What would the world look like if we reversed the roles of animals and humans? This creative campaign called “Happy Farms” explores a world in which humans are treated in the same way many farmed animals are.
Why are animal beings so different from human beings? Are humans just animals at a different stage of evolution? Why do many feel it is okay for our species to subject much of the animal species to a tortuous existence?
These are a few of the questions being asked by German artist Barbara Daniels, who draws powerful images in which the roles of humans and factory farmed animals are reversed.
“Imagine our modern society with the roles of humans and animals reversed. What would it look like? How would it feel to be dominated by another species? My current artwork strives to answer these questions, drawing inspiration from real world situations and events.” Said Barbara on her website Barbara Daniels Art.
Daniels launched a satirical campaign called “Happy Farms”, a company “specializing in a variety of human products advertised as fresh and naturally grown.” The campaign reverses the roles of humans and chickens, showing an “ethical” slaughtering of human beings for consumption.
It seem that the work to raise awareness of animal rights is working with a sharp increase in people following a vegan or vegetarian diet. According to a recent report from Global Data there has been a 600% increase in veganism in the last 3 years alone, with 6% of the US now identifying as vegan.
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The European Union has reacted to US President Donald Trump’s criticism over, what he called, the EU’s unfair trade practices, which the President sees as discriminatory toward the US, explaining by it the expanding US foreign trade deficit.
“We here, in the European Union, believe that trade can and should be win-win. We also believe that while trade has to be open and fair, it has also to be rules-based. The European Union stands ready to react swiftly and appropriately in case our exports are affected by any restrictive trade measures from the United States,” Margaritis Skinas, the official representative of the European Commission (EC) stated on Monday at a press conference in Brussels.
The comment follows US President Donald Trump’s statement made earlier in the day during an interview with UK ITV broadcaster, saying that he had a lot of problems with the European Union in the sphere of trade, calling their practices discriminatory toward the US and explaining that their alleged international currency manipulations had impacted the US trade deficit over the past two decades.
In his tough rhetoric on the issue, Trump announced he would pursue full enforcement of international trade rules, and didn’t rule out the further use of customs tariffs and regulatory action against dumping practices and foreign currency manipulations. This comes after he slapped Chinese and South Korean washing machines and solar panels with a 30-percent import tax.
However, the EU has criticized President Trump-proposed economic policies in the US as well, calling them a ‘threat’ to international trade and economic relations, envisioning higher competition for markets and investment capital from American companies.
In September, the EU’s economic and financial committee stated that the rise of the American protectionism and supply-side reforms are poised to undermine the stability of global trade. The US’ shift toward an export-driven economic model, the EU says, could do significant harm to the international economic ties and suppress the global growth outlook.
Ireland is set to discuss a new bill that seeks to prohibit the import and sale of goods originating in illegal settlements in occupied Palestinian Territory.
Independent Senator Frances Black, yesterday, launched the “Control of Economic Activities (Occupied Territories) Bill 2018”, which is scheduled for debate in Seanad Éireann on Wednesday 31 January 2018.
According to a press release announcing its launch the bill “seeks to prohibit the import and sale of goods, services and natural resources originating in illegal settlements in occupied territories”. “Such settlements,” said the statement, “are illegal under both international humanitarian law and domestic Irish law, and result in human rights violations on the ground”. Despite the illegality of the import and sale of goods from Israeli settlements, the statement points out that Ireland is still providing “continued economic support through trade in settlement goods”.
Drafters of the bill revealed that the legislation had been “prepared with the support of Trócaire, Christian-Aid and the Irish Congress of Trade Unions (ICTU), and applies to settlements in occupied territories where there is clear international legal consensus that they violate international law”. They insisted that the “clearest current example of these violations were the expansion of settlements in the Palestinian West Bank, which have been repeatedly condemned as illegal by the UN, EU, the International Court of Justice and the Irish Government”.
Speaking in advance of the bill’s introduction, Senator Black said:
“This is a chance for Ireland to stand up for the rights of vulnerable people – it is about respecting international law and refusing to support illegal activity and human suffering.”
Black said he is “passionate about the struggle of the Palestinian people”. He insisted that “trade in settlement goods sustains injustice” and explained that “in the occupied territories, people are forcibly kicked out of their homes, fertile farming land is seized, and the fruit and vegetables produced are then sold on Irish shelves to pay for it all”.
The bill is seeking more than mere denunciation of Israeli settlements and is trying to get governments around the world to treat settlements as illegal. Black pointed out that six years ago the Irish Government criticised the relentless progress of Israeli settlements, but they have failed to do anything about it since.
“In years since then it has only gone one way, with settlements expanding, more Palestinian homes being demolished and land being confiscated. It’s clear that empty promises have not worked but nothing has been done. Ireland needs to show leadership and act” Black protested.
The Occupied Territories Bill 2018 will be debated at Second Stage in Seanad Éireann on Wednesday and will be streamed live on Oireachtas TV. It has been co-signed by Seanad Civil Engagement Group Senators Alice-Mary Higgins, Lynn Ruane, Grace O’Sullivan, Colette Kelleher and John Dolan, as well as Senator David Norris.
China’s “Go West” strategy was brought into sharp focus at a forum in Shanghai last weekend. Billed as the Belt and Road Initiative: Towards Greater Cooperation between China and the Middle East, it highlighted key aspects of Beijing’s wider plan.
The New Silk Roads, or the Belt and Road Initiative, involve six key economic corridors, connecting Asia, the Middle East, North Africa and Europe. One, in particular, extends through the Middle East to North Africa. This is where the Belt and Road meets MENA or the Middle East and North Africa.
Of course, Beijing’s massive economic project goes way beyond merely exporting China’s excess production capacity. That is part of the plan, along with building selected industrial bases in MENA countries by using technical and production expertise from the world’s second-largest economy.
Again, this is will connect western China to the eastern Mediterranean. It will mean developing a corridor through projects such as the Red Med railway. There are also plans to expand ports, such as Oman’s Duqm, as well as substantial investment in Turkey.
A look at the numbers tells a significant part of the story. In 2010, China-Arab trade was worth US$145 billion. By 2014, it had reached $250 billion and rising. China is now the largest exporter to assorted MENA nations, while MENA accounts for 40% of Beijing’s oil imports.
The next stage surrounding energy will be the implementation of a maze of LNG, or liquefied natural gas, pipelines, power grids, power plants and even green projects, sprouting up across the new Silk Road corridors and transit routes.
According to the Asian Development Bank, the myriad of Belt and Road infrastructure projects for the next 15 years could hit a staggering $26 trillion. Other less grandiose figures come in at $8 trillion during the next two decades.
The ongoing internationalization of the yuan will be key in the process as will the role of the Asia Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB).
Naturally, there will be challenges. Belt and Road Initiative projects will have to create local jobs, navigate complex public and private partnerships along with intractable geopolitical wobbles.
Enseng Ho, a professor from the Asia Research Institute at the National University of Singapore, is one of an army of researchers studying how historical links will play an important role in this new configuration.
An excellent example is the city of Yiwu in Zhejiang province. This has become a mecca for merchant pilgrims from Syria or east Africa and has profited the region, according to the Zhejiang provincial government.
In a wider Middle East context, Beijing’s aim is to harness, discipline and profit from what can be considered an Industrialization 2.0 process. The aim is to help oil producers, such as Saudi Arabia and the rest of the Gulf states, diversify away from crude.
There is also reconstruction projections elsewhere, with China deeply involved in the commercial renaissance of post-war Syria.
As well as investing in its own future energy security, Beijing is keen to put together other long-term strategic investments. Remixing the centuries-old Chinese trade connections with the Islamic world fits into the Globalization 2.0 concept President Xi Jinping rolled out at last year’s World Economic Forum in the Swiss ski resort of Davos.
But then, Beijing’s strategy is to avoid a geopolitical collision in the Middle East. Its aim is to: Make Trade, Not War.
From the United States’ point of view, the National Security Strategy document highlighted how China and Russia are trying to shape a new geopolitical environment in the region, which contrasts sharply from Washington’s aims and interests.
It pointed out that while Russia is trying to advance its position as the leading political and military power broker, China is pushing ahead with a “win, win” economic policy. In 2016, that was spelt out in Beijing’s first Arab Policy paper, with its emphasis on bilateral trade cooperation, joint development projects and military exchanges.
Since geopolitical wobbles are never far below the surface in the Middle East, China has even suggested it would be willing to act as a mediator between intractable rivals Iran and Saudi Arabia.
Indeed, diplomacy is a key card for Beijing, according to Zhao Tingyang, a noted philosopher, at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.
In his 2006 paper, entitled Rethinking Empire from a Chinese Concept “All-Under-Heaven”, Zhao argued that the country show follow a principle of harmony based loosely on the Confucian notion of “all under heaven” or Tianxia in Mandarin.
Confucius, one would imagine, would be pleased by the Belt and Road Initiative. You could call it: “Make Trade, Not War All Under Heaven.”
Macron has found himself in Europe’s foreign-policy driver’s seat with two other leading powers, the UK and Germany, currently distracted by domestic issues. While London has been preoccupied by Brexit, and Berlin is mired in protracted coalition talks, the young French leader has brought Paris to the forefront of global policy making.
This week’s visit to China is part of Macron’s greater engagement in world affairs, compared that of his predecessors, Francois Hollande and Nicolas Sarkozy. Wearing his hat as an envoy from Europe, he has called for a unified European policy towards the Asian powerhouse. “We need a coordinated European approach… that gives China more visibility about our agenda,” he said.
On Monday, the French president arrived in the northeastern Chinese city of Xi’an – the capital of the 7th century Tang Dynasty, and the end-point of the historic Silk Road. The choice of destination was an apparent bow to Chinese President’s Xi Jinping’s ambitious “One Belt, One Road” infrastructure project, which is touted in Beijing as a modern counterpart to the ancient Europe-Asia trade route.
President Xi used the occasion to invoke historical references, recalling that France was the first Western nation to establish diplomatic relations with Communist China. “Chairman Mao Zedong and General Charles de Gaulle made a historic decision with remarkable political foresight to forge diplomatic ties in 1964,” he said, as cited by Xinhua. “The decision not only changed the world pattern at that time, but also has effects on the world development nowadays.
“The two countries can enhance political mutual trust and fully tap the potential of cooperation transcending differences on the social system, development stage and culture,” Xi added, showcasing Beijing’s strategy of engaging with other nations through trade and investment, without political demands attached. The approach helped China gain access to many former French colonies in Africa, which remain a significant market for French products.
Macron’s state visit continued on Tuesday in Beijing, where he called for an adjustment to the $36-billion trade deficit with China, which he said could be done by opening each other’s markets for trade. “We have access to markets which is unbalanced, unsatisfying,” he said at a meeting with French and Chinese business leaders at a start-up incubator in the Chinese capital. “If we don’t deal with this responsibly, the first, natural, reaction will be to close up on both sides.”
Earlier, French Economy and Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire was quite frank about the intention of Paris to rebalance its trade relations and become part of a new “backbone” leading to Beijing via Moscow.
Macron has brought around 60 executives from some of the biggest French companies on his Chinese tour, including Airbus, BNP Paribas, AccorHotels, EDF and LVMH. There is particular focus on Airbus, which needs China’s carefully guarded market to boost sales of its A380 airliner. So far, however, no high-profile deals have been announced, but members of the French delegation told Reuters that such announcements may follow.
In terms of global affairs, Macron praised China – the world’s biggest polluter – for the strides it has made in addressing climate change and, particularly, for its continued commitment to the Paris Accord, a key environmental agreement that the US has abandoned under President Donald Trump. “China kept its word,” he said. “You demonstrate your immense sense of responsibility.”
Macron is also seeking Beijing’s support for the G5 Sahel multinational military force, which aims to tackle the security situation in central Africa.
Every year, approximately 30,000 African elephants are killed due to poaching, habitat destruction, and human conflict, reports the WWF. As a result, the giant land mammal is expected to go extinct within 10 years. This is obviously a travesty — one that can be prevented. The Chinese government clearly agrees, for on December 31, 2017, it shut down all of its remaining domestic ivory trade. This means that one of the world’s largest consumers of ivory will no longer tolerate the sale of the substance.
As you might expect, the news has been lauded by conservation groups, wildlife activists, and animal lovers around the world. Said Ginette Hemley, senior vice president of the WWF, in a statement: “Decades from now, we may point back to this as one of the most important days in the history of elephant conservation. China has followed through on a great promise it made to the world, offering hope for the future of elephants.”
As IFLScience reports, an international ivory trade ban was enacted in 1990. This made it illegal for countries to trade ivory across their borders — not for ivory to be traded within the country’s bounds. As a result, demand for ivory, particularly in Asian countries, has remained high. In fact, ivory fetches prices as much as $1,500 per pound.
Now that the Chinese government has banned the sale of ivory within its borders, 34 legal processing workshops and 143 designated trading venues have been shut down. Fortunately, former ivory workers will not be displaced. The Chinese Ministry of Culture will help people utilize their skills in other workplaces. Xinhua news agency reports that master carvers, for instance, will be given an opportunity to work with museums. There, they can teach about the history of ivory carving and carry out restoration work.
Obviously, people will continue to trade ivory — in China and elsewhere in the world. News of the ban remains positive, nonetheless. This is because China has made it clear that it is turning its back on the trade. Soon, other countries may follow suit.
“This ban alone won’t end the poaching of elephants. It’s equally critical that China’s neighbors follow suit and shut down ivory markets across Asia. Only then can we ensure the open trade doesn’t simply shift to other countries and offer traffickers safe channels for newly-poached ivory,” said Hemley. “The fate of Africa’s elephants depends on global rejection of ivory trade, and governments hold the key to driving this.”
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Weeks after repealing net neutrality, Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Ajit Pai canceled a planned appearance at a tech industry trade show because of death threats, according to a report.
On Wednesday, Gary Shapiro, president of Consumer Technology Association (CTA), released a statement that said Pai would not be attending the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas this year.
“Unfortunately, Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai is unable to attend CES 2018,” Shapiro said. “We look forward to our next opportunity to host a technology policy discussion with him before a public audience.”
CTA, which runs the CES conference, did not provide the reason for Pai’s decision. However, two unnamed agency sources told Recode that Pai canceled his appearance after receiving death threats.
On Thursday, Shapiro told Digital Trends that Pai did not tell him why he was canceling his appearance, but speculated that his decision had to do with his personal security.
“He and his family have been subject to vicious and direct attacks and threats and any decision he makes regarding his own travel is fine with me,” Shapiro said. The sources added that federal law enforcement agencies have “intervened in the matter.”
In November, CTA announced Pai would join Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) acting chairwoman Maureen Ohlhausen next Tuesday for a “candid discussion” about the 2018 regulatory agenda of the agency. Ohlhausen is still scheduled to attend the event.
It would have been Pai’s sixth time speaking at the event Las Vegas and his first as FCC chairman. RT America reached out to a spokesperson for CTA and are waiting to hear back.
Pai became a target of death threats after he unveiled his plan to repeal the regulations put in place under former President Barack Obama in 2015.
The FCC established net neutrality regulations to reclassify broadband as Title II “common carriers” under the Communications Act of 1934. Under the rules, the FCC was given the authority to regulate Internet service providers (ISPs) such as AT&T, Comcast and Verizon – similar to utilities – subjecting the entities to more government oversight.
Under the new directives, the FTC will be in charge of overseeing ISPs, as they were before net neutrality was established. This is the second time Pai has been threatened in recent weeks.
Moments before the FCC voted to repeal the rules in December, the room was evacuated in response to a security threat. Homeland Security police quickly cleared the room, but they did not provide any information on the nature of the security threat, prompting speculation that someone might have called in a bomb threat.
On Thursday, the FCC released the final text of the Restoring Internet Freedom order.
FTC Commissioner Terrell McSweeny, who has voiced opposition to repealing net neutrality, tweeted Thursday that it was “unacceptable” to threaten a public servant because of their views.