Monday, May 29, 2017

Flaws of the U.S. Constitution and growing threats they exacerbate

Robert J. Samuelson’s economic expertise offers little value in evaluating the stability of our democracy. First, it is technically a Republic.   Our U.S. Constitution was engineered from political principles that were didn’t always match fundamental principles (“Impeachment remains an uneasy choice” Washington Post 5-29-17) like those the Founding Fathers identified in the Declaration of Independence.   All engineering feats (be they bridges, buildings or bureaucracies) must adhere to fundamental principles in their construction to avoid catastrophic failure. 
All systems and structures (natural or man-made) depend on the “Laws of Nature and Nature’s God” to survive the inevitable stresses of the real world pressures that will inevitably stress them.  And when systems or structures fail it can lead to catastrophic consequences across other systems and structures. 
When Haitians followed an economic principle of not using rebar in building construction to save money, more Haitians died in 15 minutes from the earth quake than both Bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.   The catastrophic consequences of that fatal error reverberates today in multiple systems and structures in Haiti’s economic, political, health, education and foreign policy arenas.   
Our linear human minds which are mostly dominated by western and religious thinking usually fail to grasp that all systems and structures are inherently dependent on dozens of other systems and structures (both natural and man-made).
Our nation’s founding fathers stated in the Declaration of Independence the most fundamental principle in sustaining peaceful human relationships .  Then they failed to incporate them into the construction of the our Constitution.  It failed to follow the “ Laws of Natures and Nature’s God’s” “self-evident truths” ‘that all people are created equal and endowed by their creator with certain inalienable rights…’  This flaw eventually cost more US lives than all other US wars combined.   That flaw was mostly corrected in application to national affairs.  But, it remains a catastrophic flaw today in impacting billions of human beings beyond our indefensible borders.
George Mason (ally of James Madison and George Washington) who drafted the Virginia Declaration of Rights recognized this fatal flaw early on and was one of three who refused to sign the U.S. Constitution.  His wisdom is reflected in his words:  "Now all acts of legislature apparently contrary to natural right and justice, are, in our laws, and must be in the nature of things, considered as void. The laws of nature are the laws of God: A legislature must not obstruct our obedience to him from whose punishments they cannot protect us. All human constitutions which contradict His laws, we are in conscience bound to disobey. Such have been the adjudications of our courts of justice."
The list of recent reports below documents both the threats we face now and in the future (some preventable and others inevitable).  Some reports offer means of threat prevention by recommending transformation of both national and international systems and structures based on fundamental principles such as ‘justice for all’.  These will be essential in forming a more perfect union capable of preventing some threats, and responding to, and recovering from others that cannot be prevented.

1.      How Western Civilization could collapse: (April 18, 2017)  Some possible precipitating factors are already in place. How the West reacts to them will determine the world’s future, says Rachel Nuwer.  http://www.bbc.com/future/story/20170418-how-western-civilisation-could-collapse 
2.      Global Catastrophic Risks 2017:  (May 2017) Global Challenges Foundation’s Annual Report  https://globalchallenges.org/en/our-work/annual-report   (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8GA8VmYLhEs)

3.     Peril and Promise: Emerging Technologies and WMD (May 2017)  By Natasha Bajema and Diane DiEuliis |  Center for the Study of Weapons of Mass Destruction.   http://wmdcenter.ndu.edu/Media/News/Article/1181150/peril-and-promise-emerging-technologies-and-wmd/

4.      2017 Global Risk Report: (January 2017)   https://www.weforum.org/reports/the-global-risks-report-2017  The Global Risks Report 2017 features perspectives from nearly 750 experts on the perceived impact and likelihood of 30 prevalent global risks as well as 13 underlying trends that could amplify them or alter the interconnections between them over a 10-year timeframe.
 
5.      Pulling Together: The Multilateral System and Its Future:  (September 2016) By the Independent Commission on Multilateralism (ICM):   This report  is put out by the successor to the International Peace Academy, renamed International Peace Institute.    https://www.ipinst.org/2016/09/icm-final-report

6.      Commission on Global Security, Justice & Governance: (June 2015)  Co-Chairs, former U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and former Nigerian Foreign Minister and UN Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs Ibrahim Gambari.  Report: http://www.stimson.org/programs/global-security-justice-and-governance    Video:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DKmucDk_6Lo&feature=youtu.be
7.       One Young World Summit: Ron Garan keynote talk. (Oct 2012)  Pittsburg  PA/Johannesburg South Africa  http://www.rongaran.com/speaking/

President Trump’s (or any President’s) commitment to put America first instead of human rights first in US foreign policy literately locks Americans into a perpetual war - the war against terrorism.  Terrorism is a tactic that can never be eliminated and its evolution is easily predictable.  No one should doubt that it will eventually cost millions of American lives, our most basic freedoms, and our cherished prosperity as violent extremists gain access to, and increasing willingness to use, the growing variety of WMD’s detailed in the 3rd report above.
Either we transform our U.S. Constitution and all of our nation’s systems and structures to protect the inalienable rights of all the world’s people (and our specie’s life support system) or we will face the devastating consequences of continued global injustices. 
Time is running out.  The acceleration of technology advancements and global events far outpaces our national and global system’s capacity to deal with them.   Our linear thinking must make a revolutionary leap, the same that our Founding Fathers took when they began walking down the path to a ‘more perfect union’.   Short of this transformation, the next best thing we can do is bring all of our existing systems and structures to bear on quickly, holistically, and comprehensively achieve the 17 Sustainable Development goals before the year 2030. 

We must train our minds to:
1.       Connect the dots (systems  and structures). 
2.       See the web (of our global interdependence). 
3.       Work for justice (“Liberty and Justice for all” is a fundamental principle).
4.       Prepare for the catastrophic consequences (of systems and structural) if we fail.  
Political principles (‘Peace through Strength’ or ‘America First’) must never override the fundamental principles of the” Laws of Nature and Natures God” that all people are created equal and deserving of certain rights that no government should take away.

Faith in science, engineering, and our common origins is our only means of maximizing freedom, security and future prosperity for all.    

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Cyber Security is an oxymoron

Robert Samuelson’s view confirms the fact that ‘cyber security’ is an oxymoron (America’s Dangerous Internet Delusion”  Washington Post 5-22-17).   The fact is all technologies are a “double edged sword”.   The concept of dual use technology has been around since the invention of fire.  Our greatest risk may be from bio technology which shares many of the same characterizes as cyber.   There is a solution.  A solution that we are in greater denial about, even though sages and profits of been promoting it for thousands of years – the ideal of justice.  
Given the trillions of vital systems and structures inside and outside our bodies that we depend on every second of every day for our safety and survival, the very concept of security itself is an problematic.   But ‘justice for all’ is something that can greatly improve our chances – and with minimal loss of our freedoms (privacy, seeking comfort, ease of task, and prosperity). 
We need a global justice system.   ‘No justice, no peace’ is not just a slogan.   It’s a fundamental essential to improving any hope of maximizing human security everywhere.  

The dual use nature of all technology means security will never be achieved via disarmament (liberal view) or more armaments (conservative view).   Perhaps it’s time to rid ourselves and our U.S. Constitution of the illusionary concept of ‘independence’.   This is an illusionary concept that only exists in our minds and in our government policy.   Our increasing dependence on cyber and other forms of powerful technology, all globally available, means our American ideal of putting human rights over states’ rights must include the whole world.   Our persistent denial and refusal to institute this fundamental principle is the greatest threat to both our freedom and our security. 

Monday, April 24, 2017

Our Common Oceans and Seas

Our Common Oceans and Seas
Our Common Oceans and Seas
by Rene Wadlow
2017-04-24 09:59:53
The people of the earth having agreed that the advancement of man in spiritual excellence and physical welfare
is the common goal of mankind...therefore the age of nations must end, and the era of humanity begin.”

Preamble to the Preliminary Draft of a World Constitution
The United Nations is currently preparing a world conference 5-7 June 2017 devoted to the Implementation of Sustainable Development Goal N° 14: Conserve and sustainable use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development.  Non-governmental organizations in consultative status with the U.N. are invited to submit recommendations for the governmental working group which is meeting 24 to 27 April in New York.
wc00The Association of World Citizens has long been concerned with the Law of the Sea and had been active during the 10-year negotiations on the law of the sea during the 1970s, the meetings being held one month a year, alternatively in New York and Geneva. The world citizens position for the law of the sea was largely based on a three-point framework:
a) that the oceans and seas were the common heritage of humanity and should be seen as a living symbol of the unity of humanity;
b) that ocean management should be regulated by world law created as in as democratic manner as possible;
c) that the wealth of the oceans, considered as the common heritage of mankind should contain mechanisms of global redistribution, especially for the development of the poorest, a step toward a more just economic order, on land as well as at sea.
The concept of the oceans as the common heritage of humanity had been introduced into the U.N. awareness by a moving speech in the U.N. General Assembly by Arvid Pardo, Ambassador of Malta in November 1967.  Under traditional international sea law, the resources of the oceans, except those within a narrow territorial sea near the coast line  were regarded as "no one's property" or more positively as "common property."  The "no one's property" opened the door to the exploitation of resources by the most powerful and the most technologically advanced States.  The "common heritage" concept was put forward as a way of saying that "humanity" - at least as represented by the States in the U.N. - should have some say as to the way the resources of the oceans and seas should be managed.  Thus began the 1970s Law of the Seas negotiations.
Perhaps with or without the knowledge of Neptune, lord of the seas, the Maltese voted to change the political party in power just as the sea negotiations began. Arvid Pardo was replaced as Ambassador to the U.N. by a man who had neither the vision nor the diplomatic skills of Pardo.  Thus, during the 10 years of negotiations the "common heritage" flame was carried by world citizens, in large part by Elisabeth Mann Borgese with whom I worked  closely during the Geneva sessions of the negotiations.
Elisabeth Mann Borgese  (1918-2002)  whose birth anniversary we mark on 24 April, was a strong-willed woman.  She had to come out from under the shadow of both her father, Thomas Mann, the German writer and Nobel laureate for Literature, and her husband Giuseppe Antonio Borgese (1882-1952), Italian literary critic and political analyst.  From 1938, Thomas Mann lived in Princeton, New Jersey and gave occasional lectures at Princeton University. Thomas Mann, whose novel The Magic Mountain was one of the monuments of world literature between the two World Wars, always felt that he represented the best of German culture against the uncultured mass of the Nazis.  He took himself and his role very seriously, and his family existed basically to facilitate his thinking and writing.
ocean01_400_01G.A. Borgese had a regular professor's post at the University of Chicago but often lectured at other universities on the evils of Mussolini.  Borgese, who had been a leading literary critic and university professor in Milan, left Italy for the United States in 1931 when Mussolini announced that an oath of allegiance to the Fascist State would be required of all Italian professors. For Borgese, with a vast culture including the classic Greeks, the Renaissance Italians, and the 19th century nationalist writers, Mussolini was an evil caricature which too few Americans recognized as a destructive force in his own right and not just as the fifth wheel of Hitler's armed car. 
G.A. Borgese met Elizsabeth Mann on a lecture tour at Princeton, and despite being close to Thomas Mann in age, the couple married very quickly shortly after meeting.  Elisabeth moved to the University of Chicago and was soon caught up in Borgese's efforts to help the transition from the Age of Nations to the Age of Humanity. For Borgese, the world was in  a watershed period. The Age of Nations − with its nationalism which could be a liberating force in the 19th century as with the unification of Italy − had come to a close with the First World War.  The war clearly showed that nationalism was from then on only the symbol of death.  However, the Age of Humanity, which was the next step in human evolution, had not yet come into being, in part because too many people were still caught in the shadow play of the Age of Nations.
Since University of Chicago scientists had played an important role in the coming of the Atomic Age, G.A. Borgese and Richard McKeon, Dean of the University felt that the University should take a major role in drafting a world constitution for the Atomic Age. Thus the Committee to Frame a World Constitution, an interdisciplinary committee under the leadership of Robert Hutchins, head of the University of Chicago, was created in 1946. To re-capture the hopes and fears of the 1946-1948 period when the World Constitutions was being written, it is useful to read the book written by one of the members of the drafting team: Rexford Tugwell. A Chronicle of Jeopardy (University of Chicago Press, 1955). The book is Rex Tugwell's reflections on the years 1946-1954 written each year in August to mark the A-bombing of Hiroshima
Elisabeth had become the secretary of the Committee and the editor of its journal Common Cause.   The last issue ofCommon Cause was in June 1951. G.A. Borgese published a commentary on the Constitution, dealing especially with his ideas on the nature of justice. It was the last thing he wrote, and the book was published shortly after his death: G.A.Borgese. Foundations of the World Republic (University of Chicago Press, 1953). In 1950, the Korean War started. Hope for a radical transformation of the UN faded.  Borgese and his wife went to live in Florence, where weary and disappointed, he died in 1952.
The drafters of the World Constitution went on to other tasks. Robert Hutchins left the University of Chicago to head a “think tank”- Center for the Study of Democratic Institutions – taking some of the drafters, including Elisabeth, with him. She edited a booklet on the Preliminary Draft with a useful introduction A Constitution for the World (1965) However, much of the energy of the Center went into the protection of freedom of thought and expression in the USA, at the time under attack by the primitive anti-communism of then Senator Joe McCarthy.
In the mid-1950s, from world federalists and world citizens came various proposals for UN control of areas not under national control: UN control of the High Seas and the Waterways, especially after the 1956 Suez Canal conflict, and of Outer Space. A good overview of these proposals is contained in James A.  Joyce. Revolution on East River (New York: Ablard-Schuman, 1956).
After the 1967 proposal of Arvid Pardo, Elisabeth Mann Borgese  turned her attention and energy to the law of the sea. As the UN Law of the Sea Conference continued through the 1970s,  Elisabeth was active in seminars and conferences with the delegates, presenting ideas, showing that a strong treaty on the law of the sea would be a big step forward for humanity. Many of the issues raised during the negotiations leading to the Convention, especially the concept of the Exclusive Economic Zone, actively battled by Elisabeth but actively championed by Ambassador Alan Beesley of Canada, are with us today in the China seas tensions. While the resulting Convention of the Law of the Sea has not revolutionized world politics – as some of us  hoped in the early 1970s - the Convention is an important building block in the development of world law. We are grateful for the values and the energy that Elisabeth Mann Borgese embodied and we are still pushing for the concept of the common heritage of humanity.
 ****************************************
Rene Wadlow, President and a representative to the United Nations, Geneva, Association of World Citizens


Saturday, April 22, 2017

Earth Day 2017 and the March for Science

  
C-span’s Washington Journal call-in program this morning asked its listeners “What do you believe the greatest environmental problem is today?”  The callers mentioned indoor air pollution, asteroids, water pollution, animal slaughter, over-population, fracking, and even the hype of global warming.  A much longer list exists (volcanoes, nuclear war, ocean acidification, deforestation, loss of top soil…) but the root problem is rarely mentioned.  That being what we think, value, and actually do or don’t do. 
Each of these human factors are largely driven by our examined acceptance of a single word - ‘independence’.  There should be no doubt that this single mental construct is the greatest threat to an environment that has sustained our species since our origin, but also the greatest threat to our freedom and security.  Historically, the very government we depend on to protect our freedom and security is based on this fantasy ideal.
In reality, everything, I repeat, EVERYTHING (organic, inorganic, or imaginary) is dependent upon a variety of other things. Yet we go about our lives as if what we do, or what we do it with, is our business and no one else’s.  We call this ‘freedom’.  Ultimately, we are all free.  Free to do anything humanly possible.  But we (and others) will never be free of the consequences.
We don’t need to worry about the Earth.  Fact is, in the long run (the next 4 billion years) the earth and the natural environment will be fine. There has been at least five mass extinctions, where 50 to 95% of all multi-cellular species were wiped out over the last 600 million years.  And, after each mass extinction, life returned to cover the planet with increasing abundance and diversity.  Humans arrived in the later part of last recovery.  And now, most scientists believe humans are creating the next mass extinction at a pace approaching 1000 times faster than any previous extinction.  Humans will likely survive, but not all of us.  And, unless we direct our sciences to mimic the powers of nature, and find a new means of surviving the end stages of our primary source of energy, the sun, all humanity will eventually go extinct.
There is a growing possibility that humans could go extinct long before our Sun goes red enveloping the Earth and its orbit.   And our extinction is most likely to be the result of our own advances in science and technology which currently serve national and economic interests not that of all people and the environment. Those at the Science March who were advocating  for more funding for science and technology seldom mention that science is only a tool. How it is used depends on the value system of the user, not the inventor.  Unless our collective value system puts the protection of human rights and the environment ahead of nationalism, patriotism and/or profit, our prospects for the future are grim.
Nationalism as it is now in the absence of ‘justice for all’.   It drives weapons development and the evolution of weaponry to unprecedented killing capacity and accountability.  We are creating artificial intelligence to give us a military advantage.  Its possible that AI will evolve beyond our control, and after attaining the insight that the human mind is fundamentally flawed in its capacity to believe anything and destroy everything, humans will be eliminated.  In our species arrogance we forget how fragile our life form is.   Thirteen organic systems and structures entirely dependent on each other and a far greater number of interdependent living and nonliving systems and structures makes for health and survival.   As individuals, families, cities, states, and nations we are infinitely vulnerable to a variety of microscopic and global macroscopic factors.  Factors no independent government can stop, no matter how tall the wall, or how powerful the military.
Because of our unchallenged worship of ‘independence’ “We the People” of the world still have no global democratic system or structures to assist us in protecting our valued lives, liberty and pursuit of happiness…each of which is entirely dependent on our God given life support system we call ‘the environment’.  These values used to be ‘self-evident truths’. 
We humans have always altered our environment for better or worse, mostly worse, but we in our technological power/arrogance continue to ignore reality.  The health of the earth’s environment has the last vote.  And, human freedom, security, prosperity, and perhaps our species survival rely on that vote.
If we cannot redirect our intelligence, creativity, science, technology, resources, and laws toward mimicking the “Laws of Nature and Nature’s God” (as our nation’s founding fathers stated in the first paragraph of our Declaration of Independence) we should prepare for the worse.  
So on this Earth Day remember that Earth and life on it will be fine for the next 4 billion years.  We may not.   Science will only prove valuable if it is applied in the long run to the value that ‘all people’ are created equal and endowed with certain inalienable rights.   Rights not limited to ‘life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.’  But also the fundamental right to a sustainable environment and justice for tall.  
The more one reads, questions and thinks outside our dysfunctional culture/society one will increasingly conclude, beyond any doubt, that unless we apply science to the Golden Rule (promoted by every religion) human progress will be thwarted.   Ultimately we are free to do, and believe, anything we want. But without understanding and responsible actions in relation to our global interdependence, our security is not possible.

The most effective means of demonstrating our responsibility today would be our collective action in achieving each of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals for the year 2030.  Read, question, think, and act responsibly.    The greatest power you have is educating your elected officials regarding the nature of reality.  

Friday, April 21, 2017

Science and Religion unification in The Gold Rule

Brahmanism: "This is the sum of duty: Do naught unto others which would cause you pain if done to you" : Mahabharata 5:1517
Christianity: "All things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them." Matthew 7:12
Islam: "No one of you is a believer until he desires for his brother that which he desires for himself." Sunnah
Buddhism: "Hurt not others in ways that you yourself would find hurtful." Udana Varga 5:18
Judaism: "What is hateful to you, do not to your fellowmen. That is the entire Law; all the rest is commentary." Talmud, Shabbat 31:a
Confucianism: "Surely it is the maxim of loving-kindness: Do not unto others that you would not have them do unto you." Analects 15:23
Taoism: "Regard your neighbor's gain as your own gain, and your neighbor's loss as your own loss." T'ai Shag Kan Ying P'ien

Zoroastrianism: "That nature alone is good which refrains from doing unto another whatsoever is not good: for itself. " Dadistan-i-dinik
Justice for all, or security for none. 

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Measuring progress on SDGs. Atlas of information.

If you would like to monitor progress on the SDGs…which are essential indicators of global justice and security, this is the website to keep handy.


If you are interested in making the SDG’s important to your elected officials,  consider participating in the 435 Campaign for Global Justice.

Three things are vital to a peaceful, free, prosperous and secure future for humanity.

1.        A comprehensive approach to ‘justice for all’
2.        A means to fund it and/or enforce it.

3.       Motivating action in the context of enlightened self-interest…national security.


Wednesday, April 5, 2017

100 Years ago Today. We chose a path we must now leave..

Today is the 100th Anniversary of the US entry into the first World War.  No one really knows why that war was fought but most agree that the way it ended set the stage for the World War II and nearly twice as many casualties.  There should be no dispute that the horrors of World War II set the stage for the Cold War and dozens of genocides, revolutions, and famines that followed that killed more people than both World Wars combined.
There should be no doubt that current global war against terrorism, now called violent extremism, is a direct result of the consequences of the global injustices perpetrated during the Cold War.
The most important question now, is how do we end war before it ends us?   Given the evolution of weaponry and the dozens of new factors that make a continuation of war by any means (bio, cyber, nano, space, robotics or AI) a form of insanity what are we to do?   Our freedom, security and prosperity will increasingly be lost.
The urgency of our era can be seen from multiple perspectives.  The evolution of weaponry. The evolution of pathogens.  And the failure of our political systems to evolve in response to these threats.
There is only one viable pathway to an alternative future where freedom, security and prosperity can be maximized for all the world’s people.   We the people must demand that our governments put the protection of human rights (see the Universal Declaration of Human Rights) above the rights of nation states to do as they please, without being held accountable.
After the horrors of WW II most people agreed we needed to prevent future war. From that view emerged the UN system and the most important document in human history -the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.  Then world leaders failed to make human rights a priority.
We now have what may be our last chance to end the trajectory of world war.  Replace it with world law.  We all know that’s not going to happen anytime soon, so the next best option is meeting the Sustainable Development Goals which is a close equivalent of enforcing the UDHR.
There is no shortage of money to achieve these goals.  It can be found in off shore accounts and even many US states where banks are now holding approximately $14 trillion in money that should have been put into the service of human survival instead of enriching less than one tenth of one percent of humanity.
Time is not on our side.  Our survival will depend on our capacity for adaptation to these changing times.  More military spending is not going to help.  More treaties and weapons bans will not help.   More hopefulness will not help.   

Only a movement of movements generating sufficient political will for our leaders to move away from war and toward world law will work.  Demand that our elected officials take this path.   There really is no other way.  

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Myanmar Human Rights and the UN

UN pressure grows on Myanmar human rights conditions

on: March 25, 2017In: ASIAOPINIONPOLITICSNo Comments
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By Rene Wadlow
On Friday 24 March 2017, the 47-member UN Human Rights Council adopted a resolution without a vote ( a consensus-type procedure) to create an international independent commission to study the human rights situation in Myanmar (Burma). The representatives of the Russian Federation and China, who do not like independent investigations anywhere, indicated that had there been a vote they would have voted against but that they would not block a consensus motion. The Ambassador of Myanmar, Hlin Lynn, indicated before the adoption that such a commission was not necessary and that his government would not cooperate. The resolution had been proposed by the members of the Council from the European Union who often have difficulty in reaching agreement among themselves. The fact of their joint action indicates that awareness of the dangerous situation in Myanmar has been growing in the past months.
The creation of an independent commission is the strongest form of pressure that the Human Rights Council has and is rarely used. The most noteworthy commission created concerned the armed conflict and resulting human rights violations in Darfur, Sudan. The government of Sudan did not let the members of the commission into Sudan, but interviews with refugees in Ethiopia and Geneva confirmed the information which representatives of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) had been providing the Commission on Human Rights, the ancestor of the Human Rights Council. As I had been the first NGO representative to raise the Darfur situation in 2004 in the Commission on the basis of information from sources that I trusted but without myself having been on the ground, it was a satisfaction to have the Darfur Commission confirm what I had been saying.
Since I have been addressing the Commission on Human Rights on human rights in Myanmar since 1989, I am not sure that there is much new evidence to be presented, but events can always be updated. In 1992, a Special Rapporteur (then the sharpest tool available to the Commission) on Myanmar was named, Prof. Yazo Yokota of Japan. The government of Myanmar did not cooperate with him but did not attack him either because the government of Myanmar needed trade and investment from Japan. Later Special Rapporteurs on Myanmar who came from less powerful States were attacked by name in the Commission ( a break in diplomatic practice as people are referred to by their title and not their personal name.) I had helped Prof. Yokota meet Burmese exiles in Bangkok. His reports were a model of fact-finding and calls for the appropriate measures of international law, in particular the Geneva Conventions.
In response to Yokota’s report the Commission expressed its “deep concern at the violations of human right in Myanmar which remain extremely serious in particular concerning the practice of torture, summary and arbitrary executions, forced labour, including forced portering for the military, abuse of women, politically motivated arrests and detention, the existence of important restrictions on the exercise of fundamental freedoms and the imposition of oppressive measures directed in particular at minority groups.”
The then Foreign Minister of Myanmar, Ohn Gyaw, had replied to the Yokota report that the government’s aims were “our systematic endeavour towards establishing the democratic system in an atmosphere of peace, tranquility, prosperity and orderly processes rather than under anarchy, disintegration of the nation and tragic and senseless destructive acts. This democratic system we aim to establish will be on foundations that are within the parameters of our history, traditions and culture.”
In early 1992, there was increased pressure against the Rohingys resulting in their massive flight into Bangladesh. Due to pressure from Arab and Islamic States such as Indonesia and Malaysia, which had never been concerned with refugee flows of largely Buddhist “national minorities” to Thailand , a Special Representative of the Secretary-General was named. Thus the fate of the Rohingyas started to be discussed in the Commission on Human Rights.
It is not clear to me why there is the current flair up of violence in Rakhine State on the Bangladesh-Myanmar frontier. In a future article, I will try to set out the causes as I see them. The destructive situation was well set out to the Human Rights Council by the current Special Rapporteur Ms Yanglee Kee earlier in March and by the Report of the High Commissioner for Human Rights for the Human Rights Council but there was little discussion of causes or possibilities for mutual understanding.
My aim in this article is to welcome the creation of an independent commission on the model of that for Darfur-Sudan but also to warn that data collection is not an answer in itself as the continuing armed conflict in Darfur shows. There are long-standing obstacles to peace and development in Myanmar which require planning within a basic needs framework and then real international cooperation for socio-economic development.
Rene Wadlow is the President of the Association of World Citizens, an international peace organization with consultative status with ECOSOC, the United Nations organ facilitating international cooperation on and problem-solving in economic and social issues.

Thursday, March 2, 2017

One more injustice in US foreign policy - military aid to Honduras.

One year ago today (March 2, 2016) environmental activist Berta Caceres was assassinated in Honduras. [1]

Leaked court documents suggest Berta's murder was planned by military intelligence specialists linked to the country’s U.S.–trained special forces. [2] 

Global Witness calls Honduras the deadliest country in the world for environmental activism. [3]

Today, Rep. Hank Johnson (GA) re-introduced the Berta Caceres Human Rights In Honduras Act, HR1299
calling for the suspension of U.S. military and police aid to Honduras until human rights violations committed by Honduran security forces cease and their perpetrators are brought to justice. [4]

Given the cuts President Trump has targeted in foreign aid perhaps this should be one of his first cuts he should make if he were sincere in the words he used before Congress on Tuesday night. 


“Each American generation passes the torch of truth, liberty and justice — in an unbroken chain all the way down to the present. That torch is now in our hands. And we will use it to light up the world.”

Urge your U.S. Representative to co-sponsor the Berta Caceres Human Rights In Honduras Act.  
HR1299  by calling 202-225-3121, give them your zip code and ask to be connected to your Congress persons office.  

You can also sign a petition generated by Robert Naiman, Avram Reisman, and Sarah Burns
from Just Foreign Policy that is at MoveOn

We can make U.S. foreign policy more just, or continue to suffer the inevitable consequences here in the US.  Consequences a wall at the border will not stop.


References:
1. https://www.nytimes.com/2017/03/02/opinion/an-idealists-martyrdom-fails-to-move-honduras.html
2. https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/feb/28/berta-caceres-honduras-military-intelligence-us-trained-special-forces
3. https://www.globalwitness.org/en/campaigns/environmental-activists/honduras-deadliest-country-world-environmental-activism/

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Pandemics/bioterrorism/infectious diseases NOT equal to threat of War or Climate Change


The threat of infectious diseases, pandemics and bioterrorism (“When nature is the terrorist” WPost editorial, 2-24-17)   [https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/when-nature-is-a-terrorist/2017/02/23/57bed82e-f942-11e6-bf01-d47f8cf9b643_story.html]    should not be held on the same “level as preventing nuclear war or climate change”.  Why?  Because they represent a greater threat to individual, national, and global security than wars or climate change combined.  Even if one considers the inevitable escalation of global interactions between war and climate change. 
Few people remember that shortly after the attacks on 9-11 former …Collin Powel told the UN that HIV/AIDS was a greater threat to national and global security than al Qaeda.  It was because that RNA based virus (with a 3% mutation rate) contributes directly to the failure of nation states which sustains the spawning ground for every strain of violent extremists.
Consider the inevitable emergence of a single pandemic that could be equal to -  or potentially greater than -- the impact of the so called “Spanish Flu” of 1918.  According to historians that pandemic played a major role in stopping World War I while killing more US soldiers than the war itself and killing nearly 500,000 Americans back home in about 16 months.  Imagine how such a pandemic today would freeze any ongoing war including the war against climate change.
Just the inevitable loss of our antibiotic arsenal alone (not mentioned in the Post editorial) could lead to an existential threat of civilization as we know it -- if it happens before breakthroughs in bioengineering new solutions to combat all infectious diseases.   But remember,  it is just such breakthroughs added to existing advancements in biotechnology that make bioterrorism a greater threat than a nuclear terrorist attack or a limited nuclear exchange.   Imagine a genetically engineered virus that would kill anyone who had not received the vaccine that was bioengineered by the same scientists intending to protect only their nation (N. Korea?), their terrorist group (ISIS?), or their environmental cult who feel threatened by the current dominance and trajectory of world powers.
There are at least three mental problems most policy makers and their electorate must overcome to rationally and effectively respond to all individual, national and global security threats.   First, we must stop thinking that these threats are independent of one another and urgently invest in global prevention and preparation efforts.   This could best be accomplished by enforcing the Universal Declaration of Human Rights or fully funding and implementing the Sustainable Development Goals as rapidly as humanly possible.  These threats (pandemics, war, terrorism and climate change) that all nations face cannot be effectively addressed by independent national policies.   Independent government and institutional policies will fail in multiple aspects of offering a comprehensive global approach. 
Second, we must do what we know we must do.  Abide by that fundamental “Self-evident” “Truths” in our Declaration of Independence,  that all people are created equal (ie. With a body temperature of 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit.)
Last, we must learn and persistently remember the greatest human achievement in history.  The eradication of Smallpox in 1977 (official in 1980).  Up until then nature’s smallpox had killed more people globally in the 20th century than both World Wars, all murders, revolutions, and genocides combined.   The US invested $32 million in this global eradication campaign which (according to a 1997 GAO report) had saved $17 billion dollars in US tax payer money by then.   No longer needing to pay to protect the lives of US children yielded these unbelievable health and economic returns to all Americans that continues today.  And here’s the astounding fact that needs to be remembered.  If just one nation, religious group, or remote family had rejected this global vaccination effort, this natural terrorist would still be circulating among us today.  It still exists in some laboratories.   And, given the natural evolution of all pathogens and human’s increasing technological prowess in changing them (google ‘Weaponized Smallpox’) means that Smallpox, or variations of any pandemic like virus, will remain a threat -- unless we are as indiscriminate in taking care of one another globally as viruses are to infecting us if our body temperature is 98.6 degrees.

In conclusion I offer the profound words of Nell Temple Brown, former head of the WHO office in Washington DC.  She said “Pathogens change.  Can we?” 

Monday, February 20, 2017

Mexican child killed by US Border Agent not a crime?

Supreme Court considers case of a shot fired in U.S. that killed a teenager in Mexico   
/www.washingtonpost.com/politics/courts_law/supreme-court-considers-case-of-a-shot-fired-in-us-that-killed-a-teenager-in-mexico/2017/02/19/c2935c36-f548-11e6-8d72-263470bf0401_story.html

On Tuesday, the U.S. Supreme Court will consider a murder case that will highlight what remains the greatest flaw in the U.S. Constitution. This case is a window into how catastrophically flawed this supremely worshiped blueprint for our nation has been since day one. 
Upon its creation, and for decades after, our nation legally considered African-Americans only 3/5 of a human being and allowed them to be treated worse than cattle. That supreme error cost more American lives than World War I and WW II combined and, to this day, continues to plague our nation with prejudices and injustices, in individuals and institutions, that continue to take innocent lives and instill mistrust at every level of the US government. 
The creation of our ‘great’ nation was based on the fundamental principle that all people are created equal and endowed with certain inalienable rights including "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness." These “self-evident truths” should be simple enough for even President 45 to grasp. 
The Court’s decision is whether it should handle the case of an innocent 15 year old Mexican child murdered on Mexican soil by an official US Border Patrol agent who discharged his firearm from US soil
Paul Ryan often says “The outcome of one’s life should not be determined by the place of their birth." GOP leaders often say that "Our government doesn’t give us our rights. Our rights were given by God -- and the purpose of our government is to protect those rights."
The Court decision on Tuesday will show if these "Supreme” human beings fully understand the increasing existential dilemma that our nation faces between choosing "justice for all" or continuing to make and enforce unjust laws.
Inscribed on the exterior of the U.S. Dept. of Justice is something that should be posted in every room of the Supreme Court. “Justice is the great interest of man on earth. Wherever her temple stands, there is a foundation for social security, general happiness, and the improvement and progress of our race.” 
Here’s another quote that should be recited by Supreme Court justices prior to each case. “Slavery was legal. Colonialism was legal. The Holocaust was legal. Apartheid was legal. Legality is a matter of power, not justice. Sustainable human and national security is not a function of military power. It is a function of justice. And, that is what makes us and our nation great.”  Anonymous.
So much wisdom in words, yet so much hypocrisy in action by both major political parties, proud libertarians, and even the Green Party. FYI: I’m registered Green and I’ve spoken to several CATO Institute intellectuals who believed that the US Constitution only protects US citizens and it should not be altered.  That’s national libertarianism, not true libertarianism -- and just as flawed as the U.S. Constitution. 
In defense of CATO, I often praise its 1997 report by Ivan Eland that clearly documented the terrorist blow back consequences of US interventions abroad. According to that report, 48 of the 50 terrorist attacks against the US between 1985 and 1995 -- were a retaliation against US military interventions abroad. The other two were home grown violent extremists: one reacting to the injustices of the US government at home and abroad (Timothy McVeigh who considered himself a US patriot). The other, Ted Kaczynski , the Unabomber, reacting to what he perceived as the evils of our nation’s increasing dependence on modern technology. 
It’s important to note here that most US national security experts today believe that terrorism and our own nation’s “dysfunctional government” are the top two threats to our national security. Both greater than Russia, China, Iran, North Korea, and climate change. Most also agree that our nation’s greatest vulnerabilities are our over-dependence on advanced technologies and how they can be easily used or abused to recruit or enable home grown terrorists with unprecedented destructive/disruptive power. 
In this light, our nation’s original commitment to "justice for all" needs be taken seriously and urgently codified.  Failing that, Americans should not be surprised at the continuing loss of both our freedoms and our security, regardless of who is President, in Congress, or sits on the Supreme Court. 
Security is no longer a function of armies, armaments, or disarmament. Security it is a function of justice. If we don’t codify justice by law, individuals, groups, or nations will seek an informal type of justice more accurately labeled revenge. 
So, whatever the Court’s decision, it and the American people should fully recognize that "making America great again” will not happen by our unwavering and persistent thoughts and actions that have unjust consequences of people outside our borders. It will not be achieved by doubling or tripling our military budget or its destructive capacity.   Our unexamined assumption that human beings without US citizenship and outside our borders do NOT possess the same invaluable rights that we do is a receipt for unprecedented and increasingly lethal catastrophic consequences. 
Making America great again can only be accomplished by consistent laws and actions that enforce this great ideal. Such idealism is not just pragmatic, it is essential to the survival of our nation.
For further inspiration and wisdom in support of making our nation great for the first time read these quotes:
"Law is often the tyrant's will, and always so when it violates the right of an individual." --Thomas Jefferson to I. Tiffany, 1819  
"I say that you cannot administer a wicked law impartially. You can only destroy. You can only punish. I warn you that a wicked law, like cholera, destroys everyone it touches -- its upholders as well as its defiers." -- Jerome Lawrence & Robert E. Lee. Source: the book, Inherit the Wind

"We should never forget that everything Adolf Hitler did in Germany was "legal" and everything the Hungarian freedom fighters did in Hungary was "illegal."  - Martin Luther King, Jr., "Letter from Birmingham Jail," Why We Can't Wait, 1963
Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere... There are two types of laws: just and unjust. I would be the first to advocate obeying just laws. One has not only a legal but a moral responsibility to obey just laws. Conversely, one has a moral responsibility to disobey unjust laws." - Martin Luther King Jr., "Letter from a Birmingham Jail" (April 16, 1963)


Saturday, February 18, 2017

Trump Jokes: What else makes up everything?

I am not a funny person (although my daughter says I look funny). But I love jokes.  I just have difficulty remembering them to share with others and with good delivery.

Getting my delivery down may never happen, but, as a scientist and political activist I believe I have relatively good observation skills in listening for jokes.   And, I’ve heard very few circulating in the general public about President ‘45’.   It’s slightly funny that someone refuses to say his name and offered others a descriptive nick name.  But, I can’t help but wonder why there isn’t a flurry of jokes.   (I made one up, but it’s yet to go viral (go to the last paragraph to need to see it now).

So here’s my question.  Why are there so few Trump jokes?   Yes!  The late night TV shows are ripe with gut-splitting one liners and talented POTUS impersonations.  But none(?) on the street?
It could be my proximity to the Washington DC beltway.  Everyone is either scared for their jobs, scared of being on a POTUS hit list, or fearful of our new leader bringing about the end of the world.  Or, it could be, that he IS the joke.  

In watching or listening to him it’s hard not to turn it off and just smile -- in disbelief.   But even that’s overlaying unprecedented uncertainty.  Uncertainty would have still existed if Hillary was fairly elected.  And not just uncertainty that his words don’t appear to have any real meaning. But, unprecedented uncertainty simply because this clown was elected by 63 million voters with questionable eligibility.  Oh, you think only Democrats and Russians are capable of rigging an election?
According to an expert on evaluating State Department employees for security clearances, our 45th POTUS would fail.  And fail on multiple ‘red flag’ categories.   But now he has access to the nuclear football and ‘the button’ that could ruin everyone’s afternoon, and he really isn’t that funny.  The joke appears to be on us, expecting our ‘We the people’ system would keep us safe, proud, and free.  Unfortunately, it can’t.  Why?   Ready for some ‘truths?’.   We have the capacity to 1) believe anything, 2) be easily distracted from what’s important, 3) don’t do what we know we should do, 4) put party loyalty ahead of patriotism, 5) put ourselves or our nation ahead of all others in the world, 6) seek immediate comfort instead of doing the right thing, and  7) fail to codify fundamental principles into our Constitution’s design of our government system and structures (I warned you I wasn’t funny).  

But here’s my joke anyway:  What do ‘Trump and atoms have in common?’  Answer:  ‘They both make up everything.’   My son he gave an even better answer. “They both have a tiny nucleus and are surrounded by a cloud of negativity.”   Another person offered the punchline, “Neither has a single functioning brain cell”.  I’m sure there are others but I need to think about nonperishable foods and essential medicines I need to stockpile soon.     

I’ve since altered my joke since I learned that everything in the universe is not only made up of atoms, but 'systems and structures based on fundamental principles'.   So here's the upgraded joke. 'What do Trump, Atoms and “Systems, structures, and fundamental principles” have in common?  They all make up everything.  (hint: If we make anything from skyscrapers to governments, without adhering to fundamental principles, there will be catastrophic failures.  

So, here’s the serious punch line:  Until ‘we the people’ codify into our Constitution the fundamental principle that our nation was founded on (the “Self-evident” “Truths” that all people are created equal and endowed  with certain inalienable rights to ‘life, liberty’ and equal justice under the law”) neither our freedoms or our security will be sustainable.

Obviously that's not a joke.  It is a call to action.  We must build a wall! 
A wall so great it will keep the orange haired clown from crashing our system by damaging any one of the other seven structures that are all essential to sustaining our freedoms, security, prosperity, and our earthly life support systems. 

1    1.   A Congress that truly represents ‘we the people’ and not moneyed interests.
2.       An educated electorate that can distinguish between fake news and reality.
3.       A justice system that is truly just, and not just enforcing an unjust legal system.
4.       Freedom of the press
5.       Trust in science and its genius method for discovering what real and what works.
6.       Public trust in all of the above.
7.       Liberty and justice for all (not just American citizens) as we have all pledged.

If this call to action missed your funny bone, Please assist us in building that wall.  I pretty sure Mexico will help pay for it.  



Friday, February 17, 2017

Ten reasons why humanitarianism is a ‘peace’ issue

Ten reasons why humanitarianism is a ‘peace’ issue

1. Easily preventable hunger and poverty is a personal security nightmare that continues to fuel wars, revolutions and genocides long after the big wars ended.

2. Wealthy nations and the life styles of their average consumers are the largest producers of environmental problems as well as a small group of Americans that focus on ‘peace’ with virtually no attention to justice.

3. Economic injustice is the largest driver of infant mortality in the world which is the greatest driver of failed states and emerging conflicts.

4. Wars are fought primarily for economic power out of a fear of a government or it’s people’s experiencing economic insecurity or instability… which is intimately bound up with an unyielding desire for ‘peace through strength’ or, peace at any price.

5. So called “Peace and Justice” efforts focus 98% of their time and money on disarmament issues and self-promotion while spending virtually nothing on pursuing ‘liberty and justice for all’.

6. The avoidance of the need for global justice and the protection of everyone’s human rights is a primary driver of fears and conflicts in the world, which is a primary driver of military spending.

7. The so called ‘Peace and Justice” movement cannot resolve disputes within their own organizations and still struggle to come together into a national movement that speaks with one voice…let alone any real focus on justice.

8. To successfully address the greatest threats to current human or national security (infectious diseases, terrorism, WMD proliferation, economic instability, government dysfunction, failed states and climate change) the ‘Peace and Justice’ movement must take a more comprehensive view of what ‘security’ really means, and how important a comprehensive approach is needed to address all the security threats people face.  This will require a unifying effort demanding ‘liberty and justice for all’ with a sustainable environment, before disarming nations, or a singular focus on preventing a nuclear war that might never happen.

9. To achieve a peaceful transition to a just and sustainable economy the ‘peace and justice’ movement will need to see the importance of social and economic justice (protecting human rights) which is the only realistic way to maximize both freedom and security in an irreversibly interdependent world.   And just as importantly, this can be achieved without first tapping/cutting current military spending.  A singular quest for ‘peace’ will continue to be ineffective while most people’s priority is maximize both their freedom and security from a growing list of threats equal to or greater than war.

10.  The death of a child from any cause is the most terrifying of all human experiences. Every day nearly 15,000 children under 5 years old die from easily preventable malnutrition and infectious diseases. This daily death toll dwarfs the total number of people of all ages killed in the world each day by war, revolution, genocide and climate change combined.  And, in spite of a Presidential Commission and other prestigious studies clearly warning about the long term consequences of world hunger, poverty and their associated spread of infectious diseases, the peace community continues to demand disarmament as a prerequisite to addressing this greatest of all human tragedies. And, while their math may work out, the realities of any cuts from US defense spending being invested in the global necessities of clean water, sanitation, basic health care services, and primary education for all children now in  need…is virtually zero.  Given our own nation’s real and perceived need for funding various projects/programs -- or cutting the federal deficit -- the only way our US government would appropriate adequate funds for such a humanitarian or environmental effort is if they were convinced, without a doubt, that every aspect of our personal and national security depends on ending the worst aspects of global economic and environmental injustices. And, without the ‘peace’ movement fully on board…a ‘movement of movements’ is unlikely to rally in time to avoid global chaos.

The US peace movement (if it can be called that) must stop avoiding the connection between their quest for world peace and the prerequisite need for justice in our nation’s domestic, foreign, environmental, and immigration policies.

(FYI:  This was in response to another piece offered by the "peace" community earlier today -- posted below.)

9 reasons why militarism is an environmental issue:  Michael Eisenscher meisenscher@gmail.com   2-17-17:


1. War is an environmental nightmare that continues to poison people
and the planet long after the fighting ends.

2. The Pentagon is the largest consumer of fossil fuels in the world.

3. The Pentagon is the largest emitter of CO2 gases in the world.

4. Wars are fought for oil and other energy resources. The U.S. drive
for global hegemony is intimately bound up with its aim to control
energy resources.

5. The military consumes 54% of all discretionary spending.  War and
preparation for war divert financial and human resources needed to meet
social needs (including investment in renewable energy and a
sustainable energy system).

6. The manufacture of arms and other military gear adds considerably to
the carbon burden of the world.

7. The military-industrial complex is fully integrated with and
dependent upon the fossil fuel energy complex, serving as its enforcer
as well as its client.

8. To successfully address the climate crisis requires creating a
sustainable new economy, but that is impossible so long as our economy
remains dominated by the military-industrial-security-energy complex.

9. To achieve a just transition to a new sustainable economy will
require the environmental movement see its connection to movements
for social justice, economic justice and peace.  The quest for peace is
also a social justice struggle.

The environmental movement must stop avoiding the connection between our militarized foreign policy and the challenge of climate change.