The Roundup for June 30th, 2015

Goodbye June!

Greece And The Giant Grexit

– Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras: Greece will not be kicked out of the euro

– Meanwhile, leaders throughout Europe say otherwise if the referendum comes back as “no”; Vote no anyway

– European Council President Donald Tusk: No EU member state is willing to bailout Greece

A new poll found 57 percent of Greeks favor what the creditors are proposing

Part one of two with attorney Dimitri Lascaris and professor Leo Panitch about the Greek referendum

– International Monetary Fund head Christina Laguarde: If Greece does not give our payment on June 30, then there will be no more lending

– The White House, in regards to Greece, said the Greek government must “keep their commitments”

– What does China think about Greece? They want it to stay in the euro (more…)

The Roundup for June 28-29, 2015

Another week folks! Looking forward to the end!

International Politics


– Journalist Glen Ford and policy analyst Robert Naiman join The Real News to discuss whether the United Nations is able to effectively act on anything

– Sepp Blatter: Leaving FIFA is “liberating” not only for me, but the organization too

-France is considering, once the P5+1-Iran deal is signed, sanctions against Israel over settlements

– A European Union official praised the “political will” for an international deal

Middle East

– Activist Robert Lovelace and Robert Naiman join The Real News to talk about another flotilla heading to the Gaza Strip

– Israeli lawmakers are starting to, once again, marginalize Palestinian culture

An interview with journalist Max Blumenthal about his new book on the bombings of the Gaza Strip last year and the future of Gaza

– The Kuwait government detained a Saudi national, who they say helped the suicide bomber who killed 27 people at a mosque

-The Islamic State, in just one year, killed more than 3,000 people in Syria (more…)

Pope Francis Calls Attention to Climate Change as Moral Issue of Our Time

Pope Francis

In the encyclical Pope Francis released on June 18, he called on the world to create “a new and universal solidarity” in response to climate change and stressed the need for the world to immediately act.

“It is remarkable how weak international political responses have been. The failure of global summits on the environment make it plain that our politics are subject to technology and finance,” Francis stated. “There are too many special interests, and economic interests easily end up trumping the common good and manipulating information so that their own plans will not be affected.”

Francis highlighted problems that will happen—and already are happening—because of climate change. “The earth, our home, is beginning to look more and more like an immense pile of filth,” he declared.

The encyclical, found here, is a letter usually written to members of the Catholic Church by the pope. Famous encyclicals in history include Rerum novarum, written by Pope Leo XIII in 1891 supporting both unions and private property, and Humanae vitae, written by Pope Paul VI in 1968 to denounce birth control and affirm the sanctity of life.

Daniel Blackman is a managing partner at Social Karma and worked with the interfaith community for the past decade on the issue of climate change. The Vatican invited him, along with other leaders, to Rome later this month for a series of events for the world to act on global warming. He told Firedoglake he agreed with the intentions of the encyclical as climate change is “the moral issue of our time.”

“The reality is climate change is real and it’s getting worse.” Blackman said. “There are vast arrays of environmental, social, economic and political challenges facing humanity. One fact that must be addressed is the disproportionate effects of global warming on the poor. Climate change’s worst impact, as Pope Francis says, ‘will probably be felt by developing countries in coming decades.'”


Blackman noted how he hoped people, not just Catholics, would take a “shared moral responsibility to address climate change.”

“I believe the protection of our planet, our home, is essential and not an option. Living harmoniously on the planet is our sacred right; protecting it is our moral obligation,” Blackman said.

The release of the encyclical, noted Blackman, would help in ensuring a strong deal at the U.N. conference in Paris later this year featuring nearly 200 nations coming together and creating an agreement.

“Pope Francis’ encyclical on the environment will have a major impact in encouraging U.N. negotiations on global warming. In my lifetime, Pope Francis’ personal commitment to this issue is like no other pope before him and other faith leaders around the world should follow his lead. The biggest effect on the Paris negotiations will be the addition of a ‘moral element,’ a moral responsibility to climate change for many believers, and activists to hold on to,” Blackman said.

Blackman emphasized the importance of mobilizing to prevent global warming’s worst effects.

“As my colleague, the Reverend Gerald Durley, puts it, if we can’t breathe, if we have no planet, there are no human rights or environmental issues to resolve.  The organizing must begin with leaders with massive audiences and effective means of communication—the pope, President Barack Obama, interfaith leaders, heads of state and especially non-governmental organizations with active memberships,” Blackman said.

Reverend Durley recommended Blackman to be a part of a cohort to Rome. (more…)

The Roundup for June 27th, 2015

Almost the end of the month? Yikes, there went by fast. Almost there to July!

International Politics


– The Islamic State attacked in France, Tunisia and Kuwait, which led to many deaths. Israel called for Jews in the former to “come home

– A new report found, among United Nations member states, authoritarianism is growing

– It is exciting different faiths are working together on the boycott, divestment and sanctions campaign

– NATO and Russia are butting heads to the point where tensions may lead to war

– The U.S. hopes for a final deal between the P5+1 and Iran

– France and Spain will push the U.N. to end barrel bombings in Syria

Middle East

– Attorney Michael Ratner joins The Real News to discuss the latest U.N. report on war crimes committed by Israel in the Gaza Strip

– Israel is furious the Vatican signed a treaty with Palestine

– Four teenagers walking in the Gaza Strip were shot by Israeli soldiers

– Doctors in Israel, meanwhile, disagree with a proposal bill to force-feed Palestinian prisoners

– Saudi Arabia seeks new alliances and nuclear projects to counter Iran (more…)

The Roundup for June 26th, 2015

It’s Friday folks!

International Politics


– The U.S. denounced Palestine for charging Israel with war crimes at the International Criminal Court

– Despite criticizing Israel’s operations in the Gaza Strip last year, the State Department believes nothing needs to be done on war crimes committed by Israel

– A NATO commander accused Russia of more future involvement in eastern Ukraine

– Meanwhile, a U.S. official criticized Russia for “playing with fire”

Middle East

– Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the air force is key to protecting Israel from Iran

A new poll found 51 percent of Palestinians and Israelis support a two-state solution

– Juan Cole: “Are Leftist, Feminist Kurds About to Deliver the Coup de Grâce to ISIL in Syria?

– A U.N. official said it would take decades to rebuild Gaza because reconstruction is very slow

– The CIA is unsure what to say to the press about its drone program

– Peter Van Buren: “Five Things That Won’t Work in Iraq(more…)

‘Life Is Sacred’ Documents Antanas Mockus As He Confronts Institutional Violence in Colombia

Life is Sacred / Trailer from Elk Film on Vimeo.

Antanas Mockus’ presidential campaign in Colombia and his impact in Colombian politics were documented in “Life is Sacred,” which was shown at the Human Rights Watch’s Human Rights Film Festival on June 20.

The documentary, directed by Andreas Dalsgaard, begins in 2010 with Mockus’ campaign, running for the Green Party, against Juan Manuel Santos, the candidate for the incumbent party in power.

A major issue in the election, still existing to this day, is violence committed by the FARC rebel group throughout the country.

FARC, which stands for the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, formed in the 1960s in response to a dominant two-party system. Both parties–Liberal and Conservative–shared rule during the Frente Nacional period. This led to a very polarized society, which made groups like FARC frustrated and, in turn, viewed communism and violence as the only alternative.

As a result, more than 200,000 Colombians died and millions more were displaced. Although, it should be noted, officials in government also use paramilitary groups for their own nefarious, and violent, purposes, including protecting mining interests.

In 2002, Alvaro Uribe, noted in the film as one of the most powerful people in the country, became president and immediately used a mano dura, which means “heavy hand,” approach against FARC.

This strategy led to the deaths of civilians. Santos, then-secretary of Defense under Uribe’s administration, offers money to soldiers killing FARC rebels with proof. Soldiers, instead, kill civilians and dress them up in FARC uniforms to claim their prize. U.S. military aid, totaling in the billions, contributed to these “false positives.”

Katherine Miranda, a Green Party youth organizer, is introduced as a central narrator of the film. Her father, a police officer, was killed by guerrilla rebels when she was young.

“In Colombia, violence is a part of society,” Miranda said.

Miranda notes she immediately felt revenge in response to her father’s death, but her mother taught her to first ensure others do not suffer in the same way.

The youth organizer campaigns for the Green Party in 2010 as an organizer where she talks to Colombians about Mockus’ candidacy for president. At one point, she speaks to a man who tells her all politicians in Colombia’s history, even Mockus, only want power. She defends Mockus as different and true to his word, although the person does not believe her.

Antanas Mockus’ history in Colombia is reviewed afterward where he is first shown as the president of the National University of Colombia. In 1993, he, famously, dropped his trousers and mooned an assembly of students in response to a few people causing noise. He told New York Times journalist Simon Romelo:

Innovative behavior can be useful when you run out of words,

After this, Mockus successfully ran as mayor of Bogota, the capital of the country.

Mockus, during his tenure, implemented policies such as forcing every official to denounce corruption or else be fired, which led to the dismissal of corrupt traffic officers. Moreover, he hired more than 400 mimes to direct traffic and reduce accidents. The government also gave “Knights of the Zebra” badges to good taxi drivers, which massively grew in membership.

In an April 29, 1995 article by The New York Times, titled “In Colombia, ‘Anarchist’ Brings Change,” Mockus said he liked the idea of a mayor with “no political commitments,” who “could be a precursor of renovation”:

I have always distrusted people with too much hunger for power, and the political class was no capable of self-renovation.

As Miranda notes, Mockus viewed Bogota as his own classroom to teach everyone valuable lessons. During Mockus’ tenure as mayor, homicide rates in the capital dramatically fell by 70 percent.

Years later, the film shows Mockus as a presidential candidate emphasizing peace and non-violence as methods to stop bloodshed. “Life is sacred” is one major slogan Mockus and his supporters use during the campaign.

“For the future, Colombia’s history will be written with a pencil, not with blood,” Mockus says.

Youths, including Miranda, plan, organize and discuss with Bogota residents why Mockus should be elected over Santos.

Soon Mockus rises in public polls ahead of Santos, even taking a major lead against him. The Santos campaign, however, responds by hiring J.J. Rendon, perhaps equivalent to Frank Luntz in the U.S., where he tells CNN En Espanol there is value in using rumors to counter political opponents.

Rendon, noted as winning more than 20 presidential campaigns across Latin America including Enrique Pena Nieto’s campaign in Mexico, uses rumors to his advantage against Mockus. Indeed, Mockus is accused of potentially cutting a popular social welfare program once in office, which scares residents. His supporters re-assure residents it will never happen.

Santos’ campaign, at one point, forces civilians on social welfare to support him at a rally or else lose their benefits.

As election day approaches, Mockus upholds truth and honesty as the best way for his campaign without restoring to aggression. The “Green Wave,” described by Miranda in the film, seems poised to push Mockus into the presidency.

Although, on the day of the election, Santos wins nearly 70 percent of the vote. Mockus’ base feels disappointed by the result and and, initially, Mockus too. Although, he later views the defeat as a lesson for the future.

For youths, they feel disappointed and disillusioned in politics at what they saw was a inevitable victory. During a small meeting, one person calls for Mockus to be, symbolically, killed and new figures be pushed in the party. Miranda, on the other hand, still believes in Mockus and believes a change can still happen. (more…)

The Roundup for June 25th, 2015

Phew, almost there to the end of the week.

International Politics


– President Barack Obama: We have let down the families of terrorist hostages

– The United Nations’ envoy to Yemen said a ceasefire in the country must be implemented

– The Israeli Defense Force denied it works with Syrian rebels

– NATO will review its nuclear weapons strategy in light of recent incidents with Russia

Middle East

It shows a lot about the Israeli state for it to block a filmmaker from leaving the West Bank for a premiere of his film

– Kurish forces in Syria said other rebel groups should lead the charge against the Islamic State to take over Raqqa

– ISIS, meanwhile, claimed responsibility for a suicide bombing that left 14 dead in an Iraqi province (more…)

The Roundup for June 24th, 2015

Good day folks!

International Politics


– Gallup: Sixty-nine percent of citizens polled across the world view the U.S. favorably

– Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei: There are red lines we will not cross with the international deal

– A Pentagon official said China seeks to challenge the U.S. military in the air

– The French seek to strengthen its ties with Saudi Arabia with a potential economic deal

– The United Nations called for the European Union to protect migrants in the latter’s military operations

Middle East

– Israel criticized France’s proposal for peace with Palestinians as anti-Israeli

– NATO, after leaving four years ago, will return to Iraq to help the government’s fight against the Islamic State

– Kurdish forces took over another town from the Islamic State in Syria, which is near the entity’s “capital”

– Saudi Arabia provided millions of dollars to news organizations across the world in return for favorable coverage

– The U.N. said more than 3 million Iraqis have been displaced because of ISIS (more…)

The Roundup for June 23rd, 2015

Thank Kevin again for the above video!

Charleston Shooting, Day 5

– The FBI said Dylann Roof should not be labeled a terrorist; Wh-what?

– It’s thanks to two people, one of them a communist, that Dylann Roof’s website was found; Another reason why we need #FullCommunism

– South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley (R) also called for the removal of the Confederate flag

– Rep. Gary Palmer, R-Ala., criticized those calling for removal of the flag as “people that have an agenda seeking to exploit a tragedy”

– It is good to keep focus on Roof, but we need to keep in mind the system allowing such hatred to bred; Personally, the outrage about Roof getting Burger King is an example of neglecting the system

– Dave Zirin: “Steve Spurrier Was Right: We Need to Get Rid of ‘That Dang, Damn Confederate Flag’

– Wal-Mart announced it would no longer sell the Confederate flag; Wait, who decided that was a good idea?

– The creator of a white supremacist website and aspiring vice presidential candidate lives in the same hometown Roof lived

– Someone identifying as Roof’s cousin said Roof changed once he listened to white power music and saw a girl he liked date a black person (more…)

The Roundup for June 21-22nd, 2015

A brand new week folks! What are you looking forward to?

Charleston Shooting, Day 3-4

– The site registered by Dylann Roof was discovered and it is very scary considering how racist he is

– Community organizer Kevin Alexander Gray joins The Real News to explain why white supremacy is relevant in discussion in regards to Roof’s attack

– Hillary Clinton: Our “long struggle with race is far from finished”

– President Barack Obama: Both the NRA and public apathy are to blame for failed efforts on gun control

– A Republican lawmaker in South Carolina wants the state to take down the Confederate flag around the Statehouse courts

– Mitt Romney: The Confederate flag is a “symbol of racial hatred” and must be removed

Worth repeating how South Carolina used its state-owned monopoly on violence to kill members of the AME Church in 1822

– The conversation should not focus on how society can be safe and secure as that contributes to the systemic causes of the AME Church shooting (more…)