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Volume 17 Issue 3 November/December 2018

Business, trade and global resources.
( see enlargement Business, trade and global resources. )

We are the first species on Earth that will have to limit itself for its own survival and that of all life.

This picture was designed in 1985 by Germain Dufour, and represented at the time the vision of the world in 2024. The picture was all made of symbols. At the back is "the wall" where a group of people are making sure those coming in have been properly check out before being let in. Many of the requirements for being let in have already been defined and described over time in many of the monthly Newsletters published by Global Civilization. In the middle is a couple with a child actually going through the screening process. At the front people from all over the world are waiting to be checked in as global citizens. The 2 star like objects that seem to be flying above the people are actually drone-like objects keeping peace and security.

Letter to Donald John Trump, President of the United States, Vladimir Putin, President of Russia, Justin Trudeau, Prime Minister of Canada, concerning "Canada, the overseer, stewardship and custodianship of the Earth's north polar region. (A proposal of Global Community)" Canada, the overseer, stewardship  and custodianship of the Earth's north polar region. (A proposal of Global Community), from Germain Dufour, President of Global Government of North America (GGNA) Global Government of North America (GGNA).

Animations for the October 2018 Paper: Vision of a new economic system to replace America economic, population, military and environmental wars against our world, Earth.

Germain Dufour
Global Civilization
Back to November/December 2018 Newsletter

Back to October 2018 Newsletter

Animations and speeches for November/December 2018 Newsletter

Note to the reader:
The four chapters of October 2018 Newsletter were based on the articles, letters, reports, research papers, discussions and global dialogues, and messages written by author(s) whose work were published in monthly Newsletters of years mostly 2017 and 2018. All published work can be found in the Global Dialogue Proceedings (check link http://globalcommunitywebnet.com/GIMProceedings/). Scroll down to years 2017 and 2018 and follow the Proceedings sections, and you will find the actual authors lists, with their papers and all references. Global Community Media is a way to communicate workable sound solutions to problems arising in the world. Let us share our problems and workable sound solutions. Sharing information is a necessity to all life and humanity's survival. Our world is changing fast before our eyes, and we must react quickly and hard to protect all life on Earth. No hesitation! Right now and no waiting! Life on the planet is our first priority. We must protect it at all costs. We, global citizens, fight to protect life on Earth for this generation and the next ones. We are the defenders of the environment and the global life-support systems. We know who the beasts are, and how they destroy the living on our planet. We have rallied together all over the world to protect our home, Earth. Just so you all know we don't pay anyone, and we don't pay expenses. We do volunteer work for humanity. We expect volunteers to be responsible and accountable of all their actions. We do soft activism work. We do not have a copyright research expert to do this work. In order to create a harmonious and compassionate Global Civilization, and to protect our planetary environment, the global life-support systems, we want to help you concerning all issues, and you may become a volunteer yourself. Check our volunteer page at: http://globalcommunitywebnet.com/GPA/gpahelpsyou.htm

Reporting News
( see enlargement Reporting News)

Reporting News.
( see enlargement Reporting News)

Table of Contents for November/December 2018 Newsletter.

Summary Summary
  • Environmental warfare. Environmental warfare.
    • Animation.
    • Speech in the animation.
    • Pictures in the animation.
    • Related work to the issue "Environmental warfare".
  • Economic warfare. Economic warfare.
    • Animation.
    • Speech in the animation.
    • Pictures in the animation.
    • Related work to the issue "Economic warfare".
  • Population warfare. Population warfare.
    • Animation.
    • Speech in the animation.
    • Pictures in the animation.
    • Related work to the issue "Population warfare".
  • Military warfare. Military warfare.
    • Animation.
    • Speech in the animation.
    • Pictures in the animation.
    • Related work to the issue "Military warfare".
New economic system. New economic system.
  • Animation.
  • Speech in the animation.
  • Pictures in the animation.
  • Related work to the issue "New economic system".

Authors of research papers and articles on global issues for this month

Olivia Alperstein, Trévon Austin, John Scales Avery(2),Robert J. Burrowes(3), Ugo Bardi, George Capaccio, George Chakko, Cesar Chelala,Aviva Chomsky, Farooque Chowdhury, Jen Christensen, Daniel Aldana Cohen,Jessica Corbett, Guy Crequie ,Finian Cunningham, Maria de Fatima, Chauncey DeVega , Rob Dietz, Tom Engelhardt(2), Chloé Farand, Josh Farley, Ron Forthofer, George Galloway, Martine GILHARD, Bernard Gillan, Dr Andrew Glikson, GlobalJustice Now, Sidhant Gugale, William Hartung,Angela Heathcote,Chris Hedges, Richard Heinberg, ICH and Agencies, Caitlin Johnstone, Kathy Kelly, Dr Arshad M Khan(2),Peter Koenig(4), David Korten,Jean-Louis Latsague, Genevieve Leigh, Reynard Loki, Prieto Martins, Riccardo Mastini, Binu Mathew, Mary Metzger, Alain MILLION , Serge H Moise, Moon Of Alabama, Seyed Hossein Mousavian, Michael Nedelman, Michael Pappas, Dr Gideon Polya, President Putin, Mazin Qumsiyeh, Brad Reed, Paul Craig Roberts(2), Shankar Sharma, Paul Street, Gail Tverberg(2), Andre Vltchek(3), Eric Zuesse(3).

Olivia Alperstein, We Have 12 Years to Save—or Lose—Our Only Home We Have 12 Years to Save—or Lose—Our Only Home
Trévon Austin, US has spent almost $6 trillion on wars since 2001 US has spent almost $6 trillion on wars since 2001
John Scales Avery, A World Federation A World Federation
Ugo Bardi, Peak Oil, 20 Years Later: Failed Prediction or Useful Insight? Peak Oil, 20 Years Later: Failed Prediction or Useful Insight?
Robert J. Burrowes, Climate, Human Delusion and Our Destructionof the Biosphere: We Aren’t Even Trying! Climate, Human Delusion and Our Destructionof the Biosphere: We Aren t Even Trying!
Robert J. Burrowes, The Psychology of Fascism The Psychology of Fascism
Robert J. Burrowes, The Psychology of Fascism The Psychology of Fascism
George Capaccio, To Build a Fire in the Heart of Our Country To Build a Fire in the Heart of Our Country
George Chakko, The European Strategic Dilemma – Nato-in or Nato-out The European Strategic Dilemma – Nato-in or Nato-out
Cesar Chelala, The War in Yemen is Not a War, It is a massacre The War in Yemen is Not a War, It is a massacre
Aviva Chomsky, Making Native Americans Strangers in Their Own Land Making Native Americans Strangers in Their Own Land
Farooque Chowdhury, Expropriation and capital’s development Expropriation and capital’s development
Jen Christensen and Michael Nedelman, Climate Change Will Shrink US Economyand Kill Thousands, Government Report Warns Climate Change Will Shrink US Economyand Kill Thousands, Government ReportWarns
Daniel Aldana Cohen, Apocalyptic Climate Reporting Completely Misses the Point Apocalyptic Climate Reporting Completely Misses the Point
Jessica Corbett, Half Million Killed by America's Global Waron Terror 'Just Scratches the Surface' ofHuman Destruction Half Million Killed by America's Global Waron Terror 'Just Scratches the Surface' ofHuman Destruction
Finian Cunningham, G20 Summit,Top Agenda Item: Bye-Bye American Empire G20 Summit,Top Agenda Item: Bye-Bye American Empire,
Maria de Fátima, Prieto Martins, Pela Paz que quero Pour la paix que je veux Por la paz que quiero For the peace I want Per la pace che voglio Pela Paz que quero Pour la paix que je veux Por la paz que quiero For the peace I want Per la pace che voglio
Chauncey DeVega, Chris Hedges: Donald Trump is the Product of a Failed Democracy Chris Hedges: Donald Trump “is the Product of a Failed Democracy”
Rob Dietz, The Secret of Eternal Growth? It’s Wishful Thinking The Secret of Eternal Growth? It’s Wishful Thinking
Tom Engelhardt, Tomgram: Engelhardt, Anniversaries That Never Will Be Tomgram: Engelhardt, Anniversaries That Never Will Be
Tom Engelhardt, Autocrats, Incorporated: Thoughts on Election Day 2018 Autocrats, Incorporated: Thoughts on Election Day 2018
Chloé Farand, Extinction Rebellion: From the UK to Ghana and the US, Climate Activists Take Civil Disobedience World-Wide Extinction Rebellion: From the UK to Ghana and the US, Climate Activists Take Civil Disobedience World-Wide
Josh Farley, Neocornucopianism and the Steady State: Part I Neocornucopianism and the Steady State: Part I
Ron Forthofer, Homelessness, corporate welfare and priorities Homelessness, corporate welfare and priorities
George Galloway, Another Crimean War Looms as NATOProvocations Enter Russian Waters Another Crimean War Looms as NATOProvocations Enter Russian Waters
Martine GILHARD, APHORISMES pour le centième anniversaire de l'Armistice 1918 APHORISMES pour le centième anniversaire de l'Armistice 1918
Bernard Gillan, A sustainable global population -and why we cannot achieve it A sustainable global population -and why we cannot achieve it
Dr Andrew Glikson, High sea level rise projections and the IPCC High sea level rise projections and the IPCC
GlobalJustice Now! 69 of the Richest 100 Entities are Corporations, not Governments, Figures Show 69 of the Richest 100 Entities are Corporations, not Governments, Figures Show
Sidhant Gugale, The Clock Is Ticking on Addressing Climate Change — Med Students Can Help The Clock Is Ticking on Addressing Climate Change — Med Students Can Help
William Hartung, Tomgram: William Hartung, The Pentagon's Plan to Dominate the Economy Tomgram: William Hartung, The Pentagon's Plan to Dominate the Economy
Angela Heathcote, Australian school children are striking for climate: here’s why Australian school children are striking for climate: here’s why
Chris Hedges, Neoliberalism’s Dark Path to Fascism Neoliberalism’s Dark Path to Fascism
Richard Heinberg, When It Comes to Sustainability, We’re a Society of Distracted Drivers When It Comes to Sustainability, We’re a Society of Distracted Drivers
ICH and Agencies, Is Trump A Fascist? Is Trump A Fascist?
Caitlin Johnstone, Nothing In Any Conspiracy Theory Is As BadAs What’s Being Done Out In The Open Nothing In Any Conspiracy Theory Is As BadAs What’s Being Done Out In The Open
Kathy Kelly, The Long, Brutal U.S. War on Children in the Middle East The Long, Brutal U.S. War on Children in the Middle East
Dr Arshad M Khan, Meat and Consequences: More Bad News for Climate Change Meat and Consequences: More Bad News for Climate Change
Dr Arshad M Khan, Weather Disasters, Global Warming And Potential For Conflict Weather Disasters, Global Warming And Potential For Conflict
Peter Koenig, Children – Civilization’s Future, Victims of Western Brutality Children – Civilization’s Future, Victims of Western Brutality
Peter Koenig, Argentina and France –Opponents of IMF versus Yellow Vests – Where is the Correlation? Argentina and France –Opponents of IMF versus Yellow Vests – Where is the Correlation?
Peter Koenig, Fascism on the March Fascism on the March
Peter Koenig, China: A New Philosophy of Economics China: A New Philosophy of Economics
David Korten, Why I Have Hope in the Face of Human Extinction Why I Have Hope in the Face of Human Extinction
Jean-Louis Latsague, Pour répondre à la Paix To answer the Peace Per rispondere alla Pace Para responder a la paz Pour répondre à la Paix To answer the Peace Per rispondere alla Pace Para responder a la paz
Genevieve Leigh, Socialism: What it is and how to fight for it Socialism: What it is and how to fight for it
Reynard Loki, Eating Locally and in Season: Is It Really Better for the Environment? Eating Locally and in Season: Is It Really Better for the Environment?
Maria de Fátima, Prieto Martins, Pela Paz que quero Pour la paix que je veux Por la paz que quiero For the peace I want Per la pace che voglio Pela Paz que quero Pour la paix que je veux Por la paz que quiero For the peace I want Per la pace che voglio
Riccardo Mastini, Degrowth as a Concrete Utopia Degrowth as a Concrete Utopia
Binu Mathew, Humans Do Not Have Any Special Rights Humans Do Not Have Any Special Rights
Mary Metzger, When Snakes Eat Their Tails: Marxist Self Consumption in China When Snakes Eat Their Tails: Marxist Self Consumption in China
Alain MILLION, la PAIX est notre avenir PEACE is our future La paz es nuestro futuro PAZ é o nosso futuro La PACE è il nostro futuro la PAIX est notre avenir PEACE is our future La paz es nuestro futuro PAZ é o nosso futuro La PACE è il nostro futuro
Serge H Moïse, La Paix, Pace, The peace, Мир, La paz La Paix, Pace, The peace, Мир, La paz
Moon Of Alabama, Syria - Back In The Arab Fold Syria - Back In The Arab Fold
Seyed Hossein Mousavian, Iran, Saudi Arabia and a History of AmericanAggression Iran, Saudi Arabia and a History of AmericanAggression
Jen Christensen and Michael Nedelman, Climate Change Will Shrink US Economyand Kill Thousands, Government ReportWarns Climate Change Will Shrink US Economyand Kill Thousands, Government ReportWarns
Michael Pappas, Capitalism Is Killing Patients And Their Physicians Capitalism Is Killing Patients And Their Physicians
Dr Gideon Polya, How Much Negative Carbon Emissions, Negative Population Growth & Negative Economic Growth Is Needed To Save Planet? How Much Negative Carbon Emissions, Negative Population Growth & Negative Economic Growth Is Needed To Save Planet?
President Putin, Europe Will Become a Battlefield: Putin Bluntly Explains What Discarding INF Treaty Means Europe WillBecome a Battlefield: Putin Bluntly Explains What Discarding INF Treaty Means
Mazin Qumsiyeh, Human Rights, billionnaires and biodiversity Human Rights, billionnaires and biodiversity
Brad Reed, 'Knife fighter' Melania Trump grabs more power as White House infighting nears 'Civil War-like levels': report. 'Knife fighter' Melania Trump grabs more power as White House infighting nears 'Civil War-like levels': report.
Paul Craig Roberts, Global Warming Is Real. The Threat IsReal. Ecocide Is On The Horizon Global Warming Is Real. The Threat IsReal. Ecocide Is On The Horizon
Paul Craig Roberts, Is The Evidence of Global Warming TooScary For Humans To Cope With? Is The Evidence of Global Warming TooScary For Humans To Cope With?
Shankar Sharma, Energy – Water Nexus: The Escalating Threat In The Context Of High GDP Growth Paradigm Energy – Water Nexus: The Escalating Threat In The Context Of High GDP Growth Paradigm
Paul Street, When America Was Great, Savage White Un-Settlers Raped a Continent and Assaulted a Planet When America Was Great, Savage White Un-Settlers Raped a Continent and Assaulted a Planet
Gail Tverberg, Low Oil Prices: An Indication of Major Problems Ahead? Low Oil Prices: An Indication of Major Problems Ahead?
Gail Tverberg, Why we get bad diagnoses for the world’s energy-economy problems Why we get bad diagnoses for the world’s energy-economy problems
Andre Vltchek, West is Losing and so It’s Bashing China and Russia ‘Left and Right’ Literally West is Losing and so It’s Bashing China and Russia ‘Left and Right’ Literally
Andre Vltchek, US Trade War With China: Desperate Move To Save Western Empire US Trade War With China: Desperate Move To Save Western Empire
Andre Vltchek, US Trade War with China: Desperate Move toSave Western Empire US Trade War with China: Desperate Move toSave Western Empire
Eric Zuesse, Russia & China Invest in Infrastructure; U.S. Instead Spends on Military Russia & China Invest in Infrastructure; U.S. Instead Spends on Military
Eric Zuesse, Why This Planet Is Becoming Uninhabitable Why This Planet Is Becoming Uninhabitable
Eric Zuesse, The World Order that’s Now Emerging The World Order that’s Now Emerging

Articles and papers from authors


Day data received Theme or issue Read article or paper
  November 30, 2018
The Long, Brutal U.S. War on Children in the Middle East
by Kathy Kelly, in World, Countercurrents.

On November 28, sixty-three U.S. Senators voted in favor of holding a floor debate on a resolution calling for an end to direct U.S. Armed Forces involvement in the Saudi-UAE coalition-led war on Yemen. Describing the vote as a rebuke to Saudi Arabia and the Trump Administration, AP reported on Senate dissatisfaction over the administration’s response to Saudi Arabia’s brutal killing of Jamal Khashoggi last month. Just before the Senate vote, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo called current objections to U.S. relations with Saudi Arabia “Capitol Hill caterwauling and media pile-on.”

The “caterwaul” on Capitol Hill reflects years of determined effort by grassroots groups to end U.S. involvement in war on Yemen, fed by mounting international outrage at the last three years of war that have caused the deaths of an estimated 85,000 Yemeni children under age five.

When children waste away to literally nothing while fourteen million people endure conflict-driven famine, a hue and cry—yes, a caterwaul —most certainly should be raised, worldwide.

How might we understand what it would mean in the United States for fourteen million people in our country to starve? You would have to combine the populations of New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles, and imagine these cities empty of all but the painfully and slowly dying, to get a glimpse into the suffering in Yemen, where one of every two persons faces starvation.

Antiwar activists have persistently challenged elected representatives to acknowledge and end the horrible consequences of modern warfare in Yemen where entire neighborhoods have been bombed, displacing millions of people; daily aerial attacks have directly targeted Yemen’s infrastructure, preventing delivery of food, safe water, fuel, and funds. The war crushes people through aerial bombing and on-the-ground fighting as well as an insidious economic war.

Yemenis are strangled by import restrictions and blockades, causing non-payment of government salaries, inflation, job losses, and declining or disappearing incomes. Even when food is available, ordinary Yemenis cannot afford it.

Starvation is being used as a weapon of war—by Saudi Arabia, by the United Arab Emirates, and by the superpower patrons including the United States that arm and manipulate both countries.

During the thirteen years of economic sanctions against Iraq— those years between the Gulf War and the devastating U.S.-led “Shock and Awe” war that followed—I joined U.S. and U.K. activists traveling to Iraq in public defiance of the economic sanctions.

We aimed to resist U.S.- and U.K.-driven policies that weakened the Iraqi regime’s opposition more than they weakened Saddam Hussein. Ostensibly democratic leaders were ready to achieve their aims by brutally sacrificing children under age five. The children died first by the hundreds, then by the thousands and eventually by the hundreds of thousands. Sitting in a Baghdad pediatric ward, I heard a delegation member, a young nurse from the U.K., begin to absorb the cruelty inflicted on mothers and children.

“I think I understand,” murmured Martin Thomas, “It’s a death row for infants.” Children gasped their last breaths while their parents suffered a pile-up of anguish, wave after wave. We should remain haunted by those children’s short lives.

Iraq’s children died amid an eerie and menacing silence on the part of mainstream media and most elected U.S. officials. No caterwauling was heard on Capitol Hill.

But, worldwide, people began to know that children were paying the price of abysmally failed policies, and millions of people opposed the 2003 Shock and Awe war.

Still the abusive and greedy policies continue. The U.S. and its allies built up permanent warfare states to secure consistent exploitation of resources outside their own territories.

During and after the Arab Spring, numerous Yemenis resisted dangerously unfair austerity measures that the Gulf Cooperation Council and the U.S. insisted they must accept. Professor Isa Blumi, who notes that generations of Yemeni fighters have refused to acquiesce to foreign invasion and intervention, presents evidence that Saudi Arabia and the UAE now orchestrate war on Yemen to advance their own financial interests.

In the case of Saudi Arabia, Blumi states that although Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman wants to author an IPO (Initial Public Offering), for the Saudi state oil company, Aramco, no major investors would likely participate. Investment firms know the Saudis pay cash for their imports, including billions of dollars’ worth of weaponry, because they are depleting resources within their own territory. This, in part, explains the desperate efforts to take over Yemen’s offshore oil reserves and other strategic assets.

Recent polls indicate that most Americans don’t favor U.S. war on Yemen. Surely, our security is not enhanced if the U.S. continues to structure its foreign policy on fear, prejudice, greed, and overwhelming military force. The movements that pressured the U.S. Senate to reject current U.S. foreign policy regarding Saudi Arabia and its war on Yemen will continue raising voices. Collectively, we’ll work toward raising the lament, pressuring the media and civil society to insist that slaughtering children will never solve problems.

Kathy Kelly is a peace activist and a co-coordinator of Voices for Creative Nonviolence http://vcnv.org/ . Kathy Kelly’s email is kathy@vcnv.org

This article first appeared on the website of The Progressive magazine.

  Read  The Long, Brutal U.S. War on Children in the Middle East
  November 29, 2018
Making Native Americans Strangers in Their Own Land
by Aviva Chomsky, in World, Countercurrents.

Amid the barrage of racistanti-immigrant, and other attacks launched by President Trump and his administration in recent months, a series of little noted steps have threatened Native American land rights and sovereignty. Such attacks have focused on tribal sovereignty, the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA), and the voting rights of Native Americans, and they have come from Washington, the courts, and a state legislature. What they share is a single conceptual framework: the idea that the long history that has shaped U.S.-Native American relations has no relevance to today’s realities.

Meanwhile, in an apparently unrelated event, Senator Elizabeth Warren, egged on by Donald Trump’s “Pocahontas” taunts and his mocking of her claims to native ancestry, triumphantly touted her DNA results to “prove” her Native American heritage. In turning to the burgeoning, for-profit DNA industry, however, she implicitly lent her progressive weight to claims about race and identity that go hand in hand with moves to undermine Native sovereignty.

The DNA industry has, in fact, found a way to profit from reviving and modernizing antiquated ideas about the biological origins of race and repackaging them in a cheerful, Disneyfied wrapping. While it’s true that the it’s-a-small-world-after-all multiculturalism of the new racial science rejects nineteenth-century scientific racism and Social Darwinism, it is offering a twenty-first-century version of pseudoscience that once again reduces race to a matter of genetics and origins. In the process, the corporate-promoted ancestry fad conveniently manages to erase the histories of conquest, colonization, and exploitation that created not just racial inequality but race itself as a crucial category in the modern world.

Today’s policy attacks on Native rights reproduce the same misunderstandings of race that the DNA industry is now so assiduously promoting. If Native Americans are reduced to little more than another genetic variation, there is no need for laws that acknowledge their land rights, treaty rights, and sovereignty. Nor must any thought be given to how to compensate for past harms, not to speak of the present ones that still structure their realities. A genetic understanding of race distorts such policies into unfair “privileges” offered to a racially defined group and so “discrimination” against non-Natives. This is precisely the logic behind recent rulings that have denied Mashpee tribal land rights in Massachusetts, dismantled the Indian Child Welfare Act (a law aimed at preventing the removal of Native American children from their families or communities), and attempted to suppress Native voting rights in North Dakota.

Profiting by Recreating Race

Let’s start by looking at how the ancestry industry contributes to, and profits from, a twenty-first-century reformulation of race. Companies like Ancestry.com and 23andMe lure customers into donating their DNA and a hefty sum of money in exchange for detailed reports claiming to reveal the exact geographical origins of their ancestors going back multiple generations. “Who do you think you are?” asks Ancestry.com, typically enough. The answer, the company promises, lies in your genes.

Such businesses eschew the actual term “race” in their literature. They claiminstead that DNA reveals “ancestry composition” and “ethnicity.” In the process, however, they turn ethnicity, a term once explicitly meant to describe culture and identity, into something that can be measured in the genes. They conflate ethnicity with geography, and geography with genetic markers. Perhaps you won’t be surprised to learn that the “ethnicities” they identify bear an eerie resemblance to the “races” identified by European scientific racist thinking a century ago. They then produce scientific-looking “reports” that contain purportedly exact percentages linking consumers to places as specific as “Sardinia” or as broad as “East Asia.”

At their most benign, these reports have become the equivalent of a contemporary parlor game, especially for white Americans who make up the vast majority of the participants. But there is a sinister undertone to it all, reviving as it does a long-discredited pseudoscientific basis for racism: the notion that race, ethnicity, and ancestry are revealed in the genes and the blood, and passed down inexorably, even if invisibly, from generation to generation. Behind this lies the assumption that those genes (or variations) originate within clearly defined national or geographic borders and that they reveal something meaningful about who we are — something otherwise invisible. In this way, race and ethnicity are separated from and elevated above experience, culture, and history.

Is There Any Science Behind It?

Although all humans share 99.9% of our DNA, there are some markers that exhibit variations. It’s these markers that the testers study, relying on the fact that certain variations are more (or less) common in different geographical areas. As law and sociology professor Dorothy Roberts puts it, “No sooner had the Human Genome Project determined that human beings are 99.9% alike than many scientists shifted their focus from human genetic commonality to the 0.1% of human genetic difference. This difference is increasingly seen as encompassing race.”

Ancestry tests rely on a fundamental — and racialized — misunderstanding of how ancestry works. The popular assumption is that each of us contains discrete and measurable percentages of the “blood” and DNA of our two biological parents, four grandparents, eight great-grandparents, sixteen great-great-grandparents, and so on, and that this ancestral line can be traced back hundreds of years in a meaningful way. It can’t. As science journalist Carl Zimmer explains, “DNA is not a liquid that can be broken down into microscopic drops… We inherit about a quarter of our DNA from each grandparent — but only on average… If you pick one of your ancestors from 10 generations back, the odds are around 50% that you carry any DNA from him or her. The odds get even worse beyond that.”

In reality, such testing does not tell us much about our ancestors. That’s partly because of the way DNA is passed down through the generations and partly because there exists no database of ancestral DNA. Instead, the companies compare your DNA to that of other contemporary humans who have paid them to take the test. Then they compare your particular variations to patterns of geographical and ethnic distribution of such variations in today’s world — and use secret algorithms to assign purportedly precise ancestral percentages to them.

So is there really a Sardinian or East Asian gene or genetic variation? Of course not. If there is one fact that we know about human history, it’s that ours is a history of migrations. We all originated in East Africa and populated the planet through ongoing migrations and interactions. None of this has ended (and, in fact, thanks to climate change, it will only increase). Cultures, ethnicities, and settlements can’t be frozen in time. The only thing that is constant is change. The peoples who reside in today’s Sardinia or East Asia are a snapshot that captures only a moment in a history of motion. The DNA industry’s claims about ancestry award that moment a false sense of permanence.

While whites of European ancestry seem enthralled with the implications of this new racial science, few Native Americans have chosen to donate to such databases. Centuries of abuse at the hands of colonial researchers who made their careers on Native ancestral remains, cultural artifacts, and languages have generated a widespread skepticism toward the notion of offering genetic material for the good of “science.” In fact, when it comes to one DNA testing outfit, 23andMe, all of the countries included in its lists of the geographical origins of those who have contributed to its “Native American” database are in Latin America and the Caribbean. “In North America,” the company blandly explains, “Native American ancestry tends to be five or more generations back, so that little DNA evidence of this heritage remains.” In other words, 23andMe claims DNA as conclusive proof of Native American identity, then uses it to write Native North Americans off the map altogether.

The Ancestry Industry and the Disappearing Indian

The ancestry industry, even while celebrating diverse origins and multiculturalism, has revived long-held ideas about purity and authenticity. For much of U.S. history, white colonizers argued that Native Americans would “vanish,” at least in part through biological dilution. New England’s native peoples were, for instance, systematically denied land rights and tribal status in the nineteenth century on the grounds that they were too racially mixed to be “authentic” Indians.

As historian Jean O’Brien has explained, “Insistence on ‘blood purity’ as a central criterion of ‘authentic’ Indianness reflected the scientific racism that prevailed in the nineteenth century. New England Indians had intermarried, including with African Americans, for many decades, and their failure to comply with non-Indian ideas about Indian phenotype strained the credence for their Indianness in New England minds.” The supposed “disappearance” of such Indians then justified the elimination of any rights that they might have had to land or sovereignty, the elimination of which, in a form of circular reasoning, only confirmed their nonexistence as a people.

However, it was never phenotype or distant ancestry but, as O’Brien points out, “complex regional kinship networks that remained at the core of Indian identity in New England, despite the nearly complete Indian dispossession that English colonists accomplished… Even as Indians continued to reckon membership in their communities through the time-honored system of kinship, New Englanders invoked the myth of blood purity as identity in denying Indian persistence.”

Such antiquated understandings of race as a biological or scientific category allowed whites to deny Indian existence — and now allow them to make biological claims about “Indian” identity. Until recently, such claims, as in Senator Warren’s case, rested on the murkiness of family tales. Today, the supposed ability of DNA companies to find genetic “proof” of such a background reinforces the idea that Indian identity is something measurable in the blood and sidesteps the historical basis for the legal recognition or protection of Indian rights.

The ancestry industry assumes that there is something meaningful about the supposed racial identity of one of hundreds or even thousands of an individual’s ancestors. It’s an idea that plays directly into the hands of right-wingers who are intent on attacking what they call “identity politics” — and the notion that “minorities” are becoming unduly privileged.

Indeed, white resentment flared at the suggestion that Senator Warren might have received some professional benefit from her claim to Native status. Despite an exhaustive investigation by the Boston Globe showing conclusively that she did not, the myth persistsand has become an implicit part of Donald Trump’s mockery of her. In fact, any quick scan of statistics will confirm the ludicrousness of such a position. It should be obvious that being Native American (or Black, or Latino) in the United States confers far more risks than benefits. Native Americans suffer from higher rates of poverty, unemployment, infant mortality, and low birth weight, as well as lower educational levels and shorter life spans than do whites. These statistics are the result of hundreds of years of genocide, exclusion, and discrimination — not the presence or absence of specific genetic variations.

Reviving Race to Undermine Native Rights

Native rights, from sovereignty to acknowledgment of the conditions created by 500 years of colonial misrule, rest on an acceptance that race and identity are, in fact, the products of history. “Native Americans” came into being not through genes but through the historical processes of conquest and colonial rule, along with grudging and fragile acknowledgement of Native sovereignty. Native American nations are political and cultural entities, the products of history, not genes, and white people’s assertions about Native American ancestry and the DNA industry’s claim to be able to reveal such ancestry tend to run roughshod over this history.

Let’s look at three developments that have, over the past year, undermined the rights of Native Americans: the reversal of reservation status for Mashpee tribal lands in Massachusetts, the striking down of the Indian Child Welfare Act, and Republican attempts to suppress Native American votes in North Dakota. Each of these acts came from a different part of the government: the Bureau of Indian Affairs in the Department of the Interior, the courts, and North Dakota’s Republican-dominated state legislature. But all three rely on notions of identity that place race firmly in our genes rather than in our history. In the process, they deny the histories that turned the sovereign and autonomous peoples of North America before European colonists arrived in “the New World” into “Native Americans,” and imply that Native American historical rights are meaningless.

The Mashpee of Massachusetts finally achieved federal recognition and a grant of reservation land only in 2007, based on the fact that they “had existed as a distinct community since the 1620s.” In other words, federal recognition was based on a historical, not a racialized, understanding of ethnicity and identity. However, the tribe’s drive to build a casino on its newly acquired reservation in Taunton, Massachusetts, would promptly be challenged by local property-owners. Their lawsuit relied on a technicality: that, as they argued in court, reservation land could only be granted to tribes that had been federally recognized as of 1934. In fact, the Mashpee struggle for recognition had been repeatedly stymied by long-held notions that the Indians of Massachusetts were not “real” or “authentic” because of centuries of racial mixing. There was nothing new in this. The state’s nineteenth-century legislature prefigured just such a twenty-first-century backlash against recognition when it boasted that real Indians no longer existed in Massachusetts and that the state was poised to wipe out all such “distinctions of race and caste.”

In September 2018, the Department of the Interior (to which the court assigned the ultimate decision) ruled against the Mashpees. Recently appointed Assistant Director of Indian Affairs Tara Sweeney, the first Native American to hold that position, “paved the way for a reservation to be taken out of trust for the first time since the termination era,” a 20-year period from the 1940s to the 1960s when the federal government attempted to “terminate” Native sovereignty entirely by dismantling reservations and removing Indians to urban areas to “assimilate” them. The new ruling could affect far more than the Mashpees. Some fear that, in the Trump years, the decision portends “a new termination era,” or even a possible “extermination era,” for the country’s Native Americans.

Meanwhile, on October 4th, a U.S. District Court struck down the Indian Child Welfare Act, or ICWA. This is a potentially devastating development as Congress passed that Act in 1978 to end the then-still-common practice of breaking up Native families by removing Indian children for adoption into white families. Such acts of removal date back to the earliest days of white settlement and over the centuries included various kinds of servitude and the founding of residential boarding schools for Indian children that were aimed at eliminating Native languages, cultures, and identities, while promoting “assimilation.” Indian child removal continued into the late twentieth century through a federally sponsored “Indian Adoption Project,” as well as the sending of a remarkable number of such children into the foster care system.

According to the ICWA, “An alarmingly high percentage of Indian families are broken up by the removal, often unwarranted, of their children from them by nontribal public and private agencies and that an alarmingly high percentage of such children are placed in non-Indian foster and adoptive homes and institutions.” States, it added, “have often failed to recognize the essential tribal relations of Indian people and the cultural and social standards prevailing in Indian communities and families.” The Act gave tribes primary jurisdiction over all child custody issues including foster placements and the termination of parental rights, requiring for the first time that priority be placed on keeping Native children with their parents, kin, or at least within the tribe.

The ICWA said nothing about race or ancestry. Instead, it recognized “Indian” as a political status, while acknowledging semi-sovereign collective rights. It was based on the Constitution’s implicit acknowledgement of Indian sovereignty and land rights and the assignment to the Federal government of relations with Indian tribes. The District Court’s ICWA decision trampled on the collective political rights of Indian tribes by maintaining that the act discriminated against non-Native families in limiting their right to foster or adopt Native children. That rationale, like the rationale behind the Mashpee decision, directly attacks the cultural and historical acknowledgement of Native sovereignty.

Superficially, the assault on Native voting rights may appear conceptually unrelated to the Mashpee and ICWA decisions. North Dakota is one of many primarily Republican-controlled states to take advantage of a 2013 Supreme Court ruling eliminating key protections of the Voting Rights Act to make registration and voting more difficult, especially for likely Democratic voters including the poor and people of color. After numerous challenges, a North Dakota law requiring prospective voters to provide a street address was finally upheld by a Supreme Court ruling in October 2018. The problem is this: thousands of rural Native Americans, on or off that state’s reservations, lack street addresses because their streets have no names, their homes no numbers. Native Americans are also disproportionately homeless.

In the North Dakota case, Native Americans are fighting for a right of American citizens — the right to vote — whereas the Mashpee and ICWA cases involve fights to defend Native sovereignty. The new voting law invoked equality and individual rights, even as it actually focused on restricting the rights of Native Americans. Underpinning such restrictions was a convenient denial by those Republicans that the country’s history had, in fact, created conditions that were decidedly unequal. (Thanks to a massive and expensive local effort to defend their right to vote, however, North Dakota’s Native Americans showed up in record numbers in the 2018 midterm election.)

These three political developments downplay Native American identity, sovereignty, and rights, while denying, implicitly or explicitly, that history created today’s realities of racial inequality. The use of DNA tests to claim “Native American” genes or blood trivializes this same history.

The recognition of tribal sovereignty at least acknowledges that the existence of the United States is predicated on its imposition of an unwanted, foreign political entity on Native lands. The concept of tribal sovereignty has given Native Americans a legal and collective basis for fighting for a different way of thinking about history, rights, and nationhood. Attempts to reduce Native American identity to a race that can be identified by a gene (or a genetic variation) do violence to our history and justify ongoing violations of Native rights.

Senator Elizabeth Warren had every right to set the record straight regarding false accusations about her employment history. She should, however, rethink the implications of letting either Donald Trump or the ancestry industry define what it means to be Native American.

Aviva Chomsky is professor of history and coordinator of Latin American studies at Salem State University in Massachusetts and a TomDispatchregular. Her most recent book is Undocumented: How Immigration Became Illegal

  Read Making Native Americans Strangers in Their Own Land
  November 30, 2018
Children – Civilization’s Future, Victims of Western Brutality
by Peter Koenig,in Human Rights, Countercurrents.

The United Nations Universal Children’s Day – 20 November – has come and gone – and nothing has changed. No action that would now protect children any more than before, no move even by the UN to call on nations at war to take special care to protect children – if for nothing else but the fact that children are our planets future. They are the standard bearer of human generations to come – and of our civilization as a whole, if we don’t run it into the ground. Yet, children are among the most vulnerable, discriminated and abjectly exploited and abused species within human kind.

The culture of greed and instant profit has no space for children, for their rights, for their up-bringing within a frame of human rights, fair education, access to shelter and health services everywhere. For much of our western society, children are a nuisance, at best, a tool for cheap labor, especially when the west outsources its production processes to poor developing countries, mostly in Asia and Central America, so poor that they cannot enforce laws against child labor – all to maximize corporate profits.

Otherwise the western driven killing and war machine indiscriminately slaughters children, by famine, by drones, by bombs, by disease – by abuse. Collateral damage? I doubt it. Children could be protected, even in illegal wars. But eradicating by death and poverty entire generations in nations the west intends to subdue has a purpose: rebuilding of these nations will not take place under the watch of educated children, grown adults, who would most likely oppose their ‘hangmen’, those that have destroyed their homes and families, their villages and towns, their schools and hospital, their drinking water supply systems – leaving them to the plight of cholera and other diseases brought about by lack of hygiene and sanitation. So, in the interest of the empire and its puppet allies, children’s calamities and crimes on them are at best under reported – in most cases nobody even cares.

Look at Syria. The poison gas attacks instigated by US and NATO forces, carried out by their proxies ISIS and Saudi Arabia, to blame them on President Bashar al Assad, were directed at children for greater public relations impact – further helped by the fake heroes, the White Helmets. Can you imagine! (I’m sure you can) – children have to be poisoned and killed by western forces who want to topple the Syrian Assad regime to put their puppet in Assad’s place, so that they can control the country and eventually the region. Yes, children are sacrificed – a huge crime against humanity – to commit another horrendous international crime – forcefully change a democratically elected regime. That’s what the west does and is – and probably always was for the last 2000 years.

Take the situation of Yemen, where for the last 3 ½ years the network of the world’s biggest mafia killer scheme, led by Saudi Arabia, as the patsy and foreign money funnel aiding the United States and her allies in crime, the UK, France, Spain, several of the Gulf States, until recently also Germany, and many more – has killed by bombs, starvation and cholera induced by willingly destroyed water supply and sanitation systems, maybe hundreds of thousands of children.

According to Safe the Children, some 85,000 children below 5 years of age may have already died from famine; mind you, a purposefully induced famine, as Saudi and Gulf forces destroyed and blocked the port of Hodeida, where about 80% – 90% of imported food enters the country. The most vulnerable ones, as with every man-made disaster, are children and women.

Already a year ago, the UN warned that the cholera outbreak in Yemen is the fasted spreading cholera epidemic since records began and that it will affect at least a million people, including at least 600,000 children. A year later – how many of them have died? Extreme food shortages, destroyed shelters and hospitals, lack of medication, as medicine is also blocked at the points of import, have reduced children’s natural immune systems even further.

Imagine the suffering caused not just to the children, but to their parents, families, communities – what the west is doing is beyond words. Its beyond crime; and all those ‘leaders’ (sic) responsible will most likely never face a criminal court, as they are controlling all the major justice systems in the world. Though, no justice could make good for the killing and misery, but at least it could demonstrate that universal crime – as is the war on Yemen and many others fought for greed and power – is not tolerated with impunity.

UNHCR – the UN refugee agency reports that worldwide some 70 million refugees are on the move or in refugee camps. This figure does not include a large number of unreported cases, perhaps up to a third more. Most of the refugees are generated in the Middle East by western initiated wars; wars for greed, for natural resources, for controlling a geopolitically and strategically important region – on the seemingly ‘unstoppable’ way to full power world dominance.

At least two thirds of the refugees are children – no health care, no education, no suitable shelter, or none at all, malnourished-to-starving, raped, abused, enslaved – you name it.

Where do all these children go? What is their future? – There will be societies – Yemen, Syria, Iraq, Libya, Afghanistan – missing a full generation. The countries are suffering a gap in educated people. This wanton gap will likely prevent rebuilding and developing their nations according to their sovereign rights. These countries are easier to control, subdue and enslave.

Just imagine, many of the lost children pass under the radar of human statistics, ignored, many of them are totally abandoned, no parents, no family, nobody to care for them, nobody to love them – they may quietly die – die in the gutters, unknown, anonymous. We – the brutal west – let them.

And the UN-declared Children’s Day has come and gone – and nothing has changed, Nothing will change as long as the west is devastating indiscriminately countries, cities, villages for sheer greed. Yemen, Syria, Iraq, Libya, Afghanistan — never were threatening the United States, nor Israel, of course. But they have resources the west covets, or they are geopolitically of strategic importance – for step by bloody step advancing towards world hegemony.

According to the UN, about 300 million children around the world do not go to school. Again, the unreported figure is possibly double or higher, especially including those that attend school only sporadically. Many of the children are abducted, sold into slavery, prostitution, imprisoned for medical testing – and for use in orgies of blood thirsty secret societies, their organs harvested and traded by mafia type organizations. Organ trading allegations are levied against Israel’s armed forces killing thousands of children in Israel’s open prison and extermination camp, called Gaza; and against Ukraine’s Kiev Nazi Government.

Did you know, 60% of all children in Gaza are mutilated and amputated as a result of Israel’s war against the Palestine population? And the world looks on, not daring to protest and stand up against this criminal nation – God’s chosen people.

In the UK, 1 of 4 children live in poverty. In the US, 60million children go to bed hungry – every night. As I write these lines, at the US-Mexican border refugee children and their mothers are being shot at with teargas canons by US police and military forces, to prevent them from entering Mr. Trump’s Holy Land, the Great United States of America.

The former UN Secretary General, Koffi Annan, winner of the 2001 Nobel Peace Prize, referring to the horrific siege on Aleppo and calling for international action to stop the war, he said, “The assault on Aleppo is an assault on the whole world. When hospitals, schools and homes are bombed indiscriminately, killing and maiming hundreds of innocent children, these are acts that constitute an attack on our shared, fundamental human values. Our collective cry for action must be heard, and acted upon, by all those engaged in this dreadful war.”

But, how could the world of today be described better than by Caitlin Johnstone in her recent poem “Welcome to Planet Earth”, where she says, “Welcome to Planet Earth…… where children who do not know how to live, teach their children how to live; where children pray for miracles, using minds that are made of miracles; with clasped hands that are made of miracles; where children wander in search of God, upon feet that are made of God, looking with eyes that are made of God.”

Where have all the children gone?

Peter Koenig is an economist and geopolitical analyst. He is also a water resources and environmental specialist. He worked for over 30 years with the World Bank and the World Health Organization around the world in the fields of environment and water. He lectures at universities in the US, Europe and South America. He writes regularly for Global Research; ICH; RT; Sputnik; PressTV; The 21st Century; TeleSUR; The Vineyard of The Saker Blog, the New Eastern Outlook (NEO); and other internet sites. He is the author of Implosion – An Economic Thriller about War, Environmental Destruction and Corporate Greed – fiction based on facts and on 30 years of World Bank experience around the globe. He is also a co-author of The World Order and Revolution! – Essays from the Resistance.

Peter Koenig is a Research Associate of the Centre for Research on Globalization.

  Read Children – Civilization’s Future, Victims of Western Brutality
  November 30, 2018
Meat and Consequences: More Bad News for Climate Change
by Dr Arshad M Khan, in Climate Change, Countercurrents.

Thanksgiving is quite a U.S. holiday.  In one day, we manage to eat and enjoy 44 million turkeys, twice the number consumed at Christmas.  Yes, vegetarians may live longer and vegans even more so, but the smell of a roasting turkey in the kitchen, lingering in the nostrils, titillating appetites as friends and relations gather, is synonymous with Thanksgiving — a meal where it is politic to keep politics away from the table.

Yet the news about our world cannot cease.  The annual greenhouse gas bulletin issued by the World Meteorological Organization reports a new high in CO2 levels of 405.5 parts per million reached in 2017; it is 46 percent higher than preindustrial levels.  The rising trend continues for on May 14, 2018, another high of 412.60 ppm was recorded.

The enthusiastic consumption of meat in industrialized countries is one cause.  The worst culprits are lamb, mutton and beef because sheep, goats and cattle are ruminants and their digestive systems release methane mostly through belching rather than the other end.  Cattle emit so much greenhouse gas that if they were a country they “would be the planet’s third largest greenhouse gas emitter.”  They produce an astounding 270,000 tonnes of emissions over their agricultural life cycle per tonne of protein, multiple times more than pork or poultry or eggs.  Transferring our carnivorous instincts from beef to poultry reduces so much emissions as to be near as good as being vegetarian although not quite.

Another way of imagining the effect is to translate a kilo of food sources into the number of car miles driven to produce the same emissions.  A kilo of beef equates to 63 miles.  Eating chicken reduces this by 47 miles, rice by another 10, lentils by 4 more.

When people ask, ‘but what can I do about climate change?’ we have an answer, ‘eat less beef.’  We can also drive less by cutting unnecessary trips — for example, grocery shopping only once a week.  Turning down the thermostat in winter and up in summer to reduce energy consumption (and lower gas and electricity bills), walking or bicycling instead of driving short distances for better health and for our environment are suggestions we have heard before.  It’s time we complied.

COP24 or to give it its official name the 24th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change is upon us (December 3rd to 14th in Katowice, Poland).  Its purpose is to develop an international agreement compelling all countries to implement the Paris accord on climate change; it limits global mean temperature rise to 2 degrees C.

Meanwhile the IPCC was charged with comparing the 2C rise with a 1.5C rise and the risks to the world of both.  The IPCC report unveiled to the world on October 8, 2018 was far from sanguine.  There the matter rests as we await COP24.

The U.S. government’s Fourth Climate Assessment was released Friday afternoon.  A massive undertaking involving 13 Federal Agencies and 300 scientists it portrays a somber reality of hundreds of billions of dollars in economic losses, damage to health and a compromised quality of life.  It warns of crop failures, altered coastlines, expanding wild fires and severe weather events.

The young have an answer to the tardiness of the U.S. government officialdom to act on these reports.  In Eugene, Oregon, they have gone to the courts.  They accuse the government of endangering their future by failing to alleviate the effects of climate change and promoting antithetical policies.  Lawyers from the current and previous administrations have tried to have the case dismissed; they have requested stays all the way the Supreme Court where they were denied, and now are on a temporary stay ordered by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals to allow trial preparation.  The District Judge has promised to issue a trial date once the Appeals Court lifts the temporary stay.

The president does not believe his own government’s climate assessment — he also does not accept the CIA’s conclusion that Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman ordered the Jamal Khashoggi killing.  Donald Trump’s perverse hostility to the organs of government is being played out not only in the embarrassing possible presence of the Crown Prince at the coming G-20 meeting but worse still in the mounting damage to the environment, in the worsening of greenhouse gasses instead of abatement, and in the decline of U.S. preeminence and influence as observed during the WWI memorial ceremonies in Paris recently.

For now let’s cheer for the kids in Eugene, Oregon … even if countries other than the U.S. produce about 88 percent of greenhouse gas emissions.  This country can lead by example.

Dr Arshad M Khan (http://ofthisandthat.org/index.html) is a former Professor based in the U.S. whose comments over several decades have appeared in a wide-ranging array of print and internet media.  His work has been quoted in the U.S. Congress and published in the Congressional Record.

Author’s Note:  This article first appeared on Counterpunch.org

  Read Meat and Consequences:  More Bad News for Climate Change
  November 30, 2018
A World Federation
by John Scales Avery, in World, Countercurrents.

“With law shall our land be built up, but with lawlessness laid waste.”

Njal’s Saga, Iceland, c 1270 AD

A WORLD FEDERATION (document), by John Scales Avery A WORLD FEDERATION, by John Scales Avery


The present United Nations Charter

After the unspeakable horrors of World War II, delegates from 50 Allied nations met in San Francisco California. The purpose of the conference, which took place between 25 April and 26 June, 1945, was to set up an international organization that would be able to abolish the institution of war. However, the Charter which the delegates produced was too weak to achieve this goal.

In many respects the United Nations has been highly successful. During the 73 years that have passed since its establishment, a world war has been avoided. The agencies of the United Nations, such as the World Health Organization, the Food and Agricultural Organization, UNESCO and the IPCC, have provided urgently-needed services to the international community. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and the Millennium Development Goals have set up norms towards which we can and should aim. Further-more, the UN has provided a place where representatives from many nations can meet for informal diplomacy, through which many dangerous conflicts have been avoided.

Nevertheless, the United Nations, with its present Charter, has proved to be too weak to achieve the purpose for which it was established – the complete abolition of the institution of war. If civil wars are included, there are, on any given day, an average of 12 wars somewhere in the world. The

task of abolishing war has become extremely urgent since the advent of thermonuclear weapons. The danger that these weapons will be used, through accident, technical or human error, or through uncontrollable escalation of a war with conventional weapons, poses an existential threat to human civi-lization and the biosphere.

The Russell-Einstein Manifesto of 1955 described our present situation in the following words:

“Here then is the problem that we present to you, stark and dreadful and inescapable: Shall we put an end to the human race, or shall mankind renounce war?… There lies before us, if we choose, continual progress in happiness, knowledge and wisdom. Shall we, instead, choose death becauswe cannot forget our quarrels? We appeal as human beings to human beings: Remember your humanity, and forget the rest. If you can do so, the way lies open to a new Paradise; if you cannot, there lies before you the risk of universal death.”

Why call war an “institution”?

Because the world spends almost two thousand billion dollars each year on armaments, it follows that very many people make their living from war. This is the reason why it is correct to speak of war as a social institution, and also the reason why war persists, although everyone realizes that it is

the cause of much of the suffering that inflicts humanity. We know that war is madness, but it persists. We know that it threatens the future survival of our species, but it persists, entrenched in the attitudes of historians, newspaper editors and television producers, entrenched in the methods by which politicians finance their campaigns, and entrenched in the financial power of arms manufacturers, entrenched also in the ponderous and costly hardware of war, the fleets of warships, bombers, tanks, nuclear missiles and so on.

Military-industrial complexes, throughout the world, drive and perpetuate the institution of war. Each military-industrial complex involves a circular flow of money. The money flows like the electrical current in a dynamo, driving a diabolical machine. Money from immensely rich corporate oligarchs buys the votes of politicians and the propaganda of the mainstream media. Numbed by the propaganda, citizens allow the politicians to vote for obscenely bloated military budgets, which further enrich the corporate oligarchs, and the circular flow continues.

A World Federation

In order to save the world from destruction in a thermonuclear World War III, the United Nations Charter must be reformed and strengthened. At present, the UN is a confederation of absolutely sovereign nation-states. But in a world of all-destroying modern weapons, instantaneous global communi-cation, and economic interdependence, the absolutely sovereign nation-state has become a dangerous anachronism.

Furthermore, history has shown confederations to be fatally weak. For example, the original United States Constitution was a confederation; but it soon became apparent that this form of governance was too weak. Instead, a federation was needed. In his Federalist Papers, Alexander Hamilton wrote: “To coerce the states is one of the maddest projects that was ever devised… Can any reasonable man be well disposed towards a government which makes war and carnage the only means of supporting itself, a government that can exist only by the sword? Every such war must involve the innocent with the guilty. The single consideration should be enough to dispose every

peaceable citizen against such government… What is the cure for this great evil? Nothing, but to enable the… laws to operate on individuals, in the same manner as those of states do.”

George Mason, one of the drafters of the Federal Constitution, believed that “such a government was necessary as could directly operate on individuals, and would punish those only whose guilt required it”, while another drafter, James Madison, wrote that the more he reflected on the use of force, the more he doubted “the practicality, the justice and the efficacy of it when applied to people collectively, and not individually.”

At present, the United Nations attempts to coerce states through sanctions; but sanctions are a form of collective punishment, and collective punishment is expressly forbidden by the Geneva Conventions. The worst effects of sanctions are usually felt by the weakest and least guilty of the citizens, while the guilty leaders are usually unaffected. Besides being a violation of the Geneva Conventions, sanctions are ineffective, their only effect being to unite the people of a country behind its guilty leaders.

The success of federations

A federation is a union of organizations to which specific powers are granted, all other powers being retained by the subunits. Historically, federations have proved to be highly successful and durable.

Besides political federations, many other kinds exist, examples being Universal Postal Union, established by the Treaty of Bern in 1874, and the International Tennis Federation (ITF), founded in 1913.

Examples of political federations include the European Union, the Federal Republic of Germany, the Swiss Federation, the Russian Federation, the Federal Government of the United States, and the governments of Australia and Brazil.

Laws binding on individuals

In general, political federations have the power to make laws which are binding on individuals, thus avoiding the need to coerce their member states. An effective World Federation would need to have the power to make laws that act on individuals. The International Criminal Court is an important step towards the establishment of a system of international law that acts on individuals rather than on states, and the ICC deserves our wholehearted support.

Greatly increased financial support for the UN

A very important step towards strengthening the United Nations would be to give it at least 50 times the financial support that it has today. At present the entire yearly budget of the UN is only 2.7 billion US dollars, a ridiculously low figure, considering the organization’s duty to ensure peace, law. human rights, social justice, respect for the environment, human health, and a safe food supply for the entire world. If the financial support of the United Nations could be greatly increased, its agencies could perform their vitally important duties much more effectively. This would give the UN increased prestige and authority, and the UN would thus be better able to resolve political disputes.

Various method for increasing the money available to the UN have been proposed. For example, James Tobin, who was Sterling Professor of Eco-nomics at Yale University, and Nobel Laureate in Economics, proposed that international currency transactions be taxed at a small fraction of a percent. He believed that even this extremely small tax would make exchange rates  much more stable. When asked what should be done with the proceeds of the tax, Tobin added, almost as an afterthought, “Give it to the United Nations”. In fact, the volume of international currency transactions is so enormous that even the tiny tax proposed by Tobin would be sufficient to solve all the UN’s financial problems.

A standing UN Emergency Force

The United Nations is often called on to act quickly in emergency situations, an example being the call for the UN to stop the Rwandan genocide. It would be helpful if the UN had a standing armed force which could act quickly in such emergency situations. The force could consist of volunteers from around the world, pledged to loyalty to humanity as a whole, rather than loyalty to any nation.

A reformed voting system

In the present UN General Assembly, each nation is given one vote regardless of size. This means that Monaco, Liechtenstein, Malta and Andorra have as much voting power as China, India, the United States and Russia combined. For this reason, UN resolutions are often ignored.

The voting system of the General Assembly should be reformed. One possible plan would be for final votes to be cast by regional blocks, each block having one vote. The blocks might be. 1) Latin America 2) Africa 3) Europe 4) North America 5) Russia and Central Asia 6) China 7) India and Southeast Asia 8) The Middle East and 9) Japan, Korea and Oceania.

In a reformed, democratized and possibly renamed Security Council, the veto power would be absent, and final votes would be taken between regions of roughly equal populations.

Hope for the future

Can we abolish the institution of war? Can we hope and work for a time when the terrible suffering inflicted by wars will exist only as a dark memory fading into the past? I believe that this is really possible. The problem of achieving internal peace over a large geographical area is not insoluble. It

has already been solved. There exist today many nations or regions within each of which there is internal peace, and some of these are so large that they are almost worlds in themselves. One thinks of China, India, Brazil, the Russian Federation, the United States, and the European Union. Many of these enormous societies contain a variety of ethnic groups, a variety of religions and a variety of languages, as well as striking contrasts between wealth and poverty. If these great land areas have been forged into peaceful and cooperative societies, cannot the same methods of government be applied globally?

Today, there is a pressing need to enlarge the size of the political unit from the nation-state to the entire world. The need to do so results from the terrible dangers of modern weapons and from global economic interdependence. The progress of science has created this need, but science has also given us the means to enlarge the political unit: Our almost miraculous modern communications media, if properly used, have the power to weld all of humankind into a single supportive and cooperative society.

We live at a critical time for human civilization, a time of crisis. Each of us must accept his or her individual responsibility for solving the problems that are facing the world today. We cannot leave this to the politicians. That is what we have been doing until now, and the results have been disastrous. Nor can we trust the mass media to give us adequate public discussion of the challenges that we are facing. We have a responsibility towards future generations to take matters into our own hands, to join hands and make our own alternative media, to work actively and fearlessly for better government and for a better society.

We, the people of the world, not only have the facts on our side; we also have numbers on our side. The vast majority of the worlds peoples long for peace. The vast majority long for abolition of nuclear weapons, and for a world of kindness and cooperation, a world of respect for the environment.

No one can make these changes alone, but together we can do it. Together, we have the power to choose a future where international anar-chy, chronic war and institutionalized injustice will be replaced by democratic and humane global governance, a future where the madness and immorality of war will be replaced by the rule of law.

We need a sense of the unity of all mankind to save the future, a new global ethic for a united world. We need politeness and kindness to save the future, politeness and kindness not only within nations but also between nations.

To save the future, we need a just and democratic system of international law; for with law shall our land be built up, but with lawlessness laid waste.

A freely downloadable book

A new 418-page book entitled “A World Federation” may be downloaded and circulated gratis from the following link:


John Scales Avery is a theoretical chemist at the University of Copenhagen. He is noted for his books and research publications in quantum chemistry, thermodynamics, evolution, and history of science. His 2003 book Information Theory and Evolution set forth the view that the phenomenon of life, including its origin, evolution, as well as human cultural evolution, has its background situated in the fields of thermodynamics, statistical mechanics, and information theory. Since 1990 he has been the Chairman of the Danish National Group of Pugwash Conferences on Science and World Affairs. During his tenure The Pugwash Movement won a nobel peace prize.  Between 2004 and 2015 he also served as Chairman of the Danish Peace Academy. He founded the Journal of Bioenergetics and Biomembranes, and was for many years its Managing Editor. He also served as Technical Advisor to the World Health Organization, Regional Office for Europe (1988-1997).

  Read A World Federation
  October 20, 2018
69 of the Richest 100 Entities are Corporations, not Governments, Figures Show
By GlobalJustice Now!, Information Clearing House.

69 of the Richest 100 Entities are Corporations, not Governments, Figures Show

By Global Justice Now!

  • 157 of top 200 economic entities by revenue are corporations not countries
  • Top 10 corporate revenues exceed $3 trillion
  • British government urged to support Binding Treaty to hold corporations to account at UN in Geneva this week
Top corporations continue to accrue revenues far in excess of most governments, figures compiled by Global Justice Now show. Comparing 2017 revenues, 69 of the top 100 economic entities are corporations rather than governments. The top 10 corporations – a list which includes Walmart, Toyota and Shell as well as several Chinese corporations – raked in over $3 trillion last year.

When it comes to the top 200 entities, the gap between corporations and governments gets even more pronounced: 157 are corporations. Walmart, Apple and Shell all accrued more wealth than even fairly rich countries like Russia, Belgium, Sweden.

Global Justice Now released the figures in order to put pressure on the British government during UN human rights council negotiations this week to take forward a new binding UN Treaty to force transnational corporations to abide by human rights responsibilities. Campaigners are calling for the treaty to be legally enforceable at a national and global level. Britain, which currently sits on the UN human rights council, has traditionally been hostile to the treaty, which is supported by Ecuador, South Africa and many other developing countries.

Nick Dearden, director of Global Justice Now, said:

“The vast wealth and power of corporations is at the heart of so many of the world’s problems – like inequality and climate change. The drive for short-term profits today seems to trump basic human rights for millions of people on the planet. Yet there are very few ways that citizens can hold these corporations to account for their behaviour. Rather, through trade and investment deals, it is corporations which are able to demand that governments do their bidding. 

“The UK government has facilitated this rise in corporate power – through tax structures, trade deals and even aid programmes that help big business. Disgracefully it also routinely opposes the call of developing countries to hold corporations to account for their human rights impacts at the UN. That’s why today we’re joining campaigns from across the world to tell the British government not to block this international demand for justice.”

Check out the full list comparing the revenues of countries and corporations Read our campaign briefing


1. These figures have been taken from a direct comparison of the annual revenue of corporations and the annual revenue of countries. Sources: CIA World Factbook 2017 and Fortune Global 500.

2. Global Justice Now is a member of the Global Campaign to Reclaim Peoples Sovereignty, Dismantle Corporate Power and Stop Impunity, a network of over 250 social movements, civil society organisations (CSOs), trade unions and communities from around the world affected by the activities of Transnational Corporations (TNCs). It is taking part in a week of peoples mobilisation in Geneva from 13-20 October to coincide with UN Human Rights Council discussions on the draft text of the UN Binding Treaty on TNCs and Human Rights.

  Read 69 of the Richest 100 Entities are Corporations, not Governments, Figures Show
  October 22, 2018
West is Losing and so It’s Bashing China and Russia ‘Left and Right’ Literally
By Andre Vltchek, Information Clearing House.

The insanity and vileness of Western anti-Chinese propaganda used to make some of my Chinese friends cry late at night. But things are changing. The lunacy of what is said and written about China (and Russia, of course), in the US and Europe, is now clearly reflecting frustration and the bad manners of sore losers. One could almost be inclined to pity the Western empire, if only it wasn’t so violently murderous.

The Empire’s propagandists are pitying nobody – they are now shooting like maniacs, but without any coherent plan.

Various Western ‘experts’ and journalists cannot really agree on the basics: ‘what is really wrong with China’. But they are paid extremely well to find new and newer skeletons in the huge Chinese closets, and so they are constantly competing with each other, looking for the juiciest and the most scandalous stories. Often it appears that it pays to assume that absolutely everything is flawed with the most populous, and on top of it, Communist (with the ‘Chinese characteristics, of course) country on earth!

China will end extreme poverty by 2020, but do not look for cheers and applause from Berlin, Paris, London and Washington. China is far ahead of all the large countries on earth in building a so-called ‘ecological civilization’, but who is willing to notice? China is constructing public parks, boardwalks and playgrounds, the biggest on earth, but who cares? The Chinese government is introducing sweeping educational reforms, while flooding the entire nation with concert halls, museums and theatres. But that’s not worth mentioning, obviously!

Western propaganda tries to discredit China literally from both ‘left and right’, sometimes accusing it for being too Communist, but when it is suitable, even for ‘not being Communist enough’.

The New York Times ran a cover-page story on October 5, 2018, “Unlikely foe for China’s leaders: Marxists”. For this highly sarcastic piece, a reporter visited the Chinese city of Huizhou, from where he wrote about a group of over-zealous young Marxists who are demanding things to be as they were in Mao’s days:

“But the Huizhou activists represent a threat the authorities did not expect.”

Seriously? A threat? China is moving towards Communism, again, under the current leadership. We are talking about democratic, socially-oriented Communism. But let us not argue with the official U.S. newspaper. It is definitely not a pro-Communist publication, but they had to show some sympathy (by running a cover story!) to a small bunch of over-zealous ‘opposition’ Marxists, just to spread doubts among the readers, suggesting that the Chinese government is not that Red, anymore.

The next day (Saturday-Sunday edition, October 6-7, 2018), the same New York Times published two cover stories on China. One was along its usual anti- Chinese and anti-Russian conspiracy lines “Will China hack U.S. mid-terms?”, but the other basically contradicted the story from the previous day, accusing Beijing this time of cutting the wings of private companies: “Beijing is pushing back into business”, with a sub-title:

“Government flexes muscle as private companies that built economy lose ground.”

‘Wherever it can hurt China, just write it’, could be the credo of thousands of European and North American journos: ‘as long as the news about or from China is bad, really dark and negative, anything goes!’

Too much Communism, or too little… As far as the West is concerned – China can never get it right! Because… simply because it is China, because it is Asia, and because it waves the red flags.

And so, The New York Times ran two totally contradictory stories. An editorial blunder, or a pre-meditated attempt to inflict maximum damage, by kicking ‘left and right’?


It is, of course, fun, to follow this propaganda trend, ‘from a safe distance’ (meaning: ‘not believing a word of what it says’). But what is happening is not a joke; what is being done can actually be deadly. It can trigger, unexpectedly, a chain of events that could truly hurt China.

‘An explosion’ could originate in Taiwan, in Southeast Asia, or from the PRC territory itself.

Look at Brazil, look at Venezuela! Look at all those Color Revolutions, Umbrella Revolutions, ‘Springs’ from Europe to Arab countries. And look at China itself: who triggered; who sponsored the so-called Tiananmen Square events? There is clearly enough evidence, by now, that it was not some spontaneous student rebellion.

The West has convinced several countries such as the Philippines, that they should confront China, through various territorial claims in which, honestly, almost no serious Filipino historian or political scientist is ready to believe (unless he or she paid royally from abroad). I talked directly to several top historians and political scientists in Manila, and I got a clear picture of whom and what is behind those territorial claims. I wrote about it in the past, and soon will again.

China is too big to tolerate dangerous subversions from abroad. Its leadership knows well: when the country is in disarray, hundreds of millions of human beings suffer. To preserve the nation’s territorial integrity is essential.


So, what is China really; in a summary?

It is a Communist (or you may call it a socialist) country with thousands of years of a great and comparatively egalitarian history. It has a mixed economy but with central planning (government tells the companies what to do, not vice-versa). It is clearly the most successful nation on earth when it comes to working on behalf of, and for the benefit of its citizens. It is also the most peaceful large nation on earth. And here are two more essential points: China is at the forefront of saving the world from the looming ecological disaster. And it has no colonies, or ‘neo’-colonies, being essentially an ‘internationalist’ state.

Its political system, economy, culture: all are diametrically different from those in the West.

China has millions of things to say about how this planet should be governed, how it should be marching forward, and what is true democracy (rule of the people).

Now honestly: does Western mainstream, which manufactures ‘public opinion’ all over the world, allows many Chinese (PRC) patriots, Communists, thinkers, to appear on television screens, or to write op-eds?

We know the answer. Almost exclusively, it is the Westerners who are, (by the Western rulers), entrusted with the tremendous task of ‘defining what China is or isn’t’. And what the entire world is or isn’t.

If China says that it is ‘socialist with Chinese characteristics’, they say ‘No!’ with their perfect Oxford accents. And their arrogance from telling the greatest civilization on earth what it actually is or isn’t, gets accepted because of the fact that most of them are white, and they speak perfect English (paradoxically, still a seal of trustworthiness, at least in certain circles).

The West never hears what the Chinese or Russians think about the world. While the Chinese and Russians are literally bombarded by what the West thinks about them.

Even Chinese people used to listen to such ‘false prophets’ from the ‘civilized West’. Now they know better. Same as the Russians know better. Same as many in Latin America know better.

The spread of Western propaganda and dogmas used to appear as a battle, an ideological combat, for Chinese and Russian brains (if not for hearts). Or at least it appeared as such, to many naïve, trusting people.

Now it is all much simpler and ‘in the open’: the battle continues, but the frontlines and goals have shifted. How?

What is taking place these days, is simply an enormous clash between Western imperialism plus its propaganda, versus the determination of the Chinese and Russian people to live their own lives the way they choose. Or to put it into even simpler terms: the battle is raging between Western imperialism on one side, and democracy with ‘Chinese and Russian characteristics’ on the other.

West is bashing China and Russia ‘left and right’, literally. But it is definitely not winning!

[First published by NEO – New Eastern Outlook]

Andre Vltchek is a philosopher, novelist, filmmaker and investigative journalist. He has covered wars and conflicts in dozens of countries. Three of his latest books are Revolutionary Optimism, Western Nihilism, a revolutionary novel “Aurora” and a bestselling work of political non-fiction: “Exposing Lies Of The Empire”. View his other books here. Watch Rwanda Gambit, his groundbreaking documentary about Rwanda and DRCongo and his film/dialogue with Noam Chomsky “On Western Terrorism”. Vltchek presently resides in East Asia and the Middle East, and continues to work around the world. He can be reached through his website and his Twitter.

  Read West isLosing and so It’s Bashing China and Russia ‘Left and Right’ Literally
  November 30, 2018
Climate, Human Delusion and Our Destructionof the Biosphere: We Aren’t Even Trying!
By Robert J. Burrowes, Information Clearing House.

Have you heard the expression ‘climate change’? That lovely expression that suggests a holiday in a place with a more pleasant climate.

Unfortunately, only the rarest individual has the capacity to see through the elite-promulgated delusion that generated this benign expression and its twin notions that 1.5 degrees celsius (above the preindustrial level) is an acceptable upper limit for an increase in global temperature and that the timeframe for extinction-threatening outcomes of this ‘climate change’ is the ‘end of the century’.

If you believe that this 1.5 degree increase is achievable or even viable for sustaining life on Earth and that the ‘end of the century’ is our timeframe then you are the victim of your own fear, which is suppressing your capacity to seek out, analyze and comprehend the evidence that is readily available and to then behave powerfully in response to it. For an explanation, see ‘Why Violence?’ and ‘Fearless Psychology and Fearful Psychology: Principles and Practice’.

Therefore, your fear, rather than the climate catastrophe and other critical assaults on Earth’s biosphere, is the real problem.

The most casual perusal of the evidence in relation to what is happening to Earth’s biosphere – as distinct from the propaganda that is endlessly promulgated in the global elite’s corporate media – clearly indicates that the cataclysmic assault on our biosphere in a wide range of synergistic ways is now driving the sixth mass extinction event in Earth’s history and that, as a direct result of our relentless and rampaging destruction of habitat, it will take down humanity with it. Well within 10 years. See ‘Human Extinction by 2026? A Last Ditch Strategy to Fight for Human Survival’.

Now if your fear hasn’t already been triggered so that you ceased reading this article, let me offer the barest outline of the nature and extent of the assault on Earth’s biosphere and why the climate catastrophe is only one part of it which nonetheless needs to be seriously, rather than tokenistically, addressed, as is usually suggested whether by most climate lobby groups or, of course, elite-controlled governments and the IPCC.

But before ranging beyond the climate to highlight other threats to the biosphere, did you know that governments and corporations around the world are currently planning or have under construction 1,380 new coal plants?That’s right. 1,380 new coal plants. In 59 countries. See ‘NGOs Release List of World’s Top Coal Plant Developers’ and ‘2018 Coal Plant Developers List’.

For just a taste of the detail on this rapid coal expansion, try the report ‘Tsunami Warning: Can China’s Central Authorities Stop a Massive Surge in New Coal Plants Caused by Provincial Overpermitting?’ and ‘The World Needs to Quit Coal. Why Is It So Hard?’

So if we are deluding ourselves about coal, what about oil? Can we expect a dramatic reduction in oil use to compensate for the substantial increase in coal use? Well, according to the just-released report of the International Energy Agency (IEA), while there is some projected improvement in fuel economy for cars and a projected increase in the number of electric vehicles, cars only account for about one-quarter of the world’s oil consumption and there is no projected reduction in the oil used to fuel freight trucks, ships and airplanes; for heating; and to make plastics and other petrochemicals. As a result, the agency expects global oil demand to keep rising through 2040.

To summarize: the IEA report notes that global carbon dioxide emissions rose 1.6% in 2017 and are on track to climb again in 2018 and, on the current trajectory, emissions will keep rising until 2040. See ‘World Energy Outlook 2018’ and ‘Clean Energy Is Surging, but Not Fast Enough to Solve Global Warming’.

So, given that we are led to believe that there is supposed to be some sort of international consensus to limit the global temperature increase to 1.5 (which is far too high in any case) above the preindustrial level, why is this happening? Well, in relation to coal: ‘Powerful companies, backed by powerful governments, often in the form of subsidies, are in a rush to grow their markets before it is too late. Banks still profit from it. Big national electricity grids were designed for it.’ See ‘The World Needs to Quit Coal. Why Is It So Hard?’

And just to illustrate what those of us who are genuinely concerned are up against, if you want to read the latest breathtakingly delusional account of the state of the world’s climate which prodigiously underestimates the nature of the climate catastrophe and utterly fails to consider the synergistic impact of other critical environmental destruction, you can do so in the US government’s just-released report ‘Fourth National Climate Assessment Volume II: Impacts, Risks, and Adaptation in the United States’ which is summarized here: ‘Fourth National Climate Assessment Volume II: Impacts, Risks, and Adaptation in the United States; Report-in-Brief’.

This report is presented in one of the global elite’s primary propaganda outlets as follows: ‘A major scientific report issued by 13 federal agencies on [23 November 2018] presents the starkest warnings to date of the consequences of climate change for the United States, predicting that if significant steps are not taken to rein in global warming, the damage will knock as much as 10 percent off the size of the American economy by century’s end.’ See ‘U.S. Climate Report Warns of Damaged Environment and Shrinking Economy’.

At this point I must confess that despite my substantial knowledge of human psychology and widespread human insanity (and the fear that drives it), certainly afflicting the global elite, sometimes even I am impressed with the level of delusion that elites can propagate and have so many believe. See ‘The Global Elite is Insane Revisited’.

Still, as Joseph Goebbels, Nazi Minister of Propaganda and Public Enlightenment under Adolf Hitler once noted:

‘If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it. The lie can be maintained only for such time as the State can shield the people from the political, economic and/or military consequences of the lie. It thus becomes vitally important for the State to use all of its powers to repress dissent, for the truth is the mortal enemy of the lie, and thus by extension, the truth is the greatest enemy of the State.’

What Goebbels didn’t know is that someone must be terrified – as we terrorize our children – so that they can be so victimized by propaganda as adults.

Anyway, apart from our destruction of Earth’s climate by burning coal and oil, not to mention gas, elites use geoengineering to wage war on Earth’s climate, environment and ultimately us. For the latest update on the geoengineering assault on Earth’s biosphere, listen to Dane Wigington’s latest superb ‘Geoengineering Watch Global Alert News, #172’ and read, watch and listen to the vast documentary record available on the Geoengineering Watch website which remind us how climate engineering is annihilating plants, toxifying soils and water, and destroying the ozone layer among many other outcomes. For a video explaining the role of geoengineering in the latest wildfires in California, see ‘Climate Engineering Total Desperation, Engineering Catastrophic Wildfires To Temporarily Cool Earth’.

All of the above is happening despite the existing temperature increase (about one degree) triggering the now-endless succession of deadly wildfires, droughts, cold snaps, floods, heat waves and catastrophic hurricanes (often in parts of the world where the corporate media can ignore them), as well as the out-of-control methane releases into the atmosphere that are occurring. See ‘7,000 underground gas bubbles poised to “explode” in Arctic’ and ‘Release of Arctic Methane “May Be Apocalyptic,” Study Warns’.

Moreover, these methane releases coupled with other ongoing climate impacts such as sea ice melt and permafrost thawing in the Arctic – summarized in ‘Will humans be extinct by 2026?’– which has led to the ‘Arctic’s strongest sea ice break[ing] up for first time on record’ and the dramatic weakening of the Gulf Stream – see ‘Anomalously weak Labrador Sea convection and Atlantic overturning during the past 150 years’, ‘Observed fingerprint of a weakening Atlantic Ocean overturning circulation’ and ‘Gulf Stream current at its weakest in 1,600 years, studies show’– threaten imminent human extinction.

So do you think we are even trying? Or are we tinkering around the edges of this accelerating catastrophe and deluding ourselves that we are doing enough?

But this is far from the end of it. There are other critical threats to Earth’s biosphere that horribly complicate the nature and extent of this catastrophe. What are these threats?

Well, to leave aside a series of threats only marginally less drastic, here are some of the key ones, all of which seriously degrade (or destroy outright) vital components of the interrelated ecosystems (‘the web of life’) that make life on Earth possible.


We are currently destroying the world’s rainforests, mainly by logging them for timber and burning them down to make way for cattle ranches or palm oil plantations. In an extensive academic study, more than 150 joint authors of a report advised that ‘most of the world’s >40,000 tropical tree species now qualify as globally threatened’. See ‘Estimating the global conservation status of more than 15,000 Amazonian tree species’.

Why are more than 40,000 tropical tree species threatened with extinction? Because ‘Upwards of 80,000 acres of rainforest are destroyed across the world each day, taking with them over 130 species of plants, animals and insects.’ See ‘Half of Amazon Tree Species Face Extinction’ and ‘Measuring the Daily Destruction of the World’s Rainforests’. If you missed that, it was 80,000 acres of rainforest destroyed each day.


We are destroying the Earth’s oceans by dumping into them everything ranging from excess carbon dioxide and vast amounts of synthetic poisons to plastic and the radioactive contamination from Fukushima. The oceans absorb carbon dioxide as one manifestation of the climate catastrophe and, among other outcomes, this accelerates ocean acidification, adversely impacting coral reefs and the species that depend on these reefs.

In addition, a vast runoff of agricultural poisons, fossil fuels and other wastes is discharged into the ocean, adversely impacting life at all ocean depths – see ‘Staggering level of toxic chemicals found in creatures at the bottom of the sea, scientists say’– and generating ocean ‘dead zones’: regions that have too little oxygen to support marine organisms. See ‘Our Planet Is Exploding With Marine “Dead Zones”’.

Since the Fukushima nuclear reactor disaster in 2011, and despite the ongoing official coverup, vast quantities of radioactive materials are being ongoingly discharged into the Pacific Ocean, irradiating everything in its path. See ‘Fukushima: A Nuclear War without a War: The Unspoken Crisis of Worldwide Nuclear Radiation’.

Finally, you may not be aware that there are up to 70 ‘still functional’ nuclear weapons as well as nine nuclear reactors lying on the ocean floor as a result of accidents involving nuclear warships and submarines. See ‘Naval Nuclear Accidents: The Secret Story’ and ‘A Nuclear Needle in a Haystack: The Cold War’s Missing Atom Bombs’.


But not all of our destruction is as visible as our vanishing rainforests and contaminated oceans. Have you considered the Earth’s soil recently? Apart from depleting it, for example, by washing it away (sometimes in dramatic mudslides but usually unobtrusively) because we have logged the rainforest that held it in place, we also dump vast quantities of both inorganic and organic pollutants into it as well. Some of the main toxic substances in waste are inorganic constituents such as heavy metals, including cadmium, chromium, lead, mercury, nickel and zinc. Mining and smelting activities and the spreading of metal-laden sewage sludge are the two main culprits responsible for the pollution of soils with heavy metals. See ‘Soil-net’.

Far more common, however, is our destruction of the soil with organic based pollutants associated with industrial chemicals. Thousands of synthetic chemicals reach the soil by direct or indirect means, often in the form of fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides and other poisons that destroy the soil, by reducing the nutrients and killing the microbes, in which we grow our food (which many people actually eat, at great cost to their health). See, for example, ‘Glyphosate effects on soil rhizosphere-associated bacterial communities’.

Using genetically modified organisms, and the chemical poisons on which they rely, exacerbate this problem terribly. But two other outcomes of the use of such poisons are that the depleted soil can no longer sequester carbon and the poisons also kill many of the beneficial insects, such as bees, that play a part in plant pollination and growth.

And, of course, military contamination and destruction of soil is prodigious ranging from the radioactive contamination of vast areas to the extensive and multifaceted chemical contamination that occurs at military bases.

Partly related to military violence but also a product of using nuclear power, humans generate vast amounts of waste from exploitation of the nuclear fuel cycle. This ranges from the pollution generated by mining uranium to the radioactive waste generated by producing nuclear power or firing a nuclear weapon. But it also includes the nuclear waste generated by accidents such as that at Chernobyl and Fukushima.

Again, for just a taste of the monumental nature of this problem, see ‘Emergency Declared at Nuclear Waste Site in Washington State’, ‘Disposing of Nuclear Waste is a Challenge for Humanity’ and ‘Three Years Since the Kitty Litter Disaster at Waste Isolation Pilot Plant’.

Like destroying the rainforests and oceans, destroying the soil is an ongoing investment in future extinctions. And so is our overconsumption and contamination of the Earth’s finite fresh water supply.

Fresh Water

Whether wetland, river, creek, lake or acquifer, Earth’s fresh water is under siege. Given corporate negligence, this includes all of the chemical poisons and heavy metals used in corporate farming and mining operations, as well as, in many cases around the world where rubbish removal is poorly organized, the sewage and all other forms of ‘domestic’ waste discharged from households. Contamination of the world’s creeks, rivers, lakes and wetlands is now so advanced that many are no longer able to fully support marine life. For one summary of the problem, see ‘Pollution in Our Waterways is Harming People and Animals – How Can You Stop This!’

Beyond this, however, Earth’s groundwater supplies (located in many underground aquifers such as the Ogallala Aquifer in the United States) are also being progressively contaminated by gasoline, oil and chemicals from leaking storage tanks; bacteria, viruses and household chemicals from faulty septic systems; hazardous wastes from abandoned and uncontrolled hazardous waste sites (of which there are over 20,000 in the USA alone); leaks from landfill items such as car battery acid, paint and household cleaners; and the pesticides, herbicides and other poisons used on farms and home gardens. See ‘Groundwater contamination’.

Moreover, while notably absent from the list above, these contaminants also include radioactive waste from nuclear tests – see ‘Groundwater drunk by BILLIONS of people may be contaminated by radioactive material spread across the world by nuclear testing in the 1950s’– and the chemical contamination caused by hydraulic fracturing (fracking) in search of shale gas, for which about 750 chemicals and components, some extremely toxic and carcinogenic like lead and benzene, have been used. See ‘Fracking chemicals’.

By the way, if you didn’t know it, our purchase and use of all of those hitech products – cars, computers, mobile phones, televisions… – coupled with our consumption of intensively-farmed animal products, all of which are produced using huge quantities of fresh, clean water, is rapidly depleting and degrading the remaining fresh water on Earth, as well as savagely exploiting the people from whose countries we take the strategic minerals and water necessary for such production. See, for example, ‘500 Years is Long Enough! Human Depravity in the Congo’.


In addition to the above (and many other biosphere-destroying activities not mentioned), relying on our ignorance and fearful complicity, elites have a budget of hundreds of billions of dollars annually – see the US budget for war in ‘Costs of Post-9/11 U.S. Wars to 2019: $5.9 Trillion’– to kill huge numbers of our fellow human beings but also to destroy vast areas of Earth’s biosphere through war and other military violence. See, for example, the Toxic Remnants of War Project and the film ‘Scarred Lands & Wounded Lives’.

Unfortunately, too few activists have the awareness and courage to acknowledge the role that war plays in destroying the climate and environment, and include anti-war efforts in their campaigns. Campaigns that will fail dismally, and spectacularly, if the threatened nuclear war should eventuate. See ‘The War to End War 100 Years On: An Evaluation and Reorientation of our Resistance to War’.

Extinction beckons

In summary, our multifaceted, monumental and unrelenting assault on Earth’s biosphere is generating an extinction rate of 200 species (plants, birds, animals, fish, amphibians, insects and reptiles) each daywith another 26,000 species already identified as ‘under threat’ – see ‘Red list research finds 26,000 global species under extinction threat’– with some prominent scholars explaining how even these figures mask a vital component of the rapidly accelerating catastrophe of species extinctions: the demise of local populations of a species. See ‘Biological annihilation via the ongoing sixth mass extinction signaled by vertebrate population losses and declines’.

For further evidence from the vast literature on this subject touching only on impacts in relation to insects and its subsequent impact on birds, see ‘Death and Extinction of the Bees’, ‘Insectageddon: farming is more catastrophic than climate breakdown’ and ‘“Decimated”: Germany’s birds disappear as insect abundance plummets 76%’.

So severe is this assault on the biosphere that recent research warns that the ‘alarming loss of insects will likely take down humanity before global warming hits maximum velocity…. The worldwide loss of insects is simply staggering with some reports of 75% up to 90%, happening much faster than the paleoclimate record rate of the past five major extinction events’. Without insects ‘burrowing, forming new soil, aerating soil, pollinating food crops…’ and providing food for many bird species, the biosphere simply collapses. See ‘Insect Decimation Upstages Global Warming’.

So what can we do?

If you are genuinely powerful, you can stop lobbying governments to tinker with their policies, for example, in the direction of renewable energy (which, alone, cannot solve the multiplicity of ecological crises).

Governments are not the problem. And they simply do as elites direct them in any case. (If you believe that voters decide governments and their policies, and that lobbying them is effective, then your fear is deluding you again.)

The real problem is you and me.We have swallowed one of the ‘big lies’ that Joseph Goebbels talked about: we have believed and acted on the capitalist imperative to endlessly overconsume so that economic growth can rise perpetually in our finite world: a planet that has ecological limits.

But, as I noted above, the big lie only works because our fear makes us believe delusion. Why? Because we were terrorized as children into accepting material goods as substitutes for our capacity to be our unique and powerful Self. See ‘Love Denied: The Psychology of Materialism, Violence and War’.

The monstrous assault on Earth’s biosphere, that goes far beyond the climate catastrophe, is the outcome of each of us consuming more than we need and then fearfully deluding ourselves that it is necessary (or that the harm it caused was too little to matter or justified by some other consideration). Well, you can delude yourself as much as you like but it is still just that: a fearful delusion.

And the point is simply that you can choose differently and powerfully, if you have the courage. For a start, you can forego all air travel. You can travel without owning your own car. You can eat well without consuming meat or fish (and eating biodynamically/organically grown vegetarian/vegan food instead). In essence: If the demand for planet-destroying products is reduced, corporations will not produce them (and destroy the Earth in doing so).This is how the law of supply and demand works under capitalism.

Beyond these simple but vital measures, you can consider many other powerful options, particularly including (accelerated) participation in the fifteen-year strategy outlined in ‘The Flame Tree Project to Save Life on Earth’ which provides a simple plan for people to systematically reduce their consumption, by at least 80%, involving both energy and resources of every kind – water, household energy, transport fuels, metals, meat, paper and plastic – while dramatically expanding their individual and community self-reliance in 16 areas, so that all environmental concerns are effectively addressed.

The Flame Tree Project was inspired by Mohandas K. Gandhi who identified the environmental crisis decades before it became an issue in the West, and who lived his own life in extraordinary simplicity and self-reliance, symbolized by his daily spinning of khadi. ‘Earth provides enough for every person’s need but not for every person’s greed.’ He also invited us to powerfully follow our conscience, reminding us that ‘Hesitating to act because others do not yet see the way only hinders progress.’

But, critically important though he believed personal action to be, Gandhi was also an extraordinary political strategist and he knew that we needed to do more than transform our own personal lives. We need to provide opportunities that compel others to consider doing the same.

So if your passion is campaigning for change, consider doing it strategically as outlined in Nonviolent Campaign Strategy. For example, see the Nonviolent Strategy Wheel and the list of strategic goals necessary to halt the climate catastrophe and end war. Choose one or a few goals appropriate to your circumstances and conduct a strategically-oriented nonviolent campaign, as explained on the same website, to achieve those goals.

Sound strategy is vital given the insanity driving elite behaviour (such as planning/building 1,380 new coal plants). As mentioned above, see ‘The Global Elite is Insane Revisited’.

If your fear makes it difficult to do things such as those suggested above, consider healing as explained in ‘Putting Feelings First’.

If you want your children to be able to respond powerfully in the face of the biosphere’s progressive collapse, consider making ‘My Promise to Children’.

And if you want to join the worldwide movement to end all violence against humans and the biosphere, you can do so by signing the online pledge of ‘The People’s Charter to Create a Nonviolent World’.

The bottom line is this. You can systematically and rapidly reduce your personal consumption and, one way or another, mobilize others or nonviolently compel them to do the same. Or you can let your fear delude you that the ongoing destruction of Earth’s biosphere is somehow unrelated to your personal choices about consumption and the choices of those around you.

Extinction beckons. The choice is yours.

Biodata: Robert J. Burrowes has a lifetime commitment to understanding and ending human violence. He has done extensive research since 1966 in an effort to understand why human beings are violent and has been a nonviolent activist since 1981. He is the author of

  Read Climate, Human Delusion and Our Destructionof the Biosphere: We Aren’t Even Trying!
  November 30, 2018
US Trade War with China: Desperate Move toSave Western Empire
By Andre Vltchek, Information Clearing House.

Most of those who have had a chance to witness Chinese internationalist mega-projects, clearly understand that the West is near to collapsing; it will never be able to compete with tremendous enthusiasm and progressive spirit of the most populous country on earth, which on top of it, is built on socialist principles (with Chinese characteristics).

Writing this essay in rural Laos, I just saw, literally an entire army of Chinese engineers and workers in action, building huge bridges and tunnels, connecting one of the poorest countries in Asia, to both China and Southeast Asia, erecting hospitals and schools, small factories for the rural population, airports and hydro-electric powerplants or in brief: putting the great majority of Laotian people out of poverty by providing them with both livelihood and infrastructure.

China does precisely this all over the world, from the tiny South Pacific island nations to African countries, plundered for centuries by Western colonialism and imperialism. It helps Latin American nations that are in need, and while it does all that, it is also quickly growing into a middle class, ecologically and culturally responsible nation; a nation which is likely to eradicate all extreme misery very soon, most likely by the year 2020.

The West is horrified!

This could easily be the end of its global order, and it could all actually happen much earlier than expected.

And so, it antagonizes, provokes China, in all imaginable ways possible, from the US military buildup in Asia Pacific, to encouraging several Southeast Asian countries plus Japan to politically and even militarily irritate the PRC. Anti-Chinese propaganda in the West and its client states has lately been reaching a cacophonic crescendo. China is attacked, as I recently described in my essays, from literally all sides; attacked for being ‘too Communist’, or ‘for not being Communist enough’.

The West, it seems, despises all the economic practices of China, be it central planning, ‘capitalist means for socialist ends’, or the unwavering desire of the new Chinese leadership to improve the standard of living of its people, instead of enriching multi-national corporations at the expense of the common citizens of the PRC.

It looks like a trade war, but it actually is not: like the ‘West versus Russia’, the ‘West versus China’ is an ideological war.

China, together with Russia, is effectively de-colonizing part of the world which used to be at the mercy and disposal of the West and its companies (as well as the companies of such client-states of the West as Japan and South Korea).

However it is being labelled, de-colonization is clearly taking place, as many poor and previously vulnerable countries worldwide are now seeking protection from Beijing and Moscow.

But to ‘add insult to injury’, parallel to de-colonialization, there is also ‘de-dollarization’, that is inspiring more and more nations, particularly those that are victims of Western embargos, and the unjust, often murderous sanctions. Venezuela is the latest such example.

The most reliable and stable ‘alternative’ currency that is being adopted by dozens of countries, for international transactions, is the Chinese Yuan (RMB).


The prosperity of the entire world, or call it ‘global prosperity’, is clearly not what the West desires. As far as Washington and London are concerned, the ‘surrounding’, peripheric world is there predominantly,to supply raw materials (like Indonesia), cheap labor (like Mexico), and guarantee that there is an obedient, indoctrinated population which sees absolutely nothing wrong with the present arrangement of the world.

In his recent essay for the Canadian magazine Global Research titled “IMF – WB – WTO – Scaremongering Threats on De-Globalization and Tariffs – The Return to Sovereign Nations” a distinct Swiss economist and a colleague of mine, Peter Koenig, who used to work for the World Bank, wrote:

“As key representatives of the three chief villains of international finance and trade, the IMF, World Bank (WB) and the World Trade Organization (WTO) met on the lush resort island of Bali, Indonesia, they warned the world of dire consequences in terms of reduced international investments and decline of economic growth as a result of the ever-widening trade wars initiated and instigated by the Trump Administration. They criticized protectionism that might draw countries into decline of prosperity. The IMF cuts its global economic growth forecast for the current year and for 2019.

This is pure scaremongering based on nothing. In fact, economic growth of the past that claimed of having emanated from increased trade and investments has served a small minority and driven a widening wedge between rich and poor of both developing and industrialized countries. It’s interesting, how nobody ever talks about the internal distribution of GDP growth…” 

Peter Koenig further argues that globalization and ‘free trade’ are far from desirable for the majority of the countries on our planet. He is giving an example of China:

“Time and again it has been proven that countries that need and want to recover from economic fallouts do best by concentrating on and promoting their own internal socioeconomic capacities, with as little as possible outside interference. One of the most prominent cases in point is China. After China emerged on 1 October 1949 from centuries of western colonization and oppression by Chairman Mao’s creation of the People’s Republic of China (PRC), Mao and the Chinese Communist party first had to put a devastated ‘house in order’, a country ruined by disease, lack of education, suffering from hopeless famine as a result of shameless exploitation by western colons. In order to do that China remained practically closed to the outside world until about the mid- 1980’s. Only then, when China had overcome the rampant diseases and famine, built a countrywide education system and became a net exporter of grains and other agricultural products, China, by now totally self-sufficient, gradually opened its borders for international investments and trade. – And look where China is today. Only 30 years later, China has not only become the world’s number one economy, but also a world super power that can no longer be overrun by western imperialism.”

To be self-sufficient may be great for the people of every country on our planet, but it is definitely a ‘crime’ in the eyes of the West.

Now China is not only independent, but it dares to introduce to the entire world a totally new system, in which private companies are subservient to the interests of the state and the people. This is the total opposite to what is happening in the West (and its ‘client states’), where the governments are actually indebted to private companies, and where people exist mainly in order to generate huge corporate profits.

On top of it, China’s population is educated, enthusiastic, patriotic and incredibly productive.

As a result, China competes with the West, and it is easily winning the competition. It does it without plundering the world, without overthrowing foreign governments, and starving people.

This is seen by the United States as ‘unfair competition’. And it is being punished by sanctions, threats and provocations. Call it a ‘trade war’, but it actually isn’t.

And why unfair competition? Because China is refusing to ‘join’ and to play by the old imperialist rules dictated by the West, and also readily accepted by countries such as Japan and South Korea. China does not want to rule. And that scares the West.


In a way, both President Trump and the present leadership of China want to make their countries ‘great again’. However, both countries see greatness differently.

For the United States, to be ‘great’ is to control the world, once again, as it did right after WWII.

For China, to be great is to provide a high quality of living for its citizens, and for the citizens of most of the world. It also means, to have great culture, which China used to have for millennia, before the ‘era of humiliation’, and which was rebuilt and greatly improved from the 1949, onward.


A leading US philosopher, John Cobb Jr., in a book which we are writing together, recently pointed out:

“Ever since World War II, what the United States has done has been widely copied. Hence this country has had a great opportunity to lead the world.  For the most part, it has led in the wrong direction.  The United States and the whole world, including China, are paying, and will continue to pay, a high price.  But the days of American leadership are ending.  I would still like for the U.S. to engage in major reforms, but it is too late for these to change the world. We can rejoice that the American century is giving way to the Chinese century.”

Many do, but some don’t. The end of the American leadership, or call it the “American Century”, may scare people in various Western countries, particularly in Europe. Rightly so! Those days of unopposed Western economic dictatorship are over. Soon, perhaps, Europeans will have to really compete, and work hard for their money, instead of living high life relying on plunder of natural resources and cheap labor in their semi or neo-colonies.

While many in the West are scared, the situation is simultaneously rising hopes in all other parts of the world.

For China, not to yield to the US pressure, is to show that it is serious when it comes to its independence. The most populous nation on earth is ready to defend its interests, its people and its values.

It is far from being alone. From Russia to Iran, from Venezuela to South Africa, new and newer nations are going to stand by China, and by doing so, they will be defending their own independence and freedom.

This article was originally published on International Daily News in China.

Andre Vltchek is a philosopher, novelist, filmmaker and investigative journalist. He has covered wars and conflicts in dozens of countries. Three of his latest books are Revolutionary Optimism, Western Nihilism, a revolutionary novel “Aurora” and a bestselling work of political non-fiction: “Exposing Lies Of The Empire”. View his other books here. Watch Rwanda Gambit, his groundbreaking documentary about Rwanda and DRCongo and his film/dialogue with Noam Chomsky “On Western Terrorism”. Vltchek presently resides in East Asia and the Middle East, and continues to work around the world.

  Read US Trade War with China: Desperate Move toSave Western Empire
  November 30, 2018
G20 Summit,Top Agenda Item: Bye-Bye American Empire, Information Clearing House.
By Finian Cunningham

The G20 summits are nominally about how the world’s biggest national economies can cooperate to boost global growth. This year’s gathering – more than ever – shows, however, that rivalry between the US and China is center stage.

Zeroing in further still, the rivalry is an expression of a washed-up American empire desperately trying to reclaim its former power. There is much sound, fury and pretense from the outgoing hegemon – the US – but the ineluctable reality is an empire whose halcyon days are a bygone era.

Ahead of the summit taking place this weekend in Argentina, the Trump administration has been issuing furious ultimatums to China to “change its behavior”. Washington is threatening an escalating trade war if Beijing does not conform to American demands over economic policies.

President Trump has taken long-simmering US complaints about China to boiling point, castigating Beijing for unfair trade, currency manipulation, and theft of intellectual property rights. China rejects this pejorative American characterization of its economic practices.

Nevertheless, if Beijing does not comply with US diktats then the Trump administration says it will slap increasing tariffs on Chinese exports.

The gravity of the situation was highlighted by the comments this week of China’s ambassador to the US, Cui Tiankai, who warned that the “lessons of history” show trade wars can lead to catastrophic shooting wars. He urged the Trump administration to be reasonable and to seek a negotiated settlement of disputes.

The problem is that Washington is demanding the impossible. It’s like as if the US wants China to turn the clock back to some imagined former era of robust American capitalism. But it is not in China’s power to do that. The global economy has shifted structurally away from US dominance. The wheels of production and growth are in China’s domain of Eurasia.

For decades, China functioned as a giant market for cheap production of basic consumer goods. Now under President Xi Jinping, the nation is moving to a new phase of development involving sophisticated technologies, high-quality manufacture, and investment.

It’s an economic evolution that the world has seen before, in Europe, the US and now Eurasia. In the decades after the Second World War, up to the 197os, it was US capitalism that was the undisputed world leader. Combined with its military power, the postwar global order was defined and shaped by Washington. Sometimes misleading called Pax Americana, there was nothing peaceful about the US-led global order. It was more often an order of relative stability purchased by massive acts of violence and repressive regimes under Washington’s tutelage.

In American mythology, it does not have an empire. The US was supposed to be different from the old European colonial powers, leading the rest of the world through its “exceptional” virtues of freedom, democracy and rule of law. In truth, US global dominance relied on the application of ruthless imperial power.

The curious thing about capitalism is it always outgrows its national base. Markets eventually become too small and the search for profits is insatiable. American capital soon found more lucrative opportunities in the emerging market of China. From the 1980s on, US corporations bailed out of America and set up shop in China, exploiting cheap labor and exporting their goods back to increasingly underemployed America consumers. The arrangement was propped up partly because of seemingly endless consumer debt.

That’s not the whole picture of course. China has innovated and developed independently from American capital. It is debatable whether China is an example of state-led capitalism or socialism. The Chinese authorities would claim to subscribe to the latter. In any case, China’s economic development has transformed the entire Eurasian hemisphere. Whether you like it or not, Beijing is the dynamo for the global economy. One indicator is how nations across Asia-Pacific are deferring to China for their future growth.

Washington likes to huff and puff about alleged Chinese expansionism “threatening” US allies in Asia-Pacific. But the reality is that Washington is living in the past of former glory. Trading blocs like the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) realize their bread is buttered by China, no longer America. Washington’s rhetoric about “standing up to China” is just that – empty rhetoric. It doesn’t mean much to countries led by their interests of economic development and the benefits of Chinese investment.

One example is Taiwan. In contrast to Washington’s shibboleths about “free Taiwan”, more and more Asian countries are dialing down their bilateral links with Taiwan in deference to China’s position, which views the island as a renegade province. The US position is one of rhetoric, whereas the relations of other countries are based on material economic exigencies. And respecting Beijing’s sensibilities is for them a prudent option.

A recent report by the New York Times starkly illustrated the changing contours of the global economic order. It confirmed what many others have observed, that China is on the way to surpass the US as the world’s top economy. During the 1980s, some 75 per cent of China’s population were living in “extreme poverty”, according to the NY Times. Today, less than 1 per cent of the population is in that dire category. For the US, the trajectory has been in reverse with greater numbers of its people subject to deprivation.

China’s strategic economic plans – the One Belt One Road initiative – of integrating regional development under its leadership and finance have already created a world order analogous to what American capital achieved in the postwar decades.

American pundits and politicians like Vice President Mike Pence may disparage China’s economic policies as creating “debt traps” for other countries. But the reality is that other countries are gravitating to China’s dynamic leadership.

Arguably, Beijing’s vision for economic development is more enlightened and sustainable than what was provided by the Americans and Europeans before. The leitmotif for China, along with Russia, is very much one of multipolar development and mutual partnership. The global economy is not simply moving from one hegemon – the US – to another imperial taskmaster – China.

One thing seems inescapable. The days of American empire are over. Its capitalist vigor has dissipated decades ago. What the upheaval and rancor in relations between Washington and Beijing is all about is the American ruling class trying to recreate some fantasy of former vitality. Washington wants China to sacrifice its own development in order to somehow rejuvenate American society. It’s not going to happen.

That’s not to say that American society can never be rejuvenated. It could, as it could also in Europe. But that would entail a restructuring of the economic system involving democratic regeneration. The “good old days” of capitalism are gone. The American empire, as with the European empires, is obsolete.

That’s the unspoken Number One agenda item at the G20 summit. Bye-bye US empire.

What America needs to do is regenerate through a reinvented social economic order, one that is driven by democratic development and not the capitalist private profit of an elite few.

If not, the futile alternative is US failing political leaders trying to coerce China, and others, to pay for their future. That way leads to war. 

This article was originally published by "Strategic Culture Foundation

  Read G20 Summit,Top Agenda Item: Bye-Bye American Empire
 October 24, 2018
The Psychology of Fascism
By Robert J. Burrowes, Information Clearing House.

The continuing rise of fascism around the world is drawing increasing attention particularly as it takes firmer grip within national societies long seen to have rejected it.

Some recent studies have reminded us of the characteristics of fascist movements and individuals, particularly as they manifest among politically active fascists. For example, in his recent book How Fascism Works: The Politics of Us And Them Professor Jason Stanley has identified ten characteristics shared by fascists which have been simply presented in the article ‘Prof Sees Fascism Creeping In U.S.’

These characteristics, readily evident in the USA, Europe, Israel, Saudi Arabia, Myanmar and elsewhere today, include belief in a mythic (false) past, propaganda to divert attention and blame from the true source of corruption, anti-intellectualism and a belief in the ‘common man’ while deriding ‘women and racial and sexual minorities who seek basic equality as in fact seeking political and cultural domination’, promotion of elite dogma at the expense of any competing ideas (such as those in relation to freedom and equality), portrayal of the elite and its agents as victims, reliance on delusion rather than fact to justify their pursuit of power, the use of law and order ‘not to punish actual criminals, but to criminalize “out groups” like racial, ethnic, religious and sexual minorities’ which is why we are now ‘seeing criminality being written into immigration status’, and identification of “out groups” as lazy while attacking welfare systems and labor organizers, and promoting the idea that elites and their agents are hard working while exploited groups are lazy and a drain on the state.

In an earlier article ‘Fascism Anyone?’, published in the Spring 2003 issue of Free Inquiry Magazine, Professor Laurence W. Britt identified fourteen shared threads that link fascists. These include powerful and continuing expressions of nationalism, disdain for the importance of human rights, identification of enemies/scapegoats (such as communists, socialists, liberals, ethnic and racial minorities, traditional national enemies, members of other religions, secularists, homosexuals and ‘terrorists’) as a unifying cause, obsession with national security and avid identification with the military, sexism, a controlled/compliant mass media that promotes the elite agenda, a manufactured perception that opposing the power elite is tantamount to an attack on religion, corporate power protected by the political elite while the power of labor is suppressed or eliminated, disdain for intellectuals and the arts, expanded police power and prison populations in response to an obsession with the crime and punishment of ordinary citizens (while elite crimes are protected by a compliant judiciary), rampant cronyism and corruption, and fraudulent elections defended by a judiciary beholden to the power elite.

Offering a more straightforward characterization of fascism in the US context, which also highlights its violence more explicitly than the characterizations above, the eminent Norwegian peace research scholar Professor Johan Galtung explains it thus: ‘US Fascism? Yes, indeed; if by fascism we mean use of massive violence for political goals. US fascism takes three forms: global with bombing, droning and sniping all over; domestic with military weapons used across race and class faultlines; and then NSA-National Security Agency spying on everybody.’ See ‘The Fall of the US Empire – And Then What?’

Among other recent commentaries, one draws attention to a recent fascist gathering in the USA – see ‘Davos For Fascists’ – another to the ways in which fascism, under various names, is being effectively spread – see ‘How the new wave of far-right populists are using football to further their power’ – and another warns of focusing too narrowly on one issue and missing the wider threat that fascism poses. See ‘Fascism IS Here in USA’.

In any case, for those paying attention to what is happening in places like the United States, Europe, Israel, Saudi Arabia, Myanmar and elsewhere, it is easy to see that the rush to embrace fascism is accelerating.

But why? Surely, in this ‘enlightened’ age, notions such as freedom, democracy, human rights and equality are deeply embedded in our collective psyche, particularly in the West. We believe that elections should be, and are, ‘free and fair’ and not determined by corporate donations; we believe that the judiciary is independent of political and corporate influence. But are they?

Well, in fact, the evidence offered by the casual observation of events in the places mentioned above, as well as elsewhere around the world, tells us that none of this is any longer, if it ever was, the case. Let me explain why.

Fascism is a political label but, like any such label, it has a psychological foundation. That is, the political behavior of those who are fascists can be explained by understanding their psychology. Of course, all behavior can be explained by psychology but I will focus on the psychology of fascist behavior here.

There have been attempts to understand and explain the psychology of fascism, starting with the early work of Wilhelm Reich in The Mass Psychology of Fascism. So what is the psychology of individuals who are fascists?

You might not be surprised to read that the psychology of fascists is complex and is a direct outcome of the nature of the extraordinary violence to which they were subjected as children.

The Psychology of Fascists

Let me briefly identify the psychological profile of fascists and the specific violence (‘visible’, ‘invisible’ and ‘utterly invisible’) that generates a person with this psychology. For a thorough explanation and elaboration of this profile, and explanations of the terms ‘visible’, ‘invisible’ and ‘utterly invisible’ violence, see ‘Why Violence?’ and Fearless Psychology and Fearful Psychology: Principles and Practice.

First, fascists are terrified and they are particularly terrified of those individuals who perpetrated violence against them when they were a child although this terror remains unconscious to them. Second, this terror is so extreme that fascists are too terrified to consciously identify to themselves their own perpetrator (one or both parents and/or other significant adults who were supposed to love them) and to say that it is this individual or individuals who are violent and wrong.

Third, because they are terrified, they are unable to defend themselves against the original perpetrator(s) but also, as a result, they are unable to defend themselves against other perpetrators who attack them later in life. This lack of capacity to defend themselves leads to the fourth and fifth attributes – a deep sense of powerlessness and a deep sense of self-hatred. However, it is too terrifying and painful for the individual to be consciously aware of any of these feelings/attributes.

Sixth, because they are terrified of identifying that they are the victim of the violence of their own parents (and/or other significant adults from their childhood) and that this violence terrified them, fascists unconsciously delude themselves about the identity of their own perpetrator. They will unconsciously identify their ‘perpetrator’ as one or more individuals of whom they are not actually afraid from an existing ‘legitimized victim’ group such as children or people from a different gender, race, religion or class. This is also because their unconscious terror and self-hatred compels them to project onto people who are ‘controllable’ (because their original perpetrators never were). For this reason, their victims are (unconsciously) carefully chosen and are always relatively powerless by comparison.

This is easy to do because, seventh, children who become fascists have been terrorized into accepting a very narrow-minded and dogmatic belief set that excludes consideration of those in other social (including gender, racial, religious or class) groups. The idea that they might open-mindedly consider other beliefs, or the rights of those not in the ‘in-group’, is (unconsciously) terrifying to them. Moreover, because they have been terrorized into adopting their rigid belief set, fascists develop an intense fear of the truth; hence, fascists are both bigoted and self-righteous. In addition, the belief set of fascists includes a powerful and violently reinforced ‘lesson’: ‘good’ means obedient; it does not mean intrinsically good, loving and caring.

Eighth, and as a result of all of the above, fascists learn to unconsciously project their self-hatred, one outcome of their own victimhood, as hatred for those in the ‘out-groups’. This ‘justifies’ their (violent) behavior and obscures their unconscious motivation: to remain unaware of their own suppressed terror and self-hatred.

Ninth, fascists have a compulsion to be violent; that is, they are addicted to it. Why? Because the act of violence allows them to explosively release the suppressed feelings (usually some combination of fear, terror, pain, anger and powerlessness) so that they experience a brief sensation of delusional ‘relief’. Because the ‘relief’ is both brief and delusional, they are condemned to repeat their violence endlessly.

But the compulsion to be violent is reinforced by another element in their belief set, the tenth characteristic: fascists have a delusional belief in the effectiveness and morality of violence; they have no capacity to perceive its dysfunctionality and immorality.

And eleventh, the extreme social terrorization experience to which fascists have been subjected means that the feelings of love, compassion, empathy and sympathy, as well as the mental function of conscience, are prevented from developing. Devoid of conscience and these feelings, fascists can inflict violence on others, including their own children, without experiencing the feedback that conscience and these feelings would provide.

What Can We Do?

There is no simple formula for healing the badly damaged psychology of a fascist (or those who occupy a proximate ‘political space’ such as conservatives who advocate violence): it takes years of violent parental and adult treatment to create a fascist and so the path to heal one is long and painful, assuming the support for the individual to do so is available. Nevertheless, fascists can heal from the terror and self-hatred that underpin their psychology. See ‘Putting Feelings First’. And they can be assisted to heal by someone who is skilled in the art of deep listening. See ‘Nisteling: The Art of Deep Listening’.

Unfortunately, given their cowardice, fascists are unlikely to have the courage to seek the appropriate emotional support to heal. In the meantime, those of us so inclined must resist their violence and, ideally, this should be done strategically, particularly if we want impact against fascist national leaders. See Nonviolent Campaign Strategy or Nonviolent Defense/Liberation Strategy.

The good news is that we can avoid creating fascists. If you want to nurture a child so that they become compassionate and caring, live by their conscience and act with morality and courage in all circumstances, including when resisting fascists, then consider making ‘My Promise to Children’.

You might also consider joining the worldwide movement to end all violence, fascist or otherwise, by signing the online pledge of ‘The People’s Charter to Create a Nonviolent World’.

In essence: Fascists are terrified, full of self-hatred and powerless. But, too scared to feel their own terror, self-hatred and powerlessness, they unconsciously project this as fear of, and hatred for, the people in one or more ‘legitimized victim’ groups, including their own children (thus creating the next generation of fascists). They then try to ‘feel powerful’ by seeking violent control over these people themselves or by seeking to have violent control exercised over these people by various ‘authorities’, ranging from school teachers and religious figures to the police, military and various corporate and government agencies.

No matter how much control they have over others, however, it is impossible to control their own terror, self-hatred and powerlessness. So they are unconsciously and endlessly driven to seek (delusional) ‘relief’ by violently controlling those in legitimized victim groups. It is because their own children are the most immediately available ‘uncontrollable’ target that fascism is readily perpetuated.

Robert J. Burrowes has a lifetime commitment to understanding and ending human violence. He has done extensive research since 1966 in an effort to understand why human beings are violent and has been a nonviolent activist since 1981. He is the author of ‘Why Violence?’ His email address is flametree@riseup.net and his website is here.

  Read ThePsychology of Fascism
  October 26, 2018
Global Warming Is Real. The Threat IsReal. Ecocide Is On The Horizon
By Paul Craig Roberts, Information Clearing House.

The tobacco companies’ response to the US Surgeon General’s report in 1964 linking smoking to lung cancer was countered by the tobacco companies setting up propaganda organizations to create a controversy by generating doubt over the link. This strategy staved off the inevitable for more than two decades.

The same tactic is being used by the carbon energy companies against the independent climate scientists who have established that the climate is warming as a result of CO2 emissions. After a certain amount of warming, feedback mechanisms come into play that accelerate the warming. For example, as CO2 emissions raise temperatures, permafrost begins melting releasing methane, a greenhouse gas that speeds the warming.

Another example of feedback is the loss of sea ice and snow cover on land. Ice and snow reflect the sun’s heat, but the dark surface of the ocean and land absorb the heat, resulting in a further rise in temperature.

The greenhouse gases around the planet trap heat radiation. The oceans, which cover about 75% of the planet, have enormous heat capacity and can soak up a lot of energy. Being very deep, they take a long time to heat up. As the oceans absorb the heat, it takes decades for the atmosphere to heat up. This “climate lag” delays the full impact of global warming.

As temperatures rise, the feedback mechanisms come into play and the planet arrives at tipping points at which things spin out of control. Once that happens, it is too late to control carbon emissions. The release of methane and nitrous oxide, the acidification of the oceans, the destruction of rain forests—which turns them from their service as carbon sinks into net carbon sources—work together to destroy the oceans and coral reefs as a source of food, to deplete water resources, and to raise temperatures beyond those at which life can exist.

It is important to understand that global warming is not a theory. It is observable fact. It is documented. The measurements are made. The numbers are actual measurements, not predictions from a model. If CO2 emissions are not controlled in time, there is no way to avoid the consequences.

It is important to understand that we are talking about whether planet Earth will be able to sustain life in the near future. It is important to understand that mass bleaching of the Great Barrier Reef is already occurring, that CO2 is rising as a percentage of the atmosphere, that the acidification of the oceans is increasing. These are facts.

It is also important to understand that unlike the hired guns of the carbon energy industry, independent climate scientists have no material interest in misrepresenting the facts.

It is important to understand that the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is not a fake news organization. Neither is NASA. Neither is the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

It is important to understand that glaciers have melted away, that the Greenland ice shelf is rapidly shrinking, that ships now move year round through the Artic ice.

The carbon energy industry has put out all manner of disinformation and conspiracy theories about the independent scientists. They are said to be part of a plot to install global government, as part of a plot to reduce the human population, as part of a plot to reduce living standards for the mass of humanity to primitive levels so that the one percent can have even more, and so on.

If you want to gain an understanding of climate science and to discover that there is much more to the ecocide threat than you are aware of, and if you want to see the hard, documented evidence, read the just published book, Unprecedented Crime: Climate Science Denial and Game Changers for Survival (Clarity Press, 2018) by Dr. Peter D. Carter and Elizabeth Woodworth, with a foreword by Dr. James E. Hansen. The authors write: “Since the United Nations Paris conference in late 2015, climate change indicators have escalated so quickly that an emergency response is imperative if civilization is to avoid breakdown and eventual collapse.” The authors provide the hard and extensive evidence in a science appendix titled “Evidence of the Climate Emergency.”

Humans need to understand that just as their own life depends on a maintained balance, so does the life of the planet. That balance is more delicate than people comprehend.

It is important to understand that the tobacco companies with their policy of creating doubt and controversy only endangered the lives of smokers. But the carbon industry is endangering the life of the planet itself. This is what the authors mean by their book title, Unprecedented Crime. It is unconscionable that corporations are so determined to extract the last dollar from their oil and coal reserves that they knowingly endanger the life of the planet.

It is difficult to comprehend the risks that the carbon energy industry and its propagandists are willing to take with the life of the planet. The corporations know about the Greenhouse Effect and its danger. The President of Exxon Research and Engineering Company, Mr. E. E. David, Jr., explained it to a meeting of scientists: “The critical problem is that the environmental impacts of the CO2 buildup may be so long delayed. A look at the theory of feedback systems shows that where there is such a long delay the system breaks down unless there is anticipation built into the loop.”

Readers always want solutions. Two-thirds of the book is about solutions. The carbon energy corporations could continue to be major energy suppliers by switching into non-carbon forms of energy. It is better for us all to go through a painful adjustment than to cease to exist. For example, oil companies can be transitioned to renewable energy in an orderly and upbeat way. StatOil in Norway is working in this direction. Removing government carbon subsidies and transferring them to renewable energy is an important step toward saving the planet.

There are working CO2 reduction solutions already in existence in Europe, Afria, India, and China. These solutions are seldom mentioned in US media because 7 out of the top 10 global Fortune 500 companies are either oil or automotive corporations, and the media is silenced by their advertising (see chapter 4).

Chained to profit, the Fourth Estate is itself part of the betrayal of life on earth. With the media failing to inform and to sound the alarm and with politicians dependent on industry campaign contributions, saving the planet is an iffy proposition.

Dr. Paul Craig Roberts was Assistant Secretary of the Treasury for Economic Policy and associate editor of the Wall Street Journal. He was columnist for Business Week, Scripps Howard News Service, and Creators Syndicate. He has had many university appointments. His internet columns have attracted a worldwide following. Roberts' latest books are The Failure of Laissez Faire Capitalism and Economic Dissolution of the West, How America Was Lost, and The Neoconservative Threat to World Order.

==See Also==

This Map Shows Exactly How Many Republicans in Your District Don’t Believe in Global Warming

  Read Global Warming Is Real. The Threat IsReal. Ecocide Is On The Horizon
  October 26, 2018
Chris Hedges: Donald Trump “is theProduct of a Failed Democracy”
By Chauncey DeVega , Countercurrents.

The United States, by many measures, appears to be a sick society. It has one of the highest rates of wealth and income inequality in the world. Despite being one of the richest countries on the planet it has some of the highest rates of infant mortality. Poverty among the elderly is also increasing. As a whole, the country's health care system is inadequate; life expectancy is declining. The United States has the highest rate of mass murder by gun in the world and the highest rate of incarceration.

American infrastructure is failing. There is a deep crisis of faith in the country's political and social institutions. The environment is being despoiled by large corporations who increasingly act with impunity. Loneliness and suicide are at epidemic levels. Consumerism has supplanted democracy and meaningful engaged citizenship. White hate groups and other right-wing domestic terrorist organizations have killed and injured hundreds of people during the last few decades. America's elites are wholly out of touch with the people and largely indifferent to their demands.

Donald Trump is the president of a broken country, but he did not create this cultural sickness and pathology. While Donald Trump embodies almost all of America's problems in human form, in reality he is a symptom of our illness, not the cause.

Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Chris Hedges spent several years embedding himself in different communities across the United States investigating our social and cultural disease. In his new "America: The Farewell Tour," Hedges explores what went so wrong with American society over the last few decades that an authoritarian like Trump would be voted into office by tens of millions of the country's citizens.

Can America be salvaged? Is the American experiment in democracy over? How did an unholy union of Christian fascism and unchecked corporate power combine to destroy the American dream and gut the commons? Are the American people fighting back to reclaim democracy and a healthier society?

In addition to his new book, Hedges is the author of numerous award winning and bestselling works including "Empire of Illusion: The End of Literacy and the Triumph of Spectacle," "Death of a Liberal Class," "War Is a Force That Gives Us Meaning," "American Fascists: The Christian Right and the War on America" and "Days of Destruction, Days of Revolt."

Hedges has also written for the New York Times, the Christian Science Monitor and NPR. He is currently a contributing writer for the political commentary and news analysis website Truthdig.

This conversation has been edited for clarity and length. A longer version can be heard on my podcast.

Donald Trump has been president for almost two years. At this point are things better or worse or as expected?


The situation is worse. Donald Trump was always a pretty frightening and repugnant figure. But even I wouldn't have predicted that he was this bad. He and this situation are completely unhinged. By virtue of every benchmark of a functioning democracy -- including the debasing of the political discourse in the United States -- Donald Trump has really accelerated the decay. This includes things such as the tax cut for the rich, deregulating the coal and the fossil fuel industry, opening up public lands for exploitation, the assault against public education, dismantling the EPA and stacking the courts with ideologues from the Federalist Society. As a whole the situation with Trump is pretty grim.

The emergence of Donald Trump and the forces he represents should not be a surprise. This crisis was decades in the making. Yet the American corporate news media still keeps treating Trumpism as some type of surprise. Most in the news media are still unwilling to tell the truth about Trump and the Republican Party represent.

It is many decades in the making. I think the problem with the press is that they're driven by the same motive that drives Trump which is to make money. And Trump is part of the sick entertainment which has replaced the news. Consider all of the stuff about Stormy Daniels or her lawyer for example. It isn't news. It's court gossip. It is entertainment. It feeds corporate coffers.

So CNN made more money last year than they've ever made. A billion dollars. It is good for profits. It is good for ratings. But it's not journalism. And it's really a mask for self-interest. Look at the types of people who are brought on these cable news programs. It is a veneration of the elite. It's the established politicians. It is the generals or the ex-generals who now work for Raytheon or other defense multinational corporations. It's the intelligence chiefs. The former head of the CIA, John Brennan, is now a paid contributor on MSNBC. These approved voices are the established apologists who carried out the corporate coup d'état in America who are still chattering away. What happened with Trump is a surprise to them because they don't actually live in the United States. They live in a country which a writer for the New Yorker called "Richistan." These elites are completely unplugged from the effects of what they have done to the country and world through neoliberalism and the resulting deindustrialization.

They don't understand the attendant rage that this dislocation within the economy and broader American society has caused, especially within the working class.


You have a Democratic Party running around talking about James Comey or the Podesta emails or WikiLeaks or Russia without addressing the core issue, which is the orchestration of incredible social inequality -- which the Democrats were part of and thus don't address. The longer the Democrats follow this track of believing that Trump will implode and attempting to blame his election on Russian interference, the more dangerous the situation becomes. The Democrats are demonizing outside forces such as Russia without addressing the core issue which has created this largest transference of wealth upwards in American history and a corporate oligarchic elite which at this point is worse than even the Gilded Age.

What role does entertainment and spectacle play in all this?

Political elections became forms of entertainment. Political figures became celebrities with their own manufactured personalities. Politics was then all about how we are made to feel about a particular candidate -- and we confuse how we are made to feel with political knowledge.

This was done long before Trump. So you have NBC, through the TV show "The Apprentice," creating the fictional persona of Trump. He wants to present himself as a billionaire real estate developer in New York but he's really a product of TV.

Donald Trump sees reality through the lens of the TV screen. And in that way he is in touch with the zeitgeist of the American public. He knows how to speak their language. Donald Trump is a president who by most estimates is spending four to five hours a day tweeting in front of a TV set. So, yes, Trump is the symptom, not the disease. He is the product of a failed democracy. Political theorist and philosopher Sheldon Wolin explained this in his book "Democracy Incorporated."

Wolin showed how there are no institutions left in America that are authentically democratic. What exists is the leaching of entertainment into politics. It is the manipulation through the public relations industry as well as a system that's calcified the lockout of third parties or insurgent candidates. Substantive social and political issues are marginalized. Manufacturing consent by the news media and popular culture at large is the norm. Donald Trump knows how to manipulate emotion and to operate in that sphere of mediated reality.

Donald Trump is a master of lifestyle branding and marketing. This allowed him to develop a clear and coherent message. Hillary Clinton had no coherent message. Her narrative and messaging about technocratic, responsible government stewardship was boring. It could not compete with the entertainment spectacle that was Trump and his campaign. Why were the Democrats unable to see this?

Hillary Clinton has a history which makes her hard to brand.  She's the one who along with her husband Bill Clinton "dog-whistled" the rhetoric of the Democratic Party and decided to take the "law and order" issue away from Republicans. The Clintons dismantled whatever diversity the Democratic Party had achieved under Jesse Jackson's Rainbow Coalition. The power of Obama is that he was kind of an unknown and therefore an empty slate that you could write "hope and change" on. That is a lot harder to do with Hillary Clinton. I would also argue that her campaign was devoid of meaningful policy proposals.

Obama was running around holding rallies saying that the 2016 election was so Hillary "can finish the job." The Democrats branded her as a woman.  This was all so empty. It was junk politics. This is the type of political theater and discourse which created an opening for Donald Trump.

Since the 1990s the Republican Party has also become increasingly authoritarian, right-wing and dangerous. Yet the Democrats kept chasing the Republicans to the right in some misguided effort to capture right-leaning independents. The Democrats ended up in a position where they could not outflank the Republicans.

What happened was that the Democratic Party, courtesy of Bill Clinton, became the Republican Party and this pushed the Republican Party so far to the right they became insane. It wasn't just Trump.

I keep hoping that there will be a reckoning in America and some accountability for the forces that installed Trump and the Republicans in office. But as a student of history I don't see it really happening.

I'd like to think there will be a reckoning. But reality has proven otherwise. As somebody who spoke out against the Iraq war, all of us who were correct got pushed out of the political mainstream. All the people who cheered on that war -- Bush's useful idiots like Thomas Friedman -- they're still there. In a way it doesn't matter that they were wrong because they did precisely what they're supposed to do -- discredit their leftist critics.  I'm kind of stunned at how it doesn't matter how many times these people are wrong. The next day they are still there in your face.

What do you think of this whole controversy about the "deep state," which has come to the forefront in the age of Trump and the Russia Scandal. There is clearly a continuity of policy across administrations, but that's not the same as the conspiracy that Trump and his defenders have claimed.

There's just complete continuity on all of the major issues from one administration to the next. The expansion of imperial wars, the assault on civil liberties, the bailing out and coddling of Wall Street, mass incarceration, unemployment as well as underemployment.  The difference between the Democrats and Republicans is that Democratic elites don't want to be identified as racists. But on the core economic, political and imperial issues there is no difference. Do not forget that there were also high-profile establishment Republicans such as the Bushes who voted for Clinton too. This is all an example of what Sigmund Freud called "the narcissism of minor differences" between the Democrats and Republicans.

Another dimension to this crisis is that Donald Trump does not exist. He's a caricature, a projection. He's quite literally a signifier. Why were so many millions of Americans compelled to him? Are they not equipped to understand this part of celebrity culture? Is this postmodernism run amok, where people think that reality TV is real?

You are exactly right. Trump does not exist. These are fictional creations and personas. And yet because these fictional creations are so convincing and disseminated nonstop through electronic devices, in many ways they're more real to us than the people who live next door. We build our emotional relationships with these fictional personas, and this leaks into the news because it thrives on celebrity gossip. News has become a mini-drama with a star and a villain and a supporting cast.

With Trump, for example, even though you have these figures who are flesh-and-blood human beings they are cartoons in how they present themselves. Unfortunately, this is a cultural problem that we see with how people create narratives around fictionalized versions of their own lives on Facebook and other social media too.

Trump has spawned a whole subgenre of writing about the denizens of "Trumplandia" as I describe them. It is easy to write stories about white rubes in rural areas who were somehow duped into voting for Trump. Where are the stories about rich white folks in Chicago, Greenwich and New York who voted for Trump? Your book attempts to disrupt the dominant narrative about Donald Trump and this moment. What did you learn?

The mainstream corporate news media looks at Trump voters like they are zoological specimens. My new book looks at the pathologies that arise in a decayed culture which led to this moment.

What we are seeing now in America is how a diseased culture behaves. In my new book I look at examples such as gambling, BDSM groups in San Francisco, "preppers" and survivalists and white hate groups. The latter are important because hate groups are always a product of a diseased society. I also went to deindustrialized parts of the country. I was in Anderson, Indiana, with all of these old UAW workers.

Bill Clinton passes NAFTA and by 2006, the GM plants in Anderson have all been leveled. Literally there are empty spaces because the factories have moved to Monterrey, Mexico, where they're paying workers $3 an hour without benefits. So these union jobs where you could make $25 or $30 an hour with a pension plan, where you could buy a house and live on a single income and send your kids to college, have all but vanished. This loss has created economic hardship and all the community social problems which come with it.

And these former workers in Anderson? Most of them voted for Bernie Sanders. But when the general election came around they voted for Trump. There was just too much tying Hillary Clinton to decisions such as NAFTA which destroyed their lives. I think that writing off Trump's supporters as irredeemable racists -- although some, maybe even many of them are -- is counterproductive. This is a class issue. If you walk in any Walmart and say, we're here to organize for $15 or $20 an hour you will have people of various political persuasions sign up for it. We have to get back to an understanding of class, oligarchy and class warfare.

It is important to also emphasize that we should never countenance or support any kind of xenophobia, racism, homophobia or anything else. But the dividing line has to be class. It can't be centered on these particular cultural issues, because that, in essence, keeps the economic underclass pitted against each other, which is just what the oligarchs want.

We need to develop a more sophisticated way of talking about the connections between race and class in America.

Race and class are intimately connected. In America it has traditionally been African-Americans who were always on the lowest level of the class hierarchy.  So if you go back and look at the auto plants in Detroit, black Americans were the last hired, first fired, and they always got the worst jobs, the most dangerous jobs, the most poorly paid jobs.

But we've dropped the whole language of class and one of my frustrations with "identity politics" is that there is a Democratic Party that speaks in terms of inclusivity and multiculturalism, with Obama for example, but he was a black face managing the empire. It was not about empowering poor African-Americans. This plays into the hands of the right wing and the people around Trump because they know the Democrats pretend to be watching out for people of color and women when of course they're not. Since 2008,, the segment of the American population that's been hardest hit financially is African-Americans not white workers or anyone else.

For three-quarters of African-Americans in this country life is worse than when King marched in Selma. The black elite got co-opted. What John Lewis did during the Civil Rights Movement is heroic and important. But John Lewis is a very different figure today out there stomping around for Hillary Clinton and the Democratic establishment.

What is the role of loneliness in this decaying American society?

Loneliness is central to this American sickness. Social atomization is by design in a consumer society. A lack of self-worth is how you sell people brands and experiences.

Infinite loneliness can never be satisfied. You have to always consume. Capitalism and consumerism are based on futility. A person can never satisfy their needs for new products and experiences.

If you don't have community and if you are lonely you are far more susceptible to being preyed upon by these corporate forces. One of the problems we get with the internet generation is that people spend so much time in front of screens, but in the end they're alone. And that's just where the corporate state wants you to be. We're only going to rebuild resistance movements by forging authentic relationships and that's face to face, person in person. That is the only way real relationships can be forged.

What would a project of democratic renewal look like in America?

It would look a lot like Standing Rock. There you had a local indigenous leadership which had a spiritual element. I think that's important. They were grounded. They knew who they were. They were in touch with where they came from. And they carried out sustained acts of nonviolent civil disobedience together. And of course we saw the state -- and remember this was under Obama -- react with almost unprecedented ferocity: Seven hundred arrests, using attack dogs to go after the crowd, water cannons laced with pepper spray, beatings, constant infiltration and surveillance.

When there is that kind of reaction, you know the resistance and protests are effective. You can determine how effective you are by how the state responds. They don't care about the Women's March. It doesn't threaten them. It’s things like Occupy. The heroic resistance that took place in Ferguson [Missouri]. That is where we have to go. We're never going to win if we're not connected with those around us. If we are just individuals they pick us off one by one. We need collective movements.

America is a superficial democracy where elites are largely unresponsive to the wishes and desires of the people. Traditional protests such as the Women's March, for example, are not going to impact policy. America's ruling elites see that type of political activity as a safety valve of sorts, empty symbolism.

We've got to make them afraid. And that's what Standing Rock did because they blocked the pipeline. As you point out, America's elites, elected officials too, are almost wholly unresponsive to what the mass of the American people want. We're utterly irrelevant. They don't care what we want. They don't even care what we do unless we find ways to threaten them. And that's what we have to do. We have to find ways like what we saw with the non-cooperation tactics against the apartheid regime in South Africa. We have to find ways to disrupt the mechanisms of corporate power. I was in Washington with the Women's March. It was like a day off from school. What kind of tipped it for me was finding out that [former Democratic Party head] Debbie Wasserman Schultz was speaking there.

What are you most hopeful for this moment? What are you most afraid of?

I’m most afraid of climate change. The clock is ticking. We have very little time left. Once we go over two degrees Celsius increase in global temperature we could very well go into a kind of feedback loop where it doesn't matter what we do, it's over. Climate scientists would agree. And of course, a system breakdown like that will  spur on the ultimate imposition of a dystopian corporate totalitarian system that's already set to go.

What I'm most hopeful about is that more people are not buying into this ridiculous neoliberal ideology. It is an ideology used to justify corporate and oligarchic greed.

The elites have no internal or external constraints. So they will continue to extract one more pound of flesh. But eventually they're going to get blowback, and I just hope it comes sooner rather than later.

Chauncey DeVega is a politics staff writer for Salon. His essays can also be found at Chaunceydevega.com. He also hosts a weekly podcast, The Chauncey DeVega Show. Chauncey can be followed on Twitter and Facebook.

This article was originally published by "Salon" -   

  Read Chris Hedges: Donald Trump is theProduct of a Failed Democracy
  October 29, 2018
When America Was Great, Savage White Un-Settlers Raped a Continent and Assaulted a Planet
by Paul Street, Information Clearing House.

Your prayers and hymns, your sermons and thanksgivings…are…a thin veil to cover up crimes which would disgrace a nation of savages. There is not a nation on the earth guilty of practices more shocking and bloody than are the people of these United States, at this very hour.

– Frederick Douglass, July 4th, 1852

October 28, 2018 "Information Clearing House" - “Together,” Donald “Make America Great Again” Trump told U.S. Naval Academy graduates last May, “there is nothing Americans can’t do, absolutely nothing. In recent years, and even decades,” Trump added, “too many people have forgotten that truth. They’ve forgotten that our ancestors trounced an empire, tamed a continent, and triumphed over the worst evils in history.”

I was reminded of Trump’s statement recently as I reflected on the remarkable record of climate-change driven extreme weather events that have hit the United States in recent years.  Epic wild-fires, droughts, rains, floods, tornadoes, snowfalls, and hurricanes are humbling U.S.-America. They are only a foretaste of the stern continental taming U.S.-Americans can expect at the hands of Mother Nature in coming years.  (More on that below.)

Where was one to begin in processing the untruth and affront embedded in Trump’s reflection on how “America” was once “great”?

“Our ancestors”? I have a paternal grandfather who may have been descended from original 18th or even 17th century Scotch-Irish immigrants to North America, but my largest ethnic strain is Finnish, thanks to the Luhtala family’s “chain migration” to DeKalb, Illinois in the early 20th century, long after the closing of the western U.S. frontier. (The Luhtalas worked in barbed-wire plants to help the continent’s capitalist “tamers”/takers mark their territorial conquests off as private property.) Like hundreds of millions of other U.S-Americans, I have ancestors who came long after the nation’s original white and mostly English, Irish, and German “settlers.” (Currently, 14% of the U.S. population is foreign-born, the largest percentage since 1910, right after my Finnish great-grandparents arrived, when 15% of US-Americans were born in other countries.)

These “ancestors…trounced an empire”? Not really.  The U.S. merely broke off from the Western edge of the British Empire, which would go on to rule the world like no global hegemon until the post-World War II Pax Americana (more on that lovely formation below). The British Empire had a pretty damn good run from the end of the Napoleonic Wars through the rest of the 19thcentury.

For what it’s worth, the propertied masters atop the so-called American Revolution understood their new slave-owning republic as an empire – an “empire of liberty,” they called it, with no sense of irony given their dedication to the ruthless ethnic cleansing (to use a 20th century phrase) of the nation’s original inhabits and the expansion of Black chattel slavery.

“Tamed a continent”? Leaving aside the fact that Canada and Mexico also hold much of the North America, Trump’s phrase was an insolent slight of the continent’s original inhabitants. Here the president channeled the original “settlers” concept of the 10-18 million human beings who lived in North America prior to white-European invasion as pre-historic “savages” who required the stern hand of the “civilized” white man to impose order.

It was Orwellian twaddle and truth inversion. The continent’s First Nations people were highly civilized, unscathed by class rule, and harmoniously connected to the natural environment in ways that hold critical significance for human and other living things in our current age of capitalist ecocide, As the Native American author and activist Ward Churchill wrote more than two decades ago:

“On…the day Christopher Columbus first washed up on a Caribbean beach, North America was long since endowed with an abundant and exceedingly complex cluster of civilizations.  Having continuously occupied the continent for at least 50,000 years, the native inhabitants evidenced a total population of perhaps 15 million, cities as large as the 40,000-resident urban center at Cahokia (in present-day Illinois), highly advanced conceptions of architecture and engineering, spiritual traditions embodying equivalents to modern eco-science, refined knowledge of pharmacology and holistic medicine, and highly sophisticated systems of governance, trade, and diplomacy.  The traditional economies of the continent were …based in environmentally sound farming procedures which originated well over half the vegetal foodstuffs now consumed by peoples the world over.  By and large, the indigenous societies demonstrating such attainments were organized along extremely egalitarian lines, with real property held collectively and matrifocality a normative standard.”

Pre-Conquest North America contained “large-scale societies which had perfected ways of organizing themselves into psychologically fulfilling wholes, experiencing very high standards of living, and still maintaining environmental harmony…War, in the Euro-derived sense in which the term is understood today” – as highly organized mass annihilation – “was,” Churchill noted, “unknown” among and between the First Nations.

Also unknown in the continent’s original civilizations was economic inequality and poverty on anything remotely like the scale of early modern Europe.  The Old World was home to a capitalist order whose relentless enclosure of the European commons and destruction of independent farmer and artisan livelihoods generated a surplus population desperate to spill onto North America. Now the U.S. itself hosts savage inequalities – the top tenth of the nation’s One Percent owns as much wealth as the bottom 90 percent and its riches three persons have as much net worth between as the bottom half – that make Western Europe (incubator of modern class rule) look egalitarian.

Tamed a continent? It was more like raped a continent.The “Indians” (absurdly so misnamed because the “settlers” mistakenly thought they had discovered “the Indes”) were seen by “Predator” – Churchill’s understandable (from an indigenist perspective) term for the European invaders – as animalized brutes fit for elimination and removal even as the newcomers incorporated numerous aspects of Native American culture (moccasins, canoes, and more).  A lethal combination of germs, superior numbers, technology, and killing capacities – including the moral capacity to wipe out whole villages with no more spiritual discomfort than that involved in shooting deer and coyotes – inflicted astonishing population decline on Native North America. One after another, original North American nations and tribes were liquidated and dispersed.  “By 1890,” Churchill noted, “fewer than 250,000 Indians remained alive within the United States, a degree of decimation extending into the upper ninetieth percentile.”

Predator’s massacre chain ran from Connecticut Captain John Mason’s burning and shooting of hundreds of Pequot villagers near Mystic River in May of 1637 through terrible events like the so-called Battle (massacre) of Bad Axe (1832) and the Sand Creek Massacre (1864) to the Wounded Knee bloodbath (the so-called Battle of Wounded Knee) in December of 1891, when the U.S. Calvary killed 150-300 Lakota men, women, and children on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota.  The United States’ beloved first president, George Washington, was known to the Iroquois as “Town Destroyer.”

In a popular first-person account of the “battle of Bad Axe” – the gruesome culmination of the brutal removal of the Sauk nation from northern Illinois and southern Wisconsin in the “Black Hawk War” [1] – U.S. Army Major John Allen Wakefield offered some remarkable reflections. “It was a horrid sight,” Wakefield wrote, “to witness little [Native American] children, wounded and suffering the most excruciating pain, although they were of the savage enemy, and the common enemy of the country…It was enough to make the heart of the most hardened being on earth to ache” But, Wakefield wrote, “I must confess, that it filled my heart with gratitude and joy, to think that I had been instrumental, with many others, indelivering my country of those merciless savages, and restoring those [invading white] people again to their peaceful homes and firesides” – on land that had for centuries hosted homes and firesides for the Sauk.

Such sentiments were common among the genocidal white killers across the centuries of North American “settlement” and ethnic cleansing.  From the colonial era on, the savage “settlers”  reveled in the mass slaying of indigenous people (including women, children, and older men) they saw as inherently “evil” and (curiously enough) “savage.” “Our Great Father,” a government agent told the Sauks, “will forbear no longer. He has tried to reclaim [Native Americans] and they grow worse. He is resolved to sweep them from the face of the earth. … If they cannot be made good they must be killed.”

This kind of truth-inverting narrative, depicting the continent’s peaceful original inhabitants and not their coldblooded butchers as the “merciless savages,” was typical of how the invading white un-“settlers” justified their genocidal extermination of North America’s first civilizations.

During the late 18thcentury and early 19th century, the Native North American Holocaust was meant among other things to clear the way for another kind of Holocaust – the sadistic forced labor and torture regime of Black chattel slavery, the key to the United States’ emergence as a major capitalist power by the mid-19thcentury. As the United States moved into the railroad and industrial era, its rising accumulation of capital fueled above by lucrative, highly profitable  southern cotton slavery, the great Black ex-slave and abolitionist Frederick Douglass – the truly great American who Trump seemed last year to see as a living contemporarypersonality (a rapper like his good friend Kanye West, perhaps) – asked “what, to the American slave, is your 4th of July?” His answer:

“a day that reveals to him…the gross injustice and cruelty to which he is the constant victim. To him, your celebration is a sham; your boasted liberty, an unholy license; your national greatness, swelling vanity; your sounds of rejoicing are empty and heartless; your denunciations of tyrants, brass fronted impudence; your shouts of liberty and equality, hollow mockery; your prayers and hymns, your sermons and thanksgivings…mere bombast, fraud, deception, impiety, and hypocrisy — a thin veil to cover up crimes which would disgrace a nation of savages. There is not a nation on the earth guilty of practices, more shocking and bloody, than are the people of these United States, at this very hour….Go where you may, search where you will, roam through all the monarchies and despotisms of the old world, travel through South America, search out every abuse, and when you have found the last, lay your facts by the side of the everyday practices of this nation, and you will say with me, that, for revolting barbarity and shameless hypocrisy, America reigns without a rival.”

The two and a half century Holocaust of Black chattel slavery is the persistently unacknowledged and uncompensated historical taproot of a stark Black-white inequality and hyper-segregation that continues to haunt “American” life and feed the nation’s gigantic, historically unmatched system of mass incarceration. The southern Confederacy, whose noxious historical monuments Trump and other white nationalists defend in the name of “history,” treasonously seceded from the Union and forced the Civil War for one clear reason: the southern slave-owning ruling class’s determination that the election of Abraham Lincoln spelled the end of the racist chattel system.

It wasn’t just human beings that the white “settlers” “tamed” – raped, that is – when “America” was “Great.”  Between European “settlement” and the aftermath of the Civil War, Predator saw fit to fell 52% of the deciduous U.S. forest east of the Mississippi. A fifth of that remaining woodland bit the dust between 1850 and 1909, thanks to accelerating waves of deforestation led by agricultural clearing and logging in the Great Lakes region and the South (where Black cotton slavery was largely reconstituted in new forms in the last third of the nineteenth century).

Then there was the decline of original wildlife, not so much “tamed” as exterminated. “As the 19th century progressed,” the National Park Service reports:

“wildlife habitat was dramatically reduced by deforestation and wetland filling, combined with over-hunting. New markets for wildlife made killing wildlife a financially profitable venture for hunters, who took advantage of improved transportation methods like railroads to gain access to previously inaccessible areas. The lack of legal protection for wildlife led to the slaughter of many species, some of which were hunted to extinction or near extinction.Wildlife like passenger pigeons and buffalo, which had been extremely abundant, were hunted to extinction(or nearly so). Migratory birds were especially impacted, since there was a huge market for the feathers of birds such as egrets, used to create women’s fashionable hats” (emphasis added).

The elimination of the continent’s once great bison herds was nauseating exterminism. Richard Dodge, an army officer, reported in 1877 that “Buffalo were slaughtered without sense or discretion…Where there were myriads of buffalo the year before, there were now myriads of carcasses.  The air was foul with sickening stench, and the vast plain, and the vast plain, which only a short twelvemonth before teemed with animal life, was a dead, solitary, putrid desert.”

Soon the meat barons of Chicago would devise ways to “tame” – to kill and process on a previously unimaginable scale that brought droves of tourists from around the world to marvel at the modern art and science of animal slaughter – many thousands of cows, pigs, and sheep per day in the giant meatpacking plants of Upton Sinclair’s famously sickening “Jungle.” The harrowing and alienating work carried out in these and other vast new mass production workplaces across the nation showed that antebellum and Civil War era labor activists were right to remind Americans that slavery took a waged form as well as a chattel form – and that antidemocratic class rule was not limited to the slavery of the U.S. South and the serfdom of Russia.

As mostly white U.S. workers rose against their ruthless exploitation under the rule of “wage slavery” in the rapidly expanding new industrial capitalism of the post-Civil War, the capitalist press not uncommonly justified the bloody repression of striking and marching proletarians and killing of their radical leaders by describing them as “white savages.”  As the labor historian James Green noted in his classic study Death in the Haymarket: A Story of Chicago, the First Labor Movement, and a Bombing That Divided America:

“Many [U.S.] editorialists relied on animal metaphors to describe the anarchists, whom they branded ‘ungrateful hyenas,’ ‘incendiary vermin,’ and ‘slavic wolves.’…the alien incendiaries were often compared to other hated groups like the menacing Apache Indians.  The St. Louis Globe-Democrat applied an old frontier adage about ‘savage’ tribes to the new menace.  ‘There are no good anarchists except dead anarchists,’ it proclaimed.”

When railroad workers went out on strike in Chicago, U.S. infantry troops were summoned fresh from Dakotas campaigns against the Sioux to kills dozens of working-class men and boys – “white savages” – on the city’s Southwest side.

“Our ancestors,” Trump said, “triumphed over the worst evils in history”(Trump)? What, like racialized genocide and chattel slavery, the elimination of species, the rampant destruction of natural habitat, the rise of Robber Baron plutocracy, and concentrated wage-slavery on a scale that Karl Marx could barely have imagined? The “taming of the continent” by “our” great gun- and bullwhip-wielding “ancestors” were great triumphs for all of these and terrible historical scourges.

But, of course, the last clause of the final Trump sentence I quoted at the beginning of this essay refers to the 20thcentury.  By “worst evils in history,” Orange (Truth-) Crush(er) meant German fascism/Nazism and Soviet “communism.” And here there are at least five problems.

First, the United States’ interwar establishment was fairly pleased with European fascism until the Third Reich and its Japanese partner threatened to shut off the world system to America’s rising global economic power.  U.S. business class “elites” saw fascism as a welcome disciplining force to crush European trade unions and Leftists and as a bulwark against socialist state in Russia.

Second, Hitler and his fellow Nazi leaders drew considerable inspiration from how the white “settler” U.S. had “tamed” its “inferior races” with genocide, ethnic cleansing, and brutal, fascist-like racial terrorism, segregation, and disenfranchisement. The United States’ Indian reservations and Jim Crow South were Social Darwinian role models for the social policy architects of the Third Reich.

Third, it was the Soviet Union by far and away that defeated the supreme evil that was the Nazi regime, at the cost of 25 million dead (the United States lost just 277,000 people in Europe and North Africa during World War II).

Fourth, for all its considerable flaws, the authoritarian, bureaucratic-collectivist USSR developed a modern and urbanized society with health care and education for all and outside and against the savagely unequal and egoistic, accumulation-mad world capitalist system headquartered in London and New York.  Washington DC. (The U.S.-forced collapse of the Soviet Union and empire led to drastic reductions in the quality of life in Russia and Eastern Europe.)

Fifth, after it joined with USSR in the defeat of German, Italian, and Japanese fascism, the new global Pax Americana expanded upon its earlier history of genocide and slavery to become, well, one of “the worst evils in world history.”

“The problem after a war,” wrote the pacifist A.J. Muste in 1941, “is with the victor. He thinks he has just proved that war and violence pay. Who will now teach him a lesson?”

Consistent with Muste’s warning, victorious and relatively unscathed “America” – the only, global-reach Superpower after the “suicide of Europe” and the Nazis’ devastation of much of Russia – went on a global rampage after “winning” World War II (during which time U.S. imperial policymakers planned to make sure that Washington finally displaced the United Kingdom as global hegemon after the unprecedented carnage ceased). The planetary death toll resulting from the high-powered aggression of the U.S. and its allies and proxies since 1945 runs well into the millions. Along the way, the U.S. has: overthrown many dozens of governments (including democratically elected ones); funded, equipped trained and provided political cover for a host of U.S.-allied “Third World fascist” regimes in Asia, Africa, and Latin America; subverted and pre-empted democracy across the planet; interfered in the internal political affairs of nearly every nation on Earth; spread its military installations into more than 100 “sovereign” states; led the world into a permanent arms race humanity can ill-afford; developed the capacity to blow the world up many times over.

Consistent with its founding genocidal elimination of original North American civilizations that anticipated “modern eco-science” and “maintain[ed] environmental harmony” (Churchill), the United States has also spearheaded the planetary expansion of a rapaciously eco-cideal world capitalist order that has set humanity on course for final environmental catastrophe: the Greenhouse Gassing to Death of Life on Earth, a crime that makes the Nazis look like small-time crooks.

It’s not for nothing that the world’s population has long ranked the U.S. as the leading threat to and on Earth.

Who will tame the United States? With all due respect for thsae people and forces that have worked to undermine  over many years, the final cards are held by the very Earth that so many U.S.-Americans have been falsely led to believe they could conquer.  Nature bats last. The record-setting extreme weather that has hit the U.S. (“America”) in recent years are only early bases-on-balls compared to the late-inning World Series grand-slams Mother Nature is going to pulverize “America” and the world with in coming years. The real existential shit hits the fan when we can no longer grow, hunt, and fish enough food, find enough clean water, adequately cool our bodies, and fend off pandemics.

The socio-pathological climate-denier Trump is doing his eco-cidal best to speed that existential moment along. One example among many: but for the opposition of more level-headed operatives in his administration, he would have by now signed an executive order absurdly citing national security concerns as an excuse for forcing regional U.S. electric grid operators to continue purchasing power from coal-burning and nuclear-powered plants that have outlived their normal operational lifespans! What does a malignant, eco-fascistic narcissist like Trump care if the human race joins the anthropogenic Sixth Great Extinction after his death takes its toll and he learns that all the money he stole can never buy back his soul. (to paraphrase Bob Dylan)?

“America’s” old, rich, and white masters (Trump is just one of many)  – our parasitic “tamers” and takers– think they can pull up the drawbridges to restrict the coming environmental apocalypse to the poor and nonwhite global South and save the dwindling supply of life’s necessities and luxuries for themselves and their families in heavily guarded and automated compounds. But it doesn’t work that way. They can preserve themselves a bit longer than most, but the “No Planet B” (as the environmentalists say) they can run to after they’ve finally made the planet completely and finally uninhabitable even for the privileged and ecocidal Few. No U.S.-Americans, not even the richest and most powerful ones, can hop planets and galaxies like the Earth-colonizing and Earth-warming aliens who rule America in John Carpenter’s classic left science fiction movie They Live! Even they will be tamed to the point of erasure. As Earth is our witness, the laws of nature always win out in the end. The continent’s original inhabitants knew that.  The Holocaust they met in the name of “progress” was not progress.


1) The 1832 “Black Hawk War” was a one-sided affair, typical of the many pitiless mass exterminations committed by supposedly noble “settlers” seeking to “tame the continent.” As penalty for the warrior Black Hawk and his followers’ determination to reclaim rich tribal lands brazenly occupied by whites in northern Illinois, the Sauk and Fox Indians lost 600 people, including hundreds of woman and children. Just 70 soldiers and “settlers” lost their lives. The conflict culminated in the so-called Battle of Bad Axe, on the eastern shore of the Mississippi River, near the present-day community of Victory in southwest Wisconsin. Better described as a massacre than a “battle,” this American military triumph involved U.S. General Henry Atkinson killing every Indian who tried to run for cover or to flee across the Mississippi River. On August 1, 1832, Black Hawk’s band reached the Mississippi at its confluence with the Bad Axe River. What followed was an atrocity, committed despite the Indians’ repeated attempts at surrender. “While the Sauk refugees were preparing rafts and canoes, the armed [U.S.] steamboat Warriorarrived,” historian Kerry Trask recounts, “whereupon Black Hawk tried to negotiate with its troops under a flag of truce. The Americans opened fire, killing twenty-three warriors.”

“As we neared them,” one US officer who “served” in the U.S. assault recalled, “they raised a white flag and endeavored to decoy us, but we were a little too old for them.”

Hundreds of Sauk and Fox men, women and children were shot, clubbed, and bayoneted to death on August 2nd. “US soldiers scalped most of the dead. They cut long strips of flesh from dead and wounded Indians for use as razor strops.” The slaughter was supported by cannon and rifle fire from the aptly named Warrior, which picked off tribal members swimming for their lives.

By Major Wakefield’s account, the US troops at Bad Axe “shrank not from their duty. They all joined in the work of death for death it was. We were by this time fast getting rid of those demons in human shape… the Ruler of the Universe, He who takes vengeance on the guilty, did not design those guilty wretches to escape His vengeance…”

The top “demon in human shape” – the old Sauk warrior Black Hawk – lived six years beyond the “war” that bore his name.  He was sent to a US reservation in Iowa after US President Andrew Jackson – a Trump favorite and himself a prolific Indian-killer – had Black Hawk paraded as celebrity war booty – as an exotic “savage” and proof of the United States’ military’s alleged great prowess in defeating such barbarian brutes – before gawking crowds in eastern US cities.

At Chicago’s United Center at least 41 times each National Hockey League season, more than 10,000 U.S. whites wear jerseys emblazoned with a caricature-like profile image of “chief” Black Hawk, whose people were obliterated and dispersed so that northern Illinois’s fertile fields and pastures could be turned into the private property of white  farmers, merchants, and industrialists.  Oh, but for the return of the days when America was great!

Paul Street’s latest book is They Rule: The 1% v. Democracy (Paradigm, 2014)

  Read When America Was Great, Savage WhiteUn-Settlers Raped a Continent and Assaulteda Planet
  October 29, 2018
Europe Will Become a Battlefield: Putin Bluntly Explains What Discarding INF Treaty Means
by President Putin, Information Clearing House.


President Putin: "We are concerned that the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty was terminated. Now we are talking about the treaty on intermediate-range and short-range missiles."

Posted October 29, 2018


  Read Europe WillBecome a Battlefield: Putin Bluntly ExplainsWhat Discarding INF Treaty Means
  October 29, 2018
The Yemen War Death Toll Is FiveTimes Higher Than We Think – We Can't Shrug Off Our Responsibilities Any Longer
By Patrick Cockburn, Information Clearing House.

One reason Saudi Arabia and its allies are able to avoid a public outcry over their intervention in the war in Yemen, is that the number of people killed in the fighting has been vastly understated. The figure is regularly reported as 10,000 dead in three-and-a-half years, a mysteriously low figure given the ferocity of the conflict.

Now a count by a non-partisan group has produced a study demonstrating 56,000 people have been killed in Yemen since early 2016. The number is increasing by more than 2,000 per month as fighting intensifies around the Red Sea port of Hodeidah. It does not include those dying of malnutrition, or diseases such as cholera.

“We estimate the number killed to be 56,000 civilians and combatants between January 2016 and October 2018,” says Andrea Carboni, who researches Yemen for the Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project (ACLED), an independent group formerly associated with the University of Sussex that studies conflicts and is focusing attention on the real casualty level. He told me he expects a total of between 70,000 and 80,000 victims, when he completes research into the casualties, hitherto uncounted, who died between the start of the Saudi-led intervention in the Yemen civil war, in March 2015, and the end of that year.

The oft-cited figure of 10,000 dead comes from a UN official speaking only of civilians in early 2017, and has remained static since. This out of date statistic, drawn from Yemen’s patchy and war-damaged health system, has enabled Saudi Arabia and the UAE – who lead a coalition of states strongly backed by the US, UK and France – to ignore or downplay the loss of life.

Casualties are rising by the day as Saudi and UAE-directed forces try to cut off Hodeidah – the last port controlled by the Houthi rebels – from the capital, Sanaa. Oxfam said this week, a civilian is being killed every three hours in the fighting, and between 1 August and 15 October, 575 civilians were killed in the port city, including 136 children and 63 women. An airstrike on Wednesday killed 16 civilians in a vegetable market in Hodeidah, and other strikes this month have hit two buses at a Houthi-held checkpoint, killing 15 civilians, including four children.

Little information about casualties in Yemen reaches the outside world because Saudi and the UAE make access difficult for foreign journalists and other impartial witnesses. By contrast to the war in Syria, the American, British and French governments have no interest in highlighting the devastation caused in Yemen – they give diplomatic cover to the Saudi intervention. But their deliberate blindness to the death of so many Yemenis is starting to attract more negative attention, as a byproduct of the flood of international criticism of Saudi Arabia in the wake of the premeditated murder of Jamal Khashoggi – now admitted by Saudi officials – in Istanbul on 2 October.

The absence of credible figures for the death toll in Yemen has made it easier for foreign powers to shrug off accusations they are complicit in a human disaster. That is despite frantic appeals from senior UN officials to the organisation’s Security Council to avert a manmade famine which now threatens 14 million Yemenis – half the population.

The crisis has worsened because of the siege of Hodeidah – with the city a lifeline for aid and commercial imports – since mid June, a situation that has forced 570,000 people to flee their homes. UN humanitarian affairs chief Mark Lowcock warned on 23 October “the immune systems of millions of people on survival support for years on end are now literally collapsing, making them – especially the elderly – more likely to succumb to malnutrition, cholera and other diseases”.

Just how many people die because they are weakened by hunger is difficult to know accurately, because most of the deaths happen at home and are unrecorded. This is particularly true of Yemen, where half the meagre health facilities no longer function, and people are often too poor to use those that do.

Loss of life from fighting should be easier to record and publicise, and the fact this has not happened in Yemen is a sign of the lack of interest by the international community in the conflict. Carboni says ACLED has been able to tally the number of civilians and combatants killed in ground fighting and bombing by drawing on the Yemeni press and, to a lesser extent, international media. ACLED has used these sources, after carefully assessing their credibility, to calculate the number of fatalities. Where figures differ, the group uses lower estimates and favours the claims of those who suffered casualties, over those who say they inflicted them.

It is difficult to distinguish between civilian targets that are deliberately attacked, and non-combatants who died because they were caught in the crossfire, or were close to a military unit or facility when hit.

A study by Professor Martha Mundy – Strategies of the Coalition in the Yemen War: Aerial Bombardment and Food War – concludes the Saudi-led bombing campaign deliberately targeted food production and storage facilities. Some 220 fishing boats have been destroyed on Yemen’s Red Sea coast and the fish catch is down by half.

ACLED began counting casualties after the war was under way, which is why it is only now researching loss of life in 2015, with its findings due to be published in January or February.

Carboni adds, the trend is for the number of people being killed to rise. The monthly total before December 2017 was fewer than 2,000 casualties, but since then it has always been more than 2,000. Almost all those who died are Yemenis, though the figures also include 1,000 Sudanese troops killed fighting on behalf of the Saudi coalition.

The Khashoggi affair has led to greater international focus on the calamitous war in Yemen, and the role of Saudi Arabia and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in the conflict. But there is no sign of the US, Britain or France curtailing military assistance to the kingdom and the UAE, despite the likelihood the coalition will fail to win a decisive victory.

The true “butcher’s bill” in the Yemen war has taken too long to emerge, but it may help to increase pressure on outside powers to stop the killing.

  Read The Yemen War Death Toll Is FiveTimes Higher Than We Think – We Can'tShrug Off Our Responsibilities AnyLonger
  October 31, 2018
Fascism on the March
By Peter Koenig, Information Clearing House.

Latin America is re-converting into Washington’s backyard and as a sideline is returning to fascist rule, similar but worse than the sixties seventies and eighties, which stood under the spell of the CIA-led Operation or Plan Condor. Many call the current right-wing trend Operation Condor II which is probably as close to the truth as can be. It is all Washington / CIA fabricated, just with more rigor and more sophistication than Plan Condor of 40 and 50 years ago. As much as it hurts to say, after all the glory and laurels sent out to Latin America – with Hugo Chavez, Fidel Castro, Rafael Correa, Evo Morales, Lula, the Kirchners, José Mujica, Michelle Bachelet – more than 80% of the population of Latin America were living for some 15 to 20 years under democratically elected mostly left-leaning governments, really progressive. – Within no time, in less than 3 years the wheels have turned.

Latin America was for about 20 years the only western part of the world, that was fully detached from the fangs of the empire. It has succumbed again to the forces of evil, to the forces of money, the forces of utter corruption and greed. The people of Latin America have betrayed their own principles. They did it again. Humans remain reduced as in ancient times, to the unfailing powers of reproduction and ego cum greed. It seems in the end, ego and greed always win over the forces of light, of good, peace and harmony. That’s why even the World Bank calls corruption the single most hindrance to development. They mean economic development; I mean conscientious development. This time the trick is false and fraudulent election campaigns; bought elections; Washington induced parliamentary coups – which in Brazil brought unelected President Temer to power, a prelude to much worse to come, the fascist, misogynist, racist, and self-styled military man, Jair Bolsonaro.

The 2015 presidential election in Argentina brought a cleverly Washington manufactured win for Mauricio Macri, a friend and one-time business associate of Donald Trump’s, as it were. The election was manipulated by the by now well-known Machiavellian Cambridge Analytica method of cheating the voters by individualized messages spread throughout the social media into believing all sorts of lies about the candidates. Voters were, thus, hit on the head by surprise, as Macri’s opponent, the left-leaning Daniel Scioli of the Peronist Victory Front, the leader in the polls, was defeated.

Today Macri has adopted a fascist economic agenda, indebted the country with IMF austerity packages, increased unemployment and poverty from12% before his election in 2015 to close to 40 % in 2018. He is leading Argentina towards a déjà-vu scenario of the 80s and especially 1990’s when under pressure from the US, IMF and World Bank, the country was to adopt the US dollar as their local currency, or to be exact, Argentina was allowed to keep their peso, but had to commit to a one-to-one parity with the US dollar. The official explanation for this, in economic terms, criminal move (to impose the use of the currency of one country for the economy of another country is not only insane, its outright criminal), was to stop skyrocketing inflation – which temporarily it did, but to the detriment of the working class, for whom common staple and goods became unaffordable.

Disaster was preprogrammed. And the collapse of Argentine’s economy happened in 2000 and 2001. Finally, in January 2002, President Eduardo Duhalde ended the notorious peso-dollar parity. The peso was first devalued by 40% – then it floated towards a 70% devaluation and gradually pegged itself to other international trading currencies, like the euro, the Japanese yen and the Chinese yuan. Eventually, the newly floating currency allowed the Argentine economy to get a new boost and recovered rapidly. Perhaps too rapidly, for Argentina’s own good.

The economy grew substantially under the left, fully democratically elected Kirchner Governments. Not only did the economy grow rapidly, it also grew in a widely ‘distributive’ mode, meaning reducing poverty, assessed at almost two thirds of the population in 2001, cutting it to about 12%, just a month before Macri was catapulted into office, by Washington and Cambridge Analytica in December 2015. Argentina has become rich again; she can now be milked again and sucked dry by the banking sector, and international corporatism, all protected by three to be newly established US military bases in the provinces of Neuquen, Misiones and Tierra del Fuego. They will initially be under the US Southern Command, but most likely soon to be converted into NATO bases. NATO is already in Colombia and may soon spread into Bolsonaro’s Brazil.

Though nobody really understands what the North Atlantic Treaty Organization has to do in South America – the answer is unimportant. The empire suits itself with whatever fits the purpose. No rules, no ethics, no laws – everything goes under neoliberalism. NATO is to become a world military attack force under Washington’s control and directed by those few “enlightened”, pulling the strings from behind the curtains, form the deep dark state.

Macri marked the beginning of Latin America’s new fascism. South America struggled for 15 -20 years to become independent from the neoliberal masters of the north. It has now been reabsorbed into the northern elite’s, the empire’s backyard — yes, sadly, that’s what Latin America has become for the major part, a mere backyard of Washington.

Argentina’s Washington imposed right-wing dictatorship was preceded by Paraguay’s 2012 parliamentary coup that in April 2013 brought Horacio Cartes of the right-extreme Colorado party to power. The Colorado Party was also the party of Alfredo Stroessner, the fascist brutal military dictator, who ruled Paraguay from 1954 to 1989.

In Chile on 9/11 of 1973 a democratically elected socialist, Salvador Allende, a was overthrown under the guidance of the CIA and a brutal military dictator, Augusto Pinochet installed for almost 30 years. After a brief spring of center and left-leaning governments, Chile, in December 2017, has returned to right-wing, neoliberal politics with Sebastian Piñera, a former associate of Pinochet’s. With the surroundings of his neoliberal friends and close accomplices in Argentina, Colombia, Brazil, Peru and even Ecuador, to be sure, he will move to extreme right, neo-fascist economic rules and, thus, please Washington’s banks and their instruments, the IMF and the World Bank.

Fascism is on the march. And this despite the fact that 99.99% of the population, not just in Latin America, worldwide, want nothing to do with fascism – so where is the fraud? Why is nobody investigating the scam and swindle in Brazil, Argentina, Chile, Peru, Colombia? – and then putting the results up for everyone to see?

In the meantime, we have learned about Cambridge / Oxford Analytica (CA & OA). How they operate and cheat the electorate. They themselves have finally admitted to the methods within which they operate and influence voters with lies – and with data stealing or buying from social media, mainly facebook; millions and millions of personal data to target electronically special groups of people – bombarding them with lies to promote or denigrate the one or the other candidate.

And precisely this happened in Brazil. A week before the run-off election that took place this past Sunday, 28 October, Fernando Haddad, (PT), launched a criminal investigation precisely for that reason against Bolsonaro’s campaign. Of course, nothing happened. All the judges, courts and lawyers are under control of the unelected corrupt right-wing Temer Government – which came to power by a foreign directed ruthless parliamentary coup, impeaching under totally false pretenses democratically elected Dilma Rousseff.

And now – there is nobody investigating what happened in Brazil, bringing a military boy, Jair Bolsonaro to power? The left is dead? Flabbergasted into oblivion -indeed? – How come? With all the lessons to be learned around the world, and not last in Argentina, the neighbor – why can the Brazilian left be so blind, outright naive, as to not understand that following the criminally legalized system in their country is following the path to their own demise and eventually to shovel their own grave?

From day One, the US firmly counts on Bolsonaro to encircle Venezuela, together with Colombia. President Trump has already expressed his expectations to work ‘closely together’ with the new Bolsonaro Government in “matters of trade, military – and earthing else.” Bolsonaro has already met with Mike Pompeo, the US Foreign Secretary, who told him that the situation in Venezuela is a “priority’ for Brazil. There you go; Washington dictates foreign leaders their priorities. Bolsonaro will oblige, for sure.

Wake up – LEFT! – not just in Latin America, but around the world.

Today, it’s the mainstream media which have learned the tricks and cheats, and they have perfected the Cambridge and Oxford Analyticas; they are doing it non-stop. They have all the fake and fiat money in the world to pay for these false and deceit-campaigns – they are owned by the corporate military and financial elite, by the CIA, MI6/5, Mossad – they are owned and directed by the western all-overarching neoliberalism cum fascism. The rich elite groups have free access to the fake and fiat money supply – its government supplied in the US as well as in Europe; debt is no problem for them, as long as they ‘behave’.

Yes. The accent is on behaving. Dictatorial trends are also omni-present in the EU, and especially in the non-elected European Commission (EC) which calls the shots on all important matters. Italy’s Fife-Star Eurosceptic Government presented its 2019 budget to Brussels. Not only was the government scolded and reprimanded for overstretching its accounts with a deficit exceeding the 3% EU imposed debt margin, but the government had to present a new budget within 3 weeks. That is how a not-so-well behaving EU government is treated. What a stretch of authoritarian EU rule vis-à-vis a sovereign government. And ‘sovereignty’ is – the EU boasts – the key to a coherent European Union.

On the other hand, France has for years been infringing on the (in)famous 3% rule. And again, for the 2019 budget. However, the French government received a friendly drafted note saying, would you please reconsider your budget deficit for the next year. No scolding. One does not reprimand a Rothchild Child. Double standards, corruption, nepotism, are among the attributes of fascism. It’s growing fast, everywhere in the west. It has taken on a life of itself. And the military is prepared. Everywhere. – If only they, the military, would wake up and stand with the people instead of the ruling elite that treats them like their peons. Yet, they are part of the people; they belong to the most common of the people. In the end, they get the same shaft treatment as the people – they are tortured and shot when they are no longer needed, or if they don’t behave as the neocon-fascists want.

So, Dear Military Men and Women – why not pre-empt such risks and stand with the people from the very beginning? – The entire fake and criminal system would collapse if it wouldn’t have the protection of the police and the military. You, dear Men and Women form the Police and Military, you have the power and the moral obligation to stand by the people, not defending the ruthless, brutal elitist and criminal rulers – à la Macri, Bolsonaro, Piñera, Duque, Macron, May and Merkel. And there are many more of the same blood.

One of the first signs for what was to happen throughout Latin America and spreading through the western world, was the “fake election” of Macri, in 2015 in Argentina. Some of us saw it coming and wrote about it. We were ignored, even laughed at. We were told – we didn’t understand the democratic process. Yes, right. In the meantime, the trend towards the right, towards a permanent state of Emergency, a de facto Martial Rule has become irreversible. France has incorporated the permanent state of emergency in her Constitution. Armed police and military are a steady presence throughout Paris and France’s major cities.

There are only a few, very few exceptions left in Latin America, indeed in the western world.

And let’s do whatever we can to save them from the bulldozer of fascism.

Peter Koenig is an economist and geopolitical analyst. He is also a water resources and environmental specialist. He worked for over 30 years with the World Bank and the World Health Organization around the world in the fields of environment and water. He lectures at universities in the US, Europe and South America. He writes regularly for Global Research; ICH; RT; Sputnik; PressTV; The 21st Century; TeleSUR; The Vineyard of The Saker Blog, the New Eastern Outlook (NEO); and other internet sites. He is the author of Implosion – An Economic Thriller about War, Environmental Destruction and Corporate Greed – fiction based on facts and on 30 years of World Bank experience around the globe. He is also a co-author of The World Order and Revolution! – Essays from the Resistance.

Why did Bolsonaro win in a country that, for two decades, has been voting for a center-left party for and whose majority of voters are poor and people of color? And what lessons does this have for democracies elsewhere? My 8-minute video discussing this: pic.twitter.com/0L8Mc6OfQO

— Glenn Greenwald (@ggreenwald)

Manufacturing consent for war? Venezuela a threat to regional stability, security: senior U.S. official: Venezuela poses a clear threat to regional stability and its economic collapse could drag down key U.S. allies in Latin America such as Brazil, Argentina and Colombia.

Colombia denies it’s plotting with Brazil’s new president to invade Venezuela

  Read Fascism on the March
  November 1, 2018
Is Trump A Fascist?
By ICH and Agencies, Information Clearing House.

Trump has used Mexican “rapists” and Islamic terrorists as unifying enemies. This tactic is actually perhaps the core of his political strategy.


  Read Is Trump AFascist?
  November 2, 2018
Is The Evidence of Global Warming TooScary For Humans To Cope With?
By Paul Craig Roberts, Information Clearing House.

I appreciate the numerous emails thanking me for providing an understandable explanation of the global warming scenario. The book, Unprecedented Crime, about which I reported, caused me to start thinking more seriously about man-made global warming. I already was thinking about it, because capitalism owes its profits to the costs that it imposes on the environment, costs that are external to the capitalist entity. I have been thinking about this since I addressed “external costs” in my 2013 book, The Failure of Laissez Faire Capitalism. I am thinking that if man-made global warming is indeed in the cards, as the current evidence supports, the external costs of capitalism will far exceed the total value of all the goods produced over the course of the industrial revolution. Past material comforts will be paid for by future curtailment of life on Earth. Greed, gluttony, envy, lust, and pride will have proven to be the five of the seven deadly sins that were deadly for planet Earth.

I hope I can find the time and energy to get around to a book on the subject. For now, like you, I am learning. It struck me, as it strikes many of you, how a one or two degree rise in temperature can cause ice caps, glaciers, and the Greenland ice shelf to melt. We don’t think of the Artic or glaciers hovering on the temperature border of frozen and melting. It is not intuitive that small changes can make such large differences.

Like you, I also found it puzzling that as carbon dioxide is only a small part of the atmosphere, how its increase can have such dangerous effects.

While struggling to put what I learned into understandable language, I thankfully came across this explanation in Scientific American:

“Small changes in the Earth’s heat balance can lead to large climatic changes. For example, the ice ages during the last several million years–and the warmer periods in between–appear to have been triggered by no more than a different seasonal and latitudinal distribution of the solar energy absorbed by the Earth, not by a change in output from the sun. The geologic record shows that the differences in ice cover, sea level and precipitation as well as in plant and animal populations were quite dramatic between the ice ages and the warm interglacials. Yet the global average temperature differences corresponding to these radically different climates were only about 5 degrees C in the tropics and 8 degrees C in polar regions.”

In case you don’t understand what is being said, the message is that very small differences in temperature are the difference between ice ages and heat extinction ages.

Scientific American asks this question—“If carbon dioxide makes up only a minute portion of the atmosphere, how can global warming be traced to it? And how can such a tiny amount of change produce such large effects?”—and Pieter Tans, a senior scientist at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Earth System Research Laboratory, provides this answer: https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/if-carbon-dioxide-makes-u/ Read it, and you will understand.

Keep in mind that however small the temperature changes seem to you, that it is not a theory but an observable fact that artic ice, the Greenland ice shelf, and glaciers are melting. Indeed, many glaciers have completely melted away. They are no longer present on Earth.

Ocean acidification is also an observable event. weather.com reports this from the just published Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences:

Human Activity Is Dissolving the World’s Seafloors, Raising Alarm for the Future

Typically, the seafloor is milky white and comprised of the mineral calcite.
Today, excessive carbon emissions have turned the milky white seafloor a murky brown in some hotspots such as the Northern Atlantic and the southern oceans.

Ocean acidification driven by human activity is dissolving the world’s seafloors at an alarming rate, a new study says.

Typically, the seafloor is milky white and comprised of the mineral calcite (CaCO3), which is formed from the skeletons and shells of planktonic organisms and corals, according to the study published this week in the journal, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences in the United States (PNAS).

Today, excessive carbon emissions have turned the milky white seafloor a murky brown in some hotspots, such as the Northern Atlantic and the southern oceans.

Dissolving calcite helps to neutralize the acidity of carbon dioxide and prevents ocean water from becoming too acidic. However, levels of carbon dioxide are so high in some areas and the water is so acidic that the calcite cannot meet the demand and is dissolving at a rapid rate. Researchers with Canada’s McGill University say it could take decades to see the full impacts of human-caused carbon emissions on the seafloor but the outlook is grim.

“Because it takes decades or even centuries for (carbon dioxide) to drop down to the bottom of the ocean, almost all the (carbon dioxide) created through human activity is still at the surface. But in the future, it will invade the deep-ocean, spread above the ocean floor and cause even more calcite particles at the seafloor to dissolve,” lead author Olivier Sulpis of McGill’s Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences said in a press release.

Sulpis noted that the rate at which carbon dioxide is currently being “emitted into the atmosphere is exceptionally high in Earth’s history, faster than at any period since at least the extinction of the dinosaurs.”

“And at a much faster rate than the natural mechanisms in the ocean can deal with, so it raises worries about the levels of ocean acidification in future,” he added.

The researchers came to their conclusions by simulating the conditions of the deep sea in the lab. They replicated the bottom currents, seawater temperature, chemistry and sediment compositions.

Comparing the dissolution rates from pre-industrial and current times, the researchers determined recent human activity has significantly sped up the process.

“Just as climate change isn’t just about polar bears, ocean acidification isn’t just about coral reefs,” noted former postdoctoral fellow David Trossman, now a research associate at the University of Texas at Austin. “Our study shows that the effects of human activities have become evident all the way down to the seafloor in many regions, and the resulting increased acidification in these regions may impact our ability to understand Earth’s climate history.”


Nature is the leading British scientific journal. A just published report in Nature concludes that “ocean warming is at the high end of previous estimates, with implications for policy-relevant measurements of the Earth response to climate change, such as climate sensitivity to greenhouse gases and the thermal component of sea-level rise. https://www.nature.com/articles/s41586-018-0651-8

Last but far from least, here is a report from The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), an independent agency of the United States Government: “Climate Change: How Do We Know?” : https://climate.nasa.gov/evidence/

This short easy to read NASA report makes clear that scientific evidence for man-made warming of the climate system is unequivocal. The NASA report will help you to regain your powers of independent thought from deniers funded by the fossil fuel industry. Remember, you live in a world of propaganda. Indeed, propaganda dominates our world and our history books. Most people lack the scientific education to judge. Usually, I can figure out what the climate scientists are saying as I graduated from a top ranked scientific and technical institution and then went on to Oxford where my professor was the distinguished physical chemist, Michael Polanyi, teacher of a bevy of scientists who won the Nobel Prize in Science, including E.P. Wigner, Melvin Calvin, and his own son, John Polanyi. You have to decide who to believe—independent scientists who have spent their careers studying climate change or hired guns defending material interests.

I understand that scientists, like all humans, can be mistaken in their view of reality, but at this time the evidence supports the climate scientists, just as the evidence supported the US Surgeon General’s report on the link between smoking and lung cancer. The Surgeon General’s report did not prevent the material interests from casting doubt and preventing action for two decades. According to the evidence we have, we do not have two decades before we act on carbon emissions.

The material interests have the most reassuring story, but they lack evidence.

Humans are, of course, selfish, and they might choose to continue to live well in the present at the expense of the future life of the planet.

Our generations will all be dead. If no one is here in the future, what is the bother?

Dr. Paul Craig Roberts was Assistant Secretary of the Treasury for Economic Policy and associate editor of the Wall Street Journal. He was columnist for Business Week, Scripps Howard News Service, and Creators Syndicate. He has had many university appointments. His internet columns have attracted a worldwide following. Roberts' latest books are The Failure of Laissez Faire Capitalism and Economic Dissolution of the West, How America Was Lost, and The Neoconservative Threat to World Order.

  Read Is The Evidence of Global Warming TooScary For Humans To Cope With?
  November 6, 2018
Apocalyptic Climate Reporting Completely Misses the Point
by Daniel Aldana Cohen, Information Clearing House.

Are we doomed? It’s the most common thing people ask me when they learn that I study climate politics. Fair enough. The science is grim, as the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has just reminded us with a report on how hard it will be to keep average global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius. But it’s the wrong question. Yes, the path we’re on is ruinous. It’s just as true that other, plausible pathways are not. That’s the real, widely ignored, and surprisingly detailed message of the IPCC report. We’re only doomed if we change nothing. The IPCC report makes it clear that if we make the political choice of bankrupting the fossil-fuel industry and sharing the burden of transition fairly, most humans can live in a world better than the one we have now.

And yet doom is what’s being amplified by seemingly every major newspaper and magazine, and the mainstream media more broadly. A standout example was David Wallace-Wells’s hot take on the IPCC report for New York magazine, charmingly titled, “UN Says Climate Genocide Is Coming. It’s Actually Worse Than That.” There’s a lot to say about the emotional texture of this kind of reporting. But the deeper problem is how this coverage fails to capture climate breakdown’s core cause-and-effect dynamic, thus missing how much scope for action there still is

Reporting on the IPCC, and climate change more broadly, is unbalanced. It’s fixated on the predictions of climate science and the opinions of climate scientists, with cursory gestures to the social, economic, and political causes of the problem. Yet analysis of these causes is as important to climate scholarship as modeling ice-sheet dynamics and sea-level rise. Reductionist climate reporting misses this. Many references to policy are framed in terms of carbon pricing. This endorses the prevailing contempt in establishment circles for people’s capacity to govern themselves beyond the restrictions of market rule. Meanwhile, the IPCC report is overflowing with analyses showing that we can avoid runaway climate change, improve most people’s lives, and prioritize equality through a broad set of interventions.

It remains physically possible to keep global warming at a relatively safe 1.5 degrees Celsius, and certainly a less safe—but not apocalyptic—2 degrees. This would require dramatic changes in economic policy and doubling down on the powers of public planning. Taxing carbon is essential, but is just one of many complementary tools. Using “command and control” regulatory methods, the Clean Air Act cleaned up much of the United States years before “market mechanisms” became famous. Indeed, “command and control” is the centerpiece of the best climate policies in the United States. Take California: There, the state’s regulatory mandates forcing utilities to source more renewable energy are the main reason emissions have gone down. In contrast, the market-mechanism piece of California’s climate policy, a “cap and trade” program, has failed to slash emissions; it may even have facilitated a moderate increase in carbon pollution in the state’s poorest neighborhoods.

Meanwhile, worldwide, a thumping clean-energy revolution is the story of markets fostered by activist government policy. Government research labs and grants, regulation of utilities, subsidies for homeowners to install solar panels, cheap loans for clean energy, and electric-car manufacture are yielding a boom in clean energy. In 2017, global wind energy capacity grew by 10 percent, and solar photovoltaic capacity by 32 percent.

Change is also coming from below. When German environmentalists pushed their government to subsidize clean energy, there was an explosion of community wind farms in their country, and solar-panel manufacturing in China to meet German demand. In the United States, the Sierra Club and its allies have managed to get hundreds of coal plants shut down early, or canceled before they were built. More direct action and harsher government policies will be needed to keep more fossil fuels in the ground. Otherwise, clean energy will merely supplement fossil fuels, rather than replace them.

Despite the framing of most news coverage about it, the latest IPCC report is innovative precisely because it uses new social science to highlight the climate implications of a range of political choices. But you have to read beyond the “Summary for Policymakers” to see it. The IPCC has embraced an approach developed by climate scholars called “Shared Socioeconomic Pathways,” or SSPs. Prior to the latest report, the IPCC projected future scenarios based on skeletal, technocratic models of energy, land use, and climate. They represented climate politics as being like a dashboard with a few dials that engineers could turn—a little more renewable energy here, a touch less deforestation there. In contrast, the SSPs imagine different possible climate futures in terms of realistic clusters of policy decisions, which in turn affect emissions, land use, and how the impacts of extreme weather are felt.

In the current report, there are five SSPs, which illustrate the huge differences between possible paths forward. Each pathway represents a different set of approaches for slashing emissions and coping with climate change. The first three strike me as most plausible. SSP 1, called “Sustainability,” imagines a world where policies increasingly favor sustainability, equity, education, and health care (which all reduces population growth), technological progress, and energy efficiency. This pathway also includes major cuts to fossil-fuel investment, which combined with public policy drive a hard, fast shift to clean energy and increased efficiency.

Compared to this rosy scenario, SSP 3, “Regional rivalry,” is terrifying: It projects low technological progress, few advances in health and education, high energy use, low international cooperation, and a booming population. Thanks to Donald Trump and Brazil’s Jair Bolsonaro, it’s depressingly easy to imagine this world, though we’re not there yet. SSP 2, a “middle of the road” scenario, feels closest to our current reality; it projects only moderate amounts of technological progress, cooperation, and social investment. While SSP 2’s climate implications are also scary—limiting warming to 2 degrees Celsius on this path is hard—the scenario is flexible enough for a turn to 1 or 3, better or worse. SSP 4, “Inequality,” and SSP 5, “Fossil-fuelled development” explore other unsettling options. The next report will have nine of these.

The scenarios do a nice job of tying together disparate social science about drivers of greenhouse-gas emissions beyond crude energy accounting. For instance, women’s improved education, job prospects, and smaller families in SSP 1 are a key reason climate models find that it is the easiest path to limiting warming to 1.5 degrees. Keywan Riahi, one of the architects of this new modeling approach, told me that some of the numbers glossed in the IPCC report’s “Summary for Policymakers” miss crucial takeaways, like the social-impact analysis buried deeper in the report’s third chapter. For instance, at two degrees Celsius warming, in an SSP 3 world, between 750 million and 1.2 billion people would be severely exposed to climate-linked extreme weather, according to a 2018 study discussed in the IPCC report. In contrast, the IPCC reports, under the SSP 1 scenario, well under 100 million people would be hard hit by extreme weather at the same level of warming.

This is a huge finding! The very same cluster of priorities in SSP 1—technology, equality, global cooperation—that do the best job of slashing carbon emissions could also protect about 1 billion people from the climate impacts of 2 degrees Celsius warming. If your only climate policy is carbon pricing, then there’s of course a trade-off between equity and decarbonization. Jacking up gas and electricity prices hurts the poor. But expand your political and policy imagination, and get out your calculator, and you find something else. Lifting hundreds of millions of people out of poverty through feminist public policies, reducing the consumption of the affluent, and pursuing innovation make lives better, safer, and more environmentally friendly. The report is jam-packed with evidence for this.

But you won’t find any of this scholarship, which is the very core of the IPCC’s findings, in the melancholy, fatalist reporting of the leading US press outlets. (David Roberts at Vox, who has picked up on the SSPs, is the main exception.) That coverage devoted almost all of its space—and considerable writing talent—to making concrete and visceral potentially terrible outcomes. And almost all discussion of climate change’s social causes is linked to one number—how many dollars should we charge per ton of carbon. Meanwhile, the IPCC is screaming, page after page: For God’s sake, pay attention to the damn social system and all the ways it can change! (I’m paraphrasing.) Why not make that concrete and visceral?

Ah, but SSP 1 is just a fantasy, right? At best, something they’re trying in Copenhagen? Actually, no. From the US Department of Energy’s battery labs to Washington State’s climate politics battles to the solar rooftops of Los Angeles’s Boyle Heights, fascinating, passionate people are working their asses off to do the things that these models seek to summarize.

The main mechanisms of SSP 1 are on the ballot in Washington State right now, in the form of a carbon-fee and clean-energy-investment proposal. California also spends a third of its revenue from cap-and-trade specifically on climate-friendly investments in poor, racialized, and polluted communities. In more familiar terms, these kinds of “Green New Deal” policies, increasingly linked to a job-guarantee proposal, are being energetically pursued by nearly all the insurgent young Democrats of 2018, most notably Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. At the federal level, Bernie Sanders campaigned on something similar in 2016. For 2020, all signs point to support for Green New Deal–style policies by most of the leading progressive Democratic presidential contenders.

If one of these beats Trump, it would utterly transform global climate politics. Suddenly, the world’s three most powerful—and polluting—economic blocs, the United States, China, and the European Union, which together make up well over half the global economy, could all be committed to huge climate investment. This has never happened before. How the US left integrates climate into its agenda in the next couple of years will shape global climate politics for decades. Meaning there’s never been a better time to align our fights for racial justice, economic equality, decent public services, and a safe climate.

The SSPs themselves aren’t framed in terms of conventional political categories, like free-market fundamentalism, social democracy, or eco-socialism. That’s smart. People can draw their own political conclusions. Same goes for hope or pessimism—that’s a mood people can choose on their own. My question is, based on what? Potentially awful climate outcomes, or the social action that could prevent those? Why aren’t we dwelling on the ways that nascent SSP 1 policy-making could expand into a more encompassing global dynamic?

Is an imagined future of equality and sustainability so utterly beyond reach? To most of the mainstream media, just half of the climate equation feels real: its potentially catastrophic effects. This story, artfully told over and over, is resonating with millions. People are terrified. But as the scientists themselves insist, the real action lies on the causal end of the equation: human struggles against old powers that are happening right now. These struggles are actually going pretty well. Call it invention, call it care, call it politics—climate change is the story of people fighting over how to live.

Daniel Aldana Cohen is an assistant professor of sociology at the University of Pennsylvania, where he directs the Socio-Spatial Climate Collaborative, or (SC)2.

This article was originally published by "The Nation "   

  Read Apocalyptic Climate Reporting CompletelyMisses the Point
  November 15, 2018
Half Million Killed by America's Global Waron Terror 'Just Scratches the Surface' ofHuman Destruction
By Jessica Corbett, Information Clearing House.

Half Million Killed by America's Global War on Terror 'Just Scratches the Surface' of Human Destruction

"This new body count signals that, far from diminishing, the war is only intensifying."

The United States' so-called War on Terror has killed about half a million people in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan, according to a new estimate from the Costs of War Project at Brown University's Watson Institute.

"This new body count signals that, far from diminishing, the war is only intensifying," Stephanie Savell, co-director of the project, pointed out in a piece for Axios. The overall death toll "is an increase of 113,000 over the last count, issued just two years ago."

The new report (pdf) estimates that since 2001, between 480,000 and 507,000 people have been killed because of war violence in those three nations—a tally that does not include "the more than 500,000 deaths from the war in Syria, raging since 2011, which the U.S. joined in August 2014," and "indirect deaths," or those killed by war's impact on public health, such as limiting access to food, water, hospitals, and electricity.

Over 480,000 have died due to direct war violence in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan, but the number of indirect deaths - because, for example, of war-related disease -- is several times larger. See our paper at https://t.co/Q8RuLYE3br

— The Costs of War (@CostsOfWar) November 8, 2018

The "direct deaths" accounted for in the estimate include U.S. military, contractors, and Defense Department employees; national military and police as well as other allied troops; opposition fighters; civilians; journalists; and aid workers. About half of those killed were civilians—between 244,000 and 266,000 across Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan. Up to 204,000 of them were Iraqis.

While the U.S. government has repeatedly underestimated the costs of waging war, since the project launched in 2011, its team has aimed to provide a full account of the "human, economic, and political costs" of post-9/11 U.S. military action in the Middle East, "and to foster better informed public policies."

This latest report comes on the heels of the U.S. midterm elections in which Democrats took control of the U.S. House of Representatives. Looking forward, Savell suggested that "House Democrats will try to advance a national security strategy emphasizing restraint and accountability for the costs of the War on Terror."

Outlining some expressed goals from a handful of House Democrats, Savell wrote for Axios:

Research shows that governments become more careful when civilian deaths from "collateral damage" are reported on. A wave of Democrats now in control of the House plan to push for just that. Representative Ro Khanna says he wants to hold as many as three days of hearings with Trump's national security team to "justify, for the American people, what our mission is, what the costs are, what the risks are, and why we're there." Representative Adam Smith, poised to become chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, plans to increase oversight of the military, and others led by Representative Barbara Lee hope to end the war in Afghanistan.

Regardless of how Democrats in the House proceed, Neta C. Crawford, a Boston University political science professor who co-directs the Costs of War Project, argued in the report's conclusion that there is a need to keep the public more informed about the consequences of the seemingly endless wars in the Middle East in order to drive demands for improving U.S. foreign policy.

"This update just scratches the surface of the human consequences of 17 years of war," Crawford wrote. "Too often, legislators, NGOs, and the news media that try to track the consequences of the wars are inhibited by governments determined to paint a rosy picture of perfect execution and progress."

"The U.S. has made some effort to increase transparency," she acknowledged, "but there are a number of areas—the number of civilians killed and injured, and the number of U.S. military and veteran suicides, for instance—where greater transparency would lead to greater accountability and could lead to better policy."

Day by day, the casualties grow, largely unnoticed by the American public and our lawmakers. This is why we need to #EndEndlessWar. https://t.co/RchhjTTjfW

— Win Without War (@WinWithoutWar) November 8, 2018

Responding to the report's findings, Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif drew attention to the human and financial consequences, tweeting: "Cost to U.S. taxpayers: 7K dead Americans + $5.6 trillion. Cost to MidEast: Unfathomable."

US' so-called 'War on Terror' has cost 500K+ lives. 110K+ dead just since 2016. Debacle has caused destruction in Iraq, Syria, Libya & Yemen. It has spawned ISIS & multiple Al Qaeda affiliates. Cost to US taxpayers: 7K dead Americans + $5.6 trillion. Cost to MidEast: Unfathomable pic.twitter.com/Ef8dCc32qT

— Javad Zarif (@JZarif) November 9, 2018

  Read Half Million Killed by America's Global Waron Terror 'Just Scratches the Surface' ofHuman Destruction
  November 16, 2018
China: A New Philosophy of Economics
by Peter Koenig, Information Clearing House.

China’s economic philosophy is a far cry from that of the west. 

The west consistently seeks to undermine the interests of their partners, be it for trade or political agreements; be it partners from the west, their smaller and weaker brothers; or from the east; or from the south – there is always an element of exploitation, of “one-upmanship”, of outdoing a partner, of domination. Equality and fairness are unknown by the west.

Or, when the concept was once known, at least by some countries and some people, it has been erased by indoctrinated neoliberal thinking – egocentricity, “me first”, and the sheer, all-permeating doctrine of “maximizing profits”; short-term thinking, instant gratification – or more extreme, making a killing today for a gamble or deal that takes place tomorrow. Futures trading – the epitome of manipulating economic values. Only in the capitalist world.

This has become a key feature of western commerce and trading. It’s manipulation and exploitation over ethics; it’s Profits Über Alles! – Doesn’t it sound like fascism? – Well it is. And if the partner doesn’t fall for the ruse, coercion becomes the name of the game – and if that doesn’t work the western military move in with bombs and tanks, seeking regime change – destroying the very country the west wants to dominate. That’s western brutal economics – full hegemony. No sharing.

China’s approach is quite different. It’s one of sharing, of participating, of mutual benefits. China invests trillions of dollars equivalent in developing countries – Asia, especially India and now also Pakistan, Africa, South America, largely for infrastructure projects, as well as mining of natural resources. Unlike the gains from western investments, the benefits of China’s investments are shared. China’s investment and mining concessions are not coerced, but fairly negotiated. China’s investment relationship with a partner country remains peaceful and is not ‘invasive’ and abusive, as are most of those of the west – which uses threats and guns to get what they want.

Of course, the west complains about Chinese investments, lying how abusive they are, when in reality the west is upset about Chinese competition in Africa and South America – Continents that are still considered part of the western domain, as they were colonized for about thousand years by western powers and empires – and as of today, African and Latin-American countries are neo-colonized, no longer (for now) with brute military force, but with even more ferocious financial strangulation, through sanctions, boycotts and embargos; all highly illegal by any international standards. But there aren’t any international laws that are upheld. International courts and judges are coerced to obey Washington’s dictates, or else… literally “or else”; and these are serious threats.

Take the case of West and Central Africa, former French colonies. The French West African zone includes eight countries: Benin, Burkina Faso, Guinea Bissau, Ivory Coast, Mali, Niger, Senegal, Togo; and the French Central African area comprises six countries – Cameroon, the Central African Republic, Chad, Republic of the Congo, Equatorial Guinea and Gabon. All 14 countries have a common currency, the CFA franc (CFA = Communauté financière africaine – African Financial Community). 

They are two separate currencies, though always at parity and therefore interchangeable. The Western and Central African monetary union have separate central banks, the Banque Centrale des États de l’Afrique de l’Ouest, BCEAO, headquartered in Dakar, Senegal; and the Banque des États de l’Afrique Centrale, BEAC, in Yaoundé, Cameroun. Both currencies are guaranteed by the French treasury. This means in fact, that the economy of these 14 countries not only depends on France, but setting the value of the currency (at present one € = 655 CFA francs) is entirely the prerogative of the Banque de France (French Central Bank). This ultra-complicated setup between the two groups of former and new French colonies is not only a matter of French accounting, but foremost a means to confuse and distract the mostly innocent observer from a flagrant abusive reality.

With the French control over the West- and Central African currencies, the foreign trading capacity of these countries is reduced to what France will allow. France has a de facto monopoly on these countries’ production. Should France stop buying their “former-new” colonies goods, the countries go broke, as they have been unable to develop alternative markets under the French yoke. Thus, they are always at the mercy of France, the IMF, World Bank and the African Development Bank. – From labor slaves up to the early 1960s, they have become debt slaves of the neoliberal age. 

In addition, to back this French Treasury guarantee, 85% of the countries’ foreign exchange reserves are blocked by the French Central Bank and may only be used by the respective counties against specific permission – and – as a loan. – Imagine! – The “former” French colonies have to borrow their own money from the French Central Bank. Similar debt enslaving is going on in former British and Portuguese colonies, though, none of them is as abjectly abusive as are the French. 

Big wonder that Chinese investors are highly welcome in Africa. And knowing western manipulating and deranged mindsets, no wonder that China is demonized by the west as exploiting Africa to the bones, when exactly the contrary is the case. But almighty western lie-propaganda media has the brainwashed western populace believe China is stealing African natural resources. Chinese fairness is indeed tough competition against the usual western trickery and deceit.

In Africa, China is not only focusing on buying and trading natural resources, but on training and using local African brainpower to convert Africa from a western slave into an equal partner. For example, to boost African autonomy, China is using an approach, Ghadaffy intended to apply – entering the wireless phone system, conquering some of the market with efficient batteries, and providing cheaper and more efficient services than the west, hence directly competing with the western exploited African telephone market. Chinese phones also come with their own browsers, so that internet may eventually be accessed in the remotest places of Africa, providing a top tool for education. Challenging the EU and US dominated multi-billion-dollar market, is just one of the reasons Ghadaffy was miserably murdered by French-led NATO forces. Of course, China’s presence is a bit more difficult to kick than was Ghadaffy’s. 

This is just one more signal that China is in Africa – and Asia and Latin America – not just for the legendary American Quick Buck, but for genuine investments in long-term economic development which involves developing transportation networks, efficient and independent financial systems which may escape the western SWIFT and FED / Wall Street banking system through which US sanctions are imposed. This may involve the creation of government controlled blockchain currencies – see also Venezuela’s hydrocarbon-backed Petro – and linking African currencies to the Yuan and the eastern SCO (Shanghai Cooperation Organization) monetary system – freeing Africa from the dollar hegemony. With the help of China and Russia, Africa may, in fact, become the forerunner of crypto-currencies – and, in the case of west-and central Africa, the 14 countries would be able to gain financial autonomy, and to the chagrin of the French Central Bank, manage their own financial resources, breaking loose from under the little-talked about French yoke. It is quite conceivable that with Chinese development assistance Africa will become an important trading partner for the east, leaving western exploiting and abusing business and banking magnates behind in the dust.

The Overseas Private Investment Cooperation (OPIC), a US private lending as well as investment guarantee agency – is upset about US investors losing out to Chinese and wants US corporations to compete more aggressively – which is precisely what Africa rejects, America’s violent bombing approach to impose her trade and concession rules with the coercing help of the IMF and the World Bank. Africa is seeking – finally – sovereignty, deciding over her own financial and political destiny. This includes choosing investors and trading partners of their liking.

Many African and South American countries prefer China’s yuan-investments, rather than Washington’s US-dollar investments. Its ‘softer’ money coming from the Chinese. For China it’s also a way of diverting the world from the US-dollar, providing incentives for countries to divest their dollar reserves into yuan reserves. That’s is already happening at accelerating speed. 

China’s outlook at home and abroad is nothing less than spectacular. On the home front, they are building cutting-edge technology transport infrastructure, such as high-speed railways, for example, connecting Shanghai and Hangzhou, cutting travel time from one and a half hour in half. China’s high-speed bullet train connects for the first time Hong Kong with the mainland, cutting travel time Hong Kong to Beijing from 24 hours to 9 hours.

In October 2018, after nine years construction, President Xi Jinping opened the world’s longest sea crossing bridge, linking Hong Kong to Macau and the mainland Chinese city of Zhuhai. The bridge is 55 km long – about 20 times the length of San Francisco’s Golden Gate bridge. In urban development, existing and new multi-million people cities are planned, expanded and stamped out of the ground in less than a generation.

China has just built a US$ 2.1 billion AI (Artificial Intelligence) industrial park, and is not sleeping either on the environmental protection and development front, investing billions in research and development of alternative clean energies, especially solar power and its storage potential, next generation beyond lithium batteries, ranging from lithium solid state to electrolyte materials to graphene batteries and eventually to copper foam substrate. And that’s not the end of the line. Each battery technology offers increased capacity, safety and charging and discharging speed.  

On the domestic and international front, the Belt and Road (B and R) Initiative – the New Silk Road – is China’s President Xi’s phenomenal geo-economic initiative to connect the world from China with several transport routes and develop in a first step Western China, Eastern Russia, Central Asia and Eastern Europe – all the way to the frontiers of western Europe. This massive economic development program includes industrial parks, trade and cultural interchanges, research and development through existing universities and new science and learning centers. Maritime routes are also foreseen entering Africa through Kenya and Southern Europe and the Middle East via the Greek port of Piraeus and Iran – a southern route is also planned to enter the southern cone of Latin America.  

The endeavor is so huge, it has recently been inscribed into the Chinese Constitution. It will mobilize in the coming decades and possibly century trillions of yuan and dollar-equivalent of investments, mostly from China, Russia, the other SCO countries, as well as European partners  – and foremost the Beijing-based AIIB (Asian Infrastructure and Investment Bank) which has already 70 member countries, among them Australia, Canada, Western European nations and close to 20 prospective new countries; but not the United States of America.

This giant project, is of course, not without challenges. While the need for proof of “credit worthiness” by being tied to the IMF and World Bank of the eighties and nineties had since long faded into oblivion, China is still bound to the IMF and WB. – Why? – In my opinion it proves two things, The People’s Bank of China – the Chinese Central Bank – is still controlled by the FED and BIS (Bank for International Settlement, alias, central bank of all central banks), and a strong Fifth Column that doesn’t yield an inch of their power. The Chinese leadership could implement the necessary changes towards full financial sovereignty – but, why is that not happening? – Western threats and their secret services have become ever more sophisticated abduction and “neutralizing” machines over the past 70 years. 

The next question is what’s the Chinese lending limit to countries who have already or will subscribe to the Belt and Road Initiative to help them repay western debt and integrate into the new eastern economic model and monetary system? The question is relevant, because China’s money supply is based on China’s economic output; unlike western currencies which are purely fiat money (hot air). 

Also, how will ownership of foreign assets, i.e. infrastructure funded and perhaps built, dealt with? – Will they become Chinese property, increasing China’s capital base and flow of money? – Or would they be negotiated as long-term concessions, after which a country may repay to acquire sovereign ownership, or transfer part or all of the assets to China as a shareholder. These are relevant considerations, especially with regard to the huge B&R investments foreseen in the coming years. These decisions should be made autonomously by Chinese leadership, totally outside the influence of western monetary czars, like IMF and WB. 

Another issue which is steadily and increasingly cropping up in the west, of course to demonize China and discourage “western civilized” (sic) countries to associate themselves with socialist China – is China’s concept of “Social Credits”. It is largely based on what the west calls a dictatorial, freedom-robbing surveillance state – with cameras and face-recognition everywhere. Of course, totally ignoring the western own Orwellian Big Brother Surveillance and lie apparatus which calls itself democracy – and in fact is a democracy for then the elite of the plutocrats, gradually and by heavy propaganda brainwashing converting what’s left of ‘democracy’ into outright fascism – we, in the west, are almost there. And this, to the detriment of the “Silent Lambs” – as per Rainer Mausfeld’s latest book, in German, “Why are Lambs Silent” (German Westend-Verlag). Yes, that’s what we have become: “Silent Lambs”.

It is too easy to demonize China for attempting to create a more harmonious, cohesive and peaceful society. Granted, this surveillance in China as in the west, demolishes to a large extent individualism, individual thinking, thereby limiting human creativeness and freedom. This is a topic which the Chinese socialist government, independent of western critique, may have to address soon to keep precisely one of the key principles of Chinese society alive – ‘social cohesiveness’ and a sense of equality and freedom. 

What is the “Social Credit” system? – It is a digital footprint of everything the Chinese do, as private citizens, as corporate managers in production as well as banking, workers, food sellers, in order to basically create an ambiance of full transparency (that’s the goal – far from having been reached), so as to establish citizens’ and corporations’ “creditworthiness”, in financial terms, but also assessing crime elements, political inclinations, radicalism, to prevent potential terror acts (interestingly, in the case of most western terror acts, officials say the ‘terrorists’ were known to the police – which simply leaves you to conclude that they acted in connivance with the forces of order); and to enhance food safety in restaurants and by other food sellers. 

In other words, the aim is to establish corporate and individual “score cards” which will work as a rewards and punishment system, a “carrot and stick” approach. Depending on the crime or deviation from the rule, you may be reprimanded and get ‘debits’ – which you may wipe out by changing your behavior. Living under the spell of debits may limit, for example, your access to comfortable or speedy travel, better and speedier trains, air tickets, certain cultural events and more.

Yes, the idea of creating a stable domestic society has its drawbacks – surveillance – demolition of much of individualism, creativity, by implanting conformity. The government’s axiom is “we want a society where people don’t desire to break the rules, but the earliest stage is that they are afraid to break the rules.”  

In the end, the question is, will the “Social Credits” approach to societal living, meaning a total surveillance state with every data recorded into a network of total control, be beneficial or detrimental for the Chinese goal to push ahead with her extraordinary and mostly egalitarian economic development approach, transport and industrial infrastructure, scientific research and cultural exchange – called Belt and Road, alias the New Silk Road? – Only the future will tell; but the Chinese are not alone. They have solid partners in the SCO – and long-term economic development endeavors never work in linear values, but with the unknown of dynamics to which humans are uniquely adapted to adjust. 

Peter Koenig is an economist and geopolitical analyst. He is also a water resources and environmental specialist. He worked for over 30 years with the World Bank and the World Health Organizationaround the world in the fields of environment and water. He lectures at universities in the US, Europe and South America. He writes regularly for Global Research; ICH; RT; Sputnik; PressTV; The 21st Century; TeleSUR; The Vineyard of The Saker Blog, the New Eastern Outlook (NEO); and other internet sites. He is the author of Implosion – An Economic Thriller about War, Environmental Destruction and Corporate Greed – fiction based on facts and on 30 years of World Bank experience around the globe. He is also a co-author of The World Order and Revolution! - Essays from the Resistance.

  Read China: A New Philosophy of Economics
  November 19, 2018
Syria - Back In The Arab Fold
by Moon Of Alabama, Information Clearing House.

Following Syria's military success against its enemies, Arab states which supported the war on Syria are again making nice with it. The United Arab Emirates will reopen its embassy in Damascus. Kuwait and Bahrain will follow. Today a delegation of parliamentarians from Jordan visited Damascus and met with President Assad.

The members of the delegation affirmed that the pulse of the Jordanian street has always been with the Syrian people in the face of the terrorist war against the, as Syria is the first line of defense for the entire Arab region and the victory in this war will be a victory for all the Arab countries in the face of Western projects aimed at destabilizing and fragmenting these countries in service of Israel’s security.

First signs that this was going to happen appeared a few month ago when a Kuwaiti TV personality spoke about the pleasure of visiting an again peaceful Damascus. In June the Foreign Affairs Minister of UAE called the expulsion of Syria from the Arab league a "mistake". In an interview with a Kuwaiti paper Assad said that he had reached "major understanding" with Arab states.

The Saudis though are not yet welcome back in Damascus. They were one of the largest financiers of the Jihadis and will have to pay an equally large price to come back into good standing. Negotiations are ongoing. A formal reentry of Syria into the Arab League can not be far away.

Behind this change is a fear of renewed Turkish ambitions. Not only Saudi Arabia but all the Arab states do not want Turkey to expand and become more powerful. They do not want to see Arab land in Syria under Turkish control. The sole exception so far is Qatar which is allied with Turkey and has Turkish troops on its land to protect it from Saudi imperialism.

The three blocks that form the larger Middle East, Turkey, Iran and the Arab states north of the Red Sea are roughly of the same population size. Each block also represents a religious-political stream with Turkey leading the political-Sunni Muslim Brotherhood, Iran the political-Shia and with the third block consisting of Sunni majority countries with more or less dictatorial rulers. The three blocks compete in their borderlands of Iraq and Syria. The Arabs finally noticed that their attempts to dispose the Syrian government led to gains for Iran and Turkey and put them on the losing site.

For Syria the new Arab position is a very welcome change. While it will certainly not end its alliance with Iran, it will welcome any help against the Turkish ambitions. It also needs investments to rebuild and the rich Gulf states will surely provide some. That will also sabotage  U.S. and European plans to starve Syria of money unless it submits to their will.

This article was originally published by "Moon Of Alabama"

  Read Syria - Back In The Arab Fold
  November 21, 2018
Nothing In Any Conspiracy Theory Is As BadAs What’s Being Done Out In The Open
by Caitlin Johnstone, Information Clearing House.

Yesterday President Trump posted a statement on the White House website saying his administration will be standing with the House of Saud despite the CIA’s assertion that Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman personally ordered the murder of Jamal Khashoggi, a Saudi journalist who was living and working in the United States.

The statement reads like a long form version of one of Trump’s tweets, replete with gratuitous exclamation points and slogans like “America First!” and the lie that Iran is “the world’s leading sponsor of terror”, which will never be true no matter how many times this administration deliberately repeats it. The world’s leading sponsor of terrorism is of course Saudi Arabia, along with Israel and the United States.

Trump’s alleged opposition has responded with melodramatic outrage, as though a US president continuing to stand by Saudi Arabia in the face of horrific acts of violence is somehow new and unprecedented and not standard operating procedure for decades. Dismembering a journalist while he’s still alive would be a fairly typical Tuesday afternoon for the Saudi government and would not rank anywhere near the top ten most evil things this government has done, but because it involves America and a conspiracy it’s a sexy story that everyone laps up. Add in the fact that Trump is more blunt and forthcoming about American depravity and you’ve got yourself a yarn.

You are the President of the United States of America. You should not grovel to Saudi Arabia.

Your statement is weak despite the random exclamation points. A strong would not excuse the Saudis for murdering a journalist & cutting him up into pieces, November 21, 2018

This has remained a hot story through to today, invigorated by by America’s WWE president in which he crowed about low gas prices and added “Thank you to Saudi Arabia” like a good little muppet. And amid all the fist-shaking and rending of garments about the killing of one man by the Saudi government, a far less magnetic story has been published saying that about 84,701 Yemeni children under the age of five were starved to death between April 2015 and October 2018. And I say “were starved to death” instead of “have starved to death” because their starvation is the direct result of a blockade and relentless violence by Saudi Arabia.

The lack of any sense of proportion in response to the Khashoggi case compared to the destruction of civilian lives in Yemen has been roundly criticized by anyone with a public platform and open eyes, and rightly so; obviously a government murdering a journalist in cold blood would be a terrible thing, but to hold that as more worthy of attention than the anguished deaths of untold tens of thousands is obscene.

This dynamic is also not unique to Saudi human rights violations. Take the ongoing Russiagate conspiracy theory, for example. Even if Mueller’s investigation did somehow prove that Trump colluded with the Russian government to steal the 2016 election and it won’t), that act would still have been far less horrible than the ongoing cold war escalations that this administration has been continually advancing against a nuclear superpower. The existence of every single organism on this planet has been placed in jeopardy by Trump’s idiotic, unforgivable, still very much ongoing game of nuclear chicken with Russia, but hardly anyone ever talks about it. They focus on an empty conspiracy theory instead, partly because it is the mass media’s job to manufacture support for warmongering while downplaying its risks, and partly because theoretical conspiracies draw more attention than the things our rulers are doing right out in the open.

I often get conspiracy buffs asking/telling me to write about this or that theory of 9/11 or the JFK assassination or whatever, and I’m just like, dude, have you seen the stuff they’re doing in broad daylight?? It’s not that I have any attachment to the official narratives the TV tells me I’m required to believe, I just find I can get a lot more traction with much better arguments pointing out the facts that are publicly known and undisputed, especially because those things are often far worse than anything alleged in any conspiracy theory.

I mean, take 9/11. Pretty bad, right? 2,996 dead human beings. If that were engineered or permitted to happen by any faction of the US government or any of its allies, that would be pretty diabolical. But would it be worse than a million Iraqis killed in a war based on lies? Even if you only care about American lives, just the number of US soldiers killed in Iraq already far exceeds the death toll of 9/11. This was a war engineered by secretive government agencies and DC insiders, justified and sold to the public with government lies, lies which were advanced as objective and unquestionable fact by the mass media. The war was rammed through without any public accountability, a million human lives were snuffed out, and when they were done nobody was tried for war crimes. Nobody was even fired. No changes were ever made to prevent such horrors from being inflicted upon our world again.

On paper, I’d say that’s far worse than 9/11. Yes, I know the two are related, but just looking at the objective facts of those two occurrences, one is clearly more egregious an offense than the other, regardless of what specifically happened on that September morning.

It isn't necessary to go diving down every conspiracy theory rabbit hole to understand that there's an alliance of plutocrats and secretive government agencies running things; it's right out in the open. You can point to them using publicly available, noncontroversial facts.

Pretty much all other conspiracy theories are like this as well; interesting and intriguing due to the idea of catching powerful people in the act of something horrible, but much less horrible than the things those same powerful people are doing publicly. Mass media outlets make no attempt to hide who owns them or to mask their virulently pro-establishment bias as they manipulate our minds day in and day out, medicine money is spent on bombs and war ships, civilians are starved to death with sanctions, wars are waged on lies and when those lies are uncovered we get nothing but a “Fuck you we do what we want,” billionaires influence the legislative branch with corporate lobbying and campaign donations right out in the open to tilt the scales in favor of the plutocratic class, money is hemorrhaging upward to the richest of the rich while Americans die of lack of healthcare, we inch closer to extinction by either ecocidal end-stage capitalism or nuclear holocaust, and lucrative arms deals are cut with an unfathomably wealthy royal family that is causing the worst humanitarian crisis on earth in Yemen.

If we could see with fresh eyes what is being done to us and our fellow man right out in the open, we would recoil and fall to the ground trembling in sheer terror. The only reason we don’t treat these terrible things like what they are is because they have been normalized for us to the point where we take them for granted and assume that’s the only way things could possibly be. Conspiracy theories sparkle because those are new stories we haven’t been desensitized to, but it’s usually the things that powerful people do out in the open that does the most damage.

  Read Nothing In Any Conspiracy Theory Is As BadAs What’s Being Done Out In The Open
  November 23, 2018
Climate Change Will Shrink US Economyand Kill Thousands, Government ReportWarns
By Jen Christensen and Michael Nedelman, Information Clearing House.

A new US government report delivers a dire warning about climate change and its devastating impacts, saying the economy could lose hundreds of billions of dollars -- or, in the worst-case scenario, more than 10% of its GDP -- by the end of the century. The federally mandated study was supposed to come out in December but was released by the Trump administration on Friday, at a time when many Americans are on a long holiday weekend, distracted by family and shopping.

David Easterling, director of the Technical Support Unit at the NOAA National Centers for Environmental Information, emphasized that there was "no external interference in the report's development." He added that the climate change the Earth is experiencing is unlike any other.

"The global average temperature is much higher and is rising more rapidly than anything modern civilization has experienced, and this warming trend can only be explained by human activities," Easterling said. Coming from the US Global Change Research Program, a team of 13 federal agencies, the Fourth National Climate Assessment was put together with the help of 1,000 people, including 300 leading scientists, roughly half from outside the government. It's the second of two volumes. The first, released in November 2017, concluded that there is "no convincing alternative explanation" for the changing climate other than "human activities, especially emissions of greenhouse gases."

The report's findings run counter to President Donald Trump's consistent message that climate change is a hoax. On Wednesday, Trump tweeted, "Whatever happened to Global Warming?" as some Americans faced the coldest Thanksgiving in over a century. But the science explained in these and other federal government reports is clear: Climate change is not disproved by the extreme weather of one day or a week; it's demonstrated by long-term trends. Humans are living with the warmest temperatures in modern history. Even if the best-case scenario were to happen and greenhouse gas emissions were to drop to nothing, the world is on track to warm 1.1 degrees Fahrenheit. As of now, not a single G20 country is meeting climate targets, research shows. Without significant reductions in greenhouse emissions, the annual average global temperature could increase 9 degrees Fahrenheit (5 Celsius) or more by the end of this century, compared with preindustrial temperatures, the report says.

The expense

The costs of climate change could reach hundreds of billions of dollars annually, according to the report. The Southeast alone will probably lose over a half a billion labor hours by 2100 due to extreme heat. Farmers will face extremely tough times. The quality and quantity of their crops will decline across the country due to higher temperatures, drought and flooding. In parts of the Midwest, farms will be able to produce less than 75% of the corn they produce today, and the southern part of the region could lose more than 25% of its soybean yield. Heat stress could cause average dairy production to fall between 0.60% and 1.35% over the next 12 years -- having already cost the industry $1.2 billion from heat stress in 2010. When it comes to shellfish there will be a $230 million loss by the end of the century due to ocean acidification, which is already killing off shellfish and corals. Red tides, or algae bloom that deplete oxygen in the water and can kill sea life -- like those that triggered a state of emergency in Florida in August -- will become more frequent.

Impacts on our health

Higher temperatures will also kill more people, the report says. The Midwest alone, which is predicted to have the largest increase in extreme temperature, will see an additional 2,000 premature deaths per year by 2090. There will be more mosquito- and tickborne diseases like Zika, dengue and chikungunya. West Nile cases are expected to more than double by 2050 due to increasing temperatures. Expect asthma and allergies to be worse due to climate change. No one's health is immune from climate change, the report concludes. People will be exposed to more foodborne and waterborne diseases. Particularly vulnerable to higher temperatures in the summer, children, the elderly, the poor and communities of color will be at a much greater risk for illness and death.

Heat and flooding

Wildfire seasons -- already longer and more destructive than before -- could burn up to six times more forest area annually by 2050 in parts of the United States. Burned areas in Southwestern California alone could double by 2050. Dependable and safe water for the Hawaii, the Caribbean and others are threatened by these rising temperatures. Along the US coasts, public infrastructure and $1 trillion in national wealth held in real estate are threatened by rising sea levels, flooding and storm surges. Energy systems will be taxed, meaning more blackouts and power failures, and the potential loss in some sectors could reach hundreds of billions of dollars per year by the end of the century, the report said. The number of days over 100 degrees Fahrenheit will multiply; Chicago, where these days are rare, could start to resemble Phoenix or Las Vegas, with up to two months worth of these scorching-hot days. Sea levels have already gone up 7 to 8 inches since 1900. Almost half that rise has been since 1993, a rate of rise greater than during any century in the past 2,800 years. Some countries are already seeing land underwater. By midcentury, it's likely that the Arctic will lose all sea ice in late summer, and that could lead to more permafrost thaw, according to the report. As the permafrost thaws, more carbon dioxide and methane would be released, amplifying human-induced warming, "possibly significantly."

What can be done

The report was created to inform policy-makers and makes no specific recommendations on how to remedy the problem. However, it suggests that if the United States immediately reduced its fossil fuel use and greenhouse gas emissions, it could save thousands of lives and generate billions of dollars in benefits for the country. The Defense Department is trying to understand what risk climate change poses to security. But the Trump administration has signaled that the country will pull out of international initiatives like the Paris climate accord, aimed at lowering global temperatures, claiming that these treaties have been unfair for the US economy. A report from the UN in October urged all governments to take "rapid, far-reaching and unprecedented changes in all aspects of society" to avoid disaster from climate change. That report predicted that the Earth will reach the crucial threshold of 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit) above pre-industrial levels by as early as 2030. It also suggested the world faces a risk of extreme drought, wildfires, floods and food shortages for hundreds of millions of people.

Time for action

Reactions to the new report have been strong across the scientific community. "If we're going to run this country like a business, it's time to address climate as the threat multiplier we know it is before more lives are lost," said Robert Bullard, an environmental scientist at Texas Southern University. "In Houston, communities of color have endured back to back major weather events without the acknowledgment from Washington that climate change is the cause. We've known for years that it's true and it's important to our organizing and our local policy efforts that information like this is not only considered, but believed and acted upon."
Scientists who have been raising the alarm about the negative consequences of climate change for years welcomed the findings. "The findings in the Trump administration's NCA report show how the health and daily lives of Americans are becoming more and more interrupted because of climate change," said Beverly Wright, founding director of the Deep South Center for Environmental Justice and a professor at Dillard University. "We challenge the administration to finally begin using this information to rebuild and strengthen the communities in the direct path of the atrocities wrought by the fossil fuel industry and decades of poor policies that have neglected our concerns. The science is undeniable, let's fix it.

  Read Climate Change Will Shrink US Economyand Kill Thousands, Government ReportWarns
  November 23, 2018
Iran, Saudi Arabia and a History of AmericanAggression
by Seyed Hossein Mousavian, Information Clearing House.

In The New York Times, Thomas Friedman criticised former US President Barack Obama's bet on Iran and President Donald Trump’s bet on Saudi Arabia, noting that both countries responded with their worst impulses. 

Friedman argues that the Iran nuclear deal was a bet worth making, but like many critics of the deal, he claims that it enabled Iran’s overreach in four Arab capitals: Baghdad, Damascus, Sanaa and Beirut. I believe he is wrong.

In the Iran-US wrangling over the past three decades, Tehran has repeatedly delivered on its promises, while the US has fallen short. In the late 1980s, President George HW Bush asked Iran to help with the release of Western hostages in Lebanon, vowing “goodwill for goodwill”. Iran facilitated the release; in return, the US increased pressure on Iran.  

The 'axis of evil'

In 2001, when the US asked for Iran’s support in its "war on terror" in Afghanistan, Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps gave crucial intelligence to the US military. Tehran also played a constructive role in Afghanistan by throwing its full support behind the US-backed president, Hamid Karzai - but President George W Bush responded by putting it on the "axis of evil". 

According to Ryan Crocker, the former US ambassador to Afghanistan and Iraq, Iranian diplomats were "pragmatic and focused" when it came to assisting in Afghanistan, at one point even producing “an extremely valuable map showing the Taliban’s order of battle just before American military action began”.

That all ended after the infamous "axis of evil" speech, as the Iranian leadership “concluded that in spite of their cooperation with the American war effort, the United States remained implacably hostile to the Islamic Republic”.

Iran also delivered on its promises in the 2015 nuclear deal. The International Atomic Energy agency repeatedly confirmed that Iran was upholding its end of the bargain - but not only did the US withdraw from the deal, it has also since engaged in a maximum pressure policy, aiming to force Iran to capitulate to its demands.  

In his recent statement, Trump launched straight into an attack on Iran as the root of all evil, rather than immediately addressing what was meant to be the subject at hand, namely Saudi Arabia and the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. Trump should also know that 15 of the 19 hijackers who perpetrated the 9/11 attacks on the United States were Saudis. There was not even one Iranian among them.


Friedman is wrong about Saudi Arabia too. The wars in Yemen, Syria and Libya have all been joint Saudi-US campaigns. Moreover, Washington and Riyadh jointly supported Saddam’s invasion of Iran and the use of chemical weapons against Iranians. The US turned a blind eye to Saudi Arabia, even though it was well aware of the latter’s support for extremist groups. 

In the 1990s, the Saudis heavily funded madrassas that taught a fundamentalist version of Islam, Obama acknowledged, according to a 2016 Atlantic article. The US-backed Saudi campaign in Yemen has led to the world’s worst humanitarian disaster, and has bolstered extremist groups in the region and beyond. Even after the gruesome murder of Khashoggi, the US imposed severe sanctions on Iran, but did nothing to punish Saudi Arabia.

US domination

There is no doubt that Obama’s strategy was different from Trump’s. “The competition between the Saudis and the Iranians - which has fuelled proxy wars and chaos in Syria and Iraq and Yemen - requires us to say to our friends as well as to the Iranians that they need to find an effective way to share the neighbourhood and institute some sort of cold peace,” Obama told the Atlantic. Yet, despite the Khashoggi affair, Saudi Arabia today lies at the centre of Washington’s strategic and political policy in the region. 

The Middle East has been dominated by the US for decades. Multiple wars in the region - from Afghanistan, to Iraq, to Libya, to Yemen - are the real source of instability, sectarian conflict and the rise of terrorist groups such as the Islamic State (IS) and al-Qaeda. “Iran has not launched an aggressive war in modern history (unlike the US or Israel), and its leaders have a doctrine of ‘no first strike’," notes University of Michigan history professor Juan Cole. 

While the West and some regional actors are concerned about Iran’s regional influence, Tehran also has serious and legitimate concerns. As a confidence-building measure, all parties to the nuclear deal - including the US - should respect their obligations to foster peace and stability in the Middle East.

- Seyed Hossein Mousavian is Middle East Security and Nuclear Policy Specialist at Princeton University and a former spokesman for Iran’s nuclear negotiators. His book, The Iranian Nuclear Crisis: A Memoir, was published in 2012 by the Carnegie Endowment for International PeaceHis latest book, “Iran and the United States: An Insider’s view on the Failed Past and the Road to Peace” was released in May 2014.

This article was originally published by "MEE" -   

Khashoggi killing: CIA did not blame Saudi crown prince, says Trump

Jamal Khashoggi: Trump suggests 'the world' is to blame for journalist's death

Watch: Sen. Jack Reed: Trump lying about CIA's Khashoggi report

Jamal Khashoggi killing: Report claims CIA has smoking gun phone call

Turkey rips Trump for turning a "blind eye" to Jamal Khashoggi killing

Is this why Trump wont accuse MBS? Saudis want a US nuclear deal: The deal is worth upward of $80 billion, depending on how many plants Saudi Arabia decided to build.

  Read Iran, Saudi Arabia and a History of AmericanAggression
  November 26, 2018
Another Crimean War Looms as NATOProvocations Enter Russian Waters
by George Galloway, Information Clearing House.

A new Crimean War would be the last, but few amongst the general public realize that endless baiting of Russia, the cycle of war games, sanctions, and false accusations could well lead to all-out war between NATO and Russia.

Half a league, half a league, half a league onward, into the Valley of Death rode the six hundred,” - Alfred Lord Tennyson

The last time Britain fought Russia, we were the most powerful empire in the history of the world and our adversary a ramshackle obscurantist autocracy. The British suffered over forty thousand dead and wounded. It was the first modern war – red in tooth and claw – predating the American Civil War, which is often awarded that dubious honor. The terrible suffering of the British (and French) soldiers, virtually none of whom even had the right to vote for the parliament which ruled “their” empire, began to be unpopular at home. Tennyson's braggadocio ballad “The Charge of the Light Brigade” gave rise to the first whispers of doubt amongst British people generally as to whether our soldiers were lions led by donkeys, into one valley of death after another. Theirs not to reason why, theirs but to do and die.

The next Crimean War would be the last war and no poet would be left alive to chronicle it for the remaining cockroaches, the only beings which would likely survive it.

  Read Another Crimean War Looms as NATOProvocations Enter Russian Waters
  November 27, 2018
The War in Yemen is Not a War, It is a massacre
by Cesar Chelala, Information Clearing House.

The numbers are mind-blowing: Since the beginning of the conflict in Yemen, an estimated 85,000 children under five may have died from extreme hunger and disease, according to the last analysis by Save the Children, the international health and human rights organization. Although children are the most affected by the conflict, 14 million people are at risk of famine, according to data compiled by the United Nations.

For almost four years, Yemen, the Arab world’s poorest country, has been ravaged by a bloody conflict between Houthi rebels and supporters of Yemen’s internationally recognized government. In 2015, Saudi Arabia formed a coalition of Arab states to fight the Houthis, which included Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Bahrain, Egypt, Morocco, Jordan, Sudan, and Senegal. These countries have either sent troops to fight on the ground in Yemen or have carried out air attacks.

Iran has reportedly sent armaments and military advisers to help the Houthis, thus exacerbating their long-held animosity against the Saudis. In addition to fighting the Houthis in Yemen, the Saudis are backing the rebels fighting against Bashar al-Assad’s government, while Iran has a strong influence over the Assad regime. In Lebanon, while Iran has shown strong support for Hezbollah, Saudi Arabia supports the Sunni Future Movement, led by Lebanon Prime Minister Saad Hariri.

The Yemen war, however, goes beyond a Saudi-Iranian geopolitical or Sunni-Shia conflict. The Houthis’ demands have been primarily economic and political, trying to take the Yemenis out of a cycle of poverty. The brutal and indiscriminate attacks of the Saudi-led coalition have left a ravaged country, with millions of civilians fighting for survival.

  Read The War in Yemen is Not a War, It is a Massacre
  October 19, 2018
When It Comes to Sustainability, We’re a Society of Distracted Drivers
by Richard Heinberg, in Climate Change, Countercurrents.

Driving is dangerous. In fact, it’s about the riskiest activity most of us engage in routinely. It requires one’s full attention—and even then, things can sometimes go horribly awry. The brakes fail. Weather turns roads to ice. A driver in the oncoming lane falls asleep. Tragedy ensues. But if we’re asleep at the wheel, the likelihood of calamity skyrockets. That’s why distracted driving is legally discouraged: no cell phones, no reading newspapers or books, no hanky-panky with the front-seat passenger. If you’re caught, there’s a hefty fine.

If you think you hear a metaphor coming, you’re right. We human beings are all, in effect, driving this planet. We’re largely responsible for whether it continues more or less as it is for another few thousand (maybe a few million) years, or tips rapidly into a condition that may not support human life, nor permit the survival of myriads of other creatures. But we’re not paying attention to the road in front of us. Instead, we’re distracted.

Our personal distractions are often compelling. Most of us need to make a living. We like to make time for family and friends. We enjoy a wide range of entertainment options.

Our collective distractions seem just as important. We want the economy to grow so that there are more jobs and higher returns on investments. We want our leaders to avert acts of terrorism, and if there are military conflicts we want our side to win. We have our political heroes and villains, and we spend time and money cheering our respective “teams.”

Thing is, if we collectively veer off the road and crash the planet, none of that matters. The text message we receive while at the wheel of a car may be really interesting, but reading it isn’t worth the risk of life and limb. Similarly, the economy, entertainment, jobs, sports, and politics are all fine and suitable objects of attention—as long as we first ensure that society’s speed and direction are safe and sane.

In fact, a few people are indeed paying attention to the road ahead. Ecologists, climate scientists, and system dynamics analysts have been monitoring society’s direction for a few decades now and have been issuing increasingly dire warnings (two of the most recent ones: the Scientists Warning and the latest IPCC climate report). What lies ahead if we don’t change direction? Rising seas. Crazy weather, including worsening storms, droughts, and floods. Massive species extinctions. Threats to agriculture. Economic ruin. In short, a high-speed crash. But the experts’ urgent calls for change are largely being ignored.

If we were indeed paying attention, what would we do differently? We would make sustainability—real sustainability, not just eco-groovy gestures—our first priority. Conserve and reuse non-renewable resources. Use renewable resources only up to their regrowth rates. Protect natural systems from pollution. Conserve biodiversity. We would aim for a truly circular and regenerative economy. If it turned out that the economy were just too big to operate within those guidelines, we would shrink it (taking some time to identify ways that cause the least harm and create the greatest benefit, and ensuring that those who have gained least from our centuries-long growth bonanza get an equitable share of our reduced budget). And if the human population were too big, we would shrink that too (again, taking time to minimize bads and maximize goods).

Yes, all of this would have personal implications. We would think about population levels when deciding whether to reproduce. We would refuse any career option that undermines the survival chances of future generations. We would refrain from investing in the extractive economy. We would think about all our daily choices—transportation, meals, clothing, housing—in terms of environmental impact.

What’s so hard about that? Really, the most difficult aspect of this shift is the initial decision to make it. And once that decision has been made, plenty of improvements to daily life would likely accompany any sacrifices we’d have to make. For example, imagine how a more mindful economy would allow people to pursue their callings instead of just chasing jobs. Or consider how leading less busy lives would allow more time to spend with loved ones. We could put health and happiness on an upward trajectory, rather than consumption of throw-away consumer goods.

Rather than sharing the distractions now capturing the attention of other drivers, we must each retrain ourselves to pay attention to the instrument panel and the road ahead of us. Abandoning old habits and making new ones requires effort. But some habits are so unwise that changing them is a life-or-death affair.

Are our distractions really so important that we’d rather risk literally everything than shift our gaze toward what really matters?

Richard Heinberg is a senior fellow at the Post Carbon Institute and the author of twelve books, including his most recent: Afterburn: Society Beyond Fossil Fuels.Previous books include: Snake Oil: How Fracking’s False Promise of Plenty Imperils Our FutureThe Party’s Over: Oil, War, and the Fate of Industrial SocietiesPeak Everything: Waking Up to the Century of Declines; and The End of Growth: Adapting to Our New Economic Reality.

Originally published in CommonDreams.org

  Read When It Comes to Sustainability, We’re a Society of Distracted Drivers
  October 24, 2018
The Psychology of Fascism
by Robert J Burrowes, in Life/Philosophy, Countercurrents.

The continuing rise of fascism around the world is drawing increasing attention particularly as it takes firmer grip within national societies long seen to have rejected it.

Some recent studies have reminded us of the characteristics of fascist movements and individuals, particularly as they manifest among politically active fascists. For example, in his recent bookHow Fascism Works: The Politics of Us And Them Professor Jason Stanley has identified ten characteristics shared by fascists which have been simply presented in the article ‘Prof Sees Fascism Creeping In U.S.’

These characteristics, readily evident in the USA, Europe, Israel, Saudi Arabia, Myanmar and elsewhere today, include belief in a mythic (false) past, propaganda to divert attention and blame from the true source of corruption, anti-intellectualism and a belief in the ‘common man’ while deriding ‘women and racial and sexual minorities who seek basic equality as in fact seeking political and cultural domination’, promotion of elite dogma at the expense of any competing ideas (such as those in relation to freedom and equality), portrayal of the elite and its agents as victims, reliance on delusion rather than fact to justify their pursuit of power, the use of law and order ‘not to punish actual criminals, but to criminalize “out groups” like racial, ethnic, religious and sexual minorities’ which is why we are now ‘seeing criminality being written into immigration status’, and identification of “out groups” as lazy while attacking welfare systems and labor organizers, and promoting the idea that elites and their agents are hard working while exploited groups are lazy and a drain on the state.

In an earlier article ‘Fascism Anyone?’, published in the Spring 2003 issue of Free Inquiry Magazine, Professor Laurence W. Britt identified fourteen shared threads that link fascists. These include powerful and continuing expressions of nationalism, disdain for the importance of human rights, identification of enemies/scapegoats (such as communists, socialists, liberals, ethnic and racial minorities, traditional national enemies, members of other religions, secularists, homosexuals and ‘terrorists’) as a unifying cause, obsession with national security and avid identification with the military, sexism, a controlled/compliant mass media that promotes the elite agenda, a manufactured perception that opposing the power elite is tantamount to an attack on religion, corporate power protected by the political elite while the power of labor is suppressed or eliminated, disdain for intellectuals and the arts, expanded police power and prison populations in response to an obsession with the crime and punishment of ordinary citizens (while elite crimes are protected by a compliant judiciary), rampant cronyism and corruption, and fraudulent elections defended by a judiciary beholden to the power elite.

Offering a more straightforward characterization of fascism in the US context, which also highlights its violence more explicitly than the characterizations above, the eminent Norwegian peace research scholar Professor Johan Galtung explains it thus: ‘US Fascism? Yes, indeed; if by fascism we mean use of massive violence for political goals. US fascism takes three forms: global with bombing, droning and sniping all over; domestic with military weapons used across race and class faultlines; and then NSA-National Security Agency spying on everybody.’ See ‘The Fall of the US Empire – And Then What?’

Among other recent commentaries, one draws attention to a recent fascist gathering in the USA – see ‘Davos For Fascists’ – another to the ways in which fascism, under various names, is being effectively spread – see ‘How the new wave of far-right populists are using football to further their power’ – and another warns of focusing too narrowly on one issue and missing the wider threat that fascism poses. See ‘Fascism IS Here in USA’.

In any case, for those paying attention to what is happening in places like the United States, Europe, Israel, Saudi Arabia, Myanmar and elsewhere, it is easy to see that the rush to embrace fascism is accelerating.

But why? Surely, in this ‘enlightened’ age, notions such as freedom, democracy, human rights and equality are deeply embedded in our collective psyche, particularly in the West. We believe that elections should be, and are, ‘free and fair’ and not determined by corporate donations; we believe that the judiciary is independent of political and corporate influence. But are they?

Well, in fact, the evidence offered by the casual observation of events in the placesmentioned above, as well as elsewhere around the world, tells us that none of this is any longer, if it ever was, the case. Let me explain why.

Fascism is a political label but, like any such label, it has a psychological foundation. That is, the political behavior of those who are fascists can be explained by understanding their psychology. Of course, all behavior can be explained by psychology but I will focus on the psychology of fascist behavior here.

There have been attempts to understand and explain the psychology of fascism, starting with the early work of Wilhelm Reich inThe Mass Psychology of Fascism. So what is the psychology of individuals who are fascists?

You might not be surprised to read that the psychology of fascists is complex and is a direct outcome of the nature of the extraordinary violence to which they were subjected as children.

The Psychology of Fascists

Let me briefly identify the psychological profile of fascists and the specific violence (‘visible’, ‘invisible’ and ‘utterly invisible’) that generates a person with this psychology. For a thorough explanation and elaboration of this profile, and explanations of the terms ‘visible’, ‘invisible’ and ‘utterly invisible’ violence, see ‘Why Violence?’and Fearless Psychology and Fearful Psychology: Principles and Practice.

First, fascists are terrified and they are particularly terrified of those individuals who perpetrated violence against them when they were a child although this terror remains unconscious to them. Second, this terror is so extreme that fascists are too terrified to consciously identify to themselves their own perpetrator (one or both parents and/or other significant adults who were supposed to love them) and to say that it is this individual or individuals who are violent and wrong.

Third, because they are terrified, they are unable to defend themselves against the original perpetrator(s) but also, as a result, they are unable to defend themselves against other perpetrators who attack them later in life. This lack of capacity to defend themselves leads to the fourth and fifth attributes – a deep sense of powerlessness and a deep sense of self-hatred. However, it is too terrifying and painful for the individual to be consciously aware of any of these feelings/attributes.

Sixth, because they are terrified of identifying that they are the victim of the violence of their own parents (and/or other significant adults from their childhood) and that this violence terrified them, fascists unconsciously delude themselves about the identity of their own perpetrator. They will unconsciously identify their ‘perpetrator’ as one or more individuals of whom they are not actually afraid from an existing ‘legitimized victim’ group such as children or people from a different gender, race, religion or class. This is also because their unconscious terror and self-hatred compels them to project onto people who are ‘controllable’ (because their original perpetrators never were). For this reason, their victims are (unconsciously) carefully chosen and are always relatively powerless by comparison.

This is easy to do because, seventh, children who become fascists have been terrorized into accepting a very narrow-minded and dogmatic belief set that excludes consideration of those in other social (including gender, racial, religious or class) groups. The idea that they might open-mindedly consider other beliefs, or the rights of those not in the ‘in-group’, is (unconsciously) terrifying to them. Moreover, because they have been terrorized into adopting their rigid belief set, fascists develop an intense fear of the truth; hence, fascists are both bigoted and self-righteous. In addition, the belief set of fascists includes a powerful and violently reinforced ‘lesson’: ‘good’ means obedient; it does not mean intrinsically good, loving and caring.

Eighth, and as a result of all of the above, fascists learn to unconsciously project their self-hatred, one outcome of their own victimhood, as hatred for those in the ‘out-groups’. This ‘justifies’ their (violent) behavior and obscures their unconscious motivation: to remain unaware of their own suppressed terror and self-hatred.

Ninth, fascists have a compulsion to be violent; that is, they are addicted to it. Why? Because the act of violence allows them to explosively release the suppressed feelings (usually some combination of fear, terror, pain, anger and powerlessness) so that they experience a brief sensation of delusional ‘relief’. Because the ‘relief’ is both brief and delusional, they are condemned to repeat their violence endlessly.

But the compulsion to be violent is reinforced by another element in their belief set, the tenth characteristic: fascists have a delusional belief in the effectiveness and morality of violence; they have no capacity to perceive its dysfunctionality and immorality.

And eleventh, the extreme social terrorization experience to which fascists have been subjected means that the feelings of love, compassion, empathy and sympathy, as well as the mental function of conscience, are prevented from developing. Devoid of conscience and these feelings, fascists can inflict violence on others, including their own children, without experiencing the feedback that conscience and these feelings would provide.

What Can We Do?

There is no simple formula for healing the badly damaged psychology of a fascist (or those who occupy a proximate ‘political space’ such as conservatives who advocate violence): it takes years of violent parental and adult treatment to create a fascist and so the path to heal one is long and painful, assuming the support for the individual to do so is available. Nevertheless, fascists can heal from the terror and self-hatred that underpin their psychology. See Putting Feelings First’. And they can be assisted to heal by someone who is skilled in the art of deep listening. See ‘Nisteling: The Art of Deep Listening’.

Unfortunately, given their cowardice,fascists are unlikely to have the courage to seek the appropriate emotional support to heal. In the meantime, those of us so inclined must resist their violence and, ideally, this should be done strategically, particularly if we want impact against fascist national leaders. See Nonviolent Campaign Strategyor Nonviolent Defense/Liberation Strategy.

The good news is that we can avoid creating fascists. If you want to nurture a child so that they become compassionate and caring, live by their conscience and act with morality and courage in all circumstances, including when resisting fascists, then consider making ‘My Promise to Children’.

You might also consider joining the worldwide movement to end all violence, fascist or otherwise, by signing the online pledge of ‘The People’s Charter to Create a Nonviolent World’.

In essence: Fascists are terrified, full of self-hatred and powerless. But, too scared to feel their own terror, self-hatred and powerlessness, they unconsciously project this as fear of, and hatred for, the people in one or more ‘legitimized victim’ groups, including their own children (thus creating the next generation of fascists). They then try to ‘feel powerful’ by seeking violent controlover these people themselves or by seeking to have violent control exercised over these people byvarious ‘authorities’, ranging from school teachers andreligious figures to the police, military and various corporate and government agencies.

No matter how much control they have over others, however, it is impossible to control their own terror, self-hatred and powerlessness. So they are unconsciously and endlessly driven to seek (delusional) ‘relief’ by violently controlling those in legitimized victim groups. It is because their own children are the most immediately available ‘uncontrollable’target that fascism is readily perpetuated.

Robert J. Burrowes has a lifetime commitment to understanding and ending human violence. He has done extensive research since 1966 in an effort to understand why human beings are violent and has been a nonviolent activist since 1981. He is the author of Why Violence? His email address is flametree@riseup.net and his website is here.

  Read The Psychology of Fascism
  October 26, 2018
A sustainable global population -and why we cannot achieve it
by Bernard Gillan, in Resource Crisis, Countercurrents.

In the period 1975 – 2018, world population increased at an average of 83 million per year, and reached 7.6 billion in 2018. The increase in 2017 was the difference between approximately 145 million births and 62 million deaths. Despite population growth, the global average daily food supply per person rose from 2440 kilocalories in 1975 to 2940 kilocalories in 2015 (1). However, over 800 million people are undernourished and 300 million adults are obese.

Cereals are the most important crops for food and feed; globally, 45 percent of the cereal production is consumed by humans, and 35 percent by livestock. The remainder is used for industrial purposes, including ethanol, beer, whisky and vodka. The rise in world cereal production since the 1960s is mainly due to two technological advances. The first was Haber-Bosch ammonia synthesis, in which atmospheric nitrogen is fixed as ammonia (containing 82 percent nitrogen) which plants utilize for protein formation. Production of Haber-Bosch ammonia began in 1913, but did not begin to rise rapidly until the 1960s. The second advance was the Green Revolution that began in the mid-1960s, after agronomist Norman Borlaug had bred varieties of dwarf wheat that give higher yields in response to heavier applications of nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium fertilizer, pesticides and irrigation. The breeding and use of semi-dwarf rice and hybrid maize paralleled that of wheat.

The most striking achievement of chemical agriculture is the maize yield in the U.S., which rose from 2.5 tonnes per hectare (40 bushels per acre) in 1950 to 11.0 tonnes per hectare (175 bushels per acre) in 2016. The global cereal yield rose from 2.81 tonnes per hectare in 1992-96 to 3.91 tonnes in 2012-16 (2). Linear extrapolation of the 1992 – 2016 yield trend (52.3 kg per hectare per year) gives a yield of 5.73 tonnes per hectare in 2050. If the population in 2050 is taken as 9.85 billion (3), and the harvested cereal area remains 718 million hectares (as in 2016), production per person in 2050 would be 420 kg, 10 percent above the 2016 level of 382 kg; the uncertainty is about 10 percent either way. Assuming that the global average cereal yield without using nitrogen fertilizer is 1.6 tonnes per hectare, and that fertilizer increases grain yield by 30 kg per kg nitrogen applied, the global average nitrogen application on cereal crops, 80 kg per hectare in 2015, would be approximately 140 kg per hectare. If the incremental yield-nitrogen ratio rises to 35 by 2050, the nitrogen application would be 120 kg per hectare.

The success of the Green Revolution created three major ecological problems:

  1. Globally, about half the applied nitrogen is taken up by the crop plants; the remainder volatilizes in the form of ammonia and nitrous oxide (a powerful greenhouse gas) or leaches to groundwater, resulting in eutrophication (the formation of algae) in rivers, lakes and coastal waters; this creates “dead zones” in which fish cannot live.

  2. Applying nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium fertilizer to crops changes the balance between these nutrients and those needed in small or trace amounts; the latter include calcium, sulphur, magnesium, iron, manganese, copper, zinc, cobalt, boron and selenium.

  3. Approximately 40 percent of global irrigation water is obtained by pumping groundwater from tube wells; this has resulted in the depletion of aquifers and the lowering of groundwater levels, thereby contributing 0.4 mm to the global sea level rise of 3.4 mm per year (4).

As population growth increases the need for fertilizer, it follows that population reduction would ultimately solve the ecological problems. Unfortunately, human nature is such that global population reduction is not feasible. The reasons for this are given in the following.

In 1950, France had a population of 42 million and 20 million hectares of arable land, i.e. 2 persons per arable hectare. The nitrogen fertilizer application on cereals was negligible, and cereal production per person was about 400 kg per year, slightly higher than the present world average. If the ratio of population to arable land were 2 persons per hectare on the world’s 1.6 billion arable hectares, world population would be 3.2 billion. Reducing world population to this size would mean reducing the global average fertility rate (currently 2.5 children per woman) to 1.5 by 2050 and holding it at that level until 2200. The proportion of the population in the 65+ age-group would rise to 35 percent. Such a drastic change in the age distribution would mean raising the pensionable age to 70 years or more.

Adopting and enforcing a population limit for each country would be an insurmountable obstacle, as Charles Galton Darwin pointed out in 1952 (5). To lower the global average to 2 inhabitants per arable hectare, countries such as Canada, Russia, Australia and Argentina would not be required to reduce their populations, but would not be permitted to reach 2 inhabitants per arable hectare; they would be obliged to have a grain surplus for export to countries that need grain imports. China and India would each have to reduce its population to roughly 300 million; the combined population of the two countries would then be 20 percent of the world population instead of the present 35 percent (6). The relative population reductions in Japan and Egypt, which have 30 and 33 inhabitants per arable hectare respectively, would be much greater (6).

The population of China is projected to peak at 1.45 billion around 2030 and decline to one billion by 2100. This is partly a result of the so-called one-child policy launched in 1979 (in reality a 1.5-child policy). It was replaced by a two-child limit in 2016, but the fertility rate remains 1.6. Japan has a population of 126 million and a fertility rate of 1.4; the population is projected to decline to 102 million in 2050 and 60 million in 2100. These projected long-term declines are likely to be halted by pro-natalist policies based on the advice of growth-obsessed economists who believe that population decline results in a shortage of labour. A world population peak of at least 10 billion is almost inevitable, and this would make 70 percent of the world’s population dependent on Haber-Bosch ammonia. This is not sustainable, but there is no solution in sight. As a sustainable population cannot be attained by fertility decline alone, a mortality rise is highly probable. We can only guess when.

Bernard Gillan is an independent researcher with a degree in Engineering, based in Copenhagen, Denmark. He is the author of several papers on demography and population


  1. FAOSTAT data.

  2. World Bank data.

  3. Population Reference Bureau. World population data sheet 2018.

  4. Konikov, L.F. 2011. Contribution of global groundwater depletion since 1900 to sea-level rise. Geophysical Research Letters, 38; L17401.

  5. Darwin, C.G. 1952. The next million years. Hart-Davis, London.

  6. Lionos, T.P., A. Pseiridis. 2016. Sustainable welfare and optimum population size. Environment, Development and Sustainability, 18(6), 1679 – 1699. According to the authors, the optimum population of the world is 3.1 billion, and the populations (in millions) of the ten most populous countries are:

China 253, India 341, United States 326, Indonesia 88, Brazil 156, Pakistan 43, Nigeria 79, Bangladesh 17, Russia 249, Japan 9.2. The figure for Egypt is 7.4.

  Read A sustainable global population -and why we cannot achieve it
  October 28, 2018
High sea level rise projections and the IPCC
by Dr Andrew Glikson, in Climate Change, Countercurrents.

In a key paper titled “Scientific reticence and sea level rise” (
)(2007)  James Hansen, the renown climate scientist, has been critical of what he regards as major underestimates of the magnitude and pace of global warming, as further elaborated in the article “How the IPCC Underestimated Climate Change: Here are just eight examples of where the IPCC missed predictions)” (https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/
) (Glen Scherer, 2012) and (https://www.skepticalscience.com/ipcc-scientific-consensus.htm). It is only more recently that the IPCC has upgraded its climate projections, stating “Human activities are estimated to have caused approximately 1.0°C of global warming above pre-industrial levels, with a likely range of 0.8°C to 1.2°C. Global warming is likely to reach 1.5°C between 2030 and 2052 if it continues to increase at the current rate”,and “Warming greater than the global annual average is being experienced in many land regions and seasons, including two to three times higher in the Arctic. Warming is generally higher over land than over the ocean.

Whereas IPCC reports are based on authoritative peer reviewed scientific journal publications, the summaries for policy makers tend to underestimate the scale and pace of the consequences of global warming, currently induced by a rise in greenhouse gas at rates unprecedented since about 56 million years ago (Cenozoic mean greenhouse gases and temperature changes with reference to the Anthropocene2016

A prime example is the question of sea level rise, estimated by the IPCC 2007 to reach 50 cm by 2100 (https://www.ipcc.ch/publications_and_data/ar4/
). At that stage the IPCC stated no reliable estimates existed for the breakdown of the Greenland and Antarctica ice sheets, despite reports of increased Greenland melt in 2005
). This is contrasted to sea level rise of several meters projected by James Hansen, consistent with paleo-climate observations of a rise of sea level of 7-9 meters during the Eemian, 125 thousand years ago, when temperatures were similar to current temperatures. This implies lag effects of ice sheet melting and a major sea level rise, possibly this century.Recently the IPCC updated its estimates to a maximum of 1 meter by 2100 according to model RCP8.5 https://www.ipcc.ch/pdf/unfccc/cop19/
.whereas according to NOAA sea level may reach a maximum of 2.5 meters by the end century relative to the year 2000, getting close to the level suggested by Hansen.

Figure 1.Sea level rise scenarios according to NOAA https://www.forbes.com/sites/uhenergy/2018/06/
; http://www.johnenglander.net/sea-level-rise-blog/

According to Hansen and a large group of climate scientists (2016) (
)  the flow of cold ice melt water from Greenland and the Antarctic ice sheets cause ocean surface cooling in the Southern Ocean and North Atlantic while lower latitudes are warming, driving more powerful storms.

These authors state: “Continued high fossil fuel emissions this century are predicted to yield (1) cooling of the Southern Ocean, especially in the Western Hemisphere; (2) slowing of the Southern Ocean overturning circulation, warming of the ice shelves, and growing ice sheet mass loss; (3) slowdown and eventual shutdown of the Atlantic overturning circulation with cooling of the North Atlantic region; (4) increasingly powerful storms; and (5) nonlinearly growing sea level rise, reaching several meters over a timescale of 50–150 years. These predictions, especially the cooling in the Southern Ocean and North Atlantic with markedly reduced warming or even cooling in Europe, differ fundamentally from existing climate change assessments. We discuss observations and modeling studies needed to refute or clarify these assertions.


Figure 2.Model surface air temperatures (C) relative to 1880–1920 in (a) 2065, (b) 2080, and (c) 2096. Top row is IPCC scenario A1Bhttps://www.atmos-chem-phys.net/16/3761/2016/

The consequences of Eemian-like 7-9 meters sea level rises around the world would include flooding of large heavily populated and food producing delta plains, such as the Ganges delta (BanglahDesh), Hindus delta (Pakistan), the Mekong delta (Viet Nam), Yellow river delta (Northeastern China), Nile delta (Egypt), Po River delta (Italy) Rhine delta (northwestern Europe, Mississippi delta, Florida and elsewhere, with consequences for hundreds of millions of people and food supplies around the world.

There is no evidence much is being done by world governments and parliaments to avert such calamity.

Andrew Glikson, Earth and paleo-climate science

  Read High sea level rise projections and the IPCC
  October 30, 2018
The Clock Is Ticking on Addressing Climate Change — Med Students Can Help
by Sidhant Gugale, in Climate Change, Countercurrents.

The clock is ticking faster than ever before.

The latest report by the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change warns us that we have only 12 years left to keep the maximum temperature increase to 1.5 degrees Celsius and, thus, avoid calamitous environmental devastation.

This report, over 1200 pages and written by 91 researchers across 44 countries, explains that global emissions will have to be slashed by 45 percent to reach this new target. Currently, it is estimated that the world’s temperature will rise by 3 degrees Celsius should no new measures be taken. While the difference between 1.5 degrees and 2 degrees Celsius may not seem substantial, make no mistake about it – the difference is absolutely staggering. At a temperature increase of 2 degrees Celsius, 18 percent of insects species, 8 percent of plants, and 4 percent of all vertebrates would lose more than half their habitat (as compared to 6 percent, 8 percent, and 4 percent respectively at 1.5 degrees Celsius). Furthermore, 50 percent more land would be converted from savannahs to deserts.

The impact on human health is most concerning to healthcare professionals like me: an estimated 420 million people will be regularly exposed to extreme temperatures, which translates to at least 250,000 additional deaths per year. Furthermore, extreme weather events such as more frequent hurricanes, tornadoes, and tsunamis will cause thousands of more deaths per year. Add in the increased morbidity and mortality caused by changes that effect the social and environmental determinants of health – clean air, safe drinking water, and sufficient food sources– and it is clear that physicians must be uniquely and unequivocally aware of the impacts of climate change to safeguard their patients’ health.

Given both the urgency of curtailing the rise in temperatures and the fact that tomorrow’s physicians will have to deal with a patient population strongly affected by these forecasted conditions, climate change education should be a part of medical education. At Drexel College of Medicine, students like me are exposed to a voluntary seminar series on the impacts of climate change on their patient populations.

The series is broken into three different sessions: Session 1 is about climate change basics, including the science behind climate change, and answers the question, “Why should doctors care about this issue?” Last year, this first seminar was very well attended because many students were curious and had never been taught about the intersection of climate change and patient health. There is a hole in the medical education system when it comes to climate change, and there is a clear need for such a series.

Once medical students understood this linkage, we were motivated to attend the next two seminars that covered the topics of heat morbidity, public health emergency preparedness, air quality, and asthma. Each of the final two seminars ended with exercises and interactive activities that taught medical students to communicate these messages to their patients.

The end goal of the seminar series was not only to educate medical students about the impacts of climate change, but also to encourage and teach them to talk to their patients about this issue. Students at Drexel have always had plenty of opportunities to talk to patients – through community care practicum classes that require students to meet with patients once a week, volunteerism through free clinics, and other outlets. Now, we can leverage these new skills to have meaningful conversations about climate change during those opportunities. For example, with summers in Philadelphia getting hotter every year (as evidenced by the rising number of days above 95 degrees Fahrenheit), I spoke to a young mother and her five year old boy about signs of heat exhaustion and heat related morbidity. I wanted to make sure both the mother and her son understood proper precautions to take to avoid heat related illnesses. I found it particularly necessary to have this conversation with the mother since she couldn’t always afford air conditioning at home, and her child played outside for hours on end.

My experiences with climate change education at Drexel have shown me that not only are medical students curious and willing to learn about climate change, but there is also a demand amongst patients to learn about how this will impact their health.

I believe climate change education for medical students should be mandatory, as these students will be the physicians that will have to care for patients most affected by climate change. Furthermore, medical students should also be used as a vector to spread awareness amongst people — because of their stature and trustworthiness in the eyes of patients, doctors are uniquely positioned to explain the facts and myths behind climate change.

Climate change is here, climate change is in our face, and climate change is just as relevant to physicians as it is to lobbyists or politicians.

We have 12 years to curb the temperature increase to 1.5 degrees Celsius. Now more than ever, it is time for all hands on deck. Let’s make sure we don’t leave out the hands of medical students.

Sidhant (Sid) Gugale is a second year medical student at Drexel College of Medicine in Philadelphia, and a student member of Physicians for Social Responsibility

Originally published in CommonDreams

  Read The Clock Is Ticking on Addressing Climate Change — Med Students Can Help
  November 2, 2018
Expropriation and capital’s development
by Farooque Chowdhury, in Book Review, Countercurrents.

“Capitalism is a hegemonic social order. Capital seeks to dominate as many aspects of our lives as possible and to control every institution, from state to schools. Very little escapes its dom­ination, including our thoughts. Its two essential underpinnings are exploitation of wage labor and the expropriation of nature, the non-market labor of women, and the bodies of black and other minority people. A complex set of structures supports these. Is it possible for capital’s chief antagonist, the working class, to combat and defeat it?” With this question concludes “Some theoretical considerations”, 2nd chapter, of Can the Working Class Change the World? (Monthly Review Press, New York, October 2018), the book by Michael D. Yates.

The “chapter”, writes Professor Michael Yates, “lays out an analytical scaffolding that [shows] that working people are exploited and expropriated, making it impos­sible for them to achieve real freedom, autonomy, and unalienated lives in a capitalist society. Thus, there are grounds for them to rebel to accomplish these things.”

The 2nd chapter defines capitalism: “Capitalism is a social system built upon exploitation and expropri­ation. It is both an economy and a society, composed of multiple, connected elements.” Yates elaborates the elements of capitalism:

“its central economic feature is produc­tion for the market, as opposed to production for use”;

“the non-human means of produc­tion – land, machinery, tools, equipment, buildings, raw materials, and the like – are the private property of capitalists, […] a small fraction of the population”; and

“most people must sell their labor power, their capacity to work, to the owners of the means of production”.

Capitalism gives birth to inequality of stratospheric magnitude. As evidence, the chapter cites a statistics: “The three wealthi­est people in the United States – Bill Gates, Jeff Bezos, and Warren Buffett – now own more wealth than the entire bottom half of the American population, a total of 160 million people or 63 million households.”

On capitalism, it adds:

“One of the characteristics of capitalism is the separation of the political and economic spheres. In the feudal mode of produc­tion, state and economy were controlled directly by the nobility. [….] With capital­ism, however, at least in those organized as liberal democracies, political leaders are elected by those eligible to vote. For capital’s ideologues, this is the definition of democracy and the reason why they claim that capitalism and democracy are congruent. The notion has been spread far and wide, and, to the extent that most people believe it, obscures the autocracy that reigns supreme in the workplace.”

This statement identifies a major issue used to confuse people: bourgeois democracy, actually bourgeoisocracy, which is autocracy of the bourgeoisie and the capital it controls, which is devoid of demo, in a broader sense, people. Bourgeois scholars create this confusion for commoners, while these scholars discuss the issues of democracy, people-power, participation, capitalists’ resistance to people’s politics and participation, and revolution and revolutionary measures by the working class.

We find the real character of bourgeois democracy in workplaces and production areas, which include factories, agriculture farms and forests, markets beginning from local level small markets to world markets of literally everything. Commerce and trade, institutions of all types including charitable and arts and cultural organizations, ideology and nature are also dictated by bourgeois democracy. The areas of management, propaganda, and education single-mindedly carry on interests of bourgeois democracy – an all-encompassing autocratic practice. Compromises capitalism enters into, and actions it takes with a façade of benevolence, are to ensure its supremacy.

Michael Yates, professor of economics and a labor educator for thirty years, writes in the 2nd chapter: “Expropriation has been critical to capital’s development, and it interacts with and usually reinforces accumulation, although it can at times be a substitute for accumulation.”

After explaining capitalism, exploitation of wage labor, class struggle, the reserve army of labor, and expropriation, the chapter discusses the critical institutions of capitalism, which include the state,   schooling, and media.

On the state, the author writes:

“Capitalism is a complex and opaque system, so, as is the case with the unpaid time of wage laborers and the many types of expropriation, the institutions that underpin and rationalize this mode of production require some effort to penetrate. The most important is the state. Capitalism was born inside state structures. [….] Governments from the beginning used their police power to protect private property and combat rebellions by peasants and workers. [Governments] enacted laws guaranteeing ownership of property, enforcing contracts, and many other matters important to capital. They have sanctioned slavery and the rankest kinds of discrimination against minority groups. They have denied women the right to vote.

“States have also developed means to steady markets in times of crisis, and they have enacted legislation that grants working people some concessions while strictly limiting or forbidding actions that could threaten the existence of capital. The first evolved from the ideas of the British economist John Maynard Keynes. [….]The second arose in the face of political agitation emanating from the working class, forcing states to make concessions that placed some limits on the actions of capital, but not enough to threaten its power.”

After discussing the issue, Michael Yates suggests: “[T]here are spaces in the state machinery for mass actions to pressure governments to enact measures that improve the lives of working-class people.”

In this period of renewed onslaught by capital, mass actions for improving people’s lives are no less important. Populist politicians, in reality bourgeois in their outlook, are also resorting to these measures to gain credibility and validity, which actually helps capital to carry on acts of plunder at society-wide level in many countries. On the other hand, an improvement in the lives of people creates a space for people to rest, to repair their barricades, to re-organize their battle against capitalism. Moreover, measures that improve working-class life take away some ground/initiative from so-called neoliberalism’s assaults on people’s lives. Thus, it is a two-way space; one for the people while the other helps the rulers.

However, Michael Yates doesn’t miss the basic character of capitalism and its politics today as he writes in the chapter:

“These days, the weak democracy through which capital rules is fraying around the world. One sign of this is the weakening of the separation between polity and economy, replaced by the direct rule of capi­tal. Business still has enormous leverage over the state through its financing and purchasing of government bonds and its cam­paign contributions. But now capitalists often rule more openly, as elected and appointed state officers and as financiers of what had formerly been public programs, both national and global.”

Bourgeois scholars marketing their democracy as the only and universal form of democracy don’t talk about these aspects: separation between polity and economy, direct rule of capi­tal, enormous leverage of business over the state through its financing and purchasing of government bonds and its cam­paign contributions, and now capitalists’ more open rule as elected and appointed state officers and as financiers. This direct rule is reflected in corruption at epidemic level, wide indiscipline, crude lies, brute repressive measures, erratic and reckless moves on the stage of geopolitics, decay in quality of political leadership/institutions, and the decadence of the modern bourgeoisie, making a mockery of any claim they have to moral standing. This trend is visible in many bourgeois democracies spanning from the First to the Fourth Worlds. This trend is also starkly visible in factional fights within the bourgeois camp, and in its politics and institutions in some advanced bourgeois states. Even, its factional fights harm credibility of vital parts of its ruling machinery, which is a problem because credibility is required for imposing its rule.

However, the bitter fact of today is many in the people’s camp miss the basic character of bourgeois democracy. Lenin in “Theses and report on bourgeois democracy and the dictatorship of the proletariat” identifies one of the basic characteristics of the system: “The old, i.e., bourgeois, democracy and the parliamentary system were so organized that it was the mass of working people who were kept farthest away from a machinery of government.” (Collected Works, vol. 28, Progress Publishers, Moscow, erstwhile USSR, 1977)

While discussing media, Michael Yates focuses on the internet: “As media have migrated to the internet, critics of mainstream outlets have claimed that it has become possible for those with limited resources to provide a wider range of views, including deeper analyses of capitalism. There is truth in this, and there are many possibilities that weren’t available before. However, those with the most wealth have had the greatest influence on what we get electronically. And talented journalists have had a difficult time earning a living on the World Wide Web.”

Instead of looking at the internet from a narrow angle, he brings in the issue of inequality – greater access and influence depend on “those having the most wealth”. The question of inequality is a vital issue to people, to the working class.

The question is so bold that the mainstream organizations, most of which serve imperialism, cannot escape it. These organizations now-a-days regularly focus on the issue – inequality – although the root of inequality – exploitation – is not identified. These issues – exploitation and inequality – should be discussed boldly and widely as ideologies and politics the exploiters market, from medieval to so-called post-modernist, but which, inside the system cannot adequately analyze these. These ideologies and politics escape analysis of their origins. Instead, capital’s ideologues market racist, supremacist, divisive ideas, which are lies in relation to the interest of the working class, and lofty ideals to the exploiters.

“Capitalism’s supporting institutions”, writes Michael Yates, “combine to make it appear that capitalism is what it is not. It is the realm of freedom, democ­racy, the best we can hope for. [….] If in our schools, from our media, from our governments, even from the pulpits of our churches, we hear repeatedly that we live in the best of all possible worlds, our minds are conditioned to believe this. An ideology predisposed to take the system as given and unchangeable creates a powerful barrier to radical change.” Thus he brings to notice one “powerful barrier to radical change”, which is very often missed by many while encountering capitalism.

The chapter exposes bourgeois-imperialist education and media as it says: “While education, in addition to its socializing function, is itself a site for considerable capital accumulation (textbooks, standard­ized tests, the selling of research patents by universities, for-profit colleges), mainstream media are capital-accumulating enterprises as well. As such, they depend on corporate advertising, and their goal is to turn a profit. They have a cozy relationship with the state, and the government is one of their primary sources of information. Seldom do the media either name or analyze critically the mode of production in which they operate. This is not to say that what they publish, or broadcast, never provides useful information. But if we look at television news, for example, endless commentary assaults viewers with the trivia of politics and celebrity culture.”

The chapter focuses on an aspect of capital missed by a group of feminists and environment activists: “Capital […] always [tries] to co-opt attempts to limit, much less end, exploitation and expropriation. There are countless examples of this, from corrupt and employer-friendly labor unions to the subservient embrace of white rule in the United States by Booker T. Washington. Some feminists simply want more women CEOs and members of Congress. And some environmentalists have been willing to make compromises with business that end up doing nothing to end environmental destruction. But these do not constrain the accumulation of capital or liberate all black people, all women, and all of nature from capital’s rule.”

One of the basic aspects of capitalism is accumulation of capital, the function that destroys and demolishes lives and environment, stifles possibilities for humane development, hinders the path of women.

The interplay between expro­priation and exploitation is also discussed in the chapter: “Nature is stolen by capital, so that labor can be further exploited. In addition, land, water, even air, are made into commodities that can be bought and sold, again cre­ating new arenas for accumulation.” The exploited, the poor, the working class pay most for this area of accumulation whiles the exploiters endlessly enjoy their nice life.

The chapter cites example from India:

“Capital’s lust for export-crop lands and mineral wealth in India is so great and the remarkable unity of interests between business and the state so tight, with startling instances of corruption and police and paramilitary violence, that large swathes of land have been confiscated and tens of millions of peasants displaced just in the past thirty years.”

India is not a single case of this unity of business and state. Rampant examples are in countries in the Global South. Today, this unity is so powerful that resistance to this appears nil. It’s so wide and all encompassing that anyone may draw the following conclusion: This is the order of the day in this breed of capitalism, and capitalism of this variety cannot sustain without this corruption, a major deviation from its much-touted “free competition”, capitalism’s holy hymn.

Nevertheless, Michael Yates doesn’t miss another related point as he writes: “However, all cru­sades to make freedom, substantive equality, and real democracy reality are, by definition, radically anti-capitalist.”

The point is strengthened as Yates writes:

“Racism, patriarchy, and environmen­tal catastrophe must be addressed directly. In other words, there can be no separation between exploitation and expropriation.

“If we embrace this perspective, many struggles take on a new light. If every effort to end exploitation is either implicitly or explicitly anti-capitalist, then so is every movement to end patriar­chy, racism, and the rift between humans and nature. These are not just peripheral to capitalism; they are intrinsic to it. They cannot be eliminated within capitalism but only in a new, radically differ­ent society.”

On the subordinate capitalists in the Global South, Michael Yates identifies the related function: “Aiding and abetting global capital are a subordi­nate class of capitalists in the Global South, people and businesses that oversee the exploitation and expropriation of peasants and workers. This local capital is permitted to keep some of the spoils, just as white workers have been allowed to share in some of the profits generated by the super-exploitation of black and other non­white workers.”

To defeat capitalism, an understanding of the system, and identifying its tricks and “magic” is an essential prerequisite. The 2nd chapter of the book Can the Working Class Change the World? helps us to perceive capitalism as it really is.


Farooque Chowdhury writes from Dhaka.

Note: This is part 3 of a series introducing Can the Working Class Change the World?. Countercurrents, and Frontier, Kolkata have already carried parts 1 and 2.

  Read Expropriation and capital’s development
  November 2, 2018
Weather Disasters, Global Warming And Potential For Conflict
by Dr Arshad M Khan, in Climate Change, Countercurrents.

East Island was an uninhabited remote island in the Hawaiian chain, but it was an important refuge for wildlife:  Many of the endangered Hawaiian monk seals numbering about 1400 raised their young on that island; others like the green sea turtle and the albatross used it as a shelter.  Not any more because Hurricane Walaka washed away most of the island a few days ago.

It was not the only major Pacific storm last week for category 5 Typhoon Yutu devastated the Northern Marianas, a U.S. territory.  It was reputedly the worst U.S. storm since 1935.  Perhaps happenstance, but the rise in mean temperature due to global warming also exacerbates storms.

In September, Hurricane Florence hit North Carolina  — 51 people died.  The next month Hurricane Michael slammed the Florida panhandle at 5 mph short of a category 5, a record for the area.  Following just a few days after the IPCC (October 8, 2018) report on restricting global warming to 1.5 C, it seemed like nature’s affirmation.  The residents of the area have not yet recovered from the devastation.  The same is true in Puerto Rico and the other affected areas where over 3000 people reportedly have lost their lives due to Hurricane Maria a year ago.  It followed on the heels of Irma tearing through several other Caribbean islands before arriving in Florida.  And Harvey flooded Houston causing a record $125 billion in damage.

Across the Atlantic, there have been heavy rains in Turkey where a 300 year-old bridge was washed away, and flooding in France, Wales and Scotland.  Hurricane Leslie targeted Portugal weakening fortunately to a tropical storm before landfall, and last year Hurricane Ophelia skirted past, its winds fanning wild fires in Portugal and Spain before becoming the worst storm to hit Ireland in 50 years although not at hurricane force, having dissipated in the colder northern waters.

Then there are the insidious effects usually unearthed by scientists.  A warmer earth makes hungry insects hungrier i.e. those voracious caterpillars will be munching even more.  So predict scientists in a study published in the August 31, 2018 issue of Science and reported on elsewhere.  Insects will be causing 10 to 25 percent more damage to wheat, maize and rice crops with a 2 degrees C rise in mean temperature above preindustrial levels as per the Paris agreement.

Other threats to crops include water shortages.  Countries relying on rivers for irrigation are threatened when the head waters are under the control of rivals.  Nuclear armed India and Pakistan are a case in point.  The 1960 Indus Waters Treaty lays down a mechanism for joint management, but Narendra Modi, India’s current nationalist Hindu prime minister aborted all engagement albeit temporarily.  India is building dams upstream which worries Pakistan, and in the latest row Pakistan has banned all Indian TV channels — Indian movies and TV are popular in Pakistan.

There are other regions with potential water conflicts.  Ethiopia is building a grand dam on the Nile for electricity generation.  The water used for electricity will continue to flow downstream but irrigation water if any is bled off — possible when there is a colossal reservoir that will take 5 to 15 years to fill.  Egypt’s life-blood is the Nile, and water flow can be seriously affected depending on the fill rate.

The Mekong river passes through China, Burma, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam.  It is entwined in the livelihood and culture of the region, and upstream dams now threaten centuries-old agricultural and fishing practices downstream.

How can such problems be resolved?  They are also not the only ones.  Parched or flooded farmlands, rising seas, and persistent severe weather will cause large areas to become uninhabitable.  Should then the mandate of bodies like the IPCC be expanded to deal with such consequences of climate change?  It is a possibility although government representatives are inherently biased.  More appropriate perhaps would be neutral international commissions composed of experts.  But how should affected people be settled?  We have a caravan of 1000 headed to the U.S. and causing much discomfiture in the Trump administration.  Imagine the numbers multiplied by 100 or a 1000.

All of which reminds us again that global warming is the most important issue we face.

Dr Arshad M Khan (http://ofthisandthat.org/index.html) is a former Professor based in the U.S. whose comments over several decades have appeared in a wide-ranging array of print and internet media.  His work has been quoted in the U.S. Congress and published in the Congressional Record. This article first appeared on counterpunch.org

  Read Weather Disasters, Global Warming And Potential For Conflict
  November 29, 2018
Argentina and France –Opponents of IMF versus Yellow Vests – Where is the Correlation?, in Imperialism, Countercurrents.
by Peter Koenig

What do Argentinian protesters have in common with French protesters? – They both strongly dislike their governments, and their leaders (sic).

The protests in Argentina against the upcoming G20 meeting and around the IMF are just a pretext for an overall malaise – which is an understatement – vis-à-vis President Mauricio Macri and his debt-driven austerity program, that has left hundreds of thousands jobless.People who had decent jobs under the Kirchner governments have now joined the ranks of the unemployed and are begging for survival. Macri has driven the poverty rate from about 14%, where it was in November 2015, a months before the Presidential elections, to more than 35% in September 2018 – and all the while increasing tariffs for transportation and basic services such as electricity, gas, water – health care, education – in fact, privatizing such vital public services to the point where only higher middle class and elite can afford them.

That of course, will leave a vast majority of the people uneducated and without basic health care – precisely what neoliberalism wants. Decimating the number of poor people to a minimum needed for useful slavehood and leaving those who vegetate along, struggling for one meal at the time without education, without a job, so they don’t have the time, energy and political savvy to protest against the ruling class.

Greece is an outstanding example. Within less than ten years the once cheerful, happy and economically relatively well-off country was destroyed into misery by foreign imposed debt and austerity programs. – By now, almost all public assets were sold or privatized to pay for the horrendous debt service.Public health services are on a drip, there is a lack of special medication, like for cancer – schools are closed or privatized – pensions cut to unlivable levels, unemployment rampant – all leading to extreme poverty and skyrocketing suicide rates, about which nobody dares speaking.

That’s the making of the west. In the case of Greece even worse.Their European brother and sister countries went along with the loot. In fact, they pushed Greece into her demise, especially Germany, France, the European Central Bank (ECB), and, of course, the entire European Brussels apparatus, led by the unelected European Commission (EC) and, and eventually with the ‘official’ outside hammer, the IMF. Greece had to go.

Is Argentina going to become under Macri the Latin American Greece? Could well be. By now the country is encircled by neoliberal and fascist neighbors, Brazil, Chile, Paraguay, Uruguay. Bolivia is a laudable exception. All the others will do what Washington mandates; whatever it takes to support Macri and his IMF-imposed economic killer policies, that – in the end – will sell out the resource-rich country to foreign oligarchs and corporations, to the US and NATO.Yes NATO, unbelievable, but true. NATO is officially in south America, as Colombia by her own choice has become a NATO country.

From Colombia to Argentina and actually to all of Latin America is like a walk in the park, with all the borders of the partly newly installed neoliberal / neofascist governments wide open – for NATO forces, that is. Macri has already invited the US to establish several US military bases. In July 2018 Sputnik reported that President Macri has given green light to establish at least three US bases in the provinces of Neuquén, Misiones and Tierra del Fuego. Their creation would be financed by the US Southern Command.”

And now, in the midst of this man-made – Macri-made – socioeconomic calamity, he invites the G20 (30November to 1 December 2018) to feast on Argentina’s goodies, to see for themselves what can be made of an otherwise prosperous country – so that prosperity is ‘shared’ and outsourced to foreign oligarchs, banks and corporations. Wonderful. For that G20 event, Macri mobilized some 22,000 military forces to guarantee the security of the chiefs of state.

Surely, after the G20 summit, new austerities will be imposed, because everybody sees there is more to be milked from Argentina. They see what they were able to do to Greece.  When common sense would dictate – stop, that’s it, that’s all we can take – there is an opening for even more to be squeezed out of the country. In Argentina there is still a lot of milking to be done. It has just started. If nothing else, the newly Washingtonshoed-in president of Brazil, Jair Bolsonaro, will teach Macri how to do even better for the western money sharks.

In France, the Yellow Vests protests against higher fuel prices and labor reform laws is just a pretext for something much bigger – a growing awakening of the French people, a steadily increasing recognition of how the slippery soft-speaker Emmanuel Macron is stripping France’s populace of most of their civil and social rights, of their labor rights – and ultimately, still to come, of their jobs. A number of ‘false flags’ from Charlie Hebdo to Bataclan to the Nice’s 14th July terror attacks, have helped Macron to put a permanent State of Emergency – basically Martial Law – into the French Constitution. By doing so, he has created a kind of French “Patriot Act”, slice by slice reducing long acquired social rights, transforming them into increased profits for foreign and French corporations and banking giants. Big wonder, Macron is a Rothschild child. He has been put into his position to uphold and expand the Rothschild clan’s banking empire, expanding it way beyond the French borders.

Who are the Yellow Vests – or ‘gilets jaunes’ in French? The name refers to the yellow phosphorescent vests that each and every French driver needs to carry in his vehicle for visibility and protection in case of an incident on the highway. The movement started on 10 October, propagated through facebook against the Macron imposed increase of fuel taxes. It then expanded rapidly into a movement of discontent with the continuous loss of purchasing power of the common people through budget cuts and soft but steadily increasing austerity imposed on the French citizenry. That, plus the decay of public services, especially in urban peripheries, has transformed the Yellow Vests movement into a vivid protest against Macron, an outright call for Macron’sresignation.

Hundreds of thousands – cumulatively several millions – of Yellow Vests have demonstrated and blocked at times most of Paris during the past two weeks, to reverse the fuel tax increase and to basically regain their social rights and financial purchasing power, increase salaries to at least keep pace with inflation. Diesel prices have already increased in 2018 alone by 23% and gasoline prices by 15%. These prices should increase further by 2019 according to a Macron imposed law.

Can protests in the street remove a President? – A President, who came to power with less than 27% of the French eligible voters, a President, who built his power on a movement, called “En Marche” (something like ‘moving on’) which hardly even existed a year before Macron’s ‘election’ in May 2017, an election based on false propaganda, selling heaven to desperate people, who after socialist President François Hollande deceived his country bitterly, leaving his presidency with a popularity rate of less than 10% – these people were ready to accept any ‘populist’ lie in the hope that life would become better.

Well, as usual, the ruling class – almost always the financial elite – took advantage of the desperate situation – and bingo. Macron is legally in office for 5 years, until 2022. Removing him the ‘democratic way’, through a Parliamentary vote of confidence, is a slim chance, as he has an absolute majority in Parliament, also called the French National Assembly.

So far Macron has been able to impose his ‘austerity’ without the open help of the IMF. But, be sure, with Christine Lagarde at the helm of the IMF, a former French Finance Minister, with close ties to Macron, he most certainly get IMF ‘advice’ on how to continue softly squeezing the juices out of the French people, of their, since the end of WWII, accumulated and hard fought-for social benefits. Maybe also Greek style?

Curiously, the European Commission and the ECB aremuchmore generous with France than with Italy, when it comes to adhering to the arbitrary 3% deficit limit.Italy was scolded, called to order and to submit a revised budget, when deputy PM, Matteo Salvini, presented Italy’s 2019 budget with a 2.9% deficit. France, on the other hand, has been running a deficit above 3% for years, but is gently reminded to please look into their finances a bit more carefully. In other words, the EU is treating brothers and sisters with different yard sticks, thus, helping Macron to do whatever he sees fit to push austerity down the French citizens’ throats. And if they protest, well, we see what’s happening now. There is the State of Emergency that allows the most brutal police crack-down, if needed. And Macron may well need it, if he wants his presidency to survive.

The French people,are, however, special. They prompted the French Revolution in 1789, the legacy of which still reverberates in legal systems around the world. French students started 40 years ago, the 1968 student and workers revolt. It began on the premises of “equal rights and liberty” between men and women. Itled to strengthening workers unions and eventually to many workers rights and benefits, precisely those that already former President Sarkozy attempted to dismantle and for which Macron was installed to finish the job.

There is a direct relation between what happened in 1968 and what is occurring now. Will the people prevail? – Will France set an example for the rest of Europe? –  Mind you – Europe is in the plans to be derailed and robbed similarly and through different means, one of which is a massively increasing influx of so-called refugees or migrants from poor countries bordering Europe. Absorbing millions of homeless souls from western destroyed countries, is a challenge, Europe may not survive. Macron may just be a convenient intermediary.

So, what do the people of Argentina and the people of France have in common? – They both want to get rid of a despotic president, implanted by the western financial elite to steal the socioeconomic coffers of their heritage, and which, if not stopped, may continue a movement throughout the Americas and Europe.

Peter Koenig is an economist and geopolitical analyst. He is also a water resources and environmental specialist. He worked for over 30 years with the World Bank and the World Health Organization around the world in the fields of environment and water. He lectures at universities in the US, Europe and South America. He writes regularly for Global Research; ICH; RT; Sputnik; PressTV; The 21st Century; TeleSUR; The Vineyard of The Saker Blog, the New Eastern Outlook (NEO); and other internet sites. He is the author of Implosion – An Economic Thriller about War, Environmental Destruction and Corporate Greed – fiction based on facts and on 30 years of World Bank experience around the globe. He is also a co-author of The World Order and Revolution! – Essays from the Resistance.

  Read Argentina and France –Opponents of IMF versus Yellow Vests – Where is the Correlation?
  November 29, 2018
Homelessness, corporate welfare and priorities
by Ron Forthofer, in World, Countercurrents.

The homelessness issue has been a source of controversy at the local, state and national levels for some time now. There has been some limited progress, but this problem has certainly not been resolved humanely. Sometimes lost in the debate about this issue is that the homeless are fellow human beings, including families with children, and most of them really don’t want to be without homes.

Many of these people were and are hard working people who suffered some event, whether it was due to the predatory financial crisis ten years ago, a health crisis, a loss of a good-paying job, an accident, a severe weather-related event, the opioid crisis or other drug addiction, etc. A disproportionately large number are military veterans who suffer from PTSD or other injuries that prevent them from maintaining employment. Many of us could also become homeless if we were faced with something that disrupted our income source.

Despite the valiant efforts of lots of smart and compassionate people, the conditions faced by the homeless in the U.S. are, in general, a disgrace. I had the good fortune to have lived in Western Europe for two years in the 1980s and saw very few homeless people there. Most of these nations had good safety net programs that were a right. Unlike the U.S., self-described as the world’s greatest nation, these Western European nations valued and provided human rights including, for example, the rights to health care, housing and food, rights that don’t exist here.

Much of the lack of progress regarding homelessness in the U.S. is due to a shortage of public funds to deal adequately with the issue. Unfortunately, we accept this shortage instead of questioning why it exists.

An examination of the US budget reveals that over 60% of the discretionary spending goes to funding the military, including expensive weapons that help fuel an arms race. Other nations without an empire spend far less on their militaries. For example, our military budget is greater than the combined total of the seven nations with the next largest military budgets. Note that much of this money does not go for our national security but, instead, is corporate welfare. The military, including our naval fleets and air force as well as the over 800 military bases around the world, is used, among other things, to protect overseas investments of banks and other transnational corporations. More corporate welfare goes to the weapons manufacturers for weapons that often don’t work, are grossly over budget, and/or are unnecessary.

Our political leaders have also greatly increased homelessness in Gaza, Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria and Yemen, areas or countries we have attacked or where we supported our allies’ attacks. Shamefully, we almost never consider these people.

One might ask how we have arrived at this situation where our nation doesn’t value human rights of our people or of the others. Instead U.S. leaders sacrifice our rights to the protection of a banking and corporate empire that enriches the already wealthy at the expense of the rest of us and the environment.

A partial answer to the above question is that we have a political system influenced/controlled by money. Our lightly-regulated capitalist system allows the accumulation of vast amounts of money that translate into political power. Laws are then created to further rig the system to benefit the wealthy. Our economic system allows no room for compassion for the other, a system in which looking out for number one and excessive greed rule the day. This neo-liberal economic system stands in stark contrast to the professed teachings of most religions including Christianity.

Unless we change our political and economic systems, we won’t have a government of, by and for the people. Instead we will continue to have a budget that protects and expands the wealth of those in power instead of protecting our true human rights (including the right to shelter) and the right to a clean, safe and sustainable environment. Therefore we require a fundamental change in the U.S. political/economic system. Otherwise, continuing on our current path is likely to result in either a nuclear conflict or worsening climate chaos, both of which threaten human survival.

Ron Forthofer, Ph.D. is retired Professor of Biostatistics at the University of Texas School of Public Health, Houston, Texas; former Green Party candidate for Congress and for Governor of Colorado

  Read Homelessness, corporate welfare and priorities
  November 29, 2018
Low Oil Prices: An Indication of Major Problems Ahead?
by Gail Tverberg, in Resource Crisis, Countercurrents.

Many people, including most Peak Oilers, expect that oil prices will rise endlessly. They expect rising oil prices because, over time, companies find it necessary to access more difficult-to-extract oil. Accessing such oil tends to be increasingly expensive because it tends to require the use of greater quantities of resources and more advanced technology. This issue is sometimes referred to as diminishing returns. Figure 1 shows how oil prices might be expected to rise, if the higher costs encountered as a result of diminishing returns can be fully recovered from the ultimate customers of this oil.

Figure 1. Chart showing expected long-term rise in oil prices as the full cost of oil production becomes increasingly expensive due to diminishing returns.

In my view, this analysis suggesting ever-rising prices is incomplete. After a point, prices can’t really keep up with rising costs because the wages of many workers lag behind the growing cost of extraction.

The economy is a networked system facing many pressures, including a growing level of debt and the rising use of technology. When these pressures are considered, my analysis indicates that oil prices may fall too low for producers, rather than rise too high for consumers. Oil companies may close down if prices remain too low. Because of this, low oil prices should be of just as much concern as high oil prices.

In recent years, we have heard a great deal about the possibility of Peak Oil, including high oil prices. If the issue we are facing is really prices that are too low for producers, then there seems to be the possibility of a different limits issue, called Collapse. Many early economies seem to have collapsed as they reached resource limits. Collapse seems to be characterized by growing wealth disparity, inadequate wages for non-elite workers, failing governments, debt defaults, resource wars, and epidemics. Eventually, population associated with collapsed economies may fall very low or completely disappear. As Collapse approaches, commodity prices seem to be low, rather than high.

The low oil prices we have been seeing recently fit in disturbingly well with the hypothesis that the world economy is reaching affordability limits for a wide range of commodities, nearly all of which are subject to diminishing returns. This is a different problem than most researchers have been concerned about. In this article, I explain this situation further.

One thing that is a little confusing is the relative roles of diminishing returns and efficiency. I see diminishing returns as being more or less the opposite of growing efficiency.

Figure 2.

The fact that inflation-adjusted oil prices are now much higher than they were in the 1940s to 1960s is a sign that for oil, the contest between diminishing returns and efficiency has basically been won by diminishing returns for over 40 years.

Figure 3.

Oil Prices Cannot Rise Endlessly

It makes no sense for oil prices to rise endlessly, for what is inherently growing inefficiency. Endlessly rising prices for oil would be similar to paying a human laborer more and more for building widgets, during a time that that laborer becomes increasingly disabled. If the number of widgets that the worker can produce in one hour decreases by 50%, logically that worker’s wages should fall by 50%, not rise to make up for his/her growing inefficiency.

The problem with paying higher prices for what is equivalent to growing inefficiency can be hidden for a while, if the economy is growing rapidly enough. The way that the growing inefficiency is hidden is by adding Debt and Complexity (Figure 4).

Figure 4.

Growing complexity is very closely related to “Technology will save us.” Growing complexity involves the use of more advanced machinery and ever-more specialized workers. Businesses become larger and more hierarchical. International trade becomes increasingly important. Financial products such as derivatives become common.

Growing debt goes hand in hand with growing complexity. Businesses need growing debt to support capital expenditures for their new technology. Consumers find growing debt helpful in affording major purchases, such as homes and vehicles. Governments make debt-like promises of pensions to citizen. Thanks to these promised pensions, families can have fewer children and devote fewer years to child care at home.

The problem with adding complexity and adding debt is that they, too, reach diminishing returns. The easiest (and cheapest) fixes tend to be added first. For example, irrigating a field in a dry area may be an easy and cheap way to fix a problem with inadequate food supply. There may be other approaches that could be used as well, such as breeding crops that do well with little rainfall, but the payback on this investment may be smaller and later.

A major drawback of adding complexity is that doing so tends to increase wage and wealth disparity. When an employer pays high wages to supervisory workers and highly skilled workers, this leaves fewer funds with which to pay less skilled workers. Furthermore, the huge amount of capital goods required in this more complex economy tends to disproportionately benefit workers who are already highly paid. This happens because the owners of shares of stock in companies tend to overlap with employees who are already highly paid. Low paid employees can’t afford such purchases.

The net result of greater wage and wealth disparity is that it becomes increasingly difficult to keep prices high enough for oil producers. The many workers with low wages find it difficult to afford homes and families of their own. Their low purchasing power tends to hold down prices of commodities of all kinds. The higher wages of the highly trained and supervisory staff don’t make up for the shortfall in commodity demand because these highly paid workers spend their wages differently. They tend to spend proportionately more on services rather than on commodity-intensive goods. For example, they may send their children to elite colleges and pay for tax avoidance services. These services use relatively little in the way of commodities.

Once the Economy Slows Too Much, the Whole System Tends to Implode

A growing economy can hide a multitude of problems. Paying back debt with interest is easy, if a worker finds his wages growing. In fact, it doesn’t matter if the growth that supports his growing wages comes from inflationary growth or “real” growth, since debt repayment is typically not adjusted for inflation.

Figure 5. Repaying loans is easy in a growing economy, but much more difficult in a shrinking economy.

Both real growth and inflationary growth help workers have enough funds left at the end of the period for other goods they need, despite repaying debt with interest.

Once the economy stops growing, the whole system tends to implode. Wage disparity becomes a huge problem. It becomes impossible to repay debt with interest. Young people find that their standards of living are lower than those of their parents. Investments do not appear to be worthwhile without government subsidies. Businesses find that economies of scale no longer work to their advantage. Pension promises become overwhelming, compared to the wages of young people.

The Real Situation with Oil Prices

The real situation with oil prices–and in fact with respect to commodity prices in general–is approximately like that shown in Figure 6.

Figure 6.

What tends to happen is that oil prices tend to fall farther and farther behind what producers require, if they are truly to make adequate reinvestment in new fields and also pay high taxes to their governments. This should not be too surprising because oil prices represent a compromise between what citizens can afford and what producers require.

Figure 7. Illustration indicating that the world has already reached a point where no oil price works for both oil suppliers and oil consumers.

In the years before diminishing returns became too much of a problem (back before 2005, for example), it was possible to find prices that were within an acceptable range for both sellers and buyers. As diminishing returns has become an increasing problem, the price that consumers can afford has tended to fall increasingly far below the price that producers require. This is why oil prices at first fall a little too low for producers, and eventually seem likely to fall far below what producers need to stay in business. The problem is that no price works for both producers and consumers.

Affordability Issues Affect All Commodity Prices, Not Just Oil

We are dealing with a situation in which a growing share of workers (and would be workers) find it difficult to afford a home and family, because of wage disparity issues. Some workers have been displaced from their jobs by robots or by globalization. Some spend many years in advanced schooling and are left with large amounts of debt, making it difficult to afford a home, a family, and other things that many in the older generation were able to take for granted. Many of today’s workers are in low-wage countries; they cannot afford very much of the output of the world economy.

At the same time, diminishing returns affect nearly all commodities, just as they affect oil. Mineral ores are affected by diminishing returns because the highest grade ores tend to be extracted first. Food production is also subject to diminishing returns because population keeps rising, but arable land does not. As a result, each year it is necessary to grow more food per arable acre, leading to a need for more complexity (more irrigation or more fertilizer, or better hybrid seed), often at higher cost.

When the problem of growing wage disparity is matched up with the problem of diminishing returns for the many different types of commodity production, the same problem occurs that occurs with oil. Prices of a wide range of commodities tend to fall below the cost of production–first by a little and, if the debt bubble pops, by a whole lot.

We hear people say, “Of course oil prices will rise. Oil is a necessity.” The thing that they don’t realize is that the problem affects a much bigger “package” of commodities than just oil prices. In fact, finished goods and services of all kinds made with these commodities are also affected, including new homes and vehicles. Thus, the pattern we see of low oil prices, relative to what is required for true profitability, is really an extremely widespread problem.

Interest Rate Policies Affect Affordability

Commodity prices bear surprisingly little relationship to the cost of production. Instead, they seem to depend more on interest rate policies of government agencies. If interest rates rise or fall, this tends to have a big impact on household budgets, because monthly auto payments and home payments depend on interest rates. For example, US interest rates spiked in 1981.

Figure 8. US short and long term interest rates. Graph by FRED.

This spike in interest rates led to a major cutback in energy consumption and in GDP growth.

Figure 9. World GDP Growth versus Energy Consumption Growth, based on data of 2018 BP Statistical Review of World Energy and GDP data in 2010$ amounts, from the World Bank.

Oil prices began to slide, with the higher interest rates.

Figure 10.

Figure 11 indicates that the popping of a debt bubble (mostly relating to US sub-prime housing) sent oil prices down in 2008. Once interest rates were lowered through the US adoption of Quantitative Easing (QE), oil prices rose again. They fell again, when the US discontinued QE.

Figure 11. Figure showing collapsing debt bubble at the time US oil prices peaked, and the use of Quantitative Easing (QE) to stimulate the economy, and thus bring prices back up again.

While these charts show oil prices, there is a tendency for a broad range of commodity prices to move more or less together. This happens because the commodity price issue seems to be driven to a significant extent by the affordability of finished goods and services, including homes, automobiles, and restaurant food.

If the collapse of a major debt bubble occurs again, the world seems likely to experience impacts somewhat similar to those in 2008, depending, of course, on the location(s) and size(s) of the debt bubble(s). A wide variety of commodity prices are likely to fall very low; asset prices may also be affected. This time, however, government organizations seem to have fewer tools for pulling the world economy out of a prolonged slump because interest rates are already very low. Thus, the issues are likely to look more like a widespread economic problem (including far too low commodity prices) than an oil problem.

Lack of Growth in Energy Consumption Per Capita Seems to Lead to Collapse Scenarios

When we look back, the good times from an economic viewpoint occurred when energy consumption per capita (top red parts on Figure 12) were rising rapidly.

Figure 12.

The bad times for the economy were the valleys in Figure 12. Separate labels for these valleys have been added in Figure 13. If energy consumption is not growing relative to the rising world population, collapse in at least a part of the world economy tends to occur.

Figure 13.

The laws of physics tell us that energy consumption is required for movement and for heat. These are the basic processes involved in GDP generation, and in electricity transmission. Thus, it is logical to believe that energy consumption is required for GDP growth. We can see in Figure 9 that growth in energy consumption tends to come before GDP growth, strongly suggesting that it is the cause of GDP growth. This further confirms what the laws of physics tell us.

The fact that partial collapses tend to occur when the growth in energy consumption per capita falls too low is further confirmation of the way the economics system really operates. The Panic of 1857 occurred when the asset price bubble enabled by the California Gold Rush collapsed. Home, farm, and commodity prices fell very low. The problems ultimately were finally resolved in the US Civil War (1861 to 1865).

Similarly, the Depression of the 1930s was preceded by a stock market crash in 1929. During the Great Depression, wage disparity was a major problem. Commodity prices fell very low, as did farm prices. The issues of the Depression were not fully resolved until World War II.

At this point, world growth in energy consumption per capita seems to be falling again. We are also starting to see evidence of some of the same problems associated with earlier collapses: growing wage disparity, growing debt bubbles, and increasingly war-like behavior by world leaders. We should be aware that today’s low oil prices, together with these other symptoms of economic distress, may be pointing to yet another collapse scenario on the horizon.

Oil’s Role in the Economy Is Different From What Many Have Assumed

We have heard for a long time that the world is running out of oil, and we need to find substitutes. The story should have been, “Affordability of all commodities is falling too low, because of diminishing returns and growing wage disparity. We need to find rapidly rising quantities of very, very cheap energy products. We need a cheap substitute for oil. We cannot afford to substitute high-cost energy products for low-cost energy products. High-cost energy products affect the economy too adversely.”

In fact, the whole “Peak Oil” story is not really right. Neither is the “Renewables will save us” story, especially if the renewables require subsidies and are not very scalable. Energy prices can never be expected to rise high enough for renewables to become economic.

The issues we should truly be concerned about are Collapse, as encountered by many economies previously. If Collapse occurs, it seems likely to cut off production of many commodities, including oil and much of the food supply, indirectly because of low prices.

Low oil prices and low prices of other commodities are signs that we truly should be concerned about. Too many people have missed this point. They have been taken in by the false models of economists and by the confusion of Peak Oilers. At this point, we should start considering the very real possibility that our next world problem is likely to be Collapse of at least a portion of the world economy.

Interesting times seem to be ahead.

Gail E. Tverberg graduated from St. Olaf College in Northfield, Minnesota in 1968 with a B.S. in Mathematics. She received a M.S. in Mathematics from the University of Illinois, Chicago in 1970. Ms. Tverberg is a Fellow of the Casualty Actuarial Society and a Member of the American Academy of Actuaries. Ms. Tverberg began writing articles on finite world issues in early 2006. Since March 1, 2007, Ms. Tverberg has been working for Tverberg Actuarial Services on finite world issues. Her blog is http://ourfiniteworld.com

  Read Low Oil Prices: An Indication of Major Problems Ahead?
  November 29, 2018
The European Strategic Dilemma – Nato-in or Nato-out
by George Chakko, in World, Countercurrents.

A most vital issue far exceeding Brexit in importance – the rumbustious bear NATO, has surfaced. It is world’s most unwanted powder keg. No enlightened EU intellectual, if genuinely honest, would want to dispute its irrelevance. The last best indication was when French President Macron’ in Paris in the face of Pres. Trump, pleaded for a European Army without U.S. help. However, there are supportive arguments in favour of both options, U.S. Global power waning notwithstanding.

NATO should have been disbanded soon after Cold War end. It was kept alive by old-fashioned EU Generals, European monarchies and primarily by the U.S. following old-Nixon’s unilateral world power dominance doctrine with nuclear button solely under U.S. control to bully and subjugate its EU vassals economically & politically to keep the revenue of America’s and Europe’s  Super-Rich billionaires grow exponentially the Globe over. Having succeeded in this enslavement the U.S. wants to push more EU NATO members to invest, so that U.S. still dominates the Europeans at Europe’s expense and blood. ‘Super-Ego’ French Pres. Macron discerning this, partnering a financially strong Germany in Chancellor Merkel, will now want their own Army set under their control, but an Army lot cheaper, deploying EU-made weapons creating more jobs in Europe. In short Merkel & Macron were nicely asking Bully-Master U.S. to get out of Europe.

Macron and Merkel seem right on U.S. motives. America was, is and will continue to be unreliable, esp. under current Trump administration. Historical proof is not lacking. When Reagan & Gorbachev met in Reykjavík (Oct.11– 12 1986), both after intense discussions agreed to get rid of all nuclear weapons and Reagan was prepared to sign treaty. But an evil clique of Edward Teller (Father of U.S. H-Bomb and architect of Star Wars) supported by Henry Kissinger and George Schultz (US Secy. of State) killed it because the U.S. wanted to launch ‘Star Wars’  with U.S. alone be privileged to place nukes in Space, but not Russia, a condition unacceptable for Russia. Even today Russia has not placed one nuke in Space to this writer’s knowledge. This historic peace deceit on the part of the U.S. is sufficient reminder of the moral poverty and unreliability of the U.S. in defence and peace matters around Globe. Further, the U.S. NSA, under the guise of Global anti-Terror fight, illegally lifted via Brussels’-based SWIFT all types of industrial transactions’ data, personal data of big German companies to aid American commercial dominance blemishing U.S. truthfulness image, as confirmed to this writer by a conservative member of EU Parliament.

A European Army could be a defensive European Security Army without nukes,less costly than NATO. To achieve that, a foremost first step will be to talk to Putin and negotiate a Pan-European No-War Peace Treaty with Russia to avoid a Russian nuclear attack, even if there were one forced on Russia by the U.S. bilaterally. This way Europe can survive, unlike if it was under U,S. nuclear umbrella tutelage. EU could have a conventionally strong non-nuclear Army, Navy and Air Force to block enemy infringement on its territory. Europe could thus dispense with NATO & Uncle Sam and live in peace, doubtlessly more meaningful, engendering peace and not war incited by U.S.

Why did Henry Kissinger once utter – “U.S. has no friends, only interests” and who created one such America against American people’s will, if this German-born migrant with Zionist billionaire coterie could explain?  Europe seemingly wants to slip away from this evil grip of enlightened interests of a fractional U.S. multi billionaire war-club. In a recent interview, rebellious conservative Robert David Steele reveals that Pres. Trump is caged in at Oval Office by a strangling FBI, CIA & possibly NSA allowing him only a mere 4 percent chance to change anything he originally intended to carry out, as these organs feed him daily a benumbing data porridge of lies and fake data as truth. Now with House Majority with Democrats guided by Deep State all Trump orders can be blocked in the House of Representatives. Even a narrow Republican Senate majority is dancing on thin ice,with swing voters who could join the opposition. That’s America’s‘Deep-State& its Zionist-underbelly-controlled’ U.S.governance, we are told by an outspoken ‘maverick’ Steele, CEO – EIN.

Till today after Cold War end Europe got nothing tangible from this feigned protector clique, being robbed and emasculated only. Only cash roll-out for American weapons and systems worth billions by a U.S. created propped up fear via Zionist media of an imagined Russian invasion, political U.S. dictates, ‘mirage’ security via NATO bond, strategic, info-theft via SWIFT, NSA & CIA of trade and tech secrets. Evidently, a Europe walled-up intends to axe this Dracula strangle and look to new paths of peace and prosperity sans U.S. & U.K.  Macron and Merkel have rung the bell; the rest EU members need to follow in unity. Message – America Beware! This is what majority of sensible Europeans think that you deliberately got brainwashed want to oversee.

Needless to add two impediments supportive of a NATO stay-in, formidable and foreseeable:

  1. a) The U.S., esp. the Big C (Capital) through their European network system will try to sabotage such an independent course. Can a strong-willed Franco-German leadership, speak Macron-Merkel alliance steer-clear of such intervention, no matter how subtle and potent U.S. influence may shape out? Or is it just a ploy to let Europeans earn an easy hand from Oval Office?
  2. b) Given European history down the centuries, will Europe muster ability defusing petty nationalistic bickering to flare out into a war ultimately sucking in external non-European help like in WW I / II?

On this latter point Europe may want to remain hopeful, a new mature Europe with modern communication-tech and hitherto cultivated mature political alliance buttered by a 73 yr. peace experience would eventually work, provided a united iron will prevails stoically supportive.


George Chakko is former U.N. correspondent, now retiree in Vienna. Currently contributes critical comments to international media on multilateral issues, including science & technology and climate change. 

  Read The European Strategic Dilemma – Nato-in or Nato-out
  November 2, 2018
We Have 12 Years to Save—or Lose—Our Only Home
by Olivia Alperstein,in Climate Change, Countercurrents.

Pull on the seat-belt in your gas-guzzling car, folks, and strap in for the worst ride of our lives.

This fall, the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released a critical report warning that humans have about 12 years — until 2030 — before global warming reaches a catastrophic level.

The report concludes, frighteningly, that the world can’t allow global temperatures to warm past 1.5 degrees Celsius, or there will quite literally be hell to pay. And unless we take drastic action, we’re already all set to get there.

Consider this your all-hands-on-deck, siren-blaring warning that we need to act comprehensively to mitigate climate change now — or forever hold our peace.

The IPCC predicts an increased risk of devastating climate-related risks to health, livelihoods, food, water, security, and economic growth.

As sea levels and global temperatures rise, low-lying communities will disappear and heat-related deaths will increase, along with diseases like dengue fever and malaria. Areas that cease to be inhabitable by humans will fuel an accelerated refugee crisis, while resources like agriculture and crops will be decimated in key areas impacted by climate change.

That’s just a few of the highlights of the Ten Plagues-like punishment we’ll get for endangering our planet. We’re facing a pretty grim future — and that’s even if we manage to cap the rise at 1.5 degrees, which we’re not on track to do.

For those of us who are pretty young like me, our golden years may be anything but.

Before you slip quietly into your doomsday bunker or start praying that someone invents interstellar space travel, there’s an urgent message of hope: We’ve got a little bit of time to save the only home planet we’ve got. And it’s going to take all of us to do it.

While dire, the report also contains some critically useful recommendations.

Governments, companies, indigenous peoples, local communities, and individuals all have a critical role to play to solve this crisis. We can and must act quickly and collaboratively on a local and global scale before it’s too late. Acting alone or failing to cooperate, the IPCC report emphasizes, will fall short.

The Paris Climate Agreement isn’t going to be enough — we need massive, World War Two-level mobilization. The victory will be that we get a living, healthy planet.

The report also highlights the need to consider justice and equity as we consider solutions.

Some nations, like the United States, are leading contributors to greenhouse gas emissions and other accelerants of climate change. Others contribute less to emissions but are more vulnerable to catastrophic damage. A number of low-lying nations (on whose approval the Paris Agreement depended) will literally be underwater if temperatures rise beyond the IPCC’s limit.

The point being: The countries that have contributed the most to climate change need to contribute the most to fixing it — and to helping those who suffer most to adapt.

What can you do, right here, right now, besides giving up meat, your car, or plastic bags and straws?

Urge your local or state government to commit to 100 percent renewable energy in the next decade. Get your community and your state to ban the use of fracking and other fossil fuel production that will drive us to doomsday that much quicker, not to mention the other dangerous risks to people’s health.

Call on the federal government to implement the recommendations of the IPCC report, and commit to working with the rest of the world to act swiftly.

And if you vote, remember the planet when you do.

Olivia Alperstein is the Media Relations Manager for Physicians for Social Responsibility (PSR). www.psr.org.

Originally published in CommonDreams

  Read We Have 12 Years to Save—or Lose—Our Only Home
  November 3, 2018
Why I Have Hope in the Face of Human Extinction
by David Korten, in Counter Solutions, Countercurrents.

When I ask an audience, “Who believes we are on a path to self-extinction?” nearly every hand goes up. It’s a sign of a growing awareness that humanity is on a path to self-imposed environmental and social collapse. For me, that awareness is a source of hope.

I recently discovered an even deeper source of hope on a trip to South Korea. There I was involved in a remarkable series of international discussions on the transition to “ecological civilization.” I had the privilege of keynoting a conference on the transition hosted by Park Won-soon, the mayor of Seoul, and joined him in an interview with one of Seoul’s daily newspapers.

The concept is gaining traction elsewhere as well. China has embedded its commitment to ecological civilization in its constitution.

Last week, I explored the idea of an ecological civilization in a lively discussion with the Metropolitan Democratic Club of Seattle. Next week I join four leading contributors to the ecological civilization dialogue—Jeremy LentMatthew FoxJohn B. Cobb Jr., and my wife, Fran Korten—to explore the idea at the Parliament of the World’s Religions conference in Toronto.

I find the term “ecological civilization” especially well-suited to the changes we must achieve to have a viable future. “Ecological” focuses our attention on the active interdependence of all living organisms and their ability to self-organize into diverse, symbiotic communities. “Civilization” evokes the depth of the cultural and institutional transformation required to create a human future of peace, justice, and environmental health that is truly civil.

The vision of an ecological civilization is related to terms used elsewhere. Latin Americans speak of buen vivir and sumac kawsay (good living), a commitment now enshrined in the constitutions of Bolivia and Ecuador. Africans speak of ubuntu(humanity), often translated as “I am because we are.” Ecological civilization embraces both of these frames and more.

A transformation to ecological civilization is both possible and essential to the future of humanity. It’s spurred by growing awareness of the extent to which past cultural, institutional, and infrastructure choices disrupt our connections to one another and Earth to serve the interests of the very rich at the expense of the well-being of everyone else. This now poses an existential threat to our future. But evidence that this awareness is spreading gives me a renewed hope that humanity can and will rise to the challenge of the transition.

We humans now have the knowledge and technology to move beyond the violence, fear, and daily struggle for survival that besets the lives of so many. We have the capacity to secure a world of peace, beauty, diversity, creativity, material sufficiency, and spiritual abundance for all people, and have all that in balance with Earth’s ecosystems. Achieving such a goal requires that we make this vision our common goal and transform our cultural narratives, institutions, and infrastructure accordingly—a steep but imperative challenge.

Success requires leadership from all levels of society, including from people everywhere working to grow community-facilitating cultural values, institutions, and infrastructure in the places where they live. Together we need to achieve four conditions critical to the transition.

1. Earth balance. We must reduce humanity’s total environmental burden to bring us into sustainable balance with the capacity of Earth’s generative systems. This requires immediate action to eliminate nonessential consumption—including fossil fuels and weaponry. Longer-term action is needed to create institutional and physical structures that make doing the right thing easy and enjoyable—for example, designing urban environments to make the essentials of daily living readily accessible by biking, or walking in safe and pleasant neighborhoods connected by convenient mass transit.

2. Equitable distribution. We must achieve an equitable distribution of wealth and power. Immediate action is required to stop the further concentration of wealth while advancing equitable cooperative ownership, restoring the commons, and connecting the rights of ownership with corresponding responsibilities.

3. Life-serving technologies. We must advance technologies that strengthen rather than impair life’s regenerative capacity. Immediate action is required to roll back use of harmful technologies, including the use of toxic chemicals in agriculture and our dependence on carbon and nuclear energy. Longer-term action is needed to develop and apply technologies that better meet human needs while simultaneously restoring the environment, such as developing greener agricultural practices and creating buildings designed for natural heating and cooling.

4. Living communities. We must rebuild relationships of people to one another and to nature to create strong, healthy, deeply democratic living communities. This will involve reducing dependence on money while encouraging sharing and mutual self-help in the places where people live. Immediate action is required to block further concentration of corporate power, while taking longer-term steps to break up existing concentrations, secure the accountability of governments to the people, advance equitable participation in local cooperative ownership and shared housing, and establish rules that assure the accountability of businesses to the communities in which they operate.

The transition will test the limits of human creativity, social intelligence, and commitment to collaborate in the face of relentless establishment opposition. We now equate money to wealth and see making money as the key to well-being and happiness. In doing so, we ignore the reality that we are living beings born of and nurtured by a living Earth. Money is merely a number that has no intrinsic value. To destroy life only so that the financial assets of billionaires can grow is a monumental act of collective stupidity.

Forward-looking communities around the world are engaged in advancing these transformations on both micro and macro scales. Their activities must become the norm everywhere, with all peoples and governments freely sharing the lessons of their efforts to develop proven, deeply democratic approaches to local self-reliance and liberation from corporate rule. The well-being of people and planet will rise, as corporate profits fall.

It is time to unite as families, communities, and nations in our common identity as members of an ecological civilization, with a commitment to creating the possible world of our shared human dream.

Dr. David Korten is the author of Agenda for a New EconomyThe Great Turning: From Empire to Earth Community, and the international best seller When Corporations Rule the World. He is board chair of YES! Magazine, co-chair of the New Economy Working Group, a founding board member of the Business Alliance for Local Living Economies, president of the Living Economies Forum, and a member of the Club of Rome. He holds MBA and PhD degrees from the Stanford University Graduate School of Business and served on the faculty of the Harvard Business School.

  Read Why I Have Hope in the Face of Human Extinction
  November 3, 2018
Humans Do Not Have Any Special Rights
Binu Mathew,in Counter Solutions, Countercurrents.

This is a speech I prepared to deliver at the Solidarity Media Awards

This award was bestowed upon Countercurrents.org and me for the courageous interventions in human rights and citizen’s rights. Let me make it very clear, I do not have any such claims. I’m doing whatever little I can in my limited capacity for humanity and other species on earth. Since the organizers have bestowed upon me such a heavy responsibility, let me share my insights about the past, present and future of human rights.

Let me make it clear at the outset that human beings are just one of the species in our eco system. Humans do not have any special rights. Humans have only equal rights in our eco system like all other species. Rather, humans being the dominant species have the responsibility to protect the rights of all other species. It’s only because humans have the capability to demand for their rights that the concept ‘human rights’ exists. Even these rights face unparalleled threat now from multiple sources,

  1. Climate Change
  2. Resource Depletion
  3. Limits to Growth

The flood that Kerala witnessed recently made one thing clear. It’s not just the Western Ghats as professed by some environmentalists is an ecologically sensitive area, but all parts of Kerala are ecologically sensitive. If we extend this concept it would be clear to us that the whole world is an ecologically sensitive area, which means that we’ve nowhere to escape to in the face of a flood, drought or a hurricane!

The paper called ‘Hot House Earth’ was published almost at the same time Kerala was under water. According to this paper, if we do not take urgent action to prevent global warming, mean temperature would rise to 5 degree Celsius and the sea level would rise to 10 to 60 feet from the mean level. On October 5 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change(IPCC) published a special report. According to this report we’ve just 12 years to prevent catastrophic warming. Unless we take actions by 2030, 1.5 degree Celsius warming would be a foregone conclusion. For the first time IPCC admitted that sea level rise by the end of the century would be at least one meter higher than the mean level.

When Countercurrents.org was founded in 2002 the CO2 level in the atmosphere was 370 ppm. Now it’s around 410 ppm. According James Hansen, the father of Climate Change science, this is the CO2 level that prevailed in the Eemian period about 1,25000 years ago. Paleoclimate studies reveal that during that period sea level was 7 to 9 feet higher than it was today. This means that we are moving into unchartered territories in our climate. Global warming is not just a phenomenon that affects the sea coast, that many cities would be under water by the end of the century. The reality is that Climate Change would bring devastating floods, droughts, hurricanes, snow storms and such extreme weather events. If humans can not live in this planet, what’s the point of human rights?

  1. Resource Depletion

The second issue I’m raising is that of resource depletion. According to International Energy Agency’s World Energy Outlook report published in 2010, conventional oil (easily extractable oil) peaked in and around 2005. The shortage was met by the extraction of unconventional oil through fracking, tar sands extraction, deep sea wells etc. It would be interesting to note that in July 2008 oil reached a record peak price of   $147.27/barrel. It would also be interesting to note that global financial crisis occurred during this period.

You may ask, what’s the relation between the phenomenon called ‘Peak Oil’ and human rights? There’s only one answer.   Energy is the underlying source of modern civilization. Fossil fuels are the cheapest source of energy that can be easily handled. It’s with this source of energy we built the modern civilization, with its infrastructure, hospitals, schools, universities, factories, technology…… It’s just not the fossil fuels, but almost all other minerals and metals have been extracted by human beings to the maximum and are peaking. It’s also interesting to note that human population exploded when we had cheap energy. For instance when India attained freedom from the British in 1947 the population was around 300 million. Now 70 years later, the population stands at 1.3 billion!

During most part of human civilization, population was steady, hovering just around one billion or below. Just after the industrial revolution, when humans started using fossil fuels, the population began to increase. With the discovery of crude oil and its wide usage, human population just exploded. When it’s gone, the population that grew with it too will be gone. The graph will be flattened. The trauma of that catastrophic event is beyond the comprehension of most of us. Billions will die. It’s not just numbers, but humans in flesh and blood! Relationships will be gone! We can’t handle even the death of a dear one. How about billions of deaths?  It will also bring in political churnings. When humanity faces a crisis, authoritarian forces would emerge to take control. Fascism will raise its head once again. Chaos will prevail. In fact, it’s already happening. Whither human rights?

Optimists may say there will be alternative energy or technological fix to prevent such chaos. Scientists have been searching for that magical energy source to replace the dirty fossil fuels. According to my knowledge, no headway has been made so far. I do not have any hope that such breakthrough would come soon enough. Even if a technological breakthrough is made, there is the catch that we’ve used up most of our resources to sustain our humungous population for another century or more.

3 Limits To Growth

The 1972 Club of Rome report ‘Limits to Growth’ has confirmed that economy cannot grow forever. A 2014 update to this report also confirmed this reality. The capitalist economic system is based on the assumption that economies will grow forever. Today, except may be for Cuba, most of the nations of the world are imitating the capitalist model. It’s dangerous. Once economic growth comes to a standstill, as described above, whole system will collapse like a house of cards. Banks would fail. Industry would come to a grinding halt. Jobs would be a dream.

The cumulative effect of all these factors point to one thing. Humanity is heading towards a collapse. Prof. Ugo Bardi of University of Florence has termed it, The Senecca Cliff. Drawing from the philosophical premises of Roman philosopher Senecca, Dr. Bardy says that the ‘growth would be slow, but the fall would be quick.’

Jared Diamond in his famous book ‘Collapse- How Societies Choose to Fail or Survive’ has analysed many collapsed civilization. His terrifying conclusion is that at the end of most societies humans resorted to cannibalism. He came to this conclusion by analyzing the faeces of the last survivors of the collapse.

If we end up in cannibalism what’s the point of human rights?

Yes, we are heading to a collapse. We’ve just 12 years left to save our home, our beautiful earth. Here are some practical suggestions to avoid a collapse there by protecting human rights and the rights of all other species on earth.

  1. Force our governments to take global warming seriously, so that whole of humanity make radical changes in social as well as personal lives
  2. Force our governments to shift to renewable energy sources
  3. Shift our economic model from perpetual growth to a sustainable economy
  4. Demand equitable redistribution of capital, wealth and resources
  5. Force our governments to implement family planning
  6. Make climate change/global warming a topic in school curriculum
  7. Pass a “Law of the Rights of Mother Earth” like Bolivia and Ecuador have done

The list of course is incomplete. You can add more. Discuss and debate and take action.  That’s the only way for us to avoid a catastrophic collapse and save our mother earth and all its species.

Binu Mathew is the editor of www.countercurrents.org. He can be reached at editor@countercurrents.org

  Read Humans Do Not Have Any Special Rights
  November 6, 2018
Capitalism Is Killing Patients And Their Physicians
by Michael Pappas, in Life/Philosophy, Countercurrents.

Physician burnout, depression, and suicide increasingly invade discussions within the medical field. Depression and suicide are more common among male and female physicians, with suicide rates 1.41 and 2.27 times greater than that of the general male and female populations, respectively. Though, the insults to the mental health of physicians begins much earlier in their career.

While the numbers may vary from study to study, some 28 percent of medical residents experience a major depressive episode during their training compared to 6 to 8 percent of the general population. These numbers are important, not only because suffering physicians are suffering humans in their own right, but also because this epidemic leads to poor patient care.

As a recent study out of the Stanford School of Medicine suggests, burnout and depression in physicians can lead to medical error and death. Many have tried to explain the causes of the epidemic, referencing everything from unmanageable workloads and work inefficiency, to lack of meaning in work and lack of work-life balance. Films are now being produced to shine light on the issue. In her TED talk “Why Doctors Kill Themselves,” Pamela Wible points to a medical school culture of hazing and bullying that continues into residency, along with a professional culture that hinders physicians from obtaining mental health treatment.

These factors certainly contribute to the epidemic, but when discussing physician suicide, we ignore the elephant in the room: capitalism. We are unable to recognize how the exploitation and alienation of physicians is integrally connected to this dominant economic system, but nothing could be more poignant, given in the state of the world today.

Ironically, the same destructive system that is driving physicians to extremes is also the main driver of the deterioration of health of the patients and populations, requiring patients to see physicians in the first place. The sooner we realize and confront our own exploitation, the sooner we can join in the fight to address the real driver of disease that is plaguing physicians and patients.

The System Outlined

Busy physicians may not have time to study how the world’s prevailing economic system functions, but doing so could benefit both our profession and the patients with whom we work. To briefly discuss, inside this system the working class that does not own the means of production is forced to sell its labor to an employer to survive.

A few corporations control most of the market for each of the commodities they produce. In these corporations, a very small sector of a board of directors and majority shareholders makes essentially all of the decisions on what to produce, where to produce and how to distribute profits. This puts the working class in a vulnerable position.  With the ultimate goal of profit maximization, decisions are often made by the corporate class which are not in the best interest of workers and negatively affect the health of entire communities.

Outsourcing work, closing factories, creating poor working conditions to cut costs, polluting waterways and the environment–decision after decision may initially increase profits, but in the long term harms health. This harm to health can be more obvious, as when air and water are polluted, or more subtle, for example when families are put under chronic stress–which eventually leads to various forms of illness– from poor workplace conditions or income insecuritysecondary to factory closure and outsourcing.

In this system, certain “costs”–the health of families, and entire communities being destroyed–are “externalized.” This means the business itself does not pay for these costs of poor societal health, which are created secondary to decisions made by business executives to increase profits. Such decisions are made by a small number of wealthy, powerful individuals pursuing their interests for greater wealth and power accumulation at expense of all else.

As economists such as Thomas Piketty have shown by combing through economic records from as far back as the 18th century, capitalism inherently generates inequality, concentrating wealth into the hands of the few at expense of everyone else. Study after study shows us that socioeconomic inequality itself is detrimental to patient health and actually increases morbidity and mortality.

Despite the negative effects, the working class today is more productive than ever, while wages remain flat (or are sometimes even lower) and work hours continue to increase. Workers struggle to put food on the table and meet basic needs, while the ownership class continues to become richer. Workers are exploited and reduced to tools for industry, many times forced to do mundane tasks or assignments over and over. They are alienated, or separated from the control and the product of their labor, each day they go to work. Inside this system workers are ultimately reduced to mechanistic cogs producing profit for large corporations.

This combination of being overworked and lacking true meaning and fulfillment in the work being done, drives more and more throughout both the white and blue collar sectors into despair. As Johan Hari, shows in his recent work Lost Connections: Uncovering the Real Causes of Depression and Unexpected Solutions, workers become separated from loved ones and from things that bring them joy as they work multiple jobs for longer hours as they struggle to make ends meet.

This constant stress leads to anxiety, depression, and various other forms of disease. Meanwhile, all medicine has to offer for them are at best poor attempts–many times with questionable supporting data demonstrating efficacy– to numb the pain that much larger systemic structures continue to create.

Unfortunately, the corporate elite know no limits in this system, they continue to exploit the masses and drive more and more into poverty and desperation while concentrating wealth in ever fewer hands. In America today, the three wealthiest individuals own the same wealth as the entire bottom half of the population, more than 160 million individuals. In order to maintain this system, the elite must ensure that the members of the working class fight amongst themselves rather than direct their rage toward those who are benefiting off of the oppression of the masses.

The capitalist system, born from racism and white supremacy as highlighted in studies such as Edward Baptist’s The Half That Has Never Been Told: Slavery and the Making of American Capitalism, continues to separate members of the working class based on social constructs such as race. At the same time, through a multitude of mechanisms, the system creates a self-loathing, insecure public, driven to constant consumption, leading to the pollution of the earth and poisoning of community after community.

These various forms of structural violence are the true drivers of disease and suffering, of which the health care system sees the results, but has little to no ability to truly address. The health of the majority of the population deteriorates and the elites benefit. Capitalism’s need to endlessly expand and its effect on the earth, has literally lead some scientists to call for the designation of a new geologic era called the anthropocene to describe the effect humans have had on the earth.

Scientists now warn we have moved into the sixth great mass extinction of species seen in our world’s history. A new report by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) suggests, “Humanity has wiped out 60% of mammals, birds, fish and reptiles since 1970, leading the world’s foremost experts to warn that the annihilation of wildlife is now an emergency that threatens civilisation.”Meanwhile, a new U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)report warns us that humanity has only a dozen years to address global warming to avoid increasing droughts, floods, etc., which will inevitably lead to more poverty and illness.

Capitalism does not just threaten the health and well being of every human, but life on this earth as we know it. Capitalism operates as a terminal cancer, knowing no limits to its endless growth and consumption, destroying systems necessary to survival and threatening the continued existence of its host.

Medicine Has Not Escaped

What is outlined above are the underlying causes of the majority of disease and suffering. The prevailing economic system in the world today commodifies every aspect of life including health care. As a result, the health of the public, especially the US public, is subjected to a barrage of market mechanisms.

US medical professionals, while often paid more than the typical member of the working class, are still forced to operate inside of this system that places profits above patient health. We see how this system harms our patients, limiting availability of the care they need, but we tend to miss that we also are damaged by this same system.

As Howard Waitzkin and the “Working Group on Health Beyond Capitalism” state in the book, Health Care Under the Knife: Moving Beyond Capitalism for Our Health,” until the 1980s, doctors, for the most part, owned and/or controlled their means of production and conditions of practice.” This allowed them to have control over things such as their work hours and how much time to spend with patients. As the Working Group references, “loss of control over the conditions of work has caused much unhappiness and burnout in the profession.

As other members of the proletariat, or working class, have experienced for years, doctors now no longer have control over their labor. Now corporations or other large institutions control such decisions. Physicians have become “proletarianized” and while not members of the traditional working class, they have become tools in the corporate wheel of profit production. This has left us with a health system parasitized by the capitalism that cares more about profit production than it does the care of human beings.

The medical industrial complex, made of a multitude of different institutions–hospital corporations, large insurance companies, or pharmaceutical and device corporations and, more specifically the corporate elite who control these corporations–ultimately governs a majority of the large scale, structural decisions that affect patient care. The elite in these institutions, just like other capitalist organizations, make decisions that affect the lives of the majority with little to no input from those who are affected by these decisions.

They govern the prices of drugs–often leading to the obscene drug prices–and how long a physician should be spending with his or her patients in the clinic. These organizations have the primary goal of maximizing profit (regardless of whether they bear the title of “for profit” or “non-profit”) above all else. Consequently, patient health really becomes secondary in this system.

The metastasis of capitalism’s perverse incentives to even the sector that claims to care for the health of human beings, has given us the ineffective, damaging system we have today. Since profit production is of prime importance, physicians–and really health care providers in general–must be trained to be efficient tools for profit, seeing more patients more quickly, knowing how to bill appropriately, etc.

These incentives limit a physician’s ability to do what he or she actually went into medicine (or should have) for: to help people. Physicians want to help their patients, but are simply not able to truly address patient suffering because addressing the causes, as highlighted above, are outside the scope of a profit based medical system.

To understand how exactly this system creates human tools for health care profit while in the process leaving them physically and mentally broken, we must delve into the medical education and training structure and analyze how medical providers are conditioned to accept their own exploitation.

Training in the Art of Being Exploited

Step 1: Medical School

Medical trainees in the US enter medical school at least generally claiming they have some interest in caring for other human beings. Unfortunately, little do they know, they are entering a system designed to prime them for their own exploitation from the second their training begins—one could argue even well before that point–and subsequently throughout their residency training.

During medical school, students are forced to study innumerable hours while being told they have to “lay a good foundation” of knowledge for their future practice. The first 2 years in most medical schools are classroom based, where insurmountable amounts of information are thrown at students as they are told “this is just the way medicine is, get used to it.”

Unfortunately though, much of the information students spend their time studying–or more often mindlessly memorizing–will never be used when caring for patients. This information is absorbed, regurgitated on an exam, and then often forgotten. One thing students do begin to learn–if they hadn’t already through their undergraduate education or their grade school education prior–is to listen to authority figures’ demands if they would like to succeed.

Students have little influence on what they are being taught. Instead, they must accept what they are being told or they may not pass their next exam. Students who entered medicine eager and idealistic, hoping to help others, begin to slowly withdraw from their individual passions and interests simply because tests, rotation evaluations determined by the opinions of supervising providers students must impress, and board exams are deemed more important. They are taught that listening to authority figures at the expense of their own interests and passions, comes first and then they can try to pursue their interests if they have time. This obviously can affect the mood and morale of a training physician.

During their third year, medical students are forced to spend numerous hours in the hospital. They are also required to take “shelf exams” at the end of each rotation, which can often have a large impact on their overall rotation grade. Because slight differences in grades can affect residency opportunities, students spend free-time studying for these exams instead of participating in activities to maintain their own mental and physical well being. While the exam scores offer little insight into the type of a physician the student will become, they serve to add extra pressure on students and ensure that they spend little time actually thinking for themselves while they are out of the hospital.

During fourth year many students are expected to complete sub-internships in the fields they are are interested in going into for residency training. These sub-internships normally require students to work near their 80 hour work limit, congruous to work limits of residents (more on that shortly). Medical students often carry their own patient panels, write notes that can be co-signed, and can even pend medication orders to be approved. The main difference between them and an actual paid intern is that they do not get paid. Instead they must work to “impress” their superiors in hopes of obtaining a positive evaluation. Once again, students are taught that listening to and striving to impress authority is their ultimate goal.

After four years of indoctrination, in addition to a medical degree, most medical students are given one final parting gift on their way into residency: hundreds of thousands of dollars of debt. This debt serves as a convenient way of pushing newly minted doctors into financial constriction when entering their residency.

No matter how they view their new employer or the field they have chosen, they know that they now have hundreds of thousands of dollars that they must find some way to pay back. This makes them much less likely to question or challenge authority in their new positions because doing so could impede completion of their training, sabotaging their career and only chance to escape debt. Along, with the inherent emotional stress of caring for sick patients, these financial difficulties can lead to depression, anxiety and a host of mental health issues in the newly minted physician.

Step 2: Residency

Once medical school graduates enter residency, they have already been primed for their inevitable exploitation, understanding that they need to take direction from authority, curtail their passions to make them more palatable to superiors, and most importantly, suppress any depression or anxiety they feel secondary to an ineffective, exploitative system. They now have few options–or are at least told so–other than to continue through residency. They know that to find themselves at this stage, they have made significant financial and emotional sacrifices, often losing connection with the people and things they love in order to fulfill education requirements.

Unfortunately, the exploitation of these newly minted doctors is just beginning.  During training, residents are forced to work often 80 hours per week doing a large portion of the patient care in hospitals (not to mention the additional hours of preparation outside of hospital or clinic, which are not counted toward this 80 hour limit). Residents are salaried, so they provide a cheap, efficient source of labor for hospitals and clinics. Residents become physically and emotionally exhausted trying to care for maxed out patient loads effectively in understaffed hospitals. Work hours become normalized over time and residents simply expect to be working an unhealthy amount of time in the hospital or at least convince themselves that it is normal to maintain their own sanity. It is no wonder this situation plunges many, who are already at risk, into burnout and depression.

Throughout residency, residents do, admittedly, grow exponentially in their ability to care for patients and become independently functioning physicians. Though, there is another type of growth that occurs during these years, which is seldom discussed.

Residents are groomed to be efficient, effective profit producers once they enter the workforce. For example, over their time in residency, a large degree of emphasis is placed on residents meeting particular “quality measures” for the clinic or hospital settings. Training after training is spent ensuring residents understand how to properly bill and submit insurance claims. Residents learn how to see patients extremely quickly and complete entire patient visits within 15 minutes. As anyone who has even interacted with a health care provider can attest, this is not enough time to actually make any significant interpersonal connection with a patient.

Either during this visit or after, residents must also learn to input information into whichever electronic medical record their training center uses. As Matt Anderson notes in Health Care Under the Knife commenting on EMRs, “most were designed to capture billing and quality information, not facilitate clinical care.” Residents end up spending more time looking at a computer than they do connecting with a patient. In the inpatient setting, a hospitalized patient might only see their doctor for a few minutes each day. This is partially because the rest of the day is spent documenting a coordinating care inside of a completely nonsensical system to ensure hospitals will be able to cash in on patient hospital stays.

This puts individuals, who went into medicine to care for and make connections with patients, torn between still trying to achieve this goal and meeting designated “quality measures.” If they are not able to see patients fast enough in the clinic or inpatient hospital setting they may not be seen as “marketable” to employers. This is clearly an environment that can breed physical, mental, and emotional suffering in the exploited trainee.

Even while studies have shown these grueling hours put both patients and residents at risk, when it comes to actually addressing the problems highlighted above, the onus is consistently put on the provider to maintain “self care.” From the beginning of residency, different “mental health departments” speak with residents about the importance of maintaining self care and “balance,” while at the same time maintaining an exploitative system that overworks its employees and drives suffering. Residents are a cheap form of labor for hospitals or clinics, and actually addressing this problem at a systemic level would be too threatening to the profitable status quo.

How the system’s leaders speak about these work conditions is very telling. For example, in 2016 Dr. Janice Orlowski the Chief Health Care Officer with the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC), stated “The individual is going to go into a profession where their profession calls on them to work extended hours and to be available at unusual hours […] We need to train individuals who can learn to pace themselves, who can recognize when they have sleep deprivation or when they are stressed.”

This is an interesting statement, coming from someone who should know the demands put on residents drastically limits their capacity to “pace themselves.” It is clear that there is much more concern for protecting a public image of medicine and hospital programs than there is for addressing the crisis of physician depression and suicide.

Step 3: Practicing Physicians

Finally, if not already burned out, the physician has escaped residency and now believes that he or she will be able to practice “however one wants.” Unfortunately, any overburdened physician–either fresh out of residency or seasoned–who has worked inside a busy hospital or clinic, can attest to feeling tired, overworked, and often unfulfilled, in part due to their lack of patient connection as they are rushed from patient to patient and progress note to progress note.

Again, citing Matt Anderson in the Health Care Under the Knife’s section “Becoming Employees: The Deprofessionalization and Emerging Social Class Position of Health Professionals,” concepts typically lauded again and again in the health sector–”value, efficiency, quality, and market discipline–are part of an ideology to justify corporate control over the work of physicians and other works providing health services.” He references Marx’s concept of alienation–the separation of worker’s control over his or her labor– and describes how more and more health care providers are separated from what they once truly loved about their work, and now must fill the primary role of profit producer and secondary role of health care provider. If this separation did not occur during residency, there is a good chance it will when outside of training working for an employer.

While practicing, providers are still attempting to treat patients who present with illnesses created by the much larger system of capitalist exploitation referenced above, but their training prior to starting independent practice in no way, shape, or form has actually prepared them to join the communities they serve in combating these larger oppressive systems. On the contrary, what they were taught was to keep their head down, survive, and make it through exploitative residency programs. They are in regular practice and know how to put in a billing code and attempt the near impossible task of making a true connection with someone in a 15 minute clinic visit, but have not remotely learned how to begin to resist a parasitic capitalist system damaging both their colleagues and their patients.

At the same time, even if a physician did want to step outside of traditional boundaries to help challenge the true socioeconomic and structural causes of disease highlighted above, the provider still has a massive amount of student loans constricting their decisions. They may also have started a family or accumulated other financial constraints during residency. This leaves them with few options and many find it easier to get back in the clinic, put their heads down, and tell themselves they are really helping to address patient health. When in reality, they have been indoctrinated into a system based on profit maximization and blunting of patient suffering at best.

This endless process of day after day in clinic, seeing little to no progress at a systemic level, can become frustrating and make one’s work seem futile. Imagine spending over 10 years in training–from college, through medical school, through residency–to find yourself in this position. It is no surprise that more and more physicians are burning out, and feeling so desperate, that harming oneself becomes a viable option to escape.

Recognizing One’s Exploitation and Fighting Back

Capitalism’s parasitic economic structure has infiltrated all aspects of our society, and medicine has not been spared. This results in physicians being trained and conditioned to be obedient profit producers above all else. It leads them to be alienated from their loved ones and from their true passions. Inside our healthcare system, physicians are separated from the things that truly brought them joy and fulfilment. Yet we still continue to question why physicians are killing themselves?

Some maintain hope that there will be action around these issues from residency administrations, hospital working groups, or any number of hierarchical bodies that govern medical education, graduate medical education, or our healthcare system in general. The reality is that these issues will never be solved by any large committees or “task forces” we currently have in place, which continually put the onus onto medical students, residents, and practicing physicians to develop more “resilience” inside of a system that is build to do the exact opposite.

Those who have made it to the top positions of organizations such as the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) or the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) are there because they will continue to support the status quo. As political dissident and linguist Noam Chomsky discusses in reference to elite control of institutions,  “an unstated but crucial premise is that the ‘responsible men’ achieve that exalted status by their service to authentic power, a fact of life that they will discover soon enough if they try to pursue an independent path.” These institutions will never consider the best interests of physicians or the patients they serve. Their leaders have been groomed to support the status quo. It is up to us to realize our exploitation and begin to fight against it.

Realizing this fact is easier said than done, as most physicians, due to the filtering mechanisms throughout our educational system, which typically lead to those from the upper classes securing seats in medical school, come from the exploitive classes themselves. Physicians are also paid more than a majority of other employees within our healthcare system such as nurses, technicians etc. They are conditioned to believe that they are somehow different or more important than the rest of the working staff when in reality all members are important in caring for the patient and all members are overworked and exploited by the same system.

Giving one member of an exploited group–in this case the physician–more benefits than others, helps to keep the fighting going between all groups as opposed to collaboration and organizing. We will be able to begin addressing the crisis of physician suicide once we, as physicians, accept that just as this capitalist system exploits our patients and coworkers, it is also exploiting us. And then we organize against it.

Whether it is consciously recognized or not, physicians specifically are also often boosted up with a false sense of elitism from the second they step into the field. This creates a blind spot for them being able to recognize their own suffering and exploitation and organize against it. They are given special white coats, which–besides becoming completely filthy after 80 hour work weeks–distinguish them from other hospital staff and distinguish themselves by the title of “doctor.”

While other staff members, such as nurses, actually have the collectivist mindset to organize against the damage the health care industrial complex causes to the patients they care for and even strike when necessary, physicians–especially those in the US–have been conditioned to believe they are too important to the system to do the same, even while that system is actively damaging them.  Their administrators and peers say, “If we aren’t caring for patients, our patients will die.”

Those with a vested interest in maintaining the business as usual hold patients as hostages inside this system, guilting providers into accepting the status quo (inadequate care, inadequate access to care, medical errors, and crushing debt) with this rhetoric. It is despite the fact that physicians around the world have been able to organize and strike effectively while also continuing to provide absolutely necessary care.

Referencing Mark Ames’s 2005 book, Going Postal: Rage, Murder, and Rebellion: From Reagan’s Workplaces to Clinton’s Columbine and Beyond is useful for understanding this current phenomenon. In the book, Ames evaluates the mental anguish caused by Reagan era policies and analyzes how our capitalist system degrades and humiliates workers until they are pushed to harm themselves and others. In the following passage he speaks of how people can often deny their own exploitation until it is too late. He notes:

The middle class persistently denies its own unique pathos, irrationally clinging to an irrational way of measuring it, perhaps because if they did validate their own pain and injustice, it would be too unsettling–it would throw the entire world order into doubt. It is more comforting to believe they aren’t really suffering, to allocate all official pathos to the misery of other socioeconomic groups, and its more comforting to accuse those who disagree of being psychologically weak whiners. Despite its several hundred million strong demographic, the white bourgeoisie’s pain doesn’t officially count–it is too ashamed of itself to sympathize with its own suffering.

Until physicians are willing to accept the fact they they are being exploited by the same system that harms their patients, there will be no progress made in addressing physician depression and suicide. At that same time, until health care providers generally accept that it is our current capitalist system which puts profit production above the well being of every living thing on this planet–including themselves–we will not be able to effectively address true social and structural causes of disease and suffering.

Capitalism exploits, damages, and destroys us all. History shows us, large scale systemic change has never come from the beneficence of those in power and, frankly, it never will. As historian Howard Zinn writes speaking about public activism, the rights of the citizenry only come when “citizens organize, protest, demonstrate, strike, boycott, rebel, and violate the law in order to uphold justice.”

As physicians, if we truly care about the well being of our coworkers and of our patients, we must begin to organize, unionize, and rebel inside our practices, residency programs, etc, resisting business as usual, and finding ways to threaten the profits of capitalists if we want to see systemic change. We must begin to organize with communities and populations resisting oppression from a parasitic capitalist system as physicians in the past have done with groups such as the Black Panthers and Young Lords.

Once physicians can begin to view the dynamics of our capitalist system more clearly–and view the dynamics of our healthcare system as just one microcosm of how capitalism harms us all–it will become clear what needs to be done. We must put down our fancy white coats and begin to organize with our fellow healthcare staff–and, more importantly, with our patients–against a system that exploits and damages us all. Only then will be able to begin developing a new system that actually cares about both people and the planet.

Michael Pappas graduated from Georgetown Medical School and is currently training in Family Medicine residency in New York City. He can be reached at pappasm898@gmail.com.

Originally published in Popular Resistance

  Read Capitalism Is Killing Patients And Their Physicians
  November 8, 2018
Why we get bad diagnoses for the world’s energy-economy problems
by Gail Tverberg, in Resource Crisis, Countercurrents.

Figure 1. Ratio of Core Debt Growth (non-financial debt including governmental debt) to GDP, based on data of the Bank of International Settlements.

If the economy were a human being, we would send it to a physician for a diagnosis regarding what is wrong. What really is needed is a physician who has a wide overview, and thus can understand the many symptoms. Hopefully, the physician can also provide a reasonable prognosis of what lies ahead.

Individual specialists studying the world’s economic and energy problems tend to look at these problems from narrow points of view. Some examples include:

  •  Curve fitting and cycle analysis using economic data by country since World War II, as is often performed by economists
  • Analysis of oil supply based on technically recoverable reserves or resources
  • Analysis of fresh water supply problems
  • Analysis of population problems, including rising population relative to arable land, and rising retiree population relative to working population
  • Analysis of ocean problems, including rising acidity and depleting fish stocks
  • Analysis of the expected impact of CO2 production from fossil fuels on climate
  • Analysis of rising debt levels

In fact, we are facing a combined problem, but most analysts/economists are looking at only their own piece of the problem. They assume that the other aspects have little or no influence on their particular result. What we really need is an analysis of the overall economic malady from a broader perspective.

In some ways, the situation is analogous to having no physician with a sufficient overview of where the world economy is headed. Instead, we have a number of specialists (perhaps analogous to a psychiatrist, a urologist, a podiatrist, and a dermatologist), none of whom really understands the underlying problem the patient is facing.

One point of confusion regarding whether today’s oil prices should be of concern is the fact that the maximum affordable oil price seems to decline over timeThis happens because workers around the world increasingly cannot afford to buy the goods and services that the world economy produces. Inadequate wage growth within countries, growing globalization and rising interest rates all contribute to this growing affordability problem. To make matters confusing, this growing affordability problem corresponds to “falling demand” in the way economists frame the issues we are facing.

If we believe the technical analysis shown in Figure 2, the maximum affordable West Texas Intermediate oil price has declined from $147 per barrel in July 2008 to $76 per barrel recently. The current price is about $62 per barrel. The chart suggests that downward price resistance might be reached at $55 per barrel, assuming no major event occurs to change the current trend line. Any upward price bounce would appear to leave the price still much lower than oil producers need in order to reinvest sufficiently to allow future oil production to be maintained at current levels.

Figure 2. Down sloping diagonal line at the top of chart gives an estimate of the trend in maximum affordable West Texas Intermediate (WTI) oil prices. The downward trend line starts in July 2008, when oil prices hit a maximum. This high point occurred when the US real estate debt bubble started unwinding. Later maximum points correspond to points when oil prices stopped rising and crude oil reservoirs started refilling. Chart prepared by Amit Noam Tal.

Thus, our concern about adequate future oil supplies should perhaps be focused on keeping oil prices high enough. It takes a growing debt bubble to keep oil demand high; perhaps our concern should be keeping this debt bubble high enough to allow extraction of commodities of all kinds, including oil. Figure 1 seems to show a recent downward trend in Debt to GDP ratios for the Eurozone, the United States and China. This may be part of today’s low price problem for commodities of all types.

Needless to say, climate analyses do not consider the severity of our energy problems, nor do they consider the extent to which there is a connection between energy supply and the ability of the economy to operate as usual. If the real issue is a near-term financial crash that will radically affect future fossil fuel consumption, the climate analysis will certainly miss this event.

The Real Nature of the Limits to Growth Problem

To truly understand the headwinds that the economy is facing, we should be looking at the combined effect of all of the limits problems that the individual specialists have been studying. We might also include other issues not listed. The 1972 book The Limits to Growth presents an early computer model of how at least some of the limits of a finite world might be expected to play out.

Figure 3. Base scenario from 1972 Limits to Growth, printed using today’s graphics by Charles Hall and John Day in “Revisiting Limits to Growth After Peak Oil” http://www.esf.edu/efb/hall/2009-05Hall0327.pdf

This early approach reflected an engineering view of the problem, considering expected diminishing returns with respect to resources of all types. Other considerations included likely resource needs based on prior economic and population growth trends and efficiency gains. The Base Scenario shown in the 1972 book (Figure 3) showed collapse taking place about now–in other words, in the early part of the 21st century.

In the time since the 1972 Limits to Growth analysis was prepared, there has been a major discovery relating the importance of energy to the economy. Ilya Prigogine tackled the problem of the physics of thermodynamically dynamic open systems, earning a Nobel prize for his efforts in 1977. When energy flows are available, many structures, called dissipative structures, can grow and change over time. Examples include plants and animals, hurricanes, stars (they expand in size, then collapse at the end of their lives), ecosystems, and economies. These structures are utterly dependent on energy flows. The economy needs energy in almost the same way that humans need food. Without sufficient energy flows, the world economy will collapse.

It is because of the laws of physics and energy flows that markets are able to set price levels. Indirectly, physics sets the maximum affordable price for energy products based upon the total quantity of goods and services individual workers can afford. These maximum affordable prices may be invisible, but they are very real. Economists may talk about “demand” for energy products, but the real issue is affordability: “Will the laws of physics allow prices to stay high enough to provide the commodities the world economy needs?”

It is because of the laws of physics that debt can play a major role in the economy. Debt can provide time-shifting services if an economy does not have sufficient energy supplies to permit the equivalent of bartering of finished goods and services for new capital goods. Debt can allow future goods and services (manufactured with energy products) to serve as payment for capital goods and other goods purchased using debt. Thus, debt acts as a promise of future energy supplies. These future energy supplies may not, in fact, actually be available at prices that consumers can afford. This is why debt bubbles so often collapse and have a devastating impact on economies.

In theory, the new physics discoveries might also be added to the Limits to Growth model. If this were done, I would expect the downslopes in Figure 3 to be much steeper. Also, the date when the population decline starts would likely move forward, relative to other declines. The actual dates of the declines would of course be expected to change as well, because of updated knowledge regarding resources, population, and other factors.

Including the physics aspect of the economy would lead to many periods when sharp changes take place. When these sharp changes take place, there might be wars, collapsing governments, and epidemics, all causing large numbers of deaths. Debt bubbles might pop, causing deflation and widespread banking problems. These types of events are similar to those that economies have experienced in the past. There is no reason to expect that today’s world economy will have unusual lasting power.

Of course, modeling one piece of the economy at a time, as described at the beginning of this post, leaves out such troublesome implications. Economists tell us all we need to worry about is price fluctuations as the economy substitutes one product for another. If a person has blinders on, perhaps this a good description of the world we live in. Otherwise, the model leaves a lot to be desired.

Implication of the Laws of Physics Being in Charge of How the Economy Operates

Politicians would very much like us to believe that they are in charge. They would like us to believe that adding more technology can solve all of our problems. They would like us to believe that citizens can make a significant difference by voluntarily cutting back on their own energy consumption. They would also like us to believe that countries can cut back on their debt levels without the whole Ponzi Scheme unraveling.

Anyone who has watched bread rise in a bowl can see the implications of growth within a finite structure. It doesn’t take very long for the volume growth of bread dough to exceed the space available. Even if the bread maker pushes the dough back down again, the effect is only temporary. The bread dough quickly rises again to overfill the bowl it is in.

One possible implication of the 2008 financial (and oil price) crash is that we are very close to limits, right now. Regulators can try to fine tune how the economy operates by raising and lowering interest rates (sometimes using Quantitative Easing (QE) in the process), but they are in some sense playing with fire. Figure 4 shows the dramatic impact that popping the real estate debt bubble seems to have had in 2008. It also shows the impact that adding and removing QE has had.

Figure 4. Figure showing collapsing debt bubble at the time US oil prices peaked. Figure also shows  the use of Quantitative Easing (QE) to stimulate the economy, and thus bring oil prices back up again. Ending US QE seems to have had the reverse effect.

By raising interest rates, regulators could easily send part, or all, of the world’s economy to a financial crash that is worse than 2008’s. Or the economy could again reach limits, by itself, with just a little economic growth. In some sense, the world economy is very close to filling the bread bowl, as it was before the 2008 crash pushed it back down.

The World Economy Is Reaching Limits in Many Areas Simultaneously

Many people believe that we are reaching limits in at most a few areas of the economy, such as “running out of oil.” The evidence suggests that because of the networked nature of the economy, we are really reaching limits in many places, simultaneously. The following represent some problem areas:

(1) Too Low a Return on Labor for Workers Whose Jobs are Easily Exportable. With globalization, workers are indirectly competing with workers around the world regarding who can produce goods and services most cheaply. They are also competing with computers and robots that can easily replicate their functions. The net impact is a world where a large share of the citizens find themselves living at a level not much above the subsistence level. In more developed countries, young people may live with their parents longer and may delay having children almost indefinitely, because wages are not keeping up with living costs. Many studies have shown rising wage disparity. In some ways, the wage disparity now seems to be as bad as in the 1930s.

Figure 5. U. S. Income Shares of Top 1% and Top 0.1%, Wikipedia exhibit by Piketty and Saez.

(2) Interest Rates. Interest rates are the lever that economists like to adjust upward or downward to try to stimulate the economy or push the economy downward. Short term interest rates, up until about the end of 2005, were at the level they were at during the Depression of the 1930s.

Figure 6. Monthly average 3-month term treasury bill rates in chart prepared by FRED. Amounts shown through October 2018. Grey bars indicate recessions.

Raising interest rates is like adding a little more dough to the already over-full bread bowl. With these higher interest rates, borrowers need to pay more for monthly payments, making the strain on their finances even worse than it was previously. Figure 6 shows that raising interest rates very often creates a recession. In fact, the Great Recession of 2008-2009 seems to be the result of an increase in short term interest rates. This time we are being told that the increase will be gentle, but if the bread bowl is already overly full (in the sense that affordability of the output of the economy is already way too low, for many workers), what difference does “gentle” make?

(3) Return on Capital Investment/Added Debt. Falling long-term interest rates between 1981 and 2016 seem to be an indirect reflection of falling long-term return on capital investment. If capital returns had been higher, there would be more demand for debt, forcing interest rates up to levels closer to where they had been when the economy was growing more quickly.

Figure 7. Monthly average 10-year US Treasury interest rates in chart prepared by FRED. Amounts shown through October 2018. Grey bars indicate recessions.

Another way we can look how productive the addition of debt has been is by comparing the debt increase each year with the GDP increase (including inflation) each year. We use current year GDP as the denominator in both cases. Figure 8 shows the indications for what the what the Bank for International Settlements calls “Core Debt” (that is, Total Non-Financial Debt, Including Government Debt).

Figure 8. Dollar Increase in US Core Debt as % of GDP, shown beside GDP dollar increase, as percentage of ending GDP. Amounts based on FRED data.

Comparing the red and blue lines on Figure 8, GDP rose fairly reliably in the pre-1981 period, as the amount of core debt rose. The core debt increases tended to be higher than the GDP increases, but not a great deal higher. Thus, the US ratios on Figure 1 could be close to 1.0 in early years.

Once interest rates started falling after 1981 (see Figures 6 and 7), core debt growth and GDP growth greatly diverged. I expect that quite a bit of this change was related to asset price inflation as interest rates fell. With lower interest rates, assets of all types started becoming more affordable. Thus, a greater number of buyers could be expected, driving up prices of assets of all kinds, including homes, stores, and factories. Owners of these assets could “take the equity out” as prices rose and could use the equity to purchase other goods and services. In theory, these activities might somewhat stimulate the economy. Figure 8 suggests that the benefits of these activities with respect to the “goods and services” portion of the economy (red line) were slight at best, however.

Figure 9. Dollar Increase in US Financial Debt as % of GDP, shown beside GDP dollar increase % of ending GDP. Amounts based on FRED data.

Figure 9 shows Financial Debt amounts corresponding to the Core Debt amounts shown in Figure 8. At first glance, it appears that Financial Debt (blue line ) has provided no benefit whatsoever for the Goods and Services part of the economy (red line). But clearly the bankers who created these financial products benefitted from the income they received from them. So did the low-income home buyers who bought homes that they could not really afford in the early 2000s. Home building was stimulated, and inflation in home prices was stimulated. Banks benefitted by being able to transfer their problem home loans to unsuspecting buyers. Whether this whole arrangement had any net benefit to the economy, other than to create pseudo-solutions for people who could not really afford the homes they were purchasing, is doubtful. But when the economy is near limits, strange solutions to stimulating the economy are attempted.

(4) Commodity Prices. If we have a supply problem with one kind of commodity, we likely have a supply problem with many kinds of commodities at the same time. The reason why this happens is because the prices of many types of commodities tend to move together, in response to general market conditions. This is why the US government talks about inflation in oil and food prices as a separate category of Consumer Price Inflation.

If prices for commodities are generally low, as they have been since 2014, this means that commodity investors have received low rates of return for several years. With low rates of return, producers of many commodities have cut back on reinvestment. With inadequate reinvestment, supply crunches are likely to occur across a broad spectrum of commodities simultaneously. A recent Wall Street Journal article says, Supply Crunch Looms in Commodities Markets. The article mentions copper, zinc, aluminum and nickel. Other articles talk about oil in a similar fashion.

The question becomes, “Can consumers bid up the prices of all of these minerals sufficiently, to encourage enough reinvestment to solve the world’s commodity supply problem?” Food prices would likely need to be bid up as well, because oil is used heavily in the production and transport of food.

It was possible to bid up commodity prices in the 1970s, because the economies of the United States, Europe, Japan, and the Soviet Union were all growing rapidly. Also, women were joining the labor force in large numbers. It was possible to bid up commodity prices in the in the 2002 to 2008 era, because China and other Asian nations were rapidly ramping up their demand for goods and services of all kinds.

Figure 10. China energy production by fuel plus its total energy consumption, based on BP Statistical Review of World Energy 2018 data. The difference between the production figures shown and the black line consumption total is imports.

Now we are facing a much different situation. China is in much worse shape than most people recognize because its coal supply seems to have passed peak production. This has happened because the cheap-to-extract coal is mostly depleted, making it unprofitable to increase coal production without significantly higher prices. Imported coal and natural gas are expensive options. China also has a serious debt problem.

Because of China’s problems, the country will necessarily need to cut back on manufacturing, road building and home building in the years ahead. (This would happen, with or without Trump’s tariffs!) For some minerals, China currently represents over 50% of the world’s demand. China is the largest oil importer in the world. It is doubtful that China can make major cutbacks in its use of commodities without lowering prices for many commodities worldwide.

Persistence of Outdated Models

We are dealing with a situation where a large number of people suspect, at least vaguely, that the world economy is like bread dough about to outgrow its bowl, but this is not an issue anyone really wants to quantify. Everyone wants solutions; they don’t want a better delineation of the problem. Repeated publication of climate change forecasts is, in a sense, a denial of the possibility that we may be facing resource limits that are close at hand. Such publication is saying, in effect, that the closest limit that citizens need to worry about is the climate limit.

Also, the reliance of researchers on the past work by others in the same field tends to reinforce what are essentially incorrect models. Cross-pollination across fields is difficult, given the technical nature of today’s academic research. Furthermore, it becomes increasingly difficult to properly model a situation that is very complex and depends upon non-linear interactions.

Putting All of These Issues Together

The focuses of today’s narrow research can give a surprisingly distorted overview of where the economy is. A few areas in particular stand out:

(a) The choice of the word “Demand” instead of “Affordable Quantity” makes it sound like the buyer has more control over purchases than he really does. Growing demand seems to depend on continually increasing debt. This is the reason for the debt bubble problem.

(b) Framing the energy problem as “running out of oil” makes it sound like searching for substitutes will be a fruitful area for solution. Because of the affordability issue, this search is futile unless the substitutes are truly cheaper, when all costs are considered. Declining availability of many minerals because of persistently low commodity prices could be an issue as well.

(c) If limits are being reached in many areas simultaneously, incentives for countries to co-operate seem likely to go downhill quickly. Bullies who claim to be able to obtain a bigger share of the shrinking total supply will tend to be elected.

(d) The physics tie between energy and the economy makes major energy consumption cutbacks virtually impossible, without risking economic collapse.

(e) Adding technology isn’t really a solution to the debt problem, because it tends to make the affordability problem worse. The problem is that while adding technology seems to lead to more employment for a few elite workers, it tends to displace lower-wage workers at the same time. The spending of lower-wage workers is really needed if adequate demand for commodities is to be maintained. Additionally, the ownership of the technology-related capital goods tends to be concentrated among the elite; this further shifts wealth from the non-elite to the elite.

The long term prognosis for the world economy seems pretty grim, when all of these issues are put together. Defaulting debt and a resulting collapse in asset prices of all kinds is of particular concern. The default of subprime housing debt was an issue in the US at the time of the Great Recession; the next round of defaults is likely to start elsewhere. Debt defaults could start fairly soon, perhaps in the next 6 to 12 months. The more hostile political situation we have been seeing recently seems to be evidence that limits are close at hand.

Gail E. Tverberg graduated from St. Olaf College in Northfield, Minnesota in 1968 with a B.S. in Mathematics. She received a M.S. in Mathematics from the University of Illinois, Chicago in 1970. Ms. Tverberg is a Fellow of the Casualty Actuarial Society and a Member of the American Academy of Actuaries. Ms. Tverberg began writing articles on finite world issues in early 2006. Since March 1, 2007, Ms. Tverberg has been working for Tverberg Actuarial Services on finite world issues. Her blog is http://ourfiniteworld.com

  Read Why we get bad diagnoses for the world’s energy-economy problems
  November 8, 2018
Russia & China Invest in Infrastructure; U.S. Instead Spends on Military
by Eric Zuesse, in World, Countercurrents.

China’s “Belt and Road Initiative” is famous as an extension of their domestic infrastructure investments, but Russia is also investing heavily in infrastructure. Both countries need to do it in order to improve the future for their respective populations, and both Governments have avoided the Western development model of going heavily into debt in order to pay for creating and maintaining infrastructure. Both are, in fact, exceptionally low-debt Governments.

According to the “Global Debt Clock” at Economist, China has a public debt/GDP of 17.7%, and Russia’s is 8.0%. For comparison, America’s is 93.6%. (Others are: Germany 85.8%, Spain 91.2%, Italy 122.6%, Greece 147.1%, India 54.2%, Pakistan 47.0%, and Brazil 55.0%.)

The United States isn’t going into public debt in order to finance building or maintenance of infrastructure, but instead to finance expansions of its military, which is already (and by far) the world’s largest (in terms of its costs, but not of its numbers of troops).

While the U.S. Government now spends around half of the world’s military expenditures and plans to conquer Russia, China, and all countries (such as Iran and Syria) that cooperate with those ‘enemies’ (and please click onto a link wherever you question the truthfulness of an allegation made here), Russia and China plan to improve their infrastructures, in order to boost their national economies and to minimize the impacts that (the mainly U.S.-caused) global warming will have. These infrastructure projects are optimistic and long-term expenditures, which are being planned and built only because the countries that the U.S. aristocracy are targeting to conquer, expect the U.S. aristocracy to fail to achieve its clear #1 goal, of controlling the entire world and conquering them — of America’s rulers finally achieving the global fascist empire that, in World War II, Hitler and the other Axis powers had been hoping to become.

By contrast, U.S. infrastructure is rotting; and, while every recent U.S. President has promised to reverse that decline, none has done anything significant to repair this nation’s rotting infrastructure — it has always been just talk and empty promises. A nation that spends over a trillion dollars a year on ‘national defense’ can’t have much left over to spend on things that ‘can wait’ — such as repairing its bridges, roads, etc. — and so those repairs do wait, while even more money, than before, becomes devoted to purchases of new weaponry, such as the F-35 program.

Meanwhile, Russia and China prepare for their future, and hope it won’t be war.

On November 1st, Russian Television bannered “Russia, India & Iran want to create alternative trade route to Suez Canal – report” and described “The 7,200-kilometers long corridor [that] will combine sea and rail routes”:

The route will make it possible to deliver cargoes from India to the Iranian port of Bandar Abbas. Then, the goods will be transported by land to Bandar Anzali, Iran’s port on the Caspian Sea. After that, goods will be shipped to the Russian southern port of Astrakhan, from where they will move to Europe by rail. The new transport artery will potentially reduce the time and costs of shipping by up to 40 percent.

A linked news-report there headlined “Top of the world: Russia to build world’s northernmost railway in Arctic”, and another headlined “Japan turns to Trans-Siberian Railway to test potential connection with Russia, China & S. Korea”.

If the U.S. Government’s plans to destroy Russia succeed, then any of these new or extended infrastructures will either be destroyed or else be taken over by the U.S. and its allies. (If taken over, then presumably Japan’s aristocracy will be part of the new regime there that does so.) Consequently, building and extending these new infrastructures is Russia’s bet — and a concrete testimonial to the bet — that outright war by the destroyers can be avoided. The nations that America and its allies want to conquer are looking to the future, not to conquest or any type of war (though they must also be prepared for war, if the U.S. does invade). Right now, the U.S. and its NATO allies are holding the largest war-games in history, and these preparations to invade Russia are occurring all along and near Russia’s borders, in the countries that formerly were the Soviet Union’s Warsaw Pact military alliance. Though the U.S. and its allies say that Russia and China are threatening to them, these massings of soldiers and of tanks and planes on Russia’s borders are aggressions, not defensive at all as claimed. How would we Americans feel if Russia were doing this along America’s borders? Would we feel that Russia is defending itself, then? Russians have sound reason to be terrified by the U.S. and its allies. Americans were terrified by the Soviets when the issue was Soviet missiles located in Cuba only a hundred miles from the U.S. This country then threatened: if you do that, then we’ll launch war against you. Russia isn’t responding similarly, even though America’s threat to them is much bigger than that threat to the U.S. was in 1962 during the Cuban Missile Crisis.

All that today’s U.S. Government wants is to conquer the world, which now especially means Russia, China, and countries that do business with those ‘enemies’. Iran is also a major target of the U.S., because the U.S. aristocracy’s main allies are the Sauds and Israel, both of which hate and crave to destroy Iran. Though those three targeted countries want to avoid being conquered by the U.S. Government, most of their expenditures are for their own domestic economies, instead of for defending against the U.S. and its allies. (However, the U.S. and its allies are clearly and consistently the aggressor since 1991, and expanded their NATO alliance up to Russia’s borders; Russia didn’t expand its Warsaw Pact alliance up to America’s borders, but ended the Warsaw Pact in 1991. None of Russia’s expenditures are for conquering foreign countries, such as the U.S. alliance now is trying to do in countries such as Syria and Yemen, and perhaps soon in Iran, too; so, the U.S. Government has no excuse whatsoever in this matter, but pure guilt in it, pure aggression.)

There really is a difference between “The West” and “The East” in our era, but it’s more like the difference between The Axis powers in WW II versus The Allies, than it is between democracy versus dictatorship; and, in fact, the U.S. Government is the world’s only Government that has been scientifically analyzed to determine whether it is a democracy or instead a dictatorship, and it has consistently been found, in these rigorous studies, to be a dictatorship, against the public, by its billionaires, the aristocrats, and not a democracy, at all. Furthermore, the preponderance of the major outcome-indicators of the extent to which a given nation is a dictatorship or even a police-state, or is instead a democracy that’s ruled by its public, are showing that the U.S. is a dictatorship or even a police-state, and that the nations it calls its ‘enemies’ are more toward the democratic side — serving their respective public, instead of any such narrow and exclusive elite as the owners of “the military-industrial complex.” (U.S.-allied propaganda to the contrary alleging that the U.S. and its allies are the ones which are ‘democracies’, like this piece from the U.S. stooge-nations that constitute the EU, are always based on ranking — without clearly explaining how — the mere formalities of ‘democracy’, no authentic measures of democracy itself, but only the associated formalities, which often are mere fronts, behind which the given nation’s aristocracy control that given country.)

The U.S. has emerged into the very model of the modern dictatorship, relying maximally upon a coordination between deceit and military power. This is the reason why it now spends half of the world’s military costs — to serve its aristocracy, who have perfected Joseph Goebbels’s system of calling good bad, and bad good, and of otherwise imposing what the novelist George Orwell subsequently called “Newspeak” in its ‘news’-reporting and commentaries, to serve the controlling aristocracy, “Big Brother.” It’s here, and now. On November 1st, Jonathan Cook at Global Research headlined “Bolsonaro: A Monster Engineered by Our Media” and he explained how even the “liberal” aristocrats in the U.S. and its allied countries have brought back racist fascism, the ideology known as nazism, as a globally spreading plague now.

Here is how America’s master of Newspeak, Barack Obama, represented, to West Point Military Academy’s graduating cadets on 28 May 2014, the new, American, version, of Adolf Hitler’s beloved “Deutschland, Deutschland über alles, über alles in der Welt”:

The United States is and remains the one indispensable nation. [Every other nation is therefore ‘dispensable’; we therefore now have “Amerika, Amerika über alles, über alles in der Welt”.] That has been true for the century passed and it will be true for the century to come. … America must always lead on the world stage. If we don’t, no one else will. … Russia’s aggression toward former Soviet states unnerves capitals in Europe, while China’s economic rise and military reach worries its neighbors. From Brazil to India, rising middle classes compete with us. [He was here telling these future U.S. military leaders that they are to fight for the U.S. aristocracy, to help them defeat any nation that resists.] … In Ukraine, Russia’s recent actions recall the days when Soviet tanks rolled into Eastern Europe. But this isn’t the Cold War. Our ability to shape world opinion helped isolate Russia right away. Because of American leadership, the world immediately condemned Russian actions; Europe and the G7 joined us to impose sanctions; NATO reinforced our commitment to Eastern European allies; the IMF is helping to stabilize Ukraine’s economy; OSCE monitors brought the eyes of the world to unstable parts of Ukraine.

Actually, his — Obama’s — regime, had conquered Ukraine in February 2014 by a very bloody coup, and installed a racist-fascist anti-Russian Government there next door to Russia, a stooge-regime to this day, which instituted a racial-cleansing campaign to eliminate enough pro-Russia voters so as to be able to hold onto power there. It has destroyed Ukraine and so alienated the regions of Ukraine that had voted more than 75% for the democratically elected Ukrainian President whom Obama overthrew, so that those pro-Russia regions quit Ukraine. What remains of Ukraine after the U.S. conquest is a nazi mess and a destroyed nation in hock to Western taxpayers and banks.

Furthermore, Obama insisted upon (to use Bush’s term about Saddam Hussein) “regime-change” in Syria. Twice in one day the Secretary General of the U.N. asserted that only the Syrian people have any right to do that, no outside nation has any right to impose it. Obama ignored him and kept on trying. Obama actually protected Al Qaeda’s Syrian affiliate against bombing by Syria’s Government and by Syria’s ally Russia, while the U.S. bombed Syria’s army, which was trying to prevent those jihadists from overthrowing the Government. Obama bombed Libya in order to “regime-change” Muammar Gaddafi, and he bombed Syria in order to “regime-change” Bashar al-Assad; and, so, while the “U.S. Drops Bombs; EU Gets Refugees & Blame. This Is Insane.” And Obama’s successor Trump continues Obama’s policies, regarding not only Ukraine, but regarding also Yemen and Syria, and much else, except that Trump goes even more nazi than Obama did. The change from Obama to Trump was from soft nazi to hard nazi. That’s all. Trump is the U.S. regime’s going wild.

Every day, the U.S. regime murders lots of people in foreign lands. Today, as this is being written, on November 3rd, Syria News, which I’ve found to be far more reliably truthful about the situation in Syria than is for example the New York Times, headlined “US-Led Coalition Murders 15 Civilians in a New Bombing in Hajin”, and reported that, “Under the guise of fighting ISIS, the US and its cronies, are trying to establish a de facto barrier on the Syrian-Iraqi border which is run by ISIS and SDF, who both receive support from the US and both have occasional clashes [against each other] in between.” Aggression (and lying about it) is normal for the U.S. Government.

On January 19th, U.S. ‘Defense’ Secretary James Mattis said that“great power competition, not terrorism, is now the primary focus of U.S. national security,” and this means war by the U.S. against both Russia and China, and perhaps also Iran; but if the people of Europe don’t rise up against that plan, then not only will they have even more refugees from America’s “regime-change” bombs, but they will soon have Russia’s bombs retaliating against Europe itself for being a part of America’s aggression, via the NATO military alliance, an alliance that should have ended when the Warsaw Pact military alliance did, back in 1991. Either End NATO Now, or else join the carnage that America’s aristocracy are clearly determined to impose upon the world in order to conquer it. The choice is that simple.

The only ways that the global public can effectively fight back against the U.S.-and-allied aristocracies’ plan to enslave the entire world to their coercive and sanctions-laden ‘free market’ are:

(1) to boycott America’s brands and, as much as possible, conduct all international transactions in any other type of currency than the U.S. dollar; and, 

(2) to vote against any politician who has endorsed America’s invasions, such as of Iraq 2003, Libya 2011, Syria 2012-, Yemen 2015-, and U.S. coups, including its coup that conquered Ukraine in 2014and installed a nazi Government there. And, 

(3) to organize marches, if possible, against any U.S. military base occupying their nation. The occupying power needs to be expelled in order for the given nation’s public to control their own country.

Otherwise, the U.S. aristocracy can simply continue with its pillage of our planet. The global public needs to do its part, not to leave it to the targeted countries alone to try to put down this global resurgence of fascism, by America’s oligarchs. This also means abandoning the two aristocracies that work the most closely with America’s: Israel’s and Saudi Arabia’s (both of which target Iran and its allies, even more than they target Russia and its allies). The listed three steps are the only path toward a survivable planet: isolating and publicly shaming the nazis.

Also the Newspeak needs to end, right now, because without honesty, no type of progress is even possible.

All of these measures are not only morally right; they are necessary, because the present path leads to not only profound injustices, but a hellish global future.

Unfortunately, the U.N. cannot do any of these essential things. But only the global public can — and will, if there is to be continued life of this planet, and lives here that are worth living.

PS: For anyone who might consider odd that an American (the present writer) views Russia as a core ally of the American people, and views recent American Presidents (starting with George Herbert Walker Bush on 24 February 1990) as traitors to America — as being enemies of the American people and of the entire world — please consider the following historical facts:

According to Jan Ludvík’s  “The Poverty of Statistics: Military Power, Defence Expenditure and Strategic Balance”, in the January 2014 Central European Journal of International and Security Studies (p. 157), the relative expenditures in order to win World War I were Russia 24%, UK 22%, U.S. 21%, France 20%, and Italy 13%. Russia spent the most of all the allies. In WW II, the relative expenditures in order to win were Russia 58%, UK 20%, U.S. 12%, France 10%. Yet again — and this time overwhelmingly — Russia spent the most of all the allies, 58% of the total allied cost. The only country that spent more on that war was Germany, which of course was on the losing (“Axis”) side, and which spent 37% more to lose that war than Russia spent to win it. During WW II, Germany spent 75% of its side’s entire costs; Japan spent 17%, and Italy spent 8%. So: WW I was mainly between Russia and Germany, and so was WW II. And that’s clear also from another calculation:

The same source (p. 159) indicates that Russia’s troops were 46% of those fighting on the winning side of WW I (and #2 on that was France with 20%), and were 55% of the troops fighting on the winning side of WW II. (France was #2 again in WW II, also 20%.)

Furthermore, in WW I, Russia’s troops were 38% more (in numbers) than both Germany’s and Austria’s put together; and, in WW II, Russia’s troops were 4% less than Germany’s, Japan’s and Italy’s combined, but were twice as many as Germany’s number.

So: by far the biggest contributions to the winning not only of WW II, but also of WW I, were made by one and the same country, both times: Russia. America’s contribution was much smaller, on both occasions. And, now, America’s leaders and their foreign allies have become nazis, heirs of Hitler’s tradition, who call Russia an “enemy,” for refusing to do what these nazis demand.

Of course, there were also other nations on each side of each of those wars (for example, Wikipedia lists over a dozen “Allies of World War I”), but Ludvik calculated the numbers only for these, the main ones, on both sides.

So: everyone who can should now become active on this!

Investigative historian Eric Zuesse is the author, most recently, of  They’re Not Even Close: The Democratic vs. Republican Economic Records, 1910-2010, and ofCHRIST’S VENTRILOQUISTS: The Event that Created Christianity.

Originally posted at strategic-culture.org

  Read Russia & China Invest in Infrastructure; U.S. Instead Spends on Military
  November 11, 2018
Neocornucopianism and the Steady State: Part I
by Josh Farley, in Counter Solutions, Countercurrents.

Perhaps the main reason people reject the need for a steady state economy is some form of cornucopianism, the belief that technological progress will overcome all ecological and physical limits, allowing endless economic growth into the indefinite future. Cornucopianism has several flavors, and I will describe three: mainstream economics, eco-modernism, and singularity theory.

Mainstream Economics Fuels Cornucopian Ideas

First, let’s examine how mainstream economics feeds a belief in cornucopianism. Most mainstream economists argue that as resources become scarce, their prices increase and that this incentivizes suppliers to produce more, innovators to develop substitutes, and consumers to demand less. They claim centuries of empirical support for their beliefs. Take for example the need for energy sources to fuel societies. The English economist William Stanley Jevons once said there was no conceivable substitute for increasingly scarce supplies of coal, but then we discovered oil. Oil production in the U.S. peaked in the 1970s, declining rapidly thereafter, and global production would inevitably peak sometime around 2012. Then the oil industry found deep sea deposits and refined hydraulic fracturing, while innovators developed alternative energy technologies. Oil production in the U.S. has surged back to its previous levels, global production has continued to rise, and solar energy prices are plunging.

To mainstream economists, climate change is a bit pesky, but it just requires internalizing ecological costs into market prices. They argue that technological advance, together with economic growth, will save us from any scarcity. But the folly in this idea is that demand does not stabilize or reduce just because new innovative sources (of fuel, for one example) become available. Demand continues to rise in parallel as new sources are found, new technologies are created, and economic growth is pushed to accelerate—to find more and use more. Demand becomes a runaway train, one that drives not an overflowing cornucopia of supplies (fuels, products, or anything else humans need), but rather drives a perpetual cycle of endless need that is never satisfied, an overflowing cornucopia with food going rotten.

Eco-Modernism as Cornucopianism

The second flavor of cornucopianism I want to explore is eco-modernism. Eco-modernists recognize that human impacts on our global ecosystems are currently unacceptable, but they believe that humanity can refocus technological progress to reduce these impacts. Eco-modernism believes that technology can end our reliance on nature. That we can use nuclear power to extract atmospheric gases and terrestrial minerals to build food in a laboratory, eliminating the ecological damage from agriculture. That we can extract carbon from the atmosphere and convert it directly into hydrocarbons.  That if the climate grows too hot too fast, we can geo-engineer some cooling by throwing aerosols into the atmosphere. In their own words, eco-modernists say: “we affirm one long-standing environmental ideal, that humanity must shrink its impacts on the environment to make more room for nature, while we reject another, that human societies must harmonize with nature to avoid economic and ecological collapse,” (see the ecomodernism manifesto). They are saying that we need to accelerate, not move toward a steady state.

Singularity as Cornucopianism

Perhaps the most extreme flavor of cornucopianism is singularity theory. Singularity theorists are not concerned by the exponentially growing impacts of human activities on global ecosystems, because they say knowledge is growing super-exponentially, which means the power of human knowledge will become infinite by 2045.  With infinite knowledge, they say, we can undo all the previous harm done to earth’s ecosystems, or simply abandon the earth and even our human bodies all together. We can download our consciousness into solar powered computers floating in space and virtually experience any reality we choose. This may sound far-fetched, but the idea has gained traction among Silicon Valley hotshots.

Truly novel technologies are inherently unpredictable: Since we can’t know what will emerge, we can’t possibly know the odds that it will emerge on time or truly address the problems we think it might. Betting the future of civilization and biodiversity on gambles with unknown odds is unwise to say the least. Rather than arguing over an unpredictable future, I propose neo-cornucopianism as a new argument for a steady state economy.

Neocornucopianism: We Already Have Plenty

I coin the term “neocornucopianism” to describe the recognition that, in wealthy nations, the horn of plenty is already overflowing, so the desire to establish an endless plenty is an empty, misplaced, and problematic desire.

The average American home has nearly doubled in size since the 1950s, and consumption has grown even faster: Americans rent an average of 21 square feet of storage space per person and generate more than 250 million tons of garbage per year, including 40% of the food we purchase. It’s to the point where we are actually paying to get rid of useful things. Additional production now makes us worse off.

A growing awareness of these trends leads to neocornucopianism: an idea, a mindset, and a lifestyle. Neocornucopians recognize that many of the new things they want will be thrown away within a week. So wanting and demanding less (instead of the endless pursuit of more) makes sense for personal choices, individual finances, local, state and national policies and for the larger global economic system.

Want to learn more? Stay tuned for future essays on this topic at the Steady State Herald, including articles in which Farley will provide examples of cornucopian wealth, with insights into the extreme inefficiency, injustice and unsustainability of our current system, as well as exploring a just and sustainable steady state alternative.

Josh Farley is an ecological economist and Associate Professor in Community Development & Applied Economics and Public Administration and a Fellow in the Gund Institute for Ecological Economics. He has previously served as program director at the School for Field Studies, Centre for Rainforest Studies, as Executive Director of the University of Maryland International Institute for Ecological Economics, and as adjunct faculty and licensed examiner at the University of the West Indies, Cave Hill. He recently returned from a Fulbright fellowship in Brazil, where he served as visiting professor at the Federal Universities of Santa Catarina (UFSC) and Bahia (UFBA). He is co-author with Herman Daly of Ecological Economics, Principles and Applications, 2nd ed. Island Press (2010).

  Read Neocornucopianism and the Steady State: Part I
  November 11, 2018
The Secret of Eternal Growth? It’s Wishful Thinking
by Rob Dietz, in Counter Solutions, Countercurrents.

I want to believe in eternal economic growth. Given what humanity is facing with climate change and other consequences of our collective consumption, it must be awfully comforting to have faith in a cornucopian future where no one ever goes wanting. Especially if all we have to do is more of the same, sticking to capitalism’s exploitative playbook. I used to have that faith. I was a worshipper of technological progress and its potential to overcome all the social and environmental problems that accompany exponentially increasing population and consumption. I also used to believe in the Easter Bunny. Unlike Michael Liebreich (author of “The Secret of Eternal Growth,” the article I’m rebutting), however, I paid enough attention to the evidence to put aside such fantasies.

I intend to provide a blow-by-blow analysis of Liebreich’s contentions, but I feel compelled to start with a gem near the end of his article. In a one-sentence paragraph that summarizes his thesis, he writes, “The bottom line here is that the world’s most feted scientists and economists have shown that economic growth is consistent with environmental protection and the mitigation of climate change.” Here’s a small point: his use of a financial metaphor (“bottom line”) may reveal something about how much the culture of money influences his thinking. But here’s the bigger point. Really?!? What the hell is he talking about?

Let’s start with his claim about scientists. It’s a safe bet he hasn’t read the World Scientists’ Warning to Humanity. This article appeared in the peer-reviewed journal BioScience in December 2017. In the article, which was endorsed by more than 15,000 scientists at the time it was published, the authors write, “We are jeopardizing our future by not reining in our intense but geographically and demographically uneven material consumption and by not perceiving continued rapid population growth as a primary driver behind many ecological and even societal threats.” These scientists are saying very specifically that economic growth (which consists of growth in consumption and population) is inconsistent with environmental protection and mitigation of climate change. They also conclude that it is “time to re-examine and change our individual behaviors, including limiting our own reproduction (ideally to replacement level at most) and drastically diminishing our per capita consumption of fossil fuels, meat, and other resources.”

Perhaps Liebreich doesn’t feel like the scientists behind the BioScience article qualify as “our most feted.” On that front, though, it’s worth noting that the article is an update to the original warning to humanity that was published in 1992 and endorsed by the majority of living Nobel laureates in the sciences. And how about Stephen Hawking – does he count? In 2017, he made headlines when he said that humans need to find a new planet to inhabit within 100 years, given the risks we face from climate change, population growth, epidemics, and the potential for asteroid strikes. Maybe Liebreich meant “fetid” instead of “feted.”

Among economists, you can certainly find plenty who are celebrated for promoting infinite exponential growth. Captains of industry love these guys, because proclamations from economists (who often have little or no training in physics or ecology) give them the rationale they need to continue their programs of profiteering. Neoclassical economists from universities around the world have repeatedly claimed that economic growth is consistent with environmental protection, but “claiming” and “showing” are two different things. In fact, economic growth has been tightly correlated with biodiversity loss, and the theorized inverse relationship between per capita GDP and environmental damage has been debunked. More on economists as I get into my blow-by-blow below.

Liebreich gets his thesis rolling in the first paragraph with this doozy: “…the award of the Nobel Prize in Economics to Paul Romer and William Nordhaus, in the same week, can only be interpreted as a huge slap in the face for the champions of ‘degrowth’.” So what? It’s not an out-of-the-blue slap in the face. The Nobel Prize in Economics is actually the Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel, established in 1968 by Sweden’s central bank. The prize, which was tacked onto the original slate of Nobel Prizes, is rooted in growth-based economics and has regularly been awarded to neoclassical economists, including Milton Friedman, Robert Solow, and now Romer and Nordhaus, all of whom are on board with the capitalist growth paradigm.

Over the next few paragraphs, Liebreich enters the realm of physics and energy. I give him props – most growth-obsessed businessmen don’t bother with such topics. But he quickly goes off the rails. His claim is that scientifically literate economists and engineers, such as Nicholas Georgescu-Roegen, Jay Forrester, Herman Daly, Jeremy Rifkin, and Tim Jackson, have all misunderstood the laws of thermodynamics and their effect on economic processes. He thinks that because the Earth receives a daily dose of energy from the sun that we can have endless growth, which may be bolstered or sped up by nuclear fission and fusion. He calls the notion of a limit to growth “pure fake science” (This is “fake science” in the same way the New York Times is “fake news”.). Well, how about checking in with a scientist?

Tom Murphy, a professor of physics at the University of California, San Diego, has done the math on energy growth and limits. He exposes just how ridiculous it is to pine for ongoing exponential growth in energy consumption. In his scenario, we maintain the rate of growth of energy use at 2.3% per year, which is less than the 2.9% rate we’ve been able to achieve over the last few centuries. And just for fun, he has us using solar panels that are 100% efficient at turning sunlight into electricity – a physical impossibility (solar photovoltaics’ efficiency is currently about 1/5th of that). Given the 2.3% growth rate, we would have to cover the whole surface of the Earth, land and water, with solar panels in just 400 years. Murphy doesn’t stop there, though. He also analyzes fusion as a source of energy. At 2.3% annual growth, fusion or any source of energy would produce as much energy as the sun within 1,400 years, a virtual drop in the bucket of human history, so the surface of the Earth would have to be hotter than the surface of the sun.

I can almost hear Liebreich’s protests right now: economic growth isn’t the same thing as energy growth! He and Murphy agree on this point. At first the economy grew more or less together with energy, but since 1950 economic growth has outpaced energy growth by a couple of percentage points. Murphy points out that the difference between economic and energy growth can be split into two categories: efficiency gains and “everything else” which he classifies as finance, real estate, innovation, and other aspects of the service economy (note: Liebreich heaps praise on Romer’s Endogenous Growth Theory that explains how accumulated knowledge contributes to economic growth – Romer’s “knowledge” component of growth corresponds with Murphy’s “everything else” category).

Murphy quickly discredits the possibility of endless efficiency growth with a little bit of thermodynamic expertise and some arithmetic. He then asks the practical question, “In a future world where energy growth has ceased, and efficiency has been squeezed to a practical limit, can we still expect to grow our economy through innovation, technology, and services?” He again runs the numbers to test the idea. He assumes 5% economic growth over the long term and calculates what fraction of economic activity has to come from the non-energy-demanding sector. In just a hundred years, that fraction gets close to 100%. Expenditures on food, energy, and manufactured goods would be negligible. But how massive of a service sector can be supported on top of a relatively small agricultural and industrial sector? Just how many people will be engaged in trading commodity futures, orchestrating credit default swaps, and writing blogs when the limits of food production have been reached?

Liebreich surprises again by departing from most other critics who deny the reality or dismiss the seriousness of climate change. He understands that climate change is “real, serious, and urgent,” and goes on to say that we need to apply technology, “both new and yet-to-be-developed, on a heroic scale” to avert climate change. Notice how he’s proposing we rely on the same game plan—economic growth plus technology—to solve the very problem it caused (but at least he concedes we need to do something). With this unoriginal game plan of more growth and more technology, he hands the ball to his star player, William Nordhaus. Nordhaus’s work on climate change and economic growth, which won him the Nobel, is questionable when applied to the real world. In 1991 he said, “Agriculture, the part of the economy that is sensitive to climate change, accounts for just 3% of national output. That means that there is no way to get a very large effect on the US economy.” Hmm, so if there’s a significant reduction in access to food in this country, there will be little effect on the economy? And what about all the economic transactions that occur in coastal areas – might there be a substantial effect on the economy when those areas are part of the ocean? Give him another Nobel – maybe he can share it with this guy.

After Nordhaus, Liebreich continues on his tour of Nobel laureates with Simon Kuznets, who won the prize for his work on national income accounting. Kuznets found that income inequality tended to increase as economic activity grew in a given nation, but at some point inequality would level off and then decrease. This relationship became known as the Kuznets curve. Liebreich brings up Kuznets so he can drop a reference to the concept of the environmental Kuznets curve, which has very little to do with Kuznets’s actual work. Kuznets came up with the idea of tracking economic output at the national scale – he invented what would evolve into the king of all economic statistics, gross domestic product (GDP). Kuznets himself was very concerned with how his work might be misapplied. In a 1934 report to the US Congress, Kuznets said, “The welfare of a nation can scarcely be inferred from a measure of national income.” He went on to advise, “Goals for more growth should specify more growth of what and for what.” What a refreshing sentiment, but also a sad one, given how Liebreich and other “growthists” in charge of the economy have completely ignored Kuznets’s warning. Two more points about the oddity of Liebreich’s decision to use Kuznets in support of his contentions:

He states that “Environmental Kuznets Curves has [sic] been shown to govern most forms of local pollution.” That’s great for local pollution, but if too much growth causes widespread global pollution (e.g., climate change) or other global environmental calamities (e.g., biodiversity loss, including the loss of species we depend upon for pollination, loss of topsoil, degradation of ecosystem services), there’s not much to celebrate in theoretical environmental Kuznets curves.

Liebreich is aware of the flaws in GDP, and he wants to replace it with a different measure that adds up natural capital (nature’s bounty), human capital (knowledge), and manmade capital (infrastructure). I share this perspective, but let’s be clear: growing the economy means growing GDP. Growth is about quantity – it’s an increase in the number of people, or per capita consumption, or both. If we were to change GDP to reflect “wellbeing” or “true wealth” (something very different from the dollar value of economic output), and then we set a goal of optimizing the economy based on this indicator, we wouldn’t prescribe continuous growth. We would balance economic production and its consequences with preservation of natural ecosystems and the services they provide.

From Nordhaus, Liebreich continues on his weird journey of Nobel worship and selects Ilya Prigione (awarded the prize in chemistry in 1977) as his next stop. His interpretation of Prigogine’s work is downright bizarre. I’m no expert in Prigogine’s research on non-equilibrium dissipative structures, but I’ll take at face value Liebreich’s description of it. He notes that Prigogine observed “how a flow of energy across a closed system can drive the creation of ‘order out of chaos’.” Here’s the bizarre part. From that single observation, Liebreich stunningly concludes, “This is a real scientific expert on entropy proving that the economy can grow for as long as there is still a sun in the sky (which would give us about another five billion years).” Wait, what?!? “Order out of chaos” is not the same thing as “unending growth out of chaos.” Take, for instance, a snow globe as an example of a closed system. Applying energy across the snow globe could produce order from the chaos – maybe you could get the snowflakes to line up in neat little rows. But it doesn’t mean you could produce an exponentially growing number of snowflakes for the next five billion years! If I wanted to make a similar argument, I’d point out that Einstein won the Nobel Prize in physics for his work on the photoelectric effect. Then I’d say, “This is a real scientific expert on matter and energy proving that the economy will infinitely shrink as long as Captain Kirk and Spock remain pals.”

If Liebreich wants to apply the work of a “real scientist” who won the Nobel Prize in chemistry, why does he select Prigogine, anyway? He should be reporting the work of Frederick Soddy. Soddy won his prize in 1921, but then he changed course. Disillusioned with how his work and the work of his colleagues in chemistry was being repurposed for immoral uses in war, he decided to apply his scholarly skills to economic questions. In studying economic growth, money creation, and finance, Soddy noted, “You cannot permanently pit an absurd human convention, such as the spontaneous increment of debt (compound interest), against the natural law of the spontaneous decrement of wealth (entropy).” To borrow Liebreich’s argumentative structure again, this is a real scientific expert who understands that a reliable flow of energy is the key to economic activity, and that the flow is finite. It’s worth pointing out that Soddy’s economics career wasn’t a delusion of grandeur born of a midlife crisis – he generated original, insightful, and useful ideas. He proposed five economic policies that were dismissed at the time as outlandish. Four of the five have since been adopted as standard practice. The fifth – remove the power granted to banks to create money out of thin air – is still waiting in the wings, because this policy is antithetical to the pursuit of continuous growth.

The tour of “Nobel-ity” continues. Liebreich unexpectedly highlights the work of Elinor Ostrom. I say “unexpectedly” because many supporters of ecological economics and degrowth turn to Ostrom for insight. Liebreich summarizes her work with this paradoxical statement: “It turns out that with effective governance and social structures, groups of individuals are quite capable of managing shared resources without relying on top-down government edicts.” I don’t know what he means by “top-down government edicts,” but he is arguing for effective governance and social structures, an argument which directly opposes his call for unlimited economic growth. Here’s why: the economy grows when shared resources are removed from the commons and brought into the realm of economic transactions. If a community publicly owns a lake and shares the resources it provides (recreation, fish, etc.), no money changes hands and the economy doesn’t grow. But if one enterprising capitalist gains ownership of the lake and starts charging a price for access, then he has monetized the activity around the lake and set the economy to growing. Everyone, except the one capitalist, may be worse off, but we’ve got growth – hooray!

Along with his strange interpretations of the work of selected Nobel laureates, Liebreich also makes strange pronouncements about the left/right political division. He seems to think there’s a sinister leftist agenda to impose a draconian global governing body and wreck the economy by preventing perpetual exponential growth. But many people concerned about the tradeoff between growing the economy and protecting the life-support systems of the planet aren’t all that keen on global governance. Instead they want stronger, more resilient local economies, which amounts to greater abilities and power residing in communities. Even ecosocialists, who are on the opposite side of the political spectrum from Liebreich, see small farms (not global bodies) as seats of sustainable governance. The wicked problem of overshoot (overpopulation combined with overconsumption) is not a left versus right problem; it’s a problem for every single human being on Earth.

I’ve poked holes in Michael Liebreich’s arguments, and along the way I’ve poked fun at him. He seems like a smart man, and I actually think his heart’s in the right place – he wants good things for humanity. And unlike most growthists, he even wants each country to preserve a substantial portion of natural ecosystems. The trouble is that he’s got conflicting goals. Continuous economic growth (increasing population and consumption) is incompatible with both preservation of natural ecosystems and long-term sustainability of human society. You don’t solve overshoot by overshooting further! He is willing to bend facts to fit his economic-growth-at-all-costs ideology. I used to fall into the same trap, but I’m not waiting around for the Easter Bunny to deliver some sort of magical eggs that’ll save us. And unlike Liebreich, I’m certainly not betting the future of humanity or the planet on Ronald Reagan’s Disneyesque “there are no limits” rhetoric.

If Leibreich is so keen on scientists and Nobel laureates, why leave the last line to a president whose main gig was playing make believe in Hollywood? He could have chosen a president with a Nobel Prize and a background in science (including nuclear physics), farming, and business – Jimmy Carter. Carter said, “…too many of us now tend to worship self-indulgence and consumption. Human identity is no longer defined by what one does, but by what one owns. But we’ve discovered that owning things and consuming things does not satisfy our longing for meaning. We’ve learned that piling up material goods cannot fill the emptiness of lives which have no confidence or purpose.” We desperately need an economy that can meet humanity’s needs without risking environmental meltdown and undermining the basis for civilization. It’s a smaller economy, but one concerned with meaning and purpose rather than growth. In the end, there is no “secret of eternal growth.” The secret is that we need to let go of the obsession with growth.

Rob Dietz is the editor of the Daly News, former executive director of CASSE (the Center for the Advancement of the Steady State Economy), and co-author (with Dan O’Neill) of Enough Is Enough: Building a Sustainable Economy in a World of Finite Resources.

  Read The Secret of Eternal Growth? It’s Wishful Thinking
  November 12, 2018
Socialism: What it is and how to fight for it
by Genevieve Leigh, in Life/Philosophy, Countercurrents.

A student and youth group fighting for genuine socialism at MIT

Students and young people are entering into political life amidst an unprecedented political crisis within the state apparatus, a growing danger of world war, escalating attacks on the working class and immigrants, and a political radicalization of workers and youth.

Many young people are looking for a way to oppose capitalism and inequality. A recent Gallup poll found that the percentage of young people viewing capitalism positively has dropped a stunning 23 percentage points in just eight years. The source of this change is not hard to find. In 2018, in the most “advanced” capitalist country in the world, workers, youth and students are struggling to survive. The younger generation faces a precarious job market, forced to work two or three jobs to make ends meet.

There is enormous opposition, particularly among young people, to Donald Trump, who personifies all that is reactionary and criminal in the American financial oligarchy. Since taking office, Trump has overseen a billion-dollar tax break for the wealthiest Americans, a ferocious attack on immigrants, a $717 billion military budget, and an escalation of the attack on public education.

The Democratic Party is no less subservient to Wall Street and the military-intelligence apparatus. Indeed, the Democrats have focused their opposition to Trump not on his fascistic policies, but on claims that he is too “soft” on Russia. The purpose of the Democrats’ anti-Russia campaign has been, on the one hand, to enforce a more aggressive foreign policy against Russia, and on the other, to justify an attack on democratic rights, including the censorship of the internet.

Young people looking for a way forward must first understand that nothing can be achieved within the existing political establishment and the two parties of the ruling class, the Democrats and Republicans.

While there is growing interest in socialism, there is still a limited understanding of what socialism is and how it can be achieved. But this is the decisive issue.

The International Youth and Students for Social Equality (IYSSE) is building a club on the MIT campus to fight for genuine socialism. This means the fight for internationalism, for the unification of workers of all countries, for the abolishment of borders and for bringing the world’s political map into harmony with the international character of production. The working class is an international class. The problems workers face all around the world stem from the international capitalist system and must be countered with an international socialist program.

We fight for workers’ control of the means of production. Major banks and corporations must be placed under international social control and run democratically by the workers themselves to meet the needs of society, not private profit.

We fight against war and the militarization of society. The vast sums expended on militarism by all the capitalist powers must be used to meet pressing social needs, including education, healthcare and all social programs.

We fight for the defense and expansion of democratic rights. The massive U.S. surveillance apparatus must be dismantled, and the censorship of the Internet halted. The witch hunts against Edward Snowden, Julian Assange and other whistleblowers and journalists must end, as must the endless wave of police killings and the militarization of U.S. police forces.

We fight for historical truth and against the falsification of history. The development of a socialist movement today requires that workers and youth understand the essential experiences and lessons of the 20th century, and above all, the real history of the socialist movement — from the Russian Revolution through the Trotskyist opposition to Stalinism and social democracy.

The future is socialism, but it must be fought for. There is no time to lose. We encourage students and young people to get in touch with us at iysse@wsws.org. Join the IYSSE and take up the fight for socialism.

Genevieve Leigh is the National Secretary of the U.S. section of the International Youth and Students for Social Equality (IYSSE). The IYSSE is in the process of building a chapter on the MIT campus.


  Read Socialism: What it is and how to fight for it
  November 12, 2018
Australian school children are striking for climate: here’s why
by Angela Heathcote, in Climate Change, Countercurrents.

A group of teenagers from country Victoria are hoping to inspire climate-change action across the country.

Cutting class may seem uneventful to your average teenager, but for 15-year-old Greta Thunberg, it’s a protest. The young Swedish girl has been striking outside of the Swedish parliament, following the country’s hottest summer on record this year.

Every day for two weeks she sat by herself, handing out leaflets that read, “I am doing this because you adults are shitting on my future.” And now, she’s inspired Aussie teenagers to do the same: hold a school strike for climate change.

“We read an article about Greta Thunberg, who is striking in front of the Swedish parliament. We were so inspired by that. We thought, it’s an even harsher climate where we live,” 14-year-old Harriet O’Shea Carre and 14-year-old Milou Albrecht from Bendigo, Victoria said.

“We decided that doing this school strike was more important than going to school at the moment.  If we don’t do something urgently about climate change, we’re not even going to have a liveable planet to use our education in.”


The first strike by the group happened yesterday, when the temperatures in Bendigo hit a scorching 34°C. They sat outside their Federal Senator, Bridget McKenzie’s office for the entire day, playing cards and chess, and drawing with chalk. They’ll be doing the exact same thing today.

Following this, their next strike is planned for Wednesday 6 November. Then, on the 30th of this month, they’re going to join together with kids from all over the state of Victoria for a big demonstration. “We’re hoping kids from all around Australia will join the movement and strike in front of their local or Federal politician’s offices any day they like.”


According to the recent International Governmental Panel on Climate Change report, there is as few as 12 years left to keep temperatures below 1.5°C, after which the global environmental, social and economic implications would be severe.

The area where Harriet and Milou live – country Victoria – was badly affected by the 2009 Black Saturday Bushfires. And it’s predicted that Australian summers will become particularly unbearable. “In summer we are already terrified that we will lose everything in a horrific bushfire and we can’t imagine what it could be like for the generations that follow after,” Harriet and Milou said.

The IPCC report has prompted urgent calls from various parts of the community to cut carbon emissions and ramp up the transition to renewable energy. Many have been critical of the lack of response from the Australian Government.

“We feel both disillusioned and unsatisfied by our politicians action on climate change,” Harriet and Milou said. “We have trusted our politicians to do what is in the best interest of our country and futures, and to us it seems clear that they are not doing either of these things when it comes to the climate emergency.”

The teenagers are hoping that the school strikes will encourage politicians to acknowledge that climate change is a crisis.

“We want them to not fund any new coal mines, and close down all the old ones.  We want them to invest in renewable energy. We want them to deal with climate change as an emergency. We want them to listen to the climate scientists and to the public and to the kids, because we are going to be living in this hot world for way longer than them.”

  Read Australian school children are striking for climate: here’s why
  November 18, 2018
Why This Planet Is Becoming Uninhabitable
by Eric Zuesse, in Climate Change, Countercurrents.

There are now overt indications that this planet is becoming uninhabitable. Not only are increasing numbers of humans migrating from near the Equator, northward toward nations that have more temperate climates, but also there are stronger and more frequent hurricanes and longer droughts and spreading desertification and larger and more frequent forest fires, all of which are lowering agricultural productivity in the global-overheating areas from which these migrants are coming. This is forcing billions of people to relocate from rural farming southern regions into big cities, and ultimately toward the cooler climates of the more-polar regions, as the large central Equatorial belt of our increasingly hot planet becomes less and less inhabitable for more and more of the people who are so unfortunate as to be still living there. Thus, instead of food being grown in that broad Equatorial belt where the Earth is fat and large, it’s increasingly being grown near the narrow, tiny, polar region. Agriculture is moving northward, and, as it does so, it will be occupying a band too small to feed the world. Agriculture is thus being severely threatened worldwide by global heating. Starvation will consequently soar, as this planet increasingly burns.

The inhabitable portion of this planet is shrinking, decade-by-decade, and especially century-by-century. A reasonable expectation would be that the grandchildren of today’s generation will routinely fight each other for food.

The Trump Administration finally now publicly accepts that all these things will happen, and sooner than scientists had been predicting even as recently as only a decade ago. But this Presidential Administration is determined to do nothing about it.

Here is the summary statement of the Trump Administration’s rationale for abolishing the Obama Administration’s anti-global-warming fuel-economy standards, as the Trump Administration has stated it, on page 107 of their finalized document. (The original document, which was their “Draft Environmental Impact Statement” on this matter, had been dated July 2018.) This final document was issued by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration on 16 October 2018. The public-comment period on that document closed ten days later, on 26 October 2018, and the document says:

[page 107:]

NHTSA’s Environmental Impact Statement performed for this rulemaking shows that the preferred alternative [abolishing the Obama Administration’s fuel-economy standard] would result in 3/1,000ths of a degree Celsius increase in global average temperatures by 2100, relative to the standards finalized in 2012 [which Trump is abolishing]. On a net CO2 basis, the results are similarly minor. The following graph compares the estimated atmospheric CO2 concentration (789.76 ppm) in 2100 under the proposed standards to the estimated level (789.11 ppm) under the standards [being abolished] set forth in 2012 — or [only] an 8/100ths of a percentage increase [as compared to the Obama-standards]:

Figure 2-4 – Estimated Atmospheric CO2 Concentration in 2100

Net Benefits from Preferred Alternative

Maintaining the MY 2020 curves for MYs 2021-2026 will save American consumers, the auto industry, and the public in general a considerable amount of money as compared to if EPA retained the previously-set CO2 standards and NHTSA finalized the augural [original] standards. This was identified as the preferred alternative, in part, because it maximizes net benefits compared to the other alternatives analyzed. Comment is sought on whether this is an appropriate basis for selection. [But that comment-period has already ended.]

A 789 ppm (parts per-million) CO2 (carbon dioxide) level compares against today’s 407 ppm, and that 382 ppm increase will, according to their “Draft Environmental Impact Statement”, raise global atmospheric temperatures by an estimated “3.48°C (6.27°F)” between now and the end of this century. That document’s summary asserts:

“Global mean surface temperature is projected to increase by approximately 3.48°C (6.27°F).”

“Projected sea-level rise in 2100 ranges from a low of 76.28 centimeters (30.03 inches) … to a high of 76.34 centimeters (30.06 inches) [depending upon which policy-option they adopt].”

With ocean-levels being raised around a yard by this century’s end, and hurricane-intensities being substantially increased, many coastal areas will have to become abandoned. Their plunged property-values haven’t even begun to be priced in to their inevitable downward spiral toward zero usability and thus economic worthlessness, as the coasts move inland. Since the self-reinforcing effects of higher ppm causing higher temperatures causing even higher ppm, temperatures have become clearly a vicious circle that’s beyond control, so that a yard higher by 2010 could become ten yards higher, much faster than the Paris Climate Accord was assuming would be the case if the world makes no policy changes at all — which is what Trump wants: no policy-changes. The shoddy Paris Agreement benchmark was to avoid exceeding 1.5 degree Centigrade or around 2.7 degree Fahrenheit temperature-rise by 2100, but that now clearly cannot be achieved, and so Trump and other recent global-warming deniers are ‘vindicating’ themselves by saying that the failure to do something when something could have been done is ‘confirmation’ that they were right, after all. They were ‘right’ to say “Don’t feed the horse,” because now the horse can no longer even be salvaged.


5.3.4 Tipping Points and Abrupt Climate Change 

The term tipping point is most typically used, in the context of climate change, to describe situations in which the climate system (the atmosphere, hydrosphere, land, cryosphere, and biosphere) reaches a point at which a disproportionally large or singular response in a climate‐affected system occurs as a result of a moderate additional change in the inputs to that system (such as an increase in the CO2 concentration). … [It] could result in abrupt changes in the climate or any part of the climate system. Abrupt climate changes could occur so quickly and unexpectedly that human systems would have difficulty adapting to them.

They are asserting what the scientific consensus has been asserting for the past fifty years, and with ever-increasing confidence: that the graph of future temperatures is now like a hockey-stick, and we’ve reached the suddenly and increasingly upward far-right side of it, where there’s runaway global heating and will soon (perhaps within even 200 years) be global burnout — an unlivable planet.

Basically, the Trump Administration is saying that by the present century’s end, this planet will be hellish, and that it will become unlivable soon thereafter, and that nothing can be done now to prevent any of this, because it’s too late to start and runaway global heating has already begun and it can’t be stopped.

The Trump Administration is therefore saying to its Republican base, that they had been suckers to believe them when they were asserting that global warming is a hoax (and had even been making fun of the people who were taking seriously the global-warming threat), or that it’s not Man-made; Trump is now publicly saying that it is Man-made, and that Man has, in fact, done it, and it’s now too late to stop or even to slow significantly; so, we should just forget about it. Their changed message now is: Buy your gas-guzzlers, because life’s going to be hell for your grandchildren and for virtually everyone anyway, so don’t worry about it.

Rex Tillerson, before he became Trump’s Secretary of State, was the CEO of ExxonMobil; and on 29 May 2013 he addressed his stockholders likewise that the reason not to worry about global warming is that it can’t be stopped. Here is the opening of one news-report about that, at the time:


Exxon Mobil CEO: We’re Going In, Can’t Pull Up, Brace For Impact

2 June 2013. Julian Cox

May 29th in what is set to become a defining moment in the history of capitalism; Rex Tillerson, the CEO of the world’s most valuable company, Exxon Mobil (XOM), in an address to shareholders redefined the meaning of rational self interest for the markets everywhere in a short series of astonishing quotes:

“What good is it to save the planet if humanity suffers?” “We do not see a viable pathway with any known technology today to achieve the 350 [ppm] outcome that is not devastating to economies, societies and peoples’ health and well-being around the world,”

“So the real question is, do you want to keep arguing about that and pursuing something that cannot be achieved at costs that will be detrimental? Or do you want to talk about what’s the path we should be on and how do we mitigate and prepare for the consequences as they present themselves?”

The most interesting things about these statements:

  1. No more denial of scientific evidence.
  2. No more diversion about whether human activity or something else is to blame.
  3. No more disingenuous claims that NG or Hydrogen are clean fuels.

Just an honest and straightforward macroeconomic outlook: We are on a collision course with the consequences of rising CO2 levels, we cannot afford to stop it, and so there is nothing Exxon can offer but a warning to prepare for the worst. …

Here’s one of the numerous studies that have been done showing how the free-market approach has produced this coming hell-on-earth. To summarize its proven-true message: Making suckers of people is extremely profitable, and the richest people are the ones who are the most adept at doing it. They’ve won. Pity our grandchildren.

Some American teens (who definitely aren’t suckers) are suing the U.S. Government for violating the U.S. Constitution’s requirement to “promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity” by the Government’s having refused to do what it must do against climate-change. The Trump Administration (on behalf of investors in America’s coal, oil, and gas corporations) unsuccessfully tried to block the suit.

Tillerson, to his stockholders, and now Trump, to his voters, say: Just have fun. Don’t worry about any grandchildren, and not even about your own children. This is the message, both to psychopathic stockholders, and to stupid voters. It’s obviously a winning message. It has already won. It’s the way any aristocracy wins: by lies, plus their societal system in which no accountability exists for the kingpins at the top of even the biggest crime that has ever been perpetrated, this world-ending crime. It is dictatorship by the aristocracy. That’s what we’ve had. And that’s the reason why this planet is becoming uninhabitable and why the process is now unstoppable — runaway global burning, soon to become hell-on-Earth. No religious “Apocalypse.” Just the result of billionaire psychopaths, and their fools.

Back in 2017, when the Paris Climate Agreement goal was “to keep global temperature rise well below 2° Celsius” and the realistic expectation was “that temperatures will rise between 2C and 4.9C by 2100”, there were no official predictions, anywhere, of a “3.48°C (6.27°F)” rise by 2100. In 2017, the fear was that the migrant-crisis might be “One Billion by 2050”, and “Up To 2 Billion Refugees By 2100”, and clearly the Trump Administration now accepts it. Trump’s response to this catastrophe is urgently to send the military and razor-wire to our southern border in order to block those people from getting out of their increasing hell. What these emigrants experience now is what all Americans will be experiencing in coming decades, but today’s refugees from the south are already experiencing it, and trying to escape it. They are trying to escape a global problem that the U.S. did more than any other country to cause.

By far, the one nation that (especially on a per-capita basis) has produced the largest percentage of CO2 in the global atmosphere is the U.S. — the very same nation that has now abandoned the Paris Climate Agreement because that Agreement doesn’t ‘sufficiently’ place the burden of clean-up from this catastrophic mess upon other nations, such as India and other near-Equatorial lands which are mainly in the near-Equatorial areas that will be suffering the most from the overheating that the U.S. has done more than any other nation to cause. For some reason, these victim-countries are not economically sanctioning and boycotting the products and services from their chief victimizer, their chief bringer-of-doom. Either the victim-countries will retaliate until the victimizer-country is forced to agree to take the exceptional steps that it would now need to take in order to reverse the global process that is unfolding, or else the victim-countries will let the U.S. continue to rape the planet. For the United States, the requirements should be and must be required to be far more stringent than are applied to the developing countries especially. If the U.S. will take that conscientious and intelligent path, then perhaps the U.S. will even lead the world to the technological breakthroughs that will now be needed in order to be able to reverse global warming. The U.S. would also benefit from doing that. Global burnout will otherwise destroy every nation. But if the victim-countries avoid forcing the U.S. to do what it must, the victim-countries will be raped even harder. Clearly, now, the United States won’t do what it needs to do, unless it’s forced to. The U.S. must be forced to become a decent member of the global community of nations. Or else, the world is doomed.

  Read Why This Planet Is Becoming Uninhabitable
  November 18, 2018
US has spent almost $6 trillion on wars since 2001
by Trévon Austin,in Imperialism, Countercurrents.

report released by the Watson Institute of International & Public Affairs at Brown University indicates the total sum spent on the “war on terror” is much larger than previously suggested. Professor Neta C. Crawford, the author of the study, revealed that the US government is set to spend nearly $6 trillion on post-9/11 wars by the end of the 2019 fiscal year.

In March, the Department of Defense (DoD) released a report stating the military had spent $1.5 trillion on the wars. However, the Brown University report notes the DoD’s numbers were a conservative estimate that also failed to take into account spending across other federal departments. The new estimate not only includes expenditures from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), budget increases, and medical costs for veterans, but also interest on money borrowed to pay for the wars.

Including indirect war spending, the total amount of spending allocated since 2001 will be $4.6 trillion by the end of 2019. The report also estimates the government will be obligated to spend around $1 trillion for the future care of post 9/11 veterans until 2059. The total sum amounts to a staggering $5.993 trillion.

The study warns that continuing the multitude of US war and interventions for another four years would cost an additional $808 billion, even if the United States were to stop such actions by 2023. The accumulated costs would likely exceed the estimated $6.7 trillion because the number of veterans will continue to grow as long as the US continues military operations.

With no end in sight, the fiscal and human cost of US wars of aggression will continue to climb. A particular concern introduced in the latest study was the US government’s reliance on deficit spending and borrowing to fund war. In 2011 it was calculated that war appropriations, if capped at $1.5 trillion, would accrue $7.9 trillion in interest. War spending has substantially increased since the estimate, and more debt accumulated, so this would only be a conservative estimate.

The larger $5.9 trillion estimate over three times more than the Pentagon claimed has been spent out of war-related appropriations since 9/11. The DoD estimated $1.7 trillion would be spent by the end of the 2018 fiscal year, but this lower estimate only contains a portion of all war-related budgeting and spending.

The spending allocated by Congress is not included in the Pentagon’s estimate. Congress passes budgets that increase spending on other war-related areas, particularly “overseas contingency operations (OCO).” OCO spending directly supports the American empire’s global military operations. Along with the DoD, Congress has allocated over $2 trillion in OCO spending since 2001.

In addition to the unfathomable sums of money spent, the study estimates 370,000 lives lost from direct combat with many times more lost due to indirect consequences such as malnutrition, damaged infrastructure, and environmental degradation. Approximately 200,000 innocent civilians have been killed as well. Professor Crawford personally notes even these estimates are limited with many more likely killed due to US imperialism.

Crawford remarks, “Congress’ attitude almost seems to be that the Pentagon deserves whatever funding they ask for, no matter the cost, and regardless of whether or not this spending is efficient or wise.”

The number of veterans from the “war on terror” is also set to increase significantly. The Department of Veteran Affairs estimates the number of veterans will rise to 4.3 million by 2039. Many will return from combat severely injured or suffering mental illness, increasing the fiscal and societal toll.

The wars in the Middle East have created the largest humanitarian crisis since World War II with over 10 million refugees forced to flee their countries. Combined with the obscene amount of money spent, the wars waged by Washington and its allies highlight the crisis of capitalism. The ruling classes see no way forward other than war, but it means ruin for working people and society as a whole.

Originally published by WSWS.org

  Read US has spent almost $6 trillion on wars since 2001
  November 20, 2018
Peak Oil, 20 Years Later: Failed Prediction or Useful Insight?
by Ugo Bardi, in Resource Crisis, Countercurrents.

 20 years ago, Colin Campbell and Jean Laherrere published an article on “Scientific American” that was to start the second cycle of interest on oil depletion (the first had been started by Hubbert in the 1950s). Their prediction turned out to be too pessimistic, at least in terms of the supply of combustible liquids, still growing today. Yet, it was a valuable warning of things to come, unfortunately ignored by decision-makers worldwide. 

The first cycle of interest in oil depletion was started by Marion King Hubbert in the 1950s. Although it provided successful predictions for the production of crude oil in the US, the interest in oil depletion waned in the 1980s. The same destiny of growth and decline awaited the second cycle, that went under the name of “peak oil movement” and that was generated in 1998 by a famous article published by Colin Campbell and Jean Laherrere on “Scientific American.”

Today, the second cycle is winding down and even mentioning the concept of “peak oil” is enough to be branded as a diehard catastrophist, unable to understand how the fracking revolution is leading us to a new age of prosperity under America’s energy dominance. Yet, there are symptoms that the great peak could be finally arriving and – who knows? – a third cycle of interest in oil depletion could be starting.

I published some considerations on this subject in an article that appeared on “Energy Research & Social Science” — it is “open access” and you can find it at this link. After re-examining the story of the peak oil cycle, I conclude that there was no solid reason to reject the peak oil studies, as it was done starting in the mid 2000s. The reasons for the rejection were related more to the incompatibility of the peak oil concept with the (still) current economic views based on the idea that the depletion of natural resources is not — and cannot be — a constraint to economic growth.

It will take time before some concepts percolate from biophysical economics into mainstream economics – if they ever will. In the meantime, humans continue to destroy the resources that make them live, running as fast as they can toward the Great Cliff.

Here is an excerpt from my paper — the conclusions

From “Peak Oil 20 Years Later” 

by Ugo Bardi

Energy Research & Social Science
Volume 48, February 2019, Pages 257-261

… Overall, we can say that, even though the role of non-conventional oil sources was not correctly evaluated and the date of the peak missed at the global level, the Hubbert theory produced correct predictions and, in general, a valuable warning of difficulties to come. So, there never were compelling reasons based on historical data to dismiss the peak oil idea as wrong or untenable. Nevertheless, this is what happened.


Peak Oil, Climate Change, and Limits to Growth – are related to each other and have in common the fact that the models on which they are based predict the unavoidable decline of the world’s economy or, at least, the impossibility for it to keep growing for a long time. This view easily leads to a “doomerish” vision of the future and the peak oil movement tended to regard peak oil as an apocalyptic watershed for humankind, an interpretation surely not based on anything that the model in itself could support. Perhaps in agreement with this millenaristic attitude, the peak oil movement mostly failed to generate a political proposal. This point is well described by Schneider-Matherson [10] who shows how the members of the movement tended to prepare for the event in individual terms, emphasizing local and personal resilience. In some cases, they adopted or proposed a survivalist strategy, including stocking food, guns, and ammunition in expectation of the imminent collapse. Needless to say, this attitude didn’t endear the movement to the mainstream decision makers.

We may therefore conclude that the peak oil predictions were considered incompatible with the commonly held views that see economic growth as always necessary and desirable and depletion/pollution as marginal phenomena that can be overcome by means of technological progress. That was the reason why the peak oil idea was abandoned, a victim of a “clash of absolutes” with the mainstream view of the economic system. In the clash, peak oil turned out to be the loser, not because it was “wrong” but mainly because it was a minority opinion. The future will bring new data and, with them, the concept of peak oil might regain popularity for a second time, just as it did for the first time with the 1998 work of Campbell and Lahérrere.

Ugo Bardi teaches physical chemistry at the University of Florence, in Italy. He is interested in resource depletion, system dynamics modeling, climate science and renewable energy. Contact: ugo.bardi(whirlything)unifi.it

  Read Peak Oil, 20 Years Later: Failed Prediction or Useful Insight?
  November 21, 2018
The World Order that’s Now Emerging
by Eric Zuesse, in Imperialism, Countercurrents.

The Post-World-War-II world order was dominated by the one WW II major combatant that had only 0.32% of its population (the lowest percentage) killed by the war: the United States. The Soviet Union’s comparable number killed by the war was the highest — it was 13.7% — 42 .8.times higher than America’s. The U.S. was the main force that defeated Japan and so won WW II in Asia. The U.S.S.R., however, was the main force that defeated Germany and so won WW II in Europe. The U.S.S.R. suffered vastly more than did the U.S. to achieve its victory. In addition to suffering 42.8 times the number of war-deaths than did U.S., the U.S.S.R.’s financial expenditures invested in the conflict, as calculated by Jan Ludvik, were 4.8 times higher than were America’s financial expenditures on the war.

Thus, at the war’s end, the Soviet Union was exhausted and in a much weaker condition than it had been before the war. By contrast, the U.S., having had none of the war’s battles occurring on its territory, was (by comparison) barely even scratched by the war, and it was thus clearly and overwhelmingly the new and dominant world-power emerging from the war.

That was the actual situation in 1945.

The U.S. Government did not sit on its haunches with its enormous post-war advantage, but invested wisely in order to expand it. One of the first investments the U.S. made after the war was the Marshall Plan to rebuild the European countries that had now become the U.S. aristocracy’s vassal-states. The heavily damaged U.S.S.R. possessed no such extra cash to invest in (rebuilding) its vassals. Furthermore, the U.S.S.R.’s communist regime was additionally hobbled by Karl Marx’s labor theory of value, which produced prices that contained no useful information about demand and thus no constructive information for planners. (Planning is essential regardless whether an enterprise is private or public.) Thus, the U.S.S.R. was doomed to lose in its economic competition with The West, so that the Cold War was actually a losing proposition for them, from the very start of the post-war era. America’s post-WW-II dominance, combined with Marx’s crippling economic theory, and produced the exodus of East Europeans to The West.

America’s aristocracy thus increasingly rose on top internationally. Like any aristocracy, the American aristocracy’s main concerns were foreign trade, and so U.S. international corporations increasingly expanded even at the expense of the corporations owned by its competing, now-vassal, aristocracies, and the U.S. aristocracy’s corporations and brands thus came to dominate the entire capitalist sphere. The growth-bug, if it becomes an addiction, is itself a disease. Out of control, it is a cancer, which can destroy the organism. This is what happened in America. Conquering also the communist sphere was the U.S. aristocracy’s long-term goal, so that they would ultimately dominate every nation, the entire world. By the time of 1980, the U.S. aristocracy’s top goal (world domination) became also the U.S. Government’s top goal. The cancer had spread to the culture’s brain. Growth, backed by “Greed is good” economics, became practically the American religion, viewed as patriotic, and not merely as the nation’s economic model (which was bad enough, with its increasingly imperialistic thrust — such as 2003 Iraq, 2011 Libya, 2012- Syria, 2014 Ukraine, 2016- Yemen, and maybe now Iran).

America’s unchallengeable dominance lasted from then till now, but clearly has now reached near its end. The United States is trying to restore its post-Soviet (post-1991) global supremacy, by intensifying the U.S. regime’s secret war against Russia and its allies, which started on the night of 24 February 1990 and which could reach a crescendo soon in WW III unless something will be done by America’s allies to force the by-now wildly flailing U.S. aristocracy to accept peacefully the end of the American aristocracy’s hegemony — the termination of their, until recently, unchallengeable control over the world. By now, with the Soviet Union and its communism and its Warsaw Pact mirror of America’s NATO military alliance gone since 1991 and yet no peace-dividend but only ever-increasing wealth-concentration into the tiny number of billionaires who benefit from war weaponry-sales and conquests, America needs to abandon its addiction to growth, or else it will proceed forward on its current path, to WW III. That’s its current path.

According to Josh Rogin in the Washington Post on November 14th, U.S. Vice President Mike Pence had just said, as Rogin phrased it, that “the United States has no intention of ceding influence or control over the [Pacific] region to Beijing” and that if China won’t do everything that the U.S. demands, then the U.S. is fully prepared to force China to obey. The same newspaper had earlier presented Robert D. Kaplan, on October 9th, saying, “The United States must face up to an important fact: the western Pacific is no longer a unipolar American naval lake, as it was for decades after World War II. The return of China to the status of great power ensures a more complicated multipolar situation. The United States must make at least some room for Chinese air and naval power in the Indo-Pacific region.” But the U.S. regime is now making clear that it won’t do that.

The U.S. regime appears to be determined to coerce both Russia and China to comply with all American demands. With both of those countries, as with Iran, the U.S. regime is now threatening hot war. Trump, as the “deal-maker,” is offering no concessions, but only demands, which must be complied with, or else. The United States is threatening WW III. But what nations will be America’s allies, this time around? If many European nations abandon the U.S., then what?

Key for the U.S. regime is keeping the U.S. dollar as the world’s reserve currency.

Rockefeller Capital Management, Global Foresight, Third Quarter 2018  presents Jimmy Chang, Chief Investment Strategist, headlining “Nothing Trumps the Dollar, Yet”. He writes: “The reserve currency status gives the U.S. a significant advantage in handling its finances. American economist Barry Eichengreen observed that it cost only a few cents for the U.S. to print a $100 bill, but other countries would need to produce $100 of actual goods or services to obtain that $100 bill. The world’s need for the greenback allows the U.S. to issue debt in its own currency at very low interest rates. French Finance Minister Valéry Giscard d’Estaing, who later became the president, coined [in 1965] the term ‘exorbitant privilege’ to describe America’s advantage” of the U.S. dollar over any other nation’s currency. That “exorbitant advantage” never went away. Chang concludes: “As for the King Dollar, its short-term outlook appears robust.” However, few other observers now share that view. Increasing numbers of countries are pricing goods in other currencies, and China’s yuan and the EU’s euro are especially significant contenders to end dollar-dominance and to end the advantages that U.S.-based international corporations enjoy from dollar-dominance.

Other than dollar-dominance, the key barrier to world peace is NATO, the military alliance of the northern aggressor-nations. Proposals have been put forth for the EU to have its own army, which initially would be allied with NATO (i.e., with the U.S. regime). On November 17th, Russian Television bannered “EU army: Will it be easy for Europe to get rid of American political diktat?” and pointed to the U.S. vassal-nations that would be especially likely to stay in NATO: UK, Poland, Netherlands, Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia. Perhaps the other EU nations and Russia could form their own military alliance, which will formally be committed to the independence of those U.S. vassal-nations, and which will welcome individual peace-treaties with each of them, so as to indicate that aggression is only the U.S. regime’s way, and thus to lay the groundwork for peace instead of war, going forward. Clearly, the people who control the U.S. are addicted to invasions and coups (“regime-change”s), instead of to respecting the sovereignty of each nation and the right of self-determination of people everywhere. America’s conquest-addiction threatens, actually, every other nation.

Perhaps a reformed and truly independent EU can provide the new reserve currency, and also in other ways the foundation for global peace between nations. NATO will be irrevocably opposed to this, but it could happen. And if and when it does, it might tame the aristocratic beast that rides the American warfare state, but this isn’t likely to happen anytime soon. A step forward toward it is the courageous statement by “The Saker” at the American news-commentary site, Unz dot com, on November 15th, “Thanking Vets for Their ‘Service’ – Why?” He boldly notes that after World War II, all U.S. invasions have been criminal, and that it’s a remarkably long string of evil — and this doesn’t even include the many coups, which have likewise destroyed some nations.

Nationalism is just as evil in today’s America as it was in Hitler’s Germany. It is hostile to people in any other nation. It demands conquest. And wherever nationalism rules, patriotism dies and is replaced by nationalism.

Only by restoring patriotism and eliminating nationalism can WW III be avoided. Ending dollar-dominance is part of the path toward an internationally peaceful world that focuses more on serving the public’s needs and less on serving the aristocrats’ cravings. But ending NATO is also necessary.

Either these things will be done, or there will be WW III.

  Read  The World Order that’s Now Emerging
  November 22, 2018
When Snakes Eat Their Tails: Marxist Self Consumption in China
by Mary Metzger, in Worldm Countercurrents.

A snake will begin to consume itself under two circumstances – first, when mistakes its tail for prey, and second, when under conditions of extreme stress, it attempts reptilian suicide.  The People’s Republic of China, that great repository of Maoist/Marxist ideology, is today consuming its ideological tail for both reasons.

Any discussion of modern-day China must begin with the question of whether it is a Communist nation; in turn, this question rests on how one defines communism.  For Marx it was the Absolute Realization of human evolution; a classless society in which both the state, save for its distributive role,and money have disappeared.  The boundless products ofa well-developed and mechanized production are distributed “from each according to his ability to each according to his need.”In this society each human being,free of the fetters of endless labor, of exploitation, and want. Having everything and needing nothing, surrounded by those who are like him and equal to him, he can focus on his realizing his human potential.

As a result of Marx’s dream of social and human self-realization, Communism, and its precursor, Socialism, has been conceived in several ways: as a centrally controlled economy in which the forces and means of production, the distribution of products of that production,and relations of production are controlled by the state ostensibly for the benefit of the whole.  Communism is generally understood to imply a classless society and a welfare state. Defined from the negative perspective of the West, Communism is a system of “state totalitarianism” in which individuals, their needs, desires and aspirations, are sacrificed to the greater good of the whole.

The two great nations which have attempted to give birth to Marx’s vision of Communism were the USSR and the People’s Republic of China.  Each did so to a greater or lesser degree at different times in their history, yet neither according to any or all the positive definitions offered above, have ever fully accomplished their aims. In fact, they have tended to function in the negative way that the West comes to equate with Communism.  This is for two reasons.  The first being that the Communist state which Marx envisioned could only evolve out of an advanced Capitalist mode of production i.e., an extremely well-developed economy with high levels of productivity in a society characterized by massive abundance.  These conditions never existed in those countries in which “Communist” revolutions took place: not in Cuba, Russia, Vietnam, N. Korea, Laos, Cambodia, and not in China. They were all backward, feudal or semi feudal economies at the time of their revolutions.

When one appropriates the means, forces and products of production in a state which is not a fully developed Capitalistate one faces the fact that that state is unable to fulfill the needs of the people on the one hand andsurvive in a world still dominated by Capitalism on the other.  These facts give rise to hunger and want amongst the people, and ultimately to their restless dissatisfaction and discontent,  to endless “five year plans” , to “great leaps forward” geared towards increasing the productive power of the not yet capitalist forces of production, and to leaders such as Lenin, Mao, and Stalin who would do anything to raise the productive capacity of the state, including sacrificing the people themselves to build Communism.

Secondly, these states were born into a Capitalist world which attempted to destroy them by any means necessary from the first moments of their coming to be.

Primarily for these two reasons the “Communist” state eventually capitulates, as it did in Russia and as it did in China for very similar reasons and in similar ways.  This capitulation took place in Russia, with the multi pronged direct support of the United States, under Yeltsin in the 1990s and also, at nearly the same time, in China under former Chinese President Deng Xiaoping, who ushered in a class society with these words: “Poverty is not socialism, socialism is to eradicate poverty; the egalitarian big pot is not socialism, to encourage some people, part of the region first get rich, through the first rich after the rich, and ultimately achieve common prosperity…” Thus,  the China which had embraced rigid egalitarianism under Mao, reintroduced classes and economic inequality.  Meanwhile in Russia, during Perestroika and its “shock therapy” economics, the emergence of “class society” occurred nearly instantaneously as the hated Oligarchs became ridiculously wealthy, while the vast masses sunk into fearsome poverty.   But the Chinese people did not sink into poverty, in fact their economic circumstances improved as the nation became the productive powerhouse of the Capitalist world; and while in Russia, particularly under Putin, Communism and atheism were replaced by nationalism and a state religion heralded as the salvation of humanity’s morality, in China, Communism remained the official ideology of the state and atheism held sway.

Thus, China faces a great internal contradiction that threatens to tear it apart and Russia does not.  China still retains both some elements and a modified communist ideology  while it exhibits the hallmark of Capitalism, a class society in which workers are exploited by capitalists with state support.

From a very young age, students in China learn their Marx and Mao even as they live in a society in which even though the standard of living has improved greatly, workers are exploited by bosses.  This has given rise to a vanguard which struggles in the interests of the workers, and to an ostensibly Marxist state which does not support the needs of workers and submit to the will of this Marxist vanguard, but begins to consume it’s tail, first perceived as its evil prey, and then, to rid itself of the stress it feels as a result of its internal conflict.

This summer, workers at the Jasic factory in China’s manufacturing center of Shenzhen tried to form a union to improve their salaries and working conditions.  The government did not support their efforts but rather joined with the company to stifle their struggle.  Their campaign became a national cause, and students and labor activists across the country flocked to Shenzhen to back their struggle.  In true capitalist fashion, workers and activists were fired, detained, put under surveillance and finally, “disappeared.”  In recent months at least 12 labor activists have gone missing.  Others have been taken into detention.  Even capitalist institutions such as Cornell University, protested the treatment of the student labor activists by ceasing cooperation with Renmin University after students were punished for supporting the workers.

These are the latest actions taken by the state against a small growing movement of students and activists who have said they are Marxist and so in keeping with Marxist theory feel compelled to fight for the rights of the workers.  The ruling Communist Part of China, which likewise espouses Marxism, has turned upon them, which is to say upon its own people and its own ideology, and so begun to consume itself.

Mary Metzger is a 72 year old retired teacher who has lived in Moscow for the past ten years. She studied Women’s Studies under Barbara Eherenreich and Deidre English at S.U.N.Y. Old Westerbury. She did her graduate work at New York University under Bertell Ollman where she studied Marx, Hegel and the Dialectic. She went on to teach at Kean University, Rutgers University, N.Y.U., and most recenly, at The Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology where she taught the Philosophy of Science. Her particular area of interest is the dialectic of nature, and she is currently working on a history of the dialectic. She is the mother of three, the gradmother of five, and the great grandmother of 2.

  Read When Snakes Eat Their Tails: Marxist Self Consumption in China
  November 22, 2018
Degrowth as a Concrete Utopia
by Riccardo Mastini, in Counter Solutions, Countercurrents.

The emergence of interest in degrowth can be traced back to the 1st International Degrowth Conference organized in Paris in 2008. At this conference, degrowth was defined as a “voluntary transition towards a just, participatory, and ecologically sustainable society,” so challenging the dogma of economic growth. Another five international conferences were organized between 2010 and 2018, with the latest in Malmo in August.

This year also saw the publication of Giorgos Kallis’ landmark book Degrowth,which opens with three bold statements. First, the global economy should slow down to avert the destruction of Earth’s life support systems, because a higher rate of production and consumption will run parallel to higher rates of damage to the environment. Hence, we should extract, produce and consume less, and we should do it all differently. Since growth-based economies collapse without growth we have to establish a radically different economic system and way of living in order to prosper in the future.

Second, economic growth is no longer desirable. An increasing share of GDP growth is devoted to ‘defensive expenditure,’ meaning the costs people face as a result of environmental externalities such as pollution. Hence, growth (at least in rich countries) has become “un-economic:” its benefits no longer exceed its costs.

Third, growth is always based on exploitation, because it is driven by investment that, in turn, depends on surplus. If capitalists or governments paid for the real value of work then they would have no surplus and there would be no growth. Hence, growth cannot reduce inequalities; it merely postpones confronting exploitation.

The growth paradigm.

Economic growth implies the acceleration of the production of goods and services.  But it is not only GDP that has grown exponentially in the twentieth century: all indicators of work, environmental impact and ‘social metabolism’ have also accelerated (the processes of energy and material transformation in a society that are necessary for its continued existence), because GDP growth involves an increase in work and investment, the extraction of resources, and the disposal of waste.

However growth isn’t only a material process; it’s also cultural, political and social. After first appearing in colonial and industrial centres in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, it entrenched itself as a global ideology in the 1950s. Kallis calls this ideology “the growth paradigm:” the idea that perpetual economic growth is natural, necessary and desirable. This paradigm became the central concept of the geopolitical world order at a confluence of historical forces: the Cold War and the arms race, the end of colonialism and its indirect continuation under the guise of ‘development,’ and the failure of socialist projects for equality.

Even though growth is the child of capitalism, the pursuit of growth survived the abolition of capitalist relations in socialist countries. It is now easier to imagine the end of capitalism than the end of growth. Kallis argues that “every crisis leaves the idea of growth strengthened: the time when growth falters and seems to be coming to an end, when the costs of growth come to the forefront, is also when it becomes most necessary and is most ardently pursued, since without growth the system collapses.” The problem, however, is that economic growth is both increasingly harder to come by and is causing a planetary ecological breakdown.

Exiting the economy.

Degrowth evolved as much as a critique of the limits and costs of growth as a critique of economic reasoning. The problem isn’t only that economic growth is socially undesirable and environmentally unsustainable; it’s that the way economists frame reality is wrong. Kallis calls for “exiting the economy,” meaning de-centering the economy as a unit of analysis and a focus of political action. To do this it is necessary to mobilize different forms of knowledge and representations of reality.

Drawing from the work of Karl Polanyi, Kallis develops a critique of “economism:” the expansion under capitalism of the logic of commodity and market exchange to realms of life from which they were previously excluded. Indeed, what we today understand as ‘economic’ activities were once embedded in social institutions in pre-capitalist societies like rituals, kinship networks, and state or religious mechanisms of redistribution. Market activities were subordinate to politics and values.

Therefore the economy “is the instituted process of interactions between humans and their environments, involving the use of material means for the satisfaction of human values.” Societies develop institutions within which economic activities are embedded, so these institutions aren’t neutral; rather they order conflicting values and interests and are themselves a domain of power and struggle.

The economy is also part of the ‘social imaginary’ – how we organize our world based on certain foundational ideas that express what we think it should look like. Imaginaries rest on a system of symbols, “significations” and institutions like GDP and central banks. Kallis explains that “an imaginary provides a culture with the meaning that drives its actions. The imaginary of a market economy is imprinted in the institutions of a market economy, which in turn produce subjects who behave like the rational maximizers of market economics. Market economics is then validated by a world that it has helped create.”

But when a tension between these imaginaries and actual experience emerges, change becomes more likely through a process that is rife with conflicts, since the pursuit of new imaginaries is never shared by the whole of society. Those who hold power have an interest in things staying as they are, while the rest strive to unleash the social potential that can change the world.

In the case of degrowth the new imaginaries that we need revolve around the idea that there will never be enough until we share what there is; sharing and enjoying a limited planet is what degrowth is all about.

A concrete utopia.

Degrowth refers to a path where throughput, and in all likelihood output, shrinks while living conditions improve. Kallis frames this as a hypothesis: “subject to a radical and egalitarian social transformation, it is possible to sustain well-being and improve living and ecological conditions in an economy that unavoidably will contract. Seen as a research programme, the agenda is to find how, or under what conditions, this may become possible.”

Such a transformation is meant to re-embed the economy within society. And securing conditions that enable everyone to have enough will ensure that nobody faces scarcity – even if society produces less than today – by providing all the basic goods essential for human wellbeing free from payment.

Revisioning productivity is also important: taking resources and time out of the production circuit and devoting them instead to politics and leisure, or to spending time with family and friends. Unlike today, productivity would not be the final objective of public policies. Even if we are less productive, relational ‘goods’ increase and compensate for the loss of material goods. Furthermore, in degrowth, unpaid care work would be valued, and cooperatives or not-for-profits would become the dominant producers, employing most of the working population. As a consequence, the realm of production for profit would be radically reduced, and opportunities for accumulation – that is, investment for expansion and further profit – would be curtailed.

Even though the contraction of the economy is not the goal, in the long run this is inevitable. And it will happen either as a broader political project of social transformation (i.e. degrowth) or catastrophically through a series of crises. Kallis calls this project a “concrete utopia,” since there are concrete steps that can to help bring it closer.

To this end he discusses policy proposals including the replacement of GDP; a reduction in working hours to create employment in the absence of growth; a universal income or a guaranteed bundle of public services to ensure that everyone has enough to get by without depending on money; redistributive taxation to increase equality and the establishment of a maximum income to arrest competition for positional consumption; a redirection of public investments from the private sector to the public, and from infrastructure and activities that increase productivity to expenditures that green the economy and reclaim the commons; and the adoption of environmental caps.

It is worth noting that some of these policy proposals were included in a recent open letter signed by 238 scientists who called on the European Union to plan for a post-growth future in which human and ecological well-being is prioritised. Kallis concludes his book by arguing that, even though such policies may appear reformist compared with the utopian vision of degrowth, they are extremely radical when compared to where things currently stand. Borrowing the term ‘non-reformist reforms’ from André Gorz, he explains that if such reforms were to be implemented they “would require the very contours of the system to change radically to accommodate them. And simple and commonsensical as they are, they expose the irrationality of a system that makes them seem impossible and yet deems possible what in all likelihood will end in catastrophe.”

Riccardo Mastini is a PhD candidate in Ecological Economics and Political Ecology in the Institute of Environmental Science and Technology at the Autonomous University of Barcelona. You can follow him on Twitter and          Facebook.

  Read Degrowth as a Concrete Utopia
  November 24, 2018
Energy – Water Nexus: The Escalating Threat In The Context Of High GDP Growth Paradigm
by Shankar Sharma, in Resource Crisis, Countercurrents.

Abstract: In the context of growing gap between the demand and the availability of energy and fresh water in India, the close relationship between the usage of energy and water needs a diligent focus for obvious reasons; especially in the context of fast looming Climate Change phenomenon. This nexus has a major impact on various associated issues of the natural world. The sustainability of our development policies will depend on how our society will treat this nexus.

The importance of a holistic approach to the linkage between energy and water can be judged by an associated law in US: the ‘Nexus of Energy and Water for Sustainability (NEWS) Act of 2014’. It defines the term energy-water nexus as the link between energy efficiency and the quantity of water needed to produce fuels and energy, and the quantity of energy needed to transport, reclaim, and treat water. High GDP growth rate paradigm in India has only aggravated the associated issues for a resource constrained country. This article analyses the associated issues and recommends few steps to address the problem in the medium to long term.

Key terms/words: energy and water nexus; GDP growth rate; efficiency; drought; industry; sustainability; equity; fresh water bodies; food and energy security; Climate Change; agriculture.


In recent years the close relationship between the usage of energy and water are getting highlighted for obvious reasons. So much so, that in US the ‘Nexus of Energy and Water for Sustainability (NEWS) Act of 2014’ was enacted, and it defines the term energy-water nexus as the link between energy efficiency and the quantity of water needed to produce fuels and energy, and the quantity of energy needed to transport, reclaim, and treat water. As per an article in Scientific American on May 12, 2014, in the United States about 410 billion gallons of water are withdrawn for use each day from the fresh water bodies such as rivers, lakes and underground sources. Almost half (49%) of this water is used by the electric power sector. On the other side, more than 12% of the nation’s energy use is used to meet the country’s water and steam demand.

As per another report from Government Accountability Office, US the energy sector has been the fastest growing water consumer in US in recent years and is projected to account for 85 percent of the growth in water consumption between 2005 -2030.

As far as the water energy nexus in India is concerned, although similar figures in Indian scenario are not available easily as in the case of US, it is safe to assume that the scenario cannot be vastly different to that in US.  The fact that India is generally considered as a water deficit country, and that the per capita availability of fresh water is one of the lowest in the world, should make the energy-water nexus a priority issue to take into account in our developmental paradigm.

According to industry estimates, India accounts for 17 per cent of the world’s population and has just 4 per cent of the fresh water resources.  India’s rivers are reported to be carrying only 5 per cent of the world’s fresh waters but an astounding 35 per cent of global sediments.  There are probably no river stretches in India, except perhaps in the upper reaches of Himalayas or very few streams/rivers in Western Ghats, which can be said to be clean. As a recent article in India Water Portal has indicated, ‘the major challenges of the 21st century in river water use is the increasing pollution in the rivers and the partial failure of the conventional methods of pollution control due to various reasons. The depletion in non-monsoon flow in rivers (more pronounced in peninsular rivers) is enhancing the pollution load and making the situation more difficult. Due to these challenges, the revival of the rivers in a holistic way has become a non-negotiable need of the day.’  The Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) has come out with yet another startling revelation recently about India’s rivers—’ the number of polluted stretches of the rivers has increased to 351 from 302 two years ago, and the number of critically polluted stretches has gone up to 45 from 34’.  This scenario can be considered as a shame on the whole society, especially when we consider the glorious cultural heritage of worshiping rivers and other fresh water bodies as part of the overall family of natural resources.

Irrigation consumes about 84 per cent of India’s water.  Industrial and domestic usage is just 12 per cent and 4 per cent, respectively. Ground water accounts for 62 per cent of the irrigation use. There is enormous dependence on ground water in India.  Since almost all of the water usage needs energy to pump / transport, the seriousness of the water-energy nexus should become evident: higher usage of water will lead to higher demand for energy and vice-versa.  There is a serious and legitimate concern that India will soon transform itself from a water-stressed country to a water-scarce country.

Water–Energy Nexus

As per an editorial in Current Science of April 2014 (“International World Water Day 2014, Focus: Water–Energy Nexus”) ‘Energy and water are closely intertwined. It takes a great deal of energy to supply water, and a great deal of water to supply energy’.  This article also points out that water consumed for energy production, according to International Energy Agency (IEA, 2013), will increase from 66 billion cubic metres (bcm) at present to 135 bcm by 2035. Out of this global energy related water demand, it is estimated that more than half of this consumption will be by coal-fired thermal power plants, about 30% by bio fuel, whereas oil and gas-based production will account for 10%.  Renewable energy generation, such as wind and solar photovoltaic power, accounts for less than 1% of water consumption for energy production. While power generation, as indicated above, requires large supply and utilization of water resources, energy itself is required for pumping, transporting, treatment and desalination of water. Agriculture, including irrigation, mining of coal and lignite, hydraulic-fracking, manufacturing and construction industries, use as much as 37% of the electrical energy produced.

As per UN Water, between 2013 and 2015, annual economic growth is estimated at about 6% in developing countries and 2% in higher income countries. As economies grow and diversify, they experience competing demands for water to meet the needs of more municipal and industrial uses, as well as agriculture.  It also says that nowhere is the critical inter-relationship between water and energy more evident than in the Asia-Pacific region, which is home to 61% of the world’s people and with its population expected to reach five billion by 2050. The Asian Development Bank (ADB) forecasts a massive rise in energy consumption in the Asia-Pacific region: from barely 33% of global consumption to 51-56% by 2035.

Because of the undisputed relationship between the usage of water and energy, there is a clear imperative of effectively managing both these aspects of our life keeping in view the impact of Climate Change in order to achieve the equitable development of all sections.


The fact that India shares about 17% of the global population but is reported to have only about 4% of the total water resource should obviously indicate a water deficit scenario as an important geographical and climatic characteristic.  Due to various constraints of topography there is also uneven distribution of precipitation over space and time within India. Precipitation varies from 100 millimetres (mm) in the western parts of Rajasthan to over 1,000 mm at Cherrapunji in Meghalaya. Further, extreme conditions of floods and droughts are a common feature, which affect the availability of water for various purposes.

Food, water, and energy are interlinked and there is deep interdependence.  As per a report “India’s Global Resource Footprint in Food, Energy and Water (FEW)” prepared for UK Aid, India is the largest groundwater user in the world and about 90 per cent of its ground water is used for food production. Energy is a vital input in agriculture for irrigation, harvesting, post harvesting, processing, value addition, storage, and transportation. Agriculture accounts for about 20% of total electricity consumption and 12% of total diesel consumption in India. Energy and water linkage is also critical as energy is needed for water extraction, transportation, distribution, and treatment and on the other hand water is required for energy generation from hydro and thermal power plants. Whereas due to Climate Change the total precipitation is projected to increase in few river valley areas, extreme conditions of floods and droughts are expected to be a common feature, which will affect the availability of water for various purposes.  This report also has indicated that between 1950 and 2010 while there was a ten-fold increase in energy demand, a 25 fold increase in agricultural energy demand was recorded.

As per a notification of the Press Information Bureau on 25 April 2015, the per capita water availability in the country as a whole is reducing progressively due to increase in population. The average annual per capita availability of water in the country, taking into consideration the population of the country as per the 2001 census, was 1816 cubic meters which decreased to 1545 cubic meters as per the 2011 census. It is not difficult to project that this availability will be much less by 2050 when the population is expected to be about 1.6 Billion.  To meet the demand for fresh water for such a large population in the context of Climate Change, which is projected to exacerbate the fresh water availability across the country, will be a major challenge.

As per World Bank (“Water Sector in India”, September 29, 2011) more than 60 percent of India’s irrigated agriculture and 85 percent of drinking water supplies are dependent on groundwater.  Over exploitation of ground water is developing into a serious concern for the water security in India. The advent of electric pump sets and highly subsidised electricity supply to the farming community enabling withdrawal of water from deep underground has led to proliferation of the ground water extraction practices all over the country.

Such a scenario has not only resulted in the accelerated lowering of ground water table, but also in high electricity usage.  Since most of the states in the union charge nil or very low price for supply of electricity to the farmers, there is no incentive for these farmers to become more efficient in energy/water usage resulting in huge inefficiencies. Indiscriminate exploitation of groundwater has led to alarming decline of water table in many parts of the country.

As per The Earth Institute many parts of India are consuming about 3 kWH of electricity to grow 1 kG of food which should indicate the enormity of the influence of food agriculture on water and energy.

A major consequence of the looming Climate Change will be the increase in average atmospheric temperatures in different regions of the country, including the hills, Western Ghats and Himalayas, which in turn is expected to lead to increase in energy demand, and consequently to the increased water demand too.  The increase in average atmospheric temperature also means higher rates of water evaporation from fresh water bodies, which will reduce the total fresh water availability. It can be mentioned here that the preference of successive governments to construct more and more reservoirs, is leading to higher levels of total water evaporation at the national level, thus exacerbating the water availability scenario. Hence, there is a critical need to consider the future requirement of water and energy holistically, and to plan for extremely careful usage of these precious but scarce resources.

As per a survey report by Prayas Energy Group (“THERMAL POWER PLANTS ON THE ANVIL: Implications and Need for Rationalisation”, 2011), if 700,000 MW of additional coal and gas power plants are to be set up in the country up as per the projects in pipeline in that year, the fresh water requirement of a huge quantity (about 4.6 billion cubic meters per year) additionally can be expected. The gravity of the situation becomes clear when we also realise that this much of fresh water can meet the drinking water needs of about 7 % of the population in India, or can provide irrigation to more than 900,000 hectares of land. In a country already having serious crises of fresh water, the rationality of such large additions to thermal power plants becomes highly questionable.

A recent Webinar program by ETEnergy World under the title “Water demands, risks, and opportunities for India’s power sector” recently has mentioned:

  • 40 percent of India’s freshwater-dependent thermal power plants experience high water stress
  • Between 2013 and 2016, 14 of India’s 20 largest thermal power utility companies experienced one or more shutdowns due to water shortages. Shutdowns cost these companies over Rs 91 billion ($1.4 billion) in potential revenue from the sale of power
  • water shortages cancelled out more than 20 percent of India’s growth in electricity generation between 2015 and 2016
  • 4 billion cubic meters of fresh water withdrawals could be reduced from India’s power sector needs, if proposed cooling mandates were fully implemented and aggressive renewable targets completely achieved.
  • Prioritizing installation of solar PV and wind projects in highly water stressed areas can help make India’s electricity supply more resistant to water shortages while helping meet India’s INDC to UNFCCC: a 40 percent cumulative electric power installed capacity from non-fossil fuel based energy resources by 2030.

Similarly, the gas based and nuclear power plants also require vast quantities of water. Such an enormous impact of electric power generation sector on water availability for a water stressed country should drive our national energy policy away from over dependence of fossil fuel and nuclear power plants. In view of the maturity of wind and solar power technologies; their plunging costs; and their widespread usage across the world must make our policy makers in India to take all possible initiatives to minimise the dependence on thermal power projects, which has, anyway, become essential due to the need to minimise the GHG emissions.

The petroleum products (diesel, petrol and natural gas) used in various economic activities such as transportation,  industry and agriculture also have considerable impacts on water; basically due to the cooling needs of the heated the engines.

All of the fossil fuels also have impact on the purity of fresh water sources because of the mining, transportation, usage and waste disposal.   The mining and ash disposal in the case of coal, and the ground water contamination in the case of fracking are tow such evident examples.

Electricity being used for IP sets should be a major area of focus.  At the national level about 20 % of the total electricity consumed is reported to be in irrigation pump (IP) sets.  It is also well known that due to various technical and logistical reasons the overall efficiency of such IP sets is very low (of the order of about 50% as against technical feasibility of more than 80%). This scenario indicates that there is a vast scope for saving electricity usage in agriculture. Since agriculture mostly requires water supply during day time in summer months, and since solar power generation can be maximum during summer, the potential for meeting most of the agricultural electricity demand through solar power is not only enormous but also very attractive, if we consider various aspects of our power sector. Almost all of the IP set power requirements can be met by solar power, which will drastically reduce the pressure on the existing grid network, and on the need for additional conventional power plants. This solar technology is fairly mature, highly suitable to IP sets which are required to run during summer day time, and most suitable for the farmer’s needs.  The experience of Rajasthan, where thousands of such solar powered IP sets are performing satisfactorily, should settle the technical and economic issues.

As per an editorial in Current Science of April 2014, referred above, while the available utilizable water resource in India has remained nearly constant over decades, the demand for water is increasing and is influenced by steady growth of population, increasing urbanization, economic growth and changing life styles, resulting in per capita availability of water coming down from 1,816 m3/year in 2001 to 1,545 m3/year in 2011. It is expected to go down further to 1,340 m3/year by 2025 and 1,140 m3/year by 2050. A per capita consumption of water less than 1,700 m3/year is generally considered as an indication of water stressed condition and less than 1,000 m3/year as water scarcity condition.  This scenario of water stressed condition should be a major concern in our developmental paradigm.

In view of the fact that the country is facing serious issues with the supply of energy/electricity and water for its growing population, it becomes critical that all possible efforts should be focused on optimising the usage of these two precious resources. Effective rainwater harvesting and ground water recharging in all human settlements, and deployment of renewable energy resources across the length and breadth of the country can go a long way in this context.


As a consequence of the obsession with a high Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth rate paradigm as practiced by the successive governments since 1990s, the country has been recording high GDP growth rate for more than two decades.  Since 1996 onwards the country has logged a high average GDP growth of more than 6% till 2005, and more than 7% since 2006 onwards. (ref: World Bank: http://data.worldbank.org/indicator/NY.GDP.MKTP.KD.ZG).

Such a high growth year after year can lead to the multiplication of the size of our economy as shown in the table below.  Whereas a compounded annual growth rate (CAGR) of 4% of GDP will take about 19 years to double the size of our economy, 10% CAGR will increase the size of our economy by four times only in 18 years.

Time taken for the size of economy to get multiplied at constant CAGR

While vastly increasing the demand for water due to increased economic activities, the multiplication of the size of our economy in short durations will have many other serious concerns to bother the vulnerable sections of our society, while doubling the “financial wealth” of the country.  The primary question should be whether such multiplication of the “financial wealth” in short span of time comes at a huge cost to some sections of our society, and by how much; and what will be the impact on demand for water and energy.

A sustained high GDP growth rate will mean the manufacture of products and provision of services at an unprecedented pace leading to: setting up of more factories/ manufacturing facilities; consumption of large quantities of raw materials such as iron, steel, cement, chemicals etc.; increasing an unsustainable demand for natural resources such as land, water, minerals, timber etc.; acute pressure on the Government to divert agricultural /forest lands; huge demand for various forms of energy (petroleum products, coal, electricity etc.); accelerated urban migration; clamour for more of airports, airlines, hotels, shopping malls, private vehicles, express highways etc. With such vastly increased economic activities, the demand for water and energy will obviously escalate.

The base line assumption in the Integrated Energy Policy of the erstwhile Planning Commission, 2008 that the country needs to sustain an economic growth of 8 – 9 % over next 20 years to eradicate poverty and to meet its human development goals, will lead to very many intractable problems for the society from social and environmental perspectives. Such a high growth rate projection for the country for the next 20-25 years has also resulted in the perceived need for enormous increase in electricity generation capacity in the form of thermal power plants, which in turn will escalate the demand for water also. Hence, the obsession with high GDP growth rate target should be diligently reviewed against a paradigm shift in our developmental objective, which will give priority for inclusive growth aimed at sustainable and responsible use of natural resources, and especially consider the impact on our vulnerable communities w.r.t their needs for water and clean environment.


Food, water and energy are interlinked and have deep interdependence too. India is the largest groundwater user in the world and about 90 per cent of ground water is used for food production. Energy is a vital input in agriculture for irrigation, harvesting, post harvesting, processing, value addition, storage, and transportation and agriculture accounts for 20% of total electricity consumption and 12% of total diesel consumption in India. The policies aiming at security in one sector often can have repercussions on resources in other sectors. Improved water, energy and food security can be achieved through a nexus approach – an approach that integrates management and governance across sectors and scales. A nexus approach can support the transition to a Green Economy, which aims, among other things, at resource use efficiency and greater policy coherence.

The UN water says: “The water-food-energy nexus is central to sustainable development. Demand for all three is increasing, driven by a rising global population, rapid urbanization, changing diets and economic growth. Agriculture is the largest consumer of the world’s freshwater resources, and more than one-quarter of the energy used globally is expended on food production and supply. The inextricable linkages between these critical domains require a suitably integrated approach to ensuring water and food security, and sustainable agriculture and energy production worldwide.”

  Read Energy – Water Nexus: The Escalating Threat In The Context Of High GDP Growth Paradigm
  November 24, 2018
Extinction Rebellion: From the UK to Ghana and the US, Climate Activists Take Civil Disobedience World-Wide
by Chloé Farand, in Climate Change, Countercurrents.

More than 100 people were arrested during a week of action across the UK as protesters demanded the government treat the threats posed by climate change as a crisis and take drastic steps to cut emissions to net zero by 2025.

Thousands of people joined a mass protest that blocked roads and bridges in central London, with some gluing themselves to government buildings to draw attention to what they see as climate breakdown.

This was the birth of Extinction Rebellion, a movement that calls for mass economic disruption using non-violent direct action and civil disobedience to halt the destruction of the planet and its wildlife and prevent catastrophic climate change.

Around the world, environmental campaign groups and activists watched the action unfold. In London, there is a growing hope that this could be the start to a new form of international mobilisation for climate action.

‘A game changer’

From the US to Ghana and New Zealand to Western Europe, campaigners have shown enthusiastic support for Extinction Rebellion’s declaration of climate emergency.

Henn said he was confident Extinction Rebellion would inspire similar non-violent direct climate actions in the US over the coming months, but whether the movement was one that could endure the test of time was yet to be seen.

Margaret Klein Salamon, founder of the US grassroot group Climate Mobilization, said she believed Extinction Rebellion is “a game changer” for the climate movement.

She is part of a team of dedicated activists working on Extinction Rebellion’s international expansion, ensuring it has a robust enough infrastructure and resources to give the movement the capacity and stamina to organise in the long-term.

Salamon said Extinction Rebellion was born as the climate movement was shifting away from advocating gradual change to demanding immediate action in line with the scale of the climate crisis.

She said that for the first time, Extinction Rebellion set out the full implications of climate change on humanity and the planet’s ecosystems without shielding people from the consequences of the crisis for fear of being too alarming.

She added that Extinction Rebellion was advocating solutions that may have long been seen as impossible, but which the group believe could gather mainstream momentum.

Above all, Salamon said the use of peaceful civil disobedience as a means to engage people in  “power struggles” against governments and demand meaningful change is what made Extinction Rebellion unique.

“There is so much momentum around Extinction Rebellion and what is needed is to be able to escalate the disruption,” she said, adding: “This is still a very young movement but there is tremendous enthusiasm for it.”


Image Credit: Thomas Katan for Extinction Rebellion

Extinction Rebellion’s first public action was to occupy the Greenpeace headquarters in London — a move which took the climate movement in the UK by surprise and aimed to warn environmental NGOs against becoming complacent about governments’ inaction on climate change.

Learning from past grassroots movements such as Gandhi’s independence marches, the Suffragettes, the Civil Rights movement and Occupy, Extinction Rebellion claims to aim to rally support worldwide around a common sense of urgency to tackle climate breakdown.

International rebellion

Robin Boardman, a coordinator with Extinction Rebellion in the UK, said the week of action that took place across the country was “a prototype for what a global resistance could look like”.

Pointing out that the UK is responsible for only one percent of current global emissions, Boardman added: “What happened in London is a drop in a pond compared to what could happen worldwide in months to come”.

Extinction Rebellion is working to establish campaign groups beyond the UK, with coordinators already working in the US, Canada, Australia, Switzerland, France, Germany, Netherlands, Belgium, Sweden, Italy and Spain.

But much of the movement’s international expansion is focused on the US.

“Like in the Arab spring, Tunisia started the uprising but it was not until it spread to Egypt that the whole movement gripped the Middle East,” Boardman said.

Inspired by US Senator Bernie Sanders’ 2016 presidential campaign, Extinction Rebellion wants to export its non-violent rebellion model and ambition of a widespread system change but allow for autonomous campaign groups to organise independently across the world.

“It is up for local groups as to whether people should be taking up action and what direction they move in. It’s about doing something different and shifting what is acceptable in the context of the climate crisis. When society is ready to lose its sense of fear in the face of state authority, then everything crumbles and change can happen,” Boardman said.

A broad church, Extinction Rebellion has attracted much support from religious groups, including Christian Climate Action, which had several of its members arrested in the UK last week.

Caroline Harmon, from the Christian Climate Action, said that her group has received messages of support from Christian communities across the world, who have been inspired by last week’s actions.

The first Extinction Rebellion action on the African continent was held earlier this month in front of a church in Accra, Ghana, where dozens of climate activists carrying Extinction Rebellion placards told churchgoers about the global climate resistance being born in the UK.


Extinction Rebellion protesters in front of a church in Accra, Ghana. Image Credit: Mawuse Yao Agorkor for Vazoba

Mawuse Yao Agorkor, a grassroot social activist from Ghana and the general secretary of the West African Vazoba network, said the launch of Extinction Rebellion in London was “an exciting moment” and that he was hoping larger protests would “hit the streets of Ghana soon”.

The Vazoba network has long campaigned against deforestation, the use of toxic chemicals and mining in the region and now hopes to use its organising tools and contacts across West Africa to spread Extinction Rebellion’s message.

Agorkor said he was not afraid of using civil disobedience as a means to ramp up pressure on his government. “I have been working on the ground for six years, and getting arrested for protesting in the interest of our planet is something that my group is not afraid of,” he said.

Agorkor is well aware that if the movement is to spread through Africa, it will have to adapt in places where police brutality is common and protesters could be met with open fire. But for now, Agorkor believes the organising capacity of both Vazoba and Extinction Rebellion constitute “a good starting point”.

Diverse Movement

The emergence of Extinction Rebellion also comes at a time of great change in the US climate movement.

For Henn, of 350, Sanders’ presidential campaign, which inspired Extinction Rebellion’s mobilisation strategy, gave place to a new generation of young leaders including more women and people of colour — a trend reflected in the US’ Congressional midterm elections.

Newly elected liberals, led by the 29-year-old Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, are demanding the Democrats back a “Green New Deal” to rapidly transform the economy to 100 percent renewable energy in a decade — a target largely in line with Extinction Rebellion’s own demand to reach net zero by 2025.

Henn said that the only way in which the Extinction Rebellion movement would take off in the US would be by “moving away from a climate movement that is predominantly made up of older, middle-class white people”.

Instead, Henn said Extinction Rebellion had “to build a multi-racial and multi-generational movement which will include young people of colour in its leadership and tackle issues such as equity and environmental justice”.


Image Credit: Tamsin Omond

For Henn, the movement will also have to ensure it uses a universal language that inspires urgency but respects and reflects the experiences of those living on the frontlines.

Referring to a banner that was dropped from Westminster bridge in central London last week and read “Climate Change, We Are F**d”, he added:

“It is one thing to say such things from the safety of London, but it’s another if you are living on the frontline of climate impacts.

“Some people don’t have the privilege to give up”.

Image credit: Ruth Davey for Extinction Rebellion

Chloé Farand is a Reporter for DeSmog UK. She began working as a freelancer in November 2016 during COP22 in Marrakesh and joined the DeSmog UK team as a staff writer in January 2018.

originally published by DeSmog UK

  Read Extinction Rebellion: From the UK to Ghana and the US, Climate Activists Take Civil Disobedience World-Wide
  November 26, 2018
US Trade War With China: Desperate Move To Save Western Empire
by Andre Vltchek, in Imperialism, Countercurrents.

Most of those who have had a chance to witness Chinese internationalist mega-projects, clearly understand that the West is near to collapsing; it will never be able to compete with tremendous enthusiasm and progressive spirit of the most populous country on earth, which on top of it, is built on socialist principles (with Chinese characteristics).

Writing this essay in rural Laos, I just saw, literally an entire army of Chinese engineers and workers in action, building huge bridges and tunnels, connecting one of the poorest countries in Asia,to both China and Southeast Asia, erecting hospitals and schools, small factories for the rural population, airports and hydro-electric power plants or in brief: putting the great majority of Laotian people out of poverty by providing them with both livelihood and infrastructure.

China does precisely this all over the world, from the tiny South Pacific island nations to African countries, plundered for centuries by Western colonialism and imperialism. It helps Latin American nations that are in need, and while it does all that, it is also quickly growing into a middle class, ecologically and culturally responsible nation; a nation which is likely to eradicate all extreme misery very soon, most likely by the year 2020.

The West is horrified!

This could easily be the end of its global order, and it could all actually happen much earlier than expected.

And so, it antagonizes, provokes China, in all imaginable ways possible, from the US military buildup in Asia Pacific, to encouraging several Southeast Asian countries plus Japan to politically and even militarily irritate the PRC. Anti-Chinese propaganda in the West and its client states has lately been reaching a cacophonic crescendo. China is attacked, as I recently described in my essays, from literally all sides; attacked for being ‘too Communist’, or ‘for not being Communist enough’.

The West, it seems, despises all the economic practices of China, be it central planning, ‘capitalist means for socialist ends’, or the unwavering desire of the new Chinese leadership to improve the standard of living of its people, instead of enriching multi-national corporations at the expense of the common citizens of the PRC.

It looks like a trade war, but it actually is not: like the ‘West versus Russia’, the ‘West versus China’ is an ideological war.

China, together with Russia, is effectively de-colonizing part of the world which used to be at the mercy and disposal of the West and its companies (as well as the companies of such client-states of the West as Japan and South Korea).

However it is being labelled, de-colonization is clearly taking place, as many poor and previously vulnerable countries worldwide are now seeking protection from Beijing and Moscow.

But to ‘add insult to injury’, parallel to de-colonialization, there is also ‘de-dollarization’, that is inspiring more and more nations, particularly those that are victims of Western embargos, and the unjust, often murderous sanctions. Venezuela is the latest such example.

The most reliable and stable ‘alternative’ currency that is being adopted by dozens of countries, for international transactions, is the Chinese Yuan (RMB).


The prosperity of the entire world, or call it ‘global prosperity’, is clearly not what the West desires. As far as Washington and London are concerned, the ‘surrounding’, peripheric world is there predominantly,to supply raw materials (like Indonesia), cheap labor (like Mexico), and guarantee that there is an obedient, indoctrinated population which sees absolutely nothing wrong with the present arrangement of the world.

In his recent essay for the Canadian magazine Global Research titled “IMF – WB – WTO – Scaremongering Threats on De-Globalization and Tariffs – The Return to Sovereign Nations” a distinct Swiss economist and a colleague of mine, Peter Koenig, who used to work for the World Bank, wrote:

“As key representatives of the three chief villains of international finance and trade, the IMF, World Bank (WB) and the World Trade Organization (WTO) met on the lush resort island of Bali, Indonesia, they warned the world of dire consequences in terms of reduced international investments and decline of economic growth as a result of the ever-widening trade wars initiated and instigated by the Trump Administration. They criticized protectionism that might draw countries into decline of prosperity. The IMF cuts its global economic growth forecast for the current year and for 2019.

This is pure scaremongering based on nothing. In fact, economic growth of the past that claimed of having emanated from increased trade and investments has served a small minority and driven a widening wedge between rich and poor of both developing and industrialized countries. It’s interesting, how nobody ever talks about the internal distribution of GDP growth…”

Peter Koenig further argues that globalization and ‘free trade’ are far from desirable for the majority of the countries on our planet. He is giving an example of China:

“Time and again it has been proven that countries that need and want to recover from economic fallouts do best by concentrating on and promoting their own internal socioeconomic capacities, with as little as possible outside interference. One of the most prominent cases in point is China. After China emerged on 1 October 1949 from centuries of western colonization and oppression by Chairman Mao’s creation of the People’s Republic of China (PRC), Mao and the Chinese Communist party first had to put a devastated ‘house in order’, a country ruined by disease, lack of education, suffering from hopeless famine as a result of shameless exploitation by western colons. In order to do that China remained practically closed to the outside world until about the mid- 1980’s. Only then, when China had overcome the rampant diseases and famine, built a countrywide education system and became a net exporter of grains and other agricultural products, China, by now totally self-sufficient, gradually opened its borders for international investments and trade. – And look where China is today. Only 30 years later, China has not only become the world’s number one economy, but also a world super power that can no longer be overrun by western imperialism.”

To be self-sufficient may be great for the people of every country on our planet, but it is definitely a ‘crime’ in the eyes of the West.

Now China is not only independent, but it dares to introduce to the entire world a totally new system, in which private companies are subservient to the interests of the state and the people. This is the total opposite to what is happening in the West (and its ‘client states’), where the governments are actually indebted to private companies, and where people exist mainly in order to generate huge corporate profits.

On top of it, China’s population is educated, enthusiastic, patriotic and incredibly productive.

As a result, China competes with the West, and it is easily winning the competition. It does it without plundering the world, without overthrowing foreign governments, and starving people.

This is seen by the United States as ‘unfair competition’. And it is being punished by sanctions, threats and provocations. Call it a ‘trade war’, but it actually isn’t.

And why unfair competition? Because China is refusing to ‘join’ and to play by the old imperialist rules dictated by the West, and also readily accepted by countries such as Japan and South Korea. China does not want to rule. And that scares the West.


In a way, both President Trump and the present leadership of China want to make their countries ‘great again’. However, both countries see greatness differently.

For the United States, to be ‘great’ is to control the world, once again, as it did right after WWII.

For China, to be great is to provide a high quality of living for its citizens, and for the citizens of most of the world. It also means, to have great culture, which China used to have for millennia, before the ‘era of humiliation’, and which was rebuilt and greatly improved from the 1949, onward.


A leading US philosopher, John Cobb Jr., in a book which we are writing together, recently pointed out:

“Ever since World War II, what the United States has done has been widely copied.  Hence this country has had a great opportunity to lead the world.  For the most part, it has led in the wrong direction.  The United States and the whole world, including China, are paying, and will continue to pay, a high price.  But the days of American leadership are ending.  I would still like for the U.S. to engage in major reforms, but it is too late for these to change the world. We can rejoice that the American century is giving way to the Chinese century.”

Many do, but some don’t. The end of the American leadership, or call it the “American Century”, may scare people in various Western countries, particularly in Europe. Rightly so! Those days of unopposed Western economic dictatorship are over. Soon, perhaps, Europeans will have to really compete, and work hard for their money, instead of living high life relying on plunder of natural resources and cheap labor in their semi or neo-colonies.

While many in the West are scared, the situation is simultaneously rising hopes in all other parts of the world.

For China, not to yield to the US pressure, is to show that it is serious when it comes to its independence. The most populous nation on earth is ready to defend its interests, its people and its values.

It is far from being alone. From Russia to Iran, from Venezuela to South Africa, new and newer nations are going to stand by China, and by doing so, they will be defending their own independence and freedom.


[First published by International Daily News, in China]

  Read US Trade War With China: Desperate Move To Save Western Empire
  November 27, 2018
To Build a Fire in the Heart of Our Country
by George Capaccio, in Imperialism, Countercurrents.

But for most of us, the movement was a life-giving force. To join a hundred thousand others in marches and rallies, to know that even if you felt helpless against the power of government you were not alone in your feelings—that people all over the country, of all ages, black and white, working people and middle-class people, were with you—was to be moved beyond words. … to see Mohammed Ali defy the authorities even at the cost of his championship title, to hear Martin Luther King speak out against the war, to see little children marching with their parents, carrying signs—“Save the children of Vietnam”—was to feel the best of human beings were fighting your cause. … millions of people protested the war not because their own lives were at stake, but because they truly cared about other people’s lives, the lives of Vietnamese, of fellow Americans.

– from You Can’t Be Neutral On A Moving Trainby historian and activist Howard Zinn.

When I was young and the war in Vietnam was raging, I rejected much of what I associated with a government and a society that could undertake the destruction of an entire people and still carry on as if there were nothing in the least bit abnormal about that state of affairs. In time, I saw that the way forward, at least for me, was to join those who understood just how evil the war was and how imperative it was for people to lift their voices, take to the streets, and risk their personal well beingto protest the war.

Reading Zinn’s account of the Vietnam antiwar movement (in his book You Can’t Be Neutral On A Moving Train) and how it grew from isolated pockets of opposition into a massive, nation-wide wave of resistance, I felt re-united with feelings that have languished inside me for the past decade and a half. In the winter of 2003, as the US prepared to invade Iraq, I was on the streets with hundreds of thousands of others who truly cared about preventing the needless deaths of both Iraqis andfellowAmericans. For a time, I believed we would prevail over the Pentagon, the defense contractors, and the Department of Defense—each of which had its own reasons for wanting to prosecute yet another act of criminal aggression against a relatively defenseless country. This time around, however, it was conceivable that our passionate commitment to peace and its expression through movement building, rallies, and demonstrations might actually stay the hand of our “Commander-in-Chief” and his war-mongering, neo-conservative ideologues: Dick Cheney, Condoleezza Rice, Donald Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz, et al.

On a frigid, fingertip-freezingday in February 2003, close to a million of us hit the streets of New York to make our voices heard. Together withcomparable numbers of our brethren in other countries, we declared our united opposition to a war against Iraq—a war that many in the peace movement judged would be both illegal and immoral, and unconscionably destructive.

That winter afternoon stands out in my memory as the last time I felt the degree of exhilaration Howard Zinn so beautifully evokes in his description of the camaraderie he experienced during the high watermark of the Vietnam antiwar movement. A month later, on March 20, 2003, the war we hoped to prevent officially began with the much ballyhooed “shock and awe” bombing of Iraq. As someone with deep, personal connections to people in Iraq and a long-term involvement with the anti-sanctions movement, I felt profoundly demoralized by our failure to stop Bush II from attacking yet another Muslim nation under the pretext of “defending the world from grave danger.” But fellow activists reminded me that our surrender was not an option. However much defeated many of us felt, we had to keep up the struggle to bring some measure of sanity to a world in which the glorification of military power and the choice of violence over diplomacy nine times out of ten trumpsinternational law and humanitarian considerations.

This year, on the eve of Thanksgiving, I turned to historian and activist Howard Zinn, author of A People’s History of the United States, fora way to hold and live with the terrible knowledge that once again my country is putting the projection of power and the pursuit of hegemonic objectives (controlling global energy resources; maintaining ties with US-friendly regional allies, etc.) ahead of simple humanity. Instead of the Vietnamese, the latest target of the US government’s malevolent, calculated indifference to massive human suffering are the people of Yemen. Progressive writers and activists have spoken out forcefully against the genocidal nature of Saudi Arabia’s war on Yemen, and demanded a total suspension of arms sales to the Saudi regime and the cessation of all other forms of assistance, including mid-air refueling of Saudi war planes, targeting information, and diplomatic cover.

In this essay, I have no wish to repeat what has been said elsewhere about the conflict between the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the Houthi rebels of Yemen. Informed readers are aware of the Kingdom’s bogus claim that the rebels are significantly supported by Iran, its greatest foe. Therefore, the war is, in effect, a battle with the Islamic Republic of Iran for dominance of the Middle East and the ultimate victory of extremist Sunni Islam over the Shia theocracy of Iran. By this line of specious reasoning, the US alliance with Riyadh is a necessary bulwark against Iran’s growing regional influence and its purported role in fomenting terror and further destabilizing the Middle East.

I leave the delineation of such matters in far more competent hands. What matters most to me are the humanitarian consequences of this three-year-conflict, which shows no sign of stopping any time soon despite the recent US decision to stop re-fueling Saudi war planes and the growing, world-wide alarm that the Saudis are condemning an entire people to death from famine, sickness, and unrelenting airstrikes on civilian targets, like markets, hospitals, schools, and mosques. Consider the following figures from authorNicholas Davies, citing data from the Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project (ACLED), a nongovernmental organization (NGO):

ACLED now estimates the true number of people killed in Yemen is probably between 70,000 and 80,000.ACLED’s estimates do not include the thousands of Yemenis who have died from the war’s indirect consequences, such as starvation and preventable diseases like diphtheria and cholera. UNICEF reported in December 2016 that a child was dying every 10 minutes in Yemen, and the humanitarian crisis has only worsened since then.  At that rate the total of all deaths caused directly and indirectly by the war must by now be more than one hundred thousand.

An estimated one hundred thousand people killed directly or indirectly in a war that never should have begun in the first place. A war that has the blessings of Donald Trump in the form of billions of dollars of arms sales; a “bromance” with Mohammed bin Salman (MbS), the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia; and a brazen refutation of the CIA’s conclusion that the Crown Prince “personally ordered” the killing of Saudi journalist and self-imposed exile Jamal Khashoggi. Quoting Secretary of Defense Mike Pompeo, Trump told the world on Thanksgiving morning, “It’s a mean and nasty place out there.”

And thanks to people like Mike Pompeo, National Security Advisor John Bolton, Donald Trump, and his bosom buddy the Little Prince of the world’s leading autocracy and exporter of terrorist doctrine, it’s getting a whole lot meaner and nastier. According to a recent report issued by the charity Save the Children, about 85,000 children under the age of 5 have starved to death as a consequence of the civil war in Yemen. How can anyone possibly grasp the significance of that number and the scale of human suffering implicit in the deaths of so many little children. One only has to look at photos of severely malnourished Yemeni children to realize the inhumanity of this war and that of the people who either prosecute or condone the violence. Working in Yemen since 1963, Save the Children states unequivocally that “13 million people face starvation—many of them children.” Furthermore, “Over 22 million people—three out of every four—urgently need lifesaving assistance, including over 11 million children.” The following statistics are from the above-mentioned report:

  • Only 55% of girls 15 and older are literate
  • 29% of children are out of school, with up to 75% of schools destroyed
  • 55 out of 1000 children die before their 5th birthday
  • 23% of children are engaged in child labor
  • 54% of people live in poverty
  • 1,600 children have been killed since the start of the conflict

The US, first under Obama and now under Trump, does much more than condone the bombing of civilian, government, and military targets in Yemen. Not only do we provide the killers with bombs and guided missiles; we unashamedly support the economic war being conducted against the people of Yemen by Saudi Arabia and its coalition partners. Martha Mundy, Professor Emeritus of Anthropology at the London School of Economics, has done extensive fieldwork in Yemen and other Arab countries. In her recent report for the World Peace Foundation, Mundy notes the responsibility of the US, the UK, and France—the three major arms dealers—in the commission of war crimes in Yemen as a result of the bombing. But their support for the economic war being waged is generally ignored, she says, and it is this form of violence that is “the major cause of starvation” in Yemen.

According to Professor Mundy, the war has evolved in stages, from attacks on mainly military and government facilities to “civilian and economic targets, including water and transport infrastructure, food production and distribution, roads and transport, schools, cultural monuments, clinics and hospitals, and houses, fields and flocks.” In August 2016, the Coalition launched a third stage: economic war with intermittent blockades of al-Hodeidah, Yemen’s major port on the Red Sea; the closure of the airport in Sana’a to all commercial flights; and the transfer of the central bank of Yemen to the city of Aden. (Southern Yemen, where Aden is situated, is controlled by forces of the United Arab Emirates (UAE), which is aligned with Saudi Arabia in its war on the Houthi rebels, based in San’a’ in the north.) On the basis of her research, Mundy concludes that the economic war is the leading cause of the tragedy that has befallen the people of Yemen:

Today Yemen is commonly described as the greatest humanitarian crisis in the world with 80% of the population requiring food assistance and with outbreaks of cholera that have affected more than a million people. The causes of that include not just the effects of the bombing campaign on the quality and quantity of food and water available … but above all the impact of the deepening economic war from late 2016.

The good news is that this crisis is finally getting the attention it deserves. During the week of December 1, the US Senate is expected to vote on S. J. Resolution 54, the bipartisan War Powers Resolution on ending US support for the slaughter of innocents in Yemen. Voters are encouraged to contact their senators and urge them to support the bill, sponsored by Senators Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Mike Lee (R-UT) and Chris Murphy (D-CT).

In my home state of Massachusetts, a coalition of peace groups—including Mass Peace Action, Veterans for Peace, the American Friends Service Committee, and Friends Meeting at Cambridge (Quaker)—is undertaking a variety of actions to draw attention to the crisis and to get more people involved in working to end it. The centerpiece of our peace advocacy is an ongoing campaign to hold Raytheon accountable for its sale of deadly weapons to the Saudi-led coalition. To that end, we’ve held well-attended demonstrations in front of the company’s Cambridge office and encouraged attendees to play an active role in the campaign. Some of the tactics we advocate include organizing educational events, writing opinion pieces for local papers, and using social media to inform people about the crisis in Yemen.

The movement against that war is growing. My hope is that it will soon reach a critical mass, and that once again, as they did during the Vietnam War and in the build up to the Iraq war,  people from all walks of life, of every ethnicity and color under the sun will come together on the streets of their towns and cities, and with one indivisible voice, cry out in the wilderness, “Save the children of Yemen!”

Because the lives of those children matter every bit as much as the lives of our own children.Because our government, along with US-based arms manufacturers, is just as responsible for the bloodshed in Yemen as the Saudis and their allies. Because as members of a purportedly democratic society we are obliged to hold our leaders accountable and demand that they do everything in their power to protect and preserve the lives of the people of Yemen.

A CNN reporter once interviewed Denis Halliday about the sanctions regime imposed on Iraq by the UN but enforced by the US and the UK. A few years earlier, in 1998, Halliday resigned his post as the UN humanitarian coordinator of the Oil-for-Food program in Iraq to protest the sanctions and the devastation they caused. In response to the interviewer’s question about Saddam Hussein’s brutality and the need to keep the sanctions in place, Halliday said, “Nothing justifies the killing of children in Iraq. Nothing.”

What was true then is no less true today: “Nothing justifies the killing of children in Yemen. Nothing.”

George Capaccio is a writer, performer, and activist living in Arlington, MA. During the years of US- and UK-enforced sanctions against Iraq, he traveled there numerous times, bringing in banned items, befriending families in Baghdad, and deepening his understanding of how the sanctions were impacting civilians. His email isCapaccio.G@gmail.com He welcomes comments and invites readers to visit his website: www.georgecapaccio.com

  Read To Build a Fire in the Heart of Our Country
  November 27, 2018
Neoliberalism’s Dark Path to Fascism
by Chris Hedges, in World, Countercurrents.

None of its vaunted promises were even remotely possible. Concentrating wealth in the hands of a global oligarchic elite—eight families now hold as much wealth as 50 percent of the world’s population—while demolishing government controls and regulations always creates massive income inequality and monopoly power, fuels political extremism and destroys democracy. You do not need to slog through the 577 pages of Thomas Piketty’s “Capital in the Twenty-First Century” to figure this out. But economic rationality was never the point. The point was the restoration of class power.

As a ruling ideology, neoliberalism was a brilliant success. Starting in the 1970s, its Keynesian mainstream critics were pushed out of academia, state institutions and financial organizations such as the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank and shut out of the media. Compliant courtiers and intellectual poseurs such as Milton Friedman were groomed in places such as the University of Chicago and given prominent platforms and lavish corporate funding. They disseminated the official mantra of fringe, discredited economic theories popularized by Friedrich Hayek and the third-rate writer Ayn Rand. Once we knelt before the dictates of the marketplace and lifted government regulations, slashed taxes for the rich, permitted the flow of money across borders, destroyed unions and signed trade deals that sent jobs to sweatshops in China, the world would be a happier, freer and wealthier place. It was a con. But it worked.

“It’s important to recognize the class origins of this project, which occurred in the 1970s when the capitalist class was in a great deal of difficulty, workers were well organized and were beginning to push back,” said David Harvey, the author of “A Brief History of Neoliberalism,” when we spoke in New York. “Like any ruling class, they needed ruling ideas. So, the ruling ideas were that freedom of the market, privatization, entrepreneurialism of the self, individual liberty and all the rest of it should be the ruling ideas of a new social order, and that was the order that got implemented in the 1980s and 1990s.”

“As a political project, it was very savvy,” he said. “It got a great deal of popular consent because it was talking about individual liberty and freedom, freedom of choice. When they talked about freedom, it was freedom of the market. The neoliberal project said to the ’68 generation, ‘OK, you want liberty and freedom? That’s what the student movement was about. We’re going to give it to you, but it’s going to be freedom of the market. The other thing you’re after is social justice—forget it. So, we’ll give you individual liberty, but you forget the social justice. Don’t organize.’ The attempt was to dismantle those institutions, which were those collective institutions of the working class, particularly the unions and bit by bit those political parties that stood for some sort of concern for the well-being of the masses.”

 “The great thing about freedom of the market is it appears to be egalitarian, but there is nothing more unequal than the equal treatment of unequals,” Harvey went on. “It promises equality of treatment, but if you’re extremely rich, it means you can get richer. If you’re very poor, you’re more likely to get poorer. What Marx showed brilliantly in volume one of ‘Capital’ is that freedom of the market produces greater and greater levels of social inequality.”

The dissemination of the ideology of neoliberalism was highly organized by a unified capitalist class. The capitalist elites funded organizations such as the Business Roundtable and the Chamber of Commerce and think tanks such as The Heritage Foundation to sell the ideology to the public. They lavished universities with donations, as long as the universities paid fealty to the ruling ideology. They used their influence and wealth, as well as their ownership of media platforms, to transform the press into their mouthpiece. And they silenced any heretics or made it hard for them to find employment. Soaring stock values rather than production became the new measure of the economy. Everything and everyone were financialized and commodified.

“Value is fixed by whatever price is realized in the market,” Harvey said. “So, Hillary Clinton is very valuable because she gave a lecture to Goldman Sachs for $250,000. If I give a lecture to a small group downtown and I get $50 for it, then obviously she is worth much more than me. The valuation of a person, of their content, is valued by how much they can get in the market.”

“That is the philosophy that lies behind neoliberalism,” he continued. “We have to put a price on things. Even though they’re not really things that should be treated as commodities. For instance, health care becomes a commodity. Housing for everybody becomes a commodity. Education becomes a commodity. So, students have to borrow in order to get the education which will get them a job in the future. That’s the scam of the thing. It basically says if you’re an entrepreneur, if you go out there and train yourself, etc., you will get your just rewards. If you don’t get your just rewards, it’s because you didn’t train yourself right. You took the wrong kind of courses. You took courses in philosophy or classics instead of taking it in management skills of how to exploit labor.”

The con of neoliberalism is now widely understood across the political spectrum. It is harder and harder to hide its predatory nature, including its demands for huge public subsidies (Amazon, for example, recently sought and received multibillion-dollar tax breaks from New York and Virginia to set up distribution centers in those states). This has forced the ruling elites to make alliances with right-wing demagogues who use the crude tactics of racism, Islamophobia, homophobia, bigotry and misogyny to channel the public’s growing rage and frustration away from the elites and toward the vulnerable. These demagogues accelerate the pillage by the global elites while at the same time promising to protect working men and women. Donald Trump’s administration, for example, has abolished numerous regulations, from greenhouse gas emissions to net neutrality, and slashed taxes for the wealthiest individuals and corporations, wiping out an estimated $1.5 trillion in government revenue over the next decade, while embracing authoritarian language and forms of control.

Neoliberalism generates little wealth. Rather, it redistributes it upward into the hands of the ruling elites. Harvey calls this “accumulation by dispossession.”

“The main argument of accumulation by dispossession rests on the idea that when people run out of the capacity to make things or provide services, they set up a system that extracts wealth from other people,” Harvey said. “That extraction then becomes the center of their activities. One of the ways in which that extraction can occur is by creating new commodity markets where there were none before. For instance, when I was younger, higher education in Europe was essentially a public good. Increasingly [this and other services] have become a private activity. Health service. Many of these areas which you would consider not to be commodities in the ordinary sense become commodities. Housing for the lower-income population was often seen as a social obligation. Now everything has to go through the market. You impose a market logic on areas that shouldn’t be open to market.”

“When I was a kid, water in Britain was provided as a public good,” Harvey said. “Then, of course, it gets privatized. You start to pay water charges. They’ve privatized transportation [in Britain]. The bus system is chaotic. There’s all these private companies running here, there, everywhere. There’s no system which you really need. The same thing happens on the railways. One of the things right now, in Britain, is interesting—the Labour Party says, ‘We’re going to take all of that back into public ownership because privatization is totally insane and it has insane consequences and it’s not working well at all.’ The majority of the population now agrees with that.”

Under neoliberalism, the process of “accumulation by dispossession” is accompanied by financialization.

“Deregulation allowed the financial system to become one of the main centers of redistributive activity through speculation, predation, fraud, and thievery,” Harvey writes in his book, perhaps the best and most concise account of the history of neoliberalism. “Stock promotions, ponzi schemes, structured asset destruction through inflation, asset stripping through mergers and acquisitions, the promotion of levels of debt incumbency that reduce whole populations even in the advanced capitalist countries to debt peonage. To say nothing of corporate fraud, dispossession of assets, the raiding of pension funds, their decimation by stock, and corporate collapses by credit and stock manipulations, all of these became central features of the capitalist financial system.”

Neoliberalism, wielding tremendous financial power, is able to manufacture economic crises to depress the value of assets and then seize them.

“One of the ways in which you can engineer a crisis is to cut off the flow of credit,” he said. “This was done in Eastern, Southeast Asia in 1997 and 1998. Suddenly, liquidity dried up. Major institutions would not lend money. There had been a big flow of foreign capital into Indonesia. They turned off the tap. Foreign capital flowed out. They turned it off in part because once all the firms went bankrupt, they could be bought up and put back to work again. We saw the same thing during the housing crisis here [in the United States]. The foreclosures of the housing left lots of housing out there, which could be picked up very cheaply. Blackstone comes in, buys up all of the housing, and is now the biggest landlord in all of the United States. It has 200,000 properties or something like that. It’s waiting for the market to turn. When the market turns, which it did do briefly, then you can sell off or rent out and make a killing out of it. Blackstone has made a killing off of the foreclosure crisis where everyone lost. It was a massive transfer of wealth.”

Harvey warns that individual freedom and social justice are not necessarily compatible. Social justice, he writes, requires social solidarity and “a willingness to submerge individual wants, needs, and desires in the cause of some more general struggle for, say, social equality and environmental justice.” Neoliberal rhetoric, with its emphasis on individual freedoms, can effectively “split off libertarianism, identity politics, multiculturalism, and eventually narcissistic consumerism from the social forces ranged in pursuit of social justice through the conquest of state power.”

The economist Karl Polanyi understood that there are two kinds of freedoms. There are the bad freedoms to exploit those around us and extract huge profits without regard to the common good, including what is done to the ecosystem and democratic institutions. These bad freedoms see corporations monopolize technologies and scientific advances to make huge profits, even when, as with the pharmaceutical industry, a monopoly means lives of those who cannot pay exorbitant prices are put in jeopardy. The good freedoms—freedom of conscience, freedom of speech, freedom of meeting, freedom of association, freedom to choose one’s job—are eventually snuffed out by the primacy of the bad freedoms.

“Planning and control are being attacked as a denial for freedom,” Polanyi wrote. “Free enterprise and private ownership are declared to be essentials to freedom. No society built on other foundations is said to deserve to be called free. The freedom that regulation creates is denounced as unfreedom; the justice, liberty and welfare it offers are decried as a camouflage of slavery.”

“The idea of freedom ‘thus degenerates into a mere advocacy of free enterprise,’ which means ‘the fullness of freedom for those whose income, leisure and security need no enhancing, and a mere pittance of liberty for people, who may in vain attempt to make use of their democratic rights to gain shelter from the power of the owners of property,’ ” Harvey writes, quoting Polanyi. “But if, as is always the case, ‘no society is possible in which power and compulsion are absent, nor a world in which force has no function,’ then the only way this liberal utopian vision could be sustained is by force, violence, and authoritarianism. Liberal or neoliberal utopianism is doomed, in Polanyi’s view, to be frustrated by authoritarianism, or even outright fascism. The good freedoms are lost, the bad ones take over.”

Neoliberalism transforms freedom for the many into freedom for the few. Its logical result is neofascism. Neofascism abolishes civil liberties in the name of national security and brands whole groups as traitors and enemies of the people. It is the militarized instrument used by the ruling elites to maintain control, divide and tear apart the society and further accelerate pillage and social inequality. The ruling ideology, no longer credible, is replaced with the jackboot.

Chris Hedges writes a regular column for Truthdig.com. Hedges graduated from Harvard Divinity School and was for nearly two decades a foreign correspondent for The New York Times. He is the author of many books, including: War Is A Force That Gives Us MeaningWhat Every Person Should Know About War, and American Fascists: The Christian Right and the War on America.  His most recent book is Empire of Illusion: The End of Literacy and the Triumph of Spectacle.

Originally published by Truthdig

  Read Neoliberalism’s Dark Path to Fascism
  November 28, 2018
How Much Negative Carbon Emissions, Negative Population Growth & Negative Economic Growth Is Needed To Save Planet?
by Dr Gideon Polya, in Climate Change, Countercurrents.

Several recent reports collectively endorsed by thousands of expert scientists have warned the world that time is running out to save Humanity and the Biosphere from further catastrophic climate change and further massive biodiversity loss. Massive harm has already occurred due to continuing carbon pollution, population growth and economic growth and it is clear that zero growth in these areas is insufficient  – there must be negative carbon pollution (atmospheric CO2 draw-down), negative population growth (population decline) and negative economic growth (degrowth) to halt and reverse this worsening disaster.  However the key question is how much reversal is needed for a safe and sustainable planet?

Of course the whole proposition of negative growth in relation to atmospheric greenhouse gases (GHGs) and economic activity is anathema to the present  growth-based world order as neatly demonstrated  by the results from Google Searches for the following terms: “zero emissions” (2.24 million)   versus “CO2 draw-down” (2,810), and “economic growth” (76.4 million) versus “negative “economic growth” (279,000). However a quantitatively similar degree of concern over “zero population growth” (213,000) versus “negative population growth”  (132,000) is explicable because population decline is already a reality in many advanced economies to the consternation of the politically dominant,  growth-committed  neoliberals.

  1. Atmospheric CO2 population and economic growth existentially  threaten  Humanity and the Biosphere.

Before addressing the question of how much degrowth is required in relation to GHG pollution, population and economic activity, it is useful to summarize the worsening climate crisis, resource depletion crisis  and biodiversity crisis. In 2017 a letter signed by over 15,000 scientists documented the following disastrous changes in 9 key areas  in the last 24 years:   (1) –26.1% in freshwater resources per capita, (2) –6.4% in  marine catch, (3) +75.3% in marine dead  zones, (4) –2.8% in  forest area, (5) –28.9% in vertebrate species abundance, (6) +62.1% in annual CO2 emissions, (7) +167.6% in average temperature change, (8) +35.5% in human population, and (9) +20.5%  in ruminant population [1, 2]. If these changes observed over a quarter century continue at the same rate then, for example, there will be a near 100% decline in non-human vertebrate species abundance in the coming century. We must not destroy what we cannot replace but the species extinction rate is presently 100-1,000 times greater than normal [3].

Similarly the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) “Living Planet Report 2018” [4]  describes the unfolding human consumption disaster since 1750 as the Great Acceleration that is characterized by huge increases in 12 socio-economic trends (world population, real GDP, foreign direct investment, urban population, direct energy use, fertilizer consumption, large dams, global water use, paper production, transportation, telecommunications, and international tourism) and in 12 Earth system trends (carbon dioxide (CO2), nitrous oxide (N2O), methane (CH4), stratospheric ozone (O3) loss, surface temperature, ocean acidification, marine fish capture, shrimp aquaculture, nitrogen to coastal zone, tropical forest loss, domesticated land, and terrestrial biosphere degradation) (Figure 2, [4]) . The WWF states: “Average abundance of 16,704 populations representing 4,005 species monitored across the globe have declined by 60% [since 1970] (Figure 7 [4]). This huge human impact on the Biosphere has led to the present age being described as the Anthropocene Era.  

In October 2018 the IPCC issued a dire report that details the numerous bad outcomes of a global +1.5 degree Centigrade (+1.5C) of warming versus the catastrophic outcomes from a +2C e.g. a further 70-90% decline of coral reefs at +1.5C versus more than 99% loss at +2C. The IPCC Report says that for less than +1.5C  coal burning must cease by 2050 but also declares that the terminal CO2 pollution budget for a 66% chance of avoiding +1.5C will be used up in 10 years [5-7]. However the climate change denialist American Trump Administration  and the effectively climate change denialist,   pro-coal and pro-gas Australian Government have effectively rejected the IPCC Report [7]. The atmospheric levels of the GHGs CO2, methane (CH4) and nitrous oxide (N2O) continue to rise [8-12]. Indeed the world is acutely threatened by a methane bomb in the warming Arctic as methane is released from huge stores of methane-water clathrates in the tundra and the Arctic Ocean sea bed [13, 14]. In defiance of the science, electricity sector gas, oil and coal use has steadily increased over the period 1965-2017 [15]. Indeed the global national commitments to the Paris Agreement amounted to an horrendous  3.4C temperature rise.  

The Red Cross World Disasters Report 2018 states that in the last 10 years there have been 3,751 reported major natural hazards (84% weather-related) , and these have been associated with 2 billion people affected (95% weather-related) , and a $1,658 billion cost (76.2% weather-related) (Figure 9  [16]).  It has been estimated that 0.4 million people die annually from climate change [17] but this is a considerable under-estimate because already 15 million people die avoidably from deprivation each year in the Third World that is disproportionately  impacted by man-made climate change [18]. 7 million people perish each year due to the long-term effects of pollutants from carbon fuel burning [19]. Several leading climate scientists  have predicted that only 0.5 billion people will survive this century  unless requisite climate action is taken, this translating  to a worsening climate genocide in which 10 billion people will perish  this century [20-24 ]. 

The 3 key existential threats against Humanity are nuclear weapons (a nuclear winter from nuclear war – that could happen any time –  would wipe out most of Humanity and the Biosphere),  poverty (already 15 million people die avoidably from deprivation in the Third World each year, this being compounded by climate change, population growth, resource depletion and competition for resources), and climate change (that unaddressed could kill 10 million people this century) [18, 20, 24]. Rational world governance aside, 3 key processes to tackle these existential threats are negative carbon pollution (atmospheric CO2 draw-down), negative population growth (population decline) and negative economic growth (degrowth). The following sections address how much reversal is needed for a safe and sustainable planet.

  1. Negative carbon pollution – draw down of atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) to circa 300 ppm CO2.

The excellent climate activist organization 350.org argues that the atmospheric CO2 should be drawn down from the present dangerous and damaging  circa 410 ppm CO2 to no more than 350 ppm CO2. However numerous climate scientists, Arctic ice scientists, paleoclimatologists, biologists and coral scientists argue that the target should be 300 ppm CO2, or roughly the pre-Industrial Revolution atmospheric CO2 level [24, 25]. A pertinent sample of numerous such opinions is given  below.

Thus Professor Hans Joachim Schellnhuber (director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research., Germany): “It is a compromise between ambition and feasibility. A rise of 2oC could avoid some of the big environmental disasters, but it is still only a compromise…It is a very sweeping argument, but nobody can say for sure that 330ppm is safe. Perhaps it will not matter whether we have 270ppm or 320ppm, but operating well outside the [historic] realm of carbon dioxide concentrations is risky as long as we have not fully understood the relevant feedback mechanisms” [26].

Professor James Hansen (NASA and Columbia University): “CO2  ~300-325 ppm, may be needed to restore sea ice to its area of 25 years ago” [27, 28].

Dr Andrew Glikson (an Earth and paleo-climate research scientist at Australian National University, Canberra, Australia): “The amount of carbon stored in Arctic sediments and permafrost is estimated as 500–2500 Gigaton Carbon (GtC), as compared with the world’s total fossil fuel reserves estimated as 5000 GtC. Compare with the 700 GtC of the atmosphere, which regulate CO2 levels in the range of 180–300 parts per million and land temperatures in a range of about – 50 to + 50 degrees C, which allowed the evolution of warm blooded mammals. The continuing use of the atmosphere as an open sewer for industrial pollution has already added some 305 GtC to the atmosphere together with land clearing and animal-emitted methane. This raised CO2 levels to 387 ppm CO2 to date [410 ppm CO2 in 2018], leading toward conditions which existed on Earth about 3 million years (Ma) ago (mid-Pliocene), when CO2 levels rose to about 400 ppm, temperatures to about 2–3 degrees C and sea levels by about 25 +/- 12 metres” [28].

David Bielo (a contributing editor at Scientific American): “The last time CO2 levels at Mauna Loa were this high [400 ppm CO2], Homo sapiens did not live there. In fact, the last time CO2 levels are thought to have been this high was more than 2.5 million years ago, an era known as the Pliocene, when the Canadian Arctic boasted forests instead of icy wastes. The land bridge connecting North America and South America had recently formed. The globe’s temperature averaged about 3 degrees C warmer, and sea level lapped coasts 5 meters or more higher” [29].

Dr J.E.N. Veron and leading coral scientist colleagues: “The coral reef crisis: the critical importance of <350 ppm CO2… Temperature-induced mass coral bleaching causing mortality on a wide geographic scale started when atmospheric CO2 levels exceeded 320 ppm. When CO2 levels reached 340 ppm, sporadic but highly destructive mass bleaching occurred in most reefs world-wide, often associated with El Niño events. Recovery was dependent on the vulnerability of individual reef areas and on the reef’s previous history and resilience. At today’s level of 387 ppm [410 ppm CO2 in 2018], allowing a lag-time of 10 years for sea temperatures to respond, most reefs world-wide are committed to an irreversible decline. Mass bleaching will in future become annual, departing from the 4 to 7 years return-time of El Niño events. Bleaching will be exacerbated by the effects of degraded water-quality and increased severe weather events. In addition, the progressive onset of ocean acidification will cause reduction of coral growth and retardation of the growth of high magnesium calcite-secreting coralline algae” [30].

There are many ways by which atmospheric CO2 can be drawn down [31-34]. The various Carbon Dioxide Removal (CDR) technologies suggested include Bio-energy with Carbon Capture and Storage (BECCS,  involving CO2 sequestration into cellulosic biomass by photosynthesis and safe storage of the biomass), Biochar (from high temperature  anaerobic pyrolysis  of biomass cellulose to generate carbon for safe storage) , re-afforestation,  Accelerating  Weathering  of Limestone (AWL, generating alkaline bicarbonate ions for dissolution in the ocean), Direct Air Capture (DAC, via removal of CO2 from  power plant exhaust through dissolution in alkaline sodium hydroxide solution),  ocean fertilization (to promote CO2 sequestration as algal cellulosic biomass) and Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS, that is  very expensive and yet to be applied on a big scale).  Because CO2 removal is so expensive the simplest solution is immediate cessation of  carbon fuel burning [31-34], noting that future generations will have to pay for this CO2 draw-down [35-39]. Of course it is not just the atmospheric  levels of the GHG CO2 that must be reduced. Methane (CH4) and nitrous oxide (N2O) are variously generated from agriculture and land use  and are  much more potent as GHGs than CO2.  The climate crisis demands cessation of meat eating and methanogenic animal husbandry  [10, 40-43].

  1. Negative population growth in the impoverished South must follow the present example of the rich North.

Even if per capita GHG pollution remained the same, increasing population would see GHG pollution increase.  Further, while low birth-rate  the rich North could live more modestly, the impoverished and high birth-rate South needs an increase in per capita income to enable circumstances in which birth rate can be reduced (high female literacy, infant survival and economic security [18]). UN Population Division projections show that this century  the population of rich Europe will fall  from 742 million (2018) to 653 million (2100) whereas the population of impoverished Africa will explode from 1,274 million (2018) to 4,468 million (2100) [44]. However in terms of relative carbon footprint the per capita  GDP (nominal) is $25,596 for Europe versus $1,753 for Africa (2016), this translating to a total GDP of $19.3 trillion for Europe and $2.2 trillion for Africa [45]. For carbon footprint equality the European population would need to decrease 10-fold or the African per capita income would have to increase 10-fold. However Professor Dabo Guan  (School of International Development, University of East Anglia, UK) (2016) has commented thus on inescapable limits to growth:  “For everyone in the world to have an American lifestyle, we would need seven planets, and three to live as Europeans” [46]. Clearly the European population is not declining fast enough and the African population is expanding impossibly.

Drastic decrease in population is required for cessation of the present appalling level of ecosystem destruction (ecocide) that is associated with catastrophic species loss (speciescide) and leading to omnicide and terracide.  If we take  world coral  as a “canary in the coal mine” then the 320 ppm CO2 at which coral reefs started to decline [30] was reached in 1965 [8], at which time the world’s population was 3.340 billion as compared to the present 7.5 billion [44]. One can therefore plausibly suggest that given the present carbon economy the world’s population needs to roughly halve for a safe and sustainable environment for all peoples and all species.

  1. Negative economic growth in the North and initial limited economic growth in the South.

As outlined above the impact of man on the Biosphere needs to be reduced by about 50% but most of the negative economic growth must happen in the North with  initial limited economic growth in the South to enable a decent life and the possibility of negative population growth that has prerequisites of modest economic security, female literacy, good primary health care and low infant mortality. The world’s GDP (nominal) is estimated at $88 trillion (2018)  [47] and with an eventual   halving of world population there would be a corresponding halving of world GDP (nominal) to a steady state of about $44 trillion.

Professor Anderson (Deputy Director of the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research, University of Manchester), together with Dr Alice Bows wrote an extremely important paper in 2008 describing 6-8% annual GHG emissions reductions needed for a 450 ppm CO2-equivalent (CO2-e) target (2008): “According to the analysis conducted in this paper, stabilizing at 450 ppmv [carbon dioxide equivalent = CO2-e, atmospheric concentration measured in parts per million by volume] requires, at least, global energy related emissions to peak by 2015, rapidly decline at 6-8% per year between 2020 and 2040, and for full decarbonization sometime soon after 2050 …Unless economic growth can be reconciled with unprecedented rates of decarbonization (in excess of 6% per year), it is difficult to envisage anything other than a planned economic recession being compatible with stabilization at or below 650 ppmv CO2-e … Ultimately, the latest scientific understanding of climate change allied with current emissions trends and a commitment to “limiting average global temperature increases to below 4oC above pre-industrial levels”, demands a radical reframing of both the climate change agenda, and the economic characterization of contemporary society” [48].

Unfortunately 10 years on in 2018 the atmospheric CO2 is increasing [8] as is energy sector oil use, gas use and (arguably)  coal use [15]. Further,  the “stabilizing” 450 ppm CO2-e proposed by Anderson and Bows in 2008 [48] has already been exceeded. Thus the 2014 IPCC Report  stated that “About 450 ppm CO2-e [is] likely to limit warming to 2°C above pre-industrial levels” [49] but according to Professor  Ron Prinn ( Professor of Atmospheric Science, Massachusetts Institute of Technology) an atmospheric 478 ppm CO2-e (i.e.  also taking GHGs other than CO2 into account) was already attained by 2013 [50]. Atmospheric CO2 continues to rise, having already reached 410 ppm CO2  [8], and atmospheric methane (CH4, from methanogenic livestock, land use, systemic natural gas leakage and Arctic tundra  melting ) and nitrous oxide (N2O, from oxidation of nitrogen fertilizers) are also increasing [14, 51]. Atmospheric CO2, CH4 and N2O levels are presently about 1.4, 2.5 and 1.2 times, respectively, of those in 1800 [51], noting that the relative Global Warming Potential per unit mass  for these GHGs on a 20-year time scale are 1, 86 and 268, respectively [52] and the present levels in 2018 are 410 ppm CO2, 1.85 ppm CH4 and 0.33 ppm N2O [51].

In view of the continuing GHG pollution one concludes that exceedance of +2C is now effectively unavoidable but we are obliged to do everything we can to make the future “less bad” for future generations.  As outlined below,  a substantial  effective degrowth in the North can be achieved by a North to South wealth transfer through application of a .substantial  annual wealth tax.

  1. Effective North degrowth through an annual wealth tax to assist the South.

Avoidable mortality (avoidable death, excess mortality, excess death, deaths that do not have to happen) can be defined as the difference between actual deaths in a country and deaths expected for a peaceful, decently-run country with the same demographics (i.e. similar birth rate and age distribution) [18]. For relatively high birth rate Developing World countries the baseline death rate is about 0.4% or  4 persons per 1,000 of population each year [18]. However for the Developing World (minus China) (2017-2018 population 4,886 million) the death rate is 7.1 deaths per 1,000 of population per year (2017-2018) [44] , this yielding an avoidable death rate of 7.1 – 4.0 = 3.1 avoidable deaths per 1,000 of population per year,  and 3.1 avoidable deaths per 1,000 of population per year x 4,885,541  thousand persons = 15.1 million avoidable deaths annually.

The annual avoidable deaths as a percentage of population is about is about 0.0% for Overseas European countries (the US, Canada, Australia,  New Zealand, and Apartheid Israel), 0.01% (East Asia), 0.03% (Latin America and the Caribbean), 0.05%  (Western Europe), 0.25% (Arab North Africa and Middle East), 0.26% (South East Asia), 0.26% (Turkey, Iran and Central Asia),  0.31% (Eastern Europe), 0.38% (South Asia), 0.39% (the Pacific),   and 0.97% (non-Arab Africa) (2003 data,  [18]).

Notably, annual avoidable deaths as a percentage of population rate is 0.0% for the US, Cuba and China  [18] but these countries presently have annual per capita incomes  (annual GDP per capita) of $57,808, $7,815 and $8,126, respectively (UN data, 2016, [45]),  and under-5 infant mortality  (under-5 infant deaths per 1,000 live births) of 6, 6 and 12, respectively (2017-2018, [44]).

It is glaringly obvious that zero avoidable mortality (as defined above) and extremely low infant mortality  is possible in countries such as Cuba and China with annual per capita incomes about 7 times lower than that of the US provided the countries  have good governance, high female literacy,  good primary health care and peace [18]. Accordingly, it is useful to calculate how much it would cost in wealth transfer from the rich to the poor in order to bring all countries  up to a Cuba level of annual per capita income and hence with rational governance abolish the Global Avoidable Mortality Holocaust that kills 15 million people each year through deadly deprivation [18].

I published such a calculation  in 2014 using data made available on  Wikipedia, specifically “List of countries by GDP (nominal) per capita” (US dollars, UN data, 2012) [45] and   “List of countries by population” (2013-2014) [53]. For each country I simply subtracted the country’s per capita from the Cuban per capita ($6,301) and multiplied this difference by the country’s population. The result was a wealth tax in 2014  of  $16, 016.5 billion or about $16 trillion [54] and about 4% of the  total global wealth of  $367 trillion as estimated by  Thomas Piketty (page 438 [55]).

Since the Cuban GDP had increased from $6,301 (2012) to $7,815 (2016) we could estimate that the cost of lifting all the world to a Cuban per capita GDP would have proportionally increased to about $16,016 x $7,815 /  $6,301 = $19,864 billion or about $20 trillion in 2016 and $25 trillion in 2020. Thus a $25 trillion annual donation from the North to the South to abolish Third World avoidable mortality would in effect be an annual  North economic degrowth in terms of wealth transfer. Money means power and it is not going to happen under the present world order but the present calculation at least establishes a boundary condition for future action.

  1. Universal Basic Income and economic de-growth in rich countries through abolition of damaging and deadly economic pursuits.

Annual avoidable mortality from deprivation is effectively zero in  rich countries such as those of the Anglosphere. However such rich countries suffer a major burden of  preventable deaths through “life-style choices” (e.g. smoking, drinking, obesity, air pollution, cars) and inadequate government action (e.g. adverse hospital events, inadequate mental health services,  inadequate  preventive medicine and lack of medical insurance). Thus in the US  each year about 1.7 million Americans die preventably each year from “life-style” or “governance” causes, the breakdown (with some overlaps) including (1)  443,000 from smoking-related causes, (2)  440,000 from adverse events in hospitals, (3) 300,000 from obesity-related causes, (4) 200,000 from air pollution (e.g. from coal burning, vehicle exhaust, carbon burning in general), (5) 75,000 from alcohol-related causes, (6) 45,000 from lack of medical insurance, (7) 38,000 US drug-related deaths annually, this including  21,000 US opiate drug-related deaths annually from US restoration and protection of the Taliban-destroyed Afghan opium industry), (8) 33,000 from motor vehicle accidents, (9) 31,000 gun-related deaths,  (10) 30,000 suicides with 7,000 being US veterans, (11) 21,000 preventable under-5 year old infant deaths, and (12) 15,000 violent homicides with an average of only 4 due to jihadi psychopaths [56, 57]. Now the risk avoidance-based Value of a Statistical Life is about $7 million for Americans [58]  and hence the cost of these 1.7 million preventable American deaths is $11.9 trillion or 58% of  the US GDP (nominal, 2018) of  $20.4 trillion [47].

Annual preventable  deaths from “life-style” or  “governance” causes  in Australia, Canada, the UK and  the US  total , 85,000, 101,000, 150,000 and 1.7 million, respectively  [56-66]. Such preventable deaths in  Australia, Canada, UK  and the US have thus totalled 1.4 million, 1.7 million, 2.6 million, and 29 million, respectively, since the US Government’s false flag 9/11 atrocity in 2001 that killed about 3,000 people [67]. Pollutants from carbon fuel burning kill 7 million people annually (WHO) and have killed 119 million people thus since 9-11 [19]. There have been 3.4 million US air pollution deaths versus about 70 American deaths in the US from  jihadi terrorism deaths since 9-11 [19, 68]. Clearly these preventable deaths in these rich countries could have been avoided by prohibition (e.g. of alcohol, tobacco, illicit drugs, guns, air pollution) and better social organization in relation to medical care access, mental health services, preventive medicine, and public education. Accordingly there is considerable scope for economic degrowth by abolishing damaging and deadly industries  ranging  from polluting enterprises (fossil fuels, cars, methanogenic livestock production, deforestation), to guns , licit drugs and illicit drugs.

These ignored and hidden costs of economic activity well illustrate Polya’s 3 Laws of Economics that  mirror the 3 Laws of Thermodynamics and are (1) Price minus COP (Cost of Production) equals profit (p); (2) Deception about COP strives to a maximum; and (3) No work, price or profit on a dead planet. These fundamental laws help  expose the failure of neoliberal capitalism in relation to wealth inequality, massive tax evasion by multinational corporations, and  horrendous avoidable deaths from poverty and pollution culminating in general ecocide, speciescide, climate genocide, omnicide and terracide [69].  Ignoring  the huge human premature mortality  associated with much economic activity means grossly under-estimating the actual Cost of Production (COP) and the ultimate profit (p) contributing to GDP.

In the Anglosphere countries the neoliberal politicians woo the voters with the mantra of “jobs and growth” that ignores  the deadly downsides of some jobs and the environmental  impact of “growth”. Eliminating deadly and damaging “jobs” provides considerable scope for a circa 50% economic degrowth to minimize preventable deaths as well as supporting environmental  sustainability. Conversely there are many extremely valuable jobs that are presently poorly paid or unpaid and not considered part of the “economy” as cogently analysed by Marilyn Waring [70, 71]. Further, negative economic growth is required to save what is left of wild nature that has a substantial economic value  estimated at about $35 trillion annually (2002) or about half of the world’s annual GDP [72]. Andrew Balmford and colleagues (2002): “Loss and degradation of remaining natural habitats has continued largely unabated. However, evidence has been accumulating that such systems generate marked economic benefits, which the available data suggest exceed those obtained from continued habitat conversion. We estimate that the overall benefit:cost ratio of an effective global program for the conservation of remaining wild nature is at least 100:1” [72].

Abolition of a huge number of damaging or unnecessary jobs  (perhaps about 50% of the present economy in the North) would make a massive contribution to requisite North degrowth.  This adumbrated contraction leads to consideration of Artificial Intelligence (AI), the future of work, work participation, government job guarantee, and Universal Basic Income.  Fundamental to such considerations is how society is viewed. Neoliberalism demands maximal freedom  for smart and advantaged individuals to exploit natural and human resources for private profit (and hence power), with an asserted “trickle down” benefit to the rest of society.  In contrast, social humanism (socialism, democratic socialism, eco-socialism, the welfare state)  seeks to sustainably maximize human happiness, dignity and opportunity for everyone through evolving intra-national and international social contracts. The worsening climate crisis and the existential threat to Humanity and the Biosphere means that neoliberalism has failed and must be replaced by sustainable social humanist models that provide a basic decent life for everyone in cooperative societies while also allowing for ambition and excellence [73, 74].

Rich, negative population growth, neoliberal Western societies are associated with an increasingly aged population,  an ultimately  declining participation rate (presently 65.7% in Australia) [75], and increasing part-time work for the young who are disempowered relative to the politically dominant One Percenters (who globally possess 50% of the wealth).  Cooperative and humane societies  with the social security of basic housing, universal health care, free education, government job guarantee and a Universal Basic Income  [76-78] are conceivable in the context of  substantial (circa 50%) economic degrowth. Happiness, dignity and opportunity would flow from constructive social involvement in activities from caring, community, sport, arts  and altruism to scholarly, professional and technical excellence for the betterment of society. Substantial economic degrowth in cooperative societies  based on  “need not greed” can and must happen for environmental  sustainability and avoidance of terracide [79].

Final comments

In summary, variously  as a result of overpopulation,  excessive resource exploitation and huge greenhouse gas (GHG) pollution the world is already experiencing massive biodiversity loss and worsening calamities impacting Humanity (drought, forest fires, sea level rise, warming-exacerbated storms and storm surges). Unfortunately a catastrophic plus 2C temperature rise is now effectively unavoidable but we are obliged to do everything we can to make the future “less bad” for future generations. Crucial to this salvaging enterprise will be negative carbon pollution (atmospheric CO2 draw-down to about 300 ppm CO2), negative population growth by about 50% (population decline that is already beginning in the rich North but crucial for the impoverished but high birth-rate South), and negative economic growth (circa 50% degrowth) based on  “need not greed” eco-socialism to halt and reverse the presently  worsening climate and Biosphere disaster. Young people in particular can save their future by (a) informing everyone they can, and (b) re-democratizing and saving their world through demanding and achieving ecological sustainability with application of substantial  wealth taxes on the presently politically dominant neoliberal One Percenters.

  Read How Much Negative Carbon Emissions, Negative Population Growth & Negative Economic Growth Is Needed To Save Planet?
  November 14, 2018
'Knife fighter' Melania Trump grabs more power as White House infighting nears 'Civil War-like levels': report.
by Brad Reed, AlterNet.

First Lady Melania Trump has been throwing her weight around more when it comes to personnel decisions at the Trump White House, as she has now publicly called for the firing of top national security official Mira Ricardel after the two reportedly fought over plane seating last month.

The Daily Beast reports that Melania's decision to weigh in on whether to fire officials is a direct reflection of the vacuum left by chief of staff John Kelly, who has largely lost whatever control he once had over the chaotic White House.

"She can be a knife fighter," one source described as "close" to Melania tells the Daily Beast.

The publication reports that Melania's big power grab comes at a time when "infighting among White House staff nearing Civil War-like levels," thus reducing Kelly to being a mere "bystander" instead of a manager.

A former Trump administration official, however, tells the Daily Beast that it wouldn't be totally fair to blame Kelly for the chaos, since there is no one who can actually maintain order within the Trump White House.

"The people who think they can go in and control things are nuts,” the official explained. "There was this whole narrative that Kelly was supposed to be ‘the guy.’ Yeah, for like an hour."

  Read Knife fighter Melania Trump grabs more power as White House infighting nears 'Civil War-like levels': report
 November 3, 2018

by Guy Crequie

Guy Crequie Email: guy.crequie@wanadoo.fr
Guy CREQUIE Global file
Ecrivain français   à finalité philosophique. Blog http://guycrequie.blogspot.com

Le n° spécial du 70e anniversaire de « Citoyens du monde » de novembre 2018 nous livre quelques données décisives pour notre survie !
Il a fallu attendre 2009 pour qu’un lien soit officiellement établi entre le réchauffement climatique et le réchauffement des océans ;
la conscience universelle va plus lentement que l’utilisation des nouvelles technologies au service prioritaire de l’économie et des politiciens qui pour leur avenir électoral privilégient le court terme.

Des ONG internationales et leurs animateurs de Léo SEMASHKO à  Maria CRISTINA AZCONA, en passant par Daisaku IKEDA, Germain DUFOUR, Ernesto KAHAN, Delasnieve DASPET, Joseph BEROLO, Johan GALTUNG, Ada AHARONI, Marie ROBERT et tant d’autres tout aussi mobilisés au sein de GHA ,GPS, et dans bien d’autres structures qui proposent, alertent, ont une vision humaniste scientifique, appellent au changement intérieur .Certains ont reçu des distinctions prestigieuses comme le prix  Nobel.
Mais il est des anonymes tout aussi méritants qui ne reçoivent aucune attention de la part des élites dirigeantes.

Malgré tout : tant que les peuples ne feront pas directement pression sur leurs gouvernements pour notre survie, les avancées seront millimétriques, ceci, pendant que les désordres climatiques se dévoilent au stade des dégradations enregistrées à un rythme accru.
Il faut cette pression conjointe car tant que les législations ne seront pas harmonisées : elles seront insuffisamment efficaces !

480 milliards = c’est le nombre de bouteilles en plastique produites chaque année dans le monde. Chaque seconde (ce qui est ahurissant), plus de 400 kilos de plastic sont déversées dans les mers. A ce jour, 5000 milliards  de microparticules  de plastique polluent l’océan mondial en surface mais également dans les eaux profondes.
Des solutions sont possibles pour nettoyer les océans comme ces aspirateurs géants qui traiteront Environ 1% des déchets tout en mobilisant des moyens technologiques eux-mêmes très polluants.

Au rythme actuel ; sans une révolution des esprits et leur  passage à l’acte, il y aura plus de plastique que de poissons dans les mers et océans en 2050.
Nous avons confondu par suffisance instruction et les applications de la science et des technologies avec la sagesse humaine que dans leur domaine respectif :la philosophie et les diverses pensées religieuses n’ont cessé de nous interpeller sur le sens de l’existence et sur la nécessaire harmonie entre les humains, car durant trop longtemps cependant, ce sont les bouddhistes et les taoïstes qui faisaient la relation avec le monde animal et les espèces minérales et végétales.

2000 tonnes, c’est le volume de mercure que les activités humaines rejettent chaque année dans la nature. Extrêmement toxique, son inconvénient majeur est celui de ne pas se dégrader. On retrouve directement du mercure dans la chaine alimentaire à l’exemple du thon. Or, malgré ce constat alarmant un grand nombre d’Etats nation refuse toujours de ratifier la convention de Minamata.

10 années ont suffi pour que les activités humaines modifient la composition chimique des océans…………..On prévoit ainsi que les eaux de surface les plus froides deviendront corrosives particulièrement pour les coquilles de certains mollusques.
Bien  que le phénomène soit identifié, les récifs coralliens continuent de subir les effets de cette dégradation.

Devrai-je : citoyen universel ordinaire, me résoudre  écrire un 33e ouvrage ? A ce jour , j’ai connu chars, expulsions, balles, surveillances de ma personne, mais les Institutions de mon pays du département au gouvernement = ont superbement ignoré mon  engagement. Mieux : sur la centaine de reconnaissances et distinctions en ma possession = seules 6  proviennent d’organismes de mon pays.

Il y aurait 15.000 plateformes de forage de par le monde ;or le forage offshore reste peu réglementé. Les accidents se multiplient. Pour  respecter la hausse de température espérée par la COP 21,il faudrait absolument renoncer à exploiter les zones encore vierges !
Or, c’est tout l’inverse qui se produit déforestation, forage, etc.

Chaque année, 1% du littoral est détruit. le tourisme de masse ainsi que l’usage exacerbé des produits phytosanitaires accentuent la détérioration massive du littoral. Les populations se rapprochent dangereusement du littoral.
Or, de grands pays pratiquent par égoïsme national la fuite en avant prétextant défendre l’économie et les condition sociales du pays  en question, et en vérité, ils accentuent le désordre climatique.

7 espèces sur 10 c’est le nombre de celles au bord de l’effondrement du fait de la pêche intensive. Les navires usines se dirigent vers les eaux profondes ceci, alors que de plus en plus les poissons vivent dans les zones de petite profondeur.
Je suis mobilisé depuis 1968, et j’avoue fatigué, être usé face à tant d’indifférence coupable.

Avec un volume  de 80 millions de tonnes par an  l’aquaculture a dépassé la pêche en 2018 ! Lorsque les fermes d’élevage ont détruit l’écosystème du littoral, elles sont déplacées dans des endroits vierges.
Malgré les déclarations d’intention, la  hausse de la température probable à la fin du XXI e siècle sera de 4,8¨° En 2015, et avant TRUMP, John KERRY a  refusé un texte juridiquement contraignant ce qui amputa sérieusement les perspectives issues de la COP 21.

J’arrête cette contribution même en colère, ceci, car l’engagement citoyen si prôné dans les faits = dérange les Institutions. Malheureusement, la situation des lanceurs d’alerte (et leurs tracas), confirme mon propos.

Copyright Guy CREQUIE
Poète, écrivain et chanteur
blog http://guycrequie.blogspot.com
Je ne fais plus mention de mes titres, ce n’est pas mon ego l’objectif, mais l’avenir de notre planète.


¡El n° especial del 70e aniversario de “Ciudadanos del mundo” de noviembre de 2018 nos suministra algunos datos decisivos para nuestra supervivencia!
Fue necesario esperar 2009 para que un vínculo esté establecido oficialmente entre el recalentamiento climático y el recalentamiento de los océanos;
la conciencia universal va más lentamente que la utilización de las nuevas tecnologías al servicio prioritario de economía y políticos que para su futuro electoral favorecen el corto término.

ONG internacionales y sus animadores de Léo SEMASHKO a Maria CRISTINA AZCONA, al pasar por Daisaku IKEDA, Germano DUFOUR, Ernesto KAHAN, Delasnieve DASPET, José BEROLO, Johan GALTUNG, ADA AHARONI, Marie ROBERT y tanto de otros igualmente movilizados en GHA, GPS, y en bien otras estructuras que proponen, alertan, tienen una visión humanista científica, llaman al cambio interior.Algunos recibieron distinciones prestigiosas como el Premio Nobel.
Pero ha anónimos igualmente merecedores que no reciben ninguna atención por parte de las élites dirigentes.

A pesar de todo: mientras el pueblo no ejercerá directamente presión sobre sus Gobiernos para nuestra supervivencia, las proyecciones serán milimétricas, esto, mientras que los desórdenes climáticos se revelan en la fase de degradaciones registradas a un mayor ritmo.
Es necesario esta presión conjunta ya que mientras las legislaciones no se armonizarán: ¡serán insuficientemente eficaces!

480 mil millones = es el número de botellas en plástico producidas cada año en el mundo. Cada segundo (lo que es que confunde), más de se vierten 400 kilos de plástico en los mares. Hasta ahora, 5000 mil millones de micropartículas de plástico contaminan el océano mundial en superficie pero también en las aguas profundas.
Soluciones son posibles para limpiar los océanos como estos aspiradores gigantes ellos mismos que tratarán alrededor un 1% de los residuos movilizando al mismo tiempo medios tecnológicos muy contaminantes.

Al ritmo actual; sin una revolución de los espíritus y su paso al acto, habrá más plástico que de pescados en los mares y océanos en 2050.
Confundimos por suficiencia instrucción y las aplicaciones de la ciencia y las tecnologías con la sabiduría humana que en su ámbito respectivo:filosofía y los distintos pensamientos religiosos no dejaron de desafiarnos sobre el sentido de la existencia y sobre la necesaria armonía entre los humanos, ya que durante demasiado mucho tiempo sin embargo, son los budistas y los taoïstes que hacían la relación con el mundo animal y las especies mineral y vegetales.

2000 toneladas, es el volumen de mercurio que las actividades humanas rechazan cada año en la naturaleza. Extremadamente tóxico, su inconveniente principal es el no deteriorarse. Se encuentra directamente mercurio en la cadena alimentaria al ejemplo del bonito. Ahora bien, a pesar de esta acta alarmando un gran número de Estados nación se niega siempre a ratificar el convenio de Minamata.

10 años han bastado para que las actividades humanas modifiquen la composición química de los océanos .............. él prevean así que las aguas de superficie más frías se volverán corrosivas especialmente para las cáscaras de algunos moluscos.
Aunque el fenómeno esté definido, los arrecifes coralinos siguen sufriendo los efectos de esta degradación.

Deberá: ¿ciudadano universal ordinario, solucionarme escribir un 33e obra? Hasta ahora, conocí los tanques, expulsiones, bolas, vigilancias de mi persona, pero las Instituciones de mi país del departamento al Gobierno = ignoraron soberbiamente mi compromiso. Mejor: sobre el centenar de reconocimientos y distinciones en mi posesión = sólo 6 proceden de organismos de mi país.

Habría 15.000 plataformas de perforación en el mundo;ahora bien la perforación extraterritorial permanece poco regulada. Los accidentes se multiplican. ¡Para respetar la subida de temperatura esperada por el COP 21, sería necesario renunciar absolutamente explotar las zonas aún vírgenes!
Ahora bien, es todo el revés que se produce deforestación, perforación, etc

Cada año, se destruyen un 1% del litoral. el turismo de masa así como el uso exacerbado de los productos fitosanitarios acentúan el deterioro masivo del litoral. Las poblaciones se acercan peligrosamente del litoral.
Ahora bien, grandes países practican por egoísmo nacional la fuga a continuación que pretexta defender la economía y la condición social del país en cuestión, y en verdad, ellos acentúan el desorden climático.

7 de cada 10 especies es el número de las a bordo del hundimiento a causa de la pesca intensiva. Los buques factoría se dirigen hacia las aguas profundas esto, mientras que cada vez más los pescados viven en las zonas de pequeña profundidad.
Se me moviliza desde 1968, y reconozco cansado, ser usado ante tanto indiferencia culpable.

¡Con un volumen de 80 millones de toneladas al año la acuicultura superó la pesca en 2018! Cuando las granjas destruyen el ecosistema del litoral, se desplazan en lugares vírgenes.
A pesar de las declaraciones de intención, la subida de la temperatura probable al final de los XXI e siglo será de 4,8¨° En 2015, y antes del TRUMP, John Kerry se negó un texto jurídicamente vinculante lo que cortó seriamente las perspectivas resultantes del COP 21.

Decido esta contribución propia en cólera, esto, ya que el compromiso ciudadano así predicado en los hechos = molesta a las Instituciones. Desgraciadamente, la situación de los lanzadores de alerta (y sus preocupaciones), confirma mi observación.

Copyright Guy CREQUIE
Poeta, escritor y cantante
blog http://guycrequie.blogspot.com

No hago ya mención de mis títulos, no es mi ego el objetivo, pero el futuro de nuestro planeta.

Transmitted by Guy CREQUIE

  October 22, 2018
by John Scales Avery,

The superficiality of today’s television

Social critic Neil Postman contrasted the futures predicted in Nineteen Eighty- Four and Brave New World in the foreword of his 1985 book “Amusing Ourselves to Death”. He wrote:

“What Orwell feared were those who would ban books. What Huxley feared was that there would be no reason to ban a book, for there would be no one who wanted to read one. Orwell feared those who would deprive us of information. Huxley feared those who would give us so much that we would be reduced to passivity and egotism. Orwell feared that the truth would be concealed from us. Huxley feared the truth would be drowned in a sea of irrelevance.”

Niel Postman’s book, “Amusing Ourselves To Death; or Public Discourse in an Age of Show Business” (1985), had its origins at the Frankfurt Book Fair, where Postman was invited to join a panel discussing George Orwell’s “Nineteen Eighty-Four”. Postman said that our present situation was better predicted by Huxley’s “Brave New World”. Today, he maintained it is not fear that bars us from truth. Instead, truth is drowned in distractions and the pursuit of pleasure, by the public’s addiction to amusement.

Postman sees television as the modern equivalent of Huxley’s pleasure-inducing drug, soma, and he maintains that that television, as a medium, is intrinsically superficial and unable to discuss serious issues. Looking at television as it is today, one must agree with him.

The wealth and power of the establishment

The media are a battleground where reformers struggle for attention, but are defeated with great regularity by the wealth and power of the establishment. This is a tragedy because today there is an urgent need to make public opinion aware of the serious problems facing civilization, and the steps that are needed to solve these problems. The mass media could potentially be a great force for public education, but in general their role is not only unhelpful - it is often negative. War and conflict are blatantly advertised by television and newspapers.

Newspapers and war

There is a true story about the powerful newspaper owner William Randolph Hearst that illustrates the relationship between the mass media and the institution of war: When an explosion sank the American warship USS Maine in the harbor of Havana, Hearst anticipated (and desired) that the incident would lead to war between the United States and Spain. He therefore sent his best illustrator, Fredrick Remington, to Havana to produce drawings of the scene. After a few days in Havana, Remington cabled to Hearst, “All’s quiet here. There will be no war.” Hearst cabled back, “You supply the pictures. I’ll supply the war.” Hearst was true to his words. His newspapers inflamed American public opinion to such an extent that the Spanish-American War became inevitable. During the course of the war, Hearst sold many newspapers, and Remington many drawings. From this story one might almost conclude that newspapers thrive on war, while war thrives on newspapers.

Before the advent of widely-read newspapers, European wars tended to be fought by mercenary soldiers, recruited from the lowest ranks of society, and motivated by financial considerations. The emotions of the population were not aroused by such limited and decorous wars. However, the French Revolution and the power of newspapers changed this situation, and war became a total phenomenon that involved emotions. The media were able to mobilize on a huge scale the communal defense mechanism that Konrad Lorenz called “militant enthusiasm” - self-sacrifice for the defense of the tribe. It did not escape the notice of politicians that control of the media is the key to political power in the modern world. For example, Hitler was extremely conscious of the force of propaganda, and it became one of his favorite instruments for exerting power.

With the advent of radio and television, the influence of the mass media became still greater. Today, state-controlled or money-controlled newspapers, radio and television are widely used by the power elite to manipulate public opinion. This is true in most countries of the world, even in those that pride themselves on allowing freedom of speech. For example, during the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003, the official version of events was broadcast by CNN, and criticism of the invasion was almost absent from their transmissions.

The mass media and our present crisis

Today we are faced with the task of creating a new global ethic in which loyalty to family, religion and nation will be supplemented by a higher loyalty to humanity as a whole. In case of conflicts, loyalty to humanity as a whole must take precedence. In addition, our present culture of violence must be replaced by a culture of peace. To achieve these essential goals, we urgently need the cooperation of the mass media.

The predicament of humanity today has been called “a race between education and catastrophe”: Human emotions have not changed much during the last 40,000 years. Human nature still contains an element of tribalism to which nationalistic politicians successfully appeal. The completely sovereign nation-state is still the basis of our global political system. The danger in this situation is due to the fact that modern science has given the human race incredibly destructive weapons. Because of these weapons, the tribal tendencies in human nature and the politically fragmented structure of our world have both become dangerous anachronisms.

After the tragedies of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Albert Einstein said, “The unleashed power of the atom has changed everything except our way of thinking, and thus we drift towards unparalleled catastrophes.” We have to learn to think in a new way. Will we learn this in time to prevent disaster? When we consider the almost miraculous power of our modern electronic media, we can be optimistic. Cannot our marvelous global communication network be used to change anachronistic ways of thought and anachronistic social and political institutions in time, so that the system will not self-destruct as science and technology revolutionize our world? If they were properly used, our instantaneous global communications could give us hope.

The success of our species is built on cultural evolution, the central element of which is cooperation. Thus human nature has two sides, tribal emotions are present, but they are balanced by the human genius for cooperation. The case of Scandinavia - once war-torn, now cooperative – shows that education is able to bring out either the kind and cooperative side of human nature, or the xenophobic and violent side. Which of these shall it be? It is up to our educational systems to decide, and the mass media are an extremely important part of education. Hence the great responsibility that is now in the hands of the media.

How do the mass media fulfill this life-or-death responsibility? Do they give us insight? No, they give us pop music. Do they give us an understanding of the sweep of evolution and history? No, they give us sport. Do they give us an understanding of need for strengthening the United Nations, and the ways that it could be strengthened? No, they give us sit-coms and soap operas. Do they give us unbiased news? No, they give us news that has been edited to conform with the interests of the military-industrial complex and other powerful lobbys. Do they present us with the need for a just system of international law that acts on individuals? On the whole, the subject is neglected. Do they tell of of the essentially genocidal nature of nuclear weapons, and the urgent need for their complete abolition? No, they give us programs about gardening and making food.

A consumer who subscribes to the “package” of broadcasts sold by a cable company can often search through all 100 or so channels without finding a single program that offers insight into the various problems that are facing the world today. What the viewer finds instead is a mixture of pro-establishment propaganda and entertainment. Meanwhile the neglected global problems are becoming progressively more severe. In general, the mass media behave as though their role is to prevent the peoples of the world from joining hands and working to change the world and to save it from thermonuclear and environmental catastrophes. The television viewer sits slumped in a chair, passive, isolated, disempowered and stupefied. The future of the world hangs in the balance, the fate of children and grandchildren hang in the balance, but the television viewer feels no impulse to work actively to change the world or to save it. The Roman emperors gave their people bread and circuses to numb them into political inactivity. The modern mass media seem to be playing a similar role.

Our duty to future generations

The future of human civilization is endangered both by the threat of themonuclear war and by the threat of catastrophic climate change. It is not only humans that are threatened, but also the other organisms with which we share the gift of life. We must also consider the threat of a global famine of extremely large proportions, when the end of the fossil fuel era, combined with the effects of climate change, reduce our ability to support a growing global population.

We live at a critical moment of history. Our duty to future generations is clear: We must achieve a steady-state economic system. We must restore democracy in our own countries when it has been replaced by oligarchy. We must decrease economic inequality both between nations and within nations. We must break the power of corporate greed. We must leave fossil fuels in the ground. We must stabilize and ultimately reduce the global population. We must eliminate the institution of war; and we must develop new ethics to match our advanced technology, ethics in which narrow selfishness, short-sightedness and nationalism will be replaced by loyalty to humanity as a whole, combined with respect for nature.

Inaction is not an option. We have to act with courage and dedication, even if the odds are against success, because the stakes are so high.

The mass media could mobilize us to action, but they have failed in their duty.

Our educational systems could also wake us up and make us act, but they too has failed us. The battle to save the earth from human greed and folly has to be fought in the alternative media.

The alternative media, and all who work with them deserve both our gratitude and our financial support. They alone, can correct the distorted and incomplete picture of the world that we obtain from the mass media. They alone can show us the path to a future in which our children, grandchildren, and all future generations can survive.

A book discussing the importance of alternative media can be freely downloaded and circulated from this address:


More freely downloadable books and articles on other global problems can be found on the following link:


  November 4, 2018
APHORISMES pour le centième anniversaire de l'Armistice 1918
Martine GILHARD, http://millenartsdefis.free.fr

Armistice 1918 : Cessez-le-feu en vue d’un avenir de paix !

Cent ans qu’un armistice a fait croire à la paix du monde et pourtant, la 2ème guerre mondiale a eu lieu et toutes les autres guerres ici ou là : inventons la paix de l’harmonie très vite pour un monde meilleur !

Cent ans qu’un armistice fut signé : que l’armistice planétaire soit signé et vécu dans le désarmement global et la paix de l’harmonie !

« Cessez-le-feu !», avions-nous dit en ce 11 novembre 1918 comme nous pouvons le dire inlassablement !

Dix-huit millions six cent mille morts, invalides et mutilés en quatre ans de guerre féroce, il y a cent ans : et combien depuis ?

Sang versé pour la liberté des peuples opprimés, envahis, convoités : à quand le partage fraternel pour toute l’humanité ?

Armistice 1918 : croire à un monde meilleur, malgré le sang versé, les pardons à donner ; reconstruire la vie : c’était, il y a cent ans !!!

Le « poilu » restera l’homme sacrifié pour l’avenir de l’homme : étrange histoire que la nôtre !

Le « poilu » des tranchées, martyr de la guerre 1914-1918 : hommage à lui et respect !

Le « poilu », vivante image de la guerre des tranchées, restera dans nos mémoires et dans la mémoire des générations futures !

Les « poilus », nos pères, nos grands-pères, nos frères… envoyés à la boucherie immonde de la guerre, en sacrifice humain des intérêts économiques et sous l’ordre des gouvernements impliqués.

Le « poilu », petit soldat valeureux, comme tout soldat ici-bas !

Etre soldat, est-ce le bonheur à envisager pour nos enfants, nos jeunes ?

La violence de la guerre des tranchées comme de toute guerre ou terrorisme… est un abaissement de l’être humain qui ne le grandit en rien.

Composés le 4 novembre 2018 à AUBENAS (07), Centre-Ville, France,

  Read APHORISMES pour le centième anniversaire de l'Armistice 1918
  October 28, 2018
HumanRights, billionnaires and biodiversity
by Mazin Qumsiyeh,

A bedouin in cyberspace, a villager at home
Professor, Founder, and (volunteer) Director
Palestine Museum of Natural History
Palestine Institute of Biodiversity and Sustainability
Bethlehem University
Occupied Palestine
facebook pages
Personal https://www.facebook.com/mazin.qumsiyeh.9

One report just published shows that world billionaires’ wealth increased 20% last year (billionaire’s now have accumulated wealth of $9 trillion!). The rich continue to get richer and the poor poorer and politics follow moneyed interests and that is why Oman, Saudi Arabia and others are normalizing with apartheid regime of “Israel”. That is also why Trump is not shy to say “we have more money than anyone else” so we can get our way. Why the genocide of Yemen (by the Saud royals) and Gaza (by the Netanyahu criminal enterprise) continue? Directly related to treachery . Like King Leopold of Belgium in Congo or Christopher Columbus of Spain in America, history repeats itself because we learn not from it. That is also why Brazil is about to elect a right wing president why will destroy the Amazon rain-forest to please rich people. But the stakes are higher now. That is why Homo sapiens may go extinct…. UNLESS we the people get our act together quickly and RESIST. As Ghandi said "You must be the change you want to see in the world".

Every day here, we get inspired despite the sad news. Last week 8 Palestinian civilians were murdered by the occupation army, 20 children drown in the rain flooding near the Dead Sea, and 11 Jewish were killed by a racist in a synagogue in Pittsburgh. News cycles continue to be unfavorable to justice and human rights. Thousands of civilians are murdered in Yemen and hardly any Western Media pays attention (they even now dropped the high profile murder of Jamal Khashokji as they refocus on bombs sent to democrats etc).

But in this thinking globally, I am always working and thinking locally. We have eight staff members and dozens of volunteers at the museum (palestinenature.org). Each is an inspiring story to tell despite the obstacles. Everyone can tell you of how they suffered. Lands confiscated, arrests and torture of relatives, personal loss, and much more. Each can also tell you a story of growth and transcending challenges to achieve great things in a remarkable team spirit. The many internationals who visit us every week are inspired by what they see as achieved by this team.

Today and the next three days we are training six researchers and a few others in cultural heritage collection and preservation. We held three other workshops of training last week on monitoring and evaluation for projects, design of gardens, and on developing biodiversity conservation indicators.Yesterday we completed a desk study on a UNESCO world heritage site (Battir and Al-Makhror Valley) towards biodiversity conservation and sustainability (via ecoagriculture and ecotourism) and we did some nice field and lab research in the same valley producing great results (e.g. 12 recorded species of bats). We visited Khan Al-Ahmar in solidarity (a place of partial success so far in resisting ethnic cleansing).

We submitted two more manuscripts for publication. Contractors are making progress on our community garden and playground infrastructure. We finished the olive harvest successfully with nearly twice the production from the museum garden than last year. I could go on but my point is that the work on the ground is the many candles lighted instead of cursing the darkness. We invite you to join us.

James Buchaanan behind wealth concentration https://www.ineteconomics.org/perspectives/blog/meet-the-economist-behind-the-one-percents-stealth-takeover-of-america [The Chicago school of ideology graduated the likes of war criminal Henry Kissinger who supported Zionism and believe in "social darwinism"]

Human Rights Watch on repression in the Palestinian areas https://www.hrw.org/report/2018/10/23/two-authorities-one-way-zero-dissent/arbitrary-arrest-and-torture-under

An example of a good event that connects the dots. Rally in Ohio to stop US support for the wars on the people of Gaza and Yemen (linked) Read more at (and better yet do one in your city like this). Stop US military support for the regimes in “Israel” and “Saudi Arabia” https://www.facebook.com/events/1851763898237043/

Nora Lester Murad and Danna Masad produced a remarkable inspiring book: Rest in My Shade, a poem about roots. It is an 8"x8" hardback gift book (48 pages) about displacement featuring 18 prominent Palestinian artists living around the world. I'm attaching a press release for the book, which includes early praise from Naomi Shihab Nye and others. More information is available at the book's site: www.restinmyshade.com

Stay Human

  Read HumanRights, billionnaires and biodiversit
  October 21, 2018
Eating Locally and in Season: Is It Really Better for the Environment?
by Reynard Loki, Independent Media Institut.

Do you really need a strawberry in the dead of winter that’s been shipped thousands of miles to get to your local grocery store?

By Reynard Loki, Independent Media Institute

(October 21, 2018) — Humans have been moving food around the world for thousands of years. Toward the end of the second century BC, merchants traveled along the Silk Road, transporting noodles from Xi’an, grapes from Dayuan and nutmeg from the Moluccas Islands to eager buyers along its 4,000-mile network. While it’s possible to trace the evolution of food through that matrix of ancient caravan routes that linked China to the West, it’s hard to measure its environmental impact. It’s likely that, as with any road, wildlife corridors were disrupted. But greenhouse gas emissions were fairly low, consisting of the methane from the belches and farts of the horses, yaks and Bactrian camels, and the fires that humans burned along the way.

Fast-forward to the 20th-century US. Modern transportation and the rise of post-World War II suburban life changed the agricultural trade — and the way we ate. A key driver in this post-war food system has been globalization, which Kym Anderson, an economist at the University of Adelaide, argues “has been characterized by a rapid decline in the costs of cross-border trade in farm and other products, driven by declines in the costs of transporting bulky and perishable products long distances, the information and communication technology (ICT) revolution and major reductions in governmental distortions to agricultural trade.”

After the war, planned communities like the Levittowns in New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania — built by the real estate development company Levitt & Sons — sprang up across the country, welcoming returning veterans who were eligible for low-interest, government-backed mortgages. Meanwhile, the Federal Highway Act of 1956 authorized the construction of 40,000 miles of interstate highways to span the nation. Suburban life swelled. According to National Real Estate Investor:
During the 1950s, land values in the suburbs increased rapidly — in some prime suburban neighborhoods as much as 3,000 percent — while population swelled by 45 percent. Nearly two-thirds of all industrial construction during the 1950s was taking place outside cities; residential construction in the suburbs accounted for an astonishing 75 percent of total construction.

This new post-war suburban lifestyle was anchored by the supermarket. Stocked regularly by refrigerated trucks rolling into suburban towns, they made one-stop shopping just a short drive away. “After the war, the popularity of refrigerators and automobiles for nearly every household kept feeding the [supermarket] model, so much so that free parking became a necessity at every supermarket,” writes Ashley Ross in TIME Magazine, adding that the supermarket “was such a marvel that in 1957, during a visit with President Eisenhower, Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip visited a Maryland grocery store for 15 minutes to see what it was all about.”

Between 1948 and 1958, average sales per grocery store more than doubled, even after adjusting for food price inflation, according to the US Department of Agriculture. Families moved away from buying locally produced foods and toward processed foods made in centralized plants. During the 1950s, the marketing charges for processing and shipping farm food products hit a new record every single year. By 1961, the “farm-to-retail price spread” — the difference between the retail price paid by the consumer and the payment to the farmer for equivalent farm products by food marketers and processors — was up 34 percent from 1950. In other words, the market was steadily moving toward processed foods, and away from whole foods.

Today, some urban dwellers don’t even need to drive to go food shopping. If I want fresh strawberries in the middle of winter, I can simply walk down the block to my local grocer and buy some that were grown in California, Florida or Mexico. But if I want one that’s locally grown and in season, I’ll have to wait until June, when farmers at my local greenmarket start selling berries grown in New York state. Transporting fresh berries across the country or from Mexico is certainly more carbon-intensive than bringing them in from Long Island or upstate. So, I have to ask myself: Do I really need a strawberry in winter?

That’s the kind of question driving the local food movement. While more than half of the fresh fruit and nearly a third of fresh vegetables, wine and sugar purchased in the US is imported from other countries, people are increasingly seeking out food grown near their homes. According to market research firm Statista, 14 percent of Americans consumed locally grown food twice a week in 2013. But just a year later, that number grew to more than 20 percent. The increased demand has mirrored a surge in farmers’ markets, which have grown more than 370 percent in two decades, from 1,755 in 1994 to 8,268 in 2014.

Farmers’ markets are where people go to find food that is locally produced and in season. According to the US Department of Agriculture’s 2014 National Farmers Market Manager Survey, virtually all farmers’ markets (99 percent) sell locally grown fresh fruits or vegetables. And about two-thirds (66 percent) offer USDA-certified organic produce. The agency’s 2006 survey found that seasonal markets “remained the dominant type of farmers market in every part of the country … accounting for 88 percent of all farmers market in operation.”

Between 2008 and 2014, local food sales in the US swelled from $5 billion to $12 billion, according to Packaged Facts, a food industry research firm. They estimate that local foods will outpace the annual total sales of all foods and beverages, reaching almost $20 billion by 2019. Moreover, while “locavore” — one who eats locally produced food — is a relatively recent term (coined in 2005 and named “Word of the Year” by Oxford American Dictionary two years later), there was a time when all food was locally sourced — before Kobe beef from Japan or pineapples from Costa Rica were shipped to hungry eaters across the globe.

Today, advancements in technology and infrastructure have helped make exporting and importing foods and fresh produce big business. Improved roads and storage technologies have made shipping perishables easier, while international trade agreements have reduced tariffs on imports. In addition, low wages, lowered production costs due to increased scale of production and the monopoly of agribusiness has created cheap labor markets across the food system. Furthermore, in the US, many staple foods simply can’t be domestically produced on a scale to satisfy the standard American diet. According to the USDA, more than 95 percent of coffee, cocoa, spices, fish and shellfish products that Americans consume is imported. The growth of personal wealth has also played a key role in the growing demand. “As high US incomes drive consumption,” the agency notes, “the volume of US agricultural imports has increased by 4 percent annually, on average, since 2000.”

But how damaging to the environment is this modern convenience? All those trucks, trains, ships and planes are emitting carbon dioxide into the atmosphere while logging thousands of “food miles” — the distance a food product travels from the farmer or producer to the supermarket and finally, to your dinner table. Wouldn’t it be more eco-friendly to only buy food that is seasonal and locally grown?

When it comes to greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs), it might not make such a huge difference, particularly for certain foods. According the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality, “Differences in agricultural production and the realities of transportation impacts may favor sourcing from other regions from an environmental impact perspective.” The agency writes:
In general, the contribution of food transportation relative to the total greenhouse gas emissions of a given food product represents a small percentage of the carbon footprint for many foods. Fresh foods transported by air freight can have significant distribution-related carbon impacts, but on average, distribution of finished foods (from farm or factory to retail stores) contributes less than 4 percent, on average, of the greenhouse gas emissions of foods consumed in the US.

Even if you wanted to reduce your food miles, it’s difficult to know which kind of imported food is less GHG-intensive, since different transport options emit different levels of emissions and different foods travel different distances. “Shipping comes out with the lowest emissions, trains second, followed by road transport, and finally with fossil-fuel guzzling air freight having about 100 times the emissions per [metric ton kilometer] than shipping,” reports The Ecotarian, which notes that the “global warming potential” of each mode of transport can be calculated in kilograms of CO2 per metric ton of food, per kilometer.

But they also point out that ships usually travel longer distances than trucks, causing more emissions. Globally, more than 50 percent of freight shipped by air uses the bellies of passenger planes, a tactic that doesn’t put more planes in the sky (though it burns more fuel). Since, as the researchers point out, “it’s almost impossible to know which produce is shipped and which is flown,” they advise consumers that “buying local and seasonal is still the safest option.”

It’s important to note that for many people living in developing countries, buying locally and in season simply isn’t a realistic option. In fact, the dependence on staple agricultural imports like wheat, rice and corn could — if export bans were enacted by major producing regions — create a food crisis that, according to a 2016 study, “would put up to 200 million people below the poverty line at risk.” The study’s lead author, Christopher Bren d’Amour, cited one example: “If Thailand, the biggest exporter of rice worldwide, were to halt its exports, 136 million people from Mauritania to Nigeria would be affected.”

While the transportation of food does contribute to emissions, the production of that food is much more environmentally damaging and GHG-intensive. In their new book, Eat for the Planet: Saving the World One Bite at a Time, Nil Zacharias and Gene Stone point out that the majority of Earth’s arable land is now dedicated to livestock and their feed. “Currently, 260 million acres (and counting) of US forests have been clear-cut to create land used to produce livestock feed, and 80 percent of the deforestation in the Amazon rainforest is attributed to beef production,” they write. According to the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, “Cattle ranching is the largest driver of deforestation in every Amazon country, accounting for 80 percent of current deforestation rates.”

In Indonesia, the production of palm oil — the most widely consumed vegetable oil, found in everything from breads, chips, cookies, ice cream, chocolate, instant noodles, margarine and pizza dough (and numerous common non-edibles like soap, shampoo, detergent and lipstick) — is “directly linked to deforestation, responsible for the deaths of endangered orangutans and the displacement of communities,” said Kaytee Riek, campaigns director at the nonprofit advocacy group SumOfUs. In 2007, scientists from Wetlands International found that the draining and burning of peatland (a sponge-like type of wetland that stores massive amounts of carbon dioxide) to make room for palm oil plantations in Indonesia accounts for 8 percent of all worldwide annual emissions from burning fossil fuels.

So, while eating locally and in season would help reduce your food miles (and thereby your carbon footprint), the more effective dietary change is to reduce the consumption of foods that require the devastation of carbon-storing forests and wetlands — meat and products containing palm oil being two of the biggest culprits. A 2008 study conducted by researchers at Carnegie Mellon University found that by buying food locally, the average American could only reduce their greenhouse gas emissions a maximum of 4-5 percent. The researchers concluded that reducing your red meat intake “can be a more effective means of lowering an average household’s food-related climate footprint than ‘buying local.’”

Still, there are other reasons to eat locally besides reducing your carbon footprint and saving endangered orangutans. As the Ecotarian researchers note:
Eating locally has many more benefits than just the reduction in emissions, however. It’s really rewarding to get to know local growers and producers, to learn more about the process that brings produce to your table, and elevates eating to an altogether more wholesome experience. It supports small-scale farmers, who often use more diversified and sustainable farming practices. It keeps money in the local economy rather than dissipating it out into the pockets of, ahem, tax-dodging/exploitative multinationals.

In addition, produce that’s in season and locally grown usually means that the health benefits of those fruits and vegetables are still high, as they haven’t had time to lose their nutritional punch by sitting for days in refrigerated trucks or shipping containers traveling long distances. By contrast, foods that you buy out of season are usually picked before they have reached full flavor and optimum nutritional value, so that they can survive those long-distance trips. Plus, eating in season can help save you money, as you’ll be buying produce that’s at its peak supply, meaning that it’s less costly for producers and distributors, who can then pass along the savings to you.

But the health benefits of fresh, seasonal produce are accessible only to those who can access and afford them, which is not always the case. One issue is the lack of healthy food options in “food deserts” across the country, most of them in poor neighborhoods, where the only options are unhealthy, processed foods and industrial farm produce coated in pesticides. And produce sold at farmers’ markets can often be more expensive than the pesticide-covered fruits and vegetables that are shipped in from Mexico and Costa Rica, where farming operations can lower their prices simply because of their massive scale.

Low-income Americans enrolled in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) can use their monthly benefits to purchase food in farmers’ markets in all 50 states. In 2017, program participants spent more than $22.4 million at farmers’ markets. But this crucial benefit is at risk on two fronts. First, a dispute over a government technology contract may prevent SNAP participants from using their Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) cards to buy food at farmers’ markets. Second, the Trump administration has made a rule change that would deny green cards to immigrants who use food stamps, forcing families to choose between food and family.

Another, less pressing issue, impacts the middle class and wealthy: the danger of too many options. In a 2014 lecture at Bowdoin College, Matt Booker, an associate professor of history at North Carolina State University, asked the question, “Why did Americans stop eating locally?” Part of the problem, he says, is one of abundance, at least for those who can afford it: There’s simply “too much food, too much of a ‘muchness’ in our food supply.”

He said that big agriculture has imposed on Americans “a kind of hopelessness, an inevitability to the ecological collapse we associate with so many food systems and the economic power of these massive forces.” One way to undo that feeling of hopelessness is to simply stop buying foods produced by industrial farms and start supporting local, small-scale growers and family farms. In addition to supporting local economies and cultivating relationships with farmers who are growing food sustainably, those who are able to make a choice about where their food comes from can reduce their personal environmental footprints.

Perhaps you’re fortunate enough to afford a Mexican avocado (that may have ties to organized crime) whenever you crave avocado toast, or a burger made from beef produced on land that used to be Amazon rainforest, or chocolate containing palm oil from Indonesian plantations that were once the homes of orangutans, tigers, elephants and rhinos. But you have to ask yourself: Are these foods really worth it?

Food author Michael Pollan neatly summed up all he’d learned about food and health in seven words: “Eat food, not too much, mostly plants.” Adding “local” and “in season” to that prescription wouldn’t be a bad idea.

This article was produced by Earth | Food | Life, a project of the Independent Media Institute, and originally published by Truthout.

Reynard Loki is a senior writing fellow and the editor and chief correspondent for Earth | Food | Life, a project of the Independent Media Institute. He previously served as the environment, food and animal rights editor at AlterNet and as a reporter for Justmeans/3BL Media covering sustainability and corporate social responsibility. He was named one of FilterBuy’s “Top 50 Health & Environmental Journalists to Follow” in 2016. His work has been published by Truthout, Salon, BillMoyers.com, EcoWatch and Truthdig, among others.

Earth | Food | Life (EFL) explores the critical and often interconnected issues facing the climate/environment, food/agriculture and animal/nature rights, and champions action; specifically, how responsible citizens, voters and consumers can help put society on an ethical path of sustainability that respects the rights of all species who call this planet home. EFL emphasizes the idea that everything is connected, so every decision matters.

  Read Eating Locally and in Season: Is It Really Better for the Environment?
  November 6, 2018
Autocrats, Incorporated: Thoughts on Election Day 2018
by Tom Engelhardt, Tomgram: Engelhardt, Unquiet Flows The Don.

Autocrats, Incorporated
Thoughts on Election Day 2018
By Tom Engelhardt

Who could forget that moment?  The blue [red] wave -- long promised but also doubted -- had, however modestly [however massively], hit Washington and [the Democrats had just retaken Congress] [the Republicans had held Congress] [the Democrats had taken the House].  The media, Fox News and the usual right-wing websites aside, hailed the moment. [Fox News and the usual right-wing websites cheered the president on.] Donald Trump’s grip on America had finally been broken [reinforced].  Celebrations were widespread.  Congressional investigations, possibly even impeachment, were only months and a new Congress away [were now a faint memory], and it was then, of course, that the unexpected struck.  It was then that President Trump, citing national security concerns and a crisis on the U.S.-Mexico border, began the process whose end point we, of course, already know...

Okay, consider that the dystopian me speaking.  We don’t, of course, really know how our story yet ends, not faintly.  While I was writing this piece, I didn’t even know how Tuesday’s vote would turn out, though by the time you read it, you may.  Given the experience of election 2016, it would take a brave [foolish] soul to make a prediction this time around.

I certainly learned a lesson that November.  During the previous months of campaigning that election season, I never wrote a piece at TomDispatch that didn’t leave open the possibility of Donald Trump winning the presidency.  In the couple of weeks before that fateful November day, however, I got hooked on the polling results and on Nate Silver’s FiveThirtyEight website and became convinced that Hillary Clinton was a shoo-in.

Of course, I was in good company.  As Michael Wolff would later report in his bestselling book Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House, on election eve, few in the Trump campaign, including the candidate himself, expected to win.  Most of them, again including The Donald, were already trying to parlay what they assumed was an assured loss into their next jobs or activities, including in the candidate’s case a possible “Trump network.”

So when, sometime after midnight, reality finally began to sink in -- fittingly enough, I had a 103-degree fever and was considering heading for an emergency room -- I was as disbelieving as the president-to-be. (He had, Wolff tells us, “assured” his wife, Melania, who was reportedly in tears of anything but joy that night, that he would never win and that she would never find herself in the White House.)  By then, it was for me a fever dream to imagine that bizarre, belligerent, orange-haired salesman-cum-con-artist entering the Oval Office.

Honestly, I shouldn’t have been the least bit surprised.  During election campaign 2016, I grasped much of this.  I wrote of the future president, for instance, as a con artist (particularly in reference to those taxes of his that we couldn’t see) and how Hillary Clinton’s crew hadn’t grasped the obvious: that many Americans would admire him for gaming the system, even if they couldn’t do the same themselves.  As I wrote at the time: “It’s something Donald Trump knows in his bones, even if all those pundits and commentators and pollsters (and for that matter Hillary Clinton’s advisers) don’t: Americans love a con man.”

I also saw that he was daring in ways unimaginable to an American politician -- because, of course, he wasn’t one -- particularly in promoting his slogan, MAGA, whose key word few of the political cognoscenti paid the slightest attention to: “again.”  At that moment, for presidents or politicians who wanted to become just that, it was obligatory to claim that the United States wasn’t just great but the greatest, most exceptional, most indispensable land ever.  (As Hillary Clinton typically put it that election season: “America is indispensable -- and exceptional -- because of our values.”)  Trump’s “again” in Make America Great Again suggested something quite different and so rang a bell in the heartland.  In the process, he became America’s first declinist presidential candidate. Early that October, I wrote this:

“[A] significant part of the white working class, at least, feels as if, whether economically or psychologically, its back is up against the wall and there’s nowhere left to go.  Under such circumstances, many of these voters have evidently decided that they’re ready to send a literal loose cannon into the White House; they’re willing, that is, to take a chance on the roof collapsing, even if it collapses on them. That is the new and unrecognizable role that Donald Trump has filled.  It’s hard to conjure up another example of it in our recent past. The Donald represents, as a friend of mine likes to say, the suicide bomber in us all. And voting for him, among other things, will be an act of nihilism, a mood that fits well with imperial decline.

“Think of him as a message in a bottle washing up on our shore...”

And yet, on that day of decision, I evidently reverted to the boy I had once been, the boy who grew up with a vision of an idealized America that would always do the right thing.  So I was shocked to the core by Donald Trump’s victory.

In that fever dream of a night, when he washed up on all our shores, I had certainly been trumped, but then, so had he, so had we all.  Under the circumstances, I’m sure you’ll understand why I’ve remained hesitant about putting my faith in polls in this election season or giving special significance to reports that the White House staff was glum as hell about the coming midterms and expected the worst. (After all, mightn’t this be that Michael Wolff election night all over again?)

The American Shooting Gallery

Two years after that fateful November night in 2016, we’re still living in a fever dream of some sort, enveloped 24/7 by the universe of President Trump and the “fake news media,” that provides him and the rest of us with a strange, all-encompassing echo chamber.  America, you might say, now has a 103-degree temperature and there isn’t an emergency room in sight.

And it’s unlikely to get better, whatever happens in the midterm elections.  Those who expect that a Democratic victory or a devastating Mueller report in the weeks to come will be the beginning of the end for the Trump presidency (or, for that matter, that the victory of an ever more extreme Republican Party will simply prove more of the grisly same) might want to reconsider. Perhaps it's worth weighing other grimmer possibilities in the as-yet-unending rise of what’s still called “right-wing populism,” not just locally but globally.  Here in the United States, with hate and venom surging (and, yes indeed, being encouraged by President Trump for his own purposes), a genuinely ugly strain central to this country’s history is being resurrected.  In the process, a burgeoning number of deeply disturbed (and deeply animated) figures from among the most over-armed civilian population on the planet -- Yemen, of all the grim places, comes in a distant second -- are turning this country into a shooting gallery.

Win or lose today, don’t think that the Donald Trump we have is the one we’re fated to have until the day he goes down in flames. He is distinctly a work in progress, or perhaps it would be more accurate to say: in regress.  In that context, let me mention an evolution of a grim sort in my own thinking over the last two years.

For some time now there have been both thinkers and activists who have been convinced that Donald Trump is an American Mussolini, an outright fascist.  (According to his ex-wife, in the early 1990s he kept a book of Hitler’s speeches by his bedside and, during the 2016 election campaign, he retweeted a Mussolini quote, defending himself for doing so.)  I’ve always disagreed, however.  To my mind, he’s clearly been a man who wants to be idolized and adulated (as happens at any of his rallies) -- wants, that is, to have fans, not (in the fascistic sense) followers; applause and the eternal spotlight, not a social movement.  That, it seems to me, has been an accurate description of the president who entered the Oval Office and occupied it in such a suggestive way these last nearly two years.  But I’ve recently started to wonder.  After all, once upon a time, Donald Trump wasn’t a Republican either.  Let’s face it, he’s a quick learner when it comes to whatever may benefit The Donald.

And keep in mind that he entered an unsettled world already well prepared for such a presidency by his predecessors in Washington.  If the fascist or, if you prefer, autocratic tendency that lurks in him and in the situation that surrounds him does come out more fully, he will obviously be aided by the ever more imperial presidency that was created in the decades before he left Trump Tower for the White House.

When he entered the Oval Office, he found there a presidency in which -- particularly on the subject of war (the president was, for instance, already America’s global assassin-in-chief) -- his powers increasingly stood outside both Congress and the Constitution. The weapons he’s now bringing to bear, including executive orders and the U.S. military, were already well prepared for him.  The refugees he makes such effective use of, whether from Syria or Central America, came to him, at least in part, thanks to this country’s war and other policies that had already roiled significant parts of the planet.  Before entering the Oval Office, the only aspect of such preparations he had any role in was the increasingly staggering inequality that gave a “populist” billionaire president, always ready to put more money in the hands of his .01% pals, a pained but receptive audience in the heartland.

In other words, this world and the fever dream that goes with it were Donald Trump’s oyster before he ever lifted a finger in the White House.  As a result, no election results, no matter whether the Democrats or the Republicans “win,” are likely to bring that temperature down.  In fact, if the Democrats do take the House (or even Congress), Donald Trump is unlikely to become more pliable.  If the Mueller report results in impeachment proceedings in the House, he won’t be humbled.  In the face of any such development, my guess is that his impulse will be to become more autocratic, more imperial, and even possibly more fascistic.  And the same may hold if the Republicans hang onto both houses of Congress.

Waiting for the Red Hats

Even before the vote was in, the evidence was there.  In the lead-up to the election, 5,000-plus U.S. troops (or maybe 15,000?) are headed for the U.S.-Mexico border to deal with what the president has called both an “invasion” and a “national emergency.” ("Fake news!") There, those troops will essentially twiddle their thumbs (since they are legally allowed to do little) simply because the president wanted it so.  There may, in fact, be two soldiers for every desperate refugee, including children and babies, headed toward the U.S. border in that now notorious “caravan” from Honduras.  In other words, on a whim, Donald Trump is already capable of building a wall (of troops) at that border.  The question worth asking is this: In an embattled near-future moment in which a truly Trumpian military figure (think of “him” as the next John Bolton) is in place as secretary of defense and another “national emergency” is declared, where might those troops go next because the president wanted it so?

In the days before the election, the president also threatened to sign an executive order to nullify birthright citizenship -- in the process, threatening to functionally nullify the Constitution (see the 14th Amendment), while bringing back to life the ugliest strains of American racial history just because he wanted it so.  At the moment, he might not even sign that order or, if he does, it might go down big time in Congress and the courts.  But who knows what the future of an executive-order presidency holds, especially with another Supreme Court justice pick or two in place, no matter who controls Congress?

As for those rallies of his: tell me you can’t conceive of a future America in which his adulatory crowds have stopped simply cheering and shouting for him (“Build the wall!” “Lock her up!”) and are now marching for him as well.  Is it really so hard to imagine a future in which there would be a place for a Trump Corps or for “the Red Hats”; for, that is, the kind of social movement that would no longer be confined to the arenas and stadiums of red-state America or even the polling booths of Election Day, one that might indeed be in the streets of this country at the beck and call of a fierce and autocratic billionaire?

In an increasingly unsettled world, an Autocrats, Incorporated moment globally, with an ever more powerful chief executive, and a right wing still on the march, everything that Donald Trump inherited could certainly be intensified further.  And he might be just the man to do it.  In a world in which Congress is no longer fully in his camp, in which legal charges against him, his family, and his cronies only grow, to adapt a title from a Russian novel of the early twentieth century, unquiet could flow The Don -- and in that lies peril for us all.   

Now, excuse me, I’m heading out to vote. 

Tom Engelhardt is a co-founder of the American Empire Project and the author of a history of the Cold War, The End of Victory Culture. He is a fellow of the Nation Institute and runs TomDispatch.com. His sixth and latest book is A Nation Unmade by War (Dispatch Books).

Follow TomDispatch on Twitter and join us on Facebook. Check out the newest Dispatch Books, Beverly Gologorsky's novel Every Body Has a Story and Tom Engelhardt's A Nation Unmade by War, as well as Alfred McCoy's In the Shadows of the American Century: The Rise and Decline of U.S. Global Power, John Dower's The Violent American Century: War and Terror Since World War II, and John Feffer's dystopian novel Splinterlands.

Copyright 2018 Tom Engelhardt

  Read Tomgram: Engelhardt, Unquiet Flows The Don
  November 1, 2018
Tomgram: William Hartung, The Pentagon's Plan to Dominate the Economy
by William Hartung, TomDispatch.com

Back in the mid-1990s, I wrote the following in my book The End of Victory Culture, with memories of the American world of my 1940s and 1950s childhood in mind:

“The worlds of the warrior and of abundance were, to my gaze, no more antithetical than they were to the corporate executives, university research scientists, and military officers who were using a rising military budget and the fear of communism to create a new national security economy.  An alliance between big industry, big science, and the military had been forged during World War II.  This alliance had blurred the boundaries between the military and the civilian by fusing a double set of desires: for technological breakthroughs leading to ever more instant weapons of destruction and to ever easier living.  The arms race and the race for the good life were now to be put on the same ‘war’ footing...

“In the 1950s... a ‘military Keynesianism’ drove the U.S. economy toward a consumerism in which desire for the ever larger car and missile, electric range and tank, television console and submarine, was wedded in single corporate entities.  The companies... producing the large objects for the American home were also major contractors developing the weapons systems ushering the Pentagon into its own age of abundance.”

And here’s the curious thing: almost a quarter of a century after I wrote those words, in a second gilded age in which a billionaire occupies the Oval Office (thanks, in part, to the fact that so many Americans no longer feel like they’re part of an age of abundance), the Pentagon has been thriving, big time.  If anything, both parties in Washington have doubled down on military Keynesianism in the twenty-first century and, as TomDispatch regular and Pentagon expert William Hartung writes today, it looks as if the Trump years, despite possible modest cuts in the Pentagon budget, will continue to be a gilded age for the U.S. military.  After all, if the president’s team has anything to say about it, ever more of the American economy will be run through the military-industrial complex.

One question, though, about this latest version of an age of abundance: Given our president’s fatal touch (from casinos to hotels, airlines to universities, magazines to steaks and even vodka), might it, in the end, prove to be an age of militarized bankruptcy as well?  Tom

Pentagon Socialism
Militarizing the Economy in the Name of Defense
By William D. Hartung

Given his erratic behavior, from daily Twitter eruptions to upping his tally of lies by the hour, it’s hard to think of Donald Trump as a man with a plan. But in at least one area -- reshaping the economy to serve the needs of the military-industrial complex -- he's (gasp!) a socialist in the making.

His plan is now visibly taking shape -- one we can see and assess thanks to a Pentagon-led study with a distinctly tongue-twisting title: “Assessing and Strengthening the Manufacturing and Defense Industrial Base and Supply Chain Resiliency of the United States.” The analysis is the brainchild of Trump’s adviser for trade and manufacturing policy, Peter Navarro, who happens to also be the key architect of the president’s trade wars.

Navarro, however, can hardly take sole credit for the administration’s latest economic plan, since the lead agency for developing it was also the most interested of all in the project, the Pentagon itself, in particular its Office of Defense Industrial Policy.  In addition, those producing the report did so in coordination with an alphabet soup of other agencies from the Department of Commerce to the Director of National Intelligence.  And even that’s not all.  It’s also the product of an “interagency task force” made up of 16 working groups and 300 “subject matter” experts, supplemented by over a dozen industry “listening sessions” with outfits like the National Defense Industrial Association, an advocacy organization that represents 1,600 companies in the defense sector.

Before jumping into its substance and implications for the American economy and national defense, let me pause a moment to mention two other small matters.

First, were you aware that the Pentagon even had an Office of Defense Industrial Policy? It sounds suspiciously like the kind of government organization that engages in economic planning, a practice anathema not just to Republicans but to many Democrats as well.  The only reason it’s not a national scandal -- complete with Fox News banner headlines about the end of the American way of life as we know it and the coming of creeping socialism -- is because it’s part of the one institution that has always been exempt from the dictates of the “free market”: the Department of Defense.

Second, how about those 300 subject matter experts? Since when does Donald Trump consult subject matter experts?  Certainly not on climate change, the most urgent issue facing humanity and one where expert opinion is remarkably unified. The Pentagon and its contractors should, however, be thought of as the ultimate special interest group and with that status comes special treatment. And if that means consulting 300 such experts to make sure their “needs” are met, so be it.

A Slogan for the Ages?

Now for the big stuff. 

According to