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Rants, Ruminations, Links

June 22, 2020

Summer solstice just happened, but I was too busy to appreciate it and use it for my personal spiritual healing. 

This is a time of change and a time to adapt and learn. Everything changes of course all the time and we have to change our routines and rites accordingly, but things are speeding up this year and the movie of my life feels now like a silent era film shot with 16 fps and played back with 24.

This solstice was different as we are going through a major shift in our lives and are suddenly facing a different world. There have been big challenges to deal with the coronavirus pandemic and a lot of people have been devastated by what has happened within their families and to their friends.

For many varied reasons people were not happy even before the pandemic, but now injustices, absurdities, and reckless waste are being exposed in a way they never have been visible before. So, what better time to do work towards healing all of mankind on all levels, physical, emotional, and spiritual.

We have to stop and think it over, as there is a need for fare ranging, well-considered decisions. One shouldn’t invest any emotional energy in the hope that things will eventually return to normal. They won’t. Which is good news because what is “normal” in our modern industrialized, commodified, standardized, electrified, digitized, computerized society is actually crazy, self-destructive, and a fast-track to armageddon.

The changes which are now forced upon us must not necessarily be improvements, remedies, solutions, and a panacea for the economic, political, social, cultural diseases which torment us, but there is a slight chance that we may in fact be clumsily stumbling toward actual sanity.

Anyway, things are only going to get more unusual and confusing from here on, and one has to keep calm, act carefully, prepare, take any possible precautions, and be always alert.

Will there be a second wave of the coronavirus pandemic? Or a “new normal” of social distancing and intermittent lockdowns? Should we getting used to the idea that people over 70 die from SARS-CoV-2? (which helps pension funds stay solvent). Or will the next pandemic be an airborne HIV? Or a mutated coronavirus which hides in the brain, protected by the blood-brain barrier?

This sounds scary, though human extinction will more likely come about in another way, for instance by runaway climate change, ecological collapse, chemical poisoning, robots escaping our control, or nuclear war.

The coronavirus pandemic may dominate the news still, but none of the existential problems humanity faces have gone away. Carbon dioxide emissions for example plunged by a global average of 17 percent in April, compared with last year, but have since surged again to within about 5 percent of last year’s levels.

In a report by Deutsche Bank, analysts say there is a a 33 percent chance that at least one of four major tail risks will occur within the next decade: a major influenza pandemic killing more than two million people; a globally catastrophic volcanic eruption; a major solar flare; or a global war. 

On a lighter note: 

To make an economic restart more palpable, the coronavirus pandemic is belittled and unfortunately some progressive or alternate writers have taken the cue and are questioning social distancing and lockdowns.

An “Anti-Empire” blog writes:

Covid isn’t spread by asymptomatics (ie it can happen but that’s not a major infection vector), isn’t spread by children, isn’t spread outdoors, can not survive outdoors, up to 80% were not susceptible to start with — either because of T-cell immunity or because of behavioral/social reasons — and has a 0.0325% fatality rate (according to CDC) for the under 50s if you do catch it.

Just like in several other incidences, progressives, liberals, libertarians, and far right groups are on the same page, rejecting any government interference in their personal lives.

The intent of authorities to tighten control and collect private data is beyond doubt. China for instance is collecting DNA from blood samples of millions of men and boys to build a sweeping genetic database that will add to growing surveillance capabilities; Google conspires with US agencies; most applications have backdoors which NSA, FBI, CIA, and other security agencies can exploit; millions of US telephone calls and messages are recorded and analyzed.

And yet, even if one hates the nanny state, common sense measures like wearing masks, reducing personal contacts, and avoiding crowded places save lives. In this case, abiding the imposed restrictions is the tradeoff needed to keep us healthy.

People openly discuss the possibility of economic collapse and what inconveniences that may entail: There could be food scarcity, disrupted garbage disposal and sanitation, blackouts, bank defaults, break down of the health system, lawlessness (burglaries, robberies, gang activity).

Everyone becomes a “prepper.” From an advisory on the web: Make sure you know how to defend yourself and your family. You may need to avoid crowds and live on your own, potentially off the grid. Become self-reliant and do not put your faith in the system.  Most people are still desperately fighting to keep the system intact in spite of the awareness that it’s rigged and corrupt. Instead, leave the system, put your faith in yourself, improve critical thinking skills, and create your back up plans.

The BBC asks: “How can the world economy recover during and after coronavirus?” Prompting the fundamental questions: Why should the world economy in its present form recover? Is it worth be saved? Who wants it to be preserved and who wants it be replaced with something very different?

Here are some answers which one will not find in mainstream media: The economic system is rotten, rigged, and beyond repair. It benefits only big corporations and their billionaire owners, inevitably increasing inequality. The lockdowns, trade restrictions, and travel bans have damaged complicated transnational supply systems, benefitting local firms and increasing subsistence production. If the disturbances continue for some more month, local economies will be strengthen and superfluous, trivial consumption of luxury or fashion items will end. Unnecessary and ecological damaging activities like tourism and motorsport will hopefully end too.

Local supply by small firms saves transport costs, can be more easily customized to particular needs, and keeps the money in the community. Repair of appliances and gadgets are more easily to organize if local companies are involved. This of course would need a paradigm shift from mass production of short-lived crap to the meticulous production of long lasting quality goods.

Air and sea transport are major pollution sources and a shortening of supply chains would greatly reduce humanities ecological footprint.

A sustainable and humane new economy should most importantly end weapons production, investments in military infrastructure, and the financing of large national armies.

The billionaires know, that the current neoliberal economic system, which served them so well, is on the verge of collapse, and for that reason it has to be propped up with 9 trillion US$ or more of fiat money not backed by assets. US debt is 25 trillion US$. Together with the stock market this is the virtual economy. The real economy is what happens in the private households of ordinary people, in the local grocery shops, at smallholdings, and in small businesses.

Real and virtual economy have since long shifted apart and at one point will become separated and independent from each other. The ordinary people will then be on their own and they will be better off that way. They will drop out of the old system, create an informal economy, self-organize, and ignore the federal authorities in far away big cities. It will be a quiet revolution. It will not be televised, it will not be reported in the news, it will not be discussed by pundits and think-tank experts.

As the virtual economy cannot exist without some real funds, exploitative taxes have to be forcibly collected, like it was done throughout history by feudal rulers. This will certainly cause resistance and things will heat up with open rebellions spreading in many countries of the world.

There are interesting times ahead, which is another strong incentive to stay alive.

When I wrote about tourism and air travel, the Austrian comedian Helmut Qualtinger came to my mind, who once declared in a song:

I hob zwoar ka ohnung wo i hinfoahr
aber dafür bin i gschwinder duat

Which could be roughly translated to:

I have no clue whereto I go
but at least I’m faster there

Feline news:

http://hatchingcatnyc.com/2020/06/10/life-hells-kitchen-cat/
https://www.scmp.com/news/china/society/article/3088458/cat-drug-shows-promise-against-coronavirus-lab-tests-chinese
http://hatchingcatnyc.com/2020/06/17/cat-gave-birth-circle-theatre/
https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2020/jun/21/the-cats-whiskers-new-way-of-counting-lions-could-boost-conservation-efforts 

Environmental news:

https://thebarentsobserver.com/en/ecology/2020/06/big-clean-after-catastrophe-spilled-oil-will-be-removed-taymyr-tundra-only-next The Russian Exxon Valdez, only bigger and more damaging.
https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-52977740
https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2020/jun/09/russian-mining-firm-accused-of-using-global-heating-to-avoid-blame-for-oil-spill
https://www.euronews.com/2020/06/09/russia-oil-spill-putin-declares-state-of-emergency-over-pollution-in-arctic-circle
https://e360.yale.edu/digest/russian-oil-spill-reaches-pristine-arctic-lake
https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2020/jun/10/three-arrested-over-huge-fuel-spill-in-the-arctic-circle
https://theintercept.com/2020/06/10/iowa-animal-rights-crime-ag-gag-law Criminalizing animal rights activists.
https://news.mongabay.com/2020/06/how-much-rainforest-is-being-destroyed
https://news.mongabay.com/2020/06/report-names-the-banks-financing-destructive-oil-projects-in-the-amazon
https://civileats.com/2020/06/12/op-ed-its-time-to-rethink-the-food-system-from-the-ground-up/ All the right words: regenerative farming, no-till, cover crops to build up soil health. But how do we get there? And if this would ever be supported by the ruling parties, would it be even possible in industrial agriculture and an industrial food system. The answer is clearly no, and the only solution is: grow your own food or support local farmers, gardeners, co-ops, and community farm or garden initiatives.
https://jacobinmag.com/2020/06/european-union-green-new-deal-garbage-waste
http://www.defenddemocracy.press/nestle-may-sell-its-bottled-water-brands-in-the-us-and-canada-what-is-behind-this-maneuver/ Tactical moves to deflect criticism.
https://meta.eeb.org/2020/06/18/heres-how-we-solve-one-of-our-biggest-threats-chemical-pollution/ Pollution from synthetic chemicals is a major and growing threat to people and nature.
https://www.theguardian.com/film/2020/jun/17/the-pollinators-honeybee-documentary-film Bees are essential pollinators, yet they are poisoned by agricultural chemicals. “I don’t think it’s realistic to think we can live in a world without pesticides,” a beekeeper declares and proposes some token measures. So, chemical warfare will go on and we will have to live without certain kinds of food, which would at least have the benefit, that the chemicals, which kill the bees are not anymore poisoning us too.
https://www.independent.co.uk/environment/air-pollution-exeter-university-world-health-organisation-a9571226.html Half of the world’s population is exposed to increasing air pollution. Prosperity (of the billionaires) comes at a price.

Economic news:

OECD chief economist Laurence Boone said that “economic activity has collapsed across the OECD during shutdown by as much as 20 to 30 percent […] economic activity does not and cannot return to normal under these circumstances.”

Business revenue, meanwhile, is down by up to 90 percent. The US Federal Reserve throws money at the problem and its balance sheet has expanded by 3 trillion US$ or 70.9 percent from the end of 2019, with 11 programs to buy treasuries, mortgage securities, bank financing to help businesses, and recently corporate securities.

McKinsey Global Institute estimates that G20 fiscal deficits could reach 9 trillion to 11 trillion US$ in 2020, growing to as much as 30 trillion US$ by 2023. Since 10 trillion US$ is roughly 11 per cent of global gross domestic product, by 2023 outstanding global government debt would exceed GDP, reaching wartime-record levels.

It’s not only aviation industry and tourism which are propped up by governments, the ECB (European Central Bank) has bought corporate bonds worth 7.6 billion Euros from big polluters, (utilities and fossil fuel companies) responsible for 11.2 millions tons of carbon emissions.

http://econintersect.com/pages/opinion/opinion.php?post=202006100302 The macroeconomics of degrowth. Important!
https://www.opendemocracy.net/en/transformation/degrowth-and-emerging-mosaic-alternatives/
https://wolfstreet.com/2020/06/10/the-chilling-things-delta-said-about-the-airline-business-the-90-collapse-in-q2-revenues-and-why-some-demand-destruction-may-be-permanent/ There is indeed a chance, that airlines will go bust despite being subsidized with mountains of taxpayer money. Very good for the environment!
https://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2020/06/theres-a-crisis-in-u-s-capitalism.html
https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2020/07/coronavirus-banks-collapse/612247/
https://www.scmp.com/comment/opinion/article/3088421/why-us-hopes-quick-economic-recovery-coronavirus-are-pure-fantasy Must read.
https://truthout.org/articles/corporations-will-seize-opportunities-to-profit-from-the-pandemic/
https://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2020/06/16/oecd-j16.html Bad news for industrialists, goods news for environmentalists.
https://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2020/06/8-reasons-why-covid-19-damage-to-the-economy-will-be-deep-and-lasting.html
https://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2020/06/17/macr-j17.html The great wealth redistribution towards corporations and the superrich. Also: The aviation industry, a major polluter and waster of vital resources, has to be kept intact, so that “important people” can hop around the globe and tourism, another polluting and wasting industry, can go on.
https://www.dw.com/en/our-prosperity-must-be-compromised-because-it-is-killing-us/a-53741670?ct=t
https://consortiumnews.com/2020/06/18/lee-camp-the-secret-reason-billionaires-love-a-pandemic/ Nice.

Media and technology news:

Journalists often rely on statements by police departments in order to report news events, and there’s a much closer relationship between the news media and the police than there is between the news media and activists or ordinary civilians. This, combined with the dynamic of access journalism and the fact that the news media are owned by billionaires with a vested interest in keeping their assets protected by a militarized police force, enables police to control the dominant narrative about them.

Most Westerners have been indoctrinated throughout their entire lives by movies and TV shows about heroic cops saving the day from villainous bad guys. The superrich who fund these movies and shows have built their fortunes in a social system which depends upon a military force controlling the world internationally and a police force controlling the nation domestically, so mainstream consciousness is constantly shaped by stories about the military and police being just and virtuous.

In 2017, representatives of Facebook, Twitter, and Google were instructed in a US Senate Judiciary Committee hearing that it is their responsibility to “quell information rebellions” and adopt a “mission statement” expressing their commitment to “prevent the fomenting of discord.”

Civil wars don’t start with gunshots, they start with words,” the representatives were told by cold warrior think tank denizen Clint Watts. “America’s war with itself has already begun. We all must act now on the social media battlefield to quell information rebellions that can quickly lead to violent confrontations and easily transform us into the Divided States of America.”

Stopping the false information artillery barrage landing on social media users comes only when those outlets distributing bogus stories are silenced — silence the guns and the barrage will end,” Watts added.

US media are warning that Russia, China, and Iran are “employing state media, proxy outlets, and social media accounts to amplify criticism of the United States related to the death of George Floyd and subsequent events.” 

Disney-owned ABC reports: “As protesters hit the streets in cities across the country, America’s foreign adversaries have flooded social media with content meant to sow division and discord in the wake of George Floyd’s death […] These actors criticize the United States as hypocritical, corrupt, undemocratic, racist, guilty of human rights abuses, and on the verge of collapsing.”

https://www.globalresearch.ca/southfront-censored-under-cover-pandemic/5715412
https://thegrayzone.com/2020/06/10/wikipedia-formally-censors-the-grayzone-as-regime-change-advocates-monopolize-editing/
https://thegrayzone.com/2020/06/11/meet-wikipedias-ayn-rand-loving-founder-and-wikimedia-foundations-regime-change-operative-ceo/
https://fair.org/home/nyt-erases-us-occupations-role-in-prolonging-taliban-insurgency/
https://fair.org/home/missing-perspective-in-media-iran-venezuela-ties-are-none-of-uss-business/
https://orientxxi.info/magazine/facebook-recruits-an-israeli-censorship-expert,3946

Imperial news:

Caitlin Johnstone: Trump is not a populist champion of the little guy, nor a closet Nazi working to establish a white ethnostate, nor a Kremlin asset, but is in fact nothing other than a miserable rich man from a miserable rich family who did what it takes to get elected to the presidency of a racist, corrupt, bloodthirsty empire and remain there for a full term. Everything else is narrative which is wholly divorced from reality.

Dear United States, I think part of the problem we’re all having with you is that when you said you wanted to be the world’s police, we didn’t quite understand what the word “police” means in your country.

Two thousand protesters marched and rallied in Palmdale, California, demanding an investigation into the death of Robert Fuller, a 24-year-old black worker found hanging from a tree near City Hall. Fuller’s death follows a similar incident involving the hanging death of an African American man on May 31 in the city of Victorville. The body of 38-year-old Malcom Harsch was found hanging from a tree outside a public library in that city, which is just 50 miles east of Palmdale.

This is a dark reminder of US’ history of lynching black people. Fuller’s death was quickly categorized as a suicide by the Los Angeles County Coroner’s Office. Pending investigation, Harsch’s death has also been ruled a suicide.

There were 4,743 documented lynchings in the USA between 1882 and 1968, with more than 73 percent of them happening in the Southern states.

https://www.kpbs.org/news/2020/jun/15/ap-explains-vile-us-history-of-lynching-of-people/
https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2018/apr/26/lynchings-memorial-us-south-montgomery-alabama
http://www.tomdispatch.com/post/176716/tomgram%3A_andrea_mazzarino%2C_the_boot_camp_of_american_life_/#more
https://www.ehn.org/environmental-justice-examples-2646153510.html Environmental racism.
https://e360.yale.edu/features/unequal-impact-the-deep-links-between-inequality-and-climate-change   Interview about environmental racism.
https://www.ehn.org/environmental-racism-prisons-2646155161.html
https://www.npr.org/2020/06/09/873278314/no-sign-of-antifa-so-far-in-justice-department-cases-brought-over-unrest
https://www.commondreams.org/news/2020/06/11/speaking-looting-trump-admin-refuses-disclose-corporate-recipients-500-billion
https://www.theatlantic.com/national/archive/2014/09/police-officers-who-hit-their-wives-or-girlfriends/380329/
http://womenandpolicing.com/violenceFS.asp#notes A National Center for Women and Policing fact sheet reports: “Two studies have found that at least 40 percent of police officer families experience domestic violence, in contrast to 10 percent of families in the general population. A third study of older and more experienced officers found a rate of 24 percent, indicating that domestic violence is two to four times more common among police families than US families in general.”
https://news.gallup.com/poll/312644/national-pride-falls-record-low.aspx
https://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2020/06/18/covi-j18.html Flawed pandemic response.
https://truthout.org/articles/trump-says-masks-are-worn-to-spite-him-fauci-warns-against-anti-science-bias

Imperial conquest news:

http://www.tomdispatch.com/post/176710/tomgram%3A_palumbo_and_draper%2C_knockout_in_washington/#more The gulf state lobbies conquered Washington.
https://www.counterpunch.org/2020/06/10/israel-loses-its-best/ The long shadow of Zionism.
https://www.telesurenglish.net/news/Venezuela-Denounces-Arbitrary-Arrest-of-Alex-Saab-by-Interpol-20200614-0002.html
https://www.globalresearch.ca/america-supernational-sovereignty/5716014
https://www.globalresearch.ca/trump-hammers-cuba-cuba-cures-sick/5716216
https://www.counterpunch.org/2020/06/18/dams-deaths-squads-and-the-murder-of-berta-caceres/ US colonial policy in its backyard.
http://www.defenddemocracy.press/serbia-this-schizophrenia-has-to-stop/

WWIII news:

https://valdaiclub.com/a/highlights/europe-russia-and-attitudes-towards-the-new-cold/
https://www.forbes.com/sites/davidaxe/2020/06/10/look-out-below-a-hypersonic-missile-just-fell-off-a-us-air-force-b-52/#594ba3a434f9
https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-8405829/NATO-focus-threat-posed-China-military-bodys-chief-says.html
https://rsc-johnson.house.gov/news/press-releases/johnson-wilson-unveil-rsc-national-security-strategy
https://www.zerohedge.com/technology/thing-actually-real-us-army-accidentally-reveals-plan-hypersonic-missiles
http://www.tomdispatch.com/post/176712/tomgram%3A_michael_klare%2C_is_there_a_chinese_missile_crisis_in_our_future/#more
https://www.middleeasteye.net/news/israel-possesses-90-nuclear-warheads-sipri
http://www.defenddemocracy.press/call-russia-sponsor-of-terror-imperial-minded-house-republicans-urge-return-to-cold-war-footing-drastic-sanctions-policy/ 

Pandemic news:

According to a joint study by two epidemic research institutes in China, the virus has gone through at least six major gene changes that boosted its ability to infect and evade the human immune system. These mutations are somehow similar to those that occurred in HIV and influenza viruses, who dodge immune attack with fast mutation.

A research team in Wuhan reported, that they didn’t find long-lasting antibodies among medical workers exposed to the virus at the early stage of outbreak. The report warns that humans might never develop immunity against SARS-CoV-2.

A cheap and widely available drug called dexamethasone has been found to help seriously ill patients suffering from COVID-19. UK experts say the low-dose steroid treatment is a major breakthrough in the fight against the virus as it reduced the mortality rate of the most vulnerable patients by one-third.

A new outbreak of the coronavirus in China has sent ripples of fear through the world of a second wave of infections, especially in countries that have had some success in controlling the pandemic and are moving ahead to reopen their economies. China’s capital Beijing canceled flights, banned outbound travel, and shut schools as a new coronavirus outbreak raised fears of a broader contagion.

Several Asian countries that have eased restrictions and resumed some level of economic activity, including Australia, Japan and South Korea, have in the last month reported new outbreaks.

US states in the south and west confront a new wave of coronavirus infections.

Global infection rates are still climbing and the pandemic can get worse in many places. Brazil, Chile, Mexico, India, Pakistan, South Africa, Nigeria, and other developing nations. 

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/jun/07/cuba-coronavirus-success-contact-tracing-isolation Cuba’s health care system gets praised by the Guardian. What is going on here?
https://www.telesurenglish.net/news/100-Cuban-Doctors-to-Remain-in-Kenya-Until-the-End-of-the-Year-20200610-0006.html
https://www.counterpunch.org/2020/06/10/how-che-guevara-taught-cuba-to-confront-covid-19/
https://www.telesurenglish.net/news/cuba-to-begin-gradual-postpandemic-recovery-20200612-0005.html
https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2020/06/200611152435.htm Researchers have found that astrocytes, supporting brain cells, can harbor HIV and then spread the virus to immune cells that traffic out of the brain and into other organs. HIV moved from the brain via this route even when the virus was suppressed by combination antiretroviral therapy.
Unfortunately the blood-brain barrier not only protects the brain but also the virus. Wouldn’t that be something for SARS-CoV-2 too? Just imagine…
https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2020/06/200611152444.htm
https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2020/06/200609104253.htm Social distancing and lockdowns will increase loneliness, anxiety, depression, and decrease work performance.
https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2020/06/200610112057.htm
https://www.ehn.org/police-protests-covid-19-2646171057.html
https://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2020/06/17/bras-j17.html Brazil is the showcase of neoliberal policies: Back to work at all costs, profits trump lives, the normality of a cruel, inhumane social system geared towards keeping the elites in power and the population suppressed.
https://www.scmp.com/news/world/americas/article/3089370/how-chile-went-coronavirus-role-model-among-worlds-worst
https://www.timesofisrael.com/recovered-covid-19-patients-suffer-major-ongoing-physical-cognitive-problems/ “Recovered” patients may suffer from longtime debilitating symptoms.

Uncategorized news:

https://theconversation.com/cubas-clean-rivers-show-the-benefits-of-reducing-nutrient-pollution-131357
https://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2020/06/13/palm-j13.html About the murder of Olaf Palme. A history lesson and a stark warning.
https://theconversation.com/coronavirus-recovery-why-local-markets-are-key-to-reviving-our-locked-down-town-centres-140510
https://www.blackagendareport.com/freedom-rider-churchill-columbus-and-leopold-fall-down Another history lesson.
https://psyche.co/ideas/could-the-art-of-sashiko-help-to-mend-our-frayed-world
https://dgrnewsservice.org/resistance-culture/biophilia/how-prairie-dogs-cry-for-rain/