ISIS. The West takes the bait.

 

Lawmakers on both sides of the Atlantic have responded to Friday’s terror attacks in Paris by calling to close their countries’ doors to Syrian refugees and framing the fight against the Islamic State group, which claimed responsibility for the attacks, as a “clash of civilizations.”

But shutting out refugees and creating a hostile environment for Western Muslims won’t help Europe and the U.S. defeat the extremists who wrought terror in Paris. In fact, such a strategy is likely to make the U.S. and its allies more vulnerable, not safer. Here are three approaches policymakers have embraced since Friday’s attacks that would actually play into the hands of the Islamic State, also known as ISIS.

 

1. Contribute to radicalization by keeping refugees out

The 26 U.S. governors who are calling on the federal government to reject Syrian refugees have cited concerns about a refugee committing a terror attack.

Authorities found the passport of a man who crossed into Europe as a refugee from Syria near the body of one of the Paris suicide bombers, though it is not at all clear that the bomber was, in fact, a refugee. But even if one Syrian refugee did participate in the attacks, shutting out additional Syrians makes it more likely that extremism will take hold among them.

Josh Hampson argues in The Hill that keeping Syrian refugees in the Middle Eastern countries where they are currently concentrated increases the probability that they will grow susceptible to radicalization. He cites a 2013 study on the links between refugee resettlement and extremism, which found that the two greatest indicators of whether resettled refugees will commit acts of terror are poor living conditions and a lack of hospitable treatment in their host countries.

The UN High Commissioner for Refugees found that “loss of hope and appalling living conditions” are motivating Syrian refugees to leave Lebanon, Jordan, Syria and Egypt for Europe. It’s easy to see, then, why shutting refugees out of the West could breed more extremism. Hampson says it is urgent that the West enable Syrian refugees to re-settle in places where they will be less vulnerable to radicalization.

 

2. Play into the Islamic State’s narrative by alienating Western Muslims

Characterizing the fight with the Islamic State as a “clash of civilizations” strengthens the group in another key way: That’s exactly the framing the group depends on. One of the goals of attacks like the one in Paris is to provoke an overreaction that will make some Muslims in the West feel that Islam is inherently irreconcilable with the culture of the countries they live in.

“This kind of nativism is used to show that the West does not uphold its own standards — that it favors its own type,” said Christopher Swift, a national security expert at Georgetown and author of the forthcoming book, The Fighting Vanguard: Local Insurgencies in the Global Jihad. “It reinforces the ‘clash of civilizations’ narrative that groups like ISIS use to make a political rapprochement between different religious groups impossible.”

At least six of the Paris attackers identified by the French government were European nationals.

“France has long had a problem with integrating its Muslim population, and France does have a disproportionately high contribution of foreign fighters to ISIS,” Brookings Institution scholar Shadi Hamid previously told HuffPost. “So there’s a deeper issue here and it hasn’t gotten better, it’s only gotten worse.”

Swift added that ISIS would portray a drastic Western reaction as “Exhibit A that the crusaders are turning against” Muslims living in the West.

 

3. Give up a crucial natural advantage over the militants

The Islamic State has been very disappointed by the flow of refugees to Europe, because it undermines the narrative that the group provides a safe haven for global Muslims.

In this way, the efforts by some European nations to accommodate Syrian refugees have helped to bridge some of the perceived divide between the West and the Muslim world that Swift describes.

“The reality is, The Islamic State (IS) loathes that individuals are fleeing Syria for Europe,”wrote Aaron Zelin, an expert on jihadist groups. “It undermines IS’ message that its self-styled Caliphate is a refuge, because if it was, individuals would actually go there in droves since it’s so close instead of … risking their lives through arduous journeys that could lead to death en route to Europe.”

Zelin goes on to cite a dozen statements from Islamic State leaders warning refugees against heading to Europe or other “infidel” lands.

Conversely, if Europe and the United States were to shut out Syrian refugees, they would be foregoing an advantage they have over the Islamic State group.

 

(Source: The Huffington Post)

“Remember, Remember, the Fifth of November”

Tens of thousands of individuals around the world have taken to the streets to participate in the Million Mask March which took place on November 5th. Supporters of the Anonymous hacker-activist group orchestrated rallies globally. The date coincides with Guy Fawkes Day, a day of remembrance for a 17th century British revolutionary who attempted to blow up Parliament. Those in solidarity with the cause have descended upon numerous cities sporting the over-exposed Fawkes mask.

While reasons for getting involved with the march vary among supporters, the general consensus appears to be the objective of bringing to light current social injustices, and corruption being perpetrated by authority figures. Events took place in dozens of countries: Canada, United States, Japan, Australia, England, New Zealand, Mexico, Belize, Brazil, Poland and others. Canadians took to the streets in numerous cities wearing Guy Fawkes masks covering their faces, even though recent legislation was passed which prohibits citizens in the nation from doing so if they are protesting, those caught could face up to ten years in prison for covering their face. A law which many deem violates their Constitutionally-protected right to freedom of expression.

Although the event had no official organizers or websites, thousands still managed to seek out others in solidarity within their communities, and organize effectively to bring awareness and attention to the issue. And to no surprise, the mainstream media newscasters had other narrative priorities for the day, which didn’t involve shining any light on the growing public disappointment and disapproval for the rulers and government in general. The people are tired of the debt, wars, economic disparity, lies and corruption from supposedly democratic representatives. The event also managed to attract the attention of celebrity funnyman Russel Brand, who recently made headlines with his comments during a BBC interview, he also took to the streets in London wearing a Fawkes mask. The event was broadcast live and reported from various platforms.

One of the largest protests of the night took place in central London, as well in Parliament Square, protesters burned energy bills to oppose the rising cost of fuel, and there were minor clashes with police in riot gear as protesters also gathered near Buckingham Palace, where a fire was started just yards away from its gates, and glass bottles were alleged to have been thrown. Those taking part in the events had a plethora of grievances and issues which they were upset, and there to express about, fueling their initiative to take part in the demonstration.

Hundreds more gathered outside of the White House in Washington, as well as in numerous other locations. American protesters were heard chanting “No justice, No Peace” and “Obama come out, we got something to talk about.” Many involved asserted that they were there to demonstrate and bring awareness to greedy corporations and corrupt governments around the world.

The first of the protests started in the east in Lebanon, Thailand, Indonesia, and Philippines, followed by Canada, the US, Australia, South Africa, and other nations. The Livestream of the protest which took place in front of the White House was viewed by more than 200,000 people. The overall event had no major reports or incidents of violence, and only minor arrests took place.

Regardless of having been ignored by the mainstream media, supporters were able to effectively and peacefully organize themselves using social networking platforms, to orchestrate their demonstration around the world. Present authorities have maintained a repeatedly-proven corrupt and relatively fascist economic system of disparity, designed to fuel inequality and poverty, while supporting a select few of the financial elite, propping up billion-dollar corporations and banks, funded with the peoples’ money. The Million Mask March is one of many social demonstrations which has taken place over the past few years, as we have seen economic conditions worsen in many areas, to bring attention to the growing issues at hand and crimes being perpetrated against the people. With no real solutions having come about or explanations been given by any authority figures. The corruption is continuing, and we can expect these demonstrations to continue.

(Source: Exposing the Truth)

A Life With No Income?

Irishman Mark Boyle tried to live life with no income, no bank balance and no spending. Here’s how he finds it.

If someone told me seven years ago, in my final year of a business and economics degree, that I’d now be living without money, I’d have probably choked on my microwaved ready meal. The plan back then was to get a ‘good’ job, make as much money as possible, and buy the stuff that would show society I was successful.

For a while I did it – I had a fantastic job managing a big organic food company; had myself a yacht on the harbor. If it hadn’t been for the chance purchase of a video called Gandhi, I’d still be doing it today. Instead, for the last fifteen months, I haven’t spent or received a single penny. Zilch.

The change in life path came one evening on the yacht whilst philosophizing with a friend over a glass of Merlot. Whilst I had been significantly influenced by the Mahatma’s quote “be the change you want to see in the world”, I had no idea what that change was up until then. We began talking about all major issues in the world – environmental destruction, resource wars, factory farms, sweatshop labor – and wondering which of these we would be best devoting our time to. Not that we felt we could make any difference, being two small drops in a highly polluted ocean.

But that evening I had a realization. These issues weren’t as unrelated as I had previously thought – they had a common root cause. I believe the fact that we no longer see the direct repercussions our purchases have on the people, environment and animals they affect is the factor that unites these problems.

The degrees of separation between the consumer and the consumed have increased so much that it now means we’re completely unaware of the levels of destruction and suffering embodied in the ‘stuff’ we buy.

Very few people actually want to cause suffering to others; most just don’t have any idea that they directly are. The tool that has enabled this separation is money, especially in its globalized format.

Take this for an example: if we grew our own food, we wouldn’t waste a third of it as we do today.

If we made our own tables and chairs, we wouldn’t throw them out the moment we changed the interior décor.

If we had to clean our own drinking water, we probably wouldn’t shit in it.

So to be the change I wanted to see in the world, it unfortunately meant I was going to have to give up money, which I decided to do for a year initially. So I made a list of the basics I’d need to survive. I adore food, so it was at the top. There are four legs to the food-for-free table: foraging wild food, growing your own, bartering and using waste grub, of which there far too much.

On my first day I fed 150 people a three course meal with waste and foraged food. Most of the year I ate my own crops though and waste only made up about five per cent my diet. I cooked outside – rain or shine – on a rocket stove.

Next up was shelter. So I got myself a caravan from Freecycle, parked it on an organic farm I was volunteering with, and kitted it out to be off the electricity grid. I’d use wood I either coppiced or scavenged to heat my humble abode in a wood burner made from an old gas bottle, and I had a compost loo to make ‘humanure’ for my veggies.

I bathed in a river, and for toothpaste I used washed up cuttlefish bone with wild fennel seeds, an oddity for a vegan. For loo roll I’d relieve the local newsagents of its papers (I once wiped my arse with a story about myself); it wasn’t double quilted but it quickly became normal. To get around I had a bike and trailer, and the 55 km commute to the city doubled up as my gym subscription. For lighting I’d use beeswax candles.

Many people label me an anti-capitalist. Whilst I do believe capitalism is fundamentally flawed, requiring infinite growth on a finite planet, I am not anti anything. I am pro-nature, pro-community and pro-happiness. And that’s the thing I don’t get – if all this consumerism and environmental destruction brought happiness, it would make some sense. But all the key indicators of unhappiness – depression, crime, mental illness, obesity, suicide and so on are on the increase. More money it seems, does not equate to more happiness.

Ironically, I have found this year to be the happiest of my life. I’ve more friends in my community than ever, I haven’t been ill since I began, and I’ve never been fitter. I’ve found that friendship, not money, is real security. That most western poverty is spiritual. And that independence is really interdependence.

Could we all live like this tomorrow? No. It would be a catastrophe, we are too addicted to both it and cheap energy, and have managed to build an entire global infrastructure around the abundance of both. But if we devolved decision making and re-localised down to communities of no larger than 150 people, then why not? For over 90 per cent of our time on this planet, a period when we lived much more ecologically, we lived without money. Now we are the only species to use it, probably because we are the species most out of touch with nature.

People now often ask me what is missing compared to my old world of lucre and business. Stress. Traffic-jams. Bank statements. Utility bills. Oh yeah, and the odd pint of organic ale with my mates down the local.

 

(source: http://banoosh.com/blog/2013/10/12/the-man-who-lives-without-money/)

Unconditional Basic Income

The European Citizens’ Initiative for an Unconditional Basic Income is based on the Article 25. of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights:

(1) Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services, and the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control.

Unconditional Basic Income aims to provide a safety-net to every citizen, unconditionally, by diminishing wealth inequalities (through financial and high-end taxation) and taxing luxury goods as well as polluting products and self-financing by cutting a long list of obsolete social services. It not only provides a solid cornerstone for the economy as it allows people to have more time to actually enjoy their lives, spend more time with their families and immerse themselves in the world of arts.

When it reaches worldwide scope, such a simple concept might be the first step to the society we all envision and hope for. Even those who don’t know it yet.

 

A New Age of Human Consciousness.

There are often flashes, here and there that we might, in fact, be entering a new age of human consciousness. A slow, but steady global change towards renewable energies (in Europe, United States and Asia) might mean a greener future in decades to come and a total abolition of  all polluting and dangerous sources of energy; a decrease in gun sales, even one as small as 5% is positive news, reflecting the decrease in military expenditure and a postponement of weapon programmes both in North America and Western Europe; and all the hands that join every single day around the world in meaningful campaigns to save the environment are definite proof that if we will it, we can make it happen.

We are indeed a young species, with much to learn and comprehend and higher values to acquire as a race, but maybe that’s is just part of the trip.

In an intriguing Care2.com article, author Jurriaan Kamp follows this line of thought from the early days when oxygen was a poisonous gas produced by the first bacterial life on Earth, millions of years ago. Her view at our present situation is quite keen:

“Perhaps environmental pollution, global warming and the painful gap between the rich and the poor do not constitute the major challenges of our civilization. Perhaps the real challenge lies in the way humankind meets the world—that is, in human consciousness. Consciousness is what makes us unique in the history of evolution.”

(read the full article here)

Thus here we are… The beginning of the song, the raw block of white marble, the canvas waiting to be brushstroked to perfection with every color of the world. As the article concludes:

“Humanity stands at the threshold of a new era: the era of consciousness. After conquering the external world, we are ready to discover our inner selves.”