Tag Archives: Europe

Greenpeace: Here are the REAL culprits of the agricultural crisis in France

. . SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT . .

An article from Greenpeace France (translation by CPNN)

Why are many farmers unable to make a decent living from their work, even though they feed us? To this vital question, at the heart of the social and environmental crisis that the agricultural world is going through, the government has still not answered, preferring to attack ecological standards and favor agro-business, without looking at the root causes. . However, those responsible for this agricultural crisis are known: the massive industrialization of our production system and the ultra-liberal trade policies pursued for decades.

In order to denounce the real culprits of the agricultural crisis, this morning we carried out simultaneous actions in six cities in France, targeting groups in the agro-food industry, agrochemicals, seeds and mass distribution, as well as than the majority agricultural union. So many symbols of a system that profits from free trade agreements and impoverishes farmers, to the detriment of our health and our environment.


Photo Credit : © Micha Patault 2024

Who are the culprits of the agricultural crisis? Here are 5 very concrete examples of this agro-industrial system that we point out:  LDC, Avril, Bayer, Lactalis, E.Leclerc and the FNSEA.

LDC, the poultry giant that defeathers the breeders

Its name is little known, but it controls 40% of the poultry market in France! LDC is the owner, among others, of the Le Gaulois and Maître Coq brands, and it contracts with almost half of the broiler poultry breeders in France, owns slaughterhouses, manufactures animal feed, etc. This all-powerful group in its areas of establishment is capable of depriving breeders of alternative outlets . With its industrialized system, LDC relegates the breeder to the rank of “subcontractor”, a real an uncomfortable situation .

This chicken giant is also developing its activities in Belgium, the United Kingdom and Poland, not hesitating to resort to imports . During a highway blockade in France, breeders discovered Polish chickens imported for LDC in a truck . A real goose that lays golden eggs: LDC generated 5.8 billion euros in turnover in 2022, an increase of 8% compared to 2021. The fortune of the Lambert family, co-founders of the group, is as for it estimated at 825 million euros.

Avril, the big fish of the agro-industry

The fifth French agri-food group, Avril is the perfect example of the clever mix of economic, financial and political interests in the agricultural sector . The chairman of the board of directors of this agro-industrial behemoth is none other than Arnaud Rousseau, recently put in the spotlight as president of the majority agricultural union, the FNSEA (see below).

We are far, very far from small-scale farming. This multinational generates more than half of its turnover abroad, through multiple activities: food production, chemicals, energy, agrofuels, finance, etc. In France, the group is number 1 in the vegetable oils market. (via its Lesieur and Puget brands, among others) and commands 25% of the oleochemicals market share. Its influence is therefore considerable: Avril is very clearly one of the proponents of the policy of industrialization of French agriculture which is fueling the crisis in the agricultural world.

Bayer, the powerful lobby of pesticides and seeds

World number one in seeds and pesticides, Bayer is particularly famous for having bought Monsanto and its famous Round Up, a cocktail based on glyphosate , the most used herbicide in the world, classified as “probably carcinogenic” by the International Center for Research on WHO cancer. Not content with poisoning farmers and the environment, its commercial weight on the seeds and pesticides market makes farmers dependent on its products.

Bayer is also a powerful lobby, whose activities have disastrous consequences on the agricultural world, health and the environment. The German pharmaceutical and agrochemical giant spent more than 7 million euros on its lobbying activities at European level in 2022 alone. For decades, Bayer has actively fought for the development of GMOs and against the ban and reduction of pesticides, not without some success, unfortunately: the regulation of GMOs is now threatened, glyphosate has been re-authorized for 10 years and the European legislative project aimed at reducing the use of pesticides has just been purely and simply withdrawn…

Lactalis, the multinational that butters its bread on both sides

Dairy products are at the heart of the current agricultural crisis. And Lactalis (the world’s leading group in the sector which has joined forces with number 2, Nestlé, within the Lactalis-Nestlé company), bears a heavy responsibility for the impoverishment of the small farmer. In 2022, while consumers paid more for their liter of semi-skimmed milk, breeders saw the amount of their gross margin on this product drop by 4% compared to 2021, while agri-food companies experienced an increase of their gross margins of 64% and those of mass distribution of +188%! An extremely inequitable distribution observed across all dairy products, as denounced by the Foundation for Nature and Man in its report “ Farmers and consumers, big losers from the rise in dairy product prices ”.

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(Click here for the original article in French

Question for this article:

Despite the vested interests of companies and governments, Can we make progress toward sustainable development?

What is the relation between movements for food sovereignty and the global movement for a culture of peace?

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Nearly 20% of dairy farmers live below the poverty line and are extremely dependent on public subsidies to survive. A concern that Lactalis does not experience, whose turnover increased by 28.4% in 2022 compared to 2021, climbing to 28.3 billion euros! Added to this are various scandals: salmonella in infant milk, pollution of waterways, non-compliance with environmental standards, concealment of information. The company, known for its President, Lactel and Galbani brands, is described as a “lawless” firm by the investigative media Disclose, in an edifying investigation into the “milk ogre”.

E. Leclerc, the leader in mass distribution and secrecy

Today six groups control 90% of the mass distribution market. Among them, the leader E. Leclerc, with almost a quarter of market share, has become a dominant player in the lives of French consumers and farmers . In 2022, the French number 1 has increased its turnover, but not its transparency… The E. Leclerc group is regularly suspected of circumventing the French Egalim law in order to obtain lower prices from producers, in particular via a central d Eurelec purchase located in Belgium, where the law is much more flexible.

From their dominant position, the mass distribution giants do not hesitate to compress the prices paid to farmers to make more profits . Producer remuneration thus serves as an adjustment variable, with farmers going so far as to sell at a loss. Also at issue: products imported and sold at very low prices on the shelves of these major brands. Products that Michel Édouard Leclerc would like to sell even cheaper: he has denounced in the past the obligation of a 10% margin on food products from abroad, a measure precisely intended to protect the remuneration of producers.

FNSEA, historical defender of industrial agriculture

With 212,000 claimed members, the FNSEA is the majority agricultural union in France. But far from fighting for the interests and remuneration of small producers, its leaders continue to defend the agro-industrial and productivist model serving the largest farms. The very ones who receive the largest share of subsidies from the European Common Agricultural Policy (CAP). For decades, the FNSEA has ensured true co-management of agricultural policies, hand in hand with successive governments, successfully fighting in favor of industrial agriculture and agro-industry, to the detriment of peasant and organic agriculture. , and against environmental measures.

Its current president, Arnaud Rousseau, is himself at the head of a cereal farm of more than 700 hectares, ten times the average size of a French farm… In 2021, he received more than 170,000 euros from the CAP, or 5.6 times the average amount received by a farm in France. He is also Chairman of the Board of Directors of the agro-industrial group Avril (see above).

Faced with those responsible for the agricultural crisis, what should we do?

If the culprits are known, the solutions are also known to overcome this agricultural crisis, allow farmers to live with dignity from their work and protect the health and environment of all.

Several measures seem essential to us today to meet the expectations of farmers regarding their remuneration, support them in the ecological transition and sustainably transform the agricultural sector. In particular, it is necessary:

° Put an end to Free Trade Agreements , by reviewing the agreements in force and establishing a moratorium on current negotiations (in particular between the European Union and Mercorsur, and with Chile).

° Establish a floor price , i.e. a ban on the sale of agricultural products below cost prices (including costs, labor remuneration and contributions).

° Regulate the margins of processors and large retailers , for better distribution of value.

° Establish a minimum entry price for imported products , particularly for the sectors most in difficulty, to deal with unfair imports on social and environmental levels.

° Reform the European Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) , in particular in order to direct public money as a priority towards the most vulnerable farmers, organic farming operations and towards supporting the agroecological transition.

° Massively increase support for farmers in the agroecological transition.

Environmental standards and the reduction of pesticides are necessary, both for the health of farmers and for that of consumers and the preservation of biodiversity. We must therefore maintain them and help producers in their implementation.

To find out more about the causes and solutions to farmers’ difficulties: The agricultural crisis (and how to get out of it) in 4 questions.

The Catalan Forum for Peace is born, a participatory process to create Catalan public peace policy

.. DEMOCRATIC PARTICIPATION ..

An article from the Instituto Catalan Internacional para la Paz

The Catalan Forum for Peace  was publicly presented this Wednesday, February 14, within the framework of the Second Day of Peace held in the Parliament of Catalonia. The forum is a participatory process of reflection and debate that was born with a double objective: to create a public peace policy in Catalonia and to reinforce the agendas and social and political advocacy capacities of Catalan peace organizations.


screenshot from their website

The Catalan Forum for Peace is an initiative promoted by the Government of Catalonia, the Catalan Council for the Promotion of Peace, the ICIP and the Catalan associative network for the promotion of peace. It arises, therefore, from social and institutional collaboration, and will be developed throughout 2024 and 2025. The Forum will consist of a process of citizen participation based on five axes of debate: Culture of peace; Security and justice; Armed conflicts; Global challenges; Women, peace and security.

Coinciding with the public presentation, the website www.forumcatalapau.cat has been inaugurated, from which the participation of citizens, entities and institutions committed to the values of the culture of peace and social justice will be encouraged.

“For a public policy of peace”

The public presentation of the Catalan Forum for Peace was made during the celebration of the II Peace Day of the Parliament of Catalonia, co-organized by the Catalan chamber, the ICIP and Lafede.cat. With the title “For a public policy of peace”, the conference brought together representatives of numerous peace organizations and experts in the field of research and work for peace, as well as representatives of the Government and several city councils. and institutions.

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(Click here for the Spanish original of this article)

Questions for this article:

The culture of peace at a regional level, Does it have advantages compared to a city level?

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At the opening of the day, the vice president of the Catalan Council for the Promotion of Peace and director of the ICIP, Kristian Herbolzheimer, called on the Catalan institutions and entities committed to the values of the culture of peace and social justice to join the Catalan Forum for Peace: “it is time to open the reflection on how we understand a Catalonia in peace and on how we can contribute, from Catalonia, to peace in the world. It is time to tell each other, meet and explain to all the people, groups and institutions that we share the values of the culture of peace and that we share the commitment to a more just and supportive world.”

For her part, the president of Lafede.cat, Arés Perceval , highlighted that the Catalan Forum for Peace must allow “the design of a public peace policy endorsed by all parliamentary groups, a pending subject” and added that the process also “It has to serve us to strengthen the movement for peace and nonviolence that we lead from civil society.”

The day was inaugurated by the president of the Parliament of Catalonia, Anna Erra , who highlighted the tradition of promoting peace in Catalonia, a “country of peace” that “has not hesitated to embrace the values of democracy and freedoms.” fundamental.” In her intervention, Erra predicted that the Catalan Forum for Peace will help strengthen the culture of peace, “become a useful tool for the international community,” and “shape some responses based on the collective intelligence of the country.”

The day included two round tables: the first focused on the challenges and opportunities for peace in the context of global threats, and the second was dedicated to the five axes of debate that will guide the Catalan Forum for Peace. when the participatory process begins, in the month of April. Carme Colomina , CIDOB researcher ; Luca Gervasoni , director of NOVACT; Maria Josep Parés , consultant; Jesús Vinyes , president of the School Council of Catalonia; Nora Miralles , president of the Delàs Center; Albert Caramés , director of FundiPau; Jordi Armadans , journalist and political scientist; and Blanca Camps , researcher at the Autonomous University of Barcelona.

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Johan Galtung: In Memoriam

EDUCATION FOR PEACE .

An article by Nils Petter Gleditsch in the website of the Peace Research Institute of Oslo

Johan Galtung passed away this morning (February 17). He was born in 1930 on 24 October, the same day that 15 years later would see the founding of the United Nations. There is something symbolic about having the same birthday as the UN. As a researcher, Galtung’s orientation was unusually international. An excellent linguist, he was well-travelled and made his home in several countries.


Johan Galtung. Niccolò Caranti / Wikimedia Commons

He was a person of exceptional energy. After qualifying for university in two subjects, he completed two simultaneous master’s degrees (in statistics and sociology), and went on to hold professorships in several fields and in many countries. In his younger years, he was a signatory of the manifesto for Aksjon mot doktorgraden (a campaign against the Norwegian doctoral degrees), but he came to hold honorary doctorates from a range of universities.

After establishing what would become the Peace Research Institute Oslo (PRIO) in 1959, he went on to found the Journal of Peace Research in 1964. Neither of these would have become what they are today without the impetus that Galtung gave them in their early years. In 1969, he became the first Professor of Peace Research at the University of Oslo. While this was not a personal professorship, there can be no doubt that the chair would never have been established if Galtung’s supporters at the University and in political circles had not known that there would be at least one committed and competent applicant. Galtung was not yet 40 when he was appointed to the professorship, but in a sense the appointment came too late. Sabbaticals and residencies abroad became more frequent and more lengthy and in 1978 he resigned – explaining his decision with reference to one of the campaign points of the 1968 student protests: no one should hold a professorship for more than 10 years! Now came professorships in many other countries, the longest-lasting of which was in political science at the University of Hawaii.

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Question for this article:

How can we carry forward the work of the great peace and justice activists who went before us?

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Galtung’s first projects at the Peace Research Institute resulted in a series of articles in the Journal of Peace Research. These articles continue to be his most cited works and concerned varied and important topics such as structural violence, concepts of peace, international news dissemination, imperialism, and the role of summits in international relations. Together with Arne Næss, he was also a pioneer of efforts to codify Gandhi’s ideas about non-violence and conflict management.

After Galtung left PRIO and moved to the University of Oslo and later to his international career, he also reoriented himself in many ways in a purely scholarly manner. His public remarks also became more acerbic and polemical, gaining him many critics. He never had problems attracting students and collaborators, but many of his students from his years of scholarly entrepreneurship in Norway found it difficult to follow him in this new orientation. As a scholarly field, peace research became more accepted, and some might also say, more conventional. Johan could be extremely critical, suggesting, for example, that the Peace Research Institute should change its name to something like the Norwegian Institute for Security Research. It was with a certain sense of unease that some of us opened his autobiography, Johan uten land (literally, ‘John without a country’), which was published on his 70th birthday, and then 10 years later, his Launching Peace Studies: The First PRIO Years. But in both these books he showered compliments on his colleagues from his pioneering years.

Galtung was bold in advancing concrete predictions about the world’s future. In my opinion this was a strength, especially in comparison with the cautious and wise-with-hindsight remarks to which social scientists are often prone. While he was not always equally adept at admitting to his errors, he had no lack of critics who were happy to point out his errors for him. For a researcher, obstinacy can be a strength, including when things get difficult. Progress in research is often achieved through a dialogue between the bold voices and their critics, between the sceptic and the enthusiast, as Johan himself put it in an essay from 1960.

When the Peace Research Institute – long after Galtung’s time – became the first institution to be designated a Centre of Excellence in the social sciences by the Research Council of Norway, this represented a recognition of what Galtung had started, even though he himself had pursued other paths. When we heard news in 2002, I sent him an e-mail in which I pointed to his share of the honour: ‘You’re a bit proud even so, aren’t you?’ He didn’t respond affirmatively, but neither did he deny it.

For those of us who were young in the 1960s and entered the social sciences, and especially peace research, Johan Galtung was an unusually inspiring mentor. He was generous with his time and supplied endless scholarly guidance and encouragement. When something did not go well, he would take the time to explain why. Those of us who could not always follow him onwards on his complex path, are nevertheless eternally grateful for having enjoyed such help and support as we entered the world of research.

(Nils Petter Gleditsch is PRIO Research Professor Emeritus.)

PRIO Director Henrik Urdal’s interview with Johan Galtung in 2019

Exclusive: Putin’s suggestion of Ukraine ceasefire rejected by United States, sources say

DISARMAMENT & SECURITY .

An article from Reuters (reprinted by permission)

Russian President Vladimir Putin’s suggestion of a ceasefire in Ukraine to freeze the war was rejected by the United States after contacts between intermediaries, three Russian sources with knowledge of the discussions told Reuters.

The failure of Putin’s approach ushers in a third year of the deadliest conflict in Europe since World War Two and illustrates just how far apart the world’s two largest nuclear powers remain.


Frame from video about proposal

A U.S. source denied there had been any official contact and said Washington would not engage in talks that did not involve Ukraine.

Putin sent signals to Washington in 2023 in public and privately through intermediaries, including through Moscow’s Arab partners in the Middle East and others, that he was ready to consider a ceasefire in Ukraine, the Russian sources said.

Putin was proposing to freeze the conflict at the current lines and was unwilling to cede any of the Ukrainian territory controlled by Russia, but the signal offered what some in the Kremlin saw as the best path towards a peace of some kind.

“The contacts with the Americans came to nothing,” a senior Russian source with knowledge of the discussions in late 2023 and early 2024 told Reuters on condition of anonymity due to the sensitivity of the situation.

A second Russian source with knowledge of the contacts told Reuters that the Americans told Moscow, via the intermediaries, they would not discuss a possible ceasefire without the participation of Ukraine and so the contacts ended in failure.

A third source with knowledge of the discussions said: “Everything fell apart with the Americans.” The source said that the Americans did not want to pressure Ukraine.

The extent of the contacts – and their failure – has not previously been reported.

It comes as U.S. President Joe Biden has for months been pushing Congress to approve more aid for Ukraine, but has faced opposition from allies of Republican presidential nomination frontrunner Donald Trump.

The Kremlin, the White House, the U.S. State Department and the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) all declined to comment.

U.S. SAYS ‘NO BACK CHANNEL’

Putin sent thousands of troops into Ukraine in February 2022, triggering a full-scale war after eight years of conflict in eastern Ukraine between Ukrainian forces on the one side and pro-Russian Ukrainians and Russian proxies on the other.

Ukraine says it is fighting for its existence and the West casts Putin’s invasion as an imperial-style land grab that challenges the post-Cold War international order.

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Questions related to this article:
 
Can the peace movement help stop the war in the Ukraine?

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Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy says he will never accept Russia’s control over Ukrainian land. He has outlawed any contacts with Russia.

A U.S. official, speaking in Washington on condition of anonymity, said that the U.S. has not engaged in any back channel discussions with Russia and that Washington had been consistent in not going behind the back of Ukraine.

The U.S. official said that there appeared to have been unofficial “Track II” conversations among Russians not in the government but that the United States was not engaged in them.

The U.S. official said Putin’s proposal, based on what has been publicly reported, was unchanged from past demands that Russia hold on to Ukrainian territory. The official suggested that there appeared to be frustration in Moscow that Washington had repeatedly refused to accept it.

Putin told U.S. talk-show host Tucker Carlson last week that Russia was ready for “dialogue”.

CONTACTS

Intermediaries met in Turkey in late 2023, according to three Russian sources.

A fourth diplomatic source said that there had been Russian-U.S. unofficial contacts through intermediaries at Russia’s initiative but that they appeared to have come to nothing.

The U.S. official said he was unaware of unofficial contact through intermediaries.

According to three Russian sources, Putin’s signal was relayed to Washington, where top U.S. officials including White House National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan, Central Intelligence Agency Director Bill Burns and U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken met.

The idea was that Sullivan would speak to Putin’s foreign policy adviser, Yuri Ushakov, and set out the next steps, one of the Russian sources said.

But when the call came in January, Sullivan told Ushakov that Washington was willing to talk about other aspects of the relationship but would not speak about a ceasefire without Ukraine, said one of the Russian sources.

The U.S. official refused to be drawn on any details of Sullivan’s purported calls, or whether such a conversation with Ushakov took place.

PUTIN ‘READY TO FIGHT ON’

One of the Russian sources expressed frustration with the United States over Washington’s insistence that it would not nudge Ukraine towards talks given that the United States was helping to fund the war.

“Putin said: ‘I knew they wouldn’t do anything’,” another of the Russian sources said. “They cut off the root of the contacts which had taken two months to create.”

Another Russian source said that the United States did not appear to believe Putin was sincere.

“The Americans didn’t believe Putin was genuine about a ceasefire – but he was and is – he is ready to discuss a ceasefire. But equally Putin is also ready to fight on for as long as it takes – and Russia can fight for as long as it takes,” the Russian source said.

The Kremlin sees little point in further contacts with the United States on the issue, the Russian sources said, so the war would continue.

Writing by Guy Faulconbridge in Moscow; Additional reporting by Steve Holland in Washington; Editing by Alex Richardson

Russian Attitudes about the Conflict with Ukraine

DISARMAMENT & SECURITY .

A survey by the Levada Center

(Editor’s note: Although we cannot be certain that these polls are not controlled by the Russian government, the fact that prominent dissident Sergey Aleksashenko quotes the polls suggests that we should take them seriously.)

About half of the respondents follow the Ukrainian events. The level of support for the actions of the Russian armed forces remains high(74%). Most of the respondents believe that the “special military operation” is being carried out successfully. At the same time, the share of Russians advocating peace talks continues to grow (up to 57% in November). This opinion is more common among women, respondents who trust information from social networks and YouTube channels, who do not approve of V. Putin’s activities as president of the Russian Federation, as well as those who believe that the country is moving on the wrong path.

What is happening mainly causes respondents to be proud of Russia or alarm, fear and horror. One in four respondents (same as a year ago) donated clothes and belongings to refugees from Ukraine. At the same time, the share of respondents who collected money and things to help the participants of the “special military operation” increased to 40%.

The level of attention to Ukrainian events has not changed significantly in the last four months. So in November, 18% of respondents said that they were watching the events “very closely” and another 35% were watching them “quite closely”. 34% of respondents follow events without much attention, and 13% do not follow them at all. People aged 65 and older are following the events in Ukraine most closely (31% – very closely, 49% quite carefully).

The level of support for the actions of Russian troops in Ukraine has remained consistently high over the past year and a half of observations. The majority of respondents (74%) support the actions of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation in Ukraine, 18% of respondents do not support them.

Older age groups are more likely to support the actions of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation in Ukraine (89% among 65+ respondents); viewers (84%); those who believe that things in the country are going in the right direction (86%); those who approve of the activities of V. Putin as president (83%).

The level of support for the actions of Russian troops is lower among younger age groups (24% under the age of 24); viewers of YouTube channels (31%); those who believe that the country is moving on the wrong path (47%); those who disapprove of the actions of V. Putin as president of Russia (62%).

The share of Russians who believe that peace talks should be started repeated the highest figures for the entire observation period – just as in October 2022 (after the announcement of partial mobilization) 57% of respondents stated the need to start peace talks (24% definitely start peace talks, 33% – rather start peace talks). 36% of respondents are in favor of continuing military operations (21% – definitely continue military operations, 15% – rather continue military operations).

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Questions related to this article:
 
Can the peace movement help stop the war in the Ukraine?

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The opinion on the need to move to peace negotiations is more widespread among women (64%); youth (73% under the age of 24); villagers (59%); respondents who trust information from social networks (67%) and YouTube channels (68%); those who disapprove Activity V. Putin as President of the Russian Federation (79%) & those who believe that the country is moving on the wrong path (80%).

Men are more likely to believe that military operations should continue (48%) as well as those who trust information from television (42%); respondents 55 years and older (43%); those who approve of the president’s activities (41%); those who believe that things are going well in the country in the right direction (46%). Moscow stands out somewhat from other localities. Muscovites are less willing to move on to peaceful negotiations – only 43%, while in other localities about half of the respondents believe that it is necessary to start peace negotiations.

Over the past five months, the proportion of respondents who believe that the special operation is progressing successfully has continued to grow. In November of this year, 66% of respondents thought so (55% in June).

Those who trust the information from television (78%), those who believe that things in the country are going in the right direction (79%), those who approve of the activities of V. Putin (74%) are more likely to be confident that the special operation is going well.

Russia’s military actions in Ukraine mainly cause Russians to be proud of Russia (45%) or alarm, fear and horror (32%), these feelings have prevailed among respondents since the beginning of the conflict. Since September, the share of Russians feeling proud of Russia has increased – 45% (38% in September).

Pride in Russia is mainly felt by men (47%) and older people (52% aged 55 and older). Anxiety, fear and horror are experienced more often by women (42%) and younger Russians (43% under the age of 24).

One in four respondents gave clothes and belongings to refugees from Ukraine free of charge (as well as a year ago). At the same time, the share of respondents who collected money and things to help the participants of the special operation increased in November – 40% (+13% compared to December last year).

Despite the fact that Moscow residents are more likely to talk about supporting the special operation and the continuation of hostilities, over the past 12 months they have been less likely to donate money for generally useful purposes (22%) and collected money and things to help participants in the special operation (25%), compared with residents of other localities.

In general, one in three respondents has donated money to socially useful purposes in the last 12 months, and their share has been gradually increasing since March 2020.

METHODOLOGY

The all-Russian survey by the Levada Center was conducted November 23 – 29 2023, among a representative sample of all Russian urban and rural residents. The sample consisted of 1625 people aged 18 or older in 137 municipalities of 50 regions of the Russian Federation. The survey was conducted as a personal interview in respondents’ homes. The distribution of responses is given as a percentage of the total number of respondents.

The statistical error of these studies for a sample of 1600 people (with a probability of 0.95) does not exceed:
3.4% for indicators around 50%
2.9% for indicators around 25%/75%
2.0% for indicators around 10%/90%
1.5% for indicators around 5%/95%

Powerful Protest Against Racism Sweeps Germany

. TOLERANCE & SOLIDARITY .

An article from Common Dreams ( licensed under Creative Commons CC BY-NC-ND 3.0)

Up to 300,000 people took to the rainy streets of Berlin, Germany on Saturday as nationwide protests against the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) party. Protests were also taking place in dozens of other cities such as Freiburg, Dresden, Hannover, and Mainz, a sign of growing alarm at growing support for the AfD.


Video of protest

Under the slogan “We are the Firewall” — a reference to the longstanding taboo against collaborating with the far right in German politics — protesters turned the space next to the Bundestag, or national parliament, into a sea of signs, flags, and umbrellas.

“All together against racism,” the crowd in Berlin shouted. Some held posters that said “Heart instead of hate” or “Racism is not an alternative.”

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Question related to this article:
 
Are we making progress against racism?

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The new wave of mobilization against Alternative for Germany (AfD) was ignited by a January report by investigative outlet Correctiv. It revealed that AfD members had discussed the expulsion of immigrants and “non-assimilated citizens” at a meeting with extremists.

The report sent shockwaves across Germany at a time when the AfD was soaring in opinion polls, months ahead of three major regional elections in eastern Germany where their support was strongest.

“We absolutely must not allow the stories that we experienced in 1930 or even back in the 1920s to happen again … We must do everything we can to prevent that,” said Jonas Schmidt, who came from the western port city of Bremen told the Associated Press. “That’s why I’m here.”

Kathrin Zauter, another protester, called the strong attendance “really encouraging.”

“This encourages everyone and shows that we are more — we are many,” she said.

Jakob Springfeld, the spokesman for the NGO Solidarity Network Saxony, said he was shocked that it had taken such a long time for mass demonstrations against the far-right, given the AfD had been successful in many smaller communities already. “But there’s a jolt now. And the fact that the jolt is coming provides hope, I believe.”

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz praised the protests, writing in a Saturday post on the social media platform X that citizens’ presence at the gatherings is “a strong sign for democracy and our constitution.”

“In small and big cities across the country, citizens are coming together to demonstrate against forgetting, against hate and incitement,” he added.

Wives of Russian soldiers descend on Putin campaign office to demand demobilisation

DISARMAMENT & SECURITY .

An article from Novaya Gazeta

The wives of Russian men called up to fight in the war in Ukraine visited Vladimir Putin’s re-election campaign office in Moscow on Saturday (January 20) to demand the return of their husbands from the front line, independent news outlet SOTA reported.


frame from video in telegram social media

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Questions related to this article:
 
Can the peace movement help stop the war in the Ukraine?

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Upon arriving at the office, the women were reportedly met by members of a pro-Putin “Volunteer Squadron” and anti-extremism police.

In a heated exchange, footage of which was quickly made available by Russian Telegram channels, the women asked staffers when Putin would sign a demobilisation order that would allow their husbands to return home.

In response to their demands, one campaign staffer replied that demobilising the troops would “damage male dignity,” and that men should fight as if they were “warriors and God’s unique creations.”

The women, part of demobilisation campaign group The Way Home, were watched by around 10 police officers as they laid flowers at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier outside the Kremlin before entering the Putin campaign’s election office nearby. One journalist covering the protest was detained but later released.

The gesture came in the wake of similar actions earlier this month, when around 15 women also laid flowers at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and picketed government buildings around Moscow to demand the return of their husbands from the front.

The artists Mira Awad and Noa: voices for peace in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict

EDUCATION FOR PEACE .

An article from enPositivo

Amid the chaos and tragedy that has marked the conflict between Israel and Gaza, the voices of Israeli singer Noa (Ahinoam Nini) and Arab-Israeli singer Mira Awad stand out as passionate calls for peace and coexistence. Representing a rare alliance between two seemingly opposing cultures, these artists have shared the stage and messages of hope over the years, seeking an alternative path to perpetual suffering and destruction.

In a world marked by tragedy and mistrust, these two exceptional voices represent beacons of hope, reminding us that, even in the midst of conflict, there is room for dialogue, understanding and, above all, the possibility of a more peaceful future.

This week (December 20) Noa and Mira Awad join forces again in a concert with the Berlin Philharmonic, whose funds will go to the Israeli forum that represents the relatives of the hostages in Gaza and to two women’s organizations for peace, one Israeli and the other Palestinian.

The talented Israeli singer Noa, known for representing Israel at Eurovision in 2009 in a duet for peace with Mira Awad, has strongly expressed her rejection of war and her firm support for the two-state solution. In a recent interview, Noa commented on the devastating events of October 7 and the subsequent bombings in Gaza, reinforcing her belief in the urgent need to end the conflict in the Middle East.

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(Click here for the original Spanish version of this article.)

Question for this article:

Do the arts create a basis for a culture of peace?

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“I do not support the cult of death. We have to do everything possible to save and protect human life, whether Jewish, Israeli, Palestinian… all human life,” Noa emphasized. Her position in favor of a diplomatic solution backed by international intervention is clear: “I want international intervention tomorrow.”

Additionally, Ella Noa advocates for the release of all Israeli and Palestinian hostages as part of a possible plan to stop the violence. Highlighting the tragedy unfolding in Gaza, she calls for empathy and understanding of the suffering on both sides of the conflict.

For her part, Mira Awad, the first Arab to represent Israel in Eurovision alongside Noa, offers a unique vision as an artist and activist.

From her London home, Awad reflects on the horrors of October 7 and the subsequent escalation of violence in Gaza. “The alternative to peace is the hell we see now,” she states forcefully.

Awad highlights the pain that Gazans are going through and exposes the complexity of the conflict, underscoring her commitment to peace and the recognition of Palestinian rights. Although she recognizes the difficulties of dialogue in the midst of trauma, she advocates for mutual understanding and recognition.

Both artists, despite their differences, share a common vision: the importance of working tirelessly for peace.

The two-state solution, mutual respect and an end to violence remain the fundamental pillars of their joint message: “There has to be another way.”

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Artists Pledge to Boycott German Institutions Over Stifling of Pro-Palestine Speech

FREE FLOW OF INFORMATION . .

An article from Hyperallergic

Hundreds of artists and cultural workers around the world signed a petition calling to boycott German cultural institutions in response to the nation’s “McCarthyist policies” targeting critics of Israel’s violence against Palestinians.

(Update January 23. In response, the Berlin Senate has now dropped the anti-semitism clause in their funding agreements.


One of the graphics accompanying the Strike Germany petition features the word “Strike” overlaid on an icon of German art history: “Der Wanderer über dem Nebelmeer” (“The Wanderer above the Sea of Fog”) (1818) by Romanticist Caspar David Friedrich. (image via Strike Germany)

Signed by over 650 people including artist Lawrence Abu Hamdan, Palestinian poet and activist Mohammed El-Kurd, and French writer Annie Ernaux, the anonymously authored “Strike Germany” petition questions the European nation’s adoption of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s (IHRA) working definition of antisemitism, according to which “the targeting of the state of Israel” can be construed as a form of hostility toward the collective Jewish people. Since the German parliament’s 2019 resolution equating the Palestinian Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) movement with antisemitism, the persecution of pro-Palestine speech and symbols has had profound effects on the local heavily state-subsidized art world.

“As the genocidal campaign on Gaza continues — amounting to one of the deadliest assaults on a civilian population in our times — the German state has intensified the repression of its own Palestinian population and those who stand against Israel’s war crimes,” the petition reads. “Palestine solidarity protests are mislabeled as anti-Semitic and banned, activist spaces are raided by police, and violent arrests are frequent.”

Germany has stood by Israel nearly unconditionally since the October 7 Hamas offensive that killed at least 846 Israeli civilians, with Chancellor Olaf Scholz, the first Western leader to visit after the attack, declaring that the country had “every right to defend itself.” Since then, as Israel faces accusations of genocide at the United Nations’s top court and the death toll from its ongoing bombardment of Gaza tops 23,000, Germany’s position has shifted slightly but remained staunchly supportive.

Earlier this month, the Berlin Senate introduced a clause that would require recipients of public funds to sign a self-declaration against “any form of antisemitism” as defined by the IHRA. Over 5,600 Berlin-based cultural workers across artistic disciplines, including visual artists Jumana Manna and Jesse Darling, opposed the controversial proposal in a recent open letter; such laws, the missive says, “only serve to create an administrative basis for disinviting and canceling events with cultural workers who are critical of Israel.”

Paradoxically, Germany’s persecution of anti-Israel voices sometimes extends to members of the nation’s Jewish community. Last year, Hamburg’s first antisemitism commissioner publicly attacked South African artist and scholar Adam Broomberg, a vocal critic of Israel who is himself Jewish, because of the artist’s solidarity with the BDS movement.

After he was hired as a visiting professor at the Karlsruhe University of Arts and Design this fall, the school’s rectorate told him he could no longer instruct students, according to Broomberg, who explained that he had reached a “verbal agreement” with the administration barring him from teaching, although he would remain on the school’s payroll through the end of his contract this spring.

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Questions related to this article:

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

Presenting the Palestinian side of the Middle East, Is it important for a culture of peace?

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“I think the real danger here is a closing down of academic thinking and critical thinking,” Broomerg said. “And it also puts a lot of the amazing colleagues I had there in very precarious positions, because if journalists and the Senate are going to be scouring people’s social media feeds or anything they’ve ever written, and if you see my situation as a test case, you can imagine that a lot of them feel very anxious.”

The professor was leading a seminar that centered Palestinian and Israeli experiences and histories and had planned a small student trip to Bethlehem and Hebron, although the excursion was canceled after the events of October 7. He claimed the school’s decision was due to pressure from the German government and right-wing press, which has mentioned Broomberg’s active anti-Zionist posts on social media.

A Karlsruhe University spokesperson told Hyperallergic it could not comment on the contractual details of its employees, adding that as a public university, it “must mediate between public interest and the protection of its members.” The spokesperson stated that when confronted with “controversial” social media posts from Broomberg, the school decided to “seek a conversation” with him, to involve the school’s Academic Senate, and to consult “external experts.”

“It really feels kind of McCarthyite,” Broomberg added, repeating the same phrase used in the Strike Germany petition.

Yamna El Atlassi, a Belgium-based Diversity and Inclusion consultant for the cultural sector who travels frequently to Germany, said she sees artists in the nation “facing a level of repression not seen in recent history.”

“I’ve always seen discrimination in play in the cultural sector in all Western countries, but the difference is that Germany was presenting itself as a champion of progressive thinking,” El Atlassi told Hyperallergic. “The dissonance between this attitude and what is really going on is important.”

She specifically cited the controversy surrounding Documenta 15, during which several participating artists in the summer 2022 exhibition faced accusations of antisemitism for their pro-Palestine stance. On October 9, Documenta’s leadership released a statement decrying the curatorial collective ruangrupa, which organized the 15th edition, for its “liking” of social media posts expressing sympathy with the Palestinian cause.

Dystopic episodes of institutions stifling pro-Palestine expressions are far from absent from the United States’s cultural spaces, where just this week, the news of Indiana University canceling an exhibition of 87-year-old Palestinian artist Samia Halaby’s works — reportedly over her vocal advocacy for her country — drew outrage. Meanwhile, faculty members there penned a letter this week decrying the school’s decision to suspend their colleague Abdulkader Sinno, a Political Science and Middle Eastern Studies professor, for his alleged involvement in organizing an event with the Palestine Solidarity Committee. The missive asserts that the school’s decision comes as American universities are being pressured to “curtail free speech over the Israel-Palestine conflict.”

But in Germany, whose crimes and burden of guilt against the Jewish people are inscribed permanently in its history, the attitude taken toward Jewish figures who question the Israeli state’s actions strikes many as especially chilling. The irony was felt a month ago when the Russian-American, Jewish writer Masha Gessen received a scaled-down version of Germany’s Hannah Arendt Prize, nearly revoked altogether after they penned a New Yorker article in which they compared the humanitarian crisis in Gaza to Nazi German ghettos.

“German post-reunification ‘remembrance culture’ (Erinnerungskultur) — the state campaign to address Germany’s genocide of the Jews — acts as a repressive dogma, reinvigorating the oppression that real ‘rememberance’ should work against,” the Strike Germany petition articulates.

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Guernica stands in solidarity with Gaza

. TOLERANCE AND SOLIDARITY . .

An article from the Peoples Dispatch (published under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 (CC BY-SA) license)

On Friday, December 8, thousands of people from the Basque city of Guernica hit the city center in a stunning display of solidarity with the people of Gaza who are facing Israel’s genocidal attacks. The thousands who assembled at the Pasialeku Market Place in Guernica formed a human mosaic depicting the Palestinian flag and part of Pablo Picasso’s famed anti-war painting, Guernica.


Frame from a video of the event. credit: Gotzon Aranburu / @GotzonAr via Spectee.

In the event organized by the Guernica-Palestine Citizens’ Initiative, citizens, trade unionists, artists, anti-fascist groups, anti-war groups, and activists from left-wing parties, including the United Left (IU), condemned the Israeli bombardment of Palestinian people. The city’s anti-aircraft siren sounded  for a minute, drawing parallels between Guernica’s enduring pain from the bombing it faced during the Spanish Civil War and the ongoing airstrikes faced by the people of  Gaza.

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Question related to this article:

Presenting the Palestinian side of the Middle East, Is it important for a culture of peace?

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Guernica is a historically significant city in the Basque region of Spain that was bombarded on April 26, 1937, during the Spanish Civil War by Nazi Germany and Fascist Italian air forces in support of their ally, the Spanish military general Francisco Franco. The infamous bombing of the city, which was a stronghold of the Republican forces, was one of the events that paved the way for the Fanco’s capture of northern Spain.

Hundreds of civilians were killed in the bombing which evoked widespread outrage across the world. Renowned artist Pablo Picasso’s landmark painting  ‘Guernica’ was in response to the brutal bombing. It is regarded as an exemplary anti-war painting in modern history.

In its statement on the Palestine solidarity event, the Guernica-Palestine Citizens’ Initiative insisted that the world and history must not accept a new Guernica and that “Israel is committing genocide against the Palestinian people. The international community [must] share the suffering of the Palestinian people and stop the massacre.”

On December 10, on the 75th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the Basque Federation of the United Left (IU) stated  “What is happening in Gaza is a genocide contrary to ideals envisaged by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.”

As of December 12, over 18,000 Palestinians have been killed in the Israeli bombardment in Gaza, and around 50,000 people have been wounded. More than 7,500 people are reportedly missing and more than 1.9 million people have been displaced by the relentless airstrikes.

(Thank you to Fatima Zédira for calling our attention to this event.)