Tracking ID UA-126977798-1
Whatever charade of "democracy" played out in the last fifteen years after the much touted "shock and awe" and "liberation" of Iraq by coalition forces, this past week has blasted that illusion by the quick oppressive and violent reaction of the newly elected government's response to peaceful protest by mostly young students in the streets of Baghdad, and other major cities. The Prime Minister of Iraq, Adel Abdul-Mahdi decided to use "excessive force" on those demonstrating about the deteriorating situation in the country, lack of essential services, rampant corruption and high unemployment rates.
Over 6,000 people were wounded by gunfire, beatings and fire. The number of dead continues to rise over 100. At last count it was 105. time.com/5693902/100-dead-iraq-protest/
In May of 2018, Harith Hasan wrote about the elections of that same year: "...this election has clearly shown the limitations of Iraq’s democracy and the persistent risk of disruption or regression towards less democratic means in the future." www.atlanticcouncil.org/blogs/menasource/the-truth-about-iraq-s-democracy/
Less than six months later autocratic edicts, martial type law, violence and echoes of dictatorial response to protesters against the newly elected government-show the world Iraq is not yet a democracy or a nation with a form of government which can withstand questions, protests, investigations, reporting and/or scrutiny.
One of the responses of Prime Minister Adel Abdul-Mahdi, was to curtail use of the internet and thus shut off the possibility of communications and reporting in most of Iraq. Only the Independent Region of Kurdistan (KRG) in northern Iraq was not affected by the lack of access and by the curfew imposed by the Iraq government in Baghdad. (see tweet and graph below)
Confirmed: #Iraq has partly restored internet access at 7:00 a.m. Baghdad time for the 3rd consecutive morning, making it the first documented country to introduce a nightly internet curfew at nation-scale.
Curfew times: 5:00 p.m. 7:00 a.m.
After the chaos subsided in Baghdad and a number of other cities in Iraq, the Prime Minister announced at the end of the week a three day period of mourning and promised those killed-both demonstrators and security personnel-would be considered as "martyrs" and their families given benefits.
Iraq’s top Shi’ite cleric blamed the Baghdad government on Friday for the killing of scores of protesters, and gave it a two-week deadline to find out which “undisciplined elements” had used snipers to shoot them.
"The intervention by Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, who rarely weighs in on politics except in times of crisis, will place new pressure on Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi to curb the power of Iran-backed Shi’ite militias, widely blamed by the public for killing more than 100 protesters in a crackdown." www.reuters.com/article/us-iraq-protests-sistani/iraqs-top-shiite-cleric-criticizes-government-over-protester-deaths-idUSKBN1WQ181
As one Iraqi, Dr. Oula Kadhum, living in the UK queries, and observed from afar this week:
"Can we still call Iraq a state?
Power is dispersed along so many political actors, with varying domestic and foreign allegiances, that Iraqi sovereignty is but a mere illusion. There is no political system in Iraq but rather multiple systems (tribes, militias, political parties) with spheres of influence and power. The state has not been captured by an oligarchy but rather dismembered from within by corrupt elites and criminal gangs masquerading as politicians."
The response to the demonstrations by the current Iraq government is eerily similar to the response by Saddam Hussein's government against protesters years ago-see photos below. After war, forced regime change and "democratic elections" what has actually transformed? What progress can be quantified?!
A follow on to my post from last week regarding the Kurds and the situation they are in with Turkey overtly attacking them and their positions in Syria...let us not forget what happened to the Kurdish population in Iraq under Saddam Hussein. Iraq has not been an ally or friend of the Kurds. Iraq let the Peshmerga "lead from the front" suffering brutal attacks from Daesh/ISIS. Moreover, thousands of Daesh fighters escaped while under the "guard and round ups" by the Iraq army. The Kurds were never that slack. Kurdish militia members were guarding camps holding Daesh/ISIS detainees in at least 10 camps holding over 140,000 people. Kurdish Pershmerga units have had to shift their priorities once Turkey started their bombardments.
The Kurdish units in Syria who decided to align with Syrian President Bashar al- Assad, make sense in the long view. Kurdish officials in northern Syria will now be working with the Assad government in Damascus to defend against Turkey's military in their region. The Syrians have betrayed the Kurds less than the Iraqi governments over time. The USA and the UK have been dishonest in their dealings with the Kurds since the 1970s. At least President Trump is enacting his policy promises of removing US troops from the Middle East step by step.
Syria is part of ancestral Kurdish heritage and territory. The US and UK populations have shifting allegiances and geographical distance from the Kurds. Though a number of the Kurdish units have openly displayed communist symbols, their particular "comradeship in arms" and "equity in genders" in their military is a counter and balance to the extremism of sharia law and it's dictates against women.
The Russian nexus with the Syrian government began long before their alliance during the civil war in 2011, and their leasing access to a warm water port on the Mediterranean via Syria in Tartus, to Russia in 2014. Leasing a port where transport is possible year round is vital to a virtually landlocked nation, especially if they intend to grow their economy, as Russia does.
People forget that Russia had a pivot toward the Middle East decades ago. Russia cultivated progressive relations with Iraq (under Saddam Hussein) Jordan, Israel, Iran and Syria, and gave varying degrees of support at various times to Egypt and Lebanon. While Russia has provided weapons to all these countries, the US and the UK have provided weapons, training, finance and "humanitarian aid" to all these countries as well, during the 20th and 21st centuries.
Syria is still a "chessboard" for pipeline negotiation games and energy fields. Turkey hovers like a vulture waiting for the carrion of destructive "civil wars" spawned and spurred on by outside forces interested in leveraging political and economic power and the "spoils of war".
As always, it is the civilian populations of both Syria and Iraq who must endure, bleed, re-locate and agonize the most. Once again, the Kurds must capitulate and still do not have their own country where they can form their own nation, re-group and be left in peace to create their own form of government implementing their own cultural traditions without interference or the real risk of genocide from their "neighbors", or the resurgence of Daesh/ISIS which would ultimately impact the entire world.
There was a time after World War II when some of the worst criminals of Adolf Hitler's Third Reich were brought to the US under Operation Paperclip, and tens of thousands were supported to escape to South America. They created their own communities there, and a few former Nazis emerged in those countries as ruthless political and military leaders in Chile, Argentina, Bolivia, Paraguay, Brazil and Uruguay.
Ending tonight with something human beings have in common since so much of the news has been about differences. Dance and music can and do unite people. Certainly Daesh/ISIS and places which impose strict sharia law would never allow this entertainment, and the young people you see in this video would be censured and punished severely.
Fortunately there is not a world wide "caliphate" and sharia law is not permitted here. This is a group of young Turkish dancers doing their movements to a popular Iraqi song: "Dylan Lingham" "ابراهيم البغدادي - ول ولك"
Dance while you can wherever you are...it's healthy!
The attacks by the Turkish military and government on the Kurdish security forces which have fought Daesh/ISIS, controlled checkpoints and guarded captured jihadis in areas of northern Syria, have sparked questions, comments and condemnation from all over the world. Finally, it seems, the world which heretofore avoided or ignored the plight of the largest ethnic population on the planet which does not have it's own land and nation, and who have been attacked, targeted and denigrated constantly by Turkey; is verbally championed by politicians in neighboring countries, in Europe, in North America and even Asia.
Why the sudden spark of interest? Which countries and governments are actual allies of the Kurdish people? Why are they concerned if Turkey takes over the prison camps where terrorists and their jihadi families are currently held? This week I address these questions as well as review the situation with an attempt at establishing an independent Kurdistan which was almost accomplished at this time in 2017, but was thwarted by some of these same nations and by factions of the Kurdish people themselves.
First, let's review the United States government actions and alliances with the Kurdish people since the 1970s, since this background is often omitted in contemporary analysis and news reports but is integral to understanding what the Kurds have endured, what has been promised and negotiated but never delivered to the Kurds. I also give examples of historical and recent attacks against the Kurds by both Iraq and Turkey.
In 1975, Henry Kissinger, Secretary of State, secretly channeled $16 million in military aid to the Kurds, who believed Washington supported their right to self-determination. In 1976, however, the Pike report, issued by the House Select Committee on Intelligence, revealed that the U.S. never had any intention of supporting a Kurdish state:
Documents in the Committee's possession state: "President Nixon, Dr. Kissinger and the foreign head of state [the Shah of Iran] hoped that our clients [the Kurds] would not prevail. They preferred instead that the insurgents simply continue a level of hostilities sufficient to sap the resources of our ally's neighboring country [Iraq]. This policy was not imparted to our clients, who were encouraged to continue fighting."
At the 1975 Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) summit, Iran and Iraq temporarily resolved their border dispute. The Iraqi government was then informed that U.S. support for the Kurds would be withdrawn, while the Kurds themselves were kept uninformed about what was happening. Iraqi forces immediately launched an aggressive campaign against the Kurdish rebels. The United States knew but did not warn their allies, the Kurds.
"The insurgents [Kurds} were clearly taken by surprise. Their adversaries, knowing of the impending aid cut-off, launched an all out search-and-destroy campaign the day after the agreement [with Iran] was signed. The autonomy movement was over and our former clients scattered before the [Iraqi] central government's superior forces."
As Iraq wiped out the remaining rebels, the Kurdish leader Mustafa Barzani sent a message to Kissinger: "Our movement and people are being destroyed in an unbelievable way, with silence from everyone. We feel, your excellency, that the United States has a moral and political responsibility towards our people, who have committed themselves to your country's policy."
Kissinger, didn't bother to send a reply. According to the Pike report:
"Over 200,000 refugees managed to escape into Iran. Once there however, neither the United States nor Iran extended adequate humanitarian assistance. In fact, Iran was later to forcibly return over 40,000 of the refugees and the United States government refused to admit even one refugee into the United States by way of political asylum even though they qualified for such admittance."
As Kissinger later explained to a Congressional staffer, "Covert action should not be confused with missionary work." U.S. strategic interests, in other words, were more important than mere moral principles. "Even in the context of covert actions," concluded the Pike report, "ours was a cynical enterprise." theintercept.com/2019/10/07/kurds-syria-turkey-trump-betrayal/
Dr. Henry Kissinger advised every president since Richard Nixon and was a key adviser for both Bush Presidents, former President Bill Clinton and Hillary Clinton when she was Secretary of State. Even President Trump had a courtesy meeting with Dr. Kissinger at the beginning of his presidency. He is a consultant for a number of foreign policy organizations and international organizations including the Council on Foreign Relations and the Bilderberg Group. He is also considered a war criminal by certain countries and international organizations. Henry Kissinger remains controversial.
From de-classified documents we now know the US intel community did know Iraq (under Saddam Hussein) possessed and used chemical weapons against Iranians and against the Kurds. foreignpolicy.com/2013/08/26/exclusive-cia-files-prove-america-helped-saddam-as-he-gassed-iran/
The international press was alerted to the chemical attack against the Kurdish people in Halabja. The photos of civilians of all ages, over 5,000 killed by sarin nerve gas and many still suffering the effects of poisoning-circulated around the world. For a time a resurgence of condemnation of those using chemical weapons was part of political discussions and served as rationale later after the 1991 Gulf War and the 2003 war in Iraq, to effect the capture and death of Saddam Hussein and his commander cousin "Chemical Ali' Ali Hassan al-Majid. (see photos below)
"During the Clinton administration in the 1990s, the Iraqi Kurds, were the 'good Kurds'. Because they were persecuted by Iraq, our enemy, they were worthy of U.S. sympathy. But the Kurds a few miles north in Turkey started getting uppity too, and since they were annoying our ally (Turkey), they were the 'bad Kurds'. The U.S. sent Turkey huge amounts of weaponry, which it used — with U.S. knowledge — to murder tens of thousands of Kurds and destroy thousands of villages." https://theintercept.com/2019/10/07/kurds-syria-turkey-trump-betrayal/
www.shafaaq.com/en/kurdistan/a-turkish-dam-destroys-a-12000-kurdish-town/ The post-war independence of Iraqi Kurds after the Iraq war of 2003, made Turkey extremely nervous. In 2007, the U.S. allowed Turkey to carry out a heavy bombing campaign against Iraqi Kurds inside Iraq.
With the assistance of the US National Security Agency (NSA) The Turkish military were able to target Kurds with drones, cyber interception, geo-location, surveillance and assassination starting in the Bush administration and expanded under the Obama Administration: theintercept.com/2014/08/31/nsaturkeyspiegel/
Turkey also built dams which controlled, rationed and denied water to northern Iraq-the areas of the KRG - "Kurdistan". For more in depth description of this "Hydro-warfare" by Turkey, see my post from last year: www.jopatti.com/blog/power-plays-hydro-warfare
The Independent region of Kurdistan contains the rich oil producing fields of Kirkuk and Kurdish president Barzani negotiated an agreement for revenue sharing with the Iraqi Baghdad government. However in March, 2014 The Iraqi government under Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki blocked the transfer of revenues to the Kurdish authorities, leaving regional leaders unable to pay the salaries of officials.
In May, 2014 -Daesh/ISIS starts their seige in Anbar province. The Kurdish Peshmerga-Those Who Confront Death-protect Kirkuk. The US and Iraqi government supply Peshmerga fighters with weapons and leave them to battle Daesh/ISIS. Mosul falls to Daesh/ISIS completely by June 2014.
"October 2014 - The Iraqi Kurdistan government sends Peshmerga forces to the northern Syrian city of Kobane - via Turkey - supporting Kurdish fighters attempting to defend the city from attack by Daesh/ISIS. December 2014-Peshmerga and Syrian Kurdish fighters retake Mount Sinjar from Islamic State forces.
Russia's Rosneft reportedly pays 1 bn US dollars in advance for Iraqi Kurdistan's crude oil, signalling growing Russian interest in the region's natural resources.
June 2017 - A cross-party meeting led by President Barzani agrees to hold an independence referendum on 25 September." Iraq's government in Baghdad threatens reprisals. www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-15467672
Mosul is recaptured by Peshmerga with some help from Iraq and US forces by September 2017. Barzani holds the referendum and many countries condemn him in addition to many Kurds objecting to the timing of the referendum. Iraq government responds by cutting all revenues, closing the Erbil airport to all international flights and changing visa requirements to Kurdistan region.
President Barzani resigned in October 2017.
November 2017, the last strongholds of Daesh/ISIS in Iraq and Syria fall with strong fighting by the Peshmerga. Many ISIS militants are captured but many are aided in their escape by Iraqis sympathetic to Daesh, and many more make their way through Turkey.
In early 2018, after seizing the Kurdish-majority Afrin district, the Turks expelled half Afrin's inhabitants and brought in jihadi Arabs as part of their program of “Arabisation” well as their plan to destroy any of the US-fostered administration.
Kurdish forces have maintained control over areas of northern Syria for the past few years. But in January, 2019- Turkey launched an operation targeting Kurdish groups in northwest Syria, The Kurds requested aid from the Syrian government as well as the international community.
Peshmerga units have been guarding large camps where Daesh/ISIS fighters and their families are held. One camp called Al Hol has more than 70,000 ISIS members. It is very difficult to control. These fighters and their families are not able to return to their country of origin in most cases. Over 10,000 are estimated to be foreigners from Europe, Asia and North America. They still maintain their ideology, most show no remorse and continue with their "system" of justice, punishments and sharia law. www.independent.co.uk/news/world/middle-east/isis-al-hol-syria-camp-caliphate-islamic-state-riot-violence-stabbing-a9143401.html
Turkey uses it's position in NATO to leverage support for it's actions and for procuring weapons-which they are using against the Kurds. They also use the threat of releasing these jihadi fighters back into the refugee population and possibly back to eastern and western Europe and beyond. They are walking 'time bombs'.
It is also important to be note that Turkey stood by during the years of sieges, brutality, murder, torture by Daesh/ISIS of Christians, Yezidis, Shiite, Sufi, and Sunnis and foreigners of all ages. They did not help in the defeat of Daesh/ISIS.
"Turkey argues the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG), which has defeated Islamic State, is a threat to Turkey as it is connected to Turkey’s separatist Kurds, who have been in conflict with the Turkish state since 1984. The YPG has vowed to defend its villages, towns and cities. The Kurds have in recent months received a steady supply of US arms and vehicles enabling them to resist. They may not, however, prevail against Turkish aerial bombing and shelling from artillery across the border." www.irishtimes.com/news/world/middle-east/us-abandonment-of-syria-s-kurds-risks-bitter-fighting-1.4042627
As of last week, October 2019, President Erdogan of Turkey announced to the world his intentions to create (by any means necessary) a "corridor zone" and this means the Kurds in the north will be in danger. They may be pulled away from their duties guarding Daesh/ISIS fighters/members in order to defend themselves and their compatriots. Moreover, US forces were moving out of these areas leaving the Kurds with no other reinforcements. Understandably they are looking to Russia as well as the Syrian Defense forces for additional support.
"The Turkish offensive will likely target the Arab-majority city of Tel Abyad in Northern Raqqa Province. It will create an opportunity for ISIS to achieve breakout success in eastern Syria while the U.S. partner force, the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), fights Turkey along the border. Pro-Assad regime forces could also attempt to exploit the chaos to seize oil fields currently under SDF control." www.understandingwar.org/backgrounder/turkish-invasion-northeast-syria-looks-imminent
So who are and who will be the Kurds allies now? The latest statement from US President Trump seems to point to more straightforward- "No, we can't help you" rather than the pretense of "supporting the Kurds" by previous administrations whilst they acted more like adversaries than allies betraying them in a number of different situations with their proxies actions and inaction.
President Trump however, did add he would find ways to heap significant economic reprisals on an already weakened Turkish economy and currency should Erdogan go beyond an as of yet unspecified "line in the sand" in terms of treatment of the Kurds. As a businessman, President Trump indicated the US should not be putting money into maintaining camps for jihadis, nor add more training/equipment for the Kurds. That is the rationale that is important to factor in this equation/policy shift.
Can the Kurds trust anyone after all this history with "allies"? Would you?! I highly recommend you read Kurdish news sites in English (or Kurdish is you can) for a more informed, authentic and complete picture of what is happening in Iraq, Syria, Turkey and even Iran - which has it's own area called "Kurdistan".
Here is one site which shows there is movement by the KRG to reach toward Russia:
"Kurdistan Region President Nechirvan Barzani received on Monday Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov in Erbil to discuss the bilateral ties between Erbil and Moscow."
And another site in English: www.shafaaq.com/en/kurdistan/a-turkish-dam-destroys-a-12000-kurdish-town/
Finally Rudaw news. which some will criticize but they have on the ground reporters who know the language: www.rudaw.net/english/analysis/0710201
This is a developing event and reports from many sources will try and claim "exclusive" and "shocking" content. Go to those sources which are reporting from those on the ground, with verifiable communications and with an objective viewpoint as possible-that excludes Al Jazeera and most main stream US news including Kurdistan24. There are credible independent reporters, youtube reports from the Kurds themselves you can read/watch. Sift through their agendas to try and digest a kernel of the truth and the consequences of actions/inaction in this volatile region.
Until next Tuesday, stay vigilant...
Including a Peshmerga female unit in Syria, with a short song and message from the field in Kurdish. Enjoy: www.youtube.com/watch?v=doPZW7QoxVk
A common association with the word 'resilience' is the idea of "bouncing back" after a setback, an illness, a trauma or even a sudden uncomfortable change in life.
The Mayo Clinic says, “Resilience is the ability to adapt well to stress, adversity, trauma or tragedy. People who have a resilient disposition are better able to maintain poise and a healthy level of physical and psychological wellness in the face of life’s challenges.”
Resilience is a holistic term since recovery and adjustment physically are only part of the process of healing. Emotional resilience has become an overused buzz word for the ability to restore and maintain one's emotional health and spiritual well being. The implication is that once one is "restored" and "positive" then that step is complete. For most of us who have suffered extreme trauma in physical or psychological terms, traumatic brain injury or dramatic life changes such as having to flee from one's ancestral home and lands; 'bouncing back' will be a life long adaptation, coping with the waves of pain, illness, loss, vulnerabilities, plagues of uncertainty and memory.
However research and history have shown us that like other "muscles" and "skills" you can certainly increase your ability to be resilient even if your family history (epigenetics) physical/psychological make up is weak, and your resources are limited. No matter how horrible one's condition is, often because of circumstances and events beyond one's personal control, the ultimate giving up, being overcome and overwhelmed by events, conditions and despair need not result in taking one's own life.
This week I outline strategies/programs to help increase resilience and recovery. I speak from personal experience as well as from the standpoint as a health practitioner who has treated many patients who are survivors of trauma over the past twenty years in a variety of locations and from diverse cultures, backgrounds, professions, faiths and from all ages groups, races and genders. We used a combination of Traditional Chinese Medicine, "Medicine" learned from living/working in Indigenous communities in the USA, Australia and New Zealand, as well as therapeutic strategies from western psychological methods, and witnessed resilience from other survivors over time. There are no "short fixes" FYI
Heart breaking statistics were just released by Pentagon in regard to the number of active duty and veterans who commit suicide. The statistics by branch from 2018, shout out once again that the United States needs to do better in terms of building resilience in our population and especially in members of our military. "The rate of active duty service members who take their own lives has been rising an average of 6 percent year-over year the past five years, the Pentagon announced Thursday. The number of suicides jumped from 285 to 325 between 2017 and 2018, according to the 2018 Annual Suicide Report, from a rate of about 22 suicides per 100,000 service members to about 25."
We need to examine why countries who have decades of war, hardship, trauma and struggle do not have the high statistics of suicide we do, especially in their active and retired military members. I would offer that after more than a generation of comfort, easing of life circumstances, lowering of standards in most levels of education/training, a generally sedentary, physically and emotionally undemanding lifestyle with easy access to licit and illicit drugs-the US population has become weakened in all respects. It is easier to see if you have been away for a significant period of time and then return to the USA with fresh eyes.
One reason for the fragility of personality is trauma, violence within a family of origin and/or the break up or absence of a loving family environment for a child growing up anywhere. If a child has just one consistent loving family member that one factor may be able to mitigate all hardships. If a family is strong, multi-generational and has a foundation in "faith", a belief in purpose in life and other than human assistance and guidance, children and adults can endure much more than those who are bereft of these foundations in life. More western countries now have societies where these foundations have been eroded and attacked over decades.
Moreover, material affluence and comfort have wasted the muscles of determination, persistence, creativity and hard work. The inability to obey those in authority to develop discipline has resulted in an erosion of self discipline, too. The greed for acquiring and not being satisfied that "enough is enough" can suck out the joy of appreciating what is there instead of hankering after what is not. Notice children can find a way to play almost anywhere and still smile.
The military and policy makers have not fully taken into account what a drugging of elementary, middle and high school children has done to the potential pool of military recruits. When I returned to Texas in late 1998, after a decade away in other countries, I was stunned to see how many children would line up at the nurse's office in the public middle school where I was teaching, during breaks and lunchtime. When I inquired I learned these were the children who had medication they had to take during the day. The norm became "medicate" especially if a child was "restless, couldn't concentrate, demonstrated aggressive behavior". Teacher conferences urged parents to see designated, "approved" doctors who would also prescribe medication. I was pressed to "observe and label" children so the school could be eligible for more state and federal funds. I refused to categorize otherwise healthy, curious, intelligent, active and original thinking children as needing "special education and medication." I left public and charter school teaching in 2005, in the USA.
There are side effects to these medications including stunted growth, headaches, insomnia, loss of motivation (will power) rashes, loss of appetite, anxiety, higher blood pressure, etc (for Ritalin or Methylphenidate) and serious side effects for psychiatric drugs such as suicidal ideations, weight gain, agitation, dry mouth, constant fatigue, loss of libido, muscle spasms, and so on. In a report of 2015, almost five years ago-the number of children under 18 was estimated to be about 75 million in the USA. The number of children diagnosed with mental illness was 17.1 million children on record. the current estimate is that 22.2% of American children have a mental illness. However, consider that many more "disorders" have been added to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual V which is in current use. childmind.org/2015-childrens-mental-health-report/
There are "defiant" disorders (children who answer back or are questioning), the pressure of "gender identity confusion" disorders, the castigation of boys as having male "toxicity" etc. These weaken the next generation so their capacities are diminished and resiliency is not strengthened. In fact in many cases it is enfeebled. When hard times, quick changes, trauma, loss and isolation happen-these young adults are not as prepared or armored-physically, emotionally and spiritually-as previous generations, or as children in other countries where medicating and coddling children is not part of the culture, education or medical systems.
The triggers of trauma are individual. Each person experiencing the same event may respond in their body, mind and spirit differently. The timeline will vary for each person. Some triggers may ease over time, others develop over time. The process to heal is variable and cannot be predicted or packaged. This is where western medicine approaches, the military and government organizations and NGOs who have members with post trauma reactions-get it terribly wrong in my opinion. Here are a few practical ideas which would not be difficult to implement in the USA:
Let's be real, it is often still a career "killer" to admit you have post traumatic stress even though you might get a few extra points on a government application for checking the box. With the inter connectivity of phones to net linked databases, "hotlines" are not as viable for anonymity as they might have been decades ago. The creation/development of a truly "anonymous" hotline for post trauma sufferers not labelled as a "suicide hotline" and run by paid counselors, staff and survivors available 24/7 with a connection to local ambulance/hospitals (only if there is an emergency situation the lifeline cannot handle)-would be a vital component to this national framework to combat veteran and post trauma survivor suicides.
The enrichment of human to human contact instead of virtual contact cannot be duplicated. Having an actual shoulder to cry on, someone to hold you, someone to listen with a caring heart as you repeat the story of trauma and pain, is more important to resilience than pills and screens. Each person is unique though the symptoms of post trauma may be similar.
We also have to be courageous enough to ask those suffering to rise to expectations rather than dismissing their previous capabilities as "lost" and impossible to regain. They may not ever be "the same as before" but can emerge different and even stronger than before the trauma(s) they experienced. Sometimes harsh words, strong reminders and coaching are needed and human hands, human presence extended again and again and again. Those helping cannot give up either. The narratives and mindset about people who have post trauma reactions need to be re-directed. See my more detailed article on this subject here: https://www.scitechnol.com/peer-review/managing-post-trauma-reactionschanging-the-dialogue-and-protocols-4dbv.php?article_id=6525
The path back to functioning, the steps on the ladder to re-framing your life outlook, your relationships, your goals and your challenges - is part of the adaptation required after trauma. If you don't have a supportive family or spouse/partner or close brotherhood/sisterhood, colleagues to support you and love you in your climb, then truly you have an exponentially more difficult road to navigate, but it can be done.
What must be understood by those designing and running projects and programs for veterans and survivors, is that this is a continual process. People may need to "refresh" and "start over" from time to time. Two steps up the ladder to health may also need one step down. There are no guarantees.
The United States is the wealthiest country in the world. We give aid to over 100 other countries including to those suffering from trauma of all kinds yet our own programs are lacking within our own country and especially for our own military and first responders. This should be of national concern, urgent redress, action and passion, but it is just a side note and more power points, video courses and bowed heads are the usual reaction. Those who have a family member, friends, colleagues who are veterans or first responders need to push for change since we are the majority.
In research for this article I searched programs in Colorado, a state with many veterans, active military, military bases for programs. While a number are listed online, when I actually called-few responded with a human being-just more screens or voice messages. This is a deterrent to many who might seek help but be put off by robotic voices or more demands for information and more delay. Our national aim should be to lower that 25 a day to 0 step by step. Do you agree? Alright then-visualize and actualize a first step this week. I have an average of 2,000 viewers per week depending on the subject I write about-it has been as high as 4,600. If even 50% of you starts moving on this problem that is motion in the right direction.
This week I am closing with a song entitled: "You Raise Me Up" by the Irish/Norwegian duo 'Secret Garden'. Music composed by Rolf Lovland and lyrics by Brendan Graham, performed live by Celtic Woman in concert.
May you find it inspiring. www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yfwlj0gba_k
Keep steady on your path wherever you may be, whichever rung you may be climbing. Until next week,
American media specializes in fear mongering. Whether it is about crime, climate, possible epidemics, "terrorists", food toxicity, nuclear war or total grid shutdowns; the media thrives on instilling fear of "possible and potential" worst case scenarios. The continual advertising on all media platforms about the various "senior" ailments, conditions and potential afflictions is ceaseless combined with the caricature images of "seniors" as feeble, partially deaf, child like, dependent and forgetful, which pervade contemporary TV, film, news stories, cartoons and political commentary.
Decades ago the cry was to "Never trust anyone over thirty!" Now global media hypes 16 year olds as being some sort of "experts" and "activists" to be taken seriously on topics such as climate challenge solutions and gun control. "Old white men" are openly insulted, attacked and denigrated with little rebuttal. "The wisdom of elders" is laughed at sarcastically and hidden from sight. There are very few positive reports circulating of elder women and men accomplishing important tasks, giving generously of their time and knowledge or inventing and/or creating new works from their original ideas. However, here is one from a 99 year old Jewish woman who was a spy in World War II. She still speaks three languages and has a photographic memory. She wrote a book "Behind Enemy Lines" and is a Holocaust survivor: www.wkyc.com/article/news/history/french-jewish-world-war-two-spy-shares-story-before-sold-out-crowd-in-cleveland/95-373cffc2-6a31-48a8-ad7e-b9f153b9c813
Moreover, most companies, small businesses and all levels of government jobs will covertly or overtly practice age discrimination against women over 50 and men over 60. Even if people are healthy, current in their field and able to continue with excellent work ethics-they will either not be hired or gradually, then quickly "let go" or be forced to resign. The best way to assure a position working in your specialty and/or preference is to start your own business and have it up and running before you turn 50. Warehousing seniors in "senior communities", "assisted living" or passing legislation for guided euthanasia are the most popular strategies for dealing with an ever older population in the west. This is not the case in most countries. In most countries multiple generations still live together. It strengthens the family bonds and makes more sense economically. The epidemics of loneliness and aflfuenza are spawned by western, wealthier nations.
The social engineering agendas to divide communities and society based on factors they cannot control such as race, gender and age, proliferate in the current social landscape especially as visual media promotes those who look young, attractive and physically fit over all others. This is drummed into our neuron systems, eyes, ears, mind and even heart-relentlessly. "When you're old-you're done." Inter-generational recreation and activities are not encouraged except in some religious or academic settings or for some in family events such as reunions, weddings and funerals.
"The number of Americans ages 65 and older is projected to nearly double from 52 million in 2018 to 95 million by 2060, and the 65-and-older age group’s share of the total population will rise from 16 percent to 23 percent. By 2030, when the last of the large baby boom generation (born 1946 to 1964) has reached their mid-60s, more than 21 percent of the U.S. population is projected to be age 65 or older—up from about 15 percent in 2016. " www.prb.org/aging-unitedstates-fact-sheet/
This means in about ten years almost a quarter of the population in the United States will be over 65-if they live that long.
In the USA the percentage of senior citizens (65 and older) who are diagnosed with dementia is about 10%. The USA is #2 in world health statistics for countries who have high percentages of deaths due to dementia. Finland is #1 and Canada is #3. All the top ten countries are highly developed economically and socially. There are some factors in common including a high percentage of their populations consume alcohol, are overweight and have a more sedentary life style than previous generations. www.worldatlas.com/articles/countries-with-the-highest-rates-of-deaths-from-dementia.html Globally dementia is a serious health concern. "Dementia affects 50 million people worldwide, with a new case of dementia occurring somewhere in the world every 3 seconds. Dementia can also affect individuals under the age of 65 (young onset dementia). Greater awareness and understanding of dementia is important to challenge the myths and misconceptions that surround the condition." Currently there is no cure although there are therapeutic strategies and some progress has been made in possible reversal of damage done by dementia and identification of genetic pre-disposers to some conditions.
Contrary to what media may portray-dementia is not part of normal aging and Alzheimer's disease is only one type of dementia although it accounts for more than 60% of dementia diagnoses. Dementia is not a specific disease and it is not hereditary or contagious. www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/alzheimers-disease/expert-answers/alzheimers-and-dementia-whats-the-difference/faq-20396861
Dementia is an overall term, sometimes referred to as an umbrella term, which describes a wide range of symptoms. These symptoms impact a person's ability to perform everyday activities independently. Common symptoms include:
"The accumulation of protease-resistant misfolded and aggregated proteins is a common mechanism underlying protein misfolding disorders, including neurodegenerative diseases such as Huntington's disease (HD), Alzheimer's disease (AD), Parkinson's disease (PD), prion diseases and Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis of the UPS, CMA. Although young neurons can manage to clear cytotoxic proteins, this task becomes increasingly more difficult throughout the course of aging during which the components and macroautophagy are downregulated in expression and activity." www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4351408/
"Between the 1950s and 1980s, scientists were focusing on the decoding of the genetic information–how the genome is transcribed and translated, but how proteins are degraded has remained a neglected research area. The discovery of the ubiquitin-proteasome system (UPS) with its numerous components and myriad functions has changed the paradigm that regulation of cellular processes occurs solely at the transcriptional and translational levels, and has set regulated proteolysis in a prominent position. It is now known that ubiquitin-mediated proteolysis is involved in regulating basically any cellular process, including cell cycle and division, differentiation, signal transduction, maintenance of the integrity of the genome and proteome, and the many routes the cell communicates with its environment." ciechanover.net.technion.ac.il/
The have been advances in terms of causation and possible treatments for dementia and other neurodegenerative diseases, by scientists, doctors and researchers over the last thirty years. www.israel21c.org/israeli-research-behind-new-cancer-fighting-drug/ I had the good fortune to spend time and discuss both dementia and Parkinson's disease in depth with Dr. Aaron Ciechanover during the time he was a guest lecturer at Yerevan State Medical University in Armenia, whilst I was an invited professor there in 2010. I had a vested interest in "picking his brain" while he was there since he spoke English fluently and members of my family have suffered from both Alzheimers and Parkinson's diseases. Dr. Ciehanover's work with proteins and cytotoxic processes is revolutionary. As well he is deeply committed to abiding by ethical foundations of integrity in terms of making decisions based on medical prognosis and knowledge. He gave an excellent and easily accessible Tedtalk in English in 2017, when he was 70 years old. He is still working. I urge you to watch this one entitled "The Future of Medicine": www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZYAgNpVZLRc
Dr. Ciechanover and other medical researchers of conscience, caution us about thinking any "one drug fits all" even if it appears that therapeutic strategies and medications are effective in drug trials for specific symptoms and conditions. In economic and social terms-finding ways to decrease or perhaps erase dementia would be a boost in health and require less health care and costs for any nation who is able to do so. This is a compelling incentive to accelerate research efforts in this field. After all, if you keep living long enough...you will age and there is a one in five chance you may have one or more types of dementia, especially if you live in one of the top 20 countries with a high percentage per population of dementia in their older population and a significantly higher chance if any of your immediate family members are proven to have the genetic mutation or "susceptibility" to this disease and you haven't changed your diet or lifestyle to mitigate this risk factor.
"Though as much as 99 percent of all Alzheimer’s cases are not a result of a known genetic mutation, researchers have determined that the best place to find a treatment or cure for the disease is to study those who possess a mutation that causes it. It’s a method that has worked for other diseases. Statins, the drugs that are broadly prescribed to block the body’s cholesterol synthesis, were first found effective in studies of people who inherited a rare gene that led to severe and early heart disease. (watch Dr. Ciechanover's TedTalk for a clear, concise explanation of this process)
Alzheimer’s is the sixth leading cause of death in this country."www.nytimes.com/2012/06/10/magazine/an-alzheimers-gene-one-familys-saga.html
On the other side, there is a four out of five chance you will not get dementia especially if you maintain a healthy lifestyle, diet, exercise and keep your cognitive skills challenged and sharp. The best way to do this is to keep socially connected, find purposeful work-if not paid then volunteer work, and eschew any unnecessary medications-especially psychiatric drugs. There are natural herbs and supplements including MCT oil and/or powder which enhance cognition and energy in a complementary way for the human body.
However, regardless if you are in your seventh, eighth or ninth decade there will be significant changes unless you are one of the 4% who are active and alert until their dying days. Most of those people live in France, Japan, Spain, Switzerland, Australia and Italy according to the World Atlas in 2019-America did not make the top 20: www.worldatlas.com/articles/countries-with-the-longest-life-expectancy.html There is some dispute about statistics since Monaco was listed as having a life expectancy of 89.32 years for it's men in 2018, but regardless most of the 193 countries have life expectancies of less than 80 years including the USA, which has a life expectancy of 78.6 years of a baby born in 2019. www.healthsystemtracker.org/chart-collection/u-s-life-expectancy-compare-countries/#item-le_the-u-s-has-the-lowest-life-expectancy-at-birth-among-comparable-countries_2019
Here is a pithy poem on growing older by an American poet, author, dancer, screenwriter, singer, civil rights worker and mother who lived from 1928-2014. Her legal name was Marguerite Johnson, but she is known by her pen name...
Maya Angelou and she defied statistics by living into her 80s in the USA.
By Maya Angelou (More Maya Angelou)
When you see me sitting quietly,
Like a sack left on the shelf,
Don’t think I need your chattering.
I’m listening to myself.
Hold! Stop! Don’t pity me!
Hold! Stop your sympathy!
Understanding if you got it,
Otherwise I’ll do without it!
When my bones are stiff and aching,
And my feet won’t climb the stair,
I will only ask one favor:
Don’t bring me no rocking chair.
When you see me walking, stumbling,
Don’t study and get it wrong.
‘Cause tired don’t mean lazy
And every goodbye ain’t gone.
I’m the same person I was back then,
A little less hair, a little less chin,
A lot less lungs and much less wind.
But ain’t I lucky I can still breathe in.
Coming to the end of this week's missive with a song by a Texas band that many thought had "died" but who has risen again thankfully. They have a tongue-in-cheek song entitled: "Don't Let Me Die in Florida"
You'll discover why the "Dixie Chicks" are still one of the most vibrant American country western musical groups in the USA. Luckily they are touring soon with their new album "Gaslighter". When you listen to the song and see them on this video linked below go ahead and tap your feet and if you can, sing along...while you still have breath.
As another personal note-today, September 24 is my father's 89th birthday and as he says, he's "still above ground and standing" and he's still in Texas.
Keep healthy wherever you are...until next Tuesday,
RED TEAM THOSE RED FLAG LAWS
In general terms, "red teaming" just means trouble shooting any plan to determine any possible negative outcomes or consequences. In 'best practices' you do red teaming before you present a plan. You utilize the results of a thorough red teaming to refine and/or change your plan. A number of states already have "red flag laws" enacted as a means of gun control. Do they actually work? This week let's red team those new prospective Federal "Red Flag" laws people, politicians and pundits are talking about. What could possibly go wrong?!
For many American citizens the 2nd Amendment to the US constitution is a vital part of our American culture and a cornerstone to our other freedoms. As a reminder I have included the original text in an easy to read image inserted here. Please read and consider these words carefully and consciously. Notice it does not specify "all" people but rather "the people". In historical context this meant only citizens - who were only Caucasian (white) men and who owned property. This has changed significantly since it's ratification in 1791. American citizens now include both women and men, all races, creeds and backgrounds/economic status. See this short video for some verifiable statistics and reasons for carrying a weapon today-the title is: "I Carry A Gun" www.youtube.com/watch?v=1alljvP_org
American citizen's rights can be taken away because of criminal indictment, being reported as being a mental incompetent, mental defective, having a mental illness, voluntarily giving up one's American citizenship or through denaturalization - although rare - which is possible if an American citizen (for example) goes to fight for a foreign nation that is the enemy of the USA i.e. Daesh/ISIS/Taliban/Al Qaeda/Hezbollah/Hamas, FARC, etc.
Other than these specific situations or conditions, currently American citizens will retain all their constitutional rights as long as they reside in the USA for the duration of their adult lives. By the way September 17th is "Constitution Day" in the USA. Happy Constitution Day!- especially to those fortunate enough to be born and/or live as an American in the United States.
Red flag laws are a constitutional and legal labyrinth. As of 2019, seventeen states and the District of Columbia have enacted some form of "red flag" laws as gun control. Connecticut was the first state to pass legislation in 1999. Indiana was next in 2005 and the rest followed after 2014. Some states have 'Extreme Risk Protection Orders' (ERPO)-Oregon, Washington, Vermont and Maryland and others have Risk Protection of Gun Violence Warrants such as Florida and California.
Senator Kamala Harris from California who is running for President of the United States, even proposed a "domestic terrorist" legislation as a red flag law which would infringe on US citizens right to freedom of speech.
Matt Olsen, former director of the National Counterterrorism Center during the Obama administration, stated that "Senator Kamala Harris's proposed domestic terrorism prevention orders legislation should include a provision that a person cannot be deemed a domestic terrorist solely based on First Amendment-protected activity". It doesn't.
Kamala Harris runs on a platform which would not support the "right to bear arms" and would use executive orders to severely limit access to guns, require full registration, make personal selling of firearms (more than 5) illegal unless the individual is licensed and performs official background checks, all in addition to enacting red laws which would include the possibility of designation of an individual as a "domestic terrorist" based solely on political activities and social media or personal speech and not necessarily based on previous physical threats, violent acts or inciting others to violence. www.ontheissues.org/2020/Kamala_Harris_Gun_Control.htm
This is an extremely hostile approach to upholding the second amendment.
What could go wrong here?
'Guilty until proven innocent' is not supposed to be part of our American justice system, but these 'red flag' laws have turned due process upside down. Most red flag laws make provision for "anticipation of a danger to the person cited or to others" and if someone reports or petitions for an individual to be "red flagged" they have to prove they are not "dangerous" or a "domestic terrorist" and they will have their weapons collected and stored by law enforcement first....then they will have to appeal and go to court to have them returned. They will also be liable for any "fees" stipulated by the court or law enforcement, no matter if the call/petition against them proved to be invalid, harassment or false, even based on lies or slander.
In some states, the petitioner can make the request via phone. They don't even need to look the judge in the eye. Let's assume your ex or a disgruntled co -worker calls in, swears under oath (and no one has ever lied under oath, right?) that you are dangerous, crazy and might kill them. Because...what? You're supporting Trump and everyone knows that that's irresponsible and dangerous? (There are lots of activist judges.) Your house is searched and any weapons are seized and you may be arrested. Then you need to hire a lawyer and may possibly be held in jail.
Within 21 days, 90 days, 6 months or a year-you have your appeal hearing before the judge and the judge decides that you are not dangerous after all, and you can get your guns back. False alarm-misuse of the red flag law. What happens next?
You go to the police station where your guns have been stored and you're told that you have to pay the storage fee which is usually around $500/day for each day. In many states including California, the storage fee per day is even higher.
They took all your 5 guns, so that's $2,500/day.
For 21 days, you owe $52,500.
You don't have the money so, "Oh, so sorry, you cannot get your guns back...the $2,500/day is still accumulating, every day".
Technically you can retrieve your guns but effectively you are a victim of search and seizure. Your guns, your private assets have now been appropriated by the state.
See how these red flag laws can easily be misapplied?
Let's examine another example of how red flag laws can be manipulated against American citizens from actual case histories of military veterans. There have been a number of military veterans returning from overseas deployments where their neighbors call into local police and social welfare organizations that there is "suspicious behavior" by this individual they often do not know. There is no evidence needed for the phone call to be followed up.
The person calling in may have ulterior motives, a grudge or even be mentally unstable themselves. It doesn't matter. Once they report they see this individual as "dangerous to him/herself or others" that person is labelled and digitally, indelibly filed as a 302. This will probably disqualify them from certain jobs, holding a security clearance and will be on their medical and criminal records as being held as an involuntary patient. This is different from a 5150 which is less serious. A person on a 5150 can be held in the psychiatric hospital against their will for up to 72 hours. This does not mean that they will necessarily be held the entire 72 hours; it means that psychiatric hospitals have the legal right to do so if determined to be necessary.
An involuntary commitment, a 302 - is an application for emergency evaluation and treatment for persons who are a danger to themselves or others due to a mental illness. A person applying for the 302 because they are concerned about another is referred to as a petitioner. They do not have to be related to the person they are identifying as needing "emergency evaluation", nor do they have to be a qualified medical/health practitioner. A person with a 302 on their record will not be able to pass a background check for owning a firearm/weapon for the rest of their lives.
Moreover, under the previous (Obama) administration more restrictions were put on military veterans purchasing/owning firearms. When veterans registered to speak to someone at their nearest Veterans Affairs office for transition assistance into civilian life-they were often designated as "needy" and "defective"-incredible as this may seem it happened to tens of thousands of veterans. These veterans were already "red flagged" without knowing they were put on a list as "mentally defective" or "mentally incompetent" simply because they were asking for support.
"The VA suggests many of the veterans they deem “incompetent” and need financial assistance to manage their benefits, be categorized in the “mental defective” section. However, Grassley claims they fail to consider “whether a veteran is a danger to himself, herself, or others,” the federal standard for denying someone possession of a gun. He also noted the VA’s listings are too loose for the federal background check law’s standard." popularmilitary.com/veterans-unfairly-being-banned-from-owning-guns/
Did you know under the present system any federal agency can report people to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System, (NCIS) but the VA's recommendations account for about 99 percent of the people who are listed in the mental defective category? thehill.com/regulation/administration/239012-doj-gun-ban-unfair-to-vets-republican-says
One terrible precedent is the case of US Marine Brandon Raub 26 years old. Brandon had served in both Iraq and Afghanistan from 2005-2011. Upon his return to the US in 2012, Brandon was forced from his home in his underwear and when he struggled with police to try and get his clothes on and ask why he was being arrested, he was cuffed and dragged to the police car which brought him to a psychiatric hospital. The Chesterfield, Virginia police told him the FBI and Secret Service were concerned he was mentally ill because of his facebook posts which said nothing more than constructive questioning and criticism of the Obama and other administrations. He did not have post traumatic stress. His mother and other family said he was fine, never violent, not a danger to himself or others. He did not own a gun. They do not know who initiated these actions against Brandon Raub. The FBI and Secret Service denied involvement. There have been other similar cases in other states since then.
John W. Whitehead, president of The Rutherford Institute, said the following:
"For government officials to not only arrest Brandon Raub for doing nothing more than exercising his First Amendment rights, but to actually force him to undergo psychological evaluations and detain him against his will goes against every constitutional principle this country was founded upon. This should be a wake-up call to Americans that the police state is here.
Whitehead stated that every year in Virginia more than 20,000 people are committed under similar circumstances and "that means a lot of people are disappearing" under the pretext of mental illness.
"I'm friends with the local police; I could call them right now and probably get you committed if you were in Virginia," Whitehead said. "They can arrive at your door based on somebody's testimony or your Facebook page and take you away to a mental hospital. There's a system here that is corrupt".
Yet when there have been individuals with a history of serious mental illness, repeated threats of suicide and harm to others, reported calls to local police with threats-these individuals were not even questioned by mental health authorities, police or the FBI and a few of them ended up being mass shooters in Texas, Florida, Ohio and California. There certainly are cases where it is legitimate to detain and evaluate someone due to cause. We already have systems in place for this in America-they are just under utilized or people are afraid of getting "involved" or doing their job diligently with follow on. We don't need more "red flag" laws - we need to enforce and utilize those already in place. We need competent court workers, social workers and mental health workers who do not let their own bias and agendas dictate their diagnoses.
The tactics and strategies against someone seen as 'dissenting' against the government is all too reminiscent of the Soviet gulags and mental hospitals used as prisons to silence any opposition to their regime. The Soviet hospitals used medications/drugs/electric shock to subdue their opponents. Brandon Raub was 302d because a police officer thought he needed more "evaluation" so he was forced to stay in a psych ward in a mental hospital and take medication for a further 30 days. One wonders if these were "beta tests" in the USA?! Can you see the potential for abuse of both the involuntary commitment to mental hospitals laws and the "red flag laws" nexus? Ever seen the movie "Minority Report"? A cautionary predictive programming film. I recommend you watch it soon.
Closing tonight with a song from the band Guns and Roses entitled: 'Welcome to the Jungle' a classic rock band and piece still relevant as we approach 2020.
Hell No - We Won't Give Our Guns to the Government - My Texas Ties Are Strong and Real Texans Will Never Stop Supporting and Fighting for Our Second Amendment! Remember to Keep Your Reactions Sharp. Shooting is a Perishable Skill.
Till next week,
This week public/state and private schools in the Northern hemisphere opened for their next academic year. While most pupils come from the cities and neighboring suburbs to school, there are also innovative and unique schools in rural communities, in Indigenous nations and in what are considered the low income areas of some of the largest cities in the northern hemisphere. This week I write about schools in three different English speaking countries: England, the USA and Canada. I highlight challenges they have in common in all three countries public school systems and then I present an example of successful "outlier" schools: one state, one tribal and one privately run school. They all have their student's long term interests as a priority combined with acknowledgement as well as respect for traditions and cultures of their parents and elders whose children attend their schools. For many in the field of education their systems and methods are "controversial" but these are schools who have proved their success by every measure including passing the state or national exams/testing, seeing their teachers remain engaged, their students naturally modelling high standards in and outside of school, and maintaining the integrity of their mission and principles. Plus, they all have outstanding and visionary leadership-a key component to continued progress.
The connection in schools all over our planet is children-the students/pupils-and teachers. All other aspects will vary depending on the country, community, funding level and type of national government. Let's consider the teachers first.
Teacher training has been degraded in many countries over the past two decades, along with the status of this profession. I have witnessed as part of my work as a teacher trainer, education adviser, mentor and education programs assessor the forced ideologies disguised as the "new pedagogy" which results in the dulling/dumbing down of both teachers and students. A constant denigration of full spectrum thinking in favor of rigid group think, lowering standards in the name of "equality and inclusiveness" and enforced political straitjacketing of language and movement are resulting in inhibited innovation, limited avenues for any freedom of expression, as well as little possibility of peer constructive criticism and healthy competition. Those most suited for a teaching career, who care for children, love learning and designing unique lessons for their classes-are the ones who are most disheartened by much of the current teacher training practices and certainly by the systems they are compelled to teach under in the current public/state school curriculum and administrative hierarchies. See my previous article linked here: www.jopatti.com/blog/indoctrination-vs-education
"It's not the kids that burn us out, it's not the school per say, it's the requirements set forth by our state legislature, and the lack of support financially and professionally," Wenning, who has been an educator for 18 years, said. "Requirements set forth by legislatures include changes to curriculum, staff and parent meetings, and state-wide testing." insider.com/teachers-are-seeing-their-colleagues-leave-at-an-alarming-rate-2018-11
The 'political correctness' (correct only according to a far left/liberal interpretation of the word) required of teachers at work, in their community, after hours on their personal media platforms, often squashes the enthusiasm, joy and motivation for teachers to continue. Teaching is considered a calling as well as a profession. One that offers little financial reward and often throttles personal satisfaction and creativity. Moreover the little support given by administration, school boards and even parents for maintaining safety and decorum in the schools and in classrooms, causes many young teachers to give up on their aspirations for dedicating their lives to this work. Did you know 'Teaching' used to be considered a "noble profession"?!
More than 40% of trained teachers in middle and high school in the USA, the UK and Canada do not even last five years in the teaching profession anymore. "Up to 50 percent of those who become teachers in the US quit within five years—a figure that has been widely shared. That was always a rough estimate, and this new figure uses national longitudinal data and is more accurate, the report says. Of course, given the ballooning of the teaching force, there are more beginners in the teaching force than before. Still, it's a high attrition rate. Teachers leave the profession at a higher rate than many other professionals, including police officers." blogs.edweek.org/edweek/teacherbeat/2018/10/today_teaching_force_richard_ingersoll.html
"In the UK the retention rates of early career teachers are also lower now than they were a few years ago. Around 87 per cent of teachers who enter teaching remained in the profession at the end of their first year, which is a figure that hasn’t changed since 2010, until this year when it decreased to 85 per cent. Worse still, the three-year retention rate has dropped from 80 per cent in 2011 to 73 per cent in 2017 and the five-year rate has dropped from 73 per cent in 2011 to 67 per cent in 2017. " www.nfer.ac.uk/news-events/nfer-blogs/latest-teacher-retention-statistics-paint-a-bleak-picture-for-teacher-supply-in-england/
In a recent Canadian study and survey published in The Voice of Canadian Teachers they reported, "Virtually all respondents indicated that “Work-related stress“, “Heavy workload”, “High expectations lack of support" "increasing demands on teachers” and “Student behaviour and discipline issues” are important factors in their decision to leave the profession in spite of the rewards of working with children and potentially making a significant impact and difference in their lives.
Unfortunately there has been minimal focus on the problems in our education system. The response to the continuing attrition rate and challenge in recruiting, training and retaining "good teachers" has been to cover up evidence of failure instead of following the successful models of countries like Finland, Singapore and Israel which have improved their teacher to student ratios (smaller classes) subsidized teacher training and professional development, elevated the professional status and salaries of teachers as well as raised national standards. North America and the UK have responded by cutting corners in most areas of the state education sector and in obscuring their decision making criteria. The teachers and children suffer as a result and many parents feel they have no recourse. If they can afford to, they will seek out private schools or if financially possible, home school their children; but the majority will continue to be pushed through the substandard public school system because they feel they have no other option.
"The way the teacher shortage is often being managed by state governments isn’t by offering to pay more; it’s by lowering teaching standards. Unsurprisingly, no state government that I’m aware of has honestly described how they’re handling the problem. Some even blame the teachers’ union. It’s a con job and if your child is being deprived of a good education by it, you should demand better." exclusive.multibriefs.com/content/why-schools-cant-hire-enough-good-teachers/education
There are examples of parents, elders and communities demanding "better education" adhering to their own culture, language and standards. One group pictured signing as an independent district with control over curriculum, teachers and administrators hired, and resources allocated within their jurisdiction, is the KTC Education authority started over twenty years ago and finally recognized and funded by the tribes and the Canadian Federal government after many years of persistence, hard work and lobbying by the Cree Nation.
“KTCEA was established to ensure that Loon River, Woodland Cree, Lubicon, Whitefish Lake and Peerless Trout First Nations students receive an education responsive to their unique needs by strengthening Nehiyawewin (Cree) [language and culture] in our schools; developing resources and courses that reflect diverse Indigenous and community perspectives; focusing on student retention, attendance, literacy, numeracy and improved teacher retention; and improving student well-being through nutrition and athletic programs,” said Loon River First Nation Chief Ivan Sawan." www.dailyheraldtribune.com/news/local-news/investing-in-first-nations-schools-ktcea-signs-education-agreement-with-feds-2
Another example of a successful school with a visionary founder and leader
who hires and promotes engaged, excellent teachers, raises standards and expects consistent appropriate behavior from her students; is the Michaela School in the Wembly Park district of London, England. The co-founder and Headmistress (Principal) is Ms. Katherine Moana Birbalsingh. Her school, founded in 2014 in what is reported as a "poor, underprivileged section of North London", has been characterized as "one of the strictest state schools in the UK. The school teaches a traditional “knowledge rich” curriculum and follows stringent routines. Students move between classes in silence and are often made to chant poetry during assemblies." However, no one can argue with the brilliant results her students achieve on national exams. inews.co.uk/news/education/britain-strictest-school-michaela-gcse-results/
There is a waiting list for children wanting to enroll in the Michaela school and educators, administrators, politicians and celebrities come from all over the world to see the Michaela school in action while borrowing and/or exchanging ideas and strategies. Ms. Birbalsingh has become a beacon of light, knowledge, generousity and hope for teachers, principals, curriculum designers, parents and policy makers in a number of nations. She tells the story of her career, ideas about education 'reform' and the process of founding the Michaela Community school(s) in this interview-well worth watching. This was filmed before the official results of the Michaela school on UK national exams FYI: www.youtube.com/watch?v=DXc46-NlOyw
Native American reservations still exist. In fact, they are still officially designated as "Prisoner of War (POW) Camp" by numbers in the USA. Pine Ridge reservation for those who know American history, is the location of the Wounded Knee Massacre and the home of the Oglala Lakota Sioux tribal members, descendants of numerous great leaders and warriors. Pine Ridge is POW Camp #334. You can search online for more details of the history of forced internment and deliberate deprivation in a thinly disguised policy of actual genocide by previous American governments. It is a stain and a human rights violation not remedied by the civil rights actions on behalf of Black Americans, disabled Americans or women. Sadly a race containing a combination of cultures, languages and traditions of the "Red man" was once 100% of the population of North America, but is now down to only 2%. The states with the highest percentage of Indigenous tribal members is Alaska, followed by Oklahoma, New Mexico and then South Dakota. The problems on reservations are well documented and here is one short story of one family on Pine Ridge: www.youtube.com/watch?v=dc94YDtSM1E
The Pine Ridge reservation in South Dakota has tribal schools which were started privately during the time Barbara Means Adams (cousin to Russell Means), initiated the White Buffalo Calf Conference on Lakota education and supported efforts for traditionally oriented early childhood and kindergarten education on the reservation. One such school is the Lakota Waldorf school near three mile creek in Kyle.
The Waldorf school 'system' is more compatible with Lakota culture than US government schools. From it's inception in 1993 as just a kindergarten, it has grown to an elementary school. They intend to build up to a middle school soon. The Lakota Waldorf school exists only on grants and donations in kind, as well as in dollars (frog skins). There was a period of exchange between Europeans and Native Americans in the 1990s and a few Austrian, Swiss and Germans married Sioux tribal members living on the reservation with their children. As a result, some of them who knew the Austrian philosopher Rudolf Steiner's work in education and Waldorf schools decided to consult with Lakota elders about creating a Waldorf school in the heart of the Pine Ridge reservation. They did so with only private funding/donations. This meant they could have flexibility for designing community specific curriculum and activities in the Lakota language. Many of their alumni volunteer to work at the school and credit their love of learning Lakota, routines, healthy habits and handcrafts from their time at the Lakota Waldorf school which for many of them is a place of refuge.
I had the privilege of volunteering for a few months at this school back in 1997, and I am happy to support a family foundation, the Denali Foundation's-specific gift which sends/donates art supplies to this school. The Lakota Waldorf school has their own website and a video about their school at this link: lakotawaldorfschool.org/2017-lakota-waldorf-school-video/
I am also writing about the Lakota Waldorf school this week to encourage you to donate whatever amount you can to their go fund me campaign to host their first Lakota Waldorf school pow wow. They are almost at their goal of only $2,000.00 Here is the link which has the details: www.gofundme.com/f/lakotawaldorfpowwow
With all the trillions, yes trillions of dollars in "education programs" in other countries our tax dollars are funneled to through USAID, the Department of State, the Department of Defense Civil Affairs and Provisional Reconstruction Teams, the Department of Agriculture projects as well as subcontractors and NGO programs even to countries which are openly advocating violence against the USA; it is a national disgrace and shame our own Native American schools and reservations still lack basic necessities, lack adequate infrastructure including heat, transport, supplies, and our American children lack enough food, shelter, medical care, adequate clothing, school supplies and opportunities for further education when foreigners are granted full scholarships and living allowances in the USA through "exchange programs", immigration subsidies and 'charity'.
Most of the 195 countries in the world have some form of public education for their young children, their next generation. We may take for granted that education is provided and that states, federal and even international organizations are committed to doing the best they can to raise the standards of achievement and the tools for children to learn, to be independent, to think on their own, to gain knowledge of a variety of subjects needed for life and to eventually teach others.
Like any important system whether in our own bodies, our families, our communities or our nations...we must be vigilant in maintaining and improving our education and educators. We need to hold those in positions of power over education policy, resources and personnel, accountable. We need to question any "new" ideologies which may be regressive in the results we see in our children, our grandchildren in our neighborhoods and representing our country. We need not accept slack teaching, slack attitudes, restrictions on our basic constitutional freedoms and disrespect as part of the "new normal". We need to back our schools only if our schools are producing the excellent results they are capable of no matter where they may be located. Others have done it, are doing it-there are no excuses anymore. We need to demand transparency from our school boards, legislators and politicians at the local, state and national level.
Closing today with a song from a popular film about a high school that was turned around from the lowest "performing school" with gang and discipline problems to a top performing school because of strong, adaptive, creative leadership and commitment. The film "Lean on Me" was based on a true story and the lead role was played by Morgan Freeman. The title song is sung during a school assembly and applauds the high standards which were presented as "cool" only one generation ...thirty years ago in 1989. Enjoy!
Until next Tuesday-drive carefully and be alert...schools are back in session,