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The Wonders of Modern Life Briefly Explained: An Anthropology of the Industrial Revolution – CounterPunch

Posted: January 18, 2020 at 11:22 am

Image Source: Griffiths, Samuel, editor of The London Iron Trade Exchange


In Capital, Marx defined two ways of creating a surplus from exploiting the labor of others. The first is the extraction of absolute surplus value. Extracting absolute surplus value means profiting from the labor of others by making them work longer or harder or getting more of them to work. This economic model comes up against predictable limits: people die from overwork, you cant get enough of them, they cost too much to keep healthy, and so on. The second way of creating a profit is to make improvements to the organisation of their tasks, and to introduce machinery to enable labor time to be more productive. This second way is called the extraction of relative surplus value and it is the prime motor of capital-ism. The profits available from this second way of doing things are dependent not upon absolutes like the number of workers or the availability of a resource but upon the entrepreneurs ability to innovate production, supply and distribution methods so that profits go up relative to other factors that remain constant or that might even be reduced. New methods or machinery, for example and as we all know, may mean less workers are needed.

By-the-way, I am annoyingly hyphenating the word capitalism throughout this piece in order to stress the fact that having capital means one intentionally builds funds for making future investments in industry. Capital is not just money under the bed, it is profit that is specifically to be used to go back into the further production of wealth.

History as a Good Soldier

There is a single-frame cartoon I saw on the Internet a while ago which depicts a middle-aged couple in a bedroom in a medieval setting. One of them is looking out at the glorious sun rising over the hills and exclaims to the other, Thank goodness! Look dear! At last the Reformation has arrived!

This cartoon which I find hilarious, but that could just be me says everything I have ever wanted to say about the tendency we have to view the past as if it is always waiting for the future. This is a narrative of history that academics call teleological meaning that the present is the purpose of the history leading to it. But even though they have a term for it many academics lazily go along with the idea that history is something like a conscious spirit in society struggling for a higher good. It is no coincidence that this idea was expressed in the midst of Europes technological irruption by the philosopher Hegel, who argued that the absolute rational final goal of the world is the transcendent synthesis of the plan of divine Providence with reason. We are, it seems, locked into the progressivist notion that history, despite being a bumpy ride (Hegel suggested that it could be even regarded as a slaughtering block of sacrifices for the future), is a narrative that ultimately shows how humans are becoming more intelligent. True there are the grumpy folk who pine on myopically about the past of their youth being better than now, unaware that their parents also complained, and their parents before them but generally most of us would still agree that todays society is the peak of progress so far, only to be eclipsed by the next big technological shift. (Well, a lot of us suspect that instead of a future of flying cars we are now fast-tracked to ecological Armageddon, but thats for another piece.)

The Reformation joke is premised on the fact that we tend to think of people in the past as just waiting for things to get better. In the same vein, we have the common idea that people who lived in caves must have been simply desperate for improvements to their lives between being chased by sabre-toothed tigers. Something key to these interpretations of the past is that humans then are thought of as just like us now, as if we were suddenly transported back 100,000 years.

There are four problems with this view. The first is that if we think that uncivilised humans struggled to survive, then how come they did so for at least 200,000 years before the rise of the first States?

The second problem is that if it was so hard for humans to survive without civilisation then how do other animals survive now? Is life for them really a daily unrelenting struggle? Maybe we might argue that they do not have the consciousness that would tell them that their lives are brutish and short but then how did conscious humans cope with 200,000 years of the knowledge that their lives were terrible, and how do present day uncivilised tribes cope? These people must have been constantly beset by depression and suicide! Of course, they werent. And the only reason tribespeoples and Indigenous peoples of today suffer from depression and suicide is because they have been dragged into civilisation and have had everything they once had taken away. As mile Durkheim noted in 1893, one of the gifts of modern civilisation is the suicide of sadness.

The third problem with this notion is that it mixes in unsavoury depictions of the past such as in the Middle Ages in Europe, and the beginnings of Industrialisation as if it was always like this. In his book, Better Angels, Steven Pinker, for example, snobbishly objects to the Middle Ages in Europe on the grounds that habits of refinement, self-control, and consideration that are second nature to us had to be acquired, and that people then, were, in a word, gross. How we all lol-ed at that clever quip during the university cocktail party. Although we can look back on aspects of the hardships of civilisations and be thankful that we dont have to endure particular rigours now, should we paint the whole of the past in that way?

The fourth problem is that by looking at the past like this we are forced to logically conclude that all previous societies were a little misguided about things, or simply a bit stupid. The flip side of such a self-congratulatory view of our towering present-day wisdom is a dangerously pejorative judgement of those uncontacted tribes who live without civilisation. Think Bolsanaro.

The Mistake of Civilisation

Instead of viewing the story of humanity as a continuous narrative with progress as the underlying motor I would argue that there are two world-significant physical events that happened in the past that are crucial to understanding present-day human society. These events were both misfortunes, as tienne de La Botie wrote in 1553 of the first one. The first was the emergence of hierarchy and exploitation that is expressed in the formation of a State or civilisation an environment where people submit to voluntary servitude, as La Botie observed. The second was the emergence of capital-ism as the globally dominant economic form. It is this second one that I want to elaborate on.

We all probably have a vague idea of what capital-ism is: private or State ownership of the means of production, wage labor, money economy, alienation, consumer society, supply and demand, and so on. But capital-ism did not always exist, something specific brought it into existence, and we can sense that capital-ism is different to all previous economic forms because of the remarkable phenomenon of the Industrial Revolution. Suddenly three hundred years ago the scene was set for going from handloom to power-loom weaving, to trains, cars, to splitting atoms, to computers, and smart phones.

The Industrial Revolution was NOT the natural culmination of five thousand years of the rise and fall of civilisations since Mesopotamia, it was NOT the result of a growing intelligence in humanity that enabled individuals to master what we call science and technology, it was the coming together of the weaving industry, dominated by work-ethic oriented Protestants; gold from the Americas; and the Atlantic Slave Trade.

But the key factor was the new profit-making strategy developed by the weaving entrepreneurs. These merchants set up efficient supply and distribution networks around the core productive unit of the woollen weaver who worked at home, and crucially they ensured their weavers had efficient handlooms to enable higher productivity. The gold and the slavery, and the Protestantism, only helped support the new economic method and ensure that it had the space and time to spread to other ventures and become universally successful. The new economic method was the extraction of relative surplus value, as Marx termed it. The method fitted in perfectly with the emergent work ethic of the Protestant movement in Europe and the gold and the slavery buoyed up the new environment until it was fully established. But it was the extraction of relative surplus value in a word, capital-ism that ultimately and essentially triggered the Industrial Revolution.

Jairus Banaji in his book, Theory as History, which examines agrarian societies prior to their being fully capital-ist, particularly in 19th century India, argues, as does Marx, that whether workers are slaves or peasants or hired labour is not the issue for defining a capital-ist enterprise it is the fact that profits are used to generate even greater profits by investing in improved production methods, and that money is not left idle.

Mining Humanity

In capital-ism people became a special type of resource in an enterprise one that can be eternally adapted to work at different rhythms, in new situations, with new machinery and processes this happened because entrepreneurs realised that humans were adaptable and could learn new skills. The historian EP Thompson has written extensively, by the way, on worker resistance to the new forms of labor, and how these resistances were broken down by factory discipline. By the time the European working class emerged from the 19th century, even though many dreamed of a better world, they had all absorbed the work ethic promoted by the ruling classes. Slaves and newly colonized peoples who had perhaps been warriors and suchlike in their previous lives often simply died from the incessant work they were forced to do.

So, what about the Industrial Revolution and its aftermath? The social organization and astonishing technology we see in the world around us is less the invention of bright people who have been well-educated and more the product of the imperative to increase relative surplus value, the particularly capital-ist way of increasing profits. The appearance of the steam engine owes more to the strategy of acquiring relative surplus value than it does to the acclaimed genius of James Watt. The consequences of the emergence of the systematic acquisition of relative surplus value were increased monetary wealth for a whole class who, crucially, knew that to stay rich they had to keep innovating and investing. The emergence of the science we have today was not the culmination of eons of human ingenuity it was the result of this same particular method of pursuing wealth, as it still is.

It was only during the great watershed of the sixteenth century, as Banaji writes, that it became apparent that capital-ist production had become the dominant economic mode in western Europe. It is only in a fully capital-ist mode of production that the whole of society is geared towards, as well as determined by, the raising of the relative productivity of each worker. This is the motive for technological innovation. It is why today, when capital-ism has become part of our very DNA, we witness a proliferation of James Watts.

So, the enormous technological achievements during and after the Industrial Revolution are not some magical culmination of human history they are the specific result of a society that emerged by organising itself on the principle of being able to extract an infinite sum of profit from the ever-adaptable resource of the human being.


Anderson, S. 2009, The Two Lives of Narcisse Pelletier, in Pelletier: The Forgotten Castaway of Cape York, Stephanie Anderson (ed. and trans.), Melbourne Books, Australia.

Banaji, J. 2011, Theory as History: Essays on Modes of Production and Exploitation, Haymarket Books, Chicago.

Botie, . de La, 2008 [1553], The Politics of Obedience: The Discourse of Voluntary Servitude, Harry Kurz (trans.), Ludwig von Mises Institute, Auburn.

Durkheim, E. 1997 [1893], The Division of Labour in Society, W. D. Halls (trans.), The Free Press, New York.

Hegel, G. W. F. 2011, Lectures on the Philosophy of History, Ruben Alvaredo (trans.), Wordbridge Publishing, Aalten.

Mandel, E. 1976, Introduction, in Capital, A Critique of Political Economy, Volume I, Ben Fowkes (trans.), Penguin Books, London

Marx, K. 1976, Capital, A Critique of Political Economy, Volume I, Ben Fowkes (trans.), Penguin Books, London

Pinker, S. 2012, The Better Angels of Our Nature: The Decline of Violence in History and its Causes, Penguin Books, New York.

Survival International,

Thompson, E. P. 1967, Time, Work-Discipline, and Industrial Capitalism, in Past and Present, No. 38. (Dec., 1967), pp. 56-97.

Weber, M. 2003 [1904-5/1920], The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism, Talcot Parsons (trans.), Dover Publications, New York.

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Pop-up brothels and drug dealing modern slavery on the up in Cumbria – The Cumberland & Westmorland Herald

Posted: at 11:22 am

Home > Stories > Pop-up brothels and drug dealing modern slavery on the up in Cumbria

Date: Thursday 16th January 2020

MODERN slavery and human trafficking are on the rise in Cumbria, according to a report by Cumbria police.

The county received 170 intelligence reports last year alone, up on 2018s figures of 113 though there are fears the scale of the crisis has been under-reported.

Victims across Cumbria have been trafficked for sexual exploitation, forced to work or to embark on a life of crime, with the majority of those targeted being young people.

A report revealed that the only type of exploitation yet to be seen in the county is organ harvesting.

Sandra Radcliffe, modern slavery and human trafficking co-ordinator, said some girls are forced to work as prostitutes by their boyfriends, fiancs and even husbands.

The police are investigating several pop-up brothels in the county, with hotel staff among those reporting girls working in rooms on their premises.

Additional concerns have also been raised about forced sexual exploitation and possible underage girls being used.

The report reveals that victims can be coerced into working through the use of violence and psychological intimidation.

Gang-masters are known to be keeping hold of victims identity papers, sometimes threatening to report foreign workers to the immigration authorities in a bid to control them.

Low-skilled, low-wage jobs such as food-processing and packaging, construction, tarmacking and paving and cleaning services are among the areas where forced labour has been uncovered.

Warning signs include workers crammed into a small house, lack of clothing and safety equipment and total dependence on an employer for accommodation, transport and banking.

Examples of forced criminality common in the UK include cannabis cultivation, drug dealing, benefit fraud, theft, begging, and the selling of counterfeit goods.

Victims are often afraid to go to the authorities for fear that they will end up in trouble or even in prison.

Other examples have included children recruited into criminal gangs to shoplift to order.

A major issue cited in the report is human trafficking linked to County Lines, where vulnerable people are forced to travel around the UK and deal drugs on behalf of organised crime groups.

Most victims tend to be boys aged between 15 and 17 but the report reveals that it is likely that the issue has been under-reported.

Victims can be offered a place within government-funded safe houses and given support, legal advice and practical help.

And those with concerns are urged to get in touch with the police on 101 or by completing the online report form. If it is an emergency they should dial 999.

Reports can also be made anonymously via Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 or at, or to the Modern Slavery Helpline on 08000 121 700.

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Pop-up brothels and drug dealing modern slavery on the up in Cumbria - The Cumberland & Westmorland Herald

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Human extinction now imminent and inevitable? A report on the state of planet earth – NationofChange

Posted: at 11:22 am

There is a significant body of evidence that human extinction is now imminent; that is, it will occur within the next few years and possibly this year: 2020. There is also a significant body of evidence that human extinction is now inevitable; that is, it cannot be prevented no matter what we do.

There are at least four distinct paths to imminent (that is, within five years) human extinction: nuclear war (possibly started regionally), biodiversity collapse (already well advanced and teetering on the brink), the deployment of 5G (commenced recently) and the climate catastrophe. Needless to say, each of these four paths might unfold in a variety of ways.

In addition, it should be noted, there are other possible paths to extinction in the near term, particularly when considered in conjunction with the four threats just mentioned. These include the cascading impacts triggered by destruction of the Amazon rainforest (which is now imminent) particularly given its critical role in the global hydrological cycle, the rapidly spreading radioactive contamination of Earth, and geoengineering for military purposes (which has been going on for decades and continues).

Far worse, however, is the path to extinction that looms before us when we consider the impact of all seven of these paths in combination with the vast range of other threats noted below.

These interrelated threats have generated a shocking series of points of no return (tipping points) that we have already crossed, the mutually reinforcing set of negative feedback loops that we have already triggered (and which we will continue to trigger) which cannot be reversed in the short-term, as well as the ongoing synergistic impact of the various extinction drivers (such as ongoing extinctions because dependent species have lost their resource species) we have set in motion and which cannot be halted irrespective of any remedial action we might take. Hence, taking into account all of the above factors, the prospects of averting human extinction are now remote, at best.

Why has this happened?

Because long-standing dysfunctional human behavior, which we have not even begun to recognize as the fundamental driver of this extinction crisis, let alone address, has now trapped us between a rock and a hard place.

On the one hand, we are trapped by our grotesquely dysfunctional parenting and education models that mass produce individuals who are terrified, self-hating and powerless (leaving them submissively obedient while unable to seek out and consider the evidence for themselves and take powerful action in response) and who, as a result of being terrorized during childhood, are now addicted to chronic over-consumption to suppress their awareness of their deep (and unconscious) emotional pain. See Love Denied: The Psychology of Materialism, Violence and War and Do We Want School or Education? with more detailed evidence in Why Violence? and Fearless Psychology and Fearful Psychology: Principles and Practice.

On the other hand, also as an outcome of our dysfunctional parenting and education models (as well as the political and economic systems these generate), we keep reproducing and remain trapped by the global elite, and its compliant international organizations (such as the United Nations), national governments and corporations, including its corporate media. This global elite is utterly insane (and, hence, devoid of such qualities as conscience, empathy, compassion and love) and intent on exploiting our desire to suppress awareness of our emotional pain by over-consuming in order to feed their insatiable desire for profit, power and privilege no matter the cost to humanity and Earths biosphere. See The Global Elite is Insane Revisited.

Hence, this article does two things.

First, in the hope of generating greater consideration of these two issues imminence and inevitability of human extinction I have presented in straightforward language and point form, a reasonable summary of the nature and extent of our predicament (which clearly indicates that we are on track for human extinction between now January 2020 and 2025), as well as citing the relevant scientific and/or other evidence that explains each problem in more detail.

And second, the article outlines a powerful series of actions and strategies that individuals, as well as community groups, neighborhoods and action groups, can take as part of a global effort to fight to avert human extinction even if, as mentioned above, it is now inevitable. See, for example, Extinction Foretold, Extinction Ignored in which the McPherson Paradox, which explains one key reason why we are doomed to extinction, is explained.

The obvious question, which you might well ask me, is this: If the overwhelming evidence that human extinction is now imminent and inevitable is incontrovertible, why are you suggesting that we fight to avert human extinction? And my answer is simply this: Because, as I have done for several decades, I am committed to trying to do this one key thing that feels worth doing. Moreover, I am also hopeful that a miracle or two might just occur if we humans commit ourselves fully to the effort. I am only too well aware that anything less than a full effort, as outlined below, will certainly fail. And we will virtually certainly fail anyway. But I would rather try, than give up. And you?

So, in noting the points below, each of which identifies one key way (or a set of related key ways) in which the Earth and its inhabitants were subjected to greater violence in 2019, it is painful to reflect that, as forecast this time last year and based on a clear understanding of the primary driver of human behavior fear that is generating this multifaceted crisis, 2019 was another year of vital opportunities lost when so much is at stake.

Because, in essence, whether psychologically, socially, politically, militarily, economically, financially, ecologically or in other ways, in 2019 humanity took more giant strides backwards while passing up endless opportunities to make a positive difference in our world.

Moreover, to highlight the dramatic nature of our failure, by the end of 2019, a substantial number of countries and regions of the world notably including the Amazon basin, Australia, several countries in Central Africa, many European countries, Indonesia, Siberia and North America had each experienced (and/or were still experiencing) a huge series of wildfires (or fires that were deliberately lit), many of them out of wildfire season and breaking records for their unprecedented destructive impact, demonstrating that the Earth is literally burning up. For just an overview, see NASAs Fire Information for Resource Management System.

But this very visible symptom of our crisis masks a vast quantity of evidence, in many domains, that is virtually unknown but far more damaging.

One acknowledgment of this crisis in Earths biosphere was the fact that the Doomsday Clock of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists remains poised at just two minutes to midnight, the closest it has ever been to doomsday (and equal to 1953 when the Soviet Union first exploded a thermonuclear weapon matching the U.S. capacity and raising the spectre of nuclear war). See It is now two minutes to midnight.

This status reflects the perilous state of our world, particularly given the renewed threat of nuclear war and the ongoing climate catastrophe. It didnt even mention the massive and unrelenting assault on the biosphere (apart from the climate) and the rapidly accelerating biodiversity crisis nor, of course, the ongoing monumental atrocities against fellow human beings.

So let me identify, very briefly, some of the more crucial backward steps humanity took during 2019 and, far too easily, unfortunately, forecast what will happen in 2020.

1. The global elite, using key elite fora such as the Group of 30, the Trilateral Commission, the Bilderberg Group and the World Economic Forum, and despite much rhetoric to the contrary, continued to plan, generate and exacerbate the many ongoing wars, deepening exploitation within the global economy, climate and environmental destruction, and the killing and exploitation of fellow human beings in a multitude of contexts, in pursuit of greater elite profit, power and privilege. See, for example, Who Is Really in Control of US Foreign Policy?, Giants: The Global Power Elite and The Global Elite is Insane Revisited.

2. International organizations (such as the United Nations, the World Bank and International Monetary Fund) and national governments and corporations used military forces, legal systems, police forces and prison systems see The Rule of Law: Unjust and Violent around the world to serve the global elite by defending its interests against the bulk of the human population, including those individuals and organizations courageous enough to challenge elite profit, power and privilege who are being killed in record numbers. (See more in point 35 below.)

3. $US1.8 trillion was officially spent worldwide on military weapons to kill fellow human beings and other lifeforms, and to destroy the biosphere. This is the highest official (because the figures are taken from open sources) annual military expenditure ever recorded and the second consecutive year in which an increase occurred. Apart from military spending, weapons transfers worldwide remained high and both the USA and Russia were on a path of strategic nuclear renewal. See SIPRI Yearbook 2019: Armaments, Disarmament and International Security; Summary.

However, as noted last year, so out-of-control is this spending that the United States government has now spent $US21trillion on its military in the past 20 years for which it cannot even account! Thats right, $US1trillion each year above the official U.S. national budget for killing is lost. See Army General Fund Adjustments Not Adequately Documented or Supported, Has Our Government Spent $21 Trillion Of Our Money Without Telling Us? and The Pentagon Cant Account for $21 Trillion (Thats Not a Typo).

There has been no progress reported in accounting for this lost expenditure during the past year.

4. Under the direction of the global elite (as explained above), the United States government and its NATO allies continued their perpetual war across the planet wreaking devastation on many countries and regions, particularly in the Middle East and Africa. See, for example, Towards a World War III Scenario: The Dangers of Nuclear War, Dirty Wars: The World is a Battlefield and Understanding NATO, Ending War.

As a result, whether in the US-sponsored and supplied Saudi Arabian war against Yemen which the UNHCR characterizes as the worst humanitarian disaster in the world see The Cost of Feeding Yemen as War Rages On the result of the U.S. use of depleted uranium on top of its other extraordinary military destruction of Iraq over the past 29 years see Depleted Uranium and Radioactive Contamination in Iraq: An Overview or the complete dismemberment of Libya as a result of NATOs bombing of that country and the subsequent assassination of its leader Muammar Gaddafi in 2011 see Endless War and Chaos in Libya the United States and its NATO allies have continued their efforts to destroy entire countries (also including Afghanistan, among others), at staggering cost to their populations and environments, not because these countries posed a threat to security anywhere but in order to maintain geopolitical control and to facilitate the theft of their resources (mainly oil) at great profit to the global elite. See, for example, Hillary Emails Reveal NATO Killed Gaddafi to Stop Libyan Creation of Gold-Backed Currency.

Moreover, of course, the perpetually-profitable perpetual war, by definition, has no end. But it still isnt quite acceptable to say, too publicly and loudly, that The global elite has again used the United States military and its NATO allies to destroy Iraq/Afghanistan/Syria/ (or, as is now the case, to attack Iran) to make a profit so what can be passed off as an excuse must be manufactured and promulgated by the compliant corporate media. And, with a gullibly terrified human population disinclined to question authority, this isnt a problem. The same unconvincing formula invariably works each time. For a fuller and insightful explanation of this point, see Edward Curtins article The war hoax redux.

Of course, Iran has long been in the crosshairs of the global elite because of its prodigious (and thus hugely profitable) oil reserves as well as the clear inclination of its leaders (both before and after the US-installed Shah) to make decisions in the interests of Iranians, including foreign policy decisions such as those related to defense and the role of nuclear weapons. Thus, the global elite ensured that the U.S. Congress, via removal by the Senate of a provision explicitly not authorizing the Pentagon to wage war against Iran or assassinate its officials see America Escalates its Democratic Oil War in the Near East in the recently passed National Defense Authorization Act, effectively encouraged President Trumps recent assassination of General Qassem Soleimani, Irans head of the foreign arm the Quds Force of the Islamic Revolution Guard Corps (IRGC), Irans elite military force and the key figure in the fight against terrorism in the Middle East, in clear contempt of international law. See Trumps assassination of Soleimani: Five things to know, With Suleimani Assassination, Trump Is Doing the Bidding of Washingtons Most Vile Cabal, Why U.S. assassinated General Qassem Soleimani and U.S. killing of Irans Qassem Soleimani an act of war.

This assassination, of course, raises a heightened possibility of war essentially, from the elite perspective, to achieve regime change and capture control of Irans oil in one or more guises possibly involving, as explained by Professor Michel Chossudovsky, the use of tactical nuclear weapons, acts of political destabilization, confiscation of financial assets, extensive economic sanctions, electromagnetic and climatic warfare, environmental modification techniques, cyberwarfare as well as chemical and biological warfare. See A Major Conventional War Against Iran Is an Impossibility. Crisis within the U.S. Command Structure and America, An Empire on its Last Leg: To be Kicked Out from the Middle East?

Hence, much will depend on the Iranian response to the insanity of those attacking it, which will unfold as this article is being published. For further thoughtful analyses of this crisis, see War With Iran, Iran vs. U.S. The Murder of General Qassem Suleimani and On the Brink of War?

5. Not content with the devastating impact of the military violence it is inflicting already, during 2019 the global elite continued to plan how to cause more destruction in future. Key initiatives included ongoing work to employ advances in autonomous systems and artificial intelligence technologies that will undermine nuclear deterrence and increase the likelihood of nuclear escalation see A Stable Nuclear Future? The Impact of Autonomous Systems and Artificial Intelligence and the decision in the United States to create a Space Force, a sixth branch of the U.S. military forces, just two manifestations of this. See The Very Bad Space Force Deal and U.S. Making Outer Space the Next Battle Zone Karl Grossman.

In its turn, the Russian government has developed and just deployed a hypersonic weapon that travels at Mach 27 and which makes the U.S. missile defense installations in Europe obsolete. See Avangard changes everything: What Russias hypersonic warhead deployment means for the global arms race.

But other initiatives receiving renewed attention hypervelocity guns, particle beams and laser weapons onboard orbiting battle platforms with onboard nuclear reactors or super plutonium systems providing the power for the weapons also enhance the threat that Modern society would go dark in the words of Apollo astronaut Edgar Mitchell. Why? Because any war in space would be the one and only. By destroying satellites in space massive amounts of space debris would be created that would cause a cascading effect and even the billion-dollar International Space Station would likely be broken into tiny bits. So much space junk would be created that wed never be able to get a rocket off the planet again because of the minefield of debris orbiting the Earth at 15,000 mph. See Trump Signs Measure Enabling Establishment of a U.S. Space Force.

Of course, technological advances in weaponry reflect retrograde steps in policy with the U.S. Air Force Global Strike Command (AFGSC) which includes 20 B-2 stealth bombers, 76 B-52 bombers and 450 Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missiles together capable of delivering thousands of nuclear warheads along with the U.S. Navys submarine-launched Trident ballistic missiles, are now capable of extinguishing essentially all life on Earth within a matter of hours. See The Air Forces Global Strike Command Is Preparing For A Delivery Of New Nuclear Weapons.

6. Following the U.S. withdrawal from the Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) treaty in 2002 and after withdrawing from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (the Iran nuclear deal) and the Intermediate Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty (which limited the deployment of intermediate-range nuclear weapons) in 2018, the U.S. government further and unilaterally signaled its intention to dismantle the little that remained of attempts during the Cold War and since that time to contain the threat of nuclear war by further acting in violation of the Outer Space Treaty of 1967 see Treaty on Principles Governing the Activities of States in the Exploration and Use of Outer Space, including the Moon and Other Celestial Bodies and U..S Weaponizing Space in Bid to Launch Arms Race as explained in the point above, and demonstrating its disinterest in extending New START: the sole remaining restraint on U.S.-Russian nuclear arsenals that caps deployed offensive strategic nuclear weapons to no more than 1,550 each. See Russia says its already too late to replace new START treaty and Global Zero Urges Trump to Accept Putins Offer on Nuclear Treaty.

If you are in any doubt regarding the devastating consequences of nuclear war, you will find Professor Steven Starrs thoughts see Nuclear Darkness, Global Climate Change and Nuclear Famine: The Deadly Consequences of Nuclear War illuminating. In addition, the description by Lynn Eden in City on Fire (based on her book Whole World on Fire: Organizations, Knowledge, and Nuclear Weapons Devastation) is compelling.

7. Another substantial proportion of global private financial wealth conservatively estimated by the Tax Justice Network in 2010 to already total between $US21 and $US32 trillion has been invested virtually tax-free through the worlds still-expanding black hole of more than 80 offshore tax havens (such as the City of London Corporation, Jersey, Guernsey, the Isle of Man, Bermuda, the Cayman Islands, Hong Kong, Nauru, St. Kitts, Antigua, Tortola, Switzerland, the Channel Islands, Monaco, Cyprus, Gibraltar and Liechtenstein). This is just financial wealth. Additionally, a large share of the real estate, yachts, racehorses, gold bricks and many other assets that count as non-financial wealth are also owned via offshore structures that make it impossible to identify their owners. See Tax Justice Network.

Tax havens are locations around the world where wealthy individuals, criminals and terrorists, as well as governments and government agencies (such as the CIA), banks, corporations, hedge funds, international organizations (such as the Vatican) and crime syndicates (such as the Mafia), can stash their money so that they can avoid laws, regulation and oversight and, very often, evade tax. See Elite Banking at Your Expense: How Secretive Tax Havens are Used to Steal Your Money.

Controlled by the global elite, Wall Street and other major banks manage this monstrous diversion of wealth under Government protection. Their business is fraud and grand theft. Tax haven locations offer more than tax avoidance. Almost anything goes on. It includes bribery, illegal gambling, money laundering, human and sex trafficking, arms dealing, toxic waste dumping, conflict diamonds and endangered species trafficking, bootlegged software, and endless other lawless practices. See Trillions Stashed in Offshore Tax Havens.

8. The worlds major corporations continued to inflict enormous ongoing violence (in a myriad of ways) in their pursuit of endless profit at the expense of living beings (human and otherwise) and Earths biosphere by producing and marketing a wide range of life-destroying products ranging from nuclear weapons and nuclear power to fossil fuels, junk food, pharmaceutical drugs (including health-destroying and sometimes life-destroying vaccinations: see, for example, Vaxxed-Unvaxxed The Science), synthetic poisons and genetically mutilated organisms (GMOs).

These corporations include the following: weapons manufacturers, major banks and their industry groups like the International Monetary Conference, asset management firms, investment companies, financial services companies, fossil fuel (coal, oil and gas) corporations, technology corporations, media corporations, major marketing and public relations corporations, agrochemical (pesticides, seeds, fertilizers) giants, pharmaceutical corporations (with their handmaidens in the medical and psychiatric industries: see Defeating the Violence in Our Food and Medicine and Defeating the Violence of Psychiatry), biotechnology (genetic mutilation) corporations, mining corporations, nuclear power corporations, food multinationals and water corporations. You can see a list of the major corporations in this article: The Global Elite is Insane Revisited.

9. More than two billion people continued to live under occupation, dictatorship or threat of genocidal assault often with the global elite sponsoring an oppressive national government or simply a local elite that exercises power irrespective of the government in office. See, for example, 500 Years is Long Enough! Human Depravity in the Congo.

10. 36,500,000 human beings (mainly in Africa, Asia and Central/South America) were starved to death in 2019.

Are we serious about ending these totally unnecessary deaths? Not even remotely, as thoughtfully explained by Professor George Kent in his article Are We Serious About Ending Hunger?

As Professor Kent notes: currently, around the world, around 800 million people suffer from hunger and that global efforts to end hunger have not been serious: There has been no substantial commitment of resources, no management group to control the process, no realistic timeline, and no means for mid-course corrections on the way to the goal. There [have been] no contracts with agencies that would work toward achievement of the goal. hoping for the end of hunger wont work. Hope is not a strategy. Moreover, The UN system offers little more than vague aspirations.

11. 18,250,000 children were killed by adults in wars, by starving them to death, by denying them clean drinking water, and in a large variety of other ways.

12. 8,000,000 children were trafficked into sexual slavery; executed in sacrificial killings after being kidnapped; bred to be sold as a cash crop for sexual violation, to produce child pornography (kiddie porn) and snuff movies (in which children are killed during the filming); ritually tortured and murdered as well as raped by dogs trained for the purpose. See Humanitys Dirty Little Secret: Starving, Enslaving, Raping, Torturing and Killing our Children.

13. Hundreds of thousands of individuals were kidnapped or tricked into slavery, which now denies 46,000,000 human beings (more than at any time in human history) the right to live the life of their choice, condemning many individuals especially women and children to lives of sexual slavery, forced labor or as child soldiers. Needless to say, the global elite continues to expand this highly profitable business while its compliant governments do no more than mouth an occasional objection to the practice while doing nothing effective to actually end it, as was patently evident following disclosures about high-profile public figures during the year. See The Global Slavery Index. For one recent account of the life of a modern slave, see My Familys Slave. And for an account of the involvement of public figures in sex slavery, see Prince Andrew and Jeffrey Epstein: what you need to know and the other articles listed at the end of this one.

14. Well over 100,000 people (particularly Falun Gong practitioners) in China, where an extensive state-controlled program is conducted, were subjected to forced organ removal for the trade-in human organs. See Bloody Harvest and The Slaughter.

15. 15,768,000 people were displaced by war, persecution or famine. There are now 70,800,000 people, more that half of whom are children and approximately 10,000,000 of whom are stateless, who have been forcibly displaced worldwide and remain precariously unsettled, usually in adverse circumstances. One person in the world is forcibly displaced every two seconds. See Figures at a Glance.

16. Millions of people were made homeless in their own country as a result of war, persecution, natural disasters (many of which, including hurricanes/cyclones and wildfires, were actually generated by dysfunctional human behavior rather than nature), internal conflict, poverty or as a result of elite-driven national economic policies. The last time a global survey was attempted by the United Nations back in 2005 an estimated 100 million people were homeless worldwide. In addition, as many as 1.6 billion people lack adequate housing (living in slums, for example). See Global Homelessness Statistics.

17. Highlighting the unheralded biodiversity crisis on Earth, as a result of habitat destruction and degradation as well as a multitude of other threats, 73,000 species of life (plants, birds, animals, fish, amphibians, insects, reptiles and microbes) on Earth were driven to extinction with the worldwide loss of many of these species and certainly including insects, birds, animals and fish now at catastrophic levels. Tragically, many additional species are now trapped in a feedback loop which will inevitably precipitate their extinction as well because of the way in which co-extinctions, localized extinctions and extinction cascades work once initiated and as has already occurred in almost all ecosystem contexts. See the (so far) five-part series Our Vanishing World. Have you seen a flock of birds of any size recently? A butterfly?

18. Separately from global species extinctions, Earth continued to experience a huge episode of population declines and extirpations, which will have negative cascading consequences on ecosystem functioning and services vital to sustaining civilization. We describe this as a biological annihilation to highlight the current magnitude of Earths ongoing sixth major extinction event. Moreover, local population extinctions are orders of magnitude more frequent than species extinctions. Population extinctions, however, are a prelude to species extinctions, so Earths sixth mass extinction episode has proceeded further than most assume. See Biological annihilation via the ongoing sixth mass extinction signaled by vertebrate population losses and declines and Our Vanishing World: Wildlife.

19. Wildlife trafficking, worth up to $20 billion in 2019, is pushing many endangered species to the brink of extinction. Illegal wildlife products include jewelry, traditional medicine, clothing, furniture, and souvenirs, as well as some exotic pets, most of which are sold to unaware/unconcerned consumers in the West although China is heavily implicated too. See, for example, Stop Wildlife Trafficking.

20. 16,000,000 acres of pristine rainforest were cut or burnt down for purposes such as the following: acquiring timbers used in construction, clearing land to establish cattle farms so that many people can eat cheap hamburgers, clearing land to establish palm oil plantations so that many people can eat processed (including junk) foods based on this oil, clearing land to establish palm oil and soybean plantations so that some people can delude themselves that they are using a green biofuel in their car (when, in fact, these fuels generate a far greater carbon footprint than fossil fuels), mining (much of it illegal) for a variety of minerals (such as gold, silver, copper, coltan, cassiterite and diamonds), and logging to produce woodchips so that some people can buy cheap paper, including cheap toilet paper. One outcome of this destruction is that 40,000 tropical tree species are now threatened with extinction. See Our Vanishing World: Rainforests, Measuring the Daily Destruction of the Worlds Rainforests, Estimating the global conservation status of more than 15,000 Amazonian tree species and Half of Amazon Tree Species Face Extinction.

Another outcome is that the precious Amazon is teetering on the edge of functional destruction and, with it, so are we. How long do we have? The tipping point is here, it is now. Professor Thomas E. Lovejoy and his fellow researcher Carlos Nobre elaborate this point: Bluntly put, the Amazon not only cannot withstand further deforestation but also now requires rebuilding as the underpinning base of the hydrological cycle if the Amazon is to continue to serve as a flywheel of continental climate for the planet and an essential part of the global carbon cycle. See Amazon Tipping Point: Last Chance for Action.

21. Vast quantities of soil were washed away as we destroyed the rainforests, and enormous quantities of both inorganic constituents (such as heavy metals like cadmium, chromium, lead, mercury, nickel and zinc) and organic pollutants (particularly synthetic chemicals in the form of fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides) were dumped into the soil as well, thus reducing its nutrients and killing the microbes and earthworms within it. We also contaminated enormous quantities of soil with radioactive waste. See Soil-net, Glyphosate effects on soil rhizosphere-associated bacterial communities and Disposing of Nuclear Waste is a Challenge for Humanity.

To briefly elaborate the evidence in relation to earthworms: Given recent reports of critical declines of microbes, plants, insects and other invertebrates, birds and other vertebrates, the situation pertaining to neglected earthworms was evaluated in an extensive investigation recently undertaken by Robert J. Blakemore. His research demonstrated an 83.3 percent decline in earthworms in agrichemical farms that is, those that use pesticides, herbicides and synthetic fertilizers compared with farms utilizing organic methods. Why? Because it is impossible to replace or artificially engineer the myriad beneficial processes and services freely provided by earthworms which includes extensive burrows in pastures enriched with soil organic matter that allow ingress of air & water and provide living space for other soil organisms. Moreover, given that ecological services overall have been given a median value of US$135 trillion per year, which is almost double the global economic GDP of around $75 trillion see Changes in the global value of ecosystem services and Valuing nature and the hidden costs of biodiversity loss Blakemore reaches an obvious conclusion: Persistence with failing chemical agriculture makes neither ecological nor economic sense. See Critical Decline of Earthworms from Organic Origins under Intensive, Humic SOM-Depleting Agriculture.

Given that this multifaceted destruction of the soil fundamentally threatens the global grain supply, when the ability to grow, store and distribute grains at scale is a defining element of civilization, as Professor Guy McPherson eloquently explains it: A significant decline in grain harvest will surely drive this version of civilization to the abyss and beyond. See Seven Distinct Paths to Loss of Habitat for Humans.

22. Despite an extensive and ongoing coverup by the Japanese government and nuclear corporations, as well as the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), vast amounts of radioactive waste were dumped into the biosphere from the TEPCO nuclear power plant at Fukushima in Japan including by discharge into the Pacific Ocean killing an incalculable number of fish and other marine organisms and indefinitely contaminating expanding areas of that ocean. See Fukushima: A Nuclear War without a War: The Unspoken Crisis of Worldwide Nuclear Radiation, 2019 Annual Report Fukushima 8th Anniversary, Eight years after triple nuclear meltdown, Fukushima No. 1s water woes show no signs of ebbing and Fukushimas Three Nuclear Meltdowns Are Under Control Thats a Lie.

But the challenges to be overcome in safely handling and, ultimately, safely storing the radiation hazards (such as the three melted nuclear reactors and the spent fuel rods) and the radioactive waste from the Fukushima disaster are monumental, as touched on in this article outlining the 40-year plan that the Japanese government hopes will delude us into believing will deal with the many components of this perpetual radioactive nightmare. See Japan revises Fukushima cleanup plan, delays key steps.

In addition, one critical legacy of the U.S. militarys 67 secretive and lethal nuclear weapons tests on the Marshall Islands between 1946 and 1958 is the eternally radioactive garbage left behind and now leaking into the Pacific Ocean. See The Pentagons Disastrous Radioactive Waste Dump in the Drowning Marshall Islands is Leaking into the Pacific Ocean.

Is other nuclear waste safely stored? Of course not! See, for example, NRC admits San Onofre Holtec nuclear waste canisters are all damaged, USAs Hanford nuclear site could suffer the same fate as Russias Mayak or worse and, for a more comprehensive report, The World Nuclear Waste Report 2019: Focus Europe.

Of course, the Chernobyl nuclear catastrophe in 1986 continues to inflict extensive damage on the biosphere which you can learn more about from the research by Professor Kate Brown, author of Manual for Survival: A Chernobyl Guide to the Future Chernobyl Radiation Cover-Ups & Deadly Truth, UN and Western countries covered up the facts on the huge health toll of Chernobyl radiation and Unreported Deaths, Child Cancer & Radioactive Meat: The Untold Story of Chernobyl as well as the investigatory work of Alison Katz of Independent WHO: Chernobyl Health Cover-Up, Lies by UN/WHO Exposed.

23. Human use of fossil fuels to power aircraft, shipping and vehicles as well as for industrial production and to generate electricity (among other purposes) released 10 billion metric tons (10 gigatons) of carbon dioxide into Earths biosphere, a 0.6% increase over 2018, with Chinas monstrous CO2 emissions for 2019 totaling 2.6% greater than the previous year. See Global Carbon Budget 2019.

As one measure of their contempt for the utterly inadequate goals of the Paris climate agreement, and with government approval, over 400 of the 746 companies on the Global Coal Exit List are still planning to expand their coal operations. If built, these projects in 60 countries would add over 579 GW to the global coal plant fleet, an increase of almost 29%. See Companies Driving the Worlds Coal Expansion Revealed: NGOs Release New Global Coal Exit List for Finance Industry and Proposed Coal Plants by Country.

24. 72 billion land animals (mainly chickens, ducks, pigs, rabbits, geese, turkeys, sheep, goats and beef cattle) were killed for food. In addition, between 37 and 120 billion fish were killed on commercial farms with another 2.7 trillion fish caught and killed in the wild. See How Many Animals Are Killed for Food Every Day?

Apart from that, more than 100 million animals were killed for laboratory purposes in the United States alone and there were other animal deaths in shelters, zoos and in blood sports. See How Many Animals Are Killed Each Year?

In addition, according to Humane Society International, about 100 million animals (particularly mink, foxes, raccoon dogs and rabbits) were bred and slaughtered in fur farms geared to supplying the fashion industry. In addition to farming, millions of wild animals were trapped and killed for fur, as were hundreds of thousands of seals. See How Many Animals are Killed Each Year?

25. Farming of animals for human consumption released 7.1 gigatons of CO2-equivalent into Earths atmosphere; this represented 14.5 percent of all anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions. About 44% of livestock emissions were in the form of methane (which was 44% of anthropogenic CH4 emissions), 29% as Nitrous Oxide (which was 53% of anthropogenic N2O emissions) and 27% as Carbon Dioxide (which was 5% of anthropogenic CO2 emissions). See GHG Emissions by Livestock.

26. Human use of fossil fuels and farming of animals released more than 3.2 million metric tons of (CO2 equivalent) nitrous oxide (N2O) into Earths atmosphere. See Nitrous oxide emissions.

27. Despite largely successful efforts by the elite-controlled IPCC to delude people into believing that the global mean temperature has increased by only 1.0 degree celsius, in fact, since the pre-industrial era (prior to 1750) greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions have already caused the global temperature to rise by about 1.73 degrees celsius. See How much warmer is it now?

Among a lengthy list of adverse outcomes, this has caused the melting of Arctic permafrost and undersea methane ice clathrates resulting in an incalculable quantity of methane being uncontrollably released into the atmosphere, including during 2019, with the quantity being released getting ever closer to exploding. See Anomalies of methane in the atmosphere over the East Siberian shelf: Is there any sign of methane leakage from shallow shelf hydrates?, 7,000 underground gas bubbles poised to explode in Arctic, Release of Arctic Methane May Be Apocalyptic, Study Warns and Understanding the Permafrost-Hydrate System and Associated Methane Releases in the East Siberian Arctic Shelf.

In fact, the methane threat is already so extreme that the forecast El Nio event for 2020 could be the catalyst to trigger huge methane releases from the Arctic Ocean precipitating human extinction this year. See Very early warning signal for El Nio in 2020 with a 4 in 5 likelihood and Extinction in 2020?

28. Glaciers and mountain ice fields whether located in Greenland or other regions of the far north, the Himalaya, at the Equator, in southern latitudes or Antarctica are all melting at unprecedented and accelerating rates, losing billions of tonnes of ice in 2019. For a discussion of the details and the implications of this, see Our Vanishing World: Glaciers.

29. The ongoing destruction of Earths oceans continued unabated and accelerated in key areas.

An incalculable amount of agricultural poisons, fossil fuels and other wastes was discharged into the ocean, adversely impacting life at all ocean depths see Staggering level of toxic chemicals found in creatures at the bottom of the sea, scientists say and generating ocean dead zones: regions that have too little oxygen to support marine organisms. See Our Planet Is Exploding With Marine Dead Zones.

In addition, however, another problem that has been getting insufficient attention is the result of the expanding impacts of the rapidly increasing levels of ocean acidification, ocean warming, ocean carbon flows and ocean plastics. Taken in isolation each of these changes clearly has negative consequences for the ocean. All these shifts taken together, however, result in a rapid and serious decline in ocean health and this, in turn, adversely impacts all species dependent on the ocean including fish, mammals and seabirds. Moreover, on top of these problems is the issue of oxygen availability given that oxygen in the air or water is of paramount importance to most living organisms. As the recently released report Ocean deoxygenation: Everyones problem. Causes, impacts, consequences and solutions describes in some detail, oxygen levels are currently declining across the ocean, not just in dead zones.

And to elaborate the plastics problem briefly: at least 8 million metric tons of plastic, of which 236,000 tons were microplastics, was discharged into the ocean. So severe is the problem that there are now five massive patches of plastic in the oceans around the world covering large swaths of the ocean; the plastic patch between California and Hawaii is the size of the state of Texas. See Plastic waste inputs from land into the ocean and Plastics in the Ocean.

30. Earths fresh water and ground water was further depleted and contaminated.

The depletion is a primary outcome of the ongoing deforestation of the planet and is manifesting in several ways including as localized droughts, which are becoming increasingly common as a number of cities and regions around the world can attest. According to the World Resources Institute, half of the surface water in some countries mainly in Central Asia and the Middle East was depleted between 1984 and 2015, with agriculture using an average of 70% of the water. 36 countries are extremely water-stressed and water is now a major factor in conflict in at least 45 countries. See 7 Graphics Explain the State of the Worlds Water.

Separately from depletion, freshwater was contaminated by bacteria, viruses and household chemicals from faulty septic systems; hazardous wastes from abandoned and uncontrolled hazardous waste sites (of which there are over 20,000 in the USA alone); leaks from landfill items such as car battery acid, paint and household cleaners; the pesticides, herbicides and other poisons used on farms and home gardens; radioactive waste from nuclear tests (some of it stored in glaciers that are now melting); and the chemical contamination caused by hydraulic fracturing (fracking) in search of shale gas, for which about 750 chemicals and components, some extremely toxic and carcinogenic like lead and benzene, have been used. See Groundwater contamination, Groundwater drunk by BILLIONS of people may be contaminated by radioactive material spread across the world by nuclear testing in the 1950s and Fracking chemicals.

31. The longstanding covert military use of geoengineering spraying tens of millions of tons of highly toxic metals (including aluminium, barium and strontium) and toxic coal fly ash nanoparticulates (containing arsenic, chromium, thallium, chlorine, bromine, fluorine, iodine, mercury and radioactive elements) into the atmosphere from jet aircraft to weaponize the atmosphere and weather in order to enhance elite control of human populations, continued unchecked. Geoengineering is systematically destroying Earths ozone layer which blocks the deadly portion of solar radiation, UV-C and most UV-B, from reaching Earths surface as well as adversely altering Earths weather patterns and polluting its air, water and soil at incredible cost to the health and well-being of living organisms and the biosphere. See Geoengineering Watch, including Engineered Climate Cataclysm: Hurricane Harvey.

For a discussion of the military implications of geoengineering, see The Ultimate Weapon of Mass Destruction: Owning the Weather for Military Use.

And for discussions of the research, and implications of it, by Dr. Dietrich Klinghardt and Dr. Stephenie Seneff (Senior Research Scientist at MIT), which considers damage to the biosphere and human health caused by the geoengineering release of a synthesized compound of nanonized aluminium and the poison glyphosate that creates a supertoxin that is generating a crisis of neurological diseases, see World-Renowned Doctor Addresses Climate Engineering Dangers, Dr Stephenie Seneff, Autism Explained: Synergistic Poisoning from Aluminum and Glyphosate and Extinction is Stalking Humanity: The Threats to Human Survival Accumulate.

32. The incredibly destructive 5G technology, which a vast number of scientists (currently totaling more than 188,000 individuals and organizations from 203 nations and territories: see International Appeal to Stop 5G on Earth and in Space) are warning will have catastrophic consequences for life on Earth, is now being rapidly introduced without informed public consultation and despite ongoing protests around the world.

The following articles and videos will give you a solid understanding of key issues from the viewpoint of human and planetary well-being. See 5G Satellites: A Threat to all Life, 5G Danger: 13 Reasons 5G Wireless Technology Will Be a Catastrophe for Humanity, 5G Technology is Coming Linked to Cancer, Heart Disease, Diabetes, Alzheimers, and Death, 20,000 Satellites for 5G to be Launched Sending Focused Beams of Intense Microwave Radiation Over Entire Earth, Will 5G Cell Phone Technology Lead To Dramatic Population Reduction As Large Numbers Of Men Become Sterile?, The 5G Revolution: Millions of Human Guinea Pigs in Big Telecoms Global Experiment and 5G Apocalypse The Extinction Event.

33. As one outcome of our dysfunctional parenting model and political systems, fascism continued to rise around the world. See The Psychology of Fascism.

34. Despite the belief that we have the right to privacy, privacy (in any sense of the word) was ongoingly eroded in 2019 and is now effectively non-existent, particularly thanks to Alphabet (owner of Google). Taken together, Uber, Amazon, Facebook, eBay, Tinder, Apple, Lyft, Foursquare, Airbnb, Spotify, Instagram, Twitter, Angry Birds have turned our computers and phones into bugs that are plugged in to a vast corporate-owned surveillance network. Where we go, what we do, what we talk about, who we talk to, and who we see everything is recorded and, at some point, leveraged for value. Moreover, given Googles integrated relationship with the U.S. government, the U.S. military, the CIA, and major U.S. weapons manufacturers, there isnt really anything you can do that isnt known by those who want to know it. In essence, Google is a powerful global corporation with its own political agenda and a mission to maximise profits for shareholders and it partly achieves this by expanding the surveillance programs of the national security state at the direction of the global elite. But Google isnt alone and it isnt just happening in the USA. See Everybodys Watching You: The Intercepts 2019 Technology Coverage, Googles Earth: How the Tech Giant Is Helping the State Spy on Us, the articles by John W. Whitehead on Surveillance and the documentary The Modern Surveillance State.

35. The right to free speech, accurate information and conscience-based nonviolent activism was ongoingly eroded in 2019 as efforts, by governments and corporations particularly, to control speech, information and political action accelerated. Whether this took the form of censorship, restrictions on access or violent acts directed against those whose views or actions were seen as dangerous or wrong, Global Witness, Human Rights Watch and other organizations documented an endless series of setbacks for free speech and political activity in a wide variety of countries around the world with individuals and journalists imprisoned for telling the truth, nonviolent activists assaulted and killed, critics silenced by defamation laws or disappearance, and the closure of newspapers, television stations and the internet to prevent rapid promulgation of information, among other infringements. See, for example, Free Speech, The supply chain of violence, Environmental activist murders double in 15 years and Enemies of the State? How governments and businesses silence land and environmental defenders.

36. Believing that we know better than evolution, and following the birth in 2018 of the first gene-edited babies in China see Why we are not ready for genetically designed babies and Chinas Golem Babies: There is Another Agenda in 2019, further human gene-editing was done as well as gene-editing experiments intended to explore possibilities for more complex gene-editing of humans. Why? According to the authors of one report: To extend the frontier of genome editing and enable the radical redesign of mammalian genomes (emphasis added). This experiment allowed for the simultaneous editing of >10,000 loci in human cells. See Enabling large-scale genome editing by reducing DNA nicking.

Needless to say, at least some responsible scientists are well aware of the possibly horrific consequences of this technology in the hands of those without ethics and are calling for a moratorium of at least five years on heritable human gene editing to allow time to engage in proactive, rather than reactive, discussions about the future of such technology. Of course, despite the calls for caution, some researchers are forging ahead. See NIH Director on Human Gene Editing: We Must Never Allow Our Technology to Eclipse Our Humanity.

37. Incalculable amounts of waste of every conceivable kind including antibiotic waste, military waste, nuclear waste, nanowaste and genetically engineered organisms, including gene drives (or mutagenic chain reactions) were released into Earths biosphere, with an endless series of adverse consequences for life. See Junk Planet: Is Earth the Largest Garbage Dump in the Universe?

Not content to dump our junk on Earth, an incalculable amount of junk was also dumped in Space which already contains 100 trillion items of orbiting junk. See Junk Planet: Is Earth the Largest Garbage Dump in the Universe? and Space Junk: Tracking & Removing Orbital Debris.

38. Ongoing visible, invisible and utterly invisible violence against children see Why Violence? and Fearless Psychology and Fearful Psychology: Principles and Practice ensured that more people will grow up accepting (and quite powerless to challenge) our dysfunctional and violent world, as described above.

39. The global elites corporate media, schooling and film/television industries continued to distract vast numbers of people from reality with an endless barrage of propaganda respectively labeled, depending on the context, news, education and entertainment ensuring that most people remain oblivious to our predicament, devoid of the capacities to investigate, comprehend and analyze this predicament as well as their own role in it, and to respond to this predicament powerfully. See, for example, Medias Deafening Silence on Latest from WikiLeaks about the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons Fake Douma Report Blaming Syria, Do We Want School or Education? and The Most Important Free Press Stories of 2019.

40. Finally, as a direct outcome of these last two points but most tragically of all, virtually all of the individuals who self-identify as activists continued to waste their time begging the global elite (or their agents) to fix one or other of our crises starkly illustrated by those thousands of climate activists who traveled to Madrid, mostly using fossil fuels, and then complained when the outcome was, predictably, pitiful: see the powerless civil society Statement on COP25 despite the overwhelming evidence that the global elite will not take action to fix any of these crises. See Why Activists Fail. And, for more detail in two key contexts, see The Global Climate Movement is Failing: Why? and The War to End War 100 Years On: An Evaluation and Reorientation of our Resistance to War.

Moreover, even if it was inclined, the elite is now powerless to avert extinction given that, if we are to have any chance given the advanced nature of the crisis and the incredibly short timeframe, we must plan intelligently to mobilize a substantial proportion of the human population in a strategically-focused effort. Nothing else can work.

Highlights of 2019

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Human extinction now imminent and inevitable? A report on the state of planet earth - NationofChange

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Prte–porter slavery: The sad reality behind the clothes worn by most instagrammers – AL DIA News

Posted: December 18, 2019 at 9:17 pm

Have you ever wondered howa pair of jeans can cost $24?

In less than two weeks, companies like Fashion Nova, which dress fashion influencers on the Internet, create jeans, dresses, and coats that appear to cost hundreds of dollars at a discount price. A caress for your wallet, yes, but a hammer blow tothe hands of those who thread the needles. Most of them are undocumented people who work in slavery-like conditions.

The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) has reported hundreds of cases regarding the affordable fashion company built on the backs ofvulnerable people.

"Los Angeles [wrote investigative journalist Kitty Bennett in NYT]is full of factories that pay their workers illegally and as little as possible, fighting foreign competitors, who can pay even less,and thus feeds a system of sweatshops."

From 2016 to the present year, the DOLdiscovered that Fashion Nova's clothing was manufactured in factories that owed $3.8 million in back wages to hundreds of employees, according to federal documents reviewed by the NYT.

Underthe aggravating circumstances, these factories contracted to produce what you put on twice and then keep in the closet payaround $2.77per hour almost the tip you would give thekid who mows your lawn after school.

Who washes the dirty laundry?

Mercedes Corts (56), a former worker at Coco Love, a ramshackle factory near Fashion Nova's offices in California, used to make about $270per week the equivalent of $4.66per hour. She worked every daywithout rest andwas paid according to how fast she could produce fourcents per shirt sleeve and about fivecents for the side seams.

"There were cockroaches. There were rats," she explained to Bennett. "The conditions were not good."

When Corts left Coco Love in 2016 and reached an agreement with the company for $5,000 in back pay.The labels she sewed were worth $12 more than double her hourly wage.

It was at those samegarment factories contracted by Fashion Nova, where federal investigators found evidence of worker abuse, the NYT reported.

"In September, three department officials met with Fashion Nova attorneys to tell them that, for four years, the brand name clothing had been found in 50 factory investigations that paid less than the federal minimum wage or did not pay overtime," the reporter wrote.

From 2016 to the present year, Labor discovered that Fashion Nova clothing was manufactured in factories that owed $3.8 million in back wages.

However, under federal law, brands cannot be penalized if they can provethey were unaware of theabuses. Today, the NYT says, no retailer has been fined in Los Angeles for hiring the services of these sweatshops.

The company, in statements to The Times, assured that all its workers would be duly compensated and that "any suggestion that Fashion Nova is responsible for badly paying anyone who works on our brand is categorically false."

Meanwhile, the chain of precariousness continues. While fashion influencers keep wearing clothes that look expensive, those who sew and rivet their dresses cannot take a single selfie in which they appear smiling.

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Prte--porter slavery: The sad reality behind the clothes worn by most instagrammers - AL DIA News

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H&Ms Different Kind of Clickbait – The New York Times

Posted: at 9:17 pm

The H&M group sells an estimated three billion articles of clothing per year. Its revenue makes it among the top three fashion retailers in the world.

Clothing for its brands, including H&M, Arket and & Other Stories, is manufactured in 40 countries, the company said; in Bangladesh alone, it sources from 275 factories that employ half a million workers.

As it sprawls ever farther around the globe, hopping from trend to trend, how can H&M keep track of how the skirts, pants and sweaters it sells are made? How, for example, can it monitor whether, in faraway countries, workers are being paid less than they need to live, forced to work hours of overtime in precarious conditions?

This spring, after almost three years of preparation and coordination by 40 team members from Hong Kong to Stockholm, and at a time when scrutiny of the global fashion industry and its shadowy supply chain is greater than ever, H&M introduced an effort to do exactly that and to make it public for shoppers.

Now, the company says, it can be held accountable for the origins of its products. If consumers care to look.

Browsing the H&M website this month, you may find yourself taken with a ladies amber sweater with Hiver written on the front, or else a pair of pink childrens leggings, with smiling bunny faces and ears that stick out from the knees for $4.99.

Click on the product sustainability tab on the page, and you will learn they were made in Bangladesh by some of the 13,000 workers at the Jinnat Apparels & Fashion plant in Gazipur, a dense manufacturing neighborhood near Dhaka.

This is part of the companys new consumer-facing transparency layer. H&M shoppers can now find out not only the country where clothing was manufactured, but also details on materials and recycling, the name of the supplier or authorized subcontractor where a garment was made; the factory address; and the number of workers employed there.

Customers shopping in physical stores can also have access to this information by using the H&M app to scan the product price tag.

There are limits to how much information youll get, of course. The sustainability tab wont tell you that Jinnat sprawls over seven floors, each the size of a football field, or that employees perch in front of whirring sewing machines making white cotton T-shirts, monitoring 337 high-tech embroidery appliances and snipping at stray threads.

And you wont find out that this single company makes 400,000 pieces (roughly 110 tons) of clothing per day, or around 10 to 12 million units per month, up to a quarter of which will be bound for H&M.

Nevertheless, it is the first effort of its kind by a retailer of this scale.

H&M created the system by building a bridge between its supplier and production databases and then linking it to its retail interfaces. (The company declined to say what the project cost.)

Pascal Brun, the head of sustainability for the H&M brand, said the new public transparency layer showed that the company had nothing to hide regarding labor or environmental practices, or how H&M products were made.

It is not going to change the world, he said. But it is about building a foundation for real change, given we cant build this industry from the ground up all over again.

Transparency has become the key driver of change in the fashion industry, which used to be about as untransparent an industry as it could possibly be, said David Savman, the head of production for the H&M group, from a factory floor in Dhaka.

Tanned and golden haired, the Swede filed between rows of workers and inspected sequined T-shirts, asking line managers about different cotton hybrids and admiring fire doors.

Change came crashing down on the industry with the Rana Plaza disaster in Bangladesh in 2013, a factory collapse that led to the death of more than 1,000 workers, with scores more disfigured or disabled for life.

In the wake of the catastrophe, several Western retailers found they had sold clothes sourced from the factory, or had little to no idea where the clothes they sold were sourced from. All have since come under increasing public pressure to investigate, police and invest in exactly where and how their products were made.

There is also pressure for them to be as transparent about their findings as possible (though some have been far more forthcoming than others about taking action).

The creation in Bangladesh in 2013 of two five-year fire and safety monitoring agreements between retailers and unions made significant improvements and reforms.

The Accord on Fire and Building Safety, which is legally binding, was signed by more than 200 retailers including H&M and Inditex (neither of which had any ties to Rana Plaza, but plenty of other alleged supply chain abuses). The other agreement is the nonbinding Alliance for Bangladesh Worker Safety, which was signed by Walmart, Gap and Target.

Both have spurred improved working conditions in many Bangladeshi factories, and calls for other countries to adopt similar standards.

These agreements, now up for renewal, have sidelined some of the countrys most dangerous factories, and cut their ties to most Western retailers, though not all. A Wall Street Journal investigation in October found that Amazon continued to sell clothes from Bangladeshi factories that other retailers had blacklisted because of their inability to pass safety requirements.

Pressure from consumers has also prompted brands like H&M to proactively support local suppliers who create safe and profitable businesses in places like Bangladesh.

We choose not to work with a lot of suppliers that other rivals work with so they can save on costs, said Karl-Johan Persson this fall. (In 2018 six suppliers in Bangladesh were phased out by H&M because of their poor sustainability performance.)

Mr. Persson, the billionaire chief executive of H&M, sat in the hygge-style library for the companys army of young designers in Stockholm as he defended his family companys business model and its contributions.

He declined to specify how much H&M spent annually on transparency efforts, other than to say the investment had continually hurt short-term profit in order to ensure the long-term survival and growth of the company.

His argument is that by working in low-cost areas, H&M is creating jobs and investing in the economy; by making its partnerships public, it is accepting its own liability.

But often, Mr. Persson said, the focus ends up on what we dont do.

The new transparency layer project has been cautiously applauded by some human rights and fashion advocacy groups and union leaders. But many have also said that H&Ms efforts do not go far enough, questioning whether improvements like this are worthwhile if they merely prolong the existence of a system where profits and shareholder interests are continually placed ahead of employees, suppliers and the environment.

Currently, customers do not have access to information on workers wages at individual factories, or local minimum fair living wage commitments and calculation methodology. Nor does the transparency layer offer a breakdown of the pricing structure that could specify how labor costs are calculated.

Transparency is primarily a means to an end, and mere information about where a garment is produced does not automatically guarantee meaningful changes in factory labor conditions, said Aruna Kashyap, senior counsel for the womens rights division at Human Rights Watch, which is part of a coalition that started the Transparency Pledge (of which H&M is a signatory).

H&M is among the leaders on supplier transparency, and other companies should follow this practice, Ms. Kashyap said. But that doesnt mean that H&M and other companies that are transparent have fixed an industry model that is replete with problems.

Even after the Rana Plaza tragedy, the global business model for producing low-cost clothing remains the same. Most brands dont own their own production facilities, but instead contract with independent factories to make their garments. Generally, in these factories, located in mostly developing economies, very low wages are paid to workers using manufacturing processes that are geared toward expediency rather than the environment.

Subcontraction or homeworking remain common, and make it even harder to track where clothes come from.

The industry is operating at an almighty scale. In total, across the fashion industry, 80 billion garments are produced each year, according to Greenpeace, with consumer demand and appetite for trend-fueled fashion only growing stronger, in part thanks to a digital culture powered by social media and the wallets of a young emerging global middle class.

The worldwide apparel and footwear markets expected growth, pegged at roughly 5 percent through 2030 by Euromonitor analysts, would risk exerting an unprecedented strain on planetary resources by raising annual production of fashion to more than 100 million tons, according to a Euromonitor report.

The pressure to meet those demands, and the demand for ever-cheaper labor, are at odds with the move toward transparency and tightly managed supply chains. Many major brands in Europe and North America continue to have limited information about the factories and workers producing their wares.

Inspections are usually delegated to third-party auditors, which have proven to be far from foolproof and at the mercy of the often uneven tides of developing nations.

Revelations of egregious failures within the garment industry still emerge on a regular basis. A Guardian story in October reported that the active wear company Lululemon had been sourcing clothing from a factory where Bangladeshi female factory workers said they were assaulted.

This month, in Delhi, India, a fire broke out in a factory that made school bags and killed 43 workers, including children, who were asleep on the floors inside.

Last year, Transparentem, a nonprofit focused on investigating human and environmental abuses in the apparel industry, published a report about abusive conditions and forced labor at a set of Malaysian apparel factories that made wares for brands in North America and Europe such as Primark, Asics, Nike and Under Armour.

According to the Transparentem report, many workers, often migrants from Bangladesh and Nepal, said that they paid steep recruitment fees to acquire jobs. These could take years to pay back, resulting in debt bondage, a common form of modern slavery that occurs when a person is forced to work to pay off debts for little or no pay.

Factories limited employees movements by withholding their passports; it wasnt unusual for them to live jammed together in squalid conditions. Many also had to pay a government levy on foreign workers out of their own paychecks (a practice that was legal when Transparentem interviewed workers in 2016 and 2017).

The physical distance, cultural distance, and often time zone difference have all meant that there are inherent challenges in understanding the labor conditions in any manufacturer supply chain, said Benjamin Skinner, the founder and president of Transparentem.

Brands have largely trusted suppliers to follow certain rules with employees and the environment and then verified that those policies were being followed, Mr. Skinner said.

But based on his organizations work, he added, the verify part can be pretty weak. Because auditors would alert factory owners to their visits, or only interview workers in the presence of their bosses, it created an environment where noncompliance was easy to hide.

This gap between intent and reality also emerged in a May report from University of Sheffield researchers in Britain on apparel companies not delivering on promises to pay workers a living wage.

Generally set by governments (sometimes with input from foreign and local businesses, unions and NGOs), living wages can differ significantly between countries, with benchmarks sometimes geared to maintaining a countrys competitiveness as a low-cost manufacturing destination rather than the needs of workers.

The wages can also be significantly less sometimes even falling below the poverty line than the living wage as defined by outside groups, which broadly incorporates food, housing, medical care, clothing and transportation.

Many companies, including Adidas and Puma, referred to components of a living wage in their supplier codes of conduct, the researchers said, but the wording around requirements was very vague, leaving fulfillment an option and the legal minimum wage the only requirement.

On top of all this, the researchers noted that companies relied heavily on outside auditors to ensure codes of conduct were being followed, running into the same issues outlined by Mr. Skinner.

Many of these firms are beholden by financial conflict of interest since they are hired by companies who could decide not to continue to hire them if they identify too many problems, they wrote. Often, they visited only top suppliers, leaving out the many subcontractors where abuses can be the worst.

After Transparentem revealed the Malaysian abuses to 23 companies with direct or indirect buying relationships with the factories, most said that they would take action.

Buyers and suppliers were able to negotiate the return of passports and secure the reimbursement of recruitment fees for workers at several facilities. (By November 2018, the total amount of fees paid and scheduled to be paid exceeded $1.4 million.)

Still, under the current system, the industry status quo means major garment manufacturers are mopping up mistakes, rather than not making them at all. This is the problem H&M is trying to solve.

Mr. Savman of H&M said that because H&M did not own factories, all sustainability efforts and investments like a Dhaka training center ultimately focused on supporting and promoting processes and mechanisms between suppliers, unions and workers that made them self-sufficient when it came to problem solving.

A self-reporting system called the Supplier Partnership Impact Program allowed H&M to see issues and regulate what sort of monitoring was needed and where. National Monitoring Committees round table discussions between H&M employees, union representatives and factory owners attempted to resolve pay disputes and abuse allegations at factory level.

Alongside regular auditing by independent groups, Mr. Savman said, H&M still frequently sent its own employees to monitor factories, sometimes by prearrangement but often unannounced.

His colleague Payal Jain, the sustainability manager for H&Ms global supply chain who started her career as a factory worker in India, said that H&M visited its factories several times per week, and 2,500 audits were made in the country per year.

That may sound like a lot, but it is an average of 10 per factory in 365 days. Or less than once per month. The company was also criticized by the Clean Clothes campaign last year, which said H&M had not met a 2013 commitment made to ensure suppliers would pay a living wage to 850,000 textile workers by 2018.

(H&M said it had reached at least 600 factories and 930,000 garment workers with its fair living wage strategy, and did not share the Clean Clothes Campaigns view of how to create change in the textile industry.)

Additionally, some factory owners say that despite support from H&Ms sustainability teams, they experience pressure from the company or from production teams who still want more product at a cheaper price or they threaten to pull their business and go to even less expensive hubs, like Ethiopia.

Ms. Jain said cost of labor was not a negotiable part of a supplier contract. But if suppliers are paid less, or overtime is required to complete a contract, the likelihood is that shortfall will get passed down the chain.

Brands like H&M offer training, help union members establish themselves in my factory and guide us on investing in the business, which are all very good and important things, said Lutful Matin, the manager of Natural Denims, another factory near Dhaka. It employs 6,900 workers to make garments for H&M, Zara, Mango and Esprit.

But then their buying teams still drive down order values and I feel such pressure, Mr. Matin said.

He had proudly shown off the conditions and quality of his products. But, he said, while I know Ive invested more in my factory than competitors, they still get orders. There are always new certificates and alliances that need to be passed. Globally the trading market is getting tougher. Sometimes I dont know how easy it will be to survive.

While the work it does is recognized by its recognition in projects like Fashion Revolutions Transparency Index, H&M believes the best way to get consumers thinking about who made their clothes is to talk to them close to the point of sale.

Consumers have a lack of trust and say they dont always know how to make the right choices, said Anna Gedda, the head of sustainability for the H&M group. She added that it was a constant struggle to work out how much information a customer may want versus what might make them switch off or walk away from a sale.

From Dhaka, Mr. Savman was more forthright. We are still at the stage where if you put two T-shirts, one cotton and one recycled cotton, which is 30 percent more expensive, the majority of consumers will still take the first option, he said. We put a lot of information out there, like the product transparency layer. But how much do customers engage with it? Not a lot yet.

Nearby, the managers and owners were keen to show off the scope and quality of their Jinnat complex, from their high-quality Italian knitting machines and subsidized food store and medical facilities to the anonymous complaint boxes on every floor and payment system so that workers can be compensated directly and efficiently.

As tens of thousands of workers streamed back into the steamy streets for their lunch break, Abdul Wahed, the chairman, looked on.

We are extremely proud of the factory here, and the work we have done, he said. People can know when and where we make their clothes. The onus is on them to click.

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Woolworths says it has started paying back unpaid wages to workers, rejecting suggestions of ‘wage theft’ – ABC News

Posted: at 9:17 pm

Posted December 16, 2019 19:34:36

Woolworths says it has started paying back some of the estimated $200 million to $300 million it owes workers.

The supermarket giant told investors at its annual general meeting in Sydney it had started making back payments for the past two years to nearly 6,000 supermarket staff for unpaid wages, superannuation and interest.

Woolworths is facing a class action and an investigation by the Fair Work Ombudsman after the company discovered it had underpaid staff members, including supermarket managers, under the General Retail Industry Award over the past decade.

It is one of a number of big companies, including the ABC, which have admitted to underpaying their workers.

Chairman Gordon Cairns told the meeting Woolworths had gone through worker records for 2018 and 2019 which involved 11 million data points each year.

"To discover we have underpaid so many of our team members has been incredibly disappointing," Mr Cairns said.

Woolworths chief executive Brad Banducci told reporters after the meeting the company was still working through the rest of the payments owed to workers, including in other parts of the company such as department store Big W and bottle shop Dan Murphy's.

"Step one, well progressed, will be done before Christmas," he said.

"And then we'll really get focused in the new year on making sure we do the same analysis across all of the businesses inside the Woolworths Group."

"We hope to have done the first two years of that ideally in the next couple of months and get the whole process wrapped up by the end of June at the latest."

Mr Banducci will forfeit a $2.6 million bonus and Mr Cairns will have his director fees cut by 20 per cent because of the scandal.

Investor Paul Cohen said he wanted to see more accountability at Woolworths for the underpayment scandal.

"I think it's absolutely disgraceful. If they can't work out a payroll then the people who are responsible for payroll should be at the very least questioned if not shown the door," he told the ABC.

"I definitely think that heads should roll.

"There must be people who are responsible for that area who are either very negligent or completely incompetent. So I think they should definitely be shown the door."

Fellow shareholder Joyce Yong agreed.

"I've been a Woolworths shareholder for a long, long time and the things that came out in the news certainly weren't edifying at all."

Mr Banducci denied the underpayment scandal was "wage theft".

"Theft is premeditated. It has a deliberate element to it. And that is not in our case.

"It doesn't mean we don't need to fix it."

The supermarket giant also heard complaints from farm workers who said they were not paid properly by fruit and vegetable suppliers.

Katie Hepworth from the Australasian Centre for Corporate Responsibility called on the company to do more to combat modern slavery and labour violations by suppliers in Australia and overseas.

The company was also grilled about the social impact of its hotels and poker machines business amid allegations two of its hotels in New South Wales supplied free drinks to gaming patrons.

Investors overwhelmingly supported the company's plans to merge its alcohol and pubs businesses, Endeavour Drinks and ALH Group, so they can be spun off into a separate company next year and floated on the stock exchange or sold.

Woolworths is one of the biggest poker machine operators in Australia and the spin-off proposal comes amid public pressure on the company from gambling reform advocates and investors.


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Qatar World Cup chief insists progress being made on migrant rights – The Guardian

Posted: at 9:17 pm

The Qatari official in charge of organising the most controversial edition of the football World Cup since the tournaments inception in 1930 has claimed that criticism of his countrys treatment of migrant workers will have a ripple effect that will improve regional labour standards.

The 2022 World Cup has been dogged by criticism of its hosts kafala system, which ties migrant workers to so-called sponsorship by their employer, meaning they cannot move jobs or leave the country without the employers approval.

In an interview in the Qatari capital, Doha, Hassan al-Thawadi, the secretary general of the supreme committee organising the event, said a definitive end to the kafala system would be set out next month and he wanted reforms to apply not just to workers employed on World Cup projects but across Qatar and more widely.

There are already signs of reforms being picked up in the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia, he said.

The abolition of kafala, he said, would mean every person living in the country has the freedom to move from one job to another and can live their lives, change jobs whenever they want and leave the country as they want.

Qatar says it is also planning labour market reforms, including introducing elected workers welfare forums to raise complaints with employers, and a more than 50% rise in the minimum wage.

It says it will be the first Gulf state to apply a uniform minimum wage that disregards nationality and is applicable not just to construction workers.The rise in the minimum wage is something I am very excited about, Thawadi said.

All Gulf states make heavy use of low-paid migrant labour, often from India. In the case of Qatar, the indigenous population now makes up only 10% of the countrys total of 2.8 million people. The Indian population of 700,000 alone dwarfs the number of locals.

A report by Amnesty International in September said thousands of migrant workers were still being exploited in Qatar despite repeated promises to improve workers rights.

Dismantling Qatars exploitative labour market with its echoes of slavery, which was only abolished there in the 1950s could have huge repercussions not just for Qatars rapidly evolving society but for Gulf economies as a whole.

Thawadi claimed that some of the criticism levelled at Qatar since it won the right to stage the World Cup a decade ago had been ill-informed, cynical or even vicious.

This week Qatar is hosting Liverpool FC among other clubs in the Club World Cup, a tournament seen as a chance to test newly built infrastructure including a 37-station metro system, match scheduling and the overall fan experience.

Octobers World Athletics Championships in Doha were marked by rows and rows of empty seats and complaints from athletes about a lack of atmosphere. Thawadi said lessons have been learned and with 1.5 million fans due to visit for the World Cup, lack of enthusiasm would not be an issue.

Football and the World Cup can break down stereotypes. The passion for this game like no other creates a bond and bridges gaps, he said.

World Cup organisers have repeatedly warned fans that they will have to be respectful of Qatars local laws and customs, including a ban on homosexuality.

Thawadi, a football fan who admires Liverpool and what he called its leftwing fanbase, said meetings with community groups such as Spirit of Shankly and Kop Outs, an LGBT supporters club, had averted an embarrassing boycott of this weeks event. Nevertheless, he said LGBT fans would be welcome only if they refrained from public displays of affection.

He said alcohol would be on sale in specified fan zones and in hotels but not on street corners. Alcohol is not part of our culture but hospitality is.

A sin tax has raised the price of beer to 10 a pint, an issue Thawadi said needed addressing. But he regarded such matters as a two-way street. Let us try to understand each other as human beings, he said. We are a conservative culture, not a closed culture.

Houtan Homayounpour, the Do ha chief for ILO, a UN employment rights agency that has been working on reforms with the Qatar government since 2017, said progress was being made but there were many more milestones to pass.

Homayounpour cited the heat-related death toll among migrant workers, a lack of autopsies and delays in payment of wages as areas of concern.

The flow of information to the families of dead and injured workers has been mixed. For instance, the family of Zac Cox, a British worker who died when he fell from a gantry, struggled for many months to extract information on the circumstances of his death. Only after relentless pressure did Thawadis committee set up a British judge-led inquiry.

Thawadi said he was committed to implementing the inquirys findings. We dont want Zacs death to go without us learning or contributing to the welfare of other people, he said.

Thawadi, 41, a former law student at Sheffield University, said the labour reforms were intended not just to help Qatar survive the current glare of publicity. None of the work we have done is to satisfy the spotlight or the critics, he said.

Our nations commitment is that these will be sustainable changes. Yes, some people have criticised the pace, but you need to build the foundations before you live in a house.

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Ethiopia hosts ‘Freedom From Slavery Forum’ – The Reporter Ethiopia

Posted: at 9:17 pm

The Freedom From Slavery Forum was held inside the UNECA headquarters this week. The gathering had leading anti-human trafficking and modern slavery activists and civil society leaders and has discussed a wide range of issues to combat human trafficking and modern slavery.

Among those that attended the three day event that began on Tuesday, were high profile international activists including Bukeni Waruzi, a United States activist with Free the Slaves, Purva Gupta of the Global March Against Child Labor India and Mark Makinde, Dignity Foundation for Relief and Development from South Africa.

The gathering takes place as Ethiopia was chosen as a model nation where the group intends to work towards its elimination. This comes as the nation strives to create thousands of jobs to help address the urgent issues of unemployment and has yet to build the mechanism to not have its population become victims of exploitation, including having a lack of minimum wage and employment standards.

We intend to work with partners, civic organizations and government institutions to help root-out the causes of [modern] slavery in Ethiopia, Bukeni Waruzi, the newly appointed Free the Slaves Executive Director based in Washington DC told The Reporter. As an important nation, Ethiopia is to be used as a model and others to emulate on our future work here.

Earlier this year, Ethiopia rose the age of employment from 14 to 15 to avoid child labor, which according to the United Nations estimates that 25 percent of enslaved people remain children.

The U.N. estimates that more than 40 million people are trapped in modern forms of slavery, worldwide and many of them are forced to work without pay as domestic servants, in construction, manufacturing, agriculture and fishing industries, generating USD 150 billion in illicit profits annually.

According to Free the Slaves, 71 percent of slaved victims are women and girls, 38 percent of slavery victims are forced into marriage slavery, and 50 percent are in labor slavery while 13 percent are in sex slavery.

It is estimated by the United Nations International Labor Organization that there are 9.2 million people enslaved, while Asia and the Pacific seem to have a widespread issue with 25 million people believed to be enslaved.

The United Nations intends to end child labor by 2025 and forced labor by 2030. Held for the seventh time this year, this is the first time the annual event was held in Ethiopia.

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America’s First ‘Endless War’ Was Fought in the Philippines – The Nation

Posted: at 9:17 pm

A depiction of the Battle of Bud Bagsak, which was fought in June 1913 near the end of the Moro War. (US Army Center of Military History)

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For a decade and a half, the US Army waged war on fierce tribal Muslims in a remote land. Sound familiar?Ad Policy

As it happens, that war unfolded half a world away from the Greater Middle East and more than a century ago in the southernmost islands of the Philippines. Back then, American soldiers fought not the Taliban, but the Moros, intensely independent Islamic tribesmen with a similarly storied record of resisting foreign invaders. Precious few today have ever heard of Americas Moro War, fought from 1899 to 1913, but it was, until Afghanistan, one of Americas longest sustained military campaigns.

Popular thinking assumes that the United States wasnt meaningfully entangled in the Islamic world until Washington became embroiled in the Islamist Iranian revolution and the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, both in the pivotal year of 1979. It simply isnt so. How soon we forget that the Army, which had fought prolonged guerrilla wars against Native Americans throughout the 19th century, went onoften led by veterans of those Indian Warsto wage a counterinsurgency war on Islamic Moros in the Philippine Islands at the start of the new century, a conflict that was an outgrowth of the Spanish-American War.

That campaign is all but lost to history and the collective American memory. A basic Amazon search for Moro War, for instance, yields just seven books (half of them published by US military war colleges), while a similar search for Vietnam War lists no less than 10,000 titles. Which is curious. The war in the Southern Philippines wasnt just six years longer than conventional American military operations in Vietnam, but also resulted in the awarding of 88 Congressional Medals of Honor and produced five future Army chiefs of staff. While the insurgency in the northern islands of the Philippines had fizzled out by 1902, the Moro rebels fought on for another decade. As Lieutenant Benny Fouloislater a general and the father of Army aviationreflected, The Filipino insurrection was mild compared to the difficulties we had with the Moros.

Here are the relevant points when it comes to the Moro War (which will sound grimly familiar in a 21st century forever-war context): the United States military shouldnt have been there in the first place; the war was ultimately an operational and strategic failure, made more so by American hubris; and it should be seen, in retrospect, as (using a term General David Petraeus applied to our present Afghan War) the nations first generational struggle.

More than a century after the US Army disengaged from Moroland, Islamist and other regional insurgencies continue to plague the southern Philippines. Indeed, the post-9/11 infusion of US Army Special Forces into Americas former colony should probably be seen as only the latest phase in a 120-year struggle with the Moros. Which doesnt portend well for the prospects of todays generational struggles in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, and parts of Africa.

Soldiers and officers streaming into what they dubbed Moroland at the turn of the century might as well have been entering Afghanistan in 2001-2002. As a start, the similarity between the Moro islands and the Afghan hinterlands is profound. Both were enormous. The Moro island of Mindanao alone is larger than Ireland. The more than 369 southern Philippine islands also boasted nearly impassable, undeveloped terrain36,000 square miles of jungle and mountains with just 50 miles of paved roads when the Americans arrived. So impenetrable was the landscape that soldiers called remote areas the boondocksa corruption of the Tagalog word bundokand it entered the American vernacular.

The Moros (named for the Muslim Moors ejected from Spain in 1492) were organized by family, clan, and tribe. Islam, which had arrived via Arab traders 1,000 years earlier, provided the only unifying force for the bakers dozen of cultural-linguistic groups on those islands. Intertribal warfare was endemic but more than matched by a historic aversion to outside invaders. In their three centuries of rule in the Philippines, the Spanish never managed more than a marginal presence in Moroland.Current Issue

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There were other similarities. Both Afghans and Moros adhered to a weapons culture. Every adult male Moro wore a blade and, when possible, sported a firearm. Both modern Afghans and 19 century Moros often used American occupiers as a convenient cudgel to settle tribal feuds. The Moros even had a precursor to the modern suicide bomber, a juramentado who ritualistically shaved his body hair and donned white robes before fanatically charging to his death in blade-wielding fury against American troops. So fearful of them and respectful of their incredible ability to weather gunshot wounds were US soldiers that the Army eventually replaced the standard-issue .38 caliber revolver with the more powerful Colt .45 pistol.

When, after defeating the Spanish fleet in Manila Bay and forcing the quick surrender of the garrison there, the United States annexed the Philippines via the 1898 Treaty of Paris, the Moros werent consulted. Spanish rule had always been tenuous in their territories and few Moros had even heard of Paris. They certainly hadnt acceded to American rule.

Early on, US Army officers deployed to Moroland contributed to the locals sense of independence. General John Bates, eager to focus on a daunting Filipino uprising on the main islands, signed an agreement with Moro tribal leaders pledging that the United States would not meddle with their rights and dignities or religious customs (including slavery). Whatever his intentions, that agreement proved little more than a temporary expedient until the war in the north was won. That Washington saw the relationship with those tribal leaders as analogous to its past ones with savage Native American tribes was lost on the Moros.

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Though the Bates agreement held only as long as it was convenient for American military and political leaders, it was undoubtedly the best hope for peace in the islands. The limited initial US objectives in Morolandlike the similarly constrained goals of the initial CIA/Special Forces invasion of Afghanistan in 2001were so much wiser than the eventual expansive, futile goals of control, democratization, and Americanization in both conflicts. US Army officers and civilian administrators couldnt countenance for long Moro (and later Afghan) practices. Most advocated the full abrogation of the Bates agreement. The result was war.

The pacification of Morolandlike that in the war on terrorwas run mostly by young officers in remote locales. Some excelled, others failed spectacularly. Yet even the best of them couldnt alter the strategic framework of imposing democracy and the American way on a distant foreign populace. Many did their best, but due to the Armys officer rotation system, what resulted was a series of disconnected, inconsistent, alternating strategies to impose American rule in Moroland.

When the Moros responded with acts of banditry and random attacks on American sentries, punitive military expeditions were launched. In the first such instance, General Adna Chaffee (later Army chief of staff) gave local Moro tribal leaders a two-week ultimatum to turn over the murderers and horse thieves. Understandably unwilling to accept American sovereignty over a region their Spanish predecessors had never conquered, they refusedas they would time and again in the future.

Colonel Frank Baldwin, who led the early campaign, applied brutal, bloody tactics (that would prove familiar indeed in 21st century Afghanistan) to tame the Moros. Some younger Army officers disagreed with his approach, however. One, Captain John Pershing, complained that Baldwin wanted to shoot the Moros first and give them the olive branch afterward.

Over the next 13 years of rotating commanders, there would be an internal bureaucratic battle between two prevailing schools of thought as to how best to pacify the restive islandsthe very same struggle that would plague the post-9/11 war on terror military. One school believed that only harsh military responses would ever cow the warlike Moros. As General George Davis wrote in 1902, We must not forget that power is the only government that [the Moros] respect, a sentiment that would pervade the book that became the US Armys Bible when it came to the 21st century Arab mind.

Others, best personified by Pershing, disagreed. Patiently dealing with Moro leaders man-to-man, maintaining a relatively light military footprint, and accepting even the most barbaric local customs would, these mavericks thought, achieve basic US goals with far less bloodshed on both sides. Pershings service in the Philippines briefly garnered attention during the 2016 presidential campaign when candidate Donald Trump repeated a demonstrably false story about how then-Captain John Pershing (future commanding general of all US forces in World War I)a rough, rough guyhad once captured 50 Muslim terrorists, dipped 50 bullets in pigs blood, shot 49 of them, and set the sole survivor loose to spread the tale to his rebel comrades. The outcome, or moral of the story, according to Trump, was that for 25 years, there wasnt a problem, OK?

Well, no, actually, the Philippine insurgency dragged on for another decade and a Muslim-separatist rebellion continues in those islands to this day.

In reality, Black Jack Pershing was one of the less brutal commanders in Moroland. Though no angel, he learned the local dialect and traveled unarmed to distant villages to spend hours chewing betel nut (which had a stimulating effect similar to modern Somali khat) and listening to local problems. No doubt Pershing could be tough, even vicious at times. Still, his instinct was always to negotiate first and only fight as a last resort.

When General Leonard Wood took over in Moroland, the strategy shifted. A veteran of the Geronimo campaign in the Apache Wars and another future Army chief of staffa US Army base in Missouri is named after himhe applied the scorched earth tactics of his Indian campaigns against the Moros, arguing that they should be thrashed just as Americas Indians had been. He would win every single battle, massacring tens of thousands of locals, without ever quelling Moro resistance.

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In the process, he threw out the Bates agreement, proceeded to outlaw slavery, imposed Western forms of criminal justice, andto pay for the obligatory American-style roads, schools, and infrastructure improvementsimposed new taxes on the Moros whose tribal leaders saw all of this as a direct attack on their social, political, and religious customs. (It never occurred to Wood that his taxation-without-representation model was also inherently undemocratic or that a similar policy had helped catalyze the American Revolution.)

The legal veneer for his acts would be a provincial council, similar to the American Coalition Provisional Authority that would rule Iraq after the 2003 US invasion. That unelected body included Wood himself (whose vote counted twice), two other Army officers, and two American civilians. In his arrogance, Wood wrote to the American governor of the Philippines, future President William Howard Taft: All that is necessary to bring the Moro into line and to start him ahead is a strong policy and vigorous enforcement of the law. How wrong he would be.

Career advancement was Leonard Woods raison dtre, while knowledge about or empathy for the Moro people never ranked high on his list of priorities. One of his subordinate commanders, Major Robert Bullardfuture commander of the 1st Infantry Division in World War Inoted that Wood exhibited a sheer lack of knowledge of the people, of the country. He seemed to want to do everything himself without availing himself of any information from others.

His tactical model was to bombard fortified Moro villagescottaswith artillery, killing countless women and children, and then storm the walls with infantrymen. Almost no prisoners were ever taken and casualties were inevitably lopsided. Typically, in a campaign on the island of Jolo, 1,500 Moros (2% of the islands population) were killed along with 17 Americans. When the press occasionally caught wind of his massacres, Wood never hesitated to lie, omit, or falsify reports in order to vindicate his actions.

When his guard came down, however, he could be open about his brutality. In a macabre prelude to the infamous US military statement in the Vietnam era (and its Afghan War reprise) that it became necessary to destroy the village in order to save it, Wood asserted: While these measures may appear harsh, it is the kindest thing to do. Still, no matter how aggressive the general was, his operations never pacified the proud, intransigent Moros. When he finally turned over command to General Tasker Bliss, the slow-boiling rebellion was still raging.

His successor, another future Army chief (and current Army base namesake), was a far more cerebral and modest man, who later would help found the Army War College. Bliss preferred Pershings style. The authorities, he wrote, forget that the most critical time is after the slaughter has stopped. With that in mind, he halted large-scale punitive expeditions and prudently accepted that some level of violence and banditry in Moroland would be the reality of the day. Even so, Blisss enlightened tenure was neither a morality play nor a true strategic success. After all, like most current American generals addicted to (or resigned to) generational war, he concluded that a US military presence would be necessary indefinitely.

After his (relatively) peaceful tour, Bliss predicted that the power of government would, stripped of all misleading verbiage, amount to the naked fact that the United States would have to hold the larger part of the people by the throat while the smaller part governs it. That vision of forever war haunts America still.

Behind the veil of road-building, education, and infrastructure improvements, American military rule in Moroland ultimately rested on force and brutality. Occasionally, this inconvenient truth manifested itself all too obviously, as in the 1906 Bud Dajo massacre. Late in 1905, Major Hugh Scott, then the commander on Jolo and another future Army chief, received reports that up to 1,000 Moro familiesin a tax protest of sortshad decided to move into the crater of a massive dormant volcano, Bud Dajo, on the island of Jolo. He saw no reason to storm it, preferring to negotiate. As he wrote, It was plain that many good Americans would have to die before it could be taken and, after all, what would they be dying for? In order to collect a tax of less than a thousand dollars from savages! He figured that life on the mountaintop was harsh and most of the Moros would peacefully come down when their harvests ripened. By early 1906, just eight families remained.

Then Scott went home on leave and his pugnacious, ambitious second-in-command, Captain James Reeves, strongly backed by outgoing provincial commander Leonard Wood, decided to take the fight to the Jolo Moros. Though Scotts plan had worked, many American officers disagreed with him, seeing the slightest Moro provocation as a threat to American rule.

Reeves sent out alarmist reports about a bloodless attack on and burglary at a US rifle range. Wood, who had decided to extend his tour of duty in Moroland to oversee the battle to come, concluded that the Bud Dajo Moros would probably have to be exterminated. He then sent deceptive reports, ignored a recent directive from Secretary of War Taft forbidding large-scale military operations without his express approval, and issued secret orders for an impending attack.

As word reached the Moros through their excellent intelligence network, significant numbers of them promptly returned to the volcanos rim. By March 5, 1906, Woods large force of regulars had the mountain surrounded and he promptly ordered a three-pronged frontal assault. The Moros, many armed with only blades or rocks, put up a tough fight, but in the end, a massacre ensued. Wood eventually lined the rim of Bud Dajo with machine guns, artillery, and hundreds of riflemen, and proceeded to rain indiscriminate fire on the Moros, perhaps 1,000 of whom were killed. When the smoke cleared, all but six defenders were dead, a 99 percent casualty rate.

Wood, unfazed by the sight of Moro bodies, stacked five deep in some places, was pleased with his victory. His official report noted only that all the defenders were killed. Some of his troopers proudly posed for a photograph standing above the dead, including hundreds of women and children, as though they were big game trophies from a safari hunt. The infamous photo would fly around the world in an early 20th century version of going viral, as the anti-imperialist press went crazy and Wood faced a scandal. Even some of his fellow officers were horrified. Pershing wrote his wife: I would not want to have that on my conscience for the fame of Napoleon.

The massacre would eventually even embarrass a president. Before the scandal broke in the press, Theodore Roosevelt had sent Wood a congratulatory letter, praising the brilliant feat of arms wherein you and they so well upheld the honor of the American flag. Hed soon regret it.

Mark Twain, a leading literary spokesman for the anti-imperialists, even suggested that Old Glory be replaced by a pirate skull-and-crossbones flag. Privately, he wrote, We abolished them utterly, leaving not even a baby alive to cry for its dead mother. The photograph also galvanized African-American civil rights activists. W.E.B. Du Bois declared the crater image to be the most illuminating Ive ever seen and considered displaying it on his classroom wall to impress upon the students what wars and especially wars of conquest really mean.

The true tragedy of the Bud Dajo massacrea microcosm of the Moro Warwas that the battle was so unnecessary, as were the mindless assaults on empty, booby-trapped Afghan villages that my own troop undertook in Afghanistan in 2011-2012, or the random insertion of other American units into indefensible outposts in mountain valleys in that countrys far northeast, which resulted, infamously, in disaster when the Taliban nearly overran Combat Outpost Keating in 2009.

On Jolo Island, a century earlier, Hugh Scott had crafted a bloodless formula that might, one day, have ended the war (and American occupation) there. However, the careerism of a subordinate and the simplistic philosophy of his superior, General Wood, demonstrated the inherent limitations of enlightened officership to alter the course of such aimless, ill-advised wars.

The scandal dominated American newspapers for about a month until a sensational new story broke: a terrible earthquake and fire had destroyed San Francisco on April 18, 1906. In those months before the massacre was forgotten, some press reports were astute indeed. On March 15, 1906, for instance, an editorial in The Nationin words that might be applied verbatim to todays endless warsasked if there is any definite policy being pursued in regard to the Moros. There seems to be merely an aimless drifting along, with occasional bloody successes. But the fighting keeps up steadily and no one can discover that we are making any progress. This conclusion well summarized the futility and hopeless inertia of the war in the southern Philippines. Nonetheless, then (and now, as The Washington Post has demonstrated only recently), the generals and senior US officials did their best to repackage stalemate as a success.

As in Vietnam and later Afghanistan, the generals leading the Moro War perennially assured the public that progress was being made, that victory was imminent. All that was needed was yet more time. And in Moroland, as until recently in the never-ending Afghan War, politicians and citizens alike swallowed the optimistic yarns of those generals, in part because the conflicts took place so far beyond the public eye.

Once the larger insurgency in the main Philippine islands fizzled out, most Americans lost interest in a remote theater of war so many thousands of miles away. Returning Moro War veterans (like their war on terror counterparts) were mostly ignored. Many in the United States didnt even realize that combat continued in the Philippines.

One vet wrote of his reception at home that, instead of glad-hands, people stare at a khaki-clad man as though he had escaped from the zoo. The relatively low (American) casualties in the war contributed to public apathy. In the years 1909 and 1910, just eight regular Army soldiers were killed, analogous to the mere 32 troopers killed in 2016-2017 in Afghanistan. This was just enough danger to make a tour of duty in Moroland, as in Afghanistan today, terrifying, but not enough to garner serious national attention or widespread war opposition.

In the style recently revealed by Craig Whitlock of the Post when it came to Afghanistan, five future Army chiefs of staff treated their civilian masters and the populace to a combination of outright lies, obfuscations, and rosy depictions of progress. Adna Chaffee, Leonard Wood, Hugh Scott, Tasker Bliss, and John Pershinga virtual whos who in the Army pantheon of that erarepeatedly assured Americans that the war on the Moros was turning a corner, that victory was within the militarys grasp.

It was never so. A hundred and six years after the end of Americas Moro War, the Post has once again highlighted how successive commanders and US officials in our time have lied to the citizenry about an even longer wars progress. In that sense, generals David Petraeus, Stanley McChrystal, Mark Milley, and so many others of this era share disturbing commonalities with generals Leonard Wood, Tasker Bliss, and company.

As early as October 1904, Wood wrote that the Moro questionis pretty well settled. Then, Datu Ali, a rebel leader, became the subject of a two-year manhuntnot unlike the ones that finally killed Al Qaedas Osama bin Laden and ISISs Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. In June 1906, when Ali was finally caught and killed, Colliers magazine featured an article titled The End of Datu Ali: The Last Fight of the Moro War.

After Bud Dajo, Tasker Bliss toned down Woods military operations and oversaw a comparatively quiet tour in Moroland, but even he argued against any troop withdrawals, predicting something akin to generational war as necessary to fully pacify the province. In 1906, he wrote that the Moros, as a savage and Mohammedan people cannot be changed entirely in a few years and the American people must not expect resultssuch as other nations operating under similar conditions have taken a century or more to accomplish.

As Pershing lamented in 1913, the 14th year of the war, The Moros never seemed to learn from experience. And the violence only continued after his departure, even if American troops took an ever more advisory role, while the Filipino army fought the ongoing rebellion.

The Moros, of course, continue to combat Manila-based troops to this very day, a true generational struggle for the ages.

The last major American-led battle on Jolo in 1913 proved a farcical repeat of Bud Dajo. When several hundred intransigent Moros climbed into another crater atop Bud Bagsak, Pershing, whod criticized Woods earlier methods and was once again in command, tried to launch a more humane operation. He attempted to negotiate and organized a blockade that thinned the defenders ranks. Still, in the end, his troops would storm the mountains crest and kill some 200 to 300 men, women, and children, though generating little of the attention given to the earlier massacre because the vast majority of Pershings soldiers were Filipinos led by US officers. The same shift toward indigenous soldiers in Afghanistan has lowered both (American) casualties and the US profile in an equally failed war.

Though contemporary Army officers and later military historians claimed that the battle at Bud Bagsak broke the back of Moro resistance, that was hardly the case. What ultimately changed was not the violence itself, but who was doing the fighting. Filipinos now did almost all of the dying and US troops slowly faded from the field.

For example, when total casualties are taken into account, 1913 was actually the bloodiest year of the Moro conflict, just as 2018 was the bloodiest of the Afghan War. Late in 1913, Pershing summed up his own uncertainty about the provinces future in his final official report: It remains for us now to hold all that we have gained and to substitute for a government by force something more in keeping with the changed conditions. Just what form that will take has not been altogether determined. It still hasnt been determined, not in Moroland, not in Afghanistan, and nowhere, in truth, in Americas Greater Middle East conflicts of this century.

The Filipino government in Manila continues to wage war on rebellious Moros. To this day, two groupsthe Islamist Abu Sayyaf and the separatist Moro Islamic Liberation Frontcontinue to contest central government control there. After the 9/11 attacks, the US Army again intervened in Moroland, sending Special Forces teams to advise and assist Filipino military units. If few of the American Green Berets knew anything of their own countrys colonial history, the locals hadnt forgotten.

In 2003, as US forces landed at Jolos main port, they were greeted by a banner that read: We Will Not Let History Repeat Itself! Yankee Back Off. Jolos radio station played traditional ballads and one vocalist sang, We heard the Americans are coming and we are getting ready. We are sharpening our swords to slaughter them when they come.

More than a century after Americas ill-fated Moro campaign, its troops were back where they started, outsiders, once again resented by fiercely independent locals. One of the last survivors of the Moro War, Lt. (and later Air Corps general) Benny Foulois published his memoirs in 1968 at the height of the Vietnam insurgency. Perhaps with that conflict in mind, he reflected on the meaning of his own youthful war: We found that a few hundred natives living off their land and fighting for it could tie down thousands of American troopsand provoke a segment of our population to take the view that what happens in the Far East is none of our business.

How I wish that book had been assigned during my own tenure at West Point!

The rest is here:

America's First 'Endless War' Was Fought in the Philippines - The Nation

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Best Education Articles of 2019: Our 19 Most Popular Stories About Students and Schools This Year – The 74

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This is the latest roundup in our Best Of series, spotlighting top highlights from this years coverage as well as the most popular articles weve published each month. See more of the standouts from across 2019 right here. (You can get all the latest features, essays and videos delivered straight to your inbox by signing up for The 74 Newsletter)

From Minneapolis to Memphis to Puerto Rico, from sexual assault investigations to civics education breakthroughs to academic profiles, it was an eclectic year here at The 74, featuring a wide array of both breaking news coverage and big-picture profiles. And that doesnt even touch on our exclusive Brown v. Board microsite that looked to restore the unsung heroes to the story behind the landmark desegregation verdict.

As we always do in December, we thought wed take a beat before diving into yet another presidential election to put a final stamp on the year that was. Below, weve assembled the 19 most popular and most widely discussed articles from 2019 (you can also check out our top 18 articles from 2018).

Teaching Democracy: How One School Network Has Baked Civics & Activism Into Its DNA and Produced Graduates Who Are More Likely to Vote

Civics Education: American democracy is in trouble just ask a poll worker. We vote less often than other developed nations, our rates of volunteering have plummeted, and less than half of us could pass a citizenship test. Perhaps thats why political scientists cheered when a recent study found that alumni of Democracy Prep Public Schools vote at much higher rates than their peers. Students at the schools study social change and debate current events; even more strikingly, they complete an impressive array of civics-centered requirements to graduate from writing policy briefs to petitioning lawmakers. The networks founder, Seth Andrew, says Democracy Prep is doing work that should be replicated across the country. I think every school should have a civic purpose. Ours is just more explicit about it than most. This past spring, The 74 published a four-part series and a documentary on the school network, orchestrated by writer Kevin Mahnken and editor Andrew Brownstein. The effort launched with this profile of the network and its founder, taking a closer look at the role education plays in curbing our civic ignorance and polarized politics. (Read the full longread from reporter Kevin Mahnken)

Also, be sure to check out these other chapters in our Democracy Prep series:

How Democracy Prep Is Drawing Upon Civics to Challenge Its Students to Change the World Before They Graduate (Read more)

Democracy Preps Expansion Woes Raise Questions About Whether Civics Education Can Be Brought to Scale (Read more)

Can Civics Education Allow Schools to Rediscover Their Democratic Purpose and Help Rescue America From Decline? (Read more)

WATCH: Inside the Civics-Driven Democracy Prep, Students Are Embracing Their Assignments to Change the World (Watch the full video)

Courtesy of Nick Salehi and Heather Beliveaux

250,000 Kids. $277 Million in Fines. Its Been 3 Years Since Feds Ordered a Special Ed Reboot in Texas Why Are Students Still Being Denied?

Special Education: Sophia Salehi is blind, until recently unable to navigate the hallways at school, let alone her neighborhood. Her parents tried for 11 years to get her Houston-area schools to provide the special education services she was entitled to. But not even a series of court victories convinced officials to budge. She now goes to school in Massachusetts. Jaivyn Mauldin reads in the 99th percentile, but his severe dysgraphia means he cant write. His Austin-area schools said he was too smart for special education and assigned him handwriting drills as discipline. His family moved to Oregon to get him help. Angela Smith was a special education evaluator in Dallas who couldnt get her own son evaluated. When the U.S. Education Department confirmed a 2016 bombshell report by the Houston Chronicle, disability advocates and parents learned, to their shock, that Texas had secretly placed an illegal cap 12 years before on the number of children with disabilities who could get special education services in schools. An estimated 250,000 students were languishing, unable to get the help they were entitled to. Orders from Washington notwithstanding, today three years after the nations second-largest state pledged to reverse course advocates say precious little has changed. And if Texas can get away with defying federal law, whats to stop other states from following suit? (Read the full feature from national correspondent Beth Hawkins)

In the American judicial system, the two small words et al., meaning and others, erase the names, faces and histories of everyday individuals seeking remedies for wrongs done to them.

The Untold Stories of Brown v. Board at 65: Five Lawsuits Merged Together to Make Supreme Court History Meet the Unsung Heroes Who Risked Everything for Their Kids

Exclusive: Sixty-five years ago, the Supreme Court ruled unanimously that racial segregation of children in Americas public schools was unconstitutional. This past May, we launched a new website and oral history commemorating the anniversary: The Untold Stories of Brown v. Board, a multimedia deep dive into the lesser-known students, parents and plaintiffs who joined forces six decades ago to wage the legal battle against separate but equal.

A brief overview of the project, which can now be found in full at In the American judicial system, the two small words et al., meaning and others, erase the names, faces and histories of everyday individuals seeking remedies for wrongs done to them. Used as a reference in class-action litigation in place of the names of each individual plaintiff, those four letters relegate men, women and children to what can be characterized as a legal wasteland, rendering them and their stories unknown. In the instance of Oliver Brown, et al. v. The Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas, those four letters diminished the stories of families who participated in five essential class-action lawsuits across the nation. Those five suits Oliver Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, Briggs v. Elliott, Davis v. County School Board of Prince Edward County, Belton (Bulah) v. Gebhart and Bolling v. Sharpe were later consolidated by the United States Supreme Court.

Although the name Oliver Brown is universally known, the names and stories of these other revolutionaries have remained largely unknown and untold, buried under the weight of four little letters. But now, for the first time, a wide swath of Brown v. Board plaintiffs and their relatives assembled by Cheryl Brown Henderson, founding president of the Brown Foundation for Educational Equity, Excellence and Research and daughter of Oliver Brown, is working on changing that by detailing their stories of oppression, their battle for justice and their triumph. She has assembled a new book, Recovering Untold Stories: An Enduring Legacy of the Brown v. Board of Education Decision, and we have been thrilled to be the digital launch partner in sharing their narrative. Read all the excerpts, watch the video testimonials, learn more about the legal history and download the book. Visit our special microsite:

Activists hold signs during a news conference on a Title IX lawsuit outside the Department of Education in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 25, 2018. (Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Exclusive: New Documents Show the Trump Administration Has Confronted Dozens of School Districts Across the Country for Mishandling Sexual Assault Cases

Investigation: On Sept. 23, 2015, a 5-year-old boy with disabilities in Detroit arrived home from school bruised and very likely sexually assaulted. The school bus driver, who told the boys mother about probable sexual misconduct by other students, didnt report it to the district. And though she informed school officials about the incident the following day, administrators didnt investigate, or speak with the boys family, for months. A federal probe that concluded last year determined that this case may be just one sign of larger problems with how Detroit Public Schools deals with sexual misconduct and the district is not alone.

While most of the debate around Title IX, which requires schools to address sexual violence, has focused on whether colleges provide due process for accused students, the Trump administration has quietly discovered that many K-12 school districts had no plan to deal with these cases a violation of federal law. In cities including Detroit, Kalamazoo and Washington, D.C., officials found that districts had little to no Title IX training and some had policies explicitly barring investigations of sexual assault reports from taking place. Through Freedom of Information Act requests, The 74 has exclusively obtained records that provide the first look at how the Trump administration has enforced Title IX in investigations of schools, revealing that at least 70 districts and colleges had to overhaul their policies to address problems uncovered by the government in the past two years. (Examine the original documents and read Tyler Kingkades full report here)

The Hawken School Class of 2019 (Facebook)

The Mastery Transcript Consortium Has Been Developing a Gradeless Transcript for College Admissions. This Fall It Gets Its First Test

Mastery-Based Learning: As more schools consider adopting innovative models like project-based or experiential learning, educators are realizing that the broad set of skills students are learning dont translate easily into letter grades or GPAs. That becomes a problem when it comes time to submit transcripts for college admissions. So D. Scott Looney, head of Clevelands private Hawken School, decided to launch a group to design a different kind of high school transcript. After two years of development, the Mastery Transcript Consortium now has 250 member schools, and a few of them will be submitting this new transcript to colleges for the first time in the 2019-20 academic year. The transcript is still being tested and discussed among member schools, but its drawn attention and headlines for its nontraditional approach of visually describing student learning. The group, which includes a large proportion of private schools, has also been at the center of debates around equity in college admissions. Does eliminating grades in favor of more holistic descriptors improve or exacerbate inequality? (Read the full feature from Kate Stringer)

Student Truong Nguyen at Houstons Csar E. Chvez High School, where he is part of the districts EMERGE program (Richard Whitmire)

How a Houston Experiment in College Counseling Is Succeeding in Sending Low-Income, First-Generation Students to the Countrys Top Universities

College Success: Not that long ago, many Houston Independent School District high schools lacked whats known as a school profile essential information to college admissions officers wanting to know a schools demographics, AP offerings and SAT/ACT scores. Thats the basic document colleges use to gauge a student in relation to other students. Many of our campuses refused to do it. They just didnt see a need, because for years they had never had a kid apply to a non-local option, said former fifth-grade teacher Rick Cruz. That mindset began to change after Cruz and some Houston ISD colleagues in 2010 formed EMERGE, a program meant to mirror what private college consultants do for the wealthy but tailored to the specific needs of Houston ISDs first-generation, low-income students. The goal was to match those students with colleges that offered full-ride scholarships to high-achieving, high-poverty students, make sure they run the necessary application gauntlet and then track them once they enroll. Thanks to district and philanthropic support, EMERGE is now in every Houston ISD high school and the results are strong: 95 percent of EMERGE students have either earned college degrees or are on track to, more than 80 percent have a 3.0 GPA or better, and 87 percent are expected to earn a bachelors in four years. (Read Richard Whitmires article)

Other Excerpts from The B.A. Breakthrough: Houstons college counseling experiment was just one in a series of special features tied to the new book we published in 2019 Richard Whitmires The B.A. Breakthrough: How Ending Diploma Disparities Can Change the Face of America. See notable excerpts and profiles, and download the complete book, at

Credit: Mark Keierleber

Individual Success Plans for Every Student? Harvards Education Redesign Lab Proposes 10 Guidelines for How Educators & Communities Can Unite to Support the Whole Child

Personalized Learning: When children go to the doctor, they receive an individualized plan to support their health. Why isnt this the case in education? A new report from Harvards Education Redesign Lab asks this question and seeks to upend the factory model style of education that provides all students with very similar academic career tracks. Instead, the report says, every student should have an individualized success plan that recommends key services to support his or her specific needs, whether its math tutoring, mental health counseling or speech therapy. This requires a big lift in organization and resources but this effort should not be limited to schools, the report says. Heres why the whole community needs to be involved in supporting the whole child and 10 guidelines for crafting success plans that support children from birth through college. (Read the full feature from Kate Stringer)

Tangipahoa Parish School System

One of the Nations Oldest Desegregation Cases Is on the Brink of Settling in New Orleans. After 54 Years in the Federal Courts, What Has It Accomplished?

Desegregation: In the years after Brown v. Board of Education, the United States entered a contract with its black citizens: Their children would no longer be consigned to separate, inferior schools, and if districts attempted to keep them out, they would have their day in court. Hundreds of cases were filed, petitioning judges to break down barriers between black and white students in school assignments, facilities, learning materials and budgets. One was triggered in 1965 in southeastern Louisianas little-known Tangipahoa Parish, where a local truck driver and father of 15 sued the local school board for providing black students with a substandard education. The children of Tangipahoa not only got their day in court since the day the case was filed, theyve received the equivalent of roughly 20,000 days. We may now be nearing the last, as both sides in Moore v. Tangipahoa Parish School Board have asked a federal judge to approve an extensive settlement in one of the longest-running desegregation cases in the country. Kevin Mahnken reports on the history of the case, and what awaits. (Read more about the history of the case, and what awaits, from Kevin Mahnken)

Gloria Ladson-Billings/Facebook

Researcher Gloria Ladson-Billings on Culturally Relevant Teaching, the Role of Teachers in Trumps America & Lessons From Her Two Decades in Education Research

74 Interview: Gloria Ladson-Billings remembers the first time she learned that an African American could graduate from Harvard University: She was in Ethel Benns fifth-grade class in Philadelphia. That realization and Benns excellent teaching set her on a path to find out what makes a great teacher. Since the 1990s, Ladson-Billings has been studying and writing about culturally relevant teaching and what it takes to successfully educate all students, especially the children of color so often left behind. At the core of her educational philosophy are three components of culturally responsive education: academic success, cultural competence and sociopolitical consciousness. Teachers must accept responsibility for bringing all three into their classrooms, she says. Ladson-Billings spoke to The 74 about how teachers can talk to students about current events, the difference between integration and desegregation, and the hallmarks of being a culturally relevant teacher. (Read the full interview from Laura Fay)

Astrid Riecken for The Washington Post via Getty Images

200 Students, Parents & Educators Spent Two Years Thinking About How to Support the Whole Child. Here Are 6 Things They Found

Social-Emotional Learning: It took two years of collaboration among 200 teachers, students, parents, scientists and policymakers, but a new report on bolstering social-emotional learning in Americas schools has been published. In From a Nation at Risk to a Nation at Hope, these SEL experts, convened by the Aspen Institute, share six ways that teaching skills like collaborating with peers, managing emotions and feeling empathy can help children be better students and citizens of the world. Research has shown how teaching these skills can improve academics, graduation rates and earnings and the report provides a concrete path toward integrating social-emotional learning in schools. From improving teacher prep programs to lifting up student voice and choice, here are the big ideas coming out of the groups collaborative work. (Read the full story from Kate Stringer)

Dugsi Academy

How One Minnesota School, Beloved by Refugee Families, Has Turned Itself Around While Keeping Hold of Its Teachers, Students and Culture

Profile: What do you do about a school thats adored by its families but failing academically? Do you start fresh and risk upending the community that made the school beloved in the first place? At Dugsi Academy in St. Paul, Minnesota, the answer was a resounding no. A haven for Somali immigrant families, the charter school was required by its authorizer to turn itself around or shut down and today, nearly two years into what school turnaround veteran Mary Stafford calls Extreme Makeover: The School Edition, her plan for keeping the elements Dugsis families valued while changing what wasnt working is showing signs of promise. (Read more about Beth Hawkinss memorable visit to the school)

Julia Keleher (left), then-education secretary in Puerto Rico, then-Gov. Ricardo Rossell (center) and U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos visit a storm-battered school in San Juan after Hurricane Maria devastated the island in September 2017. (Puerto Rico Department of Education)

Complicated Crusader to Accused Federal Conspirator: Ex-Puerto Rico Education Secretary Julia Kelehers Surreal Journey

Puerto Rico: Days after Julia Keleher announced her resignation as Puerto Ricos education secretary, she stepped up to a microphone at a Yale University conference and spoke of her defiant and sometimes bitter crusade to change the islands entrenched culture of corruption. That effort, she said, created armies of people that literally would have been happy to take my head off. But even then, her work was being scrutinized by another set of observers with the power to turn that narrative on its head: the Federal Bureau of Investigation. In July, Keleher and five others were indicted in an alleged conspiracy to direct more than $15 million in federal funds to organizations with personal and political connections. All pleaded not guilty. But Kelehers indictment surfaces a deeper irony. Years before becoming education secretary, she worked on a U.S. Department of Education team tasked with fixing waste, fraud and mismanagement of federal funds in Puerto Ricos school system issues that had led to the conviction of an education secretary nearly two decades earlier. This alleged role reversal is one of many lingering riddles to have emerged since her arrest. Friends and colleagues describe Keleher as a tireless advocate known for 2 a.m. emails and sometimes little sympathy for those lacking her single-minded work ethic. But they also recall her as someone too smart to cut corners and too tough to get ensnared in someone elses scheme. In this special 74 investigation, we take an expansive look at Kelehers decades-long career as a hard-nosed change agent intent on ending corruption in Puerto Rico and an indictment that is calling that narrative into question. (Read Mark Keierlebers profile)

Dionna Camino in front of Nxt Level in San Antonio (Bekah McNeel)

4.5 Million Young People Nationwide Are Not Working or in School. How Cities Are Working to Get Them Back on Track & Avoid the School-to-Prison Pipeline

Opportunity Youth: For Dionna Camino, it was caring for her terminally ill father. For Shelby Morales, it was an unexpected pregnancy at age 14. For both, it was too much responsibility too soon that knocked them off the tightrope of getting through high school and college to land a good-paying job. Now, they are among the estimated 4.5 million so-called opportunity youth nationwide 16- to 24-year-olds who are neither in school nor working struggling to put their lives back together. Disengaged from both education and the labor force, these young people are particularly vulnerable to exploitation and abuse, too often finding themselves in the school-to-prison pipeline. Some are homeless or have young children. Maybe they dropped out of high school, have criminal records or are on probation. But some have high school diplomas and even some college coursework. For most opportunity youth, it isnt a defined set of missteps; rather, its a churning sea of relentless waves and undertows pushing them under and dragging them in all directions. They can look up and see the school-to-success high wire options and resources available to teens that will guide them toward becoming financially, emotionally, socially secure adults. They just dont know how to climb back on. Bekah McNeel reports on the steps cities around the country are taking to help. (Read the full story)

Students in an 11th-grade history class discuss the 1619 Project Oct. 24 at Manhattans Facing History School. (Taylor Swaak)

A Manhattan High School Reframes How Slavery Is Taught Using The New York Timess 1619 Project

Curriculum: Over years of classes, 11th-grader Jeremias Mata had viewed slavery with a certain simplicity and hopelessness that many black people had once been slaves and that was that. This year, learning about slavery has been different for students at Manhattans Facing History School, partly because teachers are incorporating The New York Timess 1619 Project a compilation of essays and poetry that re-examines slaverys legacy in the U.S. 400 years after the first enslaved people arrived here from West Africa. The project is helping schools nationwide reframe how slavery is taught in a way that captures its brutality, complexity and influence in shaping America, while also affirming the experience as integral to black Americans identity and their contributions to the country. This reframing is extremely important, especially with the student body that we teach here, says history teacher Eric Albino. New York City is a predominantly black and Hispanic district that struggles with inequity and segregation. Teaching curriculum that is relevant to the experiences and perspectives of students of color has been a major if not universally embraced policy push of New York City Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza, though the practice isnt mandated across the countrys largest school system. (Read more about Taylor Swaaks visit to see the 1619 Project in action)

Crosstown High

Eating, Shopping and Project-Based Learning: A View From Memphiss Mall-Based Crosstown High

Profile: One semester into the inaugural year at Memphiss Crosstown High School, a project-based-learning charter school and recipient of a grant from the folks who run the XQ high school redesign contest, leaders are learning some important lessons. Not all projects catch students attention. Freshmen coming from years in a traditional school setting arent quite ready to totally guide their own learning. Its hard to teach and test math in nontraditional ways. And given access to the unique mall setting that houses the school, teens will be teens. This past February, we reported on the schools unique curriculum and setting, and its leaders goal of attracting a diverse student body. (Read Carolyn Phenicies full profile of the school)

Source: Guttmacher Institute

Just 24 States Mandate Sex Education for K-12 Students, and Only 9 Require Any Discussion of Consent. See How Your State Stacks Up

Sex Education: Students, advocates and lawmakers across the country are re-examining the role of sex education through the lens of the #MeToo movement. A new study shows that learning refusal skills can protect students from later sexual assaults, which researchers say indicates that improving sex ed should be the next step for the #MeToo movement a way to both protect students from being victimized and prevent them from perpetrating assaults. A historian who studies sex ed called the results hugely significant, and the researchers themselves said the study could change how adults think about teen sex and sex education. The study found that most students who had learned refusal skills had also received comprehensive sex education in school. As the #MeToo movement takes hold, some state lawmakers have taken steps to add consent and healthy relationships to their schools sex education classes and generally make the programs more comprehensive. Advocates applaud the changes, but some parent groups and critics have pushed back against lessons they say are not age-appropriate and policies that minimize local control. (Read the full story from Laura Fay)

Drs. Octavio (left) and Omar Viramontes (Octavio and Omar Viramontes/Facebook)

From Farmworkers to Physicians: Twin Mexican Immigrant Boys Grew Up to Become HS Valedictorians and Just Graduated From Medical School

Inspiring: It would have been a long-shot bet that twin brothers who spent their childhoods struggling with a rare speech impediment and toiling in the fields as immigrant farmworkers would one day become international academic stars. But Octavio and Omar Viramontes, who recently graduated one day apart from top medical schools, had a secret weapon: the perseverance of their parents, who brought the family from Mexico in search of a better life. From them, the twins learned the importance of hard work and gained a firm belief in the power of education. And now, having been high school valedictorians and racked up scholarships and academic honors, Dr. Octavio and Dr. Omar are preparing to give back to their community. (Read more about this inspiring story from Debra West)

Playing the whole game suggests that students learn best through real work that resembles what they will likely encounter outside of school.

After School, Students Are Playing the Whole Game in Activities From Drama to Sports to Debate. Backers of Project-Based Learning Ask: Why Cant All of Education Look Like This?

Deeper Learning: Since 2017, humanities students at High Tech High Chula Vista, a San Diego-area charter school, have been holding human lives in their hands: Each year, they assist attorneys at the California Innocence Project who are considering which pleas to review from prisoners who maintain theyre innocent. The idea for the project comes from an approach to education called playing the whole game, which suggests that students learn best through real work that resembles what they will likely encounter outside of school. Its the brainchild of Harvard Graduate School of Education professor emeritus David Perkins, who conceived it after thinking about the most meaningful experiences he had in high school: drama, music, science fairs and the like. These and other large-scale endeavors, he said, seemed more meaningful than the rest of the curriculum. But whether this approach helps students see the bigger picture or simply flounder by sharing their ignorance of complex topics remains an open question. (Read the full story from Greg Toppo)

Fourteen percent of college graduates are abandoning the academic track and enrolling at a community college or a for-profit technical school.

How Does a College Grad End Up at a For-Profit Technical School? Its All About the Job Market and the Value of a Bachelors Degree

Future of Work: With a bachelors degree in psychology, 22-year-old Rachel Van Dyks expected to easily land a good job. Instead, the 2017 graduate works 46 hours per week at a local ice cream parlor and a high-end steakhouse while earning an associates degree at a for-profit technical school. Shes not alone; while a majority of college graduates require additional education to qualify for a good-paying job, many dont find that out until after commencement exercises are over. The traditional path is to pursue a masters degree, but 14 percent of college graduates, like Van Dyks, are abandoning the academic track and enrolling at a community college or a for-profit technical school and getting an associates degree or industry certification, specifically to qualify for a job. (Read the full story from Laura McKenna)

Beth Hawkins tracked the groundbreaking integration efforts of the 78207, the zip code located on the west side of San Antonio, Texas.

2018 Flashback San Antonio, 78207: In Americas Most Segregated City, a Radical School Integration Experiment Designed Around Poverty, Trauma and Parental Choice Is Working

Integration: Over several months this past spring, national correspondent Beth Hawkins tracked the groundbreaking integration efforts of the 78207, the zip code located on the west side of San Antonio, Texas. It is the poorest neighborhood in Americas most economically segregated city: 91 percent of students in the San Antonio Independent School District are Latino, 6 percent are black, and 93 percent qualify for free or reduced-price lunch. As Beth reports, into this divided landscape three years ago came a new schools chief, Pedro Martinez, with a mandate to break down the centuries-old economic isolation that has its heart in the 78207. In response, Martinez launched one of Americas most innovative and data-informed school integration experiments.

He started with a novel approach that yielded eye-popping information: Using family income data, he created a map showing the depth of poverty on each city block and in every school in the district a color-coded street guide comprising granular details unheard of in education. And then he started integrating schools, not by race but by income, factoring in a spectrum of additional elements, such as parents education levels and homelessness. To achieve the kind of integration he was looking for, he would first have to better understand the gradations of poverty in every one of his schools and what kinds of supports those student populations require, and then find a way to woo affluent families from other parts of the city to disrupt these concentrations of unmet need. Martinezs strategy: Open new schools of choice with sought-after curricular models, like Montessori and dual language, and set aside a share of seats for students from more prosperous neighboring school districts, who would then sit next to a mix of students from San Antonio ISD. Read Beths immersive profile of the San Antonio experiment.

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Best Education Articles of 2019: Our 19 Most Popular Stories About Students and Schools This Year - The 74

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