Starved, ‘mutilated’ and blackmailed migrants auctioned off as slaves by smugglers in Libya

Starved, ‘mutilated’ and blackmailed migrants auctioned off as slaves by smugglers in Libya

The migrants are forced to work as slaves after they run out of money to pay the smugglers to find them passage to Europe.

Slave markets are springing up across Libya trading impoverished African migrants who have arrived on the Mediterranean coast dreaming of a new life in Europe. A new investigation has revealed people are being sold as modern-day slaves for as little as £300 ($400).

According to CNN which exposed the racket, slave sales are conducted on the outskirts of the nation’s capital, Tripoli, where auctions take place for various types of manual labourers. In one case, a video was made available, which shows the sale of “big strong boys for farm work”.

An undercover operation revealed similar auctions where around a dozen people were sold in a matter of five to six minutes. “Does anybody need a digger? This is a digger, a big, strong man, he’ll dig,” an auctioneer calls out in one clip. “What am I bid, what am I bid?”

The interested bidders raise their hands till a final price is decided on following which the new slaves are transferred in the possession of their new “masters”.

Slavery is getting a boost in places like Libya that are seeing a wave of desperate migrants from North Africa, hoping to find a better life in Europe. A crackdown by local authorities on boats ferrying people to the coast of Italy has turned smugglers to another profession — that of flesh traders.

At a detention centre in Tripoli, one man recalled how he ended up becoming an indentured servant after he ran out of money. Victory, 21, left Nigeria with his life savings and hopes of a brighter future. On reaching Libya he was forced to live in inhuman conditions and later sold as a day labourer once he could not afford to pay his smugglers.

He expected to pay off his debt through work but was unable to make enough. Finally his smugglers contacted his family for ransom. He was released after paying them a total of more than $2,780.

Illegal migrants from Africa are taken to a detention centre after being picked up by the Libyan Coast Guard on 8 July, 2017. Mahmud Turkia/AFP

“If you look at most of the people here, if you check your bodies, you see the marks. They are beaten, mutilated,” he said of his fellow detainees who have reportedly suffered a similar fate.

On being made aware of the slave trade in the region, the authorities said they were not aware of the auctions but confirmed the presence of organised gangs operating smuggling rings.

Earlier this year, the International Criminal Court (ICC) expressed interest in investigating crimes against immigrants in Libya, after the International Organization for Migration (IOM)warned about people being sold at slave markets in the country.

The original source of this article is International Business Times

Selling Hope in Dark Times

Selling Hope in Dark Times

Every age faces social and political challenges in the human quest for a more just and peaceful world. We now face issues that are global, urgent and have not been successfully addressed by the United Nations. Civilization is facing two existential crises: the first is the use of nuclear weapons, the fast path to destruction; the second slower path is an environmental collapse, brought on by climate change, overpopulation and destruction of natural habitat.

With North Korea having successfully detonated nuclear weapons and working actively on testing ballistic missiles that can reach the US mainland, the crisis seems to be headed for a military confrontation, that could easily go nuclear on both sides. The UN Security Council has condemned North Korea’s actions and imposed sanctions with little impact. We are looking at the real possibility of another Korean War to settle this dispute. How did we reach this dilemma?

When one thoroughly understands a problem, often answers become obvious. We live in a world of rules and laws at the local level, the state level and at the national level. We even have enforceable laws at the regional level, for example in the European Union. The rule of law provides the peaceful resolution of conflict through courts and voting. When the rule of law breaks down, nations can have a civil war. At the international level, we have an international law based on treaties that are voluntary. Complete sovereignty is retained by the nation-state and each nation is responsible for their security based on a system of military force. Many nations have banded together in alliances, such as NATO, but the bottom line is at the international level war is the court of last resort.

The UN Security Council has tried to address the issue of North Korea’s nuclear program with limited success. When North Korea withdrew from the nuclear non-proliferation treaty, there was little recourse because of the voluntary nature of treaties. The international community is evolving and developing standards and norms for countries’ behaviors, such as not invading other countries, but these have yet to be codified into enforceable global law.

So what is the answer to the North Korean crisis? First of all, let’s identify what has changed that makes this a crisis now. North Korea has gone from a small threat to an existential threat to US cities. The initial response of the US should be to make this an international problem, not just a US one. The crisis brings up the issue of what countries are entitled to have nuclear weapons and which ones are not.

Recently a treaty banning all countries from having nuclear weapons was passed and agreed to by most of the world’s nations except the nuclear-armed states. The organization that promoted this treaty even won the Noble Peace Prize in 2017 for this effort. The US and all nuclear-armed states need to look at reducing nuclear weapons and placing any remaining weapons under international control. There is no simple painless answer to the standoff with North Korea, other than doing the hard work of negotiating a new global nuclear agreement. The key is to learn the lessons from this possible forthcoming tragedy.

The second pressing issue is climate change triggered by human activity. The world agreed, in 2016, to the Paris Climate Agreement to limit countries’ greenhouse gas, but the agreement is voluntary. The United States pulled out and the restrictions are too weak to actually impact the problem. What is needed is an enforceable global law to address the global warming crisis.

The Democratic World Federalists continues to get out the message about the need for UN reform or transformation to become a more effective and democratic organization. We have recently updated the look and content on our website (www.dwfed.org) and have been reaching out on the internet via social media to get our message out. Our goal is to create a political voice strong enough to take the idea of World Federalism into the mainstream political debate.

In this political environment where it feels as if we are going backward, we need to persevere even stronger to claim the future for peace, justice, and sustainability. We appreciate your past support and hope you can support our urgent cause both financially, and with your talent. This letter is part of our year-end fundraising, and our honored founder Dr. John O. Sutter has offered to match your donation up to $5000 until the end of the year. Your tax-deductible contribution is needed more than ever, in these critical times.

Sincerely,

Jerry Tetalman,
Development Director

Nuclear Weapon States Face Growing Anger at the United Nations

Nuclear Weapon States Face Growing Anger at the United Nations

By: Ray Acheson

It’s hard to say what adjective best describes the tenour of First Committee this year, but it might be rancour. The rights of reply were more voluminous, loud, and increasingly likely to descend into the absurd than ever before. The rhetoric against disarmament—the objective of this Committee and one of the primary principles of the United Nations—was more acute than ever, especially in the nuclear field. The animosity between certain states felt like it had reached a tipping point. Yet the bitter vitriol thrown about by some was tempered by the understanding of the majority that progress has been made in disarmament, precisely by forging ahead without the most quarrelsome states.

Some of the bitterness of certain delegations at First Committee may be thought to have been derived from this progress—in particular, the negotiation of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW). But as the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons said in its statement to the Committee on 10 October, “It is not the ban that divides us; nuclear weapons divide us.”

Not just nuclear weapons. Chemical weapons—regardless of who has used them—are divisive. Explosive weapons are divisive. Small arms. Landmines. Cluster bombs. The weapons themselves, regardless of who uses them, or where, or why, are divisive. Weapons kill people. Their use, production, and sale generate insecurity and inequality. They undermine sustainable development and sustainable peace.

It is disarmament that can bring us together. By reducing available means of violence. By eliminating a source of inequality between and within states. By freeing up resources for other endeavours.

The rhetoric against disarmament—that the time is not ripe, that the security situation is not safe, that the conditions are too unstable—is rhetoric against progress, against security, against unity, against survival.

Yet “divisiveness” is the main argument used by those standing against disarmament. Their argument is based on the premise that eliminating certain weapons is polarising and unsafe. But how can anything that reduces means of massive violence divide us? How can it make us more unsafe?

The Orwellian logic of the nuclear-armed states, and of those that continue to profit from selling conventional arms to states that use them to commit abuses of human rights and international humanitarian law, is that violence is stability. In the world they have sought to create, the means to destroy each other is what will keep us together. In this world, those who work for peace, development, and security through the reduction and control of weapons are making the world more unstable and rife with tension.

This absurd logic has held its grip on the international imagination for far too long. But the edifice is crumbling. The development of the TPNW took down big pieces of the arguments in favour of nuclear weapons. The Sustainable Development Goals and the Women, Peace and Security agenda, even without saying much about weapons, pose an acute challenge to current levels of military spending and approaches to “peace and security” and “sustainable development”.

We can keep chipping away at the false logic of peace through violence. We should do so together, in the ways that have already led to much success. We should not let the embittered few, cantankerous from watching their control slip away, prevent us from forging ahead to build a better world for all.

The levels of hypermilitarised, hypermasculinised violence we see in the world must not deter us from pursuing an alternative path. On the contrary, it’s our only option. Those who hold onto power through fear and intimidation will try to cling to the tools they perceive as granting them privilege in a complex world; the rest of us must find away through the cynicism that fosters to try something different.

The original source of this article is Reaching Critical Will

Three Richest Americans Now Own More Wealth Than Bottom Half of US Combined

Three Richest Americans Now Own More Wealth Than Bottom Half of US Combined

Editor’s note: Excessive income inequality in America and the world will be hard to overcome as long as tax avoidance and money laundering continues in offshore accounts and in countries allowing special favors for corporations who register in these countries. The United Nations cannot control this movement of Big Money by corporations and criminal organizations which avoids taxes and protects illegal financial transactions. The UN Charter is part of the problem allowing criminal sovereignty. It’s an important reason to look to a “new UN” under a new world charter/constitution like the Earth Constitution which can address this problem.

— R. Kotila, DWF President

"A century ago, a similar anti-inequality upsurge took on America's vastly unequal distribution of income and wealth and, over the course of little more than a generation, fashioned a much more equal America," write Chuck Collins and Josh Hoxie. (Image: Institute for Policy Studies)

“A century ago, a similar anti-inequality upsurge took on America’s vastly unequal distribution of income and wealth and, over the course of little more than a generation, fashioned a much more equal America,” write Chuck Collins and Josh Hoxie. (Image: Institute for Policy Studies)

By Jake JohnsonCommon Dreams

In the United States, the 400 richest individuals now own more wealth than the bottom 64 percent of the population and the three richest own more wealth than the bottom 50 percent, while pervasive poverty means one in five households have zero or negative net worth.

Those are just several of the striking findings of Billionaire Bonanza 2017, a new report (pdf) published Wednesday by the Institute for Policy Studies (IPS) that explores in detail the speed with which the US is becoming “a hereditary aristocracy of wealth and power.”

“Over recent decades, an incredibly disproportionate share of America’s income and wealth gains has flowed to the top of our economic spectrum. At the tip of that top sit the nation’s richest 400 individuals, a group that Forbes magazine has been tracking annually since 1982,” write IPS’s Chuck Collins and Josh Hoxie, the report’s authors. “Americans at the other end of our economic spectrum, meanwhile, watch their wages stagnate and savings dwindle.”

Collins and Hoxie are quick to note that the vast gulf that currently exists between the rich and everyone else is not the product of some inexplicable “natural phenomenon.” It is, rather, the result of “unfair economic policies that benefit those at the top at the expense of those at  the bottom.”

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Based on data recently made public by the Forbes 400 list and the Federal Reserve’s annual “Survey of Consumer Finances,” Billionaire Bonanza examines in detail the principal beneficiaries of America’s “deeply unbalanced economy”: the mega-rich.

“The wealthiest 25 individuals in the United States today own $1 trillion in combined assets,” the report notes. “These 25, a group equivalent to the active roster of a major league baseball team, hold more wealth than the bottom 56 percent of the US population combined, 178 million people.”

The top 25 list features billionaires who have attained their vast riches through a variety of means, from inheritance to investing to founding a corporate giant like Amazon or Google. What unites these enormously wealthy individuals — aside from the fact that they are all white — is that they just keep getting richer, decade after decade.

Average Americans, by contrast, have not fared nearly as well: a significant percentage of the US households “have no savings at all or owe more than they own,” making them residents of what Collins and Hoxie term “Underwater Nation.”

“Excluding the value of the family car, 19 percent of US households have zero or negative net worth,” the report notes. “Looking at this trend through the lens of race reveals that 30 percent of black households and 27 percent of Latino households have zero or negative wealth.”

In order to get a broader sense of the size of the chasm between rich and poor in the US, Collins and Hoxie place the net worth of the top one percent and the bottom one percent side by side.

“All combined, households in the bottom one percent have a combined negative net worth of $196 billion,” the report finds. “For comparison, the top one percent, a category holding the exact same number of people, have positive $33.4 trillion in combined net worth.”

Even mainstream institutions like the International Monetary Fund have acknowledged that such vast disparities of wealth and income are not sustainable, politically or economically. But as Billionaire Bonanza notes, the Trump administration — with the help of the GOP-controlled Congress — appears bent on making these disparities worse by slashing taxes for the wealthy while gutting programs that primarily benefit low-income and middle class Americans.

So the first priority, Collins and Hoxie note, is to “reject tax and other federal policies that will add oil to the inequality fire.”

In terms of going on the offensive once the “do no harm” principle is observed, the report makes several suggestions, including:

  • Enacting higher marginal tax rates on individuals earning above $250,000 and $1 million;
  • “Addressing the problem of hidden wealth,” which often leads to an underestimation of the level of wealth inequality;
  • Instituting a tax on Wall Street financial transactions, which could bring in an estimated $350 billion in federal revenue over a decade;
  • Eliminate the carried interest loophole, which allows hedge fund managers to “reclassify wage income as capital income” and pay less in taxes as a result; and
  • Bolstering, rather than eliminating, the estate tax, which only affects a tiny number families.

As “the elite ranks of our billionaire class continue to pull apart from the rest of us,” the report notes, many Americans — including students saddled with loan debt, workers suffering from stagnant wages, and families who have seen “their wealth and savings evaporate” — are revolting against the system that allowed the richest to accumulate such wealth at the expense of so many.

“A century ago, a similar anti-inequality upsurge took on America’s vastly unequal distribution of income and wealth and, over the course of little more than a generation, fashioned a much more equal America,” Collins and Hoxie conclude. “We can do the same.”

The original source of this article is Common Dreams

Helen Caldicott on Our Denial of the Threat of Nuclear Armageddon

Helen Caldicott on Our Denial of the Threat of Nuclear Armageddon

For a while, it may have seemed that the threat of nuclear war had diminished. But Donald Trump’s vow to increase and “upgrade” the United States nuclear arsenal, tensions between the US and North Korea, and the unsecured stockpiles of aging weapons around the globe make it clear we still need to be concerned about this apocalyptic danger. Order the timely new anthology Sleepwalking to Armageddon: The Threat of Nuclear Annihilation by donating to Truthout now!

Since the corporate media give short shrift to the peril of nuclear weapons, most world residents are unaware of how close we are to nuclear annihilation. So argues advocate and physician Dr. Helen Caldicott, editor of Sleepwalking to Armageddon: The Threat of Nuclear Annihilation, in this interview with Truthout.

Helen Caldicott. (Photo: Helen Heidi Smith)

Helen Caldicott. (Photo: Helen Heidi Smith)

Mark Karlin: Despite Donald Trump’s insinuation that he might launch a first-strike nuclear attack on North Korea, the anti-nuclear weapons movement is still relatively quiescent. Do you have thoughts as to why most people on the Earth are “sleepwalking to Armageddon”?

Helen Caldicott: Yes. It’s because the US media has totally failed in its duty to educate and inform the American people about the current state of world affairs, including the current US plans for a winnable nuclear war and the huge nuclear arsenals still being maintained by Russia and America. As Thomas Jefferson said so long ago, “An informed democracy will behave in a responsible fashion.” Of the 16,400 nuclear bombs in the world, Russia and the US own 94 percent — only they can destroy most life on Earth, so in reality, these two nations are today’s real terrorists.

Do you think the fact that the 2017 Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons will bring the issue more to the forefront?

No I don’t. However, their strategy is wise and relatively subliminal. Already, 122 nations have committed to the pledge of nuclear abolition. This massive support will no doubt place pressure upon the NATO countries that harbor US tactical nuclear weapons — the Netherlands, Turkey, Germany, Italy and Belgium — to forgo these commitments. This, then, will place further pressure upon other nuclear armed nations to abolish their nuclear stocks, including India, Pakistan, France, Britain, China, North Korea and Israel. Only then will international condemnation be so great that Russia and the US will be forced to contemplate abandoning their nuclear arsenals once and for all. Whether we have time before all hell breaks loose, nobody knows.

You state that the United States will spend $1 trillion over the next 30 years modernizing its nuclear arsenal. What exactly does that mean?

It means exactly that. In order for the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START) to pass the Senate, Obama promised then-Senator Jon Kyl that he would authorize the spending of $1 trillion over the next 30 years to replace every single nuclear weapon, missile, aircraft carrier, submarine, ship and plane.

How are corporations stirring the pot of militarizing international relations? Clearly, the military corporations have huge influence upon the House and Senate by funding the campaigns of the representatives, so in effect, most Congress people and senators … in a fundamental sense do not represent the health, well-being and lives of their constituents.

You comment that “an order to launch [nuclear weapons] in US missile silos is the length of a tweet.” How long does it take to launch a nuclear weapon?

Three minutes once the presidential order has been received. This is why the men in the missile silos are called Minutemen. [As described by former Minuteman ICBM launch control officer Bruce Blair here.]

What are some of the promising forms of resistance to nuclear weapons that are taking shape?

There are young people in many countries involved in the UN ban treaty; however, I see very little awareness in the general public about the fact that we are closer to nuclear war than we have ever been, and this according to former Secretary of Defense William Perry, retired Gen. James Cartwright and others highly knowledgeable and experienced in this area. Most people are in fact practicing psychic numbing and denial.

The original source of this article is Truthout

ICAN’s Nobel Peace Prize Is Humanity’s Rx for Survival

ICAN’s Nobel Peace Prize Is Humanity’s Rx for Survival

Nuclear weapons are the greatest threat to our humanity and the U.N. Treaty, through the work of ICAN, is now our prescription for survival.

By Robert Dodge

Friday’s award of the Nobel Peace Prize for 2017 to the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) draws attention to the catastrophic humanitarian consequences of any use of nuclear weapons and the global movement to abolish these weapons as the only reliable way to guarantee that they will never be used again. The award brings the reality of these consequences front and center to the world stage. The nuclear armed states with their addiction to nuclear weapons due to their misguided false sense of security in having these weapons and their refusal to proceed further with the disarmament process will now be legally bound to abide by the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. This award stigmatizes the nuclear armed states with their nuclear stockpiles and empowers the non-nuclear nations who have spoken out in the adoption of this summer’s Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.

 

Physicians for Social Responsibility’s international federation, the International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War,  itself a recipient of the 1985 Nobel peace prize, founded ICAN in 2007. PSR worked with ICAN presenting scientific data on the humanitarian and medical consequences  of nuclear weapons at a series of three intergovernmental conferences in 2013 and 2014, the 2016 UN multilateral disarmament forum which ultimately led to the 2017 UN treaty negotiations and adoption of the landmark Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons by 122 nations on July 7, 2017. The Treaty prohibits the use, threat of use, development, testing, acquisition, stockpiling and transfer of these weapons and forever stigmatizes these weapons and the nations who maintain their nuclear stockpiles.The small and mighty permanent staffing of ICAN has allowed it to be nimble and strategic in its work, engaging a diverse range of groups and working alongside the Red Cross and like-minded governments. It has built a mighty global coalition of over 400 partners in 101 nations creating a movement that is unstoppable and along the way has reshaped the debate on nuclear weapons generating a momentum towards elimination.

The small and mighty permanent staffing of ICAN has allowed it to be nimble and strategic in its work, engaging a diverse range of groups and working alongside the Red Cross and like-minded governments. It has built a mighty global coalition of over 400 partners in 101 nations creating a movement that is unstoppable and along the way has reshaped the debate on nuclear weapons generating a momentum towards elimination.ICAN typifies the often quoted words of Margaret Mead, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”

ICAN typifies the often quoted words of Margaret Mead, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” The prize is a tribute to the survivors of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the hibakusha, and victims of nuclear explosions and development around the world and their vision to prevent future generations from suffering the horror of a nuclear detonation.

Until now, nuclear weapons were the only indiscriminate weapon of war that had not been banned.  Chemical and biological weapons, as well as landmines and cluster munitions, have already been banned. Nuclear weapons are the greatest threat to our humanity and the U.N. Treaty, through the work of ICAN, is now our prescription for survival.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License

https://www.commondreams.org/author/robert-dodgeRobert Dodge is a family physician practicing full time in Ventura, California. He is the president of Physicians for Social Responsibility Los Angeles serving as a Peace and Security Ambassador and at the national level he is co-chairman of Physicians for Social Responsibility National Security Committee. He also serves on the board of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation and Citizens for Peaceful Resolutions. He writes for PeaceVoice.

United Nations – and the Monster in the Room

United Nations – and the Monster in the Room

Editor’s Message

To President Trump and World Federalists:

It is tempting for world federalists to overlook President Trump’s recent authoritarian speech to the United Nations. Yet for a leader of a powerful nation like the U.S. to openly threaten war goes against everything world federalists stand for. We don’t need jingoism, Mr. President. World federalists want a “new United Nations” for a reason:  To provide an effective global governing structure where conflicts can be resolved peacefully by means of going to court or going to a democratically elected World Parliament.
And excuse me, Mr. President.  It should be “World first,” not “America first.”
R. Kotila, Ph.D., Democratic World Federalist President

UN — and the Monster in the Room

Article By: Peter Koenig

There are no words, other than Monster, not even human monster, that can describe Trump’s appearance before the UN General Assembly last Tuesday, 19 September.

It’s of no use to go through details of the insults he yelled at the word – many others have explained and analyzed that already – and done it well – remains to say that what Trump demonstrated with threats of total devastation of North Korea, war against Iran, total asphyxiation of Venezuela, regime change in Syria – and more – is sheer criminal, war criminal behavior.

Pledging for respect of nations’ sovereignty, yet threatening the world at large – except for Israel -with total annihilation if it doesn’t follow Washington’s orders, is pure hypocrisy; it has never been expressed as desperately before the entire UN body of nations as did Trump last Monday. While some of his predecessors have not talked kindly to this league of nations, expressing threats, lies, and humiliations, the extent of Trump’s atrocious behavior has no precedent in the history of the UN.

The ongoing US indiscriminate killing around the globe – tens of millions of people in the last 70 years alone – plus these ferocious, insane threats, and economic strangulations through illegal sanctions, are ripe for a new Nuremberg type tribunal

It is a typical and dangerous conduct for a dying beast. Lashing out at its surroundings, at the world, as it were – for intimidation, disgrace and foremost to pull as many as possible with the dying monster into its self-made grave.

But the burning question that we have to ask ourselves, is this: Why did almost nobody, safe for Iran and North Korea and perhaps one or the other country representative walk out?

Why did of the more than 180 nations who wish and desire the final demise of this murderous empire, not dare to exit the room of the Monster, the General Assembly, and let Trump speak and yell atrocities to empty walls and to himself?

The New York Times reports that “world leaders were stoic and quiet, barely reacting to his remarks about their countries.”

Why? Out of fear? What fear? – Could and would this military dictatorship, run by “Mad Dog” et al, a top brass military junta, destroy the world as we know it? – I don’t think so.

Is it for the money, because the US is currently footing almost a quarter of the UN budget and is threatening to withdraw her funding, if the UN is not “restructured”, meaning, to become a total puppet of Washington and its deep state? – I don’t think so. Indeed, by 22 September 2017, the US of A had not paid her dues.

Every halfway sane nation knows that the UN already today is barely more than a stooge to Washington, so are most of the UN specialized agencies and international courts that were once created with good intentions, I hope to believe.

So, then why?

Wouldn’t walking out have been a clear act of world solidarity, of a world that stands for peace and not for eternal war, not for a weapons and military based economy, but one that thrives on peace, on people’s development and wellbeing?

A new UN body, à la League of Nations after WWI that stands for peace, could be forged without the rogue nations, such as the United States and Monsters such as Trump. And this at a cost much lower than the current official UN budget of US$ 5.4 Billion. A lot of deadwood overhead could be cut.

Or, is it that almost the entire world, its leaders, have become psychopaths, succumbing to the Stockholm syndrome? – They seek the protection of their very murderer. How sick has our western civilization become? The result of neoliberalism – a ‘modern’ form of fascism that makes people blindly obeying their butcher, confronting their own demise?

It’s high time that we wake up. Better late than never. And the Never is when we have been swallowed by the deadly abyss. Before that very moment, we still have a chance to resist.

Open your eyes and ears and walk away from and boycott Monsters like Trump, and the handlers that have chosen their multi-billionaire bully to frighten the world into submission.

Wake up! And walk out a way – forging a peace solidarity!

Peter Koenig is an economist and geopolitical analyst. He is also a former World Bank staff and worked extensively around the world in the fields of environment and water resources. He lectures at universities in the US, Europe and South America. He writes regularly for Global Research, ICH, RT, Sputnik, PressTV, The 4th Media (China), TeleSUR, The Vineyard of The Saker Blog, and other internet sites. He is the author of Implosion – An Economic Thriller about War, Environmental Destruction and Corporate Greed – fiction based on facts and on 30 years of World Bank experience around the globe. He is also a co-author of The World Order and Revolution! – Essays from the Resistance.

The original source of this article is Global Research
Copyright © Peter Koenig, Global Research, 2017

Let’s Give Planetary Patriotism a Try

Let’s Give Planetary Patriotism a Try

America first. Russia first. China first.

The United States of America puts American interests first. Just as every other nation in the world puts its own interests first. President Donald Trump was right about that in his first speech before the United Nations, on Sept. 19. Few world leaders have so nakedly expressed the essence of the Westphalian state system, established by treaty in 1648, and under which every human being dwells today.

“As president of the United States,” Trump said, “I will always put America first, just like you, as the leaders of your countries, will always, and should always, put your countries first.” This is controversial? Every undergraduate learns this on the first day of International Relations 101. It is the first principle of the realpolitik practiced by Henry Kissinger, Winston Churchill, and Otto von Bismarck.

Virtually every other American president has made the same point. President Barack Obama, expressing his conception of larger interests during his final speech before the United Nations in 2016, returned in the end to his own primary obligation—and that of his counterparts. “Sometimes I’m criticized in my own country for professing a belief in international norms and multilateral institutions. But I am convinced that in the long run, giving up some freedom of action — not giving up our ability to protect ourselves or pursue our core interests, but binding ourselves to international rules over the long term — enhances our security. And I think that’s not just true for us.”

Similarly, at the Rio Earth Summit in 1992, President George H.W. Bush—who didn’t even agree to show up until the last minute—declared, “I’m the president of the United States. I’m not the president of the world. And while I’m here, I’m going to do what best serves the interests of the American people.”

So what reason is there to believe that a couple of hundred sovereign nations pursuing their separate national interests will produce optimal outcomes for the whole of the human community? “The nation-state remains the best vehicle for elevating the human condition,” Trump declared to the U.N. But he did not make a case for why that might be so. We live in a world whose crises interconnect us more than ever before. The runaway climate change that may have just produced three “thousand-year storms” in the space of three weeks. Genocide. Terror. Pandemic. The digital economy. An ever-increasing chasm of inequality, both within and among nations. An endless river of refugees generated by economic hopelessness—and global population totals that only go up. “Failed states” where national governments disintegrate and disappear. And most of all, succeeding generations not yet saved from the scourge of war.

All of these challenges are quintessentially transnational in nature. So is it anyone’s job today—as primary responsibility, not just when it happens to coincide with a national interest—to discern and pursue the transnational interest, the common human interest, the global public good?

One answer, which could provide at least one small step for humanity tomorrow, is the proposal to establish a new international body called a United Nations Parliamentary Assembly. At the U.N., national “ambassadors” are currently appointed by executive branches of national governments. It is as if all 535 members of the United States Congress—House and Senate alike—were appointed by the governors of the 50 states. But on every lower level of governance—cities, states or provinces, and countries—we take for granted that the bedrock of democracy is some kind of legislature, whose individual members are selected by citizens at the ballot box. Why in the world can’t this exist on the global level as well?

A UNPA would seat individuals who had already been elected to national parliaments—the Japanese Diet and the U.S. Congress and the British House of Commons. It could be created by a simple vote of the U.N. General Assembly under Article 22 of the U.N. charter. This would, for the first time in history, provide a direct voice on the global level not just for governments, but for people. Most importantly, its members would not answer to national governments, or articulate solely the interests of their national communities. They would be free to articulate the larger, collective interest of humankind—and to manifest not just the national patriotism of their voters, but a larger, planetary patriotism.

Some see the establishment of a UNPA as the first step on the road to democratizing our global institutions and representing our common humanity. One next step would be having UNPA members selected not from national parliaments, but elected directly by voters. Imagine going into the booth on Election Day in Chicago, for example, and casting your vote for candidates you believe will best represent your views in the Chicago City Council, the Illinois House and Senate, the U.S. House and Senate and the United Nations Parliamentary Assembly.

(I myself live in Washington, D.C., where voters are wholly disenfranchised on every level beyond the Council of the District of Columbia, but that’s another polemic for another time.)

Over time, the intangible authority that would emanate from resolutions passed by a UNPA—the international organization that would embody the collective views of all “citizens of the world” more than any other—would evolve into a more tangible authority. The U.N. General Assembly, the U.N. Security Council and national governments would find it increasingly difficult to take actions that directly contradicted opinions and debates and outcomes at the UNPA. Perhaps this new body might eventually provide the seeds for establishing what Alfred Tennyson envisioned in his poem “Locksley Hall” 180 years ago—a genuine Parliament of Humanity.

That kind of historical progression almost exactly mirrors what has already taken place in Europe. In 1952, as part of the nascent European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC), the contracting nations established a European Common Assembly (ECA). It was—just like a hypothetical future UNPA—made up of individuals who had already been elected to their national legislatures. At the outset, it too had a strictly advisory role. But today, the ECSC has become the European Union, and the ECA has evolved into the European Parliament, directly elected by European citizens, holding real power over many transnational matters, and the closest thing in the history of the world—so far—to a true supranational legislature.

The movement to establish a UNPA is rapidly gaining steam. Shortly before he died last year, former U.N. Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali said, “A Parliamentary Assembly at the U.N. has become an indispensable step to achieve democratic control of globalization.” The idea is pushed ardently in the United States today by Citizens for Global Solutions and the Democratic World Federalists, and internationally by the World Federalist Movement, the Young European Federalists and World Parliament Now. The Campaign for a U.N. Parliamentary Assembly based in Germany—focused exclusively on the UNPA objective—recently reported that more than 1,500 current and former members of national parliaments, from more than 150 countries, have now endorsed the proposal. (All these groups are collaborating on a “Global Week of Action for a World Parliament,” which begins Oct. 20.) And the 2015 Commission on Global Security, Justice and Governance, co-chaired by former U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and former U.N. Under-Secretary-General Ibrahim Gambari, not only advocated a U.N. parliamentary network, but called to bring it into being at a world summit on global governance during the U.N.’s 75th anniversary year in 2020 (where many other imaginative innovations in the structure of the U.N. system might be forged as well).

National leaders pursue the national interests of the national constituencies who elected them? Trump nailed it. No one can dispute it. But can we invent new structures of global governance that can give meaning to the 1955 Einstein-Russell Manifesto’s claim that its signatories spoke “not as members of this or that nation, continent, or creed, but as human beings, members of the species Man, whose continued existence is in doubt”?

Every American president, whether using the term or not, is going to put “America first.” But can we now begin to envision a future United Nations that puts humanity first?

Tad Daley, author of “Apocalypse Never: Forging the Path to a Nuclear Weapon-Free World,” is a fellow with the Center for War/Peace Studies in New York. He is writing his second book on the extraordinary history, possible future and dream of a world republic. Follow him on Twitter @TheTadDaley.

*This article was originally published on www.truthdig.com

What’s Missing in the 2017 Nobel Peace Prize?

What’s Missing in the 2017 Nobel Peace Prize?

While the 2017 Nobel Peace Prize awarded to ICAN for banning nuclear weapons is a step forward, it is not a big enough step.  What’s missing is a legal ban on war itself.

The International Coalition for the Abolishment of Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) should now set its sights on banning war and demanding the establishment of a new World Judiciary system given real enforcement powers.

The United Nations lacks this essential feature. Currently, under the present UN Charter the leaders and military generals of the nuclear-armed nations, even when they commit world crimes, do so with impunity.  And they refuse to give up their nukes.

No sheriff in town

Leaders of these powerful nations, particularly the UN Security Council’s Permanent 5 (who hold the veto) are above the law.  No one goes to jail no matter how egregious the world crime.

There is no sheriff in town at the global level.

There is also a psychological obstacle. Each nation insists upon the right to keep secret its military arsenal. Such absolute sovereignty breeds paranoia which can only be eliminated by establishing open inspections everywhere. Such openness will require establishing a world federal union.

In a federal union, there are open inspections everywhere without exception.  That is why we in California never worry that Texas is secretly preparing to attack us.  We are both parts of the Union.  We can form a similar safe relationship between Russia and the USA and the other nations by joining in a world federal union.

Treaty-based agreements can’t be trusted

The new ban on nukes is a treaty-based agreement. Treaties are notoriously unreliable. They cannot be trusted. The history of treaties is the history of broken treaties.

To fix this problem the UN needs a legitimate federal constitution. A constitution-based agreement is the only way to ensure that no nation will cheat to gain an advantage over the others.

That is partly why America’s founders abandoned the Articles of Confederation and switched to the U.S. Constitution thus federating and unifying the 13 colonies — a governmental design that stopped the wars and conflicts that were erupting between the colonies.

We must constitutionalize the UN Charter

Forming a world federal union is the smart move.  It is essential.  The World Constitution & Parliament Association’s Constitution for the Federation of Earth (CFE), also known as the “Earth Constitution,” provides the needed governing structures which are missing in the obsolete UN Charter.

Democratic World Federalists (DWF) based in San Francisco is calling for UN Charter review.  They call it THE SAN FRANCISCO PROMISE.  The Center for UN Constitutional Research (CUNCR) based in Brussels is ready to examine the Charter and the implications of amending or replacing it.

It is time to reach out to the UN General Assembly, the NGO’s working so hard to eliminate nuclear weapons, peace groups wanting to go beyond war, and the general public to inspire support for a “new UN.”

Roger Kotila, PhD

BEYOND DESPAIR: PASSION, TIME, AND RESOURCES

BEYOND DESPAIR: PASSION, TIME, AND RESOURCES

My Fellow World Federalists,

Our organization needs your support. A generous benefactor has challenged us to reach a goal of raising $5,000, in which he will match each and every dollar. This means if we raise $500, he will match that donation and bring us to a total of $1,000. So, if we raise, the max, $5,000 he will help us double that to $10,000.

The Democratic World Federalists (DWF) operates on $1,500 to $2,000 a month with only one paid staff member who works less than 10 hours a week. This staff member handles all of our administrative duties, helps format and publish the DWF News, designs and develops our marketing material, does our accounting, and revises our website. We are working on a new DWF brochure which will help us recruit new members and volunteers at social and speaking events.

Our administrative director took a pay cut to work with and support our organization in our difficult times. He believes in the organization and its members. We would like to increase his wages, to the original rate and increase the hours for this position as we will have an increasing need for this type of expertise; internet outreach, social media, donor and membership tracking, expanding administrative duties, and team/committee/task force building.

With limited paid staffing, our projects are developed primarily by the think tank, advisory and executive board members—who volunteer their experience, expertise, time, and money toward the goal of establishing a democratic federal union world government.

For a core group of us, this is an overall call for “global democracy”.

With your donations we will begin our specific strategy to achieve a democratic world federation:

(1) Demanding a United Nations Charter Review.  We call it THE SAN FRANCISCO PROMISE.  We are partnering with the Center for UN Constitutional Research (CUNCR), based in Brussels, exploring plans to conduct seminars centered on the controversial UN Security Council (UNSC).

(2) Lobbying for the Earth Constitution (UN General Assembly of the Constitution for the Federation of Earth). This is the gold standard when it comes to a new world charter/constitution. It could replace the present obsolete UN charter or serve as a model for what our global government should look like.  We are partnering with the World Constitution and Parliament Association, whose projects include “Building a World Parliament”.

(3) We will be supporting the Campaign for a UN Parliamentary Assembly.

WHY DO WE CARE?

We cannot end war or eliminate weapons of mass destruction (WMDs) without the creation of a new system of world governance; moreover, respond to the extremes of climate change. A “new UN” will create the tools needed for enforceable world law to protect individual human rights.  When corrupt governments violate human rights; the UN is not permitted to intervene in a nation’s sovereign (domestic) affairs.  The UN is helpless to prosecute those who rule corrupted governments and steal their peoples’ money and resources.  When dictators and oligarchs lie, cheat, and steal the UN is impotent to stop those injustices. This is why we and you should care. This is our world.

PLEASE DON’T GIVE UP ON WHAT EVERY HUMAN DESERVES, A JUST AND FREE WORLD.

Justice, peace, and health to the world,

Dr. Roger Kotila

President of the Democratic World Federalists

MEET THE CHALLENGE

WE NEED YOU