Online events w) Kate Raworth, Michael Hudson, Chomsky, Jared Diamond, Vandana Shiva, etc.

Upcoming Online Events:

Mon, 11/29, 3 pm — P&P Live! Sarah Chayes: ON CORRUPTION IN AMERICA with Timothy Noah — Join P&P Live! to celebrate the paperback release of Sarah Chayes’s new book, On Corruption in America, with Timothy Noah — This event is in partnership with The New Republic — Sarah Chayes writes in On Corruption, that the United States is showing signs similar to some of the most corrupt countries in the world. Corruption, she argues, is an operating system of sophisticated networks in which government officials, key private-sector interests, and out-and-out criminals interweave. Their main objective: not to serve the public but to maximize returns for network members — Sarah Chayes has served as special assistant on corruption to Mike Mullen, former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, as well as having advised David McKiernan and Stanley McChrystal. She has been a reporter for National Public Radio from Paris, covering Europe and the Balkans. Chayes is the author ofThe Punishment of Virtue: Inside Afghanistan After the Taliban and Thieves of State: Why Corruption Threatens Global Security, winner of the 2016 Los Angeles Times Book Prize — Chayes will be in conversation with Timothy Noah, who began his journalism career at The New Republic and since May 2020 has written a weekly column for the magazine’s website. He has worked at numerous outlets including The Wall Street Journal, Slate, and Politico. Noah’s 2011 Slate series on income inequality won the Sidney Hillman Prize and became the 2012 book The Great Divergence: America’s Growing Inequality Crisis and What We Can Do About It:

Mon, 11/29, 6 pm — RESCHEDULED! Paul Auster discusses “Burning Boy” with Eric Lorberer — Booker Prize-shortlisted and New York Times bestselling author Paul Auster makes a most welcome return to our Reading Series, this time virtually, to discuss Burning Boy: The Life and Work of Stephen Crane (Henry Holt), his new biography of American literary icon and war reporter. He appears in conversation with Eric Lorberer. “Paul Auster’s all-in obsessive engagement with the 19th century Bad Boy of American literature, Stephen Crane, is brilliant and beautiful. Auster’s mastery of the historical context, his writerly, troubled, imaginative insights into Crane’s character and the analysis of the works, all superb. And the prose is beautiful — lucid and clear, and yet lyrical and personal. I was deeply moved by his portrayal of Crane’s relationships with Conrad and James and other writers of the time and Crane’s common law wife, Cora, and his judgmental, bourgeois older brother William. And his delicacy regarding Crane’s other relations with women. All of it. What a story! This is more than a novel, more than a biography, more than a book of critical analysis. This is a significant work of literature. And the most profound homage of one writer to another that I’ve ever read.” —Russell Banks, author of Cloudsplitter and The Sweet Hereafter.” — Paul Auster is the bestselling author of 4 3 2 1, Sunset Park, Invisible, The Book of Illusions, and the New York Trilogy, among many other works. In 2006 he was awarded the Prince of Asturias Prize for Literature. Among his other honors are the Prix Médicis étranger for Leviathan, the Independent Spirit Award for the screenplay of Smoke, and the Premio Napoli for Sunset Park. In 2012, he was the first recipient of the NYC Literary Honors in the category of fiction. He is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters and a Commandeur de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres — Eric Lorberer is the Executive Director of Rain Taxi, a nonprofit organization that publishes the nationally acclaimed quarterly Rain Taxi Review of Books and organizes the annual Twin Cities Book Festival:

Mon, 11/29, 7 pm — Fireside Film Night – Gaza Fights for Freedom — In honour of the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People, join us for an encore screening of this powerful documentary! — Free online screening: Gaza Fights for Freedom (2019, 1hr 24min) by Abby Martin REGISTER FOR GAZA FIGHTS FOR FREEDOM (The Zoom link to join the live event will be sent to you after registration.) “This collaboration shows you Gaza’s protest movement like you’ve never seen before. Filmed during the height of the Great March Of Return protests, it features exclusive footage of demonstrations where 200 unarmed civilians have been killed by Israeli snipers since March 30, 2018.” — 6:30pm – chat lobby opens — 7:00pm – Welcome; land acknowledgment followed by film screening and discussion — Fireside Film Night is a new free online series featuring important independent films, documentaries and lively discussions. On the fourth Friday of every month, we get together virtually for participatory, fun and thought-provoking evenings. Join us!:

Tue, 11/30, 8 am — Is Neoliberalism Finished? — Join Haymarket Books and Spectre Journal for a discussion of Neoliberalism and the future of the global economy — After the failures of Keynesianism in the 1970s, the capitalist classes of the world turned to neoliberalism to discipline workers and restore profitability. In the wake of the Great Recession of 2008-10, capitalism has been mired in a long-term global slump and neoliberal policies have been unable to trigger a new boom. Is neoliberalism finished? Are states returning to Keynesianism? Will that work? Why is the world economy locked in a slump? — Join this webinar to hear answers to these and other questions from Prabhat Patnaik, Michael Roberts, and David McNally — Speakers: David McNally teaches history at the University of Houston. He is an editor of Spectre journal, and the author of seven books, including Blood and Money: War, Slavery, Finance and Empire (Haymarket Books 2020) — Michael Roberts is a British-based Marxist economist and author who worked as a professional economist in financial institutions for 40 years. He is author of several books: The Great Recession – a Marxist View (2009); The Long Depression (Haymarket 2016); World in Crisis joint ed (Haymarket 2018) and Marx 200 (2018) — Prabhat Patnaik is a well-known radical economist. He has written extensively on macroeconomics, development economics, and political economy. His books include Accumulation and Stability Under Capitalism and The Retreat to Unfreedom:

Tue, 11/30, 4 pm — Virtual Talk: “On Corruption in America” with Sarah Chayes — A major work that looks homeward to America, exploring the insidious, dangerous networks of corruption of our past, present, and future — Author Sarah Chayes thinks the United States resembles some of the most corrupt countries in the world. She says that corruption is an operating system of sophisticated networks in which government officials, key private-sector interests, and out-and-out criminals interweave. Their main objective: not to serve the public but to maximize returns for network members — Corruption isn’t new. It’s thrived within our borders for a very long time: from the titans of America’s Gilded Age (Andrew Carnegie, John D. Rockefeller, and J.P. Morgan) to the collapse of the stock market in 1929. There’s proof everywhere: The Great Depression; FDR’s New Deal; Joe Kennedy’s years of banking, bootlegging, machine politics, and pursuit of infinite wealth; and the deregulation of the Reagan Revolution. More recently, she points to Clinton’s policies of political favors and personal enrichment and Trump’s hydra-headed network of corruption which aimed to systematically undo the Constitution and our laws — In this unflinching exploration of corruption in America, Chayes reveals how corrupt systems are organized, how they enable bad actors to bend the rules so their crimes are covered legally, how they overtly determine the shape of our government, and how they affect all levels of society, especially when the corruption is overlooked and downplayed by the rich and well-educated. She also reveals what is at stake if we don’t stop it:

Tue, 11/30, 7 pm — Seth Klein – A Good War: Mobilizing Canada for the Climate Emergency — The Mir Centre for Peace presents… Seth Klein – A Good War: Mobilizing Canada for the Climate Emergency — Is what we are seeing and hearing from COP26 and in the federal government’s latest climate plans aligned with the emergency we face? Author and longtime climate activist Seth Klein has something to say about that — Drawing on lessons from our wartime experience, Klein offers an original and uniquely hopeful vision of a way through the climate crisis. Reminding us that we have come together before in common cause across class, race and gender, he shows us that it is possible to entirely retool our economy in the space of a few short years, and align our politics and economy with what the science says we must do to address the climate crisis. We can do this! Join us to learn how — Seth Klein is the Team Lead and Director of Strategy of the Climate Emergency Unit (a 5-year project of the David Suzuki Institute that Seth launched in early 2021). Prior to that, he served for 22 years (1996-2018) as the founding British Columbia Director of the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, a public policy research institute committed to social, economic and environmental justice. He is the author of A Good War: Mobilizing Canada for the Climate Emergency (published in 2020) and writes a regular column for the National Observer:

Wed, 12/1, 12:30 am — Scholars United for a Sustainable Amsterdam (SUSA) Conference — Please join us on 1 December for the SUSA conference: Radically interdisciplinary and bottom-up solutions for making Amsterdam donut-proof — About the conference: During 2021, Scholars United for a Sustainable Amsterdam (SUSA) brought together Amsterdam’s academics to help Amsterdam realise its ambition to align with the model of donut economics. Amsterdam’s citizens shared stories about obstacles standing in the way of more sustainable ways of living or doing business. During this conference, four interdisciplinary teams of academics will share their ideas and work with the audience to overcome key barriers to a sustainable city. The conference is in English — Conference Schedule (Amsterdam time — subtract 9 hours for Pacific time): 9:30 – 9.45 — Coffee & Registration 9:45 – 09:50 — Welcome by the organisers 09:50 – 10:00 –Introduction by André Nollkaemper, dean of the Amsterdam Law School 10:00 – 11.00 –Keynote address by Kate Raworth, author of Doughnut Economics 11.00 –11.15 –Coffee 11:15 – 11:45 –Roundtable 1: A Bottom-up City. Trust and collaboration in Amsterdam’s neighbourhoods 11.45 – 12.15 –Roundtable 2: Rethinking Garbage. A proposal for improving information and awareness about waste 12.15 – 13.15 –Lunch 13.15 – 13.45 –Roundtable 3: Measurability. An exploration of the potential of measurability for big system change 13.45 –14.15 –Roundtable 4: Flipping the Donut. Living in harmony with urban nature 14.15 –14:30 –Closing remarks by Philipp Pattberg, professor environmental policy analysis, VU 14.30 – 15.00 –Speed networking & discussion:

Wed, 12/1, 11 am — Reading Gramsci: Against War — The December 2021 Reading Gramsci meeting centres on a letter that Gramsci wrote in 1918, exploring the language and discourse of war — The December 2021 Reading Gramsci meeting centres on a letter that Gramsci wrote in 1918, exploring the language and discourse of war. Gramsci invites reflections on the temporary nature of words and the perseverance of meaning that they leave behind as language evolves over time. The Reading Gramsci Events focus on a different reading each month so anyone can join — Find a FREE copy of the letter via this link: The Eventbrite page is here:

Wed, 12/1, 12 Noon — JFSL (Journal of Free Speech Law) Public Panels — UCLA’s Institute for Technology, Law & Policy and the University of Arizona’s TechLaw Program are pleased to host a set of virtual public panels — December 1, 2021 – 11:00 AM (PST) (Hosted by UCLA ITLP) – Panel with Jack Balkin, Mark Lemley, Daphne Keller, and Eugene Volokh; December 6, 2021 – 12:00 PM (PST) (Hosted by UCLA ITLP and UA TechLaw) – Panel with Nadine Strossen, Eugene Volokh, Ash Bhagwat, and Jane Bambauer:

Wed, 12/1, 3 pm — Fight Club: The Great Debt Debate (Post-Game Q&A) — Economists Michael Hudson, Pavlina Tcherneva and Steve Keen enter the ring to answer your questions about money and debt! — Nika Dubrovsky, widow of the late David Graeber, has established “The Fight Club” to keep David’s unique way of challenging conventional wisdoms alive. Each “Fight” will pit leading advocates, thinkers and visionaries against each other — The inaugural fight was a debate between the renowned economists Thomas Piketty, author of “Capital in the Twenty-First Century”, and Michael Hudson, author of “And Forgive Them Their Debts”. You can watch it here: — Join us for a follow up Q & A session with Hudson, Pavlina Tcherneva and Steve Keen. They will discuss: what is money and what is debt? What are the most serious problems of today’s finance-capital economies? And what are the best remedies? Come with your questions! — Event sponsored by the Hannah Arendt Center for Politics and Humanities, the Economic Democracy Initiative, and the Museum of Care:

Wed, 12/1, 4 pm — Virtual Screening: The War on Cuba — Join the virtual screening of The War on Cuba, followed by virtual conversation with the CMLK Center and journalist Liz Oliva in Havana — The documentary series shows the impact of U.S. sanctions and U.S. interventionism that the grassroots of the US, and all listeners, need to know about and denounce. The Blockade whose express intent is to cause hardship and incite violence- and whose impacts hit hardest along race, class, and gender- has been illegally imposed, with rejection from most of the world, for six decades. Then, the Trump administration tightened it, adding 243 more sanctions. These compounded the challenge caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, and the sudden evaporation of tourism dollars in the Caribbean. The economic hardship has resulted in scarcity in all areas from food, transportation, electricity, and vital medicines. People spend hours in long lines and live with uncertainty and growing inequality despite expansive public programmes, paid time off for COVID, salary raises, and subsidized foods through the libreta neighbourhood system. Daily life has been very hard for most Cubans — The second season of The War on Cuba uncovers the truth behind the mysterious health incidents known as the “Havana Syndrome,” examines the driving forces behind Cuba’s unprecedented July 11 protests and reveals the political interests that pushed Biden to flip-flop on Cuba policy — This will be an opportunity for grassroots organizations, students and community members to learn more about the effects of U.S sanctions on Cuban people. We will also hear about solidarity and what we can do to promote human-centered US economic and political policies towards Cuba — Organized by the Witness For Peace Solidarity Collective:

Thu, 12/2, 11 am — The Great American Novel Series: Go Tell It on the Mountain (James Baldwin) — What makes Go Tell It on the Mountain a great American novel? — James Baldwin’s semi-autobiographical novel follows the story of Jim Grimes in 1930’s Harlem as he navigates fraught relationships with his family and the church. What makes Go Tell It on the Mountain a great American novel? How does the novel engage with or mirror biblical imagery, and what role does biblical allusion play in the work? Who influenced Baldwin’s writings, and who did his writings influence? — Join the National Association of Scholars on December 2nd to find out! — This event will feature Douglas Field, Senior Lecturer in 20th Century American Literature at The University of Manchester; Doug Sikkema, Assistant Professor of Core Studies and English at Redeemer University; and Ralph Wood, University Professor of Theology and Literature at Baylor University:

Thu, 12/2, 3:30 pm — James Lawson Institute: Civil Resistance & Nonviolent Movements — Immigration – 1950s to Now – What Has Changed, What Remains? — Please join us for the James Lawson Institute for the Research and Study of Nonviolent Movements at Vanderbilt University for our inaugural fall series. In this series, we will explore Movements in Nonviolence through research, conversations, and practices to prepare the next generation to engage in nonviolent approaches to social change — Immigration – 1950s to Now – What Has Changed, What Remains? — Join for a screening of the documentary “My name is Maria De Jesus” and a discussion on immigration rights and the struggle for just policies:

Fri, 12/3, 3 am through 12/10 — Join David Graeber Tribute LSE Anthropology Friday Seminar Series — In Honour of David Graeber: Exploring the Fissures and Cracks — An LSE Anthropology Seminar series that strives to come to terms with our dear colleague and friend’s extraordinary intellectual generosity and optimism. In each session, two anthropologists will lead a critical discussion on one of David Graeber’s key gifts of writing, exploring the fissures and cracks, as David liked to, in order to grow our thoughts and actions. Chaired by Alpa Shah — 3 December 2021 Bureaucracy; Nayanika Mathur (Oxford Assoc Professor Anthropology) and Michael Herzfeld (Harvard Monrad Research Professor of the Social Sciences): 10 December 2021 Bullshit Jobs; Mao Mollona (Goldsmiths Senior Lecturer Anthropology) and Andrew Sanchez (Cambridge Associate Professor Anthropology):

Fri, 12/3, 11 am — ODDconvo: Creating Utopia — What worlds get to exist beyond our imagination? — Utopia literally means ‘nowhere.’ For some people, that may seem bleak. For us here at GariTalks, Nowhere is the space of infinite possibility — Creating Utopia, part of the ODDconvo (Oh Das Deep conversations) series, is a space to collectively channel the power of Imagination to generate new ideas about what this world around us could look like — “Imagination is the only weapon in the war against reality.” – Lewis Carroll — Once a month, on the 1st Friday, we gather and actively ask ourselves the questions: “What worlds get to exist beyond what we currently see and don’t see? What worlds are we longing to build?” — Come talk about the unexpected. Come share in the power of dreaming — GariTalks: Creating spaces for transformative healing experiences​ through intentional reflection, connective dialogue, and mindfull storytelling:

Fri, 12/3, 3 pm — “The Ants & The Grasshopper” Screening & Community Talk — Please join the University of California, Merced for a community discussion regarding the film, “The Ants & The Grasshopper” on Friday, 12/3 at 3 pm PST — About the Film: “Traveling from Malawi to California to the White House, Anita Chitaya sets out on a journey to persuade Americans that climate change is real.” — Directed by Zak Piper and Raj Patel — A link to screen the film will be emailed to those registered on 12/2. The film will be available to watch for the 48 hours before the community discussion on 12/3 at 3 pm PST — The event is free and open to the public:

Sun, 12/5, 11 am — WHAT’S LOVE GOT TO DO WITH IT?: A Conversation With Richard Gilman-Opal — Exploring seldom asked and deeply radical concepts at the cutting edge of creating a more humane world — In The Communism of Love, Richard Gilman-Opalsky makes the case that what is called “love” by the best thinkers, is in fact, the beating heart of communism—understood as a form of life, not as a form of government — Why is capitalist exchange value the enemy of love? Does the human aspiration to love embody a longing for communist relationality? In the ruins of the 20th Century’s revolutions, what is communism anyway? And in a world dominated by violence and hate can we find ways to create and build love? Why do these questions matter relative to human development and social justice? — Join Gilman-Opalsky and Dan Friedman for this open conversation—your questions and comments welcome—exploring seldom asked and deeply radical concepts at the cutting edge of creating a more humane world — PRESENTERS: Dan Friedman is a member of the faculty of the East Side Institute and Artistic Director Emeritus of the Castillo Theatre, which he helped to found in 1983. He is managing producer of the Institute’s podcast, “All Power to the Developing,” and co-chair, with Lois Holzman, of Performing the World Happening(s). He is a playwright and theatre director with a doctorate in theatre history from the University of Wisconsin. His latest book, Performance Activism: Precursors and Contemporary Pioneers, is the first book-length study of performance activism, to be published by Palgrave later this year — Richard Gilman-Opalsky is Professor of political theory and philosophy in the School of Politics and International Affairs at the University of Illinois at Springfield. He is the author of six books, including The Communism of Love, Specters of Revolt, Precarious Communism and Spectacular Capitalism. He is also co-editor of the book Against Capital in the Twenty-First Century and co-author of Riotous Epistemology. He has lectured widely throughout North America and Europe, including at Goldsmiths University of London, Loughboro University, University of Essex, at University of La Plata Argentina, and as visiting professor at Shaanxi Normal University in China:

Mon, 12/6, 10 am — A Conversation between James Kelman and Noam Chomsky — Join us on Monday, December 6th for a conversation between James Kelman and Noam Chomsky — This event is the virtual book launch event for Between Thought and Expression Lies a Lifetime: Why Ideas Matter — Between Thought and Expression Lies a Lifetime: Why Ideas Matter is an impassioned, elucidating, and often humorous collaboration. Philosophical and intimate, it is a call to ponder, imagine, explore, and act — James Kelman is a Scottish novelist, short story writer, playwright, and essayist whose many literary awards include the Booker and James Tait Black prizes. He started writing at the age of twenty-two: ramblings, musings, sundry phantasmagoria, stories, whatever. In 1969 while working in London he met and married Marie Connors from South Wales. They settled in Glasgow, where he has lived as writer, father, and grandfather. Kelman has been a vocal supporter of the Kurdish people and campaigns regularly with Scottish Solidarity with Kurdistan — Noam Chomsky is a laureate professor at the University of Arizona and professor emeritus in the MIT Department of Linguistics and Philosophy. His work is widely credited with having revolutionized the field of modern linguistics and Chomsky is one of the foremost critics of U.S. foreign policy. He has published numerous groundbreaking books, articles, and essays on global politics, history, and linguistics. His recent books include Who Rules the World? and Hopes and Prospects:

Mon, 12/6, 2 pm — Ask Me Anything Featuring Leslie Davenport — Please join the University of California, Merced on Monday, 12/6 at 2 PM PST for an AMA (Ask Me Anything) with Leslie Davenport! — Biography: Leslie Davenport (she/her/hers) works as a climate psychology educator and consultant, integrating social science insights into relevant resources for organizations exploring the intersectionality of climate, economics, policy, and social justice. She helped shape the document, “Mental Health and Our Changing Climate: Impacts, Implications, and Guidance.” She is the author of four books including Emotional Resiliency in the Era of Climate Change and All the Feelings Under the Sun. She is an advisor for the non-profits Project InsideOut, Integrative Healers Action Network, and One Resilient Earth, and is on faculty with the California Institute of Integral Studies, Master’s program in Professional Psychology and Health. — This virtual event is free and open to the public — Can’t attend, but have a question for Leslie? Email emeyer4 [at] the question:

Mon, 12/6, 7 pm — Introduction to Drawdown Climate Solutions — This webinar will introduce the basic concepts of Drawdown, a solution-based approach to climate action — Climate Change can be reversed! Peer reviewed international research shows that it is possible to actually “drawdown” our greenhouse gases. These solutions to our climate crisis exist right now – we just need to implement them on an individual, community, national, and global level — Organized by Drawdown BC:

Tue, 12/7, 10 am — Regenerative Futures — *Please note this is a Zoom webinar and places are limited. If you wish to join the event please register for a ticket* — The 2021 Bicentenary Medal Address Regenerative Futures: redesigning the human impact on earth — Dr Daniel Christian Wahl is awarded the 2021 RSA Bicentenary Medal in recognition of his outstanding contribution to regenerative design — In his Medal address, Dr Wahl will offer reflections on 20 years of research and professional practice exploring the role of design as a catalyst for the transition towards a future of diverse regenerative cultures everywhere — Speaker: Daniel Christian Wahl, educator and author of Designing Regenerative Cultures:

Wed, 12/8. 11 am — GM ‘Designer Babies’: Breakthrough or Nightmare? — Three years after the world’s first genetically modified babies were created, what are the implications for society? — Dec 8th: Organised by Stop Designer Babies — In 2018, the Chinese scientists created the world’s first genetically modified (GM) babies. Despite the worldwide outrage, next March the science establishment are meeting in London to push the ‘genome editing’ agenda forward — Some scientists claim that genetic modification is needed to prevent genetic diseases, but is that really true? In a world still riven with disability, race and class oppression and other examples of eugenics, will allowing people to engineer their babies’ genes make social inequalities even worse? Will it turn children into just another designed and optimised commodity? — Join us at our free online event to discuss these issues and what we can do about them — Sigrid Graumann, feminist bioethicist and member of the German Ethics Council will make the case against GM babies — Angus Clarke, clinical geneticist from Cardiff University will explain why genetic modification is unnecessary — PLUS contributions from members of Stop Designer Babies (SDB) — For more information, or to be kept informed about SDB events, contact info at: We are planning another event in February on the links between climate, GM food and GM babies:

Wed, 12/8. 5 pm — A Top Thinker Discusses our Personal, National and Global Crises — Jared Mason Diamond is an American geographer, historian, ornithologist, and author best known for his popular science books The Third Chimpanzee (1991); Guns, Germs, and Steel (1997, awarded a Pulitzer Prize); Collapse (2005), The World Until Yesterday (2012), and Upheaval (2019). Originally trained in biochemistry and physiology, Diamond is known for drawing from a variety of fields, including anthropology, ecology, geography, and evolutionary biology. He is a professor of geography at UCLA. Diamond has been ranked ninth on a poll by Prospect and Foreign Policy of the world’s top 100 public intellectuals:

Thu, 12/9, 9 am — BLACK LIBERATION & WORKER COOPERATIVES: Innovative Organizing — The COVID crisis further exposed the social, political and environmental inequities embedded in our society. However, the pandemic created opportunities for communities to organize and practice cooperative solutions to enhance capacity for fundamental system change. Join us to learn about the innovative work of Cooperation Jackson — Featuring: Kali Akuno Co-Founder & Co-Director – Cooperation Jackson — Rebecca Lurie Director, Community Worker Ownership Project, Faculty – CUNY School of Labor & Urban Studies:

Thu, 12/9, 9 am — Algorithmic Desire and the Ideology of Twenty-First Century Capitalism — Much has been written about the more deleterious dimensions of social media websites, platforms, and apps, from Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube, to Instagram and Snapchat, dating apps like Tinder, and more recent apps like TikTok. We are all more than familiar with critiques of social media corporate and government surveillance, the commodification, expropriation and exploitation of user-provided data, the tailoring and curation of content, and of course recent dilemmas focused on fake news tying our use of social media to international cyberwarfare. Given all of these potential problems, why don’t we just give up and abandon our attachment to social media? How might we grapple with the exploitative and anti-democratic aspects of social media set against the kinds of enjoyment that it procures? — Despite some of these problems, Matthew Flisfeder argues that social media helps us to grasp the co-ordinates, not merely of our trouble with machines and new media, but with the larger totality of twenty-first century capitalism. Conceiving social media as a central metaphor for our historical present, Flisfeder proposes extending the concept to its fullest potentials. Instead of abandoning the concept, Flisfeder argues that the term social media helps us to render what is problematic about contemporary neoliberal capitalism, proposing that it is only by pursuing and failing to achieve a truly authentic social media as our goal that we are best positioned to understand the real contradictions of our time, as well as dominant forms of subjectivity, consciousness, and enjoyment — Biography: Matthew Flisfeder is an Associate Professor of Rhetoric and Communications at The University of Winnipeg (Canada). He is the author of Algorithmic Desire: Toward a New Structuralist Theory of Social Media (Northwestern UP 2021), Postmodern Theory and Blade Runner (Bloomsbury 2017), The Symbolic, The Sublime, and Slavoj Žižek’s Theory of Film (Palgrave Macmillan 2012), and co-editor of Žižek and Media Studies: A Reader (Palgrave Macmillan 2014):

Thu, 12/9, 10:30 am — Brazil’s 2022 election: Lula’s return Vs Bolsonaro’s anti-democratic agenda — Brazil elections 2022: Take a stand with the resistance against Bolsonaro’s anti-democratic crackdown – for Lula & Brazilian Democracy! — Brazil’s 2022 election: Lula’s return Vs Bolsonaro’s anti-democratic clampdown — With elections under a year away, Bolsonaro has been ramping up threats against democracy and the electoral system. The far-right President has openly said that he will claim fraud if he loses, and that “only god” can remove him from power — We must show the far-right in Brazil that the world is watching, and support the huge movements of resistance against Bolsonaro. If elections were held today, former President Lula da Silva would win in the first round — Show your international solidarity and support with: Richard Burgon MP – Brazil Solidarity Initiative Chair; Nathalia Urban – Journalist, Brasil Wire; Alex Main – Policy Analyst, Centre for Economic and Policy Research (US) — This election is crucial for the social, indigenous, environmental, quilombo, trade union, LGBT+, women’s, black and other groups fighting back against Bolsonaro’s reactionary and hate-filled agenda — Please show your solidarity and support. This event is hosted by the Brazil Solidarity Initiative:

Thu, 12/9, 11 am — Dialogue III: Deep Ecology, Mindfulness & Climate Emergency — Can inner shifts in perspectives help us respond more skilfully to the climate and environmental crisis? — In this third Science & Wisdom LIVE dialogue, Dr. Vandana Shiva, Dr. Stephan Harding, and Dr. David Loy will discuss the urgent topic of the climate emergency and environmental crisis — As scientists and activists warn us about the potential dangers ahead, new paradigms are emerging to help us navigate the challenges of our times. Deep Ecology invites us to experience (and act from) a deep feeling of our interconnectedness with the natural world. Similarly, contemplative practices (such as mindfulness and meditation) can deepen our sense of oneness with the living universe around us — We will hear from scientists and contemplative practitioners about what it takes to be an activist and induce change, while still keeping a positive mind — Dr. Vandana Shiva earned a PhD. In Nuclear Physics at the University of Western Ontario and later studied science policy in Bangalore, where she explored interdisciplinary research in Science, Technology and Environmental policy — She emerged as an authority in the field of environmental impact and founded the Research Foundation for Science, Technology and Ecology, dedicated to opposing the use of patented, genetically-engineered seeds. In 1991, Dr Shiva founded Navdanya, a national movement to protect the diversity and integrity of living resources, especially native seeds, and to oppose what she calls the colonization of life itself under intellectual property and patent laws — Dr Shiva sees Biodiversity as intimately linked to Cultural Diversity and Knowledge Diversity, and recently launched a global movement called Diverse Women for Diversity. Among Vandana Shiva’s many honours is the Right Livelihood Award – also known as the Alternative Nobel Prize. She is the author of more than 300 papers in leading scientific and technical journals, and many books — Dr. David R. Loy is a Professor of Buddhist and Comparative Philosophy, a writer, and a teacher in the Sanbo Zen tradition of Japanese Buddhism. His books include Money Sex War Karma, A New Buddhist Path, and most recently Ecodharma: Buddhist Teachings for the Ecological Crisis. He is one of the founders of the new Rocky Mountain Ecodharma Retreat Center, near Boulder, Colorado — Dr. Stephan Harding’s doctorate at the University of Oxford was on the behavioural ecology of the muntjac deer — After teaching conservation biology at the National University of Costa Rica, he became a founder member of Schumacher College, and later was appointed as a founding chair holder of the Arne Naess Chair in Global Justice and the Environment at the University of Oslo — Stephan is the author of Animate Earth: Science, Intuition and Gaia, and his latest book, Gaia Alchemy, will be published in January 2022:

Thu, 12/9, 5 pm — Zen and the Art of Saving the Planet – Book Club/Study — The Midwest Earth Holder Community will be facilitating a book club to study the new book by Thich Nhat Hanh, Zen and the Art of Saving the Planet. The book club will start on Thursday, December 9 and meet every other Thursday with the last meeting on Thursday, March 3 (seven meetings). All meetings will be on Zoom — Each meeting will be facilitated by a Midwest Earth Holder Community Group member. Meetings will have a short meditation, a Dharma sharing/talk by the facilitator about the book section being studied, a Dharma sharing/discussion in small groups, and a closing with Sharing the Merit — For information about the book, please go to: The Eventbrite page is here:

Mon, 12/13, 10 am — Reading Group: for generations that are yet to be born — Join artist and Bluecoat Project Curator Katherine Ka Yi Liu 廖加怡 for a restorative online reading group — This group is a safe platform for collective reading and sharing. It holds space for care and encourages the practice of reading together as a form of survival, resistance and healing under our current post-lockdown but still in pandemic condition — In the first few sessions, the group will be focusing on exploring different chapters from All About Love: New Visions (Love Song to the Nation) (2000) by African-American scholar and activist bell hooks. Each chapter deconstructs and reframes our assumptions about “love” as a primarily romantic emotion and how love became a “cliché”, instead it reconnects us to love that is redemptive, and healing; an understanding of love that in Covid times we need more than ever — Join us regularly each month or drop in for one session. No need to complete the reading beforehand, there will be time to read each chapter at the beginning of the group and time for discussion after. Free, booking required — Schedule: Monday 13 December 21 – all about love, chapter 11, Loss: Loving into life and death Monday 10 January 22 – all about love, chapter 12, Healing: Redemptive Love Monday 14 February 22- all about love, chapter 8, Community: Loving Communion Monday 14 March 22 – all about love, chapter 4, Commitment: Let Love be Be Love in Me:


School Meals Coalition Hopes to Provide a Meal to Every Child

Aid, Civil Society, Development & Aid, Education, Featured, Food Security and Nutrition, Global, Headlines, Health, Humanitarian Emergencies, Inequity, Poverty & SDGs, TerraViva United Nations

Food Security and Nutrition

School meals have a host of benefits, including improving enrollments and preventing malnutrition. Now the School Meals Coalition plans to recruit local food producers to assist in the programme. Credit: Bill Wegener/Unsplash

United Nations, Nov 26 2021 (IPS) – Meals at schools not only give each child a nutritious meal but increase enrolments, among other benefits.

This emerged at a recent launch of the School Meals Coalition, a new initiative that aims to give every child a nutritious meal by 2030 through bolstering health and nutrition programmes. The coalition comprises over 60 countries and 55 partners dedicated to restoring, improving and up-scaling meal programs and food systems. Among their partners are UN agencies UNICEF, World Food Programme (WFP), UN Nutrition, Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), and UNESCO.

In the briefing, the speakers identified School Meals Coalition’s primary goals to restore school meal programmes to the status before the COVID-19 pandemic and reach children in vulnerable areas who have not accessed these plans before. The member countries’ political leaders have come together to support this “important initiative”, according to the permanent representative of Finland to the United Nations, Jukka Salovaara.

“School meals are so much more than just a plate of food. It’s really an opportunity to transform communities, improve education, and food systems globally,” he said.

School meal programmes are a significant safety net for children and their communities. As one of the primary means for children to get healthy meals, they help combat poverty and malnutrition. Their impact on education is seen in increased engagement from students. They also serve as incentives for families to send their children, especially girls, to schools, thus supporting children’s rights to education, nutrition and well-being.

“We see documented jumps of 9 to 12 per cent in enrollment increases just because the meals are present,” WFP Director of School-Based Programmes Carmen Burbano said. “So, these are really important instruments to bring [children] to school.”

The programmes would also provide opportunities for sustainable development practices and transformations in food systems. One key strategy is to promote and maintain home-grown school meal programmes, recruiting local farmers and markets to provide food supplies. Investing in school meal programmes, especially through domestic spending, has proven to increase coverage. In low-income countries, the number of children receiving school meals increased by 36 percent when their governments increased the budgets for these programs.

A WFP study found that at the beginning of 2020, over 380 million children globally received meals through school meal programmes. The closure of schools due to the COVID-19 pandemic effectively disrupted those programmes, depriving 370 million children of what was effectively their main meal for the day. While there have been marked improvements since schools re-opened worldwide, with 238 million children accessing the school meals, there are still 150 million children that don’t have access.

The School Meals Coalition aims to close this gap through a system of collaboration between member countries and their partners. Among their initiatives will be a monitoring and accountability mechanism that is being developed by the WFP and its partners, which will be used to follow the coalition’s accomplishments, and a peer-to-peer information-sharing network, spearheaded by the German government, between members and partners that will use findings to influence their programme output.

Even before the pandemic, school meal programmes did not reach the most vulnerable children, 73 million, who could not access these programmes. Reaching children that have fallen through the cracks can be challenging, but it is significantly more difficult in countries affected by conflict or environmental disruptions.

Education Cannot Wait (ECW) and the World Food Programme (WFP) earlier signed a memorandum of understanding to feed children in protracted crises.

At the signing, WFP Assistant Executive Director, Valerie Guarnieri said: “Simply put, sick children cannot attend school and hungry children cannot learn. It is essential we invest more in the health and nutrition of young learners, particularly girls.”

ECW Director, Yasmine Sherif said a feeding scheme made a massive difference in children’s lives.

“For many children and youth in crisis-affected countries, a meal at school may be the only food they eat all day and can be an important incentive for families to send and keep girls and boys in school. It is also essential for a young person to actually focus and learn,” she said.

The coalition plans to find ways to break the barriers to enable children to reach school or look for alternative learning pathways to reach children who could not physically attend school.

The factors that can prevent children from fully attending schools, such as poverty, complexity in family lives, or conflict, have only been exacerbated over the last nearly two years, thanks mainly to the COVID-19 pandemic. As more schools open worldwide, the restoration of school meal programmes is expected to provide much-needed support for children and their communities in turn.

“This is a very urgent and timely priority,” said Head of the Sustainable Development Unit of the Permanent Mission of France to the United Nations, Olivier Richard. “Because school meals are very important for the recovery of our societies from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.”

To learn more about the School Meal Coalitions, you can follow their page.


No Vaccine for the Pandemic of Violence Against Women in Latin America

Active Citizens, Civil Society, Editors’ Choice, Featured, Gender, Gender Violence, Headlines, Human Rights, Indigenous Rights, Latin America & the Caribbean, Regional Categories

Gender Violence

This article is part of IPS coverage of the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women on Nov. 25, which kicks off 16 days of activism on the issue around the world.

Despite restrictions due to covid, women from various feminist, youth and civil society groups gathered in the central Plaza San Martin in Lima and marched several blocks demanding justice and protesting impunity for violence against women, on Nov. 25, 2020. CREDIT: Mariela Jara/IPS

Despite restrictions due to covid, women from various feminist, youth and civil society groups gathered in the central Plaza San Martin in Lima and marched several blocks demanding justice and protesting impunity for violence against women, on Nov. 25, 2020. CREDIT: Mariela Jara/IPS

LIMA, Nov 24 2021 (IPS) – Despite significant legal advances in Latin American countries to address gender-based violence, it continues to be a serious challenge, especially in a context of social crisis aggravated by the covid-19 pandemic, which hits women especially hard.

“Existing laws and regulations have not stopped the violence, including femicide (gender-based murders). There is a kind of paralysis at the Latin American level, on the part of the State and society, where we don’t want to take much notice of what is happening, and women are blamed,” said María Pessina Itriago, a professor and researcher and the director of the Gender Observatory at UTE University in Quito.

Pessina, a Venezuelan who lives in the Ecuadorian capital and spoke to IPS by telephone from the university, said violence against women is ageold, and “we are still considered second-class citizens who are not recognized as social subjects.” And this dates way back – to the slaughter of “witches” in Europe in the Middle Ages, for example, she added.

“It hasn’t been easy to achieve my independence, have my own income and raise my children. I have suffered humiliation and slander, but I knew who I was and what I wanted: to live in peace and have a home without violence.” — Teresa Farfán

“The genocide of women is something that has not stopped and now in the context of the pandemic has become more serious. I believe that, in reality, the pandemic that we have experienced for many years is precisely this, that of gender violence,” she remarked.

Her reflection came ahead of the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, which is celebrated on Thursday, Nov. 25 and kicks off 16 days of activism up until Dec. 10, World Human Rights Day.

The World Health Organization (WHO) and U.N. Women warned in March that globally one in three women suffers gender-based violence. And that the problem, far from diminishing, had grown during the covid pandemic and the restrictions and lockdowns put in place to curb it.

The study “Global and regional estimates of violence against women: prevalence and health effects of intimate partner violence and non-partner sexual violence”, which analyzed data from 2000 to 2018, is the most far-reaching produced by WHO on the topic.

The report, published in March of this year, stresses that violence against women is “pervasive and devastating” and affects one in three women with varying degrees of severity.

For Latin America and the Caribbean, the study puts the prevalence rate of violence among women aged 15 to 49 at 25 percent.

María Pessina Itriago is a professor, researcher and director of the Gender Observatory at UTE University in Quito. CREDIT: Courtesy of María Pessina

María Pessina Itriago is a professor, researcher and director of the Gender Observatory at UTE University in Quito. CREDIT: Courtesy of María Pessina

A regional epidemic during the global pandemic

With respect to femicides, the Gender Equality Observatory of the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) reports that 4640 women died from this cause in 2019. The organization also called attention to the intensification of violence against girls and women during the pandemic.

The panorama is compounded by the gendered impacts of the pandemic on employment, which reduces women’s economic autonomy and makes them more vulnerable to violence.

According to the International Labor Organization (ILO), the region of the Americas experienced the largest reduction in female employment during covid, a situation that will not be reversed in 2021.

Peruvian sociologist Cecilia Olea, of the non-governmental Articulación Feminista Marcosur (AFM), which is made up of 17 organizations from 11 countries – nine South American nations, Mexico and the Dominican Republic – said there have been significant advances in the last 30 years in the fight against gender violence.

Among them, she cited the fact that States recognize their responsibility for the problem and no longer consider it a private matter.

She also pointed out that Latin America is the only region in the world with a specific human rights treaty on the issue: the Inter-American Convention on the Prevention, Punishment and Eradication of Violence against Women, known as the Convention of Belem do Para after the Brazilian city where it was approved in 1994, which established women’s right to live free of violence and set the framework for national laws to address this violation of women’s rights.

However, Olea said in an interview with IPS in Lima that the legal and regulatory framework has not been accompanied by political strategies to change the social imaginary of masculinity and femininity, which would provide incentives to modify the culture of inequality between men and women; on the contrary, she said, the violence forms part of a culture of impunity.

“Males feel free to oppress and governments are failing in their responsibility to guarantee comprehensive sex education throughout the educational system, in primary school and technical and higher education; this program exists by law but implementation is deficient due to lack of training for teachers and the opportunity to train people in new forms of masculinity is lost, for example,” she remarked.

Olea, a feminist activist and one of the founders of the AFM, said that not only do governments have a responsibility to prevent, address and eradicate gender violence, but there is also an urgent need to ensure health services; justice with due diligence, as the current delays revictimize and inhibit the use of regulatory instruments; and budgets to correct the current shortfall that prevents a better response to this social problem.

Peruvian sociologist Cecilia Olea, a member of the Articulación Feminista Marcosur (AFM), which brings together feminist networks from 11 Latin American countries, takes part in a demonstration outside the Peruvian Health Ministry in Lima, demanding reproductive rights. CREDIT: Mariela Jara/IPS

Peruvian sociologist Cecilia Olea, a member of the Articulación Feminista Marcosur (AFM), which brings together feminist networks from 11 Latin American countries, takes part in a demonstration outside the Peruvian Health Ministry in Lima, demanding reproductive rights. CREDIT: Mariela Jara/IPS

Cultural change in the new generations

Raised in a machista home, Pessina rebelled against gender norms from an early age and her constant questioning led her to come up with a new definition of how a good person should act.

“I believe that good people do not tolerate injustice or inequality of any kind, which is why I became a feminist about 15 years ago and I am very happy to be able to contribute a grain of sand with my students,” she said.

Pessina said the challenges to progress in the eradication of violence against women are to provide public policies with a budget to make them work; and to achieve an alliance between the State, civil society organizations and feminist movements to create a road map that incorporates excluded voices, such as those of indigenous women.

“The places where they can file reports are not near their towns, they have to go to other towns and when they get there they often cannot communicate in their own language because of the colonialist view that everything must be in Spanish, and there are no interpreters,” she complained.

Another part of the problem, she said, is that “the State itself blocks complaints and keeps these people marginalized, and they are not taken into account in the countries’ statistics on violence.”

The third challenge was to work with the media in Latin America because of their role in the construction of imaginaries, in order to generate the figure of the ombudsperson focused on gender to ensure that information is treated in a way that contributes to equality and does not reproduce discriminatory stereotypes.

Pessina said that what is needed is a cultural transformation driven by the new generations, in favor of gender equality.

“We see more young feminist women activists mobilizing to make it happen and they will make a turnaround; not now, but maybe in a decade we will be talking about other things. These new generations not only of women but of men, I think they are our hope for change,” she said.

Quechua Indian woman Teresa Farfán, in the foreground, stands with two other rural women with whom she shares work and experiences in her Andes highlands community in Peru. She is convinced that telling her personal story of gender-based violence can help other women in this situation to see that it is possible to escape from abuse. CREDIT: Courtesy of Teresa Farfán

Quechua Indian woman Teresa Farfán, in the foreground, stands with two other rural women with whom she shares work and experiences in her Andes highlands community in Peru. She is convinced that telling her personal story of gender-based violence can help other women in this situation to see that it is possible to escape from abuse. CREDIT: Courtesy of Teresa Farfán

“I wanted a home without violence”

Teresa Farfán reflects the lives of many Latin American women who are victims of machista violence, but with a difference: she left behind the circle of gender violence that so often takes place in the home itself.

She is 35 years old and describes herself as a peasant farmer, a single mother and a survivor of an attempted femicide. She was born and lives in the town of Lucre, an hour and a half drive from the city of Cuzco, the capital of ancient Peru, in the center of the country.

Like most of the local population, she is dedicated to family farming.

Nine years ago she separated from the father of her children who, she says, did not let her move forward.

“He wanted me just to take care of the cows, but I wanted to learn, to get training, and that made him angry. He even beat me and it was horrible, and at the police station they ignored my complaint. He kicked me out of the house and thought that out of fear I would come back, but I took my children and left,” she told IPS during a day of sharing with women in her community.

At her moment of need she didn’t receive the support of her family, who urged her to return, “because a woman must do what her husband says.”

But she did have supportive friends who gave her a hand, both inside and outside her community, as part of a sisterhood of Quechua indigenous peasant women like her in the Peruvian highlands.

“It hasn’t been easy to achieve my independence, have my own income and raise my children. I have suffered humiliation and slander, but I knew who I was and what I wanted: to live in peace and have a home without violence,” she said. A wish that remains elusive for millions of Latin American women.


The Good, the Bad, the Ugly: What Went Wrong During India’s COVID-19 Response

Asia-Pacific, Civil Society, Headlines, Health


During the pandemic, there was little support from the government when it came to making funding and resources available to the nonprofits that were working closely with communities. | Picture courtesy: Digital Empowerment Foundation

Nov 23 2021 (IPS) – From its devastating economic impact and the migrant crisis to the startling death toll, the COVID-19 pandemic in India unfurled one crisis after the other. The glaring gaps in our system, which had always been there, became even more prominent during the pandemic. There is one question at the back of everyone’s mind that still remains unanswered: What went wrong?

No entity can operate in isolation, be it the government, the private sector, or civil society. During times of crisis, the government must ensure that all cogs in the wheel continue to work effectively. Civil society—local communities and nonprofits—must enable delivery of public services up until the last mile. And, finally, the private sector needs to step up in terms of financial resources and leveraging of networks and influence.

Nonprofits in 13 states and union territories were able to provide meals to more people during the lockdown than the concerned state governments – Would a collaborative relationship between the government and the social sector have aided a better response to the COVID-19 crisis?

However, when the pandemic was at its peak in India, these three entities failed to come together and work collaboratively to cushion the devastating effects of COVID-19 on the people.

The missing link between the government and the social sector

According to our village-level digital entrepreneurs in the SoochnaPreneur programme at Digital Empowerment Foundation (DEF), the four essential systems that were massively hit by the pandemic were education, healthcare, finance, and citizen entitlements. When the pandemic was raging, our SoochnaPreneurs reported that all people wanted was food and rations, a device to access online education for their children, the ability to talk to a doctor or health worker to learn how to keep themselves safe, and to make some money to meet their daily needs from the confines of their homes. Ironically, given the stringent nature of the lockdowns, all this needed access to the internet.

However, across the country, lack of access to resources, high levels of digital illiteracy, and the deepening digital divide exacerbated by the pandemic acted as major roadblocks in India’s COVID-19 response. Even as the government announced relief packages—food grains and cash payments—the mechanisms of delivery to beneficiaries at the last mile were unclear.

For instance, common service centres (CSCs), which are supposed to work as access points that enable digital delivery of services such as banking and finance across rural India, were mostly non-functional. During the pandemic, the government claimed that people could use their local CSCs to access various digital services including telehealth and registration for vaccinations. However, like any other office, shop, or business centre, almost all CSCs had closed their operations due to the strict lockdown rules in various states.

With government services not always being available, the social sector stepped up. Whether it was making access to digital tools and digital literacy a priority or the distribution of essentials, nonprofits across the country filled in the gaps. According to one report, nonprofits in 13 states and union territories were able to provide meals to more people during the lockdown than the concerned state governments.

The question that arises is: Would a collaborative relationship between the government and the social sector have aided a better response to the COVID-19 crisis?

For instance, the distribution of food grains could have been made efficient from the get-go if, rather than having long queues of people waiting at shops, organisations with the digital know-how had been allowed to deliver ration at the doorsteps of people with a biometric machine in hand. This synchronisation and management of resources is something that should have been under the government’s purview, while a partnership with civil society organisations could have helped with execution and delivery. Considering that hundreds of thousands of nonprofits working at the grassroots were tasked as frontline workers, the government could have tapped into this already existing infrastructure and network.

The lack of trust between the social sector and the government didn’t help. During the pandemic, there was little support from the government when it came to making funding and resources available to the nonprofits that were working closely with communities. For instance, while local nonprofits worked as service providers during the pandemic, funds lying with local government bodies could have been diverted to their operations to successfully navigate the panic-like situation brought on by the first lockdown when everything came to a halt.

The Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Amendment Bill, 2020, also imposed difficult conditions on what could be considered eligible expenses for nonprofit organisations, thus creating more obstacles in raising and distributing crucial aid. Even as the prime minister called for nonprofits to step in, many organisations found their hands tied due to certain rules imposed in the middle of the pandemic.

Moreover, during the first lockdown, there was a diversion of CSR funds to PM Cares. At present, not only is there a lack of transparency on how these funds have been deployed, but this diversion of funds has also been a huge blow to nonprofits who have been struggling to look after their own employees and their organisations while providing relief to communities on the ground.

The private sector did not step up either

There was lack of communication and collaboration across business, and a piecemeal approach was adopted. Industry associations could have encouraged CEOs and company heads to interact with each other and solve issues on a larger scale. For instance, industry bodies such as the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce & Industry (FICCI), and Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India (ASSOCHAM) could have deployed their resources to help manage the mass migration of workers from industrial towns and urban centres more systematically and humanely.

In pre-pandemic times, CSR within corporates would ask nonprofits to work in areas where they have manufacturing facilities and offer localised support. Corporates could have extended this reasoning during the lockdown as well and enlisted the support of their nonprofit partners to help those workers and informal sector migrants who were homebound, while providing the nonprofits with the required monetary and infrastructure support.

There was also a reluctance from corporates to innovate in times of need. Since DEF works on digital integration to fight poverty, we reached out to many CSR funders to provide funds for buying smartphones, tablets, projectors, and other electronic devices to provide digital infrastructure in the villages. However, it took us more than a year to convince some of them to help us offer support to people with no digital access and empowerment through our Digital Daan initiative.

It is important to contextualise the social and economic support at the time of disaster and that can happen only if there is a relationship of trust between the stakeholders.

What the social sector could have done better

The onset of the pandemic brought with it uncertainty for most nonprofits. In addition to lack of funding and overstretched resources, many nonprofits had to take up the role of relief workers and divert efforts from their primary objectives, which would have been domestic violence, child protection, water and sanitation, and so on.

One important factor missing in this entire conversation was the inability of many nonprofits to adopt digital tools to improve operations, efficiency, and delivery of services. While webinars became a recurring feature in their calendars, thus creating a space for knowledge sharing, grassroots nonprofits were often not a part of these dialogues. Smaller nonprofits were also overwhelmed with work on the ground due to the needs of their communities coupled with inadequate support from either their funders or governments; hence, many of them had little time or resources to think or build their capacity to go digital.

The pandemic did however push several nonprofits to adopt digital tools for operations and delivery of services. Larger nonprofits with their own networks, adequate funding, and a strong digital presence were able to leverage digital platforms. However, many of the smaller nonprofits and those at the frontlines had to innovate to reach beneficiaries digitally.

Moreover, with the government aggressively pushing Digital India—from telehealth to online education and even the vaccine roll-out—it became imperative for organisations to incorporate digital and technological solutions in their everyday operations. Many nonprofits therefore had to work on building in-house digital capacity and infrastructure during the pandemic, while also serving their communities and raising funds.

In the case of mobilising money, digital platforms could have been a powerful tool for the sector, and they did help many nonprofits raise funds. However, this was not the case for the entire social sector.

According to the India Giving Report 2021 by the Charities Aid Foundation, individual donations were at an all-time high during the pandemic. Crowdfunding platforms such as GiveIndia provided people easy access to donate to various causes. However, this giving may not have been as diversified—the absence of reliable information online acted as a barrier for many givers while donating. Therefore, givers may have chosen to stick to organisations they trusted. And many local nonprofits with limited digital know-how had to rely on local giving or local resource mobilisation.

For example, our colleague Mohamed Arif, whom we lost in the second wave, was in charge of DEF’s digital centre at Nuh, Haryana. He was digitally savvy and active on social media and was thus able to raise approximately INR 25 lakh (in cash and food grains, and other essentials) through his personal Facebook profile and networks.

However, while the pandemic did push many nonprofits to incorporate technology-led solutions, I find that urgency dwindling again. Digital empowerment of the sector requires sustained efforts wherein organisations put aside certain funds every year for digitally upskilling their employees, maintaining digital collaterals, and modifying their approach to include technology in their everyday operations.

I see the pandemic as an inflection point in the future of nonprofits and civil society as a whole. Which organisations survive this period of transition will largely depend on how well they can adapt to these changing times. According to me, one of the key changes the sector will have to make to stay relevant is to become more digitally aligned.

Osama Manzar, the author of this article, is the founder and director of Digital Empowerment Foundation. He is a Senior Ashoka Fellow, a Chevening Scholar, and has served on several boards such as the Association for Affordable Internet, Association of Progressive Communications, World Summit Awards, and Down To Earth. He specialises in creating digital models for poverty alleviation and has travelled to more than 10,000 villages. Get in touch with him on Twitter: @osamamanzar

This story was originally published by India Development Review (IDR)


Climate Injustice at Glasgow Cop-Out

Civil Society, Climate Action, Climate Change, Development & Aid, Environment, Featured, Global, Headlines, Poverty & SDGs, TerraViva United Nations


SYDNEY and KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 23 2021 (IPS) – The planet is already 1.1°C warmer than in pre-industrial times. July 2021 was the hottest month ever recorded in 142 years. Despite the pandemic slowdown, 2020 was the hottest year so far, ending the warmest decade (2011-2020) ever.

Betrayal in Glasgow
Summing up widespread views of the recently concluded Glasgow climate summit, former Irish President Mary Robinson observed, “People will see this as a historically shameful dereliction of duty,… nowhere near enough to avoid climate disaster”.

Anis Chowdhury

A hundred civil society groups lambasted the Glasgow outcome: “Instead of a multilateral agreement that puts forward a clear path to address the climate crisis, we are left with a document that takes us further down the path of climate injustice.”

Even if countries fulfil their Paris Agreement pledges, global warming is now expected to rise by 2.7°C from pre-industrial levels by century’s end. Authoritative projections suggest that if all COP26 long-term pledges and targets are met, the planet will still warm by 2.1℃ by 2100.

The United Nations Environment Programme suggests a strong chance of global warming disastrously rising over 1.5°C in the next two decades. Earlier policy targets – to halve global carbon emissions by 2030, and reach ‘net-zero’ emissions by 2050 – are now recognized as inadequate.

The Glasgow UN Framework Convention on Climate Change 26th Conference of Parties (COP26) was touted as the world’s ‘last best hope’ to save the planet. Many speeches cited disturbing trends, but national leaders most responsible for greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions offered little.

Thus, developing countries were betrayed yet again. Despite contributing less to accelerating global warming, they are suffering its worst consequences. They have been left to pay most bills for ‘losses and damages’, adaptation and mitigation.

Glasgow setbacks
Glasgow’s two biggest hopes were not realized: renewing targets for 2030 aligned with limiting warming to 1.5℃, and a clear strategy to mobilize the grossly inadequate US$100bn yearly – promised by rich country leaders before the Copenhagen COP in 2009 – to help finance developing countries’ efforts.

Jomo Kwame Sundaram

An exasperated African legislator dismissed the Glasgow Leaders’ Declaration on Forests and Land Use as an “empty pledge”, as “yet another example of Western disingenuousness … taking on the role of ‘white saviour’” while exploiting the African rain forest.

Meanwhile, far too many loopholes open to abuse remain, undermining efforts to reduce emissions. Further, no commitment to end fossil fuel subsidies globally – at US$11 million every minute, i.e., around US$6 trillion annually – was forthcoming.

No new oil and gas fields should be developed for the world to have a chance of getting to net-zero by 2050. Nevertheless, governments are still approving such projects, typically involving transnational corporate giants.

Various measures – e.g., ‘carbon capture and storage’ and ‘offsetting’ – have been touted as solutions. But carbon capture and storage technologies remain controversial, unproven at scale, expensive and rarely cost-competitive.

The Glasgow outcome did not include any commitment to fully phase out oil and gas. Meanwhile, the language on coal has been diluted to become virtually toothless: coal-powered plants will now be ‘phased down’, instead of ‘phased out’.

Offsets off track
Offset market advocates claim to reduce emissions or remove GHGs from the atmosphere by some to ‘off-set’ emissions by others. Thus, offsetting often means paying someone poor to cut GHG emissions or forcing them to pay someone else to do so. With more means, big business can more easily afford to ‘greenwash’.

Carbon offset markets have long overpromised, but underdelivered. As they typically exaggerate GHG emission reduction claims, offsetting is a poor substitute for actually cutting fossil fuel use. Meanwhile, disagreements over offset rules have long stalled international climate change negotiations.

Buying offsets allows GHG emitters “to keep polluting”, albeit for a fee. Highly GHG emitting activities by wealthier individuals, companies and nations can thus continue, after “transferring the burden of action and sacrifice to others” – typically to those in poorer nations – via the market.

For Tariq Fancy – who managed ‘sustainable investing’ at BlackRock, the world’s largest fund manager – the market for offsets is a “deadly distraction”, “leading the world into a dangerous mirage, … burning valuable time”.

Meanwhile, most established offset programmes – e.g., the United Nations’ REDD+ programme or the Kyoto Protocol’s Clean Development Mechanism – have clearly failed to meaningfully reduce GHG emissions.

More than 130 countries have committed to achieve net-zero by 2050. But net-zero targeting has actually allowed the world to continue kicking the can down the road, instead of acting decisively and urgently to verifiably cut GHG emissions.

Hence, it is seen as a cynical “scam”, “nothing more than an expensive cover-up for continued toxic emissions”. Trading non-verifiable offsets – supposedly to achieve net-zero – allows continuing GHG emissions with business almost as usual.

Loss and damage?
Vulnerable and poor nations have argued for decades that rich countries owe them compensation for irreversible damage from global warming. In fact, no UN climate conference has delivered any funding for losses and damages to countries affected.

Rich countries agreed to begin a ‘dialogue’ to discuss “arrangements for the funding of activities to avert, minimize and address loss and damage”. Representing developing nations, Guinea expressed “extreme disappointment” at this ruse to delay progress on financing recovery from and rebuilding after climate disasters.

Developed nations account for two-thirds of cumulative emissions compared to only 3% from Africa. Carbon emissions by the wealthiest 1% of the world’s population were more than twice those of the bottom half between 1990 and 2015!

Low-lying small island nations – from the Marshall Islands to Fiji and Antigua – fear losing much of their land to rising sea levels. But their longstanding call to create a ‘loss and damage’ fund was rejected yet again.

South Pacific island representatives have expressed disappointment at lack of funding for losses and damages, and the watered down language on coal. For them, COP26 was a ‘monumental failure’, leaving them in existential peril.

Although historical responsibility for GHG emissions lies primarily with the wealthy countries, especially the US and the European Union, once again, they have successfully evaded serious commitments to address such longstanding problems due to global warming.

Climate injustice
For the UN Secretary-General, “[o]ver the past 25 years, the richest 10% of the global population has been responsible for more than half of all carbon emissions, and the poorest 50% were responsible for just 7% of emissions”.

The World Bank estimates that, if left unchecked, climate change will condemn 132 million more people into poverty over the next decade, while displacing more than 216 million from their homes and land by 2050.

Meanwhile, poorer countries – who have contributed least to cumulative GHG emissions – continue to suffer most. To address climate injustice, rich countries – most responsible for GHG emissions and global warming – must do much more.

Their finance for developing countries ought to be much more ambitious than US$100bn yearly. Financing terms should be far more generous than currently. Also, funding should prioritize adaptation, especially for the poorest countries most at risk.


Mother of Summits: Sweet and Sour Diplomacy, but Nothing Cooked!

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SINGAPORE, Nov 22 2021 (IPS) – It has been said that when Greek meets Greek, then comes the tug of war. The summit of the leaders of world’s two strongest powers, the United States and China, came face to face at long last. Albeit virtually. Still, this was undoubtedly the “mother of summits” this year. There were two telephone conversations earlier, but according to US officials this nearly four hours of summitry was far more “candid intense, and deeper interaction”. If there was one single take-away from this meeting, it was the establishment beyond all reasonable doubt of the incontrovertible fact that the US and China were indeed the two most influential global state actors. The decisions between the two, represented by their leaders, would profoundly impact the rest of humanity far into the future.

Dr. Iftekhar Ahmed Chowdhury

Given that in terms of deliverables, the consensus among all analysts was that nothing significant was expected, the event was important in that it put to rest the bickering between the subordinates that was pushing the world towards a precipice. It was about time the supreme political masters, Joe Biden of the US and Xi Jinping assumed the reins of control of the most important relationship of our times. Both sides were intellectually convinced that the stiffest possible competition between the two was on the cards. The challenge was to manage this in a way to prevent a conflict that would be catastrophic. This was one point on which, luckily, there was understanding on both sides.

There was not much on anything else. Prior to the meeting that Biden was focussed on writing the rules of the engagement of China “in a way that is favourable to our interests and our values and those of our allies and partners”. Unsurprisingly, Xi and the Chinese did not play ball. Both sides basically emphatically stated their positions on issues and showed nary an inclination to concede an inch to the other. In the end, as was expected, there were no breakthroughs. The irreconcilable positions remained in- tact, with a vague call by both sides for more cooperation.

A virtual meeting is bereft of the positive influences of informal chats, banquets, and the opportunity of developing personal camaraderie. Still, both leaders exuded friendly demeanours, and Xi called Biden “an old friend”. On Taiwan, the dialogue was tough. Xi reminded Biden of the US position on the Peoples ‘Republic being the sole legitimate government of China , reinforced by here communiques issued in 1972, 1979 and 1982. Following the talks the White House clarified that the “One China’ was also guided by the Taiwan Relations Act and the Six Assurances committing the US to opposing” unilateral efforts to change the status quo”. Xi made it clear that Taiwan for China was a “core issue”; it was a province of China, and any support to its independence was akin to playing with fire. “Whoever plays with fire will get hurt” was a message he strongly underscored.

There seemed a glimmer of hope on one front, though. In the past China has refused to be drawn into any nuclear arms control agreements given that its arsenal was far smaller than those of the US and Russia. But recent significant qualitative improvements of its capabilities have been worrying the US. At the meeting China showed willingness to talk on the subject. However, there is no possibility of agreements beyond the rim of the saucer because the Chinese will naturally demand steep cuts in US numbers which will be unacceptable to Washington. However, there could be forward movement through diplomatic engagements on matters such as Confidence Building Measures (CBMs), will the positivity that would entail.

There is a fundamental difference in the approach of China and the US to negotiations. The US believes in a kind of “a la carte” method of choosing areas where it believes there is scope for collaboration while competition, and even confrontation, continues others. The Chinese on the other hand reject this as “cherry picking” and see the agenda as a comprehensive package. What is the use of understanding on one subject, while differences on another cam lead to war? Unless this basic divergence is resolved, negotiations are unlikely to be able to yield any worthwhile results. Discussions will continue to be both sweet and sour, as the summit deliberations were, but nothing seriously palatable will get cooked!

Xi has in the meanwhile has consolidated his own power in China to a point that he may be set obtain a third term of office. More importantly, he is viewed as the navigator in the journey towards national rejuvenation leading to China becoming a modern fully developed nation by 2049 which will bring him yet closer to the status of the Great helmsman, Chairman Mao Zedong, himself. All these were the outcome of the Sixth plenum of the Chinese Communist Party which met last week and adopted a “historical resolution” that buttressed Xi’s power and position.

Incidentally, in the history of the party this was the third historical resolution. The first was adopted in 1945 under Mao four years prior to the revolutionary victory, and the second by the ‘reformist” Deng Xiaoping. While Mao was the one who restored a sense of pride among the Chinese people enabling them “to stand up” and Deng made them rich through his reforms, Xi, by the dint of this “thought” (which supersedes “theory” in Chinese political lexicon) gave them strength and shared prosperity. In an abstruse political milieu where the count of numbers means a great deal, a Xinhua communique on the meeting mentioned Xi’s name at least fourteen times, compared to seven of Mao and Five of Deng. That tells a lot.

Consequently, it is now all but certain that Xi will be elected to an unprecedented third term in office as party General Secretary at the 20th Party Congress next year. There is also some talk that he may assume the title of “Chairman” as well which will bring him at par with Mao. The plenum also elevated Xi Jinping Thought to 21st Century Marxism, completing the process of “Sinicization” of Marxist philosophy. Xi has been pragmatic in welding the conservatism of Mao, but shunning his repressive methods, with the reforms of Deng, correcting the “capitalist excesses”, and bringing China on a socialist path that would lead to a “modern society” with “shared prosperity “. Small wonder that many Chinese observers are beginning to see him as a “Philosopher King” in the mould of Plato in the West and Confucius in the East, a perfect mix for the cauldron of power and authority. An interesting footnote is that the Chinese Communist Party formally announced its third “historical resolution”, cementing Xi’s powers hours after the Summit, though it was leaked earlier, which pointed to a thought-through calibrated set of actions.

Nowhere the same degree, Joe Biden also seems to have achieved a modicum of success of his own despite powerful head winds. He has managed to create a sense of cohesion among America’s allies, though his path has had numerous pitfalls and bumps. Importantly he has managed to secure the passage into law of the massive legislation in terms of the US $1.2 trillion bill on a revamp of infrastructures, to “build back better”, a campaign pledge. This for him is no mean achievement, proving that persistence pays. But for him and his Democratic Party the future is not as rosy as that what appears to be for his Chinese counterpart. A Republican win in the Presidential race is a distinct possibility. That could lead to turmoil and backlash in US domestic politics, requiring the identification of a common foe to rally the nation. China is the obvious candidate. If, consequently, the “ultimate red line” for China, such as on the issue of Taiwan is crossed, a catastrophe could follow.

Surely the Chinese have made those calculations. From now to then, China and Xi will, while seeking to avoid an immediate conflict, be preparing to, in the words of the Global Times seen as a State media outlet, “to deal with the biggest storms in the world, the most powerful and comprehensive siege from the US and its allies”. Halfway down this decade it will be high- risk for one to wager too much in favour of peace!

Dr Iftekhar Ahmed Chowdhury is the Honorary Fellow at the Institute of South Asia Studies, NUS. He is a former Foreign Advisor (Foreign Minister) of Bangladesh and President & Distinguished Fellow of Cosmos Foundation. The views addressed in the article are his own. He can be reached at: isasiac

This story was originally published by Dhaka Courier.