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Sunday, 25 February

00:01

The Shape of Water **** "IndyWatch Feed Politics.eu"

The Shape of WaterMonsters have never been my thing, whether in books or in films, so I approached Guillermo del Toros latest movie, The Shape of Water, with a degree of scepticism. Not only does the monster actually a scaly, aquatic creature with a distinctly handsome, human face not speak, but neither does the mute (but not deaf) young Hispanic cleaner, Elisa, who falls in love with him. She works in a secret US installation that is up to its eyes in Cold War scheming against the Soviets, the Americans annoyed at being beaten by the Russians in the race into space. Its 1962 and both misogyny and racial prejudice rule among the alpha white males of the installation, not least the man who is tormenting the poor captured creature, brought in from the Amazon where indigenous peoples had revered him as a river god. At this point the film morphs into a fairy tale, full of mystery and not a little humour, punctuated by outbursts of sudden violence. The period atmosphere is beautifully recreated, from the glorious Cadillacs in a car showroom to the tacky advertisements in magazines and on television. At times the narrative heads off into pure fantasy, allowing the director to indulge in some agreeable referencing of multiple film genres, from b...

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Saturday, 24 February

16:09

Watch it here! Mainstream media refuses airtime to Corbyns anti-press rant (RANT INCLUDED) "IndyWatch Feed Politics.eu"

I really dont believe the media can do any more to harm Jeremy Corbyn. I feel their actions will only serve to drive more folk away from mainstream media. Im sure theyre aware of this. So why do they continue with a policy thats all but failed? Well doing nothing would surely result in more voters deserting the Tory Party

11:32

Who owns Britain? "IndyWatch Feed Politics.eu"

Most countries have polices that restrict foreign ownership. But in Britain, governments have actively encouraged it and the costs are now becoming clear. 

The question of public or private ownership has been given a new prominence by recent commitments by the Labour Party to renationalise water, the railways and energy if  they are re-elected. To do so raises issues that have scarcely been discussed since the massive privatisations of public assets undertaken by Mrs Thatcher and subsequent Tory governments since the 1980s. These policies were based largely on the writings of Friedrich Hayek who, in The Road to Serfdom, argued for a minimalist role for the state in economic activity. This has been the mantra of Tory governments ever since aided and abetted by Labour when in office under Blair and Brown. Most countries have polices that restrict foreign ownership on the grounds that there are strategic sectors that need to be kept in domestic ownership. For example, the US refused to allow the Chinese to take over one of their key ports and a small oil company, and has restrictions on foreign ownership of airlines and TV stations as well. This is supposedly the country that is most enthusiastic about free trade and deregulation. Similarly, Germany has passed legislation that protects key areas of technology from takeovers by foreigner firms. This is again aimed at the Chinese who see company acquisitions as a way of acquiring  advanced technologies and market opportunities. In the UK, not only public utilities but also a significant share of manufacturing is in the hands of foreign companies most obviously in cars where there is no locally owned producer of any scale. The market for domestic and overseas vehicle sales is dominated by Japanese companies. Alex Brummer in Britain for Sale: British Companies in Foreign Hands estimated that no less than half of British companies had been sold to foreigners uniquely among other countries. The UK witnessed the sale of its premier chemical company, ICI, to Holland without a murmur. After Cadburys was sold off to Kraft, its capacity was closed and production moved elsewhere despite original promises by the new owners that it would continue local production and employment. ARM Holdings, one the key British companies for research and innovation in electronics, was sold off in 2017 for 24bn to the Japanese company Softbank. The clear aim of the Japanese purchase was to get access to the intellectual property of ARM which is a leading player in mobile technology. One might have thought that the lessons of an earlier privatisation in 2001 of defence technology contractor Qinetiq, a former British Government agency, would have been learned. A third of the shares in Qinet...

Who owns Britain? "IndyWatch Feed Politics.eu"

Most countries have polices that restrict foreign ownership. But in Britain, governments have actively encouraged it and the costs are now becoming clear. 

The question of public or private ownership has been given a new prominence by recent commitments by the Labour Party to renationalise water, the railways and energy if  they are re-elected. To do so raises issues that have scarcely been discussed since the massive privatisations of public assets undertaken by Mrs Thatcher and subsequent Tory governments since the 1980s. These policies were based largely on the writings of Friedrich Hayek who, in The Road to Serfdom, argued for a minimalist role for the state in economic activity. This has been the mantra of Tory governments ever since aided and abetted by Labour when in office under Blair and Brown. Most countries have polices that restrict foreign ownership on the grounds that there are strategic sectors that need to be kept in domestic ownership. For example, the US refused to allow the Chinese to take over one of their key ports and a small oil company, and has restrictions on foreign ownership of airlines and TV stations as well. This is supposedly the country that is most enthusiastic about free trade and deregulation. Similarly, Germany has passed legislation that protects key areas of technology from takeovers by foreigner firms. This is again aimed at the Chinese who see company acquisitions as a way of acquiring  advanced technologies and market opportunities. In the UK, not only public utilities but also a significant share of manufacturing is in the hands of foreign companies most obviously in cars where there is no locally owned producer of any scale. The market for domestic and overseas vehicle sales is dominated by Japanese companies. Alex Brummer in Britain for Sale: British Companies in Foreign Hands estimated that no less than half of British companies had been sold to foreigners uniquely among other countries. The UK witnessed the sale of its premier chemical company, ICI, to Holland without a murmur. After Cadburys was sold off to Kraft, its capacity was closed and production moved elsewhere despite original promises by the new owners that it would continue local production and employment. ARM Holdings, one the key British companies for research and innovation in electronics, was sold off in 2017 for 24bn to the Japanese company Softbank. The clear aim of the Japanese purchase was to get access to the intellectual property of ARM which is a leading player in mobile technology. One might have thought that the lessons of an earlier privatisation in 2001 of defence technology contractor Qinetiq, a former British Government agency, would have been learned. A third of the shares in Qinet...

10:23

Picks of the Week First Communions, Protestant Gaels, Squaddies and Stuckness "IndyWatch Feed Politics.eu"

Theres a lot of highfalutin political goings on at the moment. But what are the ordinary humans talking about? Here are some media magpie treasures from the last week

RT Documentary on One rebroadcast the gorgeous 2014 doc, Maireads First Communion. It follows two culturally Catholic, but non-religious, parents experience of their daughters First Communion. They didnt like the idea of her doing it, but 8 year old Mairead really wanted to, so they let her. Theres so much to learn here about the roles Catholicism still plays in community life, even for people whose personal beliefs have detached definitively from Church teachings.

In Cottage Rescue, the BBCs The Untold tells the story of a family in Magilligan, on Lough Foyle, who are trying to save their traditional thatched cottage. Its been in their family for over 300 years, but has become unliveable after the roof beams caved in. Heritage grants should be available. But guess what? Stormont has stalled and everything is delayed

On a similar note, in Fly By Those Nets, Malachy Clarke writes about suicide in the starkly titled People are Dying, You Bigoted F**ks. Frustrated about our stasis, he highlights the mental health crisis in the north, and the lack of action being taken. Malachy lays a lot of blame at the DUPs door for this, for not accepting a deal. I dont think its so straightforward, particularly in the light of wider Tory cuts (which is another charge altogether). But the important thing is how well this article captures the anger of the under 30s (40s?) here. Have a poke around the website and youll see what I mean.

Richard Irvine writes beautifully in the Irish Examiner, We Protestants Fear Gaelic and We Were Raised to Mock it. Thanks to Robin for posting a link on here earlier this week. From growing up in Ahogill to studying at QUB, Richard talks about how encountering the Irish language always felt like an affront. We saw no language, just republicanism and we have always opposed that. He says Irish felt incomprehensible [] the sinister [] the secret.

...

08:51

Oops! Telegraph forgets to mention spy boss criticising Corbyn was responsible for dodgy Iraq War dossier heavily criticised by Corbyn "IndyWatch Feed Politics.eu"

The latest silly attempt by right-wing media barons to discredit Jeremy Corbyn as a Cold War spy, comes from the ever more ridiculous Telegraphs Gordon Rayner.

Rayner has persuaded former MI6 boss Sir Richard Dearlove (no, I assure you thats NOT a made-up name taken from a 1970s James Bond film) as the latest establishment figure to try to persuade the country that electing Corbyn as PM would be tantamount to electing Blofeld to Number 10:

The only problem is, in his bizarre article Rayner forgets to mention that Dearlove is now an oil executive in a company with offshore funds under threat from a Corbyn government, an adviser to a neo-liberal...

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Friday, 23 February

19:44

And man created the nation in his own image "IndyWatch Feed Politics.eu"

When we say we belong to a particular ethnicity or nationality, we are implicitly saying that we share traits in common with the other members of this group. Or are we saying that the other members of this group share traits in common with us? There is a subtle but important distinction.

In the popular imagination, the formation of an ethnic or national identity is an objective process whereby the members of the group find commonalities amongst themselves and thereby come to regard each other as kinsmen. But people are rarely objective. Our views of ourselves do not necessarily match those others have of us, and our views of them will not always match their self-image.

This is particularly problematic when disparate groups come (or are forced) together to form a larger grouping. Group A may see themselves as kinsmen of group B, but the feeling may not be reciprocated. This is because even though As self-image may correspond to their image of B, Bs self-image may not correspond to their image of A. This error can come about in two ways either one does not fully understand ones own identity and fills in the blanks from an outside source (so-called false consciousness), or one does not fully understand the identity of others and projects ones own identity onto them. This can be illustrated by considering the relationships between the English, the Scots, and Irish unionists and nationalists (being aware of course that these terms are woefully inadequate).

Many people consider the English and the Scots as kinsmen in a British nation. But if you ask a sample of Englishmen and a sample of Scotsmen to define Britishness you will get a wide range of answers. John Majors famous response to this question long shadows on cricket grounds and warm beer would strike most outside observers as a description of Englishness rather than Britishness. In this case an Englishman has projected an English identity onto Britain as a whole. The Scots and the Welsh are less likely to make this error, having a heightened awareness of their relative size and status.

Unionists are often accused of a similar offence, although this time as a minority projecting their own identity onto a much larger group. It has been remarked that the Ulster-Unionist vision of Britishness is not the same one that the English or Scots see, Orangeism being one notable divergence. In addition, many unionists self-identify solely as British, without even any regional qualification. This has led to accusations of false consciousness, of adopting anothers identity to replace their own.

But this is a misunderstanding one only has to watch an international football match to understand that unionists are viscerally aware of the distinction between their own identity......

19:39

Equality has arrived but the DUP and Sinn Fein have yet to face up to what it means "IndyWatch Feed Politics.eu"

Equality has always been a Sinn Fein buzzword. As the recanted ex- IRA man Shane Paul ODoherty lethally today quoted Gerry Adams speaking in 2014: The point is to actually break these bastards thats the point. And whats going to break them is equality Thats what we need to keep the focus on thats the Trojan horse of the entire republican strategy is to reach out to people on the basis of equality.

Other views are  un-cynical and compelling. To nationalists generally equality is an essential achievement after centuries of oppression. To unionists who are behind the times, its an excessive demand which nationalist numbers dont warrant and a debased term extracted from the virtuous vocabulary of human rights to deploy as weaponry in the continuing war by other means. A false reading of history is resented that implies that rights are only about justice denied to nationalists. Other views of rights favouring social reform and toleration are spreading rapidly,  cutting across the sectarian stranglehold which isolates Northern Ireland  but showing no signs of  breaking the DUP/ Sinn Fein duopoly.

In its original state, equality is fundamental to human rights, which is first of all a construct for the individuals benefit.   Collectively it invokes supporting concepts like parity of esteem and equal opportunity for disadvantaged groups to redress imbalances, both present and historic. Equality does not mean uniformity and much effort is needed to apply it to a diverse or divided society.  Invariably for the bigger group comprised of smaller groups, it requires compromise between different or competing rights in the smaller groups.

The Good Friday Agreement entrenched rights and equality in the political system as never before.  With the  winding up of paramilitarism, the road to ending our worst problems lay open.  Institutional discrimination abolished ( the famous section 75 of the NI Act 1998),  terms for power sharing between equals under the law finally agreed.   But instead, the struggle or struggle   shifted.   Rather than move to a new rhythm, politics retained  the counterpoint of the drive of Sinn Feins determinist  slogan,  tiocfaidh r l and the DUPs  defensive shout of  No Surrender.   Both sides learned to game the system, rights and all,  but only to the point of stalemate.

Tensions blew up over rights claimed by one  group  but denied b...

16:55

Debating the Nolan Show (and wider media) and its role in our political discourse "IndyWatch Feed Politics.eu"

This is a really interesting exchange between Stephen Nolan and Professor Brian Walker this morning which is worth listening to in full.

I have often debated this myself with other people in the media more generally. Are platforms, including Slugger part of the problem in a divided society?

This is something I know people do ask themselves. Am I making the right calls? Am I just pandering in some respects to an instinct?

Is there more we can do? Or is it our role to do anything?

Since its Friday, I thought this would be appropriate to throw it open to you for you thoughts.

16:51

Russian protester gets one-year prison sentence for waving his leg in the air (while he was carried off by police) "IndyWatch Feed Politics.eu"

This week, a Russian activist was prosecuted in a landmark trial that is being used to restrict freedom of assembly and punish citizens who try to assert it. 

Dmitry Borisov at court. Source: Irina Yatsenko.

This article is part of our partnership with OVD-Info, an NGO that monitors politically-motivated arrests in Russia.

The latest person to prosecuted in connection with the 26 March protest has been sentenced to one year in a prison colony. Prosecutors had asked for a three-year sentence.

Dmitry Borisov is a Muscovite and activist of the 14% movement who works in a small hotelier business. He was arrested on 9 June. According to the investigators, when four police officers were carrying Borisov to a police van, he freed his left leg and twice kicked police officer Ilya Erokhin in the head. Erokhin suffered no physical harm and did not request medical care. The first time Erokhin remembered he had been hurt, according to the prosecution, was in mid-May, about two months after the events.

Watch the following video (in Russian) for the incident in question:

The Investigative Committee has finally begun a review of complaints about torture by the anti-fascist activist......

Russian protester gets one-year prison sentence for waving his leg in the air (while he was carried off by police) "IndyWatch Feed Politics.eu"

This week, a Russian activist was prosecuted in a landmark trial that is being used to restrict freedom of assembly and punish citizens who try to assert it. 

Dmitry Borisov at court. Source: Irina Yatsenko.

This article is part of our partnership with OVD-Info, an NGO that monitors politically-motivated arrests in Russia.

The latest person to prosecuted in connection with the 26 March protest has been sentenced to one year in a prison colony. Prosecutors had asked for a three-year sentence.

Dmitry Borisov is a Muscovite and activist of the 14% movement who works in a small hotelier business. He was arrested on 9 June. According to the investigators, when four police officers were carrying Borisov to a police van, he freed his left leg and twice kicked police officer Ilya Erokhin in the head. Erokhin suffered no physical harm and did not request medical care. The first time Erokhin remembered he had been hurt, according to the prosecution, was in mid-May, about two months after the events.

Watch the following video (in Russian) for the incident in question:

The Investigative Committee has finally begun a review of complaints about torture by the anti-fascist activist......

12:45

RHI: the energy team did not include that crucial detail in the submission to her. "IndyWatch Feed Politics.eu"

And, whats happening in the public inquiry into the RHI scheme? It seems like Northern Ireland lost its representative democracy for a departmental cock up not by Arlene Foster, but by an official(s):

The cost of the ongoing subsidy scheme which became the RHI scheme was estimated to cost over 100m more than it had done in the report the previous month, meaning it cost significantly more than the other option.

Mrs Foster decided to go for the subsidy option on the basis of the draft report, rather than the final one.

The former DETI minister has said she would have expected officials to draw any significant or material changes affecting my prior decision directly to my attention, adding: This was not done.

Ms Hepper accepted that what the minister has said is factually correct and the energy team did not include that crucial detail in the submission to her.

As the BBC report has it: Not very good public policy, is it? Sir Patrick replied.

09:48

As Afrin burns, where is the left? "IndyWatch Feed Politics.eu"

Kurds, it seems, have the misfortune of being victims of a non-western power and so their suffering barely registers.

Ammar Safarjalani/Xinhua News Agency/Press Association Images. All rights reserved. Syrian Kurdish people stay in a cave in a village in the countryside of the Kurdish-controlled enclave of Afrin, northern Syria, on Feb. 8, 2018. Civilians in the countryside of Afrin have been fleeing since the Turkish-led military campaign started against Kurdish fighters in Afrin. Ammar Safarjalani/Xinhua News Agency/Press Association Images. All rights reserved.The unofficial motto of the Kurdish people is, as countless opinion pieces have reminded us recently, Kurds have no friends but the mountains. They make strategic alliances with great powers from time to time; but these, predictably enough, tend to end in betrayal. The vagaries of realpolitik do not lend themselves to lasting friendship.

What is less predictable is the lack of support the Kurds have received from progressives.

Turkeys invasion of Afrin should be bringing the international left out onto the streets of all major capitals. Protesters should be pouring into Hyde Park with the red, white, green and yellow of the Kurdish flag as the chant We are all PYD now! fills the air.

But theyre not. The streets are quiet save a few Kurdish activists and displays of solidarity are scarce.

Compare this with the situation of another stateless people: the Palestinians. When the Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) razes Gaza to the ground, activists waste no time in donning keffiyehs and marching on Whitehall; violence in the Holy Land permeates the major periodicals and Israel is fiercely denounced on social media.

Why, then, the relative silence when it comes to the persecution of the Kurds?

An Islamist-nationalist governm...

As Afrin burns, where is the left? "IndyWatch Feed Politics.eu"

Kurds, it seems, have the misfortune of being victims of a non-western power and so their suffering barely registers.

Ammar Safarjalani/Xinhua News Agency/Press Association Images. All rights reserved. Syrian Kurdish people stay in a cave in a village in the countryside of the Kurdish-controlled enclave of Afrin, northern Syria, on Feb. 8, 2018. Civilians in the countryside of Afrin have been fleeing since the Turkish-led military campaign started against Kurdish fighters in Afrin. Ammar Safarjalani/Xinhua News Agency/Press Association Images. All rights reserved.The unofficial motto of the Kurdish people is, as countless opinion pieces have reminded us recently, Kurds have no friends but the mountains. They make strategic alliances with great powers from time to time; but these, predictably enough, tend to end in betrayal. The vagaries of realpolitik do not lend themselves to lasting friendship.

What is less predictable is the lack of support the Kurds have received from progressives.

Turkeys invasion of Afrin should be bringing the international left out onto the streets of all major capitals. Protesters should be pouring into Hyde Park with the red, white, green and yellow of the Kurdish flag as the chant We are all PYD now! fills the air.

But theyre not. The streets are quiet save a few Kurdish activists and displays of solidarity are scarce.

Compare this with the situation of another stateless people: the Palestinians. When the Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) razes Gaza to the ground, activists waste no time in donning keffiyehs and marching on Whitehall; violence in the Holy Land permeates the major periodicals and Israel is fiercely denounced on social media.

Why, then, the relative silence when it comes to the persecution of the Kurds?

An Islamist-nationalist governm...

09:47

Framing the economy: how to win the case for a better system "IndyWatch Feed Politics.eu"

New research shows how changing the way we talk about the economy can help win public support for a progressive economic agenda.

In 2010, the British right wing media and political parties told a very convincing story about the economy that persuaded the public we had no choice but to make massive cuts to public spending. You probably know it already: there was no money left, the economy was like a household budget, wed maxed out the nations credit card, and it was time to tighten our belts. Anyone who watches the news will be familiar with this story, and if youve ever gone door knocking, you will have heard people repeat it back to you with total conviction.In 2010, the British right wing media and political parties told a very convincing story about the economy that persuaded the public we had no choice but to make massive cuts to public spending. You probably know it already: there was no money left, the economy was like a household budget, wed maxed out the nations credit card, and it was time to tighten our belts. Anyone who watches the news will be familiar with this story, and if youve ever gone door knocking, you will have heard people repeat it back to you with total conviction. Since 2010, there have been 120,000 excess deaths linked to austerity, the Red Cross declared a humanitarian crisis in the NHS, and use of foodbanks has soared. Why, in light of all of this, did people still support it? This was the backdrop for the Framing the Economy project. We believed the public endorsed a right wing story about the economy because progressives had failed to come up with an alternative. There werent that many progressive spokespeople on current affairs programmes, and when they were it was like they didnt know what to say. So four organisations came together to understand how British people understood the economy and what new story could be told to persuade them to share our ideas. The four organisations that led the project were NEF (New Economics Foundation), NEON (New Economy Organisers Network), PIRC (Public Interest Research Centre) and the Frameworks Institute. Of course a lot has changed since 2010. We didnt expect the host of The Apprentice to become the American President, for example. But the tumultuous politics of the...

Framing the economy: how to win the case for a better system "IndyWatch Feed Politics.eu"

New research shows how changing the way we talk about the economy can help win public support for a progressive economic agenda.

In 2010, the British right wing media and political parties told a very convincing story about the economy that persuaded the public we had no choice but to make massive cuts to public spending. You probably know it already: there was no money left, the economy was like a household budget, wed maxed out the nations credit card, and it was time to tighten our belts. Anyone who watches the news will be familiar with this story, and if youve ever gone door knocking, you will have heard people repeat it back to you with total conviction.In 2010, the British right wing media and political parties told a very convincing story about the economy that persuaded the public we had no choice but to make massive cuts to public spending. You probably know it already: there was no money left, the economy was like a household budget, wed maxed out the nations credit card, and it was time to tighten our belts. Anyone who watches the news will be familiar with this story, and if youve ever gone door knocking, you will have heard people repeat it back to you with total conviction. Since 2010, there have been 120,000 excess deaths linked to austerity, the Red Cross declared a humanitarian crisis in the NHS, and use of foodbanks has soared. Why, in light of all of this, did people still support it? This was the backdrop for the Framing the Economy project. We believed the public endorsed a right wing story about the economy because progressives had failed to come up with an alternative. There werent that many progressive spokespeople on current affairs programmes, and when they were it was like they didnt know what to say. So four organisations came together to understand how British people understood the economy and what new story could be told to persuade them to share our ideas. The four organisations that led the project were NEF (New Economics Foundation), NEON (New Economy Organisers Network), PIRC (Public Interest Research Centre) and the Frameworks Institute. Of course a lot has changed since 2010. We didnt expect the host of The Apprentice to become the American President, for example. But the tumultuous politics of the...

08:30

#MeToo, dialogue and healing "IndyWatch Feed Politics.eu"

To give voice to our deepest experiences is to cultivate connection and collective healing.

Credit: Pixabay/Chulhwan. CC0 Public Domain.

Washington University, St Louis, 2002. We sit on the floor, friends and others, each of us holding vigil.

I wonder if I will even be able to find the words if I choose to speak. There are fewer facts than I wish formore self-judgments and denials than cohesive narrative.

It is the story of a date gone badbroken but intrusive memories, tainted, tamed, and tortured by reoccurrence and repetition.

Heavy, loaded, and strange, the words that come out feel foreign on my tongue as if the story were not mine.

There was the taxi cab, the woman giving herself a pedicure in the living room, my hurrying down the stairs and out the door only to realize I was locked in. There was having to go back inside to ask him to let me out of the gates.

There was, if I let myself feel it, the sensation of watching my body on the bed from far up above where the wall met the ceiling by the doorway to the room. There was voicelessness and fearthe shame of knowing that I did not yell or fight.

There was my wandering of the streets not knowing if I would find my way home or if I even wanted to. There was the feeling of a disorienting sense of safety or freedom in those dark, foreign streetshe was not there.

For the first time, that night I give voice to the words: I was raped.

I wonder if the sentence will ever feel real. I do not cry. I just sit in the room, on the floor, where we have all come to share our stories. I stay still and listen to others after I speak. The candles around us seem to offer some comfort of illumination and the darkness in which they flutter holds the safety of an emerging connection to myself and to something else unfolding and unseen.

Daring to break our silences, even those that have kept us safe, is vulnerable work, no matter when or where or how we make the choice. Giving voice to stories of sexual harassment and sexual assault carries with it uncertainty, fear, and the possibility of re-traumatization. Those of us who have experienced the trauma of sexualized violence run the pros and cons of whether to tell people in our lives or offices or communities a million times over.

Times ma...

#MeToo, dialogue and healing "IndyWatch Feed Politics.eu"

To give voice to our deepest experiences is to cultivate connection and collective healing.

Credit: Pixabay/Chulhwan. CC0 Public Domain.

Washington University, St Louis, 2002. We sit on the floor, friends and others, each of us holding vigil.

I wonder if I will even be able to find the words if I choose to speak. There are fewer facts than I wish formore self-judgments and denials than cohesive narrative.

It is the story of a date gone badbroken but intrusive memories, tainted, tamed, and tortured by reoccurrence and repetition.

Heavy, loaded, and strange, the words that come out feel foreign on my tongue as if the story were not mine.

There was the taxi cab, the woman giving herself a pedicure in the living room, my hurrying down the stairs and out the door only to realize I was locked in. There was having to go back inside to ask him to let me out of the gates.

There was, if I let myself feel it, the sensation of watching my body on the bed from far up above where the wall met the ceiling by the doorway to the room. There was voicelessness and fearthe shame of knowing that I did not yell or fight.

There was my wandering of the streets not knowing if I would find my way home or if I even wanted to. There was the feeling of a disorienting sense of safety or freedom in those dark, foreign streetshe was not there.

For the first time, that night I give voice to the words: I was raped.

I wonder if the sentence will ever feel real. I do not cry. I just sit in the room, on the floor, where we have all come to share our stories. I stay still and listen to others after I speak. The candles around us seem to offer some comfort of illumination and the darkness in which they flutter holds the safety of an emerging connection to myself and to something else unfolding and unseen.

Daring to break our silences, even those that have kept us safe, is vulnerable work, no matter when or where or how we make the choice. Giving voice to stories of sexual harassment and sexual assault carries with it uncertainty, fear, and the possibility of re-traumatization. Those of us who have experienced the trauma of sexualized violence run the pros and cons of whether to tell people in our lives or offices or communities a million times over.

Times ma...

06:12

One Chechen mans quest for a real education "IndyWatch Feed Politics.eu"

On this day in 1944, thousands of people in Russias North Caucasus were deported to Central Asia. They had few rights in exile and had to fight every step of the way. RU

Soviet authorities loading Chechens and Ingush onto trains for deportation, likely taken in February 1944. Source: Wikipedia. Fair use. In February-March 1944, fires burned in Grozny and other settlements of the former Chechen-Ingush autonomous republic fires made of books printed in Chechen and Ingush. The readers of these books some 500,000 Chechens and Ingush people were deported to Central Asia as part of Soviet security forces so-called Operation Lentil, which began before dawn on 23 February. Over several days, thousands of people were crammed into livestock carriages and transported thousands of kilometres by rail to the Soviet East.

Chechen and Ingush children did not learn their native languages in exile in Kazakhstan and other parts of Central Asia. They went to Kazakh- and Russian-language schools. Between 1944 and 1955, there were no books, newspapers, magazines nor radio shows published in Chechen and Ingush. No national cultural institution existed, and limits were placed on the number of places available in higher education. These were part of the conditions of the so-called special settlement, the forced resettlement of peoples under Soviet rule.

Satsita Yandarova, a senior lecturer at Chechnya State University, cites the following figures: In the first years of deportation, many children did not receive an education In 1944, out of 50,323 school-age children of special settlers in Kazakhstan, 16,000 went to school. In 1945, 6,643 children out of 21,015 in Kyrgyzstan went to school. In Kazakhstan in the 1945-1946 academic year, 22,020 children went to school out of 89,102. In 1946, in Kyrgyzstan, 4,560 children out of a possible 21,240 went to school.  

In exile, the struggle for the right to education required particular courage.

Execution

In January 2000, some time after the start of Rus...

One Chechen mans quest for a real education "IndyWatch Feed Politics.eu"

On this day in 1944, thousands of people in Russias North Caucasus were deported to Central Asia. They had few rights in exile and had to fight every step of the way. RU

Soviet authorities loading Chechens and Ingush onto trains for deportation, likely taken in February 1944. Source: Wikipedia. Fair use. In February-March 1944, fires burned in Grozny and other settlements of the former Chechen-Ingush autonomous republic fires made of books printed in Chechen and Ingush. The readers of these books some 500,000 Chechens and Ingush people were deported to Central Asia as part of Soviet security forces so-called Operation Lentil, which began before dawn on 23 February. Over several days, thousands of people were crammed into livestock carriages and transported thousands of kilometres by rail to the Soviet East.

Chechen and Ingush children did not learn their native languages in exile in Kazakhstan and other parts of Central Asia. They went to Kazakh- and Russian-language schools. Between 1944 and 1955, there were no books, newspapers, magazines nor radio shows published in Chechen and Ingush. No national cultural institution existed, and limits were placed on the number of places available in higher education. These were part of the conditions of the so-called special settlement, the forced resettlement of peoples under Soviet rule.

Satsita Yandarova, a senior lecturer at Chechnya State University, cites the following figures: In the first years of deportation, many children did not receive an education In 1944, out of 50,323 school-age children of special settlers in Kazakhstan, 16,000 went to school. In 1945, 6,643 children out of 21,015 in Kyrgyzstan went to school. In Kazakhstan in the 1945-1946 academic year, 22,020 children went to school out of 89,102. In 1946, in Kyrgyzstan, 4,560 children out of a possible 21,240 went to school.  

In exile, the struggle for the right to education required particular courage.

Execution

In January 2000, some time after the start of Rus...

06:02

The prisoner of Yerevan: an American's unfortunate journey back to Armenia "IndyWatch Feed Politics.eu"

In Armenia, repatriates from the US enjoy comfortable middle-class lives unless they engage in political activism.

July 2014: police officers block activists from "Stand up, Armenia!" from moving towards Yerevan's Freedom Square. (c) Asatur Yesayants / VisualRIAN. All rights reserved.Over the last decade, President Serzh Sargsyan has ruled over Armenia in a style that Freedom House ambiguously calls soft authoritarianism. Sargsyans rule is characterised by widespread police violence and unlawful detention of journalists and activists. Falling short of the outright dictatorship in force in neighbouring Azerbaijan, Sargsyans authoritarian regime has managed to maintain a tight grip on power. It has steadily cleared the political field, leaving the electoral politics a doomed adventure for any force except the ruling party, but has maintained relative press freedom and freedom of speech, especially online.

Halfway into Sargsyans second term as president, there are few political opposition forces independent from his administration. One non-parliamentary group, known as Founding Parliament, has attracted attention for its nationalist rhetoric, radical social justice platform and refusal to engage in electoral politics. The groups core of Karabakh veterans from the 1990s has ensured a uncompromising stance on the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict a position common to Armenians inside and outside the country, as well as the majority of politicians and activists across the political spectrum.  

Indeed, the brief, but tragic flare-up of the conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan in April 2016 provoked a wave of national unity and public calls for a firmer position on the disputed territory of Karabakh. Three months later, an armed group seized a...

The prisoner of Yerevan: an American's unfortunate journey back to Armenia "IndyWatch Feed Politics.eu"

In Armenia, repatriates from the US enjoy comfortable middle-class lives unless they engage in political activism.

July 2014: police officers block activists from "Stand up, Armenia!" from moving towards Yerevan's Freedom Square. (c) Asatur Yesayants / VisualRIAN. All rights reserved.Over the last decade, President Serzh Sargsyan has ruled over Armenia in a style that Freedom House ambiguously calls soft authoritarianism. Sargsyans rule is characterised by widespread police violence and unlawful detention of journalists and activists. Falling short of the outright dictatorship in force in neighbouring Azerbaijan, Sargsyans authoritarian regime has managed to maintain a tight grip on power. It has steadily cleared the political field, leaving the electoral politics a doomed adventure for any force except the ruling party, but has maintained relative press freedom and freedom of speech, especially online.

Halfway into Sargsyans second term as president, there are few political opposition forces independent from his administration. One non-parliamentary group, known as Founding Parliament, has attracted attention for its nationalist rhetoric, radical social justice platform and refusal to engage in electoral politics. The groups core of Karabakh veterans from the 1990s has ensured a uncompromising stance on the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict a position common to Armenians inside and outside the country, as well as the majority of politicians and activists across the political spectrum.  

Indeed, the brief, but tragic flare-up of the conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan in April 2016 provoked a wave of national unity and public calls for a firmer position on the disputed territory of Karabakh. Three months later, an armed group seized a...

Thursday, 22 February

19:27

The mystery of the Russian planes that never were "IndyWatch Feed Politics.eu"

Is Russia a military threat to the west? A larger past and closer detail offer fresh light.   

lead An overhead view of Admiral Kuznetsov, aircraft carrier, August 2012. Wikicommons, Ministry of Defence. Some rights reserved.Most analysts blame Vladimir Putins aggressive political stance for the renewed hostility between Russia and the western states of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (Nato). The deteriorating relationship has been evident for a decade and more. The fallout from Moscow's interventions in Georgia / South Ossetia (2008), Ukraine / Crimea (2014), and Syria (2015), as well as its reported disruption in the United States presidential election (2016), are but the main episodes. Lesser ones include displays of military strength that attract wide coverage in the western media.  

Before looking in more detail at the latter, it is worth offering a touch of historical perspective on great-power interference. In particular, at a time when Moscow's role in the US election is hotly disputed, a certain degree of hollow laughter is appropriate given Washington's (and London's) own dedicated efforts to influence elections and other political processes in many countries over many decades.

Weve been doing this kind of thing since the C.I.A. was created in 1947.  Weve used posters, pamphlets, mailers, banners you name it. Weve planted false information in foreign newspapers. Weve used w...

18:29

Sex and Charity "IndyWatch Feed Politics.eu"

Regarding the massive scandal involving chief executives of big NGOs, the situation must be considered through the lens of how we have dealt with sexual abuse. But we must be wary of how this is used to justify budget cuts. Espaol

People queue for water at Place de La Paix Internally displaced peoples (IDP) camp in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. PA Images. All rights reserved.

What I am about to say may offend certain sensibilities. In fact, I hope they are offended.

It is very likely that the women, some of which without a doubt were minors, that had sex with Oxfam workers in Haiti, did so to obtain resources that otherwise would have been out of their reach.

They chose to engage in such acts to obtain money to find food to take home, medicine or perhaps even because being locked up in those brothels meant escaping hell in a country utterly devastated by earthquakes and many other conflicts. Desperate, it is very likely that none of them were professional prostitutes, but simply victims of a catastrophic situation. 

What is certain is that the men that bought those women knew all of this and had no qualm in using their power to create an obscene and miserable reality, as if they were taking them from one kind of hell to another.

When dealing with war zones and extreme human conditions, women and especially underage girls are extremely vulnerable to abuse.

Nothing New

All of us who have worked in situations of extreme vulnerability (including armed conflict zones) know that humanitarian assistance, if provided by the wrong hands, can result in abuses of power. Sexual exploitation is one of the oldest abuses of them all, however is also the most common.

But care must be taken here. I am not saying that conflict ridden countries like Somalia or the Democratic Republic of Congo are immense brothels where anyone can go, offering money in exchange for sex on any corner. But no, there is...

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