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Don't Miss Opportunities To Bridge The Gap With Rural Voters

FEED - The Huffington Post - 14 hours 29 min ago
West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin, a Democrat, and his colleague Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio are on a mission to stop business as usual in Washington, D.C. and shine a light on the shoddy way Congress has treated miners. I wonder: Is the health care of retired mineworkers on the radar of climate change activists? What about Democratic party strategists?

There is a golden opportunity now and in the future if progressives can wake up and rally. Despite the fact that over 10,000 miners are less than a month away from losing their health benefits, with thousands more to follow, there has been radio silence on Twitter from Donald Trump who ran as a champion of coal miners. Why is he not standing up to establishment Republicans who refuse to take a vote on a bill that would extend miner benefits?

Donald Trump's meeting with Sen. Manchin, who he is considering to head the Department of Energy, has been rescheduled to a later date as Sen. Manchin and some colleagues attempt to delay the passage of a continuing resolution to fund the government in an attempt to gain leverage and force Republicans eager to head home for the holidays to simply extend the health care benefits for the 16,000 or so miners total who may be left in the cold without health care for another year.

Blog posts and tweets from the right indicate an eagerness to forget the sacrifices of miners and Donald Trump's promise to them this last election cycle. The Daily Signal article headline on the Senate continuing resolution fight reads, "Senators Vow to 'Use Any Means Necessary' to Ensure Taxpayer Bailout of Private Union Pension Plan," and goes on to call this effort by Sen. Manchin and Sen. Brown, "Pandora's Box."

The only Pandora's Box that may be opened is if environmentalists and Democratic strategists don't seize and continue to seek out opportunities like this that demonstrate what "stronger together" looks like.

The left should be hyper aware of the consequences of not recognizing the very real needs of rural and blue-collar constituents who have felt forgotten too long. The fact is 13 of the 25 Senate Democrats up for re-election in the next cycle are from states that Trump won. From a strictly horserace perspective it's clear that rural voters matter but they should also matter to Democrats because it is unethical and wrong to cast rural Americans aside as relics from an old time. It was not that long ago that we relied heavily on the work of miners and other blue collar workers.

In fact, even the most fervent of environmentalists has undoubtedly benefited on numerous occasions from power that can be traced back to a cold and dangerous mine somewhere in the foothills of Appalachia. It is not right to sit back and let the miners that risked their lives to help light our highways and power up our computers suffer from black lung without help.

If climate change advocacy groups and Democrats continue to stand with these miners, challenge Trump and raise the issue of miners' health care and future job prospect needs to their supporters they will send a clear and important signal: Miners are not the enemy. This signal could prove to be a strategic one if Trump does end up tapping Sen. Manchin to lead the Department of Energy.

In the end, no matter what happens with the continuing resolution fight it is important for Americans of all elks and constituencies ask themselves: How can we allow corrupt CEOs to get golden parachutes and energy company after company to write off their debts but not keep coal companies promise to miners of lifelong health benefits when these workers risked their lives to get the coal that helped power American prosperity for years? The answers that Donald Trump, climate change activists and Democratic leaders come up with will say a lot about American greatness, or its lack thereof, in the months and years ahead.

-- This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

Categories: News Monitor

The Holidays Are The Perfect Time To Take Some Style Risks

FEED - The Huffington Post - 14 hours 32 min ago

If I had a dollar for every time a friend uttered the words “I can’t pull that off,” I’d be jet-setting around the world in a private jet instead of sitting here writing this story.


OK, not quite, but the debilitating mindset that stops us from reaching our true sartorial potential is rampant, especially when the holidays come around. I get it, there’s nothing quite as intimidating as a sequined blazer, but when it comes to wearing something out of your comfort zone, the secret to achieving greatness is basically ... putting said thing on.   


Still not totally convinced? I thought you might say that. That’s why I’ve gone ahead and done your holiday party homework for you. From just the tiniest touch of sparkle to full-on party pants, here are some fool-proof, totally wearable options for any of your seasonal commitments this month. 


1. Throw On Some Sparkle

I personally am of the camp that when it comes to sparkle, the tackier, the better. But for those of you who aren’t quite as sold on sparkle, there are in fact subtle ways to commit to some shine in your wardrobe. Why not go with black sequined trousers and a white T-shirt? Or perhaps a sneakily sparkly Eloquii jumpsuit? Or maybe an LC Lauren Conrad blazer that can be taken off if the glitz of it all starts to overwhelm you. Of course, you could always pair some Baublebar sparklers or shiny rose gold Kate Spade Keds with a regular outfit and call it a day. 






2. Winterize The Slip Dress

The slip dress is another piece that can feel totally festive and totally intimidating, with its silky, slinky material and general lack of coverage. Picture this printed Free People number over a fitted J. Crew turtleneck and a chunky Steve Madden heel. It pretty much screams party time. If a high neck isn’t your bag, this look can feel just as festive with a black Topshop slip dress, a white T-shirt (I love this one from Aritzia) underneath and some necklaces layered on top paired with, perhaps, this leopard print faux fur coat from H&M? 






3. Pile On The Velvet

There are also plenty of opportunities to rock velvet without looking like a vintage couch or a Prince impersonator (my personal aesthetic). Take these Who What Wear for Target paisley booties. At just $44.99, it quite frankly doesn’t matter what you wear with them, it’s an automatic party. 






AnAsos Curve bodysuit would look pretty amazing tucked into a pair of super comfortable NYDJ ripped black jeans. An epic crinkle blazer from Topshop is a surefire conversation starter over a pair of skinny black pants and a lacy camisole. If color is too much for you, perhaps a dream blazer-dress combo from Missguided is more your style? 


There you have it, folks. A festive run down of looks that you not only can pull off, but should. Tweet us at @huffpostlifestyle and show us your best holiday outfits! 

-- This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

Categories: News Monitor

President-Elect's Secretary of Defense Pick, General James "Mad Dog" Mattis

FEED - The Huffington Post - 14 hours 33 min ago
Perhaps the best quality of President-elect Donald Trump is his ability to find the best people for key positions. That is a major reason for his business success and it will be a major reason for his eventual success as President of the United States.

Take General James "Mad Dog" Mattis for instance. Here is a man who is universally loved and respected by those he's served with and has the unique combination of leadership skills and resume accomplishments to make him the ideal fit for the job of Secretary of Defense.
People know General Mattis from his tough quotes and his "take no prisoners" attitude, but what some don't realize is he is also an extremely intelligent man who always looks at all sides of an issue before deciding on what works best. This is a man who required the men serving under him to read books about the culture of their opponents in battle and had those same men attend cultural sensitivity training so they would be mentally and emotionally equipped in addition to physically equipped.

Sure, he likes to kick a little ass, but he's a smart strategist and a deep thinker, too, as anybody who served under him in Iraq and Afghanistan will tell you.

That's why in addition to "Mad Dog," he's also been called "The Warrior Monk." Mattis is nuanced: He wants to destroy our enemies, but do it in a well-thought out, strategic way, as evidenced by his criticism of a lot of mistakes that were made during the Iraq War. He thinks Iran is a major threat, but also favors working on a diplomatic solution rather than just tearing up the Iran deal and starting from scratch. He realizes Israel is under assault, but also recognizes that there are people on the other side of the conflict suffering, too. He wants to stop future attacks but recognizes that torture is not an effective method of extracting information.

And that's another great thing about James Mattis: He has the guts to speak his mind, no matter what. President-elect Trump proclaimed his support for bringing back waterboarding on the campaign trail, but a few weeks ago, he backed off. Why? Because James Mattis told him he's seen no evidence that it works.

Which is another great thing about President-elect Trump: He will surround himself with the best and brightest and actually listen to their opinions. Donald Trump knows what all great men know, which is that he doesn't know everything. While he has shown the strength to be authoritative on important issues, he has also shown a willingness to take input from those around him who may know certain subjects better than he does. That is the mark of a great executive and a wise leader.

A brilliantly qualified General, who is willing to speak his mind, leading the Defense Department with a President who is both shrewd enough to appoint that General and smart enough to listen to him. That is a terrific combination and come January 20, we, as Americans, will all be grateful to have both of them serving our interests.

-- This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

Categories: News Monitor

Education And Economics: A Report From The Border

FEED - The Huffington Post - 14 hours 36 min ago
Throughout 2016, a wall of rhetoric has obscured fundamental truths about U.S. relations with Mexico. As the year winds down, I offer this dispatch from Pima Community College (PCC) in Tucson, Arizona, about 65 miles from the border. Consider it an attempt to provide facts and on-the-ground observations regarding the importance of continued Arizona-Mexico economic and educational development.

Let's begin with economics. Mexico is by far Arizona's largest international trading partner. The state exports more to Mexico than to the next 10 countries combined. In 2015, the state exported $9.16 billion in goods to according the University of Arizona's Eller College of Business; in contrast, Canada, the state's No. 2 trade partner, received $2.3 billion.

If you visit any mall in Tucson during the ongoing holiday season you will hear multiple tongues speaking the universal language of retail commerce. As they have for years, members of Mexico's growing middle class cross the border in December to contribute millions of dollars in purchases and sales tax to the city and state economies. The reality is that tens of thousands of jobs in our state depend on a strong U.S.-Mexico relationship. PCC's cross-border connections can only improve our position as an economic development engine for the region.

That the middle class in Mexico is burgeoning is inextricably connected to the prioritization of higher education by Mexican leaders at all levels of society. It behooves the College to be a willing and capable partner in this endeavor, which enriches both societies in multiple ways. For example, late last month Mexico's ambassador to the United States, Carlos Manuel Sada Solana, presented PCC with an $80,000 award to fund scholarships for immigrants and Americans of Mexican origin.

The support for PCC comes from the Institute for Mexicans Abroad (IME), which is part of Mexico's Ministry of Foreign Relations. This is the third grant PCC has received from IME since November 2014, bringing the total for scholarships to $260,000. As Ambassador Sada stated while praising community colleges for preparing students for transfer or employment, "There is no greater legacy than education."

The connection between employment and education was particularly evident when I was part of a delegation from Tucson, led by Mayor Jonathan Rothschild, to meet with education and economic leaders in Mexico, including former Mexico President Vicente Fox.

Since leaving office, President Fox has headed a foundation, Centro Fox, which is committed to furthering education, entrepreneurship and leadership. President Fox agreed to partner with Tucson, and as part of the collaboration, he asked the College to work with him to institute a two-year college credentialing system in Guanajuato, Mexico, similar to a community college system. As we at PCC well know, community colleges are a crucial piece to furthering the educational and career aspirations of those who cannot afford university tuition. We look forward to deepening our connection with Centro Fox in 2017.

Underlying these initiatives is a constant emphasis on diversity, inclusiveness and equity that becomes more poignant with each day, it seems. Our recent reaffirmation of our commitment to DREAMers and DACA students connects to the importance we place on providing a welcoming atmosphere for all students, whatever their nation of origin, as well as creating a place for the open exchange of ideas.

Those are among our core values. They did not change in 2016, and won't change in 2017, despite the many uncertainties the year is likely to bring. Pima Community College remains committed to expanding and enhancing our growing relationship with Mexico. It makes good sense for the economic, academic and cultural vitality of both of our communities.

-- This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

Categories: News Monitor

เคลียร์ปมหวั่นซ้ำซ้อน

พล.อ.อ.ธเรศ ปุณศรี ประธานคณะกรรมการกิจการกระจายเสียง กิจการโทรทัศน์ และกิจการโทรคมนาคมแห่งชาติ (กสทช.) เปิดเผยว่า เมื่อเร็วๆนี้ น.ส.วิไลลักษณ์ ชุลีวัฒนกุล ปลัดกระทรวงดิจิทัลเพื่อเศรษฐกิจและสังคม (ดีอี)
Categories: News Monitor

The Rise In C-Sections Could Be Changing Human Evolution

FEED - The Huffington Post - 14 hours 41 min ago

C-sections have been on the rise for decades, now making up more than 30 percent of all deliveries in the United States.


An intriguing new study out of Austria suggests that as C-sections have become more common, they might also be altering the course of human evolution. More babies are being born with heads that are too big for their mothers’ pelvises ... which leads, the theory goes, to more C-sections.


Why?


Before the widespread use of C-sections, larger babies and their narrow-hipped moms had a good chance of dying during childbirth ― meaning their genes weren’t passed on.


But because C-sections tend to save those babies, the genes that contribute to a possible bigger head/smaller pelvis scenario have continued to be passed on.


The researchers believe that as so-called “fetopelvic disproportion” continues to increase (meaning, more babies have a harder time passing through their mom’s pelvis), C-section rates will grow ― although they caution that at this point it’s only a mathematical theory.


“To my knowledge, this has not been shown empirically yet,” study researcher Philipp Mitteröcker, an evolutionary biologist at the University of Vienna told Vox. His team’s findings were published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) this week.


And yet some OB-GYNs don’t think the prediction is all that far-fetched. 


“It seems like a very reasonable theory,” Dr. Mari Charisse Banez Trinidad, an obstetrician at the Mayo Clinic, told The Huffington Post. “Look at obesity rates in our country and worldwide. As our weights are increasing, so are our babies’ weights. It’s not a far-off proposition that if you have bigger babies, they won’t fit as easily through the pelvis. And if you have pelvic disproportion, C-section is the safest way to deliver.”


The notion that babies’ heads are often too big for women’s pelvises can be somewhat divisive within some circles of the birthing world. Proponents of “natural” (i.e., drug-free, vaginal birth) sometimes warn women are being sold a “myth” that their hips are too small and their baby’s head is too big. Women have been successfully birthing babies vaginally forever, they argue. But Trinidad said that the new theory might, in fact, lend some credence to the idea that babies and women are actually changing.


Nonetheless, the high C-section rate in this country has been identified as a major public health concern, one that the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecologists has attempted to address, offering guidelines for the prevention of a woman’s first C-section (which often leads to more surgical births if she goes onto have more children). Though there are many reasons why women have C-sections ― most of which nothing to do with head or pelvis size ― hospitals have been criticized for having policies in which a big baby leads to an automatic C-section.


Because during vaginal deliveries, babies heads do mold, Trinidad emphasized ― up to a point.


“Even if it’s a bigger head, molding happens so they can fit through the birth canal,” she said. “But for some babies, that molding is not enough to allow them to be delivered vaginally, safely.”

-- This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

Categories: News Monitor

Fire victim's girlfriend finds lost photo

FEED - CNN - Top Stories - 14 hours 47 min ago
The girlfriend of Griffin Madden, who died in the Oakland warehouse fire, asked social media to help her find a missing photo of the couple.div class="feedflare" a href="http://rss.cnn.com/~ff/rss/cnn_topstories?a=-uaARYSq2X8:yPu6KCsd4a4:yIl2AUoC8zA"img src="http://feeds.feedburner.com/~ff/rss/cnn_topstories?d=yIl2AUoC8zA" border="0"/img/a a href="http://rss.cnn.com/~ff/rss/cnn_topstories?a=-uaARYSq2X8:yPu6KCsd4a4:7Q72WNTAKBA"img src="http://feeds.feedburner.com/~ff/rss/cnn_topstories?d=7Q72WNTAKBA" border="0"/img/a a href="http://rss.cnn.com/~ff/rss/cnn_topstories?a=-uaARYSq2X8:yPu6KCsd4a4:V_sGLiPBpWU"img src="http://feeds.feedburner.com/~ff/rss/cnn_topstories?i=-uaARYSq2X8:yPu6KCsd4a4:V_sGLiPBpWU" border="0"/img/a a href="http://rss.cnn.com/~ff/rss/cnn_topstories?a=-uaARYSq2X8:yPu6KCsd4a4:qj6IDK7rITs"img src="http://feeds.feedburner.com/~ff/rss/cnn_topstories?d=qj6IDK7rITs" border="0"/img/a a href="http://rss.cnn.com/~ff/rss/cnn_topstories?a=-uaARYSq2X8:yPu6KCsd4a4:gIN9vFwOqvQ"img src="http://feeds.feedburner.com/~ff/rss/cnn_topstories?i=-uaARYSq2X8:yPu6KCsd4a4:gIN9vFwOqvQ" border="0"/img/a /divimg src="http://feeds.feedburner.com/~r/rss/cnn_topstories/~4/-uaARYSq2X8" height="1" width="1" alt=""/
Categories: News Monitor

Cherokee Nation Will Now Recognize Same-Sex Marriage

FEED - The Huffington Post - 14 hours 51 min ago

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The Cherokee Nation will now recognize same-sex marriage, according to an opinion issued Friday by the tribe’s attorney general.


Todd Hembree, the tribe’s attorney general, wrote in his opinion:



The right to marry without the freedom to marry the person of one’s choice is no right at all. The history of perpetual partnerships and marriage among Cherokees supports the conclusion that Cherokee citizens have a fundamental right not only to choose a spouse but also, with mutual consent, to join together and form a household irrespective of sexual orientation.



The decision followed a request made by the tribe’s tax commissioner for an official opinion on the issue a few weeks ago.


“We were increasingly being contacted by departments in the Cherokee Nation on how to handle certain issues with same-sex marriage,” Chrissi Nimmo, assistant attorney general of the Cherokee Nation, told The Huffington Post on Friday.


Native American nations are governed by Congress, not the federal courts. So the 2015 Supreme Court decision to recognize gay marriage in all 50 states did not legally affect the Cherokee Nation, but Nimmo said the bulk of Friday’s decision was indeed informed by it.


Hembree’s decision was also influenced by historical Cherokee Nation sexuality narratives. He wrote in Friday’s decision:



Our oral history teaches us also that the Cherokee and Euro-American worldviews differed dramatically regarding appropriate gender roles, marriage, sexuality, and spiritual beliefs. Indeed, while the majority of Cherokees subscribed to the traditional gender roles, evidence suggests a tradition of homosexuality or alternative sexuality among a minority of Cherokees.



“It think it’s a really interesting part of the decision,” Nimmo told HuffPost. “Through historical research, we were able to identify research sources that indicate there was some type of historical recognition of homosexuality.”


Hembree’s opinion nullifies a law the tribe passed 12 years ago called the Cherokee Nation and Family Protection Act, which banned same-sex marriage among tribe members. 


Though same-sex marriage is still illegal in some Native American tribes, like the Navajo Nation, Nimmo believes most tribes don’t take a stance on it either way. 


“I think you will see a mixed reaction [to Friday’s decision] like you do in the American public at large,” Nimmo told HuffPost. “Without a doubt, there will be tribal members and officials who support this and are proud of this, and there will be others ... who don’t like it.”


The Cherokee Nation’s legal recognition of same-sex marriage will take effect immediately. Nimmo said Hembree’s decision is “binding and considered legally valid,” though it can be challenged by other Cherokee officials at any time.


“I don’t really know who would challenge it,” Nimmo added.


Supporters of the decision shared their excitement on social media:



This is a big deal for Cherokee Nation. That's just so awesome. So proud to be a @CherokeeNation citizen today :) https://t.co/4e7CAoBlcF

— Oklahoma Kid (@jeepgirl77) December 9, 2016



so happy to finally see this! thank you @chiefbillbaker, @toddhembree, @mizhardcase for bringing marriage equality to the cherokee nation :) https://t.co/kLk5XA1rBD

— Greg Buzzard (@gregbuzzard) December 9, 2016



Thank you Cherokee Nation! https://t.co/HPWq4QfiTC

— Steve Goupil (@Mysteviegee) December 9, 2016



Welcome to #MarriageEquality #CherokeeNation! #LoveWins https://t.co/L9TDwW6Jwm

— Jim Obergefell (@JimObergefell) December 9, 2016


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-- This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

Categories: News Monitor

ตีปี๊บไทยสอบผ่านมาตรฐานการบินยุโรป

นายจุฬา สุขมานพ ผู้อำนวยสำนักงานการบินพลเรือนแห่งประเทศไทย (กพท.) เปิดเผยว่า เมื่อวันที่ 8 ธ.ค.ที่ผ่านมา สหภาพยุโรปได้ประกาศปรับปรุงบัญชีรายชื่อความปลอดภัยทางอากาศ (EU Air Safety List)
Categories: News Monitor

Dealing With Trauma And PTSD In Our World's Worst Humanitarian Crisis

FEED - The Huffington Post - 14 hours 55 min ago
Five years later, what started as a Revolution for freedom and liberty has turned into our generation's worst humanitarian crisis. What we are now seeing in Syria - as refugees continue pouring out of the country - is childhoods shattered and innocence considered only a vague concept. Most people know by now that the non-violent start to the Revolution in fact was initiated by graffiti created by a small group of middle school boys on their school walls in Daraa.

Not many realize that the need for humanitarian intervention was recognized immediately by other young teenages - including 13 year old Hamza AlKhateeb, who got arrested for smuggling in baby milk to starving infants in Daraa, ultimately dying due to extreme torture, refusing to renounce his quest to help others and his belief in God.

These are some of the young heroes of Syria, and with them many, many others under the age of 14 who were determined to not be bystanders to the other children - and citizens - suffering and starving. We don't speak about the children and young people who take matters of humanitarian outreach into their own hands, just like we barely speak about the individual crimes and transgressions that children have witnessed or endured (and still are witnessing).

With the images coming out of Syria, we cannot fathom the level and depth of suffering, so we tend to look away. All of us do this, including myself. There is only so much despair we can watch, before we start feeling helpless and numb.

Looking away, though, is not the solution - neither to us and our conscience nor to the youth and children in Syria, the ones who have to get through each day still, whether or not the world is bearing witness. Instead, there are ways to be a productive part of the solution to ensure these traumatized and wounded children can find outlets for their nightmares, distract themselves by engaging with others productively, and remove the taboo of what they have witnessed (or perhaps been forced into).

Syria is traditionally not a country sharing hurt experiences, or a country where mental health services are available publicly. With the current breakdown in medical services, infrastructure, and displacement of families, actual health services and psycho-social efforts are all depending on grassroots efforts and on the collaboration and interest of local councils and religious and educational leaders within the country. What is interesting and fascinating to anyone with a knowledge of Syria is the reality that there is a very conscious push amongst these group players of extending mental health care and support to individuals and targeted groups, despite the state of emergency and panic that still plague most parts of the country.

NuDay Syria is an organization focused on empowerment and aid with dignity to mothers and children inside Syria - as well as in Turkey and here in New England. Our mission very specifically targets mothers and children, and many of our board members, partners, and activists are, in fact, mothers - ensuring that we stay on top of the needs of a group of beneficiaries that traditionally fail to make many demands. What is fascinating is how female partners do not hesitate to ensure that the mothers and children they are serving as humanitarian aid agents receive the basic requirements for aid that they need, working closely with NuDay Syria to facilitate a process that includes empowerment and self-sustainability.

Groups of refugee mothers and children encountered outside of Syria differ in their verbalized needs for mental and psycho-social support, but if you were to spend enough hours with them, the same stories of atrocities, calamities, and personal attacks emerge, making it obvious that generalizations of shared experiences are the norm, rather than the exception. There are many formal PTSD, therapy, and psycho-social programs - as well as informal - available outside of Syria for refugees, set up on a variety of scales. Considering the issues of taboo, the experience has been that to be effective and most beneficially reach women and children, then a mix of programs have worked the best.

In Turkey, NuDay Syria has conducted social business programs with a group therapy component that mothers a few times weekly would attend, relieve their pressure and share stories and tears, while earning money for their families that now rely on them and not their deceased husbands. Working on a handiwork, such as knitting or bead work, while sharing stories within a safe group has had an incredible effect on these mothers. As refugees, they still consider the reputation of going to a "mental health professional" as a taboo, but disregard that taboo if the same professional shares a cup of coffee and some knitting with them. Meeting these mothers on their turf, so to speak, has ensured that they get emotional and mental relief.

For refugee children in Turkey, the main issues are both mental health and the lack of education (how much further behind can they fall before it becomes an issue that affects their self-esteem?). As such, for NuDay Syria, our focus is to bring children to school and ensure that our school is set up in such a way that it both encourages psycho-social therapy on a classroom level and can identify children in need for personal sessions. Classes are conducted in classrooms that are decorated with happy illustrations on the walls, discipline is more conducive to children who are learning in freedom vs. that of a traditional Syrian public school, and rather than the focus being on immediate academic success, then the mental health of the students is the priority.

Emphasis is on building community, sharing feelings and talking openly, while incorporating many hands on crafts and activities including games and songs, rather than merely doing bookwork. The school day is a bit longer, both to accommodate for the learning gap and alternative forms of learning, but also to ensure that the students have a safe, reliable space to take a breather in, a space where everyone is focused on them processing their past few years, while moving forward with peers. We make sure that there are meals and snacks, that the staff is well acquainted with the students and mothers, and that the teachers are approached if there are specific concerns in the family or mothers need some extra emotional support. The mothers in our school generally are more empowered and feel more independent than most of the women in the social business circles, as they often work jobs with long hours and a low pay, and basically rely on the school as their extended community. Teachers working at the school are themselves refugee mothers who also arrived with similar issues of PTSD, but with training and through their work of empowering both children and students are finding healing and relief.

Children and mothers in Syria live with their memories and loss in a much more raw manner than is the case with refugees. They are in their homeland, yet completely estranged from their usual ways and manners of living, so the wound is very raw and the pain is palpable. What NuDay Syria's team has found, though, is a real level of resilience. Very inspiring resilience that gives many of the children the drive to smile, play, and get on with a new day. The children take mercy on one another, instead of becoming vicious and resentful of their experiences. Our work is in areas that are under siege, as well as in Northern Syria, and the work in these two main areas is very distinct and different.

In besieged areas, the mothers are often widowed. Husbands might be detained or with the rebels. The mother has a dire, urgent need for humanitarian aid, is exhausted from experiences, and from being a caregiver to her children, but she is often emotionally convinced that she is taking a part in the Revolution for freedom by her act of staying within the besieged area - and that gives her determination to get through her days. Children and mothers in besieged areas are exhausted and traumatized. Of course, services for medical and mental health are almost completely non-existent, so there are limitations. NuDay Syria has, for years, been focused on what we can do even in those areas - even if non-traditional - so our focus is on building a strong sense of community amongst the families living there as survivors.

We have alternative schools, meal programs, parties for aid distribution, and social groups taking place in bombed out buildings with safe basements and buildings presumed to be safe from air attacks. We find that the gatherings and events always bring a full house. We do attend to children who cannot attend these events or classes, perhaps due to physical injuries or even the emotional fear of an attack whilst not being home by visiting them at home and having a few teachers give classes in homes.

What is common for all - other than the horrendous experiences and the reality of living in fear of the next bombing - is the reality that everyone is in the same boat and that by holding hands and gathering together, we can only be stronger, not weaker. Our partners and activists in these besieged areas keep these efforts going and the feedback in terms of attendance and smiles are enough proof that children and mothers are on a path to healing instead of getting further drawn down into the everyday despair of Syria.

In Northern Syria, work is different - but the common theme is that mothers change as a result of our empowerment programs. They start actively being community members, leaving their homes or shelters more, and engaging in more everyday conversations rather than focus on their suffering and the destruction of their homeland. Overwhelming numbers of children are now able to attend school in areas of northern Syria where NuDay Syria works, and their metamorphosis is remarkable from the moment they start school to even a few months later.

NuDay Syria schools are not just buildings for education, but places for healing and laughter. With that attitude, the effect shows in very high attendance rates, happy children, and scholastic improvement in skills. All students in NuDay Syria schools in Northern Syria receive rewards of stuffed animals, a toy, and school supplies on a regular monthly basis. We don't do personalized therapy, but our team is very focused on each student - from physical, mental, and educational health perspectives. We are seeing that the efforts we put into the students and that the availability to play on the playground and be in a safe classroom with competent, caring teachers produces happy kids who become active students. Outside of school settings, we continue to focus on building homes, so more families can have a safe shelter, protected community, and look towards the future, while children and the greater community attend sports events, seasonal parties, and have weekly access to medical health clinics for basic check ups.

The Syrian humanitarian crisis is not going to go away
, even if military and political issues are resolved tomorrow. Children and mothers are hurt, and the loss of family and family life as everyone knew it will never go away. However, for the millions of children and mothers inside Syria, there is still hope. There are so many things we can do for them, so many things that each one of us here can contribute to, consequently ensuring healing and hope. Providing shelter, finding ways to support schools with a focus on psychosocial therapy, taking part in efforts that directly reach mothers in Syria - all of these are options we each can contribute to that directly affect the healing of very raw wounds. There is no need to look away from these incredibly hard images of suffering in a country that deserves so much more. Instead, decide that you will make a difference and be that catalyst for change, because you believe - as so many others do - that hope is stronger than fear.

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Categories: News Monitor

'ซิโก้'รับชิง'อินโดนีเซีย'ไม่ง่าย ออกเดินทาง11ธ.ค.

เกียรติศักดิ์ เสนาเมือง หัวหน้าผู้ฝึกสอนทีมชาติไทย ยอมรับไม่ง่ายในการเจอกับ อินโดนีเซีย
Categories: News Monitor

2nd deadly blast in Egypt kills at least one

FEED - CNN - Top Stories - 14 hours 56 min ago
A second bomb blast Friday in Egypt has killed one civilian motorist and wounded three police officers, Egypt's state-owned Al-Ahram newspaper reported. The bomb apparently targeted a police vehicle on a road. Earlier, a bomb in Giza's Haram district killed six police officers.div class="feedflare" a href="http://rss.cnn.com/~ff/rss/cnn_topstories?a=tzDVIgj-0uE:R7slYGL7r2U:yIl2AUoC8zA"img src="http://feeds.feedburner.com/~ff/rss/cnn_topstories?d=yIl2AUoC8zA" border="0"/img/a a href="http://rss.cnn.com/~ff/rss/cnn_topstories?a=tzDVIgj-0uE:R7slYGL7r2U:7Q72WNTAKBA"img src="http://feeds.feedburner.com/~ff/rss/cnn_topstories?d=7Q72WNTAKBA" border="0"/img/a a href="http://rss.cnn.com/~ff/rss/cnn_topstories?a=tzDVIgj-0uE:R7slYGL7r2U:V_sGLiPBpWU"img src="http://feeds.feedburner.com/~ff/rss/cnn_topstories?i=tzDVIgj-0uE:R7slYGL7r2U:V_sGLiPBpWU" border="0"/img/a a href="http://rss.cnn.com/~ff/rss/cnn_topstories?a=tzDVIgj-0uE:R7slYGL7r2U:qj6IDK7rITs"img src="http://feeds.feedburner.com/~ff/rss/cnn_topstories?d=qj6IDK7rITs" border="0"/img/a a href="http://rss.cnn.com/~ff/rss/cnn_topstories?a=tzDVIgj-0uE:R7slYGL7r2U:gIN9vFwOqvQ"img src="http://feeds.feedburner.com/~ff/rss/cnn_topstories?i=tzDVIgj-0uE:R7slYGL7r2U:gIN9vFwOqvQ" border="0"/img/a /divimg src="http://feeds.feedburner.com/~r/rss/cnn_topstories/~4/tzDVIgj-0uE" height="1" width="1" alt=""/
Categories: News Monitor

'Please Give Us A Chance': Syrian Refugee Kids Sing For Justin Trudeau

FEED - The Huffington Post - World - 15 hours 2 min ago

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Syrian refugee children celebrated the one-year anniversary of their arrival in Canada by performing a series of heartfelt songs in the House of Commons.


“We thank you Canada, our new home Canada,” CultureLink’s Nai Syrian Children’s Choir sang on Thursday. “We love you, Canada.”


Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau stood beaming in the audience during the emotional Parliament Hill performance. The nation’s leader was moved to tears last week while speaking with a Syrian refugee man he had personally welcomed into Canada a year earlier.


Trudeau was elected in October 2015 after promising to bring more Syrian refugees to the country. His government has resettled almost 36,400 to date.



Great voices & adorable kids. What a pleasure to hear the Syrian refugees of the @NaiKidsChoir perform today on the Hill. pic.twitter.com/T5QCv6Knhq

— Justin Trudeau (@JustinTrudeau) December 8, 2016


The children sang to parliamentarians in Canada’s two official languages, English and French, as well as in Arabic: “Oh word, my land has been set on fire. The land of freedom has been stolen. ... Give us our childhood, give us peace.”


The Syrian civil war has killed nearly 500,000 people and forced more than 11 million to flee their homes. At least 6.5 million are displaced, but still in Syria.


Despite the Canadian government’s welcome embrace of Syrian newcomers and the anti-Islamophobia motion it passed this year, Canada has seen deliberate acts of hate. Just this week, students at Montreal’s McGill University reported anti-Muslim fliers posted on campus.


The choir seemed to gently address this sort of xenophobia in song lyrics: “I am a child with something to say, please listen to me. I am child who wants to play, why won’t you let me?” they sang. “Please give us a chance. ... I am singing for tomorrow.”

-- This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

Categories: News Monitor

'Please Give Us A Chance': Syrian Refugee Kids Sing For Justin Trudeau

FEED - The Huffington Post - 15 hours 2 min ago

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Syrian refugee children celebrated the one-year anniversary of their arrival in Canada by performing a series of heartfelt songs in the House of Commons.


“We thank you Canada, our new home Canada,” CultureLink’s Nai Syrian Children’s Choir sang on Thursday. “We love you, Canada.”


Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau stood beaming in the audience during the emotional Parliament Hill performance. The nation’s leader was moved to tears last week while speaking with a Syrian refugee man he had personally welcomed into Canada a year earlier.


Trudeau was elected in October 2015 after promising to bring more Syrian refugees to the country. His government has resettled almost 36,400 to date.



Great voices & adorable kids. What a pleasure to hear the Syrian refugees of the @NaiKidsChoir perform today on the Hill. pic.twitter.com/T5QCv6Knhq

— Justin Trudeau (@JustinTrudeau) December 8, 2016


The children sang to parliamentarians in Canada’s two official languages, English and French, as well as in Arabic: “Oh word, my land has been set on fire. The land of freedom has been stolen. ... Give us our childhood, give us peace.”


The Syrian civil war has killed nearly 500,000 people and forced more than 11 million to flee their homes. At least 6.5 million are displaced, but still in Syria.


Despite the Canadian government’s welcome embrace of Syrian newcomers and the anti-Islamophobia motion it passed this year, Canada has seen deliberate acts of hate. Just this week, students at Montreal’s McGill University reported anti-Muslim fliers posted on campus.


The choir seemed to gently address this sort of xenophobia in song lyrics: “I am a child with something to say, please listen to me. I am child who wants to play, why won’t you let me?” they sang. “Please give us a chance. ... I am singing for tomorrow.”

-- This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

Categories: News Monitor

Standing Rock Sioux Chairman Wants A Meeting With Donald Trump

FEED - The Huffington Post - 15 hours 2 min ago

Water protectors protesting the construction of the Dakota Access pipeline under Lake Oahe in North Dakota won a significant victory this week, when the Department of the Army announced that it would not grant the project’s final easement.


But tribal leadership understands this win is only temporary.


The victory seems especially fragile given that President-elect Donald Trump — who owns stock in the companies building the pipeline — supports the stalled project. His incoming administration is expected to offer fewer obstacles to the project’s completion, once Trump takes office next month.


Yet Standing Rock Sioux chairman Dave Archambault II, whose tribe has been fighting the controversial pipeline for months now, says he’s still hoping to build a relationship with the Trump administration.


Specifically, he would like to meet with Trump to discuss the topic in person.


“We would welcome a meeting with President-elect Donald Trump so that I can share with him and build his awareness about the real issues here,” Archambault told The Huffington Post on Thursday. “I think we can help the president-elect and his legacy if he’s willing to sit down and be open with us.”


Archambault noted that the tribe has not yet had any interaction with Trump or his presidential transition team.


A Trump spokesperson did not immediately respond to HuffPost’s request for comment.



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Meanwhile, Archambault acknowledged that blizzard conditions and freezing temperatures have taken a toll on the Oceti Sakowin camp in recent days ― which is partly why the chairman has called on the camp’s water protectors to go home.


Many protesters appear prepared to stay put nonetheless.


“The fight is not here right now,” Archambault said. “I’m not going to say this fight is over. We still have work to do, but I think it’s a matter of helping people understand what happened and why it happened.”


The future of the pipeline will remain unclear until the Army Corps clarifies what specific steps it plans to take regarding the easement.


In a statement provided to HuffPost, an Army Corps spokeswoman noted that its announcement earlier this week was a “policy decision” made because “the totality of circumstances call for additional analysis, a more robust consideration of alternatives, and additional public information.” The Army is now beginning an environmental review to determine such information.



That decision, says Sierra Club attorney Doug Hayes, did not actually indicate that the Army Corps has denied the easement, contrary to widespread media reports.


“The easement decision is still pending,” Hayes told HuffPost. “The decision not to grant the easement and instead to prepare an environmental impact statement is not the same thing as denying it.”


The process of preparing an environmental impact statement is expected to delay the pipeline’s construction by at least another several months. Its operators, Energy Transfer Partners, had previously planned to have the project up and running by year’s end, per the terms of its contracts with shippers relying on the pipeline to transport crude oil from North Dakota’s Bakken field to a refinery in central Illinois.


Energy Transfer Partners said this week that the Army Corps’ decision is “just the latest in a series of overt and transparent political actions by an administration which has abandoned the rule of law in favor of currying favor with a narrow and extreme political constituency.”


The company, which is pursuing a court order to force the construction to continue, said it does not foresee “any additional rerouting” of the pipeline and expects to complete the project as it is currently planned.


type=type=RelatedArticlesblockTitle=Related... + articlesList=5844882be4b0c68e04817323,5841d8f9e4b09e21702e8f58,57d9daeae4b08cb14093c741

Delays in the construction of the 1,200-mile pipeline have already cost the company a reported $450 million.


The site of the pipeline’s planned crossing of Lake Oahe at the Missouri River, just north of the Standing Rock Sioux reservation, has attracted thousands of visitors in support of the tribe in recent months. Many of them have taken up residence for weeks or months at a time in a protest camp filled with tents and other impromptu lodgings.


The water protectors say they are concerned the pipeline will disturb burial grounds and sacred lands protected under the 1851 Treaty of Fort Laramie, as well as threatening the safety of their water supply. Energy Transfer Partners has called such concerns “unfounded.”



Joseph Erbentraut covers promising innovations and challenges in the areas of food and water. In addition, Erbentraut explores the evolving ways Americans are identifying and defining themselves. Follow Erbentraut on Twitter at @robojojo. Tips? Email joseph.erbentraut@huffingtonpost.com.

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Categories: News Monitor

2017: The Battle Over The Possible

FEED - The Huffington Post - 15 hours 2 min ago
On November 8th we were issued a sobering historical reminder that social change is often not slow, incremental, or small at all. As rightful anger and disillusionment is seized to institute authoritarian, corporatist, and white supremacist agendas, progressives' best weapon is to think and mobilize around big, transformative, and galvanizing change.

Our collective imaginations can no longer be narrowed and defined by the ideologues of "centrist" neoliberal politics. For decades neoliberal commonsense has asserted that "there is no alternative" to organizing all domains of human life by way of capitalist profit maximization. It is said that small bits of justice and liberation are possible here and there, but that the fundamental drivers of unprecedented wealth concentration and planetary destruction are immutable.

As capitalism's ruins reach new proportions, fascism and xenophobia, more extreme austerity and neoliberalism, and fattened empire are all scrambling to claim power from crisis. This is a historic moment of decision. The only alternative to increasing violence, division, and environmental chaos is to get at the underlying compulsions of an anti-democratic, radically unequal, and dangerously unsustainable economy.

There are plenty of pathways to begin to evolve towards an economy structured to meet human needs and cultivate human freedoms. We don't need an entire blueprint to start to end the marketization of everything. An immediate agenda might include free health care and education, a livable universal basic income, bringing the banks under popular democratic control, freeing government from its capture by money, democratic worker ownership of workplaces, leaping from a fossil-fuel economy to a renewable green economy, reducing the work week to also reduce greenhouse gas emissions, cancelling student debt, liberating intellectual commons from pirate privatization, forcing corporations to pay for the pollution "externalities" they profit from, etc, etc.

These types of proposals that start to move society out of the neoliberal regime and reverse the systematic siphoning of wealth to the already wealthy have the potential to generate widespread support, including from many voters who considered Trump the only "alternative" on the ballot.

Such proposals -- and system change generally -- are possible in real terms, but since the 1980s especially have been discredited as unrealistic or otherwise "impossible." Rather than continue to allow excessively pessimistic neoliberal rationality to define human possibility, progressives must seize the transformative demands of this historical juncture.

We are in largely uncharted territory, and much is up for grabs. The dogma of "no alternative" to neoliberal capitalism has been on shaky ground especially since the global financial crisis began in 2007. A rising post-capitalist tide has been marked by events across the Arab world, Occupy, anti-austerity movements in Europe, revolts against the market especially by the poor and hungry, and radical resource struggles.

In 2016, social movements are increasingly converging around demands for deep system change. Standing Rock Protectors, Black Lives Matters, Blockadia and climate justice, Idle No More, Fight For 15, Dreamers and immigrant rights, and many others, are pioneering essential solidarities and articulating the inseparability of inequality, imperialism, racism, patriarchy, and environmental injustice.

Riding this swell of social movements, Bernie Sanders' campaign offered an alternative to more neoliberalism or nativist reactionism. It revealed strong left-wing sentiment in the bastion of capitalism, empire, and white supremacy. The progressive populism that erupted around the Sanders' campaign galvanized organizing and imagination that has the potential to reach far beyond the election cycle.

Millennials overwhelmingly voted for Sanders' "socialism," and then against Trump's xenophobia, racism, and misogyny. National polls since 2011 have consistently indicated that young people reject capitalism and are ready for alternatives.

More than just a silver lining of the past election, ballot initiative results across the U.S. indicate strong support for raising wages, unshackling money's grip over democracy, and changing racist drug policies. Steps to restrict the profit-motive in health care may have succeeded had not the pharmaceutical industry grossly manipulated debate with record campaign spending.

Events of 2016 stir both grief and inspiration.

Moving into 2017, the battle over what is considered possible in the social order is intensifying. Emergent democratic and egalitarian political visions must be expanded. They must assert that not only are we capable of different sorts of futures, but that system change is the only "realistic" option.

What unfolds in the organization of human societies is largely conditioned upon collective belief of what is possible. Our shared imaginations of capabilities and potentialities will greatly influence how we proceed through this historical juncture. The radical idea that we could build a society structured to democratically and sustainably meet human needs is immanent in our daily collective interactions. Mutual aid, cooperation, and care for others supply steady evidence that neoliberalism's logic of impossibility -- of "no alternative" to greed, competitive self-interest, and hierarchy -- is a fictitious cultural narrative. If our "human nature" is capable of a renewed future, our creative abilities can surely work out any design challenges.

Progressives cannot afford to be modest in the battle over the possible. We must be makers of new realities. These are revolutionary times. Big change is upon us. What remains to be seen is the direction of that change.

-- This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

Categories: News Monitor

Watch JLaw’s Jaw Drop When Chris Pratt Speaks German

FEED - The Huffington Post - 15 hours 3 min ago

Uh oh! Chris Pratt just broke Jennifer Lawrence.


Pratt’s been having fun cropping his “Passengers” co-star out of pictures while on the press tour for their new movie. But those days might be over after Lawrence seemingly malfunctioned during a recent Facebook Live interview the pair did with Bild, a Berlin entertainment website.


Pratt supposedly learned German in school, so the interviewer put him to the test, asking if he understood the German she had just spoken. He said that he did and repeated it back, causing JLaw’s face to do this:



Jennifer Lawrence watches Chris Pratt try to speak german to interviewer.

And this:



And later this: 



We’re so mesmerized by Lawrence being mesmerized that it’s hard to notice the way the pair are sitting makes it look like the movie is called “Assengers.”


Good catch, Imgur.



Lol ... “Assengers.”


OK, OK, that’s all fun, but an interview is going on, peeps. Let’s get serious. Things get back underway, and it finally appears Lawrence is going to be good ... until Pratt breaks out the German again:



Same, JLaw. Same.


You can see all of Lawrence’s faces in the Facebook Live video here:





Also, Lawrence does mention her appearance on “The Graham Norton Show,” which caused some controversy after the actress told a story about scratching her butt on sacred rocks. But this interview took place before the demand for Lawrence to apologize filled headlines this week. The actress has since addressed the incident.


H/T Imgur

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Categories: News Monitor

On the Culture Front: Antigua Through the Clouds

FEED - The Huffington Post - 15 hours 4 min ago
The forecast was not good when my girlfriend and I boarded a plane for Antigua this past spring. It was coming up on our one-year anniversary though and feeling in optimistic mood we took off for the West Indies Island. Within a couple hours of landing we were basking in the sun at Curtain Bluff, an utterly comfortable resort awash in faded British colonial elegance. The main draw for me was being able to walk out of our room onto a deserted beach strewn with a half dozen hammocks and nearly nothing else. I even managed to find one shaded by a supporting tree and fell asleep to the sound of the waves crashing into the soft sand. She headed to the bay beach where there was drink service and more hospitable waters. When I joined, it wasn't long before I was floating on my back just off the shore. Because of my newly relaxed state, my body felt like air and effortlessly floated on top. She paddled next to me in a floating pool lounger, and we laughed defiantly about how wrong the forecast had been.

That might have been a bit premature. After another day of sun-baked bliss, the clouds darkened and the sky opened up to release an unprecedented flood. It started as we checked into the lush oasis Hermitage Bay. With just 27 individual cabins accessed by narrow winding pathways through dense greenery that give off a rainforest vibe, this is a place to come to get lost. Unfortunately, with the rain pouring down at a near unrelenting pace, for us it was also a place to get moist. Luckily, the food is outstanding so our days were happily spend in the open air dinning room with a dark wood roof that provided shelter from the storm. A local quipped that it's never rained this much outside of hurricane season. Dishes like a tamarind glaze duck breast served with sweet potato custard and a jerk spiked coconut risotto carbonara helped soften the blow of this revelation, as did a stream of finely mixed cocktails.

A brief respite came one afternoon as we were eating lunch, and the sun peaked out from a dark hovering mass of clouds. I raced for one of the kayaks resting on the beach. My instinct was to paddle as far out as we could (my girlfriend came along reluctantly) and pack as much activity into this gift of a dry spell. With the water lapping at our sides and waves doing their part to carry us out, we moved at a good clip away from land until the droplets started falling again. Then it was a race back to land as the patter increased. All was well until the kayak flipped onto the beach throwing us into the sand. Nothing a massage couldn't fix though. The Spa at Hermitage Bay towers above the other structures and resembles a Buddhist temple. Listening to the ocean mirror the rhythmic patterns of my masseuse put me into a trance before dinner.

Our cottage - with soaring ceilings, a soaking tub and daybed on the covered porch - was another focal point for relaxation. A bath one night proved the perfect cap to a day reading Marc Maron's revealing and acerbically funny memoir "Attempting Normal." I always bring a book when I travel but rarely get a chance to read it. Alternating my gaze between the book and the waves, which crashed violently in the near distance, I was able to finish this surprisingly touching and wise work by the time we boarded the plane home. The forecast predicted rain for several more days.

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Poland's ruling party continues its march towards authoritarianism

FEED - The Huffington Post - World - 15 hours 4 min ago

Nationalist protests will be more welcome than anti-government protests from now on. Kacper Pempel/Reuters

Veronika Pehe, European University Institute

In Poland, we have become accustomed to the ruling party, Law and Justice (PiS), constantly shifting the borders of what is acceptable in a democratic regime.



Seizing control of the Constitutional Court and the planned total ban on abortions provoked international outrage and resulted in the establishment of two protest initiatives: the Committee for the Defence of Democracy (KOD) and the Black Protest.



While the former managed to get tens of thousands discontented people into the streets but without achieving any actual concessions, the nationwide mobilisation of women against the proposed abortion law forced the government to slow down. And the total ban on abortions was put on hold.



This was probably the single biggest success of civic protesters in Poland. However, if the Poles take to the streets every time the government takes a controversial step towards limiting civil rights, they'll have to start camping there.






Pro-abortion protests were a rare success in Poland.
Kacper Pempel/Reuters



In the last several weeks alone, no fewer than three disconcerting events have shown the government's intention to clamp down on the plurality of opinion.



Attacks on NGOs

It is not easy to be a non-governmental, non-profit organisation in Eastern Europe.



In the Czech Republic, NGOs are constantly being attacked or even called "unnecessary". In Hungary, Viktor Orbán's government terrorises NGOs with nonsensical financial audits and refers to them as "foreign agents".



Poland's Law and Justice Party is now following suit. Similarly to former Czech president Václav Klaus, Law and Justice Party leader Jarosław Kaczyński regards civil society as superfluous, a third sector that constantly interferes between the government and the people. He is in a position to make NGO work a lot more difficult.






Jarosław Kaczyński is making Poland less liberal every day.
Kacper Pempel/Reuters



State-run television and the right-wing media have embarked on a systematic smear campaign against civil society groups, accusing them of sapping grant funds from the state and taking money from other countries to undermine the government.



Organisations such as the Stefan Batory Foundation, which provides funding for many civic and social activities in Poland, and the left-wing publishing house Krytyka Polityczna, have been accused of being "agents" of billionaire philanthropist George Soros and his Open Society Foundations.



NGOs that oppose the government really have no choice here. If they are funded by the state, it is only to disseminate "leftist propaganda" using taxpayers' money. If they are funded from outside the country, they are guilty of pursuing outside interests.



Never mind that right-wing NGOs take outside funds as well, or that all the accused organisations publish information about their funding sources on their web pages. Transparency does more harm than good in this case. Post-truth has come to Poland.



Now the government is working on establishing a National Centre for the Development of Civil Society, which will supervise the distribution of finance towards non-profits. If the traditional role of civil society organisations in a liberal democracy is that of a watchdog barking at undemocratic measures, PiS has just decided to deploy a bigger, meaner mutt of its own.



It is not difficult to guess what kinds of organisations the new centre will support: preferential treatment will be given to "traditional" families, Catholic values and patriotic causes.



While the government cannot ban outside financing, it can kill off plenty of organisations by cutting off their state funding.



Freedom of assembly? Not for everyone

An amendment to the law on freedom of assembly that passed in the Polish parliament promises to threaten civic activity even further.



Its goal is to limit public assembly - unless the event is being organised by the state or the Catholic Church, which will have preference in booking space for gatherings. Until now, the right to hold a public protest was held by the first group that registered its intentions using appropriate channels.






The Catholic Church gets precedence in the new Poland.
Kacper Pempel/Reuters



The amendment looks like a legal tool to prevent conflicts between demonstrators by impeding two different events from taking place at the same time. But in reality it means that government-approved events simply take precedence over everyone else. Law and Justice's endeavours to get opposition groups off the streets are further reinforced by a clause that refers to "cyclical gatherings" taking place on state holidays, which will trump one-time demonstrations.



In practice, this means that the regular march of nationalists on Polish Independence Day will be permitted, but an anti-nationalist counter-demonstration could be dismissed simply because it would be "competition".



Concerns were voiced by the Polish Ombudsman, the Helsinki Committee for Human Rights and the European Commissioner for Human Rights. The liberal civic organisation, Obywatele RP, is calling for a demonstration on December 10th and the Committee for the Defence of Democracy wants to take to the streets on the 13th.



It may not do much good. The popularity of this civil movement seemed to have declined as the turnout was less than expected by several tens of thousands at their last protest on November 11.



Politically motivated trials

The most worrying event, however, was what can only be called a politically motivated trial. On November 29th, the ex-senator, ex-member of European Parliament and left-wing politician Józef Pinior was arrested on suspicion of corruption, along with several of his colleagues.






Józef Pinior has been under political attack.
Senat Rzeczypospolitej Polskiej, CC BY-SA



Pinior, having been a prisoner of the Communist regime and a member of Solidarity, the pre-1989 opposition movement, is persona non grata for the government. The ruling party tries to base its legitimacy on both anti-communism and attacks on the former Solidarity elites. And Kaczyński is trying to seize the legend of Solidarity for himself, overwriting the history of who really played a key part in the anti-communist opposition movement.



But Pinior is not an obstacle just because of his past; he is also the most vocal critic of secret CIA detention centres in Poland, and that is something the pro-American PiS does not want to hear about. What's more, Pinior could pose a real threat to PiS in 2018 due to the distinct possibility of his success in the Wrocław local elections.



The court in Poznan acquitted Pinior after a hearing attended by other legends of Solidarity - Karol Modzelewski, Henryk Wujec, and Danuta Kuroń - in his support. These former dissidents voiced warnings in the media: history is dangerously close to repeating itself, they said, when they once again find themselves in court to defend a friend detained for political reasons.



For now, the Pinior case seems to be an isolated incident. But it could become a precedent for discrediting political opponents under the guise of fighting corruption.



Despite all this, PiS' poll ratings have yet to change substantially. And the European Union has other worries than the quality of Polish democracy. Meanwhile, the fragmented Polish opposition, is failing to offer a better alternative than going back to the liberal status quo that resulted in PiS's victory in the first place.



In this context, it is safe to assume that the Polish government will keep getting away with more and more anti-democratic measures.



This piece is co-published with Political Critique.





Veronika Pehe, Max Weber Post-Doctoral Fellow, European University Institute



This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

-- This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

Categories: News Monitor

Poland's ruling party continues its march towards authoritarianism

FEED - The Huffington Post - 15 hours 4 min ago

Nationalist protests will be more welcome than anti-government protests from now on. Kacper Pempel/Reuters

Veronika Pehe, European University Institute

In Poland, we have become accustomed to the ruling party, Law and Justice (PiS), constantly shifting the borders of what is acceptable in a democratic regime.



Seizing control of the Constitutional Court and the planned total ban on abortions provoked international outrage and resulted in the establishment of two protest initiatives: the Committee for the Defence of Democracy (KOD) and the Black Protest.



While the former managed to get tens of thousands discontented people into the streets but without achieving any actual concessions, the nationwide mobilisation of women against the proposed abortion law forced the government to slow down. And the total ban on abortions was put on hold.



This was probably the single biggest success of civic protesters in Poland. However, if the Poles take to the streets every time the government takes a controversial step towards limiting civil rights, they'll have to start camping there.






Pro-abortion protests were a rare success in Poland.
Kacper Pempel/Reuters



In the last several weeks alone, no fewer than three disconcerting events have shown the government's intention to clamp down on the plurality of opinion.



Attacks on NGOs

It is not easy to be a non-governmental, non-profit organisation in Eastern Europe.



In the Czech Republic, NGOs are constantly being attacked or even called "unnecessary". In Hungary, Viktor Orbán's government terrorises NGOs with nonsensical financial audits and refers to them as "foreign agents".



Poland's Law and Justice Party is now following suit. Similarly to former Czech president Václav Klaus, Law and Justice Party leader Jarosław Kaczyński regards civil society as superfluous, a third sector that constantly interferes between the government and the people. He is in a position to make NGO work a lot more difficult.






Jarosław Kaczyński is making Poland less liberal every day.
Kacper Pempel/Reuters



State-run television and the right-wing media have embarked on a systematic smear campaign against civil society groups, accusing them of sapping grant funds from the state and taking money from other countries to undermine the government.



Organisations such as the Stefan Batory Foundation, which provides funding for many civic and social activities in Poland, and the left-wing publishing house Krytyka Polityczna, have been accused of being "agents" of billionaire philanthropist George Soros and his Open Society Foundations.



NGOs that oppose the government really have no choice here. If they are funded by the state, it is only to disseminate "leftist propaganda" using taxpayers' money. If they are funded from outside the country, they are guilty of pursuing outside interests.



Never mind that right-wing NGOs take outside funds as well, or that all the accused organisations publish information about their funding sources on their web pages. Transparency does more harm than good in this case. Post-truth has come to Poland.



Now the government is working on establishing a National Centre for the Development of Civil Society, which will supervise the distribution of finance towards non-profits. If the traditional role of civil society organisations in a liberal democracy is that of a watchdog barking at undemocratic measures, PiS has just decided to deploy a bigger, meaner mutt of its own.



It is not difficult to guess what kinds of organisations the new centre will support: preferential treatment will be given to "traditional" families, Catholic values and patriotic causes.



While the government cannot ban outside financing, it can kill off plenty of organisations by cutting off their state funding.



Freedom of assembly? Not for everyone

An amendment to the law on freedom of assembly that passed in the Polish parliament promises to threaten civic activity even further.



Its goal is to limit public assembly - unless the event is being organised by the state or the Catholic Church, which will have preference in booking space for gatherings. Until now, the right to hold a public protest was held by the first group that registered its intentions using appropriate channels.






The Catholic Church gets precedence in the new Poland.
Kacper Pempel/Reuters



The amendment looks like a legal tool to prevent conflicts between demonstrators by impeding two different events from taking place at the same time. But in reality it means that government-approved events simply take precedence over everyone else. Law and Justice's endeavours to get opposition groups off the streets are further reinforced by a clause that refers to "cyclical gatherings" taking place on state holidays, which will trump one-time demonstrations.



In practice, this means that the regular march of nationalists on Polish Independence Day will be permitted, but an anti-nationalist counter-demonstration could be dismissed simply because it would be "competition".



Concerns were voiced by the Polish Ombudsman, the Helsinki Committee for Human Rights and the European Commissioner for Human Rights. The liberal civic organisation, Obywatele RP, is calling for a demonstration on December 10th and the Committee for the Defence of Democracy wants to take to the streets on the 13th.



It may not do much good. The popularity of this civil movement seemed to have declined as the turnout was less than expected by several tens of thousands at their last protest on November 11.



Politically motivated trials

The most worrying event, however, was what can only be called a politically motivated trial. On November 29th, the ex-senator, ex-member of European Parliament and left-wing politician Józef Pinior was arrested on suspicion of corruption, along with several of his colleagues.






Józef Pinior has been under political attack.
Senat Rzeczypospolitej Polskiej, CC BY-SA



Pinior, having been a prisoner of the Communist regime and a member of Solidarity, the pre-1989 opposition movement, is persona non grata for the government. The ruling party tries to base its legitimacy on both anti-communism and attacks on the former Solidarity elites. And Kaczyński is trying to seize the legend of Solidarity for himself, overwriting the history of who really played a key part in the anti-communist opposition movement.



But Pinior is not an obstacle just because of his past; he is also the most vocal critic of secret CIA detention centres in Poland, and that is something the pro-American PiS does not want to hear about. What's more, Pinior could pose a real threat to PiS in 2018 due to the distinct possibility of his success in the Wrocław local elections.



The court in Poznan acquitted Pinior after a hearing attended by other legends of Solidarity - Karol Modzelewski, Henryk Wujec, and Danuta Kuroń - in his support. These former dissidents voiced warnings in the media: history is dangerously close to repeating itself, they said, when they once again find themselves in court to defend a friend detained for political reasons.



For now, the Pinior case seems to be an isolated incident. But it could become a precedent for discrediting political opponents under the guise of fighting corruption.



Despite all this, PiS' poll ratings have yet to change substantially. And the European Union has other worries than the quality of Polish democracy. Meanwhile, the fragmented Polish opposition, is failing to offer a better alternative than going back to the liberal status quo that resulted in PiS's victory in the first place.



In this context, it is safe to assume that the Polish government will keep getting away with more and more anti-democratic measures.



This piece is co-published with Political Critique.





Veronika Pehe, Max Weber Post-Doctoral Fellow, European University Institute



This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

-- This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

Categories: News Monitor