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Rolla Peace News

January 2, 2017


Dear Friends:

          In this newsletter is:

3. THE MISFIT MATHEMATICIAN (Tom's column, http://tomsager.org)
          a) From Our Readers
                    i) Wildfires
                    ii) Trees And Good Health
                    iii) Our President
          b) James Zogby's Christmas Letter To Mike Pence
          c) Mine Is Bigger Than Yours
          d) Trump Insults And Angers Another Nuclear Power



We vigil for peace in front of the Rolla Post Office THIS THURSDAY, JANUARY 4, 2018, (and all subsequent Thursdays until peace is established) from Noon to 1:00 PM. Please try to join us. The temperature is predicted to be in the 'teens. If you do not feel comfortable standing with us in front of the Post Office, please consider driving by and showing your support for our message by honking your horn and flashing a peace sign.


It's the first hopeful sign in the present standoff with North Korea that Kim Jong-un has approached South Korea with hopes of having a more peaceful relationship between the two, and that South Korean President Moon Jae-in appears willing.

It's obvious from the remarks quoted in the Common Dreams article that the U.S. will not want to just sit back and let the Koreans settle this between themselves. It's very courageous of Moon to even consider trying to do this, given South Korea's enforced dependence on the alliance with the U.S. Most likely, Kim has hopes that some kind of reconciliation with South Korea will increase the possibility of a peaceful solution that the United States will cooperate with. And most likely, Moon has hopes of mitigating some of the hostility that the US, and Trump in particular, has directed at North Korea, and disassociating himself from it somewhat.

So far, the stance of the US government seems to be that it will not even consider diplomacy without North Korea first giving up its nuclear program entirely. From Kim's perspective, this would be foolish, as he sees nuclear capability as the only thing that is keeping the US from invading his country. He can't help but be aware that none of the many countries that the US has occupied in the last few decades have nuclear weapons.

If the US attacks North Korea (either with nukes or conventional weapons), South Korea would certainly be at risk, and Moon obviously knows that. Of all the nations concerned about this situation, South Korea has the most reason for concern.

If the US attacks North Korea, I think Kim would use the nuclear button, because at that point, there would be nothing left to lose from his perspective. We destroyed the country once during the Korean War, and it has taken them this long to come back to a point where they could even have a nuclear program, and that at great sacrifice of the living standard of the people. To be put back to start again is not something a personality like Kim's would passively accept, even though by doing so, he might save some of his people. If this happens, nuclear annihilation from the US is very likely — and again, South Korea would also take heavy damage.

The best-case scenario would be for the United States to sit back and let them have at it, and see what they come up with. Kim would like for North Korea to participate in the 2018 Winter Olympics in South Korea, and has expressed a desire to collaborate with Moon to ensure a successful event. That would be a start at establishing good relations, and American athletes would have a chance to relate to some North Koreans on a peaceful occasion, and perhaps realize that they aren't evil people.

At some point, the United States will have to acknowledge that every country they have intervened in since World War II has been the worse for it, and many of them have been essentially destroyed. We are not morally equipped to play God, and the rest of the world can already see it, with few exceptions. We can only hope that a reconciliation between North and South Korea, however unlikely that seems, will force the United States government to reconsider its position of World Police Force.

3. THE MISFIT MATHEMATICIAN (Tom's column, http://tomsager.org)
          a) From Our Readers
                    i) Wildfires
                    ii) Trees And Good Health
                    iii) Our President
          b) James Zogby's Christmas Letter To Mike Pence
          c) Mine Is Bigger Than Yours
          d) Trump Insults And Angers Another Nuclear Power



A reader writes: “I'm not sure where you get your fire records from, but the fires at the end of the Cretaceous surely dwarfed all of those that you named.”

My response: My Snippet in last week's newsletter contains the caveat: “since record keeping began in the 1930s” (long after the end of the Cretaceous). It also contains links to my references.

Some scholars believe that at the close of the Cretaceous, Earth's atmosphere was 30% or more oxygen (50% more than today) and a direct hit by a large astronomical body caused, among other events, world-wide conflagrations that brought about the demise of the dinosaurs and perhaps 75% of all extant life-forms.

I suspect what we have seen to date will be minuscule compared to what's in store. Nature Bats Last. We would do well to remember that we are a part of the web of life and learn to live in harmony with Nature and all her children instead of trying to bend Nature to our will.

          Trees and Good Health

This study of the relationship between trees and health outcomes comes to me from El Porvenir. El Porvenir, which means The Future, is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization. El Porvenir restores entire watersheds in Nicaragua to health by planting trees, building dikes for water-retention and irrigation, fencing to keep domestic animals out of water sources and building latrines and paths to prevent people and their wastes from degrading the water supply.

The study by the the University of Vermont finds a direct relationship between trees, the health of a watershed, and the health of the people who live there. the study finds that “forests and other natural systems can complement traditional water sanitation systems, and help compensate for a lack of infrastructure.”

If you have some spare cash after the end of the year, please consider a donation to El Porvenir.

          Our President

A reader sends in this quote from H.L. Mencken:
“As democracy is perfected, the office of president represents, more and more closely, the inner soul of the people. On some great and glorious day the plain folks of the land will reach their heart's desire at last and the white house will be adorned by a downright moron.”
My response: Donald Trump may be a lot of unsavory things, but a moron he is not. If I were to describe him, words like narcissist, sociopath, buffoon, chutzpah, megalomaniac, delusional, and senile come to mind. I like Kim Jong-un's description of Donald Trump best, “mentally deranged U.S. dotard,” because it includes so much of the above in one short phrase.

And incidentally, I vehemently disagree with H.L. Mencken's implication that “plain folk” are “downright moron[s].” This is the kind of elitist arrogance that was responsible for the election of President Donald Trump.


In this letter to Vice-President Pence, James Zogby describes “why the Arab Christian leadership in Palestine was so troubled by your blindness to their plight that they refused to meet with you.” Zogby compares Palestine at the time of Jesus to Palestine now.
“That Joseph, Mary, and Jesus were able to flee to Egypt to escape Herod’s vengeful wrath was possible back then. Today, that option is unlikely. The barrier/wall that encapsulates the West Bank, the hundreds of checkpoints, and the closure of Gaza would make such a life-saving flight impossible.”

“While the kings of old, we are told, were able to travel from afar bearing gifts to honor the newborn child, one can only imagine the difficulties they would encounter today dealing with Israeli soldiers at the Allenby Bridge.”

“while thousands of Palestinians in Bethlehem, both Muslim and Christian, can see Jerusalem from their homes, they can not go to the Holy City to pray. And Arab Christians from Jerusalem, likewise, can not easily go the Christmas services in Bethlehem to pray alongside their co-religionists at the seasonal event.”
This is a very important letter, particularly for Christians in the United States. If you read nothing else today, please read this letter.


In response to North and South Korea's decision to hold high-level talks (see Helen's article above) which will hopefully lead to peace on the Korean Peninsula, US Ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley, says that she will not take such talks seriously. Meanwhile President Trump tweets:
“North Korean Leader Kim Jong Un just stated that the ‘Nuclear Button is on his desk at all times.’ Will someone from his depleted and food starved regime please inform him that I too have a Nuclear Button, but it is a much bigger & more powerful one than his, and my Button works!”
Sorry Nikki and Donald. This is a Korean affair. You have no say. The United States totally destroyed Korea 65 years ago and has kept the peninsula close to war ever since. The Korean people, both North and South, want peace. By what Right do you tell them they can only have peace on your terms?


In his first tweet of the year, Donald Trump opines:
“The United States has foolishly given Pakistan more than 33 billion dollars in aid over the last 15 years, and they have given us nothing but lies & deceit, thinking of our leaders as fools. They give safe haven to the terrorists we hunt in Afghanistan, with little help. No more!”
The actual figure is more like $15 billion, for which the US receives use of Pakistani territory and other support in fighting its war against the Afghans.

Pakistan Foreign Minister, Khawaja Asif, retorted that “Trump is disappointed at the U.S. defeat in Afghanistan and that is the only reason he is flinging accusations at Pakistan.”

I suspect that Asif is correct. I think that after 16 years of war, it is past time to declare victory and go home.


Rolla Peace News is distributed by email once a week on Tuesday evenings (except on rare occasions) and is posted on the web at http://tomsager.org (click on Grassroots Rolla: near the top of rightmost column).

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Wage peace,

helenm (at) fidnet.com