Category Archives: FREE FLOW OF INFORMATION

World Social Forum 2022 Declaration: Building together a common agenda for another urgent and necessary world

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An article from Pressenza

The 14th edition of the World Social Forum, which took place in Mexico City, ended on 6 May, coinciding with the commemoration of World Workers’ Day, 1 May.

We publish below in full the final Declaration of the WSF 2022, which calls to build in unity and with urgency, the “another world” that is possible and necessary.


BUILDING TOGETHER A COMMON AGENDA FOR ANOTHER URGENT AND NECESSARY WORLD

1- This 14th edition of the WSF 2022 kicked off on Sunday 1st May with a march that coincided with the events to commemorate World Labour Day. The WSF 2022, which took place from 1 to 6 May in Mexico City, is the first international face-to-face and distance (hybrid) meeting since the emergence of Covid in 2019.

2- The pandemic, which continues to cause damage worldwide, did not prevent representatives of associations, collectives and social movements from Africa, Asia, the Middle East, Latin America and Europe from meeting in Mexico City.

3- This WSF 2022 had to face obstacles that hindered or prevented the presence of representatives from several countries, especially from Africa and Asia. We denounce the denial of visas to members of delegations from several countries and the prevention by the immigration authorities of several of our colleagues from entering the country.

4- More than 3 thousand participants from autonomous women’s and feminist movements, youth, members of diverse sexualities, trade unionists, communities of native peoples, the social church, environmentalists, anti-racists, the urban movement, the countryside, migrant organisations, and many other social spheres; from more than 30 countries from four continents in 789 workshops and assemblies held in 15 venues in the Historic Centre of Mexico City and from social organisations in more than 50 rooms, patios and auditoriums, in addition to their epicentre in tents in the Plaza de Santo Domingo, invited to reflect, exchange and imagine actions to change the world. The themes included climate, agriculture in respect of the earth, sustainable economy, human rights, feminism, minorities, education, workers’ rights, culture, communication, self-determination of peoples… and so many other topics! It is already certain that this forum will give rise to many collective actions that will be launched without delay.

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(Click here for an article in Spanish)

Question for this article:

World Social Forums, Advancing the Global Movement for a Culture of Peace?

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5- Movements are facing various challenges as a result of the irrational exploitation of natural resources such as water, land and space, which are accelerating climate change, migratory flows, population displacements and with them the destructuring of our societies. This economic, social and cultural violence is a form of permanent warfare to which humanity is subjected, which can only be stopped by a radical change in the system.

6- Governments have used the pandemic to attack democratic freedoms, to promote various restrictions on the rights of the people and, above all, to give unjustified power to the big private laboratories, the first beneficiaries of a universal pandemic caused by the irrational action of capitalism.

7- The dominant policies of austerity and structural adjustment are reaffirmed. Neoliberal arrogance prevails. Destabilisation, wars, violent repression and the instrumentalisation of terrorism are imposed in all regions. Reactionary ideological currents and extreme right-wing populisms are increasingly active.

8- The WSF Mexico 2022 is a step in the construction of a new phase of alterglobalisation. Each phase of alterglobalisation is a response to the dominant logic of capitalism in its neoliberal phase and is based on forms of mobilisation.

9- The WSF 2022 was marked by this global situation, it was more oriented towards resistance. Social and citizens’ movements are aware of the urgency of defining strategic orientations. They affirmed that the need for resistance does not cancel out the contradictions and that all possibilities remain open.

10- This year another form of war has broken out, that of Ukraine, a product of the Russian invasion of that country. Faithful to its origins and to the Charter of Principles, the WFTU denounces this invasion, the death of thousands of civilians and the use of deadly violence, the effects of which are already being felt all over the world. This new scenario of war adds to many others where the peoples are suffering its consequences. Peoples must find the way to build peace.

11. The apartheid of the State of Israel, the war in Syria, Iraq, Mali, Afghanistan and other places between the imperialist world powers is the sublime expression of their pettiness and their clumsy dispute for world hegemony where in the end there will be neither winners nor losers, only desolation and death for our peoples.

12- The stakes at the World Social Forum 2022 were high. In a profoundly contradictory world situation, it allowed us: to redefine an alter-globalisation proposal corresponding to the new situation; to understand the new contradictions of the world system; to start from the movements to resist, to define alternatives, to build a new project of emancipation.

Another world is possible and together we must build it!

World Social Forum: Days 3 and 4

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Articles from Prensa Latina for day 3 and Prensa Latina for day 4

(Editor’s note: News from the World Social Forum is not published by any main-stream media except that of Cuba. And even worse, as described below, some of the Cuba media is not accessible on the Internet)

The 14th World Social Forum (WSF) on Tuesday enters third day of debates, mainly focused on economic and labor issues, the continuity of gender violence and current affairs.


Among the issues is the international forum Organization of the Workers, Labor Reforms and Trade Union Freedom, sponsored by the New Central Union of Workers (NCT) and the Mexican Electrical Workers Union.

Papers on transformation economies, popular education, solidarity integration and good living in Latin America, and the experience in Colombia, are also on the program of the event.

The issue of gender violence, especially feminicide, will continue in debates with the paper “Decolonial feminist spiritualities in the face of gender violence.”

The New Central Union of Workers will present its criteria on employment in another possible world, in a panel of discussion in which the urgency of overcoming neoliberalism and labor precariousness will be addressed.

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(Click here for articles in Spanish)

Question for this article:

World Social Forums, Advancing the Global Movement for a Culture of Peace?

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_____________

The XIV World Social Forum is addressing, on its fourth day of sessions, the central theme Challenges of the new labor realities, as part of the global objective Work in another possible world.

The sessions, which are being held in plenary sessions and commissions at the Palacio de la Minería, in the historic center of Mexico City, began on May 1 and will conclude on May 6, when the venue for the next meeting is to be determined.

Today´s basic theme is presented by the New Workers Central with the co-sponsorship of the Mexican Union of Electricians, and will address, among other aspects, automation, outsourcing, teleworking and platforms.

At the same time there will be a panel within the same section on post-Tpandemic, health and labor, in charge of the same workers’ union.

The activities will be numerous, according to the program, as it includes, among many other presentations and debates on economic alternatives of the peoples and socio-economic justice, and defense of life, environment and territories.

As a topical issue, an exhibition on the elimination of hydrocarbons in Mexico, the Mexican alliance against fracking, as well as democracy, political participation, construction of critical global citizenship and autonomy.

(Editor’s note: The following sources about the World Social Forum are listed in Duckduckgo search engine but not in Google, and they are not accessible on the Internet, at least not in France where I am living: https://cubasi.cu/en/news/mexicoworld-social-forum-addresses-challenges-new-labor-realities and https://www.radiohc.cu/index.php/fr/noticias/internacionales/293776-le-forum-social-mondial-aborde-a-mexico-les-defis-des-nouvelles-realites-du-travail. And the following source, although listed in google, is not accessible: https://www.radioartemisa.icrt.cu/en/international/2022/05/04/mexico-world-social-forum-addresses-challenges-of-new-labor-realities/. Are they being jammed and banned from Google as part of the American Empire information war? Although Prensa Latina continues to be accessible and listed in Google, the latest news is that the United States is blocking visas for Prensa Latina journalists to work at the United Nations.)

World Social Forum 2022 in Mexico: First two days

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Two articles from La Coperacha and Prensa Latina

The World Social Forum 2022 (WSF) began yesterday (May 1) with a march from the Monument to the Revolution to the capital’s Zócalo in CDMX (Mexico City), joining with the May Day March for International Labor Day.


After the march, the activities of the WSF moved to the Plaza de Santo Domingo, a few meters from the Zócalo, where a Nahuatl ceremony was held and a manifesto was read by three women, one from Cherán, Michoacán, and the other from Tunisia. and one from Palestine.

The WSF seeks to generate proposals and exchanges of organizations and social movements opposed to neoliberalism and all forms of capitalist and imperialist domination. This year CDMX has been the venue in a hybrid format, with face-to-face and virtual activities.

Participants from India, Ukraine, Palestine, Tunisia, Kurdistan, Morocco, Colombia, Argentina, Brazil, Canada, as well as trade unionists from Mexico, solidarity economy groups and members of indigenous peoples began activities (which conclude on May 6) in several venues of the Historic Center, including the Plaza Santo Domingo, the Universidad Obrera, the City Museum, the Rule and the Museum of the City.

In Plaza Santo Domingo, the Social and Solidarity Economy dialogue tables were installed with around 100 producers, five urban gardens, eco-technologies, dry toilets and with the circulation of the Alegría solidarity currency. In addition, the tents of Palestine and Kurdistan were installed.

Solidarity, community or complementary currencies have become a practice that some of the members of the WSF have used to break with the use of official money, which they consider to be based mainly on a model of debt money.

For this edition of the WSF, 21 years after the first forum in Porto Alegre, Brazil, a solidary lodging network was established where the majority of foreigners have stayed without generating excessive expenses.

(Article continued in right column)

(Click here for the original articles in Spanish)

Question for this article:

World Social Forums, Advancing the Global Movement for a Culture of Peace?

(Article continued from left column)

Other venues that will host the hundreds of activities of the WSF are the Corpus Christi Temple, the School of Public Administration, the Historical Center Trust, the Mining Palace, the Palace of Autonomy, the auditorium of the Mexican Union of Electricians and that of Section 9 of the National Coordinator of Education Workers.
_______________

The public debt and the abolition of debts acquired illegitimately, in particular due to the abusive payment of interest, are at the center of the second day of activities of the World Social Forum (May 2).

This section is held in the Ernesto Velasco Torres auditorium, of the Mexican Union of Electricians (SME), in conjunction with the New Workers Central and other labor institutions.

It is part of the theme Economic Alternatives for the Peoples and Socioeconomic Justice, and includes the study of the indebtedness processes in Latin America and the Caribbean and the struggles against illegitimate debts in Puerto Rico and Argentina.

It also addresses the vision of Latin America in the face of the fall of the dollar and its effects, the universal basic income as the foundation of another possible world, as illustrated with pilot tests in Catalonia and debates in Argentina. The presentation is carried out by the Humanist Network for Universal Basic Income.

On the same economic theme, the Kgosni group will present “Túmin, beyond a community currency” a reflection on the reconstruction of the social fabric and the importance of one’s own means of communication, as part of the economic alternatives of the peoples and socioeconomic justice.

Another basic point of the day is the one related to community feminism presented by Abya Yala in which she analyzes the struggles against discrimination, racism and for self-determination, as well as what women describe as a battle against patriarchy and heteronormative .

A very specific issue is that of resistance against the struggle for search, truth and justice for disappeared relatives in the “Dirty War” period of the 60s, 70s and 80s of the last century in the Mexican state of Guerrero, but related to today, especially the Movement for Truth and Justice for Relatives of Disappeared Persons.

The exhibition, which takes place in the Palacio de la Minería, one of the venues of the forum, is accompanied by a workshop on the disappearance of girls and women in Mexico under the title Community Feminism, organized by Abya Yala.

In this framework, a posthumous tribute will be paid to the Mexican social activist Rosario Ibarra de Piedra, who died last month.

Finally, another key point in this Monday’s session is the one entitled “Indigenous Migration in Mexico. Peacebuilding, migration and strategies against war. Comprehensive accompaniment from a feminist perspective for women on the move on the southern border of Mexico”, by the Red Mesoamericana Mujer, Salud y Migración.

Global Divide: 76% of Humanity (All Poorer Nations of Color) Voted to Not Exclude Russia from the UN Human Rights Council

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An analysis by Roger Stoll reprinted by the Transcend Media Service

“In general, in a deep conflict, the eyes of the downtrodden are more acute about the reality of the present.” – Immanuel Wallerstein (The Modern World System, Introduction, p. 4)

Introduction

22 Apr 2022 – On April 7 the UN General Assembly (UNGA) passed a resolution intended to signal support for the US/NATO effort in Ukraine. This gesture of support came in the form of a resolution removing Russia from its seat on the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC).1 Just as with the March 2 UNGA resolution condemning Russia’s military intervention of February 242 (passed by countries representing just 41% of world population3), the April 7 vote is dizzyingly lopsided. Western media presented passage of both resolutions as victories. But when adjusted for world population, these votes appear as popular losses for US/NATO and its sphere. The April 7 resolution had support from countries representing just 24% of global population, a drop of 17% from the March 2 vote and an even more striking popular defeat for US/NATO.4


The United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva

The April 7 Vote to Remove Russia From the UN Human Rights Council

Here is the result of the April 7 vote to remove Russia from the UNHRC:
93 IN FAVOR
24 AGAINST
58 ABSTENTIONS
18 NOT VOTING
(TOTAL: 193 COUNTRIES)

If you count people instead of countries, the vote means that countries representing only 24.33% of the world’s population voted in favor of the resolution, with 75.67% of humanity’s nations voting AGAINST, ABSTAINING, or NOT VOTING:

VOTING FOR THE RESOLUTION: 24.33%
AGAINST, ABSTAINING, OR NOT VOTING: 75.67%
(AGAINST 27.52%; ABSTENTIONS 45.17%; NOT VOTING 2.98%)5

Just as with the March 2 vote to condemn the February 24 Russian intervention in Ukraine, the April 7 vote divides richer from poorer countries and “white countries” from “countries of color.” For both the March 2 and the April 7 votes, when adjusted for population, the great majority of richer “white countries” voted with US/NATO, and the great majority of poorer “countries of color” did not.

Much popular sentiment in US/NATO countries and their sphere, including on the Left, condemns Russia’s intervention. But judging by these two recent United Nations General Assembly votes, world opinion seems contrary, especially among governments of countries that are poorer, “of color,” and in the global periphery or semi-periphery of the world system.

There have been many official government statements contradicting condemnations of Russia from the Global North. Two came from Cuba and Nicaragua, countries which happen to fit the profile just given. But this article will not consider such statements, nor add to the reams of gigabytes filled with discussion of the merits or demerits of Russia’s intervention, war crimes in Ukraine and questions as to who might have committed them, Russia’s intentions expressed or unexpressed, nor who, if anyone, is winning or losing the war.

Instead I will try to analyze the demography of the April 7 UNGA vote to remove Russia from the UNHRC.

The Wealth and Color of Nations: Definitions

Before analyzing the vote, and for the purpose of this article, I want to make a picture of the world in over-simplified economic and racial terms, and define my terms “poorer countries,” “richer countries,” “countries of color,” and “white countries.”    I will also use the established terms of world-system theory, “core,” “periphery” and “semi-periphery.”6

Wealth

First, to get some idea of what a “wealthy country” might be, I’ll compare nominal GDPs per capita (GDPcn). Instead of the four national income categories used by the World Bank, I’ll put all countries into just two groups based on GDPcn. I’ll call “richer” any country with a GDPcn of $13,000 or above. All other countries I’ll call “poorer.” This means:

85% of the world’s population lives in “poorer countries

15% of world population lives in “richer countries.”7

Here are some examples of countries in each group. In the list I rely on, Luxembourg is the richest country in the world with a GDPcn of $131,782; South Sudan is the poorest country in the world with a GDPcn of $315. “Poorer countries” include Ethiopia $952, China $11,819, Russia $11,654, Vietnam $3,609. “Richer countries” include some with GDPcn’s that are multiples of China’s or Russia’s, like France $44,995; Germany $51,860; Japan $42,928; United Kingdom $46,344; United States $68,309.

Color

I will call countries that are predominantly inhabited by or dominated by people North Americans generally (but inconsistently) perceive as “of color,” “countries of color.” (See Appendix 2.) All others I’ll call “white countries.” This means:

85% of world population lives in “countries of color.”
15% lives in “white countries.”

Core vs. Periphery (& Semi-Periphery)

World-systems theory puts the global wealth split into relief, dividing the nations of the world into the “core” and “periphery” of the global system. In world-systems theory the surplus value of labor flows disproportionately from the periphery to the core: “The countries of the world can be divided into two major world regions: the ‘core’ and the ‘periphery.’ The core includes major world powers and the countries that contain much of the wealth of the planet. The periphery has those countries that are not reaping the benefits of global wealth and globalization.” (Colin Stief, ThoughtCo.com, 1/21/20) The core countries include most of the richest and most powerful countries, historically and currently.

Here are the core countries, each followed by its GDPcn: Australia $62,723, Austria $53.859, Belgium $50,103, Canada $49,222, Denmark $67,218, Finland $54,330, France $44,995, Germany $51,860, Greece $19,673, Iceland $65,273, Ireland $94,556, Israel $47,602, Italy $33,190, Japan $42,928, Luxembourg $131,782, Netherlands $58,003, New Zealand $47,499, Norway $81,995, Portugal $25,065, Singapore $64,103, Spain $30,996, Sweden $58,997, Switzerland $94,696, United Kingdom $46,344, United States $68,309.

Here is the distribution of population between core and periphery:
88% of world population lives in countries in the periphery (or semi-periphery)8
12% of world population lives in core countries

Intersection of Wealth and Race

Looking at the world through these categories of wealth, race, core and periphery (including semi-periphery), this is what we see (rounded):

“Poorer” “countries of color” have 82% of world population.
“Poorer” “white countries” have 3% of world population.
“Richer” “countries of color” have 3% of world population.
“Richer” “white countries” have 12% of world population.

Using the core/periphery (& semi-periphery) analysis:

2% of the world population living in “countries of color” live in the core nations.
71% of the world population living in “white countries” live in the core nations.

Both analyses show the world sharply divided between its great majority of “countries of color” concentrated among the “poorer countries” and a small global minority of “white countries” constituting most of the “richer countries.” This is important to the following discussion of the UNGA vote on the April 7 resolution.

The UN Vote by Share of World Population

Here again are the results of the April 7 vote to remove Russia from the UNHRC, given by share of world population, not country:

VOTING FOR THE RESOLUTION: 24.33%
AGAINST, ABSTAINING, OR NOT VOTING: 75.67%
(AGAINST 27.52%; ABSTENTIONS 45.17%; NOT VOTING 2.98%)

For simplicity, I’ll round off the numbers, and reduce the vote to two categories: YES and NAN (No; Abstention; Not voting):

24% YES
76% NAN

The Vote and the Wealth, Color and World System Status of Nations

The point of this article is to demonstrate both how little global support there is for the US/NATO position in Ukraine, and also to show just how much the results of the April 7 vote split the world along the lines of the reigning global hierarchies of populations and nations. (Dear reader, I think this blizzard of statistics is worth suffering through.)

1. The Vote by “Poorer” and by “Richer” Countries, by Population

“Poorer countries” declined to support the resolution roughly 9 to 1, while richer countries supported the resolution more by than 30 to 1:

All “poorer countries”:

11% YES
89% NAN

All “richer countries”:
97% YES
3% NAN

2. The Vote by “Countries of Color” and by “White Countries,” by Population

The racial divide is almost as extreme as the wealth divide. “Countries of color” declined to support the resolution by more than 6 to 1, while “white countries” supported it by a nearly identical margin:

All “countries of color”:
13% YES
87% NAN

All “white countries”:
86% YES
14% NAN

3. The Vote by Core and Periphery (& Semi-Periphery), by Population

The periphery overwhelmingly declined to support the resolution, while the core was virtually unanimous in support of it:

All peripheral (& semi-peripheral) countries:
13% YES
87% NAN

All core countries:
99% YES
1% NAN

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Question related to this article:
 
Free flow of information, How is it important for a culture of peace?

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4. The Vote by Intersectional Categories of Race and Wealth, by Population

In this series of statistics the YES vote rises from only 10% for “poorer” “countries of color” to a unanimous 100% for “richer” “white countries,” while the NAN vote, of course, drops from 90% to zero.

All “poorer” “countries of color”:
10% YES
90% NAN

All “poorer” “white countries”:
33% YES
67% NAN

All “richer” “countries of color”:
75% YES
25% NAN

All “richer” “white countries”:
100% YES
0% NAN

5. The Vote by Intersectional Categories of Race and Wealth in the Core and Periphery (& Semi-Periphery), by Population

Again, notice how the YES vote rises from 11% for “countries of color” in the periphery, to a unanimous 100% for “white countries” in the core.

All “countries of color” in the periphery (& semi-periphery):
11% YES
89% NAN

All “white countries” in the periphery (& semi-periphery):
53% YES
47% NAN

All “countries of color” in the core:
95% YES
5% NAN

All “white countries” in the core:
100% YES
0% NAN

Conclusion

These numbers show the global divides of wealth, color, core and periphery deeply etched in the April 7 UNGA vote.

Here is a possible explanation.

The war in Ukraine is not just a conflict in Eurasia between two countries. Nor is it only a contest between two power blocks, with the US and its sphere on one side, and Russia and its sphere on the other. It may be that this conflict concerns unequal and contested economic, political and social relations between all nations and peoples of the world. Economist and economic historian Michael Hudson sees the contest as part of a clash of economic systems, between US-led neoliberal finance capitalism and socialist industrialization led by Russia, China and Eurasia.

What is clear is that with this UNGA vote the nations representing most of the downtrodden of the world have acted in defiance of US/NATO demands, pressure, and inordinate power.

Appendix 1: UN Countries (193)

Here are each of the countries on the UNGA roster for April 7, 2022, followed by its GDPcn, world population share, and vote (YES, NO, abstention [AB], not voting [NV]). GDPcn numbers are from a compilation of International Monetary Fund statistics for 2021 and, where noted, statistics from the World Bank (WB) or the United Nations (UN).

Afghanistan $592 (0.5%) NV; Albania $5,991 (0.04%) YES; Algeria $3,364 (0.56%) NO; Andorra $40,886 (WB 2019) (0.00%) YES; Angola $2,080 (0.42%) AB; Antigua and Barbuda $13,824 (0.00%) YES; Argentina $9,122 (0.58%) YES; Armenia $4,125 (0.04%) NV; Australia $62,723 (0.33%) YES; Austria $53,859 (0.12%) YES; Azerbaijan $4,883 (0.13%) NV; Bahamas $30,070 (0.01%) YES; Bahrain $24,294 (0.02%) AB; Bangladesh $2,122 (2.11%) AB; Barbados $16,036 (0.00%) AB; Belgium $50,103 (0.15%) YES; Belarus $6,478 (0.12%) NO; Belize $3,970 (0.01%) AB; Benin $1,388 (0.16%) NV; Bhutan $3,296 (0.01%) AB; Bolivia $8,624 (0.15%) NO; Bosnia & Herzegovina $6,728 (0.04%) YES; Botswana $7,817 (0.03%) AB; Brazil $7,011 (2.73%) AB; Brunei $33,097 (0.01%) AB; Bulgaria $11,321 (0.09%) YES; Burkina Faso $876 (0.27%) NV; Burundi $265 (0.15%) NO; Cabo Verde $3,555 (0.01%) AB; Cambodia $1,720 (0.21%) AB; Cameroon $1,649 (0.34%) AB; Canada $49,222 (0.48%) YES; Central African Republic $552 (0.06%) NO; Chad $741 (0.21%) YES; Chile $15,617 (0.25%) YES; China $11,819 (18.47%) NO; Colombia $5,753 (0.65%) YES; Comoros $1,420 (0.01%) YES; Congo (Dem Republic of the) $588 (1.15%) YES; Congo (Republic Of) $2,505 (0.07%) NO; Costa Rica $11,806 (0.07%) YES; Cote d’Ivoire $2,567 (0.34%) YES; Croatia $16,247 0.05% YES; Cuba $8,822 (WB 2018) (0.15%) NO; Cyprus $29,551 (0.02%) YES; Czech Republic $25,732 (0.14%) YES; Denmark $67,218 (0.07%) YES; Djibouti $3,214 (0.01%) NV; Dominica $6,989 (0.00%) YES; Dominican Republic $7,951 (0.14%) YES; Ecuador $5,665 (0.23%) YES; Egypt $3,832 (1.31%) AB; El Salvador $4,031 (0.08%) AB; Equatorial Guinea $8,074 (0.02%) NV; Eritrea $625 (0.05%) NO; Estonia $26,470 (0.02%) YES; Eswatini $3,837 (WB 2019) (0.01%) AB; Ethiopia $952 (1.47%) NO; Fiji $5,069 (0.01%) YES; Finland $54,330 (0.07%) YES; France $44,995 (0.84%) YES; Gabon $8,601 (0.03) NO; Gambia $834 (0.03) AB; Georgia $4,361 (0.05%) YES; Germany $51,860 (1.07%) YES; Ghana $2,374 (0.40%) AB; Greece $19,673 (0.13%) YES; Grenada $9,171 (0.00%) YES; Guatemala $4,439 (0.23%) YES; Guinea $1,141 (0.17%) NV; Guinea-Bissau $888 (0.03%) AB; Guyana $9,192 (0.01%) AB; Haiti $1,943 (0.15%) YES; Honduras $2,586 (0.13%) YES; Hungary $18,075 (0.12%) YES; Iceland $65,273 (0.00%) YES; Ireland $94,556 (0.06%) YES; Israel $47,602 (0.11%) YES; Italy $33,190 (0.78%) YES; India $2,191 (17.7%) AB; Indonesia $4,256 (3.51%) AB; Iran $8,034 (1.08%) NO; Iraq $4,632 (0.52%) AB; Jamaica $5,328 (0.04%) YES; Japan $42,928 (1.62%) YES; Jordan $4,358 (0.13%) AB; Kazakhstan $9,828 (0.24%) NO; Kenya $2,129 (0.69%) AB; Kiribati $1,917 (0.00%) YES; Korea (Democratic Peoples Republic of [aka North Korea]) $640 (UN 2019) (0.33%) NO; Korea (Republic of [aka South Korea]) $34,866 (0.66%) YES; Kuwait $25,290    (0.05%) AB; Kyrgyzstan $1,123 (0.08%) NO; Lao (Peoples Democratic Republic of) $2,773 (0.09%) NO; Latvia $19,824 (0.02%) YES; Lebanon $2,802 (IMF 2020) (0.09%) NV; Lesotho $1,178 (0.03%) AB; Liberia $700 (0.06%) YES; Libya $3,617 (0.09%) YES; Liechtenstein $173,356 (WB 2017) (0.00%) YES; Lithuania $22,245 (0.03%) YES; Luxembourg $131,782 (0.01%) YES; Madagascar $521 (0.36%) AB; Malawi $432 (0.25%) YES; Malaysia $11,604 (0.42%) AB; Maldives $11,801 (0.01%) AB; Mali $983 (0.26%) NO; Malta $31,576 (0.01%) YES; Marshall Islands $4,206 (0.00%) YES; Mauritania $2,179 (0.06%) NV; Mauritius $9,639 (0.02%) YES; Mexico $9,246 (1.65%) AB; Micronesia (Federated States of) $3,821 (0.01%) YES; Moldova $4,638 (0.05%) YES; Monaco $185,741 (WB 2018) (0.00%) YES; Mongolia $4,172 (0.04%) AB; Montenegro $9,046 (0.01%) YES; Morocco $3,415 (0.47%) NV;    Mozambique $425 (0.40%) AB; Myanmar $1,423 (0.7%) YES; Namibia $4,371 (0.03%) AB; Nauru $10,125 (0.00) YES; Nepal $1,236 (0.37) AB; Netherlands $58,003 (0.22%) YES; New Zealand $47,499 (0.06%) YES; Nicaragua $1,877 (0.08%) NO; Niger $633 (0.31%) AB; Nigeria $2,432 (2.64%) AB; North Macedonia $6,657 (0.03%) YES; Norway $81,995 (0.07%)    YES; Oman $16,212 (0.07%) AB; Pakistan $1,260 (IMF 2020) (2.83%) AB; Palau $12,850 (0.00%) YES; Panama $13,690 (0.06%) YES; Papua New Guinea $2,737 (0.11%) YES; Paraguay $5,146 (0.09%) YES; Peru $6,678 (0.42%) YES; Philippines $8,646 (1.41%) YES; Poland $16,930 (0.49%) YES; Portugal $25,065 (0.13%) YES; Qatar $59,143 (0.04%) AB; Romania $14,968 (0.25%) YES; Russia $11,654 (1.87%) NO; Rwanda $821 (0.17%) NV; Saint Kitts and Nevis $14,402 (0.00%) AB; Saint Lucia $9,816 (0.00%) YES; Saint Vincent and the Grenadines $7,212 (0.00%) AB; San Marino $49,765 (0.00%) YES; Samoa $3,672 (0.00%) YES; Sao Tome and Principe $2,174 (0.00%) NV; Saudi Arabia $22,700 (0.45%) AB; Senegal $1,622 (0.21%) AB; Serbia $8,748 (0.11%) YES; Seychelles $9,666 (0.00%) YES; Sierra Leone $542 (0.10%) YES; Singapore $64,103 (0.08%) AB; Slovakia $21,529 (0.07%) YES; Slovenia $28,104 (0.03%) YES; Solomon Islands $2,455 (0.01%) NV; Somalia $347 (0.20%) NV; South Africa $5,444 (0.76%) AB; South Sudan $315 (0.14%) AB; Spain $30,996 (0.60%) YES; Sri Lanka $3,830 (0.27%) AB; Sudan $787 (0.56%) AB; Suriname $4,030 (0.01%) AB; Sweden $58,997 (0.13%) YES; Switzerland $94,696 (0.11%) YES; Syria $2,807 (IMF 2010) (0.22%) NO; Tajikistan $810 (0.12%) NO; Tanzania (United Republic of) $1,104 (0.77%) AB; Thailand $7,702 (0.90%) AB; Timor-Leste $1,285 (0.02%) YES; Togo $1,016 (0.11%) AB; Tonga $5,081 (0.00%) YES; Trinidad-Tobago $15,752 (0.02%) AB; Tunisia $3,683 (0.15%) AB; Turkey $9,327 (1.08%) YES; Turkmenistan $9,032 (0.08%) NV; Tuvalu $5,116 (0.00%) YES; Uganda $972 (0.59%) AB; Ukraine $3,984 (0.56%) YES; United Arab Emirates $35,171 (0.13%) AB; United Kingdom $46,344 (0.87%) YES; United States $68,309 (4.25%) YES; Uruguay $15,653 (0.04%) Yes; Uzbekistan $1,775 (0.43%) No; Vanuatu $2,957 (0.00%) AB; Venezuela $1,542 (0.36%) NV; Vietnam $3,609 (1.25%) NO; Yemen $754 (0.38%) AB; Zambia $974 (0.24%) NV; Zimbabwe $1,684 (0.19%) NO.

Appendix 2: “Countries of Color” (142)

Afghanistan; Algeria; Angola; Antigua and Barbuda; Argentina; Azerbaijan; Bahamas, Bahrain, Bangladesh; Barbados; Belize; Benin; Bhutan; Bolivia; Botswana; Brazil; Brunei; Burkina Faso; Burundi; Cabo Verde; Cambodia; Cameroon; Central African Republic; Chad; Chile; China; Colombia; Comoros; Congo (Democratic Republic of the); Congo (Republic of); Costa Rica; Cote d’Ivoire (Ivory Coast); Cuba; Djibouti; Dominica; Dominican Republic; Ecuador; Egypt; El Salvador; Equatorial Guinea; Eritrea; Eswatini; Ethiopia; Fiji; Gabon; Gambia; Ghana; Grenada; Guatemala; Guinea; Guinea-Bissau; Guyana; Haiti; Honduras; India; Indonesia; Iran; Iraq; Jamaica; Japan; Jordan; Kazakhstan; Kenya; Kiribati; Korea (Democratic People’s Republic of); Korea (Republic of); Kuwait; Kyrgyzstan; Lao (Peoples Democratic Republic of); Lebanon; Lesotho; Liberia; Libya; Madagascar; Malawi; Malaysia; Maldives; Mali; Marshall Islands; Mauritania; Mauritius; Mexico; Micronesia (Federated States of); Mongolia; Morocco; Mozambique; Myanmar; Namibia; Nauru; Nepal; Nicaragua; Niger; Nigeria; Oman; Pakistan; Palau; Panama; Papua New Guinea; Paraguay; Peru; Philippines; Qatar; Rwanda; Saint Kitts and Nevis; Saint Lucia; Saint Vincent and the Grenadines; Samoa; Sao Tome and Principe; Saudi Arabia; Senegal; Seychelles; Sierra Leone; Singapore; Solomon Islands; Somalia; South Africa; South Sudan; Sri Lanka; Sudan; Suriname; Syria; Tajikistan; Tanzania (United Republic of); Thailand; Timor-Leste; Togo; Tonga; Trinidad and Tobago; Tunisia; Turkey; Turkmenistan; Tuvalu; Uganda; United Arab Emirates; Uruguay; Uzbekistan; Vanuatu; Venezuela; Vietnam; Yemen; Zambia; Zimbabwe.

1 Resolution adopted by the General Assembly on 7 April 2022    ES-11/3. “Suspension of the rights of membership of the Russian Federation in the Human Rights Council [Excerpt:] Expressing grave concern at the ongoing human rights and humanitarian crisis in Ukraine, in particular at the reports of violations and abuses of human rights and violations of international humanitarian law by the Russian Federation, including gross and systematic violations and abuses of human rights, recognizing the strong expressions of concern in statements by the Secretary-General and by the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, and noting the latest update on the human rights situation in Ukraine by the human rights monitoring mission in Ukraine, of 26 March 2022, [par.] 1. Decides to suspend the rights of membership in the Human Rights Council of the Russian Federation…”

2 Resolution adopted March 2 by the General Assembly: “Deplores in the strongest terms the aggression by the Russian Federation against Ukraine in violation of Article 2 (4) of the Charter.” (Article 2 (4) reads: “All Members shall refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state, or in any other manner inconsistent with the Purposes of the United Nations.”) The resolution also “[d]eplores the 21 February 2022 decision by the Russian Federation related to the status of certain areas of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions of Ukraine as a violation of the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Ukraine and inconsistent with the principles of the Charter.” Beyond Russia, the resolution “[d]eplores the involvement of Belarus in this unlawful use of force against Ukraine, and calls upon it to abide by its international obligations.”

3 This article will concentrate on the April 7 vote. I wrote about the March 2 vote in Divided World: The UN Condemnation of Russia is Endorsed by Countries Run by the Richest, Oldest, Whitest People on Earth But Only 41% of the World’s Population, found here, here, here, here.

4 Another March 24 resolution passed in the UNGA blamed Russia for the humanitarian situation in Ukraine. It received a vote nearly identical to the March 2 vote.

5 These figures and similar ones throughout this article are the sums of the share of global population for each country in each voting category.

6 Two Appendices follow this article. Appendix 1 lists the 193 countries on the April 7 UNGA roster, each followed by its nominal GDP per capita, its % share of world population, and how it voted. Appendix 2 lists, for the purpose of this article, “countries of color.” (All other countries will be considered “white countries.”)

7 My source gives population share figures out to two decimals. This overlooks populations of a number of very small countries, adding up to 1.2% of world population. Assuming the distribution of “poorer” and “richer” countries is roughly similar in that 1.2%, I approximated the “poorer”/“richer” split as 85%/15% and assigned 85% of the 1.2% to the “poorer” group and the rest to the “richer” group. “Richer countries” have 14.93% of world population; “poorer countries” have 83.87%. Distributing the remaining 1.2% of world population according to an 85%/15% split (“poorer”/“richer”), means “poorer” countries have 84.89% of world population and “richer” countries have 15.11%. This rounds to 85% and 15%. I used the same method to find the percentages for “countries of color” and “white countries” (below). Because of these vagaries, among the many statistics given below, some may be off by a percentage point.

8 Some name a semi-periphery that may include Russia and China.

Ukraine on Fire (2016 Documentary)

FREE FLOW OF INFORMATION

A documentary film by Oliver Stone as described in transcend media service

Here is the trailer from the documentary film by Oliver Stone, Academy Award-winning director, screenwriter and producer, about the history of Ukraine, what happened in Kiev in 2014, and the role of western media and USA in what happened on Maidan. The film was made in 2016 but only made public this year on March 5.


Frame from the video

Description from IMDB: Ukraine. Across its eastern border is Russia and to its west-Europe. For centuries, it has been at the center of a tug-of-war between powers seeking to control its rich lands and access to the Black Sea. 2014’s Maidan Massacre triggered a bloody uprising that ousted President Viktor Yanukovych and painted Russia as the perpetrator by Western media. But was it? “Ukraine on Fire” by Igor Lopatonok provides a historical perspective for the deep divisions in the region which lead to the 2004 Orange Revolution, 2014 uprisings, and the violent overthrow of democratically elected Yanukovych.


Frame from the video

Covered by Western media as a people’s revolution, it was in fact a coup d’état scripted and staged by nationalist groups and the U.S. State Department. Investigative journalist Robert Parry reveals how U.S.-funded political NGOs and media companies have emerged since the 80s replacing the CIA in promoting America’s geopolitical agenda abroad.

(Article continued in the column on the right)

Question related to this article:
 
Free flow of information, How is it important for a culture of peace?

(Article continued from the column on the left)


Frame from the video

The film documents a leaked discussion between Victoria Nuland, US State Dept Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs and Geoffrey Pyatt, the US ambassador to Ukraine in which they discuss how to create a government friendly to the US. (The full conversation is available here on a different Youtube video.

Frame from the video

Of particular relevance to today’s war in the Ukraine is the following dialogue in the film between Oliver Stone and Vladimir Putin:

OS. NATO has now expanded into 13 more countries.

VP. Why do we react so vehemently to NATO’s expansion? When a country becomes a member of NATO, it can’t resist pressure from the U.S.A. Soon, anything can appear in the country, missile defense systems, new bases, new missile strike systems. What should we do?

Glenn Greenwald: The Censorship Campaign Against Western Criticism of NATO’s Ukraine Policy Is Extreme

. HUMAN RIGHTS . .

An article by Glenn Greenwald in Scheerpost

If one wishes to be exposed to news, information or perspective that contravenes the prevailing US/NATO view on the war in Ukraine, a rigorous search is required. And there is no guarantee that search will succeed. That is because the state/corporate censorship regime that has been imposed in the West with regard to this war is stunningly aggressive, rapid and comprehensive.


[Alisdare Hickson / CC BY-SA 2.0]

On a virtually daily basis, any off-key news agency, independent platform or individual citizen is liable to be banished from the internet. In early March, barely a week after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the twenty-seven nation European Union — citing “disinformation” and “public order and security” — officially banned  the Russian state-news outlets RT and Sputnik from being heard anywhere in Europe. In what Reuters called “an unprecedented move,” all television and online platforms were barred by force of law from airing content from those two outlets. Even prior to that censorship order from the state, Facebook and Google were already banning those outlets, and Twitter immediately announced they would as well, in compliance with the new EU law.

But what was “unprecedented” just six weeks ago has now become commonplace, even normalized. Any platform devoted to offering inconvenient-to-NATO news or alternative perspectives is guaranteed a very short lifespan. Less than two weeks after the EU’s decree, Google announced  that it was voluntarily banning all Russian-affiliated media worldwide, meaning Americans and all other non-Europeans were now blocked from viewing those channels on YouTube if they wished to. As so often happens with Big Tech censorship, much of the pressure on Google to more aggressively censor content about the war in Ukraine came from its own workforce: “Workers across Google had been urging YouTube to take additional punitive measures against Russian channels.”

So prolific and fast-moving is this censorship regime that it is virtually impossible to count how many platforms, agencies and individuals have been banished for the crime of expressing views deemed “pro-Russian.” On Tuesday, Twitter, with no explanation as usual, suddenly banned one of the most informative, reliable and careful dissident accounts, named “Russians With Attitude.” Created in late 2020 by two English-speaking Russians, the account exploded in popularity  since the start of the war, from roughly 20,000 followers before the invasion to more than 125,000 followers at the time Twitter banned it. An accompanying podcast with the same name also exploded in popularity and, at least as of now, can still be heard on Patreon.

What makes this outburst of Western censorship so notable — and what is at least partially driving it — is that there is a clear, demonstrable hunger in the West for news and information that is banished by Western news sources, ones which loyally and unquestioningly mimic claims from the U.S. government, NATO, and Ukrainian officials. As The Washington Post acknowledged  when reporting Big Tech’s “unprecedented” banning of RT, Sputnik and other Russian sources of news: “In the first four days of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, viewership of more than a dozen Russian state-backed propaganda channels on YouTube spiked to unusually high levels.”

Note that this censorship regime is completely one-sided and, as usual, entirely aligned with U.S. foreign policy. Western news outlets and social media platforms have been flooded with pro-Ukrainian propaganda and outright lies  from the start of the war. A New York Times article from early March  put it very delicately in its headline: “Fact and Mythmaking Blend in Ukraine’s Information War.” Axios was similarly understated in recognizing this fact: “Ukraine misinformation is spreading — and not just from Russia.” Members of the U.S. Congress  have gleefully spread  fabrications that went viral to millions of people, with no action from censorship-happy Silicon Valley corporations. That is not a surprise: all participants in war use disinformation and propaganda to manipulate public opinion in their favor, and that certainly includes all direct and proxy-war belligerents in the war in Ukraine.

Yet there is little to no censorship — either by Western states or by Silicon Valley monopolies — of pro-Ukrainian disinformation, propaganda and lies. The censorship goes only in one direction: to silence any voices deemed “pro-Russian,” regardless of whether they spread disinformation. The “Russians With Attitude” Twitter account became popular in part because they sometimes criticized Russia, in part because they were more careful with facts and viral claims that most U.S. corporate media outlets, and in part because there is such a paucity of outlets that are willing to offer any information that undercuts what the U.S. Government and NATO want you to believe about the war.

Their crime, like the crime of so many other banished accounts, was not disinformation but skepticism about the US/NATO propaganda campaign. Put another way, it is not “disinformation” but rather viewpoint-error that is targeted for silencing. One can spread as many lies and as much disinformation as one wants provided that it is designed to advance the NATO agenda in Ukraine (just as one is free to spread disinformation provided  that its purpose is to strengthen the Democratic Party, which wields its majoritarian power in Washington to demand greater censorship  and commands the support of most of Silicon Valley). But what one cannot do is question the NATO/Ukrainian propaganda framework without running a very substantial risk of banishment.

It is unsurprising that Silicon Valley monopolies exercise their censorship power in full alignment with the foreign policy interests of the U.S. Government. Many of the key tech monopolies — such as Google and Amazon — routinely seek and obtain highly lucrative contracts  with the U.S. security state , including both the CIA and NSA. Their top executives enjoy very close relationships  with top Democratic Party officials. And Congressional Democrats have repeatedly hauled tech executives before their various Committees to explicitly threaten them  with legal and regulatory reprisals if they do not censor more in accordance with the policy goals and political interests of that party.

(continued in right column)

Question(s) related to this article:

Is Internet Freedom a Basic Human Right?

Free flow of information, How is it important for a culture of peace?

(continued from left column)

But one question lingers: why is there so much urgency about silencing the small pockets of dissenting voices about the war in Ukraine? This war has united the establishment wings of both parties and virtually the entire corporate media with a lockstep consensus not seen since the days and weeks after the 9/11 attack. One can count on both hands the number of prominent political and media figures who have been willing to dissent even minimally from that bipartisan Washington consensus — dissent that instantly provokes vilification in the form of attacks on one’s patriotism and loyalties. Why is there such fear of allowing these isolated and demonized voices to be heard at all?

The answer seems clear. The benefits from this war for multiple key Washington power centers cannot be overstated. The billions of dollars in aid and weapons being sent by the U.S. to Ukraine are flying so fast and with such seeming randomness that it is difficult to track. “Biden approves $350 million in military aid for Ukraine,” Reuters  said  on February 26; “Biden announces $800 million in military aid for Ukraine,” announced  The New York Times on March 16; on March 30, NBC’s headline  read: “Ukraine to receive additional $500 million in aid from U.S., Biden announces”; on Tuesday, Reuters announced: “U.S. to announce $750 million more in weapons for Ukraine, officials say.” By design, these gigantic numbers have long ago lost any meaning and provoke barely a peep of questioning let alone objection.

It is not a mystery who is benefiting from this orgy of military spending. On Tuesday, Reuters reported that  “the Pentagon will host leaders from the top eight U.S. weapons manufacturers on Wednesday to discuss the industry’s capacity to meet Ukraine’s weapons needs if the war with Russia lasts years.” Among those participating in this meeting about the need to increase weapons manufacturing to feed the proxy war in Ukraine is Raytheon, which is fortunate to have retired General Lloyd Austin as Defense Secretary, a position to which he ascended from the Raytheon Board of Directors. It is virtually impossible to imagine an event more favorable to the weapons manufacturer industry than this war in Ukraine:

Demand for weapons has shot up after Russia’s invasion on Feb. 24 spurred U.S. and allied weapons transfers to Ukraine. Resupplying as well as planning for a longer war is expected to be discussed at the meeting, the sources told Reuters on condition of anonymity. . .

Resupplying as well as planning for a longer war is expected to be discussed at the meeting. . . . The White House said last week that it has provided more than $1.7 billion in security assistance to Ukraine since the invasion, including over 5,000 Javelins and more than 1,400 Stingers.

This permanent power faction is far from the only one to be reaping benefits from the war in Ukraine and to have its fortunes depend upon prolonging the war as long as possible. The union of the U.S. security state, Democratic Party neocons, and their media allies has not been riding this high since the glory days of 2002. One of MSNBC’s most vocal DNC boosters, Chris Hayes, gushed that the war in Ukraine has revitalized faith and trust in the CIA and intelligence community more than any event in recent memory — deservedly so, he said: “The last few weeks have been like the Iraq War in reverse for US intelligence.” One can barely read a mainstream newspaper or watch a corporate news outlet without seeing the nation’s most bloodthirsty warmongering band of neocons — David Frum, Bill Kristol, Liz Cheney, Wesley Clark, Anne Applebaum, Adam Kinzinger — being celebrated as wise experts and heroic warriors for freedom.

This war has been very good indeed for the permanent Washington political and media class. And although it was taboo for weeks to say so, it is now beyond clear that the only goal that the U.S. and its allies have  when it comes to the war in Ukraine is to keep it dragging on for as long as possible. Not only are there no serious American diplomatic efforts to end the war, but the goal is to ensure that does not happen. They are now saying that explicitly, and it is not hard to understand why.

The benefits from endless quagmire in Ukraine are as immense as they are obvious. The military budget skyrockets. Punishment is imposed on the arch-nemesis of the Democratic Party — Russia and Putin — while they are bogged down in a war from which Ukrainians suffer most. The citizenry unites behind their leaders and is distracted from their collective deprivations. The emotions provoked by the horrors of this war — unprecedentedly shown to the public by the Western media which typically ignores carnage and victims of wars waged by Western countries and their allies — is a very potent tool to maintain unity and demonize domestic adversaries. The pundit class finds strength, purpose and resolve, able to feign a Churchillian posture without any of the risks. Prior sins and crimes of American elites are absolved and forgotten at the altar of maximalist claims about Putin’s unprecedented evils — just as they were absolved and forgotten through the script which maintained that the U.S. had never encountered a threat as grave or malignant as Trump. After all, if Putin and Trump are Hitler or even worse, then anyone who opposes them is heroic and noble regardless of all their prior malignant acts.

And that is why even small pockets of dissent cannot be tolerated. It is vital that Americans and Europeans remain entrapped inside a completely closed system of propaganda about the war, just as Russians are kept entrapped inside their own. Keeping these populations united in support of fighting a proxy war against Russia is far too valuable on too many levels to permit any questioning or alternative perspectives. Preventing people from asking who this war benefits, and who is paying the price for it, is paramount.

Big Tech has long proven to be a reliable instrument of censorship and dissent-quashing for the U.S. Government (much to the chagrin of corporate media employees, Russian outlets still remain available on free speech alternatives  such as Rumble and Telegram, which is why so much ire is now directed at them). A rapid series of ostensible “crises” — Russiagate, 1/6, the COVID pandemic — were all exploited to condition Westerners to believe that censorship was not only justified but necessary for their own good. In the West, censorship now provokes not anger but gratitude. All of that laid the perfect foundation for this new escalation of a censorship regime in which dissent, on a virtually daily basis, is increasingly more difficult to locate.

No matter one’s views on Russia, Ukraine, the U.S. and the war, it should be deeply alarming to watch such a concerted, united campaign on the part of the most powerful public and private entities to stomp out any and all dissent, while so aggressively demonizing what little manages to slip by. No matter how smart or critically minded or sophisticated we fancy ourselves to be, none of us is immune to official propaganda campaigns, studied and perfected over decades. Nor is any of us immune to the pressures of group-think and herd behavior and hive minds: these are embedded in our psyches and thus easily exploitable.

That is precisely the objective of restricting and closing the information system available to us. It makes it extremely difficult to remain skeptical or critical of the bombardment of approved messaging we receive every day from every direction in every form. And that is precisely the reason to oppose such censorship regimes. An opinion or belief adopted due to propaganda and reflex rather than autonomy and critical evaluation has no value.

(Editor’s note: Thank you to Transcent Media Service for calling our attention to this article.)

Russian Nobel Laureate Muratov Doused With Red Paint By Unknown Attacker

FREE FLOW OF INFORMATION

An article from Radio Free Europe (Copyright (c)2020 RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave NW, Ste 400, Washington DC 20036.)

Dmitry Muratov, the editor in chief of one of Russia’s leading independent newspapers, Novaya gazeta, said he was attacked by an assailant who threw a mixture of red paint and acetone on him.

(Editor’s note: So far Muratov has avoided assassination, but when he received the Nobel Peace Prize last year, he said the prize was for his colleagues at Novaya Gazeta who had been assassinated: “for Yuri Shchekochikhin, it’s for Anna Stepanovna Politkovskaya, it’s for Nastya Baburova, it’s for Natalia Estemirova, for Stas Markelov,” he told Russian media. “It is that of those who died defending the right of people to freedom of speech.”)
 


A photo of Muratov posted by the newspaper on Telegram showed his head, shirt, hands, and arms covered in red paint.

Muratov, co-winner of the 2021 Nobel Peace Prize with Filipino journalist Maria Ressa, was on a train bound from Moscow to Samara on April 7  when the attack occurred.

A photo of Muratov posted by the newspaper on Telegram showed his head, shirt, hands, and arms covered in red paint.

Muratov said the attacker shouted, “Muratov, here’s to you for our boys.”

He told the new European edition of Novaya gazeta about the attack, saying that his eyes were burning badly

(continued in right column)

Question(s) related to this article:

Free flow of information, How is it important for a culture of peace?

The courage of Mordecai Vanunu and other whistle-blowers, How can we emulate it in our lives?

(continued from left column)

Novaya gazeta, a leading independent Russian newspaper, suspended operations  last month after it said it received warnings from Russian authorities.

The newspaper said it had been warned twice by Roskomnadzor, meaning the state communications regulator was open to pursue closing the independent outlet down through legal action.

Earlier on April 7, journalists from Novaya gazeta who fled Russia amid the ongoing crackdown on independent reporting said they have launched  a new media outlet that aims to cover news and developments in Russia and around the world in Russian and several other languages.

Kirill Martynov, the former editor of Novaya gazeta’s unit on political issues, will be the editor in chief of Novaya gazeta Europe, the publication said in a statement on its website.

“We know that we have readers around the world who are waiting for verified information,” the statement said.

“That is why we, Novaya gazeta journalists who were forced to leave their country because of a de facto occupational ban being in put into effect, are pleased to announce that we have launched Novaya gazeta Europe — an outlet that shares our values and standards.”

The statement did not say where the newspaper would be based.

Russia has placed strict limits on how media can describe the war Moscow launched in Ukraine. According to the regulator, media must follow official government communications only for what Moscow calls a “special military operation.” Usage of the words “war” or “invasion” with regard to the fighting in Ukraine is banned.

In early March, President Vladimir Putin signed into a law legislation that punishes those who distribute what is deemed “false information about the Russian Army” in their reports about Ukraine, with a prison sentence of as much as 15 years.

Several other Russian media outlets have already opted for suspending operations rather than face heavy restrictions on what they can report, and the Kremlin has also blocked multiple foreign news outlets, including RFE/RL.

From Mosul to Raqqa to Mariupol, Killing Civilians is a Crime

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An article by by Medea Benjamin and Nicolas J. S. Davies in Codepink

Americans have been shocked by the death and destruction of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, filling our screens with bombed buildings and dead bodies lying in the street. But the United States and its allies have waged war in country after country for decades, carving swathes of destruction through cities, towns and villages on a far greater scale than has so far disfigured Ukraine. 


Bombed homes in Mosul  Credit: Amnesty International

As we recently reported, the U.S. and its allies have dropped over 337,000 bombs and missiles, or 46 per day, on nine countries since 2001 alone. Senior U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency officers told Newsweek that the first 24 days  of Russia’s bombing of Ukraine was less destructive than the first day of U.S. bombing in Iraq in 2003.

The U.S.-led campaign against ISIS in Iraq and Syria bombarded those countries with over 120,000 bombs and missiles, the heaviest bombing anywhere in decades. U.S. military officers  told Amnesty International that the U.S. assault on Raqqa in Syria was also the heaviest artillery bombardment since the Vietnam War. 

Mosul in Iraq was the largest city that the United States and its allies reduced to rubble  in that campaign, with a pre-assault population of 1.5 million. About 138,000 houses  were damaged or destroyed by bombing and artillery, and an Iraqi Kurdish intelligence report counted at least 40,000 civilians  killed.

Raqqa, which had a population of 300,000, was  gutted even more. A  UN assessment mission  reported that 70-80% of buildings were destroyed or damaged. Syrian and Kurdish forces in Raqqacounting 4,118 civilian bodies. Many more deaths remain uncounted in the rubble of Mosul and Raqqa. Without comprehensive mortality surveys, we may never know what fraction of the actual death toll these numbers represent.

The Pentagon promised to review its policies on civilian casualties in the wake of these massacres, and commissioned the Rand Corporation to conduct  a study  titled, “Understanding Civilian Harm in Raqqa and Its Implications For Future Conflicts,” which has now been made public. 

Even as the world recoils from the shocking violence in Ukraine, the premise of the Rand Corp study is that U.S. forces will continue to wage wars that involve devastating bombardments of cities and populated areas, and that they must therefore try to understand how they can do so without killing quite so many civilians.

The study runs over 100 pages, but it never comes to grips with the central problem, which is the inevitably devastating and deadly impacts of firing explosive weapons into inhabited urban areas like Mosul in Iraq, Raqqa in Syria, Mariupol in Ukraine, Sanaa in Yemen or Gaza in Palestine.  

The development of “precision weapons” has demonstrably failed to prevent these massacres. The United States unveiled its new “smart bombs” during the First Gulf War in 1990-1991. But they in fact comprised  only 7%  of the 88,000 tons of bombs it dropped on Iraq, reducing “a rather highly urbanized and mechanized society” to “a pre-industrial age nation” according to a UN survey

Instead of publishing actual data on the accuracy of these weapons, the Pentagon has maintained a sophisticated propaganda campaign to convey the impression that they are 100% accurate and can strike a target like a house or apartment building without harming civilians in the surrounding area. 

However, during the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003, Rob Hewson, the editor of an arms trade journal that reviews the performance of air-launched weapons, estimated that 20 to 25%  of U.S. “precision” weapons missed their targets. 

Even when they do hit their target, these weapons do not perform like space weapons in a video game. The most commonly used bombs in the U.S. arsenal are 500 lb bombs, with an explosive charge of 89 kilos of Tritonal. According to UN safety data, the blast alone from that explosive charge is 100% lethal up to a radius of 10 meters, and will break every window within 100 meters. 

That is just the blast effect. Deaths and horrific injuries are also caused by collapsing buildings and flying shrapnel and debris – concrete, metal, glass, wood etc. 

A strike is considered accurate if it lands within a “circular error probable,” usually 10 meters around the object being targeted. So in an urban area, if you take into account the “circular error probable,” the blast radius, flying debris and collapsing buildings, even a strike assessed as “accurate” is very likely to kill and injure civilians. 

U.S. officials draw a moral distinction between this “unintentional” killing and the “deliberate” killing of civilians by terrorists. But the late historian Howard Zinn challenged this distinction in letter  to the New York Times in 2007. He wrote,

“These words are misleading because they assume an action is either ‘deliberate’ or ‘unintentional.’ There is something in between, for which the word is ‘inevitable.’ If you engage in an action, like aerial bombing, in which you cannot possibly distinguish between combatants and civilians (as a former Air Force bombardier, I will attest to that), the deaths of civilians are inevitable, even if not ‘intentional.’ 

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Does that difference exonerate you morally? The terrorism of the suicide bomber and the terrorism of aerial bombardment are indeed morally equivalent. To say otherwise (as either side might) is to give one moral superiority over the other, and thus serve to perpetuate the horrors of our time.”

Americans are rightfully horrified when they see civilians killed by Russian bombardment in Ukraine, but they are generally not quite so horrified, and more likely to accept official justifications, when they hear that civilians are killed by U.S. forces or American weapons in Iraq, Syria, Yemen or Gaza. The Western corporate media play a key role in this, by showing us corpses in Ukraine and the wails of their loved ones, but shielding us from equally disturbing images of people killed by U.S. or allied forces.

While Western leaders are demanding that Russia be held accountable for war crimes, they have raised no such clamor to prosecute U.S. officials. Yet during the U.S. military occupation of Iraq, both the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and the UN Assistance Mission to Iraq (UNAMI) documented persistent and systematic violations of the Geneva Conventions by U.S. forces, including of the 1949 Fourth Geneva Convention that protects civilians from the impacts of war and military occupation.

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and human rights groups  documented systematic abuse and torture of prisoners in Iraq and Afghanistan, including cases in which U.S. troops tortured prisoners to death. 

Although torture was approved by U.S. officials all the way up to the White House, no officer above the rank of major was ever held accountable for a torture death in Afghanistan or Iraq. The harshest punishment handed down for torturing a prisoner to death was a five-month jail sentence, although that is a capital offense under the U.S. War Crimes Act.  

In a 2007 human rights report  that described widespread killing of civilians by U.S. occupation forces, UNAMI wrote, “Customary international humanitarian law demands that, as much as possible, military objectives must not be located within areas densely populated by civilians. The presence of individual combatants among a great number of civilians does not alter the civilian character of an area.” 

The report demanded “that all credible allegations of unlawful killings be thoroughly, promptly and impartially investigated, and appropriate action taken against military personnel found to have used excessive or indiscriminate force.”

Instead of investigating, the U.S. has actively covered up its war crimes. A tragic example  is the 2019 massacre in the Syrian town of Baghuz, where a special U.S. military operations unit dropped massive bombs on a group of mainly women and children, killing about 70. The military not only failed to acknowledge the botched attack but even bulldozed the blast site to cover it up. Only after a New York Times exposé  years later did the military even admit that the strike took place.  

So it is ironic to hear President Biden call for President Putin to face a war crimes trial, when the United States covers up its own crimes, fails to hold its own senior officials accountable for war crimes and still rejects the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court (ICC). In 2020, Donald Trump went so far as to impose U.S. sanctions on the most senior ICC prosecutors for investigating U.S. war crimes in Afghanistan.

The Rand study repeatedly claims that U.S. forces have “a deeply ingrained commitment to the law of war.” But the destruction of Mosul, Raqqa and other cities and the history of U.S. disdain for the UN Charter, the Geneva Conventions and international courts tell a very different story.

We agree with the Rand report’s conclusion that, “DoD’s weak institutional learning for civilian harm issues meant that past lessons went unheeded, increasing the risks to civilians in Raqqa.” However, we take issue with the study’s failure to recognize that many of the glaring contradictions it documents are consequences of the fundamentally criminal nature of this entire operation, under the Fourth Geneva Convention and the existing laws of war. 

We reject the whole premise of this study, that U.S. forces should continue to conduct urban bombardments that inevitably kill thousands of civilians, and must therefore learn from this experience so that they will kill and maim fewer civilians the next time they destroy a city like Raqqa or Mosul.

The ugly truth behind these U.S. massacres is that the impunity senior U.S. military and civilian officials have enjoyed for past war crimes encouraged them to believe they could get away with bombing cities in Iraq and Syria to rubble, inevitably killing tens of thousands of civilians. 

They have so far been proven right, but U.S. contempt for international law and the failure of the global community to hold the United States to account are destroying the very “rules-based order” of international law that U.S. and Western leaders claim to cherish. 

As we call urgently for a ceasefire, for peace and for accountability for war crimes in Ukraine, we should say “Never Again!” to the bombardment of cities and civilian areas, whether they are in Syria, Ukraine, Yemen, Iran or anywhere else, and whether the aggressor is Russia, the United States, Israel or Saudi Arabia.

And we should never forget that the supreme war crime is war itself, the crime of aggression, because, as the judges declared at Nuremberg, it “contains within itself the accumulated evil of the whole.” It is easy to point fingers at others, but we will not stop war until we force our own leaders to live up to the principle spelled out  by Supreme Court Justice and Nuremberg prosecutor Robert Jackson:

“If certain acts in violation of treaties are crimes, they are crimes whether the United States does them or whether Germany does them, and we are not prepared to lay down a rule of criminal conduct against others which we would not be willing to have invoked against us.”

Medea Benjamin is cofounder of CODEPINK for Peace, and author of several books, including Inside Iran: The Real History and Politics of the Islamic Republic of Iran

Nicolas J. S. Davies is an independent journalist, a researcher with CODEPINK and the author of Blood on Our Hands: The American Invasion and Destruction of Iraq.  

Global Progressive Leaders Urge Biden to Drop US Charges Against Assange

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An article by Jake Johnson in Common Dreams (licensed under Creative Commons CC BY-NC-ND 3.0)

A coalition of progressive leaders from across the globe demanded Monday (April 11) that the Biden administration immediately drop all charges against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, who is currently jailed in a high-security London prison as he fights U.S. extradition attempts.


Demonstrators rally in support of freeing WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange outside of the Royal Courts of Justice in London on January 24, 2022. (Photo: Thomas Krych/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)

“Freedom of expression, freedom of thought, and freedom of the press constitute an instrument that can controvert the interests of any government.”

In a letter to Biden and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), more than 30 progressive advocates, intellectuals, and former heads of state argued that dropping the Espionage Act charges against Assange would “send a strong message to the world: that freedom of expression, freedom of thought, and freedom of the press constitute an instrument that can controvert the interests of any government, including that of the United States of America.”

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“The cases where there are reports of serious violations of freedom of expression would also be impacted by the dropping of the 18 charges against Assange,” the letter reads. “It would affirm the defense of this fundamental human right and would undoubtedly represent a clear and robust sign that everyone can express their opinion without fear of retaliation; that all the press outlets can give news to all the citizens of the world, with the certainty that the pluralism of thought is guaranteed.”

Signed by former Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis, former Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff, Chilean intellectual Carlos Ominami, and 30 others, the letter was sent on the third anniversary of Assange’s forced removal from the Ecuadorian embassy in London in 2019.

Assange has since been languishing in Belmarsh prison under conditions that human rights experts have characterized as “torture.” Last month, the U.K. Supreme Court denied Assange’s request to appeal an earlier decision allowing him to be extradited to the U.S., where he could face up to 175 years in prison.

The charges against Assange stem from his publication of classified material that exposed U.S. war crimes, including video footage of American forces gunning down civilians in Iraq.

Given that journalists frequently report on and publish classified documents, U.S. efforts to prosecute Assange have been denounced as a grave threat to press freedoms.

But despite pressure from rights groups, the Biden Justice Department has continued to pursue charges against Assange that were originally brought by the Trump administration, which reportedly considered kidnapping or assassinating the WikiLeaks founder.

In their letter on Monday, the progressive leaders wrote that the U.S. “has a long tradition of defending freedom of expression, freedom of thought, and freedom of the press.”

“It is precisely in the name of this tradition,” they wrote, “that we, progressive leaders of the world, address you to ask that, within the scope of its constitutional and legal competence, in respect of due process of law and the democratic rule of law, that your presidency exercise its prerogative of dropping all 18 charges leveled against journalist Julian Paul Assange.”

Statement of The Ukrainian Pacifist Movement Against Perpetuation of War

DISARMAMENT & SECURITY .

A statement published in Pressenza

Ukrainian Pacifist Movement is gravely concerned about the active burning of bridges for a peaceful resolution of the conflict between Russia and Ukraine on both sides and signals of intentions to continue the bloodshed indefinitely to achieve some sovereign ambitions. We condemn the Russian decision to invade Ukraine on 24 February 2022, which led to a fatal escalation and thousands of deaths, reiterating our condemnation of the reciprocal violations of the ceasefire envisaged in the Minsk agreements by Russian and Ukrainian combatants in Donbas prior to the escalation of Russian aggression.

We condemn the mutual labeling of parties to the conflict as Nazi-alike enemies and war criminals, stuffed into legislation, reinforced by the official propaganda of extreme and irreconcilable hostility. We believe that the law should build peace, not incite war; and history should give us examples of how people can return to peaceful life, not excuses for continuing the war. We insist that accountability for crimes must be established by an independent and competent judicial body in due process of law, in the result of unbiased and impartial investigation, especially in the most serious crimes, such as genocide. We emphasize that the tragic consequences of military brutality must not be used to incite hatred and justify new atrocities, on the contrary, such tragedies should cool the fighting spirit and encourage a persistent search for the most bloodless ways to end the war.

We condemn military actions on both sides, the hostilities which harm civilians. We insist that all shootings should be stopped, all sides should honor the memory of killed people and, after due grief, calmly and honestly commit to peace talks.

We condemn statements on the Russian side about the intention to achieve certain goals by military means if they cannot be achieved through negotiations.

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We condemn statements on the Ukrainian side that the continuation of peace talks depends on winning the best-negotiating positions on the battlefield.

We condemn the unwillingness of both sides to a ceasefire during the peace talks.

We condemn the practice of forcing civilians to conduct military service, to perform military tasks, and to support the army against the will of peaceful people in Russia and Ukraine. We insist that such practices, especially during hostilities, grossly violate the principle of distinction between militaries and civilians in international humanitarian law. Any forms of contempt for the human right to conscientious objection to military service are unacceptable.

We condemn all military support provided by Russia and NATO countries for militant radicals in Ukraine provoking further escalation of the military conflict.We call on all peace-loving people in Ukraine and around the world to remain peace-loving people in all circumstances and to help others to be peace-loving people, to collect and disseminate knowledge about a peaceful and nonviolent way of life, to tell the truth, that unites peace-loving people, to resist evil and injustice without violence and debunk myths about necessary, beneficial, inevitable, and just war. We don’t call for any particular action now to ensure that peace plans will not be targeted by hatred and attacks of militarists, but we are confident that pacifists of the world have a good imagination and experience of practical realization of their best dreams. Our actions should be guided by hope for a peaceful and happy future, and not by fears. Let our peace work bring closer the future from dreams.

War is a crime against humanity. Therefore, we are determined not to support any kind of war and to strive for the removal of all causes of war.

UPM
Fb.com/PeaceUkraine
yuriy.sheliazhenko@gmail.com
Tverskyi tupyk street, 9, app. 82
01042
Kyiv
Ukraine