Category Archives: Children/Youth

A Million and One Ideas that Would Transform the Globe

Writing is not a searching about in the daily experience for apt similes and pretty thoughts and images… It is not a conscious recording of the day’s experiences ‘freshly and with the appearance of reality’… The writer of imagination would find himself released from observing things for the purpose of writing them down later. He would be there to enjoy, to taste, to engage the free world, not a world which he carries like a bag of food, always fearful lest he drop something or someone get more than he.

— William Carlos Williams,  Spring and All

Ahh, just proposing a few hundred “things” to transform the globe into a world where people control their destinies within groups of people who have their destinies in their best interest is teetering on insanity. It’s not what good people in good capitalist company do, allow, or talk about seriouisly.

No Kid Hungry: How you can help end childhood hunger - Between Us Parents

You see, Capitalism lite or Capitalism hard is the same dog-eat-dog world of fend for yourselves, do or die, sink or swim, err, unless you can form a cabal of elites, with their colonies of soldiers and lawyers and bankers and land dealers to entitle you to a different playing field. Inverted Totalitarianism.

Get a group of like-minded sociopaths, get a group of investors who want to make a quick buck, get millions who consume the lies of the business journals, the lies of the celebrity scum that end up controlling the narrative on everything, from how the local dog catcher should or shouldn’t do their job, all the way to the pigs over in Fukushima now letting (sic) out the isotopes of cancerous love into the Pacific. Imagine, the power of that cabal of industrialists.

It’s the same story told with a different spin, but we know the routine — Hanford, bombs, government contracts, the Tri-Cities (Washington state where the bomb material for incinerating one of the Japanese cities was cooked up) “benefitting” from the construction jobs, the nailing and sawing and framing, all the scientists and the support teams (up to 15,000 back then in the 1944) eating out, and that is the disaster and shock and war lord capitalism’s central feature — colonizing people. That entire nuclear material making house of nuclear cards based on bad scientists coming into town, and then the system of capitalism runs like a smooth Atilla the Hun School of Economics. Farmers out in Eastern Washington, and bam, the big bad bomb making boys with their pencil necks, their big cars, their big booze bills, the cigarettes, the new homes with backyard in ground pools, the ancillary and tertiary junk of the consumer/capitalist kind, colonizing in this dry land. Until the smoothly and finely-tuned and well-greased death machine ends up decades later running amok in the people’s thyroids, in the DNA and RNA of papa and mama, and alas, now Native fishers as young as 24 have thyroids removed, and the warning label now says, cut away all the fatty bellies of salmon — NOT recommended not for human consumption. Read my two-part series here at Dissident Voice.

Just the Facts About Hunger in the US & The World | WhyHunger

Capitalism — not for human consumption. That is, all those hyphenated additives and ingredients in baby’s formula, all that stuff sprayed into everything, all those extruded plastics, all those soldered joints, all those capacitors and Prius batteries, the entire thing is not for human consumption.

Now, then,  how can anyone go up against this narrative, or flip the script, or make paradigm shifts and cultural transformations, when the entire mess is defended by the very people, say in Appalachia, where entire mountain peaks are blasted away, trout rivers blackened by the dust, and babies born fifty points or more below the barely average thinking (IQ) capacity of a Trump or Biden evil spawn. Dirt poor, no teeth, USDA Mac’ n’ Cheese food pantry boxes, and, bam, here we are, 2020,   and the dumb as dirt country is being run by thieves, rapists, bombers, land razers, polluters, perverts, sociopaths.

Explore the Issues – FoodBank

Then the compliant ones, all the big burly tough Americans, especially on the GOP and MAGA side, who feign toughness, think they are blustery in their attacks on educators, intellectuals, scientists, youth, raging grannies, women, environmentalists, multi-culturalists, but the bottom line, they are the flag wavers, the slaver statue defenders, the clear cutters, the wolf killers, the church goers, the big truck lovers, lock step on Saturdays for their college football, their Friday night big high school grid iron, their Sunday hour of hate with Jerry Falwell or Billy Graham. Everything about the mythology of America — the white land, everything about the authority of the white patriarch, everything about the Stars and Bars — those are the MAGA/GOP lovers, and they want it their way or the highway. Or the way of the AR-15, and anyone moving in protest shot on sight. Amazingly openly racist, and anything or anyone  that speaks of questioning the Yankee Doodle Dandy and Confederate narrative, the MAGA go ballistic, and their slave patrol cops come in shooting.

This is not to say the other groupings tied to the Democratic party are that much more independent, or fore-thinking. This is the way of capitalism, and the bourgeoise, the professional middle managers, the cultural warriors, all the PC and cancel culture and the co-opting of movement’s, the kids and adults purchasing Che printed on the t-shirt with Pink Floyd emblazoned under him, that is the other side of the capitalist isle. Really, two different breeds, possibly, the products of epigenetics, and both believing in the unholy contract within both the rule of law and the rules of engagement. A contract is a contract, sign on the dotted line for your next lemon.

War, Branding, Amusements, Infantilism, Disneyifcation, Commercials,  Retailopethicus, and the land of milk and honey, through the veins of mother earth, clotted, and the fissures of Turtle Island, radiated, and massive murder and slavery, legitimized. Not much more of that history can be 1619 Project leveled to define this country.

Hunger in America

Until, everyone, on all sides of the political manure pile, are the enemy of transformational living and collectivism.

How many times have I gone up against college presidents who actually come from the ranks of MBA schools, or with degrees in “institutional leadership” (yes, and WTF degree, PhD no less).

Try out the Journal for Higher Education Mangers, running with the AAUA, American Association of University Administrators.  Then, yes, The Journal of Research on the College President. They have their lobbying arm, their professional insiders, their army of propagandists. Always, top down, and nothing to do with teaching and teachers.

10 cities where an appalling number of Americans are starving | Salon.com

Look, more is not better, and bigger is not better, but in capitalism, in supposedly valiant and worthy areas  like education, that is, working with humans to allow themselves to share/advance knowledge and nurturing systems thinking and expanding critical interdisciplinary skills; to learn to work across disciplines, cultures, nations, well, you might think the idea is to work socialistically to bring our societies and our various countries toward some decent survivability and mutual aid across all lines. . .  Each person is an individual in a systems thinking collective. But the reality is that bigger is better in destructive capitalism, schooling or Amazon fulfillment center;  and competition is not just expressed on the basketball courts. Each school, trying to hook the next and the next generation of potential students. More and more Club Med amenities. Working on the Amusing Themselves to Death. A nice tidy $100,000 school loan bill for that undergraduate degree no one in America gives a shit about.

It’s not about intergenerational, multi-dynamic cross-educational pathways to community and collective healing and mutual aid; i.e., emancipation from the consumer path. It’s about the big fish in the ocean eating the most sardines. It is all about free (sic) market hucksterism, and the constant getting one, two, three thousand things over on your fellow citizens. Compatriots for Americans is the opposite of compassion.

Ya think those provosts and institutional leaders and VPs and Human Resources pros give a shit about the actual individual student, or the workers keeping the system, and their big pay checks, going?

Nope. I have worked with colleges where the outliers like me, left of left, are not only denigrated, but marginalized and sacked. I have worked with colleges where exploitation is the maximal form of employment. The student is not always the center of things, and alas, now the student is a customer, or in a time of Plan-Demic, a data donor on a huge Digital Dashboard.

If you want to talk about technocratic and technological fascism, you will not be embraced in neoliberal circles, and lite liberal circles. Not in most departments at the universities. Forget the community colleges, where more and more college across the land have drone technology programs. You know, bomb them back to the stone age from the comfort of your Lazy Boy lumbar supported counsel chair. No matter how much the liberals spew about CSA’s (community supported agriculture) and Farmer’s Markets and the like, they still feel as if technology, Artificial Intelligence, all the apps and tools of the managerial class, the tracking tools, the aggregating tools, all the “so called” medical and banking and taxing tools, well, the show must go on in their Zoom Doom minds. How do you stop it, they might ask. How? And, for the most part, many of them profess that tracking who does and who does not get the vaccinations, who does and who doesn’t agree with the entire narrative, well, that is a-okay to put them on some kind of passport, wristwatch with all the goods on that person.

These are scary times, and desperate times call for desperate/fascistic/ technological neutering measures. That is the narrative of both MAGA/GOP and the Democrats/

Every Dissident Voice and Facebook post, all the entanglements of the process of exploring ideas and expressing opinions, it is like a forever chemical — data, and stories and tweets and postings, they stay in the digital hell of the overlords, ready to be paraded out anytime. I have been told, “You didn’t get the job because they ‘Googled you.'” And those millionaires and billionaires and soon-to-be trillionaires have offered up the backdoor keys to NSA and given all the other alphabet soup agencies of oppression and repression, all the info, as well as given it to any major or minor corporation having the $ to access EVERYTHING. The outfall is, of course, revolt, dissent, dissidence and clarity of dissension will be, well, verboten if one is to survive in this Global Digital and AI/CCTV/Big Brother panopticon — which is now not just an institutional building and a system of control designed by the English philosopher and social theorist Jeremy Bentham in the 18th century. Now, each internet, each bureaucratic, each retail transaction, each consumer moment being observed by a single security guard — the AI God in the Cloud.

The Republicans, the Democrats, the Libertarians, all of them, want that level of control. Even the Chinese, do. This is the value of oppression, economies of scale, the conundrum of each nation out for itself. Each hundred million souls or each half a billion humans must go after the goods, the others be damned.

This is the psychopathic way of “the market,” the bulwark that is the steal jaws of competitive markets, where the commons is always a tragedy, where the Greek Tragedy is played out every nanosecond in the arms of mothers and on the lips of babes, as land is paved over, jawed open, blasted clean, denuded, soil and life and people and animals turned inside out, used in the grand corralling of the minds and bodies. We are the sheep and cattle in the elites sophisticated system of domestication, husbandry, monocropping plants and people.

Social-intellectual-spiritual-dreaming control. Pre-crime is not some Phillip K. Dick fantasy, it is, rather, the reality of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, started decades ago with every transaction, every educational move, every financial move, every medical move, every legal or illegal move monitored, checked, and filed away. AI and Google and the plethora of other evil app providers and software makers, well, they have the web spinning as I write this.

But this screed is not about that so much as it is about my writing. Another novel, started, on a roll, and yet, daily, I am sure, minute by minute somewhere in the recesses of my brain, I wonder “why?” Who the fuck will read this book, and how do I market it, and if I am so radical and communist, in my philosophy, should I be worried about who reads it and how it gets read? The Collector and Story Teller, the working title, very very loosely based on people I meet, including one fellow, who I feature here at Dissident Voice ––  Down and Out in Portland: Retired in Style in Waldport, OR

The problem is I am a novelist without an audience, in this shit-show that was big time publishing in the 1980s through the 2000, when I had an agent looking to score semi-small/median with the NYC/Boston publishing houses, that has shifted big time, until the big bucks are thrown at the putrid people, the Obamas paid in the tens of millions for lies and more lies; all the tell-all crapper books; all those Master of Fine Arts style sessions; and, well, a stack to the moon of how to get rich-how to get laid-how to get self-actualized-how to get one or a million scams  on your neighbor – how to get a million bucks/spirituality/love/instant success/happiness/multiple orgasms without any work.

Publishers Adapt Policies To Help Educators - Flipboard

I get the scam of publishing (one shit-load of rejection slips and letters, even… “well, mighty evocative, mighty powerful, but not our cup of tea,” and I get the competition is ruthless. In fact, you can create great art, and it will, alas, stay locked up in a file case or hung up in papa’s garage next to the Vargas women.

Imagine, Vassar College and Smith College interns, reading piles upon piles of manuscripts (that was in the 1990s-2000s), and if the first two lines, or in rare cases, the first two pages didn’t catch their attention, then, bam, the slush pile. Rejection City.

My New York agent wanted like hell to get my books/novels sold, but he too was up against this pedestrian bullshit East Coast triple bias.

Now, at age 63, what’s the point of lashing out lines and incredible concepts and narratives, when, well, here we are — a nation of triple consumers. Students called consumers, that is, customers. The entire fear city shit of the plan-demic with all those yellow bellies up against the functionally illiterate masses. To mask or not to mask, that is the fucking question? Really! No fucking MAGA or Christian Pervert will read my stuff. Let alone buy it. Cancel culturists won’t buy/read my fiction. Highfaluting “artistic” types won’t. The pile of mush getting churned out on Hulu, Netflix, Amazon, all of that, this is the American gel, the mush and mutilated crap of the elites and the Duck Dynasty folk. Podcast after ever-deadening podcast sucking up more attention spans. The incredible right-wing news (sic) feeds. The incredible unintelligible pop culture, the hate culture, the faux Buddhist shit, the entire mess that is the United States’ has that “artistic” tastes which are more than just banal; they are cancerous.

But here I am, trying to get to the point: In one scene in the fast-paced book, The Collector and the Story Teller, my protagonist, Raymundo Pena, or just Ray, is trying to solve a murder and disappearance of The Collector, Aubrey Searles, and find Aubrey’s disappeared wife, and in that process, he ends up at the food pantry, the food distribution point for the poor and the downtrodden. A very short-lived scene, but real, and telling.

MFA in Creative Writing | | College of Liberal Arts | Oregon State University

Of course, you guessed it, me, the author, having worked in a few places that we call “food pantries,” and now, with the plan-demic, Ray ends up talking to a make-believe few characters working at and utilizing the pantry.

It’s a short chapter, but the reality is this — This country, broken from sea to shining sea, is way bey0nd the massive slippage either of the two prostitute parties will grasp or admit (maybe both of them, and their majority backers, have zero idea how threadbare systems are in the USA for massive poverty and massive slippage of the American people).

Hunger was bad ass before the plan-demic, the entire lockdown, the shuttering of businesses. A mean country, under any bloody Yankee-Confederate flag. Food stamps cut and cut every year. The punishment society ramped up every month, full of token groping rules and laws, making people line up for fucking voting now, for hours, so imagine the shit that poor people and hungry children have to go through for basic assistance (they don’t get it) and then ramp that up and put in poor undocumented people and hungry undocumented children have to do just to get calories.

The 20 Best Graduate Level Creative Writing - College Rank

Now, the local food bank, shortage after shortage. No turkeys, no dry beans, shortage after shortage. Plenty of Mac’n’Cheese cartons given away, and the bread and cookies and cakes, thrown at the pantries. Piles. Mountains of them. Packaged for the next apocalypse, with so many preservative an embalmer would get wet just thinking about that a 20-line ingredient (chemical) list.

Welcome to capitalism, a million choices, but “not really choices.” Which Red Dye No. 5 or Yellow No. 55 Dye do you want in your kids’ cereal puffs? Which inorganic compound do you want sprayed on the baby’s mashed potatoes? Which percentage of sugar-hydrogenated oil-salt lick do you want in the toaster cinnamon buns? How much lead in the pipes and fluoride in the toothpaste? That is America. And we get more hungry every minute. The Hunger of the Elites, hoping for more marks and suckers born every living minute. Hunger. For love. Hunger. For community. Hunger. For justice. Hunger for air. Hunger. For shelter. Hunger. For food.

Hunger Facts | Move For Hunger

The post A Million and One Ideas that Would Transform the Globe first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Transnational Adoption Concerns are Warranted and Beyond Amy Coney Barrett

SCOTUS Nominee, Amy Coney Barrett and Family

In recent days there have been accusations of a political “witch hunt” attacking Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett with “repulsive” comments about her adoptions from Haiti. These claims are a red herring intended to dismiss the very real and warranted apprehensions about transnational and transracial adoptions that have existed long before the current nomination and reach far beyond the scope of any single adoption or individual adopter.

Transnational aka intercountry, aka international adoption (IA), is notoriously fraught with corruption, kidnapping, trafficking, and exploitation of poverty, war, political unrest and natural disasters worldwide as documented by scholars such as David Smolin (adoptive father and professor of law at Cumberland School of Law in Birmingham, Alabama) and others.  Smolin popularized the phrase “child laundering”  to describe how kidnapped and stolen children are passed off as “abandoned” by criminals who are paid “finder fees” by orphanages. In other cases, mothers are duped into believing their children are being sent to America or Europe for education and will return.

Placements are arranged first by agencies in their homeland and then on to American and European adoption agencies. All of this has led Smolin to call for a moratoria of international adoption (IA) until more regulations can be implemented to protect children and their families. Until that occurs, loosely regulated adoption policies will continue to put well-meaning individuals and couples at risk for unknowingly adopting children who were kidnapped, as happened to the Smolins. This horrifying discovery also happened to Rose Candis and to Timothy and Jennifer Monahan of Liberty, Missouri and to Julia Rowlings who discovered her two daughters adopted from India had been sold, and may have happened to Barrett without her knowledge. Should we turn a blind eye and a deaf ear to potential serious consequences?

Such illegal and unethical practices led Guatemala, Ethiopia, China, and South Korea to cease or greatly limit their IA programs. The decision of these countries to discontinue the exportation of their children for adoption was also due to children from Russia and China, Ethiopia and Ukraine being rehomed  —  given by their “forever parents” to others without agency approval, vetting or home studies.

Russia stopped sending children to America for adoption because of the number of Russian adopted children abused (such as Mahsa Allen), abandoned (such as Artyom Savelyev who was put on an airplane back to Russia alone at 7 years of age), numerous Russian adopted children sent to the Ranch for Kids, in Montana, to at least 17 Russian children who died in domestic-violence incidents in their American families.

Haiti’s poverty has made it an IA “hot spot” with an estimated 3,000 children trafficked each year, many for adoption. Moreover, in January 2010, an earthquake in Haiti left hundreds of thousands of people dead, injured, and displaced, and over a million homeless. This tragedy triggered a stunning — albeit not uncommon — example of major child trafficking for adoption: A scandal involved missionaries swooping in and hurriedly scooping up children, many of whom were not orphans but had families. Ten missionary members, a group known as the New Life Children’s Refuge, did not have proper authorization for transporting the children out of the country and were arrested on kidnapping charges. NLCR founder Laura Silsby was found guilty and sentenced to time served in jail prior to the trial.

The fact that one of Barrett’s children was reportedly adopted from Haiti in the aftermath of the earthquake rightly set off alarms for those involved in adoption, personally and professionally. There is good reason to be apprehensive about the legitimacy of any adoption from that locale, especially at that exact time in history. Yet, the backlash against legitimate concerns has been fierce, as is often true of any criticism of adoption and/or adopters.

Ibram X. Kendi is an award-winning historian and a New York Times best-selling author. He is Professor of History and International Relations and the Founding Director of the Anti-Racist Research and Policy Center at American University, and the Andrew W. Mellon Professor in the Humanities at Boston University, and the founding director of the BU Center for Antiracist Research.

Kendi recently spoke out in light of Amy Coney Barrett’s nomination, and the revelation that she had adopted two children from Haiti, one in 2010 in the aftermath of Haiti’s earthquake and has been vilified with condemnation and chastised for suggesting Barrett could be a “white colonizer” who uses her two adopted Haitian children as “props” and Tweeting:

Some White colonizers ‘adopted’ Black children. They ‘civilized’ these ‘savage’ children in the ‘superior’ ways of White people, while using them as props in their lifelong pictures of denial, while cutting the biological parents of these children out of the picture of humanity.

As a result, Kendi is facing calls for his termination of his University position. Yet, Kendi’s critical views of IA and transracial adoption are neither wrong nor unique, but rather are shared by many experts in the field. In light of all of the horribly tragic outcomes of many transnational adoptions, how irresponsible it would be not to have dire concerns? Yet we want to shoot the messenger?

To demonize his message or that of others — to castigate him or make him suffer consequences for speaking truth about a well-known reality, albeit one we’d rather not admit — is akin to firing a whistleblower.

Transracial Adoption: Long-Standing Controversy

Tobias Hübinette, Korean-born transnational adoptee, Ph.D. in Korean Studies, Associate Professor in Intercultural Education, and author writes:

International adoption, the movement of predominantly non-white children from the postcolonial, so-called Third World to white adoptive parents in Western Europe, North America, Australia and Scandinavia, was born in the chaotic aftermath of the catastrophic and genocide-like Korean War. This forced child migration, which today involves around 30,000 children annually, has seen the trafficking of an estimated half a million children to date.

Ruth Ben-Ghiat, a New York University professor of Italian and history Tweeted in support of Kendi’s comments:

Many authoritarians seized children of color for adoption by White Christians. Pinochet’s regime did this with indigenous kids and Nazis took Aryan looking Poles for German families. Trump takes migrant kids for adoption by Evangelicals.

Transracial adoption has long evoked intense debate. On one side are those who believe that finding homes for children in need is greater than ethnic differences. On the other side are those who believe that adoptive placements should not strip children of their racial identity and to do so is  —  especially transnationally — colonialism and imperialism. Paula Fitzgibbons, white mother of three, two of whom were adopted from Haiti, says:

The most blatantly racist people I have personally known are white parents who adopted black children.

This claim cannot be ignored in cases such as that of Kenny Kelly Fry, of Osceola, Iowa, who were found guilty in 2019 of two counts each of child endangerment, for abuse including food depravation causing malnutrition and the neglect of two Black children: a 10-year-old girl and an 11-year-old boy adopted from Ghana years prior.

In 2018 transracial adoption made worldwide headlines when Sarah and Jennifer Hart who adopted six Black children domestically ended all eight of their lives by intentionally driving their vehicle off a cliff, seemingly to avoid abuse charges reported in 2008 and 2010 when they family lived in Minnesota including beatings with a belt and food depravation. Reports were again made in 2013 after the family moved to Oregon and yet again in 2017 while they resided in Washington state. All the while happy, smiling posed family photos were regularly posted online.

Jennifer and Sarah Hart with Devonte, Hannah, Ciara, Sarah, Markis, Abigail, Devonte, and Jeremiah Hart

The hypocritical life of the Hart family eerily mirrors that of Myka Stauffer who “rehomed” (read abandoned) the son, Huxley, she and her husband had adopted from China. Stauffer made her living as a social media “influencer,” documenting the life of the adorable toddler and the rest of the “perfect” blonde-haired family on YouTube. Fans noticed seeing Huxley less in the Stauffer’s videos leading the glamorous mom to reveal that Huxley’s special needs which included autism became “too much” for her to handle and she found him another family better equipped which sparked internet outrage.

Myka Stauffer and family, including Huxley

It is abhorrent behavior like this, as well as celebrities and politicians putting their transracial adopted children on public display, that leads to claims of adopted children being used as “props.”

Sherronda J. Brown (essayist, editor, and researcher who writes about culture and media through a Black feminist lens with historical and cultural context) examined the well-publicized Hart tragedy, taking a look at the backstory and larger implications, and wrote:

This is why performative white allyship is so dangerous, and not just for the Black and non-Black kids who get adopted by them. It is insidious, to say the least, when ‘good white folks’ impersonate someone who truly cares about anti-racism work, even as they continue to uphold white supremacy in their words and actions, and continually harm people of color.

Regarding a multitude of online photos of the Hart adopted children, Brown notes:

We witness this ally theater daily, both in our communities and on the larger world’s stage. We see the way that people like the Hart couple insulate themselves with people of color as tokens and trophies to provide themselves an alibi for their racism. . .

Their white saviorism complex is painfully obvious, a perpetuation of the colonialist and imperialist self-aggrandizing belief that people of color always need white people to save us, even from the white supremacy that they actively participate in and continually benefit from.

Lemn Sissay comments on the concept of color blindness, noting that it effectively renders those of color and their needs invisible. Transnational and transracial adoptees are taken, they disappear, and made invisible via homogenization and assimilation. Sissay quotes Mike Stein, in evidence presented to a British House of Commons select committee, by the Association of Black Social Workers and Allied Professionals:

The most valuable resource of any ethnic group is its children. Nevertheless, black children are being taken from black families by the process of the law and being placed in white families. It is, in essence, ‘internal colonialism’ and a new form of the slave trade, but only black children are used.

Haiti: Best intentions paving a road to disaster

Paula M. Fitzgibbons is an award-winning freelance writer (the New York Times, New York Magazine, Today’s Parent, and more) and former pastor in the Lutheran Church (ELCA). When she sought to adopt she was told by the director of a Haitian adoption agency that “Haitian children were generally godless and needed saving.” She and her husband were instructed not to let a Haitian child speak their native language and that their job as adoptive parents was to “beat the Haitian out of them,” right down to the size of rod to use and a website with detailed instructions.

The agency director warned the Fitzgibbonses that “our children might worship Satan. She described . . . as future criminals and sluts — unless we molded them into upstanding, God-fearing, born again, Jesus-loving Americans. She described their parents in the same way, repeatedly calling them liars and beggars.”

On online message boards, yahoo groups, and adoption “camps” Fitzgibbons sought help and support from, she found many believed the behavioral issues they saw in their Haitian adopted children were “because they had not yet been fully stripped of their cultural identities” and at least one comment that “the earthquake of 2010 was a welcome punishment from God for the evils of the Haitian culture. He hoped it would be a wake-up call for Haitians.”

All of this substantiates and validates Professor Kendi’s assessment of transracial as being colonialistic as spot on.

Fitzgibbons writes:

The concept of transracial adoption is predicated upon the idea that we (the white adopters, in this case) have something that the parents of the children we are adopting lack. Most often, that thing is resources, a commodity we consider more important for happiness than familial closeness, culture, or community. More common than I’d ever imagined before entering the world of transracial adoption, though, is the belief that the thing white people have over people of color within the adoption triad is superiority in one or more areas: education, lifestyle, values, and the biggie in the community of people adopting from African and black Caribbean countries: salvation.

In both cases, there exists a deprecating tone of white rescue — the new colonialism.

The very belief that we should adopt in order to rescue those who we consider less-than is classist. When we pair that with the assumptions made about people because of the color of their skin, their culture, or what we think we know of their country, we land at the intersection of racism and classism, the epicenter of dysfunctional adoptions.

Fitzgibbons notes the danger of adoption as salvation:

This pervasive adoptive parenting theme, that one’s child needs saving, erodes both the parent-child bond and the child’s own sense of self. . . . Very little is more daunting to a child than the feeling that he is where he is because he needed to be saved. . . Immediately, from the moment of adoption then, she is confronted with her own ill-perceived inferiority. She is not worthy. Her race and culture, her very life story are less-than.

The Real Experts

What happened in Haiti is a particularly glaring example of best intentions gone horribly wrong. In general, however, even when everything is perfectly legal in adoption, it doesn’t mean it’s ethical or devoid of corruption and exploitation.

More than academics and “professionals” or adoptive parents, the real “experts” on racial issues in adoption, are transracial adoptees. We need to hear what they have to say about their lived experiences —  even if it is painful to hear pp —  and not dismiss them as “disgruntled” or ungrateful.” As Nicole Chung, Korean-born, American-adopted author states: “Stories of transracial adoptees must be heard — even uncomfortable ones.”

Adoption is touted as being in the best interest of those who are adopted. But is it? You might think that adopted people are lucky or grateful. In fact, many express resentment at such expectations which downplay or ignore the losses they experience. Yet, until recently, the voices of those whose lives are shaped by these decisions have been left out of debates, discussions and policy-making, over-shadowed by the money-makers and the paying clients in the mega-billion-dollar adoption industry.

How do adoptees feel about being adopted? Adoptee memoirs and blogs such as Lost DaughtersDear AdoptionAdoptee in RecoveryAdoptees OnI Am AdoptedAdoptee Rights Law, describe feelings of loss, confusion, feelings of abandonment, rejection and sometimes anger. A small sampling of what some adoptees have to say, follows:

We adoptees have a big hole where our family and heritage should be, so the idea is that we will consume to fill the hole, such things a cigarettes, food, booze, pharmaceutical drugs, etc. We will also have mental, emotional, and relational problems, which will land many of us in institutions and the court system with legal problems and divorces, etc. We will be money-makers not only for baby brokers, but for many industries and the government itself. Unhappy people are the best consumers.

Lisa Haemisegger Allis

I am adopted also. Growing up, I could not imagine being anti-adoption. I did not even realize I could have negative feelings about being adopted, even though I did have those feelings, all the time.  It’s hard to describe the disconnect I had from my feelings.  When I found my family, at age 48, all the repressed feelings came flooding in. I finally realized that I did have a real mother, and an entire family that I was never allowed to know.

Jamie Smith, Facebook

We Adoptees are not Children, we’re Human Beings who spend a fraction of our lives as children and decades living with the brutal consequences of Relinquishment and Closed Adoption. Every cell in our bodies knows that we have another identity besides Adoption and longs to know it but we face barriers.

Nicole Burton

I sat in a church service. The pastor asked what adoption meant. All the non-adopted people were giving answers like chosen. Special. Lucky. I finally could not take it anymore and raised my hand. My answer was “Disposable” you could have heard a pin drop.

Gina Johnson Miller, Facebook

Being adopted is like living in a vacuum, creating oneself in one’s own image. But inside there is emptiness, and the emptiness feels like abandonment….

Heidi A. Schneider, Adoption Contracts and the Adult Adoptee’s Right to Identity

Those adopted across national borders additionally experience loss of heritage and culture and have little to no ability to know or ever meet their kin. Adopted people, writes Barbara Sumnerauthor“come from nowhere. You are strange fruit of obscure origin. The lack of a bloodline marks you.”

Add to that the fact that many transnational adoptions are also transracial. For most, navigating all that entails is complex and daunting. Feeling empowered enough to speak and write about it takes courage for those expected to be quietly imbued with gratitude for having been rescued by zealous righteous “Christians” in order to increase the ranks and be a soldier of God. Other saviors in shining armor believe they are providing children a “better” with all its amenities, some influenced by celebrities — America’s trend setters. Over the last recent decades celebs such as Angelina Jolie, Madonna and Sandra Bullock role-modelled transracial adoption — romanticizing and popularizing it  —  making it a badge of liberalism for some.

How do those adopted transnationally and/or transracially feel about their circumstances?

Angela Tucker, a nationally-recognized thought leader on transracial adoption and an advocate for adoptee rights, speaks for many transracial adoptees when she  relates:

Growing up, I often wondered why black parents didn’t adopt me. I wondered why white parents were always the ones adopting kids of color.

Sunny J. Reed, transracial adoption writer/researcher, budding PhD student writes:

[A}doption, the so-called #BraveLove, comes with a steep price; often, transracial adoptees grow up with significant challenges, partly due to the fact that their appearance breaks the racially-homogenous nuclear family mold. . .

Racial identity crises are common among transracial adoptees: what’s in the mirror may not reflect which box you want to check. . . . Growing up, I’d forget about my Korean-ness until I’d pass a mirror or someone slanted their eyes down at me, reminding me that oh yeah, I’m not white.

In the aftermath of World War II and Korean War, more than 200,000 Korean children were adopted by families abroad, making South Korea the fourth largest provider of children to U.S. families, sending more than 1,600 orphans that year, according to the U.S. State Department. It is thus that Korean adoptees, being the first cohort of transnational and transracial adoptees to come of age, are the most vocal about their experiences.

Jane Jeong Trenka, an activist and award-winning author, has written three books about her and others’ lives as transplanted adoptees. Trenka was adopted from Korea at the age of six months in 1972 and grew up in a rural Minnesota town where she never felt she belonged. She repatriated to South Korea in 2008 where she resides with her daughter and continues her activism, helping single Korean mothers fight the stigma that led to so many of them losing their children to adoption.

JS Lee is another Korean American author who writes about trauma, race, and adoption:

Like many transracial adoptees with White parents, I was raised in racial isolation, which caused me to have a fractured identity, experiencing racial confusion and internal bias. When I looked in the mirror, the face I saw was not what I expected or wanted to see. I didn’t look like my parents and siblings, or my friends, or the people who I read about in books and saw in magazines and on television. I was often told race didn’t matter, despite the many racist jokes and slurs carelessly flung my way by family, schoolmates, and strangers.

Some swore they forgot I was Asian and considered me to be White. The gaslighting and denial had me blaming myself for my own suffering.

Mae Claire, who was born in Haiti and trafficked for adoption, knows the truth because it is her life:

A typical adoptee is ripped from their environment and forced to survive with new expectations, new rules, new laws that govern their immediacy. They are forced to adapt….not the other way around.

A typical adoptee of color is coming from a country that is deemed “poorer” and in need of saving. Poverty should NEVER be a good enough reason to take someone else’s child….and it should never be a reason to go the extra mile to falsify documents.

When it comes to illegal and illicit adoptions, Haiti should get a gold star. . . .

We become props.

This is not political. Questioning is not criticizing. Nor is raising legitimate concerns “repulsive” or “attacking“. Questioning the Barretts’  —  or anyone else’s —  adoption(s) from post-earthquake Haiti, by Kendi or by anyone else, is totally appropriate, reasonable and needed to prevent future tragedies.1

  1. For more about the events that occurred in Haiti in 2010, see:

For more about transnational and transracial adoption see:

The State of Online Safety for Kids

There’s no doubt that the resources of our digital age are valuable. They provide us with new development opportunities and help us to build meaningful connections with a diverse range of global communities. The past couple of decades have seen our adoption of tech grow, and as such we are seeing the first generations of digital natives. Kids are surrounded by technology from an early age and are more comfortable with its use. They continue to use it in creative ways, not least of which is organizing themselves for ecological and political activism.

That’s not to say that there aren’t significant challenges. We have become cognizant of the various dangers the online environment presents. We must do what we can to protect children from the potential for harm. But we also need to go further; preparing them to be aware of the issues, and giving them tools to navigate the more treacherous waters.

Restricting Content

Particularly when it comes to younger children, there’s a need to reduce the risk of exposure to harmful or unsuitable content. There are certain regulations and legislation in place designed to protect them. The Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) has been in place since April 2000 and requires operators of websites aimed at children to obtain parental consent for those under the age of 13. But, let’s face it, it can be too easy for kids to wander off into areas not designed for them, and potentially interact with those who don’t have their best interests in mind. This is where technology can be utilized to provide a safety net.

As so much of kids’ internet use today is via mobile devices, developers have created apps that keep them safe both on the home computer and using their phone or tablet. For the most part, these apps allow parents to set filters on the type of content that’s accessible from the device. They’ve also become more nuanced in recent years, allowing parents to select the types of content to restrict, rather than completely blocking social media platforms. They also include functions that limit the amount of time children spend online. Some, including Net Nanny and Norton Family, go further than this and use the GPS tracking on the device to let your kids’ location at any given time.

That said, using location tracking and restrictions can certainly feel like an overreach. After all, our kids are learning, and we want to encourage their curiosity. We want to help them use the tools of our digital age to explore. Therefore it can be equally useful today to empower kids to prepare their devices in ways that keep them safe from potential harm. Have them turn off geolocation on apps that advertise where they are. Keep SafeSearch filters on when using Google.

Protection from Predators

Predators abusing our children is among any parents’ worst nightmares. There is relatively little specific legislation or regulation that is designed explicitly to ensure children aren’t exposed to potential abusers. Rather, agencies like the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) have invested in providing parents with guidance to prevent them from coming into contact with danger. The Safe Online Surfing Program is designed to educate kids from grades 3 to 8 and helps to teach them to recognize and report threats.

Schools are already awash with measures intended to keep children safe through various scenarios — and with varying efficacy. Information Technology (IT) personnel in public schools are in place to effect often heavy-handed measures including firewalls to ensure students don’t access websites that are verboten. However, this ignores the kids’ own devices. This is why it is so important for parents to take responsibility for having open conversations with kids about the risks they face.

We must also address the full range of abusive behavior. Perhaps chief among these for kids is the threat of cyberbullying. Data suggests that around 36% of children have been bullied online. There are also varying levels of bullying that affect different age groups. While schools often have policies in place to discipline abusers, educators and parents need to work together to help kids to recognize how bullying behavior manifests and harms. This is key not just as a way for kids to protect themselves, but also to understand how their own actions may be destructive.

Developing Habits

What has become clear is that online safety for kids in our current environment should not be reliant upon legislation or heavy-handed regulation. These should be tools to support their activities, rather than to restrict their movements. A far more practical and sustainable approach is putting effort into giving kids the knowledge and skills they need to develop safer online habits.

The COVID-19 pandemic actually provides us with a tool through which to do this. Remote schooling is likely to be a feature of our landscape for some time, and as such, provides opportunities for parents and teachers to give guidance on their usage. Taking them to a cafe or library to do some of their schooling provides opportunities to show them how to work while on public networks. Explain how to recognize unencrypted sites, and how sharing private information via these sources can be accessed by unscrupulous users.

Perhaps the most important online safety habit to instill in kids today is a culture of openness. If kids feel their internet activities need to be kept secret, or that they’ll be punished for exploring, this can make it more difficult for them to speak up when they face problems from abusers or cyberbullies. Parents and educators should aim to be open about their own internet use, and their mistakes. We have to be honest about just how challenging the online world can be, and how we work together to make it better.

Conclusion

Kids are using the internet more than at any other time in its history. As a result, parents and educators need to be cognizant of the tools and resources that are in place to help keep kids safe. However, we must remember that it’s more effective and practical to empower kids with the knowledge to also keep themselves safe.

The post The State of Online Safety for Kids first appeared on Dissident Voice.

We Are the Children of Gaza: The Poet, the Fashionista and the Footballer 

The inevitable has finally happened, and the coronavirus pandemic is now ravaging the besieged Gaza Strip. On August 24, a total lockdown was imposed by the Gaza authorities following the discovery of several COVID-19 cases outside designated quarantine areas. Since then, over 1,000 cases have been identified and ten people have died. Experts estimate the number to be significantly higher.

Businesses, mosques, schools, cafes and virtually everything else is now under lockdown. The local government, alongside the UN Palestinian refugee agency, UNRWA, and together with many volunteers, are desperately working to keep Gaza functioning and to limit the spread of the pandemic, despite limited and ever-shrinking resources.

Gaza’s crisis is multifaceted. The Israeli siege, combined with the massive destruction from the previous war, has left Gaza in the throes of a major humanitarian disaster. With electricity outages reaching up to twenty hours per day and with fuel supplies running low, Gaza was barely functioning, to begin with.

COVID-19 has exacerbated an already dire situation.

While, often, the voices of adults — whether officials, international workers, intellectuals, and even ordinary people — get heard, the children’s voices often are neglected. The children of Gaza have been the main victims of the Strip’s many adversities in recent years. Falling victim to the ravages of wars and, being the most vulnerable, to malnutrition and health crises, Gaza’s children are truly suffering. Their cries for help, however, are often muted or unheard.

To give a platform, however limited, to the voices of some of Gaza’s most defenseless, we reached out to several families in Gaza, seeking permission for their children to reflect, in their own way, on the current lockdown, their lives under siege and the seemingly perpetual war. We also asked the children to talk about their hobbies and their hopes and dreams for the future.

This is what they had to say.

Malak Judah, 9 – Gaza City

My name is Malak Judah. I am nine years old. I live in the city of Gaza. I began my hobby of singing and reciting poetry at the age of three. I have many video clips in which I sing and recite poetry. All the poetry that I write and recite speaks of Palestine only, and our longing to go back to our homeland.

I joined the Great March of Return from the very start (March 2018). I used to go there with my family to recite poetry and sing while standing on the main podium, only 700 meters (approx. 2,300 feet) from the fence that separates Gaza and our occupied towns in Palestine. But every time we did this, the Zionist occupation forces would fire live bullets and teargas at us. I inhaled teargas many times and, every time I did, I would almost suffocate.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O-iYdLQGkvQ

I have tried to sing about other subjects aside from Palestine but I cannot because, since I came to this earth, all that I see and hear is related to the occupation policies and the oppression of our people … They keep cutting off the electricity and our water is unfit for human consumption – and, even then, it is not always available. Every few years, there is a new Zionist aggression on Gaza. This is why my poetry is always about the difficult life that we are living through.

I dream of traveling and participating in international festivals, but because of the closure policies and the hardship of leaving, I have never been outside Gaza. Now the situation is even more critical, especially after the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic. I miss my school, my teachers and the morning announcements. We have no idea when we will go back to school. It feels as if we are living through another Israeli war on Gaza.

My wish is for Palestine to be liberated so that we can go to our hometown.

Razan Zidan, 9 – Khan Younis

My name is Razan Zidan. I am nine years old. I dream of being a fashion designer so that I can design beautiful clothes for my family and all the children of Palestine to wear.  When I grow up, I want to give them gifts and beautiful toys, to bring happiness to their hearts.

I have many fears. I hate the coronavirus. Because of it, I cannot see my friends. I miss playing with them and I miss my school, too. I am also afraid of wars. They scare me very, very much. I hate the sound made by warplanes and the sound of shelling. I am afraid of watching the news. When there is an electric outage, I go to sleep immediately so I am not very scared of the dark.

But I also love many things. I love to draw and I love colors. I love roses and beautiful clothes and I love to spend time with my family.

I love Palestine very much. It is my homeland. But the occupation is vile. My father keeps saying that “the world will be beautiful when the occupation is gone”. And that is all I want. For the world to be beautiful.

My grandfather has told me that we lived in a beautiful town called Bashsheet. It is our original town and it is located by the sea. I asked him why it was given that strange name. He said because Prophet Sheet was buried there. He said that it is a wonderful and beautiful town and famous for its very delicious oranges. I want to see my town and how beautiful it is. I wish to be able to go back with my family to Bashsheet.

I hope that, one day, my dream — and the dream of all of my friends — comes true, where Palestine exists without Israeli occupation.

Musa Abu Jazar, 12 – Rafah

My name is Musa Salah Abu Jazar. I am twelve years old. I live in the city of Rafah. I am a refugee and my original village is Sarafand Al-Amar. I was born mute — I cannot talk and I cannot hear. When I was little, my mother took sign language courses so she can communicate with me.

I suffer very much because most people in my society do not understand me as they do not know sign language. I call on all people to learn sign language so that they can understand me and understand all mute people, everywhere.

Despite my hearing disability, I always try to overcome all the obstacles I face. At school, I am always the top student in the class and I get the highest grades. I go to school on my bike, several kilometers each way. My hobbies are playing football, riding my bike and photography. I play football with the neighborhood kids. A few months ago, I joined a football academy so that I could improve my skills, but when the coronavirus stopped everything in Gaza and the whole world, it became very difficult for me to practice. I cannot go to my school any more or even ride my bike.

In Gaza, we have two enemies: the coronavirus and the Israeli occupation. The occupation is preventing us from enjoying any of our basic rights and our hobbies. The thing that scares me the most is when electricity is out for many hours. I dream of becoming a famous professional football player. I also want to become a very good photographer. I wish to have a good camera so that I can record my struggle and the suffering of all of the Gaza children, so the whole world may know that we have been deprived of all of our rights.

The post We Are the Children of Gaza: The Poet, the Fashionista and the Footballer  first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Yemen: A Torrent of Suffering in a Time of Siege

When evil-doing comes like falling rain, nobody calls out “stop!”  When crimes begin to pile up they become invisible. When sufferings become unendurable, the cries are no longer heard. The cries, too, fall like rain in summer.

— Bertolt Brecht, “When evil-doing comes like falling rain” [Wenn die Untat kommt, wie der Regen fällt] (1935), trans. John Willett in Poems, 1913-1956, p. 247

 In war-torn Yemen, the crimes pile up. Children who bear no responsibility for governance or warfare endure the punishment. In 2018, UNICEF said the war made Yemen a living hell for children. By the year’s end, Save the Children reported 85,000 children under age five had already died from starvation since the war escalated in 2015. By the end of 2020, it is expected that 23,500 children with severe acute malnutrition will be at immediate risk of death.

Cataclysmic conditions afflict Yemen as people try to cope with rampant diseases, the spread of COVID-19, flooding, literal swarms of locusts, rising displacement, destroyed infrastructure and a collapsed economy. Yet war rages, bombs continue to fall, and desperation fuels more crimes.

The highest-paying jobs available to many Yemeni men and boys require a willingness to kill and maim one another, by joining militias or armed groups which seemingly never run out of weapons. Nor does the Saudi-Led Coalition  which kills and maims civilians; instead, it deters relief shipments and destroys crucial infrastructure with weapons it imports from Western countries.

The aerial attacks displace traumatized survivors into swelling, often lethal, refugee camps. Amid the wreckage of factories, fisheries, roads, sewage and sanitation facilities, schools and hospitals, Yemenis search in vain for employment and, increasingly, for food and water. The Saudi-Led-Coalition’s blockade, also enabled by Western training and weapons, makes it impossible for Yemenis to restore a functioning economy.

Even foreign aid can become punitive. In March, 2020, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) decided to suspend most aid for Yemenis living in areas controlled by the Houthis.

Scott Paul, who leads Oxfam America’s humanitarian policy advocacy, strongly criticized this callous decision to compound the misery imposed on vulnerable people in Yemen. “In future years,” he wrote, “scholars will study USAID’s suspension as a paradigmatic example of a donor’s exploitation and misuse of humanitarian principles.”

As the evil-doing in Yemen comes “like falling rain,” so do the cries of “Stop!” from millions of people all over the world. Here’s some of what’s been happening:

  • U.S. legislators in both the House of Representatives and the Senate voted to block the sale of billions of dollars in weapons and maintenance to Saudi Arabia and its allies. But President Trump vetoed the bill in 2019.
  • Canada’s legislators declared a moratorium on weapon sales to the Saudis. But the Canadian government has resumed selling weapons to the Saudis, claiming the moratorium only pertained to the creation of new contracts, not existing ones.
  • The United Kingdom suspended military sales to Saudi Arabia because of human rights violations, but the UK’s international trade secretary nevertheless resumed weapon sales saying the 516 charges of Saudi human rights violations are all isolated incidents and don’t present a pattern of abuse.
  • French NGOs and human rights advocates urged their government to scale back on weapon sales to the Saudi-Led coalition, but reports on 2019 weapon sales revealed the French government sold 1.4 billion Euros worth of weapons to Saudi Arabia.
  • British campaigners opposing weapon transfers to the Saudi-Led Coalition have exposed how the British Navy gave the Saudi Navy training in tactics essential to the devastating Yemen blockade.
  • In Canada, Spain, France and Italy, laborers opposed to the ongoing war refused to load weapons onto ships sailing to Saudi Arabia. Rights groups track the passage of trains and ships carrying these weapons.

On top of all this, reports produced by Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, Oxfam, the Norwegian Refugee Council, and the International Commission of the Red Cross repeatedly expose the Saudi-Led Coalition’s human rights violations.

Yet this international outcry clamoring for an end to the war is still being drowned out by the voices of military contractors with well-paid lobbyists plying powerful elites in Western governments. Their concern is simply for the profits to be reaped and the competitive sales to be scored.

In 2019 Lockheed Martin’s total sales reached nearly 60 billion dollars, the best year on record for the world’s largest “defense” contractor. Before stepping down as CEO, Marillyn Hewson predicted demand from the Pentagon and U.S. allies would generate an uptake between $6.2 billion and $6.4 billion in net earnings for the company in 2020 sales.

Hewson’s words, spoken calmly, drown out the cries of Yemeni children whose bodies were torn apart by just one of Lockheed Martin’s bombs.

In August of 2018, bombs manufactured by Raytheon, Boeing, General Dynamics and Lockheed Martin fell on Yemen like summer rain. On August 9, 2018, a missile blasted a school bus in Yemen, killing forty children and injuring many others.

Photos showed badly injured children still carrying UNICEF blue backpacks, given to them that morning as gifts. Other photos showed surviving children helping prepare graves for their schoolmates. One  photo showed a piece of the bomb protruding from the wreckage with the number MK82 clearly stamped on it. That number on the shrapnel helped identify Lockheed Martin as the manufacturer.

The psychological damage being inflicted on these children is incalculable. “My son is really hurt from the inside,” said a parent whose child was severely wounded by the bombing. “We try to talk to him to feel better and we can’t stop ourselves from crying.”

The cries against war in Yemen also fall like rain and whatever thunder accompanies the rain is distant, summer thunder. Yet, if we cooperate with war-making elites, the most horrible storms will be unleashed. We must learn — and quickly — to make a torrent of our mingled cries and, as the prophet Amos demanded, ‘let justice roll down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream.”

Some of the 40 blue backpacks worn in a protest in New York city against the war in Yemen. Each backpack was accompanied by a sign with the name and age of a child killed on a school bus in Dahyan, northern Yemen, on August 9, 2018, in a Saudi/UAE airstrike. (Photo: CODEPINK)

A version of this article first appeared in The Progressive Magazine.

Contemplating Human Extinction Terrifies Most People: A Strategy for Survival

Any serious study of the relevant scholarly literature reveals at least four possible paths to imminent human extinction, that is, human extinction within five years: nuclear war, the climate catastrophe, the deployment of 5G, and biodiversity collapse.

Moreover, as I have documented previously, under cover of the non-existent ‘virus’ labeled COVID-19, the global elite is conducting a coup against humanity. That is, by bombarding us with fear-mongering propaganda to focus our attention on the ‘virus’, the capacity of virtually all people, including activists, to devote attention to the coup, and to resist it, has been effectively eliminated.

Unfortunately, it has also meant that, despite the extensively documented evidence of the four paths to imminent human extinction, it is even more difficult than usual to get people to focus on this point. This means that engaging people to consider the evidence for themselves is extremely difficult: it is easier to live in delusion, reassured by elite-driven narratives promulgated through education systems and the corporate media which effectively convey the message that there is either no serious cause for concern (yet) or, perhaps, that the time frame allows for an adequate official response in due course. In either case we, as individuals or groups, do not really need to do anything differently; going along with the elite-driven narrative, including time frame, will ensure our survival.

Of course, as those paying attention to the evidence already know, being obedient to the elite-driven narrative is a recipe for extinction. We have already exceeded 2°C above the pre-industrial temperature, the ongoing and rapid deployment of 5G will be catastrophic, biodiversity is already collapsing (and will be seriously accelerated by the rising temperature and deployment of 5G) – for just the latest in the ongoing stream of disasters, hundreds of elephants have recently died in Botswana’s Okavango Delta – and, according to the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, nuclear war is now a greater possibility than at any previous time in human history. For summaries of the evidence and further documentation in each case, see ‘The Elite’s COVID-19 Coup to Destroy Humanity that is also Fast-Tracking Four Paths to Human Extinction‘.

In this article I would like to explain why people are so terrified of the truth and what we can do about it so that an effective response to each of these threats can be implemented (assuming, problematically, that there is enough time).

Why are Most Human Beings so Terrified?

Virtually all human beings are terrified and they are terrified for the same reason: the child-raising process that sociologists like to label ‘socialization’ should be more accurately labeled ‘terrorization’. Why? Because from the moment of a child’s birth, parents, teachers, religious leaders and adults generally regard themselves as responsible for terrorizing the child into obedience of the commands, rules, conventions and laws that define the nature of permissible behaviour in their society.

This means that provided the child responds obediently to parental (or other adult) commands, obeys any rules imposed (by the parents, teachers and religious figures in the child’s life), learns all relevant social conventions for their society and, ultimately, obeys the law, they are allowed to live, recognized as compliant citizens, in their society.

Unfortunately, from society’s viewpoint, evolutionary pressures over vast time scales have led to each human individual being given Self-will to seek out and fulfill their own unique destiny: evolutionary pressures do not predispose any individual to obey the will of another for the simple reason that obedience has no evolutionary functionality.

Consequently, it takes enormous terrorization during childhood to ensure that the child surrenders their Self-will at the altar of obedience. To achieve this outcome and largely unknowingly, parents use a large range of behaviours from the three categories of violence that I have labeled ‘visible’ violence, ‘invisible’ violence and ‘utterly invisible’ violence.

A common element of this terrorization is that the child is frequently threatened with, and/or actually suffers, violence for being ‘disobedient’. Of course, this violence, assuming it is even recognized as such (given that ‘invisible’ and ‘utterly invisible’ violence are just that to virtually everyone), is invariably labeled ‘punishment‘ so that we can delude ourselves that our violence is not harmful.

This means that virtually every single individual has been successfully terrorized into being submissively obedient. And, fundamentally, this obedience includes accepting the elite-driven narrative delivered by education systems and the corporate media in relation to issues crucial to human survival.

So despite our preference for believing otherwise, those individuals in our societies who survive the education system capable of thinking for themselves, or even of ‘clear thinking’, are rare. And then they must also survive (preferably by refusing to access it) the propaganda (that is, lies) presented as ‘news’ by the corporate media. Given that another outcome of being terrorized throughout childhood means that most people are very gullible, perceiving lies is a huge challenge in itself.

Of course, this powerless imperative to believe the lies we are told and to behave obediently in response is always reinforced by the fear of violence (‘punishment’), including the fear of social ostracism for resisting elite narratives, but it is also reinforced by other fears: for example, the fear that makes people feel powerless to respond in any meaningful way, the fear of changing their behaviour, and the fear of feeling out of control of their own destiny. After all, if extinction is imminent and we are to avert it, we will need to do some fundamental things – including thinking and behaving – very differently. But we are not allowed to think or behave differently, are we? That would be disobedient.

This can be readily illustrated. When a young child does not get what they need, the child will have an emotional reaction. This will always include fear, it will probably include anger and it will probably include sadness, among other feelings. However, almost invariably, parents behave in a manner intended to prevent the child from having their emotional response (and using this information in formulating the appropriate behavioural response in the circumstance). They do not listen to the child while they express their feelings. Instead, they act to make the child suppress awareness of their feelings.

At its simplest and apparently most benign, the parent might comfort the child in the misguided belief that this is helpful. But it is not, unless you want a submissively obedient child.

Another simple and common way in which we suppress the emotional awareness and, hence, capacity for emotional expression of a child is by giving them food or a toy to distract them from how they feel. The fundamental outcome of this act is that we unconsciously ‘teach’ the child to seek food and/or material items as substitutes for feeling and acting on how they feel. But this is absolutely disastrous.

The net result of this behaviour is that virtually all people in industrialized societies have become addicted to material consumption, and the direct (including military), structural and ecological violence that makes excessive consumption in these societies possible. All so that we can suppress how we really feel.

And, therefore, the very notion of substantially reducing consumption – a central part of any strategy for human survival by reducing greenhouse gas emissions from industrial production and transport, checking the collapse of biodiversity by halting the destruction of habitat such as rainforests, denying financial incentive to deploy technology for 5G, ending wars (and the threat of nuclear war) for resources – becomes ‘unthinkable’.

Because the fundamental imperative of materialist societies is ‘Consume!’ (so that corporations can profit). And we do not have the emotional power to disobey that imperative because deep in our unconscious remains the childhood terror of resisting the offered food or toy and insisting on expressing how we feel and behaving powerfully in accord with that. It is far simpler to just put something more in our mouth or use one of our ‘toys’. Who wants to feel scared, sad or angry instead?

In essence, the individual who has been terrorized into obedience is no longer capable of thinking for themself and then behaving in accord with their own Self-will. This means that imperatives of the global elite – mediated through its agents such as governments, education systems and the corporate media and enforced by legal systems, the police and prison cells – are readily obeyed by the vast bulk of the human population.

And because the global elite is insane, this obedience means that we are submitting to the elite coup and complying with its imperatives that are fast-tracking humanity to extinction on four separate paths, as noted above.

To reiterate: At this most critical moment in human history, when a coup is being conducted against us and four separate threats to human existence and all life on Earth require our engaged attention and powerful response, it is almost impossible to get people to even acknowledge these threats, let alone to consider the evidence and act strategically in response.

Which means that profoundly altering our approaches to parenting and education, so that we produce powerful individuals, is critical to any strategy to fight for human survival.

So what can we do?

Well, if you would like to fight for human survival, it would be useful to start by giving yourself time to focus on feeling your emotional responses – fear, anger, sadness, dread…. – to the elite coup and the four most imminent threats.

If you do not do this, you are unlikely to be able to engage meaningfully and strategically in the effort. You will, most likely and unconsciously, simply put your attention elsewhere and go back to what you were doing.

So once you have a clearer sense of your emotional reactions to this knowledge and have allowed yourself time to focus on feeling these feelings, you will be in a far more powerful position to consider your response to the situation. And, depending on your interests and circumstances, there is a range of possible responses that will each make an important difference.

Fundamentally, you might consider making ‘My Promise to Children‘ which will include considering what an education for your children means to you, particularly if you want powerful individuals who can resist violence.

You might consider supporting others to become more powerful.

If you wish to strategically resist the elite coup against humanity, you can read about nonviolent strategy, including strategic goals for doing so, from here: Strategic Aims.

If you wish to powerfully resist the primary threats to human existence – nuclear war, the deployment of 5G, the collapse of biodiversity and/or the climate catastrophe – you can read about nonviolent strategy, including strategic goals to focus your campaigns, from here: Strategic Aims.

You might also consider joining those who are powerful enough to recognize the critical importance of reduced consumption and greater self-reliance as essential elements of these strategies by participating in ‘The Flame Tree Project to Save Life on Earth‘.

In addition, you are welcome to consider signing the online pledge of ‘The People’s Charter to Create a Nonviolent World‘.

Or, if you want something simpler, consider committing to:

The Earth Pledge

Out of love for the Earth and all of its creatures, and my respect for their needs, from this day onwards I pledge that:

  1. I will listen deeply to children. See Nisteling: The Art of Deep Listening‘.
  2. I will not travel by plane
  3. I will not travel by car
  4. I will not eat meat and fish
  5. I will only eat organically/biodynamically grown food
  6. I will minimize the amount of fresh water I use, including by minimizing my ownership and use of electronic devices
  7. I will not own or use a mobile (cell) phone
  8. I will not buy rainforest timber
  9. I will not buy or use single-use plastic, such as bags, bottles, containers, cups and straws
  10. I will not use banks, superannuation (pension) funds or insurance companies that provide any service to corporations involved in fossil fuels, nuclear power and/or weapons
  11. I will not accept employment from, or invest in, any organization that supports or participates in the exploitation of fellow human beings or profits from killing and/or destruction of the biosphere
  12. I will not get news from the corporate media (mainstream newspapers, television, radio, Google, Facebook, Twitter…)
  13. I will make the effort to learn a skill, such as food gardening or sewing, that makes me more self-reliant
  14. I will gently encourage my family and friends to consider signing this pledge.

Conclusion

Given that submissive obedience is the primary behavioural characteristic of all ‘good citizens’, it is going to take a monumental effort to defeat the elite coup and avert the now imminent extinction of Homo Sapiens. This is because most common human behaviours – from parenting to consumption habits – have been shaped to serve elite interests, and it is these behaviours that must change.

Of course, this is also why lobbying elite agents – such as governments and corporations – cannot work. Apart from the fact that they exist to serve elite interests and obey elite directives accordingly (rather than respond to grassroots pressure which they function superbly to dissipate), governments and corporations cannot meaningfully impact the crises that confront us.

That power is ours but we must use it, and deploy it strategically.

Why is Surrogacy Illegal in Most of the World?

The longing, desire and biological drive of many human beings to fulfill the imperative to be fruitful, to procreate and to become parents, is real and painful when unachievable.  This has led to an increase of assisted reproductive technology (ART) and surrogacy, despite ethical and legal concerns.

Preface

The infertility and surrogacy multi-billion-dollar industries, those who benefit from it, and others, too often attempt to out-shout any criticism of surrogacy by conflating surrogacy with LGBTQ+ rights and labeling all opposition to surrogacy as homophobic.

Yet, the LGBTQ+ community includes those who are opposed to surrogacy and anonymous designer contract conception, aka assisted reproductive technology (ART).

Opposition to surrogacy has nothing to do with the sexual preference, sexual orientation, gender identification or marital status of those who use anonymous gamete and/or hire a surrogate.

It is contractual anonymous conception and surrogacy which is at question, regardless of who contracts for such services.

Anderson Cooper is the latest celebrity to have a child via surrogacy. He joins 35 gay, straight, married and single celebs such as Tyra Banks, Michael Jackson, Mariska Hargitay, Elton John, Andy Cohen, Katy Segal as well as Kim Kardashian and Kanye West who had two of their four children born via surrogate, and Sarah Jessica Parker who has surrogate twins.

Hollywood and the public marvel at each new arrival often with no mention of how the child came to be.  While some have made grand public announcements and a few celebs have openly expressed gratitude to the surrogate, there seems to be an unspoken “don’t ask” etiquette in interviews about the new baby, leaving an almost unnatural silence in place of usual chatter such as: “Who does the baby look like, his mother or father?”

Traditional surrogacy, prior to the Baby M Case involved inseminating a woman with sperm – often, but not always – of the contractual father-to-be. Since 1986 when Mary Beth Whitehead battled for custody of her daughter Sarah (known as Baby M), the mega-billion-dollar fertility industry devised a way to avoid mothers fighting for custody of “their” child by creating “gestational surrogacy”- the current norm – that involves a carrier being implanted with a third-party’s fertilized egg, and incubating the unrelated fetus. The child is thus unrelated to the gestational carrier, greatly limiting custody claims.

For many, perhaps most, choosing to have a child by any means is a cause for celebration. Touting reproductive choice, freedom, and justice proponents argue any child who is wanted and loved is a thing of joy and everyone choosing to be a parent should be admired and supported, regardless of how parenthood is achieved, including the use of anonymous gamete and surrogacy as a reproductive “right.”

A Right?

Clearly all have a right to access to reproductive care and services. However, the fact is that no “right” or entitlement to have a child or be a parent exists. And certainly, there is no right to buy sperm or eggs or the use of a woman’s womb.

Feminists are divided on surrogacy, as they have long been with prostitution, with some arguing for women’s autonomy, legalization and regulation, and others concerned about exploitation and commodification. Yet, many woman’s organizations, intellectuals, pro-life groups, politicians, scientists and citizens from different cultural backgrounds and countries call for the universal elimination of surrogacy, paid or unpaid.

Feminists do not take an opposing position on surrogacy easily, inasmuch as many women – alone or with a partner – are consumers of surrogacy services.  It is thus all the more notable that women’s rights scholars such as Phyllis Chesler and Gloria Steinem opposed a NY bill (which passed in May, 2020) to legalize paid surrogacy saying it “turns women’s bodies into commodities and is coercive to poor women given the sizable payments it can bring.”

Gary Powell, a UK conservative political activist and longstanding advocate for gay and lesbian equality, writes,

As gay people, we cannot insist on the right to carry out practices that harm the rights of others. Rather than being an LGBT rights issue, surrogacy is a women’s rights issue and a children’s rights issue; and like the sale of human organs, it is not an activity that should be promoted or indeed permitted.

A Choice?

Defenders of surrogacy see it as a reproductive choice from a vast array of menu items ranging from IVF to adoption. However, these options are not available equally to all, but only to those who can afford them.

There are also legal restrictions as to what methodologies of obtaining a child are acceptable or not and even punishable. An “anything goes” ideology for becoming a parent does not include kidnapping, for instance, even if the child is loved and well-cared for, such as in cases like that of Carlina White and Kamiyah Mobley each of whom was kidnapped as an infant and raised as the child of their abductor for two decades.

And let us be clear: The word “donation” in regard to egg, sperm and womb is a euphemism intended to illicit a more altruistic tone to these purchases. Gametes –  egg and sperm are commodities being bought and sold most often via a third-party broker. While it is argued that payment is for services not the commodity itself, such “services” are seldom given without compensation. It is coercion and exploitation of the poor that prevents the sale of human organs and yet laws in all locals have not yet included a similar ban on gametes and wombs.

Anna Kerr, founder and Principal Solicitor of Feminist Legal Clinic Inc., Sydney, AU addresses the heart of the issue in regard to how much a of choice surrogacy is for the surrogates:

 … how often are these ‘choices’ being made under financial duress or in a context of social coercion?  …  Can we assume that women are truly acting of their own volition when in many cases their lives are so susceptible to the control of others? Or should we be skeptical of claims of ‘free choice’ and ‘consent’ in contexts that so clearly  … smack of abuse and shameless exploitation?

Desire, Love and Affluence

There is a belief that those who are eager to add to their families in a very intentional manner do so out of love and will be good parents. We also need to question the premise that being able to provide a child more material “advantages” – music or tennis lessons, private schools – makes for a happier, more well-adjusted child than those raised by less affluent biological parent or parents.

More importantly, the vetting of prospective adopters has missed adopters who physically, emotionally and sexually abuse, abandon, and even kill, children they sought out, paid high fees for, and were entrusted with.  Those who contract for surrogate births undergo no home studies. They are screened only by their ability to pay. At least one surrogate baby was placed with a man convicted of a sex crime.

Another common American ethos is that people “deserve” or are entitled to that which they can afford, a dangerous argument that would justify – even condone? – wealthy deviants who partake in sex tourism to countries with legalized prostitution and unknowingly purchase services trafficked of sex workers as young as twelve.

Payment

Those in favor of surrogacy point out that women voluntarily “choose” to be surrogates and are paid. However, compensation for time and labor does not necessarily make a transaction free of exploitation.

India, once the  go-to epicenter for commercial surrogate births, was forced to ban international surrogacy in 2018 as a result of a multiple concerns, according to the website Surrogate.com, including:

…unethical treatment, poor living conditions and exploitation. To keep up with demand from international intended parents, Indian surrogacy agencies effectively ran ‘baby factories,’ where Indian women were forced to live until they gave birth to the intended parents’ babies — with usually no assistance for the family they had left behind while pregnant.

In addition, the surrogates in India only received a fraction of the expenses that intended parents paid the surrogacy agency — only $4,000 to $5,000 for compensation. With agencies charging more than double that in total, surrogates were commonly exploited . . .

Drawn into surrogacy by poverty and lack of education, many  stayed as a result of being shunned within their communities and because one round of surrogacy is not a sustainable income “effectively became ‘baby-making machines’ year after year.”

Domestically, the exploitation is more covert and insidious. Surrogate websites, such as West Coast Surrogacy, paint this rosy picture to solicit surrogates using another euphemism, “gift” though gifts are not paid for by recipients:

It takes a special person to become a surrogate mother. The gift that surrogates provide is both remarkable and generous …

It goes on to speak of “the feeling of joy you experience as a surrogate …”

Those who become a surrogate mother (also known as a gestational carrier) provide a gift of unparalleled compassion for couples and individuals experiencing infertility or who are LGBT.

Most surrogates say their motivation is altruistic to help individuals or couples who want desperately to be parents and can’t, but they also report needing the money and universally agree that the financial “compensation” was a major factor. According to Surrogate.com the average “base pay” for surrogacy is $25,000 with additional payments for expenses such as medical, clothing and travel. At West Coast Surrogacy “experienced” surrogates can be compensated as much as $60,000, in part because California’s liberal surrogacy laws attract clients from all over the world.

Exploitation

Surrogacy is an extension of a long history of low-paid female service workers such as housekeepers, nannies and nursery school aids who toil for the more well-to-do.

With the exception of a family member or close friend choosing to carry child for another, all surrogacy contracts involve payment to entice women in need of cash. It is the poor, or those in temporary need, who agree to rent their bodies and sell the end human “product” to those who can afford to buy a human infant. Charis M. Thompson, London School of Economics, writes:

The level of social, political, and economic disenfranchisement of the reproductive labourer is taken to be an indicator of the level of exploitation involved.

Surrogacy involves a contract prepared by the surrogacy businesses or the paying client, known as “intended parent(s).”  Because doctors implant multiple embryos to ensure a higher success, surrogacy often produces twins, triplets, and even four or five babies. The contracts thus include stipulations such as “selective reduction” of multiples and termination if it appears the child may not meet the requirements of those paying for it.  Such draconian terms led attorney Harold Cassidy to argue that surrogate contracts are “unconscionable” with the terms that are “manifestly unfair or oppressive.”

Surrogates who find themselves unable to comply with such contractual agreements have led to multiple protracted lawsuits and appeals such as the case of Melissa Cook, a 47-year-old California surrogate who became pregnant with triplets. Cook sued the commissioning father – a single 50-year-old Georgia postal worker, who is deaf, mute, and lives with his elderly parents – because he wanted her to abort one of the fetuses. The triplets have remained in the custody of the father as the case has wound through courts and appeals, despite the father’s sister’s claim he is ‘abusing’ the children.

Risks

Gestational surrogacy involves the dehumanization of a woman’s body to become a womb for hire – a handmaid. As human incubators they risk ovarian hyper stimulation syndrome (OHSS), ovarian torsion, ovarian cysts, chronic pelvic pain, premature menopause, loss of fertility, reproductive cancers, blood clots, kidney disease, stroke, and high blood pressure, pre-eclampsia, gestational diabetes, hyperemesis gravidaru (severe persistent nausea and vomiting), loss of the ability to have future full-term pregnancies, postpartum depression, and, in some cases, death.

In addition, women who are paid to produce and sell their eggs, undergo months of hormone injections prior to the surgical retrieval. Risks include bleeding, infection, ovarian hyperstimulation and damage to the bowel or bladder.

Risks to babies born of anonymous assisted reproductive technologies employed in surrogacy, include: preterm birth, stillbirth, low birth weight, fetal anomalies, and higher blood pressure. Additionally, commercial surrogates agree to detach and dissociate themselves emotionally from any and all maternal hormonal feelings toward the being growing inside them, stoically overriding these natural instincts in order to consider the child they are carrying to be “not theirs.” This detachment causes stress which releases cortisol into the fetal growing brain.

Surrogate-born babies suffer additional emotional trauma resulting from separation at birth, also known as primal wound. Myron A. Hofer, B. Perry et al., Allan N. Schore, James Fallon and others have reported the lifelong neurological damage that results from traumatic depravation of maternal-infant attachment formed in the womb as a biological function. The unborn fetus shows a preferential response to maternal scents and sounds that the newborn expects to continue after birth, preferring the sound and smell of experiences in utero. Using MRI’s, neurologist Schore found that early separation from the gestational caregiver to be the genesis of adult personality disorders involving a person’s ability to trust, bond, learn, and emotionally attach.

Legal/Illegal: Where and Why?

In addition to being exploitative, most countries recognize surrogacy as baby-selling or human trafficking, which is universally illegal.

The US is one of only nine countries that legalizes surrogate pre-birth contracts. It was the first country in the world to recognize parentage created by payment and contract. Since 1985, the United States has become the preferred surrogacy destination for international parents such as British citizens Elton John and David Furnish as well as others from Australia, Canada, Spain, and Germany.

As of April 1, 2020, British taxpayers will be forced to “pay clinical negligence claimants six-figure sums to pursue commercial surrogacy abroad, which is forbidden under UK criminal law.” Additionally, lack of international regulation, can create citizens born to surrogates who are parentlessness and/or statelessness.

Within the U.S. the laws vary state-to-state, however, with some states allowing only unpaid, altruistic or in-family surrogacy while other states ban all surrogacy contracts. Some states ban and penalize the practice and some regulate it one manner or another.  It is important to recognize why the vast majority of countries — and many US states — restrict, prohibit or strictly regulate surrogacy or criminalize the practice.

Harold Cassidy who represented Mary Beth Whitehead, mother of Baby M, argued in the case of Melissa Cook that surrogacy reduces women to a “breeding animal or incubator,” and that pretending the surrogate “has absolutely no interest in what happens to the child is a cruel notion to both the mother and the child.”

The Children

Surrogacy intentionally creates motherless children despite society’s “best interest of the child” policies that guide all other aspects of family law. Yet the children produced — who are the entire reason and end goal of surrogacy — are not party to the contractual agreement.

There is nothing socially redeeming about surrogacy as there is with adoption, which purports to “rescue” orphans. It is purely a self-serving act based on a desire to parent and feelings of entitlement to a child. In fact, those who choose surrogacy are choosing not to adopt. Surrogacy is chosen over adoption so as not to have birth parents to deal with and because of the desire to have a child that is genetically connected them (biogenetic bias). Yet,  ironically, the child is often denied knowing half of his genetics and blood kin.

The legal necessity for the contracting parents to adopt the surrogate birthed child produces a falsified birth certificate, as do all adoptions (including step-parent adoption) that obliterates all or half of the child’s genetic heritage and lists the paying contactors as the only parents, as if the child were naturally conceived and born to just one person, two men, two women, or the heterosexual couple paying for the transaction.  Many posit that the denial of the right to true identity is one of the reasons the US is the only nation that has not ratified the UNCRC – Convention on the Rights of the Child.

Many of the issues children of surrogacy face, such as loss of one or more genetic forebearers, have been well documented by adoptees and designer contract offspring (aka “donor” offspring).  For generations, many have searched for their true genetic heritage, medical history and kin, which is understandable given the fact that genealogy is the “second most popular hobby in the U.S. after gardening, and the second most visited category of websites, after pornography” according to ABC News.

In addition to the natural desire to know one’s roots, children created from anonymous gamete deal with unknown familial medical history and the very real dread of unknowingly meeting, dating, even marrying a sibling or other blood kin.

The human products of these contractual, anonymous conceptions are at risk for genealogical bewilderment and will inevitably ask some form of: “Where do babies come from?”  Those raised by one or two mothers will undoubtedly question who their father is while those raised by a single dad or two dads will ask: “Who is my mother?” This question could be quite complicated, as noted by Molly Sheahan, graduate student at the Pontifical John Paul II Institute for Studies on Marriage and Family:

… [in] the most routine of surrogate pregnancies or donor conceptions, a child can have as many as six parents: the genetic father, the genetic mother, the surrogate mother, her spouse, and the intended parents.

Abbie Goldberg, Professor of Psychology, Clark University is one of many adoption professionals who now strongly recommend  full, honest disclosure of a child’s origin story by the time they reach adolescence.  Children born via surrogacy or other anonymous reproductive techniques who are told the truth have to deal with the anonymity and the monetary factors of their conception.  Others who are raised by heterosexual married couples, and may or may not be related to their social father, are often not told.

One young man, conceived via traditional surrogacy, expresses very poignantly how he feels about it:

How do you think we feel about being created specifically to be given away? … I don’t care why my parents or my mother did this. It looks to me like I was bought and sold. You can dress it up with as many pretty words as you want. You can wrap it up in a silk freaking scarf. You can pretend these are not your children. You can say it is a gift or you donated your egg to the IM. But the fact is that someone has contracted you to make a child, give up your parental rights and hand over your flesh and blood child. I don’t care if you think I am not your child, what about what I think!  . . . When you exchange something for money it is called a commodity. Babies are not commodities. Babies are human beings. How do you think this makes us feel to know that there was money exchanged for us?

Reproductive businesses flourish while these ethical questions are still being debated:

  • Do all reproductive choices equally protect the rights of the human being conceived or the women being utilized for eggs or womb?
  • Do the alleged “rights” of would-be parents override the rights of the human being created as they grow into adults?
  • Where is the line between third-party anonymous designer contractual conceptions and eugenics when egg and/or sperm sales are contingent on the physical and intellectual attributes of the “donor”/seller with college campuses and medical schools specifically targeted for sperm and egg “donors?”
  • Is it fair to continue to intentionally, and some might say selfishly, creating motherless children?
  • Why do we bemoan fatherlessness among minorities and in inner-cities and applaud the creation of motherless babies by the wealthy?

Kerr very accurately foresees surrogacy and other reproductive technologies creating “an Atwoodian dystopia that should provide the basis for litigation well into the future.  … international human rights provisions, do not adequately recognise and protect the natural and fundamental bond between a mother and the child she carries and must urgently be strengthened to prevent further development of a culture in which women’s reproductive capacities are commandeered and their offspring traded as mere commodities by wealthy men [and women].”1

  1. For additional information see:

    Surrogacy as the Sale of Children
    Surrogacy and the Politics of Commodification
    Surrogacy: Ethical and Legal Issues
    The ethics of surrogacy
    Surrogacy: Why the world needs rules for ‘selling’ babies
    Fundamental and legal problems for surrogate motherhood
    Global Perspective, All surrogacy is exploitation – the world should follow Sweden’s ban
    Inputs on gestational surrogacy for the OHCHR Special Rapporteur on the sale and sexual exploitation of children
    Handmaids for Hire: Should Commercial Surrogacy be Legalized In NYS? Surrogacy Has Now Become A Way of Slicing and Dicing Biological Motherhood into Three Parts.
    Surrogacy: Why the world needs rules for ‘selling’ babies
    Eggsploitation, documentary
    The Center for Bioethics and Culture Network (CBC)
    All Ways of Family Building are NOT Equal and do Not Protect Child’s Rights.
    Designer Conception: Interview with Zave Fors, a product of designer conception discussing his feelings about it

A Story of Resurrection

Trauma creates change you don’t choose. Healing is about creating change you do choose.
— Michelle Rosenthall

A feature on a local person usually doesn’t go down the rabbit hole of a person’s trauma and her battles scraping to get out of darkness.

A few artists I’ve interviewed  unleashed catharses into their personal journeys, including personal hells; however, after reading my drafts, many have declined to “expose” so much of their lives for public consumption. The exposing of one’s trials and tribulations is powerful to readers, but many times opening up in person is easy; seeing it in print is devastating.

“Out of sight, out of mind” is not a great place to find healing, though, and a person like Oregon Coast resident Kiera Morgan faces those demons head on. She embraces the good, bad and ugly of her totality.

The Central Oregon Coast (where I live) has remarkable narratives of people who face down homelessness, incarceration, depression, poverty, illness — what some call the school of hard knocks to the tenth power. Trudging out of the dark into the bright burning light serves up powerful survivors’ tale. It is a microcosm to the rest of the USA, the world.

Kiera Morgan fits this to a tee. I met her last year at Depoe Bay’s Neighbors for Kids (a non-profit for families in need of a place for children to be when parents are working) while I was giving a presentation on an anti-poverty program I am heading up in Lincoln County.

Her nose for news quickly motivated Kiera to get me on camera for her weekly show, “Coffee with Kiera.” This is a newish Lincoln County digital platform of her own creation: Pacific Northwest News and Entertainment.

A few months later, here I am talking to her on phone, my first interview conducted with the impersonal tools of social distancing.

I ask Kiera several times — “Are you okay with the dirty laundry aired and published in a newspaper?”

I am not ashamed of where I came from. I think my story could be a learning lesson for others.

ACES — the deck is stacked

Her story is one of reclamation — radio DJ-ing, theater and a newshound background. She has been out here since 1994. Setting down coastal roots entailed pain, struggle and personal discord. Kiera is now at her sweet spot — a good marriage to Tony Thomas (with Rogue Brewery in Newport  for 12 years) and her own involvement in civic and community programs.

She has been on (or is currently a member of) such diverse advisory boards as the Salvation Army, Retired Seniors Volunteer Program, Partnership Against Alcohol and Drug Abuse and Central Coast Child Development Center.

Sort of the “why” of Kiera’s involvement in these social services non-profits weaves back to her early years as well as her adulthood: she was born in Idaho 55 years ago; moved to Bend; ended up in Gresham by the age of five. She’s spent time in Portland, Pendleton, Sweet Home and, finally, the Central Oregon Coast.

Though she’s not “just” defined as a child of early divorce, Kiera recalls a stepdad who was an abusive alcoholic. She ended up emotionally and physically battered.

We bring up ACES — Adverse Childhood Experiences. I’ve worked in education, with gang prevention programs, newly released prisoners and foster teens. Training around ACES, I was galvanized to in understanding my students’ and clients’ childhood traumas. Those negative events early on have concrete outcomes — future violence victimization and perpetration, lifelong physical and mental health issues, substance abuse, homelessness and plethora of lost opportunities as adults.

The adage, “it takes a village to raise a child,” is pivotal in how society should create neighborhoods, communities and situations where children can thrive. Letting children fall through the cracks and live in abusive, impoverished homes nullifies many possibilities of a thriving adulthood.

Kiera emphasizes how our communities pay for this as fellow citizens get involved in substance abuse, are challenged with illiteracy and fall into myriad unhealthy lifestyle “choices.” As a community, we pay in many ways for these people failing through the cracks:

Poverty, violent parents, substance abuse in the household and being a foster youth are all high-influencing ACES.

Kiera ticks off all of the above. Her biological father was out of the picture, she says, not because that was his choice. Her mother was not emotionally sound to break away from an abusive husband, her step-father.

She moved in briefly with her biological father who was a chef and baker in Rhododendron at an operation centered around rental cabins.

“I would go to the restaurant for meals,” she says, emphasizing how she rode her bike to friends’ homes, and was able to hang with farm animals at her friends’ parents’ farms.

“My dad was good-natured, a very positive person. He would literally give the shirt off his back to anyone in need. He was a happy man, and everyone called him, Hap.”

Getting back up

Kiera’s time with her biological father ended when a private detective, hired by Kiera’s mother, stated he saw Hap letting his young daughter hang out by herself in their cabin while her father was just around the corner working in the restaurant.

More ACES: whipped by her step-father, and bruises on her body. “I literally had the design of his belt on me because he hit me so hard.”

Her biological father would show up to his sister’s house. They called the police once, and the step-father told the officer the marks were evidence of normal disciplining. Nothing happened to the abuser.

The young Kiera witnessed her stepfather’s heavy drinking. She had the marks of being swatted and belted, and she held in the emotional pain. The vicious cycle of a mother allowing the abuse of the child by a male step-parent put Kiera front and center into his rage. She was grabbed by the throat, her hair pulled and head slammed against the wall.

The next day the sixth grader showed a teacher the fingerprint bruises on her neck and welt on the back of the head.

Is this proof enough, or do I have to die before you believe me?

This journey has more twists and turns in Part Two published on the OCT website, but as one bookend to her life, Kiera reiterates, “I want to be like my dad — loving and a smile on my face. It’s important for me to expand my web site. It puts me at peace knowing I can help others through the news site.”

PTSD may stand for post traumatic stress disorder, but the label could mean Personally Tough Strong Dame after spending time with Kiera Morgan.

So it is better to speak remembering we were never meant to survive

— Audre Lorde

Kiera is open about her life, about survival. She recounts how she was living paycheck to paycheck in Sweet Home. She was with an alcoholic, a husband who “did get physical with me, punched me.”

She emphasizes leaving an abusive spouse is not always an option. Kiera knows the psychological underpinnings of “battered spouse syndrome” by heart. She went back to this fellow many times.

One instance, Kiera’s sister came to get her, and Kiera spent her time couch surfing, virtually homeless. She lived in her car. “Nine months pregnant. Jeff found out where I was. He told me he missed me. I knew better, though, but I went back to him.”

The vicious cycle of believing a man can and will change when the bottle or the needle are more important in their lives is not atypical.

At the end of her pregnancy, she was quickly feeling massive heartburn. Eventually she went to OHSU where she was diagnosed with toxemia, which meant bed rest. On Sept. 10, 1992, a six-pound, nine-ounce Nick was born.

Foster parents bow out

Being put into a foster home and being told that you are just like their own daughter is powerful. More impacting is having these foster parents tell you they are done fostering and want out of the deal.

Kiera had that experience in 8th grade. Afterward, she got packed up and sent to a different foster home, this time in Gresham. “They had lots of kids. It was that they needed a babysitter for the other foster kids, and I was it.”

Kiera laughs, telling me she constantly listened to the Billy Joel song, “My Life.”

She had an older foster sister, aged 16, who stole and used drugs. “I could have easily gone down that path.”

Her Aunt Jean told her that she was going to be her daughter. Another change in schools. “It was tough, even though I knew Aunt Jean loved me. I really loved music and that what really helped me get through some rough parts.”

She was obsessed with record clubs, and she got into Queen, the Bee Gees, Journey, Cheap Trix and others.

My aunt always encouraged me to work. I babysat and worked at an after-school program for a Montessori School.”

Theater, she says, was a lifesaver for her. She was involved in the Overlook Acting Company that gathered in North Portland. She calls those people “my theater family.”

She also got involved in the Big Sister program. That sister, Lois, paid for a plane ticket to go to Alaska so Kiera could visit Lois’s family. But tragedy struck — her biological father was killed in a sandstorm in Idaho, hit from behind by a semi. Kiera had only been in Alaska two days when she got the news of his death.

She graduated from high school in 1983 at age 17 and went to work for a window treatment company.

More tragedy. Her foster mom was aged 60 when she was diagnosed with an inoperative brain tumor. Kiera took care of Jean for three weeks, before she passed away.

“I’ve been on my own since age 17.”

After she died, an ex-husband of Lois showed and took away the house.

Kiera was working in Beaverton for a dry cleaners, and then the day care center, and landed another job, at an Albertson’s bakery. There, she met a woman whose husband was director of the National Broadcasting School in Portland.

Work, buses from one side of Portland to the other, and this amazing school. She graduated as valedictorian. Her first gig was with KFIR AM/FM in Sweet Home.

It was a country station. “I had grown up on KGON since I was a baby. I was a rock ’n’ roller.”

Country Western music grew on her.

She ended up in an abusive relationship, but he was the father of her son. She ended in a domestic violence shelter in Pendleton. One thing led to another and she drove to Newport, found jobs and a house and ended up at the Shilo Inn as a DJ.

She was in a small trailer up the Alsea River near Waldport, Oregon.

Nick is 28 years old and had his first baby July 2019 with Amelia. Three years ago, Keira and Tony (they were married in 2001) bought a house in Newport Heights.

Kiera’s life is one of struggle, but with plenty of highlights too: working for KZVS-Toledo, KFND, delivering newspapers, retail work for the Chocolate Basket. She also works for KSHL — the Wave, 93.7 FM — doing sales and PSAs.

She and Tony have his son, Nathan, and girlfriend sharing the house with Rocky the cat and two shih tzus.

Her takeaway at the end of the interview:

I want people to feel hope.

Q & A Rapid-fire

PH: What makes you tick inside?

KM: What makes me tick, is work. I am a hopeless workaholic. I like to stay busy and be in touch with what is going on around me.

PH: What do you like about this county, this community?

KM: What I like about Lincoln County and this community is the willingness to help others when they are in need. When the chips are down for someone or an event creates a situation where people need help, like right now, we step up and help.

PH: What advice would you give a young woman who is in a viscous and abusive relationship? The elevator speech.

KM: I would say to a woman in an abusive situation that they should use their best judgement to protect themselves and loved ones. Don’t always believe everything your abuser says. If you can get out and do so safely there are those who can help you recover and get back on your feet. Most of all get counseling!!

PH: What are two big changes you have seen since first moving to Lincoln County almost 30 years ago?

KM: One of the biggest changes I have seen is the effort to help those and a better understanding of homelessness. I think people now realize that those who are homeless are not that way because they are lazy, they are families who work but simply can’t afford high rents and costs of getting into homes or apartments with fees and credit checks. I am also proud of the changes being made to have a better understanding between law enforcement, the community and those who have a mental illness and the work to get them the help they need.

PH: What are the top two issues that need addressing in Lincoln County?

KM: One of the top issues that concerns in Lincoln County, in my opinion, remains the lack of quality child care! Families often can’t afford the high cost of child care so they turn to the next best thing. This is not always a safe choice but when we live in a county that is not a M-F, 9-5 community it leaves parents with little choice. There is an extreme lack of infant care. This makes two parent families choose between only one parent working or having to work opposite shifts, which puts a strain on families. If I have said it once I will say it a thousand times “you can’t have economic development without childcare.” Families need a safe place for their kids to go for them to be able to work, it also defeats the purpose when the parent is working is paying nearly all of their paycheck to childcare. Help from the state or from companies is essential. Homelessness would be the second. There are many options that could be explored that have been done in other areas including creating small house communities, instead of trailer parks that would be managed by programs such as Grace Wins or the programs in Lincoln City.

PH: If you could do some things over in your life, what would they be?

KM: I am old enough now to realize that the mistakes that we make in our lifetime are what helps us to learn and grow as a person and become better. Love and appreciate those you have in your life, as we truly never know when things can change.

PH: What’s your basic life philosophy?

KM: My basic life philosophy is happiness. Do what makes you happy, treat others with the respect and kindness that you would like to be shown.

Eternal Fixation: The Madeleine McCann Disappearance Show

The “lost child” endures as motif and theme, the stalking shadow of much literature, the background to a society’s anxiety.  The child, often deemed innocent, becomes the ink blot of loss in such disappearance.  In Australia, it was captured by Peter Pierce’s The Country of Lost Children: An Australian Anxiety (1999).  In wide spaces, innocence has much room to go wrong in, to vanish and encourage judgment.

Madeleine McCann was never merely a lost child who disappeared in the Algarve from her family’s holiday apartment on May 3, 2007.  She remains a fixation of the British media stable, and, it should be said, to an unhealthy degree.  Her disappearance was a fire that burned with little Englander, flag-waving rage, often directed against the Portuguese and judgmental about any efforts in investigation.  The McCann story was, in Giles Tremlett’s words, “a snapshot of Britain and its poisonous media culture”, but also those indifferent Britons who were happy to enjoy the sun of the Iberian Peninsula without much care for their host countries.  Such tourists, and residents, could often be beastly, preoccupying local police and emergency units with their overdoses, intoxicated late night swims, night club fighting and the occasional drowned toddler in a villa swimming pool.

The McCann furnace tended to burn most of its participants, including the grieving parents, who were a daily feature of news bulletins till saturation, stepping out of their Praia da Luz apartment and photographed with paparazzi enthusiasm.  For a brief spell, police interest shifted to them, more out of formality than anything else.  An interest was registered in their parenting skills and their lifestyle.  Should they have left their three-year old daughter unattended in an easily accessible flat as they feasted on tapas with friends who did the same?  Did they sedate their child?  It would explain why there were no screams, no howls of despair, as a stranger carted the child away.

As novelist Anne Enright weighed in, “If someone else is found to have taken Madeleine McCann – as may well be the case – it will show that the ordinary life of an ordinary family cannot survive the suspicious scrutiny of millions.”  (Worth noting here is the savage attack on Enright for her generally balanced reflection.  Janet Street-Porter, editor-at-large at The Independent raged, calling her “charmless”, a hater of Kate McCann “who is guilty of no crime, except being fit and attractive”.)

In covering the disappearance, and the vain investigation to recover her or find a culprit, views and commentaries flourished with speculative detail, malicious mauling, and mawkish reverence.  The reputation of Kate and Gerry McCann served to shift in the sands of public consciousness, a projection of class and status.  Initially, as was to be found in the Daily Mail, they were the perfect, unsullied parents, both of medical background, their daughter being blond and insufferably cute.  Brimming of the middle class ethic, they were to be seen and judged through such eyes, with their daughter fulfilling a role akin to caricature about what innocence would look like.  “This kind of thing doesn’t usually happen to people like us,” bleated Allison Pearson of the Daily Mail.

But things did turn on them, with a sort of reverse snobbery.  The Daily Express was particularly keen on that front, with their reporters encouraged to target the McCanns for unsubstantiated responsibility for their daughter’s demise.  The same attention had not been paid to, for instance, the vanishing of British toddler Ben Needham in Kos in 1991.  As Owen Jones noted in sharp fashion in Chavs (2012), “Kidnappings, stabbings, murders; those are things you almost expect to happen to people living in Peckham or Glasgow.  This sort of tragedy was not supposed to happen to folks you might bump into doing the weekly shop at Waitrose.”

The McCanns could always count on their defenders.  Des Spence found himself performing that role in the British Medical Journal, finding it impossible to presume that the parents were culpable in any way.  (Sod the police; we know better.)  “The McCanns merely did as countless thousands of other parents have done. Any blame of guilt is grossly misplaced and unkind, for they are victims of an act of utter malevolence. No one has the right to question the McCanns’ parental commitment.”

The case had been on a slow burn, embers visible to those caring to watch.  In addition to personal efforts on the part of the McCanns to hire personal investigators, Scotland Yard also committed its own resources in Operation Grange.  Several police forces have been preoccupied with the investigation.

Now, a blast of air has been given to the matter, with the grim announcement by the Braunschweig Public Prosecutor’s Office about the latest developments.  “We are assuming,” stated a solemn Hans Christian Wolters, “that the girl is dead.  With the suspect, we are talking about a sexual predator who has already been convicted of crimes against little girls and he’s already serving a long sentence.”  The suspect in question, one Christian D., had been a regular resident of the Algarve between 1995 and 2007, working in the catering industry and doing his bit of drug dealing and burgling of holiday flats.  To date, the prosecutor general’s office in Portugal have yet to find a record of any crimes committed by the suspect, though they are re-opening their investigation on that front.

Despite the news, family spokesman Clarence Mitchell revealed that he could not “recall an instance when the police had been so specific about an individual.  Of all the thousands of leads and potential suspects that have been mentioned in the past, there has never been something as clear cut as that from not just one, but three police forces.”

While the German stance on this has settled upon the view that Madeleine is no longer alive, the Met Police in Britain hold to the view that this remains a “missing persons” investigation.  In doing so, another offering to perpetuate the McCann mystery has been made, one that has become self-propagating, ceaseless and remorselessly vulgar.

Our Disaster

An entire generation of Yemeni children has suffered the traumas of war, many of them orphaned, maimed, malnourished, or displaced. The United Nations reports a death toll of 100,000 people in that nation’s ongoing war, with an additional 131,000 people dying from hunger, disease, and a lack of medical care. A report from Save the Children, issued in November 2018, estimated at least 85,000 children had died from extreme hunger since the war began in 2015.

Since then, 3.65 million people have been internally displaced and the worst cholera outbreak ever recorded has infected 2.26 million and cost nearly 4,000 lives. Attacks on hospitals and clinics have led to the closure of more than half of Yemen’s prewar facilities.

“Yemen remains the world’s worst humanitarian disaster,” the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs wrote on April 23. “Nearly 80 percent of the population requires some form of humanitarian assistance and protection. Ten million people are a step away from famine, and seven million people are malnourished.”

The war has had a horrific impact on all Yemeni civilians, but it has compounded vulnerability to violence for women and girls. A recent AP report described a network of secret detention centers where security forces have severely abused women they’ve targeted as dissenters. In the Sanaa governorate alone, an estimated 200 to 350 women and girls are being held, according to multiple human rights groups. A U.N. panel of experts accused Sultan Zabin, the head of the Sanaa criminal investigative division, of running an undisclosed detention site where women have been raped and tortured.

World health experts regard Yemen as a potential hot spot for the coronavirus and have worked frantically to prepare for its arrival.

“Five years of fighting have degraded the health infrastructure, exhausted people’s immune systems, and increased acute vulnerabilities,” the United Nations said in mid-April. As a result, warned Mark Lowcock, the U.N.’s top aid official, “COVID-19 in Yemen could spread faster, more widely, and with deadlier consequences than in many other countries.”

When Lowcock made this statement, Yemen had recorded just one confirmed case of COVID-19 and no deaths. As of May 31, Yemen had 337 confirmed cases and 89 deaths. On May 30, The Lancet quoted Altaf Musani, the World Health Organization’s representative in Yemen:

Based on recently applied models for the context in Yemen, we are estimating in a worst-case scenario with no mitigation measures 28 million people infected, at least 65,000 deaths, and around 494,000 hospitalisations. It is a deeply alarming situation, highly catastrophic if people do not make serious behavioural changes [and] if we do not make some course corrections.

The policies of the United States are deeply implicated in Yemen’s suffering, through the sale of billions of dollars in munitions to Saudi Arabia and other countries that have intervened in the civil war.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has urged the United Nations to reduce the aid it delivers to areas controlled by the Houthis.  A New York Times report quoted an unnamed diplomat as saying that Pompeo, at a 2019 conference in Warsaw, said the coalition forces should kick the stuffing out of the Houthis, although Pompeo, according to the unnamed diplomat, “used an earthier noun than stuffing.”

In March 2015, Saudi Arabia led a military coalition of nine Arab states to intervene in a conflict raging in Yemen. The coalition said it was acting to restore Yemen’s ousted president, Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi, to power.

But professor Shireen Al-Adeimi, a Yemeni who teaches at Michigan State University, contends the coalition’s real motive was to gain control of the Bab el-Mandeb Strait, a maritime “chokepoint” through which millions of barrels of crude oil flow each day.

The Saudi warmakers anticipated a brief war, dubbing it “Operation Decisive Storm,” and expecting to quickly overwhelm the rebellious fighters, called the Houthis. They believed the rebels would be no match for the combined military strength of Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and the seven other Arab countries in the coalition, who were collectively backed by the United States and the United Kingdom.

But the war dragged on for months, turning into a stalemate, with disastrous consequences for Yemeni civilians. The Saudis asked the United States for massive increases in the supply of weapons. By the end of 2015, Human Rights Watch documented the U.S. had sold Saudi Arabia 600 Patriot Missiles, a million rounds of ammunition, $7.8 billion in various weaponry, four Lockheed Littoral Combat Ships, and 10,000 advanced air-to-surface missiles, including laser-guided bombs and “bunker busting” bombs.

The Obama Administration, notes Al-Adeimi, sold Saudi Arabia $115 billion of weapons and provided additional support in the form of targeting assistance, training, and maintenance of aircraft and vehicles. The Trump Administration has continued to support Saudi Arabia, including its 2017 pledge to sell $350 billion in weapons to the repressive regime over a ten-year period. President Donald Trump cited this lucrative package in declining to take action against Saudi Arabia for murdering Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi in 2018.

The United States has also provided cover for Saudi Arabia in the U.N. Security Council, which passed a resolution in April 2015 that demanded an end to Yemeni violence but made no mention of the Saudi-led intervention.

Al-Adeimi understands the difficult position the United Nations is in, since it depends heavily on donations from Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and the United States. But she is dismayed by what she calls its “all-siding” the war — addressing the conflict as though it were between evenly matched opponents.

“One hundred thousand Yemenis have been killed,” Al-Adeimi says. “The Yemenis don’t have even one plane, much less fighter jets and warships!”

On March 27, the Trump Administration suspended aid to Houthi-controlled areas of Yemen, where 70 percent of Yemen’s population live. It accuses the Houthis of obstructing aid deliveries. Meanwhile, the Saudis are enforcing a blockade on all of Yemen’s land, sea, and airports, forcing its population into dependence on relief organizations.

Aisha Jumaan, a Yemeni who works as an epidemiologist in Washington State, says the effect of these aid cuts was immediate. She worries that Yemen may be manipulated by donors who can threaten to withhold desperately needed food, medicine, water, and fuel.

Jumaan and her organization, the Yemen Relief & Reconstruction Foundation, along with Oxfam, the Norwegian Refugee Council, and the Yemeni Alliance Committee, are urging the United States to reconsider its aid suspension, to give Yemen all possible resources to prevent and respond to COVID-19.

In May 2017, the Saudi-led coalition’s war against Yemen had clearly gone on longer than predicted. Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman appeared on national television and asked the Saudis to be patient. He said having a dialogue with the rebels was not possible, so the coalition was waiting them out, adding “Time is in our favor.”

Three years later, the war is still dragging on, and the flow of weapons from the United States continues unabated. Even now, in a shipyard in Marinette, Wisconsin, Lockheed Martin has a multibillion-dollar contract to build four Littoral Combat Ships, which will be delivered to Saudi Arabia.

In 2019, the investigative website Bellingcat reported that eleven individual U.S. states plus the District of Columbia have each exported more than $100 million worth of weapons to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. Altogether, the United States provided up to $6.8 billion in weapons including bombs, rocket launchers, and machine guns through March 2019.

Some of these weapons may be linked to war crimes. Identifying marks on U.S. bombs used in the 2018 Dahyan bus bombing, which killed forty children and eleven adults, linked back to a Lockheed Martin plant in Pennsylvania.

On a monthly basis, Saudi Arabia’s state-owned shipping company, Bahri, sends cargo ships to Wilmington, North Carolina, the Port of Baltimore and other U.S. ports, to collect bombs, grenades, cartridges, and defense-related aircraft. The United States also supplies weapons to Bahrain and other countries actively participating in the Saudi-led war against Yemen.

On April 8, the Saudi-led coalition declared a unilateral two-week ceasefire, expressing concern about the spread of COVID-19. But within days, the Houthis were battling groups loyal to the coalition, which retaliated with dozens of air strikes. The Houthis had already issued their own proposal for ending the war and insisted that no durable peace could be achieved without the withdrawal of foreign troops and a termination of the blockade.

When the two-week ceasefire expired, a spokesperson for the Saudi-led coalition announced a month-long extension. Yet there were numerous reports of continued coalition air strikes. The Saudis may want to extricate themselves from the war, but so far they haven’t stopped the bludgeoning air strikes or lifted the blockade.

• A version of this article first appeared in The Progressive Magazine

Sanaa, Yemen. 30 April 2020. A health worker wearing a protective suit sprays disinfectant on the hands of people at a market in the old city of Sanaa, amid concerns of the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19).  Photo Credit: Hani Al-Ansi/dpa/Alamy Live News.