The frenetic spending that occurs around Christmas is an intense illustration of an economy locked into consumerism, and, in the context of the Great Recession, an economy based on debt.
The recent events surrounding ‘Black Friday’, illustrate the extreme reality brought about by the deregulation in the retail sector, and a further shift from the protection of small market producers towards large commercial players. Wherever these ‘innovative’ sales techniques have been introduced, violence, which in other contexts could be taken as a sign of social instability, has followed suit.[i] Yet the lines over the legality of shoppers’ behaviour remain blurred.[ii]
Trench warfare was the determinant feature of the First World War, responsible for its immense deadliness and devastation. It also lead to the development of modern battle tanks and decisively shaped the design of timelessly popular trench coat. With its devastating effects on the life of millions of soldiers and the general deadlock entrenchment creates between two warring ground armies, it became a powerful symbol for the futility of war.
This futility was illustrated by the “Christmas truce” that took place early in the First World War in December 1914 on the Western Front. German and British soldiers left some of their dug in fortifications along the front line to meet in the no man’s land that separated their positions to talk, sing Christmas carols or even play football together. After this exchange of warm feelings, the fighting and killing resumed.
This year North Korea has seen escalating international pressure concerning its human rights record.
On February 7, the 400-page United Nations Commission of Inquiry report on the human rights situation in North Korea disclosed harrowing details of crimes against humanity such as rape, torture, infanticide, forced labor, starvation, execution, and other atrocities, mostly committed in the political prison camp systems. Comparisons to Nazi Germany were made and the report cautioned that Kim Jong Un could be held accountable.
On November 18, the General Assembly released a resolution that called on the Security Council to refer North Korea to the International Criminal Court for its crimes against humanity. With a vote of 111 to 19 with 55 abstentions, the resolution passed despite the vetoes from longtime allies China and Russia.
Turkmenistan is a country with the smallest population among Central Asian States. However, it has the world’s fifth largest estimated reserves of natural gas. In 1998 the United Nations recognized the “permanent neutrality” status of Turkmenistan. The country will not engage in any military or political issues outside of the country. However, Turkmenistan wants diversify its energy policy in order not to be depended on Russia or China.
Before you were engaged in non-violent action, what was your background?
I was engaged in a rock band and this was very anti war and anti establishment at the time Milosevic was building his nationalist case, and then when I went to university I was engaged in the first year of my studies, which coincided with the first big student protest in 1992. In 1992 we cut our teeth, and in 1996-7 we were leading movements after the stolen elections. And in 2000 we won.
Was there a event that got you involved?
It was the mix of a few things: the being a young person in Serbia in the 90s, and especially coming from this generation which remembered the good old days. You look and there is this crazy guy who gives you guns and says: “go to Croatia and kill people because they are Croats” and you say, “that’s what I am”, and he says “no, you are a Serb”. Because nationalism didn’t really matter when I was a kid, and it only started to matter when I was 18 or 19. This was a very schizophrenic situation for my generation. So my generation was either sucked into war, or forced to emigrate. This was the biggest brain drain in history – 200,000 young people left the country. So for us it was more a matter of necessity than courage.
Anti-TTIP protest outside the UK Parliament earlier this year. Source: [a]
Whilst the EU is currently negotiating free trade agreements (FTAs) with several parties, including the US, Canada, Singapore, India, Malaysia, ASEAN, GCC and Ukraine, the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) with the US has attracted the most public attention – and controversy. The deal’s focus on removing ‘non-conventional’ trade barriers, including those on finance, intellectual property rights, pharmaceuticals, food and beyond, has inspired the formation of a Europe-wide ‘Stop TTIP’ alliance. Whilst this analysis highlights the environmental governance implications of theTTIP (in particular for energy and agriculture), this should not divert attention away from the global trade agreement process of which it is a part.
Leaked documents, along with details of the EU negotiating position made public last month, outline the deal’s objective of regulatory ‘harmonisation’ and the potential inclusion of investor protection mechanisms (currently under review), which would expand existing avenues for firms to litigate against states for regulations perceived to harm their future profits. In existing FTAs and other international agreements, such mechanisms have already led to states being sued by firms for regulations aimed at environmental protection: including Germany, Uruguay, Australia, Canada, Ecuador, and El Salvador.