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Sunday, 24 September


Reflections on Oscar Romeros Centenary Jonathan Fryer

Oscar Romero 1Yesterday I attended a commemorative evensong at Westminster Abbey marking the centenary of the birth of Oscar Romero, Archbishop of San Salvador, who was assassinated in 1980 while serving Mass in a hospital chapel. A relic of part of his blood stained robes was displayed on the Abbeys High Altar. It was a particularly moving occasion for me, having covered the civil war in El Salvador briefly for the BBC at a time when death squads were still targetting anti-government activists, sometimes leaving corpses by the side of the road. I interviewed some of the mothers of the disappeared in the city, as well as coming face-to-face with tanks outside San Salvadors cathedral.


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Saturday, 23 September


G20 they colonized our future openDemocracy

G20 forecasting prolongs the infinite growth paradigm into the future, while G20 backcasting draws strategic conclusions for present action leaving the paradigm still intact.

lead German Minister of the Interior, Thomas de Maiziere, visits the memorial site of the State Security Service of former East Germany with school students, to watch a film about the violence at the G20 summit in Hamburg in a seminar on left extremism, Sept.2017. Bernd von Jutrczenka/Press Association. All rights reserved.When Beethoven composed his Ode to Joy in 1824 he probably wouldnt have thought that merely 200 years later the Donald Trumps of this world would listen to it, while the masses are rioting in the streets outside. Actually, not all people became brothers during the G20 summit on July 7 8 in Hamburg this year. Three months later fiery public debates about the tremendous violence during the summit days still continue and every day more coverage of police violence against protesters crops up in social media.

Apart from that, major media outlets still seem to refuse any coverage on the realistic alternative policy approaches that were framed and discussed e.g. during the Alternative Summit on July 56. So the world has gone back to business as usual and the question what actually changed with the protests? sounds ever-increasingly ironic. But why is that so? As activists are our protests maybe failing to address a crucial aspect of the G20s power?

Colonizing our futures

The G20 states are not merely colonizing the world economically and geopolitically. They also wield a timesavvy colonization of our futures.

One issue completely missing in the agenda of protests and counter-events during the summit is a very peculiar form of colonization that renders all of us alike its subjects. The G20 states are not merely colonizing the world economically and geopolitically. They also wield a timesavvy colonization of our futures. How does that happen?

Since the 2011 summit the G20 has eagerly incorporated into its proceedings and policy agen...


Britain must accept ambiguity to survive Brexit openDemocracy

Theresa May and Brexiteers both insist on a damaging binary view of the UK and Europe.

lead PM Theresa May's speech in Florence, Italy, setting out plans for a transitional period from the formal date of Brexit in March 2019.Jeff J Mitchell/Press Association. All rights reserved.Brexit is written in binary code. It is all zeros and ones - out of the European Union or in. In his long Telegraph essay last weekend, the British foreign secretary and totem of the Leave campaign Boris Johnson reiterated the iron imperatives of last years referendum: The choice was binary. The result was decisive. There is simply no way - or no good way - of being 52 per cent out and 48 per cent in.

This has an impeccable logic, in the way mad things often do. In her speech in Florence on Friday, Johnsons supposed boss Theresa May was trying, in her own weak way, to tweak that logic, to find some wriggle room in the relentless bind of the binary.

The concrete content of the speech may be less important than its signal of distress though whether May is waving or drowning remains an open question. She is edging towards some way to be however temporarily at least a little bit in while moving out. She is edging towards some way to be however temporarily at least a little bit in while moving out.



Mrs Mays Florentine Tragedy Jonathan Fryer

Theresa May Florence speechYesterday, in Florence, the British Prime Minister, Theresa May, set out partially how and why Britain intends to leave the European Union. She said she chose that location because Florence had played  a central role in the Renaissance, a period of history that inspired centuries of creativity and critical thought across our continent and which in many ways defined what it meant to be European. A period of history whose example shaped the modern world. A period of history that teaches us that when we come together in a spirit of ambition and innovation, we have it within ourselves to do great things. Britains current 27 EU partners, not to mention many millions of Brits, may be left wondering why, if coming together to do things is so important, the UK government is now taking Britain away.



Labour must end Mays hostile environment for migrants in the NHS openDemocracy

The Labour Partys 2017 Conference begins this weekend. Docs Not Cops highlight opportunities for attendees interested in migrant access to the NHS to intervene. 

Image: Flickr/SMA

Jeremy Corbyn has attracted support in his leadership and general election battles due in part to his firm position against privatisation in general including NHS privatisation - and also due his history of support for migrants and anti-racist organising.

Yet Labours health policy platform is currently limited as pointed out in this excellent recent article by Allyson Pollock. And the party appears to have no formal policy and little to say in public about the hostile environment the government has been creating for migrants.

The Partys conference this weekend offers members, delegates, and those outside the party, opportunities to improve this situation.

The government is trying to blame the severe and growing NHS funding crisis on migrants, but this is a distraction. The numbers dont add up: deliberate health tourism costs, at most, 300 million a year just 0.3% of the overall NHS budget. The costs that can be recouped by charging people for their care are a drop in the ocean for the NHS, but potentially ruinous for patients now being landed with multi-thousand pound bills or being put off accessing healthcare altogether.  

The Socialist Health Association has put forward a motion to conference supported by at least a dozen constituency parties that calls for the party to restore our fully-funded, comprehensive, universal, publicly-provided and owned NHS without user charges, as per the NHS Bill (2016-17). What this means is that the Labour partys aim should be to return to a publically funded NHS that doesnt charge patients. While immigration checks and charges are not mentioned specifically, the references to comprehensive and universal care, and clear emphasis on an NHS without user charges are wel...


Redirecting the colonial gaze openDemocracy

Are we decolonising queer liberation or disciplining the Kurds? Let us attempt a careful and nuanced consideration of the historicity of different struggles.

lead It's going down: TQILA-IRPGF Speaks from Rojava. Anon.The situation of the Kurds in a drastically changing Middle East has received little attention in academia and less in the media despite their growing impact on regional and international politics. The biggest stateless people living in the Middle East are on the verge of a new status, not only in Iraqi Kurdistan, where a referendum for independence takes place on September 25, 2017, but also in Syria and Turkey. The stories of Iranian Kurds and the conditions they live in are the least known, not only by the international community but also by fellow-Kurds living in three neighbouring countries, due to an intense isolation. And then, in this closing contribution, there are 'the intersecting modalities of power.' This weeks short series looks at current political struggles of the Kurds in four neighbouring countries or in a country that does not exist on the world map but in the hearts and mind of 40 million people. Mehmet Kurt, series editor.

The establishment of The Queer Insurrection and Liberation Army (TQILA) on 24 July 2017, under the International Revolutionary Peoples Guerrilla Forces (IRPGF) in Syria, has attracted considerable global interest.

This interest has become manifest in two distinct versions. One response has been the intense excitement and support elicited from some parts of the left and various LGBTI+ activists. The other has been one of critique and scepticism, especially towards the western liberal discourse surrounding TQILA. Razan Ghazzawis piece Decolonising Syria's So-Ca...


Barbudan land ownership: a 200-year-old freedom put at risk following Hurricane Irma openDemocracy

Suspicion and frustration grow as Hurricane Irma evacuees find themselves unable to return home to Barbuda, whilst a law protecting the island from private and foreign investment is dismantled.

Photo of Barbudan coastline before hurricane Irma. Sailing Nomad/Flickr. (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

On Wednesday, 6 September 2017, Barbuda, the less known sister isle of the popular resort island of Antigua, bore the full brunt of Hurricane Irma as it struck the Leeward Islands of the Eastern Caribbean. The island suffered near total destruction: 95% of the islands buildings were damaged, 60% of the population were rendered homeless, and a 2-year-old child was tragically killed. Antigua, on the older hand, was relatively untouched.

Visiting the island after the winds died down, the prime minister of Antigua and Barbuda Gaston Brown received wide acclaim for deciding to evacuate the island before the fast-approaching hurricane Jose had the chance to make landfall as well. Dozens of vessels were involved in a frantic effort to transport nearly 1800 people from Barbuda to shelters on Antigua. Thankfully Jose changed course, turning north at the last minute and missing Barbuda, Antigua and the other Leeward Islands.

Meanwhile offers of help began to flood in from around the world. Skilled electricians, plumbers, builders, and carpenters from the Barbudan diaspora as well as individuals from England, Scotland, the US and Canada offered, even at their own expense, to travel to Barbuda and assist with the rebuilding efforts. Yet in Antigua these offers of support were largely ignored. Crates of aid were redirected to other Caribbean islands, and all independent efforts by Barbudan communities were blocked by the Antiguan authorities, who preferred to organise the relief efforts directly.

At the same time, a long list of wealthy private individuals and sympathetic national governments pledged their support for rebuilding of the island. Within days, even Brown announced during a special sitting of parliament that he wa...


Podcast: How do we learn to sing a new song for Europe?

As Theresa May prepared her latest Brexit speech in the bizarrely chosen venue of Florence, Newsnet took time to record a fresh analysis of the European situation.

Derek Bateman

This latest podcast features Kirsty Hughes, head of a new think-tank, The Scottish Centre on European Relations (SCRE), taking a broad view of the UK governments lack of progress on Brexit, and how the EU nations might respond. Kirsty joined regular host Derek Bateman and journalist and producer Maurice Smith.

So what happens next with Brexit? How will Mays speech go down in the EU capitals? What  about trade? Scotland? The trio also discuss the ongoing situation in Catalunya, where the Spanish government has sent in federal police in an attempt to block an independence referendum scheduled for October.

You can tune in by clicking on the audio file above, via your usual podcast channels including iTunes, or using our RSS feed: podcasts are professionally made to enhance your listening experience. Please support our ongoing media services by subscribing whatever you can afford. Thank you.

The post Podcast: How do we learn to sing a new song for Europe? appeared first on


The crisis of workplace violence against women openDemocracy

Violence against women at work is real; it happens every day, in every corner of the world. It takes shape in many ways from verbal and physical abuse to sexual assault and even murder.

Photo from  2014 "16 Days of Activism against Gender Based Violence Campaign" launch in the Solomon Islands. UN Women/Flickr. (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

As an organisation that represents 50 million workers in 140 countries, IndustriALL Global Union believes all forms of violence against women are unacceptable and supports its trade union affiliates as they take action to stop it.  

All too often, women working in IndustriALLs sectors including mining, textile and manufacturing are afraid to speak out against abuses they face out of fear of losing their jobs, being stigmatised, or being socially ostracised both at work and at home. When they do speak out they are often ignored or blamed.

A woman union leader at a multinational mining company in Colombia not only endured aggressive verbal abuse and discrimination from her male colleagues, but was also sexually assaulted by one of her bosses. When she complained to the company, another woman was prompted to come forward with similar allegations against the same man. Despite the company saying they would handle the situation, nothing was done.

Very often, complicity from the company allows perpetrators to act with impunity.

Very often, complicity from the company allows perpetrators to act with impunity. When a young woman working in the aerospace sector in Morocco complained about being sexually harassed by her supervisor, the company accused her of inventing the story. The management put pressure on the woman to drop the allegations, explaining the negative impact it would have on the company if the story got out. The woman had no proof of being harassed and it was her word against his. She ended up leaving the company.

 Beneath these testimonies of abuse and harassment is the power that men exercise over women. And when this is challenged, it can create further problems. A worker at a Colombian mining company said her life was made a living hell...


Why Ofcoms humiliation over Sky is a dark day for all regulators openDemocracy

And there may be worse to come.

lead Culture Secretary Karen Bradley says she is minded to refer Rupert Murdoch's 11.7 billion bid to take full control of Sky to a further inquiry due to concerns over media plurality, June, 2017. Press Association. All rights reserved.Regulators can do damage to themselves. The Financial Conduct Authoritys (FCA) proposed welcome for the controversial Aramco partial flotation, Ofwats conflicted relationship with PricewaterhouseCoopers ( PwC), the Competition and Markets Authoritys (CMA) pursuit of economically insignificant breaches of competition law by small and medium enterprises (SMEs) could all be considered examples of regulatory self harm.

However, a climate where experts are despised is not generally favourable to regulators irrespective of what they do to themselves and puts them at the mercy of populist politicians. The Secretary of States decision ( in effect ) to overrule Ofcom on the issue of whether Rupert Murdochs proposal to acquire the shares of Sky that he does not already own a decision she was legally entitled to take, it has to be said is an illustration of this process at work .

The argument that the proposal threatens broadcasting standards ignores the fact that Skys record stands comparison with its competitors. The notion that the proposal to acquire total control of Sky News with its small market share menaces plurality is far fetched. Bradleys decision to refer the proposed deal to the CMA looks like a cave in to political pressure.

But there is another test on the horizon which Ofcom must not be deflected from if the entire legislative framework on media concentration is to maintain any credibility. This test arises because the recently reported proposal by David Montgomerys Mirror to buy the Express, does actually raise a genuine plurality issue. The editorial positions of the two publications are well known and diametrically opposed. It is quite likely that in the event of a transaction being completed, the Expresss position would change and become more aligned with that of the Mirror. There would surely be a reduction in plurality of views...


A (weak) homage to democracy in Catalonia openDemocracy

The images of a half-empty parliament during the referendum law vote illustrate how Democracy and Catalonia have gone their separate ways. Democracy is not the law of the majority, but the protection of the minority. Espaol

Hundreds of Catalan separatists gather to protest in front of the Catalan Economy Ministry. September 20, 2017. Barcelona, Spain. Matthias Oesterle/Zuma Press/PA Images. All rights reserved.

Being in a minority, even in a minority of one, did not make you mad. There was truth and there was untruth, and if you clung to the truth even against the whole world, you were not mad.

- George Orwell, 1984

Catalonia may be closer than ever to being independent, but it is increasingly far from embodying the democratic evolution that many of its supporters would have us believe. The secessionists have used a slim majority to approve the referendum and transition law, without any regard for legal safeguards, reports from their own legal services, the constitutional order and standard democratic norms. The images of a half-empty parliament during the votes, while a MP removed the Spanish flags left behind by members of the opposition as a sign of protest, illustrates how the secessionist movement and democracy have gone their separate ways.

With the full support of the president of the Parliament, which should be impartial but acts as another member of the cabinet and finds it difficult to put behind her past as a secessionist activist, they opened the door to convene a unilateral referendum to ratify their project of secession. Mariano Rajoys government affirms that, after what was determined by the Constitutional Court, it will not allow for the referendum to be held. But as the 1 October nears and appeals for dialogue make no progress, we appear to be witnessing a train wreck, or rather, a train crashing against the wall of democ...


Web standards body constrains digital rights against members' wishes openDemocracy

A letter from Cory Doctorow after the World Wide Web Consortium moves to enforce a digital rights management standard without compromise, despite agreement from only 58.4% of members.

Constrained content. Pixabay. CC0.In July, the Director of the World Wide Web Consortium overruled dozens of members' objections to publishing a DRM standard without a compromise to protect accessibility, security research, archiving, and competition.

EFF appealed the decision, the first-ever appeal in W3C history, which concluded last week with a deeply divided membership. 58.4% of the group voted to go on with publication, and the W3C did so today, an unprecedented move in a body that has always operated on consensus and compromise. In their public statements about the standard, the W3C executive repeatedly said that they didn't think the DRM advocates would be willing to compromise, and in the absence of such willingness, the exec have given them everything they demanded.

This is a bad day for the W3C: it's the day it publishes a standard designed to control, rather than empower, web users.

This is a bad day for the W3C: it's the day it publishes a standard designed to control, rather than empower, web users. That standard that was explicitly published without any protections -- even the most minimal compromise was rejected without discussion, an intransigence that the W3C leadership tacitly approved. It's the day that the W3C changed its process to reward stonewalling over compromise, provided those doing the stonewalling are the biggest corporations in the consortium.

EFF no longer believes that the W3C process is suited to defending the open web. We have resigned from the Consortium, effective today. Below is our re...

Friday, 22 September


A metal pipe for your trouble openDemocracy

The Russian authorities campaign against Alexey Navalny is getting violent. 

The pipe used to attack Nikolay Lyaskin. Source: Twitter. The Russian authorities continue to refuse permission to Alexey Navalnys election campaign to hold public rallies, and campaign activists are, on occasion, being detained. But sometimes the anti-Navalny campaign gets even more serious: Nikolay Lyaskin, the coordinator of Navalnys Moscow headquarters, was attacked this week with a metal pipe. Police are investigating, but rather strangely.

As a result of a blow to the head, Lyaskin is suffering from concussion. The police quite quickly opened a criminal investigation into what they classified as hooliganism, and several days later announced they had found a suspect. True, he was not shown to Lyaskin immediately. However, a video appeared in which the suspect alleges Lyaskin himself had promised the man money if he attacked him. Lyaskin claims this is a set-up. The day of the face-to-face confrontation with the suspect Lyaskin was kept waiting the whole day in the police station, and before he left they tried to take away his telephone.

On a positive note, in Kostroma a criminal investigation has been opened into an assault by a police officer on a volunteer from Navalnys election campaign, while in Makhachkala an investigation into an...


On the eve of the German elections, Alternative fr Deutschland prevails on Twitter openDemocracy

Populist parties have a higher capacity to exploit digital arenas to boost and propagate their slogans and influence the political agenda. This should not be underestimated by mainstream political forces.

lead Election poster of (Alternative for Germany, AfD) party in the district of Lichtenberg in Berlin, Germany on September 15, 2017. NurPhote/Press Association. All rights reserved.It is a bit puzzling how, after a year in which populist forces have threatened the political order of countries all over Europe, Germany so far has managed to have itself a normal many would say boring electoral campaign.

Angela Merkels Christian Democratic Union (CDU) is likely to be the largest party in the new Bundestag, as polls show its likely share of vote to be between 36% and 37%, at least 15 or so points ahead of Martin Schulzs Social Democratic Party (SPD). However, given Germany has a proportional system, the CDU will most likely be unable to govern by itself, so all eyes are on the battle for the third place, which will have an effect on which party will be Merkels coalition partner.

The right-wing Alternative for Germany (AfD), with its eurosceptic and anti-immigration programme, will most probably win parliamentary seats for the first time. This will perhaps be the most important development of this election. Moreover, according to the latest polls AfD is leading the race within the race for the third place with 11-12%, maintaining a slight lead over its main competitors the Left Party (Die Linke), the Liberal Democrats (FDP) and the Green Party all lagging behind at 7% to 10%.

Recently in Europe we have witnessed a steep rise in so-called populist parties, alongside with a significant wave of innovation in political communication, especially in times of electoral campaigning. When new political actors walk into the scene, they often show innovative communication strategies, such as the widespread use of online channels, a highly engaged network of supporters, and a general inclination towards negative campaigning.



Empire of madness: fiddling through the smoke in 2025 openDemocracy

The year is 2025, and the war on terror rages on as does the increasing extremity of the planet's weather.

Sep 15, 2017; Bonita Springs, FL, USA; Louis Sarangi pushes a boat out of the flood waters along Pawley Avenue in Bonita Springs five days after Hurricane Irma. USA TODAY Network/PA Images. All rights reserved.Its January 2025, and within days of entering the Oval Office, a new president already faces his first full-scale crisis abroad. Twenty-four years after it began, the war on terror, from the Philippines to Nigeria, rages on. In 2024 alone, the U.S. launched repeated air strikes on 15 nations (or, in a number of cases, former nations), including the Philippines, Burma, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Yemen, the former Iraq, the former Syria, Kurdistan, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Tunisia, Libya, Mali, and Nigeria.

In the weeks before his inauguration, a series of events roiled the Greater Middle East and Africa. Drone strikes and raids by U.S. Special Operations forces in Saudi Arabia against both Shiite rebels and militants from the Global Islamic State killed scores of civilians, including children. They left that increasingly destabilized kingdom in an uproar, intensified the unpopularity of its young king, and led to the withdrawal of the Saudi ambassador from Washington. In Mali, dressed in police uniforms and riding on motorcycles, three Islamic militants from the Front Azawad, which now controls the upper third of the country, gained entry to a recently established joint U.S.-French military base and blew themselves up, killing two American Green Berets, three American contractors, and two French soldiers, while wounding several members of Malis presidential guard. In Iraq, as 2024 ended, the city of Tal Afar already liberated twice since the 2003 invasion of that country, first by American troops in 2005 and then by American-backed Iraqi troops ...

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