Archive for October, 2016

Another instalment in “The Killing$ of Tony Blair”

http://wearechange.org/blair-signed-secret-contract-saudi-oil-firm-promising-41000-month-slice-deals-helped-broker/ ( Nov 9, 2014 )

  • Tony Blair signed contract with PetroSaudi to promote it to Chinese leaders
  • The firm, founded by senior member of Saudi royal family, proposed fees of £41,000 and a 2% commission on any successful deals he brokered
  • In turn the Saudi oil firm was told it was not allowed to disclose Blair’s role
  • It is the first time a detailed contract by his office has been disclosed
  • Revelations may bring fresh criticism to his role as Middle East peace envoy
  • Blair’s office maintains work with firm had ‘nothing to do with Middle East’ 

Tony Blair signed a secret contract with a Saudi oil firm, which promised him £41,000 a month and commission on deals he helped broker, it has been claimed.

The former prime minister signed the agreement with PetroSaudi – founded by a senior member of the Saudi royal family – in November 2010 in a deal that would promote the firm to Chinese leaders.

It proposed fees of £41,000 a month and a two per cent cut on any successful negotiations for Blair, while the firm was told it was prohibited from disclosing his role without consent.

The 21-page leaked document, obtained by The Sunday Times, is the first time a detailed contract agreed by his office – Tony Blair Associates – has been revealed.

The newspaper claims it is also the first piece of evidence of his work for a Middle Eastern oil firm.

Mr Blair’s role as a Middle East Peace Envoy is to hammer out a ceasefire in times of conflict between the Israelis and Palestinian

But it is thought the revelations will give rise to fresh criticism of his role and his private interests.

PetroSaudi, which was jointly founded by Saudi businessman Tarek Obaid and son of Saudi Arabia – King Abdullah – Prince Turki bin Abdullah Al Saud, has projects in Tunisia, Ghana and Indonesia.

A senior PetroSaudi source told the Sunday newspaper: ‘[Blair] has got deep ties to the Middle East and that is how we got to know him.

‘It was a confidential engagement to help us develop business in China.’

The report stated that TBA would help find potential sources of new investment and Blair would have to personally make introductions to contacts, including senior political leaders.

A former ambassador to Libya, Oliver Miles, has called for the former Labour Party leader to be removed from his current post in the Middle East – where his office is based in Jerusalem.

 Tony Blair and his wife Cherie, pictured today walking through Downing Street on their way to the annual Remembrance Sunday service at the Cenotaph memorial in Whitehall, London

The leaked document is the first time such a detailed document by Tony Blair’s office has been exposed

‘The fact this was kept a secret, or was intended to be kept a secret, was a mistake,’ he told the Sunday Times.

But Tony Blair Associates has defended the claims, maintaining the PetroSaudi contract was ‘nothing to do with the Middle East’ and only lasted for ‘a period of months’.

A spokesperson said: ‘Tony Blair Associates worked for PetroSaudi for a period of months over four years ago. This was in connection with an issue in the Far East and nothing whatsoever to do with the Middle East or the unpaid ex-officio role of Tony Blair for the Quartet in Palestine.

The former Labour Party leader signed the deal with PetroSaudi, which was co-founded by the son of the King  of Saudi Arabia - Prince Turki bin Abdullah Al Saud (pictured centre, shaking hands)

 The former Labour Party leader signed the deal with PetroSaudi, which was co-founded by the son of the King of Saudi Arabia – Prince Turki bin Abdullah Al Saud (pictured centre, shaking hands)

PetroSaudi (pictured is one of its ships) asked that Blair personally introduce them to his Chinese contacts

PetroSaudi (pictured is one of its ships) asked that Blair personally introduce them to his Chinese contacts

Tony Blair accepts Philanthropist of the Year at GQ awards

TONY BLAIR secured a secret contract with an oil company founded by a senior member of the Saudi royal family for a fee of £41,000 a month and a 2% commission on any of the multimillion-pound deals he helped broker, a leaked document reveals.

The contract agreed in November 2010 between Tony Blair Associates (TBA) and the oil firm PetroSaudi involved the former premier arranging introductions to his contacts in China, including senior political figures. The firm was told it could not divulge Blair’s role to anyone without permission.

It is the first time any detailed contract negotiated on behalf of Blair has been revealed. It is also the first evidence of his work for a Middle Eastern oil firm. The disclosure will provoke fresh criticism of Blair’s role as a Middle East envoy and his private and undisclosed business interests.

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https://archive.fo/1inAb#selection-449.0-481.329 By John Pilger on October 28, 2016.


A silent war continues, led by the west, ignored by the media, writes John Pilger.
The American journalist, Edward Bernays, is often described as the man who invented modern propaganda.
The nephew of Sigmund Freud, the pioneer of psycho-analysis, it was Bernays who coined the term “public relations” as a euphemism for spin and its deceptions.
In 1929, he persuaded feminists to promote cigarettes for women by smoking in the New York Easter Parade – behaviour then considered outlandish.
One feminist, Ruth Booth, declared, “Women! Light another torch of freedom! Fight another sex taboo!”
Bernays’ influence extended far beyond advertising. His greatest success was his role in convincing the American public to join the slaughter of the First World War. The secret, he said, was “engineering the consent” of people in order to “control and regiment [them]according to our will without their knowing about it”.
He described this as “the true ruling power in our society” and called it an “invisible government”.
Today, the invisible government has never been more powerful and less understood. In my career as a journalist and film-maker, I have never known propaganda to insinuate our lives as it does now, and to go unchallenged.
Imagine two cities. Both are under siege by the forces of the government of that country. Both cities are occupied by fanatics, who commit terrible atrocities, such as beheading people.
But there is a vital difference. In one siege, the government soldiers are described as liberators by Western reporters embedded with them, who enthusiastically report their battles and air strikes. There are front page pictures of these heroic soldiers giving a V-sign for victory.
There is scant mention of civilian casualties.
(IMAGE: The U.S. Army, Flickr)
(IMAGE: The U.S. Army, Flickr)
In the second city – in another country nearby – almost exactly the same thing is happening. Government forces are laying siege to a city controlled by the same breed of fanatics.
The difference is that these fanatics are supported, supplied and armed by “us” – by the United States and Britain. They even have a media centre that is funded by Britain and America.
Another difference is that the government soldiers laying siege to this city are the bad guys, condemned for assaulting and bombing the city – which is exactly what the good soldiers do in the first city.
Confusing? Not really.
Such is the basic double standard that is the essence of propaganda. I am referring, of course, to the current siege of the city of Mosul by the government forces of Iraq, who are backed by the United States and Britain, and to the siege of Aleppo by the government forces of Syria, backed by Russia.
One is good; the other is bad.
What is seldom reported is that both cities would not be occupied by fanatics and ravaged by war if Britain and the United States had not invaded Iraq in 2003.
That criminal enterprise was launched on lies strikingly similar to the propaganda that now distorts our understanding of the civil war in Syria.
Without this drumbeat of propaganda dressed up as news, the monstrous ISIS and Al-Qaida and al-Nusra and the rest of the jihadist gang might not exist, and the people of Syria might not be fighting for their lives today.
Some may remember in 2003 a succession of BBC reporters turning to the camera and telling us that Blair was “vindicated” for what turned out to be the crime of the century. The US television networks produced the same validation for George W. Bush. Fox News brought on Henry Kissinger to effuse over Colin Powell’s fabrications.
Former US president George W Bush (IMAGE: Peter Stevens, Flickr).
Former US president George W Bush (IMAGE: Peter Stevens, Flickr).
The same year, soon after the invasion, I filmed an interview in Washington with Charles Lewis, the renowned American investigative journalist. I asked him,
“What would have happened if the freest media in the world had seriously challenged what turned out to be crude propaganda?”
He replied that if journalists had done their job, “there is a very, very good chance we would not have gone to war in Iraq”.
It was a shocking statement, and one supported by other famous journalists to whom I put the same question – Dan Rather of CBS, David Rose of the Observer and journalists and producers in the BBC, who wished to remain anonymous.
In other words, had journalists done their job, had they challenged and investigated the propaganda instead of amplifying it, hundreds of thousands of men, women and children would be alive today, and
there would be no ISIS and no siege of Aleppo or Mosul.
There would have been no atrocity on the London Underground on 7th July 2005.
There would have been no flight of millions of refugees;
there would be no miserable camps.
When the terrorist atrocity happened in Paris last November, President Francoise Hollande immediately sent planes to bomb Syria – and more terrorism followed, predictably, the product of Hollande’s bombast about France being “at war” and “showing no mercy”.
That state violence and jihadist violence feed off each other is the truth that no national leader has the courage to speak.
“When the truth is replaced by silence,” said the Soviet dissident Yevtushenko, “the silence is a lie.”
The attack on Iraq, the attack on Libya, the attack on Syria happened because the leader in each of these countries was not a puppet of the West. The human rights record of a Saddam or a Gaddafi was irrelevant. They did not obey orders and surrender control of their country.
The same fate awaited Slobodan Milosevic once he had refused to sign an “agreement” that demanded the occupation of Serbia and its conversion to a market economy. His people were bombed, and he was prosecuted in The Hague.
Independence of this kind is intolerable.
Syria-Assad
As WikLeaks has revealed, it was only when the Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad in 2009 rejected an oil pipeline, running through his country from Qatar to Europe, that he was attacked.
From that moment, the CIA planned to destroy the government of Syria with jihadist fanatics – the same fanatics currently holding the people of Mosul and eastern Aleppo hostage.
Why is this not news? The former British Foreign Office official Carne Ross, who was responsible for operating sanctions against Iraq, told me: “We would feed journalists factoids of sanitised intelligence, or we would freeze them out. That is how it worked.”
The West’s medieval client, Saudi Arabia – to which the US and Britain sell billions of dollars’ worth of arms – is at present destroying Yemen, a country so poor that in the best of times, half the children are malnourished.
Look on YouTube and you will see the kind of massive bombs – “our” bombs – that the Saudis use against dirt-poor villages, and against weddings, and funerals.
The explosions look like small atomic bombs. The bomb aimers in Saudi Arabia work side-by-side with British officers.
This fact is not on the evening news.
Propaganda is most effective when our consent is engineered by those with a fine education – Oxford, Cambridge, Harvard, Columbia – and with careers on the BBC, the Guardian, the New York Times, the Washington Post.
These organisations are known as the liberal media.
They present themselves as enlightened, progressive tribunes of the moral zeitgeist.
They are anti-racist, pro-feminist and pro-LGBT.
And they love war.
While they speak up for feminism, they support rapacious wars that deny the rights of countless women, including the right to life.
In 2011, Libya, then a modern state, was destroyed on the pretext that Muammar Gaddafi was about to commit genocide on his own people. That was the incessant news; and there was no evidence. It was a lie.
An anti-Gaddafi rally, Libya 2011. (IMAGE: mojomogwai, Flickr)
An anti-Gaddafi rally, Libya 2011. (IMAGE: mojomogwai, Flickr)
In fact, Britain, Europe and the United States wanted what they like to call “regime change” in Libya, the biggest oil producer in Africa.
Gaddafi’s influence in the continent and, above all, his independence were intolerable.
So he was murdered with a knife in his rear by fanatics, backed by America, Britain and France.
Hillary Clinton cheered his gruesome death for the camera, declaring, “We came, we saw, he died!”
The destruction of Libya was a media triumph.
As the war drums were beaten, Jonathan Freedland wrote in the Guardian: “Though the risks are very real, the case for intervention remains strong.”
Intervention – what a polite, benign, Guardian word, whose real meaning, for Libya, was death and destruction.
According to its own records, Nato launched 9,700 “strike sorties” against Libya, of which more than a third were aimed at civilian targets. They included missiles with uranium warheads.
Look at the photographs of the rubble of Misurata and Sirte, and the mass graves identified by the Red Cross.
The UNICEF report on the children killed says, “most [of them]under the age of 10”.
As a direct consequence, Sirte became the capital of ISIS.
Ukraine is another media triumph. Respectable liberal newspapers such as the New York Times, the Washington Post and the Guardian, and mainstream broadcasters such as the BBC, NBC, CBS, CNN have played a critical role in conditioning their viewers to accept a new and dangerous cold war.
All have misrepresented events in Ukraine as a malign act by Russia when, in fact, the coup in Ukraine in 2014 was the work of the United States, aided by Germany and Nato.
This inversion of reality is so pervasive that Washington’s military intimidation of Russia is not news; it is suppressed behind a smear and scare campaign of the kind I grew up with during the first cold war. Once again, the Ruskies are coming to get us, led by another Stalin, whom The Economist depicts as the devil.
The suppression of the truth about Ukraine is one of the most complete news blackouts I can remember. The fascists who engineered the coup in Kiev are the same breed that backed the Nazi invasion of the Soviet Union in 1941.
Of all the scares about the rise of fascist anti-Semitism in Europe, no leader ever mentions the fascists in Ukraine – except Vladimir Putin, but he does not count.
Russian president Vladimir Putin. (IMAGE: IoSonoUnaFotoCamera, Flickr).
Russian president Vladimir Putin. (IMAGE: IoSonoUnaFotoCamera, Flickr).
Many in the Western media have worked hard to present the ethnic Russian-speaking population of Ukraine as outsiders in their own country, as agents of Moscow, almost never as Ukrainians seeking a federation within Ukraine and as Ukrainian citizens resisting a foreign-orchestrated coup against their elected government.
There is almost the joie d’esprit of a class reunion of warmongers. The drum-beaters of the Washington Post inciting war with Russia are the very same editorial writers who published the lie that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction.
To most of us, the American presidential campaign is a media freak show, in which Donald Trump is the arch villain.
But Trump is loathed by those with power in the United States for reasons that have little to do with his obnoxious behaviour and opinions. To the invisible government in Washington, the unpredictable Trump is an obstacle to America’s design for the 21stcentury.
This is to maintain the dominance of the United States and to subjugate Russia, and, if possible, China.
To the militarists in Washington, the real problem with Trump is that, in his lucid moments, he seems not to want a war with Russia; he wants to talk with the Russian president, not fight him; he says he wants to talk with the president of China.
In the first debate with Hillary Clinton, Trump promised not to be the first to introduce nuclear weapons into a conflict. He said, “I would certainly not do first strike. Once the nuclear alternative happens, it’s over.” That was not news.
Did he really mean it? Who knows? He often contradicts himself. But what is clear is that Trump is considered a serious threat to the status quo maintained by the vast national security machine that runs the United States, regardless of who is in the White House.
The CIA wants him beaten.
The Pentagon wants him beaten.
The media wants him beaten.
Even his own party wants him beaten.
He is a threat to the rulers of the world – unlike Clinton who has left no doubt she is prepared to go to war with nuclear-armed Russia and China.
US Republican presidential candidate, Donald Trump. (IMAGE: Gage Skidmore, Flickr)
US Republican presidential candidate, Donald Trump. (IMAGE: Gage Skidmore, Flickr)
Clinton has the form, as she often boasts. Indeed, her record is proven. As a senator, she backed the bloodbath in Iraq. When she ran against Obama in 2008, she threatened to “totally obliterate” Iran. As Secretary of State, she colluded in the destruction of governments in Libya and Honduras and set in train the baiting of China.
She has now pledged to support a No Fly Zone in Syria — a direct provocation for war with Russia. Clinton may well become the most dangerous president of the United States in my lifetime –a distinction for which the competition is fierce.
Without a shred of evidence, she has accused Russia of supporting Trump and hacking her emails. Released by WikiLeaks, these emails tell us that what Clinton says in private, in speeches to the rich and powerful, is the opposite of what she says in public.
That is why silencing and threatening Julian Assange is so important. As the editor of WikiLeaks, Assange knows the truth.
And let me assure those who are concerned, he is well, and WikiLeaks is operating on all cylinders.
Today, the greatest build-up of American-led forces since World War Two is under way – in the Caucasus and eastern Europe, on the border with Russia, and in Asia and the Pacific, where China is the target.
Keep that in mind when the presidential election circus reaches its finale on November 8th, If the winner is Clinton, a Greek chorus of witless commentators will celebrate her coronation as a great step forward for women. None will mention Clinton’s victims:
the women of Syria,
the women of Iraq,
the women of Libya.
None will mention the civil defence drills being conducted in Russia. None will recall Edward Bernays’ “torches of freedom”.
Democratic presidential candidate, Hillary Clinton. (IMAGE: iprimages, Flickr)
Democratic presidential candidate, Hillary Clinton. (IMAGE: iprimages, Flickr)
George Bush’s press spokesman once called the media “complicit enablers”.
Coming from a senior official in an administration whose lies, enabled by the media, caused such suffering, that description is a warning from history.
In 1946, the Nuremberg Tribunal prosecutor said of the German media:
“Before every major aggression, they initiated a press campaign calculated to weaken their victims and to prepare the German people psychologically for the attack. In the propaganda system, it was the daily press and the radio that were the most important weapons.”

This is adapted from an address to the Sheffield Festival of Words, Sheffield, England.JohnPilger.com – the films and journalism of John Pilger

 

Best article I’ve read in a long time and written by a friend of a friend : Fear Laundering http://www.counterpunch.org/2016/10/25/fear-laundering-an-elaborate-psychological-diversion-and-bid-for-power/ 

Fear is the key word for this presidential election.

There is the fear of the Republican candidate Donald Trump as we all know. But I also think there is another fear.

It’s the fear of accepting what this country has become.

Martin Luther King Jr. accurately described the US government as “the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today.”

As a result, he wasn’t only killed physically, but his legacy as an anti-imperial revolutionary was also put to death. He was systematically demonized before the killing and his determination to confront the imperial war machine was subsumed (in effect whitewashed) by his image as a great civil rights leader.

Many of his contemporaries, probably the most brilliant, insightful and humanistic people to emerge from the US, have been assassinated and imprisoned.

A half century later, the US wields over 1000 military bases across the globe while over half of the federal tax goes for military spending. Currently it engages in eight wars. It also surrounds nuclear armed Russia and China while aggressively provoking both nations economically and militarily. There is no MLK or Malcolm X today, but there is the first black commander in chief who jokes about drone killings.

A Nobel Peace Prize winner is responsible for commanding the eight wars mentioned above. The country of freedom, equality and liberty is number one in mass incarceration, police killings, and mass surveillance. Perhaps this might be the worst time to wake up and realize that what the government has been doing is the complete opposite of what it’s been saying.

According to Jacques Lacan, the French psychoanalyst, such a shift in one’s world view causes fragmentation of the self, which leads to an extreme expression of anger and desperate efforts in protecting and defending the crumbling “reality”.

For some people this momentum of anger and fear seems to merge directly with anger against Donald Trump together with unconditional support for the de facto power of establishment: Hillary Clinton. They can divert the overflowing anger toward Trump while rebuilding their crumbling world by standing with Clinton, dutifully demonizing the good old cold war enemy Russia, erroneously calling the WikiLeaks founder a rapist, affirming American exceptionalism with conviction, and so on.

It is truly surreal to witness people turning into Russia-hating-angry-Americans who believe that American style democracy is exceptional and the nation should be led by a trusted imperialist with a proven record of spreading “democracy” with undemocratic means. However, it might not be a complete mystery after all.

I wonder if this psychological narrative was considered when the Democratic Party strategists conspired to promote Donald Trump as an extreme right wing conservative, as a “piped piper” candidate who would play the evil candidate against the “lesser evil” candidate Hillary Clinton.

Take a look at a Clinton supporter’s wall. You will notice a few emotionally charged angles that are prominent, which are designed to elicit highly emotional responses while covering up Clinton’s patriarchal policies of colonialism, corporatism and militarism:

  1. Trump’s misogyny, which, of course, functions to elevate “feminist” Clinton while covering up her patriarchal policies of wars and socioeconomic restructuring for the interests of the Wall Street bankers.
  2. Openly Russophobic remarks coupled with an alleged Trump connection to Russia. The demonization of Russians and portraying the Russian government as an illegitimate entity serve to prepare people for continuing economic and military pressure against Russia. This has been particularly concerning for all of us who have followed the movements of NATO forces encroaching on Russia. It is not Russia exhibiting aggression, but it has been the NATO forces, with 10 times more military spending, provoking nuclear armed Russia. This angle elicits a strong emotional response from people who have been long conditioned with anti-soviet, anti-Communist propaganda long after the fall of the Soviet Union and its communist governance. It also must be noted that it is simply appalling that Clinton has not presented any evidence for her claim that the Russian government has intervened in the presidential election, while the US has been officially engaging in political intervention of Russia through its Russian Democracy Act.
  3. Trump’s disrespectful remarks against US veterans. Highlighting Trump’s remarks about veterans elevates Clintons status as a potential military leader. I have been surprised that people, who I thought would be aware of the violent imperialism of the US hegemony, which has destroyed over 22 million lives across the globe while destroying domestic social programs and social safety nets, are so willing to go along with Clinton’s pro war position. Clinton has been literally in support of all the US colonial wars and continues to provoke Russia and China with aggressive remarks.

The US presidential election is a great tool of imperialism to turn good Americans into fervent nationalists dangerous to all humans on the planet.

I urgently ask readers to consider our predicament being trapped in this scheme devised to perpetuate the rule of the extreme minority with enormous wealth and power.


 

Hiroyuki Hamada is an artist. He has exhibited throughout the United States and in Europe and is represented by Lori Bookstein Fine Art. He has been awarded various residencies including those at the Provincetown Fine Arts Work Center, the Edward F. Albee Foundation/William Flanagan Memorial Creative Person’s Center, the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture, and the MacDowell Colony. In 1998 Hamada was the recipient of a Pollock Krasner Foundation grant, and in 2009 he was awarded a New York Foundation for the Arts Fellowship. He lives and works New York, the United States.

 

Protect Human Rights

 The term “human rights” was mentioned seven times in the UN’s founding Charter, making the promotion and protection of human rights a key purpose and guiding principle of the Organization.
In 1948, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights brought human rights into the realm of international law.
Since then, the UN has diligently protected human rights through legal instruments and on-the-ground activities.

UN Photo/Fardin Waezi
(Students at Butkhak High School in Kabul, Afghanistan, cheer in unison on the last day of Global Action Week, an international campaign advocating free, quality education for all.)

How does the UN promote and protect human rights?

High Commissioner for Human Rights

The Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) has lead responsibility in the UN system for the promotion and protection of human rights.

The office supports the human rights components of peacekeeping missions in several countries, and has many country and regional offices and centres.

The High Commissioner for Human Rights regularly comments on human rights situations in the world and has the authority to investigate situations and issue reports on them.

Human Rights Council

The Human Rights Council, established in 2006, replaced the 60-year-old UN Commission on Human Rights as the key independent UN intergovernmental body responsible for human rights. ( http://www.ohchr.org/en/hrbodies/hrc/pages/hrcindex.aspx )

Human Rights Treaty Bodies

The human rights treaty bodies are committees of independent experts that monitor implementation of the core international human rights treaties

Special Procedures

The special procedures of the Human Rights Council are prominent, independent experts working on a voluntary basis, who examine, monitor, publicly report and advise on human rights from a thematic or country-specific perspective.

UNDG-HRM

The UN Development Group’s Human Rights Mainstreaming Mechanism (UNDG-HRM) advances human rights mainstreaming efforts within the UN development system.

Special Advisers on the Prevention of Genocide and the Responsibility to Protect

The Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide acts as a catalyst to raise awareness of the causes and dynamics of genocide, to alert relevant actors where there is a risk of genocide, and to advocate and mobilize for appropriate action; the Special Adviser on the Responsibility to Protect leads the conceptual, political, institutional and operational development of the Responsibility to Protect.

What legal instruments help the UN protect human rights?

The International Bill of Human Rights

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948) was the first legal document protecting universal human rights.
Together with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights
and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights,
the three instruments form the so-called International Bill of Human Rights.
A series of international human rights treaties and other instruments adopted since 1945 have expanded the body of international human rights law.

Democracy

Democracy, based on the rule of law, is ultimately a means to achieve international peace and security, economic and social progress and development, and respect for human rights – the three pillars of the United Nations mission as set forth in the UN Charter.

At the 2005 World Summit, all the world’s governments reaffirmed;

“that democracy is a universal value based on the freely expressed will of people to determine their own political, economic, social and cultural systems and their full participation in all aspects of their lives” and stressed “that democracy, development and respect for all human rights and fundamental freedoms are interdependent and mutually reinforcing”.

Democratic principles are woven throughout the normative fabric of the United Nations. The 2009 Guidance Note on Democracy of the Secretary-General sets out the United Nations framework for democracy based on universal principles, norms and standards and commits the UN to principled, coherent and consistent action in support of democracy.

What other UN offices and bodies are responsible for protecting human rights?

Security Council

The UN Security Council, at times, deals with grave human rights violations, often in conflict areas.  The UN Charter gives the Security Council the authority to investigate and mediate, dispatch a mission, appoint special envoys, or request the Secretary-General to use his good offices.  The Security Council may issue a ceasefire directive, dispatch military observers or a peacekeeping force.  If this does not work, the Security Council can opt for enforcement measures, such as economic sanctions, arms embargos, financial penalties and restrictions, travel bans, the severance of diplomatic relations, a blockade, or even collective military action.

Third Committee of the General Assembly

The General Assembly’s Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural) examines a range of issues, including human rights questions.

The Committee also discusses questions relating to;

  • the advancement of women,
  • the protection of children,
  • indigenous issues,
  • the treatment of refugees,
  • the promotion of fundamental freedoms through the elimination of racism and racial discrimination,
  • and the right to self-determination.

The Committee also addresses important social development questions.

Various Other UN Bodies

Different intergovernmental bodies and interdepartmental mechanisms based at the United Nations headquarters in New York, as well as the United Nations Secretary-General, address a range of human rights issues.

The General Assembly, the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) and their subsidiary organs make policy decisions and recommendations to Member States, the United Nations system and other actors. The United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (UNPFII), an advisory body to the Economic and Social Council, has a mandate to discuss indigenous issues, including human rights.

The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights interacts with and provides advice and support on human rights issues to these bodies and mechanisms. The Office also works to mainstream human rights in all areas of work of the Organization, including development, peace and security, peacekeeping and humanitarian affairs.

Human rights issues are also addressed in the context of the post-conflict UN peacebuilding support activities

Secretary-General

The Secretary-General appoints special representatives, who advocate against major human rights violations:

The ‘Human Rights Up Front’ Initiative is an initiative by the UN Secretary-General to ensure the UN system takes early and effective action, as mandated by the Charter and UN resolutions, to prevent or respond to serious and large-scale violations of human rights or international humanitarian law. The initiative underlines a shared responsibility among the various UN entities to work together to address such violations. HRuF seeks to achieve this by effecting change at three levels: cultural, operational and political.  These changes are gradually transforming the way the UN understands its responsibilities and implements them. The initiative has been progressively rolled-out since late 2013. Through various presentations, letters and policy documents, the Secretary-General and Deputy Secretary-General have presented HRuF to the General Assembly and to staff and UN system leaders.

UN Peace Operations

Many United Nations peacekeeping operations and political and peacebuidling missions also include the human rights-related mandates aimed at contributing to the protection and promotion of human rights through both immediate and long-term action; empowering the population to assert and claim their human rights; and enabling State and other national institutions to implement their human rights obligations and uphold the rule of law. Human rights teams on the ground work in close cooperation and coordination with other civilian and uniformed components of peace operations, in particular, in relation to the protection of civilians; addressing conflict-related sexual violence and violations against children; and strengthening respect for human rights and the rule of law through legal and judicial reform, security sector reform and prison system reform.

Commission on the Status of Women

The Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) is the principal global intergovernmental body dedicated to the promotion of gender equality and the advancement of women.  UN Women, established in 2010, serves as its Secretariat.


 

PEACEBUILDING RESOURCES

http://www.un.org/en/peacebuilding/pbso/pbresources.shtml

  • Reconciliation After Violent Conflict, A handbook by the International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance
  • A New Deal for Engagement in Fragile States
  • Countries endorsed the New Deal
  • Design, Monitoring and Evaluation for Peacebuilding
  • The Peacemaker http://peacemaker.unlb.org/
  • Resource Mobilisation for Peacebuilding Priorities: The Role of the Peacebuilding Commission (PBC)

Reports of the Secretary-General

  • Report of the Secretary-General on Peacebuilding in the aftermath of conflict (2014) 
  • Report of the Secretary-General on Peacebuilding in the aftermath of conflict (2012)
  • Report of the Secretary-General on Women’s participation in peacebuilding 
  • Progress report of the Secretary-General on peacebuilding in the immediate aftermath of conflict (2010) 
  • Report of the Secretary-General on peacebuilding in the immediate aftermath of conflict (2009) 

PBSO publications

  • Thematic Review on Gender and Peacebuilding 
  • Special Issue Newsletter: Natural Resources and Peacebuilding. Presented in cooperation with the UN Environment Programme (UNEP)
  • Women and Natural Resources: Unlocking the Peacebuilding Potential. Presented in cooperation with UNDP, UNEP and UN Women.
  • Workshop Report by the UN Peacebuilding Support Office – Building Just Societies: Reconciliation in Transitional Settings 
  • Thematic Review of Security Sector Reform (SSR) and Peacebuilding 
  • Thematic review of DDR contributions to peacebuilding and the role of the Peacebuilding Fund
  • “Peace Dividends and Beyond: Contributions of Administrative Social Services to Peacebuilding”, Prepared by the UN Peacebuilding Support Office in cooperation with FAO, OHCHR, UNCDF, UNDP, UNEP, UNFPA, UNHCR, UNICEF, UN Women, WFP and WHO 
  • Peacebuilding Architecture Flyer http://www.un.org/en/peacebuilding/pbso/pdf/pbso_architecture_flyer.pdf
  • Peacebuilding Orientation 
  • The Peacebuilding Review, November 2011 
  • The Benchmarking Handbook http://www.un.org/en/peacebuilding/pbso/pdf/monitoring_peace_consolidation.pdf
    The UN Peacebuilding Community of Practice (PB-CoP), a part of PBSO's
    knowledge management, is a network that provides support to 
    peacebuilding practitioners. Currently, the PB-CoP unites over 500 
    peacebuilding practitioners from 65 countries and 40 UN departments 
    and agencies. For more information, please contact PBSO's Senior 
    Policy Officer, Ms. Felicia Gordon at gordonf@un.org.

 

Agnotology is the study of wilful acts to spread confusion and deceit, usually to sell a product or win favour.

Robert Proctor, a science historian from Stanford University, says.

“Ignorance is not just the not-yet-known, it’s also a political ploy, a deliberate creation by powerful agents who want you ‘not to know’.”

http://www.bbc.com/future/story/20160105-the-man-who-studies-the-spread-of-ignorance

How do people or companies with vested interests spread ignorance and obfuscate knowledge? Georgina Kenyon finds there is a term which defines this phenomenon. Agnotology.

In 1979, a secret memo from the tobacco industry was revealed to the public.
Called the Smoking and Health Proposal, and written a decade earlier by the Brown & Williamson tobacco company, it revealed many of the tactics employed by big tobacco to counter “anti-cigarette forces”.

In one of the paper’s most revealing sections, it looks at how to market cigarettes to the mass public: “Doubt is our product since it is the best means of competing with the ‘body of fact’ that exists in the mind of the general public. It is also the means of establishing a controversy.”

This revelation piqued the interest of Robert Proctor, a science historian from Stanford University, who started delving into the practices of tobacco firms and how they had spread confusion about whether smoking caused cancer.

Proctor had found that the cigarette industry did not want consumers to know the harms of its product, and it spent billions obscuring the facts of the health effects of smoking. This search led him to create a word for the study of deliberate propagation of ignorance: agnotology.

It comes from agnosis, the neoclassical Greek word for ignorance or ‘not knowing’, and ontology, the branch of metaphysics which deals with the nature of being.

Agnotology is the study of wilful acts to spread confusion and deceit, usually to sell a product or win favour.

“I was exploring how powerful industries could promote ignorance to sell their wares. Ignorance is power… and agnotology is about the deliberate creation of ignorance.

“In looking into agnotology, I discovered the secret world of classified science, and thought historians should be giving this more attention.”

The 1969 memo and the tactics used by the tobacco industry became the perfect example of agnotology, Proctor says.

“Ignorance is not just the not-yet-known, it’s also a political ploy, a deliberate creation by powerful agents who want you ‘not to know’.”

To help him in his search, Proctor enlisted the help of UC Berkeley linguist Iain Boal, and together they came up with the term – the neologism was coined in 1995, although much of Proctor’s analysis of the phenomenon had occurred in the previous decades.

Balancing act

Agnotology is as important today as it was back when Proctor studied the tobacco industry’s obfuscation of facts about cancer and smoking. For example, politically motivated doubt was sown over US President Barack Obama’s nationality for many months by opponents until he revealed his birth certificate in 2011. In another case, some political commentators in Australia attempted to stoke panic by likening the country’s credit rating to that of Greece, despite readily available public information from ratings agencies showing the two economies are very different.

(Credit: Thinkstock)

The spread of ignorance is as relevant today as it was when Proctor coined his term (Credit: Thinkstock)

Proctor explains that ignorance can often be propagated under the guise of balanced debate. For example, the common idea that there will always be two opposing views does not always result in a rational conclusion. This was behind how tobacco firms used science to make their products look harmless, and is used today by climate change deniers to argue against the scientific evidence.

“This ‘balance routine’ has allowed the cigarette men, or climate deniers today, to claim that there are two sides to every story, that ‘experts disagree’ – creating a false picture of the truth, hence ignorance.”

For example, says Proctor, many of the studies linking carcinogens in tobacco were conducted in mice initially, and the tobacco industry responded by saying that studies into mice did not mean that people were at risk, despite adverse health outcomes in many smokers.

A new era of ignorance

“We live in a world of radical ignorance, and the marvel is that any kind of truth cuts through the noise,” says Proctor. Even though knowledge is ‘accessible’, it does not mean it is accessed, he warns.

“Although for most things this is trivial – like, for example, the boiling point of mercury – but for bigger questions of political and philosophical import, the knowledge people have often comes from faith or tradition, or propaganda, more than anywhere else.”

(Credit: Thinkstock)

When people do not understand a concept or fact, they are prey for special interest groups who work hard to create confusion (Credit: Thinkstock)

Proctor found that ignorance spreads when firstly, many people do not understand a concept or fact and secondly, when special interest groups – like a commercial firm or a political group – then work hard to create confusion about an issue. In the case of ignorance about tobacco and climate change, a scientifically illiterate society will probably be more susceptible to the tactics used by those wishing to confuse and cloud the truth.

Consider climate change as an example. “The fight is not just over the existence of climate change, it’s over whether God has created the Earth for us to exploit, whether government has the right to regulate industry, whether environmentalists should be empowered, and so on. It’s not just about the facts, it’s about what is imagined to flow from and into such facts,” says Proctor.

Making up our own minds

Another academic studying ignorance is David Dunning, from Cornell University. Dunning warns that the internet is helping propagate ignorance – it is a place where everyone has a chance to be their own expert, he says, which makes them prey for powerful interests wishing to deliberately spread ignorance.

“While some smart people will profit from all the information now just a click away, many will be misled into a false sense of expertise. My worry is not that we are losing the ability to make up our own minds, but that it’s becoming too easy to do so. We should consult with others much more than we imagine. Other people may be imperfect as well, but often their opinions go a long way toward correcting our own imperfections, as our own imperfect expertise helps to correct their errors,” warns Dunning.

Dunning and Proctor also warn that the wilful spread of ignorance is rampant throughout the US presidential primaries on both sides of the political spectrum.

“Donald Trump is the obvious current example in the US, suggesting easy solutions to followers that are either unworkable or unconstitutional,” says Dunning.

So while agnotology may have had its origins in the heyday of the tobacco industry, today the need for both a word and the study of human ignorance is as strong as ever.

Wilful acts to spread a narrative and obliterate competing interpretations – something that the social media echo chambers do, too. (But not even then very successfully).

There’s an idea – here demonstrated in a lecture by Adam Curtis – that brainwashing is not really achievable. https://vimeo.com/61089268

I don’t think Agnotology is quite the same as ‘brainwashing’. It’s more the creation of a ‘post-truth’ society, or “hyper-normalisation” as Curtis has titled his newest film.

Welcome to the post-truth world. You know it’s not real, but you accept it as normal.


Defeat device software

https://youtu.be/hOTKIZgppbs – Dan Carder, West Virginia University’s director of the Center for Alternative Fuels, Engines and Emissions, and Bloomberg Intelligence’s Kevin Tynan discuss the exposure of the Volkswagen vehicle-emission cheating scandal with Bloomberg’s Matt Miller and Mark Crumpton on “Bloomberg Markets.”


And yet TODAY – 24th October – there’s this…
Industry Lobbyists have won yet again.

“Petrol cars allowed to exceed pollution limits by 50% under draft EU laws”

https://gu.com/p/58fb4/stw  -Monday 24 October 2016

New European cars with petrol engines will be allowed to overshoot a limit on toxic particulates emissions by 50% under a draft EU regulation backed by the UK and most other EU states.

Campaigners say that a simple €25 (£22) filter could drastically cut the pollution, but the Guardian has learned that car-makers have instead mounted a successful push for loopholes and legislative delay.

Bas Eickhout, a Green MEP on the European parliament’s environment committee and dieselgate inquiry panel, promised action to ensure that the lessons of the VW scandal were learned.

“With this ridiculous proposal, the EU’s member states are again trying to dilute EU laws at a terrible cost to human health. We will call on the European commission to come to the European parliament and explain themselves on this issue,” he said.

Particulate matter (PM) is the largest single contributor to the estimated 600,000 premature deaths across Europe from pollution-related heart and lung diseases each year.

Children and the elderly are worst affected, and the associated health costs could be as high as €1.6 Trillion a year in Europe, according to the World Health Organisation.

Although exhaust fumes from diesel and petrol engines are one of the largest sources of particulates emissions, most EU member states support raising the EU’s pollution standard 50% above the legal limit set down in the Euro 6 regulation.

Behind the scenes, vehicle makers have pushed strongly for a staggering 300% over, according to material seen by the Guardian.

The draft regulation is still being discussed by EU member states and the auto industry has not given up hopes of wrenching further concessions on particulate emissions ahead of a final decision on 7 December.

One Powerpoint slide shown to EU expert groups by the European automobile manufacturers association (Acea) says that a 300% latitude in meeting the letter of the law would be “realistic” because of “measurement uncertainty” in emissions tests.

Florent Grelier, a clean vehicles engineer at the Transport and Environment (T&E) campaign group, told the Guardian he feared that EU attempts to improve air quality were being “bent to the will of the automotive industry”.

“This is a petrolgate scandal in the making,” he said.

“Unless the European commission and governments establish strict test procedures to protect the industry from its own short-sightedness, within a few years we will see continuing high levels of particles killing hundreds of thousands of citizens prematurely.”

Under EU law, car-manufacturers are already obliged to use filters for diesel engines, but not for the rapidly-growing 40% of the petrol engine market which is made up by uncontrolled gasoline direct injection engines.
These release more particulate matter than modern diesel cars.

Gasoline particulate filters could reduce these emissions by a factor of around 100, and would cost manufacturers just €25 per car, according to research by T&E.
But car manufacturers have argued this would violate the principle of technology neutrality.

A spokesman for Acea declined to comment on the issue.

Calls by the auto industry for a delay in implementing the new regulation have been well received by several car-producing EU countries.
Spain and Sweden argued for a one-year legislative delay that would push its introduction back to 2019, in minutes of a technical committee meeting earlier this month seen by the Guardian.

The UK took no formal position on when the new regulation should enter into force but warned of “unintended adverse effects” if pm limits were given a separate starting date to standards for another pollutant, nitrogen oxide (NOx) , which will now begin in 2019.

An EU group of national experts – the technical committee on motor vehicles – is now expected to sign off on the final proposal to amend the Euro 6 regulation for real world driving emissions, in December.

The issue of “conformity factors” – or compensating for uncertainties in emissions tests – last year led the committee to impose a NOx limit 110% higher than the one written into the Euro 6 regulations last year.


http://cumminseuro6.com/what-is-euro-6

Euro 6 is the latest diesel engine emission legislations being driven by the European Commission.

Since 1993, when the very first ‘Euro 1’ legislation was introduced for trucks and buses, the European Commission has regulated the amount of pollutants coming out of the tail-pipe of a diesel engine. In particular, the Commission identified two key constituents within the exhaust stream – Oxides of Nitrogen or ‘NOx’, and ‘Particulate Matter‘ (basically soot particles) – as being harmful, and which needed to be controlled and reduced… etc (see http://cumminseuro6.com/customise/upload/files/20_a.pdf )


Euro 6 regulations in detail

The Euro 6 European exhaust emission regulations have been implemented in two stages. The first, which applied to all ‘new type approval’ vehicles, came into force on 1 January 2013. As at 1 January 2014 all new trucks and buses registered from 1 January 2014 will be equipped with a Euro 6 certified engine.

The Euro 6 regulations see significant reductions in permitted tail-pipe emissions as well as other operational changes including:

  • All NOx emissions reduced to 0.46 grams-perkilowatt-hour (g/KWh)—that’s down by 75% compared to current Euro 5 limits Particulate Matter (PM) reduced to 0.01 gm/kWh – or a further 66% drop compared to Euro 5.
  • However, with the further introduction of a new ‘particle number limit’ as part of the legislation, the actual overall reduction in the permissible levels of PM will be closer to 95%.
  • The introduction of a lower ammonia emission limit – ammonia being a byproduct of the selective catalytic reduction (SCR) exhaust after-treatment process.
  • The inclusion of a crank-case emission limit if a closed system is not used. An enhanced emissions durability requirement for all Euro 6 engines of up to 700,000 km or seven years for the largest vehicles.
  • Further improvements to the engine’s On-Board-Diagnostic (OBD) system performance.
  • The adoption of new, world-wide ‘transient’ and ‘steady-state’ test cycles including cold-start and normal-running temperature components which are designed to more closely reflect what a vehicle does in real-life.

With the introduction of the Euro 6 regulation this is the first time a ‘World Harmonised Test Cycle’ has been used for engine certification.


Volkswagen’s Code of Conduct

highlights the Company’s responsibility for;

“continuous improvement of the environmental tolerability of our products” and for “making ecologically efficient technologies available throughout the world.”23

It is a Group-wide guideline that outlines the strategy for corporate global and local responsibility and for which each individual is equally responsible for compliance.

The Code of Conduct states that to achieve the goal of being number one among the world’s automobile manufacturers, they must:

  • Act responsibly, for the benefit of our customers, shareholders, and employees,
  • Consider compliance with international conventions, laws, and internal rules to be the basis for sustainable and successful economic activities,
  • Act in accordance with our declarations; and
  • Accept responsibility for our actions.

WHAT’S NEXT FOR VOLKSWAGEN?

(The Volkswagen Scandal  – Written by Britt Blackwelder, Katherine Coleman, Sara Colunga-Santoyo, Jeffrey S. Harrison and Danielle Wozniak at the Robins School of Business, University of Richmond. http://scholarship.richmond.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1016&context=robins-case-network)

The “Dieselgate” scandal exposed unethical and deceptive practices at Volkswagen, and hurt its brand image around the world.

New CEO Matthias Muller stated that his “most urgent task is to win back trust for the Volkswagen Group – by leaving no stone unturned and with maximum transparency.” 62

Among efforts to repair relationships with the key stakeholders affected by the scandal, the company has withdrawn its diesel cars from the market and is working through plans for recalling the affected vehicles that are already on the road.

The company has also undertaken a number of initiatives to repair important relationships with customers and dealers.

These attempts include reimbursement to dealers for holding inventory and new dealership incentives connected to sales of gasoline­ powered cars.v”

For customers affected by the scandal, Volkswagen has issued a “Goodwill Package” including gift cards, credits for services or products, and a three-year extension of roadside assistance. Perhaps this is enough.

Volkswagen’s major competitors have also been caught doing socially irresponsible or even reprehensible things in the past, and seem to have weathered their storms fairly well.

  • Should this current crisis, although unfortunate, be allowed to distract the company from other critical issues, such as rapidly advancing technologies?
  • What is the bigger picture with regard to the future of Volkswagen?
  • What should its strategic emphasis be moving forward?
  • And should the company completely abandon diesel technology?
  • In short, how can this highly successful company get back on the path towards becoming the best auto manufacturer in the world?

DEFEAT DEVICE SOFTWARE

Dan Carder, West Virginia University’s director of the Center for Alternative Fuels, Engines and Emissions said his lab first discovered anomalies in test correlations in early spring of 2013.

https://youtu.be/hOTKIZgppbs 

AUDI/VW PR advertising slogan was “Truth in Engineering”

Industry experts said the car industry faced a crisis similar to recent banking scandals.

Professor of Industry at Aston University, David Bailey, said;

“the government, manufacturers and regulators needed to act on the results of the study“.
“I liken this to the Libor crisis in banking. There is a fundamental question of confidence in the industry,” Bailey said.
“Clearly the testing regime needs to more accurately reflect the real world.
That is not happening at the moment, not just in terms of nitrogen oxide but fuel efficiency. There is also an issue of accountability and openness for manufacturers in terms of what they put into public domain.”


My conclusion

Of course emission standards should be as low as possible but they should also reflect economic and technical realities.
Under present standards car manufacturers have been able to exploit glaring loop holes in regulations, no doubt the extremely powerful Automotive lobby is active in ensuring the loop holes exist?
It’s clear that the VW tricks represent only the tip of the ice berg.
Other manufacturers have also exploited the same loop holes, BUT, for some reason they have not been punished by the media and authorities.
For example; the real emissions of many Ford, GM, Land rover, Volvo, Fiat and Renault cars are many times the permitted levels.

The first task therefore HAS to be European Court action and legislation to close all existing loop holes!
The result would be substantial reduction in emissions.

Lowering the emission limits will obviously also help but closing the loop holes will have a bigger impact.

Many (but not all) of the latest Euro 6 specification diesel engines will already meet the proposed emission standards.

The technology is already there but if, by exploiting loop holes, manufacturers can save a few hundred £ or € hand improve market share and a competitive edge – They will DEFINITELY do it. Especially in the EU as they won’t receive US level fines if their caught!

An excellent Analysis. My MSc schedule means I can’t concentrate entirely on all the sub-blogs attached atm, but I am well impressed at the amount of info here.


 

I soon plan to read Michael Parenti’s ‘The Culture Struggle’ – or anything by Parenti!

“In conclusion, racism is usually seen as an aberrant, irrational output of a basically rational social system.

Actually, it more often is the other way around: racism is the rational outcome of an irrationally skewed and unjust system of privilege and exploitation.

Much of politics is the rational manipulation of irrational symbols.

Racist sentiments are consciously orchestrated by ruling elites whenever they can get away with it.”

Some good stuff on YouTube too – like this:

Michael Parenti — Functions of Fascism: 


Michael Parenti: Conspiracy and Class Interest

(https://youtu.be/Pg9xgJc2efc)

https://youtu.be/Pg9xgJc2efc


Dr Michael Parenti’s ‘The Sword and the Dollar’ here talking about its themes.
https://youtu.be/LJG3XMh94gQ


 

Popaganda

Noam Chomsky is, as anyone reading this knows, a linguist, MIT professor, and the English-speaking world’s foremost radical dissident intellectual. Chomsky’s work in this latter capacity is so well-documented that it’s not necessary to recapitulate too much—however, a few choice high notes include decades of criticism of US foreign policy, some decent commentary on then-President-elect Barack Obama at a time nearly all of the Western commentariat had turned into a deranged Borg-like collective, and producing the second comprehensive study of corporate constraints on the media along with Edward Herman. As co-author of Manufacturing Consent, Chomsky provided a model illuminating the “political economy of the mass media,” and from this research came a great deal of very useful and incisive media criticism on issues like how concision and sound-bites help the status quo and why a journalist can be both genuine and compromised. Herman and Chomsky’s propaganda model purports…

View original post 21,627 more words

Excellent article, extremely well written comparison between Chomsky the acceptable face of Left radicalism vs his contemporary Parenti

Popaganda

This is meant as a look at some of the areas where Noam Chomsky and Michael Parenti differ most visibly in their analysis and biases. Given their similarities, comparing the two provides a rare opportunity at substitution analysis: to quote Chomsky himself, “you can’t do experiments in history, but here history was kind enough to set one up for us.” In short, the differences in Chomsky versus Parenti’s positions makes for a useful case study in what ideas genuinely make one a candidate for marginalization, versus what ideas are actually quite acceptable despite their transgressive veneers. Click here for an all-in-one post.

Chomsky is never more visible than during the presidential elections season, and there’s one reason why: “As the electoral spectacle kicks into full gear and forces itself into every sector of American political discourse, Noam Chomsky, one of the world’s most celebrated dissident intellectuals, continues his longstanding…

View original post 3,523 more words