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December 18, 2018 (written for Rolla Peace Newsletter)
THE WEB OF LIES UNRAVELS
We live in momentous times. So many scams are unraveling. People are finally catching on. In part, I think we have Donald Trump to thank for that. He has such a great disregard for the truth. He doesn't even pretend to be telling the truth. He just says whatever pops into his deranged mind.“You can fool all the people some of the time, and some of the people all the time, but you cannot fool all the people all the time” —Abraham Lincoln
And there is a lot of money to be made in scamming the public. Trapped by their greed, the scammers can't let go — even after a sizable mass of people have caught on. It's difficult. We come to think of privilege as an entitlement. Some would sacrifice their lives and their children down to the umpteenth generation to hold on to their entitlements.
Below I list four scams that are coming unraveled. I believe there will soon be a reckoning on all four accounts. People don't take kindly to being scammed. Some may react violently.
The Israel Scam
James Zogby notes that public opinion in the United States is turning against Israel.
Airbnb has refused to list Israeli rentals in occupied Palestine.
While Marc Lamont Hill was fired from his job as CNN commentator for calling for a Free Palestine, Temple University has refused calls to fire or even censor Dr. Hill.
Zogby notes that individuals and companies like Marc Lamont Hill and Airbnb are getting more praise than criticism for standing up to bullies.
The Boycott, Divestiture and Sanction of Israel movement has taken hold in spite of draconian laws aimed at criminalizing criticism of Israel.
Lana del Rey and other musicians have canceled performances in Israel.
Bahia Amawi was fired from her job as speech pathologist for refusal to take a Texas loyalty to Israel oath. She is now suing the State of Texas.
And most importantly, about half the people in the United States now favor a one-state solution in Palestine/Israel with equal rights for all. (This is a position I have held for many many years and been laughed at by liberals and conservatives, Zionists and anti-Zionists alike.)
It used to be that any criticism of Israel was considered one step shy of treason and could cost you your livelihood. Now it has become almost mainstream. It could be that the billions of dollars the United States gives to Israel each year will soon be in jeopardy.
In the last few years, we have been treated to a long series of unprecedented hurricanes, floods, droughts and fires like we have never seen before. After decades of official denials of human-induced climate change, Pew Research finds that 59% of us believe that our communities have been affected by climate change. That number goes up to 67% if you live near a coastline (see number 16 in Pew Research document).
Demonstrations against government inaction to reduce the threat of climate change are growing more and more commonplace.
The Refugee Scam
You may have thought you had seen it all with children separated from their parents and kept in dog kennels. The latest atrocity is the murder of seven-year-old Jakelin Caal Maquin in the custody of the Department of Homeland Security. She was running a 105.7 fever and prison guards ignored her father's plea for help until it was too late. She died of shock and dehydration. the ACLU blamed the child's death on “lack of accountability and a culture of cruelty.”
People are catching on that this is not an “invasion.” These are destitute people trying to find some safe place where they can live with their families; and for this they are bullied and abused.
Not only has the United States helped to make Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala barely livable for many due to death squads, climate change and repressive US-backed regimes, the US is now attacking Nicaragua. First came an attempted "soft coup" that failed; and now we have the NICA act designed to put economic pressure on Nicaragua through denial of credit and banking services. If successful, we are likely to see large numbers of Nicaraguans joining other Central Americans at our southern border.
The United States and Hungary were the only two countries to vote against a UN resolution on managing refugees.
The War Scam
This is unprecedented. The Senate passed a resolution to end support for Saudi- Arabia's brutal war against Yemen where 85,000 children are starving to death. Never before has the Senate stood up to a war president and the military-industrial complex in this way.
People are finally catching on that war does not make us more secure — it only fattens the Pentagon and the weapons manufacturers at the expense of the rest of us.
DR. SEUSS GOES TO COURT
Our friends at El Porvenir, which provides clean water and watershed restoration in Nicaragua, and Great Rivers Environmental Law Center, Missouri's only public interest environmental law center and the law center that saved Rolla's beautiful historic Buehler Park, both send me this story about how a panel of federal judges threw out permits to build a pipeline across two national forests. Noting that the U.S. Forest Service “abdicated its responsibility to preserve national forest resources” when it issued the permits, the panel cited Dr. Seuss's Lorax in saying, “We trust the United States Forest Service to ‘speak for the trees, for the trees have no tongues.’”
You can view a telling of the Lorax story here.
HOW RUDOLPH GOT HIS RED NOSE
Reindeer feed on moss and lichens. Heavy fallout of cesium 137 from the Chernobyl nuclear disaster and from atmospheric nuclear testing bio-accumulates in the moss and lichens and then in the reindeer that feed on them. Today, some Lapland reindeer still carry a burden of radiation of over 2,000 Becquerels / kilogram and their herders 1,000 Becquerels.
This should be a reminder to us how important it is to end the nuclear age.
(Actually, Rudolph was born in 1939, a few years before the beginning of the atomic age.)
December 11, 2018 (written for Rolla Peace Newsletter)
A WAR THAT MAY NOT HAPPEN
In 2001, the US put together a coalition of almost 50 nations and attacked Afghanistan, a war that still goes on today.
In 2003, only three countries (UK, Australia and Poland) contributed troops to the US invasion of Iraq — again, a war that still goes on today.
Today, it seems the US can only muster support for a war against Iran from a handful of brutal nations like Israel and Saudi Arabia with terrible human rights records. And the governments of these countries are all facing determined opposition.
Moreover, it appears that China and Europe are putting together a vehicle to skirt US unilateral sanctions on Iran.
And this week Iran tested a medium range missile, which Mike Pompeo claims (probably falsely) is contrary to the Iran Nuclear Agreement (JCPOA) which the US unilaterally pulled out of earlier this year.
Trita Parsi remarks, “Today, if you’re sitting in Tehran, you’re probably more confident in the future than if you're in Riyadh or Washington.”
WHAT EXACTLY DO DIPLOMATS DO FOR A LIVING?
I didn't know whether to laugh or cry when I read this article. Seems like the diplomats at COP-24 are arguing whether to “welcome” the IPCC report that essentially spells doom for “human civilization” or to “note” it. The US, Russia, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait wish to “note” it, while the rest of the world wishes to “welcome” it.“To rely on the wisdom of the people in power is the worst thing you can do.” —Howard Zinn
“Note” sounds rather bland; while I would hardly “welcome” the doom of “human civilization.” How about “consent with extreme horror and dread?”
I would suggest putting all these diplomats to work planting trees, or in the case of the US diplomats, raking the forest. Can you believe we are up to COP-24 now? And each one opens on a situation more dire than the previous one.
The most positive part of COP-24 is all the people in the streets protesting and demanding action.
ADDITIONS TO WEBSITE: CHRISTMAS IMAGE, READING OF HANUKKAH STORY
I've posted an image of Christmas at the border.
And a video of a reading of Eric Kimmel's “Hershel and the Hanukkah Goblins” along with a non-traditional Hanukkah celebration.
December 4, 2018 (written for Rolla Peace Newsletter)
THE WEB OF LIFE UNRAVELS
The University-Industrial Complex has really been caught napping. While the University-Industrial complex has been busy developing more and more sophisticated ways of killing insects, it took a small German society of insect enthusiasts to document the disappearance of perhaps 3/4 of our flying insects, the so-called “Insect Apocalypse,”. This includes not only honey bees and butterflies, but flies and mosquitoes as well. I've run across multiple articles on the work of the volunteer-run Krefeld insect society, but this article by Brooke Jarvis in the New York Times Magazine speaks loudest to me.“Look for what's missing. ... Few are able to see what isn't there.” —Donald Rumsfeld
Insects are an important part of the web of life. In one German nature reserve near Düsseldorf their numbers have fallen by over 75%. Likely much of the world is also experiencing similar declines. Flying insects provide food for frogs, birds and bats which provide sustenance up the food chain. They may provide other known and unknown services to the Web of Life as well.
Jarvis notes: “One result of their loss is what’s known as trophic cascade, the unraveling of an ecosystem’s fabric as prey populations boom and crash and the various levels of the food web no longer keep each other in check. These places are emptier, impoverished in a thousand subtle ways.”
It's like the shirt I'm wearing. One little hole I may not notice. Several more holes and the fabric begins to fray. More holes and I'm walking around naked from the waist up. That seems to be what's happening to our environment. It's becoming so full of holes that soon it will no longer provide us with the support we need.
Brad Lister, who has noted similar changes in Puerto Rico, remarks, “Nature’s resilient, but we’re pushing her to such extremes that eventually it will cause a collapse of the system.”
There does not appear to be any one single cause for this biological impoverishment — the usual culprits are insecticides, herbicides, climate change, habitat destruction, etc. Jarvis compares this to death by a thousand cuts.
I suspect another cause as well — electromagnetic radiation, like the radiation generated by millions and millions of tiny cell phones and other similar devices. It is only recently that people have started to carry devices that generate electromagnetic radiation with them constantly and it has only been recently that declines in flying insects have become so noticeable. Cell phones are a diffuse source of radiation, in contrast to broadcast media which provides a point source. The two are qualitatively different. They may well provide different stresses on our environment. Circumstantial evidence? Yes. But definitely worth checking out.
I like to brag that I am one of the very few left who do not own a cell phone. If my conjecture holds, I'll also add that I am just doing my part to preserve the Web of Life.
Meanwhile....As the world prepares for more and more war, and corporations prepare to do more and more violence to the Earth, our environment continues to unravel. Like North America, Australia is battling horrendous fires and floods this year. There is no longer a fine line between natural disasters and human-induced disasters. They blend seamlessly into one another. It is no longer a matter of preserving what is left. If we are to survive as a species, we must think about re-creating what has been lost.
Here is a message from the Waorani of the Amazon forest, brought to us by Nemonte Nenquimo, whose name means Many Stars.
Nenquimo notes, “the company doesn’t see the forest. They don’t see us. They see what they want to see. They see oil wells where we see gardens. They see money where we see life.”
We should be nurturing the few hunter-gatherers left among us, like the survival of our species depends upon them — because it does. As the Web of Life unravels and “civilizations” collapse, hunter-gatherers may be all that remains of the human race.
November 27, 2018 (written for Rolla Peace Newsletter)
FROM OUR READERS: DIZZY DEAN
It's been a long time since I've received multiple responses on the same snippet; but two readers wrote in that they liked the Dizzy Dean quotes. One reader thought that along with the Dean quote on statistics, I should have included this line that was popularized by Mark Twain and attributed to Benjamin Disraeli:
The same reader also sent in two more great Dizzy Dean quotes: “It ain't braggin' if you can back it up.” and “Son, what kind of pitch would you like to miss?”“There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics.”
Here's my favorite: “I ain't what I used to be, but who the hell is?”
Dizzy Dean won 30 games for the St. Louis Cardinals in 1934. There has been only one major league 30-game winner since (Denny McLain in 1968).
Rereading the snippet I wrote last week, it seemed to end too abruptly; so I reworked it. It's posted here.
“ALL IS CALM”
“All Is Calm,” a play about the 1914 Christmas truce on the Western front during World War I opens today at Cedar Street Playhouse and runs through Saturday, December 1. Extremely powerful statement on war and peace. Don't miss it!
HEARTLESS AND CRUEL
Donald Trump's border police fired tear gas rounds at the caravanistas, including young children and toddlers in their mother's arms. The caravanistas had trekked on foot all the way from Central America to our southern border to apply for asylum from the violence and poverty back home for which the United States is largely responsible. How heartless and cruel we have become!
I've reworked the image of Paradise, California burning that I had posted last week. It now includes a short quote from John Milton's “Paradise Lost.”
While reading “Paradise Lost” looking for an appropriate line to include with the image, it struck me that the disasters we are experiencing today are positively biblical. I suspect if there is anyone alive a hundred years from now, they will be reciting ballads about how God punished the ancient inhabitants of the Earth for their arrogance, cruelty and selfishness.
November 20, 2018 (written for Rolla Peace Newsletter)
CORRECTION: OCEAN HEAT UPTAKE
Two weeks ago I mentioned that a recent study, “Quantification of ocean heat uptake...” found that our oceans have absorbed 60% more heat than previously thought. The authors of the article have now published a correction. Seems they got their statistical analysis all wrong. Well, it might be 10% and then again it might be 70%. We just don't know yet.“I hate statistics. What I got to know, I keep in my head.”
Climate deniers are having a good laugh over this one.
Ok, folks, I suppose this means Hurricane Florence never devastated the Carolinas and the Camp Fire never really wiped out Paradise, California — and if they did, its all China's fault anyway.
So let's get real. The burning question isn't where all this heat gets stored. The question is what's it doing to us when it comes out of storage; and what are we going to do about it.
Here's another Dizzy Dean quote which may be pertinent to this topic:
“I can't tell you why there's a delay [of the ball game], but stick your head out of the window and you'll know why.” [Note: During World War II, announcers were prohibited from broadcasting weather reports over the radio.]
Climate scientists have been telling us for years not to confuse climate [long term] with weather [day to day]. Seems to me that weather change has caught up to climate change — maybe even surpassed it. Also seems like Dizzy Dean was way ahead of his time. Yup, just “stick your head out of the window and you'll know why.” — or worse — wait for your house to wash away in a flood or burn up around your ears.
Climate change is upon us. You don't need a climate scientist to tell you that. And you know what needs to be done — nothing short of changing our entire life-styles will do. So let's get busy. There is much to be done.
[Note: Dizzy Dean was one of baseball's greatest pitchers — some might say, The Greatest. Dizzy Dean had a second grade education.]
FROM OUR READERS: A EUROPEAN MILITARY
A reader writes:
Yup, check out this list of Conflicts involving Russia. And if you go back to 1814, Russian troops occupied France along with the British and much of the rest of Europe.“I am not supporting a European Military, but it does seem that within the last 80 years Russia (USSR) has invaded Finland, Poland, Hungary, Czechoslovakia, and Ukraine. I am probably missing several more countries. Not exactly a good neighbor to have.”
Good neighbors are hard to find these days — especially if you make a habit of disrespecting them. A little detente can go a long way.
We should be trying to get along with all our neighbors on planet Earth, like our lives depended on it — because they do.
IT IS A MANAGEMENT PROBLEM
Sometimes Donald Trump can make some really profound statements, although he rarely gets much credit for it, at least not among the publications I tend to read. For example: Here's Donald Trump on this month's California fires:“The fact that the messenger is deranged doesn’t mean the message itself contains no significant truths.”
That's great as far as it goes; but let's talk about mismanagement now.“There is no reason for these massive, deadly and costly forest fires in California except that forest management is so poor.”
One of the biggest problems is that there are too darn many people in California; and in particular, too darn many rich people who have to build their mansions in environmentally sensitive locations, fill their swimming pools and water their golf courses, even in the middle of an extended drought. That's a management problem.
And then there's the corruption: Nestlé is still bottling tons of California water, even in the midst of a water crisis. And California's crumbling infrastructure: California utilities may have been responsible for starting these devastating fires. They have started forest fires in the past.
And the world's addiction to fighting wars, burning fossil fuels, eating meat, air travel, wearing fashion clothing and a host of other environmentally insensitive behaviors which cause a warming climate with longer more frequent droughts.
And finally, the rich are now hiring their own private fire fighters which can't help but further stress and degrade the public forest service's fire fighting capabilities.
I suspect I've only scratched the surface here.
So let's give credit where credit is due. Mr. President, you made a very profound statement about forest management. Congratulations!
Oh, by the way, I'm saving raking the forest for some future week.
SOME OF MY FAVORITE QUOTES
I've expanded and redone my web page on favorite quotes. Check it out.
November 13, 2018 (written for Rolla Peace Newsletter)
SHOULD EUROPE HAVE A MILITARY?
In his Armistice Day speech, French President, Emmanuel Macron, called for a European military. Macron claimed, “We have to protect ourselves with respect to China, Russia and even the United States of America.”“France got the bomb; but don't you grieve,
Armistice Day, which marked the end of World War I which was supposed to be “The War to End All Wars,” seems like an incongruous time to talk about building a military; but we're used to that here in the United States, where Armistice Day has been renamed Veterans Day and has become a celebration of all things military.
Further, a European military to protect Europe against Russia (which is also part of Europe) seems incongruous. France invaded Russia under Napoleon. Much of Europe and parts of the rest of the world invaded Russia following the First World War. Germany invaded Russia under the Third Reich. If Russia ever invaded France, I am not aware of it. I suspect a European military would be offensive in nature, rather than defensive as Macron suggests, particularly toward Russia.
Europeans are known for fighting nasty brutal wars against each other. Wikipedia gives us a long list of European wars — more than I can count. Think not only of the two world wars but wars like the Napoleonic Wars and the 30 Years War. (30 years, my God!, we've only been in Afghanistan 17.) The 30 Years War was a religious war — Christians against Christians — eight million died.
Actually the United States and the Soviet Union performed a super-human feat together for 45 years after World War II — they kept Europeans from killing each other in huge numbers. (There were a few notable exceptions such as Northern Ireland.) Sadly the US and the USSR did not do the same for the rest of the world which experienced terrible massacres and human Rights abuses — think Korea, Vietnam and Palestine for examples.
As soon as one pole, the Soviet Union, fell, Europeans quickly returned to their old habits of killing each other en masse. The Soviet Union was barely laid to rest before another nasty brutal European war broke out in the Balkans.
So I am wondering: what would a European military look like? Who would it side with in the inevitable European conflicts to come? Would a European military be another giant step toward World War III?
A NEW LOOK FOR THE US HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
Newly elected congresswomen Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Rashida Tlaib lent support to climate activists occupying Nancy Pelosi's office. Ocasio told the protesters:
No more business as usual Pelosi. We want to see some action.“I just want to let you all know how proud I am of each and every single one of you for putting yourselves and your bodies and everything on the line to make sure that we save our planet, our generation, and our future. It's so incredibly important.”
STILL TICKETS AVAILABLE FOR “ALL IS CALM”
Don't miss this very powerful play about the 1914 Christmas Truce on the western front. Fine Linen Theatre presents “All Is Calm” at Cedar Street Playhouse, Nov. 27-Dec. 1. Tickets still available.
It has a new look. Check it out. I've posted my talk at the Lewis C. Green Awards Party.
November 6, 2018 (written for Rolla Peace Newsletter)
GLOBAL WARMING: 13 ZETTAJOULES FOUND IN OCEANS
Turns out the IPCC has likely low-balled global warming big time. A new study has found that our oceans have warmed 60% more than previously thought, absorbing 13 zettajoules of heat energy each year. (1 zettajoule = 1021 joules [a one followed by 21 zeros] = 2.39x1017 [food] Calories.) This is a really big deal. The goal of limiting global warming to 1.5°C. seems more and more unlikely every year.
Folks: we ain't seen nothing yet. If humanity is to survive, we are going to have to learn to live in a much warmer world.
HOW TO SURVIVE ON A WARMING PLANET
I really have little to offer here. I'm not a survivor. Likely, within a decade I'll be dead anyway, even without global warming. But I'd look at the !Kung, the Pygmies and other peoples who have learned to survive in shifting environments of scarcity. Or I'd look at animals like coyote who have learned to live in some very unlikely environments.
Think about it. Of what use will cities and global transportation networks be when everything can quickly be wiped out by increasingly likely extreme weather events.
WHY MAINTAINING THE INF TREATY IS SO IMPORTANT
Martin Fleck, nuclear weapons abolition program director at Physicians for Social Responsibility, explains the importance of the INF (Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces) Treaty and how it “contributed to the end of the Cold War and played a significant role in reducing the global arms race.” Fleck notes that if the US abrogates the INF treaty, we may soon find ourselves with no nuclear arms control agreements left at all.
DETENTE WITH NORTH KOREA HITS SNAG
The United States refuses to ease sanctions on North Korea, holds a large scale military exercise with Japan and Canada, and a mini-exercise with South Korea. North Korea threatens to restart its missile and nuclear weapons programs.
UNITED STATES BECOMING INCREASINGLY ISOLATED INTERNATIONALLY
Last week the United Nations voted 189 to 2 in favor of the “Necessity of ending the economic, commercial, and financial embargo imposed by the United States of America against Cuba,” with Israel joining the United States in voting No. US ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley, called the resolution a “waste of time,” because we're the United States, the indispensable nation, and we do whatever we want and the rest of the world be damned.
PAKISTAN-CHINA ECONOMIC COOPERATION GETS BOOST
Pakistani prime minister, Imran Khan is visiting China where he has signed 16 agreements which include infrastructure projects that traverse Pakistani controlled Kashmir and the development of the port of Gwadar across the Arabian Sea from Oman and close to the border with Iran.
China and Pakistan are also attempting to bring Afghanistan into the development of the CPEC (China-Pakistan Economic Corridor).
TALIBAN KILLS UTAH MAYOR AND ALMOST GETS US GENERAL
In an insider attack, North Ogden mayor, Brent Taylor, who was in Afghanistan with the Utah National Guard, was killed by an Afghan commando.
In a separate incident, a Taliban infiltrator killed Afghan general Abdul Raziq, and barely missed US general Austin Miller.
Insider attacks where an Afghan soldier who is presumed to be our ally turns his weapons on US or Afghan government troops are becoming increasingly common. And this after 17 years of a war that was supposed to be a cakewalk.
IRAN BRACES FOR INCREASED US SANCTIONS; US SCIENTIFIC ESTABLISHMENT PILES ON
Monday, a second round of sanctions was reimposed on Iran. Sanctions are war. Make no mistake about it. Iran which is already hurting economically, will hurt even more. One would think that after the total failure of 13 years of Iraqi sanctions (1990-2003) to do anything but hurt the Iraqi people, Trump and friends would think twice about this. And whereas Iraqi sanctions were almost total, China and India (and to a lesser extent Europe) are likely to thumb their noses at this new round of US sanctions against Iran.
Further demonizing Iran, the AAAS (American Association for the Advancement of Science) published an article on four Iranian conservationists accused of spying for the West. The article quotes an Iranian scientist living in the UK as saying “The scientific community can do a lot by challenging the narrative [that the four were spies].”
There is no mention in the article of how Iran has been hurt in the past by US spies and has had their democratically elected government overthrown in a coup by the CIA. Iranians are rightly wary of scientists with western ties. If the AAAS was truly concerned about the persecution of Iranian scientists, they would be calling loudly for an end to the demonization of Iran, easing of sanctions and a return to the nuclear treaty which the US unilaterally abrogated.
Note: I have no information to suggest that the four Iranian scientists were or were not spies.
MEANWHILE, TRUMP SENDS 3,500 TROOPS TO SOUTHERN BORDER TO COUNTER THREAT FROM HUNGRY HOMELESS CENTRAL AMERICANS
The local people don't seem to appreciate the troops that Trump is sending to the border. As lifelong resident of the Rio Grande valley, Emmanuel Torres, put it, “ I feel safer here [in Brownsville] than when I go up to bigger cities,” and “People that don't live here are just going to create a bigger negative image.”
Well, folks: sorry about all the bad news. Maybe things will get a little better in the morning. Maybe a bunch a Peaceniks who care about Planet Earth will be elected.
October 30, 2018 (written for Rolla Peace Newsletter)
BIGOTRY AND VIOLENCE
Much has been written already about the shooting at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh that left 11 dead.“Violence upon violence,
Here is an article by Middle East historian Juan Cole that I found particularly insightful. Cole notes that bigotry is bigotry and it so easily morphs from one group to another. Cole writes, “Those extremists who despise minorities tend to be equal opportunity haters, and to sweep up Jews with Muslims.”
How true! And those who encourage bigotry against one group may soon find that same bigotry turned back against their own ethnic or racial identity. Cole gives this example: “Ron Lauder, the president of the World Jewish Congress, gave the hate group [Secure America Now] $1.1 million to spread its conspiracy theories against Muslims.”
And I would wonder how multi-billionaire casino magnate Sheldon Adelson feels now about his $25 million donation to Donald Trump's presidential campaign.
Here's another insightful article by Rabbi Michael Lerner of Beyt Tikkun Synagogue in Berkeley, California. Lerner notes “the absence of any call on the part of the U.S. government to expose and arrest the major manifestation of terrorism in the U.S. in the past several years—the radical right with its violence against African Americans, gays and lesbians, Muslims, and increasingly against Jews.” He further suggests that “This pattern of violence and demeaning of ‘the Other’ has become so deeply embedded in the culture of the U.S. that only a true consciousness transformation will undermine its prevalence in both major political parties.”
Lerner further states, “We stand in solidarity with all the ‘other’ of our society whose lives are threatened and endangered by acts of violence and continue to commit to loving the stranger, the ‘other.’” He then exhorts us “to build a movement that replaces ‘America first’ with ‘love first.’”
For my part, reading these two insightful articles and several others made me think back to a paragraph I had written over ten years ago.
It has become very difficult to deny the failure of US Middle East policy. Donald Trump astutely used this failure during his successful 2016 presidential campaign to attack his rivals who had supported the War Against Iraq. The Trump presidency has been steeped in bigotry, particularly against Muslims and Latinos. Is it surprising that this bigotry has spilled over into bigotry against Jews?“The US is already experiencing a shift in sentiment. The public is beginning to blame Jews for the failure of the US Middle East policy. (No, of course it couldn't possibly be our own fault.) As the failure of our Middle East policy becomes more and more difficult to deny, I would expect to see a sharp resurgence of anti-Jewish bigotry in the US.”
Following the above paragraph, I wrote:
Will this come to pass too? Only time will tell. But consider Rabbi Lerner's conclusion, “there is a fundamental decency and goodness in most people on this planet and in the U.S. We see that in the love pouring out toward the Jewish community from all sectors of this society.”“Israel may react differently. As the power and unconditional backing of its major benefactor evaporates, Israel may decide that the best course is not only to make peace with its neighbors, but to enter into some form of economic and military cooperation with them.
Yes, I think Peace is more than just possible, perhaps even likely; especially if we take to heart Lerner's final sentence: “It is our task to affirm and strengthen that loving energy rather than sink into despair.”
ONE GIANT STEP TOWARD WORLD WAR III
While the world is demanding an end to nuclear weaponry, Trump vows to pull out of the INF (Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces) Treaty with Russia which will likely superheat the nuclear arms race.
With a caravan of several thousand Central American refugees wending its way toward our southern border, fleeing from hunger and violence, it behooves us to understand why there is so much violence, devastation and poverty in Central America. This article from 350.org explains how US military interventions, unfair trade agreements and (lack of) climate policy has fueled Central America's violence, poverty and insecurity.
While Central America's responsibility for climate change is barely a fraction of that of the United States, Central America receives a far larger share of the devastation caused by climate change. “Asylum for immigrants — and all people displaced by US military, economic and climate policy — is not a matter of charity, it’s a question of basic justice.”
HAWAII JUST LOST AN ISLAND TO CLIMATE CHANGE
Well, only a small one — 11 acre East Island. Hurricane Walaka passed through earlier this month and totally erased the Island. Chip Fletcher who had been doing research on the Island remarked “I thought the island would be around for a decade or two longer, but it’s far more fragile than I appreciated. The top, middle and bottom of it has gone.”
Maybe Manhattan is next.
Super-Typhoon Yutu has totally destroyed Saipan, Tinian and Rota in the US Commonwealth Northern Mariana Islands. The Marianas will be months in recovery.
Yutu then went on to terrorize Luzon in the Philippines killing at least six and is now approaching China.
October 23, 2018 (written for Rolla Peace Newsletter)
SAUDI ARABIA AND THE YEMINI GENOCIDE
For years Saudi Arabia has been carrying out a genocidal war against the Yemeni people with the blessings and support of the US and Europe. Apparently cracks in Western support for the Yemeni Genocide are beginning to grow. Germany has put on hold the sale of a few million dollars worth of patrol boats to Saudi Arabia and calls are coming in for a UN investigation into the apparent murder, torture and dismemberment of Jamal Khashoggi in the Saudi Arabian consulate in Istanbul.
Khashoggi was a reporter for the Washington Post who was very critical of the Saudi regime and Saudi Prince Salmon. He entered the Saudi consulate in Turkey to obtain papers to marry his Turkish fiancee. He never returned. He is thought to have been murdered, tortured and dismembered. The Turks say they have proof.
I'm also a journalist (of sorts) and a critic of Saudi Arabia's genocidal war. I intend to stay out of Saudi Arabian consulates.
And like Robert Koehler, I can't help wondering why the murder of one Washington Post journalist is so much greater an atrocity than the murder of 40 children on a Yemini school bus.
LASER TECHNOLOGY: CROWD CONTROL OR GLOBAL WARMING MITIGATION
For years I have been pointing out that theoretically lasers could be used to beam some of Earth's excess heat back into space at a frequency transparent to Earth's atmosphere. I know of no research on this potential application of laser technology. Instead the US Military is actively researching the use of lasers for “crowd control.” Apparently attack dogs, rubber bullets, tear gas and water cannons in freezing weather are not enough. More powerful and versatile weapon are needed and the military is actively researching the use of lasers to blind, deafen, burn, incapacitate and even kill non-violent peaceful protesters.
Apparently, the military views the real enemy as non-violent peaceful protesters; not the Taliban or al-Queda or the Chinese or the Russians or even runaway climate change.
CLIMATE GRAPH UPDATES
I've updated my ongoing essay: Some Historic Temperature Graphs. I've added a 30-year climate graph which depicts the wave-like nature of Earth's warming and the correlation between some historic heat waves and El Niño conditions.
October 16, 2018 (written for Rolla Peace Newsletter)
AFTER 17 YEARS, WAR AGAINST AFGHANISTAN MAY BE ENDING SOON
This month the War Against Afghanistan entered its 18th year. That is, if you count from the October 7, 2001 invasion by the US and allies. There are other reasonable times you could count from, such as:
1979: Beginning of US supported jihad against the Soviet Union.
1838: Disastrous British invasion in which the entire British army was totally annihilated except for one lone survivor.
Counting as you wish, an end to the current War Against Afghanistan would be a wonderful thing for Afghanistan, the United States and the world.
In 2001, the US invaded Afghanistan with around 49 allied nations in what was supposed to be a “cake walk.” 17 years later, the Taliban controls more territory than at any time since 2001, with its influence growing.
The United States and the Taliban are meeting in Qatar to discuss ending the war. The Taliban precondition is the negotiation of the withdrawal of all foreign troops from Afghanistan.
I am amazed by the Afghan people. In the United States they are almost always portrayed by the Left as victims. Yet in modern times, they have been victorious over the British, the Russians, and perhaps soon, victorious over the United States too.
Of course, Donald Trump will claim to have brought Peace to Afghanistan; just as he claims to be bringing Peace to Korea. However, I suspect history may pass a somewhat different verdict.
FIRE AND RAIN
Wildfires, floods and droughts are intensifying throughout the world. Here are two sites that specialize in climate disasters:
Natural disasters and extreme weather
And here are two important articles from the Guardian's Natural Disasters page on recent devastation:
This is what our future looks like: Hellfire
From Harvey to Michael: how America's year of major hurricanes unfolded
The IPCC has come out with another document claiming dire consequences if humanity doesn't drastically cut its use of fossil fuels immediately. As far as I'm concerned, the IPCC is again a day late and a dollar short .
My conjecture is that we passed a tipping point during the monster El Niño event of 2015-16. Surface temperatures have declined since then; but devastating fires and hurricanes have increased. Current events would seem to support my conjecture.
WAR AND CLIMATE CHANGE
In my writing, I try to bring out the strong correlation between War and Climate Change. Here is a short five minute talk I gave at the Great Rivers Environmental Law Center's Lewis Green Environmental Service Awards Party which, I think, establishes the connection in very few words.
October 9, 2018 (written for Rolla Peace Newsletter)
“ALL IS CALM:” 1914 WORLD WAR I CHRISTMAS TRUCE
“All is Calm” is the story of the 1914 World War I Christmas Truce along the Western Front, told in the words of those who experienced it. It wasn't planned. It just happened. It's one of the most powerful statements on war and peace I've ever encountered.
If you missed the performance of “All Is Calm” last year at Leach Theatre; you have another chance this year. Fine Linen Theatre will be performing “All Is Calm” at Cedar Street Playhouse from Nov. 27 through Dec. 1 with a cast of local talent. DON'T MISS IT!
Here's what I wrote last November after watching “All Is Calm.”
WAR BY “ACCIDENT”If you missed Monday's performance of “All Is Calm” at Leach Theatre, you missed one of the most powerful anti-war statements ever to come to Rolla. All Is Calm is a play by Peter Rothstein about the 1914 Christmas Truce on the western front during World War I. The words are mostly from letters and statements made by soldiers in the trenches.“What would happen, I wonder, if the armies of both sides suddenly and simultaneously went on strike and said some other method must be found for settling the dispute?” —Winston Churchill
Here is an article from The National Interest discussing what might happen if US and Chinese vessels were to collide in the South China Sea. Not so far-fetched. We've already had a very close call. It would be in everyone's interest to de-escalate the tension between the US and China now. Unfortunately we seem to be going in the opposite direction.
THE WORLD THUMBS ITS NOSE AT U.S. SANCTIONS ON IRAN
China and India are both likely to continue to purchase Iranian oil in spite of US sanctions. Europe is looking for a vehicle to skirt US sanctions on Iran. This is one more example of the United States being sidelined by the rest of the world.
The result of continued sanctions and trade wars will likely be more and more oil traded in Chinese Yuan and Euros as the dollar ceases to be the world's most dominant currency.
Meanwhile, the United Nations International Court of Justice ruled that US sanctions on Iran are “Illegal and Cruel” and ordered an easing of sanctions. The US will likely ignore the ruling, further isolating The United States.
NASA'S CLIMATE PROGRAM MOVES FORWARD
In spite of Donald Trump's vow to axe NASA's climate science program, it appears to be expanding and doing quite well.
EARTHQUAKES AND TSUNAMIS AND VOLCANOES, OH MY!
The Indonesian Island of Sulawesi has been hit by all three: an earthquake, tsunami and volcano. Thousands have died. Could this be the result of human activity? It's possible. What we do on the surface and above affects the subsurface too. If you are interested in how climate change can trigger earthquakes, tsunamis and volcanoes read Bill McGuire's “Waking the Giant.”
And here's an interesting article on what makes cities sink.
October 2, 2018 (written for Rolla Peace Newsletter)
KAVANAUGH: THE GENTLEMAN DOTH PROTEST TOO MUCH
While Kavanaugh's angry denials become increasingly difficult to believe, his friends in Congress continue to push his appointment to the Supreme Court forward. Well, suppose he is confirmed. The Supreme Court will be known forevermore as the Rape Court (especially when they make their inevitable decisions against the Rights of women) and will likely lose whatever public respect it still has after the disastrous Citizens United decision.
And while we have all been so mesmerized by the Brett Kavanaugh circus...
TRUMP: AGAINST THE ASSAULT OF LAUGHTER NOTHING CAN STAND
The whole world laughed at our president. When Trump bragged in front of the UN General Assembly that “In less than two years, my administration has accomplished more than almost any administration in the entire history of our country,” there were laughs and guffaws. I think Trump is the first US president to have ever been laughed at in the General Assembly. If I'm wrong, someone please correct me.
Meanwhile, the US has been sidelined as the rest of the world moves on. Korea and the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons are two such examples.
TREATY ON THE PROHIBITION OF NUCLEAR WEAPONS: FOUR NEW RATIFICATIONS, ONE ACCESSION & TEN NEW SIGNATURES
Since I last reported on the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons in early August; the Treaty has garnered four ratifications (Gambia, Samoa, San Marino and Vanuatu), one accession (Cook Islands, legally equivalent to ratification) and ten signatures (Angola, Antigua & Barbuda, Benin, Brunei, Colombia, Guinea-Bissau, Myanmar, St Lucia, Seychelles and Timor-Leste). Let's hear a loud Hip Hip Hooray for all these brave nations that are standing up against big-power nuclear bullying.
The Treaty now has 69 signatories and 19 ratifications (or equivalent). 31 more ratifications and the treaty becomes international law; but sadly, only for those states that have ratified the treaty.
Of the nine nuclear-weapon states, (USA, Russia, France, UK, China, India, Pakistan, Israel and North Korea); North Korea is the only one to express interest in de-nuclearizing if its security can be guaranteed in other ways.
You will find very few reports of this in the media, even in the so-called progressive media. But I think this is important — much more important than what happens to Brett Kavanaugh.
Sept. 25, 2018 (written for Rolla Peace Newsletter)
UPDATE: BRETT KAVANAUGH
When I wrote a short snippet on Brett Kavanaugh last week, I felt there was an important piece missing from the discussion of the Christine Blasey Ford accusation. Well, folks: Here it is.
According to a former student at the elitist boy's school, Georgetown Prep, the school was filled with spoiled brats from wealthy families who felt entitled to do whatever they wanted with impunity: alcohol, drugs, sex, rape,... They never thought they would ever be held accountable for anything they did. This is the environment in which the attempted rape described be Blasey Ford takes place.
As Kavanaugh has stated himself, “What happens at Georgetown Prep stays at Georgetown Prep. That’s been a good thing for all of us.” That's the Georgetown code. And this is a small-time mafia. Don't snitch; and if you do you could end up dead. Blasey Ford has received death threats. The former student interviewed in this article won't give his name for fear of what might happen to him. (And Donald Trump asks why Blasey Ford didn't come forward 35 years ago???)
The fact that it was part of the Georgetown Prep culture and almost everybody there was doing it doesn't make it any more or less right or wrong. It does, however, mean that everybody who participated in this culture, particularly the “adults” who enabled it and looked the other way are accomplices and co-conspirators.
And everybody who tries to sweep this accusation under the rug is simply perpetuating this culture of entitlement and unaccountability.
UPDATE: HURRICANE FLORENCE: 3.4 MILLION DEAD CHICKENS AREN'T MUCH FUN
Last week I wrote: “[Hurricane Florence's] most lasting effect may well be from all the pollution that it likely stirred up. The Carolinas are home to several nuclear power plants and superfund sites plus many other toxic waste sites.”
Folks in the Carolinas are coming home to a cesspool of dead chickens, faecal wastes and toxic coal ash. I suspect we'll be hearing a lot more about the pollution stirred up by Florence in future weeks. Catawba Riverkeepers have posted these maps of CAFOs (Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations) and Coal Ash disposal sites. Note that many lie in flood plains and given the number of severe hurricanes that have hit the Carolinas, this was all too predictable.
UPDATE: CODY WILSON
Since I wrote a snippet two weeks ago on Cody Wilson who made untraceable 3D-printed do-it-yourself guns available to the masses, Wilson has been arrested for — you guessed it — having sex with an underage girl.
I'll bet 10 to 1 that this was a sting operation. If they can't get at you any other way, they get at you through sex. That's how they captured Mordecai Vanunu. That's how they tried to get Julian Assange.
But, as I said two weeks ago, they are a dollar short and a day late. The cat's out of the bag and there is no stuffing it back in.
DRONES: THE SMALL ASSASSINS
Untraceable, do it yourself, guns are not the only weapons in the arsenals of the violent. Last month the enemies of Venezuelan president Nicolas Maduro tried to assassinate him with off the shelf drones loaded with explosives. Drone technology is readily available. Expect the range, load capacity and guidance systems of consumer drones to improve.
Now suppose that Stephen Paddock also had a fleet of drones loaded with explosives when he shot and killed 59 at an open-air country music festival in Las Vegas. It could easily have been 559 or even more.
Moon Jae-in and Kim Jong-an made great progress toward Korean detente and the eventual reunification of the Two Koreas. Together they took steps to demilitarize the border and build peace on the Korean peninsula. “We have agreed to make the Korean Peninsula a land of peace that is free from nuclear weapons and nuclear threat,” declared chairman Kim. They also agreed to make a joint bid to host the 2032 Olympics.
This is great news for the Korean people and the world.
COLIN KAEPERNICK: THE $6 BILLION HERO
Nike's new advertising campaign featuring NFL star quaterback Colin “take a knee” Kaepernick has been a great success. Nike stock has surged to the tune of $6.1 Billion.
President Donald Trump was totally wrong when he tweeted, “Just like the NFL, whose ratings have gone WAY DOWN, Nike is getting absolutely killed with anger and boycotts.”
Donald, I think if we held a popularity contest today: You v. Colin Kaepernick, Kaepernick would win in a landslide. Isn't it nice to have a president who is so completely out of touch with the people?
Kaepernick is the latest in a line of celebrities that have bravely risked their celebrity status to oppose war and racism.
50 years ago world heavy weight boxing champion, Muhammad Ali, was stripped of his title for his opposition to the Vietnam War and famously drawing the crucial connection between war and racism, “no Vietcong ever called me nigger.”
Fifteen years ago, Natalie Maines, lead singer for the Dixie Chicks, told a London audience, “We don't want this war [Iraq], this violence, and we're ashamed that the President of the United States (George W. Bush) is from Texas.” The Dixie Chicks were boycotted and Maines forced to apologize. But you know what? Maines was right and you would be hard pressed to find anyone today who doesn't think the Iraq invasion was a terrible mistake. Many, such as myself, think it was a criminal enterprise and the perpetrators should be prosecuted.
We've come a long way since 1967. The racist warlike cabal in Washington has been exposed for what it is — again and again. And Colin Kaepernick is a $6 Billion hero.
Sept. 18, 2018 (written for Rolla Peace Newsletter)
WHO'LL STOP THE RAIN
This weekend the world was hit by two unusually powerful cyclones: Hurricane Florence in the western Atlantic and Typhoon Mangkhut in the western Pacific.“Five year plans and new deals,
Mangkhut, a category five cyclone (the highest) slammed into the Philippines killing at least 65 and probably hundreds. Mangkhut then went on to devastate Hong Kong from miles out to sea and cause millions in South China to evacuate from their homes.
Florence, a huge monster of a storm, stalled over the Carolina coast bringing six foot storm surges and intense flooding. Yesterday, a weakened Florence continued to drop prodigious amounts of rain in the Appalachians which will flow down to the already flooded Carolina coastal plain. However, its most lasting effect may well be from all the pollution that it likely stirred up. The Carolinas are home to several nuclear power plants and superfund sites plus many other toxic waste sites.
As is typical of such disasters, it is the poor who pay the highest price. Wealthier people can often rebuild at taxpayer expence through federal flood insurance.
North Carolina governor, Roy Cooper, likened Florence to “an uninvited brute who doesn't want to leave.” Sorry Governor, but Florence was invited by every climate change denier in the state. Maybe now you will get serious about trying to control climate change.
Interestingly, in 2012 the North Carolina legislature passed a law that for planning purposes, only linear extrapolations from historic sea-level data will be allowed. The law remains on the books. Well folks, complex systems are rarely if ever linear. In the case of sea-level rise its a no-brainer. A warming climate melts glaciers and ice caps that drive sea-level rise. Warmer water is less dense than cold and has a greater volume. As sea-level rise continues to accelerate, it leaves the North Carolina coast open to increased devastation from storms like Florence.
Now I feel punishment should fit the crime; so here is my suggestion: Every North Carolina legislator who voted for this bill should be staked out on the beach with a pencil and a notebook as the tide rolls in. In order to earn his release, he must write a 1,000 word essay on the non-linearity of climate change. The essays should then be published and submitted to their constituents for grading.
And here's another suggestion: The United States and China, both hard hit by Florence and Mangkhut, are the two largest emitters of Greenhouse Gases (The US is number one historically although recently overtaken on an annual basis by China.) Instead of economic rivalry and a continued arms race leading to a likely military confrontation, they should be made to pool their resources to fight climate change and global warming, which are responsible for feeding monster cyclones like Mangkhut and Florence.
Meanwhile, driven by climate change, the Middle East, Australia, the western United States, and other locations remain in serious drought. 98% or more of seven western US states are in some stage of drought.
FIVE YEARS OF INTENSE HEAT
If there is any doubt in your mind that the Earth is warming and that climate change is causing extreme weather events like Mangkhut and Florence, consider the following: The latest five (September through August) 12 month periods have been the five warmest on record (see table below). The sixth and seventh warmest were both during El Niño years which tend to superheat the climate.
But what I find most interesting is that these five years when graphed resemble a hand with the middle finger extended. (See graph below.) I think Nature is saying something to us. Too bad so few are listening.
I can think of lots of reasons why Brett Kavanaugh is unfit to serve on the Supreme Court. First and foremost he is a close-minded ideologue. A judge, and in particular a Supreme Court justice, should be capable of considering all sides of an issue fairly, a quality that Kavanaugh clearly lacks.
And what about this accusation that at age 17, over 30 years ago, he got stinking drunk at a party and tried unsuccessfully to rape a young lady? Hey, I did lots of things when I was a teenager that I'm not exactly proud of. (No, I won't tell you; ask Helen.) Let's just say that I've been in remission for a number of years.
But I think we are missing the most important aspect of the Ford accusation — that the rape attempt ended in failure. From the 1857 Dred Scott decision to the recent Citizens United decision, the Supreme Court has been successfully raping us all. Adam Serwer, writing in The Atlantic, has compiled a long list of such cases. So maybe we would be better off with a failed rapist on the Supreme Court than with another more successful rapist.
ISRAEL: BOYCOTT, DIVEST AND SANCTION MOVEMENT
It appears that the movement to boycott Israel for unspeakable crimes against humanity is having its effect. In this world, filled with injustice, there are still crimes that do not go unnoticed. Apparently, blockading almost 2 million people, half of them children, in an open air prison without sufficient food, water and medicines is still beyond the pale.
20 international acts, including superstar singer Lana Del Rey, cancelled their appearance at Israel's Meteor Music Festival.
Paraguay decided to move its embassy back to Tel Aviv from Jerusalem. Netanyahu threw a hissy fit and closed the Israeli embassy in Paraguay. That leaves only the United States and Guatemala with embassies in Jerusalem.
17-year-old Palestinian rights activist, Ahed Tamimi, who at 16 was jailed for slapping an Israeli soldier who invaded her house, is now speaking in France, in spite of Israeli attempts to prevent her from traveling. She intends to do more speaking in Europe.
Ships from Europe continue to attempt to break the illegal Israeli blockade and bring humanitarian relief to Gaza. Israeli pirates continue to capture these humanitarian vessels; but still they keep coming.
Poet-activist Dareen Tatour is serving a jail term in Israel for — you guessed it — writing poetry. Here is a sample of her poetry:
Detaining a Poem
Sept. 11, 2018 (written for Rolla Peace Newsletter)
GUN CONTROL IS DEAD
Joseph Conrad's “professor,” quoted above, carries a flask of high explosives on his person. His hand rests in his pocket on a rubber ball which if squeezed activates a 20 second trigger. He, it is believed, is perfectly willing to blow himself up along with everyone in the vicinity.“Yes, I would give the stuff with both hands to every man, woman, or fool that likes to come along.” —Joseph Conrad (The Secret Agent, 1907)
Conrad's professor also wants to give the whole world his “stuff.” He thinks that if everyone were armed like he is, the world would be a much better place.
Today, Cody Wilson is on a similar crusade. Wilson has made it possible to download the blueprints and 3D print your own untraceable weapon for a song. And what's more, it's perfectly legal! And even if it weren't — it wouldn't matter. Policing the internet is next to impossible. And once you are in possession of the blueprint and a 3D printer, you don't even need the internet.
And this technology is certain to be perfected further, leading to cheaper, more powerful and more readily available weapons. And, as this technology is perfected, it will become easier and easier for gun owners to not only bypass any existing state sponsored weapons controls, but the weapons manufacturers also. As a result, weapons manufacturers, in order to continue turning handsome profits, will be forced to peddle faster, more powerful and more accurate weapons.
So much for gun control.
And this works for non-State armies as well. Nine months ago I wrote about how ISIS had perfected the art of weapons manufacture and surmised that maybe soon it will be possible for an ISIS to manufacture weapons of mass destruction — maybe even nuclear weapons.
Joseph Conrad was prophetic. Perhaps he foresaw the day when “every man, woman or fool that likes to come along” could possess powerful weaponry.
And we should be mindful of the end of Conrad's “The Secret Agent,” in which people die as a result of the professor giving his “stuff to every man, woman or fool that likes to come along.”
States exist to a large measure to protect their citizens from violence from each other. To do so, a State will often claim a monopoly on violence.“A monopoly on violence is a terrifying monopoly to hold.” —Deborah Orr
What happens when a State cannot or will not enforce its monopoly on violence and protect its citizens equally? People may look elsewhere for protection, such as to a local gang, warlord or Mafia don. However, in a situation where deadly weapons are readily available, a citizen might well decide to take matters into his own hand, like, for example, Nikolas Cruz or Stephen Paddock.
A third possibility is that some will just leave and look for less violent pastures, such as the victims of Central American violence who show up in large numbers at our southern border.
Here in the United States we are faced with a State that is fast becoming a failed state — unable and unwilling to protect its citizens equally. We are also faced with the growing availability of more and more powerful weaponry. It's a deadly combination. Expect the level of violence to increase.
Is there a solution? Well, we could all try getting along with each other. Maybe we need to start sharing what's left of the world before there is nothing left to share. After all, there are 7.5 billion of us. That's a lot of folks — and a lot of weapons.
Sept. 4, 2018 (written for Rolla Peace Newsletter)
THE WAR ON CHILDREN (UPDATE)
Yemen: Under intense international pressure, Saudi Arabia changed its tune, officially stating that their bombing of a school bus in Yemen, killing over 30 children was “unjustified.” However, Alan Fisher points out that “if you look at the actual wording ... they are not saying that there was a problem with killing children.” It was apparently unjustified only because their target was not aboard the bus at the time. Incidentally, the bomb that killed the children was manufactured in the United States with your tax dollars.
Palestine: Sounds like a statement that could have come out of Israel. Not only do Israelis murder Palestinian children; but they mock the families as they bury their murdered children. “Birds of a feather flock together.”
United States: Weeks after the court-mandated deadline, 497 children separated from their families at our southern border, including 22 under five-years-of-age, have still not been reunited with their families. The parents of 322 of these children were deported without their children. Representative Barbara Lee rightly calls this “government-sanctioned child abuse.” So far, no criminal charges have been filed.
And families are leaving the supplemental nutrition program (WIC) for fear of being deported or having their immigration status revoked.
MORE ON RELIGION
Here is an article by Brian Terrell of the Iowa Catholic Worker community pointing out that while pedophilia in the Catholic Church is justly condemned; the far greater crime of War, which is so damaging to children, is barely mentioned.
Similar statements could probably be made about most religions and other systems of ethical behavior. (See snippet above)
ONLY GOD CAN MAKE A TREE — BUT YOU CAN PLANT ONE YOURSELF
If we are to save our fast-warming planet from disaster, it will be through the help of our good friends, the trees.
Here's an article about how magical gao trees are greening Niger and transforming the Sahel region of Africa.
And here is one about how the people of Delhi saved 16,000 trees that were slated to be cut down.
So go out and plant a tree, or two, or many. And if you have several thousand dollars to spare you could, like Melania Trump, plant a tree in 4 inch stiletto heels and a $4,000 floral Valentino skirt with a gold-plated shovel. Yes — seriously — I'M NOT KIDDING.
Part of the title of this snippet is from the poem, Trees, by Joyce Kilmer.
August 28, 2018 (written for Rolla Peace Newsletter)
Two weeks ago, in reference to the referendum vote in Missouri overturning Right to Work by a 2 to 1 margin and the passing of Proposition C by initiative petition by a 2 to 1 margin 10 years ago, I asked:“You may run on for a long time;
“Here's a conundrum for you. Why do we keep electing politicians who are so totally out of touch with The People? Anyone out there care to venture a guess?”
A reader responds:
“Several years ago, I asked a sitting MO legislator this same question. His answer: ‘Religion.’”
Now that's an interesting answer. What kind of religion makes people elect someone who votes for sending good jobs out of state, cutting wages of Missouri workers and damaging Missouri's air quality? I don't think that's any religion at all; and if it is, it's the Devil's own religion.
But let's not stop there. What kind of religion causes people to elect a president who proudly kidnaps children while deporting their parents. The Devil's own religion.
What kind of people (Israelis) would blockade a million children in a tiny enclave (Gaza) without adequate water or medicine, take potshots at those who protest and claim religious justification? The Devil's own religion.
What kind of people (Saudi Arabians) would claim to be devout followers of God and bomb a school bus full of children (Yemen). The Devil's own religion.
Samuel Johnson once said that “patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel;” but I think religion might have patriotism beat here.
TRUTH (A WORLD IN DENIAL)
While I have become used to liars in high places, here's one that really threw me. After a phone conversation between US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and newly confirmed Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Kham, Pompeo declared that they had discussed Terrorists. Pakistan declared that no such thing was discussed and demanded a retraction. Spokeswoman Heather Nauert then said that the State Department stood behind its original statement.“People will trust treacherous people;
Huh???? One can certainly see why the North Koreans have accused Pompeo of “gangster-like” behavior.
The truth no longer matters. Make up any lie you want to. It's not a problem.
We have become a world in denial. We have taken this beautiful world that God gave us, and degraded it beyond redemption. The world is split between the total deniers; and those who claim that the degradation is reversible on a short time scale, if we only make a few small changes. If you want to reverse climate change and planetary degradation, better start praying, because it will require an act of God.
EXAMPLE: THE STRANGE CASE OF DR. YOSHIHIRO SATO
Some believe our problems can be solved by listening to scientists, who are to a great extent responsible for the World's problems in the first place. Scientists, they claim, are truthful people. They even want us to march for Science. But scientists, it turns out, are just as big liars as everybody else.“Surprisingly, scientists proved as susceptible to herd-think as everyone else, and equally unaware of it.”
Consider Yoshihiro Sato who published over 100 papers over the course of more than a decade. Many of his papers were cited in the scientific literature and treatment guidelines were made to reflect his studies. It took many years before Dr. Sato was exposed as the biggest scientific fraud since the Piltdown Man. He has reportedly suicided.
Many are astonished by the extent of the fraud perpetrated by Sato. I'm not. I was a scientist up until my retirement. I've experienced scientific dishonesty first hand.
Many are wondering why he published so many fraudulent studies and how he got away with it for so long. Ask Donald Trump or Mike Pompeo. They know.
August 21, 2018 (written for Rolla Peace Newsletter)
NICARAGUA: A FAILED COUP
The coup in Nicaragua has failed — at least for now. In spite of US support for the opposition, the government appears to be firmly in control. What happened?
According to Charles Redvers, the opposition was united only in its desire to see the Ortega government fall and had no common program of improvement. Further, the coup had turned violent, people were dying, a relatively stable economic life was disrupted, and people were afraid to venture out into the streets. The coup lost whatever popular support it had, without which, it was no match for a government that had improved the livelihood of many a Nicaraguan family.
There has been an uneasy 11-year truce between the United States and the Ortega government. The truce has been broken and is perhaps irreparable.
China is the wild card. The Chinese would love to build the Grand Canal across Nicaragua from the Atlantic to the Pacific — a canal to rival the Panama Canal. I think the US would do anything to prevent this. China is a rising global power; The US: a waning power. Clearly, China is concerned about the possibility of closure of the Panama Canal to Chinese shipping, especially in view of the current trade war.
Will there be a showdown in Nicaragua? Will Nicaragua be the bone over which the two big dogs fight? Wait and see.
The Grand Canal would be an environmental disaster. Some say it will never be built; but I would not bet on it. Environmentalists concerned about the possibility of a Grand Canal across Nicaragua would do well to work for World Peace.
This article by Alfred McCoy discusses the global rivalry between the US and China and remarks in the final paragraph that with global warming and climate change there may not be a winner.
13 former top “intelligence” officers published an open letter criticizing Donald Trump. This is unprecedented. The CIA likely holds more power in the United States than the presidency and the CIA has lots of experience with coups d'etat.
Is this letter a warning? Perhaps. I can't imagine that the “intelligence” community is happy about the way the Trump administration blew the attempted Nicaraguan coup.
And for those who would welcome a coup d'etat against the Trump presidency: I suggest you first think about what's likely to follow. (Hint: It's unlikely to be Bernie Sanders.)
STACY BANNERMAN ON THE FAILURE OF FEMINISM
Two weeks ago I discussed Stacy Bannerman's article pointing out how our militarism is a major cause of climate change and how few will even talk about it. Bannerman is back this week discussing the military and feminism, showing how our militarism aggravates sexism and gender inequality and calling out the feminist movement for its failure to talk about it.“War is the weaponization of discrimination, classism and misogyny. So why are so few women talking about it.”
Bannerman ends her article:
This is a very important article. Read it!“So, ladies, let’s end our silence about America’s endless wars, and start talking about peace as if justice depends on it. Because it does.”
RALPH NADER: ADVICE FOR PROGRESSIVES
Four time failed presidential candidate, Ralph Nader, also has some harsh words for today's timid “progressives.” Had we elected Ralph Nader, The United States would likely be the great nation we all want it to be and the Trumpian slogan, “Make America Great Again” would have fallen upon deaf ears.
IMRAN KHAN SWORN IN PRIME MINISTER OF PAKISTAN
Saturday Imran Khan was sworn in as prime minister of Pakistan. It's hard to describe Imran Khan here in the United States. Think of Babe Ruth, Jim Thorpe, Tiger Woods and Muhammad Ali all rolled into one person. Now you are getting close.
Khan led Pakistan to its one and only victory in the world (cricket) cup. As a philanthropist he built hospitals and colleges in Pakistan. Then he went into politics campaigning against corruption and for improving the livelihood of the People.
He has been very critical of Pakistan's participation in US wars:
It's unclear how the US could continue fighting its 17-year-old War against Afghanistan without Pakistani help.“We became a U.S. proxy for a war against the Soviet Union when it entered Afghanistan and we allowed the CIA to create, train, and arm Jihadi groups on our soil and a decade later we tried to eliminate them as terrorists on U.S. orders. The time has come to stand firm and give a strong response to the U.S.”
Khan described a potential meeting with Donald Trump as a “bitter pill,” but added that he would meet him.
Here in the USA, we do not play much cricket, but elsewhere in the world cricket is a very popular sport. It's somewhat akin to baseball. You have a pitcher (bowler) and a batter (batsman); but the batsman's primary objective is to protect his wicket (5 sticks, 3 vertical and 2 horizontal) and the bowler's primary objective is to knock down the other team's wicket.
Here is a description of cricket written especially for folks like us who are unfamiliar with cricket but familiar with baseball.
I developed an interest in cricket decades ago when I read G.H. Hardy's A Mathematician's Apology. Hardy was an avid cricket fan as well as one of the best mathematicians the world has produced. However, he is best known for having mentored Ramanujan, perhaps the greatest mathematician of all. I highly recommend Hardy's Apology.
August 14, 2018 (written for Rolla Peace Newsletter)
SELF-PERPETUATING VIOLENCE AND CLIMATE CHANGE
“I object to violence because when it appears to do good, the good is only temporary; the evil it does is permanent.” —Mahatma GandhiHere is a fourth way in which the US military contributes to climate change: (See last weeks newsletter for the first three.)
It has been said that when your only tool is a hammer; everything looks like a nail. Similarly, when your only asset is a military, war appears to be the solution to every problem.
How useless is a military in reducing climate change! When climate activists mention the military it is invariably, with a few notable exceptions, to point out that the military regards climate change as a threat to national security. There is little, if any, mention that the threat is to a large extent self-created and self-perpetuating.
Excessive violence creates a positive feedback loop. Twice in recent history, (1945 and 1990), the United States emerged from a war as the undisputed world leader and sole super-power. As such, it was probably within our power to build a world free of war where humanity could tackle more important problems, like climate change.
And perhaps, if we had emerged from these wars as a power that had accomplished its objectives using a minimum of force, instead of one that had introduced horrendous weapons hitherto unknown to the world, this would have happened. In both cases the United States opted for more war and world empire with devastating results for itself and the entire world.
And the saddest part is that we have learned nothing. We still dream of America First and World Empire.
MORE WAR ON THE HORIZON
In 2003, as the United States prepared to invade Iraq, much of the world objected. Millions of people demonstrated in the streets. Our close allies: France, Germany and Turkey opted out. I said to myself, maybe the world is finally coming to its senses. Sadly, it was not to be. The US invaded, the millions of anti-war demonstrators went home, and our European allies demanded their share of the spoils too.
15 years later, the United States appears to be preparing for War against Iran. This time it might be different. China and Europe stand against it. They might do more than politely object.
The saddest part is that this conflict is over access to Iran's oil which, as any climate activist will tell you, should stay in the ground. The world should be paying Iran to keep its oil in the ground — not fighting over who gets access to it.
MISSOURI POLITICIANS: TOTALLY OUT OF TOUCH WITH THE PEOPLE
Last year, the Missouri legislature passed SB 19 (Right to Work, sponsored by our own senator Dan Brown) by a greater than 2 to 1 margin. Last week, The People spoke, rejecting Right to Work by referendum petition by a greater than 2 to 1 margin.
This is not the first time this has happened. Ten years ago, the voters passed Proposition C by initiative petition by an almost 2 to 1 margin. Prop. C established a renewable energy standard for Missouri. The legislature then proceeded to run roughshod over the Will of the People and gutted key provisions of Prop C and Missouri's renewable energy standard.
Here's a conundrum for you. Why do we keep electing politicians who are so totally out of touch with The People? Anyone out there care to venture a guess?
YET ANOTHER NEW CLIMATE DISASTER
Toxic red-tide algal blooms are nothing new to the Gulf of Mexico. But, algal blooms are usually constrained to a few months in late summer or early fall, This year's bloom off the coast of Florida started in November and is still going strong. It has an unusually high density and is believed to be responsible for killing much wildlife.
It remains to be seen whether this will become another new climate normal which will occur year after year.
August 7, 2018 (written for Rolla Peace Newsletter)
Today is election day — and I hope you all voted.
Me? I voted. I'd like to have voted for Peace; but she wasn't on my ballot. There wasn't even a line where I could write her name in. I'd like to have voted to repeal Climate Change. That wasn't on my ballot either. What kind of election is that? War and Climate Change: the two greatest existential threats to humanity and neither one is on the ballot.
Instead my mailbox has been inundated with flyers from candidates who say they love guns and life. I suspect the irony is lost on them. Guns take lives — lots of them — tens of thousands.
In response to the paragraph I wrote three weeks ago on election meddling:
“Oh, incidentally, have you ever contributed to a candidate in some other state or district? for example, Tammy Duckworth, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez or Elizabeth Warren. If so, you have meddled in an election. The voters in Massachusetts are supposed to choose their senator — not residents of Missouri.”A reader writes:
“I disagree with you that by contributing to an out-of-state senator (like Elizabeth Warren to whom I have contributed) is meddling in an election. It is simply supporting a candidate in another state. And no one except the candidate and her staff knows you have contributed.Well, I've contributed to out-of-state politicians too. Was I meddling? I think so. Money = Votes; and big Money = lots of Votes. If it didn't, I wouldn't be getting all these requests for money from politicians thousands of miles away whom I've never even heard of before.
Sorry, I don't have the resources to meddle on the grand scale of the NRA or the Israeli lobby. Maybe that's why politicians seem to like Guns more than Peace. Maybe that's why politicians seem to like Israel more than the United States.
So far no one, to my knowledge, has accused Russia of buying the election, just hacking and leaking stuff that should have been public anyway.
I may write about how to get money out of the electoral process and make elections fairer later.
HOW WAR DESTROYS OUR CLIMATE
“The most eco-friendly thing you can do is be anti-war.” —Katherine BallThe cause and effect relationship between War and Climate Change has been a recurrent theme in my writings; so I was very happy to see Stacy Bannerman's article on this relationship on Common Dreams.
Climate activists tend to ignore the military contribution to climate change. Indeed as Bannerman writes:
“How do you clear a room of climate activists? Start talking about war. It’s not just environmentalists that leave; it’s pretty much everyone.”That says it in a nutshell. Militarism, and the US military in particular is the single largest contributor to climate change, but few will even talk about it.
We can divide the military's contribution to Climate Change into three broad categories.
1. Lost OpportunityThis short article is not meant to be inclusive. Can you think of other points that should be added?
The bottom line: If the world learned to get along and stop spending on their militaries; it would free up more than enough resources to convert the entire world energy supply to non-polluting renewables with plenty left over for reforestation and other activities that reduce our carbon footprint. Seems we humans would rather fight each other; even if it kills us all.
CALIFOIRNIA SETS ANOTHER FIRE RECORD
“The earth seemed unearthly. We are accustomed to look upon the shackled form of a conquered monster, but there—there you could look at a thing monstrous and free. It was unearthly.” —Joseph Conrad (Heart of Darkness, 1898)Last December the Thomas Fire set a record for the most acres burned by any California fire on the books. The record was short lived. Eight months later, the Mendocino Complex Fire has outdone the Thomas Fire and it's still burning out of control. We're seeing climate related records fall almost as fast as they are set.
Donald Trump, with his typical disdain for facts, claimed the fire was a result of California State water policy. Sure, Donald, Global Warming is still a Chinese hoax. Right?
THE LOMBOK EARTHQUAKE
“And this stillness of life did not in the least resemble a peace. It was the stillness of an implacable force brooding over an inscrutable intention. It looked at you with a vengeful aspect.” —Joseph Conrad (Heart of Darkness, 1898)The Earth is astir. Volcanoes in Guatemala and Hawaii. Earthquakes in Indonesia, The 6.9 Lombok earthquake just killed 105. Does this have anything to do with human induced climate change? You bet it does. What we do to the surface of the Earth and the atmosphere reverberates deep in the bowels of the Earth. If you don't believe this, read Bill McGuire's “Waking the Giant: How a changing climate triggers earthquakes, tsunamis, and volcanoes.” Or you can watch this 14 minute video I put together instead.
TREATY TO PROHIBIT NUCLEAR WEAPONS: I SPOKE TO SOON
Last week I reported that in July three countries ratified the Treaty to Prohibit Nuclear Weapons. The number should have been four. On July 31, New Zealand also ratified the treaty. Lets hear a loud hip, hip, hooray for New Zealand!
IS THE FRIEND OF MY BEST FRIEND'S ENEMY'S FRIEND MY FRIEND OR MY ENEMY?
We've been supporting Saudi Arabia in their brutal, inhumane war against the Yemenis. Now, it turns out, we have, at least indirectly, also been supporting Saudi Arabia's good friend: al Qaeda on the Arabian Peninsula. Think about this one! After 9/11, we set about to destroy al-Qaeda. 17 years and Trillions of dollars later, we are helping them. Such are the fortunes of War!
July 31, 2018 (written for Rolla Peace Newsletter)
THREE NEW RATIFICATIONS TO TREATY ON THE PROHIBITION OF NUCLEAR WEAPONS
July brought three new ratifications to the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons — all from our good neighbors to the South: Costa Rica, Nicaragua and Uruguay. That brings the total to 13, 37 shy of the 50 ratifications needed for the treaty to go into force. Kudos to all three nations. Viva Costa Rica, Nicaragua and Uruguay!
Arctic wolf spiders appear to have an awesome method of fighting Climate Change. In cold weather one of their favorite foods is springtails, a crustacean that eats fungi that grow on dead organic matter. The fungi cause the dead organic matter to decay, releasing carbon dioxide and methane, both powerful greenhouse gases. So in cold weather, the fungi have free reign; and in this way, the spiders contribute to the warming of the arctic climate.“twas an elderly mother spider
However, as the weather warms, they turn to cannibalism, eating each other and allowing the springtails to flourish and eat the fungi that would otherwise release greenhouse gases. Thus in warm weather, the spiders contribute to cooling the arctic climate.
Nature is full of complex feedback mechanisms like this. We mess with Nature's checks and balances at our own peril.
And this little tale of a species that turns to cannibalism to control a warming climate should serve as a warning to another species that appears totally unable to control its behaviors that leads to rampant Global Warming.
I find this research by Amanda Koltz of Washington University in St. Louis extremely exciting, although I must take issue with one comment she made: “Everyone loves to hate spiders.”
Personally, I find spiders very attractive in spite of having almost lost a finger to a brown recluse bite. I think Don Marquis who wrote the poem quoted above might have agreed. On completing this poem, Don Marquis's archy continues:
YOUR HOUSE IS ON FIRE AND YOUR CHILDREN ARE GONE“i will admit that some
It seems that wildfires get worse every year. Sometimes I hardly think that they are worth reporting on any more.“Ladybug, ladybug, fly away home.
This year is no exception. Long hot dry spells spawn wildfires. Much of Europe in on fire, from Greece, where deadly fires swept through a fashionable resort town on the Aegean, to Sweden, where unprecedented wildfires burn north of the Arctic Circle.
California is on fire again. The deadly Carr fire in the northern Sacramento Valley spawned a fire whirl, often referred to as a firenado, where the fire burns so hot it picks up burning debris in a rotating column of air similar to a tornado. Small fire whirls are not uncommon; but fire whirls that, like the one spawned by the Carr fire, can uproot large trees and last for an hour are extremely rare.
Atmospheric scientist, Neil Lareau, remarked, “it’s not a coincidence that this is the record [hottest] July for the northern Sacramento Valley, embedded in a broader trend, and we’re going to keep seeing that.”
As of July 8, the US had lost over three million acres to wildfire. But, wait for October. Last year, California's most devastating fire on record, the Tubbs Fire, occurred in October.
Wildfires devastate our forests releasing stored carbon into the atmosphere in the form of carbon dioxide. Carbon dioxide is a potent Greenhouse Gas and warms the climate further creating the conditions for yet more wildfires which cause more warming.
MORE ON RUSSIA
Here's an interesting addendum from the Southern Poverty Law Center to the snippet I wrote on Russia last week.
Apparently far right-wing hate groups in Russia and the United States are working together to advance their common cause. So why aren't left-wing groups in Russia and the United States working together for Peace? Why am I hearing so much about Russian meddling in our elections instead.
Consider: If Russia was indeed responsible for helping Wikileaks publish the Democratic National Committee emails showing much wrong-doing by corporate Democrats, then they did us a great favor. We, the people, have a Right to know what shenanigans the leaders of our political parties are up to. Actually, Julian Assange and Wikileaks have denied that Russia was their source for these emails.
I stand by my conjecture from last week (which the SPLC article appears to support): Our rapprochement toward Russia is simply the beginning of the realignment of global alliances in the modern world, and likely will not presage a turn toward world peace.
PAKISTANIS REJECT US WARS AT THE POLLS
Famous former cricket star, now politician, Imran Khan's Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party was the big winner in Pakistan's parliamentary elections. Likely, the PTI will be able to make enough alliances with smaller parties to be able to form a new government for Pakistan.
Khan is a strong critic of US wars and has written:
“We became a U.S. proxy for a war against the Soviet Union when it entered Afghanistan and we allowed the CIA to create, train, and arm Jihadi groups on our soil and a decade later we tried to eliminate them as terrorists on U.S. orders. The time has come to stand firm and give a strong response to the U.S.”
I agree. Countries should not have to fight proxy wars for one another. Matter of fact, countries should not have to fight wars at all.
SUPER-WEALTHY INVESTMENT MOGULS PREPARE TO BAIL OUT OF HUMAN RACE
This article by Douglas Rushkoff describes a Q&A with five hedge-fund operators where they grilled him on how best to survive the upcoming collapse. One CEO “explained that he had nearly completed building his own underground bunker system and asked: 'How do I maintain authority over my security force after the Event?'” (“The Event” here refers to collapse due to war, climate change, social unrest, disease or other factors.)
Rushkoff notes that these sorry excuses for human beings “were preparing for a digital future that had a whole lot less to do with making the world a better place than it did with transcending the human condition altogether and insulating themselves from a very real and present danger” — a danger which they had done much to create themselves.
In closing, Rushkoff opines, “Being human is not about individual survival or escape. It’s a team sport. Whatever future humans have, it will be together.”
This is a very important article. Please read it.
July 24, 2018 (written for Rolla Peace Newsletter)
DETENTE WITH NORTH KOREA ON AGAIN
After Mike Pompeo's disastrous visit to North Korea earlier this month where he made “gangster-like” demands; and Trumps declaration that North Korea is still an “extraordinary threat,” Trump declared that North Korea's nuclear disarmament will take time. North Korea responded by beginning to dismantle a missile site. Folks: we are making progress!
WHAT'S GOING ON WITH RUSSIA?
Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin apparently got along real well at the Helsinki summit; and the pundits of all stripes are wondering: What's going on?
Thom Hartmann advances a number of conjectures:
1: Donald Trump has been a Russian agent all along.While I wouldn't discount any of the above, here's a fourth which I find far more likely. From a geopolitical standpoint, Russia would make a far better ally in a multipolar world than either Europe or China. Look at the Northern Hemisphere on a globe. Going West to East: USA, Europe, Russia, China (to the South), and back to the USA. Russia was our best ally in World War II. Europe has been waiting 60 years for the two late 20th century superpowers to decline so they can reassume what they view as their rightful position of global dominance. China has waited far longer — centuries — to reestablish its dominance.
Now I can't imagine that there aren't folks in our nation's “think tanks” who understand this; but old habits die slowly; and many still look upon Russia as our primary geopolitical enemy and Europe as our best friend. Many others are still living in a world where the one and only superpower can do whatever it likes wherever it likes. But, I think, Trump's natural affinity for “strong men” is winning out, at least for now.
Viewed in this way, detente with North Korea makes a lot of sense. A militarily strong Korean ally might help to contain China.
And it makes Trump's insistence on trashing the nuclear deal with Iran understandable. Both Europe and China would both love to have access to Iran's petroleum reserves. If Trump can't control Iran's oil, he can at least make access difficult.
Which side am I on? both and neither. While the world's great powers rearrange their alliances in a multi-polar world, an angry Nature batters us all with heat waves, hurricanes, floods, droughts and other “natural” disasters. I favor all of us working together to reduce the impact of global warming and climate change. It can't be done as long as we continue to play geopolitical games of domination.
THE WAR AGAINST CHILDREN (UPDATE)
463 parents may have been deported, leaving their children stranded here in the United States. Apparently, some parents were led to believe that if they agreed to voluntary deportation, they would be reunited with their children. Now the Trump administration is claiming once the parents have been deported they are no longer required to unite the families.
This is clear child abuse. Anyone going to jail for this? Probably not.
MISSOURI SUPREME COURT RULES FOR WIND POWER
The Missouri Supreme Court ruled that the Missouri Public Service Commission erred in rejecting the Grain Belt Express that would bring wind power from Kansas across Missouri to the Eastern grid. The Public Service Commission must now revisit the issue and this time, we hope, will rule in favor of this much-needed transmission line.
Henry Robertson of Great Rivers Environmental Law Center filed a Friend of the Court brief for The Sierra Club and Renew Missouri in favor of the Grain Belt Express. Robertson said, “The wind is on the Great Plains where the people aren’t. To stop climate change we have to get wind energy to the populations farther east. The Grain Belt Express addresses that need.”
Great Rivers Environmental Law Center is the same public-interest law center that saved Rolla's Buehler Park from commercial development in a landmark case where, for the first time since 1910, Missouri Courts ruled that users of public property have standing to sue to maintain that use.
July 17, 2018 (written for Rolla Peace Newsletter)
TRUMP AND PUTIN REFUSE TO ANSWER QUESTION ABOUT NUCLEAR WEAPONS BAN
While 59 nations have signed the Treaty to Prohibit Nuclear Weapons, the presidents of the United States and Russia which together own some 90% of the world's nuclear weapons refused to answer a question about a nuclear weapons ban. Journalist Sam Husseini was ejected from their press conference for trying to ask.
And that may be the most important event of the Trump-Putin summit in Helsinki.
I am far more interested in what, if anything, the US and Russia will do to rid the world of nuclear weapons and slow or reverse global warming than I am in alleged Russian meddling in US elections. That's what big powers do. They meddle in elections — all over the world. The U.S. has meddled in 81 foreign elections since 1945. This doesn't include a multitude of coups and military interventions.
Oh, incidentally, have you ever contributed to a candidate in some other state or district? for example, Tammy Duckworth, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez or Elizabeth Warren. If so, you have meddled in an election. The voters in Massachusetts are supposed to choose their senator — not residents of Missouri.
Politicians are brazen about it. I get mail all the time asking me to meddle in an election on behalf of some politician who may be as far away as California. It's all perfectly legal. The Supreme Court in Citizens United has enshrined the Constitutional Right to meddle in elections.
And if you're looking for foreign meddling in our elections, take a good look at Israel. Pro-Israel entities donated a whopping $17 million to influence our 2016 elections.
CLIMATE CHANGE AND THE MAINSTREAM MEDIA
Well, it's finally getting into the mainstream media, what most of us have known for years. Climate Change is not something that might happen in the future if we continue to burn fossil fuels. Climate Change is happening now, and people all over the world are feeling it. All the extreme weather events we have been experiencing are a result of or aggravated by climate change.
Extreme weather events have always been with us. What is different now is that they are happening everywhere, all at the same time, and lingering for long periods of time.
Floods in Japan; heat records from California to Algeria to Taiwan. Wildfires in England, and much much more.
And its only going to get worse. Temperatures and atmospheric CO2 continue to rise. Monthly average atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations topped 411 ppm for the first time in May.
Friends: Sometimes I think I'm living in a sick joke (see Helen's article above) . Our world is burning all around us, largely of our own making, and the best we can do is talk about election meddling.
WORLD'S MOST EXPENSIVE MEDICAL CARE
Here's a story of a woman who sustained a serious injury when her leg got caught between a subway and the platform. She begged bystanders not to call an ambulance, because she couldn't afford it.
I'm wondering: Is there any other profession besides health care where once they get you in their clutches they can do pretty much whatever they want to you and then bill you whatever they like? Let me know if you think of one.
And if you can't pay, you'll be hounded for the rest of your life by bill collectors, if you're lucky. If not, you could be thrown out on the street in freezing weather in your hospital gown.
Is there a solution? Yes! single payer health insurance for all.
July 10, 2018 (written for Rolla Peace Newsletter)
NUCLEAR WEAPONS ROUNDUP
Costa Rica Ratifies Treaty On The Prohibition Of Nuclear Weapons
Viva Costa Rica! On July 5, Costa Rica joined the select few socially responsible nations that have ratified the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. The other ten are: Austria, Cuba, Guyana, The Holy See (Vatican), Mexico, Palau, Palestine, Thailand, Venezuela, and Vietnam. 39 more and the treaty goes into effect.
The People In Four NATO Nations Want To Join The Treaty
In a poll taken in Germany, Italy, Belgium and The Netherlands, all NATO counties that host US nuclear weapons, YouGov found that the majority of the people, and in many cases an overwhelming majority, want US nuclear weapons out of their country and want their government to sign The Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons
This is a clear case where the government in these so-called democracies represents the will of the elite and not the will of the people.
Nuclear Detente With North Korea May Be Short Lived
Less than two weeks after the Singapore summit where Trump assured us that “There is no longer a Nuclear Threat from North Korea,” Trump declared that North Korea posed an “extraordinary threat” and renewed sanctions on North Korea.
After a meeting last week between US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and North Korea's Kim Yong-chol, North Korea claimed that Pompeo made “gangster-like” demands. (par for a former director of the CIA)
Get over it. North Korea has nuclear weapons, although far fewer and smaller than the United States. It would be nice if both countries would sign and ratify the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons and get rid of their nuclear weapons. I seriously doubt either country will agree unilaterally to nuclear disarmament.
I am hopeful that this is just a temporary setback. People are demanding Peace so strongly that, I think, governments will no longer be able to ignore them.
THE WAR ON CHILDREN (UPDATE)
Today is the court-imposed deadline for the Trump administration to return all children under five years of age that were illegally separated from their parents at our southern border. Not surprisingly, the Trump administrations will probably reunite far less than half of those mandated by the court.
Some of the problems seem to be that some of the parents have already been deported without their children. In other cases there is apparently no record of which child belong with which adult. The Trump administration seems to be trying to solve this problem with DNA testing (which misses cases where there is little or no blood relationship).
So I'm wondering: Is anyone going to prison for child abuse? for contempt of court? Why is it so easy to put children in prison with no due process, but so difficult to put the adults who abuse these children behind bars?
And if you think that this is just a Trumpian aberration, guess again. Chilean-American writer, Ariel Dorfman, gives us a glimpse into human zoos, past and present, from the placing of Laplanders on public display in 19th Century Germany to the modern refugee camps for those displaced by war and other forms of violence. Sadly, Dorfman misses today's most egregious example: the open air prison called Gaza which now holds close to two million people, half of whom are children, in conditions of severe depredation which you are not likely to find in any of our modern zoos.
MANCHESTER MOOR FIRES
Mother Nature is on the rampage again: heat, drought, flood and wildfires everywhere. Here's a page from the Guardian where you can link to articles about the latest climate-related disasters around the world.“There were three jovial huntsmen,
This one about England's moor fires really caught my eye: Seems they turned the moor into a tinderbox raising grouse for Britain's elite to shoot. Now the weather has turned hot and dry. Dry peat is almost pure carbon and burns so hot it's almost impossible, short of a good soaking rain, to put these moor fires out completely. Hope you gentlemen all enjoyed your driven grouse shoot.
Most of these so-called “natural” disasters are either caused directly or aggravated by human-induced climate change. But don't worry friends; it's only a Chinese hoax.
July 3, 2018 (written for Rolla Peace Newsletter)
GREENPEACE DRONE CRASHES INTO NUCLEAR POWER PLANT
In order to demonstrate how dangerous and insecure nuclear power is, Greenpeace France piloted a drone into the wall of the spent fuel pool of a nuclear power plant close to Lyon. The pool contains highly radioactive waste.
The drone was made of polystyrene, the same stuff styrofoam is made of, and posed no danger to the power plant or the workers in the plant. The drone was dressed up as Superman.
The response of the plant operators is typical: they are filling a legal complaint against Greenpeace for exposing the dangers of nuclear power plants and the incompetence of their operators to the public.
France gets about 75% of its electricity from nuclear power.
This article contains a video of the drone crashing into the wall of the spent fuel pool.
DOMINICAN REPUBLIC SIGNS TREATY ON THE PROHIBITION OF NUCLEAR WEAPONS
In June, the Dominican Republic became the 59th signatory to the Treaty To Prohibit Nuclear Weapons. Viva República Dominicana!
WORLD LOSES 72.6 MILLION ACRES OF TREES IN 2017
Countries and businesses spend 100 times more on activities that destroy forests than on forest conservation, so it is not surprising that the world lost enough forests to cover the country of Italy in 2017 alone. Forests provide an important carbon sink and their loss has led to a hotter world, as the accumulation of atmospheric greenhouse gases continues to rise precipitously.
Maybe, if the world keeps on electing progressive politicians, we can begin to turn this around and rebuild our forests.
June 26, 2018 (written for Rolla Peace Newsletter)
THE WAR AGAINST CHILDREN CONTINUES
There is a lot being written now about our disgusting inhumane abuse of children at our southern border, which includes separation from parents and indefinite detention in cages that resemble dog kennels.
Will Bunch points out that this is nothing new and just a continuation of policy under the Obama and Bush administrations.
Abby Zimet points out that Amerindian children in the United States were torn from their parents and sent involuntarily to boarding schools. Children of slaves were property of their master and could be and often were sold at whim.
So what's different now? Donald Trump is so crude and bombastic that our War on Children has been exposed to the whole world for what it is. And more importantly, exposed to each and every one of us to the point where we can no longer deny it, make any reasonable excuses for it or even claim that it is just a few “bad apples.”
Its an event similar to the My Lai massacre, where in one rural village US troops massacred over 400 women, children, and old men. There were many other such massacres during the Vietnam War, but My Lai was the event that exposed our genocidal policy to each and every one of us.
But, here is the danger: Don't let this be viewed as the evil machinations of one deranged dotard. This is and has been US policy, our policy, for centuries. It is way past time for self-examination. It is way past time to put an end to this brutal war against children.
June 19, 2018 (written for Rolla Peace Newsletter)
DONALD TRUMP: GIVE CREDIT WHERE CREDIT IS DUE
Seems like the “opposition” is pretty much united in denigrating Trumps performance at the G7 meeting and the Singapore summit with North Korea; but let's give credit where credit is due.
Many point out the agreement signed with Kim Jong-un is without substance (kind of like the Paris Climate Accord; but more on that later). Well, what did they expect? Did they expect North Korea and the United States to both start decommissioning their nuclear arsenals today?
I think the fact that they emerged from the meeting as friends and didn't call each other names like “Little Rocket Man” and “Deranged Dotard” should be considered progress enough for anyone; but not the Trump opposition. On top of that the suspension of the US-South Korea military exercises, even if it turns out to be only temporary, cannot be seen as anything other than positive.
Of course, it may all evaporate tomorrow. But, then again, we may be able to build on it and finally end the 68-year-old Korean War. Certainly, the way to build on it is to talk it up, not put it down. One might think that those who denigrate the importance of the summit feel that Peace is less important than denying Trump a diplomatic victory. I disagree.
Now, let's compare this agreement to the Paris Climate Accord, another agreement without substance, whose importance depends totally on whether we can use it as a basis to build upon. The Paris Climate Accord simply states that we all agree that holding global warming to 2° C., and preferably 1.5° C., would be a good thing and we should all report on the progress we have made toward this goal. It doesn't require anybody to do anything and imposes no penalties on anyone, even for negative progress. The Accord says nothing about even trying to end the wars that are ravaging the Earth, without which there can be little progress toward anything positive.
I suspect that Peace on the Korean Peninsula would be a far more effective basis for battling global warming than anything in the Paris Accord.
Now on to the G7 meeting:
First, who elected this bunch of elitists to make economic decisions for the entire world? These are the people most responsible for creating a world dominated by a few large corporations and billionaires where billions live in grinding poverty. I'd far prefer to see the United States befriend nations like North Korea than rub elbows with this crowd. Actually, I think Trump's early exit from the G7 was rather restrained. If it had been me, I'd have flipped them the bird as I left.
So we're having a trade war. I think that may be a good thing. Seems the only ones who benefit from “free trade” are those who are already so filthy rich they don't know what to do with their money but make themselves even richer at the expense of most of the rest of the world. Maybe now nations will begin to stand up for their own people against the free-traders.
And how about Russia? Russia was thrown out of the G8 (now G7) for annexing Crimea after a bunch of G8 nations, including the United States, fomented an illegal coup and helped install a fascist anti-Russian government in The Ukraine. So let them kick us out of the G7 too. I think we may find that we have a lot more in common with Russia than we have with the (soon to be) Goofy 6 crowd. Remember that during World War II, Russia was our close ally against some of this Goofy 6 crowd.
Nothing that I have written above should be considered an attempt to whitewash the Trump administration's many crimes against humanity like separating young children from their parents and its use of and support for indiscriminate bombing in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Yemen and elsewhere.
But let's give credit where credit is due. This time Trump did something right.
POPE FRANCIS AND THE DEVILS
Two weeks ago Pope Francis invited the world's top fossil fuel and energy executives to the Vatican and lectured them on (their lack of) morality. While I certainly applaud the attempt, I do not think that it will be possible to reform the devils.
SCIENTISTS UNDERESTIMATE ANOTHER CLIMATE DANGER
Last week I wrote about how scientists have underestimated the weakening of the Gulf Stream which could have terrible consequences for our climate. Now it appears they have also grossly underestimated the melting of the Antarctic glaciers, which will cause sea levels to rise far more than previously predicted. I hate to denigrate climate scientists too much. They are still way ahead of climate-change deniers.
June 12, 2018 (written for Rolla Peace Newsletter)
84-YEAR-OLD DUST-BOWL-ERA RECORD FALLS
May 2018 was the warmest May in the lower 48 states in recorded history, beating out by a full 0.7° F. a record set in 1934, during the dust-bowl years.“I'm a dust bowl refugee,
The United States is not the only place setting records for hot and dry. Africa, the Middle East and Central Asia are also setting records, including hurricane strength dust storms. Here are some dust storm photos published by The Atlantic under the title: “The Strange Beauty of Sandstorms.”
Yes, there is a certain deadly beauty to dust storms and sand storms, as there is to all extreme weather events; but more importantly, they remind us of how puny we humans really are.
Northern India experienced freak dust storms last month that killed over 100. Desertification and accompanying dust and sand storms fuel instability and the refugee crisis in large parts of Asia, Africa and the Middle East. Fueled by hot dry weather, we're experiencing dry storms in the southwest United States too.
Here is Woody Guthrie again, singing of the Great Dust Storm of April, 1935.
65 years ago, my middle school American history textbook had a short page on the dust bowl. I can remember my teacher telling us that this could not happen again, because now we are so much wiser and more knowledgeable. Oh! if she only knew. That was a time when we believed in the myth that with science and technology we will build a brave new world. Myths die slowly. In spite of all evidence to the contrary, this myth is still strong today.
One of the recurrent themes in my writing has been the relationship between Climate Change and War. Climate Change and War both fuel instability. Instability fuels Climate Change, War and other forms of extreme violence in a continuous positive feedback loop. We can see that at our borders where refugees, destitute from War, violence and Climate Change, beat at the gates. I suppose it is to be expected that we, who are most responsible for War and Climate Change, should be the least hospitable, even going so far as to separate young children from their parents in a vain attempt to keep these refugees out.“From the south land and the drought land,
I think that the difference between now and 84 years ago is both scope and intensity. War and Climate Change are now both worldwide phenomena and have progressed far beyond the levels of the dust-bowl era.
Back in April, the scientific journal, Nature, published two papers, each showing an unexpected slowing down of the Gulf Stream (AMOC, if you read the scientific journals). Pretty scary! Right? Remember that silly Hollywood movie, “The Day After Tomorrow,” where the Gulf Stream stops, and the northern hemisphere is enveloped in a new ice age? Well, that ain't likely to happen; but I'll tell you the really scary part: The scientific models of the Gulf Stream that climate scientists use underestimated the slow-down, big time. So what else do all their scientific climate models underestimate?“You cannot steer and control an ecosystem but you might be able to dance with one.” —Chip Ward
First, lets talk about modeling. A model is simply someone's idea of how a complex system, like the Earth's climate, will react to various stimuli, like increased input of carbon dioxide. A simulation is simply running the model on a given set of inputs, and watching where it goes. It might make more sense to say: Our best guess is that..., instead of, Our models show that ...
So, whom are we to believe? I've got a few rules of thumb. Probably the most important one is what kind of record do they have predicting complex outcomes in the past. Second is can they explain it so it makes sense. Third is who's paying the bill and what's their stake in the outcome.
Here's an example: I've been hearing every year for decades, we have to act now or we'll pass a tipping point, after which there is little hope of doing anything to prevent runaway climate change. Well, after 20 years this gets old. If you say that every year for 20 years, you've been right at best 5% of the time — hardly a record to crow about. And no one ever explains why this year? Why not last year or next year? And if we've already passed the point of no return, what's the sense in all this anyway?
Now, back to the Gulf Stream. So it's slowing down faster than scientists thought. What next? Likely it will slow down even more. Why? Because all the factors that are likely causing the slow-down, like warming of the polar region and melting of the ice, have been accelerating. Then what will happen? Likely a cooling of the North Atlantic since the Gulf Stream no longer brings as much warm water to the North Atlantic. And if that warm water stays in the tropics, likely it will add to the warming of the tropics, which likely means yet more and stronger hurricanes.
Note: I've used the word likely five times in the preceding paragraph. Also note: I did not use the word likely with the warming of the polar region and melting of the ice. It's measurable. It happened. It's still happening.
I've said this before; but I'll say it again. MY OPINION ONLY: We are well past the point of no return, and the question shouldn't be how can we avoid catastrophic climate change? but how far and fast do we fall and how hard do we hit bottom. These are important questions. If we can slow our fall, maybe we can roll when we hit bottom and avoid breaking too many bones. But if we are going to be successful; it will take all of us working together — ALL — including those thousands of refugee children we tear from their mothers' arms and the 1.8 million Palestinians locked up in the open air prison called Gaza.
Bernie Sanders put it so well when he said, “The threat of climate change is a very clear example of why we all need to pull together, we are in this together. The United States can't do it alone, Europe can't do it alone, China can't do it alone, and no one country can do this alone.”
That means we have to stop fighting and learn to work together.
DONALD TRUMP, KIM JONG-UN AND THE NOBEL PEACE PRIZE
Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un got along famously at their meeting Monday night. That's a good thing. Now folks are talking about giving the two of them a Nobel Peace Prize. I'm not against that; but I'll tell you who the prize really belongs to: The Korean People — all of them. The Korean People stood up and demanded Peace. Leaders had no choice but to give it to them.“I like to believe that people in the long run are going to do more to promote peace than our governments. Indeed, I think that people want peace so much that one of these days governments had better get out of the way and let them have it.” —Dwight D. Eisenhower
May the rest of us show the same courage that the Korean people have shown and stand up and demand Peace.
June 5, 2018 (written for Rolla Peace Newsletter)
SLOUCHING TOWARD WORLD WAR III: BIG POWER RIVALRY ON THE ARABIAN PENINSULA
Russia will be supplying surface to air missiles to Qatar. Saudi Arabia threatens war against Qatar over the missiles and accuses Qatar of supporting terrorism.“And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Hey that's a good one. Saudi Arabia has been bombing the crap out of Yemen, one of the world's poorest countries, for years, with lots of help from the United States and lots of civilian casualties. By what Right do they call others terrorists.
Oh, does anyone remember Osama bin Laden's nationality? Anyone remember the nationality of 15 of the 19 terrorists that brought down the twin towers 17 years ago?
ORGANIC GENETICALLY MODIFIED ORGANISMS
Six months ago, I reported that Galapagos Finches were found to have evolved into a separate species in three generations (instead of the hundreds previously thought necessary by evolutionists). I opined at the time, “This is important because humanity may not have hundreds of generations left to adjust to a rapidly changing climate, largely of its own making.”“Only when the last tree has died and the last river been poisoned
Now here's another similar example: Saltwater steelhead trout have evolved into Lake Michigan fresh water trout in little more than one short century.
Isn't evolution wonderful! Nature has been genetically modifying organisms for billions of years. As far as genetic modification goes, humans are bungling oafs in comparison.
Perhaps Nature may modify a few of us so we can survive on a polluted world of our own making. Maybe Nature will even give some of us the genetic ability to eat money.
Ellicott City, MD: Another 1,000-Year FloodEllicott City, Maryland was hit two years ago with a 1,000-year flood. Last week they were hit again with a second 1,000-year flood. Bad luck? or maybe climate change. Lots of other floods happening around the world now.
Rio Bravo Del Norte (Rio Grande): Two Thousand Miles Of DryThis once mighty river has been only a trickle since April. For the river to dry up this early in the year is virtually unprecedented.
Much of the southwest United States is in severe to exceptional drought.
Hurricane Season: Off To An Early StartThe North Atlantic/Caribbean Hurricane Season is off to an early start. Late May Subtropical Storm Alberto came ashore on the Florida Gulf Coast and traveled North almost to the Canadian border killing nine. Some are predicting another terrible hurricane season in the Caribbean and North Atlantic.
Here's an interesting article on the recent increase in the intensity of hurricanes worldwide.
May 2018: Third Warmest May On RecordThe Copernicus Center has declared May 2018 as the third warmest May on record, after 2016 and 2017 respectively. The La Niña event of the past six months has officially ended and with it apparently, the somewhat cooler global temperatures that La Niña events tend to bring.
To sum up: climatewise, we are in deep doo-doo.
LAWYERS TO TRUMP: YOU CAN GO OBSTRUCT YOURSELF
In a 20 page legal letter to Special Counsel Robert Mueller, leaked to the New York Times, Donald Trump's attorneys opine:
“It remains our position that the President's actions here, by virtue of his position as the chief law enforcement officer, could neither constitutionally nor legally constitute obstruction because that would amount to him obstructing himself, and that he could if he wished, terminate the inquiry, or even exercise his power to pardon if he so desired.” (emphasis mine)Opposition lawyers were quick to brand the memo “ludicrous;” but I disagree. I think Donald Trump should go obstruct himself.
May 29, 2018 (written for Rolla Peace Newsletter)
THREE NEW RATIFICATIONS TO THE TREATY TO PROHIBIT NUCLEAR WEAPONS
The Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons made progress during the month of May. Palau, Austria and Vietnam have ratified the treaty bringing the total ratifications to ten. 50 are needed for the Treaty to take force. Another 48 nations have signed but not yet ratified the Treaty.
Let's hear a loud HIP-HIP-HOORAY for Palau, Austria and Vietnam.
Of the nine nuclear weapon states, only North Korea has expressed interest in nuclear disarmament; but not without adequate security safeguards.
NORTH KOREA - UNITED STATES SUMMIT MAY BE ON AGAIN
Looks like the DPRK-US summit may be on again, thanks to a smart diplomatic move by South Korean President, Moon Jae-in. Moon staged an impromptu visit to the North and met with Kim Jong-un, where they announced their purpose was the successful resurrection of the North Korea - United States summit.
Ray McGovern writes, “It is no longer a fantasy to suggest that the DMZ could evaporate just as unexpectedly and quickly as that other artifact of the Cold War did — the Berlin Wall almost three decades ago.”
INDIA THUMBS NOSE AT US SANCTIONS
India has announced that it will not honor the new US sanctions on Iran and Venezuela and will continue to trade with these two petroleum-exporting nations. Indian Foreign Minister, Sushma Swaraj said, “We don't make our foreign policy under pressure from other countries.”
It appears that the days when the United States could unilaterally impose economic sanctions and expect most of the world to follow suit are over.
May 22, 2018 (written for Rolla Peace Newsletter)
SCARIEST NEWS ITEM OF THE WEEK
No it's not the increased likelihood of nuclear war with North Korea, although that is scary too.
No, its not the murder of over 100 Palestinians in Gaza by Israelis, although that is scary too.
No, its not Israelis chanting “Burn Them, Shoot Them, Kill Them” referring to Palestinian demonstrators, although that is scary too.
No, its not the increased likelihood that the Middle Eastern War will expand to include Iran, although that is scary too.
No, its not the eruption of Mount Kilauea in Hawaii, although that is scary too.
No, Its not the prevalence of floods all over the world, many totally unexpected, although that is scary too.
No, its not the prediction of another monster hurricane season in the Atlantic and Carribean, although that is scary too.
No, its not the emasculation of the EPA, although that is scary too.
No, it's not that Donald Trump called refugees “animals”, although that is scary too.
No its not that ICE is tearing infants from the arms of their mothers, although that is scary too.
No, its not the new outbreak of Ebola in Africa, although that is scary too.
No, its not the deep cuts in the budget to combat infectious disease, although that is scary too.
No its not the latest school shooting in Santa Fe, Texas , although that is scary too.
No, its not that our multi-trillion dollar military has fought many wars and destroyed many countries, but hasn't won a single war since 1945, although that is scary too.
No, it's not that 42 billionaires control more wealth than 3.7 billion people, although that is scary too.
Well, What is it? Tired of guessing games? Here 'tis!
CFCs, which were banned under the Montreal Protocol of 1987, are making a comeback and inhibiting the regeneration of Earth's protective ozone layer; and no one knows exactly why. The Montreal Protocol is the gold standard of international pollution agreements. Atmospheric pollution sleuths (whose budgets in the United States are being slashed) believe someone in East Asia is cheating on the Montreal Protocol and they wonder what, if anything, they can do about it.
The dangers of continued use of CFCs are clear. They destroy the Earth's ozone layer which absorbs deadly ultraviolet radiation. The benefits of not using them are also clear. The ozone layer has been recovering. Furthermore there are alternatives available which are not so dangerous.
So why would someone be manufacturing CFCs? Its cheap and easy and a good way to make a few bucks. Same reason we fight wars. Same reason we destroy our environment.
Well, what can we do about it? Find the perpetrators and make them stop? Think of whoever is doing this as the al-Queda of the pollution world. They are unlikely to wave a red flag and say here we are; Likely they are paying off the local gendarmes, bureaucrats and warlords. Folks like this flourish in a world full of failed states, warlordism and corruption. And if necessary they can always move to a more hospitable location — kind of like the opium trade.
This is the sign of the times. The powerful have lost control and made themselves irrelevant.
The way to stop this, perhaps the only way to stop this kind of behavior is for everyone to be treated with respect and have their basic needs met. Then everyone has a vested interested in keeping the established order afloat. But the world seems to be going in the opposite direction.
I know many are worried about the rise of authoritarianism and fascism. I wouldn't worry too much about an Orwellian world. I think an anarchy is far more likely — a lawless world, where for all its might, the established order is powerless
So why is this worse then all the other atrocities listed above? Because we've lived with the above list of atrocities for a long time. It's simply more of the same. Here we have something new. Something we thought was secure is being taken from us.
Of course, it's all one in the same. It all flows from a society steeped in violence, greed and corruption.
What to do? End the violence, greed and corruption and many good things will follow.
Here is a judgment from the I Ching that describes this situation well. The emphasis is mine.
May 15, 2018 (written for Rolla Peace Newsletter)
DÉJÀ VU ALL OVER AGAIN: NICARAGUA, IRAN, OLIVER NORTH, JOHN BOLTON AND MORE
A reader suggests an article on the return to the news of Nicaragua, Iran and Oliver North.
Over 30 years ago, the Iran-Contra scandal broke. The Reagan administration sold arms to Iran in exchange for the release of US hostages held in Iran. Proceeds from the sale of arms were then funneled to the Nicaraguan Contras, a group of terrorist organizations engaged in drug smuggling and gun running, who were also fighting against the revolutionary Sandinista government in Nicaragua: illegal, perhaps even treasonous, on both accounts. Oliver North, recently named President of the NRA, oversaw operations. John Bolton, now Donald Trump's National Security Advisor was then Assistant Attorney General. Bolton refused to hand over subpoenaed documents to Congress and did his best to torpedo the congressional investigation.
The connection today may not be quite so clear.
As National Security Advisor, John Bolton is pushing the United States toward another Middle Eastern War with Iran. Abrogating the Iran Nuclear Agreement was only the first step.
Oliver North, as President of the NRA says Parkland kids who watched their classmates mowed down by gunfire are engaged in “intimidation and harassment and lawbreaking” and compares protests against the NRA to Jim Crow racism and violence.
Nicaragua has been pretty stable lately, up until April when the government imposed an increase in social security taxes and a reduction in benefits. This austerity measure was met with popular protests, which soon morphed into protests against the government. Violence ensued. Protests continue in spite of the cancelling of these austerity measures.
Today, peace talks which include the government, the opposition and other stake holders began under the auspices of the Nicaraguan Catholic Bishops. The government has also announced that the Inter American Commission of Human Rights will investigate the deaths of several demonstrators that have occurred over the past month.
In 1990 the US was successful in fomenting regime change in Nicaragua through an economic blockade which included the mining of the Nicaraguan port of Corinto and support for the Contra War. Many see the dirty hands of the CIA involved in today's unrest too.
One of the results of further unrest and violence in Nicaragua will likely be an outflux of Nicaraguan emigrants headed for the US border. Immigration to the United States from Nicaragua is quite small compared to its less stable, more violent northern neighbors: Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala; but that could change.
Iran seems determined to keep the nuclear agreement in place in spite of the withdrawal of the United States. I hope they are successful and I hope that Europe, China and Russia back the agreement to the fullest extent possible. Donald Trump's attempt to escalate war in Korea appears, for now, to have backfired. Let's hope this one backfires too. China may hold the key to keeping this important international agreement alive.
Sadly those most responsible for Iran-Contra got off without jail time in spite of some felony convictions. In fact, they were rewarded. So now here they are, back again to foment more violence and do more damage.
ISRAEL: CRIMES AGAINST HUMANITY
This is unbelieveable. Israelis firing live ammunition indiscriminately at unarmed Gazans protesting non-violently against the Israeli blockade and for the right to return to their ancestral homelands which are now in Israel. There are approximately two million people crammed into Gaza's 141 square miles without adequate access to water, food, medicines and other humanitarian necessities and virtually no possibility of leaving. Almost 100 dead and thousands wounded in the past few weeks.
Here in the United States, which funds this atrocity to the tune of billions of dollars each year, only Bernie Sanders and a few other legislators have the guts to speak out against these crimes against humanity.
May 8, 2018 (written for Rolla Peace Newsletter)
CLIMATE CHANGE ACCELERATES
I've been updating my 120-month climate graph religiously every month, although it has been a number of months since I have written about it for this newsletter. Here are some interesting statistics, all according to the temperature anomaly data as reported by NOAA.
1. Each month over the last ten years has been over 0.4° C warmer than the 20th century average for months of the same name.If that is not enough to make you think seriously about accelerating global warming consider that average monthly CO2 concentrations at Mauna Loa topped 410 ppm in April 2018 for the first time ever since record keeping at Mauna Loa began in 1958. (The April 1958 average was 317 ppm)
And look at what's happening on the ground. Extreme weather events involving flooding and heavy rains are up 50% over the past decade and 400% since 1980. Think about the 2017 hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria.
Last Saturday, Ankara, Turkey experienced flash flooding “like never before.”
In Late April, a flash flood in Israel killed nine hikers on a pre-army course. (By contrast, no Israeli casualties have been reported in 5 weeks of the Palestinian Great March of Return during which Israel has killed at least 43 unarmed Palestinians. Nor has Iran killed a single Israeli during this period.)
Other extreme weather events involving drought, storms and heat-waves have also increased, doubling since 1980. Think about the recent six year California mega-drought that ended last year amid torrential rains and flash flooding.
The Middle East and South Asia have also endured unprecedented flooding, drought and heat, sparking wars, massive movement of refugees and instability. Middle Eastern and South Asian wars have cost the United States a whooping $4.3 trillion so far, with trillions more to come.
Nawabshah, Pakistan set a record this year for the highest April temperature ever recorded in Eurasia (and possibly the entire world), 122.36° F.
And that's not all. Consider the melting of glaciers and ice caps, weakening of the gulf stream, and the drying up of a 140 mile wide band of prime agricultural land across North America.
So are we doomed? Not unless we fail to act. Action is possible. Three countries: Scotland, Portugal and Costa Rica are now on virtually 100% renewable energy. Suppose the rest of the world followed suit?
But effective action to preserve what is still preservable appears less likely every month. As Mayer Hillman points out, it would require international cooperation and (in spite of the Korean breakthrough) there seems to be far too little of that. Our own president has reneged on two very important international agreements (Iran nuclear agreement and Paris climate agreement). Who is going to trust us now?
As the climate continues to warm, there will be winners and losers. Humans are among the big losers. We have lost prime agricultural land and fresh water resources. Likely we will be losing a lot more in the near future.
A big winner is the San Quintin kangaroo rat, back from 30 years of presumed extinction. When agriculture failed in the Baja California peninsula due to the Great California Mega-drought, the San Quintin kangaroo rat made a surprise comeback from near extinction.
Here is a poem for the San Quintin kangaroo rat.
Can humanity also return from near extinction? I won't be around to find out; but I hope our species can learn to live in Harmony with each other and all of God's creatures. Earth's climate changes constantly. Often life forms are the prime-movers of climate change. 2.5 billion years ago it was cyanobacteria which produced free oxygen, a very corrosive gas without which humans can't live. In the Anthropocene (present) it is humanity that is driving climate change.
There have been times in Earth's history, like the Eocene Epoch, when temperatures and CO2 concentrations soared far higher than our models now predict and life seems to have thrived. So likely, life on Earth will continue. But the survival of genus homo is far from assured. The sooner we face up to this crisis, the better our chances.
April 30, 2018 (written for Rolla Peace Newsletter)
ANYONE REMEMBER DOUMA?
Anyone remember Douma? — the alleged chemical attack supposedly carried out by the Syrian government? If you've forgotten, you can't be blamed. After all, that was over three weeks ago and the news media has gone on to other atrocities.
Robert Fisk was (again) the first Western reporter on the scene. He talked to a Syrian doctor, who believes that symptoms exhibited were consistent with hypoxia (oxygen deficiency) and could have other causes besides chemical weapons. Shouldn't we have waited for an independent evaluation?
And suppose damage was shown to be caused by chemical weapons? Who was responsible? Stephen Kinzer gives us a few examples of false-flag operations used as casus belli.
And what have we accomplished by bombing Syria? We destroyed another pharmaceutical plant. Pharmaceuticals seem to be one of our favorite targets. 20 years ago, the US bombed and totally destroyed the al-Shifa pharmaceutical plant in Sudan, again alleging chemical weapon production with very little, if any, hard evidence. I suppose denying access to pharmaceuticals passes in Washington for protecting civilians, although the big winners are the multinational pharmaceutical corporations like Merck and Bayer.
And just who empowered the USA, UK and France to bomb anyone they like, any time they like, without presenting a shred of evidence, much less a trial?
So who should we believe? It may be best not to believe anyone, and certainly not anyone in power. Follow the $$$.
PIVOT TO IRAN
Donald Trump and friends appear to have failed in their attempt to escalate the War on the Korean Peninsula (largely because Donald Trump scared the bejeezus out of the Koreans, all of them, that he'd start a nuclear war). Koreans are now on the verge of making Peace and possibly re-unifying Korea. Trump and friends are looking for another War to start or escalate. It looks like they have chosen Iran. Israel and Saudi Arabia are ecstatic!
We made a deal a few years ago with Iran and a bunch of other countries which included ending the possibility of Iran joining the nuclear weapon state's club. Trump and friends are doing their best to scuttle the agreement, which seems to mean that they would welcome a nuclear Iran (and likely a nuclear war too!).
So, why do we need another War? Well, we've spent trillions on our military. What a shame it would be to let all that money go to waste without fighting a war. John Johns and Trita Parsi point out that we are now prepared to hire out our military to the highest bidder, which appears to be Saudi Arabia. Maybe this is what's meant by “America First.”
Two weeks ago, Bolivia became the 58th nation to sign the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. Bolivia was also the only non-permanent member of the UN Security Council to vote to condemn the recent bombing of Syria by the USA, UK and France.
THE DRYING OUT OF MIDDLE AMERICA
The boundary between the dry plains to the west and the more humid eastern United States has shifted 140 miles to the East over the past century. It is likely to shift even further to the East over the coming century. This spells trouble for agriculture in the central US and Canada and all who rely on it.
In the wake of global climate change, other locations, such as California, Capetown, and Mumbai have been plagued by exceptionally strong drought in recent years which may be fast becoming their new normal.
April 24, 2018 (written for Rolla Peace Newsletter)
THREE WOMEN ELECTED TO ROLLA CITY COUNCIL
Earlier this month, the people of Rolla elected three women to that former bastion of male supremacy, The Rolla City Council. A big thank you and congratulations to Ann Murphey, Jody Eberly and Tiffany Henry for successfully re-integrating our city government.
A year ago, when Susan Eudaly's retirement left Rolla without female representation on council, I gave a short presentation reminding the council that somewhere around 50% of their constituency was female. My presentation drew strenuous objections from this all-male body:
“Think about what you're saying, Tom.” —Mayor Lou Magdits
“We still represent everybody.” —speaker uncertain
“It was their choice.” —Jim Williams
“Their were five uncontested elections.” —Brian Woolley
“My wife would be happy to tell you that she's tickled to death that I'm here and she's not.” —Don Morris
Morris's comment drew loud guffaws from most members of the all-male council and a further comment from another male council member, “I got another wife that will say that.”
Apparently, not all of Mr. Morris's constituents thought his comment was funny. This April they sent him home to his wife and replaced him with Ms. Jody Eberle who garnered 59% of the vote to Morris's 41%.
You can watch a video of my presentation to Council last April here, starting at 1:27:00 and ending 1:30:10. A couple of notes:
1. The Carolyn I refer to is attorney Carolyn Buschjost who was attending the meeting as attorney for the City.Here's a suggestion for the ladies on council: Stick together. Form a woman's caucus. Otherwise they will turn you into rubber stamps or pick you off one at a time like they did to Donna Hawley. These men play dirty pool.
ADDENDUM TO LAST WEEK'S SNIPPET ON THE WAR AGAINST SEX
Here's an (incomplete) list of federal political sex scandals from Alexander Hamilton to Donald Trump. It includes Newt Gingrich, Al Franken, Dennis Hastert, John Conyers, Roy Moore, and many many others. Unfortunately the compiler of this list neglected to include Supreme Court justice Clarence Thomas.
Here's one of my favorites: Representative Scott DesJarlais, “while running on a pro-life platform, made his ex-wife have two abortions, and tried to persuade a mistress who was his patient, into an abortion as well.” And he's still representing Tennessee's fourth district!
Two more of my favorites: Florida Rep. Mark Foley resigned amid accusations of sending sexually explicit e-mails to teenage male congressional pages and New York Rep. Anthony Weiner was convicted of sending sexually explicit photos of himself to a 15-year-old girl and was made to sign the sexual offenders register.
Bill Clinton's blow job is small zucchini compared to some of these guys.
This list makes for some pretty spicy reading; but more importantly, it makes clear that this is not just a few “bad apples.” Washington sports a culture of hypocrisy, corruption and sexual abuse that cuts clean to the genitalia. And likely this list is only the tip of the iceberg.
Oh, and the latest: Donald Trump recommended to James Comey putting journalists in jail and raping them so they'll divulge their sources. James Comey laughed.
So who the heck are these perverts to make laws about sexual behavior for the rest of us? Why don't they clean up their own act instead?
You can read the updated article in entirety here.
CONGRATULATIONS SENATOR TAMMY DUCKWORTH!
Last Monday Senator Tammy Duckworth became the first US Senator to give birth while in office. Her daughter, Maile Pearl, became the first infant on the senate floor as mother cast an important vote Thursday.
While the Senate passed a resolution unanimously to allow Senator Duckworth to bring her baby onto the senate floor; it was not without some complaining.
Senator Tom Cotton thought new parents should be exiled to the cloakroom. Orrin Hatch mused: What if we have ten babies on the floor. One pundit worried that Ms. Duckworth might “weaponize that baby to affect legislative decision-making.”
“Weaponize the baby?” Maybe that means that Maile Pearl might remind some senators that they are supposed to represent ALL their constituents, even those too young to vote. Maybe she could teach some senators that providing adequate health-care and nutrition to all babies and mothers is more important than providing more profits to the health care industry. Maybe she could teach the Senate that babies in an affluent society should have a Right not to grow up in poverty. Maybe she could teach the Senate that babies have a Right not to be torn from their mother's arms over questions of citizenship. Or maybe she could teach that children have a Right to safe gun-free schools or that teachers have a Right to a fair salary. She could even teach that babies all over the world have a Right not to have bombs dropped on them.
And if there were ten mature babies on the Senate floor, they might provide a positive example to Ms. Duckworth's less mature colleagues in the Senate, who might even start to grow up.
April 17, 2018 (written for Rolla Peace Newsletter)
WE DODGED ANOTHER BULLET (BUT JUST BARELY)
When I went to bed Friday night, I wasn't sure whether I would wake up Saturday. Friday night the US started bombing Syria and Russia had vowed to retaliate. This could have been the big one. Fortunately, it was just bluster on the part of Donald Trump, who launched a few missiles, and then, like others before him, bragged “mission accomplished.” Russia limited it's retaliation to shooting down a few missiles; so I'm here to write my column again today. Next time we may not be so lucky.
I think people are beginning to realize just how close to World War III we are. Last Thursday we had more visitors at the peace vigil than I can remember ever having before; and all with positive things to say.
We are at the Post Office every Thursday, Noon to 1:00. Come join us or just stop by and visit for a while.
THEY AIN'T MARCHING ANYMORE
Rumor has it that Koreans, both North and South, are hammering out the details to officially end the Korean War which has been going on for 68 years: perhaps the world's second longest extant war after Palestine.
Meanwhile Stephen Kinzer explains why the United States is working overtime to keep all these wars going, and inventing new ones in the process.
The title of this snippet comes from the Phil Ochs song, I Ain't Marching Anymore.
WAR AGAINST DRUGS; WAR AGAINST SEX; WAR AGAINST ALL THINGS GREAT AND SMALL
The War Against Drugs was a total failure. It meted out long prison sentences to non-violent, mostly minority, folks who were doing nothing more than getting high, while the capitalists who were making big bucks off of drugs kept raking in the dough.
The War Against Afghanistan was a boon for the drug trade. By 2001 when the US invaded Afghanistan, opium poppy production was at a low of less than 20,000 acres. By 2017 it had soared 4,000% to over 800,000 acres. War is great for business! That's why we fight so many wars. If there was no money to be made in War, we wouldn't fight them.
Now that more and more folks are catching on, that we never should have fought a war on drugs in the first place, it's time for another war against a different social pastime. Enter, the War Against Sex! (and by extension, the War Against Women).
Actually this war has been going on for quite some time and includes the War Against Contraception (If you have sex, expect to get pregnant), the War Against Abortion (If you get pregnant, expect to give birth) and the War Against the Social Safety Net (and if you have a child, expect to raise her in poverty or have her confiscated by the state).
The latest volley in the War Against Sex is the Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act for which many politicians, including our own Claire McCaskill, take credit, and the closing down of Backpage, a favorite online marketplace for sex workers.
There have been many societies that have attempted to eradicate sex or drugs (outside of proscribed state-controlled limits). All have failed; and very likely all future attempts will fail too. There are limits to state power.
Some will tell you that closing down Backpage was necessary to fight under-age sex trafficking; but there are much more effective ways to control under-age sex trafficking than closing down an online marketplace; just as there are far better ways to control the use of dangerous substances than to put millions of non-violent small-time marijuana users behind bars; and there are far more effective ways of bringing the perpetrators of the 9/11 disaster to justice than to bomb the crap out of one of the poorest countries in the world for 16 years running.
Here's an article from the women's fashion magazine, The Cut, detailing in their own words how seven sex workers have been negatively impacted by the closing of Backpage.
If it wasn't for how this will hurt folks already living on the edge, it would make a great laugh. Think about it! The DC establishment fighting a War Against Sex? Why, Washington is chock full of whores, pimps, johns, gigolos, sexual predators and other deviants. We have even had a White House communications director who proclaimed proudly (and probably falsely) that he was “not trying to s*** his own c***”. (Now that's what I call communicating!) The President, in his own words, has boasted that he is a sexual predator, although he appears senile to me. (I think Kim Jong-un pegged him perfectly when he called him a deranged dotard.)
Jefferson City is not far behind Washington. Missouri boasts a governor who has been indicted for felony privacy invasion, allegedly photographing his lover in the nude and blackmailing her with the photos. Quite likely a first! Hey, we're not called the Show-Me State for nothing.
So why do we look down on sex workers? Why are brain workers considered so much better than sex workers? A good sex worker will give her clients enough pleasure that they will come back for more. I have only once been accused of teaching a pleasurable class. Here are the details:
When I first entered the profession, I taught a class in “computer appreciation.” I had a student who would rarely miss a class and always sat front row center, but never turned in an assignment or took a test. Toward the end of the semester he dropped the course; but kept coming to class. The same thing happened the following semester. Being curious, I asked him, "Hey, what's going on?" He responded, “Dr. Sager, you are a trip. I love getting stoned and watching you lecture. Can I take your class again next semester?”
Sex workers:1 ; brain workers:0.
While I can't speak for sex workers in general, I wouldn't imagine that a sex worker would feel guilty about crimes against humanity committed by a client outside of their professional relationship. Me? I've had students go to work for the military-industrial complex. Every time I read of a child being blown up by a computer-guided bomb, I think, maybe if I had gone into sex work instead of computer science, that child would still be alive.
Sex workers:2; brain workers:0.
And I wouldn't imagine that a sex worker would feel guilty about a client's anti-social behavior outside of their professional relationship. Me? A former student of mine went on to be a founder of Twitter, likely the most socially destructive computer system ever developed.
Sex workers:3; brain workers:0.
Let's stop here. Maybe instead of closing down Backpage, they should have closed down Communications of the Association for Computer Machinery.
Perhaps this snippet has whetted your appetite. If so, you may enjoy Le Balcon (The Balcony), a play by Jean Genet that confounds illusion and reality leaving the audience unsure which is real and which is illusion: the brothel where the play takes place or the world outside.
April 10, 2018 (written for Rolla Peace Newsletter)
COLLAPSE AND DISSOLUTION: COMMENTARY ON AN ARTICLE BY RANA DASGUPTA
At the time of the Fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 and the subsequent implosion of the former Soviet Empire, I can recall listening to the crowing of cold warriors about how “We won the war.” I can also remember the promise of a Peace Dividend which never materialized as our leaders planned the remaking of a world in which the one superpower now reigned supreme. I can also recall saying things like, “Don't count your chickens, we may be next.”
That was less than 30 years ago — less than a blink of an eye as geological time goes. And look where we are now! Our entire global society has come unglued. Nation-states are failing. Demagogues and dictators are everywhere. The world is embroiled in Perpetual War, and Violence reigns supreme.
Inequality grows without bounds. The rich get richer as the poor get poorer and those in between get fewer and fewer. The Earth itself has become a commodity to be exploited as desired by those with the wealth and power to do so.
Here is a rather long article from The Guardian by Rana Dasgupta which attempts to analyze “the demise of the nation state.” While there is much in this article I disagree with, it is definitely worth the read.
Dasgupta points to loss of control of wealth by nation-states, as the free movement of capital from place to place reigns supreme. Whether Barack Obama really intended to stem the rise of inequality, and whether Donald Trump was ever serious about draining the swamp are moot points. Controlling wealth is now beyond the ability of even the President of the United States.
Meanwhile, people are unable to follow capital. The southern border of the US becomes increasingly fortified to keep people out. Israel has created an open-air prison called Gaza containing 1.8 million inmates, about half being children. Even protesting this condition is enough to get you killed. And 65 million refugees flow from failed states, many dying in the attempt to reach a new land where they can build a new life.
As Dasgupta remarks: “Citizenship is itself the primordial kind of injustice in the world. It functions as an extreme form of inherited property and, like other systems in which inherited privilege is overwhelmingly determinant, it arouses little allegiance in those who inherit nothing. ... 97% of citizenship is inherited, which means that the essential horizons of life on this planet are already determined at birth.”
As the world descends further into gangsterism, “the true extent of our insecurity will be revealed as the relative power of the US further declines, and it can no longer do anything to control the chaos it helped create.”
Please consider reading this article. Although long, it is certainly worthwhile.
April 3, 2018 (written for Rolla Peace Newsletter)
SOUTH KOREAN K-POP VISITS NORTH KOREA
South Korean k-pop music groups were well received in North Korea as relations between the two Koreas thawed further ahead of Korean summit later this month. Kim Jong-un loved the concert. This is a most positive development for peace.
PIPELINE PROTESTERS NOT GUILTY BY REASON OF NECESSITY
Judge Mary Ann Driscoll allowed each of 13 pipeline protesters to explain to the court why they were motivated to take part in actions to stop a Massachusetts pipeline. She then ruled that all 13 were not guilty, because their actions were necessary to prevent a greater harm.
Defendant Tim DeChristopher, who served 21 months in prison for bidding at a 2008 federal gas and oil land lease auction which was later found to be illegal, said they “asked the judge to recognize that evidence was out there—that it's clear across our society the severity of climate change, the degree to which the government response has been a failure, and the degree to which regular folks like us have a necessity to act to prevent this harm.”
To my knowledge, this is the first time a US court has ruled in favor of climate protesters by reason of necessity. This is a ground-breaking case.
THE KING WHO TRIED TO CLEAN THE MOON
As the US ramps up its propaganda against Iran and attempts to scuttle a very important international agreement on nuclear weapons, I offer this reading of an Iranian folk tale about a king who tried to clean the moon. The story may make you think of Donald Trump.
March 27, 2018 (written for Rolla Peace Newsletter)
ON GUN VIOLENCE
On February 20, I wrote, “I think Parkland might have been the proverbial straw that broke the camel's back.” It appears this statement was correct. As Helen details above, a probable 1.25 million people marched this weekend to end gun violence, most of them young people.
So far, their demands are rather small and subdued: pass a few common-sense laws controlling the availability of fast-firing large-capacity guns. Given the cool reception they have received in the Halls of Power, I would expect these demands to escalate; and indeed, why shouldn't they? After all, we old-timers have stolen their future and squandered their inheritance.
A battle between age and youth can only have one outcome. We've been there before. How little we learned.
HOORAY FOR PALESTINE AND VENEZUELA! — SIXTH AND SEVENTH NATIONS TO RATIFY THE TREATY ON THE PROHIBITION OF NUCLEAR WEAPONS
Last week Palestine joined Cuba, Guyana, The Holy See (Vatican), Mexico and Thailand in ratifying the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons; and just today, Venezuela ratified the treaty too. Palestine's ratification is particularly note-worthy as Palestine suffers under an illegal Israeli occupation that has gone on for over 50 years.
Israel is one of the nine nuclear weapons states, all of which refuse to sign The Treaty and rid the world of the most horrendous of all weapons.
It seems that everyone has something to say about successful actress and movie star, Stormy Daniels (née Stephanie Clifford). Not wishing to be left out, I photo-collaged this cartoon.
I've written before about walls; but today I offer a reading of Margaret Leaf and Ed Young's “Eyes of the Dragon.” It's a story of how a village in ancient China sought security by building a wall. The illustrations are awesome.
March 20, 2018 (written for Rolla Peace Newsletter)
AWESOME SPEECH BY BERNIE SANDERS
Bernie is not known for giving anti-war speeches; but his speech yesterday on the 15th anniversary of the illegal US invasion of Iraq was absolutely awesome. It's posted here on Common Dreams. If you don't want to read the whole speech, here are a few highlights:
“People in my country, the United States, and all over the world are sick and tired of spending billions and billions of dollars on nuclear weapons, war planes, missiles, bombs, and tanks.”CHINA AND THE ENVIRONMENT
Here's a link to me reading Sara Pennypacker's “Sparrow Girl” to my grandchildren. “Sparrow Girl” tells the story of one of China's worst environmental disasters from the point of view of a little girl who saves seven sparrows during China's 1958 “War on the Sparrows.”
And here is a report on China's efforts to reduce air pollution. They appear to have made phenomenal progress.
CRIME OF FASHION
Along with fossil fuels, nuclear energy and animal husbandry: here's another dirty, environmentally unfriendly industry: Fashion. What can you do? Make your own clothes, buy at Community Thrift Store or Goodwill and continue to wear your old clothes. Can you think of other possibilities?
March 13, 2018 (written for Rolla Peace Newsletter)
FROM OUR READERS: CHINA
A reader writes: “My experience of going to China, while exhilarating was that there is a ton of poverty there. Travel guides complained of working 7 days a week and a few were asking me to help smuggle them to America. While they were proud of their heritage, they'd had it with their government.”
My response: This is my understanding too, although I have not been back to China since 1981. After the “Cultural Revolution,” China embarked on a program of “Learning from the West.” The problem was they learned all the wrong things. The result was out-of-control economic growth in which the benefits went mostly to a few. Many lost their safety net, and ended up worse off than before. The environment suffered tremendously. Pollution soared off the charts and public health suffered.
I think Xi Jinping is attempting to reverse this. Will he succeed? I don't know. But, succeed or not, I certainly give him credit for trying. Is he becoming a “dictator?” I suspect he is. I doubt he could succeed otherwise. There are too many powerful forces arrayed against him. I see much of Mao Zedong in him.
Without Mao there would not be a China such as we know it. Defeating Japan in World War II might have proved far more difficult, had it not been for Mao and the Peoples Liberation Army. Mao was a firm believer in The People. In proclaiming the Cultural Revolution (~1966-1976), he did an end-run around the bureaucrats and intellectuals, going directly to the People. Universities were shuttered and professors sent to the countryside to learn what it's like to have to do hard physical labor for a living. (As a retired “perfesser,” I can tell you that this was not a bad idea, although I think China overdid it.) I see much of Chairman Mao in Xi Jinping.
In this article from the Economist, the author complains that China is becoming a dictatorship. What the author really means is that China is not accepting its proper place in the global economic order. Whereas for decades China has amassed great wealth and power by processing garbage from the US and supplying Wal-mart with cheaply made consumer goods, China now intends to become a leader in many critical fields such as super-computing and artificial intelligence, and in the process give its people a better livelihood and tackle its pollution problem.
This is not a bad idea. I don't think any country ought to have to become a “shithole” country and process garbage for its wealthy neighbors.
FROM OUR READERS: GLOBAL WARMING
The same reader also remarks: “As to the Global Warming screed, history shows us that the 800's to about the 1200's mini-warming spell brought pioneers to the formerly frozen tundra. There they settled and farmed. They even had a name for their newly found home-Greenland.”
The Norse Greenland colony, 10th through 15th Century, is a case study in what happens when people ignore environmental considerations and refuse to change their ways and live in harmony with nature. In the end there were no survivors — not one. And as Jared Diamond concludes his case study of the Greenland Norse in Collapse: “Thus, Norse society's structure created a conflict between the short-term interests of those in power, and the long-term interests of the society as a whole. ... Ultimately, though, the chiefs found themselves without followers. The last right that they obtained for themselves was the privilege of being the last to starve.”
Diamond also opines that “We modern Americans should not be too quick to brand them as failures, when their society survived in Greenland for longer than our English-speaking society has survived so far in North America.” Let's not let this happen to us!
Incidently, as the fourth graph at my Climate Graph's page shows, the much-vaunted Medieval Warming Period was really just a tiny bump in a 7,000 year period of falling global temperatures from around 5000 BCE to the end of the Little Ice Age around 1850 CE. The rise in global temperatures over the past 165 years as been orders of magnitude faster than at the start of the Medieval Warming Period.
DONALD TRUMP TAKES CREDIT FOR THAW IN KOREAN RELATIONS
And well he should! Donald Trump is so outrageous that he tends to unite everybody against him. In this case, the Koreans, both North and South, have concluded that their best interests lie in improved relations. Kim Jung-un has even agreed in theory to nuclear disarmament if the security of his nation can be assured.
HOORAY FOR KAZAKHSTAN! — 57TH NATION TO SIGN THE TREATY ON THE PROHIBITION OF NUCLEAR WEAPONS
The nine nuclear weapons states still refuse to sign The Treaty.
RUSSIA UNVEILS MODERNIZATION OF ITS NUCLEAR WEAPONS
With a fraction of our military budget, Russia has developed weapons like the drone nuclear submarine which will likely be able to survive a US first strike. Thus, we seem to be headed into another MAD generation, where you can annihilate us, but we can surely annihilate you back. Insane? Yes! Nuclear disarmament would be a far better choice for everyone.
March 6, 2018 (written for Rolla Peace Newsletter)
BORED FOREIGNERS WITH FULL STOMACHS
“the greatest contribution towards the whole of human race, made by China, to prevent its 1.3 billion people from hunger ... There are some bored foreigners, with full stomachs, who have nothing better to do than point fingers at us. First, China doesn't export revolution; second, China doesn't export hunger and poverty; third, China doesn't come and cause you headaches. What more is there to be said?” —Xi Jinping, Feb. 2009A reader writes in:
“Whether Xi will prove to be a real environmentalist is a moot point, but it certainly seems that he is becoming a dictator. Personally I believe that other policy imperatives will prevent him from doing any environmental good. Talk is cheap.”Huhhh? Whether the chief executive of the world's most populous country and greatest emitter of greenhouse gases proves to be a real environmentalist is a moot point??? I would say whether he turns out to be an environmentalist is far far more important than whether he turns out to be a dictator; but I'm afraid that the US press sides whole-heartedly with this reader.
But, let's give credit where credit is due. Whatever the outcome, China deserves credit for at least trying to move toward a more harmonious relationship with Nature, while we here in the United States move in the opposite direction.
Will China succeed? It partially depends on us. Environmental degradation is a world-wide problem beyond the ability of any one country to solve. I think we should be cheering the Chinese on and trying to bring our own country on board, rather than pointing fingers.
At this point, the problem of environmental degradation may be beyond solution. There are some things that “all the King's horses and all the King's men [cannot put together again];” and I think that the climate which I grew up in 75 years ago is one of them. As the native Greenlander quoted by Robert Koehler says: “The Old People of Greenland have told us, since the sixties, this time it’s too late to stop it . . . Your religion, your money and your politics cannot stop the melting of the Big Ice.”
And neither can our Science. As goes the Arctic, so goes the world. But, nevertheless, we must do what we can, little as it may be. China says it will do its part. Let's respond that we will also do our part.
February 27, 2018 (written for Rolla Peace Newsletter)
DEVELOPING AN ECOLOGICAL CIVILIZATION
“Man and nature form a community of life; we, as human beings, must respect nature, follow its ways, and protect it. Only by observing the laws of nature can mankind avoid costly blunders in its exploitation. Any harm we inflict on nature will eventually return to haunt us. This is a reality we have to face.”We'll begin this snippet with a short quiz. Who spoke the above quotation? Hint: It was not Donald Trump.
Answer: Xi Jinping, President of China and General Secretary of the Communist Party of China, October 2017
I've been intending to write about China for some time; but it always seemed there were more pressing events to write about. But this week two events caught my eye and said to me: This is the week you will write about China.
“The modernization that we pursue is one characterized by harmonious coexistence between man and nature.”Reading this, you might think that the environmental portion of President Xi's speech was written by Greenpeace. Is China serious about this? I suspect it is.
In their rush to “develop,” China has made some terrible mistakes. The campaign to increase grain production by killing sparrows was an unmitigated disaster. Air pollution in Chinese cities has reached legendary proportions. And China has surpassed the United States to become the world's number one emitter of greenhouse gases.
Nevertheless, in the 40 years since the end of the Cultural Revolution, China has become the second largest economy in the world and has assumed leadership in some important areas, like super computing and artificial intelligence. So, having beat the West at its own game of “economic development,” perhaps, over the next 40 years, China will transform itself into the world's first ecological superpower.
This will not be easy. It is far better not to make a mess in the first place, than to try to clean it up later. But China has succeeded before in ways that few in the West have thought possible. I think the Chinese are quite likely to succeed again.
Like the United States and most other nations, China was a class of leeches who have grown fat on “economic development” at the expense of the people and the environment; and a cadre of politicians and civil servants who enable them. However, I suspect that China will find it far easier to bring wealth and corruption under control than we have. They have done it before; they can do it again.
Meanwhile, others, who do not take controlling corruption and living in harmony with Nature seriously, will be left behind.
So, what are we to do, now that China will not accept our contaminated recyclables?I have three suggestions:
A note on schistosomiasisWhen I was young — oh — many, many years ago, I was most impressed by the story of how China, under Mao Zedong, eradicated schistosomiasis. The whole population in infected areas was mobilized to kill the snails that carried the disease. It's amazing what people can accomplish, if they work together under effective leadership.
Unfortunately, with China's rush to industrialize, many important aspects of society like public health were neglected; hence, the return of schistosomiasis to China. China is now paying more attention to public health, and the incidence of schistosomiasis has fallen. However, there is still much room for improvement. And with the warming climate, it is likely that the range and incidence of tropical parasites like schistosoma will again be on the rise.
And one final thought: instead of complaining about China, let's try to become an ecological superpower too. Two ecological superpowers would certainly be better than one. And if China and the United States were to work together to clean up the world, the chances of success would likely increase ten fold.
Some things you can do to make recycling more effective
February 20, 2018 (written for Rolla Peace Newsletter)
I think Parkland might have been the proverbial straw that broke the camel's back. 17 dead and 15 wounded in a school shooting where the confessed perpetrator apparently had a history of racism and mental illness. Many are clamoring for gun control legislation, which I favor. Decreasing the availability of semi-automatic firearms could not but decrease the probability of mass shootings of which we have experienced 46 in the United States, so far in 2018 — 46 mass shootings; 90 dead; 163 wounded.
Our children have a right to feel safe in their schools. I agree. Other people's children have a right to feel safe in their schools too. So what about Puerto Rico, where in the wake of Hurricane Maria the school system is about to be sold off to Wall Street for a song. What about Palestine, where school children are likely to wake up to find their schools occupied by armed Israeli settlers. What about Iraq and Afghanistan which used to have excellent school systems until we turned the land into a war zone. What about North Korea, where 60,000 children are at risk of starvation due to sanctions.
Is it not arrogant to demand safety for our children, while we perpetrate mayhem on the children of other lands? What we do to children in far off lands will almost certainly come 'round 180 degrees to our children — in fact, it already has.
Prevalence of firearms, I think is a symptom. The disease is a culture of violence and greed. I suspect whatever legislation will be forthcoming, will likely treat the symptom, leaving the disease to spread further.
When I ran for US Congress in 2000, the second most common question I received concerned my position on gun control. (The most common had to do with abortion.) My answer was we certainly need gun-control and we need to start with the most dangerous weapons of all — nuclear weapons. I proposed negotiating a complete and verifiable nuclear arms ban with all other current and would-be nuclear powers. Sadly, I finished last with less than 1% of the vote.
Today such a treaty is on the horizon; but the nuclear powers all balk at signing it.
Bottom line: If you are concerned about school shootings, work to decrease the violence in society. Begin with the most violent entity in the world: The US Military. Begin with the most violent weapons in the world: nuclear weapons.
A LETTER FROM THE TALIBAN ADDRESSED TO THE AMERICAN PEOPLE
Here's a link to the letter; since you are unlikely to see it in the main-stream US media. They say many of the same things I've been saying for over 16 years. Maybe they read my columns — I don't know. They suggest peace talks and diplomacy to end the 16-year-old war. I think this would be an excellent idea. Read the letter carefully. It's addressed to you.
BOYCOTT, DIVESTMENT AND SANCTIONS MOVEMENT NOMINATED FOR NOBEL PEACE PRIZE
Norway again leads the way as Norwegian member of Parliament, Bjørnar Moxnes, nominates the movement to Boycott, Divest from and Sanction Israel for the Nobel Peace Prize. Moxnes describes the BDS movement as a “peaceful, global human rights movement that urges the use of economic and cultural boycotts to end Israeli violations of Palestinian human rights and international law.”
STORIES FOR CHILDREN AND GROWN-UPS
Here's a video of my reading of Howie Schneider's “Wilky the White House Cockroach” to my grandchildren. The President who lived in the White House at the time was a much kinder, gentler president than lives there now. The president learns that even with cockroaches, diplomacy is better than war.
February 13, 2018 (written for Rolla Peace Newsletter)
SLOUCHING TOWARD WORLD WAR III
“And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,Syria downs an Israeli fighter.
NATO ally, Turkey, attacks US supported troops in Syria; Kurds down Turkish helicopter.
US airstrikes in Syria kill 200 Russians.
US War Against Afghanistan to continue, silently.
Korean peace overtures rebuffed by US.
US military gets humongous budget increase.
Chances of Nuclear War increase.
2018 slated to be a very profitable year for arms merchants.
The Doomsday Clock stands at two minutes to midnight.
Would you know yet more?
February 6, 2018 (written for Rolla Peace Newsletter)
CUBA RATIFIES TREATY TO ABOLISH NUCLEAR WEAPONS
Last week Cuba joined Guyana, The Holy See, Mexico and Thailand, becoming the fifth nation to ratify the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. While our two good neighbors to the South have declared that they will “never under any circumstances ... develop, test, produce, manufacture, otherwise acquire, possess or stockpile nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices,” the United States not only continues to threaten and bully others with nuclear weapons, but seeks to modernize and expand its nuclear capabilities.
Is his State of the Union message, Donald Trump declared that “As part of our defense, we must modernize and rebuild our nuclear arsenal.” Neither Joe Kennedy who delivering the official Democratic response, nor Bernie Sanders who delivered his own response, challenged this statement. Silence is acquiescence.
We should also note that 1/3 of all Puerto Ricans remain without power in the wake of a “scandalously inadequate.” federal response to Hurricane Maria. On the other hand, Cuba has prioritized rebuilding after the devastation caused by this Fall's hurricanes. In fact, Cuba is now engaged in a long-term program to protect the Island and the Cuban people from climate change, the only such program in the world that I am aware of. Meanwhile, here in the United States, we have a president who thinks global-warming is a hoax.
In Cuba, medical care is a Right, belonging to all people. With a fraction of the resources of the United States, infant mortality in Cuba stands at 4.5 per 1,000 live births compared to 5.8 in the United States (source: CIA Factbook). Situations like this one, where a patient at University of Maryland Medical Center was dumped in the street, probably because she couldn't afford hospital care, would be unheard of in Cuba or any other civilized country.
FOLLOWUP ON AHED TAMIMI
Last week, I discussed the fake news that 16-year-old Ahed Tamimi, the Palestinian girl who slapped a heavily armed Israeli soldier who invaded her home, was an actor. Ahed Tamimi remains in an Israeli prison facing a possible 10 year sentence for slapping. Jonathan Cook tells us how the fake news that she is an actor began. According to Cook:
“Michael Oren, Israel’s former ambassador to Washington and now a government minister, was so unwilling to believe Ahed could be blonde-haired and blue-eyed – like him – that he ordered a secret investigation to try to prove her family were actors.”Hmmmm.... blond haired and blue eyed. Ever hear of the 12th century European crusaders who invaded Palestine? and like all armies on the march, stopped just long enough to rape the local women. Semitic folks: Arabs, Hebrews, Bedouins etc. are thought to have come out of Africa and spread throughout the Middle East. They tend to be dark-skinned people, unlike the blond-haired, blue-eyed Europeans, many of whom make the unsubstantiated claim that they are Semites and continue to invade and colonize the Middle East.
Cook also mentions the case of 14-year-old Ghada who was declared an “illegal alien” by Israeli authorities and dumped in Gaza without a word to her parents who lived on the West Bank.
Hey, all you champions of the Rights of the child, speak up!
Lots of interesting stuff in this Jonathan Cook article.
January 30, 2018 (written for Rolla Peace Newsletter)
DONALD TRUMP CARTOON
I kind of feel bad about making fun of Donald Trump. After all, as I've pointed out before, he is only doing what his predecessors have done, albeit in a somewhat more buffoonish style, generating a somewhat greater backlash. (see Helen's article.)
But, on the other hand, he is such an inviting target. So, without further ado, here is a link to my latest cartoon.
Note: With Spring-training camps opening in two weeks, I couldn't resist the baseball metaphor. Let's hope the Cardinals have a better season this year.
FROM OUR READERS: AHED TAMIMI
A reader writes in suggesting that the photo of Ahed Tamimi, the slight 16-year-old Palestinian girl who faced down heavily armed Israeli soldiers, might have been “a faked shooting of a Palestinian teenage girl by an actor dressed in an IDF uniform.”
My response: First, it was not a shooting. Second, there is no need to fake shootings of Palestinian children by Israeli soldiers. It's a common occurrence. In fact, Ahed's younger cousin Mohammed had been shot in the face by Israeli soldiers less than 24 hours before the incident involving Ahed. At the time Ahed faced down the Israeli soldiers, cousin Mohammed was in critical condition.
The incident involving Ahed has gone viral. You can read about it all over the internet, including the mainstream Israeli press. In fact, she will turn 17 tomorrow in an Israeli prison. You can sign a birthday card for her, via Jewish Voice For Peace.
i) Laser technologyThree years ago, I suggested that we might soon be able to beam some of the Earth's excess heat back into space with lasers. Since then there have apparently been some important breakthroughs in laser technology coming out of China, as well as other places. So I'm wondering: How close are we? Any laser scientists out there want to respond?
ii) EvolutionResearch on Galapagos finches suggests that species can evolve in a matter of three generations rather than the hundreds of generations previously thought necessary.
This is important because humanity may not have hundreds of generations left to adjust to a rapidly changing climate, largely of its own making.
It also makes me wonder about the great die-offs of the past in which as many as 95% of all species are thought to have gone extinct. Were they really die-offs? Or maybe just examples of evolution proceeding at an unheard of pace.
iii) Horse poxSix month's ago I reported on how a group of scientists synthesized horse pox, a close relative of small pox, with a budget of $100,000. The paper has now been published. So if you have $100,000 and a little genetic know-how; you could probably synthesize small pox which was as much as 95% fatal to Amerindian tribes that had no previous exposure and immunity. When I was a child, I was vaccinated against this dred disease. Since the 1980's, when smallpox was declared eradicated, few have been vaccinated.
iv) Alzheimer'sCollaboration between the United States and Cuba on research into Alzheimer's has been stopped in its tracks by the Trump administration's reinstatement of sanctions on Cuba.
January 23, 2018 (written for Rolla Peace Newsletter)
FOURTH RATIFICATION OF TREATY TO ABOLISH NUCLEAR WEAPONS: VIVA MEXICO!
Last week Mexico, joined Guyana, The Holy See (Vatican) and Thailand, becoming the fourth country to ratify the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. Only 46 more ratifications and this International Treaty goes into effect! This is a huge event! Small and medium sized nations standing up to big nation nuclear terror. But our “fake-news media” totally ignored it. You won't find this story in the New York Times or the Washington Post or Fox News or Breitbart or even Common Dreams (virtually nowhere in the United States except Rolla Peace News).
Donald Trump thinks Mexicans are “rapists,” “criminals” and “drug-dealers” and wants to build a wall to “protect” us from Mexicans. It was (and still is) all over the fake-news media. I think we should be inviting Mexicans to come live here. Maybe they could teach us how to live in Peace without nuclear weapons.
The Pentagon not only refuses to get rid of their nuclear weapons: they want better nukes. The problem they say with nuclear weapons is that they are too big and destructive to use. Apparently, they want mini-nukes that might only kill 100,000 people, like the ones they used 70 years ago at Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
TAXING JUNK FOOD: VIVA MEXICO!
While searching the US fake-news media (in vain) for news about Mexico ratifying the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, I ran across this article from VOX on how Mexico is one of only two countries in the world (the other is Hungary) that taxes junk food; and it seems to be helping to produce better health outcomes.
So here's an idea for Rolla. We have a municipal health and recreation center that is running around $300,000 annually in the red. A lot of people in Rolla object to their taxes supporting an institution that produces better health outcomes; so here is my plan. Place a special tax on McDonald's and other purveyors of junk food and use the proceeds to fund memberships for those who can not afford. We win triple: more exercise, less junk food, better health!
Incidentally, The United States has the highest prevalence of obesity in the “developed” world.
ON THE SEPTICALLY CHALLENGED (“SHITHOLE” TO YOU, MR. TRUMP)
Last month I discussed a report by Philip Alston, United Nations special rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights, on his visit to the United States. Here are two short excerpts:
“In Alabama, I saw various houses in rural areas that were surrounded by cesspools of sewage that flowed out of broken or non-existent septic systems. The State Health Department had no idea of how many households exist in these conditions, despite the grave health consequences. Nor did they have any plan to find out, or devise a plan to do something about it.”
“Neglected tropical diseases, including Zika, are increasingly common in the USA. It has been estimated that 12 million Americans live with a neglected parasitic infection. A 2017 report documents the prevalence of hookworm in Lowndes County, Alabama”
January 16, 2018 (written for Rolla Peace Newsletter)
WAIST DEEP IN THE BIG MUDDY (AND THE BIG FOOL SAYS TO PUSH ON)
“Reality must take precedence over public relations, for nature cannot be fooled.” —Richard P. FeynmanNature is on the rampage in 2018, following over $300 billion of weather-related damages in the United States in 2017. First week of January: a “bomb cyclone” hit the east coast of North America; Second week: torrential rains in southern California, falling on bare ground left charred by last year's drought and wildfire, caused mudslides that killed at least 20 people and caused tremendous damage .
Southern California is literally, “Waist Deep in the Big Muddy” and the “Big Fool” in Washington DC (and all the little fools that surround him) say we “could use a little bit of that good old Global Warming”. The little fools include all the “fake news” media, that report on weather-related disasters with barely a mention of global warming or climate change .
“Good Old Global Warming!” “Push On!” More oil, more fossil fuels, more meat in our diets, more wars, more growth, more development, more progress....
Pete Seeger really nailed it when he wrote Waist Deep In The Big Muddy. The troops are being led to their death by a captain, ignorant of the danger and unwilling to listen. They are saved only when the captain drowns and the sergeant leads them back to shore. Listening to this powerful story in song, one can understand why 50 years ago, the “fake news” media tried to censor Pete. “Every time I read the paper, them old feelings come on ... waist deep, neck deep, soon even a tall man will be over his head....”
Where is the sergeant to lead us back to dry land? How much time do we have left? Perhaps it is already too late....
This article from Wired on how New York's JFK Airport was paralyzed for four days on account of the recent storm might give you an idea of how thin is the thread that holds together our society. Journalist, Alex Davies, notes, “Perfect-storm weekend disasters like the one at JFK could become more common in the future. The changing climate will produce more, fiercer, weirder weather events.”
TRUST NOT IN EARLY WARNINGS OR VIOLENT SOLUTIONS
“To long for lasting, transcendent peace — to imagine that it’s possible — is to marginalize yourself.” —Robert C. KoehlerOf all the columnists I read, I like Robert Koehler the best. Koehler can see the big picture without getting lost in the details. He writes about terrible things, yet always manages to maintain his equilibrium. So here is an article by Robert Koehler on “swatting.”
“Swatting” is turning in a false alarm, with the intention of bringing down a militarized response on some unsuspecting person or household. Swatting can be a practical joke, sometimes a deadly one, as in the case of Andrew Finch, who was shot dead in front of his home in Wichita by a SWAT team responding to a false alarm. Swatting can also be a way of purposely attacking a victim for whatever reason or no reason at all.
A variation on swatting is common in occupied lands like Afghanistan where the military relies on paid informants for information on partisan militias (often referred to as terrorists). In fact, the less connected military and law enforcement are to the territory and its inhabitants, the more likely they are to be victimized by a swatter.
“There’s a reason why swatting is such an effective tactic. It’s because police departments across the country have largely, in the dark, militarized to the extent that they are really hair-trigger ready to be deployed by a malicious actor like this in a prank.” says Kade Crockford of the ACLU.
Koehler adds, “Unavoidably, it calls attention to the essential flaw of our trust in armed social order.”
Of course the swatter hopes to avoid recognition. In the Wichita case cited above, a man has been arrested and charged with manslaughter. In other cases no suspect has been identified.
Sadly, the more hi-tech our 911 emergency warning system gets, the more prone it may become to anonymous false alarms.
False alarms can be very dangerous, particularly within our nuclear early-warning system. Here is a list of some close calls. Many are false alarms generated within the nuclear early warning system, any one of which could have caused millions of people to be vaporized in nuclear holocaust.
To this list, must now be added this week's false alarm in Hawaii, where millions of Hawaians received the emergency alert:
SEEK IMMEDIATE SHELTER. THIS IS NOT A DRILL.”
Really? The world can be plunged into nuclear war because an employee pushes the wrong button????
I suppose it might have happened that way; but I find these other three scenarios far more likely:
1. A practical joker hacked into the early warning system.We may have to wait a looooooooooooooooooong time to find out what really happened. 54 years and running, and we still haven't seen the John F. Kennedy papers.
What can we do about this? The solution is simple: demilitarize, decrease the level of violence in our society, increase openness and trust. There will always be bad actors in society; but let's cease letting them define who we are.
Norway can show us how this can be done. In 2011 Norway was the victim of a horrific terrorist attack that killed 77. Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg vowed that the attack would not hurt Norwegian democracy, and said the proper answer to the violence was “more democracy, more openness, but not naivety.” Stoltenberg also said, “No one has said it better than the AUF girl who was interviewed by CNN: ‘If one man can show so much hate, think how much love we could show, standing together.’” Norway did not allow this incident to lead to militarism and secrecy; or attacks on democracy and openness.
Mr. Trump: Good luck in enticing Norwegians to immigrate to the United States. I think we could learn a lot from Norway; but It might be a hard sell. Norwegians are the happiest people in the world and number one in democracy, maternal health, freedom of the press and many other important categories.
I think we could also learn a lot from Haitians, Salvadorans and Africans, if we would only learn to listen.
January 9, 2018 (written for Rolla Peace Newsletter)
THIS IS WHAT COURAGE LOOKS LIKE
Here is a link to a photo of Ahed Tamimi, a slight 16-year-old Palestinian girl, facing down heavily-armed jack-booted Israeli thugs with nothing but her hands and feet. David and Goliath all over again; only this time David is a young Palestinian girl and Goliath is the heavily-armed Israeli military. Shunning the light of day, the jack-booted thugs returned in the middle of the night and arrested Ahed. Now she's in an Israeli jail facing 12 charges.
Ahed Tamimi declared:
“I don’t want to be perceived as a victim, and I won’t give their actions the power to define who I am and what I’ll be. We don’t want you to support us because of some photogenic tears, but because we chose the struggle and our struggle is just. This is the only way that we’ll be able to stop crying one day.”By way of contrast, Israeli journalist, Ben Caspit, writes:
“In the case of the girls the price must be exacted at another time, in the dark, without witnesses and cameras.”Are these really the people we pay billions of dollars in tribute to every year?
Hmmm..., I wonder, with all the talk these days about women having the Right to be safe from abusive males... Who will demand these Rights for Ahed Tamimi and other Palestinian women?
DONALD TRUMP V. GLOBAL WARMING
After opining in late December that the United States “could use a little bit of that good old Global Warming” the United States was socked by one of the most powerful winter storms in modern history. Fueled by a warming climate, the Northeast United States was hit by a "bomb cyclone" that set records. Sometimes it's best not to ask. You might just get what you wished for.
As many have noted: a few cold days in one region of the world, does not cancel out global warming. While New Yorkers were freezing, much of the world, including Alaska and California was experiencing above normal temperatures.
Incidentally, December 2017 is, according to the Copernicus Center, the second warmest December on record, right behind December 2015, which is still number one; and the 2017 calendar year was also second warmest, right behind 2016 which was boosted by a monster El Niño event.
While only second warmest, 2017 is number one by far in terms of the cost of weather-related disasters in the United States, over $300 billion.
Note 1: “Bomb cyclone” is the nom du jour for Nor'easter: A storm off the Atlantic coast of North America, usually accompanied by a sudden drop in barometric pressure and heavy winds out of the Northeast, often bringing precipitation, flooding and a drop in temperature.
Note 2: NOAA uses a somewhat different model than Copernicus Center for arriving at an average world temperature. NOAA's data for December 2017 will not be released until 18 January.
TRUMP MAY HAVE (FINALLY) GONE TOO FAR
I think Donald Trump may have crossed the red line when he proclaimed, “I too have a Nuclear Button, but it is a much bigger & more powerful one than [Kim Jong-un's], and my Button works!”
Now, North and South Korea are talking to each other and the joint US, South Korea military exercises have been postponed. It would be nice to see these talks lead to Peace and friendship, economic and cultural exchanges, and maybe some day, even reunification. I think Koreans (both North and South) have decided that Peace and friendship Trumps mutual nuclear annihilation.
Seems like Trump is getting rebuffed everywhere. In July, 122 nations hammered out a Treaty to Prohibit Nuclear Weapons which now has 56 signatures. All nine nuclear-weapon states boycotted the conference.
Last month, the UN voted overwhelmingly to reject Jerusalem as the Capital of Israel. The only support the US and Israel could muster were a handful of vassal states.
In an emergency Security Council meeting that the United States called to discuss the protests in Iran, The United States was asked, what about the peaceful demonstrators in Ferguson, Missouri who were attacked with rubber bullets and tear gas by a militarized police force?
Actually the US got off easy. They could have been asked why peaceful Water Protectors were attacked with dogs and water cannons in sub-zero weather; they could have been asked why so many African-Americans have been shot dead by police. They could have been asked why prisoners are still being held without charge in torturous conditions in Guantanamo and elsewhere.
And after castigating Pakistan for failing to help in the war against Afghanistan, Pakistan Foreign Minister, Khawaja Asif, finally said what everybody knew or should have known years ago; but nobody would say: The United States has been defeated in Afghanistan.
And here at home: Donald Trump has outdone Hans Christian Andersen. The tale of the Emperor's New Clothes has always been one of my favorites; but folks aren't just saying “the Emperor's naked.” Now they are saying “the Emperor's insane.” Literally!
In truth, I ought not to be picking on Donald Trump. What Donald Trump has been doing: supporting The Palestinian genocide, belittling or ignoring global warming, and bullying other nations, is exactly what All of his recent predecessors have done. And I really can't say that any of them were any more or less sane than Donald Trump either. However, through his bombastic buffoonery, Trump has created a backlash that his predecessors were able to avoid.
Note on insanity:
Far be it from me to define insanity for our mental health professionals. But, consider: the last five US Presidents, as chief executive of the world's only superpower, could have changed the world into a far more just and peaceful planet. Instead, they opted for militarism, war and empire.
Likewise they all had the ability to tackle the problem of a climate, warming dangerously under the threat of increased human-induced atmospheric green-house gases. They all opted to ignore the danger.
Now if that is not insanity, then please, someone tell me: What is insanity?
January 2, 2018 (written for Rolla Peace Newsletter)
FROM OUR READERS
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.
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.
JAMES ZOGBY'S CHRISTMAS LETTER TO MIKE PENCE
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.”This is a very important letter, particularly for Christians in the United States. If you read nothing else today, please read this letter.
MINE IS BIGGER THAN YOURS
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?
TRUMP INSULTS AND ANGERS ANOTHER NUCLEAR POWER
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.
December 26, 2017 (written for Rolla Peace Newsletter)
SOME GOOD NEWS: CALIFORNIA FIRES CONTAINED
The fires that have been ravaging southern California for three weeks have been contained and are not expected to spread further. The Thomas Fire, at 281,600 acres, is the largest in California since record keeping began in the 1930s — still a piker compared to the 2016 Fort McMurray fire that burned 1.5 million acres of Canadian boreal forest, the 1.3 million acres burnt this summer in Montana and the 3 million acres lost to wildfires in British Columbia during the 2017 fire season.
However, the record probably belongs to the 2003 Siberian Taiga fires that burned around 47 million acres.
Charges were dropped against the two youngsters accused of starting the November 2016 Gatlinburg fire in Great Smoky Mountains National Park. It seems Park officials decided to let the fire burn and five days later it swept down on the unexpecting town of Gatlinburg on equally unanticipated 90 mile per hour winds, killing 14. The connection between the teenagers and the death and destruction caused by the fire appeared tenuous at best.
No charges have been filed against Rex Tillerson or anyone else responsible for the climate change that makes these fires more likely and more severe. In fact, for his part in causing these fires, Rex Tillerson was confirmed as US Secretary of State. The connection between Tillerson and the death and destruction caused by the Gatlinburg fire is far more concrete than the connection between the two young hikers and the fire.
Now the bad news:
These mega-fires are probably the new normal as the climate heats up and droughts become more severe. Due to a changing climate and perhaps other factors, forests, which soak up heat-causing carbon dioxide may not be regenerating as they have in the past.
MORE GOOD NEWS: PHELPS COUNTY GETS ONE HALF INCH OF PRECIPITATION AND A WHITE CHRISTMAS
Last week I reported what most of you probably already knew, that Phelps County was in moderate to severe drought. This week, we have received around a half inch of precipitation including some much-welcomed snow which still lies on the ground this Christmas day as I write. I wish you all a white Christmas.
AMERICAN DREAM OR AMERICAN ILLUSION? — FOR MANY, AMERICAN NIGHTMARE
Philip Alston, United Nations special rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights, visited the United States during the first two weeks in December. Here are some excerpts from his report:
* US infant mortality rates in 2013 were the highest in the developed world.Alston's statement is somewhat long; but you can read a summary here. His full report should be available in the Spring.
Here are two comments of my own:
* Two of the great social upheavals in modern Western history, The French revolution of 1789 and the Russian revolution of 1917, occurred among great levels of inequality and corruption. Today, it is undeniable that the Great American Empire is disintegrating under the ever increasing burden of inequality and corruption.PUERTO RICO
I've been looking for a good report on the devastation of Puerto Rico by hurricanes Irma and Maria for many weeks. There has been precious little in the news. Now, here's an article from New York Magazine detailing the devastation of the island, the callousness of the meager federal response and how the Puerto Rican people have courageously coped with the catastrophe.
We may never know how many Puerto Ricans die as a result of Hurricane Maria; but it is surely in the thousands and will increase. 100 days after Maria, much of the island is still without power and potable water.
Philip Alston (see snippet above) had much to say about Puerto Rico in his statement on extreme poverty and human rights in the United States:
“If it were a state, Puerto Rico would be the poorest state in the Union. But Puerto Rico is not a state, it is a mere ‘territory.’ Puerto Ricans have no representative with full voting rights in Congress and, unless living stateside, cannot vote for the President of the United States. ... Puerto Rico not only has a fiscal deficit, it also has a political rights deficit, and the two are not easily disentangled. ... there would seem to be good reason for the UN Decolonization Committee to conclude that the island is no longer a self-governing territory.”WAS JESUS AN ILLEGAL ALIEN?
Having allowed DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) to expire; our legislators will be home celebrating the birth of Jesus, while our Dreamers live in fear of arrest and deportation. So lets remember, as Juan Cole reminds us, that Jesus was a Dreamer. He was taken as a baby to Egypt to escape King Herod. At a young age, his parents took him to live in Palestine which had become a province of the Roman Empire (see Matthew 2:19).
He had no citizenship and no papers. Had he been a citizen, he could not have been crucified. Crucifixion was for barbarians and slaves. As far as Pontius Pilate was concerned, Jesus was entitled to none of the Rights of a citizen of the Empire. Like our undocumented aliens today, he was “open to displacement and arbitrary arrest and punishment even though [he had] done nothing wrong.”
Juan Cole ends his Christmas sermon with these words, “We have to decide if we want to be more like Jesus or more like Pontius Pilate.”
Today there are over 65 million displaced people in the world. They feature prominently in Pope Francis's Christmas Homily:
“So many other footsteps are hidden in the footsteps of Joseph and Mary. We see the tracks of entire families forced to set out in our own day. We see the tracks of millions of persons who do not choose to go away but, driven from their land, leave behind their dear ones. In many cases this departure is filled with hope, hope for the future; yet for many others this departure can only have one name: survival. Surviving the Herods of today, who, to impose their power and increase their wealth, see no problem in shedding innocent blood.”
December 19, 2017 (written for Rolla Peace Newsletter)
NUCLEAR SWORD OF DAMOCLES
I've been reporting since March on the progress of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. It now has 56 signatory nations and three ratifications. Robert Koehler explains the importance of this treaty:
It takes nuclear disarmament out of the hands of the nuclear weapons powers which have boycotted the treaty; and puts it where it belongs: in the hands of all peoples everywhere (and by extension, all life on the planet Earth).
Since 1945 humanity has been living with a nuclear Sword of Damocles hanging by a thin horsehair over its head. At any time, without warning, one or more of the nuclear weapons powers may unleash nuclear holocaust upon the world. MAD, it's called: Mutually Assured Destruction. You can destroy me; but I can destroy you too, and the rest of the world to boot. We're told a nuclear deterrent makes us secure; but do you feel secure? I don't. I think I would feel a lot more secure if these weapons were banned forever. As the Roman orator, Cicero, commented on the Sword of Damocles, “Does not Dionysius seem to have made it sufficiently clear that there can be nothing happy for the person over whom some fear always looms?”
LIAR, LIAR, PANTS ON FIRE
No, this is not about Donald Trump. It goes back to 1990 when the Soviet Union was imploding. The West promised that in exchange for a Soviet withdrawal from East Germany leading to peaceful reunification, NATO would not expand one inch to the East. It was a lie, of course. In the wake of the destruction of the Soviet Union, US planners saw nothing standing between the United States and complete and total Global Empire.
Of course, they did not only lie to the Soviets. Here in the US we were promised a “Peace Dividend;” but instead of a peace dividend, we got NAFTA and a corporate takeover. In Iraq, they lied to Saddam Hussein that they would not oppose an invasion of Kuwait. Step One in remaking the Middle East: the destruction of Iraq. Believing that lie cost Iraq a million children.
There is blowback in lying. No one will ever believe you again, even if you're telling the truth. We would like North Korea to cash in their nukes for a promise of “security.” Can you blame them for not believing there is any security for themselves in such negotiations?
THIS IS VERY VERY SCARY
I found this article in Wired rather serendipitously . It's about ISIS's munitions factories. The scary part is not that so much of the ISIS arsenal comes from the United States; but that it is now so easy to manufacture sophisticated weaponry and to transmit the know-how. How far in the future before nuclear weapons can be manufactured almost as easily? Oh, Science! see what thou hast wrought.
In case you think ISIS/Al Queda has been defeated, think again. Defeated insurgencies have a way of returning, stronger than ever.
NOT WELCOME HERE OR ANYWHERE ELSE
US President Donald Trump had to cancel a January visit to the United Kingdom after pissing off millions of Britons. Pence has “delayed” his trip to the Middle East after Adeep Joudeh, the custodian of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre said, “I absolutely refuse to officially welcome the American Vice President Mr. Mike Pence at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre and I will not be physically in church during his visit.”
TRUMPSTERS DECLARE WAR ON THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE
When I saw the title of this article on seven forbidden words, I thought the seven words would be racial or ethnic slurs, like the N-word, or sexually explicit words, like the F-word. Oh, I was so egregiously wrong! Here are the seven terrible words, forbidden at the Center for Disease Control and other government agencies: Vulnerable, Entitlement, Diversity, Transgender, Fetus, Evidence-based, Science-based — far worse than the N-word or the F-word.
WHY WE SHOULD HOUSE THE HOMELESS
Seems like one of the recent California fires that burned through an upscale neighborhood in southern California started in a homeless encampment where folks were trying to cook a meager meal. There's still some poetic justice left in this world.
PEACE ON EARTH
Tonight is the final night of Chanukah, with Winter Solstice coming up Thursday, right before our Peace Vigil. Christmas is on Monday and New Years (Western) the following Monday. This is supposed to be a Season of Peace. Since we are not likely to get much Peace from our governments, that leaves it up to us, We the People. Please come and join our Peace vigils: every Thursday, Noon to 1:00pm at the Rolla Post Office.
December 12, 2017 (written for Rolla Peace Newsletter)
FIRST SOME GOOD NEWS
The Treaty to prohibit Nuclear Weapons has garnered three more signatories, bringing the total so far to 56 signatory nations and three ratifications. Let's all shout a loud hip-hip-hooray for the three new signatories: Jamaica, Namibia, and St Vincent & Grenadines .
The World Bank agreed to drastically curb funding for fossil fuels. A good start but far more is necessary.
Powerful sexual predators are being called out right and left. Ann Jones suggests they be paraded down the street naked. I like that. Certainly a punishment that fits the crime.
20 founders of the internet and industry leaders, not to mention thousands of ordinary people like you and me, demand FCC cancel anti-net-neutrality vote.
And now some bad news:
RUBBING SALT IN THE WOUND
Donald Trump's decision to move the US embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem has further angered the Arab world as the status of the United States in the world continues to deteriorate.
Stephen Zunes points out, a bipartisan congress in 1995 passed the Jerusalem Embassy Act which was reaffirmed this year by a vote of 90-0 in the Senate. Well, Congress, if you are crazy enough to mandate such an inflammatory act, it shouldn't surprise you that the President is crazy enough to follow through.
So far there have only been demonstrations and condemnations; but I wouldn't be surprised to see some significant escalations in coming months, perhaps enough to change the political landscape in the Middle East.
Moving the US embassy to Jerusalem would be illegal under international law. Phyllis Bennis points out that one thing this will not do is derail the “peace process” which has been essentially non-existent for years.
THE RUSSIAN CONNECTION
Democrat-leaning pundits continue to babble about the “Russian Connection” and collusion between the Trumpsters and Russia (see Glenn Greenwald's article here). How come the pundits never mention collusion between most politicians of both parties and Israel, which has done the United States far more damage than any alleged Russian meddling in US elections?
Hey, we meddle in other country's elections all over the world. We've been doing it for decades, with Honduras being the most recent example.
A WOULD-BE PEACE BROKER
Speaking of Russia: Russia has offered to broker a Peace between the United States and North Korea. That would be a wonderful thing for most of the world, at least those who do not relish being vaporized in an atomic blast. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said North Korea is ready for direct talks and Russia is willing to help.
Unfortunately, the Trumpsters are not interested. State Department spokesperson, Heather Nauert, said direct talks with North Korea were “not on the table until they are willing to denuclearize.” Now, suppose the North Koreans were to say direct talks with the United States are not on the table until they are willing to denuclearize. Hey, maybe we are on to something here. Maybe the other seven nuclear weapons states could join in and we could ban all nuclear weapons everywhere on Earth.
THE COLOR PURPLE
To firefighters, the color purple means extreme danger. Last week California Fire Chief Ken Pimlott said, “I've never seen the purple ‘extreme’ threat issued. But this is where we find ourselves.”
Fueled by high winds and dry conditions, wildfires that broke out last week in southern California have burned 1/4 million acres and counting . On top of the wildfires that devastated northern California two months ago, this has to be California's worst fire season ever.
Adding to that the four late summer hurricanes that devastated Puerto Rico, Texas and Florida, this has to be the very worst year for climate-change induced natural disasters in the United States ever. So Congratulations, Donald Trump! you are President of a country that is burning up and washing away. Do you still think it's all a Chinese hoax? You do? How bad does it have to get before you admit that human-induced climate change is real?
Here in Phelps County, we are suffering from moderate to severe drought. We have been lucky so far; but perhaps we will be the next victims, as Nature continues to pay us back for our depredations.
We would do well to beef-up our fire-fighting and disaster-response capabilities. Sadly, the City of Rolla seems more interested in building roads and shopping centers.
December 5, 2017 (written for Rolla Peace Newsletter)
SOME GOOD NEWS
Police in Honduras are refusing to suppress demonstrations against a corrupt and delusional ruling government. One police officer stated, “It's that we have family. We are tired. And our job is to give peace and security to the Honduran people, not repress them. We want all Hondurans to be safe.”
When police refuse to do the bidding of a corrupt ruling elite, a nation is not very far from regime change. The current regime came to power in a 2009 coup supported by the Obama/Clinton government in the United States.
And here at home, one has to wonder how long our corrupt and delusional government can remain in power.
Abuses of power abound — and are certainly not limited to Donald Trump and his inner circle. Probably the most egregious abuse is the escalating confrontation with nuclear armed North Korea.
So here's a scenario and a question:
First the scenario: Suppose the Pentagon shuts down the government in a palace coup claiming that Donald Trump was about to launch the nukes, and the coup was necessary to the survival of humanity.Far-fetched? I don't think so.
November 28, 2017 (written for Rolla Peace Newsletter)
ALL IS CALM
“What would happen, I wonder, if the armies of both sides suddenly and simultaneously went on strike and said some other method must be found for settling the dispute?” —Winston ChurchillIf you missed Monday's performance of “All Is Calm” at Leach Theatre, you missed one of the most powerful anti-war statements ever to come to Rolla. All Is Calm is a play by Peter Rothstein about the 1914 Christmas Truce on the western front during World War I. The words are mostly from letters and statements made by soldiers in the trenches.
All Is Calm makes you realize to what lengths the politicians and generals must go in order to get people to fight wars. It also makes you realize why we fight wars at a distance, so soldiers cannot see the humanity in the enemy facing him. It also makes you realize why the next step in warfare will likely be robo-wars which may make soldiers, and perhaps all of humanity, obsolete.
If you missed the play, here's a ten minute discussion with director Peter Rothstein along with excerpts from the play.
And here is John McCutchen's famous song about the Christmas Truce.
And here's a short piece I wrote on this subject ten long years ago.
November 21, 2017 (written for Rolla Peace Newsletter)
TO PREVENT A NUCLEAR WAR
A lot of folks seem to be concerned that Donald Trump, or Kim Jong-un, or maybe both together may start a nuclear war. So here's an article on how the generals, presumable our last and final hope, may be able to thwart a nuclear war, when some crazy politician decides it's time to launch the missiles. So, how many generals does it take to prevent a nuclear war? — probably more generals than it takes Californians to screw in a light bulb.
But, hey, here's a much better way. It's called nuclear disarmament. There's even a draft treaty to rid the world of nukes, waiting for signatures and ratifications. I doubt you will find many generals in favor of this treaty.
THE ZOMBIE FUNGUS: SCARIER THAN DONALD TRUMP
Anyone remember Robert Heinlein's, The Puppet Masters? Well, here it is, in the flesh — the Zombie Fungus, ophiocordyceps unilateralis — literally tales over an ant's body and controls it. Hey, maybe that's what's happening to Donald Trump.
SEXUAL PREDATORS IN POSITIONS OF POWER
There's been an awful lot in the news lately about folks in high places abusing their wealth and power to satisfy their sexual lusts. So what else is new? I suspect that humanity (particularly males) are hard wired for sexual greed. In fact, I wouldn't be the first to suggest that the whole point of wealth and power is to satisfy one's sexual cravings. If you don't believe me, hang out with a gang of teenage boys for a while.
Well, there are ways to overcome a built-in desire for sexual license. You can threaten people with jail, humiliation, loss of privilege, mutilation or hellfire. Or you can try to teach males to be respectful of females. But, I think in the end our genetic disposition toward wanton sexuality will usually win out. Remember that we are less than a million years removed from our (non-human) animal heritage.
As John Gray put it, “Those who spurn their animal nature do not cease to be human, they merely become caricatures of humanity.” (Straw Dogs, p132)
For those who wish to transform humanity into something loftier, I believe the first step must be to accept who we are now.
November 14, 2017 (written for Rolla Peace Newsletter)
CLUELESS IN ASIA
Wherever Donald Trump went in Asia, he preached War, while demonstrators demanded Peace.
Trump apparently can't understand why a “country of samurai warriors” didn't shoot down a North Korean missile as it flew over Japan. Sounds like Donald's been watching too much television. Maybe some folks would prefer not to have a nuclear war which would likely kill millions, maybe billions.
Not surprisingly, the main stream media (liberal and conservative both) played down anti-war protests, if they bothered to mention them at all.
November 7, 2017 (written for Rolla Peace Newsletter)
SAUDI WAR AGAINST YEMEN CONTINUES WITH US SUPPORT
Last Wednesday, with US complicity, Saudi Arabia bombed Yemen again killing another 29. House leadership refused to bring to the floor for debate Concurrent Resolution 81 which calls for end of US support for the Saudi war.
As a result of the Saudi war, Yemen suffers from widespread famine and disease, including over 800,000 cases of cholera. Saudi Arabia's war against Yemen may now have surpassed Israel's war against Palestine as the worst Human Rights violation in the Middle East. Both would be impossible without US support.
THE DIFFERENCES AMONG LAS VEGAS, NEW YORK AND SUTHERLAND SPRINGS
Stephen Paddock, a white man, killed 59 in Las Vegas with an arsenal of firearms — not terrorism. Sayfullo Saipov, a male Muslim immigrant, killed 8 in New York with a truck — that's terrorism. Devin Patrick Kelley, a white man, killed 27 in Sutherland Springs with a firearm — not terrorism. One might be tempted to conclude that you have to be Muslim to be a terrorist.
Actually we have only scratched the surface here. According to Mass Shooting Tracker, there have been 378 instances so far in 2017 of mass shootings in the United States killing in total over 500. Most don't make the national news.
Passing laws may help, but we need to get to the root of the problem — the violence inherent in our society. Tackling that would be bad for some powerful lobbies like weapons makers and video game producers — so we don't do anything that makes any sense.
Assassination of John F. Kennedy
Silly me! I thought that after 54 years I would finally get to see documents showing that Kennedy's assassination was orchestrated by forces in the government that were unhappy with his decision to pull out of Vietnam. Seems like Donald Trump isn't going to keep his word (what else is new) and release the papers. It could be damaging to national security for folks to know that a president can me assassinated for not wanting to go to war.
Seems like covert attempts to prevent runaway climate change may be making a bad situation worse. According to Geoengineering Watch, one of the major processes being used is the spraying of aerosol particulates into the atmosphere which may reflect a certain amount of our Sun's radiation back into space, but may also play havoc with earthly weather patterns adding to the intensity of weather-related disasters.
Would governments that continue to invest in ever more powerful ways to kill more and more people do such a thing? You bet they would!
Conspiracy theories abound. Some you suspect are true because they are the only theory that makes any sense (such as 9/11 being an inside job). Sometimes the “official story” is so outrageous (such as that the most wanted man in the world was found unarmed in a refugee camp, shot dead, and then his corpse dumped at sea) that almost anything would sound more convincing. Often it takes an insider like Dan Ellsberg or Ed Snowden spilling the beans to convince folks that the “official story” is a big lie.
Above, Helen discusses the movement toward international oligarchy, another example of a conspiracy theory that is the only theory that actually makes any sense.
After pleading guilty to deserting his post, Bergdahl received a dishonorable discharge, but no jail time. The no jail time apparently pissed Donald Trump off “bigly”.
The Uruguayan poet, Eduardo Galeano, died two years ago of lung cancer. His last work, Hunter of Stories, will be published in English translation next week. Here's a couple of excerpts:
October 31, 2017 (written for Rolla Peace Newsletter)
Just remember that the scariest spooks are in Washington DC.
A quotation is worth a thousand original words. Briana Mitchell sends out this collection of quotes from presidents, politicians, generals and military officers on nuclear weapons (second reply to Gary Kohl's article on the nuking of Nagasaki). Many of these quotations I've seen before, but never all in the same place. Read them carefully and then ask yourselves: “Who are the real terrorists?”
CO2 IN OUR ATMOSPHERE
We've passed the late September low and CO2 in the atmosphere is on the increase again as our Northern Hemisphere trees go dormant and stop converting large quantities of CO2 to oxygen. The 2017 low was around 403 ppm as compared to the 2016 low around 401 ppm. If it's any consolation the rate of increase in 2016 was slightly less than the 2015 rate which set a record. Ever wonder about those devastating hurricanes and wildfires plaguing us this Summer and Fall?
THE MOST UNPOPULAR PRESIDENT IN US HISTORY
Donald Trump's disapproval rating hit 62% Sunday, setting a new record according to Gallup's ongoing poll.
Here's a cartoon on why we don't need Trump's wall.
And some choice ripostes by Michael Moore to a Donald Trump insult.
October 24, 2017 (written for Rolla Peace Newsletter)
VIETNAM: DEJA VU ALL OVER AGAIN
Seems like there is a lot of interest in the new PBS series on Vietnam. I haven't watched it, and don't intend to; but here's what Fred Reed has to say:
“People are talking about some Vietnam series by Ken Burns, I think it is. I saw the original, so I’ll pass. But if we want opinions, I’ll contribute from long ago.”You can read Fred's article of 37 years ago here.
Here Robert Freeman asks whether we Vietnam-era anti-war protesters were heroes or traitors. Neither sits very well with me. We were (mostly) just a bunch of kids “doing our thing.” We thought we could build a better world, full of peace, love and harmony — hardly heroic or traitorous. Well, maybe we could have; but 50 years later, see what our generation hath wrought!
Suppose, 50 years ago, we had just stayed home and smoked dope. Would the Vietnamese have laid down their arms and surrendered? Not a chance. Would our troops not have fragged their officers? Would Vietnam vets not have come home and told the truth about the war? Would Dan Ellsberg not have leaked the Pentagon Papers? I suspect the answer to all these questions is: “This would have happened anyway.”
Anti-war protesters are simply a part of a far larger Peace Movement, albeit the most visible part. From comments we receive at our peace vigils, it is clear that for every protester, there are hundreds who are fed-up with our wars and want peace. Perhaps, we give some the courage to work for peace in their own way.
What is really sad is how little we have learned from Vietnam. Here we are, bogged down in multiple Vietnams, with more to come on the horizon. There is very little anti-war protesting going on now — here in Rolla just the four of us old-timers in front of the Post Office for an hour a week. We still haven't won a war since 1945.
One thing to remember: Donald Trump and Dick Cheney were Vietnam-era draft-dodgers — just like I was; and George W. Bush avoided Vietnam by joining the National Guard. With this level of “leadership,” what would you expect?
October 17, 2017 (written for Rolla Peace Newsletter)
THE CRUCIFIXION OF BOWE BERGDAHL
Monday, Bowe Bergdahl pleaded guilty to deserting his post and misbehaving before the enemy. Bowe Bergdahl walked away from his post in Afghanistan in 2009, was captured by the Taliban, held for five years, allegedly tortured, returned to the US in a POW exchange, and then held for court martial.
From some of the tripe I read, you would think that it is all Sgt. Bergdahl's fault that we are still fighting (and losing) in Afghanistan after 16 years. (Remember how defeating the Taliban and pacifying Afghanistan was supposed to be a “cake walk.”)
Here's an article by Matthew Hoh presenting a totally different point of view; but I think the Bergdahl case was best summed up by Fred Reed three years ago:
“Men engaged in killing for petroleum can develop a suspicion that what they do is just wrong. Soldiers are trained, conditioned by experts, to do things that the civilized finds abhorrent. If a veteran begins to doubt the justness of the war, then he becomes no more than a hired murderer. This is not pleasant. Thus no one must be permitted to say it. A contagion might result.And here's a poem by Utah Phillips, about his experiences in Korea :
“Standing in the alleys of Yongsan,And here's a piece of a poem by Rudyard Kipling:
“For it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an' ‘Chuck him out, the brute!’FROM OUR READERS: HILLARY'S CAMPAIGN MEMOIRS
A reader writes:
“I disagree with your premise [that Hillary might have lost because of her ‘advocacy of multiple wars and other military actions, many, if not all, of which were rather disastrous’] as I believe that Trump was equally, if not more, bellicose than Hillary. A quote from Trump's campaign that I dug up on google: ‘As soon as I take office, I will ask Congress to fully eliminate the defense sequester and will submit a new budget to rebuild our military. It is so depleted. We will rebuild our military.’My response: Glenn Greenwald's article has raised quite a few eyebrows, for example, this article by John Frederick Kaufmann. It appears counter-intuitive; but in politics, perception is paramount. Here are a few more quotes:
“I would certainly not do first strike. Once the nuclear alternative happens, it’s over.” —Donald TrumpAnd sadly, our 21st Century wars in Libya and The Ukraine appear to belong to Obama and Clinton.
WALL STREET: FOLLOW THE MONEY
Over the last two months, the United States has been plagued by many very expensive “natural” disasters: four hurricanes and numerous wildfires, many still burning. On August 24, one day before Harvey, the first of the four hurricanes, made landfall in Texas, the Dow stood at 21,783 Today with the majority of Puerto Ricans still without power or clean water and devastating wildfires still burning in California, the Dow stands at 22,997, an increase of over 5%. Climate Change in action; Disaster Capitalism; Follow the money.
October 10, 2017 (written for Rolla Peace Newsletter)
THE WARS COME HOME
“We are living in a time that's so extreme that if it doesn't drive you mad, you are not sane.” --Hamza Yusuf (Game of Wars )Well, the stats are in. Stephen Paddock killed 58 in last week's shooting spree in Las Vegas and wounded hundreds before killing himself. People who knew him expressed surprise that he would do such a thing. After all, he was just like us, or at least what many of us would have liked to be: wealthy, successful, retired, real estate tycoon, high-rolling gambler.
What struck me about this killing was:
1. It was obviously premeditated — meticulously planned to the smallest detail.In this, the Paddock massacre appears to differ from most recent mass killings. The mass murder that I find most similar is the 2015 crash of Germanwings Flight 9525. Here, Andreas Lubitz, apparently considered sane enough to be first officer on a commercial flight, locked the pilot out of the cockpit and set the autopilot for the plane to crash into a mountain killing 150 including himself.
After the fact, investigators found reasons to believe Lubitz may not have been completely sane. And I'm sure information will surface about Paddock which might lead one to conclude that he wasn't entirely sane either.
How do you protect against such massacres? Well, airplane pilots, retired accountants, real estate tycoons, gamblers and gun-owners might all be considered suspect. But, the chances are that the next such mass-murderer will have an entirely different profile.
Lubitz used his position as an airline officer to kill. Paddock used his arsenal of firearms, legal under US law, to kill. What's next? A dirty bomb? Sarin? Anthrax?
I think the problem is the violence, so inherent in our society. In a country fighting war after war after war in which millions die directly and indirectly; why would one hesitate to kill a mere 50 or 150, or even 1,500 people?
If we wish to proactively stop the next Lubitz or Paddock, we had better start right now in building a more peaceful society. Although many would agree, I don't see any progress toward ending our addiction to War and Violence.
NATURE BATS LAST: FLOOD AND FIRE
This week, a fourth hurricane, Nate, came ashore in the US near the mouth of the Mississippi. Nate caused serious devastation in Central America, and less serious devastation on the US Gulf Coast.
The Western US continues to burn. This weekend 17 wildfires sprang up out of nowhere in northern California, fed by the dry brush and fanned by 50 mile-per-hour winds. Thousands of Santa Rosa's 175,000 inhabitants have been evacuated. Many of these fires are yet to be contained, with high winds forecast for Wednesday and Thursday.
With Nature on the rampage at home, it is hard to envision any reason to be fighting wars halfway around the world.
“ON THE PATH TOWARD WORLD WAR III”
Senator Bob Corker made news this week by claiming that Donald Trump was risking putting us “on the path toward World War III.”
Some might add: Ask an Afghan or an Iraqi or a Syrian. They might tell you that World War III started years ago — and indeed, Senator Corker, for them it has. Having brought devastation to these places, what would make one think that we here in the United States could avoid similar devastation? (see above two snippets)
In response to a Trump insult, Corker quipped, “It’s a shame the White House has become an adult day care center. Someone obviously missed their shift this morning.” Nice ripost, Bob! I could say the same about the Senate that just put us farther along the path toward World War III by voting 89 to 8 to increase military authorizations by $80 billion to $700 billion, well over twice the budgets of China and Russia combined.
Bob, I deeply appreciate your joining with seven other senators, including Bernie Sanders, in voting Nay on this military authorization bill.
October 3, 2017 (written for Rolla Peace Newsletter)
IS THE UNITED STATES AT WAR WITH NORTH KOREA?
Clearly! The armistice signed at Panmunjom in 1953 was not a peace treaty; it was simply a cease-fire preliminary to peace negotiations. Peace negotiations were a dismal failure. The United States has maintained a continuous military presence in South Korea since the signing of the armistice. When the United States introduced nuclear weapons into South Korea in 1956, it violated paragraph 13d of the armistice. China withdrew its troops from North Korea in 1958.
It should be noted that both Koreas claimed to be the legitimate government of all Koreans. The Korean War of 1950-1953 started as a civil war until the United Nations, represented principally by the United States, intervened on the side of the South. China, and to a lesser extent the Soviet Union, later entered the war on the side of the North.
Thus, it could be said that North Korea is not only at war with the United States; but with the entire world. The entire world continues to sanction North Korea for doing no more than what other nations are doing.
Consider that if the United States and the Soviet Union had not partitioned Korea into spheres of influence, without regard for the desires of the Korean people, all this would never have happened.
The situation in Korea in 1945 was similar to that of Austria. Austria had been annexed by Germany, Korea by Japan. Both were colonial annexations without regard for the people being annexed. Austria was divided after World War II, but later reunited as a neutral country. Korea was never given that opportunity.
STANISLAV PETROV: REQUIESCAT IN PACE
Last May, Stanislav Petrov, “The Man Who Saved The World” passed away at age 77 . Petrov was on duty in 1983, when the sirens signaled a surprise attack coming from the United States. Petrov could have followed orders and reported it. He didn't. Had he, I would not be here to write this and you would not be here to read this. Petrov disobeyed orders. It was a false-alarm.
There have been many close calls and false alarms; but this one came at a particularly dangerous moment when the Soviet Union was on high alert due to threats from then-president Ronald Reagan.
Reading this account made me wonder: North Korea is certainly on high alert now due to threats from President Trump. Likely, their early warning system is far more error-prone than the 1983 Soviet early warning system. So let's consider the following scenerio:
The computer screens at military headquarters in North Korea suddenly go blank. Cyber attack, to be followed, by gigatons of US bombs. They waste no time launching the nukes. A few seconds later the computer screens light up. Software glitch. False alarm. Oops, we launched the nukes; and there is no bringing them back; and even if we could; US bombs would be sure to follow on their heels.Pretty? Yes? There is still time to deescalate. But where is the will?
Put yourself in Petrov's shoes. What would you do? Launch the nukes and kill a billion people? Just ride it out? Maybe its a false alarm; and even if its not, who wants to meet their God with the blood of a billion people on their hands?
Reading about Petrov's death, I thought of this sermon by Utah Phillips:
“Look, the President makes choices. The Congress makes choices. The Chief of Staff makes choices. The officers make choices. All those choices percolate down to the individual trooper with his finger on the trigger. The individual private with his thumb on the button that drops the bomb. If that trigger doesn’t get pulled, if that button doesn’t get pushed, all those other choices vanish as if they never were. They’re meaningless. So what is the critical choice?”CHOICES
Here is an interesting article by Mark Bowden from the Atlantic.
Bowden offers four alternatives for dealing with North Korea, noting that none of them are good.
1. An all out first strike,The article is somewhat long but well worth reading. Bowden opines that acceptance is probably the best of the four. As far as it goes, I would agree; but here is a fifth alternative which is far better: Peace.
Let's unilaterally cease all provocative actions toward North Korea, preparatory toward resuming, with no preconditions, long overdue peace negotiations.
LAS VEGAS SHOOTING
As I began writing this column, news came of the Las Vegas shooting. For no apparent reason, a white non-Islamic male opened fire on a crowd, killing over 50 and wounding in excess of 500.
Is there a connection between the US president threatening to totally destroy a nation of 24 million people, and a mass murder by a retired gambler? I think there is. Violence begets violence. Our wars are coming home. They have been for years. This is an age of universal insanity.
As Hamza Yusuf noted: “We are living in a time that's so extreme that if it doesn't drive you mad, you are not sane.” In this video Yusuf discusses both civilian and military violence.
September 26, 2017 (written for Rolla Peace Newsletter)
“AWAY WITH THE DOTARD! TO THE JAIL WITH HIM!”
What I find most interesting about the recent exchange of insults between Kim Jong-un and Donald Trump is that all the wise television talking-heads and internet trolls had to scramble to their dictionaries to discover the meaning of “dotard.” It's a perfectly fine English word, used multiple times by William Shakespeare. (The title quote is from Taming of the Shrew: Act V, Scene 1). Basically, a dotard is a senile old fool. I would say it describes Donald Trump quite well.
Here are a couple more Shakespearean references to “dotard” and “dotage,” which is the state in which a dotard dwells.
“Thou dotard; thou art woman-tired, unroosted by thy Dame Partlet here.” (Winter's Tale: Act II, Scene 3.) Dame Partlet refers to Chanticleer the rooster's favored hen who tells Chanticleer she cannot love a coward and almost gets him eaten by a fox.
“Banish me? Banish your dotage, banish usury that makes the senate ugly.” (Timon of Athens: Act III, Scene 6) Shakespeare might easily have been talking about our own Senate here. (See snippet below on Pentagon budget.)
If Chairman Kim gets us all reading Shakespeare instead of watching [un]reality shows and listening to fake news, I would say that he will have done us a great favor.
And here is a task for you, President Trump. Find a reference in classical Korean literature that fits Kim Jong-un as well as dotard fits you.
And here is the statement in which Kim Jong-un refers to Donald Trump as a “mentally deranged US dotard.”
TREATY TO ABOLISH NUCLEAR WEAPONS: 53 SIGNATURES; 3 RATIFICATION
The Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons opened for signatures at the United Nations last Wednesday. It garnered 50 signatures on opening day. Three nations: Guyana, The Holy See (Vatican), and Thailand also ratified the treaty on opening day. As of the time of writing the treaty has 53 signatory nations.
The treaty reads in part: “Each State Party undertakes never under any circumstances to Develop, test, produce, manufacture, otherwise acquire, possess or stockpile nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices;”
I called the White House comment line 202-456-1111 and asked President Trump to sign the treaty and submit it to Congress for ratification. Please call too, if you feel so inclined.
PENTAGON BUDGET UP $81 BILLION
Oblivious to the world around them, the Senate voted 89 to 9 last week to up the military budget by $81 billion to $700 billion while our infrastructure continues to crumble, Puerto Rico, which has been totally destroyed by Hurricane María, wallows in debt, and our citizens are asked to do without schools and healthcare to feed the voracious appetite of the military-industrial complex.
September 19, 2017 (written for Rolla Peace Newsletter)
TRUMP AT THE UNITED NATIONS
Yesterday Donald Trump addressed the United Nations General Assembly and threatened and insulted four member nations: Iran, Cuba, Venezuela and nuclear-armed North Korea. After claiming, “We want harmony and friendship, not conflict and strife,” Trump went on to threaten to “totally destroy North Korea.” This is on top of Trump's previous threat to meet North Korea with “fire and fury like the world has never seen.” And don't forget the total destruction of North Korea during the Korean War, and the destruction of Iraq, Serbia, Afghanistan, Honduras, Libya etc. over the last quarter century. Any wonder that North Korea wants a nuclear deterrent?
And South Korea wants nukes on its territory now. How do you spell P-R-O-L-I-F-E-R-A-T-I-O-N?
No one has ever explained to me why some countries have a right to nuclear weapons and others do not. I favor total and complete world-wide nuclear disarmament; but I also think that no nation has any more right to nuclear weapons than any other — which is ZERO.
HELL HATH NO FURY LIKE A WOMAN SCORNED
And while President Trump was addressing the United Nations, Hurricane Melania (María according to the National Hurricane Center) grew from a tropical storm to a category five hurricane. It has since demolished the Island of Dominica and is bearing down on Puerto Rico as I write.
This has been quite a season: devastating hurricanes; flooding in Bangladesh, Vietnam, Columbia, Texas, Florida, and many other places; drought and wildfires in what may be the hottest summer that parts of the Northwest United States have ever experienced; and earthquakes and tsunami in Mexico.
Maybe, instead of war, we ought to be appeasing Nature. She is obviously fed-up with Humanity.
Note: The causal relation between global warming and earthquakes is less well-known than the relationship between global warming and weather-related events; but equally straight-forward. A warming climate causes glaciers and polar ice to melt shifting the weight of melting ice from mountains and polar regions to ocean basins. The Earth responds to the shifting of weight on its crust with quakes, tsunamis and volcanic eruptions. See Bill McGuire's Waking the Giant.
HILLARY'S CAMPAIGN MEMOIRS
I had promised myself that I would never ever write about Hillary again; but here goes. I thought I could describe her defeat in one word: Arrogance; but after reading Glenn Greenwald's article, I think there is more to be said.
Greenwald points to Hillary's “advocacy of multiple wars and other military actions, many, if not all, of which were rather disastrous,” as a significant factor in Hillary's defeat. He references a paper by Douglas Kriner and Francis Shen entitled Battlefield Casualties and Ballot Box Defeat which finds “a significant and meaningful relationship between a community’s rate of military sacrifice and its support for Trump.” The authors further claim, “Our statistical model suggests that if three states key to Trump’s victory — Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin — had suffered even a modestly lower casualty rate, all three could have flipped from red to blue and sent Hillary Clinton to the White House.”
I suspect Kriner and Shen are right. During 10+ years of vigiling for peace, the most appreciative comments always seem to come from military personnel and their families. One day a man driving by looked at my Support the Troops, Bring Them Home placard, rolled down his window and said “You brought me home! My whole unit appreciates you.”
On a personal note: At times when my resolve not to vote for either major party candidate weakened, I thought of Hillary's snooty “We came, we saw, he died.” comment, referring to the gruesome rape of Muammar Gaddafi by US supported “moderates” with bayonets. Then I would ask myself: “Why would I vote for her?”
I think there is a lesson here for politicians. The days when support for militarism is a prerequisite for election to public office may be over.
September 12, 2017 (written for Rolla Peace Newsletter)
DEVASTATION FROM HURRICANES HILLARY AND IVANKA
Well, ok: Harvey and Irma. I guess I don't get to name the hurricanes. But, seriously, I think the question now should be how much of the Gulf Coast and Florida should we simply write off? After all, it's tremendously polluted and the question is when, not if, we'll get socked with more monster hurricanes. Harvey and Irma were unique on so many ways; but it's only going to get worse, not better, as the Earth continues to heat up.
After Hillary and Ivanka, if you still don't believe in Global Warming, I guess you'll never believe in Global Warming; but that doesn't mean it's not happening. If you want a very graphic description of what is in store for all of us, read this article by Chris Hedges .
PLAYING NUCLEAR CHICKEN
In response to a North Korean bomb test that was likely a hydrogen bomb, the United Nations Security Council voted 15 to 0 to increase sanctions on North Korea. North Korea wasted no time in announcing its resolve to seek to become a nuclear power at an even faster rate. Goading a nuclear-armed adversary is a very dangerous game. Harvey and Irma should have taught us that we are not invulnerable.
This article by Robert Parry gives some background.
A COMIC INTERLUDE
Rush Limbaugh put his tail between his legs and fled Palm Beach after telling his listeners that the danger from Hurricane Irma was exaggerated to (you guessed it) promote a climate-change agenda.
Seriously, I have been very very impressed by the accuracy with which NOAA was able to model and predict the recent hurricanes. I guess that's why President Trump wants to cut their budget.
September 5, 2017 (written for Rolla Peace Newsletter)
FROM OUR READERS: HURRICANES
A reader writes in recommending Al Roker's “The Storm of the Century” about the 1900 hurricane (long before they started giving hurricanes cutsie names like Sandy, Katrina and Harvey) that flooded Galveston killing upwards of 8,000 people.
My response: Looks like an excellent book and I've ordered a copy. Good reminder that “Nature bats last:” always has and always will. In return, I recommend Bob Gibson's song “Mighty Day” about the same hurricane and flooding. (Somewhat shorter than the book, 2 minutes)
The link I provided last week with the line from Hamza Yusuf: “We are living in a time that's so extreme that if it doesn't drive you mad, you are not sane.” should have gone to “Game of Wars.”
Some to you may have received this link to “End of Days” instead .
Both Hamza Yusuf videos are relatively short, quite interesting and worthwhile.
A note on End of Days: These are signs of the End. They do not mean that the world will necessarily be destroyed in a matter of days, years, or even centuries. In fact, Yusuf warns elsewhere that it is dangerous to assume that the destruction of the world is imminent.
TONY DE BRUM: STANDING UP TO NUCLEAR BULLIES
The Marshall Islands lie about midway between New Guinea and Hawaii. From 1946 to 1958 these islands and the Marshallese people who inhabit them were a sacrifice zone for the nuclear weapons industry. The Marshall Islands were the site of 67 US nuclear bomb tests and the Marshallese were treated as lab rats to test human reactions to nuclear radiation.
Marshallese Foreign Minister Tony de Brum, who died last week of cancer, was the driving force behind a law suit against all nine nuclear-weapon states under the Nuclear Non-Proliferatrion Treaty (NPT). The courts dismissed the law suit opining that the nuclear-armed nations “had their fingers crossed” when they agreed almost 50 years ago to negotiate nuclear disarmament.
Perhaps, more than anyone else, de Brum is responsible for the understanding that is beginning to take hold that the primary contradiction among nations is no longer between this military power and that military power, but between the nine nuclear-armed bully-nations and the non-nuclear-armed rest of the world that is under constant threat from these nine.
Nowhere was this more evident than at the recent UN conference on the prohibition of nuclear weapons that was boycotted by all nine nuclear-weapon states and many of their allies. 122 non-nuclear-weapon states hammered out a Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons that reads in part: “Each State Party undertakes never under any circumstances to: (a) Develop, test, produce, manufacture, otherwise acquire, possess or stockpile nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices.”
The treaty will open for signatures on September 20. Please consider asking President Trump to sign.
The nine nuclear-weapon states are: The United States, Russia, China, The United Kingdom, France, Israel, India, Pakistan, and The Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea.
Article VI of the NPT reads: “Each of the Parties to the Treaty undertakes to pursue negotiations in good faith on effective measures relating to cessation of the nuclear arms race at an early date and to nuclear disarmament, and on a treaty on general and complete disarmament under strict and effective international control.”
In case you missed it: It appears likely that North Korea has the hydrogen bomb now. Who's next?
Tony de Brum: Requiescat in pace.
DICK GREGORY: AN ICON PASSES
Comedian, Civil Rights leader, activist for many wonderful causes, presidential candidate: Dick Gregory passed away last month at age 84. Here's an obituary. And here's a story that brings back some old memories.
I am proud to say that in 1968, along with over 40,000 others, I rejected lesser presidential candidates: Richard Nixon, Hubert Humphrey, George Wallace, Eldridge Cleaver, Eugene McCarthy, Pat Paulsen etc., and cast my ballot for a truly great man: Dick Gregory.
But, you might say: “He had no chance of winning.” To which I would respond with the words of Eugene Debs: “It is better to vote for what you want and not get it than to vote for what you don’t want and get it.”
Dick Gregory: Requiescat in pace.
IT'S THE POLLUTION, EVERYONE
The dead will be grieved; structures will be rebuilt; but like the Fukushima meltdown, the pollution caused by Hurricane Harvey will linger on for many generations. Click here and here.
“Against the assault of laughter, nothing can stand.” —Mark TwainDesiree Fairooz will stand trial for a second time for laughing when Senator Richard Shelby argued at Jeffrey Sessions' confirmation hearing that Sessions' record of “treating all Americans equally under the law is clear and well-documented.” Had I been there, I don't think I could have contained my laughter either.
I think laughter is one of our greatest weapons. Just keep laughing at these jerks.
August 29, 2017 (written for Rolla Peace Newsletter)
ZIKA VIRUS: WE DODGED A BULLET
The Zika epidemic which raged through the Americas last year and caused severe brain damage in thousands of fetuses has plummeted to almost nothing. Epidemiologists believe that through exposure to the virus, enough people have acquired an immunity that the zika virus is no longer able to spread easily among the population. However, don't write off the zika virus. It may flare up into an epidemic again in the future. Like its cousins that cause chikungunya and dengue, zika flare-ups may be very difficult to predict.
HURRICANE HARVEY: BUT THIS ONE GOT US
As of Tuesday evening, Hurricane Harvey still rages off the coast of Texas dumping prodigious quantities of water on Southeast Texas. Some locations in and around Houston have received over 50 inches of rain. Harvey already holds the record for dumping more water on the continental United States than any hurricane in recorded history, and is expected to continue bringing rain and flooding to Texas and Louisiana for at least two more days.
Many are asking if global warming is among the causes of Hurricane Harvey. Well, of course. Hurricanes feed off warm ocean waters and the waters of the Gulf are warmer now than they have been in the past, even the deeper waters of the gulf, which typically churn to the surface as a result of hurricane winds, have warmed. Sea levels are higher too. And the warm air above the Gulf holds more moisture than cooler air. All three factors lead to increased precipitation and flooding.
And lets not forget that all the money used in our wars of choice could have gone instead toward building a more flood-resistant infrastructure.
And watch out for pollution. Lots of hidden pollution will come to the surface during the floods, and with all those oil refineries and chemical plants — it may be best to write off much of Houston as a Superfund Site.
As bad as the flooding from Hurricane Harvey is, it could be far worse. 1,200 have died recently from flooding in South Asia.
Catastrophic flooding like this may have become the “new normal.”
OUR INDIGESTIBLE SUN
I hope you all got out to watch the solar eclipse last Monday. Helen and I drove up to Vichy to get into the band of totality.
I posted a slide show of the eclipse with images unlike anything you are likely to have seen.
Having read parts of the Poetic Edda a few months ago, I thought about using an image for the wolf that “in monster's guise was soon to steal the sun from the sky” (Voluspo 40), but opted for the dragon image, because the line from Alberto Sánchez Argüello's Mi amigo el dragón seemed to fit so perfectly.
With Hurricane Harvey following on the heels of the eclipse, I can't get over how prophetic the lines from the Poetic Edda that I quoted a few months ago seem:
“Dark grows the sun, and in summer soonPerhaps this is somewhat frivolous; but a little frivolity is necessary to keep one's sanity. As Hamza Yusuf has stated: “We are living in a time that's so extreme that if it doesn't drive you mad, you are not sane.”
August 22, 2017 (written for Rolla Peace Newsletter)
FROM OUR READERS: ON “NORTH KOREA CRISIS”
In reference to my snippet last week: A Modest Proposal On The “North Korea Crisis:” Nuclear Disarmament, one reader writes:
“Solid 9 points that others don't want to recognize. It's a do-as-I-say mentality rather than a do-as-I-do. But North Korea isn't listening.”My response: Thank you.
Another reader writes:
“Newsflash, Tom IT WORKED~FIRST PRESIDENT IN 60 YEARS TO STAND UP TO THIS SWINDLER AND HE GOT THE CHICOMS AND RUSCOMS TO GO ALONG! It's called LEADERSHIP, Tom.”My response: I began last week's snippet with a quotation from Bertrand Russell that read in part:
“when the game [nuclear chicken] is played by eminent statesmen, who risk not only their own lives but those of many hundreds of millions of human beings, it is thought on both sides that the statesmen on one side are displaying a high degree of wisdom and courage, and only the statesmen on the other side are reprehensible.”This reader's response is a perfect example of what Russell describes. According to this reader our “statesman” shows “leadership;” theirs is a “swindler.” Russell continues:
“This, of course, is absurd. Both are to blame for playing such an incredibly dangerous game.”The reader's remark on Russian and Chinese support for increased UN sanctions of North Korea also deserves a response: 25 years ago, Russia and China also supported sanctions on Iraq which were responsible in the short term for the murder of over 1/2 million Iraqi children under five years of age and in the longer term gave the world ISIS and al-Queda.
I suspect Russia and China are thinking: “If the United States wants to destroy itself, let's offer our sincere encouragement.” If so, it is a very dangerous game they play. Clearly, no one will benefit from a nuclear war, no matter how big or small.
SOME KOREAN HISTORY
You are unlikely to learn this Korean history from any major news outlet. Korea hosted an ancient civilization with artifacts dating back at least 10,000 years. From 1910 to 1945, Korea was under the Japanese yoke. As in China, the most effective anti-Japanese resistance was under the leadership of the Communist Party.
At the end of World War II, the United States and the Soviet Union divided Korea into two spheres of influence. No one bothered to ask the Korean people whether they wished to be divided or to be placed in anyone's sphere of influence. As in Palestine, South Asia (India, Pakistan and Bangladesh) and Vietnam, post-war partition was a disaster and led to bitter warfare.
First the United States and later China, and also many other countries intervened. Millions died in the Korean War of 1950-1953. According to U.S. Air Force General Curtis LeMay, “we went over there and fought the war and eventually burned down every town in North Korea anyway, some way or another, and some in South Korea, too.” Since 1953 there has been an uneasy truce with more warfare always on the horizon.
ON NUCLEAR WEAPONS
“I have the means to make myself deadly, but that by itself, you understand, is absolutely nothing in the way of protection. What is effective is the belief those people have in my will to use the means. That’s their impression. It is absolute. Therefore I am deadly.” —Joseph Conrad (The Secret Agent, 1907)If you are a regular reader of my column, you already know that I love to quote Joseph Conrad. Writing 110 years ago, Conrad describes the current mindset of the United States and North Korea perfectly. They both have the means; and, many believe, the will to use them.
Can North Korea deliver nuclear tipped missiles to the continental United States? Andrew Cockburn thinks not, at least not yet . But what does it matter? Why gamble a nuke on a long shot when you only have a few? Wouldn't Seoul, Tokyo, Beijing and Vladivostok be much easier targets than San Francisco and London. With nukes around the world on hair-trigger alert, that would likely be more than enough to start nuclear World War III.
Conrad's “professor” carries a flask of high explosives on his person. His hand rests in his pocket on a rubber ball which if squeezed activates a 20 second trigger. He, it is believed, is perfectly willing to blow himself up along with everyone in the vicinity. And, he boasts, “Yes, I would give the stuff with both hands to every man, woman, or fool that likes to come along.”
PIVOT TOWARD AFGHANISTAN
Having found out that nuclear-armed North Korea won't be bullied, Donald Trump pivots to Afghanistan, which (as far as we know) is not yet armed with nuclear weapons. He vows to continue this 16-year-old war ad infinitum by sending 4,000 more troops, which is certain to make the United States even more unpopular than it is now.
August 15, 2017 (written for Rolla Peace Newsletter)
A MODEST PROPOSAL ON THE “NORTH KOREA CRISIS:” NUCLEAR DISARMAMENT
“As played by irresponsible boys, this game [Chicken] is considered decadent and immoral, though only the lives of the players are risked. But when the game is played by eminent statesmen, who risk not only their own lives but those of many hundreds of millions of human beings, it is thought on both sides that the statesmen on one side are displaying a high degree of wisdom and courage, and only the statesmen on the other side are reprehensible. This, of course, is absurd. Both are to blame for playing such an incredibly dangerous game. The game may be played without misfortune a few times, but sooner or later it will come to be felt that loss of face is more dreadful than nuclear annihilation. The moment will come when neither side can face the derisive cry of ‘Chicken!’ from the other side. When that moment is come, the statesmen of both sides will plunge the world into destruction.”A key point in the above paragraph is that there comes a time when total annihilation becomes preferable to losing the game. You can see this mind set on Wall Street, where destruction of our planetary support system is seen as preferable to losing buried assets of coal, oil and gas.
This mindset can be seen even among young children. The editors of Rethinking Schools quote a second grader as stating, “Everything is just so bad. We should just nuke the world and start over.”
I suspect our video games, [un]reality shows, “alternative facts” and 21st Century lifestyles feed this mindset.
In the wake of the recent North Korean missile tests, Donald Trump's threat to meet North Korea “with fire and fury like the world has never seen before,” and North Korea's counter threat to conduct missile tests off the coast of Guam, folks seem to be finally getting it: The doomsday clock stands at two and a half minutes to midnight and may move even closer. Here in the US, polls show a substantial majority are concerned about a North Korean threat.
Some call for preemptive war; others call for diplomacy.
Preemptive war suffers (at least) two serious drawbacks
1. I suspect North Korea has it's nukes on hair-trigger alert — maybe not pointed at the continental United States yet; but likely, targets closer to home like Seoul and Tokyo.Calls for diplomacy such as the one referenced above seem to be based on convincing North Korea to give up its nuclear weapons in return for security. I can't help wondering what world these folks are living in. I can't think of anything the United States could do, short of unilateral demilitarization, that would convince North Korea of their security, especially considering what happened to Libya after it gave up its nuclear weapons program.
So here's my modest proposal:
1. Let's recognize that North Korea has joined the “nuclear weapons club” and accept it as a full member along with India, Pakistan, Israel and the original five.These four points could form a basis for negotiating world-wide nuclear disarmament. Let the party begin!
5. Let's also recognize that the United States has been at war with North Korea for 67 years. It is hard to envision any serious attempt at nuclear disarmament without an end to the Korean War.These five additional points should be kept in mind should the nine nuclear powers choose to adopt my modest proposal and seriously consider discussing nuclear disarmament.
I'm thinking that the people of the world must be pretty much fed up with these so-called world leaders. It wouldn't surprise me at all to see folks taking matters into their own hand. In fact, I think it's happening right now.
August 8, 2017 (written for Rolla Peace Newsletter)
I've always liked lizards. No trip to the zoo could ever be complete without visiting the reptile house. Lizards can do amazing things like sloughing off their tails and growing them back; but here's something I would never have guessed possible:
Lizards can evolve genetically in a matter of months. We tend to think of evolution (at least those of us who believe in it) as being a slow process taking many generations; but here's a documented case of lizards, responding to environmental stimuli, evolving the ability to function at cooler temperatures within months!
So why is this important? We are changing our environment at an unprecedented rate. Some extinctionists argue that it's impossible to evolve fast enough to keep pace with our changing climate. Hardly a convincing argument for extinction; but if lizards can evolve quickly, maybe we can too. Lizards may hold the key to survival in a changing environment.
And here's another thought: Maybe evolution plods along at a snail's pace in stable environments, but speeds up proportionally as environmental change accelerates.
Science can be fascinating; but let's never forget:
“Science will never be used chiefly to pursue truth, or to improve human life. The uses of knowledge will always be as shifting and crooked as humans are themselves. Humans use what they know to meet their most urgent needs — even if the result is ruin.” —John GrayAnd if you don't believe that “humans use what they know to meet their most urgent needs — even if the result is ruin,” read Helen's article in this week's newsletter.
August 1, 2017 (written for Rolla Peace Newsletter)
SLOUCHING FURTHER TOWARD WORLD WAR III
Last week Congress voted to sanction Russia with very few dissenting votes. Russia retaliated by cutting the US diplomatic mission in Russia by 750 people. Russia and the United States have thousands of nuclear warheads targeting each other. Some of Russia's nuclear warheads are probably on drone submarines near the US coasts.
North Korea tested another missile. This one capable of carrying a nuclear warhead as far as Chicago, St. Louis or even Rolla.
Donald Trump is unhappy with China for not leaning on North Korea to stop testing missiles; but why should the Chinese comply (even if they could)? A strong North Korea provides a buffer between China and US proxies South Korea and Japan.
As an aside, Libya once had a nuclear weapons program which they voluntarily gave up in 2003. Had they developed a nuclear deterrent similar to North Korea's, Muammar Gaddafi might still be alive. Had North Korea voluntarily given up its nuclear weapons program, Kim Jong-un might, like Gaddafi, have been raped with a bayonette by US supported “moderates.”
More Washington snafus: Trump appoints potty-mouthed Anthony Scaramucci as White House communications director to replace Sean Spicer. Scaramucci lasts 10 days.
Trump addresses New York police telling them to be rough with detainees. Police cheer and applaud. New York City Police Department denounces Trump comments as irresponsible.
Trump addresses Boy Scouts in what can only be described as verbal child abuse. Michael Surbaugh, chief executive of the Boy Scouts of America apologizes for remarks made by President Trump at the organization’s National Jamboree.
This is sure making America great again, and the World a far more dangerous place for all of us.
A few months ago, I told Donald Trump that if he would listen to me, I might be able to save his presidency. At this point I doubt that would be possible.
July 25, 2017 (written for Rolla Peace Newsletter)
THEY'VE GIVEN ME A NUMBER FOR A NAME
No, this snippet is not about prison; it's about school. If you are thinking, “same difference,” you may not be so far from right. Steven Singer points out that our students are increasingly known by a number, their score on a standardized test. Schools are increasingly becoming places with neither joy nor discovery; but “a lifeless environment devoid of hope.”
Singer details the increase in middle school child suicide which has risen along with our stress on standardizing testing, doubling in seven years. But things could be worse, and may become worse, if we continue down our current path. South Korean children are among the highest achievers on standardized tests. They also have one of the highest child suicide rates.
“High stakes testing is child abuse. We should not emulate other nations’ scores especially when they come at such a cost. The fact that we don’t engage in the worst abuses of Asian schools should be a point of pride, not jealousy. We should cherish and nurture our children even if other nations sacrifice theirs on the altar of competition and statistics.”
I agree: here's a cartoon of mine from seven years ago, back in the days of No Child's Left Behind. It's only gotten worse.
WHAT EVER HAPPENED TO MURPHY'S LAW?
“If anything can go wrong, it will.” —attributed to Ed MurphyIn this article, John Acheson talks about facing up to a worst-case climate-change scenario.
Yes. Great idea. It's good to be prepared for the worst.
The problem is we've been hearing for over a decade that if we don't act now, we won't be able to prevent catastrophic climate change. We're still hearing it. Ok, if what they say now is correct, then they have been wrong for the last nine years. So, why should we believe them now?
Yes, let's have a little honesty please, everyone. It's fine to have an opinion. But pleeeease, don't sugar-coat your opinions and don't state them as fact.
We are already experiencing catastrophic climate change. It's here. So instead of talking about how to avoid it, let's talk about how we might live with it and limit it. Wouldn't that be more productive?
As a starter, lets talk about ending war and putting a big chunk of our bloated war budget into preparing for and limiting catastrophic climate change. There would be an added benefit here. The US military is surely the world's biggest consumer of fossil fuels and producer of greenhouse gases.
Antarctica just lost a chunk of ice the size of the State of Delaware That's one helluva skating rink. And when it melts, as it surely will, it will add to the already rising sea level. Catastrophic climate change is today, not tomorrow.
July 18, 2017 (written for Rolla Peace Newsletter)
AND THE WARS GO ON....
Trump Deathcare may be dead for now; but perpetual war is still very much alive. The house voted 344-81 to pass the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which sets military policy. This bill authorizes up to $696 billion in spending for the Department of Defense, up $77 billion from last year. That $77 billion could provide a lot of healthcare for all of us.
President Trump promised to “bomb the shit out of ISIS;” but his bombing appears to have killed 4 times more civilians per month in Iraq and Syria than during the Obama years. I suspect ISIS recruits increase sharply with civilian casualties from US air strikes.
I think it is great to be concerned that here at home we should all have access to quality healthcare; but what about Iraq and Syria? “Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me.”
July 11, 2017 (written for Rolla Peace Newsletter)
A TALE OF TWO MEETINGS
122 nations met and approved the text for a treaty on the prohibition of nuclear weapons. The text states in part:
“Each State Party undertakes never under any circumstances to: (a) Develop, test, produce, manufacture, otherwise acquire, possess or stockpile nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices;”The nine nuclear weapon states boycotted the conference. The first five nuclear states, US, Russia, UK, France and China, are signatories to the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty which went into force in 1970, and stated in part:
“Each of the Parties to the Treaty undertakes to pursue negotiations in good faith on effective measures relating to cessation of the nuclear arms race at an early date and to nuclear disarmament, and on a treaty on general and complete disarmament under strict and effective international control.” (Article VI)47 years later they have done no such thing. Matter of fact they are modernizing their nuclear arsenals as I write.
Japan which has suffered far more than any nation from both nuclear weapons (Hiroshima and Nagasaki) and nuclear energy (Fukushima) also boycotted the conference.
Iran, which some claim is developing nuclear weapons, agreed to the text of the treaty. Countries that refused to even attend the conference should stop trying to paint Iran as a nuclear wannabe.
If you want to know who the nuclear wannabes are: look to the non-nuclear weapon states that also boycotted the conference.
Instead of attending the conference on the prohibition of nuclear weapons, six nuclear weapons states, the original five plus India, attended the G20 conference, where the world's 20 largest economies agreed to do nothing to make the world a more peaceful and just place.
Other conference participants snubbed Donald Trump for not pretending that he wants to make the world a more just and peaceful place. This was rather disingenuous. Donald Trump is the bastard son of Vladimir Putin and Angela Merkel. Without Putin, Merkel and the rest of that cabal, there would be no President Donald Trump.
Incidentally, no one elected the G20 to make decisions for the rest of the world. Some of these wealthy countries claim to be “democracies.”
Military superiority is very illusive. Nations that want military superiority can easily spend themselves into the poorhouse, with nothing to show for it.
A few months ago I pointed out that Russia has drone submarines that, at a fraction the cost, have neutralized the billions (maybe trillions.) that the United States has spent on missile defense systems.
North Korea, for a fraction the cost of the United States nuclear program, has developed nuclear weapons and missiles that can target Seoul, Tokyo, Alaska, Hawaii and maybe even the lower 48 states. Actually the missiles are just icing on the cake. To inflict unacceptable damage all they need do is wait for the wind to blow toward Seoul or Tokyo, and lob a nuclear bomb in that direction.
China appears to have developed quantum radar, which, at a fraction of the price, neutralizes all the billions (maybe trillions.) that the United States has spent on the B2 bomber and other stealth technology .
And the Islamic State, for almost nothing as world military expenditures go, continues to challenge the United States and its allies, in spite of their recent lose of Mosul.
Military superiority? Ha! What military superiority? And the Trump response? Gut the nation's infrastructure even more to spend even more lavishly on the military.
Better to study the fate of the Roman empire and all other empires that went down the superiority road.
SCIENCE HATH TAKEN AWAY, SCIENCE GIVETH BACK
One of the truly great triumphs of modern Science was the eradication of smallpox in the 1970s. Smallpox could be as much as 95% fatal in populations, such as many 18th Century Amerindian tribes, with no natural immunity. Soon after the eradication was complete, smallpox vaccinations became a thing of the past. Much of the population is no longer protected.
But, this dread disease could make a comeback. A group of virologists has synthesized horse pox, a close relative of small pox from commercially available DNA at the cost of a mere $100,000. If it can be done with horse pox, it can certainly be done with small pox too.
Are you scared? You should be. And who knows what other dread diseases, like for instance, Zika, lie on the horizon?
Science hath taken away, Science giveth back; blessed be the name of Science.
July 4, 2017 (written for Rolla Peace Newsletter)
THE WORLD GETS EVEN SCARIER
In case you missed it because you were too busy celebrating US Independence Day: North Korea successfully tested a missile capable of reaching Alaska or Hawaii, and possibly even the lower 48 States.
Referring to Kim Jong-un, Donald Trump opined, “Does this guy have anything better to do with his life?” Well, Donald, how would you suggest that he defend his country from the likes of you?
Representative Ted Lieu opined, “North Korea clings to nukes [because] it is paranoid it will be invaded.” Paranoid? With US nuclear subs off the Korean coast and US troops invading Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan? Ted, maybe realistic would be a more appropriate word than paranoid.
There has never been a weapon that didn't proliferate. Nuclear weapons and ICBM technology are no exception. Maybe its time to wage Peace, before we all go up in nuclear flames.
AIR FLIGHTS GROUNDED DUE TO GLOBAL WARMING
Last month Phoenix reached a blistering 122 F. degrees: too hot to fly. Well, maybe there is a small plus-side to global warming.
It's the density of the air. The denser the air, the more lift. Hot air is less dense than cold air. If the air is too hot, there is not enough lift to get the plane off the ground.
UPDATES TO WEBSITE
Posted a new graphic on the index page. Take a look.
Also continuing to work on my climate graphs.
June 27, 2017 (written for Rolla Peace Newsletter)
I've updated my global temperature graph to include latest 120 months. I've also added some more commentary and a few deeper historical graphs. This is a work in progress. Check it out.
Amid the bad news that carbon dioxide concentrations in the atmosphere continue to increase in spite of a leveling off of carbon dioxide emissions, Bill McKibbon tweets, “On the list of scary things, this is near the top: Forests and oceans seem to be starting to absorb a lot less co2.”
Forests? What forests? Destroyed by insects, bulldozers and wildfires. Last summer the Fort McMurtry fire alone burned 1.5 million acres of boreal forest. This month, devastating wildfires are burning up forests in Utah, Arizona, Portugal, South Africa and probably many other places as well. Concerned about CO2 in the atmosphere? Go plant a tree.
What about the leveling off of emissions? Stabilizing emissions at levels above those that created global warming isn't going to help much. Carbon dioxide can stay in the atmosphere for thousands of years. Emissions need to come down — way down. And we need to revitalize our carbon sinks — our forests and our oceans.
Meanwhile, for the big banks, it's business as usual, funding to the hilt extreme fossil fuels (tar sands oil, coal, etc.) to the tune of $290 billion over the past three years.
Here's a suggestion for getting CO2 out of the atmosphere. I've floated this idea before; but never received any feedback.
Grow a forest of fast-growing high-carbon-absorbing trees. Harvest the trees. Burn them in an oxygen-poor environment creating charcoal. Bury the charcoal in a hole in the ground. Repeat.
Readers: Please let me know. Is this a stupid idea? Why?
June 20, 2017 (written for Rolla Peace Newsletter)
COURTS RULE FOR WATER PROTECTORS AGAINST DAKOTA ACCESS PIPELINE
First the good news: U.S. District Judge James Boasberg has ruled that the Army Corps of Engineers “did not adequately consider the impacts of an oil spill on fishing rights, hunting rights, or environmental justice, or the degree to which the pipeline's effects are likely to be highly controversial” and ordered a review of DAPL permits issued by the Trump administration.
The Standing Rock Sioux will now ask that the pipeline, which has already sprung leaks, be shut down.
4,000 MORE TROOPS
Now the bad news: It appears that 4,000 more US troops are on their way to Afghanistan to fight against one of the poorest nations in the world in our longest war ever (16 years in October). It is unlikely that 4,000 US troops (or even 400,000) will make much of a difference. When you are invaders and occupiers and have committed unspeakable attrocities against the populace, winning a war becomes impossible.
In the words of former Senator George Aiken, let's “Declare victory and get out.”
SLOUCHING TOWARD WORLD WAR III
The US shot down a Syrian airplane. Russia has declared US aircrafts flying in Syria, West of the Euphrates as “legitimate targets.” So we have two nuclear behemoths, one with a leader, cold and calculating; the other, brash and impetuous. Could this spiral into nuclear World War III? It sure wouldn't surprise me.
CONGRESS IN THE CROSSHAIRS
Several congressmen and staffers were shot and injured on a baseball field this week, all Republicans. One, Steven Scalise, was injured seriously. Six years ago it was Gabby Gifford, a Democrat, who was shot and seriously injured. Should we be surprised?
The shooter was apparently not Muslim. Had he been, we would have known it within hours. I still don't know James T. Hodgkinson's religion, if any. I guess, as long as he is not Muslim, it doesn't really matter.
Scalise, Gifford and the others are not alone. The United States loses a whopping 30,000 to gun-violence every year.
To teach the populace that disputes are to be solved through violence, arm them to the teeth, and then teach them to despise their government is stupidity with few, if any, historical parallels.
June 13, 2017 (written for Rolla Peace Newsletter)
STEPHEN KINZER ON SAUDI ARABIA
This article by Stephen Kinzer is a must read. He details how Saudi Arabia spread radical Islam to Indonesia and elsewhere and spreads terror thoughout the Islamic world (with money and support from the United States, of course).
Under a Saudi-led blockade and bombing regime, hunger and pestlence are now endemic in Yemen Cholera cases may reach 130,000 this month. This is not Religion. This is apostasy.
In all fairness, I must point out that there is little difference between what Saudi Arabia is doing to Yemen, what Israel is doing to Palestine, and what the United States is doing to Iraq, Syria and elsewhere.
I GOT YOU ELECTED PRESIDENT; NOW I'M GOING TO GET YOU IMPEACHED
In case you missed the three hours of James Comey's testimony before Congress; here it is condensed into one sentence. Very likely, Comey's pre-election anoucement that he was investigating Hillary's emails, swung the balance in a close election to Trump. I guess Comey is unhappy with his payback; so now he's going to try to get Trump impeached.
With all the brouhaha, few are asking whether the Director of the FBI should have the power to make or break presidents; and indeed, whether we are giving far too much power to all our investigative agencies.
I find myself standing up for Donald Trump far too often. So for the record, I think he should be impeached. No, I think he should never have been elected. Why? — because of what he has done, what he might yet do, and above all, his utter disdain for the human race and the planet we live on. I do not think he should be impeached just because some former Director of the FBI says he is a liar.
THREE YEARS LATER: STILL NO POTABLE WATER IN FLINT
It has been three years since the State of Michigan poisoned the city water supply in Flint. Families poisoned by the toxic water-supply, are facing eviction for non-payment of toxic water bills, yet no one has gone to jail for poisoning the water supply for a city of 70,000 people.
June 6, 2017 (written for Rolla Peace Newsletter)
IN MEMORIAM: REBECCA GIBBS
Rebecca Gibbs passed away on May 11. She was a reader of this newsletter and would email me every Wednesday, sometimes to comment, but more often just to say thanks for sending the newsletter. I miss getting her weekly emails.
Nine years ago, Becky started the orange balloon release for her husband, Bill, and all other victims of agent orange poisoning. Here's a video by Lois Ann Marler of the first orange balloon release . And here's a placard I made for a later balloon release .
FROM OUR READERS
A reader, noting the religious and apocalyptic nature of my snippet last week on Stephen Hawking, sends in this cartoon which speaks for itself and requires no further comment.
WHOLE LOTTA FUZZY THINKIN' GOIN' ON
Donald Trump is taking a lot of flack for pulling the United States out of the Paris Climate Agreement. You'd think from what I've been reading that the Paris Accord would save us all from climate collapse, if it weren't for Donald Trump.
Not so. Paris is essentially a “feel good” document — no hard goals or milestones — just tell the world what you are going to do to prevent global warming, and later say whether or not you did it. “[K]eeping a global temperature rise this century well below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase even further to 1.5 degrees Celsius?” Gimme a break. We're already almost past 1 degree Celsius.
I think it would be much more realistic and productive to say that now that Paris is dead, let's hammer out a real agreement that will slow down or even reverse climate change. It's unlikely that Donald Trump would be of much help here.
Why isn't this being done? I don't think any of the big polluters: China, Europe, Russia, Japan, The United States, Exxon, BP, World Bank, etc. are really interested in tackling runaway climate change. Much easier to blame it all on Trump and go back to business as usual. Donald, what would we do without you?
And here's some more fuzzy thinking: Representative Jamie Raskin tells us “Putin is the ringleader of the unfree world” and “Donald Trump is the hoax perpetrated on the Americans by the Russians.” No Jamie, perpetrated by us on ourselves. Give credit where credit is due.
All this anti-Russian rhetoric only increases hostility between the two nuclear-armed behemoths and makes a nuclear World War III more likely. “Even crazier than Donald Trump:” That's how I would characterize people who would risk World War III just to win a game of one-up-man-ship.
ANOTHER KOREAN WAR? - WORSE THAN YOU THINK
Did you know that Korea, all 85,000 square miles of it, contains “more soldiers and armaments than any other place on the planet?” North Korea has nuclear weapons and the means to deliver them; and Seoul, with a population of 25 million, is 35 miles away as the missile flies. The United States has nuclear armed submarines off the coast of Korea. The tinder is all in place. All that is required is the spark.
I don't think North Korea can be bullied into giving up its nukes — not after what happened to Gaddafi.
Rajan Menon offers a roadmap for rapprochement. It's never too late to try.
May 30, 2017 (written for Rolla Peace Newsletter)
STEPHEN HAWKING AND THE FATE OF THE GODS
“There feeds he full on the flesh of the dead,Three weeks ago I wrote a short snippet on Stephen Hawking's upcoming television series and his pronouncement that Earth will become uninhabitable by humans and we have but a century left to find a new home planet.
Here, David Macaray also opines on Stephen Hawking's pronouncement , noting that expertise and genius in one field doesn't necessarily translate into expertise and genius in another. I would go a step further: Expertise or genius in one field often precludes expertise and genius in others. The dynamic is straight forward: Become a specialist and put all your energies into one area, and there is often little left for other endeavors. The keyword is “often.” Some, like the late Isaac Asimov, seem to be able to achieve expertise in almost every field of endeavor.
Now, Macaray's second point: To declare that planet Earth is damaged beyond redemption is “the cruelest and most destructive form of defeatism.” This requires some discussion.
For someone like myself who believes in miracles, nothing is ever damaged beyond redemption. On the other hand, it seems clear that Collapse is imminent; Even if we were to stop producing greenhouse gases immediately, even if we were to all work together instead of fighting with one another, it is unlikely that we could avoid Collapse.
So what comes next? Suppose that a few of us, heeding Hawking's advice, manage to escape Earth's collapsing environment and find a new home among the stars. Perhaps possible, but lets focus on those of us left behind on an inhospitable Earth.
I am mindful here of Tom Godwin's 1950's science fiction novel, The Survivors. The plot:
“A group of humans are marooned on Ragnarok, an inhospitable planet. Death is assured — well — almost. They survive and evolve under Ragnarok's harsh environment into a race that is somewhat more than human. And over the generations they remember their destiny: To return to the stars and exact revenge upon those who marooned their ancestors on Ragnarok. At the end of the novel, their destiny is fulfilled.”Before you book passage on the Hawking Interstellar Express, reflect on this story, especially since those who abandon Earth will likely be those most responsible for her destruction.
I think Macaray got is right. Let's all focus our resources on saving and protecting Earth.
The stanza from the Poetic Edda at the top of this snippet describes Ragnarök. Ragnarök, literally, the fate of the gods, in Norse mythology, might be likened to End Times. Earth is consumed by fire and water (as seems to be happening now) and even the gods die. But Ragnarök is also a myth of rebirth. Earth rises from the waters and is repopulated by two surviving humans; and even the gods return.
Let it be so.
AMERICAN INDIAN WARS — STILL NOT OVER
Here is an expose from The Intercept based on both leaked and public domain information. It shows collusion between federal, state and local law enforcement, Energy Transfer Partners, and private mercenary and security firm TigerSwan against the Standing Rock Sioux and their allies.
Documents show that the non-violent water protectors were considered terrorists and that TigerSwan and law enforcement consider this confrontation a war and used brutal military counter-terrorism tactics such as water cannons, attack dogs, LRAD sound devices and rubber bullets against the Standing Rock Sioux and their allies.
AND OUR MIDDLE EASTERN WARS GET EVEN MORE BRUTAL
US military raids and airstrikes are killing more and more civilians in Syria, Yemen, and elsewhere.
All this brings to mind a frequently asked question from 16 years ago: “Why do they hate us?” No, I don't think it has anything to do with our fast-disappearing freedoms.
GIMME SOME TRUTH
“Sounded like the Truth;Back in March when I wrote about the March for Science, I jokingly said to myself, next there will be a March for Truth. I oughtn't to joke about such things. There is an International March for Truth this Saturday. Actually, it seems to be a march for an independent investigation into Donald Trump and his friends' dealings with Russia; but that is a totally different thing.
Personally, I think we ought to try to get along with Russia and all other countries; but I don't see how a March for Truth will move us in this direction. Maybe someone will explain it to me. I've written about this before.
The title of this snippet is also the title of a John Lennon song.
May 23, 2017 (written for Rolla Peace Newsletter)
A DIFFERENT KIND OF DISTRICT ATTORNEY
Amidst all the “tough on crime” calls, defense attorney and civil rights lawyer Larry Krasner won the Democratic nomination for DA in Philladelphia. Krasner vows to end abusive practices that target the poor like cash bail, asset forfeiture and jail for non-violent offenders . He also vows to put an end to mass incarceration and stand up for civil liberties. In this very Democratic city, the winner of the Democratic primary is usually victorious in the general election.
COP FIRED FOR NOT SHOOTING SUICIDAL MAN
Officer Stephen Mader could have shot R.J. Williams who was holding an unloaded gun and attempting to commit “suicide by cop.” Officer Mader didn't shoot. When backup arrived they shot Williams dead. Williams got what he wanted: death by cop. Mader was fired for trying to save his life. Stephen Mader would be an asset to any police force in the nation.
HOW TO CREATE A “SPECIAL RELATIONSHIP” WITH THE UNITED STATES
With Donald Trump's visits to Saudi Arabia and Israel, we would do well to recognize how their “Special Relationship” to the United States was created.
1. Attack the United States:
In 1967 Israel attacked the USS Liberty, a navy reconnaissance vessel, in international waters attempting to sink the ship and kill every sailor aboard.
On September 11, 2001, 15 Saudi nationals (along with four others) attacked the United States destroying the World Trade twin towers. The purported mastermind of this attack, Osama bin Laden, was also Saudi Arabian. (Note: There is much controversy over whether bin Laden was really the mastermind, whether MOSSAD, the Israeli CIA, was involved, and whether the whole affair was an inside job.)
2. Terrorize and Kill Civilians: As Israel continues to do in Palestine and Saudi Arabia in Yemen.
Here's an interesting article on this subject by Richard Falk; and read Helen's snippet on Trump's visit to Saudi Arabia above.
May 16, 2017 (written for Rolla Peace Newsletter)
DONALD TRUMP: EVERYTHING WE DESERVE
If you are tired of shallow post-mortems on how Donald Trump became President of the United States, you might like this short article by David Macaray that digs a little deeper. Macaray believes Trump became President because we deserve him. I have to agree. Here are the reasons Macaray gives:
1. We are a nation of dedicated consumers. Trump is a salesman par excellence.
2. We idolize the rich and Trump is very rich.
3. We idolize TV celebrities and Trump is a TV celebrity.
4. We despise intellectuals, deep thinking, nuance, ambiguity and doubt. Trump is anti-intellectual, just like us.
5. We love war, strength and power. Trump promises to give us more powerful weapons, make us Great again and give us more and more War.
6. We are narcissists. We think our country is the greatest ever and we are the greatest people ever. Trump is definitely one of us.
If I've whet your appetite, go read the article.
COLLUSION WITH FOREIGN POWERS
Well, it's all over the news: The FBI has been investigating the Trump administration for collusion with Russia. Trump fired FBI director, James Comey, and people are shouting in the streets, “Impeach Trump!” Many are already licking their chops.
I'm wondering: How come no President has ever been investigated for collusion with Israel? Israel has been blackmailing the United States for billions of dollars every year for decades.
How come no President has ever been investigated for collusion with Wall Street, arguably more powerful than any government? Indeed, they own governments. As Napoleon Bonaparte put it: “Money has no motherland; financiers are without patriotism and without decency; their sole object is gain”
Hey, the United States has been colluding with foreign powers to its detriment for decades. Why Russia, now? Well, we've been taught for a Century to hate and fear Russians (except during World War II when they were our allies).
Friends, we got a power struggle going on in high places. And this is just a battle; the war will go on regardless. I think the Neo-crazies have the advantage; but don't underestimate the Dumpsters. If they can energize their base, which boasts over 300 million firearms, the Neo-crazies might find themselves on the defensive. (In my opinion: Trump's biggest mistake has been to flip off his supporters and cozy up to Wall Street.)
Many of my liberal friends want to get rid of Trump at any cost, without a thought to what might come next. But as I've written before: “Do you know what really scares me, Donald? What comes next? I fear we may some day look back in nostalgia at the Trump presidency.”
So, I'm wondering why I should back either side. Neither side wants to end war or fight climate change. Seems to me, they are fighting over who will have the Right to steal from us all and rape Planet Earth. Seems to me we have far more in common with the Russian people and peoples all over the world than we do with the elites of any nation or with Wall Street.
If I were to look at the world through early 20th Century glasses, an alliance with Russia might make more sense than our old cold-war alliances. But this is the 21st Century; and our very survival depends on alliances with everybody and every nation against the two great existential threats to humanity: War and Climate Change.
Sadly, we're all stuck in the early 20th Century.
There has never been, and probably never will be, a weapon that doesn't proliferate.
Case in point: cyber-weapons. Someone stole the NSA's super-cyber-weapon and brought down computer systems all over the world. In places, medical staff resorted to pre-computer-age pen and paper. (And maybe we all should do that too.)
So proliferation goes on, and at a faster and faster pace. Ok: maybe next time we'll be dealing with nuclear weapons. Maybe Al-Queda or ISIS or one of their offshoots. Friends, there is no protection against proliferation, except maybe trying to get along with everybody. I think Tom Lehrer said it best: “We'll try to stay serene and calm when Alabama gets the bomb.” Just as pertinent now as it was a half century ago.
May 9, 2017 (written for Rolla Peace Newsletter)
If you missed the Russian National Ballet's performance of Sleeping Beauty last Tuesday, you missed one of the most exciting performances ever to come to Leach Theatre. I was entranced from start to finish.
As these gorgeous dancers enchanted us with their skill and dexterity, I couldn't help but think of their friends and family back home who are targeted by gigatons of nuclear weapons on hair-trigger alert. Isn't it time to replace Mutually Assured Destruction with Peace, Friendship and Disarmament?
Here's a commemorative image for the performance.
THUNDERBOLTS OF A PITIFUL JUPITER
This article by John LaForge really says it all. No to nuclear disarmament; yes to more nuclear weapons testing and development. While our military establishment stands ready to use nuclear weapons, our political establishment (along with all the other nuclear weapon states except North Korea) boycotted the March UN sponsored conference on nuclear disarmament. Our “leaders” hate the thought of mutually verifiable nuclear disarmament so much they refuse to even discuss it.
US ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley, declared that “The United States is the moral conscience of the world.” Ummmm, how do you spell H-Y-P-O-C-R-I-S-Y. The moral conscience of the world? Try Bhutan, Standing Rock or the Marshall Islands.
The title of this snippet comes from Joseph Conrad's “Heart of Darkness.” When Mr. Kurtz is taken aboard Marlowe's steamboat, sick and dying, Conrad describes his weapons, “two shot-guns, a heavy rifle, and a light revolver-carbine,” perhaps the late 19th Century equivalent of nuclear weapons as “the thunderbolts of that pitiful Jupiter.”
Amazing how, all experience to the contrary, so many people cling to the belief that heavy weaponry can bring peace and security.
FLYING MOTHER NATURE'S SILVER SEED TO A NEW HOME
Apparently Stephen Hawking believes that in 100 years planet Earth will be uninhabitable by humans and we have just a century to get off of Earth and find a new home, or else face extinction. In fact, a new upcoming television series will be discussing space travel and livable planets.
From anyone else but Stephen Hawking, I would dismiss this as new age malarky; but you have to take Stephen Hawking seriously.
Well sure, we could travel through space and maybe find habitable planets; but our military is more interested in putting weapons in space than in finding a new home for humanity. We could do lots of wonderful things if our “civilization” wasn't so intent on fighting wars and supporting a handful of greedy leeches at the top. Maybe we could even rehabilitate planet Earth and there would be no need to travel the Universe looking for a new home.
I guess I'm a Centrist. I don't believe extinction of humanity on planet Earth is assured; nor do I believe that it's possible to maintain our unsustainable “civilization.” I'm still betting on collapse with humanity hopefully returning to a prehistoric-like state rather than going extinct. As Albert Einstein famously said: “I know not with what weapons World War III will be fought, but World War IV will be fought with sticks and stones.”
The title of this snippet comes from the Neil Young song, After the Gold Rush.
May 2, 2017 (written for Rolla Peace Newsletter)
DIPLOMACY IS DIFFICULT
Well, yeah — especially if you are used to getting your way by bullying and threatening. So, we move closer to a nuclear war with North Korea which may have as many as 10 nuclear bombs to our over 7,000. Hey guys, it only takes ONE!
Norman Solomon details how the Democrats have been, and still are, hoping to win back congress (and maybe start a nuclear World War III in the process) by demonizing Russia and linking Trump's electoral victory to Russian meddling. They've been partially successful. They goaded Trump into bombing Russian ally, Syria, just to prove that he's really not “Putin's poodle.”
I doubt they have accomplished much else. As Solomon states, “Tone deaf hardly describes the severe political impairment of those who insist that denouncing Russia will be key to the Democratic Party’s political fortunes in 2018 and 2020.”
DROUGHT TO FLOOD
Central Missouri, which has been experiencing abnormally hot and dry to drought conditions for most of the winter and early spring, has been hit by flash flooding. The historic town of Devils Elbow in Pulaski County on the Big Piney is totally destroyed — gone — swept away by the rising waters.
I learned of this from a climate change denier. I wonder what it is going to take before he and others like him will begin to recognize what we are doing to our planet. And I wonder what's next — maybe Mar-A-Lago in southern Florida. Will that make a believer out of Donald Trump? I doubt it.
Incidentally, the article linked to above talks about year 2100. I think that's overly conservative. I'd GUESS 2035 to 2050 at the latest. Some would think that I am also being overly conservative.
FIRES IN FUKUSHIMA
Wildfires, thought to have been started by lightning, are burning in evacuated areas of Fukushima prefecture. So all those radionuclides are being wafted up into the atmosphere. Likely they will come down somewhere: perhaps in someone's food, perhaps someone will breathe one in. One more reason that Fukushima has been dubbed “a ticking time bomb.”
Hey, folks: Sorry about all the bad news this week. Maybe next week will be better.
April 25, 2017 (written for Rolla Peace Newsletter)
News on the climate front is about as bad as it could get. Data for March 2017 show that for the first time since April 2016 we have breached the 1 C. degree warming mark. This has been done only six times in recorded history, with the other five falling within the 2015-2016 monster El Nino event. The climate has been warming precipitously since the beginning of 2017, although the mainstream media (and the liberal press) have been mostly mum about this first quarter warming. I've updated my climate graph here . Strange how we continue with business-as-usual as catastrophic climate warming threatens to wipe us off the face of the Earth.
Other harbingers of impending doom include the continued shrinking of polar ice and the continued increase of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.
But don't worry folks. Humans may be headed for extinction, but the naked mole rats will have a good chance for survival.
Well, we may not be doing anything much to prevent runaway climate change, but when it comes to wars, we are certainly no slouch. Trump seems to be picking up where Obama left off, and may turn out to be the most warlike US president ever (and he's got a lot of competition). Cheerleaders from both parties are falling in line, with little dissent.
April 18, 2017 (written for Rolla Peace Newsletter)
VIOLENCE IS WHAT DEFINES US
“Violence upon violence, deceit upon deceit:Every once in a while, there comes an event that seems to define society in all its ugliness. I think such an event happened last week. David Dao, a 69 year old Vietnamese-American doctor refused to give up his seat on a United Airlines airplane stating that he had patients to see in the morning. This was right and proper. Doctors are supposed to put their patients first — even before the profits of United Airlines.
For refusing to give up his seat, Dr. Dao was beat up and dragged off the plane by three airport security goons who knocked him unconscious and broke his nose and two teeth. Dr. Dao also suffered a concussion and sinus injuries.
It seems unlikely that there will be any criminal charges, much less convictions or jail time for this brutal assault. Only after videos of the incident went viral did United Airlines CEO, Oscar Munoz, apologized for having to “re-accommodate” customers. So, in this ultra-violent society we live in, getting knocked unconscious and having your nose broken is simply being “re-accommodated.”
It's not like violent acts like this don't happen every day — they do. But, here we have a well-respected doctor being beat up by law enforcement in front of an airplane full of people for nothing more than demanding that he be permitted to fly home and see his patients in the morning.
For what it is worth, it has been around eight years since I've been on an airplane. I don't expect to ever fly again. Ever since 9/11, I've felt very uncomfortable around airports. Maybe, I saw this coming.
We're well into the 16th year of our War Against Afghanistan — 38th year if you want to count from 1979 when the CIA hired, armed and trained some thugs like Osama bin Laden to destabilize the Soviet-leaning government of Afghanistan. Those were the good ol' days. It's been down hill for Afghanistan ever since.
Last week, for the first time, the US military exploded its 11 ton bomb, dubbed the Mother of All Bombs. Purportedly the bomb killed some “militants,” in Afghanistan. If 16 years of bombing Afghanistan just creates more and more resistance, then — obviously — what we need is a bigger bomb.
More and more violence — that seems to be what defines us as a nation and a society.
April 11, 2017 (written for Rolla Peace Newsletter)
OF WAR AND TERRORISM
I've always felt that the most positive thing about Donald Trump was that he didn't seem to want to get in a war with Russia and in particular, he didn't seem to want a nuclear exchange with Russia.
For this he has been called a wimp and Putin's poodle, names which I'm sure have hurt him terribly. Last week Trump showed the World what a “tough guy” he really was by escalated the War Against Syria by firing missiles at Syria's Shayrat airport.
But, lets give credit where credit is due. He gave Russia advanced notice of his intentions, thereby reducing to almost zero the chance that Russia would immediately retaliate and the incident would escalate into nuclear confrontation. (I guess Trump really isn't such a “tough guy” after all. He doesn't seem to have the stomach for a nuclear war.)
Russia denounced the missile strike, as has most of the world. But Russia stopped short of shooting back. (Let's hear it for the Russians!) It seems that Trump did only minimal damage to the airport, which is functioning again and bombing rebels, some of whom Trump supports. Trump is huffing and puffing about what he might do next, but his bluff has been called.
And what about the chemical attack? Sarin is not so difficult to make. And with so many different actors in Syria, and shifting alliances and false-flag operations, we might never know who's responsible.
Maybe it's time to declare Peace before things get any further out of hand: not just in Syria but throughout the Middle East and the World.
In contrast to the international community, the US Congress and the major US media, with a few minor exceptions, are praising Trump for showing his resolve. One of the most relevant comments came from MSNBC's Brian Williams who, in talking about our tomahawk missiles, quoted from Leonard Cohen's, “First We take Manhattan:” “We are guided by the beauty of our weapons.”
Probably unbeknownst to Brian Williams, “First We Take Manhattan” is a terrorist song. Here is what Leonard Cohen had to say about it:
“I’m not sure of what it means right now because I had this long voyage from Chicago. I think it means exactly what it says. It is a terrorist song. I think it's a response to terrorism. There's something about terrorism that I've always admired. The fact that there are no alibis or no compromises. That position is always very attractive.” (backstage interview)Apparently, it was attractive not only to Leonard Cohen, but to Brian Williams and most of Congress and the major media too.
Leonard begins the song:
“They sentenced me to twenty years of boredom,Yes, changing the system from within is too slow and boring for the terrorist. The terrorist wants action, now. The song continues:
“I'm guided by a signal in the heavens.This verse could be labeled the terrorist creed. We do as we wish because it's our destiny, as in “Manifest Destiny.” We do as we wish because of who we are, as in the “Indispensable Nation” or “God's Chosen People.” And above all because we can, because of our wonderful powerful weaponry.
I was singing this song to myself and all of a sudden I found myself singing, “We are blinded by the beauty of our weapons.” Well, there is that too. Power is blind to its limitations. (Leonard, sorry for meddling with your poetry. It wasn't on purpose. It just happened.)
And there are the complaints against society. Wrongs, on both a social and a personal level that must be righted:
“I don't like your fashion business mister;If you really want to understand terrorism, listen to the Master. The rest of Leonard's backstage interview quoted above is also pertinent.
“I don't like it when [terrorism is] manifested on the physical plane — I don't really enjoy the terrorist activities — but Psychic Terrorism. I remember there was a great poem by Irving Layton that I once read, I'll give you a paraphrase of it. It was ‘well, you guys blow up an occasional airline and kill a few children here and there,’ he says. ‘But our terrorists, Jesus, Freud, Marx, Einstein. The whole world is still quaking...’”So how many wars fought and people murdered in the name of Christianity and Marxist political economy? How much destruction in the name of the sciences pioneered by Freud and Einstein? Is it right to blame Jesus, Freud, Marx and Einstein as one would blame Hitler, Stalin or Kissinger? These are questions we need to think about if we are to wage Peace and come to terms with all the terror around us.
Yes, perhaps it's time to declare Peace before things get any further out of hand.
April 4, 2017 (written for Rolla Peace Newsletter)
FROM OUR READERS: MARCH FOR SCIENCE REVISITED
Interest in the March for Science seems to have grown since I wrote about it three weeks ago . There are now 400 marches planned on April 22 in 38 countries .
Donald Trump has been good for Science. I can't remember such a popular interest in Science since Sputnik and the early days of space exploration.
I've received some very thoughtful comments from our readers. An organizer for a satellite march writes in:
“basically I’m in agreement with what you’ve written, particularly the more qualified second part.
“I think some of what the science march is aiming to do is to focus politically on the need to keep the corporations from riding totally roughshod over what little protections our climate, air, water, soil, food, etc. have right now. Even workplace safety and our ability to be protected from all sorts of toxic chemicals depends on respecting and acting on the science, rather than deep-sixing research, killing regulatory agencies, as ineffective as they are, and allowing the chips fall where they may, years after the thieves have made off with everything in the unlocked barn.
“We can’t accept the notion that everyone is entitled to their own facts and administrations like Trump's are entitled to establish public policy based upon ‘alternative facts,’ especially after they’ve canned the researchers, killed the research budgets and then their Director of OMB, Mulvaney, can state, ‘Regarding the question as to climate change, I think the President was fairly straightforward — we're not spending money on that anymore; we consider that to be a waste of your money to go out and do that.’”
My response: I totally agree with “the need to keep the corporations from riding totally roughshod over what little protections our climate, air, water, soil, food, etc. have right now.” and that public policy should be based on the best Science available and not “alternative facts.” So I wonder why we aren't marching for a science-based public policy and public control of predatory corporations. That would make a lot more sense to me. Incidentally, there is another big march on April 29 — the People's Climate March — which focuses on some of these issues.
Leona Heitsch writes:
“Back in l950 thereabouts, Robert W. Parry, Professor of Chemistry at the University of Michigan told us...‘come back next year and we will come closer to the truth as we teach’.... He KNEW the crinkles and wrinkles that stand in the way of really understanding Science, at all levels. So much of the stuff I hear on the radio, NPR, misses the boat for any real scientific understanding. Marching will help??? Maybe we need to learn to boil grass, eat bark and lichens.”
My response: Great idea, Leona; but I don't think there is enough grass, bark and lichens to feed a human population of 7.5 billion people.
And Sean Fagan writes:
“Great newsletter once again, however let us not forget that although science has created terrible weapons, harmed our eco-system, and polluted our air, it has also done some great things.
“Science has cured polio, small pox, and a great number of other deadly diseases and sickness. Science has connected the world through various forms of communication. It had allowed us to explore the heavens and the deep oceans. It has helped to create the very method for you to write and distribute this newsletter.
“I truly hope that science will one day be the instrument of peace that will cure the faults of man. There's always hope.”
My response: Yes, Science has accomplished great things; and truly, there is always Hope; and that is the force that keeps us going through all hardships!
As a final note:
In the final paragraphs of the article I wrote three weeks ago, I suggested that we evaluate Science as a whole by asking ourselves which world would we prefer for our grandchildren to grow up in:
“the Paleolithic Era when the human population was under 10 million, life expectancy at birth was perhaps 33 and Science provided little more than crude stone tools? Or would we have our grandchildren grow up in today's world where almost 50% of the 7+ billion people on Earth live on a few dollars a day and millions, perhaps billions, live in fear of extreme violence from other human beings? (Don't assume that our grandchildren will necessarily live the privileged existence that we live.)”
I've given considerable thought to this method of evaluating Science and am not completely satisfied with it. However, I have been unable to think of anything better. Perhaps some of you readers can help me out.
March 28, 2017 (written for Rolla Peace Newsletter)
THE WORLD HAS GONE MAD (AGAIN)
Some of you may have missed this. I did, until I read Mark Haim's post earlier this month. 36 years of research and development and gazillions of dollars later, our attempt to develop and deploy an impermeable shield to protect us from Russia's nuclear weapons has come to naught. Russia now has nuclear-capable drone submarines capable of totally destroying coastal cities like New York, Washington and San Francisco (but perhaps not Rolla).
So we're back to Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD). We can destroy you; but we can't prevent you from destroying us.
You would think that military strategists would learn something from this; but don't hold your breath. They will continue trying, with money stolen from your wages and health care and your children's education. That is, unless we get serious about saying that this is unacceptable and demand nuclear disarmament.
We still vigil for Peace at the Rolla Post Office, Noon to 1:00pm every Thursday. Come join us.
Lot's in the news this month about air attacks on civilians. Here's a few articles:
US Military Bombs Syrian Mosque During Evening Prayers, Killing Dozens
US Bombing Blamed for Killing Dozens of Civilians Sheltering in Syrian School
Local Official Says US-Built Apache Helicopter Behind Massacre of Refugees
With 200+ Iraqi Civilians Feared Dead, Carnage Surging Under Trump
Don't suppose we'll win many converts away from ISIS this way.
CLIMATE CHANGE GRAPH
Did a little work on my short-term climate change graph this week. I think it is somewhat more understandable now. Let me know what you think.
And I've updated my CO2 in the atmosphere poster from 5 years ago.
March 21, 2017 (written for Rolla Peace Newsletter)
MORE CLIMATE DATA FROM NOAA
In spite of Trump's threats to muzzle NOAA, NOAA came our with its climate data for February — and it's not good. February 2017 was the second warmest February on record (second only to February 2016 which came in the midst of a monster El Niño event).
I've graphed the data over the last five years. February was 0.98 C degrees warmer than the 20th Century average. Only six months have a higher anomaly than this, and they all fall within the 2015-2016 monster El Niño event.
Only a fool would make short-term climate predictions, but here goes: Expect at least one (but likely more) warmest month on record in 2017. (January and February were both second warmest.)
Meanwhile, here in South-Central Missouri, it's shaping up to be a hot dry year. It's only March, the weather has been unseasonably warm and most of the state is in some stage of drought.
And atmospheric carbon dioxide? Not only does it continue to rise, but at an ever increasing rate. We are seeing consistent readings of over 400ppm. But, don't worry, folks. It's only a Chinese hoax.
You have to wonder about our “leaders'” reaction to these events which are almost certain to spell Disaster for humanity: Cut funding for the EPA. Increase funding for nuclear energy. Increase funding for nuclear weapons and war. Mine and burn more fossil fuels. And refuse to enter into needed international agreements on combating global warming.
March 14, 2017 (written for Rolla Peace Newsletter)
OF SCIENCE AND MARCHES
I was rather surprised when I first heard that some folks were organizing a huge national March for Science in Washington DC, with satellite marches everywhere, including little Rolla, Missouri. Science has always “struck me as something great and invincible, like evil or truth.” I couldn't quite wrap my mind around a March for Science. Science exists — whether we march for it or not, indeed, whether we believe in it or not. So what would a March for Science hope to accomplish?
You can read the rest of this article here.
March 7, 2017 (written for Rolla Peace Newsletter)
On Sept. 11, 2001 I was driving to St. Louis while the twin towers were going down in flames. I remember thinking as we approached St. Louis how clear the air was — not as I expected at all. Later I learned that the probable cause of the unexpectedly clean air was that all air traffic had been grounded.
On hearing about the twin-towers, my first thought was maybe we will learn from this. Maybe we can start getting along with other peoples and treating them as we would wish to be treated. Maybe we will lift the sanctions on Iraq so that the Iraqis can live again.
Sadly, no lessons were learned — just the opposite. 9/11 became an excuse for perpetual war. Injustice, oppression and inequality increased at home and abroad.
So, here we are, 15 years later, mired down in perpetual wars which we are, to be charitable, simply not winning. You would think we would learn a lesson from this. Maybe, arrogantly throwing our weight around and picking fights is not a productive policy. Maybe a kinder gentler policy would be more productive.
Sadly, the lessons of the past 15 years have not been learned either. The new administration promises more war, more injustice, more oppression, and more inequality.
This time we are going to win, we are told. Where have I heard this before? I think of 2003, George Bush and the “mission accomplished” stunt.
I think this is the way it has been for every empire since the dawn of history. Lessons unlearned. I had hoped that America could be different.
Here is an article by Ramzy Baroud that is pertinent to the discussion above; but if you don't get around to reading it, here are a few important lines:
“The colonizer, oppressor, invader is always blind to his crimes. He sees only the violent reaction — however minuscule — of the people whom he subjugates.”
“the identity of the American Muslim is, at its heart, a political one, concerned with human rights, justice and equality, with Black Muslims playing a tremendous role in confronting, challenging and clashing with the ruling White elitist order that controlled the US from the beginning.”
“According to the New America Foundation, alleged ‘Jihadists’ killed 94 people in the US from 2005-2015, during which time the US also killed nearly 2 million Muslims in their own countries.” [and, I might add, killed 300,000 of our own through gun violence.]
I hope that I have whetted your appetite for reading the entire article.
February 28, 2017 (written for Rolla Peace Newsletter)
PEOPLE'S CLIMATE MARCH ENDORSES PEACE
The People's Climate March slated for April 29 in Washington DC took a great leap forward last week when its steering committee endorsed peace as a specific goal of the Climate March. The March's website now reads:
“On April 29th, we will march for our families. We will march for our air, our water, and our land. We will march for clean energy jobs and climate justice. We will march for our communities, the people we love, and for peace.”
This puts the upcoming Climate March way ahead of January's Women's March which refused to endorse a woman's right not to be bombed by a mostly-male military. Still, it falls way short of the mark. There needs to be a recognition that without peace, our efforts to prevent the continued heating of the Earth will surely fail. We can fight perpetual war or we can try to prevent further climate degradation. We can't do both.
There is also an upcoming March for Science on Earth Day, April 22. This march doesn't even seem to recognize the responsibility of scientists for giving us nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction. While praising Science to the Heavens, the leaders of this march fail to call for an end to scientific research that promotes military aims. I'll probably write more about this in upcoming weeks.
BERNIE SANDERS ON PEACE
Bernie Sanders appears to have learned a lesson about the importance of peace from his bid for the presidency last year. In his address to J Street yesterday, he uses the word, “Peace”, 14 times . This may be a record.
Sadly, this is a lesson that Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump and their supporters seem to have failed to learn.
The bottom line: Unless We, the People get serious about demanding peace from our leaders, things are only going to continue to get worse.
February 21, 2017 (written for Rolla Peace Newsletter)
One month into the Trump presidency, Donald Trump has already trashed US-Mexico relations: first by depicting Mexicans as “rapists” and “criminals” and vowing to build a wall between Mexico and the US which he would force Mexico to pay for; then by calling the Mexican army cowards and threatening to invade Mexico.
Purportedly Trump told Mexican President, Enrique Peña Nieto: “You have a bunch of bad hombres down there, You aren’t doing enough to stop them. I think your military is scared. Our military isn’t, so I just might send them down to take care of it.”
Last weekend saw tens of thousands in Mexico participating in anti-Trump demonstrations.
So what happens if the US sends the marines to Mexico to take care of some “bad hombres?” The best description I've seen comes from Fred Reed. Fred is a disabled Vietnam combat vet living in Mexico. Fred sees such an invasion as a disaster, and for the same reasons that Vietnam, Afghanistan and Iraq are all disasters. US troops would be seen as invaders, far worse than the narcotraficantes. They'd lord it over the locals and kill a bunch of innocent people. Needless to say, Mexicans would retaliate as Vietnamese, Afghans and Iraqis do.
One thing I'd like to add. There are very close people to people ties between the United States and Mexico. In the United States we are over 11% of Mexican descent. So what happens when someone in the United States finds out that his mother, sister or child down in Mexico has become “collateral damage” in one of the inevitable botched military actions? I'll let you ponder that question yourselves.
As Fred ends his article, “Maybe it isn’t a really bright idea.”
IRAQ: 14 YEARS AND COUNTING
Any hope that Donald Trump might get us out of our 14-year-old War Against Iraq (26 if you choose to count from the 1991 Gulf War) has gone the way of our hopes that Obama would keep his promise and end our military involvement in Iraq. Trump's Secretary of Defense, Jim Mattis, proclaimed, “I imagine we’ll be in this fight for a while.” As John Gray remarked: “To invade a country, dismantle its institutions, create a failed state, exit from the ensuing chaos, and then return with unending bombing campaigns is imbecility of an order that has few historical parallels.”
Unfortunately, we're seeing lots of imbecility with few historical parallels lately.
THREE CHEERS FOR NOAA
I've been looking at the monthly data on global warming coming out of NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) for several years now. With Trump's pronouncements against the government publishing climate data, I was wondering if there would be any new climate data for January. I was pleasantly surprised to find there was. (The data itself is decidedly unpleasant. What's pleasant is that they are still publishing it.)
January 2017 was the third warmest January on record since 1880, 0.88 degrees C. above 20th Century average. January 2016, in the midst of a super strong El Nino was the warmest. What is real bad news is that after a few cooler months at the end of the 2015-16 El Nino, the climate appears to be heating up again. I've added January 2017 to my color-coded graph of NOAA climate data. I hope to be able to continue to add NOAA data as it comes out.
AND THREE CHEERS FOR SCIENCE
Donald Trump has been really great for Science. All of a sudden, folks are demonstrating in the streets in the thousands for Science. Seems they have forgotten that Science gave us nuclear bombs, the Fukushima disaster, pervasive surveillance technology, and the ability to transform our climate into something hostile to human life.
I can still remember 1957, when the Soviet Union launched Sputnik, the first man-made satellite, into space. Then President, Dwight Eisenhower's response was a massive investment in science education in the United States. But even then, I can't recall pro-Science demonstrations in the streets.
I was 15 years old back then. I was an avid reader of science fiction and had already decided upon a career in Math and Science, albeit what I really wanted was to become a “mad scientist.” (I think perhaps I succeeded in that ambition.)
Actually Donald Trump is not against all science. He's just against science that stands in his way of making money or contradicts his cherished beliefs. This is certainly nothing new.
As Steven Johnson remarks in Ghost Map, his book about the 1854 London cholera epidemic: “How could so many intelligent people be so grievously wrong for such an extended period of time? How could they ignore so much overwhelming evidence that contradicted their most basic theories?”
I've run into this mind-set again and again in my career. As an example, here's a cartoon I made after being ridiculed by scientists and engineers at Missouri S&T for suggesting publicly that Fukushima was a unmitigated disaster that they would be unable to fix. This was viewed as damaging to their livelihood and contradicting their cherished beliefs.
Here is the latest on Fukushima: six years later, still an unmitigated disaster.
And here is an article comparing Donald Trump to Joseph Stalin, whose denial of Science turned out a terrible disaster for the Soviet Union.
February 14, 2017 (written for Rolla Peace Newsletter)
A reader sends in the poem: Let America Be America Again by Langston Hughes, very appropriate today, with the Muslim Ban and so many other acts of racism.
Here again is Robert Frost's Mending Wall which a reader sent in a few months ago — also very appropriate today with the imminent construction of a multi-billion dollar wall on our southern border.
And one of my favorites, Sedition by Edmund Vance Cook, which I include especially for Ed Snowden who may soon be rendered back to the United States to be tortured.
And here is my book of creature poems for children, recently updated to include the Elephant, Monster Mothers and other creature poems.
TEN YEARS OF PEACE VIGILS AND GOING STRONG
Thanks to all who came by our Thursday Noon Peace Vigil last week and wished us well as we completed ten years of weekly Peace vigils. This Thursday starts year eleven for us. Not much “Peace on Earth” in sight; but we are in this for the long haul. Please consider joining us, Noon to 1:00pm every Thursday at the Rolla Post Office.
OZARK ACTION COALITION
Rolla now has an umbrella organization for progressive causes. Not much interest in Peace there, but YOU could change that by joining and becoming active for Peace.
UPDATE ON YEMEN RAID
After botching the recent Yemen raid, missing its stated target, killing a bunch of women and children, and getting navy seal, Ryan Owens, killed, Donald Trump's press secretary, Sean Spicer, declares raid a success. He further declares that anyone who says otherwise (including John McCain) is disrespecting Owens, who died due to the brutality, stupidity and incompetence of what passes for “leadership” in the belly of the beast. Spin doesn't get much higher and faster than this.
ONE DOWN — MANY MORE TO GO — WHO'S NEXT?
“History does not repeat itself; but it delights in patterns and symmetries” —Stephen KinzerI'm seeing lots of patterns and symmetries between Donald Trump and Richard Nixon. Michael Flynn is gone. Who's next? What about Trump? I think he's on his way out already, after less than a month in office. He's just too much of an embarrassment; and he doesn't take orders. But before you break out the champagne, think about what might come next.
February 7, 2017 (written for Rolla Peace Newsletter)
THE KING AND THE WAVES
Once upon a time there lived a wise and beneficent king. He ruled well and the land prospered. The king was happy, except for one problem — he was plagued by a cadre of foolish courtiers who were always flattering him and telling him what a great and powerful king he was.
Perhaps, “King Donald,” there is a lesson here for you. As you sit in your palace at Mar-a-Lago, look to the land and see your people laughing at your buffoonery and demanding your abdication. And look to the sea and watch as the tides rise higher and higher with every passing day.
And consider the wise counsel of your priest:
“Steer your way past the palaces that rise above the rot,You can read more about the tale of King Cnut and the Waves here, a tale which, in keeping with historical tradition, I have embellished in my own peculiar way.
Any hope that we might still have held that Donald Trump would reverse the long-standing US policy of targeting children for geo-political gain, was dashed last week, as Trump ordered his first military strike which failed to kill its stated target; but instead killed numerous civilians including eight-year-old Nawar al-Awlaki.
Donald, you are still way behind past administrations. Consider: Iraq sanctions under Bush Sr. and Bill Clinton killed well over 1/2 million Iraqi children under 5. Bush Jr.'s illegal war against Iraq on Trumped-up evidence was responsible for killing hundreds of thousands and leaving millions homeless, And Obama was no slouch either. He spread the Middle East War to Libya and Syria and totally destroyed the only functioning hospital in the Afghan province of Kunduz.
But, Donald, I suspect if given half a chance you will equal or surpass all past administrations in cruelty toward children.
IRANIAN AYATOLLAH TELLS IT LIKE IT IS
Today, Iranian Ayatollah Khamenei stated: “We actually thank this new president [Trump]! We thank him, because he made it easier for us to reveal the real face of the United States. What we have been saying, for over thirty years, about political, economic, moral, and social corruption within the U.S. ruling establishment, he came out and exposed during the election campaigns and after the elections. Now, with everything he is doing—handcuffing a child as young as 5 at an airport—he is showing the reality of American human rights.”
I think many US citizens are finally getting the picture too.
January 31, 2017 (written for Rolla Peace Newsletter)
FROM OUR READERS: WOMEN'S MARCH ON WASHINGTON
In response to my statement last week:
“The Women's March on Washington [January 21] drew an estimated 1/2 million, double the inauguration, and that's in Washington alone. There were satellite marches all over the world, estimated at 4 to 5 million total. There were marches in St. Louis and Columbia, Missouri; but not, to my knowledge, in Rolla. Rolla boasted a Peace vigil the day before the inauguration that drew a crowd of four. But quality beats quantity any day of the week. The Rolla peace vigil was the only one of the three events that recognized a woman's Right not to be bombed by a mostly male military.”Mark Haim, executive director of Mid-Mo Peaceworks writes:
“I do have a minor revision to offer up. The CoMo march was a Solidarity March put together by a broad coalition of 24 groups, largely spearheaded by Peaceworks and had a broader issue focus than most of the Women's marches, including PEACE.And a Rollaite who attended the St. Louis march also notes:
“There were signs for many concerns, at the march. Mostly for ACA, women's rights, and against his racist and exclusion policies, as well as gay rights. People are really afraid they'll lose visas, get deported, etc . Didn't see too many anti-war signs. A lot of ‘love Trumps hate’”Many thanks to Mark Haim and all who kept PEACE alive at last Saturday's marches. While all these other issues: healthcare, education, bullying, racism, and discrimination of all colors and flavors are important, they pale to insignificance in comparison to PEACE and Climate Justice. Tens of millions have died or been driven out of their homes due to war and climate degradation and now eke out a bare living at best as refugees. Even more millions have lost close friends and relatives to war and climate degradation. How do our little complaints compare? Another reader writes:
“I don't know about Helen, but my understanding was that Tom did not support Hillary Clinton, the only candidate with a chance to beat Trump. Since you did nothing to attempt to defeat Trump, your carping rings a bit hollow to me.”First Helen's response:
“I supported Bernie Sanders, who would (imho) have beaten Trump decisively. The feeling in this country was for change, not more of the same. Hillary and her cohorts in the DNC and the media, as evidenced by some of the leaked emails, rigged the primaries against Bernie. There's every chance that without the dirty tricks, Bernie would have won the primary and the presidency. Enough people wanted change at any price that Trump was able to squeak out a win, with the help of the gerrymandered electoral districts. The truth is, we have a broken political, social and economic system that appears to be going down. Maybe it would have gone down slower under Hillary, but I don't think it's sustainable for much longer in any case. Civilizations have always come and gone over time; there's no reason to think this one will last forever. What happens next is anyone's guess. Old Chinese curse: ‘May you live in interesting times.’”And my response: Here is what I wrote the day before the election. I have nothing further to add:
“Tomorrow I'm going to the polls to vote.MORE ON PEACE
The hands of the Doomsday Clock have moved. We have two-and-a-half minutes left; the closest we have been to Doomsday since the 1950s.
Mikhail Gorbachev writes an editorial on the pressing need for nuclear disarmament.
BERNIE AND HILLARY
Here's a rousing speech that Bernie, whom we should have elected president, gave to the Women's March. And you might like the quotes and image of Bernie on my website (index page, top-center).
Hillary, apparently, did not attend the Women's March; but here's a couple of day-after tweets from her.
There's been a lot written about Donald Trump recently. Here are two of my favorites.
As noted before, Donald Trump is a most unpopular president. It took him only eight days to gain a 50% disapproval rating.
And here's a psychological evaluation of Donald Trump that a reader sent me — Malignant Narcissism. I think the evaluation is “Right On.”
And don't miss Helen's column (above) on Trump advisor and climate denier Myron Ebell.
January 24, 2017 (written for Rolla Peace Newsletter)
AN ALTERNATIVE TRUTH
“Sounded like the Truth;Many thanks to Donald Trump aide, Kellyanne Conway, for a brand new phrase. When asked about the discrepancy between the photos of Donald Trump's inauguration that showed about 250,000 attending and Donald Trump's claim of 1.5 million, Conway replied that Trump was presenting “Alternative Facts,” which is to say, to be charitable, he made up a big fish tale. Kellyanne, scholars of the English language will be forever indebted to you for that phrase.
The Women's March on Washington the following day drew an estimated 1/2 million, double the inauguration, and that's in Washington alone. There were satellite marches all over the world, estimated at 4 to 5 million total. There were marches in St. Louis and Columbia, Missouri; but not, to my knowledge, in Rolla. Rolla boasted a Peace vigil the day before the inauguration that drew a crowd of four. But quality beats quantity any day of the week. The Rolla peace vigil was the only one of the three events that recognized a woman's Right not to be bombed by a mostly male military.
Donald, you are unique among presidents. You are the only US president who within one day of your inauguration, drew a world-wide protest of millions. That's a feat that even the great Richard Nixon could not accomplish.
I'd say that after five days in the White House you are already in deep doo-doo. The establishment was very generous with Richard Nixon. He was permitted to resign and go home in disgrace. I don't think Hillary and her friends will be nearly so charitable with you, especially after you threatened to put her in jail.
Donald, I'd be sorry to see you go that way. Maybe, if you would listen, I could save your presidency; but listening is, unfortunately, not your strong suit.
Do you know what really scares me, Donald? What comes next? I fear we may some day look back in nostalgia at the Trump presidency.
Here are two short articles on the Trump presidency that make for good reading:
Beyond the Spasmodic and Petty: An Open Letter to President-Elect Donald Trump by Ralph Nader.
A Globalism of the 1%: Donald Trump Against the World by John Feffer.
OUR AWESOME YOUTH
“Reality must take precedence over public relations, for nature cannot be fooled.” —Richard P. FeynmanLike Nature (but unlike many of us old-timers who say climate change is a Chinese hoax) our youth cannot be fooled. 21 youngsters aged 9 to 20 sued the federal government asserting that, “through the governments affirmative actions in causing climate change, it has violated the youngest generation’s constitutional rights to life, liberty, property, as well as failed to protect essential public trust resources.”
In November, U.S. District Judge Ann Aiken conferred standing to the plaintiffs opining, “Exercising my ‘reasoned judgment,’ I have no doubt that the right to a climate system capable of sustaining human life is fundamental to a free and ordered society.”
Answering plaintiff's allegations, the US Department of Justice has admitted many of our youth's essential assertions such as:
That the use of fossil fuels is a major source of CO2 emissions, “placing our nation on an increasingly costly, insecure, and environmentally dangerous path.”Closer to home: Watch this fantastic 7 minute video on climate change, “Do We Have To Change,” produced by Isabel Nauman, a Kirkwood High School student. It features an interview with Sarah Willey, outreach and development coordinator for Great Rivers Environmental Law Center.
I've put together this climate change graph from NOAA data. I think it shows well the 2015-2016 El Niño (warming) event and that the La Niña (cooling) event of the last few months is cool only in relation to the 2015-2016 El Niño and probably only temporary.
And click here for a good description of El Niño and La Niña.
Here also is a graph of three year overlapping temperatures from NOAA data that I believe demonstrates the trend of the last century very well.
Enjoy this wonderful NOAA data while it is available. With the Climate-Denier-in-Chief in charge, it may disappear any day now.
The Army Corps of Engineers has published a notice of intent to require an Environmental Impact Statement for the Dakota Access Pipeline. Please consider making a comment. Remember, we here in Missouri are downstream from this dangerous project and many Missouri communities rely on the Missouri River for drinking water.
January 17, 2017 (written for Rolla Peace Newsletter)
AN EXCITING WEEKEND
We have a big weekend coming up. Friday is the inauguration of president-elect Donald Trump. Saturday is the Women's March on Washington DC. The Women's March is expected to be the larger event. That figures. Women make up about 1/2 the population. Donald Trump was elected by a minority and his popularity appears to have taken a hit since election Day.
The Women's March has a long list of Visions and Principles. Missing from the list is any statement of solidarity with the women of Palestine, Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan who live in fear that their homes will be bombed and families killed. On the other hand, we are told “that it is our obligation to uplift, expand and protect the rights of our gay, lesbian, bi, queer, trans or gender non-conforming brothers, sisters and siblings.”
OK. The Women's March believes in protecting the rights of folks of indeterminate sex; but has nothing to say about the rights of women not to be bombed by a mostly male military. I'm a little thick. Someone, please, explain this to me.
I'm going to skip both events. On Thursday, as usual, I'll be at the Noon Peace Vigil at the Rolla Post Office, inshaAllah.
Our “intelligence” agencies claim that Russia was behind the leaking of emails from the Democratic National Committee and John Podesta. These emails made Hillary Clinton look bad and may have contributed to Trump's victory. Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity thinks it's all smoke and mirrors and asks to see some proof that Russia was involved in these leaks. So far its all “classified;” but we're supposed to believe it anyway.
Totally missing from the discussion is that whoever passed those emails to Wikileaks is a national hero. We, The People, have the right to know that in any fair contest, Bernie Sanders would have trounced Hillary Clinton; but the entire Democratic Party establishment connived to get Hillary the nomination.
Just think. If the Democratic Party establishment had played fair, we would likely be preparing to inaugurate Bernie Sanders Friday, instead of Donald Trump.
US MARINES TRAINING IN NORWAY FOR WAR WITH RUSSIA
We've gone to war for lamer excuses than allegedly hacked computers. US marines have landed in Norway and are busy learning how to fight in the grueling Russian winters. Maybe they should hire the ghost of Napoleon Bonaparte as a consultant. He, at least, had some experience fighting in Russian winters.
HOW FAR DOWN WE'VE COME
From income inequality to suicide, the United States is at or near the bottom among industrialized nations in almost every significant category. And, we're still three days away from inaugurating Donald Trump.
So Friday, a most-unpopular president will take the reins of command over a most-divided country. Sadly, this most-unpopular president seems hell-bent on exacerbating divisions in society, rather than uniting people. A society this divided will typically either be taken over be a strong autocrat or disintegrate into warlordism. Take your pick; and remember: There are 300 million fire-arms out there — many of military grade.
PASSING OF ANOTHER ICON
A monster storm and high winds, following on the heals of four years of drought, toppled California's famous drive-through sequoia. The tree had already been weakened by being hollowed out so that tourists could drive through in their cars. Such is human folly.
EARLY APRIL FOOL
Guess what, Rollaites? Starting April Fools Day you'll be paying an extra penny sales tax on the dollar to pay for a road to enhance the value of property you don't own that will be developed by an out-of-town developer with money that should be paid in local taxes. Yup, they sure did make fools of us.
January 10, 2017 (written for Rolla Peace Newsletter)
FROM OUR READERS
1. Agent Orange: The widow of an agent orange victim writes: Agent orange is still a problem in our family. My son has Aspergers and my girl's hormones are screwed up, another legacy of agent orange!
2. Death Penalty: A reader writes: I don't think it benefits society to execute a criminal. Executing a person ends up costing the state substantially more then a sentence of life in prison. There have been several instances where a death penalty inmate has been proven to be innocent. In my opinion, ALL life is sacred.
3. Free Higher Education: A reader writes:
“There is one thing that worries me about [New York State governor] Cuomo's project: How is it going to be paid for? I don't doubt that there are ways to do it by taking money from other parts of the New York state budget. But I really think that proposals such as this ought to contain information about the financing.
“Liberals have been chastised for years about 'unrealistic, pie-in-the-sky' proposals that sound good but that can't be paid for. There is merit to some of the chastisements. This detracts from the possibility of getting good proposals approved. So I'm in favor of talking about how to fund them at the same time that such proposals are put forth. If that were to happen, I believe the opponents would have a harder time arguing against them.”
My response: I agree, the people have a Right to know how proposals that politicians put forth will be funded. I was unable to find the details on financing Cuomo's proposal to provide free college tuition to low and middle income families in New York State, so let me make two suggestions:
A minuscule cut in the war budget could easily finance free tuition for lower and middle-income students in state-supported institutions of higher learning, not only in New York State; but throughout the nation. I've suggested this before.
How about a tax on all transactions at the New York Stock Exchange? You buy a bar of soap; you pay sales tax. You buy a piece of a corporation, there is no equivalent tax to be paid.
Incidentally, my higher education in state-supported institutions was virtually free. If it was doable 50 years ago, it should be doable now.
Before 1991, when the United States imposed brutal sanctions on Iraq, higher education was free to all Iraqis.
Long ago, I saw a Frank and Ernest cartoon in which the loan officer (Ernest) is telling Frank, “We could loan you money if you wanted to buy Kraft or Nabisco, but not to pay for your groceries.”
A DESPERATE AND DYING CULTURE
As expected the European Union's Copernicus Climate Change Service has declared 2016 the warmest year on record, beating out 2015 by 0.2C degrees which in turn beat out 2014, the previous warmest year on record . Three years in a row declared the warmest year on record. That is unprecedented!
But, I doubt you will hear much more on climate change from NOAA or NASA. Soon-to-be-anointed Climate-Change-Denier-in-Chief, Donald Trump, has vowed to kill government-funded climate research in the United States; so I guess we are going to have to look to Europe, Asia and elsewhere for this kind of research from now on. That's what's called “Make America Great Again” and truth and science be damned.
Meanwhile, California, coming off a four-year exceptionally severe drought, is experiencing floods of near biblical proportions. Indeed, Nature Bats Last.
Like others, I've been searching for historical parallels to Donald Trump. The best I've come up with is Mr. Kurtz from Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness.
Six weeks ago, I quoted the following passage:
“There was nothing either above or below him, and I knew it. He had kicked himself loose of the earth. Confound the man! he had kicked the very earth to pieces. He was alone, and I before him did not know whether I stood on the ground or floated in the air.”Now here's a few more lines:
“You should have heard him say, ‘My ivory.’ Oh, yes, I heard him. ‘My Intended, my ivory, my station, my river, my—’ everything belonged to him. It made me hold my breath in expectation of hearing the wilderness burst into a prodigious peal of laughter that would shake the fixed stars in their places. Everything belonged to him—but that was a trifle. The thing was to know what he belonged to, how many powers of darkness claimed him for their own. That was the reflection that made you creepy all over.”Yes, next time you listen to Donald Trump holding forth, particularly on climate change or fossil fuels, listen to the background noise. See if you can hear Nature “burst into a prodigious peal of laughter.”
And, indeed, why shouldn't she? I suspect she will recover from the depredations of a “desperate and dying culture” quite quickly in geological terms. I used to think recovery time would be measured in millions of years; but that was before I read Bill McGuire's Waking the Giant.
McGuire points out that The Giant is not static. Earthquakes, tsunamis, volcanoes, the movement of tectonic plates — the pot is being stirred constantly, and with global warming it will be stirred all the more vigorously. The artifacts of a “desperate and dying culture” may soon be melted down within the Earth's mantle.
I suspect I was off by a factor of at least ten, maybe an hundred. Recovery may be measured in mere tens of thousands, not millions, of years — a blink of an eye on a geological timescale.
The phrase, “a desperate and dying culture,” comes from Jim Tull's, Positive Thinking in a Dark Age that Helen has written about above. Tull recommends that we, “Practice seeing the world as it is ... Resist writing off absurdities and horrors as normal ... Allow [ourselves] to witness and feel the effects of a desperate and dying culture.” Sage advice!
January 3, 2017 (written for Rolla Peace Newsletter)
NETANYAHU THROWS A TEMPER TANTRUM
In response to a UN Security Council resolution condemning Israeli settlements in Palestine as illegal under international law (passed 14 to 0 with the United States abstaining), Netanyahu vows even more illegal settlements and lambasts Obama as having orchestrated the “gang-up” on Israel. Israel also threatens to sanction France, China, New Zealand, and the 11 other countries voting for the resolution.
Sadly UN resolution 2334 does not specify any sanctions against Israel should it continue to flout the UN, as Netanyahu has threatened.
And sadly, Netanyahu thinks Israel is above international law, and should be allowed to continue to bully and abuse Palestinians and steal as much of Palestine as he wants.
ISIS AND ALABAMA
Last month the State of Alabama “cruelly and excessively violated the bounds of human decency ... when it knowingly inflicted torturous pain during Ronald Smith’s botched execution.” Smith heaved, struggled for breath, coughed, and talked during his painful 34 minute ordeal.
Smith had asked to be executed by firing squad believing it would be less painful than lethal injection; but the State of Alabama refused his request. In Smith's case, the jury had sentenced him to life in prison; but the judge overrode the jury, and converted the sentence to death by lethal injection, in accordance with Alabama law.
Now I've heard that ISIS is the baddest of the bad and they torture prisoners to death in all sorts of gruesome ways. I'm wondering where they might have learned to do such awful things. Maybe they learned in Alabama, which has by far the highest per capita death sentence rate in the United States, with the judge overriding a life sentence imposed by jury in almost 25% of death sentence cases.
IRAQ WATER PROJECT — GOOD FOR PEOPLE, GOOD FOR THE ENVIRONMENT
I've been working with the Veterans for Peace Iraq Water Project , supplying water purification units to Iraqi schools, hospitals, and other institutions, for 16 years. But this week I learned something new about the Iraq Water Project: Every water filter we install is equivalent to one half million plastic bottles of water — so not only does the water project provide clean drinking water to thousands of people, it keeps millions of plastic bottles out of the waste stream — good for people; good for the environment.
INTER-GENERATIONAL WAR INJURIES
War is even more expensive than you might think. Battlefield toxics like agent orange and depleted uranium can affect the unborn or yet-to-be-conceived children of exposed soldiers and civilians alike. This article by the Virginian-Pilot and ProPublica explores inter-generational injuries, the cost of which may dwarf costs to the current generation.