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Here’s Why You Shouldn’t Say “Christian Conservative”

June 26, 2016   |   S.m. Gibson

(ANTIMEDIADivision is created by fear, which generates hate. Politics is the biggest dividing line in this country, and politicians exacerbate that division by unabashedly promoting fear — which rouses hate in those who allow the paranoia and angst to consume them. People who are filled with hate are angry enough to vote. And if a politician “hates” what you hate, you’re more likely to vote for them. The technical term for those who fall for this cycle is “sucker.”

Evangelicals make up a large portion of the American populace. You only need to turn on Fox News to hear them espouse their beliefs and to get a sense of what they stand for. Many in this community have labeled themselves “conservatives,” and even more proclaim themselves “Christians.” We should refrain from using these terms to describe this right-wing star-spangled demographic.

First, this powerful political voting block cannot be described with the moniker of “conservative” because there is nothing fiscally or morally conservative about wanting to expand the U.S. military in 2016, and in the many years prior. If you want to drop more bombs, spend more on war, and live in constant fear of the next terrorist attack, that is your prerogative as a citizen of a free nation — but there is nothing “conservative” about those who hold these positions and they should not be described as such.

To conserve is to save or avoid waste, meaning a fiscal conservative would traditionally believe in spending less money, especially when the entity spending funds is already broke. Constantly begging to grow the military is the same as begging to grow government. Those who preach small government while calling for a larger military contradict themselves and shouldn’t be taken seriously until they can at least figure out what they actually believe in.

According to NationalPriorities.org:

“The U.S. outpaces all other nations in military expenditures. World military spending totaled more than $1.6 trillion in 2015. The U.S. accounted for 37 percent of the total.

U.S. military expenditures are roughly the size of the next seven largest military budgets around the world, combined.”

One who bemoans the expenditures of a country that is $19 trillion in debt certainly has a credible complaint, but if that same person also calls to print more money to pay for something that already accounts for 54% of national discretionary spending, they are something alright — but they’re certainly not a conservative.

To put that figure in context, the United States’ second biggest financial allotment in its annual discretionary budget is for its governmental operations – those funds account for 6.5% of approved spending. Education comes in third at roughly 6.2%. The percentages of discretionary spending only go down from there.

So let’s recap. “Conservatives” rightly say the U.S. is broke, but then say not enough is spent on projects that already accounts for over 50% of the annual U.S. spending approved by Congress each year. Oh, right, I forgot to mention — the $600 billion plus spent on the military each year goes towards an ongoing global offensive campaign that results in bombs being dropped for the end goal of promoting the self-interests of a fledgling empire. Bombs don’t spread the Gospel, they maim and kill.

In fact, Barack Obama – the same person lambasted daily by politicians and political pundits for being weak on U.S. military conquests — dropped over 23,000 bombs in 2015 alone. If, as a conservative, you consider that weak, what do you want from him? Fifty-thousand bombs dropped? One-hundred-thousand? How much blood must be spilled before you consider him “tough?”

Barack Obama has been at war longer than any president in U.S. history. He has bombed eight different countries — that we know about (most outlets report seven because bombing a former territory of the U.S., the Philippines, isn’t good for poll numbers). Even “warmongering” George W. Bush — the public relations guy during the Cheney administration — didn’t bomb that many. The Nobel Peace Prize winner Obama has bombed Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, Libya, Yemen, Pakistan, Somalia, and the Philippines. The Philippines is a former territory of the U.S., and the guy considered “reluctant” to go to war “discreetly” drone bombed them in 2012.

There is no real way to know how many innocent people have lost their lives due to repeated U.S. military interventions over the past 15 years, but a conservative (real definition) estimate dwarfs those killed in all U.S. mass shootings combined — times 1,000.

Where were Congressman John Lewis and his cohorts when those innocent people died? I don’t remember them staging sit-ins for the countless children killed by the bombs dropped by their Democratic colleague or his Republican predecessor. Maybe that’s because that brood of greedy leeches is filled with political opportunists — not individuals who actually care about human life. At least, that’s how their actions paint them, regardless of their privately-held beliefs. Would Jesus pick and choose which innocent lives we value?

This brings us to the term “Christian” when describing a block of voters.

Not all Muslims are terrorists and not all Christians are Sean Hannity-following hooligans.

A Christian is someone who believes that Jesus is the Son of God. If you’ve ever read the teachings of Jesus – what He actually taught, not some Fox News fear-filled interpretation of what He taught – He spoke of love and forgiveness. That is the exact opposite of pretty much everything the U.S. government does.

When Donald Trump was asked earlier this year what his favorite Bible verse was, he responded with: “An eye for an eye.”

According to Matthew 5 of the Bible, Jesus said:

“You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’ But I tell you, do not resist an evil person….You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’  But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.”

Donald Trump literally responded with the one verse Jesus said to dismiss, and yet “Christian conservatives” support him in droves. I have yet to figure that one out.

Sean Hannity said in 2009:

“Here you are, you’re a liberal, probably define peace as the absence of conflict. I define peace as the ability to defend yourself and blow your enemies into smithereens.”

Sean Hannity and the legions of right-wing Americans who hold beliefs similar to his may very well be Christians, but they in no way, shape, or form speak for Christianity. That’s because they are flag worshipping demagogues first and foremost — according to their own rhetoric.

A huge segment of Americans has unknowingly allowed government to become their god. Blowing people to “smithereens” isn’t anything the Jesus I read about would advocate, but it is something the U.S. government happily promotes.

For those that subscribe to the teachings of Jesus — if you are a defender of needless death, all for the glory of a flag or uniform —  you need to check what you really believe. And if you don’t subscribe to His teachings, please stop labeling this intervention-loving, red, white, and blue worshipping right-wing movement a Christian one.

As a Christian myself, I think they’re lunatics.

So maybe instead of the term “Christian conservatives,” we should start calling them what their own words suggest they are…

Government-first, war-thirsty, militarily liberal hypocrites.


This article (Here’s Why You Shouldn’t Say “Christian Conservative”) is free and open source. You have permission to republish this article under a Creative Commons license with attribution to SM Gibson and theAntiMedia.orgAnti-Media Radio airs weeknights at 11pm Eastern/8pm Pacific. If you spot a typo, email edits@theantimedia.org.

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The House Democrats’ Sit-In Is Everything Wrong With the US Government

June 23, 2016   |   Claire Bernish

(ANTIMEDIA Op-Ed) United States — Democrats have decided to take a stand so tough, they’re staging a sit-in on the literal floor of the House in protest — not over the expansion of war; not over accepting refugees or deporting immigrants; not over increased domestic surveillance, which recently and yet again proved worthless to prevent a mass shooting; nor over anything productive or effective in any significant way.

No, Democrats are taking a stand because they want to strip those listed on the ubiquitous and utterly flawed terror watch list of the right to purchase legal firearms.

“The time for silence and patience is gone,” Rep. John Lewis, spearheading the sit-in, announced, as Reason reported“The American people are demanding action. Do we have the courage, do we have the raw courage to make at least a down payment on ending gun violence in America?”

Perhaps it slipped Lewis’ mind that even he once landed on the notorious, if not opprobrious, terror watch list — a footnote so telling of its arbitrariness and extent, it should disqualify any admonishing moral stance he has to offer. Mediaite dug up the report of Lewis’ no-fly status from the bowels of CNN’s old news from 2004, which explained the congressman’s difficulty once finally finding out the mistake:

“Lewis contacted the Department of Transportation, the Department of Homeland Security and executives at various airlines in a so-far fruitless effort to get his name off the list.”

Indeed, the so-called civil rights champion, Lewis, penned a letter in 2014 decrying the lack of an appeals process for the wrongly-listed, noting there exists “no effective means of redress for unfair or incorrect designations.”

Oh, the palpable irony.

Arguments between pro- and anti-gun advocates must be set aside to grasp the pertinence of the matter the Democrats have chosen to champion — guns have nothing to do with what’s actually at stake.

Nearly half the people on the government’s various watch lists were designated as having “no recognized terrorist group affiliation,” the Interceptreported from documents obtained in 2014 — meaning they had no business landing on such lists, whatsoever.

Linking any constitutionally-protected right with a person’s status on such inaccurate, sweepingly general lists could be perilous for a succession of other rights down the road.
So misplaced is this effort by the sit-in Democrats, the American Civil Liberties Union felt compelled to write a letter to senators on Wednesday vehemently opposing the proposed legislation, stating:

“The ACLU strongly urges you to vote against the Collins Amendment because it uses the error prone and unfair watchlist system, along with vague and overbroad terms, as a predicate for proceeding to deny a firearms permit.” 

The letter warned relying on such lists “would open the door to arbitrary and discriminatory government action.”

Note, too, the ACLU does not oppose governmental regulation of firearms in the interests of public safety, among other issues, “as long as it is reasonably related to … legitimate government interests,” the letter explains.

Glenn Greenwald lambasted a proposal by Democrats to institute yet another list — this time, with a dystopically secretive bent — on Tuesday in an article for the Intercept, saying:

“To justify this new list, Democrats, in unison, are actually arguing that the U.S. government must constrain people whom they are now calling ‘potential terrorists.’ Just spend a moment pondering how creepy and Orwellian that phrase is in the context of government designations.

“What is a ‘potential terrorist’? Isn’t everyone that? And who wants the U.S. government empowered to unilaterally restrict what citizens can do based on predictions or guesses about what they might become or do in the future?”

Apparently, the U.S. government and its selectively moral Congress members do — and they hope beyond hope you’ll be too distracted by their tantrum sit-in on the floor of the House and the hotly contentious gun topic to notice that’s precisely the ultimate goal.

democrats

Don’t be foolish.


This article (The House Democrats’ Sit-In Is Everything Wrong With the US Government) is an opinion editorial (OP-ED). The opinions expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily represent the views of Anti-Media. You have permission to republish this article under a Creative Commons license with attribution to Claire Bernish and theAntiMedia.orgAnti-Media Radio airs weeknights at 11pm Eastern/8pm Pacific. If you spot a typo, email edits@theantimedia.org.

New Report Exposing Cover-Up of Fukushima Proves Conspiracy Theorists Right

radioactive-water

(ANTIMEDIA) United States — According to a new report, the Japanese government worked in concert with TEPCO to purposely cover up the meltdown at Fukushima in 2011.

“I would say it was a coverup,” Tokyo Electric Power Company President Naomi Hirose announced during a press conference. “It’s extremely regrettable.”

Masataka Shimizu, president of TEPCO at the time of the earthquake, tsunami, and subsequent nuclear disaster, told employees not to go public with the term “meltdown” — allegedly in capitulation to pressure from the Prime Minister’s Office.

For two months, TEPCO officials euphemized the meltdown in public statements as “core damage,” even as they had full knowledge of the true extent of the catastrophe. Though a few company officials initially used the term “meltdown,” it abruptly vanished from public discussions just three days after the disaster struck.

According to the report, Shimizu rushed a note to Vice President Sakae Muto as he held a press conference that warned him against using the word meltdown.

“Considering this fact, it is presumable that the Prime Minister’s Office requested Shimizu to be careful about admitting to a meltdown in public,” the report states, as Japan Times noted.

Though the three lawyers who authored the report did not find direct evidence, they surmised it was “highly likely” governmental pressure was behind the amelioration of information about the scope of the disaster.

As CBS News reported, former officials from the Prime Minister’s Office denied all allegations a cover-up had taken place. In fact, former government spokesman and current secretary general of the opposition Democratic Party denounced the report as “inadequate and unilateral” — particularly as the lawyer-authors are allied with the current ruling party.

Attorney Yasuhisa Tanaka, who headed the panel investigation, admitted TEPCO likely didn’t intentionally cover up that a meltdown had occurred, saying

“Looking at the situation back then, we think it was too difficult for Tepco to use the term meltdown because even the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency couldn’t use it,” because of pressure from the government,  Japan Times noted.

That agency had been Japan’s nuclear watchdog in March 2011, at the time of the disaster.

Notably, five years after the catastrophe, TEPCO revealed the existence of a company manual in which a meltdown is ‘official’ once 5 percent or more fuel rods have suffered damage. But, as Japan Times explained:

“As of March 14, 2011, Tepco estimated that 55 percent of the fuel rod assemblies in reactor No. 1 and 25 percent of those in reactor No. 3 were damaged but did not declare they were damaged until May that year.”

In euphemizing the meltdown, TEPCO and the Japanese government left countless civilians in peril; despite evacuations, many had been reluctant to leave their homes and might have done so sooner had the full scope of a meltdown been clear.

TEPCO remains embroiled in controversy over secrecy and alleged incompetent handling of the cleanup of Fukushima. In February this year, three former TEPCO executives were charged with negligence over the disaster.


This article (New Report Exposing Cover-Up of Fukushima Proves Conspiracy Theorists Right) is free and open source. You have permission to republish this article under a Creative Commons license with attribution to Claire Bernish and theAntiMedia.orgAnti-Media Radio airs weeknights at 11pm Eastern/8pm Pacific. Image credit: YouTube. If you spot a typo, email edits@theantimedia.org.

UN Thinks Killing Children is Bad, Unless You’re Saudi Arabia

June 8, 2016   |   Michaela Whitton

(ANTIMEDIA) United Kingdom — The U.N. has caved to pressure and removed Saudi Arabia from a blacklist of states and groups that kill children. Saudi Arabia’s U.S.-backed military coalition was recently listed among countries, rebel movements, and terrorist groups responsible for “grave violations” against children during armed conflict.

Originally published on June 2, the annual U.N. report documents the horrific violations committed against children in countries such as Afghanistan, Iraq, Somalia, South Sudan, Syria and Yemen in 2015. The 40-page document claims that in the last year, the Saudi-led coalition has been responsible for 60% of child deaths and injuries in Yemen’s bloody conflict.

That is, until the United Nations abruptly changed its mind.

On Monday, Saudi Arabia’s permanent representative to the U.N. complained to Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon about the Gulf state’s inclusion on the list. Enraged Saudi senior diplomats claimed figures were wildly exaggerated and threatened Riyadh, the Saudi capital and seat of power, would use its influence to convince other Arab governments and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation to sever ties with the United Nations.

Despite the fact that the Saudis’ devastating intervention in Yemen has been well-documented — and includes the targeting of schools and hospitals — the strong-arming was successful. By Monday, Ban Ki-moon had backtracked and stated he would remove the coalition from the list, pending a review by a joint U.N and Saudi panel.

U.N. credibility has been on the line for a while, in part due to the jaw-dropping allegations that peacekeepers were involved in rape and indiscriminate killings in the Central African Republic. More recently, Anders Kompass, director of field operations at the UN human rights office in Geneva — who also blew the whistle on the sexual abuse of children — resigned from the agency, citing the organization’s failure to hold officials to account.

Responding to the backtracking, Oxfam’s Country Director in Yemen, Sajjad Mohamed Sajid, said political power and diplomatic clout have trumped the U.N.’s duty to expose those responsible for killing and maiming Yemen’s children. Claiming the retraction of the findings is a moral failure that goes against everything the U.N is meant to stand for, he added:

The killing of children in their homes, at schools and in hospitals should not be swept under the carpet. When the U.N. identifies crimes such as these in needs to act, regardless of who the perpetrators are.”

Amnesty International expressed similar outrage and accused the U.N. of blatant pandering:

“This is a stark example of why the U.N. needs to stand up for human rights and its own principles — otherwise it will rapidly become part of the problem rather than the solution.”

This article (UN Thinks Killing Children is Bad, Unless You’re Saudi Arabia) is free and open source. You have permission to republish this article under a Creative Commons license with attribution to Michaela Whitton and theAntiMedia.orgAnti-Media Radio airs weeknights at 11pm Eastern/8pm Pacific. If you spot a typo, email edits@theantimedia.org.

The Media Divides Us With Gorillas to Enable the Crimes of the Government

June 2, 2016   |   Claire Bernish

(ANTIMEDIA) United States — By now, we’ve all witnessed selective outrage in real time — a misdeed, tragedy, or other infuriating item blows up national headlines and almost immediately receives backlash in the vein of, ‘well, why isn’t anyone irate about ___ ?’ It’s as if society has developed not only an odd hypocritical corner on the market of concern, but a notable inability to impassion itself with more than one issue at once.

Dichotomized moral outrage receives an altogether greedy leg up from corporate media. After all, networks understand all too acutely how tragedy drives opportunity — and what better way to cash in on casualty than by capitalizing on ethical wedges people invariably manufacture?

Cleaving division, in fact, comprises the bulk of propaganda. Intense bickering and debate saturate social media, both obfuscating other potentially significant happenings and setting the foundation for further division in the future. If personally invested in passionate disagreement over one issue, people’s resentments linger — prejudicing friends, colleagues, and associates against one another when an equally divisive topic or incident takes place in the future.

Now that we’re about halfway through 2016, having seen this polarity replayed innumerable times, one conclusion can be surmised with a degree of certainty — people simply favor certain things over others. And the examples comprise a list both telling and distressing in scope.

1. Harambe, an endangered western lowland gorilla living in a confined space at the Cincinnati Zoo, died after staff decided extreme measures were necessary to save a hapless four-year-old boy — who inexplicably managed to escape his mother’s notice and slip into the animal’s habitat. When zoo director Thane Maynard faced the media to justify the shooting of Harambe, social media had already amplified the controversy to a feverish pitch.

Though Maynard’s confirming the shooting had been unavoidable served to fan a growing conflagration, Cincinnatians familiar with his normal enthusiasm saw a fierce struggle underlying the resolute public stance — particularly as primatologistsanimal behaviorists, and a whole spate of experts threw their personal opinions into the mix.

To varying degrees, Maynard, the zoo, the child’s mother, the people filming instead of somehow preventing the child’s foray into the enclosure, and even protesters and those mourning the loss of Harambe all became targets of countless arguments and rants across social and news media.

Was the shooting really justified? Why wasn’t that mother watching her kid? How did an entire crowd of people not stop this four-year-old, even if the parents didn’t? Who cares about an animal when a human child’s life was at stake? Why wasn’t Harambe’s habitat better fortified against errant kids? Must zoos be a thing?

As soon as these questions hit keyboards, the inevitable expansion of the backlash also hit. Why should we care about one gorilla when so many endangered animals are poached in the wild? What about factory farming? Why all the attention on an animal when millions of innocent people perish in multiple wars? What about the refugees? What about people dying from hunger? Cops kill people with impunity, what about justice for their victims?

Really, it would take an entire article to begin to cover the posed points of contention, alone.

Judging by the explosive outrage from every conceivable perspective on Harambe’s shooting, however, people seem capable of only two, albeit highly-generalized, camps of thought. Either the lives of animals constitute equal or greater value than humans, or human life takes existential precedent over animal life.

But one rarely posited question could potentially halt the quarreling — while still maintaining the imperative validity in many of these concerns: why don’t we value both lives equally — even to the point extraordinary means are taken to preserve each?

2. “When fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying the cross,” Sinclair Lewis is most often attributed, though unconfirmed, in saying. But while debate over fascism’s conditional arrival in the United States most often centers on the presidential run of Donald Trump, it isn’t a dispute for the faint-of-heart.

Arguably not seen in any previous presidential election, extreme polarization concerning the three remaining contenders would be farcical if determining the next ruler didn’t hinge on the outcome.

Constant feuding — and even a few physical rows — that so far mark the rise of an impudent demagogue to power, largely surround Trump’s derogatory boasts, skewering of the media, and apparent all-around proclivity for fascism. Appealing to unfounded but deep-seated fears, the billionaire has managed to garner equally concrete base support and a runaway segment dedicated to nothing but preventing his occupancy of the White House.

While such flagrant fascistic tendencies certainly deserve heated discussion, if not outright alarm, it should be noted Trump has in no way attempted to hide his no-holds-barred, totalitarian leanings. Worse, shredding one another apart via social media — sporting though it may be for some — completely forgets one imperative fact: fascism has already arrived.

Evidence can be found as close as your local police department.

In 1990, U.S. law enforcement received a boon in the National Defense Authorization Act when Congress switched out Section 1208 for Section 1033 — allowing even local departments requesting it to be granted ammunition and other military accoutrements, free of charge, courtesy of the Department of Defense. Under the guise of ramping up the already-failed war on drugs, even local police — tantalized by militaristic shiny new things — began to look as if they’d been replaced by the Army.

MRAPs, riot gear, and every conceivable light weapon of war are now expected items at both violent and peaceful protests, alike. By design, and in concert with an utter lack of forethought, militarized police have acted precisely like the warriors the program sought — though the explosion in deaths by police proves police aren’t soldiers at all. Rather, law enforcement made a radical transformation from the friendly cops you call in an emergency to paranoid, trigger-happy soldiers of the State parents warn their kids to avoid.

With the attacks of 9/11 came additional fascist policy appropriate for a burgeoning police state. Dissent now earns a spot on the government’s terror watch list, and several amendments to the Bill of Rights are all-but forgotten through court judgments and legislation.

Decry Trump’s special brand of fascism in every imaginable forum all you want — the criticism won’t change the squeeze of totalitarianism already choking away our rights.

3. How the choice of which public bathroom someone uses came to occupy headlines for weeks recently further proves people simply don’t pay attention — or have no earthly understanding about many topics making the public spotlight. North Carolina first instituted what’s come to be monikered the Bathroom Law after paranoid, clueless politicians scare-mongered the public into inexplicably equating gender identity and transgendered individuals with pedophilia and crime.

Fear-wracked posts to Facebook and Twitter evidenced an acute misunderstanding of what it means to be transgendered in modern America. ‘But the children!’ they all screamed, ‘What about the children!’ Some even appeared to believe women would suddenly be subjected to random rapes if bathrooms didn’t declare staunch divisions over who could use which john when the need to urinate struck.

Transgendered people protesting the inexplicable, sudden legislation proved the law’s arbitrary idiocy — which mandates one’s birth certificate-assigned gender match their choice of bathroom — by posting photos to social media from inside North Carolina’s public restrooms.

In truth, people across the gender spectrum have been going into the public restroom they feel comfortable using for centuries. And guess what? No one noticed. No one even cared. Not one iota. And they never would have if it weren’t for the brainless brain trust comprising the body of politicians people somehow felt deserved to hold office.

Unsurprisingly, all this bathroom theater dominating headlines managed to obfuscate matters of the utmost pertinence. During that time, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Seymour Hersh revealed Hillary Clinton’s role in facilitating the transport of sarin gas to Syria for an attack that successfully kicked off the U.S.’ military campaign — exactly as it was intended. Another report astonishingly showed the Pentagon let off the hook troops responsible for the almost certainly deliberate bombing of a Doctors Without Borders hospital facility in Kunduz, Afghanistan, in which 42 patients, staff, and civilians perished.

Though the freedom to use the bathroom of one’s choosing shouldn’t even be a point of contention, it ispossible to care about more than a single issue at once.

Divisive debates will forever follow moments of controversy — and headlines will linger on the same topic as long as social media allows. But, lest we forget, each topic spans a breadth of valid concerns for each of us — though we’d be in a better position to advance as a whole if we didn’t insert our own divisions where they never should exist in the first place.


This article (The Media Divides Us With Gorillas to Enable the Crimes of the Government) is free and open source. You have permission to republish this article under a Creative Commons license with attribution to Claire Bernish and theAntiMedia.orgAnti-Media Radio airs weeknights at 11pm Eastern/8pm Pacific. If you spot a typo, email edits@theantimedia.org.

Media Silent as Biggest Protests Since French Revolution Sweep France

June 1, 2016   |   admintam

(ANONHQ) As the country prepares to host two million visitors at the showpiece Euro 2016 Football Championship in less than two weeks, labor strikes at oil refineries and nuclear power plants; fuel shortages paralyzing aviation and public transport system; violent street protests; nationwide riots; and a state of emergency until the end of July to cover the Tour de France has proved a major headache for François Hollande — currently the least popular French president since polls began in France. The protests are being called the largest and long-lasting since the French Revolution.

Explosive Trade Union Revolt Plunges France Into Chaos

The first collaborative protest against the Socialist government since Hollande came to power in 2012, kicked off on 9 March. On March 31, nearly 400,000 people took to the streets, disagreeing with the sweeping changes to labor laws; though organizers put the number at 1.2 million.

On April 9, about 120,000 people marched in Paris and across France for a sixth time, protesting against contested labor reforms. Organizers called for yet another strike on April 28, and a massive protest on May 1, Labor Day.  Reports of police officers clashing with protesters, deploying tear gas in several French cities, and protesters burning vehicles, smashing windows flooded the Internet.

In his response, Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said in the city of Lyon:

“I call on the organizers of these demonstrations to condemn with the same firmness that I do the unrest caused by these handful of thugs.”

Demanding a complete withdrawal of the draft reform bill, French workers stepped up protests, rallies and blockades in the third week of May.  As per the latest updates, one in three gas stations across the country run dry, causing long queues at normally well-stocked stations. There are blockades at 5 of France’s 8 oil refineries. Nearly 1/5th of nuclear power output is cut by striking staff. Since the nation’s electricity supply has dropped, the government is forced to dig into its emergency reserves.

On May 26, more than 150,000 marched against the government’s plans to make it easier for firms to hire and fire. Reuters reports:

“In the southwestern city of Bordeaux, about 100 people targeted a police station, throwing objects and damaging a police car. In Paris and in the western city of Nantes, bank windows were broken and protesters clashed with police. The next big day of protests is planned on June 14 [when French senators begin discussing the reform package], four days after the Euro 2016 soccer tournament opens in France. The CGT warned it could be disrupted if the government refuses to withdraw the draft reform bill.”

Although, French Prime Minister Manuel Valls is willing to modify some of the proposals, workers’ unions are unwilling to back down. Particularly angry that the government is enacting a constitutional power to bypass parliament to pass the bill, several unions led by one of the country’s largest unions, the General Confederation of Labor (or the CGT),declared in an open letter:

“This week, the actions, the strikes and the blockades by workers from a number of industries to demand the retraction of this labor bill and to obtain new rights show that our determination remains intact.”

Plagued by dismal popularity ratings and high unemployment, President Hollande, who staked his whole term in office on improving life for the country’s struggling youth, says the labor reform is vital to tackle joblessness. Labor Minister Myrian El Khomri, too, defends the new labor law dubbed “the bosses law” by its opponents.

This law corresponds to the situation in our country. We have an unemployment rate of over 10% the same as it was 20 years ago. It has improved over the last month, however that is not satisfactory. Our country created fewer jobs than other European countries [Between 2013 and 2015, 57,000 jobs were created in France, 482,000 in Germany, 651,000 in Spain and 288,000 in Italy.] So for me the text and the goal of this reform is to be able to just improve access to employment.”

However, opponents of the labor reform say it will threaten cherished rights and deepen job insecurity for young people by helping companies fire staff arbitrarily. Henry Samuel and Raziye Akkoc of The Telegraphobserved:

“The government believes it will create thousands of jobs but the IMF, and the French opposition say the reform doesn’t go nearly far enough to significantly reverse record unemployment, now at 10%, and soaring public debt, due to reach 98% of GDP next year.”

What Lies Ahead

This is the first time a Socialist French government has faced a nationwide trade union rebellion in more than 30 years. The left’s opposition to the reforms has been vast, threatening to tear apart Hollande’s own support base.

The Independent Writes:

“The proposed reform has compounded the fury of many within the Socialist Party and the further left at what they see as the treacherous, rightward course of the Hollande-Valls government. The protests have been led by the former Socialist leader, and ‘mother’ of the 35-hour week, Martine Aubry, who has resigned from all her official positions within the party. Aubry complains that the rewriting of French employment law in line with ‘liberal’ pro-market dogma is a betrayal of the French ‘social contract.’”

An online petition against the proposed changes has gathered over 1 million signatures, a record in France. According to a recent Le Parisien poll, a majority of French people favor labor reforms, but 70% oppose the government’s way of going about it.

It will be a political suicide for Hollande if he rolls back the labor reform – he has promised he will not run for re-election next year unless he manages to stem the rise in unemployment. But as The Guardian rightly notes, it is not just Hollande’s political survival at stake, though, but the image of France itself.


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So, You Thought Slavery Was Dead? Think Again

May 31, 2016   |   Carey Wedler

(ANTIMEDIA) Nearly 46 million human beings are subject to slavery, a new report released this week concluded. According to the third annual Global Slavery Index, which gathers and analyzes surveys conducted by Gallup, the number of people forced into “modern slavery,” or “human trafficking, forced labour, debt bondage, forced or servile marriage or commercial sexual exploitation,” rose from 35.8 million to 45.8 million since 2014 — a 28 percent increase.

The Global Slavery Index is a project of Walk Free, an Australian human rights organization dedicated to ending modern slavery, which researchers caution does not mean traditional slavery, in which “people were held in bondage as legal property.

This year, the researchers for the index analyzed survey responses from 42,000 respondents in 53 languages and 167 countries, though they notedgathering such information is “a difficult undertaking due to the hidden nature of this crime and low levels of victim identification.”

Even so, Andrew Forrest, the founder of Walk Free, suspected the 28 percent increase from 2014 to 2016 was “due to better data collection, although he feared the situation was getting worse with global displacement and migration increasing vulnerability to all forms of slavery,” Reutersreported.

The new analysis highlights the persistence of slavery in modern society, cataloguing the worst-offending nations and noting that instances of modern slavery occurred in all 167 countries included in the study.

According to the report, 58 percent of individuals forced into modern slavery were located in five countries: India, China, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Uzbekistan. Those nations had the highest “absolute” number of slaves — India was found to have over 18 million slaves, and China, which took second place, had over 3 million.

The report also listed nations with the highest proportions of slaves relative to their total populations: North Korea, Uzbekistan, Cambodia, India, and Qatar.

With over 1.1 million slaves in a nation of just over 25 million, North Korea had the highest proportion of victims, with 4.373 percent of the population subject to servitude. That amounts to roughly 1 in 20 North Korean citizens forced into slavery. As the report explains, in North Korea, “there is pervasive evidence that government-sanctioned forced labour occurs in an extensive system of prison labour camps while North Korean women are subjected to forced marriage and commercial sexual exploitation in China and other neighbouring states.”

The 2016 index further noted other instances of state-sponsored slavery, naming Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan, Belarus, China, Eritrea, Russia, Swaziland, and Vietnam — as well as North Korea — as the worst offenders.

It also criticized North Korea, Iran, Eritrea, Equatorial Guinea, Hong Kong, Central African Republic, Papua New Guinea, Guinea, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and South Sudan for their lack of effort in combating slavery.

Interestingly, Iraq, Afghanistan, Yemen, Syria, Somalia, and Libya, all nations subject to U.S. military intervention, tied for sixth place in the list of oppressive countries by proportion to population — totaling several million designated modern slaves among them. But the researchers did not include these nations’ governments when they analyzed efforts to curb slavery, perhaps unintentionally highlighting yet another oppressive force in the contemporary human experience:

“Due to the ongoing conflict and extreme disruption to government function,” they note, “we have not included ratings for Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Syria or Yemen.”

Critics of the report challenged the statistical methods, arguing the analysts used “flawed methodology by extrapolating on-the-ground surveys in some countries to estimate numbers for other nations.” However, as Reutersreported, “Forrest said a lack of hard data on slavery in the past had held back efforts to tackle this hidden crime and it was important to draw a ‘sand in the line’ measurement to drive action.” He challenged critics to produce an alternative.

“Without measurement you don’t have effective management and there’s no way to lead the world away from slavery,”he said.

Discussing options for eradicating modern slavery, Forrest, an Australian mining billionaire and philanthropist, singled out businesses that fail to scrutinize slavery in the production of their products. “Businesses that don’t actively look for forced labour within their supply chains are standing on a burning platform. Business leaders who refuse to look into the realities of their own supply chains are misguided and irresponsible,” he said. As Reuters noted, the “2016 index again found Asia, which provides low-skilled labor in global supply chains producing clothing, food and technology, accounted for two-thirds of the people in slavery.”

Calling on leaders in government and civil society (as well as business), to work harder in eradicating modern slavery, Forrest ultimately waxed optimistic.

“Through our responsible use of power, strength of conviction, determination and collective will, we all can lead the world to end slavery,” he said.


This article (So, You Thought Slavery Was Dead? Think Again) is free and open source. You have permission to republish this article under a Creative Commons license with attribution to Carey Wedler and theAntiMedia.orgAnti-Media Radioairs weeknights at 11 pm Eastern/8 pm Pacific. If you spot a typo, please email the error and name of the article at edits@theantimedia.org.