated imperialist dogma which perpetuates the economic and social differences in our society. If theres ever gonna be any progress
Peasant Woman: Dennis! Theres some lovely filth down here Oh! How do you do?
[Dennis joins the Peasant Woman in the nearby filth patch]
King Arthur: How do you do, good lady? I am Arthur, king of the Britons. Whose castle is that?
Peasant Woman: King of the who?
King Arthur: The Britons.
Peasant Woman: Whore the Britons?
King Arthur: Well, we all are. Were all Britons, and I am your king.
Peasant Woman: Didnt know we had a king. I thought we were an autonomous collective.
Dennis: Youre fooling yourself. Were living in a dictatorship! A self-perpetuating autocracy, in which the working classes
Peasant Woman: Oh, there you go, bringing class into it again.
Dennis: Well, thats what its all about! If only people would
King ArthurPlease, please, good people, I am in haste. Who lives in that castle?
Peasant Woman: No one lives there.
King Arthur: Then who is your lord?
Peasant Woman: We dont have a lord.
King ArthurWhat?...


La evolucin de la participacin democrtica openDemocracy

Repensar la representacin implica ampliar la comunidad de deliberacin y redefinir no slo quines pueden decidir en temas pblicos que les afectan, sino cmo se toman las decisiones. English, Portugus

Creado por Maria Boehling para Flickr. Algunos derechos reservados.

Este artculo es un extracto de un artculo original publicado en el eBook El ecosistema de la Democracia Abierta y se puede encontrar aqu.

Actualmente, se puede decir que la connotacin de la participacin ciudadana est cambiando y, dentro de su proceso de redefinicin, vemos cmo diferentes formas y desarrollos comienzan a tomar partido y a ampliar el sentido de lo que en antao significaba participar, elegir, debatir e interactuar.

Sin duda, la participacin es uno de esos temas que se convierten en el eje transversal de muchas discusiones pblicas, ya que constituye una de las reas que puede redefinir nuestras democracias en cuanto a los sistemas de gobierno.

De esta forma, observamos cmo diversas iniciativas de la sociedad civil comienzan a tener un amplio campo de accin en este aspecto, haciendo uso de las tendencias tecnolgicas que ofrece Internet.

As, iniciat...


The evolution of democratic participation openDemocracy

Rethinking representation involves expanding the deliberative community and redefining not only who decides on public issues, but how those decisions are made. Espaol, Portugus

Created by Maria Boehling for Flickr. Some rights reserved.

This piece is an excerpt from an original article published as part of the eBook El ecosistema de la Democracia Abierta series, which can be found here.

Currently, it could be said that the meanings of citizen participation are changing, and within this process of redefining this concept, we see different forms and advances aligning themselves and extending the connotations of what once meant participating, debating and interacting. 

Without a doubt, participation is among those subjects which are becoming the transversal axis of many public discussions, as it constitutes one of the issues capable of redefining our democracies with regards to the very systems of governance.

In this vein, we observe how many civil society initiatives are broadening their scope, and making use of the technological tendencies offered by the internet.

Initiatives like Democracia en Red (Democr...


A evoluo da participao democrtica openDemocracy

Repensar a representao implica ampliar a comunidade de deliberao e redefinir no s aqueles que podem decidir sobre os temas pblicos que os afectam, mas tambm como se tomam as decises. English, Espaol

lead Criado por Maria Boehling para a Flickr. Alguns direitos reservados.

Este artigo um extrato de um artigo original publicado no eBook El ecosistema de la Democracia Abierta e pode ser encontrado aqu.

Atualmente, pode-se dizer que a conotao da participao cidad est mudando e, dentro desse processo de redefinio, vemos como diferentes formas e desenvolvimentos comeam a tomar partido e ampliar o sentido do que antes significava participar, escolher, debater e interagir.

Sem dvidas, participao uma questo, como tantas outras, que se torna o eixo transversal de muitas discusses pblicas, uma vez que constitui uma das reas que podem redefinir nossas democracias em termos de sistemas governamentais.

Desta forma, observamos como vrias iniciativas da sociedade civil comeam a ter um amplo campo de ao neste aspecto, aproveitando as tendncias tecnolgi...


The refugee crisis in the Mediterranean: the role of EU states, civil society and art openDemocracy

As the EU turns away from international human rights commitments, asserting border controls at almost any cost including that to humanitarian activists, what role can art play?

lead lead Italian rescue ship Vos Prudence run by NGO Medecins Sans Frontieres arrives in July, 2017, in the port of Salerno carrying 935 migrants, including 16 children and 7 pregnant women rescued from the Mediterranean sea.NurPhoto/ Press Association. All rights reserved.In the context of the refugee crisis[1]in and around the Mediterranean, the European Union is devoting its resources to the exclusion of refugees and migrants using increased surveillance and militarization of its borders, by affiliation with entities and States for whom human rights are not a priority. With an enormous death toll at sea and huge numbers arriving, civil society across Europe has mobilized to manifest alternative values of hospitality to welcome refugees and solidarity towards those at the borders. This paper will survey human rights reports and activist materials to consider these two phenomena, before asking questions about the scope for artists to respond to the refugee crisis. 

Four years ago, in October 2014, Operation Mare Nostrum, the Italian governments humanitarian mission in the Mediterranean to rescue people in boats in peril on journeys from Libya, was terminated. The replacement Frontex (EU) mission, Operation Triton, part-funded by voluntary contributions from the Irish state, has a markedly lesser focus on search-and-rescue and an increased focus on surveillance and border security.

The International Organization for Migration (IOM) says that deaths at sea have risen nine times since the ending of Operation Mare Nostrum.[2] Its ...


Just imagine what could happen if Jeremy Corbyn became Prime Minister AAV

It's a good job Theresa May is a "moderate" isn't it? Unlike that scary hard-left extremist Jeremy Corbyn.

Just imagine if Jeremy Corbyn got into power.

I bet he'd immediately invite bigoted Northern Irish terrorist-backed sectarians into his government.

I bet Corbyn would sell off our British public infrastructure to undemocratic nations like China and to tyrannical middle east dictatorships too, and then fight tooth and nail to stop it ever coming back under British control.

I bet he'd repeatedly try to bypass parliamentary democracy, then sneer at anyone who objected to his terrifying autocratic tendencies.

I bet Corbyn would use his mates in the media to continually smear the political opposition, attack judges and academics who dare to scrutinise what he's doing, and...


The Europeanization of schooling: what is a European education? openDemocracy

In an ambitious future, education as a common good means an education enjoyed by the whole community, built by citizens culturally capable of influencing, acting and imagining alternatives.

March 17, 2017 Students and teachers protest in Palermo, Italy. A nationwide strike called by unions against implementation of the Law 107, better known as the good school law. Antonio Melita/ Press Association. All rights reserved. Whether we are specialist or not, we all know more or less where the education system of our countries stands. We are all aware that our school systems are coordinated, monitored and assessed according to some vague European standards or criteria.

In general we dont object to that: we consider the Europeanization of our education systems as a guarantee of quality, of good functioning and also as a sign of that international cooperation, of European integration, which we increasingly need to fend off provincialism and nationalism.

Everything fine, then? No, not exactly. Unfortunately, things are more complicated than they appear. Let us see why.

The Europeanisation of education systems is a recent development. Theoretically, education should be the responsibility of member states: education in European countries has always been a national affair, functional to the consolidation of the identity and culture of a community. Each educational system has had its own history, linked to the evolution of its policy, geography, traditions, language and society. 

As it happens, however, although education formally remains a national competence, since the Maastricht Treaty of 1992, a new 'orthodoxy', based on the comparison of education systems, has been gradually introduced into the educational policies of the whole continent.

This new orthodoxy brings two problems. 

First of all, it has been imposed as a matter of fact rather than a concerted policy.  Some refer to "government without government" to characterize the process which, from the Lisbon Strategy of 2000 to the Rethinking Education Communication of 2012, up to the current ET2020 strategy, has always moved along the same line: education must be "reshaped" in terms of skills t...


How women in the Balkans are using social media to fight sexism openDemocracy

Women are primary targets of bias and online harassment in the Balkans. Now, a growing number are using the internet to fight back.

Facebook logos on a computer screen. Facebook logos on a computer screen. Photo: NurPhoto/SIPA USA/PA Images. All rights reserved.Bosnian science journalist and blogger Jelena Kalini often anticipates disagreements when she comments on social media posts. But she did not expect Bosnian writer Goran Samardi to flip a Facebook discussion about pregnancy in late February into a sexist intrusion into her private life.

I can 'milk' some of 'it' into a coffee cup and freeze it for you if you want to get pregnant, Samardi privately wrote to Kalini following a public chat on her Facebook wall. The two were only acquaintances. Kalini was shocked by his message and shared a screenshot of it on Twitter with the comment this is the bottom of the bottom.

On social media, people started reacting and sharing the screenshot. Some commentators criticised her decision to share the private message from Samardi. She explained that she intended to publicly expose the insult, because she wanted people to know about it.

Traditional patriarchal rules, gender stereotypes, and a disregard for gender equality demands are pervasive in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, Croatia and other countries of the former Yugoslavia. Online, women are primary targets of bias and harassment. But now, a growing number of women across the region are also using the internet to combat sexism.

Online, women are primary targets of bias and harassment. But now, a growing number of women across the region are also using the internet to combat sexism.

Bosnian journalist and activist Masha Durkali was among the first social media users to respond to the so-called coffee cup case. In a lengthy Facebook...


The Border Force row exposes differences between British and Irish citizenship that have to be settled Slugger O'Toole

Leaving aside the delicious irony, I would guess that Sinn Fein are right: the attempt to limit recruitment for the UK Border Force to British passport holders is discriminatory and would be overthrown  in court.  Why should anyone have to produce a passport for a job in Northern Ireland anyway?  This has echoes of the malign Windrush problem. without feeling the  pain yet,   Up to now only when you go abroad and need to produce a passport has the issue of citizenship arisen ; but it  is not quite as cut and tried as the unionist academic Graham Gudgin writes in the FT.

Brexit will make some sort of change  to citizenship for Northern Ireland people, but exactly what change is far from clear.  The ability of the European Court of Justice to disapply certain categories of UK legislation only recently recognised in the UK disappears after Brexit unless it is restored for NI in some form to remain compatible with the GFA legislation.  If not there could be different rights for British and Irish citizens and that would surely be intolerable. What is hardly mentioned is that everybody in NI of whatever citizenship description, retain their full British citizen rights and entitlements  if they move to GB and full Irish rights and entitlements if they move south .

Or so I believe. Perhaps like WIndrush cases, anomalies will be exposed under challenge but this has not happened so far. But Brexit may make  the difference.

The legal situation is pretty recondite but behind it lies  a political issue. If 40 % of the population call themselves Irish citizens, what leverage does that give the Irish government in the affairs of Northern Ireland if citizenship rights are no longer identical? How do citizens assert their  citizenship preferences  without displaying a passport and claiming different rights if rights eligibility diverges?  The Border Force row could become a test case.


Isle of Dogs **** Jonathan Fryer

Isle of DogsWes Andersons quirky imagination and deep love of film guarantee that anything he directs will give cinephiles much food for thought as well as entertainment, and in his latest stop-motion animation offering, Isle of Dogs, there is so much content that at times it is hard to digest. The basic plot is simple, however, like any good fantasy or fairy tale: a cat-loving despotic mayor in a dystopian future Japanese city banishes all dogs to an island used as a giant garbage dump. But his 12-year-old ward is distraught at the loss of his guard-dog, Spots, and sets off to find him. Meanwhile the dogs have started to organise themselves and a plan is put into place to turn the tables on wicked Mayor Kobayashi, with the aid of a feisty American girl exchange student in a blond fright wig. However, this simple tale is framed in settings of immense complexity, stuffed full of cultural and cinematic references. There is a distinct irony in this, as so much classical Japanese theatre uses almost no scenery, leaving the audience to imagine the location from the context of the words and action, whereas in Andersons film there is so much visual detail that at times ones mind is totally consumed by taking it all in, to the extent that ones concentration drifts away from the story. All the classic Japanese stereotype scenes are there, from sushi preparation to sumo wrestling and falling cherry blossoms, much to a soundtrack of dramatic taiko drums. But other references are more nuanced, including not only homage to...


Who is the winner in post-ISIS Syria? openDemocracy

ISIS may have been defeated, but the battle for Syria's political soul is far from over.

The news of the liberation of Raqqa in Syria and Mosul in Iraq, was greeted with great enthusiasm by Tehran, Moscow, Washington and Europe. Since then, many commentators and media outlet began to anticipate who is the main winner in Syria in the post-ISIS era. 

However, before attempting to answer this question, it is crucial to discuss the objectives of the powers involved in the Syrian battlefield. 

By mid 2014, the Syrian conflict reached its violent peak when ISIS penetrated the Syrian borders and proclaimed Raqqa as its political centre. The rise of ISIS in the region created anxieties not only in the European capitals but in Tehran, Baghdad and Erbil as well. 

Since the beginning of the Syrian uprising, the Iranian government supported Assad's Syria, its traditional ally in the region. Since the beginning of the Iranian revolution in 1979, Assad's Syria supported Iran against Saddam's Iraq. Syria also provided a platform for Iran to strengthen its ties with its Lebanese allies, Hezbollah and the Palestinian factions of Hamas and the Islamic Jihad. 

During the post Hafez al-Assad era, his successor, Bashar al-Assad continued supporting Iran in fortifying a frontline against Israel. Both Tehran and Damascus portray their alliance...


Gassing and selective applications of a Red Line: lest we forget openDemocracy

The gassing of people is considered exceptionally inhumane, officially a categorical red line dividing good from evil. This belief now threatens to trigger an escalation with unpredictable consequences.

lead Otto Dix, Assault Troops Advance under Gas (Sturmtruppe geht unter Gas vor). 1924. Tate Liverpool.As new rockets fly into Syria, it is time to consider the legal grounds on which the bombing is legitimised. This is important because it threatens to destabilise the already precarious region and displace, yet again, thousands of victims that the west is reluctant to accommodate.

The experience of chemical warfare in Britain has a complex history. British troops were one of the first to fall victim to chlorine gas attacks during the Battle of Ypres on January 2, 1915. Talented German chemists, among them the tragic Jewish Nobel Prize Winner Fritz Haber, were responsible for spearheading the chemicalisation of twentieth and twenty-first century warfare. British troops were one of the first to fall victim to chlorine gas attacks during the Battle of Ypres on January 2, 1915.

The legacy of WWI continues to haunt present-day reactions to chemical warfare. It was not so much the case that German gas attacks caused many causalities or to deny that the deaths that did occur were excruciating; it is rather the case that they dealt a major psychological blow to army morale, whilst awakening dystopian nightmares among the general British public.

The experiences of WWI would incentivise calls for laws against, what the German philosopher Peter Sloterdijk calls, atmospheric terror. The Geneva Convention brought western countries together to formulate an international legal architecture on the prohibition of asphyxiating, poisonous and other gaseous and bacterial methods of warfare. This was not the first attempt to impose laws on gassing, but instead a continuation of a centuries-long effort to ban poison and gas from the battlefield. Some of the earliest proponents of international law, including Grotius, were keen to forbid poison in times of war.



How the Kremlins anti-corruption agenda masks federal control in the North Caucasus openDemocracy

But is there room for real political subjectivity between local and national corrupt power? RU

Vladimir Vasilyev at meeting with Vladimir Putin in the Kremlin, October 3, 2017. Photo CC BY 4.0: Some rights reserved.Should we welcome the anti-corruption campaign launched by Moscow in Russias regions? This question is no less ambiguous than this one: Should we take part in the Russian presidential elections? With both supporters and opponents of the recent election boycott armed equally with logical arguments, this is a hard one to answer. But the fact that the results were known in advance renders the discussion somewhat meaningless.

Its a similar situation with Russias anti-corruption agenda. On the one hand, its obvious: corruption is an evil that must be eradicated by any lawful means. On the other, behind the good intentions of the Russian state lurks the ruinous prospect of a super-centralised Russian state. As with the countrys elections, Russian society is faced with the problem of its role in legitimising the methods of Kremlin rule.

Attack on the clans

Vladimir Putins unexpected visit to Dagestan on 13 March confirmed experts conjectures that the appointment of Vladimir Vasilyev as acting head of the republic last October was linked, among other things, to the forthcoming presidential elections.

Commenting on Vasilyevs appointment, sociologist Denis Sokolov reminded us that People Against Corruption, a party with links to the Spiritual Administration of the Muslims of Dagestan, and one that has united many oppositionists, was prevented from participating in the Peoples Assembly elections of September 2016 on account of...


We can acknowledge Powell as a significant historical figure, without resurrecting his politics Slugger O'Toole

The decision by the BBC to broadcast Enoch Powells Rivers of Blood speech on Saturday was always going to be controversial.

The speech, made by Powell 50 years ago on 20th April, had a long-term impact on British politics, and transformed the climate on race relations in Britain.

In the speech, Powell spoke out against Britains liberal immigration laws, predicting dire consequences for the country if immigration was to continue unchecked.

He also attacked the race relations legislation that the Labour Government was bringing before Parliament, designed to outlaw discrimination on racial or ethnic grounds. He used highly offensive language to describe the impact of immigration on society.

As a result of the speech, he was sacked from the Shadow Cabinet and was labelled a demagogue and a racist. He became one of the most popular, and also one of the most feared and hated, politicians in Britain.

No full recording exists of the original speech. Instead, it was read out by the actor Ian McDiarmid, who was recently cast as Powell in Chris Hannans play What Shadows. The BBC defended the programme on the grounds that there was rigorous journalistic analysis of the speech and denied endorsing Powells views.

The prospect of Powells words being aired on national radio inevitably caused great upset.

Andrew Adonis tweeted that Powells speech was the worst incitement to racial violence by a public figure in modern Britain. The BBC should not be broadcasting it on Saturday. Since the broadcast, he has promised to refer the matter to Ofcom.

As someone who has spent many years researching Powells career, I shared some of the misgivings about the broadcast. Hearing his words from 50 years ago is still shocking. Dramatizing the speech in this way was also playing a slight trick on the audience.

The fact that the speech was never previously broadcast in full is historically significant: there is no recording of Powell delivering his most famous line I seem to see the River Tiber foaming with much blood (famously misquoted as Rivers of Blood).

Powell later claimed that he wished he had left this phrase in the original Latin, though this was only a half-acknowledgement of the taboo surrounding the speech.

However, the voicing of Powells words in the context of a serious radio programme should not be seen as a celebration or endorsement of the speech. It is important to understand why it is still being talked about fifty years later.

Amol Rajans robust concluding remarks could leave no one in any doubt as to his views on Powell or the speech. It is impudent to ask whether the speech was racialist or racist, he said, Make no mistake. It was both.

For some of Powe...


RHI Inquiry: Dr Crawford Im not inviting a comment from you, thank you. Slugger O'Toole

Coming back to Slugger (after a few weeks mostly out of the saddle), the most interesting item appears to be the RHI Inquiry. It is clear Sir Patrick Coghlin does not share the view of previous members of the judiciary that Stormont is a delicate flower.

The BBC reports that he

cautioned the public that if they heard something sensational in media coverage they should seek out the evidence themselves.

He said the inquiry had gone to great lengths to ensure there was a live stream of it.

He said he was not criticising the media but it was difficult to assess a witness contribution until they had finished their testimony.

Thats the only fair way to do it, he said.

At that point, Andrew Crawford suggested that some elements of the media were being selective in their reporting.

Sir Patrick stopped him continuing and said: Dr Crawford Im not inviting a comment from you, thank you.

Quite. There are many threads in this story and it is the judges onerous task, alone, to tie them all up at the end. What strikes me in the interim is how far we seem to be from the overheated reporting that helped crash Stormonts democratic institutions.

I wrote (either here on Slugger or on Twitter) about the time the story broke of the irony in how an environmental policy, an area often subjected to embarrassingly supercilious derision by the DUP, has caused them such deep public embarrassment.

But, rather than paying too much attention to the policy (as alleged in many initial news reports), it looks like DUP spads spent little (or no) time considering the environmental and financial effect of a properly constructed RHI scheme.


This is what will happen if we allow Theresa May, Western politicians & the media to keep lying about Assad & Russia GMMuk Michael Aydinian

Watch this clip & tell me how you feel. Ive said it a million times Theresa May, most Western politicians & the media are lying their arses off! Now Ive got to the point where Im fed up saying  WERE THE ONES ANTAGONISING RUSSIA! ASSAD HAD NO REASON TO GAS HIS OWN PEOPLE. WHERES THE GODDAMN EVIDENCE! STOP TELLING


I want to talk about my miscarriage openDemocracy

I am heartbroken, and Im begging you to ask me why.

Credit: Flickr/Anil Kumar. CC BY-ND 2.0.

I had been moving through the world with a secret. I dreamed of this secret as a little girl, through adolescence and even more regularly once I was married. But I had to keep this secret close in case it slipped away. I couldnt let it out until I knew for certain that my secret was here to stay.

My entire being changed the moment I found out that I was pregnant. I felt new light inside of me. Now it was my time to gripe about the struggles of new motherhoodgrievances Id been aching to have. My new narrative would be anchored in sleep deprivation, cracked nipples and hair loss. I couldnt wait to be a part of that world, part of The Club.

When you are trying to conceive you want nothing more than to experience those struggles, as opposed to the monthly cramps, tampons and ovulation monitors that remind you of your lack of fertility. A combination of working in healthcare and wanting a baby for as long as I can remember equipped me with extensive knowledge on pregnancy, childbirth, and new motherhood.

I knew the risks of miscarriage and how common this tragedy occurs. I knew that one in four women will lose their baby in the first trimester. Knowing this, I resisted letting myself speak too freely about my excitement. Even when I let people in on the secret of my pregnancy I reiterated the facts about miscarriage.

Several days after multiple positive pregnancy tests I announced my secret to my immediate family, and then to some very close friends a few weeks later. But I was still just out of reach of the supposed safety of 12 weeks. Stay silent until then. That way no one will ever know that you were even pregnant.

Why do we do this? Miscarriages happen all the time. We know that they are random physiological errors that can happen to anyone and not the result of poor care. Going to work was tasking. I was nauseous, exhausted and foggy. Perhaps if I had not kept my secret so close for so long, my employers would have had more empathy and compassion for what I was experiencing. Perhaps they would even have shared in my excitement and offered support. Perhaps they would have supported me when I experienced my loss.

I miscarried the day of my first ultrasound. I noticed blood between my legs that night and as I stood up, I knew. My secret was leaving my body, and I felt like I was being wrung from the inside out. I couldnt control my tears as I tried to wake up from this nightmare. M...


FP April 18 openDemocracy

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