The Caliphate for the 21st Century

The video (below) of “Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi” (another one of the fictional “nom-de-guerre”  names so beloved of Islamic jihad fighters),  shows a  hesitant  youngish  man  delivering in  Koranic verse style the announcement that  he (in all  modesty  appropriate  to a disciple of Mohammed)  is the new caliph of Iraq, Syria and Levant  that  all  must bow down  to.

As the Angry Arab says;  When you bill yourself as a caliph you inevitably raise expectations. And as the Arabic saying goes: ‘the mountain went into labor and gave birth to a mouse’. What a lousy performance. 

While these young psychopaths  have a certain predilection  for violent murder and ignorance, they are definitely not idolised by the vast  majority of Sunni  Muslems around the world.  The sectarian violence, mysoginism   and vengeance they  espouse,  fomented largely through  Wahhabi  funds from  Saudi Arabia and Qatar and with  “special  assistance” from  U.K. and U.S. “intelligence” over the years,  fools few on the Arab street. These young violent men  are simply tools of those who  wish for nothing better than all-out  mayhem, death  and environmental destruction in  middle eastern states that do  not sufficiently support a Western view of who  should control  the world’s resources.

Desperately seeking fame on Youtube, as they behead another  infidel of whatever religious persuasion, they  are like little children given dangerous toys to play  with by  the grownups.

Their “secret” cavalcade of many miles of brand new Toyota’s through  the deserts of Iraq from Syria to  capture key  Iraqi northern towns, was somehow never spotted by  Western spy  satellites. Make no mistake, these are the “moderates”  that  Western governments have been funding to overthrow  Assad’s Syria , and now Maliki’s Iraq, for the past five years. This is a deliberate plan by  Western governments to de-stabilise and overthrow any middle eastern government that  1) doesn’t support the ongoing Israeli  destruction of Palestine and Palestinians, and 2) doesn’t  support the right of the U.S.  to  basically do  anything it wishes to.

It would be amusing if it were not so  sad that these nasty  little psychopaths  in offices in London,  Paris  and Washington who  get others to do  their killing  and torture for them, believe that  this is the way  to a  brave new future;  a “New American  Century“.  Take the former  British  Chief of Defence Lord Richards’ brilliant proposal  to train  and equip  100,000  jihadists   to  take Damascus from  Syrian Government forces, with substantial  Western  air support- (read  collateral  air damage) on the pretext  that this would reduce civilian casualties in  in Syria! . Fittingly,  the great Lord Richards  was also once Nato commander in the  brutal  fiasco  that is  the fourth  Anglo  Afghan War and is now  a senior advisor  to  the  right wing  British  International Institute of Strategic Studies,  and which  strangely enough, supported the US invasion of Iraq and is now  very  anti the current Shi-ite based Maliki government in Iraq.

And of course let’s not forget  the $500 million dollars worth of armaments and training from President Obama and Congress that will  go only  to  the ‘moderate’ extremists in Syria fighting the Syrian  government forces.

Or perhaps note the leaked ( unverified but eminently plausible )  Rand Corporation document advising the Western Ukrainians how to destroy Eastern Ukraine- these guys in  their cosy  little offices in  the city are oh-so-ruthless in  getting others to   murder and torture and destroy on  their behalf ( but only of course where it benefits their bank  accounts).

Links

SYRIAN INTELLIGENCE CHIEF ATTENDS CT DIALOGUE WITH S/CT BENJAMIN
https://wikileaks.org/plusd/cables/10DAMASCUS159_a.html#efmBraBr6BsHB6RB6UCDN

Is Our Number Already Up?

George Monbiot wrote  a recent  commentary  for the Guardian entitled “Its Simple. If We Cant Change our Economic System, our Number’s Up”.

In that  article Monbiot once again  traces human civilization’s inability to  look  at the reality of our circumstances;  our headlong  race to  “having our number called” because of the  inherent insanity of the  concept of “growth”  and “progress”  in  a  finite world system. It seems  extraordinary  for a  so-called “intelligent species” that  we globally refuse to  acknowledge the inevitable trajectory  of the “growth” strategy  almost every  human  being on the planet has subscribed to.

And not only are we fouling our own  back  doorstep  with  poisons,  the detritus  from our  consumption of  “things” and  the laying waste of the natural  world upon  which  we depend,  we are also  fouling the  world’s upper atmosphere with our “space junk”! We seem determined as humans to  destroy ourselves and all  the living beings we share this planet  with. In less than  a blink of an  evolutionary  eye, homo sapiens have largely destroyed the living fabric of this world.

The logic of this insanity should be absolutely  clear to  every  single human  being on  this planet, and yet  the argument that  ‘growth  and progress’ are anathema to our medium  to long term  survival,  is seen as heresy.   Look  around: the world we share with millions of other species on this planet, is rapidly turning into  a totally homo sapien centric world; where every  living and dead thing exists simply for our use and gratification.  We are rapidly closing down  this planet  as a living entity: – sealing over the soil  with   roads and buildings,  poisoning  the land with   chemicals,  burning pieces of it to spread into  the atmosphere at  colossal  rates, modifying the landscape to  meet  human  needs without regard to  the other species inhabiting  it, digging holes in  the ground so  we can  spread more detritus  over the surface of the planet, killing off innumerable  species to  feed our insatiable appetite-  the list  goes on  and on  and on….

What  are we growing into?-where are we “progressing” to? are we happier?, more contented?, more in tune with the world?,  kinder to our offspring and  other beings?. No;  we are more discontented, more avaricious, more grasping of things we do not have but which  mean  nothing,  and more determined to  destroy both other humans and the environment,  to   satisfy  our short-term greed.

How can  the supposedly so  well-connected  collectivity of humans on this planet have acquiesced to such  an insane model of living? Are humans so  blind that  they  can only see what is immediately before them and the immediate well-being and gratification  of their own species?    Humankind’s current 50 year strategy leads over a cliff.

What  does it take for there to be change?-and will  it be too  late?

We live in a  perpetual cycle of mutual self-justification of our crazy system which  creates a seemingly sane “bubble” of human world activity within  an insane and  dead-end construct. The self-perpetuating myths of  progress measured by  Gross Domestic Product (GDP)  are the  very  measures of change in  countries’ economic activity that  are driving  the world’s living things to  extinction.

Stead and Stead (p1) Joseph Campbell (1988) points out that these myths reflect the underlying  paradigms that guide the thoughts and actions of the people of a particular culture. Espousing society’s myths is a primary function of all of its institutions, be they political, religious, educational or economic. Campbell (1988) says that you can tell the dominant myth of a given society by examining the heights of its buildings. The multi-storey seats of economic activity that define the skylines of our cities today demonstrate that humankind’s most dominant current myth is economic wealth.”

In the  “Common Knowledge”  framework,  a paradigm shift of societal  knowledge can  occur with  the input of just  one new point of reference.
Our lives as social  beings are based on  shared certainties  of how the world works. Because those illusions are no  more real  than  any other “certainty”,  they  can  easily come crashing down, and a new set of “certainties ” or “truths” constructed. Game theory has also often been  used in  the area of economic assumption and speculation.

Every society clings to a myth by which it lives. Ours is the myth of economic growth. For the last five decades the pursuit of growth has been the single most important policy goal across the world. The global economy is almost five times the size it was half a century ago. If it continues to grow at the same rate, the economy will be 80 times that size by the year 2100.  This extraordinary ramping up of global economic activity has no historical precedent. It’s totally at odds with our scientific knowledge of the finite resource base and the fragile ecology we depend on for survival. And it has already been accompanied by the degradation of an estimated 60% of the world’s ecosystems.(from ‘Thinking the Unthinkable’, Tim Jackson)

And yet – despite the hype from corporates and governments, it will be relatively easy for most of us  to  change to  become part of a steady  state  economy. Within  a few decades we will have forgotten  the importance of having the latest  gadget, the  next holiday to  God-knows-where, or the latest fad or food. Small-scale organic farming provides a readily usable model to replace agri-business’ toxic produce, whilst producing   wonderful  benefits to  the world and our  fellow species. We will take our essential equipment for repair, instead of “recycling” to the landfill pit, we will accept as normal that everything we own does not have to be new and shiny, and rely more on local food resources and communities. Yes, the investment banks, multi-national corporations  and billionaires will disappear, but we will all then have the time to re-assess what it means to be human and happy and connected to our living world.

 


Links

http://www.peakprosperity.com/blog/88380/energy-economics-crash-course-chapter-19?utm_campaign=weekly_newsletter_150&utm_source=newsletter_2014-10-24&utm_medium=email_newsletter&utm_content=node_link_88380

Insecticides put World Food Supply at  Risk
http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2014/jun/24/insecticides-world-food-supplies-risk

http://www.steadandstead.com/articles/humankind_change.pdf
Can Humankind Change the Economic Myth?

Joseph  Campbell  and “The Power of Myth”
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Power_of_Myth

http://www.alternet.org/world/how-wealthy-elites-are-hijacking-democracy-all-over-world?akid=11866.1706.3h-bHN&rd=1&src=newsletter998135&t=21

http://www.mauldineconomics.com/outsidethebox/when-does-the-story-break

http://www.marketwatch.com/story/myth-of-perpetual-growth-is-killing-america-2012-06-12

http://hubpages.com/hub/The-Myth-of-Economic-Growth

http://citizenactionmonitor.wordpress.com/2010/06/19/is-humanity-inherently-unsustainable-pt-9-myth-of-perpetual-economic-growth-in-a-finite-world/

https://www.adbusters.org/magazine/84/thinking-unthinkable.html

http://blog.p2pfoundation.net/the-myth-of-immaterial-growth-and-infinite-happiness/2013/10/15

http://www.theguardian.com/books/2010/jan/23/properity-without-growth-tim-jackson

The Steady State Economy
http://steadystate.org/act/sign-the-position/ 

The Opportunities of the People’s Republic of Donetsk

The People’s Republic of Donestk was formed in  7th  April  2014;  breaking away from  the  state of Ukraine after a very informal  referendum of its local population. The referendum  was largely caused by  the decisions of the  Kiev interim Government, after it deposed the former elected ( but like almost every other President of Ukraine since independence from the Soviet Union in 1991 – extremely corrupt) president of Ukraine,  Viktor Yanukovych. Yanukovych  fled from  power as a result of the  Maidan protests and threats to his life,  led by  right wing extremists.

The interim  Ukrainian government’s decision to  effectively marginalise Russian speaking Ukrainians through  banning the Russian language and subsequently calling   anti-Maidan groups in  the East, “terrorists”,  led to  the formation of  pro-Russian paramilitary groups in  the East, in  the oblasts of Donestk  and  Luhansk. Their stated aim  was to preserve their Ukrainian/Russian identity against  the threats by neo-nazi  extremists  to  “purify” Ukraine, in  the new interim Kiev government;  largely from  within the Slovoda Party and Right Sektor paramilitary groups based in  the West  of Ukraine.

It is currently unclear what level of support the “self-proclaimed” (are not all  state entities initially “self-proclaimed”?) Donestk People’s Republic has with  the local  population, with some very problematic opinion polls run out of Kiev and  funded from  the U.S. which  state pro-Russian support at less than 40%. Facts on  the ground would seem to  suggest otherwise, especially since the  killing  of 39  people in the Trades Hall  centre in Odessa on May 2  2014, apparently  by   right wing football  hooligans from  the West.

It is also  problematic whether those currently running the administration of  the Donestk  PR have the best of the local  population at  heart, or are simply opportunists , ex-soldiers and thugs. In  addition there is always the tendency  with any revolution, especially when under pressure from the outside, to  respond in  more and more draconian and violent  ways towards its own population.  Are the  Donetsk  PR officials any less  rascist,  anti-Jew  and voracious than those in  Kiev?-time will  tell.

Notwithstanding those concerns,   the creation of this ‘people’s republic’ does present a unique opportunity for  a better state  not seen  for perhaps almost a  hundred years on  this planet. The opportunity to begin  afresh, untainted by  cronyism, the powers of the corporates, the drive for “progress” at  the expense of the planet. An opportunity for a  state entity  driven by  altrusim,  responsibility   for the vulnerable and a respect  for the environment. Impossible you say?- certainly improbable  when we look at our current rapacious “growth” (read;  money-for-the-rich and baubles for the poor) driven  state entities.

What we need then, is the development of state structures that  foster:

  • Community initiative and responsiveness-  local  town  “councils” where every  citizen has a voice and a right to be heard and responded to.
  • Central  and local  policies that  recognise that  “growth  for growth’s sake’  is nonsensical  and destroys both  our own living environment and the other  living things around us- ‘growth’  is the short term path  to death
  • Central  and local  initiatives that  encourage inter-connectivity between  people- eg local  community places within  walking distance for food and product  distribution, green  spaces,
  • Town planning which  “forces” people to  mingle together to  get  their work  done: eg  small  interconnected urban areas, green  spaces and  gardens
  • Local and central  state welfare systems that  all  citizens buy into  according to  their capacity to  pay  through  taxes, and all  are recompensed equitably in times of trouble
  • Principles and policies that  create respect  for the other living beings interacting with the human population.
  • Training for all age groups in  the art of mindfulness
  • An understanding that violence to others destroys oneself
  • an inalienable obstruction to  business interests influencing  state and local  political  decisions (i.e absolutely no  capacity for corporates to  finance  politicians)

It can (and must) be done. For the sake of all  of us on  this little blue ball.

______________________________________________________________________

Links

Egalitarian Perspectives on Sustainability – Robert Paehlke
http://www.eolss.net/sample-chapters/c13/E1-45-05-06.pdf


Great  Transition Initiative
http://greattransition.org/


The Commons as a Template for Transformation
http://greattransition.org/document/the-commons-as-a-template-for-transformation


Policies for Shareable Cities
https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/39811237/Policies%20for%20Shareable%20Cities.pdf


On Citizenship  in the 21st Century-  Richard Falk
http://richardfalk.wordpress.com/2014/05/20/on-citizenship-in-the-21st-century/


Global Citizenship: Plausible Fears and Necessary Dreams 
http://greattransition.org/document/global-citizenship-plausible-fears-necessary-dreams

The Whimper…

T.S. Eliot’s famous poem, The Hollow Men, ends with the following lines…

This is the way the world ends
Not with a bang but a whimper.

A recent study,  led by   applied mathematician Safa Motesharrei of the National Socio-Environmental Synthesis Center and using   new statistical modelling methods, predicts that this  current civilization will likely collapse in  another twenty to  fifty years. The study   draws analogies with past human  civilizations;  the Assyrian, Roman, Mayan, Minoan,  the various  Chinese empires…. We can assume that  like us;  the populations of those civilizations had every reason to believe their civilization was unique and would last  forever. While civilisational  collapse is quite rare, characterised by  entire ways of life, systems of thought, cultural values and worldviews disappearing,  political  collapse occurs frequently ( eg empires and kingdoms disintegrating).  What  appears likely to  happen in our modern context,  given  the confluence of a number of catastrophic events, is civilisational  collapse.

While this particular study  has been  sharply critiqued by  journalists and  scientists  alike for its simplicity and generalisations ; the  broad conclusion that,  as Paul Simon aptly put it ,”everything put together falls apart” , is  a healthy  reminder of human hubris.

The single most important  story   unfolding in  not-so-slow-motion  on this planet  is the  ongoing  destruction of the natural  world  in  the name of “progress”  and “growth” (ie  consuming ever more “stuff”) by  humans;  ,  which  will  in the near  future,  significantly negatively impact  on this species. Despite our insistence to the contrary, humans are entirely reliant on other species for our survival.  It is a  given that is blindly ignored by  politicians, businesspeople and businesses  and all  those with  a current stake in  the way  our “civilization’  currently works ( ie all of us).

As key  resources become more expensive to  extract,  the world economy (which is apparently now the full extent of this ‘civilization’) begins to contract  and distort .  And as the gap  between rich and poor widens,  the “have-nots” increasingly demand in  more and more violent ways,  their right to  a slice of the pie. As the oceans and  atmospheric temperatures rise,  so  do the pressures on  our artificial nation-states. As we progressively and rapidly eliminate species after species to produce more things,  to make “progress”;  our chances of long term survival  as a species are being rapidly reduced.   Our civilization demands that  we assume that  we have an infinite volume  of resources to  consume for  the infinite future in  a closed planetary  system –  a small  contradiction in  terms!   We are indeed heading for the perfect  storm.

Study  after academic  study shows that the more we  gain from  a civilization’s  prosperity,  the more we are blind to its failings and contradictions and its  inevitable fall. This  tunnel vision says , that ‘if I am  doing well out of this catastrophe then it cant be a catastrophe at all!’

Homo  sapiens  pride themselves on their remarkable intelligence; their capacity to manipulate their environment for their own ends. They appear unable to grasp  that  that  self-definition process of  appropriating everything  good, intelligent and wonderful  to  human attributes,  is simply  the result of their blinded vision.  If by  definition, species that manipulate their environment  are determined to be superior to all other species;  then lo-and-behold!- homo sapiens are superior beings! Because homo sapiens are above all other traits,  social  beings,  all of us have an intensely strong need to  “fit in”,  to belong to the group. Agreeing with other people on ‘our’ group’s   thought processes and paradigms is an essential part of this togetherness. However, agreement does not  it make it truth.

Thus, it does not matter that the capacity to manipulate the environment for the benefit of our species and at  the expense of all other species on  this planet might not be quite such an intelligent thing to do, given that  the environmental devastation and species  destruction is largely for homo sapiens’ short term  pleasures, power  and baubles.

Were we to  say  that  a species that can  sustain itself  easily and efficiently without damaging its environment in  the process, were  more ‘worthy’ beings than other species ;  then homo sapiens would not be registering on  the short-list!

Over the millenia, homo sapiens have  been able to convince themselves  that  people of other cultures, or colour,  or background are inferior to one’s own culture because of this self-defining process.  Using the same intellectual process,  the more different another species is from ourselves, the  less worthy , less  intelligent, more expendable and worthy of our  exploitation and destruction that species becomes.   The more differentiated from our species the “other” is,  the easier it is to  dismiss its inherent traits and qualities and its right to life. However on our ever smaller blue planet,  we no  longer have the luxury to differentiate between  “them’  and ‘us”.

How much easier then is it  to dismiss the equality of other species with ourselves when their characteristics, strengths and skills are so different from homo sapiens, and when it  is so  much to our benefit to be able to kill  and exploit other species without moral qualms.

As Henry  Gee also points out succinctly in his Guardian  article , each  species’ particular traits or “strengths” are  based purely on, firstly, what  biological  mechanisms of sense are available to  them ,and secondly, how they use those senses to  that  species’ best  advantage. Homo sapiens  may not value our sense of smell  because its not a particularly efficient sensing mechanism in  homo sapiens, but you can bet  a dog does!

The capacity for self-delusion in our  species is immense. Witness the largely American  driven  anti- climate -change camp. Of course we cannot be  destroying our planet with C02 through  industrialization, because capitalism and owning the means of production   is the reason  for our being!  – after all, aren’t we, the US consumer, the greatest people on  earth because our nation is   the epitome of capitalism?

As another example of  collective self-deception, Seth Klarman, the manager of the $27billion hedge fund, the Baupost Group, recently  remarked on the similarities of the world’s banking system to the ‘Truman Show’, the late nineties Hollywood film, where the lead character  “lives a seemingly charmed world, snuggled comfortably into an American suburbia of white picket fences and crisply cut lawns. But gradually Truman starts to notice something is not quite right. He is actually trapped inside a film set controlled by hidden directors, and discovers to his horror that he is the unknowing star of the world’s most popular reality TV show.”  In one of the more blatant  nuances of reality shifting homo  sapiens have acquiesced to,  our  financial  system  is in  essence simply one of “smoke and mirrors” -the manipulation of facts and figures designed  to  obscure reason and reality;  a fragile house of cards.

The dreaded "black swan"!
                                  The dreaded “black swan”!

One key point of difference with previous human civilizations  around the world  is that  our current  civilization is a global one; each  of the parts are inextricably connected.  Apart from  a few small tribes in   isolated areas, every one of us has bought in to  this unique  method of environmental  destruction. Thus  when this civilization collapses -(and it is a “when” and not an “if” ), that collapse will be both  more  rapid and more global; there will not be another model of homo sapien civilization around for the  survivors to pin their hopes on. The other significant difference with other previous human civilizations is this current one’s geographical  reach.  Vast  areas of the planet have now  been laid waste in  the name of human progress.

So, while the modelling conducted by  Safa Motesharrei  may be flawed, it does provide an opportunity for  serious debate about the direction this global  civilisation of ours is taking us..

 


 

Links

Did Nasa fund ‘civilisation collapse’ study, or not?

The National Socio-Environmental Synthesis Center (SESYNC)

About that Popular Guardian Story on the Collapse of Industrial Civilization

Plotting the Downfall  of Society-Peter Turchin Book Review

A User’s Guide to the Crisis of Civilisation

Crisis of Civilisation 

So, after the IPCC report, which bit of the world are you prepared to lose? | GeorgeMonbiot

“The Government and the police have a duty to protect the public and our national security”- from truth

In the latest  absurdity upon  absurdity in this  fictitious “war  on  terror”, the UK Police have defended their actions in holding and interrogating for 9 hours  Glenn Greenwald’s partner, David Miranda on the grounds that Miranda was suspected of terrorism  because  he may  have been relaying truthful  information about  a wide range of Western governments’  illegal   spying on   its citizens.

As the headline above notes; the UK Police’s rationale for the infringement of Miranda’s rights,  was that they  “had a duty to  protect the public and our national  security ” (from  such unwarranted journalism).  With  both  the UK and US police forces being increasingly accused of both corrupt  and violent behaviour, it is little wonder the public  in  those countries feel  a sense of betrayal by  the state.  Who are their police and armed forces in  fact  protecting?

Certainly the deliberately manufactured farce of  muslim  terrorism ( funded with enthusiasm  by  the CIA, and various other “intelligence” western  agencies around the globe- not to mention our “allies”-  the Saudis), is providing an ever more thinly stretched excuse for heavy handed enforcement behaviours,  surveillance and the  erosion of civil  rights.

Who and what  is  it all for?

DublinBaysmallIt would appear that much of this deterioration in  rights and freedoms is simply to  improve the profits of those international  corporates ,  whether media, arms manufacturers ,  energy  companies telecommunications or security companies that  are able to buy the required  influence in  western  “democracies”.

As it becomes increasingly clear  that  we  are nearing the end of the free capitalistic lunch-with  the remainder of  the world’s  natural  resources  being rapidly frittered away for a few quick  bucks  – the corporate billionaires are rushing for the exits, and trampling us “little people” in  the stampede.

 

How our Fellow Animals make Primates of us all

Over the last 20 years there has been increasing scientific evidence of the reality that “animals” vary little from homo sapiens in terms of their capacity to feel, to have cognition and to be aware of their circumstances. That very ‘useful’  set of historical assumptions  of the lack of true ‘awareness’ of other species compared to  homo  sapiens, which has enabled those of us who  wish to kill  or hurt other species on  the grounds of their implicit inferiority to  humans, has now been fully discredited.

Tilly1
Tilly

It is therefore inevitable that, over the next few decades, a global ethical and moral shift to the full valuing of other sentient life on our little planet will occur. This will in turn translate into a massive reduction in meat eating by homo sapiens and the need for environments where other species are respected and protected. While this world-wide ethical  and moral  shift  and its translation  into  alternative action to  value other species as we would our own, may currently appear absurd to my dear readers, it is worthwhile to  consider how rapid the global moral  and ethical  shifts against issues such  as slavery or the rights of women have occurred in  the last  200 years.

It is therefore vital that  both  states and individuals  start to  explore both the implications of that shift in  attitude towards   species other than our own, and to  assist  in  driving that  change towards a better world for all of us who  inhabit this little blue world.

While the challenges to the economic environment  of those state entities whose economies are predominantly reliant  on the export of meat  are  undoubtedly immense if we are to  shift  to a  no-kill  economy;  the opportunities as a world leader in environmental  and species ethics  and practice are also  enormous.

The evidence for the greater efficiency and sustainability of a non-meat based agrarian economy is out there now; we can start to plan for this inevitable change or be sidelined by other more ethical and forward looking economies.  No-kill agricultural produce that is produced in a fully environmentally sustainable way, will be in huge and ever-increasing demand as the ethical  and moral  framework of our  species shifts its awareness in  the decades to come.

Given the indisputable evidence that other animals than homo sapiens have the same value and senses as ourselves, it is imperative that all laws regarding the management of animals ensure that no cruelty or suffering is permitted under government regulation.

In just one of many examples of research into  animal  behaviour that  explores the real  capacities of  other species,  the recent  Guardian article on the work  of Tetsuro Matsuzawa at  the Primate Research Institute of Kyoto University exposes how chimpanzees on  a number of cognitive fronts are superior to  homo sapiens .

It is important to  note that  all  research  by homo sapiens is naturally slanted to  place positive  attributes on  those skills that  are traditionally deemed “human”,  and to either ignore , minimise,  ridicule or even simply not observe those skills and attributes  of other species that  are less familiar to us or deemed by  humans to be not important or irrelevant. In addition,   our sensory range  as humans limits our capacity to  even understand at  a basic level ,  th edepth of  awareness of many other species.

One revealing comment by  Prof. Matsuzawa in  the Guardian article is his statement that “As humans evolved and acquired new skills – notably the ability to use language to communicate and collaborate – they lost others they once shared with their common simian ancestors. “Our ancestors may have also had photographic memories, but we lost that during evolution so that we could acquire new skills,” he says. “To get something, we had to lose something.”  As the supremely arrogant and species-centric organisms that humans are;  we have  glorified our  skills, while ignoring our sensory  and cognitive deficits in  comparison  to other species on the planet.

Perhaps our most unique  skill, is our capacity to   manipulate our environment  to  suit our own ends. It is likely to also be our, and the rest of the species on this planet’s , undoing.

Postscript

A recent article in  The Guardian entitled “The American lawyer seeking human rights for chimpanzees” examines with  some incredulity and implied mirth at  the idea-that  a US lawyer is campaigning for chimpanzees  to have the same legal rights as human beings.  The article references the NonHumanRights Project ;  one of the first  of many  human organisations devoted to  rights and equality for all sentient beings on this planet.

Sustainable Agriculture: It is possible

Over the years, there have been many discussions about the  potential to  create large-scale organic  farming enterprises to  replace the disastrous  impacts of chemical farming.

A lovely article by  Tom Philpott of Mother Jones outlines  one  attempt by  some US farmers to break  the  dead-end cycle of spraying,  tilling and loss of environment caused by commercial  farming, using no-plough methods and winter “cover crops”. While this method does not completely eliminate  the toxic impacts of spraying ;  it does go  a long way  to  develop  large-scale sustainable  farming practice.

Another “new” farming concept is  is the use of charcoal  in  soil.  Native american indians used Terra preta in pre-Columbian times to  create long term sustainable gardens in  environments where high  rainfall  leaching should have made sustainable agriculture impossible.

The ShortcutGiven  that  at  least  a third of commercially produced food is wasted, it would seen perfectly feasible to  create food sources closer to  food  consumers, allowing less wastage in  transit,  and better targeting of food production to  need.

We dont need the environmental  destruction that is touted as necessary  by  agribusiness to  create sustainable  global food production. We don’t need to  keep  killing our essential  insects   with  insecticides, spraying weedicides to  control  the plants we dont want,   constantly digging up  the soil to  destroy  its structure and life, and  destroying more and more natural  environments  and the plants and animals that live there, for short-term gain. We can live a  wonderful  sustainable and more joyful life through  living instead of buying.

 

Syrian Chemical Attack: A Summary

This post is predominantly a  compilation of   commentaries on  the gas attacks on  the  Damascus  suburb of Ghouta  on 20th  (or the 21st ) August 2013. Given  the huge implications of an aerial  attack on Syria by  the US France and the UK , using the chemical attacks as justification, it is vitally important that  the truth of the allegations by the Syrian  rebels is established.

There is no  question that  the Assad regime is brutal  enough  to have launched the attacks , but is it stupid enough  to  do  so and why  would it launch  chemical  attacks?

What is not discussed here is the likely catastrophic  fallout from  an aerial  attack   on Syrian infrastructure as we have seen  relatively recently  in Iraq and  Libya.

Russian news media  state that  the YouTube uploads by  Syrian  rebels of the chemical  attack  were uploaded a day  before the chemical  attack  was supposed to have occurred. However they appear to be back-tracking on  that issue. Russian media and state agencies also claim the previous gas attack  was  proved by  their analysis to have been primitive sarin  chemicals  manufactured by  the rebels. It should be noted that  Adnan Silu, Major General and former head of Syria’s chemical weapons programme,  defected to the rebels in July 2012.

While Western media and Western  government leaders are saying the  agreement Sunday  between the Syrian government and the UN to enter Ghouta is “too little, too late”, presumably  because evidence will have gone of  the sarin gas ,  experts note that  while sarin  evaporates in  a similar way  to  water, the residues and  impacts on  body  tissue remain  for some weeks and months:- one wonders therefore at  the  urgency  with which  France, UK and the United States are  threatening to  bomb  Syria now.

The YouTube videos show doctors and others trying to  treat the chemical  victims  without removing their clothing (which  would mean the chemical  residues retain  their impact on the victim (and rescuer) for a considerably longer period of time) ,  and the medical  teams  are not covered in  protective clothing ,  which  would be essential  for the medical teams’  safety in  such  a situation. While the videos show some of the victims’ limbs twitching  as would be expected from neurotoxin  poisoning,  in the video  seen, only the victim’s legs are spasming, which  would be somewhat unusual.

While  a number of  chemical  weapons  experts are saying the videos of the victims is consistent with sarin gas poisoning, t here are  no  signs of the dead victims having soiled themselves ,  one of several key signs of neurotoxin poisoning.

The analysis by by  Rogue Adventurer here shows the rockets the rebels allege to have been fired by  the Syrian government containing sarin. Given that the Assad regime has considerable technical  engineering skills,  the rockets appear  to be relatively unsophisticated, almost “handmade”   weapons;  this could of course be part of the attempt by  the Assad regime to implicate the rebels.  A more  in-depth analysis of the rocket  attacks can be found here.

Doctors without Borders press release here  of 24th August  states that  the three hospitals in Syria’s Damascus governorate that are supported by the international medical humanitarian organization Doctors Without Borders Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) have reported to MSF that they received approximately 3,600 patients displaying neurotoxic symptoms in less than three hours on the morning of Wednesday, August 21, 2013. Of those patients, 355 reportedly died. Angry  Arab notes  “there was internal conflict within Doctors without Borders’ unprecedented political announcement about the use of chemical weapons in Syria.  There were people within the leadership of the organization that opposed the statement but the pro-US lobby prevailed.”

The timing of these attacks, coinciding with the arrival of UN  weapons inspectors in Damascus  to  investigate previous chemical  weapons attacks in  Syria   seems  an  unusual  strategy  for the Assad government- but again  – as some reporters have noted, not an impossible piece of bravado  for a dangerous and brutal regime  such  as Assad’s. And would Assad launch  a chemical  weapon attack  so  close to other areas of Damascus where support for  the regime remains, and where chemical  contamination would be highly likely,  as in  this article by Reuters?  PressTV  in  Iran  notes that its government had warned the US that  rebels were  importing sarin  gas into  Syria 8 months ago .

An in-depth  analysis by  Dan Kaszeta of Strongpoint Security here,  whose analysis suggests that  the attack  was not Sarin  or another neurotoxin, and might be the result of other chemical releases. What for instance has happened to this pharmaceutical  factory in Jaramana, Damascus on  the Ghouta plain? Note also this pharmaceutical  factory recently bombed by  either  the Syrian  regime or rebels.

The UN has previously accused Syrian  rebels of small  scale manufacture and  delivery of sarin gas, as in the Daily Telegraph  report from  6th  May  2013 here. However the Assad regime is the only agency  currently  deemed able to  manufacture and deliver such  a large quantity of sarin gas (if that is what the chemical is ) . A detailed list of alleged chemical  attacks over the past two  years is  noted  here

It should also be noted that there are very  large number of  vested interests  (ie controlled by   right wing corporate interests) American  and UK “think-tanks”  gunning for the Assad government.  One of only many examples is the  UK’s Royal  United Services Institute whose motto is ” Independent Thinking on Defence and Security”  whose Research Director, Malcolm Chalmers solemnly stated, with  presumably a straight face , that  My view is that the Syrian government’s apparent agreement to the U.N. inspection has been triggered by the growing possibility of military action, I think that is why they are doing it.” -somewhat ignoring the fact that  the  UN inspectors had been  given approval  to visit Damascus several months ago, and that the  frontline in  the Damascus suburb of Ghoutta is highly volatile as the recent sniper attacks on UN vehicles attempting to reach East Ghoutta appear to  show.

Note also  that  some (but not all) “human rights” groups, are actively involved in  mobilising  the Western  populace’s support for more gungho  adventures in  foreign lands . See this extraordinarily foolish  article by  Amnesty  UK here.

Interesting to note that  it is Israeli  security who  have provided the “information”  to US officials that the Assad government authorised the chemical  attack . And of course we know that  Israel has absolutely no  axe to  grind with  the Syrian  government and is a reliable source of dis- information! See Craig Murray’s analysis of the likelihood of the Mossad information being truthful here.

Postscript

The December 2013  article by  Seymour Hersh entitled “Whose Sarin” appears to  substantiate the claims by  the Assad regime that   Syrian rebels were responsible for the attack.

_________________________________________________________________________

Links

The US “Centers for Disease Control   and Prevention”   commentary on Sarin  and required  safety measures, is listed here

A very  fair and reasonable analysis (surprisingly ) by Stars and Stripes on  the situation as at  26th  August  here

A somewhat  dubious but plausible analysis of the rocketry  used in  the attack  by  Rogue Adventurer here

A vast  leap  to  assumptions of guilt by  Brown  Moses here  and used by  Peter Beaumont of the UK Guardian to  cheerlead  the US France and UK launching air attacks on  Syria.

A short sane  commentary  on chemical  weapons issues by  New Scientist here

A Syrian government  supporter view of the  attacks from  Moon of Alabama

A recent article on  the  Syrian chemical  attack at  Antiwar, by Justin Raimondo

Perhaps also  useful  to note this December 10th 2012 article in Antiwar  about US defence contractors training Syrian rebels in ‘securing chemical  weapon stockpiles”.

An old June 2013, but nevertheless very relevant piece, on  the implications of US “no-fly”  zones, by  the always reasonable  Helena Cobban at Just World News

A somewhat  US-hostile  (perhaps justified) view of the issue from Counterpunch here

Truthout’s version of events by  Gareth Porter here

Gareth  Porter’s assessment  via IPS of the US Government Intelligence report on  the chemical  weapons attack here

Some speculation from  the Strategic Culture Foundation by  Wayne Madsen on  a possible alternative source of the chemical  weapons

A further blog from  Moon of Alabama on  the  hypotheses about the origin  of the sarin  gas, as the UN team has verified the chemical  to be.

A post UN observer assessment  by  Sharmine Narwani and Radwan Mortada  of Al Akhbar

A post UN assessment by Dan Kaszeta  at  Strongpoint Security (pdf)

A Scribd critique of the UN report on chemical  weapons by  Denis R O’Brien (PhD,Esq) can be downloaded  here   (pdf)

A further Moon of Alabama report  based on analysis  by the MIT missile expert Theodore Postol which argues that  the range of  the  chemical  projectiles indicates that  the Syrian regime could not have fired them. The report by  Postol  and Lloyd entitled Possible Implications of Faulty US Technical Intelligence in the Damascus  Nerve Agent Attack of August 21, 2013 can be found here

The Red Line and the Rat  Line-Seymour Hersh

 

Living on the Planet “Stupid”

A recent sobering article in the Guardian notes that as of May  2013 we have now reached the new exciting record of having 400  parts per million of Co2 in our atmosphere!

The Guardian  states that:

The last time so much greenhouse gas was in the air was several million years ago, when the Arctic was ice-free, savannah spread across the Sahara desert and sea level was up to 40 metres higher than today.

These conditions are expected to return in time, with devastating consequences for civilisation, unless emissions of CO2 from the burning of coal, gas and oil are rapidly curtailed. But despite increasingly severe warnings from scientists and a major economic recession, global emissions have continued to soar unchecked.

Hockeystick

The CO2 “Hockeystick” graph (courtesy of http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/interactive/2013/may/10/climate-warming-gas-carbon-dioxide-levels-interactive )

However what is most sobering, is that last slide in  this Guardian narrative, which shows the likely scenario of reaching 1000  parts of carbon  dioxide per million by  2100 if industrialization continues as it has for the past 200 years; which is everybody’s best guess at  this point.

Not one government in  the world is committed to real  carbon  dioxide emission reductions  at  this point. Most governments talk about reducing carbon  emissions, but in  reality pedal  “progress’  and ‘economic growth ” as the panacea to their  little national  problems of recession or poverty…  However  “growth” and  “progress” are the true causes of our death-wish.

By the time  real decisions are made to  reduce industrialization and consumption  globally, we will be well  and truly past  the point of ensuring our  survivability as a species  with any significant numbers on the planet,  along with  thousands of other species. In  reality,  right now, we are  long-gone.

What  the impacts of living on  a planet with 1000 parts per million of carbon  dioxide will be; no-one knows. Nor do  we know what the short to medium term impacts of this totally  never-before-witnessed  sudden change in our atmospheric composition will have on  this planet.

Nor does anyone know, even if we stop producing CO2 right now, how long it will  take before  CO2 levels start to  decline,  and consequently the world’s  climate begin to return to”normal ” conditions. Quite possibly it may take  thousands of years for climate conditions to return to the levels of the 1960s; if they ever do  at  all.

What  we do  know is that we have  entered an unfamiliar world-there is no  going back.

Be prepared for the unexpected!

 

 

Peddling Over the Cliff

George Monbiot in  his blog “The Great  Unmentionable” once again  powerfully articulates the insanity of consumerism -the relentless drive by  governments, media and corporates to encourage us all  to not only maintain  our spending on  foolish things, but to increase it.

Monbiot points out that it is not  heating lighting and transport which  are the predominant carbon  emission culprits-it is the “stuff’  we buy – which  increasingly is produced for “us’  Westerners by  ‘those’ people over there.

In its quest  for economic   growth  and more wealth  for the wealthy, corporates attempt to  even commodify nature; where would we be for instance without our little sticky labels on  our fruit and veges, not knowing  which  international  conglomerate had marketed that piece of produce?

But by far the most insidious aspect  of consumption of  “stuff” is the central part it plays in the relentless destruction of  the natural world- the loss of natural habitat, the annihilation of species after species, for  more pieces of short-lived pieces of ‘stuff ‘ that no human will want in  a  year  or so.

The environment may be able to be resurrected  after the factories have been pulled down, as some artificial and dumbed-down version of true nature -but without the ever-growing list  of  extinct  species that  can never return to us.

SAM_2053
Maple Trees in Autumn

 

As our species becomes more and more urbanised, we lose our  awareness of our indelible link  with nature; our capacity to just  watch  and listen  and wonder at  the glorious  real world around us ;  our heads  down  watching  ‘smartphone” screens or  plugged in  to our latest preference for noise on our mp3 player. We become  immune to the beauty  and randomness and unexpectedness of nature of which  we are an integral  member-and  have blinded ourselves to that reality.

Instead of being open  and alive to  new and unexpected events and situations, we increasingly self-select our perception of the world from  an ever-narrowing mechanical IT menu driven by  our past experience.

We lose our connectedness to  the world around us-our inherent knowledge that we are transient fragile beings like all  other sentient things on this planet: that  we are different-but no better-  than all  the other species we live with.

_______________________________________________________________________

Postscript:

A great little article on  international  debt and how it fuels the crazy  cycle of “growth”  by Dinyar Godrej at the New Internationalist

Debt – a global scam

The standard response to the current financial crisis has been to punish the presumed debtors. Are the creditors blameless, then? asks Dinyar Godrej.

It’s almost a reflex. Think about debt and we think first about something owed. Then come secondary considerations of whether it ‘should’, ‘ought’ or ‘must’ be paid back, how this should happen, and whether possible.

Large outstanding personal debts – say a mortgage taken out during a housing bubble – can turn even the stoutest of us into ‘quivering insomniac jellies of hopeless indebtedness’ (as Margaret Atwood so accurately puts it). Debt is, we feel, whatever the rights or wrongs, ‘our own fault’.

We can’t help it, we are socialized to take such a moral view of debt.