Marxism and the war in Donbass

first_img Contempt for the working class, “class racism.” Established on Maidan under the leadership of the oligarchy, the ideology of the social bloc of nationalist intelligentsia and “middle class” petty proprietors has infected the Western Ukrainian “man in the street,” who clearly defines his class enemy: the “cattle” in Donbass. With this “class racism” against the working-class majority of the South-East, the oligarchy rallies broad social strata around itself.These are the main elements of the policy of the new regime in Kiev. This is the class politics of transnational imperialist capital and the Ukrainian capitalist oligarchy, which tries to escape its crisis at the expense of the working class. This policy is based on using the petty bourgeoisie, the so-called “middle class,” as its strike force. In the 1930s, this design of political dictatorship in the interests of big business was called fascism.Policies in DonbassSince the statehood of the territories liberated by the rebels of the Donetsk and Lugansk regions is just being established, it is probably too early to draw final conclusions about the policies of the DNR and LC. However, we can highlight some trends. Neoliberalism. The post-Maidan government has consistently pursued policies dictated by the IMF. All this was openly declared from the rostrum of the Maidan, and the political forces that led the movement have long and consistently favored economic neoliberalism. Movement toward all-out privatization and the systematic destruction of the remnants of the welfare state — that is the essence of the economic policies of the Poroshenko-Yatsenyuk regime. Nationalism and fascism. Nationalists and outright fascists managed to impose their agenda through the Maidan. Our organization wrote in winter 2014: “The undoubted success of the nationalists is due to the fact that, because of their high level of activity, they have managed to impose ideological leadership on the Euromaidan movement. … The rest of the opposition parties did not have a clear-cut ideological line or set of slogans, leaving the neoliberal opposition to adopt the nationalist slogans and nationalist agenda.”Thus, the neoliberal-Nazi alliance was formed. The neoliberals adopted the political program of Ukrainian fascists, and the Nazis agreed with carrying out the neoliberal line in the economy. This alliance was “consecrated” by representatives of imperialism, such as Catherine Ashton, Victoria Nuland and John McCain.Another important point in the fascistization of society after Maidan was the legalization of paramilitary Nazi groups and the integration of the Nazis into the law enforcement agencies of the state. Anti-oligarchism. The role of the Ukrainian oligarchy, as the main sponsor and beneficiary of Maidan and the right-nationalist coup, became an essential element of the consciousness of the resistance movement in the South-East. Also, during the winter and spring of 2014, the complete dependence and subordination of the Ukrainian oligarchy to imperialism, headed by the United States, became apparent.In this regard, it can be argued: for the rebels of Donbass and the masses involved in the resistance movement in the South-East, anti-oligarchic slogans are not mere “populism.” This distinguishes the mass progressive movement in the South-East from the mass reactionary movement of Maidan. Some mild anti-oligarchic slogans were also heard on the Maidan, but they did not go beyond the limits inherent in far-right social demagogy and populism — direct proof of this is the election by the pro-Maidan masses of oligarch Poroshenko to the presidency. Anti-fascism. The rebels of all political persuasions definitely characterize the regime established in Kiev after Maidan as fascist. Often without a clear scientific understanding of fascism, they nonetheless reject the following features of the Kiev regime: extreme nationalism, chauvinistic language policy, anti-communism and anti-Sovietism, repression of political opponents, exoneration of Nazi war criminals and collaborators. The following analysis, written by Victor Shapinov a leader of the Borotba organization in Ukraine and translated by Workers World contributing editor Greg Butterfield, can be found in full at tinyurl.com/odj9sg4. Below we publish excerpts:Victor ShapinovBorotba is often criticized for supporting the Donbass people’s republics, for the fact that our comrades fight in the militia and assist the peaceful nation-building in Lugansk (LC) and Donetsk (DNR). This criticism is heard not only from those former leftists who succumbed to nationalist fervor and supported first Maidan, then Kiev’s war of conquest in the Donbass. Others criticize us and from the standpoint of “Marxist pacifism,” calling themselves “the new Zimmerwald.”1914 = 2014?In the First World War of 1914-1918, blocs of imperialist countries of roughly equal strength fought over markets, sources of raw materials and colonies. In 1914, a deadly battle confronted two centers of capital accumulation with their centers in London and Berlin [that] had reached the limits of their geographic expansion in the 1870s, bumping into one another’s frontiers. The last act of this expansion was the rapid division of the African continent between the great powers.The clash of these divisions of labor (the German-Central European, Anglo-French, American and Japanese) was the economic cause of the First and Second World Wars. After World War II, there was only one such system — headed by the United States. The rightist, neoliberal reaction of Reagan-Thatcher gave this system its finished, current form. At the heart of this system is the Federal Reserve, as the body producing the world’s reserve currency, the IMF, WTO and World Bank.After 2008, the system entered a period of systemic crisis and gradual decay. As a result of the collapse, the capitalist elites of some countries began to challenge the “rules of the game” set by Washington.Thus, we do not have two blocs gripped in a deadly showdown (as in 1914), but a brand new situation, with no historical analogues.Conflicts within the system are related to its internal contradictions, rather than a clash between individual centers of capital accumulation and their systems of division of labor, as it was in 1914 and 1939.Modern imperialism is a world systemThose who present the conflict in Ukraine as a fight between Russian and U.S. imperialism à la 1914 [err]. Russia and the United States are not comparable in their economic power; they fight in different weight categories. Moreover, there is no “Russian imperialism,” and even “American imperialism” in the sense of 1914 does not exist. There is a hierarchically organized imperialist world system with the United States at the head. There is a Russian capitalist class, which in this structure resides not on the first or even the second “floor,” which tried to raise its “status” in this hierarchy and is now frightened by its own audacity, after meeting resistance from a united West.In the Ukrainian crisis, the Russian capitalist elite have only responded to the challenges of a rapidly developing situation. This reaction has been halfhearted, contradictory, inconsistent — demonstrating the absence of strategy.As the situation developed following the coup in Ukraine and the beginning of the uprising in Crimea and the South-East, the Russian leadership faced a difficult dilemma. To not step in and not support the population of Crimea and the South-East meant losing legitimacy in the eyes of its own population. To intervene meant to break with the West, with unpredictable results. In the end, they chose the middle option — intervention in Crimea but not in the South-East.However, when the uprising in Donbass moved from peaceful to armed, Russia had to offer assistance. It had to, because the military suppression of the rebels with the tacit consent of Russia would be a catastrophic blow to the image of the Russian authorities within the country.Such support has aroused dissatisfaction and resistance among most of the Russian oligarchy, which dreams not of restoring the Russian Empire, but of a mutually beneficial partnership with the West.Historical parallel: Ireland 1916 Is it possible to support the republics if the Russian bourgeois regime is trying to instrumentalize the revolt and use it in its own geopolitical interests?Let’s conduct a historical analogy. The Easter Rising of the Irish Republicans against the British Empire in 1916. All those who call themselves leftists honor this heroic episode of the anti-imperialist struggle of the Irish people.Meanwhile, one of the major factions of the uprising — the Irish Republican Brotherhood — in 1914, at the beginning of the war, decided to revolt and take any German assistance offered. A representative of the Brotherhood traveled to Germany and obtained approval for such assistance. It wasn’t provided only because the German ship carrying weapons was intercepted at sea by a British submarine.Lenin unconditionally supported the Irish rebellion, despite the fact that it was much less “proletarian” than the [present-day] revolt in the Donbass. And in those days there were leftists who called the Irish Rebellion a “putsch,” a “purely urban, petty-bourgeois movement, which, notwithstanding the sensation it caused, had not much social backing.” Lenin answered them, “Whoever calls such a rebellion a ‘putsch’ is either a hardened reactionary, or a doctrinaire hopelessly incapable of envisaging a social revolution as a living phenomenon.”Despite the apparent support of the Germans, not to mention the fact that the uprising in the rear of the British Empire “played into the hands” of German imperialism, real leftists supported the Irish Republicans. Supported them, despite the fact that bourgeois and petty-bourgeois Irish nationalists fought together with socialist James Connolly and his supporters. Of course, Connolly said that a declaration of independence without the formation of a socialist republic would be in vain. But the left in Donbass says this too.Why doesn’t the Irish example apply to the Donbass, an example from the era of the First World War, which the self-styled “Zimmerwaldists” are so fond of?But with Donbass, some leftists apply a double standard, diligently looking for excuses to condemn the DNR and the LC, allowing them to take a position of indifferent pacifism. Genuine leftists never held such a position. “Indifference to the struggle is not, therefore, exclusion from the struggle, abstinence or neutrality. Indifference is tacit support of the powerful, the oppressors,” Lenin wrote. Standing aside in a detached posture, the self-styled “Zimmerwaldists” actually side with the Kiev authorities, who are leading a punitive operation against the rebels.War — continuation of policy by other means“War is nothing more than the continuation of policy by other means,” wrote the military theorist Carl von Clausewitz. This statement is recognized approvingly by the classics of Marxism.What are the policies continued by Kiev and Donbass?Policies in KievThe policies of Kiev in the civil war are a logical continuation of the policies of the Maidan. This has several components: “European integration” and subordination to imperialism. The first slogan of the Maidan was so-called “European integration,” which in economic terms means the surrender of Ukrainian markets to European corporations, the transformation of Ukraine into a colony of the European Union as a source of raw materials and disenfranchised migrant worker-slaves. Today, more than a year after the victory of Maidan [the victory of the counterrevolution with pro-fascists in the leadership], the economic results are already being felt so deeply that they cannot be ignored by even the most hard-nosed “Euro-optimists.”The new regime in Kiev also finally abandoned sovereignty and became a puppet state. The solution of the internal conflict within the Kiev regime, between President-oligarch Petro Poroshenko and Governor-oligarch Igor Kolomoisky, came through an appeal to the U.S. Embassy. The handing over of the militarily and logistically strategic Odessa region to the direct control of a U.S protégé, former Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili, clearly testifies to this. Anti-neoliberal policies. An important feature of the internal life of the Donbass republics is the trend towards social-democratic, Keynesian models of economic development, socially oriented state capitalism. While this is only a trend, though an important one, it is the opposite of the economic policy of the Kiev authorities. The violent suppression of political opponents, repression, censorship of the media, banning of communist ideology. Friendship of peoples, internationalism and Russian nationalism. Everyone who has been in the Donbass notes the international character of the region. Dangerous trends of Russian nationalism in response to the Ukrainian chauvinism of the new Kiev authorities have not developed in a serious way (although that danger has been actively exploited by opponents of the people’s republics for propaganda purposes).Also, there has been no serious development of another danger — clericalization of the resistance movement. This distinguishes the resistance forces from the Maidan, wherein the Greek Catholic Church played a significant role.These are the main elements of the policy of the people’s republics of Donbass. Of course, this policy is not socialist. But it leaves room for the left, the communists, to participate in such a movement under their own banner, with their own ideas and slogans, without abandoning their own views and program.Having considered in detail what kind of policies the civil war continues for both sides, we can conclude that this policy is not the same from the point of view of left-wing, anti-capitalist forces.Just and unjust warsThe attitude of Marxists to war cannot be reduced to the single example of the First World War. Marxists have always supported wars of the oppressed against the oppressors, considering the retreat into pacifism and indifference in the case of a just war to be bourgeois hypocrisy and hidden support for the masters.Yes, even in the First World War, those socialists who did not disgrace themselves by betrayal, who did not shift into the service of the imperialist governments, were not just for ending the fratricidal war, where workers of one country kill workers of another country for the alien interests of the capitalist elite; these socialists advocated turning the imperialist war into civil war. They said that the oppressed should turn their weapons against their own oppressors, using the mass arming of the people as a tool for social revolution.The demand for disarmament of the rebel militias is a demand for their surrender, and it is unlikely that the self-styled Zimmerwaldists do not understand this.Of course, any war means blood and suffering of people, but to stop this war by a complete renunciation of the uprising means that the blood has been spilled in vain. Moreover, it means revenge and repression by the nationalist forces against the population of Donbass.FacebookTwitterWhatsAppEmailPrintMoreShare thisFacebookTwitterWhatsAppEmailPrintMoreShare thislast_img read more

Lessons in the power of theater

first_imgAt Boston Green Academy (BGA) in Brighton, Brendan Shea, manager of education and community programs at the American Repertory Theater (A.R.T.), wrote words on a whiteboard as the audience called them out.“Freedom,” one person said.“Worth. And oppression,” another volunteered.The crowd of advanced placement English students, who had seen the A.R.T.’s production of Suzan-Lori Parks’ “Father Comes Home From the Wars (Parts 1, 2, & 3)” the day before, were sharing their thoughts about the Kennedy Prize-winning Civil War drama.A.R.T. educators helped the students delve more deeply into the play, encouraging them to share their thoughts, providing a scene for them to read aloud, and even asking them to write their own epic poems about the experience.The A.R.T. had been connected with BGA in part through Harvard’s Public School Partnerships, a program that works across the University to bring resources and opportunities to local schools.Part of the appeal for the young students, Shea said, was the language and scope of Parks’ vision.“Parks’ work can be seen as a mash-up of Greek dramatic forms with contemporary language and issues. We wanted the students to go through a similar process to the playwright’s, in a way, by digging out the themes and rewriting something original and lyrical on each theme.”“All of the students were so enthusiastic about it,” said Corina Rangel, a 10th and 11th grade humanities teacher at BGA. “For some of them, this was their first experience with theater. It’s amazing that the A.R.T. is not just welcoming to students, but actively encouraging them. They sought us out, and to incorporate young voices in that way, and help young people access the theater — to help them experience that is wonderful.”Shea and his co-facilitator, Nicole Shelpman, recently carried out similar exercises with students at Cambridge Rindge and Latin School (CRLS), posting that group’s epic poem on the A.R.T. site as well.“What was so interesting about this piece was our [classroom] discussion,” said Monica Murray, a drama teacher at CRLS. “It really opens students up to ideas — the ideas of themes, literature — and it brings the ideas they’re working on in the classroom to life.”A.R.T. Education organized trips for students to see the play. Then, working with Harvard Public Affairs and Communications (HPAC), Shea and Shelpman coordinated workshops with BGA and CRLS to deepen the theater experience for students. For Shelpman, a Harvard Graduate School of Education student, the workshops served as the cornerstone project of her two-month internship at the A.R.T.“The Public School Partnerships team is always looking for opportunities to bring students from both Boston and Cambridge onto Harvard’s campus to participate in new experiences across many fields,” said Kevin Casey, associate vice president for public affairs and communications. “In addition to engaging on campus, PSP also looks for ways to bring Harvard’s resources directly into local schools. This partnership with A.R.T. was the perfect example of both of those goals.”The workshops gave students a chance to “create something new out of Parks’ words,” Shea said, helping them get into the mind of the playwright, who won the Pulitzer Prize in 2002 for “Topdog/Underdog.”“For students to come and see a play on its own has its own merit,” Shea said. “But it’s important to provide as many students as we can with another way into the experience of live theater. This is a challenging, intense, and timely play, and to be able to spend time with students, to get them to meet the playwright halfway ― that can be a powerful place to begin the conversation.”last_img read more

Nimba Lawmaker Blames Finance Ministry for Underdevelopment

first_imgNimba County District #1 Representative, Prince Tokpah, says development in his county is dormant because the Ministry of Finance has failed to disburse county and social development funds belonging to Nimba.Recently speaking at a program marking the ground breaking of four projects in Nimba under the “Legislative Support Project,” Representative Tokpah stressed that over time members of the county’s Legislative Caucus have engaged the Ministry of Finance, urging it to see reason and release the funds for development projects; but all efforts to date have proven futile.He said Nimba County receives US$1.5 million every year from Arcelor Mittal as part of its social development fund. The county development fund that every county receives is a separate fund. According to the representative, Nimba has over US$4 million that the Ministry of Finance is failing to release; this, he alleged, is causing citizens to blame the legislators for failing them.“Delays on the part of the Ministry of Finance to release our social and county development funds are causing our people to blame us.  Not that we are not doing anything to protect their interest, but the Ministry of Finance has failed to release the money allowing us to do so; and because you are not aware of how government works, you blame us.  If our money is not released, we will organize ourselves and approach the issue so that concerns will be raised,” Representative Tokpah explained.The Nimba lawmaker said the withholding of the county’s funds is deliberate as far as caucus members are concerned. He vowed not to relent, and to use every means possible to get to the Finance Minister.In addition to the county development funds, Representative Tokpah also said the Government of Liberia contracted yellow machines belonging to Nimba County to grate damaged roads in 2012 with the consensus that it (government) would pay the difference to the county since the machines were meant for farm-to-market roads.According to the representative, since 2012 government has not attempted to pay the money it owes the county.In separate remarks, Ganta City Mayor Dorr Cooper, rhetorically stated that it would be better if government prepares a billboard with the inscription that the Executive Mansion is renovated by Nimba rather than fail to fulfill the promise made since 2012.He said Nimba should not be the only county the Government of Liberia owes every year; therefore, what it owes must be made available to enhance development in their respective districts.When the Ministry of Finance was contacted on April 21, Deputy Minister for Administration, Jordan Slunteh, said the Ministry of Finance disbursed US$1.2 million to Nimba on September 6, 2013.Minister Slunteh said the Ministry has not disbursed the rest of the money on the grounds that procedures leading to the disbursement need to be followed, and therefore they cannot be disbursed when those conditions set have not yet been met.County caucuses in recent years have come under fire for the mismanagement of County Development Funds. Most notable was the 2013 “You eat, I eat” recording in which Montserrado County Representative Edward Forh was heard trying to convince Superintendant Grace Kpaan to embezzle funds meant for the development of the county.Representative Forh is still in office. President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf accepted Superintendent Kpaan’s resignation.Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)last_img read more

Paddle your way to a T5 geocache

first_img SharePrint RelatedT5 Klettersteig caching in AustriaSeptember 21, 2017In “Community”Are you crazy?!? No, I’m Radu! Geo-cycling through 16 countries in 5 months.November 13, 2017In “Community”And the February 2015 Geocacher of the Month Is…March 25, 2015In “Community” There was a lake not too far from home with both an EarthCache and a Traditional cache that each required paddling. Before long, I was on the water in my new kayak. It was so much fun. As I zipped around the lake gathering EarthCache information, I wondered why it had taken me so long to discover the joys of kayaking. I then set sail for the island with the Traditional cache and was just 500 feet from it when I heard a hissing sound. Part of me hoped a snake had hitched a ride on my vessel because the alternative was a leak in my brand new kayak. Alas, it was a leak.Grabbing a remote geocache in a kayakIt wasn’t the smartest decision I ever made, but I continued on course for the island. (C’mon, I was only 500 feet away!) I made it safely, found the cache, applied a crude patch to the tiny hole in the inflatable, and returned to the dock. All’s well that ends well. Despite the minor issues with my maiden voyage, I was hooked on paddle caching and bought a hardshell kayak a few weeks later. I’ve since found a few hundred caches on water.I’d like to share a few things I learned about paddling as it relates to geocaching. Perhaps my experiences will help you if you’re intrigued by water caching.This cache is soooo easy (with a kayak)1. Inflatable or hardshell?The internet is full of articles detailing the pros and cons. For me, it boils down to inflatables being far cheaper and more portable (when deflated, an inflatable kayak easily fits in your car), whereas hardshells are easier to maneuver and significantly more sturdy. I often suggest people start with an inflatable, see how they like paddling, and then perhaps upgrade to a hardshell.I’m mostly skipping past the question of whether to consider a motorized or non-motorized watercraft. For geocaching purposes, non-motorized is usually the way to go. With a kayak or something similar, it’s easier to navigate into tight places. Plus, you can portage through shallow water.Equipment: you need more than just a kayak and a paddle2. Other equipmentThere’s a lot more to it than just a kayak and a paddle. If you buy a hardshell, you’ll need to carry it on your vehicle. I’ve got two kayak cradles attached to a roof rack. The kayak rests in the cradles. I then secure it with two load straps, two locking cargo straps, as well as tie-down ropes on the bow and stern. (Of course, the required equipment will vary depending on your vehicle.) If you’re traveling a long distance, stop every so often to check the ropes and straps. Also, when you return home and pull into your garage, don’t forget there’s a kayak on top of the vehicle. I forgot once.You’ll need a personal flotation device (PFD). I hope that’s obvious. Bonus points if you can attach a writing device to your PFD. You’ll want a dry sack to carry your stuff. You may decide you need gloves. I like to wear gloves because my hands fatigue more quickly without them. I repurposed some old biking gloves, but there are fancier options. Lastly, I wear water shoes, which come in handy if I need to step out of the kayak or portage through a shallow area.Have fun but stay safe3. SafetyAgain, the internet is full of water safety tips. I can’t cover everything here, but please do your research. The biggest no-brainer is to wear a PFD. Besides the usual safety tips, there are additional factors to consider when geocaching on water. Target a lake for your first water cache. Don’t get me wrong, caching on a river can be a blast. But lakes are generally much calmer. You can take your time getting familiar with paddling and with finding/retrieving caches. Later, you can consider rivers and streams. But let’s save the ocean for a different blog.Make sure your GPS or phone is attached to something. You know how you freak out when you drop your device on the ground? You’re gonna freak out a lot harder when you drop it in a lake. Skip the freaking with an attachment. Don’t be a hero. I’ve come across caches that were very difficult to reach from my kayak. It could be the CO was taller than me, or they placed the cache while in a taller vessel, or the water level was higher at the time of placement. I’ve overreached and fallen out of the kayak. I’ve capsized on a river when I misjudged how fast I was approaching debris. Don’t be foolish like me. Know your limits and cache accordingly.Night caching is fun on land, but it’s dangerous on water. I’ve never set out to paddle cache in the dark, but I’ve misjudged time and found myself too far from shore when the sun set. That was dumb (and scary).Paddle cache with a buddy, or at least tell someone where you’re going and check in regularly. I’ve done it both ways and it’s just so much safer to have someone with you. You better believe I would’ve liked to have had a friend along on those times when I capsized!How does a geocacher find “water caches”?4. Where to find water caches?They don’t have their own cache type, so searching for water caches is an inexact science. I usually start with filtering for T5 caches, map the results, and look for what’s on water. Occasionally, a water cache is rated T4 or T 4.5, but that’s not common. You can also run a Pocket query for caches with the “Boat required” attribute. Once you’ve decided on a cache to find, it’s a good idea to locate an ideal boat launch. My favorite COs include this as an additional waypoint on the cache page. Otherwise, check to see if previous finders mention a boat launch in their logs. Many waterways are managed by a government entity, so you may find they have a website with boating information.If you have any favorite water caches, I’d love to hear about them in the comments section!Where will you find your next geocache?Share with your Friends:More After attending the MOGA 2014 Mega-Event in Ohio, my wife and I were driving through Kentucky on our way home. I opened the Geocaching® app to search for caches along our route when I caught sight of a ton of T5 caches. I mean a boatload of them (pun intended because they were the kind that required a boat to find). They were on creeks, rivers, and lakes. So many of them! I’d never seen anything like it. Alas, I had no boat. No kayak. No canoe. No watercraft of any kind.I pondered the boat idea upon returning home. Impulsive as I may be when it comes to geocaching, I know enough not to immediately drop hundreds or thousands of dollars on a watercraft. So, I dipped my toe into water caching by tagging along on a lake outing with a friend who owns an extra hardshell kayak. I loved it. Still, I wasn’t quite ready to make a huge investment. Instead, I purchased an inflatable kayak for around $75.Rock Chalk (Chris) and fellow Geocaching HQ staffer LukeK geocaching with kayakslast_img read more

Getting out of the Fort William Trap in Thunder Bay

first_imgWillow Fiddler APTN National NewsCrystal Morrison sits at her kitchen table making a ribbon skirt using her traditional colours that came to her in a dream.Morrison was sitting at a different table about two years ago when she was addicted to drugs and alcohol.“It became a once a month thing, then it became weekly and then it became anywhere from four to five times a week drinking down there,” says Morrison.“Everybody knew my name down there.”She’s talking about the Fort William Trap in the south end of Thunder Bay.It’s where the city’s marginalized people can be seen hanging out near the Victoriaville Mall and Newfie’s Pub.“There was a lot of stabbings that happened there, there was shootings that happened there, there was gangs, you know people were afraid at that time of walking home,” Morrison recalls.It’s gotten a lot worse in the last year according to people APTN News spoke to recently in Thunder Bay, as gangs from Toronto and Ottawa flood the city.Morrison now tries to help people get out of the trap. But finding their way out tends to be a journey of their own.“I’ve never been to treatment,” says Morrison.Instead, she found a group of women who shared similar experiences.“We’re sobriety sisters,” she says. “We’re all aiming for the same thing and that’s to be who we are and not afraid to show it, so to speak.”Ron Kanutski knows what Morrison went through because he fought, much like her, to get out of the trap.He was a young man when first came to Thunder Bay more than two decades ago.“I came to Thunder Bay for something better,” he says, adding as a young man he blamed others for his problems. ” I don’t have a problem, it’s my family, it’s my girlfriend, it’s my friends, it’s this community, it’s their belief system.“I’m going to go somewhere else and start over where it’s better.”But his problem followed him.“Then I came to realize, I can’t run away from what I’m dealing with. I got to take a look at what’s going on from here,” says Kanutski.“I have a saying now that I always say, I had to feed my spirit something different than I was feeding it.”Kanutski is a musician and a comedian and has worked with treatment centres and youth.“Right now … it’s an epidemic, it’s out of control and we just don’t have enough services to even deal with this right now,” he says of Thunder Bay.But that doesn’t stop him from trying to draw people from the darkness into what he calls the light.“We need to talk to that next generation that’s coming because they’re vulnerable and they’re living…some children are living in some dark situations,” he says.Kanutski has been using culture and traditional practices to reach out to children for the last 17 years.“These aren’t just names, these are human beings you know and they’re lost and we’ve got to help people find their way back,” he [email protected]last_img read more

Smartphones can make you dumb

first_imgSmartphones even in the switched off mode have the capacity to reduce a person’s cognitive ability, making one dumb, according to a new study. Assistant Professor Adrian Ward and co-authors at McCombs School of Business at The University of Texas at Austin conducted experiments with nearly 800 smartphone users in an attempt to measure, for the first time, how well people can complete tasks when they have their smartphones nearby even when they’re not using them. Also Read – Add new books to your shelfThe smartphone doesn’t even have to ring or vibrate but its mere presence can significantly reduce a person’s cognitive capacity, even when it is switched off, the study said.In one experiment, the researchers asked study participants to sit at a computer and take a series of tests that required full concentration in order to score well.The tests were geared to measure participants’ available cognitive capacity that is, the brain’s ability to hold and process data at any given time. Also Read – Over 2 hours screen time daily will make your kids impulsiveBefore beginning, participants were randomly instructed to place their smartphones either on the desk face down, in their pocket or personal bag, or in another room. All participants were instructed to turn their phones to silent.The researchers found that participants with their phones in another room significantly outperformed those with their phones on the desk, and they also slightly outperformed those participants who had kept their phones in a pocket or bag. The findings suggest that the mere presence of one’s smartphone reduces available cognitive capacity and impairs cognitive functioning, even though people feel they re giving their full attention and focus to the task at hand.”We see a linear trend that suggests that as the smartphone becomes more noticeable, participants available cognitive capacity decreases,” Ward said.In another experiment, researchers looked at how a person’s self-reported smartphone dependence or how strongly a person feels he or she needs to have a smartphone in order to get through a typical day affected cognitive capacity.Participants performed the same series of computer-based tests as the first group and were randomly assigned to keep their smartphones either in sight on the desk face up, in a pocket or bag, or in another room. In this experiment, some participants were also instructed to turn off their phones.The researchers found that participants who were the most dependent on their smartphones performed worse compared with their less-dependent peers, but only when they kept their smartphones on the desk or in their pocket or bag.”It’s not that participants were distracted because they were getting notifications on their phones,” said Ward. “The mere presence of their smartphone was enough to reduce their cognitive capacity.”last_img read more