Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Cop-enhagen: Preemptive mass arrests in context of history of Danes' movement

David Rovics reports for Culture Change :

"Copenhagen police ended up preemptively arresting nearly a thousand people Saturday. Another 230 protesters were preemptively arrested on Sunday during a demonstration to block the city's ports." - Dec. 14, Democracy Now

The signs up all over the airport and various places elsewhere in town are calling it Hopenhagen, but everybody I know is calling it Cop-enhagen, which seems far more appropriate. The international media have been giving this lots of coverage, and rightly so. Of course much of the media is unable to walk and chew gum at the same time, so other things, such as the reason the protests are happening in the first place, can get lost.

Inside the Bella Center lots of stuff is going on. Namely the US, Australia and others leading the way in making sure nothing meaningful takes place there, while many other delegates and activists within try to make the best of it, or at least make the effort to thoroughly expose the bankruptcy of the position taken by the rich countries. The center itself is divided into floors where the big decisions are being made, and then the rest of the place for the little people, the delegates from unimportant countries like Tuvalu, representatives of small NGOs and other riffraff. Many of the folks involved with the process inside are dividing their time between the meetings and events outside in the streets and at the alternative conference going on elsewhere in town.

Copenhagen is a beautiful city. The architecture in the heart of the city is understated but exudes the wealth of a place that was once the capital of a fairly sizeable empire. Of course, though the Danish empire brought some riches home to Copenhagen, the wealth of modern Denmark is far greater, that being the product not so much of empire but of the Danish labor movement and Danish social democracy. It is this check on Danish capitalism that has allowed this wealth to be so impressively distributed, bringing Denmark a quality of life that is the envy of most anyone who knows about it.

Of course, as in any society there are different forces at work in Denmark. Most Danes would identify much more with those peasants who rebelled in the 17th century and helped pave the way for modern Denmark, not with the soldiers who massacred them, but those soldiers were also Danes. Most Danes would prefer to remember the heroic stories of resistance during the occupation of Denmark in the 1940's, but there were also many enthusiastic collaborators.

At so many points in history there are pivotal moments when things can go different ways, and something pushes events in a certain direction. The direction of social democracy has been the ascendant one in Denmark for quite some time, but this was able to happen for a variety of reasons – the strength and purpose of the Danish labor movement, the fear on the part of the rich of the spectre of communism, the moral bankruptcy of the leaders of society who collaborated with the Nazis after the war, and so on.

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Walkout triggers Copenhagen breakdown

The Copenhagen climate summit is in chaos after poor countries walked out en masse on Monday morning.

The poor countries left negotiations because they are concerned that the Kyoto protocol, which aims to tackle climate change, will be abandoned. Some rich countries want a brand new climate treaty out of the Copenhagen summit to replace Kyoto.

But poor countries want to make sure the Kyoto protocol, which forces rich countries to limit their greenhouse has emissions, has a future.

Monday's walkout has left the summit in limbo as ministers, including Australia's Climate Change Minister Penny Wong, frantically try to fix the problem.

"It is regrettable that we appear to have reached a gridlock on process," Senator Wong told reporters from the conference centre, adding the situation was "most unfortunate".

"(This) is not a time to play procedural games."

She did not support the developing countries' focus on the need to commit now to a future for the Kyoto protocol.

"An extension only of the Kyoto Protocol is not going to achieve the environmental outcome the world needs," Senator Wong said.

Australia does not want the Kyoto Protocol to be the only vehicle to tackle climate change because it does not include the US, nor major developing countries like China and India.

Senator Wong said that without countries like China and India on board, global efforts to tackle climate change would not work.

She said the situation at the summit was "absolutely" salvageable.

"We can resolve these issues if nations have the political will."

Senator Wong is playing a high-profile role at the UN summit, which has entered its second week and is due to finish on Friday.

Together with her Indian counterpart, she was supposed to be leading special talks to try to resolve issues around the greenhouse targets of developing countries, and around international verification of countries' emissions.

Those talks are on hold now.

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If there’s one book I wish President Obama would read over the holidays...

From Can Obama face the "Unspeakable"? My book review of Jim Douglass's "JFK and the Unspeakable" - an excellent post over at the Real History Blog of Linda Pease :

If there's one book I wish President Obama would read over the holidays, it is JFK and the Unspeakable: Why He Died and Why It Matters.

Obama, like President John F. Kennedy, has had his first encounters with the permanent warfare establishment, and so far, has been persuaded by their arguments. This book could open his eyes – and ours – to the possibility of another path.

In this eloquent, remarkable book, longtime peace activist and theologian Jim Douglass uses Thomas Merton, a prominent Catholic monk, to elevate the study of Kennedy's presidency to a spiritual as well as physical battle with the warmongers of his time.

In 1962, as Douglass records in his preface, Merton wrote a friend the following eerily prescient analysis:

“I have little confidence in Kennedy. I think he cannot fully measure up to the magnitude of his task, and lacks creative imagination and the deeper kind of sensitivity that is needed. Too much the Time and Life mentality ….

"What is needed is really not shrewdness or craft, but what the politicians don't have: depth, humanity and a certain totality of self-forgetfulness and compassion, not just for individuals but for man as a whole: a deeper kind of dedication. Maybe Kennedy will break through into that someday by miracle. But such people are before long marked out for assassination.”

Merton coined the term “the Unspeakable” to describe the forces of evil that seemed to defy description, that took from the planet first Kennedy, then Malcolm X, Martin Luther King, and Robert Kennedy, and which tragically escalated the war in Vietnam.

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