Saturday, July 04, 2015

Message for the People of Greece: Vote!

It is well fitting for the cradle of democracy to call for a national referendum on an issue that will impact the future of all citizens of Greece. A leadership that puts the destiny of the nation in her own hands is strong since it understands what democracy means at its core: The rule of the people. We urge all the people in Greece who have the right to vote to add their voice to this historical moment by voting for what they believe is right.

Many countries in the developing world have been put up against the wall by international creditors and their guardian, the IMF. The Troika is applying the same inhuman methods towards Greece. The austerity imposed in the last few years on Greece is unfair, unsustainable and impossible and not to be tolerated. As economists from around the world have empathized, the Greek economy collapsed, not the least because of those very austerity measures.

The EU & the IMF have overreached, don't listen to their fear mongering.

Dear people of Greece shape your future on your terms, we will support you no matter what you choose to do. 

Birgitta Jónsdóttir & Jón Þór Ólafsson, Members of Parliament in Iceland for the Pirate Party.

Here are some good articles and films on the issue of Greece

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

We the People, are the System

My speech from TEDx Reykjavík

The speech has been translated to various languages, thank you! 
МЫ — НАРОД, МЫ — СИСТЕМА - Russian
Noi, il Popolo, siamo il sistema - Italian

The 21st century will be the century of the common people – the century of you, of US.
We live in remarkable, transformative times. We have the library of Alexandria at our fingertips; all the recorded knowledge of the world is being digitized and made available through the Internet.

Meanwhile, our democratic models are hollow and crumbling at an alarming rate as we move further into a new era of complexity, technology and interconnectivity.

The ideologies of the old school of politics, media, monetary systems, education, corporations, and all known structures are in a state of transformation. They are crumbling. Now is the time for fundamental change on all fronts, we have to seize this moment. Because this is THE moment.

Our states are built around systems that are outdated, created in simpler times and for smaller societies. Today, those systems no longer serve the people but are simply self-serving.

The welfare state has been hollowed and is on the verge of collapse, often as a way to privatize it.  We are running out of planet and our current systems are unable to do anything about it.

Most of our democracies have become like a dictatorship with 100 talking-heads on the neck of a corporate body.

Draconian ‘anti-terrorism’ laws and secrecy have somehow become the new norm. Modern democracies have become a freaky mix of Brave New World and: ... 1984.

So, do you know what our digital persona is? It is made from content and meta data. 

Do you know what meta data and data retention is? 
I mean do you understand it on a deep level. 
Like you understand that you have a constitutional right to vote without anyone knowing who or what you voted for?  Like you understand that lawyers and their clients have the right to have conversations in private? Like you understand that 
what happens between you and your doctor should remain private? Like the communication between a source and a journalist should remain private? 

Data retention of your meta data basically means that you are butt naked in the system, 
your digital persona is for everyone who has enough power or capital to see, 
mock, poke at, sell, touch, manipulate and consume. 
Your digital persona has a digital shadow. 
It follows you everywhere you go and unlike your normal 
offline shadow it can be captured, changed, shared or sold.

If your walls are windows, would you draw the curtains when you sleep, have sex or go to the bathroom? Yes? Maybe? 
In your digital house, you simply don't have that choice. Encryption and legislation are the key to pull the curtains when you choose. 

We have never been as connected as we are today, as enabled to share real-time stories of success and failure. Therefore, our learning curve is steeper than ever before.

We are sharing, downloading, remixing and co-creating every day. Our digital person is expanding and our digital shadow ever growing. 

We are being manipulated every day into believing we are powerless, that there is nothing that can change these systems; but I am telling you; this is a lie.

You have the power to be a catalyst for change in our world. It has always been individuals
who change our world, not some external power, but individual power for good or for evil. 
Do you want others to be the power in your life, or do you want to accept the responsibility 
of claiming your power and use it by being a part of co-creating your society? 

This sense of social responsibility has somehow always been a part of my person, maybe because I was an outcast when I was a kid, the strange ugly duckling in my village that didn't fit in anywhere.  I was lucky, I learned very early on to be my personal alchemist and transform difficulty into strength.  I have accepted that I am some sort of a human guinea pig when it comes to system failure. 

It was human error that led to for example suicides of my beloved father and my husband both of whom vanished into the abyss of the Icelandic landscape of water and ice. How the system dealt with it was system error.

I chose to use these crisis as a transformative tool and through the death of my father,  who vanished, never to be found, on christmas eve 1987,  just after I turned twenty, 
I learned to value life and not only that, I learned to love myself and get off the path of self-destruction but most importantly I learned the true meaning of compassion. 

When my late husband vanished a few years later, I learned the hard way how to cope in 
extreme crisis, uncertainty and the fear of not knowing what will happen next. 
This has served me well during crisis times, internally or externally. 

I later learned that our collective systems express human behavior during times
of crisis. It is a fact that our systems are made from human values. 
We made them, we can undo them. 

What might seem impossible now, might be quite possible tomorrow 
because we are experiencing very rapid changes on all fronts. 
So I encourage you to start to make the blueprint for the future you want to live in.
Find that spark that will start a revolution in your heart.

Have you ever thought where the word Revolution comes from? I really like this word, 
it means change, it means evolving with love. How awesome is that? 
So why do you fear change, why are we so afraid of it? Everything is changing 
all the time in nature, yet we do everything in our power to make time still. 
Why are you so afraid? Why are we so afraid?

Perhaps because we have made everything so complex and grand. Perhaps 
it's time to return to more simple ways, more self sustainable ways. 
We can do that by learning from each other, by helping each other 
locally and globally and by remembering that we as individuals 
can change the world. Now is the time to step forward,
take on that challenge and be the change maker. 
Don’t expect others to do it, your time has arrived, 
to make a difference!

I took this step a few years ago, when I was temporary unemployed, 
a single parent with the simple goal of figuring out how I as an 
individual could help create a sustainable future for the next generations,
in times of great uncertainty after the financial crisis.

I have admit that I have never dreamt of being a leader, a politician, a parliamentarian, a minister, let alone the role of a Prime minister. My little Pirate party is currently polling as by the far, the biggest party in Iceland. We are all very humbled and frankly quite surprised. And at times of these it is good to remind me about the circle of power, I am a big fan of the circle. I co-created  the Pirate party power structure as a circle. The circle of community. 

I made the following pledge to myself: while I am in service I have to remember to listen to my heart, to listen to my intuition and to be impeccable with my word. And finally I must not care at all if I loose that place of power because it was never mine in the first place.

During the Job interview with the entire nation, when running for office, 
I made a promise to be the annoying mosquito in the tent, and that my friends, 
is a promise I have kept. Just ask my fellow parliamentarians :)

My main political objectives and vision took shape in a grassroots think-tank I was 
part of just after the financial meltdown in 2008, and during the work of the creation 
of the IMMI resolution, these objectives are thankfully at the heart of the Pirate Party 
core policy. 

Firstly: To involve the public in reshaping Iceland’s legal framework, 
through direct democracy and through co-creation of a new constitution for and 
by the people of Iceland; I was aware that we needed a new foundation or like I call it, 
new hardware in order to be able to make a clean system install. 

Secondly: To transform Iceland into a safe haven for freedom of information, expression and transparency, with a strong focus on digital privacy as a cornerstone of direct democracy. To create cutting edge 21st century legal framework. 

I guess one could say that I am some sort of a party startup person, because I have co-created two parties from nothing in the last six and a half years, with some really amazing diverse people. Both parties got voted into parliament. Once I was elected six years ago, I went inside the system, straight to the heart of it,  the legislative assembly, like a legal hacker, analyzing its strengths and 
weaknesses in order to find ways to improve the system.

I learned early on to follow my intuition as a poetician for it makes a lot more sense to me then the rivalry and manipulations of left or right ideology. The right and wrong ideology of the old world has simply outgrown itself. No longer do we have strong parliaments with a direct link between the general public and decision maker, perhaps we never did. We have so called professional politicians that are far removed from the reality most of us live in.

Most people have realized that left and right politics don't have any useful role anymore. The ideology of it is outdated. To create political movements based on common agenda of pressing issues of basic human rights and democratic reform is so important right now.

In order for the common people like us to co-create our society we have to have the democratic tools to do so. People need to get into parliaments to change the laws, so we all can have the power that is rightfully ours, to impact our society and apply real pressure on those in power to work for us, not the elite.

One of the aims of both the Civic Movement and the Pirate Party has been to inspire ordinary people to take on political responsibilities by stepping forward and take a leap into the unknown and of course be the mosquito in the tent and open the windows. 

Looking at different models for how to humanize and modernize how we run our societies, I have come to the conclusion that there is currently no one model that fits all and there never will be one size fits all. We need to experiment and study what works for each type of society, depending on the cultural backdrop.

There are some amazing direct democracy experiments being implemented with success all over the world. New types of citizen engagement platforms are being created and used to form policy and to facilitate direct democracy, such as the Pirate Party Liquid Feedback, D-Cent, Your Priorities, DemocracyOS and WeGov.

Technology enabling direct access to power is now become simple enough that citizens can start using it to form opinion and enforce political change in a genuine grassroots, bottom-up way. 

One of the most important task ahead is to help people become aware of that if they want to live in a real democracy they need to be part of it, to engage with it. That living in a democracy is work.

It is also vital that people start a discussion among their friends and families about what sort of future they want. If we, the citizens of Earth – do not have a clear vision of where we are heading, we will get nowhere. The 1% has a clear roadmap of where they are heading, which enables them to stay ahead of the rest of us. 

Some of the most amazing innovations and creativity in the history of humankind have emerged in conditions of extreme stress, such as the New Deal. As human beings we have now reached a stage where we have to evolve to the next level, or we will fail to deliver a sustainable world to the next generation. Please talk about how you would like the future to be, make a vision, share your vision with others, start with the person sitting next to you. 

If you need an inspiration then I find John Lennon's ‘Imagine’ to be a good roadmap.

The poetician in me will end this with a wake up call!

I have seen signs
the end of the world
as we know it
has begun

Don't panic
it might look terrifying
on the surface

Yet inside every
human being
a choice
to be a catalyst 

Earth is calling
Sky is calling
Science is calling
Creation is calling:

Wake up, wake up now

Transform your heart into 
a compassion machine

Now is the time
to yield to the call of growth
to the call of action

You are the change makers

Sleepers of all ages


wake up: NOW

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Is Iceland still a democracy?

The Icelandic Government chose to ignore their constitutional duty to get permission and consult with the national Parliament about the letter they sent the Foreign Affairs Minister to deliver on a secret mission to: Dear Edgars and Dear Commissioner Hahn about ending Iceland's EU bid. The thing is that the EU bid is based on a parliamentary resolution and the only way to cancel the resolution is to bring forward a new one and get it adopted via the parliament.

In order to clarify this attempt to bypass our democratic rule, the minority parties in the Icelandic parliament created a new letter explaining that the Government can't do this unless a new form of governance is now the rule in Iceland, and as far as I am concerned we are still a democracy, not a dictatorship.

Here is the letter we sent to Edgars and Hahn:

"The Government of 2009-2013 lodged an application to join the EU on the basis of a mandate given by the Althingi in a resolution of 16 July 2009, with the support of MPs from all political parties.
The accession process was slowed down two months before the elections in April 2013. The current Government then “paused” the accession process when it took office in May 2013 and stated that the process would not continue unless the people would decide so in a referendum. No such referendum has been held. The Government presented a proposal for a resolution mandating the withdrawal of the application to the Althingi in February 2014. In spite of its strong parliamentary majority, the Government could not get the proposal passed in the face of widespread public opposition and calls by more than 20% of the population for a referendum to be held. The proposal was debated in first reading, but not passed to second reading by the Foreign Affairs Committee.

As a result, the only mandate approved by the Althingi on the application remains the original mandate to apply for membership from 16 July 2009. The legal authority behind the application is therefore unchanged.

The letter by Foreign Minister Sveinsson of 12 March 2015 describing “the firm position of the Government that Iceland should not be regarded as a candidate country for EU membership“ has not been discussed with the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Althingi, as is required by law for major foreign policy decisions. The letter has been kept secret from the public and not debated in the Icelandic Parliament. Therefore it cannot be considered to change the existing position of the Althingi from 16 July 2009 and can only be considered to be a description of the political position of the current government.

The parties of the opposition have different views regarding membership of the EU. However all four parties agree that the letter in question cannot change the status of Iceland vis-à-vis the EU in line with the long-standing principles of the European legal order respecting the primacy of formal Parliament resolutions over simple government statements and that it is only for the Althingi to decide to change that status."

So please ignore the embarrassment of the Icelandic ruling parties, they know what they are doing, but it still doesn't mean it is legal nor that is has any form of meaning except as a way to please a handful of powerful people within their own parties. 

Majority of the Icelandic people want to have a national referendum on if we should finish the bid so that when the vote for joining the EU or not will be executed, the YES or NO will be based on facts not speculations and those facts are not available unless the bidding process with its negotiations is over. 

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Parliamentary Resolution On Condemning Torture by the CIA post 911

This is for the courageous whistleblower John Kiriakou. He was the first U.S. government official to confirm in December 2007 that waterboarding was used to interrogate Al Qaeda prisoners, which he described as torture. On October 22, 2012, Kiriakou pleaded guilty to disclosing classified information about a fellow CIA officer that connected the covert operative to a specific operation. He was the first person to pass classified information to a reporter, although the reporter did not publish the name of the operative.[6] He was sentenced to 30 months in prison on January 25, 2013, and served his term from February 28, 2013 until 3 February 2015 at the low-security Federal correctional facility in Loretto, Pennsylvania.[7]

14 members of the Icelandic Parliament out of 63 from all the minority parties joined me in co-sponsoring a proposal on condemning the horrendous torture conducted by the CIA post 911. 

I will speak for this proposal in the Icelandic Parliament today:

Proposal for a Parliamentary Resolution

On condemning torture carried out by the Central Intelligence Agency of the United States

Sponsors.: Birgitta Jónsdóttir, Katrín Jakobsdóttir, Árni Páll Árnason, Óttarr Proppé, Helgi Hrafn Gunnarsson, Össur Skarphéðinsson, Ögmundur Jónasson, Sigríður Ingibjörg Ingadóttir, Katrín Júlíusdóttir, Jón Þór Ólafsson, Brynhildur Pétursdóttir, Steinunn Þóra Árnadóttir, Bjarkey Olsen Gunnarsdóttir, Róbert Marshall.

Alþingi condemns the harsh torture the Central Intelligence Agency of the United States has conducted as well as the US authorities for allowing it since the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001. 

Explanatory memorandum:
The United States' Senate recently published a report which exposes the brutal torture carried out under the authority of the CIA, of people who were detained in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001. In the report the brutal treatment of people of all ages, male and female, of various nationalities, is described. For instance, it is described how detainees were kept awake, up to a full week, sometimes in a standing position, sometimes with their arms chained above their head. Some detainees were given rectal rehydration, without medical necessity. This was carried out with excessive force, which in one instance lead to anal fissures, chronic haemorrhoids and symptomatic rectal prolapse. One detainee, Majid Khan, was administered an enema consisting of hummus, pasta with sauce, nuts and raisins which was pureed and force fed rectally. Gul Rahman was kept awake for two whole days. He was subjected to auditory overload in total darkness and isolation, made to endure cold showers and chained to a wall in a position that forced him to lie on the cold floor. Clothes had been taken away from him as punishment for being uncooperative and he only had a sweater on, naked below the waist. Due to this inhumane treatment, Gul Rahman died from hypothermia. Two detainees with broken legs, one with a sprained ankle and one with a prosthetic leg were chained in a standing position and kept awake until medical professionals concluded that they could no longer be kept standing. 

Torture is among the most serious crimes and has been so defined by the international community and in international law. In the UN's International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which both Iceland and the United States are signatories to, it says in Article 7 that "[n]o one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment." Iceland and the United States are bound by the Covenant according to which torture is absolutely inexcusable in whatever circumstance and the international community has a great responsibility to prevent torture and to bring those to justice who are guilty of such crimes. 

The sponsors of this proposal consider it a matter of great urgency that this brutal treatment of people described in the report referred to above, is condemned around the world and call for Alþingi to react quickly to condemn these atrocities, formally and publicly. Alþingi has, in the 135th parliamentary session, condemned human rights violations and inhumane treatment of detainees in the US prison camp in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba (see case 107 from tat parliamentary session 135). With this resolution it is proposed that such a condemnation be reiterated in light of new information that has come to light with the publication of the recent Senate report. 

Monday, January 12, 2015

Democracy in the digital era

From my editorial at the New Internationalist Democracy in the digital era

Legal hacking

Prior to entering parliament, I had two main objectives. One: to involve the public in reshaping Iceland’s legal framework, through national referendums; through co-creation of a new constitution; and through making strong legal foundations for a new system.
Two: to transform Iceland into a safe haven for freedom of information, expression and transparency, with a strong focus on privacy as a cornerstone of democracy.
The information society has little to offer if the ways of communicating information relevant to the public are constantly under attack
Once elected, I went inside the system, to the heart of it, the legislative assembly, like a hacker, analysing its strengths and weaknesses.
My conclusion is that the rule of law is an illusion: the rules we vote on do not apply to all, and thus there is no rule of law. Laws should be considered universal and the same rule of law should apply to all, not only the 99%.
I now see most of our democracies as one dictatorship with 100 talking-heads on the neck of a corporate monster.
Looking at different models for how to humanize and modernize how we run our societies, I have come to the conclusion that there is currently no one model that fits all.
We need to experiment and study what works for each type of society, depending on the cultural backdrop of each.
Some amazing experiments are now being implemented with success little known to the world at large.
The first seeds of awareness were spread by Buckminster Fuller in his book No More Secondhand God, where he talked about direct democracy and telephonic voting as early as 1940. At last, we are at a stage where the technology for direct access to power is simple enough that citizens can start using it to form opinion and enforce political change in a genuine grassroots, bottom-up way.
New types of citizen engagement platforms are being created and used to form policy and participate in direct democracy, such as the Pirate Party Liquid Feedback4, Your Priorities5, DemocracyOS6 and WeGov7. There is resistance from those who control the current system but I believe it will be futile because people are creating a shadow form of governance, or rather self-governance. This is happening on the fringes still, but it is moving towards the centre at a steady speed.
We need more studies to see the pros and cons of active voting systems and liquid democracy models, with delegates rather than representatives, for example.
We need to do the opposite of what Russell Brand is advocating, we need to use our votes. Even if we don’t want to engage with the current broken system, we should not use that as an excuse for apathy. We should see it as an encouragement to engage in creating our own alternatives, our new co-created systems; to be creative about it and to connect. Connectivity is the key to a rapid change; but information in itself is meaningless if we don’t know how to decode it into wisdom.
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