Wednesday, December 30, 2015

CAS MUDDE - 2015 and the struggle for Europe’s core

2015 was the year that everyone could see that the European emperor is not (not any longer) wearing clothes. Worse, the emperor didn’t even deny that he was naked! 

Devastating terrorist attacks, months of insecurity about the Eurozone, huge electoral victories for populist parties, an unprecedented refugees crisis... there is no doubt that 2015 was Europe’s annus horribilisBoth the projects of the European Union and of European liberal democracy were challenged in ways we have not seen before. The real question for the coming year(s) is: was 2015 just a freak year, soon to be forgotten, or a transformative year, shaping European politics for years to come?

Whatever the answer to that question will be, 2015 was the year that everyone could see that the European emperor is not (not any longer) wearing clothes. Worse, the emperor didn’t even deny that he was naked!

Sure, European integration and liberal democracy had been challenged before. The 1992 Maastricht Treaty did not only create the foundations of the current European Union, but also gave birth to a slow but steady growing Euroscepticism. Populist parties have been stable features of some European countries since the late 1980s. And counter-terrorism has undermined liberal democracy at least since 9/11.

The months-long negotiations between the Eurozone and the new Greek populist government of Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras was probably the most traumatic period for Europe’s left. Many progressives saw in Tsipras the man to end austerity within Europe, but soon found out that they had both overestimated Tsipras’ competence and underestimated the EU’s stubbornness. As a consequence of the Greek drama, many on the left lost their faith in the European project and in the left populist alternative.

As soon as a Grexit was prevented, Europe was faced by a refugees crisis that saw one million refugees, mostly from Syria and Afghanistan, made their way to Europe. Frustration over weak external borders and no longer existing internal borders led to a strong anti-EU response within Europe’s right. This was worsened by the terrorist attacks in Paris, particularly when irresponsible journalists and politicians claimed a link between the terrorists and the refugees. Across the continent mainstream and populist politicians called for the suspension of the Dublin Regulation and the Schengen Treaty, two absolute pillars of the European Union and of the fundamental values of European integration.

What stands out in both crises is the complete ideological vacuum at the heart of the European political elite… read more:



Jessica Valenti - Feminism isn't just a fad – and that's why so many anti-feminists are angry

The power that feminism currently wields has been described as a “moment” or a “trend” – but it’s much more than that. The last 10 years of feminist work have paved the way for a feminism that’s deeply resonant and embedded in the culture, and it’s not going anywhere anytime soon. And no matter how you cut it, gender justice has been at the forefront of the national conversation and a lot of people’s minds this past year. Some was good: celebrities spoke up against sexism, the military ended the ban on women in combat, battling sexual assault took center stage, and companies from Netflix to Spotify created realistic and generous parental leave policies. 

Some of it was bad: a woman was arrested after desperately trying to end her pregnancy with a coat hanger, a Planned Parenthood was the target of a terrorist shooting and, no matter a woman’s accomplishments, we were reminded that there is always someone ready to insult her with sexism or racism. And some of it was a bit of both, like when Cecile Richards was forced to testify in front of a House committee (but she made them all look ridiculous). Some people were even outraged when Ghostbusters was remade with an all-female cast – but that didn’t stop anything.

Feminism’s prominence is even one reason that Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign looks very different – and is being responded to very differently – in 2016 than in 2008. Clinton isn’t shying away from taking on gender explicitly any more, and the sexism lobbed at her isn’t being tolerated in the same way, because since 2008 we’ve seen feminism get even more of a foothold in our broader culture.

Rebecca Traister calls this political and cultural shift the “death of white male power”: those opposed to progress on race, gender and LGBT issues are not participating in a full-blown cultural freak-out because feminism is having a “moment”. They’re afraid because they know their world is changing in a way that they can no longer control.

Part of feminism’s growing influence has to do with technology: before the internet, if a woman was interested in feminism, she had to seek it out by finding an organization with which to become involved, subscribing to Ms. magazine or taking a women’s studies class. As feminism has become more entrenched online – first through blogs, now through social media – more people have gained access to activism, information and community. Now women stumble across feminism while they’re on Tumblr or Facebook, reading about everything from politics to pop culture, and have the ability to learn more in just a few clicks.

The intersection of feminism and technology has also meant that sexist politicians can’t slide under the radar the way they used to. In a pre-internet age, we would never have seen the national outrage that spread after Todd Akin said in a local interview that women who are raped don’t get pregnant or the widespread action after Komen for the Cure ended their Planned Parenthood funding.

Technology has also helped democratize the feminist movement itself: the center of feminist organizing and power used to reside mostly within large organizations and well-funded ventures; now the most successful campaigns and most progressive thinking are those sparked by individuals. Feminist hashtags, SlutWalks, videos and memes all have pushed the movement into the future, brought newer, younger and more racially and economically diverse voices that had always been part of the movement to the forefront where they belong, and made getting involved even more accessible.

If there’s still any doubt that feminism’s power is a lasting one, consider the panicked backlash we’ve been witnessing these past few years. As throngs of mostly white male pundits bemoan PC and “victimhood culture”, they continue to be the demographic most likely to overreact when faced with changes they don’t like. If feminism wasn’t at its most powerful there wouldn’t be this kind of frenzied response to it. So though we may continue to see more bad news in the days ahead – like further moves to defund Planned Parenthood or the continued dismissal of rape victims – we can hold on to the fact that we are winning. Not just for the “moment”, but for the foreseeable future.


"America's Ship Is Sinking" Former Bush Official Exposes The Unfixable Corruption Inside The Establishment

"This ship is sinking," retired U.S. Army Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson tells Abby Martin, adding that "today the purpose of US foreign policy is to support the complex that we have created in the national security state that is fueled, funded, and powered by interminable war." The former national security advisor to the Reagan administration, who spent years as an assistant to Secretary of State Colin Powell during both Bush administrations reflects on the sad but honest reflection on what America has become as he exposes the unfixable corruption inside the establishment and the corporate interests driving foreign policy.


"It's never been about altruism, it's about sheer power."

see video:

see also
The man was August Landmesser. He had already been in trouble with the authorities, having been sentenced to two years hard labour for marrying a Jewish woman. 
If some extraterrestrial species were compiling a history of Homo sapiens, they might break their calendar into 2 eras: BNW (before nuclear weapons) & NWE (nuclear weapons era).
Several atomic bomb survivors from Hiroshima and Nagasaki (“Hibakusha”) presented their testimonies at the conference. US climate scientist Professor Alan Robock...
The Marshall Islands are marking 60 years since the devastating US hydrogen bomb test at Bikini Atoll, with exiled islanders saying they are too fearful to ever go back 
The Marshall Islands and the rest of Micronesia became a United Nations strategic Trust Territory administered by the United States. Among other obligations, the U.S. undertakes.. 

Tyler Durden: Something Strange Is Taking Place In The Middle Of The Atlantic Ocean // Recession, retrenchment, revolution? Impact of low crude prices on oil powers

"The idea is to keep tankers on the water as long as you can and try to find a stronger market."

Early last month, we noted that something very strange was happening off the coast of Galveston, Texas.  As FT reported, "the amount of oil [now] at sea is at least double the levels of earlier this year and is equivalent to more than a day of global oil supply.” In short: the global deflationary crude supply glut is beginning to manifest itself in a flotilla of stationary supertankers, as millions of barrels of oil are simply stuck in the ocean as VLCCs wait to unload.

Ultimately, this led to nearly 40 crude tankers with a combined cargo capacity of 28.4 million barrels waiting to anchor near Galveston. In the latest sign that the world is simply running out of capacity when it comes to coping with an inexorable supply of commodities, three diesel tankers en route from the Gulf to Europe did something rather odd on Wednesday: they stopped, turned around in the middle of the ocean, and headed back the way they came! "At least three 37,000 tonne tankers - Vendome Street, Atlantic Star and Atlantic Titan - have made U-turns in the Atlantic ocean in recent days and are now heading back west," Reuters reported, citing its own tracking data.

The Vendome Street actually made it to within 800 miles of Portgual (so around 75% of the way there) before abruptly turning around. "Ship brokers said a turnaround so late in the journey would come at a cost to the charterer," Reuters notes. The problem: low prices, no storage capacity, and soft demand. Here's Reuters again:

"European diesel prices and refining margins have collapsed in recent days to six-year lows as the market has been overwhelmed by imports from huge refineries in the United States, Russia, Asia and the Middle East. At the same time, unusually mild temperatures in Europe and North America further limited demand for diesel and heating oil, ptting even more pressure on the market. Gasoil stocks, which include diesel and heating oil, in the Amsterdam-Rotterdam-Antwerp storage hub climbed to a fresh record high last week. As of now, it's "unclear if the tankers will discharge their diesel cargoes in the Gulf Coast or await new orders," but what you're seeing is a supply glut so acute that tankers are literally just sailing around with nowhere to go as there are reportedly some 250,000 tonnes of diesel anchored off Europe and the Mediterranean looking for a home. On that note, we'll close with the following quote from a trader who spoke to Reuters: 
"The idea is to keep tankers on the water as long as you can and try to find a stronger market."

The decision to strike a nuclear agreement with Iran, which has more oil reserves than all but four Opec countries, will over the coming months unleash new Iranian oil into the markets. Analysts expect Iran to pump 1m or more barrels a day as a result, so the prospect of the deal has been driving prices down in recent weeks – by about 15% – interrupting a stabilising in the price of oil since the big plunge last year. Even before the Iran news, the clash between the US and Saudi Arabian energy interests had created a volatile new force in the global economy and unprecedented challenges for the two largest producers. The Saudis need high prices to fund their nation but have lost control of the market because of the oil boom in the world’s largest economy. The United States, after years of easy growth, is grappling with painful adjustments –including tens of thousands of layoffs – with the hope of staying viable amid the price collapse... read more:
http://www.theguardian.com/business/2015/jul/21/falling-oil-prices-fracking-us-iran-saudi-arabia-opec

A glut of oil, the demise of Opec and weakening global demand combined to make 2015 the year of crashing oil prices. The cost of crude fell to levels not seen for 11 years – and the decline may have further to go. There have been four sharp increases in the price of oil in the past four decades – in 1973, 1979, 1990 and 2008 – and each has led to a global recession. By that measure, a lower oil price should be positive for the world economy, with lower fuel costs for consumers and businesses in those countries that import crude outweighing the losses to producing nations.

But the evidence since oil prices started falling from their peak of $115 a barrel in August 2014 has not supported that thesis – or not yet. Oil producers have certainly felt the impact of the lower prices on their growth rates, their trade figures and their public finances butthere has been no surge in consumer spending or business investment elsewhere.

Economists still reckon there will be a boost from a lower oil price particularly if it looks as if the lower cost of crude will be sustained. Dhaval Joshi, an economist at BCA, a London-based research company, said: “A commodity bubble has deflated three times in the past 100 years: the first was after world war one; the second was after the 1980s oil shock; the third is happening right now.” For the big producer countries, this is a major headache, the ramifications of which are only starting to be felt. Oil powers base their spending plans on an assumed crude price. The graphic below shows just how far below water their budgets are... Read more: 

Jonathan Jones - Nikolai Astrup: the lost artist of Norway

Norway’s legendary modern artist who captured his country’s fantastically eerie landscapes is about to be celebrated. And no, it isn’t Edvard MunchIt’s Nikolai Astrup – a legend in his own land, but barely known outside of it. In fact, the Dulwich Picture Gallery, in London, is putting on the first significant show of Astrup’s work outside Norway in the new year. Will it make him as famous as Munch, his contemporary?
Marsh Marigold Night, circa 1915, by Nikolai Astrup
Marsh Marigold Night, c 1915, by Nikolai Astrup. Photograph: 
Dag Fosse/Kode Art Museums of Bergen

It seems suspiciously as if the world only has room for one great Norwegian artist. 
Astrup was born in 1880 and died in 1928, while Munch was born in 1863 and died in 1944. It is impossible to avoid comparing the two, because both are expressionists who take the real world and transfigure it in blazing, lurid colours. They even have a favourite theme in common: the strange light of summer evenings, when the warmth of the far north makes everything look like a fairytale or a hyper-lucid dream.

Astrup’s paintings of people dancing wildly around midsummer bonfires have a lot in common with Munch’s Frieze of Life series. But there is one big difference: Astrup is so much brighter – not just in colour, but also in mood. Just because he is Nordic does not mean he is noir. In fact, this artist – whose style has a rough-hewn, woodcut-like quality (as, of course, do his woodcuts) – is not very “modern” at all. He is a traditional landscape artist with a veneer of expressionist distortion. His true appeal is that he captures the drama, both sublime and pastoral, of the Norwegian landscape.

The gentleness of Astrup’s vision – his love of nature and idyllic images of rural life – is surely what makes him so loved in Norway. But he is now another building block to broaden knowledge about Scandinavian art outside Scandinavia. This exhibition follows on from a fascinating show at the National Gallery last winter of the 19th-century Norwegian landscape painter Peder Balke. Astrup shows that Balke’s romanticism was very much alive in 20th-century Norway.


see more picture-prints:

Todd Woody- Huge methane leak near Los Angeles is spewing tens of thousands of pounds of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere every hour

More than two months after a Southern California natural gas leak began spewing as much as 128,000 pounds of planet-warming methane into the atmosphere every hour, the source of the rupture has been located, officials said Monday. But California regulators and Southern California Gas Company executives say it could take several more months to plug the leak, prompting some environmentalists to compare the blowout to the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

The rupture, which began Oct. 23 at the company’s huge underground natural gas storage facility 20 miles northeast of Los Angeles, has forced the evacuation of some 1,700 homes in nearby Porter Ranch. As of Dec. 22, the leak had emitted an estimated 1.6 million metric tons of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, according to a report from the California Air Resources Board. That’s equivalent to the daily emissions of 7 million cars or all the state’s oil refineries, said scientists at the Environmental Defense Fund. Methane is 80 times as potent a greenhouse gas as carbon dioxide.

Unlike the petroleum that fouled the beaches and waters of the Gulf Coast after the Deepwater Horizon spill, natural gas is invisible. But a video released by the Environmental Defense Fund for the first time graphically shows the extent of the methane pollution. A team from the environmental group Earthworks flew over the leak site on Dec. 17 in a small plane and used a specialized infrared camera to capture images of the methane plume erupting from a hill overlooking the San Fernando Valley like a gusher of black oil.

“What you can’t see is easy to ignore,” Alan Septoff, a spokesperson for Earthworks, said in a statement. “That’s why communities that suffer from pollution from oil and gas development are often dismissed by industry and regulators. Making invisible pollution visible shows the world what people in Porter Ranch have been living with every day for months.”

The leak is a setback for California’s aggressive efforts to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions and serve as a world leader in fighting climate change. But Tim O’Connor, director of the Environmental Defense Fund’s California oil and gas program, said Aliso Canyon underscores a bigger problem.

“Events of this size are rare, but major leakage across the oil and gas supply chain is not,” he said in a statement. “There are plenty of mini–Aliso Canyons that add up to a big climate problem—not just in California but across the country. Regardless of what the future holds for the Aliso Canyon storage field, this is one reason why strong rules are needed to require that oil and gas companies closely monitor for and manage methane leaks.”

http://www.takepart.com/article/2015/12/29/southern-california-methane-gas-leak-worse-deepwater-horizion?cmpid=tp-ptnr-huffpost&utm_source=huffpost&utm_medium=partner&utm_campaign=tp-traffic

Mahesh Peri - Facebook Is Not A Charity, And Nothing Is For Free

No corporate works for charity -- by intention and definition. To explain why Facebook's intentions are fraudulent, I will take the experience of Delhi's healthcare policy.

Delhi decided to provide quality healthcare to all its citizens. They started allotting free land (like spectrum) at a fraction of the cost for setting up hospitals with a pre-condition that they provide free treatment to 15% patients (like "free basics") from economically weaker sections (EWS). However, I have rarely seen inpatients belonging to this category in any top private hospital. Every bed is at a premium and they wouldn't waste it on a patient who isn't paying for it. But the official records will show 15% patients from the EWS category as having been treated. In India, most books are manufactured to suit a regulation!

An ideal situation would have been to collect 15% of the turnover of all these hospitals and use that money to insure the EWS category. That would ensure fair treatment of EWS without discrimination. Everyone becomes a similarly paying customer as money is reimbursed by the insurance company. But then, transparent policies kill corruption and no government will allow that, including AAP.

Back to Facebook. It is a NASDAQ-listed company. Mark Zuckerberg owns only 28% of the company and other investors include corporates, PEs, VCs etc. Analysts will punish FB with impunity the moment they see it swerve from the path of being a profit-making enterprise.

If FB's intentions are indeed honourable, they will use all the resources they intend to invest on free basics to give limited access to all the population, of all the internet. Referencing research done at the Oxford Internet Institute, internet activist Nikhil Pahwa says that though people prefer some internet to none, "they would rather be given the choice of deciding what they want to access, with millions of websites and apps to choose from, for say, three days, over being given unlimited access to a limited selection".

Facebook's endeavour in India is about control. This is about being the gatekeeper. This is about controlling the pipeline and what is channelled through the pipe. To dress it up as charity is a lie. To mislead us is a fraud. FB is a company and they will not be allowed to do anything for "charity" that doesn't have benefits for the company. If indeed it is charity, let them declare it in an SEC filing on NASDAQ, allocate funds for it and face Wall Street.

The government must realise that private enterprises for profit can never be the vehicles that carry the mission of Digital India. The Modi government has made a promise and they need to fulfil it without FB being the vehicle. We can easily afford to fund every data connection, if it uses less than 64KB data (with people using more than that paying for all data). Spectrum, like land, is a national resource not to be frittered away. We don't need free basics. What we need is free internet to connect India, even if it is for a very limited period of time.



Anasuya Basu: The street children who run a newspaper in India

A group of street children are busy in an unusual editorial meeting in a house in the Indian capital, Delhi.

They are bound by a shared passion to bring out Balaknama (Voice of Children), an eight-page quarterly newspaper which focuses on children living and working on the streets. It proudly calls itself the "world's unique newspaper for and by street and working children".

Eighteen-year-old Chandni, the newspaper's editor, joins the animated discussion over the content of the next edition of the paper whose circulation has gone up from 4,000 to 5,500 copies since she took over a year ago. The reporters have either been street children or have worked as child labourers in Delhi and neighbouring states. They were rescued by Chetna, an NGO that works for the rehabilitation of street children. By one estimate, more than 10 million children live on the streets and are forced into work in India.

'Cathartic'
From working as a street performer with her father to rag picking to support the family, Chandni's life has been a tale of grinding poverty. The NGO's outreach programme enthused her to join a school and also gave her a modest stipend to keep her from going back to rag picking. It also trained her as a reporter. "I am very proud of editing this paper because it's one of its kind in India. Children whose childhood have been robbed, have gone hungry, begged, been abused and forced to work write about other children who are going through similar tribulations," says Chandni. "It's not only cathartic but also gives each one of us a sense of purpose. We can only become better  from here."

She manages a bureau of 14 reporters who cover Delhi and neighbouring states of Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh. Most reporters narrate their copies to colleagues in the Delhi office on the phone because they often have no access to e-mail or fax. Chandni conducts two editorial meets every month to keep a sharp eye on the content. The broadsheet is priced at two rupees (30 cents) and is financed and published by Chetna. But it has been struggling to find advertisers and has not received any funding from the government.

Limited resources
Shanno, 19, is a fifth-grade school dropout. Working long hours and putting up with a "drunk father" was Shanno's life story. Today she is studying for a degree in social work and hopes to have a career as a social activist. She also trains other reporters at the newspaper. "We did a sample survey of street and working children in Delhi in November and managed to track down 1,320 children living on the streets and working as labourers," she says. "We wanted to tell the police and the government that a proper count of street children was possible. If we can do it with limited resources, so can they when they have all the manpower and resources available to them."

"There's been talk of a survey of street children to be conducted by the Delhi government and also the police but nothing has come of it so far," she adds. Shambhu, who also works at the newspaper, says he faced a lot of opposition and endured threats while doing the survey. "We had to face a lot of opposition and even threats when we went to talk to children working in restaurants and hotels because their employers were belligerent. But we firmly told them that we will call the child helpline number if they did not allow us talk to the children," he says.

Reaching out to children stuck in private homes, restaurants and factories gave a sense of purpose to 15-year-old Chandni (junior). She echoes the pain and horror of many nameless children in the stories that she files for the paper. Chandni (junior) is slated to take over as the next editor of the newspaper. "I want to increase the reach of our newspaper and make it a profit making venture. It's the voice of all of us who have survived hardships on the streets, in other people's homes and sweat shops and can now speak for many others who continue to struggle. Their silence must be heard," she says.
http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-india-35118791?

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Julia Kristava: Interpreting radical evil

The war against radical evil requires us to take Nietzsche's project seriously: « Ask a big question rather than deliver a grand statement: » This means: instead of focusing on God, look to ideals, and their absence in order to make them known and reassessed

NB: As a reminder that love can persist in the midst of evil, here is a forgotten piece of history: The Christmas truce, 1914 - Steven Johns

The adolescent is a believer
The child king that lies dormant inside of all of us, according to Freud in his Three Essays on the Theory of Sexuality (1905), would be a "laboratory scientist”:  all his senses awakened, he seeks to discover where babies come from. This insatiable curiosity is so attractive that it overshadows adolescent characteristics: precisely because there is no adolescent without the need to believe.

The adolescent is not a researcher in a laboratory, he is a believer. We all are adolescents when we are passionate about the absolute. Freud was not concerned with adolescence because he was, himself, the greatest non-believer, the most irreligious person that has ever existed. Within the meaning of faith, believing implies a passion for object relations: faith desires everything, it is potentially fundamentalist, as is the adolescent. Adam and Eve, Romeo and Juliet are the coat of arms of adolescence; we are all adolescents when we are in love.

However, since our impulses and desires are ambivalent and sadomasochistic, this belief that the Ideal Object exists is continuously threatened, if not frustrated and circumvented. So the passion in search of an object reverses into punishment and self-punishment. The trajectory of this reversal during adolescence is: disappointment-depression-suicide; when it does not take a more regressive and somatic form i.e. the anorexia; or, in a certain political context: the destructive thrust of self-with-the-other, which I call the kamikaze syndrome. Because the adolescent believes in the relation with the object, he experiences the impossibility of this relation as dreadful.

Transference meets the need to believe
Sharing the idealism syndrome specific to the adolescent, the psychoanalyst has a chance to lift resistance and to bring the adolescent to an analytical process where adolescence shows itself as restive. The need for religion, relayed throughout the Twentieth century by ideological enthusiasm, proposed and still proposes to authenticate the idealism syndrome: initiation rites, fasts and mortifications. It was also authenticated in the arts: ever since its origins in the Renaissance, the novel has chronicled initiatory adventures of adolescent characters.

Of course, adolescent discontent worries modern society:  we create "adolescent centers"; we developed adolescent psychiatry following the child psychiatry model. But secular morality seems unprepared to face the "return of religion", whether in the form of -"spiritual crafts" that one manufactures, according to his times and his tastes, by borrowing, via Internet, religious fragments, here and there; or in - bastardized forms (sects); or,  even more seriously, in the form of - fundamentalism (encouraging a great explosion of the death drive in the name of Ideal).

The Radicalized make their way back to Paris
The onslaught of jihadist horror in Paris suddenly shows us that, in the future, the religious treatment of the need to believe is itself discredited, because it does not fulfill the aspiration of this paradoxical believer to achieve paradise. This nihilistic believer, necessarily nihilistic because pathetically idealist, is the disintegrated adolescent, dissocialized in the ruthless global migration.

Gangster-type radicalized fundamentalism demonstrates a radical phase of nihilism, perhaps more radical than ever, looming below the "clash of religions". This phase captures in depth the springs of civilizations, highlighting the destruction of the pre-religious "need to believe", this universal constituent of psychic life with and for the other, which is present in adolescence as the idealism disorder.

Psychoanalysis concerns itself with this profound disorganization of the person – leading to desubjectivation (« "I" does not exist », which can be understood as « nothing but a desintricated drive ready for anything ») and the disorganization of the link to the other – to the point of deobjectalization (« the other has no meaning or value »), where only the death drive, the malice of evil, triumphs.

Radical evil
What is radical evil that Kant and Arendt once denounced? It is the declaration- and the realization—of the superfluity of human beings: their mechanical destructiveness.

Is radical evil without reason? In some ways, this is the claim of mysticism and literature. The political pact cannot stop there. With psychoanalytic experience, I am not satisfied only to rebel. In order to refine the transference-countertransference interpretation, I am looking for the extreme evil logic. We discover that following the family's failure and social disintegration, some people, especially adolescents, succumb to the idealism disorder: they literally explode, unable to distinguish between right and wrong, inside and outside, subject and object. Between the two impulses within us, that of life and that of death, it is the death drive that resolves psychic life and reduces it to blind destructiveness: in fine self-destruction, accompanied by a senseless pleasure, or inside the vacuum of apathy.

From this diagnosis grows the audacity of psychoanalytic accompaniment that wants to be more than a "comprehensive moralism". The accompaniment of adolescents experiencing radicalization places the analyst at the unsustainable junction where this disubjectivation/ deobjectalisation is exercised and threatens, but also may initiate a restructuring. That is our challenge, following the discovery of the death drive and the malignant potential of the psychic apparatus which is revealed in the idealism disorders, abolishing the need to believe and the desire to know, so that the human being, unable to invest and to establish links, deprived of "self" and devoid of the sense of the other, wanders in a "world" that is lacking, in a non-world, with no "good" or  "evil "nor any" value ".

Is it possible to push analytical listening to the borders of human nature, and still practice psychoanalysis in these conditions?

Reassessing "our values"
The Republic is facing a historic challenge: is it capable of facing this crisis of the need to believe and desire to know that the cover of religion no longer retains, and which touches the foundation of the link between humans? The anxiety that freezes the country in this time of carnage, against the backdrop of economic and social crisis, expresses our uncertainty in the face of this colossal challenge. Are we able to mobilize all means, police and economies, without forgetting those obtained by the knowledge of psyche? 

Are we able to address this poignant idealism disorder that is sweeping over us with the atrocity of the radicalized, with the delicacy of necessary listening, with the appropriate education and with the necessary generosity? Thus interpreted, the barbarism of the jihadists in the grip of the malignancy of evil, calls into question the "values" of secularism and challenges the capacity of psychoanalysis to grapple with the new discomforts of globalization.

The war against radical evil requires us to take Nietzsche's project seriously: « Ask a big question rather than deliver a grand statement: » This means: instead of focusing on God, look to ideals, and their absence in order to make them known and reassessed, problematized, endlessly rethought. To interpret horror, support those who are tempted by radical evil, rather than focusing on the deadly acts and severity that the killers deserve. In order not to bow-down before evil, or extreme evil, we must patiently continue researching, certainly not from some unknown utopian and safe balance, but from this fragile point which Pascal defines as "perpetual motion."  He wrote: « He who found the secret to rejoicing in  goodness without getting angry at evil, would have found the point. It is perpetual motion. » And what if the vision we lack today is precisely the "point", this "perpetual motion", towards the "secret of rejoicing goodness without getting angry at evil”? ... This is the particular inner experience that barbarians ignore, but which transference enables us to mobilise.

Julia Kristeva

(article courtesy the website of The International Psychoanalytical Association)

see also



Liu Qin - China fails to regulate antibiotic pollution

International bodies have recently called for antibiotic manufacturers to make their supply chains public, and for antibiotics manufacturers to face the same scrutiny as other polluting industries.

While experts from the Chinese Academy of Science told chinadialogue that new rules on antibiotic pollution are unlikely to be passed in the near future, trials that monitor antibiotic levels in regions where the problem is acute are possible.

Worldwide, there is currently a growing crisis of resistance to antibiotics. According to the World Health Organisation, antimicrobial resistance or AMR as it is known, poses an “increasingly serious threat to global public health”, affecting everyone, regardless of age or nationality. The WHO has called for immediate action – and they are not alone.

Sascha Marschang, a policy coordinator at the European Public Health Association, a healthcare non-profit organisation, said: “The EU must take responsibility and work to find effective solutions in policy and international law to this exceedingly frightening, global menace. Otherwise, we are facing a truly catastrophic scenario and a return to the dark ages of medicine where simple operations and infections are again life-threatening.”

Growing resistance: In 2012, there was a gradual increase in resistance to HIV drugs, albeit not reaching critical levels, reported the WHO. In 2013, approximately 480,000 new cases of multidrug-resistant tuberculosis were detected, while extensively drug-resistant tuberculosis was been identified in 100 countries. Since then, further increases in resistance to first-line treatment drugs have been registered.

China is the world’s biggest maker and exporter of antibiotics. In response, international bodies have called on China to better manage this sector, and for the international community to more better regulate antibiotic makers.

During the first World Antibiotic Awareness Week in November, the European Public Health Association and corporate watchdog SumOfUs, held a joint event in Brussels calling for international policy-makers to introduce new legislation and force antibiotic manufacturers to make their supply chains public. The overall aim was to reduce the volume of antibiotics released into the environment in waste water from manufacturing, which is worsening the resistance crisis.

Resistance to antibiotics is on the rise for three reasons: incorrect use by humans, misuse in intensive agriculture, and through pollution resulting from manufacturing. Chinese experts from a leading science academy told chinadialogue that the first two of these three issues should be the focus of efforts to tackle antibiotic resistance.

International groups say that this is already happening in the first two cases. However, efforts to address antibiotic pollution remain negligible.

A recent report from SumOfUs reccomended that environmental standards should be applied to existing production methods, such as the Good Manufacturing Practice Framework rules. “This is a critical, yet still missing, part of the puzzle in the global strategy to combat AMR,” it said.

New tech: In order to reform, the report suggested that antibiotic makers should adopt cleaner technology, such as using biological manufacturing methods rather than chemical synthesis, to reduce energy use and pollution; and eliminate toxic materials and other pollutants from the manufacturing process. Second, companies should adopt strict environmental standards for the disposal, transportation, storage, reuse and management of solid waste and waste water and gases.

It is also recommended that the government monitors antibiotic levels in surface water and in soil in manufacturing areas; and bolster research into the impact of antibiotics om the environment and on human resistance.

Developing nations have fewer environmental sanctions for businesses, and so have become home to polluting pharmaceutical firms. This means that they are particularly at risk. China makes 90% of the world’s ingredients for antibiotic manufacturing, a process that produces pollution. Despite being the world’s biggest maker of antibiotics, China has no environmental standards for regulating antibiotic pollution.

Hebei province in northern China is a centre for antibiotics manufacturing, producing 30% of the country’s antibiotic exports. One environmental group told chinadialogue that while driving through Shijiazhuang Luancheng Industrial Zone in October, they encountered a powerful medicinal smell, even though the car windows were closed. However, the residents said that thanks to efforts to combat smog, high-level officials had visited the site and pollution had improved.

Noxious fumes: In late 2014, China Central Television, a state media outlet, reported on antibiotic manufacturers faking data and dumping untreated effluent in rivers. It also reported complaints of noxious fumes and high incidences of cancer from residents who live near pharmaceutical factories.

The programme reported that Shandong Lukang Pharmaceuticals had excessive levels of antibiotics waste water. An environmental protection employee with the company told CCTV that waste water was treated to remove antibiotics, but the investigation found otherwise. The pollution map maintained by the Institute of Public and Environmental Affairs lists almost 3,000 incidences of pollution by pharmaceutical manufacturers, including those making antibiotics.

However, the IPE has not examined antibiotic pollution, specifically. “Antibiotics are not [considered] pollution,” said Ma Jun, director of the IPE. While resistance is recognised as a problem, it is unknown whether or not these chemicals cause direct harm to public health or to the environment.

Ying Guangguo, a researcher with the Chinese Academy of Science disagrees. He believes antibiotics in the environment are a form of harmful pollution, just one that is not yet taken seriously by officials. Ying has spent 10 years compiling a map of antibiotic pollution in China. He claims this form of pollution comes mainly from livestock rearing, rather than manufacturing.

The CAS study tested for 36 common antibiotics. Up to 538,000 tonnes of these are released into the environment every year, 46% into water and 54% into the soil. The problem is worse in the Hai and Pearl watersheds, where levels reach an average of 79.3 kg per square kilometre. Annual discharges of antibiotics are highest in Dongting Lake, at 3,440 tonnes. They are very high in the Yellow, Huai and Yangtze rivers, all of which see discharges of over 3,000 tonnes. The problem is less acute in the Bei River and Pearl River Delta.

Monitoring procedures: CCTV’s report last year said that antibiotics had been found in the domestic water supply in Nanjing city and Anhui province. This worried locals, who wanted to know why levels of antibiotics aren’t included in China’s standards for the domestic water supply. Also, the current Standards for Environmental Quality of Surface Water includes 109 items for monitoring, but nothing about antibiotics.

Ying told chinadialogue that there’s no need to monitor the domestic water supply for antibiotics, as levels are too low. However, he said monitoring of surface water for antibiotics could be considered.

But Zhang Gan, deputy head of the CAS Guangzhou Institute of Geochemistry, said: “Given China’s current circumstances, it’s absolutely impossible to monitor antibiotics in surface water.” He explained that better oversight is welcome, but it is currently unrealistic as the cost of equipment and staff would be too high, and no other country in the world does this. Furthermore, the actual amounts of antibiotics in the environment are tiny, he said: “It’s more important to look at wider targets. If existing standards are properly enforced, antibiotic pollution will fall as well.”

Gan did say that trials of antibiotic monitoring could be started at sources of pollution, such as manufacturers and livestock farms, but that only big cities such as Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou had the resources to carry out such strict monitoring at this time. But as China’s cities grower richer, so too will their capacity to regulate the chemical antibiotics in their ecosystems.
This article was first published by chinadialogue.net




Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Patrick Kingsley - Lesbos is swept by wave of compassion as refugees continue to arrive by sea // 'Love has no religion': priests and pastors reach out to refugees

On Tuesday, the number of asylum seekers to reach Europe this year passed 1 million. Nearly half of them did so via the beaches of this Greek island

As an institution, the Greek Orthodox church is often considered a bastion of nationalism and conservatism. Some of its priests have even suggested Muslim migrants pose a danger to Greece. But other churchmen have taken the same view as Dimou, who died of lung cancer on 2 September this year, and have become actively involved in efforts to help refugees and migrants... “Just recently three women arrived at the village – two of them were pregnant. All three had lost contact with their husbands and their children. We took action and reunited the families,” he said. “It was then that one of the husbands stood in front of me and kissed me. Love has no religion. Saint Paul writes in the Epistle to the Corinthians: ‘If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal’.” (scroll down to 'Love has no religion')

Ummah does not mean the global community of Muslims; it means the global community of the compassionate, religion and race no bar - Ziauddin Sardar


We shouldn't get used to seeing photos of children dead at sea

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In the hills high above the north coast of Lesbos, an incongruous mass of orange surges for hundreds of metres across a craggy plateau. It could be the crater of a seething volcano. But this is not lava. On Tuesday, the number of asylum seekers to reach Europe this year passed 1 million. Nearly half of them did so via the beaches of this Greek island – and the eerie hilltop is where the residents of Lesbos have piled hundreds of thousands of their discarded orange lifejackets. Elsewhere, the islanders are building a second graveyard to house the bodies of the drowned. This silent swath of orange – 3.7 metres (1 ft) tall in places, and rolling like the sea – is just as apt a tombstone for the scale and tragedy of the European refugee crisis.
Emilia Kavisi, who has helped the volunteers since the start of the crisis
 Emilia Kavisi, who has helped the volunteers since the start of the crisis. 
Photograph: Sean Smith for the Guardian

Here in the north of Lesbos, where villagers with a telescope can see the refugees embarking from the Turkish shores in the distance, people nevertheless need no monument to be reminded of the human cost. “We are so close to Turkey,” says 83-year-old Emilia Kavisi, a former olive-picker whose house sits metres from the sea. “We can hear the noises and the screams at night.”

It is a vantage point that leaves islanders like Kavisi with strong views about Europe’s failure to provide safe passage to people who are coming – whether the continent wants them or not. “It’s inhumanity,” she says. “Cruelty.”

With a few exceptions, the residents of Lesbos have offered far warmer a welcome than the governments of the EU. Kavisi has become a symbol of the local response, after being photographed in October cuddling a refugee’s baby on the beach, and singing it to sleep. The picture became famous across Greece – but she did not do it for the fame, Kavisi says. She did it because her parents were once in the same situation. Like many on the island, they too once fled here from Turkey – when the Greeks were expelled in 1922.

“My father took only a pair of shoes with him, and this sewing machine,” she says, pointing at a contraption still sitting on her window ledge. “That’s why I felt so passionately about helping. I remembered these memories of my family.”

Kavisi’s generosity is part of a wider wave of compassion that has swept across the north coast in the second half of the year. Back in June, the inflatable refugee boats were usually met by a handful of local activists, if they were met at all. The people who disembarked then had to walk 40 miles to the registration centres in the south of the island. Six months on, the situation is much improved. 

A kind of activist international has descended on this isolated coast, and together with the Greek community they have created a largely self-run humanitarian operation. Volunteers have divided the coastline into four zones of responsibility, with different charities – some of which have been created for this specific purpose – in charge of receiving the boats that land within their respective jurisdictions. They include doctors from France, activists from Wisconsin, and lifeguards from Spain. Next to a sea in which more than 700 have drowned so far this year, this is hailed as a significant development.

“It is incredible,” says Eric Kempson, a British woodcarver and local resident, whose family was once one of the only reception parties. “We started in February and had three months on our own,” he says. “Then in June we got our first volunteers. Now we have watchtowers along the coastlines. We know when the boats leave – we have a whatsapp group so that everyone knows where the boats are. And we have RIBs [rigid-hulled inflatable boats] to meet the boats and bring them into beaches, where we have medical teams and food teams ready there and waiting.”

From there, the migrants are driven to the EU’s registration centres in the island’s south – and it is here that matters become more desperate. Syrians are given priority, leaving refugees of other nationalities sleeping outside in the cold, sometimes for several days. Moroccans, deemed to all be fleeing poverty rather than danger, are now not registered at all – leading them to mount an ongoing protest. Afghans escaping the likes of the Taliban are allowed to register, but often only after a week in the chill conditions – prompting some to lie about their nationality. “I am Syrian,” claims a new Afghan arrival who speaks no Arabic.

But still they come. The weather is worsening, the deaths are increasing, and so too are the arrests of smugglers and refugees on the Turkish side. Yet almost 71,000 people have still braved the crossing to the Greek islands so far in December – 35 times more than in same month last year, and double the 2014 total. On Tuesday, at least a dozen boats chug ashore on the beaches of Lesbos, each carrying around 40 shivering human beings. Some of them are on crutches, many of them carry babies. All of them hope for a welcome that befits the season of the nativity, the inspiration for which was himself – some priests are pointing out – once a needy migrant from the Middle East.

“I am happy to be here at Christmas, and to share in it,” says Nemer, a 24-year-old Syrian business student, in the moments after setting foot in Europe for the first time. “I am a Muslim, but I’m coming in hope – coming to behave as I’m supposed to in the countries that I’m arriving in.” Shortly afterwards, Nemer lays down his lifejacket – another candidate for the strange orange plateau in the hills high above him.


Kostas Koukoumakas  'Love has no religion': priests and pastors reach out to refugees
he puttering sound of a small engine was carried over the calm sea to a beach on the Greek island of Lesbos. Soon an inflatable boat carrying some 20 people came into view. Within an hour, two more vessels had landed on the beach. Most of those on board were from Syria, Afghanistan and various African nations – just a few of the hundreds of thousands of people who have made the short crossing from the Turkish coast in search of safety and prosperity in western Europe this year. About 25km away in the village of Kerami Kallonis, a 57-year-old Greek Orthodox priest named Stratis Dimou, a tall man with sparkling blue eyes, received a phone call telling him about the new arrivals.

Father Stratis Dimou, a Greek Orthodox priest on the island of Lesbos, at the charity he founded to help refugees and migrants.
 Father Stratis Dimou, a Greek Orthodox priest on the island of Lesbos, at the 
charity he founded to help refugees and migrants. Photograph: Kostas Koukoumakas

Dimou immediately left his home for the small building that houses “Agkalia” (“Hug” in Greek), the charity he founded in 2009 to help refugees and migrants. He prepared sandwiches and set out bottles of water for the latest arrivals, who would reach the village by noon on foot. As they entered the country illegally, Greek law forbids people from transporting them.

Dimou, wearing an oxygen mask to counter breathing difficulties, said the charity had given away more than 60 tonnes of food donated by local people and helped more than 10,000 migrants and refugees. “Just recently three women arrived at the village – two of them were pregnant. All three had lost contact with their husbands and their children. We took action and reunited the families,” he said. “It was then that one of the husbands stood in front of me and kissed me. Love has no religion. Saint Paul writes in the Epistle to the Corinthians: ‘If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal’.”

As an institution, the Greek Orthodox church is often considered a bastion of nationalism and conservatism. Some of its priests have even suggested Muslim migrants pose a danger to Greece. But other churchmen have taken the same view as Dimou, who died of lung cancer on 2 September this year, and have become actively involved in efforts to help refugees and migrants.

The monk and the refugee
Father Chrysostomus Hatzinikolaou, a 41-year-old monk who lives in a monastic community on Mount Athos in northern Greece, has formed an unlikely friendship with Amint Fadoul, a Syrian lawyer who protested against President Bashar al-Assad and fled to Turkey in 2013. The two met when Hatzinikolaou was visiting the Agia Triada (Holy Trinity) monastery on Heybeliada, a small island off Istanbul, at the beginning of 2014. Later in the year, Fadoul found he could not renew a visa to stay in Turkey and decided to pay a trafficker €1,250 to get him into Europe.

As Christmas approached in December 2014, he boarded an inflatable boat near Kusadasi on the Turkish coast along with 36 other people from Syria, Iraq and Cameroon and began a dangerous journey to the Greek island of Samos. At one point, Fadoul looked at the map on his mobile phone and realised the boat was too far away to reach land with the fuel it had on board. “I believed that we would drown,” Fadoul, 29, recalled this year in a cafe in the northern Greek city of Thessaloniki. At 2.45am on Christmas morning, he sent a text to Hatzinikolaou asking for help. The monk was in his home village in northern Greece. He called a contact on Samos, who told him there was no way to mobilise a helicopter or rescue boat. “I couldn’t do anything but pray,” Hatzinikolaou said.

After the boat hit rocks, Fadoul fell into the water. “I swam with all my strength and finally I set foot on the shore. It was a miracle,” Fadoul said. Hatzinikolaou has now been able to help Fadoul in a more material sense. The lawyer has found shelter in a house owned by the monk. Hatzinikolaou and Fadoul are both Orthodox Christians. But Hatzinikolaou says he would have helped Fadoul even they did not share the same faith. “Saint Paul mentions in his Epistle to the Galatians: ‘There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female’,” he said.

‘We start to fear them’
It may seem obvious that if Christian priests followed Jesus’ exhortation to “Love thy neighbour as thyself”, they would help refugees. But in Greece, this is not always the case. Metropolitan Anthimos of Thessaloniki, one of the highest-profile priests, has often spoken out against people coming to Greece in his sermons.

Anthimos claims Muslim refugees pose a threat to Greeks’ religious beliefs. “Not even in the Middle Ages would one witness what jihadists are doing these days. When we are told that there are extremists among the immigrants, then we start to fear them,” he said, during an interview in his office.

Reminded that holy scripture teaches love towards foreigners, Anthimos responded: “Exactly! To love them, not to be the victims along with them. In theparable of the Good Samaritan, the one that treated the wounded foreigner took care of his wounds, carried him to an inn and even paid his bill. But he didn’t let him into his home.”

Anthimos is not the only senior churchman to voice such views. The rhetoric of Metropolitan Seraphim of Piraeus is both xenophobic and racist, say critics. In May 2015, he distributed a circular to all churches in Piraeus condemning anti-racism legislation introduced by the Greek government and a decision to build a mosque in Athens.

Niki Papageorgiou, an associate theology professor at the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, said xenophobic attitudes had no basis in Orthodox theology, which values tolerance. But, she said, the Greek Orthodox church often sees itself as a guardian of Greek traditions and language. “Some Orthodox priests, and also people close to the church, think that the Greek nation and the Orthodox religion are one and the same. This is the main reason the church is a conservative institution and the people within it are usually conservatives who fear opening up,” she said.

The Greek Orthodox church as an institution has few specific projects to support refugees and migrants. But Haris Konidaris, spokesman for the archdiocese of Athens, the central office of the church, notes that such people are among the thousands who receive assistance daily from soup kitchens organised by parishes throughout Greece.

Also, in June this year, the church-funded charity Apostoli, together with an international network of Orthodox Christian charities, renovated a centre for people arriving on the island of Chios. One long-term church initiative to help refugees is a shelter for children who arrive in Greece without an accompanying adult. It is run by Apostoli in the Agios Dimitrios neighbourhood of Athens. Since the shelter opened in 2011, it has given refuge to 168 minors.

The western Balkan route traversed by many refugees and migrants goes through Greece, Macedonia and Serbia. At the other end of the route from Lesbos, where Dimou helped the new arrivals, a cleric from a different Christian church has taken on a similar mission.

Tibor Varga is a protestant pastor in the Serbian city of Subotica, near the border with Hungary. He regularly visits an abandoned brick factory outside the city, where people camp out before attempting to cross the border and enter the EU’s borderless Schengen zone. “I come to the factory two, three times per week, even daily if needed. I want to talk to the refugees and listen to their stories. I offer them food, clothes, blankets, all thanks to donations,” Varga, dressed in sports clothing and a baseball cap, said at the factory.

“My initiative is not organised, nor is it a part of a wider plan from the state authorities,” he said. Volunteers from the international medical charity Médecins Sans Frontières also visit the site. Questioned about whether Orthodox priests in the area were helping refugees in the same way, Varga suggested talking to them. But other clerics declined to speak. Some said they needed permission from their bishop.

After a short pause, Varga went on: “Jesus has said: ‘If your enemy is hungry, feed him – if he is thirsty, give him something to drink.’ So, even if I regarded these people as enemies, it would be my duty to help them.” Asked if he could be photographed in his church in the city centre, Varga gestured to the old factory and people washing themselves with water from a well. “This is my church,” he said.

Kostas Koukoumakas is a freelance journalist based in Thessaloniki, northern Greece. This article was produced as part of the Balkan Fellowship for Journalistic Excellence, supported by the ERSTE Foundation and Open Society Foundations, in cooperation with the Balkan Investigative Reporting Network.

see also
We shouldn't get used to seeing photos of  children dead at sea
Is it human, or "normal" to see innocent children dying at sea as they try to escape war and certain death? No, at least not for me. This is an ongoing tragedy; one we are unfortunately getting used to.

Take a look at the websites of several of the most important national newspapers and browse their homepages. You'll find mountains of words written on current affairs, but not much on this tragedy.