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May 27, 2008
Veracity Series #21: Blogging Through TEOTWAWKI
Here is what I had time to compile for you amidst my work in the garden - going well! - and for lots of other seasonal things... And this is just a tiny sample of all that came in my emails... But here is first what I wrote to someone today which, I feel is worth including here...
"There is much certainty in my mind that Obama is set to become the next US president as McCain has nearly zero chance of ever getting elected. Most US citizens are also so fed up with the Republicans that it is also a near certainty that Democrats will have a sizeable majority both in the Congress and Senate. Our real focus from now on should be, in my humble opinion, to foster such a heightened sense of urgency in everyone's mind that the deep POSITIVE changes advocated by Obama will actually be implemented and that people won't relapse into a shallow sense of security in the belief that merely electing Obama and Democrats will be enough to resolved their and the world's problem. There needs to be a wartime mobilization of everyone's effort and creative genius to seen us all through the excruciating challenges we have created for ourselves, and people should be keenly aware that corporate mafias of all kinds will be only too happy to continue their usual shenanigans to get their greedy way and that no amount of greenwashing will suffice to convince anyone that they are truly working for the collective good and not just for their own filthy bottom line as usual.
So our efforts should be about continuing individual mobilization towards serving the greater good of all, changing oneself from being self-centered to being hearth-centered and globally minded, and courageously tackling the numerous issues, locally and globally, requiring our urgent attention. No more complacency. No more self-serving empty promises. Real action. Real and sustained commitment. Each one rising up to be a real-time hero for a New Earth and a new Global Awareness In Action - or GAIA for short."
And on that I wish you all to find the will - and time! - to do your part for a better, greener world ;-)
Your feedback is as always welcomed and may be included in a coming compilation - unless you prefer it is not. Circulating this compilation (or any part of it) and personally inviting your correspondents to subscribe to this list would also help enlarge the circle of people who have access to this material. Please include the following note and the URL address for the archived copy below along with your forwards, so others may have the opportunity to explore the original copy, if they so choose.
This compilation is archived at "http://www.earthrainbownetwork.com/Archives2008/Veracity21.htm
STATS for this compilation: Over 35,500 words and 162 links provided.
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"What has happened and continues to happen in Lhasa is extremely sad and scary. Never before have I heard monks talking about methods of torture used in local prisons and different gun types that were used by military during this year's demonstrations in Lhasa. And never before have I seen Tibetan people so desperate and angry that they do things they know they will die for or be put in prison for a long time."
- Taken from an anonymous letter from Lhasa (see the whole letter below)
"Now that John Edwards has climbed off the fence and endorsed Barack Obama, all of a sudden we can see a new "dream ticket" that has been obvious all along: Obama-Edwards. While Hillary was quick to point out after her West Virginia victory that no Democrat has won the White House since 1916 without winning that state, a more pertinent truth is that no Democrat has won the White House in the last century without a Southerner on the ticket. (...) For the past eight years, the average American has suffered under a regime that can best be called "The Raw Deal." Beneath the fear-driven drumbeats of war, war, war and the ominous suggestion that relieving Americans of their liberties has made us safer (after all, if the terrorists hate us for our freedoms, and our government takes those freedoms away, the terrorists will have no reason to hate us, right?) has been a looting of America that makes the robber barons of the post Civil War era look like petty crooks. Banana Republicans and their corporate Democrat enablers have turned our once independent country into a banana republic, as the American middle class now tops the Endangered Species List."
- Steve Bhaerman -- Taken from "The REAL Dream Ticket: Obama-Edwards and the Newer Deal"
"Attention is being given around the globe to the United States presidential candidates. Despite the rigged primary elections to favor Hillary Clinton and John McCains supporters waffling because he himself waffles, soon it will be glaringly apparent that Barack Obamas greater popularity among voters will be sustained. Thus free will choices of the majority have been made and now, without influencing those choices one whit, we can reveal that in the energy field of potential, Obamas momentum always was unstoppable, and we can tell you that this highly evolved soul with many lifetimes as a wise and just leader came from a spiritually and intellectually advanced civilization specifically to rise to his current prominence. At soul level he knows this is his mission, but consciously he is aware only of his innate leadership abilities and genuine intent to serve his nation as he so states; in time he will become consciously aware of his origin and purpose for embodying in this lifetime."
- Taken from Matthew's May 21, 2008 message (Topics covered: Higher meaning of Myanmar and China disasters; negativity reduction; examples of duality; global economy, sharing; third density karma; sources of light; Obama in US presidency, ending of secret government; dont fear dire predictions, claims; life missions will unfold; care necessary in telepathic communications; homework assignments)
"Love alone can unite living beings so as to complete and fulfill them... for it alone joins them by what is deepest in themselves. All we need is to imagine our ability to love developing until it embraces the totality of men and the earth."
1. Civilizations Last Chance
2. Evade Human Extinction Now!
3. 12 Stepping Our Way to Armageddon
4. All the President's Nazis (real and imagined): An Open Letter to Bush
5. U.S. Sergeant Refuses to Go to Iraq: "This Occupation is Unconstitutional and Illegal"
6. Letter from Lhasa
7. Simple Steps Toward Change
8. Shortage fears push oil futures near $140
9. Oil: A global crisis
10. Beware the US military's experiments with climatic warfare, says Michel Chossudovsky
11. Top Ten Reasons to Go Vegetarian During World Vegetarian Week
12. U.S. using food crisis to boost bio-engineered crops
13. Nanoparticles scrutinized for health effects
14. It's a whiz-bang experiment, with a downside that could really suck
15. Will Scientists Create "Manimals"? Human-Animal Embryos Get Approval
16. On balls!
Festival Mondial de la Terre 2008 - Une EXCELLENTE initiative! Du 16 au 22 juin prochain http://www.festivaldelaterre.org/
7 jours pour dire à la Terre que vous l' aimez... Pendant une semaine, dans 30 villes et villages de France, vous pourrez assister et participer à : des conférences, des expositions, des actions de nettoyage, des villages associatifs, des concerts, etc... afin de célébrer mais aussi de faire prendre conscience que la Terre, notre bien le plus précieux, doit être mieux protégé... Simultanément 22 pays participent à cette célébration. Voir aussi http://www.terralliance.org/ et http://www.villagedelaterre.org et pour le Québec: http://www.festivaldelaterre.ca/
Celebrating Pangea Day http://www.pangeaday.org/
On May 10, 2008, the whole world shared in Pangea Day, a 4-hour program of great film, music and speakers. Go at http://www.pangeaday.org/filmDetail.php?id=101 to watch highlights for home viewingincluding some of the unforgettable live moments and reports from around the globe. Recommended by Carl Landsness (email@example.com) who wrote: "Rave reports on the recent Pangea Day suggest this may be a very effective vehicle towards global oneness." And I say, it is worth taking an hour to watch this moving video review of what happened that day - an immense ray of hope for humanity!
The truth is out there: National Archives lifts lid on UFO files (May 14 2008) http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/2008/may/14/spaceexploration.military
X-Files' go public after flood of FOI requests ) Ministerial briefings and witness reports included -- There was the man on a fishing trip who was shown around a flying saucer by aliens in green overalls; another who befriended an extraterrestrial called Algar and wanted to introduce him to the government; and the astonished air traffic controller who watched a UFO land on his airport's runway, then disappear.Inevitably, the Ministry of Defence papers, released to the public for the first time, will be known as Britain's X-Files. Over the next three or four years, 160 files will be handed over to the National Archives. Covering 1978 to 1987, the first group of eight files, one of which is more than 450 pages long, is available via its website today. CLIP
Help STOP Bill C-51 -- ALERT TO ALL CANADIANS! http://www.stopc51.com/
Bill C-51 Will: Allow Government agents to:-Enter private property without a warrant -Confiscate your property at their discretion -Dispose of your property at their discretion -Seize your bank accounts without a warrant -Charge you for shipping and storage of your property -Store your property Indefinitely without paying you for damages -Levy fines of up to $5,000,000.00 / 2 years in jail per offence. Introduce new legislation that will: -Allow laws to be created in Canada, behind closed doors, with the assistance of foreign governments, industrial and trade organizations -Allow "Crack house style" of enforcement on natural health providers -Allow enforcement to be considered on more than 70% of Canadians who use NHP's -Allow the minister, based on opinion, to shut down research without any scientific reason or evidence of risk or harm -Allow the minister, based on opinion, to allow or disallow market authorizations for Natural Health Products. MAKE SURE ALSO TO READ THE Press Facts AT http://www.stopc51.com/c51/press_facts.asp Bill C-51 Eliminates the Ability of our Elected Officials to Protect Us - Fast Tracks New Drugs to Market; Reduced Safety Measures - Makes Upwards of 70% of Natural Health Products illegal!
The Energy Non-Crisis (75 mn - 24 oct. 2007) STUNNING CLAIMS! http://video.google.co.uk/videoplay?docid=3340274697167011147
Lindsey Williams talks about his first hand knowledge of Alaskan oil reserves larger than any on earth. And he talks about how the oil companies and U.S. government won't send it through the pipeline for U.S. citizens to use.
The Doctor, the Depleted Uranium, and the Dying Children - 53 Min. HORRIFYING CONSEQUENCES OF AMERICAN RADIOACTIVE WARFARE - WARNING: HARD TO WATCH! YET THE WORLD WORLD SHOULD SEE THIS! http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=5146778547681767408
An award winning documentary film produced for German television by Freider Wagner and Valentin Thurn. The film exposes the use and impact of radioactive weapons during the current war against Iraq. The story is told by citizens of many nations. It opens with comments by two British veterans, Kenny Duncan and Jenny Moore, describing their exposure to radioactive, so-called depleted uranium (DU), weapons and the congenital abnormalities of their children. Dr. Siegwart-Horst Gunther, a former colleague of Albert Schweitzer, and Tedd Weyman of the Uranium Medical Research Center (UMRC) traveled to Iraq, from Germany and Canada respectively, to assess uranium contamination in Iraq.
Starlings on Otmoor - Remarkable Starling video http://ca.youtube.com/watch?v=XH-groCeKbE
An astonishing thing to see - Near Oxford - England. This was filmed at an RSPB reserve called Otmoor. It is the most remarkable thing I have ever seen - and as a video cameraman I have some pretty amazing things.
Crystal skulls 'are modern fakes' http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/pr/fr/-/2/hi/science/nature/7414637.stm
Two of the best known crystal skulls - artefacts once thought to be the work of ancient American civilisations - are modern fakes, a scientific study shows. (...) The skull held by the Smithsonian was donated to the museum anonymously in 1992, along with a note saying it had been bought in Mexico in 1960.Nothing is known of its history before that date, but like the British object, it was probably manufactured shortly before being purchased.The researchers were not able to determine where the quartz used in the skulls was quarried. But locations with suitably large deposits include Brazil, Madagascar and, possibly, the Alps. Professor Freestone said the work did not prove all crystal skulls were fakes, but it did cast doubt on the authenticity of other examples: "None of them have a good archaeological provenance and most appeared suspiciously in the last decades of the 20th Century. So we have to be skeptical," he explained. The findings are likely to be a disappointment to enthusiasts and collectors; the skulls have become a part of popular culture, appearing in numerous films and novels.
"US confession: Weapons were not made in Iran after all" (10 May 2008) http://www.campaigniran.org/casmii/index.php?q=node/4886
US confession: Weapons were not made in Iran after all (source: CASMII) - In a sharp reversal of its longstanding accusations against Iran arming militants in Iraq , the US military has made an unprecedented albeit quiet confession: the weapons they had recently found in Iraq were not made in Iran at all. According to a report by the LA Times correspondent Tina Susman in Baghdad: "A plan to show some alleged Iranian-supplied explosives to journalists last week in Karbala and then destroy them was canceled after the United States realized none of them was from Iran. A U.S. military spokesman attributed the confusion to a misunderstanding that emerged after an Iraqi Army general in Karbala erroneously reported the items were of Iranian origin. When U.S. explosives experts went to investigate, they discovered they were not Iranian after all." The US , which until two weeks ago had never provided any proof for its allegations, finally handed over its "evidence" of the Iranian origin of these weapons to the Iraqi government. Last week, an Iraqi delegation to Iran presented the US "evidence" to Iranian officials. According to Al-Abadi, a parliament member from the ruling United Iraqi Alliance who was on the delegation, the Iranian officials totally refuted "training, financing and arming" militant groups in Iraq . Consequently the Iraqi government announced that there is no hard evidence against Iran.In another extraordinary event this week, the US spokesman in Iraq, Maj. Gen. Kevin Bergner, for the first time did not blame Iran for the violence in Iraq and in fact did not make any reference to Iran at all in his introductory remarks to the world media on Wednesday when he described the large arsenal of weapons found by Iraqi forces in Karbala. In contrast, the Pentagon in August 2007 admitted that it had lost track of a third of the weapons distributed to the Iraqi security forces in 2004/2005. The 190,000 assault rifles and pistols roam free in Iraqi streets today.In the past year, the US leaders have been relentless in propagating their charges of Iranian meddling and fomenting violence in Iraq and since the release of the key judgments of the US National Intelligence Estimate in December that Iran does not have a nuclear weaponisation programme, these accusations have sharply intensified. The US charges of Iranian interference in Iraq too have now collapsed. Any threat of military strike against Iran is in violation of the UN charter and the IAEA's continued supervision on Iran's uranium enrichment facilities means there is no justification for sanctions. CASMII calls on the US to change course and enter into comprehensive and unconditional negotiations with Iran.For more information or to contact CASMII please visit http://www.campaigniran.org
War Abroad, Poverty at Home (May 23, 2008) http://www.counterpunch.org/roberts05232008.html
The US Senate has voted $165 billion to fund Bushs wars of aggression against Afghanistan and Iraq through next spring.As the US is broke and deep in debt, every one of the $165 billion dollars will have to be borrowed. American consumers are also broke and deep in debt. Their zero saving rate means every one of the $165 billion dollars will have to be borrowed from foreigners.The worlds only superpower is so broke it cant even finance its own wars.Each additional dollar that the irresponsible Bush Regime has to solicit from foreigners puts more downward pressure on the dollars value. During the eight wasted and extravagant years of the Bush Regime, the once mighty US dollar has lost about 60% of its value against the euro.The dollar has lost even more of its value against gold and oil.Before Bush began his wars of aggression, oil was $25 a barrel. Today it is $130 a barrel. Some of this rise may result from run-away speculation in the futures market. However, the main cause is the eroding value of the dollar. Oil is real, and unlike paper dollars is limited in supply. With US massive trade and budget deficits, the outpouring of dollar obligations mounts, thus driving down the value of the dollar.Each time the dollar price of oil rises, the US trade deficit rises, requiring more foreign financing of US energy use. Bush has managed to drive the US oil import bill up from $106 billion in 2006 to approximately $500 billion 18 months later--every dollar of which has to be financed by foreigners.Without foreign money, the US superpower cannot finance its imports or its governments operation.When the oil price rises, Americans, who are increasingly poor, cannot pay their winter heating bills. Thus, the Senates military spending bill contains more heating subsidies for Americas growing legion of poor people.The rising price of energy drives up the price of producing and transporting all goods, but American incomes are not rising except for the extremely rich. The disappearing value of the US dollar, which pushes up oil prices and raises the trade deficit, then pushes up heating subsidies and raises the budget deficit.If oil was the reason Bush invaded Iraq, the plan obviously backfired. Oil not merely doubled or tripled in price but quintupled. CLIP
Increased U.S. airstrikes in Iraq killing more civilians (May 23, 2008) http://rawstory.com/news/2008/U.S._airstrike_kills_8_Iraqi_civilians_0523.html
A surge in US airstrikes within densely populated areas of Iraq has led to a dramatic rise in civilian casualties.According to the Washington Post, ever since an attempted crackdown on Shi'ite militias by the Iraqi government in March, which led to increased attacks on the Green Zone in Baghdad that killed some Americans, the US military has been firing missiles almost every day into the crowded Shi'ite slum of Sadr City.Residents describe the attacks as indiscriminate and say they have led to many civilian deaths. However, the US Army states that they choose their targets carefully and often refrain from firing for fear of civilian casualties."On Wednesday, eight people, including two children, were killed when a U.S. helicopter opened fire on a group of Iraqis," the Post reports. "The U.S. military said in a statement that it had targeted men linked to a suicide bombing network. 'Unfortunately, two children were killed when the other occupants of the vehicle, in which they were riding, exhibited hostile intent," the statement said."CNN reports further on Iraqi victims of US gunfire, noting that "anger against the Americans is only increasing."
Air Force Aims for 'Full Control' of 'Any and All' Computers (13 May 2008) http://blog.wired.com/defense/2008/05/air-force-mater.html
The Air Force wants a suite of hacker tools, to give it "access" to -- and "full control" of -- any kind of computer there is. And once the info warriors are in, the Air Force wants them to keep tabs on their "adversaries' information infrastructure completely undetected." The government is growing increasingly interested in waging war online. The Air Force recently put together a "Cyberspace Command," with a charter to rule networks the way its fighter jets rule the skies. The Department of Homeland Security, Darpa, and other agencies are teaming up for a five-year, $30 billion "national cybersecurity initiative." CLIP
Global Peace Index: Israel hits rock bottom http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-3545840,00.html
Economist Intelligence Unit ranks Israel 136th out of 140 countries, alongside Afghanistan, ChadIceland is the world's most peaceful nation while Israel ranked 136th out of 140 nations, according to the "Global Peace Index," compiled by the Economist Intelligence Unit. The study ranked the United States 97th out of 140 countries according to how peaceful they were domestically and how they interacted with the outside world. The United States slipped from 96th last year, but was still ahead of foe Iran which ranked 105th. It, however, lagged Belarus, Cuba, South Korea, Chile, Libya and others which were listed as more peaceful. Iraq, which the United States invaded in 2003, leading to the toppling of Saddam Hussein, ranked lowest on the index. Afghanistan was also in the bottom five, along with Sudan, Somalia and Israel. CLIP
THE LAST ROUNDUP - Is the government compiling a secret list of citizens to detain under martial law? http://www.radaronline.com/from-the-magazine/2008/05/government_surveillance_homeland_security_main_core_01-print.php
(...) According to a senior government official who served with high-level security clearances in five administrations, "There exists a database of Americans, who, often for the slightest and most trivial reason, are considered unfriendly, and who, in a time of panic, might be incarcerated. The database can identify and locate perceived 'enemies of the state' almost instantaneously." He and other sources tell Radar that the database is sometimes referred to by the code name Main Core. One knowledgeable source claims that 8 million Americans are now listed in Main Core as potentially suspect. In the event of a national emergency, these people could be subject to everything from heightened surveillance and tracking to direct questioning and possibly even detention. (...) Let's imagine a harrowing scenario: coordinated bombings in several American cities culminating in a major blastsay, a suitcase nukein New York City. Thousands of civilians are dead. Commerce is paralyzed. A state of emergency is declared by the president. Continuity of Governance plans that were developed during the Cold War and aggressively revised since 9/11 go into effect. Surviving government officials are shuttled to protected underground complexes carved into the hills of Maryland, Virginia, and Pennsylvania. Power shifts to a "parallel government" that consists of scores of secretly preselected officials. (As far back as the 1980s, Donald Rumsfeld, then CEO of a pharmaceutical company, and Dick Cheney, then a congressman from Wyoming, were slated to step into key positions during a declared emergency.) The executive branch is the sole and absolute seat of authority, with Congress and the judiciary relegated to advisory roles at best. The country becomes, within a matter of hours, a police state.
(...) In the days after our hypothetical terror attack, events might play out like this: With the population gripped by fear and anger, authorities undertake unprecedented actions in the name of public safety. Officials at the Department of Homeland Security begin actively scrutinizing people whofor a tremendously broad set of reasonshave been flagged in Main Core as potential domestic threats. Some of these individuals might receive a letter or a phone call, others a request to register with local authorities. Still others might hear a knock on the door and find police or armed soldiers outside. In some instances, the authorities might just ask a few questions. Other suspects might be arrested and escorted to federal holding facilities, where they could be detained without counsel until the state of emergency is no longer in effect.
(...) In July 2007 and again last August, Representative Peter DeFazio, a Democrat from Oregon and a senior member of the House Homeland Security Committee, sought access to the "classified annexes" of the Bush administration's Continuity of Government program. DeFazio's interest was prompted by Homeland Security Presidential Directive 20 (also known as NSPD-51), issued in May 2007, which reserves for the executive branch the sole authority to decide what constitutes a national emergency and to determine when the emergency is over. DeFazio found this unnerving.But he and other leaders of the Homeland Security Committee, including Chairman Bennie Thompson, a Mississippi Democrat, were denied a review of the Continuity of Government classified annexes. To this day, their calls for disclosure have been ignored by the White House. In a press release issued last August, DeFazio went public with his concerns that the NSPD-51 Continuity of Government plans are "extra-constitutional or unconstitutional." Around the same time, he told the Oregonian: "Maybe the people who think there's a conspiracy out there are right." Congress itself has recently widened the path for both extra-constitutional detentions by the White House and the domestic use of military force during a national emergency. The Military Commissions Act of 2006 effectively suspended habeas corpus and freed up the executive branch to designate any American citizen an "enemy combatant" forfeiting all privileges accorded under the Bill of Rights. The John Warner National Defense Authorization Act, also passed in 2006, included a last-minute rider titled "Use of the Armed Forces in Major Public Emergencies," which allowed the deployment of U.S. military units not just to put down domestic insurrectionsas permitted under posse comitatus and the Insurrection Act of 1807but also to deal with a wide range of calamities, including "natural disaster, epidemic, or other serious public health emergency, terrorist attack, or incident."More troubling, in 2002, Congress authorized funding for the U.S. Northern Command, or NORTHCOM, which, according to Washington Post military intelligence expert William Arkin, "allows for emergency military operations in the United States without civilian supervision or control." "We are at the edge of a cliff and we're about to fall off," says constitutional lawyer and former Reagan administration official Bruce Fein.
(...) Meanwhile, the mystery of James Comey's testimony has disappeared in the morass of election year coverage. None of the leading presidential candidates have been asked the questions that are so profoundly pertinent to the future of the country: As president, will you continue aggressive domestic surveillance programs in the vein of the Bush administration? Will you release the COG blueprints that Representatives DeFazio and Thompson were not allowed to read? What does it suggest about the state of the nation that the U.S. is now ranked by worldwide civil liberties groups as an "endemic surveillance society," alongside repressive regimes such as China and Russia? How can a democracy thrive with a massive apparatus of spying technology deployed against every act of political expression, private or public? CLIP
Fahrenheit 9/11 Sequel: Michael Moores Chance to Tell the Truth http://www.infowars.com/?p=2123
(...) However, at the risk of coming off as cynical, it should be noted that by the time Moores new 9/11 film appears next year, a Democrat will probably be in the White House. Some have speculated that the Democrats will attempt to defuse the growing 9/11 truth movement by conducting yet another investigation, this time affixing blame for the attacks, even producing a LIHOP version for mass consumption. It remains to be seen if the Democrats will venture into such turbulent waters, as the announcement of another investigation will certainly produce demands for independence and impartiality, thus making it difficult for the government to control the outcome. CLIP
Iran busts CIA terror network http://www.tehrantimes.com/index_View.asp?code=168823
TEHRAN - The Intelligence Ministry on Saturday released details of the detection and dismantling of a terrorist network affiliated to the United States. In a coordinated operation on May 7, Iranian intelligence agents arrested the terrorist network's members, who were identified in Fars, Khuzestan, Gilan, West Azerbaijan, and Tehran provinces, the Intelligence Ministry announcement said. The group's plans were devised in the U.S., according to the announcement, which added that they had planned to carry out a number of acts such as bombing scientific, educational, and religious centers, shooting people, and making public places in various cities insecure. One of the terrorists was killed in the operation, but the rest are in detention, the Intelligence Ministry said, adding that the group's main objective was to create fear among the people.The United States Central Intelligence Agency comprehensively supported the terrorist group by arming it, training its members, and sponsoring its inhumane activities in Iran, the Intelligence Ministry stated. The terrorists had maps, films, pictures, and sketches of important and sensitive sites in various cities in their possession when they were arrested. They also had a large number of weapons and ammunition and a great deal of highly explosive chemicals and cyanide. The blast at a religious center in Shiraz last month was carried out by this group, and it also had plans to carry out similar attacks on the Tehran International Book Fair, the Russian Consulate in Gilan Province, oil pipelines in southern Iran, and other targets, the communiqué stated. Thirteen people were killed and over 190 others wounded in a bombing carried out on April 12 at the Rahpuyan-e Vessal religious center, which is part of the Seyyed-ul-Shohada Mosque complex, located in a residential area of Shiraz.
China's All-Seeing Eye By Naomi Wolf (May 29, 2008) http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/story/20797485/chinas_allseeing_eye
With the help of U.S. defense contractors, China is building the prototype for a high-tech police state. It is ready for export. (...) China today, epitomized by Shenzhen's transition from mud to megacity in 30 years, represents a new way to organize society. Sometimes called "market Stalinism," it is a potent hybrid of the most powerful political tools of authoritarian communism central planning, merciless repression, constant surveillance harnessed to advance the goals of global capitalism. Now, as China prepares to showcase its economic advances during the upcoming Olympics in Beijing, Shenzhen is once again serving as a laboratory, a testing ground for the next phase of this vast social experiment. Over the past two years, some 200,000 surveillance cameras have been installed throughout the city. Many are in public spaces, disguised as lampposts. The closed-circuit TV cameras will soon be connected to a single, nationwide network, an all-seeing system that will be capable of tracking and identifying anyone who comes within its range a project driven in part by U.S. technology and investment. Over the next three years, Chinese security executives predict they will install as many as 2 million CCTVs in Shenzhen, which would make it the most watched city in the world. (Security-crazy London boasts only half a million surveillance cameras.) The security cameras are just one part of a much broader high-tech surveillance and censorship program known in China as "Golden Shield." The end goal is to use the latest people-tracking technology thoughtfully supplied by American giants like IBM, Honeywell and General Electric to create an airtight consumer cocoon: a place where Visa cards, Adidas sneakers, China Mobile cellphones, McDonald's Happy Meals, Tsingtao beer and UPS delivery (to name just a few of the official sponsors of the Beijing Olympics) can be enjoyed under the unblinking eye of the state, without the threat of democracy breaking out. With political unrest on the rise across China, the government hopes to use the surveillance shield to identify and counteract dissent before it explodes into a mass movement like the one that grabbed the world's attention at Tiananmen Square. CLIP
Britain Obstructs Global Ban on Use of Cluster Bombs http://www.truthout.org/docs_2006/052008N.shtml
Kim Sengupta, of The Independent UK: "The British Government is accused of being the chief obstacle to the signing of a treaty to ban cluster bombs, which have maimed and killed thousands of civilians worldwide. Countries that have suffered the impact of the bombs, humanitarian groups and former commanders of British forces have called for the UK to drop its insistence on retaining cluster munitions, a stance, they say, that is likely to scupper hopes of securing an agreement at an international conference starting in Dublin today."
America AWOL on Cluster Bombs http://www.truthout.org/article/america-awol-cluster-bombs
Lora Lumpe, of Foreign Policy In Focus, writes: "More than 100 governments, including all major NATO allies, met on May 19 to begin two weeks of negotiations in Dublin, Ireland to finalize a global treaty banning cluster munitions that cause unacceptable harm to civilians. The U.S. government will not be there, and is exerting pressure on allies to weaken the treaty. Washington claims that future joint military operations will be undermined if allied governments prohibit the use of these weapons."
Wal-Mart Cuts Way Back -Arkansas Bank Fails (5-10-8) http://www.rense.com/general81/ark.htm
The collapse of ANB Financial National Association is significant. Population of Bentonville, Arkansas is 19,500 people .... and Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. Bentonville IS Wal-Mart !For the past four months, Wal-Mart (Bentonville, Arkansas) has been canceling (Tip of the iceberg: http://tinyurl.com/5botap) almost all of their (major) corporate projects into the future. We know the magnitude of Wal-Mart's financial dilemma directly from its internal (attorney) legal "dropped project memos" and "Real Estate Committee reapproval memos."Wal-Mart press releases and media news reports to the public are disingenuous. Over 700,000 Chinese exporters / manufacturers (http://tinyurl.com/26mqx7) are now refusing to accept U.S. dollars as payment for products for retail sales. Wal-Mart's on-shelf stock numbers have been significantly reduced. Merchandise quality is now marginal to bad and in many cases becoming unavailable as prices skyrocket with broad spectrum factors coming together to create an uncomfortable sales environment. Wal-Mart's total overhead is becoming unsustainable we believe. CLIP
The HPV Vaccine: Preventive Care or Human Sacrifice? http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2008/05/10/the-hpv-vaccine-preventive-care-or-human-sacrifice.aspx
Reports of adverse reactions to the new HPV vaccine Gardasil are escalating. One particularly heart-wrenching example is the story of 12-year-old Brittany who lost all feeling in her leg and collapsed two weeks after receiving the Gardasil vaccine.Adding insult to injury, people who are injured by the vaccine cannot even sue Merck, the maker of the Gardasil vaccine, because it is part of the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Fund. While the FDA claims adverse reactions to Gardasil are rare, a review of the U.S. Vaccine Adverse Events Reporting System (VAERS) data shows that several thousands of adverse reactions have been reported in the United States alone. And hundreds of Australian girls have experienced side effects like paralysis, dizzy spells and seizures, but Australia's Department of Health and Ageing refuses to release any details. CLIP Make sure to also read Mercola's comments at the bottom of that webpage.
Cyclone had makings of perfect storm (May 11, 2008) http://www.statesman.com/news/content/news/stories/world/05/11/0511perfectstorm.html
(...) When the storm made landfall early May 3 at the mouth of the Irrawaddy River, its battering winds pushed a wall of water as high as 12 feet some 25 miles inland, laying waste to villages and killing tens of thousands.Most of the dead were in the delta, where farm families sleeping in flimsy shacks barely above sea level were swept to their deaths. Almost 95 percent of the houses and other buildings in seven townships were destroyed, Myanmar's government says. U.N. officials estimate 1.5 million people were left in severe straits."When you look at the satellite picture of before and after the storm, the effects look eerily similar to Hurricanes Katrina and Rita in how it inundated low-lying areas," said Ken Reeves, director of forecasting forAccuWeather.com. The Irrawaddy delta "is huge and the interaction of water and land lying right at sea level allowed the tidal surge to deliver maximum penetration of sea water over land," Reeves said. "Storms like this do most of their killing through floods, with salt water being even more dangerous than freshwater." The delta had lost most of its mangrove forests along the coast to shrimp farms and rice paddies over the past decade. That removed what scientists say is one of nature's best defenses against violent storms. "If you look at the path of the (cyclone) that hit Myanmar, it hit exactly where it was going to do the most damage, and it's doing the most damage because much of the protective vegetation was cleared," said Jeff McNeely,chief scientist for the International Union for Conservation of Nature. "It's an expensive lesson, but it has been one taught repeatedly," he said."You just wonder why governments don't get on this."Some environmentalists suggested global warming may have played a role.Last year, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change concluded that warming oceans could contribute to increasingly severe cyclones with stronger winds and heavier rains." Nargis is a sign of things to come," said Sunita Narain, director of the Indian environmental group Center for Science and Environment. "The victims of these cyclones are climate change victims, and their plight should remind the rich world that it is doing too little to contain its greenhouse gas emissions." CLIP
Burma Cyclone Death Toll Soars Above 43,000 http://www.truthout.org/docs_2006/051608L.shtml
The Associated Press: "Burma's junta warned today that legal action would be taken against people who trade or hoard international aid as the cyclone's death toll soared above 43,000. It was the first acknowledgment by the military government, albeit indirectly, of problems with relief operations in the aftermath of Cyclone Nargis. The warning came amid reports that foreign aid was being sold openly in markets, and that the military was pilfering and diverting aid for its own use."
Burmese murmurs of anger at junta (23 May 2008) http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/asia-pacific/7416952.stm
The Burma cyclone is unlike any disaster I have covered (...) On the streets and in the villages I was surprised how well informed people were. Almost everyone knew that French and American military ships were off the coast loaded with aid. One man told me how angry he was.He felt help should be taken from anyone who offered it. Ordinary people are very welcoming to outsiders. Even though I was working largely undercover, people were openly critical of the regime. The efforts to massage the reality of this disaster have not succeeded. At the junctions in Rangoon, they are selling DVDs of the tragedy. The pictures are graphic, uncensored. Bloated bodies lying uncollected in the delta. Strangely, the military regime has not tried to stop these images, many of which were taken by ordinary Burmese people. The result is that people know the scale of the disaster and cannot understand why help is not taken from those who offer it. We met students who are threatening strikes and protests if international help is not accepted.Some are veterans of previous protests but others have become "activists" because of the cyclone. The generals who run the country fear any weakening of their control. CLIP
Burma 'to let in all aid workers' (23 May 2008) http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/asia-pacific/7416143.stm
Burma's top leader has agreed to let all foreign aid workers into the country for relief work in cyclone-hit areas, UN head Ban Ki-moon has said. After talks in Burma's remote capital, Nay Pyi Daw, with Gen Than Shwe, Mr Ban said the decision was a breakthrough. But correspondents say Burma has a record of withdrawing promises made to the UN. The terms under which workers and aid will be let in are unclear.About 78,000 people died and 56,000 are missing after the 2 May cyclone. Mr Ban said Burma would now allow the delivery of aid "via civilian ships and small boats". But his wording suggests that the US, British and French warships waiting off the coast with supplies may not be able to dock. Burma's military leaders had previously refused to allow a full-scale relief effort by foreign aid workers. They had said that the relief phase of the aid operation was over and that the government was now focusing on reconstruction.
Border officials may seize iPods under trade deal http://www.nationalpost.com/news/story.html?id=536951
International regulator could police copyright - OTTAWA - The federal government is secretly negotiating a copyright agreement that could make some information on Canadian iPods, laptop computers or other personal electronic devices illegal.
ATTACK OF THE CELL PHONE ZOMBIES! by William Thomas (13 May 2008) MUST READ! MOST EXCELLENT!! http://www.willthomasonline.net/willthomasonline/Attack_Of_The_Cell_Phone_Zombie.html
Cell phone zombies are everywhere. And they are winning! For now. Found in hundreds of clinical and military studies to inhibit the ability to concentrate, calculate and coordinate, cell phone transmissions disrupt cellular functioning, as well as the brain's ability to remember and learn. With some 2 billion people currently using cell phones - including 500 million teens and children - epidemiological studies estimate the number of cell phone-induced eye and brain cancer will reach a half-million cases annually by 2010. Don't become a cell phone zombie! -- Walk down virtually any metropolitan street, if you still dare, and you will discern with a jolt of alarm that no one around you is aware of each other's presence or their surroundings as they shuffle past with the shambling gait of automatons. Hearing blocked by blaring or blathering headsets, heads bent over cell phones, iPods, palm pilots, multimedia players, text messagers and other hypnotic gadgetry, these walking dead with their vacant stares are so far departed from the reality around them they don't even know they're gone.Cell phone zombies are proliferating everywhere. Spread by the most virulent contagion on Earth - the lust to own and continuously jack into wireless technology - addictive endorphin jolts sent by cell phones to the brain threaten agonizing withdrawal, even as their invisible emanations attack the frontal lobes, short-circuiting memory, awareness and cognitive thought.Succumbing to the identical marketing strategies marshaled by the same advertising agencies pushing tobacco onto children, hordes of cell phone zombies as young as four-years-old are replacing normal human relationships with the cold calculus of truncated text messages, while disturbing their sonic space and interrupting conversations with friends and spouses to jabber with ghosts who are not even present, even as they spread the blight of their second hand microwaves among the last pockets of cell phone resistance. (...) Still, innocent bystanders and drivers can be at grave risk from deranged zombies talking on their cell phones while operating heavy fast-moving vehicles. In cities that have not yet disarmed cell phone-brandishing drivers, the resulting daily carnage is as gory as any scene out of Night Of The Living Dead. Except this mayhem is real. Stunned by an additional $4 billion a year in claims for drivers using cell phones, North American insurers discovered that juggling phones while driving is not causing a 600% increase in accidents. Other drivers busy shaving, applying makeup, tuning radios, taming pets, pouring coffee, eating meals, retrieving dropped cigarettes, talking to passengers or attempting complex sexual gymnastics are even more preoccupied. Cell phones are much worse than merely dangerous driving distractions. Tests conducted by the U.S. Department of Energy found that using a cellphone turns drivers into zombies, severely impairing their memories and reaction times by disrupting signals to and within their brains. Hands-free mobile phones cause even more crashes because they typically emit 10-times more brainwave interference than handheld units. Phoning from inside a car or truck is a bad call for everyone in the vehicle - especially children - because the surrounding steel structure amplifies cellphone emissions. The UK House of Commons Science and Technology Committee reports, using a mobile phone in a vehicle can accelerate radiation levels by up to 10-fold due to resonance effect. For all drivers dialing out, Swiss researchers have found changes of brain function induced by pulsed high-frequency electromagnetic fields outlast the exposure period. University of Toronto investigators report that the heightened probability of cracking up your car persists for up to a half-hour after completing a call.That's comparable to the risk of crashing while driving dead drunk exclaims Dr. Chris Runball, chairman of the B.C. Medical Association's emergency medical services committee. CLIP
America's Frightening Alzheimer's Epidemic (May 16, 2008) http://www.alternet.org/healthwellness/85532/
By 2030, one in four adults over 65 will have Alzheimer's. This unforgiving brain damage can cripple patients, families and the economy. (...) One in eight Americans who are 65 years old or older has Alzheimer's disease, according to the Alzheimer's Association's 2008 Facts and Figures Report (http://www.alz.org). By 2030, due to the aging of our population, that number will have doubled to one in four. There's no cure, and no certain evidence that the current medications -- Aricept, Exelon, Razadyne and Namenda -- which are said to slow the course of the disease, really work. (...) The costs, financial and emotional, of treating and caring for an Alzheimer's patient are astronomical. Today, the amount of time lost to American businesses by workers being forced to become caregivers of those with Alzheimer's is estimated at 8.4 billion hours a year. The monetary value of this unpaid labor -- often taking place in the caregiver's home -- varies by state, from the lowest, Alaska, at a little above $100,000 a year, to the highest, California, at about $10 billion. CLIP
"MAD COW - The Cover-up" http://www.earthrainbownetwork.com/UncoveringTruth2.htm
(...) As so many CJD Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease) deaths are masked as Alzheimer and private labs won't let CJD tissue in the door to be examined, it is certain the American public will not be informed of the disease that is in our food, our kitchens and our bodies. CLIP
Many US Alzheimer's Victims Actually Die From Mad Cow/CJD (12-27-03) http://www.rense.com/general46/many.html
Currently four million Americans are diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease. The percentage of cases is on the rise with solid research showing that there are about 360,000 individuals newly diagnosed each year. At Yale University and the University of Pennsylvania at Pittsburgh, researchers recently studied the brains of people who died of Alzheimer's disease (46 in the Yale case and 54 in the Pittsburgh study). Surprisingly, the autopsies respectively showed that 13 percent and five percent of the dead were actually CJD cases misdiagnosed as Alzheimer's disease. In a third (smaller) study published in the Journal of Psychiatry and Neuroscience (1995), investigators reported that three out of 12 patients diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease were found to have had CJD when autopsied. It should be noted CJD symptoms may be remarkably similar to those of Alzheimer's disease. CLIP
Mad Cow USA: The Nightmare Begins (Dec 30, 2003) http://www.alternet.org/story.html?StoryID=17466
The warnings have been there for years. Will government regulators, consumers and the meat industry now finally wake up that what worked in Europe must be employed here?
Explained: The threat to humans from BSE http://www.guardian.co.uk/theissues/article/0,6512,343393,00.html
(...) In a report in the journal Nature, scientists from Oxford concluded that any sick animal that entered the food chain was liable to infect no more than two individuals, and only 40% of the population was genetically susceptible, leaving the incubation period as the other key factor. If the incubation period was less than 20 years, there could be as few as 63 cases.
Eating For Peace - Mindful Consumption http://www.rense.com/general43/eating.htm
(...) UNESCO tells us that every day, forty thousand children in the world die because of a lack of nutrition, of food. Every day, forty thousand children. And the amount of grain that we grow in the West is mostly used to feed our cattle. Eighty percent of the corn grown in this country is to feed the cattle to make meat. Ninety-five percent of the oats produced in this country is not for us to eat, but for the animals raised for food. According to this recent report that we received of all the agricultural land in the US, eighty-seven percent is used to raise animals for food. That is forty-five percent of the total land mass in the US. More than half of all the water consumed in the US whole purpose is to raise animals for food. It takes 2500 gallons of water to produce a pound of meat, but only 25 gallons to produce a pound of wheat. A totally vegetarian diet requires 300 gallons of water per day, while a meat-eating diet requires more than 4000 gallons of water per day. Raising animals for food causes more water pollution than any other industry in the US because animals raised for food produce one hundred thirty times the excrement of the entire human population. It means 87,000 pounds per second. Much of the waste from factory farms and slaughter houses flows into streams and rivers, contaminating water sources. Each vegetarian can save one acre of trees per year. More than 260 million acres of US forests have been cleared to grow crops to feed animals raised for meat. And another acre of trees disappears every eight seconds. The tropical rain forests are also being destroyed to create grazing land for cattle. In the US, animals raised for food are fed more than eighty percent of the corn we grow and more than ninety-five percent of the oats. We are eating our country, we are eating our earth, we are eating our children. And I have learned that more than half the people in this country overeat. CLIP
The Pentagon Is America's Biggest Polluter (May 12, 2008) http://www.alternet.org/healthwellness/85186/
The U.S. has a grossly corrupted health protection system. - The nation's biggest polluter isn't a corporation. It's the Pentagon. Every year the Department of Defense churns out more than 750,000 tons of hazardous waste -- more than the top three chemical companies combined.Yet the military remains largely exempt from compliance with most federal and state environmental laws, and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Pentagon's partner in crime, is working hard to keep it that way.For the past five decades the federal government, defense contractors and the chemical industry have joined forces to block public health protections against perchlorate, a component of rocket fuel that has been shown to effect children's growth and mental progress by disrupting the function of the thyroid gland which regulates brain development.Perchlorate has been leaking from literally hundreds of defense plants and military installations across the country. The EPA has reported that perchlorate is present in drinking and groundwater supplies in 35 states. Center for Disease Control and independent studies have also overwhelmingly shown that perchlorate is existent in our food supplies, cow's milk, and human breast milk. As a result virtually every American has some level of perchlorate in their body. (...) While Bush has boosted overall Pentagon spending by billions, the administration has simultaneously slashed its environmental remediation program. Moreover, the Bush defense plan has called for "new rounds of base closures" to "shape the military more efficiently." Efficiency is usually a code word for sidestepping environmental rules. These military sites, which total more than 50 million acres, are among the most insidious and dangerous legacies left by the Pentagon. They are strewn with toxic bomb fragments, unexploded munitions, buried hazardous waste, fuel dumps, open pits filled with debris, burn piles and yes, rocket fuel. An internal EPA memo from 1998 warned of the looming problem: "As measured by acres, and probably as measured by number of sites, ranges and buried munitions represent the largest cleanup program in the United States."When a site gets too polluted, the Pentagon has chosen simply to close it down and turn it over to another federal agency. Over the past three decades, the Pentagon has transferred more than 16 million acres, often with little or no remediation. The former bombing areas have been turned into wildlife refuges, city and state parks, golf courses, landfills, airports and shopping malls. Serious contamination of streams, soil and groundwater is a problem at nearly every military training ground. The sites are often saturated with heavy metals and other pollutants as well as unexploded weapons. (...) "All the pieces needed to support strong health protections are in place," said Wiles. "This is a nightmare of epic proportions for the Department of Defense and its contractors, and rather than address it head-on, they have spent 50 years and millions of dollars trying to avoid it."
Travelling on Air (Mar 18, 2008) SUCH A SIMPLE SOLUTION TO GLOBAL WARMING! http://www.positivenews.org.uk/artman/publish/article_1559.shtml
The long awaited air-powered car should be ready to roll off the production lines in Europe and India early next year. Tata Motors, Indias largest automobile company, has done a 20 million Euro deal with French inventor Guy Nègre, to use his patented technology in their own designs. The company recently hit the headlines when they launched the £1,300 Nano, the worlds cheapest car. Unlike the Nano, the new air-powered model is virtually pollution free.After 15 years developing his invention, Guy is at last going into production. His company, Moteur Development Inter-national, is finishing the construction of a small factory near Nice. Here, it will manufacture the OneCat, an inexpensive version of the air-powered car, starting at around 3,500 Euros. It should be on the streets early in 2009 with the grander MiniCat planned for 2010. The OneCat runs on compressed air that drives the pistons and will need to be periodically re-charged to top up the pressure. More sophisticated versions will be able to switch to a fuel engine to make long journeys. The car can go up to about 90 miles an hour and is very light. It is all very simple, Guy says. The lighter the vehicle, the less it consumes, the less it pollutes and the cheaper it is. To avoid shipping cars aross the world, the idea is to set up mini turnkey factories in regions where they are wanted. There is already interest in several countries. Everything will be made at the place of sale, Guy said. This will be more profit-able and much more ecological. Contact: http://www.tatamotors.comor MDI: http://www.mdi.lu
Can Fungi Really Eliminate Radiation in San Francisco Area Soils? (May 12th, 2008) http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2008/05/12/18498573.php
Is the new research that reportedly helps stop the spread of Depleted Uranium contaminated soils the real deal? (...) The possible implications for use of this fungi as some sort of environmental cure are truly chilling. We can not possibly ever remediate Uranium contaminated soils that exist all over the country and many other parts of the world - unless unfathomably huge and prohibitively expensive, thorough remediation measures are taken. And while we can not un-do the massive radioactive contamination that has already taken place, we must now do whatever we can to prevent Uranium from being used for any purpose. We must stop Uranium from being used in nuclear power plants, nuclear bombs, and everyday weapons currently used by our military, such as bunker busters, missiles, DU fired out of A-10 aircraft and out of tanks used everyday in military combat now in Asia and Africa. It is also critical we stop using half-baked phrases like "No more nukes" or "Stop the Bomb" and instead replace this with simply, the more-to-the point, constant and unwavering demand to all persons who hold political power at every level of government: "Stop the Radioactive Uranium Poisoning of the US and the rest of our planet." Period.
Solutions for the WORLD FOOD CRISIS (14/05/08) http://a-fi-sau-a-nu-filiber.blogspot.com/2008/05/solutions-for-world-food-crisis.html
Today we actually have several converging crisis and the news sounds bad but have you noticed how they manage to package everything in the media? Things are worsening on almost every front yet they manage to put a good face on events. Items that would have been crushing news only six months ago today are considered small annoyances. The downside is always minimized - the deception most complete. Manipulation is a fine and powerful art and by its nature serves the dark powers on earth. (...) There is no shortage of solutions to many of the food problems we as individuals and the world collectively face. Imagine, for instance, if every American home and every home around the world with some lawn or other land space planted an organic garden? The dramatic increase of supply would drive down prices and few would have to go hungry. In Canada the government is already calling for a return of the Victory Gardens of the last great war.Larger crop growth is possible using probiotics on both soil and plant. Putting the probiotic into the soil around the roots bio-activates the soil, it increases the biological activity increasing breakdown of mineral nutrients for the plants. Like repopulating the gut probiotics can bring dead soil back to life reversing a century of soil depletion and ruin. Plants double their growth, are stronger, resist disease better, meaning they do not need pesticides to thrive. Wayne Blakely, the originator of Remineralization of America is the genius who knows how to grow probiotics for both humans and plants. Just imagine vastly reducing the use of pesticides while simultaneously doubling or even tripling yields. Spirulina has always been an answer to world hunger as it can be grown even in deserts. The power of this super food makes it an excellent medicine for it replenishes deficient nutrients in the body quickly. It is also protective against radiation exposure among many other things. With a full complement of vitamins and minerals (except for Vit. C), all the amino acids necessary to supply a complete protein source, and more than adequaste amounts of fatty acids (highest source of omega 6 Gamma Linoleic Acid) Spirulina qualifies as one of the most beneficial superfoods. Eating less meat helps since it takes about 700 calories worth of animal feed to produce a 100-calorie piece of beef. This change in diet increases the overall demand for grains. Many vegans have held this truth out for years but talk to any meat eater and tell them to stop and see how far you get. Vegetarianism has many positive benefits, which lose all attractiveness when people go on ego trips about it. Of course we could stop the biofuel revolution, stop taking food out of millions of bellies to feed the tanks of our cars. There are other new agricultural innovations emerging that also offer promise. It is easy to suggest solutions, implementation is another matter. In the case of our current crisis we are unfortunately going to witness how nasty humans really are, how callous and insensitive we are to the true issues facing humanity. We need to change, our civilization needs changing, our systems and concepts and basic assumptions all need to change. Of course most people still are in denial and wonder what all the fuss is about never imagining that in hundreds of millions of new bellies hunger is starting to be felt.
Even for Americans who are constitutionally convinced that there will always be a second act, and a third, and a do-over after that, and, if necessary, a little public repentance and forgiveness and a Brand New Start even for us, the world looks a little terminal right now.
Its not just the economy: Weve gone through swoons before. Its that gas at $4 a gallon means were running out, at least of the cheap stuff that built our sprawling society. Its that when we try to turn corn into gas, it helps send the price of a loaf of bread shooting upward and helps ignite food riots on three continents. Its that everything is so tied together. Its that, all of a sudden, those grim Club of Rome types who, way back in the 1970s, went on and on about the limits to growth suddenly seem how best to put it, right.
All of a sudden it isnt morning in America, its dusk on planet Earth.
Theres a number a new number that makes this point most powerfully. It may now be the most important number on Earth: 350. As in parts per million of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.
A few weeks ago, NASAs chief climatologist, James Hansen, submitted a paper to Science magazine with several coauthors. The abstract attached to it argued and I have never read stronger language in a scientific paper that if humanity wishes to preserve a planet similar to that on which civilization developed and to which life on Earth is adapted, paleoclimate evidence and ongoing climate change suggest that CO2 will need to be reduced from its current 385 ppm to at most 350 ppm.
Hansen cites six irreversible tipping points massive sea level rise and huge changes in rainfall patterns, among them that well pass if we dont get back down to 350 soon; and the first of them, judging by last summers insane melt of Arctic ice, may already be behind us.
So its a tough diagnosis. Its like the doctor telling you that your cholesterol is way too high and, if you dont bring it down right away, youre going to have a stroke. So you take the pill, you swear off the cheese, and, if youre lucky, you get back into the safety zone before the coronary. Its like watching the tachometer edge into the red zone and knowing that you need to take your foot off the gas before you hear that clunk up front.
In this case, though, its worse than that because were not taking the pill and we are stomping on the gas hard. Instead of slowing down, were pouring on the coal, quite literally. Two weeks ago came the news that atmospheric carbon dioxide had jumped 2.4 parts per million last year two decades ago, it was going up barely half that fast.
And suddenly the news arrives that the amount of methane, another potent greenhouse gas accumulating in the atmosphere, has unexpectedly begun to soar as well. It appears that weve managed to warm the far north enough to start melting huge patches of permafrost, and massive quantities of methane trapped beneath it have begun to bubble forth.
And dont forget: China is building more power plants; India is pioneering the $2,500 car; and Americans are buying TVs the size of windshields, which suck juice ever faster.
Heres the thing. Hansen didnt just say that if we didnt act, there was trouble coming. He didnt just say that if we didnt yet know what was best for us, wed certainly be better off below 350 ppm of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.
His phrase was: if we wish to preserve a planet similar to that on which civilization developed. A planet with billions of people living near those oh-so-floodable coastlines. A planet with ever-more vulnerable forests. (A beetle, encouraged by warmer temperatures, has already managed to kill 10 times more trees than in any previous infestation across the northern reaches of Canada this year. This means far more carbon heading for the atmosphere and apparently dooms Canadas efforts to comply with the Kyoto protocol, which was already in doubt because of its decision to start producing oil for the U.S. from Albertas tar sands.)
Were the ones who kicked the warming off; now the planet is starting to take over the job. Melt all that Arctic ice, for instance, and suddenly the nice white shield that reflected 80% of incoming solar radiation back into space has turned to blue water that absorbs 80% of the suns heat. Such feedbacks are beyond history, though not in the sense that Francis Fukuyama had in mind.
And we have, at best, a few years to short-circuit them to reverse course. Heres the Indian scientist and economist Rajendra Pachauri, who accepted the Nobel Prize on behalf of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change last year (and, by the way, got his job when the Bush administration, at the behest of Exxon Mobil, forced out his predecessor): If theres no action before 2012, thats too late. What we do in the next two to three years will determine our future. This is the defining moment.
In the next two or three years, the nations of the world are supposed to be negotiating a successor treaty to the Kyoto accord (which, for the record, has never been approved by the United States the only industrial nation that has failed to do so). When December 2009 rolls around, heads of state are supposed to converge on Copenhagen to sign a treaty a treaty that would go into effect at the last plausible moment to heed the most basic and crucial of limits on atmospheric CO2.
If we did everything right, Hansen says, we could see carbon emissions start to fall fairly rapidly and the oceans begin to pull some of that CO2 out of the atmosphere. Before the century was out, we might even be on track back to 350 ppm. We might stop just short of some of those tipping points, like the Road Runner screeching to a halt at the very edge of the cliff.
More likely, though, were the coyote because doing everything right means that political systems around the world would have to take enormous and painful steps right away. It means no more new coal-fired power plants anywhere, and plans to quickly close the ones already in operation. (Coal-fired power plants operating the way theyre supposed to are, in global warming terms, as dangerous as nuclear plants melting down.) It means making car factories turn out efficient hybrids next year, just the way U.S. automakers made them turn out tanks in six months at the start of World War II. It means making trains an absolute priority and planes a taboo.
It means making every decision wisely because we have so little time and so little money, at least relative to the task at hand. And hardest of all, it means the rich countries of the world sharing resources and technology freely with the poorest ones so that they can develop dignified lives without burning their cheap coal.
Its possible. The United States launched a Marshall Plan once, and could do it again, this time in relation to carbon. But at a time when the president has, once more, urged drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, it seems unlikely. At a time when the alluring phrase gas tax holiday which would actually encourage more driving and more energy consumption has danced into our vocabulary, its hard to see. And if its hard to imagine sacrifice here, imagine China, where people produce a quarter as much carbon apiece as Americans do.
Still, as long as its not impossible, weve got a duty to try to push those post-Kyoto negotiations in the direction of reality. In fact, its about the most obvious duty humans have ever faced.
After all, those talks are our last chance; you just cant do this one lightbulb at a time.
We do have one thing going for us the Web which at least allows you to imagine something like a grass-roots global effort. If the Internet was built for anything, it was built for sharing this number, for making people understand that 350 stands for a kind of safety, a kind of possibility, a kind of future.
Hansens words were well-chosen: a planet similar to that on which civilization developed. People will doubtless survive on a non-350 planet, but those who do will be so preoccupied, coping with the endless unintended consequences of an overheated planet, that civilization may not.
Civilization is what grows up in the margins of leisure and security provided by a workable relationship with the natural world. That margin wont exist, at least not for long, as long as we remain on the wrong side of 350. Thats the limit we face.
Bill McKibben, a scholar in residence at Middlebury College and the author, most recently, of The Bill McKibben Reader, is the co-founder ofProject 350, devoted to reducing carbon dioxide in the atmosphere to 350 parts per million. A longer version of this article appears at Tomdispatch.com.
The War to End All Wars (May 20, 2008) http://www.commondreams.org/archive/2008/05/20/9082/
The climate change threat needs drastic action. Only a cross-party approach can deliver it -- How do you define a war? There is the disastrous one that Britain is waging in Iraq, involving tanks and guns and the lives of our young men and women. There is the kind the government claims it is waging variously against poverty, terror, and obesity. But the greatest threat to us all, global warming a threat far greater than any airborne disease or foreign dictator has yet to be elevated to war status. Day by day, before our eyes, the planet is deteriorating: ice caps are melting, weather systems shifting, and the poorest are finding themselves facing life-threatening water shortages. Our wildlife is suffering, species are being lost before our children even have a chance to witness them in all their beauty. Britain, with 174 other countries, signed up to the Kyoto protocol, but while the government has made great political play of the fact that greenhouse gas emissions have decreased over the past decade, actual CO2 emissions have gone up. The only cuts that have been made have come from small, one-off technical fixes of things like landfill gas methane emissions. Labour might have great plans for cutting climate-changing gases, but most of its policies, from motorway widening to new runways, point in the opposite direction, and are actually worsening the situation. CLIP
Warming Climate Is Changing Life On Global Scale, Says New Study (May 15, 2008) http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/05/080514131125.htm
A vast array of physical and biological systems across the earth are being affected by warming temperatures caused by humans, says a new analysis of information not previously assembled all in one spot. The effects on living things include earlier leafing of trees and plants over many regions; movements of species to higher latitudes and altitudes in the northern hemisphere; changes in bird migrations in Europe, North America and Australia; and shifting of the oceans' plankton and fish from cold- to warm-adapted communities. CLIP
No ocean is untainted by the polluting hand of Man (February 15, 2008) http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/uk/science/article3369142.ece
Almost half of the oceans have been badly damaged by humanity and no region has been left untouched, the first global map of Mans impact on marine ecosystems has revealed. The ambitious project to chart the changing ocean environment shows that Man has exacted a much heavier toll on the seas through fishing, pollution and climate change than had been thought. The world map, which was created by dividing the oceans into kilometre squares, shows that 41 per cent have been affected strongly by 17 human activities, a much higher proportion than expected. CLIP
Methane rise points to wetlands (23 May 2008) http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/7408808.stm
Higher atmospheric levels of the greenhouse gas methane noted last year are probably related to emissions from wetlands, especially around the Arctic. Scientists have found indications that extra amounts of the gas in the Arctic region are of biological origin. Global levels of methane had been roughly stable for almost a decade. Rising levels in the Arctic could mean that some of the methane stored away in permafrost is being released, which would have major climatic implications. The gas is about 25 times more potent than carbon dioxide as a greenhouse gas, though it survives for a shorter time in the atmosphere before being broken down by natural chemical processes. Indications that methane levels might be rising after almost a decade of stability came last month, when the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (Noaa) released a preliminary analysis of readings taken at monitoring stations worldwide. Noaa suggested that 2007 had seen a global rise of about 0.5%.Some stations around the Arctic showed rises of more than double that amount. (...) An upturn in methane concentrations emissions could have significant implications for the Earth's climatic future. A sustained release from Arctic regions or tropical wetlands could drive a feedback mechanism, whereby higher temperatures liberate more of the greenhouse gas which in turn forces temperatures still higher. A particularly pertinent question is whether methane is being released from hydrates on the ocean floor. These solids are formed from water and methane under high pressure, and may begin to give off methane as water temperatures rise. The amount of the gas held in oceanic hydrates is thought to be larger than the Earth's remaining reserves of natural gas. In collaboration with other British institutions, Dr Fisher's team will begin work this summer sampling water near hydrate deposits to look for indications of gas emerging.
(Voir aussi Le dégel de l'Arctique s'intensifie http://www.radio-canada.ca/nouvelles/environnement/2008/05/23/002-arctique-degel-pollution.shtml)
Forecast for big sea level rise (15 April 2008) http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/7349236.stm
Sea levels could rise by up to one-and-a-half metres by the end of this century, according to a new scientific analysis. This is substantially more than the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) forecast in last year's landmark assessment of climate science. Sea level rise of this magnitude would have major impacts on low-lying countries such as Bangladesh. The findings were presented at a major science conference in Vienna. The research group is not the first to suggest that the IPCC's forecast of an average rise in global sea levels of 28-43cm by 2100 is too conservative. CLIP
Next decade 'may see no warming' (1 May 2008) http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/7376301.stm
The Earth's temperature may stay roughly the same for a decade, as natural climate cycles enter a cooling phase, scientists have predicted. A new computer model developed by German researchers, reported in the journal Nature, suggests the cooling will counter greenhouse warming. However, temperatures will again be rising quickly by about 2020, they say. Other climate scientists have welcomed the research, saying it may help societies plan better for the future. See how modelled temperatures may developThe key to the new prediction is the natural cycle of ocean temperatures called the Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation (AMO), which is closely related to the warm currents that bring heat from the tropics to the shores of Europe. The cause of the oscillation is not well understood, but the cycle appears to come round about every 60 to 70 years. CLIP
Zones of death are spreading in oceans due to global warming (May 18, 2008) http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/environment/article3953924.ece
Marine dead zones, where fish and other sea life can suffocate from lack of oxygen, are spreading across the worlds tropical oceans, a study has warned.Researchers found that the warming of sea water through climate change is reducing its ability to carry dissolved oxygen, potentially turning swathes of the worlds oceans into marine graveyards.The study, by scientists from some of the worlds most prestigious marine research institutes, warns that if global temperatures keep rising there could be dramatic consequences for marine life and for humans in communities that depend on the sea for a living. CLIP
World's wildlife and environment already hit by climate change (May 15, 2008) http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2008/may/15/climatechange.scienceofclimatechange
Global warming is disrupting wildlife and the environment on every continent, according to an unprecedented study that reveals the extent to which climate change is already affecting the world's ecosystems. Scientists examined published reports dating back to 1970 and found that at least 90% of environmental damage and disruption around the world could be explained by rising temperatures. Big falls in Antarctic penguin populations, fewer fish in African lakes, shifts in American river flows and earlier flowering and bird migrations in Europe are all likely to be driven by global warming, the study found. The team of experts, including members of the UN's intergovernmental panel on climate change (IPCC) ... is the first to formally link some of the most dramatic changes to the world's wildlife and habitats with human-induced climate change. [The] researchers analysed reports highlighting changes in populations or behaviour of 28,800 animal and plant species. They examined a further 829 reports that focused on different environmental effects, including surging rivers, retreating glaciers and shifting forests, across the seven continents. To work out how much - or if at all - global warming played a role, the scientists next checked historical records to see what impact natural variations in local climate, deforestation and changes in land use might have on the ecosystems and species that live there. In 90% of cases the shifts in wildlife behaviour and populations could only be explained by global warming, while 95% of environmental changes, such as melting permafrost, retreating glaciers and changes in river flows were consistent with rising temperatures.
World wildlife numbers down 25% in three decades (May 16 2008) http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2008/may/16/wildlife.biodiversity/print
More than one in four of all individual animals, birds and fish on the planet have disappeared in just over thirty years, according to a report that highlights a massive loss of biodiversity across the world. Human activities are to blame, say the authors.The study of 4,000 separate populations of hundreds of different species across land, marine and freshwater habitats reveals they shrunk by an average of 27% between 1970 and 2005. Large sea fish such as the swordfish and the scalloped hammerhead were hit particularly badly, losing 28% of their numbers in the last decade alone. Environment group WWF, which compiled the figures with experts from the Zoological Society of London (ZSL), said they were "alarming". It said there was no little chance that the world would meet a UN target to significantly slow the rate of biodiversity loss by 2010.Colin Butfield, head of campaigns at WWF-UK, said: "Biodiversity underpins the health of the planet and has a direct impact on all our lives, so it is alarming that despite an increased awareness in environmental issues, we continue to see a downward trend." The WWF Living Planet Index surveys the health of populations of 241 fish, 83 amphibian, 40 reptile, 811 bird and 302 mammal species. It combines published surveys of everything from polar bear dens in Russia and green turtle nests in Costa Rica, to the estimated population of sperm whales in the North Pacific. It does not include all species or populations, but the experts say the results are robust enough to "assess the state of global biodiversity". It finds that land species have lost a quarter of their number since 1970, marine species populations have declined by 28% and freshwater species by 29%. Jonathan Loh, of the ZSL, said: "We have seen a precipitous decline in the number of animals, birds and fish since 1970, while the human population has doubled. Those two trends are not unrelated." Loss of natural habitat and over-exploitation of species, such as over-fishing, are to blame for the collapse, the report says. Pollution and the spread of invasive species are also responsible. Climate change is thought to have played a minor role so far, but could become "the greatest threat to biodiversity over the next few decades".
Tensions Over Protecting the Amazon Rain Forest (May 16, 2008) http://www.usnews.com/articles/news/world/2008/05/16/tensions-over-protecting-the-amazon-rain-forest.html
Brazilian farmers complain about a government campaign against illegal deforestation -- Tensions over that clash of interests have intensified in recent months after the surprising news that, after three years of declines, deforestation of the Brazilian Amazon had accelerated in the last half of 2007. And this week, Brazil's high profile Environment Minister, Marina Silva resigned, saying that she didn't have sufficient political backing to protect the Amazon against powerful business interests and their supporters in the government. It's not immediately clear how her departureshe will still push on environmental issues from her seat in Brazil's senatewill alter current policies, but environmentalists said they have lost their main champion in the government.Reacting to the report of accelerating rain forest loss, Brazil's environmental agency, known as Ibama, has launched a tough enforcement campaign against illegal deforestation known as "Operation Arc of Fire." Since February, the federal police presence in this area and others where significant parcels of forest and farmland meet has grown noticeably. Millions of dollars of fines have been levied, deforestation suspects arrested, and tons of suspect-origin lumber impounded. Brazilian environmental officials and ecology activists consider the effort critical to slowing further encroachment on rain forest, protecting the Amazon's major biodiversity, and combating global warming. It also comes as environmentalists and an industry group are reporting success in discouraging recently cut forest land from being used to produce soybeans. A two-year moratorium on the purchase of such soy was negotiated by the ecology group Greenpeace and major commodity companies, including U.S.-based Bunge, Cargill, and Archer Daniels Midland, cooperated on that moratorium. CLIP
Amazon Indians Battle Against Plan to Flood Rainforest http://www.truthout.org/article/amazon-indians-battle-against-plan-flood-rainforest
Patrick Cunningham for The Independent UK reports, "The Amazonian city of Altamira played host to one of the more uneven contests in recent Brazilian history this week, as a colorful alliance of indigenous leaders gathered to take on the might of the state power corporation and stop the construction of an immense hydroelectric dam on a tributary of the Amazon."
Whose Rain Forest Is This, Anyway? (May 18, 2008) http://www.nytimes.com/2008/05/18/weekinreview/18barrionuevo.html
Now, with the world focusing on the promises of biodiversity and the perils of global warming, a chorus of international leaders have ever more openly declared the Amazon part of a patrimony far larger than that of the nations that share its territory. Contrary to what Brazilians think, the Amazon is not their property, it belongs to all of us, Al Gore, then a senator, said in 1989.Such comments are not taken lightly here. In fact, they have reignited old attitudes of territorial protectionism and watchfulness for undercover foreign invaders (now including bioprospectors).The government of President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva is pushing a law that would restrict access to the rain forest, requiring foreigners and Brazilians alike to obtain a special permit to enter it. Brazilian officials say it would separate bad non-governmental organizations from good ones, and deter so-called biopirates those who want to patent unique substances discovered in the forest.The Amazon is ours, Justice Secretary Romeu Tuma Jr. said in an interview. We want to know who is going there and what they are going to do. Its a question of national sovereignty.But that question is not as straightforward as it may seem. One mans savior of sovereignty can be anothers despoiler of the forest.And many Amazon experts say the proposed restrictions conflict with Mr. da Silvas own efforts to give Brazil a greater voice in global climate change talks an implicit acknowledgment that the Amazon is critical to the world at large. In addition, his critics have seized on a report in January of a spike in deforestation, as proof the government has not been safeguarding the region well. CLIP
Date: 26 May 2008
From: Daniel Stafford )firstname.lastname@example.org)
Subject: Evade Human Extinction Now!
First of all, the climate change issue of global warming is really only the worst of a self-inflicted interconnected web of issues killing off species the world over. Together, all of these issues, from deforestation, to pollution, to killing off 90% of sea life, (something we've already done) are adding up to the perfect storm that will wipe the human species off the face of the planet in only a few generations if we don't act now. It isn't just global warming anymore. It isn't just pollution anymore. It isn't just species extinctions anymore. It isn't just crazy weather anymore. It isn't just overflowing land fills anymore. It's Evade Human Extinction Now!
As with everything else that is a result of a collective cultural insanity, framing the issue is one major key to solving it.
This Earth will continue spinning around the Sun whether or not we exist upon it. We are making the choice, in the next ten to fifteen years, whether or not most life, including humans, will survive on this planet. It is that simple, and that direct, and that urgent.
The good news is, once we have enough awareness built up out there, and the collective grass roots will to change, human society is capable of changing quite radically in a very short time. If Detroit can completely retool in six months during the 1940's from making cars to making tanks and airplanes, so can the rest of global industry.
Already, per The 11th Hour, there are over one million environmental activist organizations around the world beginning to act in concert to effect large scale change.
If we as a species do not follow their lead, humankind cannot survive more than another century or two on this planet. If we get it together, and work together, we can have a long and healthy run on this planet, and beyond. We can save the future of innumerable other species as well, many of which our own survival depends on in subtle but critical ways.
Watch The 11th Hour all the way through, and you'll see an integrated presentation of the problems we face during the first half. That alone is more than most other films on such subjects have achieved. Many present only one facet of a larger picture. The 11th Hour goes on to also present an integrated array of solutions. If there were unlimited time, perhaps many of those solutions could be explored more in depth, but there is plenty there to present the overall picture of a society of solutions instead of a society of destruction or of regression.
It is NOT necessary to go back to stone knives, berries, roots, and wearing skins. It is simply necessary to re-design modern society to be able to function within the available resources and so that it preserves the diversity of life on this planet, including humans. Additionally, many possible resources we have available that would be beneficial instead of harmful are grossly under-utilized. In a strange way, this is actually good news, as it gives us something good to change TO.
Critically important is the concept that every person in global society votes, regardless of their age, every single time they make a purchase. Granted, what happens in the political voting booth has huge repercussions, but every day we vote with every bit of currency we spend as well.
So, to Evade Human Extinction Now, what we really need to do is love and respect life, use forms of energy that are beneficial to life, and respect the rights of nature to coexist with us. If we don't respect the rights of natural systems to exist, they will ultimately fail - and no technology can save us from the loss of our own right to exist.
Evade Human Extinction Now! - Our grandchildren and great grandchildren will be very grateful for it, and even we ourselves will end up with better lives as a result.
Choose life. I know we can do it. What I don't know is if we will do it.
"The end of everything we call life is close at hand and cannot be evaded."
- H.G. Wells, 1946
I recently received an email from a reader, frustrated with my insistence on holding a vision of what is possible alongside the dismal, inevitable current realities of civilization's collapse. Admonishing me to bear in mind America's Oprah and NASCAR world view and therefore abdicate any sense of optimism I might have, this reader accused me of suggesting that we should 12 Step our way through Armageddon. Rather than being offended, however, I was overcome with gratitude for this reader's image, frustrated with me as he may be, because in spite of the regular "wordsmithing" that I do as a writer, I always feel a sense of relief and validation when someone else gives words that I may not yet have for what I've been thinking, feeling, or doing.
With the image of the 12 Steps in mind, I decided to look more closely at them in relation to the end of the world as we know it (TEOTWAWKI) and notice how they might in fact be useful not only for recovering from addiction, but for navigating Armageddon. At first I felt shy about applying the Steps to the collapse of civilization, thinking that my readers would think I had seriously gone around the bend, but then someone sent me the "12 Steps Of Peak Oil" from a Vancouver newspaper. At that point, I realized how relevant the Steps might be not only to Peak Oil, but to Peak Civilization itself. Seasoned 12 Steppers argue that despite their 1930s origin, the Steps are applicable to any situation-no matter how monumental, and the collapse of civilization is about as big as it gets. So let's take a closer look.
Step 1: We admitted we were powerless - that our lives had become unmanageable.
Step 1 requires that I admit my powerlessness over the situation with which I'm confronted. Maybe you're thinking, "Well hey, that's no problem-did I ask for this debacle? All those years that I was an upstanding citizen and voted in elections and had faith in the American dream? What was that for? I did all the right things and now we're looking at Armageddon. Of course, I know that I'm powerless."
But that's not exactly what I mean by admitting that one is powerless. Many of us are stockpiling food, learning skills, busily relocating to other parts of the country or world, investing in precious metals, and so much more, but let's not forget that no matter how much we prepare, we're ultimately powerless over the outcome. While we may know that intellectually, letting it sink into the gut is a whole different story.
Powerless means that we don't know the outcome and can't control it, and that's really scary. I mean what it really all comes down to is the "D" word, you know: Death. And even if we end up celebrating a 100th birthday eating soy cupcakes with our friends in some groovy ecovillage, collapse means that we'll be encountering many more endings than we can now imagine, beginning with the end of our current way of life no matter how small our footprint may be.
Control freaks won't do well with TEOTWAWKI; flexibility, on the other hand, is an essential attribute for survival. No matter how "manageable" our lives might be in the current moment, the collapse of empire is certain to challenge that and will compel us to align with others, give and receive support, trust our intuition as well as our intellect, and be willing to adapt to ever-changing circumstances. As a 12 Stepper might say, true empowerment lies in admitting one's powerlessness.
Step 2: Came to believe that a power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.
People entering recovery often have a terrible time with this one. First of all, they feel they might have to buy into all that God stuff, but worse, they feel as if in order to recover, they have to admit that they are insane.
Let me hasten to emphasize that I too recoil at the use of the word "God" and wish to define "power greater than ourselves" as broadly as possible. Over the decades, countless atheists have benefited from using the 12 Steps for addiction recovery precisely because they were able to do the same. Atheists, agnostics, and feminists will have a much easier time with the Steps if they widen their concept of Higher Power to something non-theistic and gender-neutral.
"Insanity" as the Steps define it simply means that one does not recognize anything larger or more significant than one's own ego. Simply put, "something greater" could be one's concept of nature or one's confidence in the human spirit or anything else that one considers more benevolently powerful than oneself.
The 12 Steps inherently fly in the face of the ethics of civilization, based as those values are on the supremacy of the human egoa pre-eminence that consciously or unconsciously deifies itself and whatever material gain it can amass unto itself at the expense of everyone and everything else. Now what could be more insane than that, and isn't everyone reading these words interested in transforming that paradigm into something more compassionate and sustainable? 12 Step programs further define insanity as doing the same thing that doesn't work over and over again, each time expecting different results. I can think of myriad examples of this in the culture of empire, starting with, "Maybe this time, if we just elect the right candidate for president then...."
12 Stepping into Armageddon begins with thoroughly examining how the culture of empire has inculcated us on every level and in every aspect of our lives. It means understanding how empire has programmed us to believe that we are all-powerful and that if we just do all the right things, we will succeed because our ego needs are the raison d'être for our existence. When we are unable to recognize our powerlessness and resist acknowledging something greater than ourselves, we also rebel against the limits that life on this planet demand of us. We walk around as little "gods" and "goddesses" believing that we can consume whatever we like whenever we like at the expense of all other species as well as our own.
Step 3: Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to that power.
OK, breathe. Remember-you don't have to use the word "God", and this Higher Power thing is gender-neutral.
This Step is particularly challenging because it requires action. Steps 1 and 2 just require me to admit something, but Step 3 asks me to DO something-something repugnant to the children of empire. It means I have to surrender my will to that "something greater". Eeeeeeew!
Step 3 is where the rubber meets the road-or not. In order to continue with the rest of the Steps, and therefore recovery, if that's what I'm using them for, or navigating collapse, as the case may be, I have to defer to a greater wisdom. What's even more distasteful is that I'm asked to surrender not only my will but my life.
Well, here we are again back to the dreaded "D" word. Anyone who has been researching and preparing for collapse knows the precarious position of the planet and the human race. If 200 species per day are going extinct, then the bottom line is that we are all staring our own mortality in the face as never before in human history. Collapse is, above all, forcing us to confront our personal mortality and that of our loved ones which is the principal reason so few are willing to deal with it. Who would sign up to feel that vulnerable? However, if we can allow that particular emotion, it becomes more possible to surrender our will and our life because what else do we have to lose?
The logical progression of the Steps is simply that since I'm powerless over the outcome, and there is something greater than my human ego and my five physical senses, it behooves me to consider abdicating my attempt to control what my finite humanity cannot. For this reason, I find that Step 3 relinquishes me from having "hope" because hope is ultimately another attempt to control what I cannot.
4. Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.
So now that I know that my ego can't manage my life, and I'm willing to surrender the outcome of my life and the world as I have known it to a power greater than myself, I have to look more deeply within. If we are using the Steps in relation to TEOTWAWKI, then a moral inventory could be a somewhat different experience than if we're applying the steps in relation to an addiction. Nevertheless, TEOTWAWKI is not unrelated to the addiction issue. In fact, humanity's addiction to material gain and economic growth has resulted in a delusional disregard for the earth's limits. An expression often heard among 12 Steppers is "self-will run riot" which pretty much summarizes humankind's obliviousness and even contempt toward the earth community.
But let's define our terms. Inventory simply means taking stock of what we have and don't have-what we may need more of or less of. The collapse of empire forces all of us, whether we consciously intend to or not, to consider our values and priorities. People losing houses, jobs, having to relocate out of necessity or by choice, finding that their pensions have suddenly evaporated or who have lost health insurance are forced to make tough decision about priorities.
Those of us who have been aware of collapse for some time and have been preparing for it are faced not only with making decisions such as the ones mentioned above, but are also compelled to look more deeply within to notice what qualities we need to develop in the face of collapse and which ones we may need to minimize. For example, I grew up as an only child and have lived an extremely independent life as an adult. I currently find myself working on reaching out to trusted others, making plans to live in community, and although fiercely committed to personal space and daily periods of solitude, consciously forsaking a life that is all about just me and my needs.
In so doing, I am taken to deeper layers of Step 4 as I contemplate my own part in the collapse of civilization. Although I have left a very small footprint on the earth for most of my life, I must own responsibility for the ways, no matter how small, in which I've polluted the ecosystem, my disconnection from the earth community, aspects of personal independence that have manifested in dysfunction, isolation, arrogance, and rationalization about my need for interdependent connection. In other words, although I'm not on the board of Monsanto, I have played a role in violating the human and more than human worlds.
5. Admitted the exact nature of our wrongs.
Taking a searching and fearless moral inventory compels us to admit our errors to ourselves, to something greater, and to someone else. I begin this process by verbalizing these errors to the power greater than me and then to whomever or whatever I have harmed.
With respect to TEOTWAWKI, I must apologize to generations younger than mine for the failure of my generation to preserve and protect the earth. For example, when teaching college students about the collapse of civilization and its repercussions, I'm often confronted with, "Yeah, and it's your fault and the fault of your generation." Without the slightest hesitation, I wholeheartedly agree, and I tell them that I am genuinely sorry. I also point out that collapse has built up over a period of centuries and that inherent within the values of civilization were the seeds of its own demise. Nevertheless, I have made choices in my lifetime that reinforced those values.
Step 6. Were entirely ready to have all these defects of character removed.
Defects of character? What is this?
It's easy to become defensive around this Step unless one takes it to the next level. I define "defects of character" as those aspects of my personality that have resulted from the programming of empire, or my wounds, if you will. These are the qualities that I have taken on while growing up in empire culture which mitigate against the earth community and my connection with it. I'm very ready to have those removed, but I'm also aware that that means I may need to change my lifestyle, perhaps in drastic ways. Speaking only for myself, I need to look at my appetite for meat (which I've almost extinguished); my tendency to think of my own needs first even when I know I shouldn't; my workaholism, which although greatly diminished in recent years is not entirely absent; my tendency to isolate; my quickness to judge others-the list goes on and on. None of these qualities will be useful as collapse accelerates, and I am working to transform their presence in my life which the next Step facilitates.
7. Humbly asked for the shortcomings to be removed.
Now I'm back to Step 3 and my relationship with "something greater". Because I've surrendered the outcome to it, I can also surrender my character defects and ask them to be transformed-a word that I personally prefer over "removed" since I have come to believe that no part of me can ever be totally removed. Like energy, parts of myself can be transformed but never made to disappear.
8. Made a list of all we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.
While Steps 4 through 7 are about oneself, Steps 8, 9, and 10 are relational. Step 8 asks me to notice carefully who has been harmed by my empire-inflicted wounds. This definitely does not apply exclusively to people. Without meaning to, I've harmed animals, birds, trees, soil, water, air-myriad members of the earth community, and I need to reflect on that. In fact, even after learning about collapse and how I need to live differently, I have not changed my behavior to the extent that I want and need to. Step 8 is about willingness and paying attention.
9. Made direct amends wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.
So now that I'm willing to make amends, I must do so. Certainly I must make amends to the people in my life that I've harmed, but just as important are those members of the more than human world that I've overlooked, minimized, disregarded, or just simply didn't notice. Just as a 9th Step may require me to sit down with another human whom I've harmed and make amends, it may also require me to spend a day in the forest, or somewhere else in nature, expressing my regrets to trees, insects, streams, birds, or other non-humans for my obliviousness to them and the countless services they perform in the ecosytem from which I benefit.
Step 10. Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.
So Steps 6-9 are not one-shot deals. I am asked to practice them repeatedly. Inventory-taking is forever because what I have or don't have constantly changes, and it's important that I use both the "glass half empty" and "glass half full" approaches to my evolution. Just as I cannot successfully navigate collapse by myself, neither can I practice the Steps in isolation. I need the entire earth community in order to utilize them effectively.
Step 11. Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with something greater.
Some readers may recoil at the words "prayer" and "meditation", but I remind all of us of one of the key slogans of 12 Step programs which is: "Take what you like and leave the rest." If you find yourself reacting to "prayer" and "meditation", don't worry about it. The point of this Step is to improve conscious contact with something greater, and how we choose to do that is far less important than that we do it. Armageddon will not be easy to navigate, but it will be impossible without a conscious, working connection with a power greater than oneself.
Step 12. Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message and to practice these principles in all our affairs.
Virtually every person preparing for collapse has had at least one, if not countless experiences, of attempting to share research, options, and the realities of collapse with others, only to find oneself blown off by the other person. Not unlike the individual addict who must be ready for recovery before fully applying the Steps, the people with whom we share information about TEOTWAWKI will either be ready to learn more or they will resist and maintain their head-in-the-sand posture. So we must be discreet and respectful, remembering that walking our talk (practicing these principles in all our affairs) is the most important message we can carry.
Waking up is an extraordinarily mixed blessing. With it comes tremendous clarity and joy, as well as sometimes excruciating sorrow as one witnesses more clearly civilization's trajectory of self-and-other destruction. Just as addicts in recovery frequently experience the tragic deaths of other addicts in their lives who will not engage in the recovery process, individuals preparing for collapse invariably encounter numerous loved ones about whom they care deeply who prefer to remain asleep. I feel sorrow daily for those I know who will probably never open their eyes. But I have opened mine, and I imagine that most people reading these words have as well. I carry that and these incredibly practical Steps with me, alongside a plethora of emotions and wonderfully awake allies, as each day we journey more deeply into Armageddon.
While I do not feel optimistic about survival in the abyss into which we appear to be descending, I believe that the principles inherent in the Steps can facilitate our planting seeds that may ultimately germinate and flourish as a new paradigm lived out by some of us and our descendents who are committed to creating lifeboats of localized, sustainable living that serve the entire earth community.
All the President's Nazis (real and imagined): An Open Letter to Bush
Dear Mr. Bush,
Your speech on the Knesset floor today was not only a disgrace; it was nothing short of treachery. Worse still, your exploitation of the Holocaust in a country carved out of the wounds of that very crime, in order to strike a low blow at American citizens whose politics differs from your own is unforgivable and unpardonable. Let me remind you, Mr. Bush, of your words today:
"Some seem to believe we should negotiate with terrorists and radicals, as if some ingenious argument will persuade them they have been wrong all along," Bush said at Israel's 60th anniversary celebration in Jerusalem.
"We have heard this foolish delusion before," Bush said in remarks to Israel's parliament, the Knesset. "As Nazi tanks crossed into Poland in 1939, an American senator declared: 'Lord, if only I could have talked to Hitler, all of this might have been avoided.' We have an obligation to call this what it is -- the false comfort of appeasement, which has been repeatedly discredited by history."
Well Mr. Bush, the only thing this comment lacked was a mirror and some historical facts. You want to discuss the crimes of Nazis against my family and millions of other families in Europe during World War II? Let me revive a favorite phrase of yours: Bring. It. On!
The All-American Nazi
Your family's fortune is built on the bones of the very people butchered by the Nazis, my family and the families of those in the Knesset who applauded you today:
WASHINGTON -- President Bush's grandfather was a director of a bank seized by the federal government because of its ties to a German industrialist who helped bankroll Adolf Hitler's rise to power, government documents show.
Prescott Bush was one of seven directors of Union Banking Corp. (search), a New York investment bank owned by a bank controlled by the Thyssen family, according to recently declassified National Archives documents reviewed by The Associated Press.
Fritz Thyssen was an early financial supporter of Hitler, whose Nazi party Thyssen believed was preferable to communism.
Both Harrimans and Bush were partners in the New York investment firm of Brown Brothers, Harriman and Co., which handled the financial transactions of the bank as well as other financial dealings with several other companies linked to Bank voor Handel that were confiscated by the U.S. government during World War II.
Union Banking was seized by the government in October 1942 under the Trading with the Enemy Act.
Oh, but there is much more too:
The two Holocaust survivors suing the US government and the Bush family for a total of $40bn in compensation claim both materially benefited from Auschwitz slave labour during the second world war, Kurt Julius Goldstein, 87, and Peter Gingold, 85, began a class action in America in 2001, but the case was thrown out by Judge Rosemary Collier on the grounds that the government cannot be held liable under the principle of "state sovereignty".
I cannot think of one Democrat who can boast this kind of lineage. Can you? No, I don't think so. But you can lie brazenly and attack a sitting US Senator on foreign soil by comparing him to Nazi sympathizers? Let us continue down memory lane to help those who applaud you understand just what it is they are celebrating.
The All American Traitor
You family did not stop with supporting fascists and Nazis abroad, did they Mr. Bush? Surely you must know of your grandfather's role in the treasonous plot of 1933 to overthrow democracy in America? Let me remind you.
Grandpa Bush - that is to say, your grandfather - wanted fascism imported into the United States, or as you now call this type of transformation, "exporting democracy." Prescott went so far as to subsidize a coup attempt in order to achieve his dream of a fascist America (see BBC report below):
Document uncovers details of a planned coup in the USA in 1933 by right-wing American businessmen. The coup was aimed at toppling President Franklin D Roosevelt with the help of half-a-million war veterans. The plotters, who were alleged to involve some of the most famous families in America, (owners of Heinz, Birds Eye, Goodtea, Maxwell Hse & George Bush's Grandfather, Prescott) believed that their country should adopt the policies of Hitler and Mussolini to beat the great depression. Mike Thomson investigates why so little is known about this biggest ever peacetime threat to American
In other words, not only was your grandfather a self-professed fascist, he was a Nazi sympathizer and a war profiteer who should have stood trial at the Hague instead of buying his way into the US Senate. He was also a traitor, twice over.
Now clearly the crimes of Prescott Bush are not your fault, Mr. George W. Bush. Let us therefore judge your actions and words on their own merit.
Iraq is your Poland
Your reminiscence today about the invasion of Poland by Nazi Germany should have been seen as your own condemnation of your own abhorrent actions against Iraq. The morbid irony of what you said will likely never register with your or your speechwriter. To truly grasp the grotesqueness of what you said requires that you have both a conscience and some understanding of history. We know you possess neither.
I will therefore make your history lesson brief, but to the point. The unprovoked attack on Poland by Germany was a war crime just as your attack against Iraq - based on lies - is a war crime. This is not my opinion. This is not a political attack. This is a fact. Consider the words of the esteemed former chief prosecutor in the Nuremburg trials, Benjamin Ferencz, regarding your war of aggression against Iraq:
"...Prima facie case can be made that the United States is guilty of the supreme crime against humanity, that being an illegal war of aggression against a sovereign nation."
Moreover, your reckless verbiage and partisan pandering using something as tragic and criminal as Germany's war of aggression against Poland is an insult to all victims of those atrocities.
My grandfather's sister and parents were having supper in their Warsaw home when a German bomb erased them from this planet. Your evoking the German atrocities against Poland in order to play dirty politics against Democrats is as offensive to me as if you had pinned a swastika onto your lapel.
Even your own words appear to be penned by Hitler's ghost all the while you imply that Democrats are Nazis and/or terrorists - something you have done over and over. Your lies and Hitler's lies even have the same purpose.
When you, Mr. Bush, said "see in my line of work you got to keep repeating things over and over and over again for the truth to sink in, to kind of catapult the propaganda," were you aware of Adolph Hitler's eerily similar statement? Hitler said "If you tell a big enough lie and tell it frequently enough, it will be believed."
Yet if words alone were your only weapon and words strung together into lies your only crime, you might be seen as simply the loathsome, unethical dilettante and despot that you are. Unfortunately, your crimes are many and so similar to those of the Nazi regime that at times one wonders if you are not yourself reenacting that very history you used today as an insult against a political opponent.
Your very own concentration camps
You ordered the creation of secret camps all over the world and on US territory where you also authorized the torture of countless men, women and children is a violation of the Geneva Conventions, international law, and domestic law. In other words, you authorized war crimes.
We don't know the number of people you have had disappeared, tortured, and possibly murdered. Although we have some idea of what these numbers may be, I doubt the full truth of it all will ever be known.
In 2005, I had a CENTCOM document leaked to me illustrating that since the start of the Afghanistan and Iraq wars, more than 70,000 men, women, and children have been detained at one of your various camps Mr. Bush. We don't know what happened to them, if they were tortured, raped, or murdered. What we do know is that less than 2% of those 70,000 had any sort of charge brought against them in a court of law. None of those alleged crimes, by the way, were acts of terrorism. We don't know if that 70,000 figure was the actual and full count of detainees in US custody around the world in 2005. But it is safe to say that in the last 3 years since this document was published, the number of detainees has likely grown.
What we also now know, in great horror, is that at least one of your camps had a crematorium in it, which some of the US soldiers stationed there suspected was used for burning bodies:
"We had some kind of incinerator at the end of our building," Specialist Megan Ambuhl said. "It was this huge circular thing. We just didn't know what was incinerated in there. It could have been people, for all we knew--bodies." Sergeant Davis was not in doubt. "It had bones in it," he said, and he called it the crematorium. "But hey, you're at war," he said. "Suck it up or drive on."
What we also now know is that Dick Cheney and senior members of your administration carried out a plan of torture and abuse that violated international and domestic law with regard to human rights, down to the type of torture tactics that would be used against prisoners in our custody. This plan, we now know, was approved by you.
Has the mirror cracked yet from this much fact or are you still peering into the political sphere hoping to ascribe your own crimes to others? It won't work. It never has and it certainly won't work now. We know far too much about you and yours.
I could continue listing the litany of your crimes, both against the United States and against foreign nations. I won't. We know what you are and what you have done. Having roughly 1,000,000 dead Iraqis under your belt should have shamed you into the parasitic hole you came out of, attaching yourself to the blood of this nation and sucking it dry. Instead, you parade around, the globe-trotting horror show and anti-Semite that you are.
Yes, you are an anti-Semite
Would you say no, you are not an anti-Semite? Consider your own words when you thought no one was keeping score:
"You know what I'm gonna tell those Jews when I get to Israel, don't you Herman?" a then Governor George W. Bush allegedly asked a reporter for the Austin American-Statesman.
When the journalist, Ken Herman, replied that he did not know, Bush reportedly delivered the punch line: "I'm telling 'em they're all going to hell."
Only an anti-Semite would think this type of humor is acceptable. Did you tell the Jews of Israel they were going to hell? No, instead, you told them that American Democrats are Nazi sympathizers and in an act of sheer indecency, the right wing Likud party orchestrated the greatest applause you ever got. For shame!
What this blind adoration finally proves to me is that the right-wing regime that has overtaken Israel cares nothing for its people, its heritage, and the tragic history that they now honor by applauding a man whose family-fortune was built on the bodies of their loved ones. Like their Republican (and Lieberman) counterparts in the United States, Likud does not represent its people, rather, it represents its owners. Likud has traded Israel, its Jews, their heritage and history for the same golden calf purchased and sold by the far-right wing in the United States.
I am ashamed of you Mr. Bush. I am ashamed of those who applauded your political porn played out against the hallowed backdrop of the Holocaust. I am ashamed of those reporters with you, who between them could not muster the moral courage to call you out on your ugly rhetoric and ask you about your own family Nazi ties. You are, sir, the most abhorrent human being of my lifetime. I dare say, in the lifetime of this nation.
Posted by Larisa Alexandrovna on May 15, 2008
Bush: I Gave Up Golf For The Troops (May 13, 2008) http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2008/05/13/bush-i-gave-up-golf-for-t_n_101595.html
As violence in Iraq continues -- clashes today left 11 dead and 19 injured -- President Bush has for the first time revealed the great sacrifice he's made for the sake of our soldiers: he's given up golf. "I don't want some mom whose son may have recently died to see the commander in chief playing golf," he said. "I feel I owe it to the families to be in solidarity as best as I can with them. And I think playing golf during a war just sends the wrong signal." Bush said he made that decision after the August 2003 bombing of the United Nations headquarters in Baghdad, which killed Sergio Vieira de Mello, the top U.N. official in Iraq and the organization's high commissioner for human rights. "I remember when de Mello, who was at the U.N., got killed in Baghdad as a result of these murderers taking this good man's life," he said. "I was playing golf -- I think I was in central Texas -- and they pulled me off the golf course and I said, 'It's just not worth it anymore to do.'"
Olbermann Special Comment: "Of War and Golf" http://www.truthout.org/docs_2006/051508A.shtml
(...) Then came Mr. Bush's final blow to our nation's solar plexus, his last re-opening of our common wounds, his last remark that makes the rest of us question not merely his leadership or his judgment but his very suitably to remain in office. "Mr. President," he was asked, "you haven't been golfing in recent years. Is that related to Iraq? "Yes," began perhaps the most startling reply of this nightmarish blight on our lives as Americans - on our history. "It really is. I don't want some mom whose son may have recently died, to see the Commander-in-Chief playing golf. I feel I owe it to the families to be as - to be in solidarity as best as I can with them. And I think playing golf during a war just sends the wrong signal."
U.S. Sergeant Refuses to Go to Iraq: "This Occupation is Unconstitutional and Illegal"
By Karin Zeitvogel, Middle East Online.
May 16, 2008.
On Capitol Hill yesterday, an American soldier named Matthis Chiroux publicly announced his refusal to deploy to Iraq.
Matthis Chiroux is the kind of young American U.S. military recruiters love.
"I was from a poor, white family from the south, and I did badly in school," the now 24-year-old said.
"I was 'filet mignon' for recruiters. They started phoning me when I was in 10th grade," or around 16 years old, he added.
Chiroux joined the U.S. army straight out of high school nearly six years ago, and worked his way up from private to sergeant.
He served in Afghanistan, Germany, Japan, and the Philippines and was due to be deployed next month in Iraq.
On Thursday, he refused to go, saying he considers Iraq an illegal war.
"I stand before you today with the strength and clarity and resolve to declare to the military, my government and the world that this soldier will not be deploying to Iraq," Chiroux said in the sun-filled rotunda of a congressional building in Washington.
"My decision is based on my desire to no longer continue violating my core values to support an illegal and unconstitutional occupation I refuse to participate in the Iraq occupation," he said, as a dozen veterans of the five-year-old Iraq war looked on.
Minutes earlier, Chiroux had cried openly as he listened to former comrades-in-arms testify before members of Congress about the failings of the Iraq war.
The testimonies were the first before Congress by Iraq veterans who have turned against the five-year-old war.
Former army sergeant Kristofer Goldsmith told a half-dozen US lawmakers and scores of people who packed into a small hearing room of "lawless murders, looting and the abuse of countless Iraqis."
He spoke of the psychologically fragile men and women who return from Iraq, to find little help or treatment offered from official circles.
Goldsmith said he had "self-medicated" for several months to treat the wounds of the war.
Another soldier said he had to boost his dosage of medication to treat anxiety and social agoraphobia -- two of many lingering mental wounds he carries since his deployments in Iraq -- before testifying.
Some 300,000 of the 1.6 million US soldiers who have served in Iraq and Afghanistan suffer from the psychological traumas of post-traumatic stress disorder, depression or both, an independent study showed last month.
A group of veterans sitting in the hearing room gazed blankly as their comrades' testimonies shattered the official version that the US effort in Iraq is succeeding.
Almost to a man, the soldiers who testified denounced serious flaws in the chain of command in Iraq.
Luis Montalvan, a former army captain, accused high-ranking U.S. officers of numerous failures in Iraq, including turning a blind eye to massive fraud on the part of U.S. contractors.
Ex-Marine Jason Lemieux told how a senior officer had altered a report he had written because it slammed U.S. troops of using excessive force, firing off thousands of rounds of machine gun fire and hundreds of grenades in the face of a feeble four rounds of enemy fire.
Goldsmith accused U.S. officials of censorship.
"Everyone who manages a blog, Facebook or MySpace out of Iraq has to register every video, picture, document of any event they do on mission," Goldsmith said after the hearing.
"You're almost always denied before you are allowed to send them home."
Officials take "hard facts and slice them into small pieces to make them presentable to the secretary of state or the president -- and all with the intent of furthering the occupation of Iraq," Goldsmith added.
Chiroux is one of thousands of U.S. soldiers who have deserted since the Iraq war began in 2003, according to figures issued last year by the US army.
But while many seek refuge in Canada, the young soldier vowed to stay in the United States to fight "whatever charges the army levels at me."
The US army defines a deserter as someone who has been absent without leave for 30 days.
Chiroux stood fast in his resolve to not report for duty on June 15.
"I cannot deploy to Iraq, carry a weapon and not be part of the problem," he said.
Watch video footage of Matthis Chiroux's announcement here.
LETTER LIFTING THE VEIL ON CHINESE ATROCITIES IN LHASA - INTRODUCED BY A POIGNANT SPIRITUAL COMMENT...
From: Carol Welhan (email@example.com)
Subject: Letter from Lhasa
Date: 13 May 2008
Bless you dear One for your tireless Service.
I don't know if you've had any insider reports as to how life is in the holy city of Lhasa these days.
I know many have been focusing their prayers and healing meditations on Tibet since the latest turmoil.
Yet it is frustrating to hear so little news of what is actually happening there. As no media are being allowed in (or only on staged occasions) to report what is really going on behind closed doors, the people of the world may easily forget, and turn their attention to other equally desperate situations (Burma, the earthquake in China ...) that are receiving more immediate coverage in the media.
This just came to me the other day, forwarded from a reliable source. I'm asking people to please read it, distribute it far and wide, send it to elected officials, talk about it with everyone you know. Honor the courage and risk taken by those involved in its writing and sending.
It's heart-breaking to read this letter, a real tear-jerker, and such a precious sharing ... yet the mainstream public must be made aware of the truth.
Continue to hold all of Tibet and its people in the Highest Illumination. Bathe the Chinese with Love too. Step up the calls. Be passionate in your compassion. Remind your self that all this is Illusion, and it's dying. Remind your self to not go into fear. If someone you knew was dying, you'd want to hold them and let them go peacefully, wouldn't you? Hold the Highest Vision. Believe it. Imagine it. Dare to dream the Highest Dream. Never give up. Write to your elected government officials. Talk to family and friends. Rent one of the many films and documentaries out there on Tibet. Listen to Tibetan music. Listen to His Holiness. Keep Tibet in your consciousness. Keep your consciousness in the Heart.
We may be far away, and outside of Tibet, but these beloved courageous Souls are there, and we can work together. We must work together.
Connect with them, connect with His Holiness the Dalai Lama, connect through the Heart, the Higher Self, the I AM Presence, and God ... ask permission, and then work together to pour the Light through ... through their physical Chalice. Connect with the high and holy Mountains, with the Lakes of sacred fire, with the land HerSelf, and send your prayers on the Winds.
And please, please consciously use the energies of this coming second Wesak Full Moon to amplify the Highest Vision of the OneHeart. Depending on where you are in the world, it will be either the 19th or 20th - - 3:11 AM GMT May 20 (May 19 in North America 7:11 PM PDT;10:11 PM EDT)
While in meditation one day recently, I was gifted with this beautiful vision: of a giant single white feather (of the Shekinah) gently landing on the streets of Lhasa. . . I can still see it so clearly, so I choose to make it my focus.
You know, those Olympics can't start soon enough! The sooner the whole world can focus their consciousness on China the better. And think about it... the Olympics were born out of the great and noble spirit of ancient Greece, and no matter what scandals may have tainted the games in modern years, that noble spirit has always been at the core of these Games. So let the Games go on. Cheer on the eternal Flame of Sacred Fire. And let the hope and cheering and pursuit of excellence focus all hearts, and send so much positive energy to China, that the scales tip.
I just keep thinking, and trying to look from a higher perspective... this is all just a Game... a Game... and we've all got our parts to play. Detach. Detach from the Illusion.
We have to be so strong in our Light. These times that we are in, are like a great Initiation, for the entire human race...
Yeshua and Judas already went through this for us. This time 'round it's a higher, larger loop on the spiral, and Tibet and China, and a whole host of other countries, indeed the whole planet... we're all playing for the highest stakes.
And I dunno about everyone else, but I am sure getting tired of winners and losers. It's time for Win-Win's only, and gold medals for all.
What sayest thou, Rainbow Warriors?
I know some days it can look so bad. And yet, we're so close ... Never give up.
With deep Love and Gratitude,
Letter from Lhasa
The following letter was written by a resident in Lhasa, who wishes to remain anonymous, and gives a personal account of the current environment in the city:
Yesterday it was quite hot outside and the military that were guarding one of the petrol stations was protected by a big umbrella from the intense sunrays. Today it's the opposite; cold, cloudy and even quick snowfalls as storm fronts hover on the mountains and sometimes close in on the valley. Like the weather here in Lhasa the rules are changing too. One day you can go nearly everywhere, the next, military checkpoints won't let you pass. At the beginning of last week it seemed life was getting back to normal. Guards at the checkpoints relaxed and they seemed not as serious anymore, and overall, there was less military on the streets. But then suddenly heavy military presence was back. A few days ago, in the evening, I walked up Beijing Road. As I did, many military trucks passed me and there were patrols everywhere, only a few cars were to be seen driving around and the streets were near empty of civilian people. The atmosphere was tense and made the young, normally childish looking military, suddenly look scary.
It is difficult to describe Lhasa these days, because you can only see a fraction of what is really going on. If you quickly glance at the city it may seem normal except for the old Tibetan centre, east of the Potala Palace. In the centre, military has occupied every intersection and stand on every side street, diligently checking your identity card. Even the tiniest of alleyways have at least four military personnel, of whom at least one has a bayonet and all of them a shield, a bat and a helmet. The bigger intersections have more military and people often have to line up in order to get checked. Ethnic Chinese can pass these checkpoints much easier than local Tibetans. Tibetans living at Dromsikhang and the Barkhor need a special, police issued paper in order to be allowed to go in and out the immediate area surrounding their homes.
The square in front of the holiest Tibetan Temple, the Jokhang, normally a sea of people, prostrating, circumambulating and socialising, is now completely empty. In front of the square two military in blue uniforms strictly ensure nobody walks on the square. As back up, in case they miss a person, military in green suddenly appear out of no where to apprehend and push back person's entering these normally public areas. The round pedestrian street circling the Jokhang is empty too. Only people living in this area are allowed to pass, forbidden to do religious Koras around the Jokhang, and instead on the normally bustling retail and religious lanes you can only find small children playing football and other games, trying to get on with life, behind the military guards on these silent streets.
On Beijing Road and Sera Road the government has initiated road works. Sections of road are being dug up and replaced where cars were burnt during the March 14 protests leaving black tarmac. Sidewalks on Beijing Road are being repaved as well after protesters used the pavement stones to throw and break shop windows. As you walk through Lhasa, you can still see many burnt or damaged shops. On Beijing Road alone, there are around 16 shops or shopping complexes burnt out, one of them being the Bank of China and one a jewellery store.
Not only are roads and shops getting rebuilt, but also some old, traditional Tibetan houses.
If you look complacently around town you may think there is not a heavy military presence anymore. However, if you look in every hotel and building courtyard and in windows, you see these areas covered in military; trucks, tents and more often the military themselves exercising. Wherever there is space, you find military. They are hidden in any empty building, behind buildings and even in the hospital courtyard of Lhasa City Peoples Hospital.
Walking the streets of Lhasa, seeing big tea houses unusually empty and many shops still closed, it makes you aware of how scared people are these days. Very few people stop on the street when they meet friends, because every gathering of people is suspicious. A lot of people still stay at home because they are scared they will get arrested for no reason if they go out.
When you finally find someone not too scared to talk to you, you hear consistent, dramatic, disturbing and daunting stories that give you nightmares. But since they don't have proof of what happened, it is difficult to inform the media. From the 14th of March 2008, there has been a heavy military presence in addition to the original security cameras which all monitor the city so people were too scared to take photographs of the tanks in front of the Jokhang Temple and elsewhere in town. And since all the dead bodies got immediately carried away by the military or taken from peoples home during nightly military raids, nobody can prove their brother, relative or friend died, all they can confirm is that this person disappeared. Only rumours about the death toll and the arrested people are anxiously passed from person to person.
Yesterday I talked to a Tibetan man who was speaking for himself and his friends who want the world to know what is going on here. He asked me if I can pass all the information he has on to foreign media, so people here get help and don't have to be so scared anymore.
By talking to me he risks being arrested and being tortured in prison, but he seems desperate enough to not care about that. In order to protect him, his family and friends and also myself, I don't want to tell more details about the place we met, his age or job. But that is what he told me:
"On March 14th in the afternoon we heard that there were demonstrations going on in front of Ramoche Temple. Later we saw four people dragging a person who was shot dead in front of the Jokhang and that was when we became really scared. Normally the government should use gas or water against protesters, but here they shoot them. So we went home as fast as possible.
In the evening my wife went to pick up our child from school around 6p.m. At that time the military was already on Jiangsu Road were the school was. The military was shooting at the locals who went to pick up their children. One woman got shot in her leg and one man was hit in the head or neck and he died. Later his brother wanted to get his corpse from the hospital, but the hospital didn't want to give it out. Finally the brother got so desperate that he threatened to burn himself and the hospital if they didn't give his dead brother to his family. The hospital gave him his brother's body, but just a few hours after they came home the military came and took the dead body away.
After March 14th whenever somebody died, you had to get three different papers in order to be allowed to bring the dead body to the sky burial place. If you didn't have these papers you got pushed back inside your house with the dead body by the army; a very bad omen in Tibetan culture. These three papers one needed were from the local police, the hospital and a lawyer. The reason for this was that with this rule the government made sure that everybody who didn't die under normal circumstances was found and taken away from the family, so nobody can make pictures and show them to friends or journalists outside Tibet. The problem for the people was that all the offices were closed during these days and therefore nobody could bring their dead family members to the sky burial place on the days they should have according to Tibetan astrology.
On March 14, 15 and 16 military came around midnight to check the homes in our area for pictures of the Dalai Lama, and took everybody with them who didn't have an identity card. They also had with them pictures of people who were in the demonstrations and they compared them with our faces. About 50 military men with guns came to our home and searched everything. We stayed at home for three days, only going out to go to the toilet and we only had Tsampa to eat, and people whose home ran out of gas even couldn't boil water. The gate to our house complex was closed and there were army posted in front of it. If you went out, you got beaten up quite badly by them. After three days everybody who worked for the government got a phone call and had to go back to work. Without this working permit we were still not allowed to go out. I know at least seven people who got arrested and one who got shot.
When the foreign journalists were in Lhasa, I think it was from 27th to 29th of March, the military suddenly disappeared from the streets. Instead of wearing their military uniform they changed into traffic police, gatekeeper uniforms or civil dress and they were hiding inside buildings and behind corners where the journalists couldn't see them. We were suddenly allowed to go everywhere; there were no checkpoints during these days. When the journalists were allowed to walk around by themselves, officials in normal clothes or traditional dress followed them, answered their questions and made pictures of individuals who talked to the press. We wanted to tell the press what is going on here in reality, behind this show that was made up for them, but we didn't have any chance to get close to them without being punished for that later. When we finally heard that the Jokhang monks told them the truth we were very happy.
The pilgrims inside the Jokhang temple were all elderly officials who were forced to go there for pilgrimage on this day. Normally these people are not allowed to engage in any religious activities, but on this day they had to go. And lot of the other officials were given leave from their office and were told to go to the Barkhor and the Potala, if possible with their families, so it looks like there is lot of freedom in Lhasa.
After the journalists left the military came back into public immediately and we heard that the Jokhang monks got arrested for their statements in front of the media and officials two days later.
Between 17th and 20th of April most of the monks were taken away from Sera to an unknown place. Sera Monastery normally has over 300 monks but now there is only a handful left who care for the chapels. Around midnight about fifteen to twenty military trucks came and detained the monks. We have this information from inside the monastery and also from an abutting owner. But we don't know what is happening in Drepung and Ganden, two of the biggest monastic centres around Lhasa, but we have heard they have been arrested and taken out of Lhasa.
From the monasteries around Lhasa a lot of monks and nuns got taken away too and the ones who are still at their monastery are under house arrest. We think the government is scared that when the Olympic flame is in Lhasa there will be new protests by the monks and nuns, that's why they detain them. They took all of them, no matter if they protested on March 10th and the following days or not, only chapel keepers, drivers and a few other monastery workers are allowed to stay in the monasteries.
Lately there are only a few monks to be seen on the streets. It is dangerous for them, because on the Tibetan TV channel they said that for every suspicious person you report to the police you will get RMB20000. In reality you only get about RMB2000 but still people call when they see monk or nuns.
Since last week all Tibetans who are not from Lhasa have to go back to their homeland, except students and teachers studying at government schools. The police come to your home and send you out of Lhasa if you are not from here. When the Olympic Torch is in Lhasa only local people and Chinese are allowed to be here. They did that few years ago too during the 50 year peaceful liberation celebration.
There is a big problem in jail now. There is not enough food, not enough water and not enough blankets. The prisoners have to sleep on the ground and sometimes they only get one cup of water a day and nothing else. This way they get health problems, their bodies get really weak and they die, either in prison or after they get released. The prisoners get beaten up very badly. They especially beat the kidney, liver and gall region so prisoners get internal injuries and slowly die. We know this from three friends who just got released from prison.
We are so worried about our friends and family members who are in prison. We need to help them, but we don't know what to do. That's why we have to tell the foreigners so the world will get to know and help us.
It is still very tight here in Lhasa. Without ID cards you cannot go out and if you live at Dromsikhang or Barkhor you need a special paper. Wherever there is a gathering or argument people get arrested.
At the schools and in the offices people have to write stories about the 14th of March and they have to speak ill of His Holiness the Dalai Lama. When they write about the Dalai Lama they are only allowed to write Dalai, otherwise they have to write it again. My child already had to write such stories three times.
We are scared and worried about the prisoners. After the demonstrations, I saw some military vehicles like they use in the Iraq war, the same vehicles I saw in the news about Iraq [Tanks] but they were in our city. I thought these vehicles are only allowed in war between two countries. On the Tibetan TV News one presenter said that the military did a very good job since this was their first experience with something like war and a good opportunity for them to practise how to shoot and how to kill people.
Now they already started the preparations for the Olympic Flame to come here. They are putting up decorations on the Potala and Jokhang Square [big Olympic Rings were set up in front of Jokhang and removed again yesterday evening]".
What this man told me, I have also heard from other people without connections to him.
I have no doubt the Chinese government will forbid foreign tourists from visiting here for the next few months. Tibetans want a chance to tell their side of the story; they try to tell you what happened to them. They know they need help from outside and therefore I believe, by preventing tourism, the government has a way of controlling, censoring and suppressing the situation here.
What has happened and continues to happen in Lhasa is extremely sad and scary. Never before have I heard monks talking about methods of torture used in local prisons and different gun types that were used by military during this year's demonstrations in Lhasa. And never before have I seen Tibetan people so desperate and angry that they do things they know they will die for or be put in prison for a long time.
With the up and coming Labour Day Celebration and Torch Relay in May anxiety has increased in Lhasa and fear of citywide house arrest has resulted in the stockpiling of food.
Every day you see people arguing with army at checkpoints. A father and daughter wanted to pass a checkpoint however the military personnel told the man he was permitted but his daughter, who is not old enough to have an identity card, was refused access due to not having one.
But even in this difficult time you still see brave and good actions. Yesterday I saw a little boy, around one or two years old; that I believed displayed a good example of Tibetan spirit. The baby looked as if he had just learnt how to walk and was out with his grandmother and her little dog. They were standing in front of the Jokhang Square where military in blue ensures nobody crosses the square. The baby walked up the three steps to the square and started to make prostrations towards the Jokhang while his grandmother also prayed but her frail body prevented her from prostrating as well. When the boy finished he looked at the guards, then at his grandmother, and then started to walk closer to the temple. The guards looked at the baby, not knowing what to do. After about ten meters the baby boy stopped and prostrated again, then turned around, walked back to one of the guards and took his hand to say goodbye. Seeing this reminded me that all Tibetan people want is religious freedom and the right to preserve their culture.
They are tired of writing papers against the Dalai Lama, of patriotic re-education and all the rules and regulations that make their life so difficult.
From: Kathy Roberts (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Subject: Simple Steps Toward Change
Date: 17 May 2008
COMMENTARY - Simple steps towards change
By Mickey Z. - Online Journal Contributing Writer
April 29, 2008
Whenever I write an article or give a talk about the state of global affairs, the first question asked is this: "So, what can/should we do?" My inevitably stammering reply involves a combination of three factors:
What we've been doing all along is obviously not working
We need new ideas, new tactics, and a far greater commitment from everyone
I can't say more because it could be (purposely) misconstrued and that just don't fly in the land of the free [sic]. Sometimes, when I'm feeling particularly frisky, I might quote Walt Whitman: "This is what you shall do: Love the earth and sun and the animals, despise riches, give alms to everyone that asks, stand up for the stupid and crazy, devote your income and labor to others, hate tyrants, argue not concerning God, have patience and indulgence toward the people, take off your hat to nothing known or unknown, or to any man or number of men -- go freely with powerful uneducated persons, and with the young, and with the mothers or families -- reexamine all you have been told in school or church or in any book, and dismiss whatever insults your own soul; and your very flesh shall be a great poem."
In an attempt to finally segue from the nebulous to the somewhat tangible, I offer these eight simple Whitmanesque ways everyday Americans can begin to challenge the dominant culture without getting themselves fitted for an orange jumpsuit.
Embrace not the corporate sanctioned standard American diet; go vegan, organic, and local. Be warned: what you own ends up owning you; say no to conspicuous consumption. Opt for two wheels, not four; bid a fond farewell to your internal combustion engine. Under no circumstances should you cast a vote for either a Democrat or a Republican; these are but two wings on one corporate party. Never, ever, ever trust a liberal (on anything). Reject both war and its warriors; offer not your support to those who volunteer to wage war. Reach out for your television remote and boldly press "off" (toss the cell phone, too). Six-point-six billion miracles are more than enough; cease breeding immediately.
(If even 25 percent of Americans made these basic, entirely doable cultural adjustments, it would essentially qualify as a revolution . . . by today's diluted standards.)
Feel free to commence the predictable malice, ridicule, indignation, and mockery . . . but remember: if you're waiting for Barack Obama to provide the "change we can believe in," the joke's on you.
Mickey Z. is the author of the forthcoming novel, CPR for Dummies, and can be found on the Web at http://www.mickeyz.net/
Fears of a shortage within five years propelled long-term oil futures prices to almost $140 a barrel, further stoking inflationary pressures in the global economy.
The spot price of Nymex West Texas Intermediate hit a record $130.30 a barrel on Wednesday. On Tuesday investors had rushed to buy oil futures contracts as far forward as December 2016, pushing their prices as high as $139.50 a barrel, up more than $9.50 on the day.
Veteran traders said they had never seen such a jump and said investors were increasingly betting that oil production would soon peak because of geopolitical and geological constraints.
Neil McMahon, of Sanford Bernstein, said: Peak oil views regardless of whether right or wrong are seeping into the market and supporting high prices.
Anne-Louise Hittle, of Wood Mackenzie, added that investors were shifting their focus from the short-term to the medium-term, where supply fears played a bigger role. Since January, long-term futures oil contracts, such as those for delivery in 2016, have jumped almost 60 per cent, while near-term prices have gone up 35 per cent.
That trend was exacerbated by T. Boone Pickens, the influential investor who believes world oil production is about to peak as aging fields run dry. He warned that oil prices would hit $150 a barrel by the end of the year.
Eighty-five million barrels of oil a day is all the world can produce, and the demand is 87m, Mr Pickens told CNBC. Its just that simple.
Mr Pickenss view is still in the minority in the oil industry. But concerns over future oil supplies are fast moving into the mainstream and influencing investors.
Politicians have expressed concern that speculators are forcing prices higher and Joseph Lieberman, the influential senator, said he was considering legislation to limit big institutional investors in commodities markets.
Some energy executives have warned that geopolitical supply constraints will mean production will not be able to match demand as early as 2012 to 2015.
This comes as demand, especially from China, is set to continue to grow, while that of the US slows. Adam Sieminski, chief energy economist at Deutsche Bank, said: The price is going to go up until governments that subsidise oil consumption in Asia and the Middle East can no longer afford it.
So far China is doing the opposite, having recently retrenched subsidies. Analysts say Chinese demand could surge further as the country faces shortages of coal and hydropower.
Nervousness about Chinese energy demand was exacerbated on Tuesday when officials said 32 power plants had been forced to close because of coal shortages.
PetroChina and Sinopec, the two biggest domestic oil groups, also have diverted fuel supplies to the quake-hit Sichuan region.
The Iraq War means oil costs three times more than it should, says a leading expert. How are our lives going to change as we struggle to cope with the $200 barrel? Geoffrey Lean reports
25 May 2008
The invasion of Iraq by Britain and the US has trebled the price of oil, according to a leading expert, costing the world a staggering $6 trillion in higher energy prices alone.
The oil economist Dr Mamdouh Salameh, who advises both the World Bank and the UN Industrial Development Organisation (Unido), told The Independent on Sunday that the price of oil would now be no more than $40 a barrel, less than a third of the record $135 a barrel reached last week, if it had not been for the Iraq war.
He spoke after oil prices set a new record on 13 consecutive days over the past two weeks. They have now multiplied sixfold since 2002, compared with the fourfold increase of the 1973 and 1974 "oil shock" that ended the world's long postwar boom.
Goldman Sachs predicted last week that the price could rise to an unprecedented $200 a barrel over the next year, and the world is coming to terms with the idea that the age of cheap oil has ended, with far-reaching repercussions on their activities.
Dr Salameh, director of the UK-based Oil Market Consultancy Service, and an authority on Iraq's oil, said it is the only one of the world's biggest producing countries with enough reserves substantially to increase its flow.
Production in eight of the others the US, Canada, Iran, Indonesia, Russia, Britain, Norway and Mexico has peaked, he says, while China and Saudia Arabia, the remaining two, are nearing the point at of decline. Before the war, Saddam Hussein's regime pumped some 3.5 million barrels of oil a day, but this had now fallen to just two million barrels.
Dr Salameh told the all-party parliamentary group on peak oil last month that Iraq had offered the United States a deal, three years before the war, that would have opened up 10 new giant oil fields on "generous" terms in return for the lifting of sanctions. "This would certainly have prevented the steep rise of the oil price," he said. "But the US had a different idea. It planned to occupy Iraq and annex its oil."
Chris Skrebowski, the editor of Petroleum Review, said: "There are many ifs in the world oil market. This is a very big one, but there are others. If there had been a civil war in Iraq, even less oil would have been produced."
David Strahan: What happens next? The expert's view
At just under 86 million barrels per day, global oil production has, essentially, stagnated since 2005, despite soaring demand, suggesting that production has already reached its geological limits, or "peak oil".
Recession in the West may not provide relief on prices. There is increasing demand from countries such as China, Russia and the Opec countries, whose consumers are cushioned against rising prices by heavy subsidies. The future could unfold in a number of ways:
Oil price collapses
Fuel subsidies could suddenly be scrapped, dousing demand. Cost pressures have forced Malaysia, Indonesia and Taiwan to cut them, but China is hardly strapped for cash. Opec producers are under no pressure to abolish subsidies; as the oil price rises they get richer. Prospect: very unlikely.
Peace could break out in Iraq, the long-disputed oil law agreed, and international oil companies start work on the world's largest collection of untapped oil fields. Prospect: vanishingly unlikely.
Oil price stabilises or moderates
Deep recession in the West might cut oil consumption enough to offset growth in the developing world and Opec, or even engulf them too, softening prices. Prospect: unlikely in the short term.
Oil price soars
Russian oil output has gone into decline; Saudi Arabia has shelved plans to expand production capacity, and advisers to the Nigerian government predict its output will fall by 30 per cent by 2015. More news like this, expect oil at $200 a barrel. Prospect: likely.
Big oil producers will increasingly divert exports for home consumption. Opec, Russian and Mexican exports expected to fall, pushing oil to $200 by 2012. Prospect: highly likely.
After 150 years of growth, the oil age is beginning to come to an end. "Peak oil" is the common term for when production stops increasing and starts to decline. At that point what have been ever-expanding and cheap supplies of the resource on which all modern economies depend become scarcer and more expensive, with potentially devastating consequences.
Pessimists believe that production has passed its peak. Optimists say it may be 20 years or so away which would give us some time to prepare but are now muted. Last week the hitherto optimistic International Energy Agency admitted that it may have overestimated future capacity. Chris Skrebowski, editor of 'Petroleum Review' and once an optimist himself, believes that the world is now in "the foothills of peak oil". Prices may ease a bit over the next few years, but then the real crunch will come. The price then? "Pick a number!"
Oil provides 95 per cent of the energy used in transport, so this will be hit hard and soon. People are likely to go on using their cars, but airlines are expected to be the first to suffer. On Thursday, British Airways' chief executive Willie Walsh declared that the era of cheap flights was over, suggesting that those environmentalists who have made them their main target for combating climate change may have been wasting their breath.
At least three carriers have already gone bust this year. Last week, American Airlines said it was cutting routes, laying off staff, and charging US passengers $15 to check in a bag because of a $3bn rise in its fuel bills. Even Michael O'Leary, chief executive of Ryanair, says the oil price is "really hurting". On Thursday, Credit Suisse analysts said his company would slip into the red if oil prices rose just a little more, to $140 a barrel.
The world's biggest oil well, it is said, lies beneath Detroit. US vehicles get an average of only 25 miles per gallon. Dramatically improving this would do more to ease the oil crunch than any likely new discovery. But new measures recently approved by Congress would increase the average only to the 35mpg already being achieved by China. Europe does better, if not well enough, at 44mpg.
Rising fuel prices are already beginning to drive change. Sales of 4x4s are plummeting in both the US and Britain, and those of hybrids which do 60mpg are soaring. As the price climbs further, manufacturers will unlock long-prepared plans for much more efficient vehicles. "Plug-in" hybrids, charged up with electricity overnight, save another 45 per cent in petrol consumption. Further down the line is the "hypercar" made of tough, light plastic which could cross the US on a single tankful.
All new houses in Britain will have to be zero carbon burning no fossil fuels such as oil by 2016, the Government announced, and housebuilders are struggling to meet the target. At present the standard can be reached only at great expense, but the industry is confident of bringing the cost down as mass production kicks in. It is even more important to adapt existing homes.
The key step is to super-insulate the house to make it as energy-efficient as possible and only then to provide renewable energy sources. Solar water heaters, ground source heat pumps and boilers powered by wood pellets are favourites. Rooftop windmills do not work well enough yet. Photovoltaic panels, which get electricity from the sun, are expensive but their price should come down. Britain has lagged behind other countries. Soaring energy prices should shake things up.
Effectively, almost everything is partially made of oil, and so is going to get more expensive. About 10 calories of oil are burned to produce each calorie of food in the US, and farming a single cow and getting it to market uses as much as driving from New York to Los Angeles. Some 630g of fuel is used to produce every gram of microchips.
The cult of local, seasonal produce will enter the mainstream, as everyone learns about food miles and a modern-day Dig for Victory grips gardeners bad news for the farm workers overseas who provide 95 per cent of our fruit and half our vegetables. Trips to out-of-town supermarkets will seem extravagant, heralding a high street renaissance and a new surge in online grocery shopping, and soon we'll all be eating our own potatoes.
Poor countries and their peoples will be hit by a devastating double whammy as both their fuel and food prices increase. Last year, when oil cost only about half as much, countries from Nepal to Nicaragua were hit by fuel shortages. At least 25 of the 44 sub-Saharan nations are facing crippling electricity shortages.
As oil is used in agriculture, its increased cost will also drive up the price of food, making more and more people go hungry. Worse, expensive petrol is bound to increase the drive towards biofuels made from maize and other crops, which then brings the world's poorest people into competition with affluent motorists for grain a contest they cannot win. Just one fill-up of a 4x4's tank with ethanol uses enough grain to feed one person for a year.
China and India and other developing countries will help to drive up demand for oil and compete for scarce supplies. This has already helped to raise prices: demand for oil from Western countries has actually fallen over the past two years, but the emerging economies have more than made up the slack. And they have the money to do so.
Chinese and Indian consumers have so far been insulated from the effects of the price increase by heavy government subsidies, and their industrial revolutions and rapid growth are largely fuelled by oil. There is little sign that the growth in demand will slacken These countries are also likely to follow the time-honoured Western tradition of making deals with oil-exporting countries and backing unpleasant regimes to try to secure supplies.
Last week. the embattled Gordon Brown "incredibly focused" on oil, according to his spin-doctors began playing the blame game. "It is a scandal," he said, "that 40 per cent of the oil is controlled by Opec and that their decisions can restrict the supply of oil to the rest of the world."
Someone should tell him that he should be blaming geology or God and that, as oil production peaks, Opec countries simply will not be able to pump more. But he is not alone; four US senators warned Saudi Arabia that if it did not step up the flow, the US might withdraw its military support.
There will be much more of this as supplies tighten. Three years ago, a US army report predicted oil would soon peak, and security risks increase. Expect oil wars. But, of course, we have already had one in Iraq.
Dean of Oil Analysts Predicts $12-15-a-Gallon Gas (May 22, 2008) http://www.businessandmedia.org/printer/2008/20080521145247.aspx
It may be the mother of all doom and gloom gas price predictions: $12 for a gallon of gas is inevitable. Robert Hirsch, Management Information Services Senior Energy Advisor, gave a dire warning about the potential future of gas prices on CNBCs May 20 Squawk Box. He told host Becky Quick there was no single thing that would solve the problem, due to the enormity of the problem.[T]he prices that were paying at the pump today are, I think, going to be the good old days, because others who watch this very closely forecast that were going to be hitting $12 and $15 per gallon, Hirsch said. And then, after that, when oil world oil production goes into decline, were going to talk about rationing. In other words, not only are we going to be paying high prices and have considerable economic problems, but in addition to that, were not going to be able to get the fuel when we want it.Hirsch told the Business & Media Institute the $12-$15 a gallon wasnt his prediction, but that he was citing Charles T. Maxwell, described as the ">Dean of Oil Analysts and the senior energy analyst at Weeden & Co. Still, Hirsch admitted the high price was inevitable in his view. CLIP
Beware the US military's experiments with climatic warfare, says Michel Chossudovsky
Rarely acknowledged in the debate on global climate change, the world's weather can now be modified as part of a new generation of sophisticated electromagnetic weapons. Both the US and Russia have developed capabilities to manipulate the climate for military use.
Environmental modification techniques have been applied by the US military for more than half a century. US mathematician John von Neumann, in liaison with the US Department of Defense, started his research on weather modification in the late 1940s at the height of the Cold War and foresaw 'forms of climatic warfare as yet unimagined'.
During the Vietnam war, cloud-seeding techniques were used, starting in 1967 under Project Popeye, the objective of which was to prolong the monsoon season and block enemy supply routes along the Ho Chi Minh Trail.
The US military has developed advanced capabilities that enable it selectively to alter weather patterns. The technology, which is being perfected under the High-frequency Active Auroral Research Program (HAARP), is an appendage of the Strategic Defense Initiative 'Star Wars'. From a military standpoint, HAARP is a weapon of mass destruction, operating from the outer atmosphere and capable of destabilising agricultural and ecological systems around the world.
Weather-modification, according to the US Air Force document AF 2025 Final Report, 'offers the war fighter a wide range of possible options to defeat or coerce an adversary', capabilities, it says, extend to the triggering of floods, hurricanes, droughts and earthquakes: 'Weather modification will become a part of domestic and international security and could be done unilaterally It could have offensive and defensive applications and even be used for deterrence purposes. The ability to generate precipitation, fog and storms on earth or to modify space weather and the production of artificial weather all are a part of an integrated set of [military] technologies.'
In 1977, an international Convention was ratified by the UN General Assembly which banned 'military or other hostile use of environmental modification techniques having widespread, long-lasting or severe effects.' It defined 'environmental modification techniques' as 'any technique for changing through the deliberate manipulation of natural processes the dynamics, composition or structure of the earth, including its biota, lithosphere, hydrosphere and atmosphere, or of outer space.'
While the substance of the 1977 Convention was reasserted in the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) signed at the 1992 Earth Summit in Rio, debate on weather modification for military use has become a scientific taboo. Military analysts are mute on the subject. Meteorologists are not investigating the matter and environmentalists are focused on greenhouse gas emissions under the Kyoto Protocol. Neither is the possibility of climatic or environmental manipulations as part of a military and intelligence agenda, while tacitly acknowledged, part of the broader debate on climate change under UN auspices.
The HAARP Programme
Established in 1992, HAARP, based in Gokona, Alaska, is an array of high-powered antennas that transmit, through high-frequency radio waves, massive amounts of energy into the ionosphere (the upper layer of the atmosphere). Their construction was funded by the US Air Force, the US Navy and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA).
Operated jointly by the Air Force Research Laboratory and the Office of Naval Research, HAARP constitutes a system of powerful antennas capable of creating 'controlled local modifications of the ionosphere'. According to its official website, www.haarp.alaska.edu, HAARP will be used 'to induce a small, localized change in ionospheric temperature so physical reactions can be studied by other instruments located either at or close to the HAARP site'.
But Rosalie Bertell, president of the International Institute of Concern for Public Health, says HAARP operates as 'a gigantic heater that can cause major disruptions in the ionosphere, creating not just holes, but long incisions in the protective layer that keeps deadly radiation from bombarding the planet'. Physicist Dr Bernard Eastlund called it 'the largest ionospheric heater ever built'.
HAARP is presented by the US Air Force as a research programme, but military documents confirm its main objective is to 'induce ionospheric modifications' with a view to altering weather patterns and disrupting communications and radar. According to a report by the Russian State Duma: 'The US plans to carry out large-scale experiments under the HAARP programme [and] create weapons capable of breaking radio communication lines and equipment installed on spaceships and rockets, provoke serious accidents in electricity networks and in oil and gas pipelines, and have a negative impact on the mental health of entire regions.'
An analysis of statements emanating from the US Air Force points to the unthinkable: the covert manipulation of weather patterns, communications and electric power systems as a weapon of global warfare, enabling the US to disrupt and dominate entire regions.
Weather manipulation is the pre-emptive weapon par excellence. It can be directed against enemy countries or 'friendly nations' without their knowledge, used to destabilise economies, ecosystems and agriculture. It can also trigger havoc in financial and commodity markets. The disruption in agriculture creates a greater dependency on food aid and imported grain staples from the US and other Western countries.
HAARP was developed as part of an Anglo-American partnership between Raytheon Corporation, which owns the HAARP patents, and British Aerospace Systems (BAES). The HAARP project is one among several collaborative ventures in advanced weapons systems between the two defence giants.
The HAARP project was initiated in 1992 by Advanced Power Technologies, Inc. (APTI), a subsidiary of Atlantic Richfield Corporation (ARCO). APTI (including the HAARP patents) was sold by ARCO to E-Systems Inc, in 1994.
E-Systems, on contract to the CIA and US Department of Defense, outfitted the 'Doomsday Plan', which 'allows the President to manage a nuclear war'. Subsequently acquired by Raytheon Corporation, it is among the largest intelligence contractors in the World.
BAES was involved in the development of the advanced stage of the HAARP antenna array under a 2004 contract with the Office of Naval Research. The installation of 132 highfrequency transmitters was entrusted by BAES to its US subsidiary, BAE Systems Inc. The project, according to a July report in Defense News, was undertaken by BAES's Electronic Warfare division. In September it received DARPA's top award for technical achievement for the design, construction and activation of the HAARP array of antennas.
The HAARP system is fully operational and in many regards dwarfs existing conventional and strategic weapons systems. While there is no firm evidence of its use for military purposes, Air Force documents suggest HAARP is an integral part of the militarisation of space. One would expect the antennas already to have been subjected to routine testing.
Under the UNFCCC, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has a mandate 'to assess scientific, technical and socioeconomic information relevant for the understanding of climate change'. This mandate includes environmental warfare. 'Geo-engineering' is acknowledged, but the underlying military applications are neither the object of policy analysis or scientific research in the thousands of pages of IPCC reports and supporting documents, based on the expertise and input of some 2,500 scientists, policymakers and environmentalists.
'Climatic warfare' potentially threatens the future of humanity, but has casually been excluded from the reports for which the IPCC received the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize.
Michel Chossudovsky is a Professor of Economics at the University of Ottawa and an editor at the Centre for Research on Globalization, http://www.globalresearch.ca
Top Ten Reasons to Go Vegetarian During World Vegetarian Week (May 19-25)
by Bruce Friedrich
May 17, 2008
Gone are the days when vegetarians were served up a plate of iceberg lettuce and a dull-as-dishwater baked potato. With the growing variety of vegetarian faux meats like bacon and sausages along with an ever-expanding variety of vegetarian cookbooks and restaurants vegetarianism has taken the world by storm.
With World Vegetarian Week beginning on Monday, here without further ado are PETAs picks for the top 10 reasons to give vegetarian eating a try.
1. Helping Animals Also Helps the Global Poor
While there is ample and justified moral indignation about the diversion of 100 million tons of grain for biofuels, more than seven times as much (760 million tons) is fed to farmed animals so that people can eat meat. Is the diversion of crops to our cars a moral issue? Yes, but its about one-eighth the issue that meat-eating is. Care about global poverty? Try vegetarianism.
2. Eating Meat Supports Cruelty to Animals
The green pastures and idyllic barnyard scenes of years past are now distant memories. On todays factory farms, animals are crammed by the thousands into filthy windowless sheds, wire cages, gestation crates, and other confinement systems. These animals will never raise families, root in the soil, build nests, or do anything else that is natural and important to them. They wont even get to feel the warmth of the sun on their backs or breathe fresh air until the day they are loaded onto trucks bound for slaughter.
3. Eating Meat Is Bad for the Environment
A recent United Nations report entitled Livestocks Long Shadow concludes that eating meat is one of the most significant contributors to the most serious environmental problems, at every scale from local to global. In just one example, eating meat causes almost 40 percent more greenhouse-gas emissions than all the cars, trucks, and planes in the world combined. The report concludes that the meat industry should be a major policy focus when dealing with problems of land degradation, climate change and air pollution, water shortage and water pollution, and loss of biodiversity.
4. Avoid Bird Flu
The World Health Organization says that if the avian flu virus mutates, it could be caught simply by eating undercooked chicken flesh or eggs, eating food prepared on the same cutting board as infected meat or eggs, or even touching eggshells contaminated with the disease. Other problems with factory farming from foot-and-mouth to SARS can be avoided with a general shift to a vegetarian diet.
5. If You Wouldnt Eat a Dog, You Shouldnt Eat a Chicken
Several recent studies have shown that chickens are bright animals who are able to solve complex problems, demonstrate self-control, and worry about the future. Chickens are smarter than cats and dogs and even do some things that have not yet been seen in mammals other than primates. Dr. Chris Evans, who studies animal behavior and communication at Macquarie University in Australia, says, As a trick at conferences, I sometimes list these attributes, without mentioning chickens and people think Im talking about monkeys.
6. Heart Disease: Our Number One Killer
Healthy vegetarian diets support a lifetime of good health and provide protection against numerous diseases, including the United States three biggest killers: heart disease, cancer, and strokes. Drs. Dean Ornish and Caldwell Esselstyn two doctors with 100 percent success in preventing and reversing heart disease have used a vegan diet to accomplish it, as chronicled most recently in Dr. Esselstyns Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease, which documents his 100 percent success rate for unclogging peoples arteries and reversing heart disease.
7. Cancer: Our Number Two Killer
Dr. T. Colin Campbell is one of the worlds foremost epidemiological scientists and the director of what The New York Times called the most comprehensive large study ever undertaken of the relationship between diet and the risk of developing disease. Dr. Campbells best-selling book, The China Study, is a must-read for anyone who is concerned about cancer. To summarize it, Dr. Campbell states, No chemical carcinogen is nearly so important in causing human cancer as animal protein.
8. Fitting Into That Itty-Bitty Bikini
Vegetarianism is also the ultimate weight-loss diet, since vegetarians are one-third as likely to be obese as meat-eaters are, and vegans are about one-tenth as likely to be obese. Of course, there are overweight vegans, just as there are skinny meat-eaters. But on average, vegans are 10 to 20 percent lighter than meat-eaters. A vegetarian diet is the only diet that has passed peer review and taken weight off and kept it off.
9. Global Peace
Leo Tolstoy claimed that vegetarianism is the taproot of humanitarianism. His point? For people who wish to sow the seeds of peace, we should be eating as peaceful a diet as possible. Eating meat supports killing animals, for no reason other than humans acquired taste for animals flesh. Great humanitarians from Leo Tolstoy and Mahatma Gandhi to Thich Nhat Hanh have argued that a vegetarian diet is the only diet for people who want to make the world a kinder place.
10. The Joy of Veggies
As the growing range of vegetarian cookbooks and restaurants shows, vegetarian foods rock. People report that when they adopt a vegetarian diet, their range of foods explodes from a center-of-the-plate meat item to a range of grains, legumes, fruits, and vegetables that they didnt even know existed.
Sir Paul McCartney sums it all up, If anyone wants to save the planet, all they have to do is just stop eating meat. Thats the single most important thing you could do. Its staggering when you think about it. Vegetarianism takes care of so many things in one shot: ecology, famine, cruelty.
So are you ready to give it a try? Check out VegCooking.com for recipes and meal plans and to take the World Vegetarian Week 7-Day Pledge.
Bruce Friedrich is vice president for campaigns atPETA. Before joining PETA in 1996, Bruce spent six years running a shelter for homeless families and the largest soup kitchen in Washington, D.C. He has been a progressive and animal activist for more than 20 years.
U.S. using food crisis to boost bio-engineered crops
By Stephen J. Hedges | Washington Bureau
May 14, 2008
WASHINGTON - The Bush administration has slipped a controversial ingredient into the $770 million aid package it recently proposed to ease the world food crisis, adding language that would promote the use of genetically modified crops in food-deprived countries.
The value of genetically modified, or bio-engineered, food is an intensely disputed issue in the U.S. and in Europe, where many countries have banned foods made from genetically modified organisms, or GMOs.
Proponents say that GMO crops can result in higher yields from plants that are hardier in harsh climates, like those found in hungry African nations.
"We certainly think that it is established fact that a number of bio-engineered crops have shown themselves to increase yields through their drought resistance and pest resistance," said Dan Price, a food aid expert on the White House's National Security Council.
Opponents of GMO crops say they can cause unforeseen medical problems. They also contend that the administration's plan is aimed at helping American agribusinesses.
"This is a hot topic now with the food crisis," said Ronnie Cummins, national director of the Organic Consumers Association. "I think it's pretty obvious at this point that genetically engineered cropsthey may do a number of things, but they don't increase yields. There are no commercialized crops that are designed to deal with the climate crisis."
President George W. Bush proposed the food package two weeks ago as aid groups and the UN World Food Program pressed Western governments to provide additional funds to bridge the gap caused by rising food prices. The aid must win congressional approval.
It would direct the U.S. Agency for International Development to spend $150 million of the total aid package on development farming, which would include the use of GMO crops.
The U.S. is the UN food program's largest donor, providing nearly half the help the group receives from governments. It gave about $1.1 billion to the WFP in both 2006 and 2007. The WFP provided $2.6 billion in aid in 2006.
In April, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice suggested at a Peace Corps conference that "we need to look again at some of the issues concerning technology and food production. I know that GMOs are not popular around the world, but there are places that drought-resistant crops should be a part of the answer."
Some aid organizations agree that it is time to consider GMO crops.
"I think it's good, that it should be part of the package," said Mark Rosegrant, an environment and technology specialist with the International Food Policy Research Institute. "It shouldn't be the only thing in the package. It is now showing quite a bit of potential in starting to address some of the long-term stresses, drought and heat."
But Noah Zerbe, an assistant professor of government and politics at Humboldt State University in California, said that GMO crops might not be appropriate for developing countries.
"You get fantastic yields if you're able to apply fertilizer and water at the right times, and herbicides to go along with that," Zerbe said. "Unfortunately, most African farmers, they can't afford these inputs."
The U.S. tried to introduce GMO crops to Africa in 2002, with mixed results. European Union opposition was part of the reason that several African nations that year balked at an offer of U.S. aid that included corn, some of which was genetically modified.
In a severe drought, Zambia rejected the U.S. aid altogether. Several other countries accepted the U.S. corn, but only after it was milled.
The NSC's Price said the administration is working to persuade European nations to lift their objection to the use of GMO crops in Africa. Rosegrant of the research institute said that, given current food shortages, new bio-safety measures could resolve such problems.
"There's evidence that those fears tend to be overblown," Rosegrant said.
What Michael Pollan Hasn't Told You About Food (May 15, 2008) http://www.alternet.org/story/85395/
As both obesity and hunger are on the rise, a new book shows why we shouldn't feel guilty about our food choices but angry with a corrupt food system. (...) Patel's new book Stuffed and Starved: The Hidden Battle for the World Food System makes visible the people behind the abstraction and reveals a global food system that, with our complicity, continues to alienate farmers and consumers alike, all while fattening the pocketbooks of a few middlemen.To read Patel is to understand the logic behind the sweets company, Nestle, acquiring the weight loss magnate Jenny Craig or why Wal-Mart is free to raise prices in areas where they have already killed off the competition. In the language of markets, these problems are not "self-correcting." Only the profound failure of the prevailing metaphor of the Invisible Hand hampers us from seeing what Patel has spent years of research making visible. In an interview with AlterNet, Patel explains how "the way we choose food today comes from distinctly abnormal roots," how these roots connect us to farmers and consumers around the world, and why we should get angry, not feel guilty. CLIP
Stuffed and Starved: The Hidden Battle for the World Food System http://www.powells.com/biblio/9781933633497?&PID=32513
"One of the most dazzling books I have read in a very long time. The product of a brilliant mind and a gift to a world hungering for justice." Naomi Klein, author of No Logoand The Shock DoctrineHalf the world is malnourished, the other half obese-both symptoms of the corporate food monopoly. To show how a few powerful distributors control the health of the entire world, Raj Patel conducts a global investigation, traveling from the "green deserts"of Brazil and protester-packed streets of South Korea to bankrupt Ugandan coffee farms and barren fields of India. What he uncovers is shocking the real reasons for famine in Asia and Africa, an epidemic of farmer suicides, and the false choices and conveniences in supermarkets. Yet he also finds hope in international resistance movements working to create a more democratic, sustainable, and joyful food system. From seed to store to plate, Stuffed and Starved explains the steps to regain control of the global food economy, stop the exploitation of farmers and consumers, and rebalance global sustenance.
Windows cleaned by raindrops, white sofas immune to red wine spills, tiles protected from limescale buildup - new products created from minute substances called nanoparticles are making such domestic dreams come true.
Based on tiny particles 10,000 times thinner than a strand of hair, the products are some of the early widespread applications of nanotechnology, the science of manipulating atoms and molecules. Nanoparticles are showing up in everything from fabric coatings to socks to plush teddy bears.
In the best-case scenario, these nanoparticles are harmless and can help spare the environment from the overuse of polluting cleaning agents.
But some scientists are concerned that these seemingly magical materials are hitting the market before their effects on human health and the environment have been sufficiently studied.
If a chemical substance has been commercialized before, on a larger than nano-scale, and is included in the Toxic Substances Control Act Chemical Substance Inventory, it is considered as "existing" by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency - and the nano-scale version of the material requires no further testing.
Scientists such as Jennifer Sass of the Natural Resources Defense Council say they think that's a mistake, and that nanoparticles should be treated as new and different materials.
That's because the few scientific reports available suggest that nanoparticles can pose a threat to human health and to the environment. For example, fish swimming in water containing modest amounts of fullerenes, soccer-ball-shaped nanoparticles made out of 60 carbon atoms, showed a large increase in brain damage. These are the same types of fullerenes being used in various skin products.
Another study showed that rats exposed to manganese oxide nanoparticles accumulated them in the brain.
Warning on nanoparticles
Scientists also have shown that very small nanoparticles, called quantum dots, penetrate pigskin. Other studies suggest that from the skin, they can travel through the lymphatic duct system to lymph nodes and eventually end up in organs such as the liver, kidney and spleen.
And when inhaled, nanoparticles will go deeper into the lungs than larger particles and reach more sensitive parts. Because of that, scientists are particularly concerned about nanoparticles being used in spray products.
"We have research showing that as a material shrinks in size, it becomes more harmful to the lungs. Nanoparticles tend to be more inflammatory to the lung, and it seems as if the lung has to work harder to get rid of them," said Andrew Maynard, chief science adviser at the Project on Emerging Nanotechnologies in Washington. The project was established in 2005 by the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars and the Pew Charitable Trusts to ensure that the potential benefits of nanotechnology are realized, at the same time possible risks are minimized.
"We can do great things with this technology, but there is a lack of information on how to use nanoparticles safely," he said.
To get a better picture of what kind of nanomaterials are being commercialized, the EPA in January started a voluntary reporting program, the Nanoscale Materials Stewardship Program. Two companies have so far submitted data, DuPont and Office ZPI, while 10 other companies have committed to reporting.
Another way to find out which nanoparticles are used in commercial products is to scan the database held by Honolulu's Nanowerk. The database, which helps manufacturers find suppliers of the nanoparticles they need, contains 1,955 different nanoparticles produced by 135 suppliers worldwide. The nanoparticles represent more than 100 different chemical compositions, at sizes ranging from just 1 nanometer to more than 100 nanometers.
"I think it is the best information source around for nanomaterials you can purchase. These are just the commercial ones. Go into research labs, and the list grows rather quickly," Maynard said.
Researchers are concerned not only with human health, but the effect nanoparticles could have on the environment, especially silver nanoparticles.
Maynard said the antimicrobial effect specific to silver nanoparticles is dangerous to microbes essential for ecologic systems. In April, scientists at the annual meeting of the American Chemical Society in New Orleans tested six different types of socks, all containing silver nanoparticles to minimize odor. Some of the socks released all of the silver nanoparticles they contained when washed in room-temperature water; others leaked no silver at all.
Sewage treatment works cannot clear the water of the substance, so released silver nanoparticles will end up in rivers, lakes and in seawater.
Samuel Luoma, senior research hydrologist with the U.S. Geological Survey, is studying how the increasing use of silver nanoparticles can affect the environment.
"We know silver itself is very toxic to plants in the aquatic environment and to invertebrates like clams, oysters and snails," Luoma said. "Silver is especially toxic to phytoplankton, the base of many food webs."
Like "normal" silver, nano-size silver will continuously release silver ions, causing adverse effects to water-living organisms. But it's possible the nanoparticles are additionally toxic due to the small size.
"We know extremely little about silver in the nanoparticle form," Luoma said.
It also is unknown how nanosilver affects humans. Normally, silver accumulates in various organs, but do no harm.
"Right now, there is an explosion of these products, but we cannot assess the risk in a rational way," Luoma said. "The simplest thing the government could do is to require information on how much silver is used in each product."
The EPA considers certain use of silver nanoparticles a pesticide, and they therefore need to be registered according to the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act. But so far, the agency has received no such applications.
"We have not registered any nanopesticides yet," said Jack Housenger, associate director of the health effects division in the office of pesticide programs.
A report published April 2 by the Silicon Valley Toxics Coalition draws a parallel between today's nanotech boom and the 1980s, when manufacturing processes of the electronics industry resulted in groundwater pollution in Santa Clara Country. There is, for example, a lack of data on health impacts and environmental toxicity of manufactured nanomaterials, and there is no technology for monitoring potential nano-pollutants in the environment.
Many good uses
Despite the alarming reports, Luoma said that silver nanoparticles can be quite useful.
They do a great job in hospitals, killing bacteria resistant to conventional antibiotics. And coating artificial hips and shoulders with silver nanoparticles can hinder bacteria from accumulating and causing infection years after implantation.
"It will be a challenge to find that middle road in absence of much scientific information," Luoma said. "How do we limit the use, what uses should we regulate and what uses should be allowed?"
Maynard, of the Project on Emerging Nanotechnologies, said that more funding is needed for research on the safety of nanomaterials. The budget for research related to health, safety and environmental effects of nanotechnology in 2009 is $76.4 million, or 5 percent of the total budget of the federal National Nanotechnology Initiative, which is $ 1.530 billion.
"The $76.4 million is what the NNI are claiming, but they may be being generous in their assessment," Maynard said.
"The bottom line here is that we need $100 million to $150 million per year invested in targeted risk research if we are to have a hope of answering some of the critical questions surrounding developing and using nanotechnologies safely."
It's a whiz-bang experiment, with a downside that could really suck
April 13, 2008
WILL the world end later this year? In mid-August, in a chamber deep underneath the Swiss-French border, physicists will switch on a machine that might produce the first man-made black holes. Normally only found in outer space, these high-gravity objects have a reputation for devouring all matter in their vicinity and they only stop when the food runs out. Could the Earth's first black hole also end up being its last, after it sucks in the chamber, the physicists, and the entire planet?
The possibility has had some press lately because two people are so concerned by this whoops-apocalypse scenario they've taken legal action against CERN, the European agency doing the experiment. The two litigants claim researchers haven't done the appropriate risk assessments for this mother of all science experiments.
The experiment will be carried out with the most powerful atom-smasher ever built the Large Hadron Collider. In a few months' time, the machine will push bunches of subatomic particles round and round a 27-kilometre-long ring at almost light speed, and then bring them into a head-on collision. Rising from the debris of the impact, according to some theories, could be minuscule black holes.
Now, the CERN scientists calculate that the baby black holes' existence will be fleeting. So fleeting, in fact, they'll evaporate almost the instant they form, long before they've had a chance to gobble down the collider or any physicists. (Although they will hang around long enough for measurements to be made, allowing researchers to make some remarkable discoveries about the cosmos.) The physics community says the chance of the particle accelerator inadvertently becoming some sort of doomsday device is almost zero. But the interesting thing is, the probability is not exactly zero, so critics argue the possibility can't be ruled out absolutely.
If you're familiar with risk assessment forms, you'll have noticed there's no section for calculating accidental Armageddon. But, in what must be one of the strangest papers published in the science journal Nature, a couple of mathematical physicists have come up with a way to roughly estimate the probability that a tinkering physicist will slip up and obliterate the world. It turns out the chance of such a cosmic calamity in any one year is less than a trillion to one. But is that risk low enough?
Dealing with low risk is an issue that not only applies to atom smashers: it's relevant to every new technology that's developed. Whether it be genetically modified foods, mobile phones or new medical procedures, no matter how much testing is done it's simply not possible to prove that anything is 100% safe.
Critics point out that one way of putting any risk into context, including the collider risk, is to work out just how bad the consequences of an accident would be. Having your entire planet slurped into a hole in the space-time continuum is a fairly high-impact outcome. And, according to an even more extreme (but highly speculative) theory, that may not be the worst of it.
The atom-smasher could unexpectedly cause what physicists innocuously describe as "a transition to a lower vacuum state". The consequence of this brand new vacuum state would be a wave of obliteration emanating from the Earth at the speed of light that would eventually annihilate the observable universe. Now that'd be a cosmic cock-up!
Should the physicists be stopped from switching on their machine? Well, it's important to keep in mind that there are plenty of wild theories out there in physics, and most of them are eventually proved untrue. Plus, odds of less than a trillion to one are pretty low. For example, the chances of civilisation being destroyed by a killer asteroid from space are way higher.
And the Nature paper outlines another scenario that is far more likely than any scientist bringing on doomsday. It turns out nature has her own atom-smashers. Particles travelling near the speed of light are continually whizzing through the galaxy. These cosmic rays crash into the atoms in our planet's atmosphere with an impact far greater than will be achieved by the CERN atom-smasher.
Nature's atom-smashing experiments have been going on for the 4.5 billion years the Earth has been around and no world-ending black holes have been created so far. Indeed, the paper in Nature estimates that the risk of one of these natural particle colliders ending the world is 1000 times greater than the chance of us doing it.
Of course physicists should be able to switch on their collider and start making some of the remarkable discoveries about our universe that await. The machine promises to explore exciting territory: finding more of the cosmos' fundamental building blocks, for example, and perhaps even unearthing new hidden dimensions.
Will Scientists Create "Manimals"? Human-Animal Embryos Get Approval
May 21, 2008
British scientists will be allowed to research diseases such as Alzheimers and Parkinsons using human-animal hybrid embryos, after the House of Commons rejected a ban recently. Advocates of human-animal embryo research say that scientists need every available means possible to research devastating diseases. Critics, on the other hand, say that scientists are promoting a frightening and irreversible future.
The main kinds of mixed embryo permitted by the Bill are cytoplasmic hybrids or cybrids, which are made by moving a human nucleus into an empty animal egg. These are genetically 99.9 per cent human. It allows true hybrids, chimeras that combine human and animal cells, and transgenic human embryos that include animal DNA.
Edward Leigh, British Member of Parliament for Gainsborough, who supported the amendment to ban all human-animal embryos, said that mingling animal and human DNA crossed an ultimate boundary. He says exaggerated claims give patients false hope while the dangers of the research are not being considered.
In many ways we are like children playing with landmines without any concept of the dangers of the technology we are handling, Leigh said.
At this point, it is legal to culture admixed embryos up to 14 days, but illegal to transfer them to a human or animal womb. But many scientists around the globe want permission to keep embryos alive longer, perhaps even to full term through implantation. Cornell scientists Nikica Zaninovic, who helped create the worlds first genetically modified human embryo says that in order to be sure that a new gene had been inserted and the embryo had been genetically modified, scientists would ideally want to keep growing the embryo and carry out further tests.
But ethicists worry that by approving human-animal embryos, lawmakers are opening the door to a future of enhanced or mutant humans that have animal traits. It is even thought possible to so drastically alter human genomes that a type of superhuman species could emerge.
In theory, the bio-fusion options are limitless. Any gene that exists in another species could be brought over to a human cell. Imagine some of the incredible traits of the animal kingdom that some humans dont possess such as night vision, amazing agility, or the ability to breath underwater. The precedence for these types of radical changes is already in place. Experimental mice, for example, were successfully given the human ability to see in color. If animals can be engineered to have human traits, then humans can certainly be mutated to have desirable animal traits.
The fear with germline engineering is that since it is inheritable, offspring and all succeeding generations would carry the modified traits. This is one reason why this type of engineering is currently banned- it could lead to irreversible alteration of the entire human species!
Ethics, not scientific limitations, is the real brick wall at this point. Most scientists believe manipulating genes in order to make an individual healthy is a noble and worthwhile pursuit. But some are against even that notion, arguing that historically amazing individuals have sometimes been plagued by genetic mental and physical disorders, which inadvertently shaped the greatness of their lives. Should we rob the human race of character shaping frailty? Very few scientists would dare to publicly endorse the idea of using genetic engineering to make a normal, healthy individuals somehow superior to the rest of the human race.
Athletes, on the other hand, might feel differently. In theory, the single most effective way to radically alter your physical capacities is to manipulate your genes. Authorities are already worried that genetic doping will become widespread in the world of athletic competition. Now that weve mapped out the human genome and identified exactly which genes make you buff, tough and roughexperts say its only a matter of time.
Gene doping could spawn athletes capable of out-running, out-jumping and out-cycling even the worlds greatest champions. However, researchers are attempting to prevent that from happening by detecting the first cases of gene doping in professional athletes before the practice becomes mainstream.
WADA has had a research program in place for some years now, to try to develop tests for gene-based doping, said Theodore Friedmann, M.D., head of the agencys panel on genetic doping and director of the gene therapy program at the University of California, San Diego.
But if the past history of traditional steroid doping is any indication of the future, some peopleincluding athletes, doctors, and scientistswill likely break the rules.
From: Nattanya (email@example.com)
Date: 23 May 2008
Subject: On balls!
1. The sport of choice for the urban poor is BASKETBALL.
2 The sport of choice for maintenance level employees is BOWLING
3 The sport of choice for front-line workers is FOOTBALL.
4 The sport of choice for supervisors is BASEBALL.
5 The sport of choice for middle management is TENNIS.
6 The sport of choice for corporate executives and officers is GOLF.
THE AMAZING CONCLUSION:
The higher you go in the corporate structure, the smaller your balls become.
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