Links August 2019

August 18, 2019

There are a myriad of interesting, useful, necessary, and satisfying things which one could do in this much too short life and it seems good practice to regularly re-evaluate the most obvious options in order to focus one’s limited time and energy on activities which clearly have an impact, help to alleviate suffering, bring peace and happiness.

Is writing posts on a blog which is marked by US agencies as “fake news,” omitted in Google searches, and read by just 193 followers — who once accidentally stepped by — helpful?

Only if the opinions, analyses, notions, questions, and ideas presented here are convincing and applicable in the daily life of the readers. Only if they help readers to confirm intuitive assumptions (“gut feelings”) by a rational thought process.

A high bar, set even higher by the information overflow of our technicized life, the virtual reality of electronic media, an artificial urban environment (of plastic, steel, and concrete), and the specialization / alienation of the workplace.

A bar, set even higher by a relentless bombardment with advertising, good old propaganda (the public relations of Edward Bernays), indoctrination, reeducation, cheating, lying, and the strict ban (or dismissal as conspiracy theories) of opinions which contradict the officially approved narrative.

The last two paragraphs are based on assumptions and critical (skeptical) assessments which the reader must not necessarily share. I cannot go into details here, but I explained these assumptions and assessments in many earlier blogposts. I’m not alone with my suspicions and skepticisms, I’m in good company. In the company of Caitlin Johnstone, Tim Hayward, Stephen Gowans, Vanessa Beeley, John Chuckman, Eva Bartlett, just to randomly name a few of the free spirits, heretics, critics, skeptics, dissidents, standing on the shoulders of Mark Twain, Upton Sinclair, Jack London, Howard Zinn, Arundhati Roy, and other giants, making their voices heard, sowing the seeds of doubt.


So I raise my tiny voice along the choir of enlightened angels which the powers to be desperately try to drown with a cacophony of lies and badly written nonsensical fairy tales. They tried and failed to blind us, mislead, cheat, deceive, dupe, fool us. Their mind control formulas didn’t work.

One may ask, why they (the powerful) should try to cheat and deceive us in a society based on respect, compassion, care, kindness, and brotherly (sisterly) love for one another?

Only a cynic can ask this question. And don’t get me started on the state of our Western consumer society, on flagrant and evident hypocrisy, falsehood, self-righteousness (smugness), egoism / narcissism, delusions of grandeur or exceptionalism (the shining city on a hill), and plain male aggression.

What I wrote just now includes the main assumptions in this blogs analyses ad judgements.

So, is this a blog about conspiracy theories?

Caitlin Johnstone writes: Indeed, I think it’s fair to say that everyone is a conspiracy theorist if they’re really honest with themselves. Not everyone believes that the official stories about 9/11 and the JFK assassination are riddled with plot holes or what have you, but I doubt that anyone who really sat down and sincerely grappled with the question “Do powerful people conspire?” would honestly deny it. Some are just more self-aware than others about the self-evident reality that powerful people conspire all the time, and it’s only a question of how and with whom and to what extent.

And Cornell University professor Dave Callum tweets: I am a ‘conspiracy theorist’. I believe men and women of wealth and power conspire. If you don’t think so, then you are what is called ‘an idiot’. If you believe stuff but fear the label, you are what is called ‘a coward’.


Back to the start: What ideas and questions may be applicable in the daily life of the readers?

Do we need all the stuff which is offered to us in the supermarkets and shopping malls? Is it necessary to neatly wrap and pack everything in plastic? How is our food grown, harvested, and processed? Can we be sure that it is not contaminated with microbes (E. coli, Salmonella, Listeria), pesticides, heavy metals, and POPs (persistent organic pollutants)?

Where do the 320 million tons of plastic go which are produced every year? Why are only 9 percent of plastic recycled? Why do we need bottled water — is tap water contaminated and not safe to drink?

Is the air that we breath healthy? If not, why don’t we move to a place with better air quality? Why don’t we reduce and, if possible, avoid activities which contribute to air pollution, like traveling by car or plane, buying industrial produced goods, buying things which are made in faraway places and shipped across the oceans?

If our sleep is disturbed by traffic noise why don’t we look for a more quiet place? (Unfortunately quiet, idyllic places, not threatened by forest fires, floods, pipeline spills, mining, fracking, and waste dumps, are hard to find.) 

Is there really no possibility to reduce our consumption of electricity and fossil fuels? Are convenience and habit preventing us to aim for the smallest possible carbon footprint?

Is our job fulfilling, take we part in producing absolutely necessary goods and services? Or are we involved in the production and the selling of crap, in fraudulent schemes, in the theft of public goods (water, land, mineral resources), in the enrichment of parasitic rentiers (the owners or shareholders of our company)?

If our job is not clearly necessary and beneficial, why don’t we quit it and found or join a co-op? Or become self-employed? There’s a need of gardeners, farmers, foresters, craftsmen, technicians, engineers, educators, counselors, organizers, caregivers, nurses, medics, doctors, just to name a few beneficial and fulfilling vocations, it should be possible to find something which fits our talents and helps the community.

Do we have friends, do we know people whom we trust completely? Do we know somebody whom we like, who’s company we enjoy, and who evidently also enjoys our company?

Do we love and are we loved in return?

Feline news:

https://massivesci.com/notes/cats-heatwave-hot-desert-domestication-climate-change-physiology/ Cats can take the heat.
https://www.theatlantic.com/science/archive/2019/07/does-my-cat-want-me-lick-her-back/594988/ Companies try to sell us useless crap, and occasionally even the weirdest schemes succeed.

Environmental news:

Deforestation in the Amazon has dramatically increased since former military officer Jair Bolsonaro became president. Brazil has lost more than 1,300 square miles of forest cover this year, and the pace of deforestation is increasing. There are estimates that the equivalent of three soccer fields are being deforested every minute in the Amazon. In June, deforestation increased by 88 percent over the same month last year. The drastic spike is due to President Bolsonaro’s rolling back of regulations and allowing illegal land invasions, logging, and burning.

http://triplecrisis.com/13722-2/ Agroecology as Innovation
https://dgrnewsservice.org/civilization/ecocide/runaway-population-growth-the-crisis-behind-the-climate-crisis/ Recommended reading.
http://www.koreatimes.co.kr/www/nation/2019/08/371_273618.html Cheap and save nuclear energy.
https://www.alternet.org/2019/07/its-the-second-dirtiest-thing-in-the-world-and-youre-wearing-it/ Using second-hand clothes and washing them less frequently alleviates the environmental damage.
https://www.truthdig.com/articles/the-cheapest-way-to-save-the-planet-grows-like-a-weed/ Is hemp the solution?
https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2019/jul/30/toxic-america-families-seek-answers-childhood-cancers Childhood cancers rise. Cancers in any age group rise. For decades we were told, that the increase in cancer cases is a result of improved diagnoses, greater statistical accuracy, and higher life expectancy. Then they told us, that cancer will be defeated in the next ten years. All nonsense, they mislead us so they could continue producing and selling their toxic stuff.
https://www.theguardian.com/cities/2019/aug/02/turf-it-out-is-it-time-to-say-goodbye-to-artificial-grass This is insane, this is hard to believe, and yet, it is not hyperbole from the Onion or another satirical magazine, it is real news. Astonishing, how far we have come in our quest for the holy plastic grail, astonishing, how far we have come in building our clean and neat plastic world.
https://thehill.com/policy/energy-environment/455779-researchers-say-firefly-populations-are-dying-out-due-to-human It is the same here. Just a few years ago, one could see many of them while walking in the woods or sitting in the garden on a quiet evening. They were magical, they were tiny mysterious orange or green lanterns, inciting feelings of wonder and calm, or reflective and contemplative thoughts, if one was in the right mood.
But it’s all gone, now there are hardly any fireflies to find in the forest or garden.
https://www.globalresearch.ca/pesticides-cocktail-toxicity/5686153 The steadily increasing chemical contamination of soil, water, food, and air may be an even deadlier threat to life on earth than global warming.

Economic news:

In the 1980s, President Ronald Reagan charged that Japan “is stealing our future” “by counterfeiting or copying of American products. Today US President Trump targets China, igniting a trade war.

On July 1, Trump said that China had not fulfilled a promise to buy large volumes of US farm products and vowed to impose a 10 percent fee on 300 billion US$ of Chinese imports starting September 1 (in the latest move Trump though delayed the 10 percent tariffs on cellphones, laptop computers, toys, and other consumer goods until December 15 to let the retailers stock up for the holidays).

China in turn did let its currency weaken past the key 7-yuan-per-dollar level for the first time since 2008. The US Treasury Department subsequently accused China of being a “currency manipulator” and threatened to use the IMF (International Monetary Fund) to end the “unfair competitive advantages” of China.

China also will suspend the purchase of US agricultural goods in response to increased tariffs. “It has been agreed that the State Council’s Customs Tariff Commission does not rule out import levies on newly acquired US agricultural products after August 3, and related Chinese companies have suspended the purchase of U.S.agricultural products,” the Chinese Commerce Ministry stated.

The trade war fueled by President Trump has already had adverse effects on US agriculture. China purchased about 14.3 million tons of last season’s soybean crop, the smallest purchase in the least in 11 years. In 2017 China bought 32.9 million tons of soybeans.

US foreign service agent Julie Eadeh, the political unit chief of the US Consulate General, met (and maybe conspired) with Hong Kong protest leaders. When China released details of Eadeh, US State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus spoke of “a thuggish regime.”

The US administration has appointed Elnigar Iltebir, a Harvard Kennedy School-educated academic and daughter of a prominent Uighur intellectual and journalist, as director for China at the National Security Council in a symbolic move that certainly will negatively impact relations between the two countries.

Forbes currently lists 607 billionaires in the United States, 99 in Russia, and 71 in Hong Kong.

According to real estate agency Savills New York has 85 billionaires, Hong Kong 79, Moscow 71, Beijing 61, and London 55. “It is no coincidence that many of the cities with the largest number of billionaires are also among the most expensive in the world for ultra-prime residential property,” a Savills report states:
https://www.counterpunch.org/2019/07/29/the-coming-savings-writedowns/ Debts that can’t be paid, won’t be paid. This fundamental truth will eventually cause severe economic instability. So what to do about it? “Quantitative Easing and bailouts of the One Percent can only be a temporary solution.” Michael Hudson writes. He advocates debt cancelation instead, but debt cancelation is also only a band-aid measure, because the parasitic rentier class will continue to suck dry individuals and companies alike via banks, insurers, stock traders, equity firms, and real estate brokerages.
https://www.asiatimes.com/2019/07/article/trumps-next-trade-war-target-vietnam/ 2 million Vietnamese died in the war against the US occupation forces, and yet Vietnam tries to be an obedient sweatshop country, producing cheap consumer goods for the US market — while legendary President Ho Chi Minh and General Vo Nguyen Giap are turning in their graves.
https://monthlyreview.org/2019/07/01/imperialism-in-the-anthropocene/ Long read, but worth it.
https://wolfstreet.com/2019/08/05/what-plunging-global-chip-sales-just-said-about-autos-it/ Just a personal note: The newest Apple Mac Mini is quite good, though the 2009 Mac Mini is still my all time favorite. The newest OS X Mojave is also the best since OS X Snow Leopard, while everything in between was terrible. Just when I mulled abandoning Apple, they put out a decent machine with stable and intuitive software — they clearly understand, that a loyal customer base in the PC market will be necessary to keep Apple afloat when the smartphone craze finally ends.

Media and technology news:

https://www.counterpunch.org/2019/05/14/neurotoxic-organophosphate-chemicals-in-your-mobile-tablet-laptop-sofa-and-even-bed/ Testimony of a suffering laptop user.
https://spectrum.ieee.org/telecom/wireless/5gs-waveform-is-a-battery-vampire High power consumption, another downside of 5G. People will have to constantly recharge their smartphones and ten times more base stations will need three times more power each. Well, as long as electricity is cheap and abundant and power generation has no environmental impact….

Imperial news:

US-citizens own 40 percent of all guns in the world, more than all civilians combined in 25 other countries.

Countries with the highest gun ownership rate, per a survey by the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies in Geneva:

1United States: 120.5 per 100 people
2 Yemen: 52.8 per 100 people
3 Montenegro: 39.1 per 100 people
4 Serbia: 39.1 per 100 people
5 Canada: 34.7 per 100 people
6 Uruguay: 34.7 per 100 people
7 Cyprus: 34.0 per 100 people
8 Finland: 32.4 per 100 people
9 Lebanon: 31.9 per 100 people
10 Iceland: 31.7 per 100 people


Bloomberg: “The top 10 percent of US-citizens hold almost about 70 percent of the national wealth, the top 1 percent hold 31percent. The bottom 50 percent hold 1.3 percent.”

https://ahtribune.com/us/3382-jeffrey-epstein-rip.html The most thrilling and captivating crime story from the land of the free (free of moral constraints) and the home of the brave (the high risk, high reward gamblers of Wall Street). Sex, organized crime, spies, philanthropic tycoons, secret societies and cults — very entertaining.
https://www.mintpressnews.com/mega-group-maxwells-mossad-spy-story-jeffrey-epstein-scandal/261172/ Only in US-America.
https://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-49312746 Establishment media damage control.
https://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2019/08/13/pers-a13.html Right to the point and the definitive comment to the Epstein affair. Everybody who still trusts mainstream mass media reporting should read this and overthink it thoroughly.
https://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2019/07/18/puer-j18.html Corruption and racism in Puerto Rico.
https://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-49026273 Homeless in Florida get “musical” treatment.

https://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2019/07/31/pers-j31.html? It maybe is not only racism, the media onslaught, advertising, constant noise, and distraction from technological gadgets makes people mad. Western consumers are constantly pushed, prompted, stimulated, aroused, they are not allowed to slow down and relax. They are not even allowed to get enough sleep.

https://caitlinjohnstone.com/2019/07/31/conventional-politicians-are-infinitely-weirder-than-marianne-williamson/ Calling out the madness.
https://fair.org/home/the-dangerous-austerity-politics-of-the-washington-post/ The environmental aspect of austerity politics is never mentioned. Austerity means in essence less industrial output and lower GPD. It means less pollution, less production of toxic substances, less resource extraction (resulting in less habitat loss), less conspicuous consumption, less travel, less garbage going to overflowing landfills or into the oceans.
Austerity of course has to be accompanied by budgetary shifts like: no (or at least significantly less) military spending, no tax exemptions for the rich and for big corporations, progressive taxation, a thrifty, efficient, no-frills administration, more money for education, social welfare, culture, scientific research, communal services (water, sewage, electricity, public transport) and basic infrastructure.
There have to be bold and inventive programs and initiatives to support local economies, co-ops, small-scale farming and gardening, community owned workshops for mending, recycling, repurposing devices and machinery.
Such ideas never seem to cross the minds of economists, who insist that we need to jumpstart the economy and increase spending on all levels so that everybody gets work, no matter how useless or destructive it may be, and can use the monthly paycheck to buy new fancy things suggested by advertising and social media.
These economists are trapped, living in their artificial world of statistics, equations, charts, and graphs. No useful advice can be ever expected from them, it is best to just ignore them.
https://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2019/08/families-drowning-in-debt-to-stay-in-the-middle-class.html What if couples just adopt a more frugal lifestyle?
https://www.counterpunch.org/2019/08/15/our-lords-their-flies/ Why do they hate us? Why do they fear us? Why do they call us “the Great Satan”? Why do they dance in the streets when US soldiers have been killed?

Imperial conquest news:

The UK is set to join the US “international maritime security mission” in the strategic Strait of Hormuz. It has already deployed a destroyer, the HMS Duncan, and a frigate, the HMS Montrose, to the Persian Gulf to escort UK-flagged vessels (about 50 until now) through the Strait.

The Trump administration’s provocative move, in the guise of “protecting shipping lanes” through the crowded 21-mile-wide sea lane through which one-fifth of the world’s oil supplies passes, establishes a patrol of warships aimed at blockading Iran.

The secret locations of US nuclear weapons in Europe were accidentally included in a report from NATO. The subsequently deleted document confirmed a long-held open secret: US nuclear weapons are being stored in Belgium, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, and Turkey.

https://caitlinjohnstone.com/2019/08/03/wapo-publishes-gabbard-smear-piece-filled-with-blatant-lies/ Detailed and comprehensive. Follow the links to get hard facts about US destabilization efforts in Syria.
https://fair.org/home/western-media-losing-enthusiasm-for-failing-coup-in-venezuela/. The media may losing enthusiasm but regime change is not off, because: “The empire never retreats or compromises.”
https://www.counterpunch.org/2019/07/31/venezuela-disturbing-echoes-of-history/ A useful compilation.
Venezuela’s Vice President Delcy Rodriguez has denounced a ship seizure by the USA in the Panama Canal. The ship is reportedly packed with 25 thousands tons of Soya and was entering the canal, when its progress was halted in an event which Venezuelan officials condemned as a “serious aggression” that impedes the country’s “right to food”.
Rodriguez tweeted: “Venezuela denounces before the world that a boat that holds 25 thousand tons of Soya, for food production in our country, has been seized in the Panama Canal, due to the criminal blockade imposed by Donald Trump.”
Venezuelan media subsequently explained that the undisclosed owner of the vessel was informed by the insurance company that it must cease moving the cargo through the canal.

Armageddon news:

The Ebola outbreak in Congo has been declared a Global Health Emergency by the World Health Organization. More than 2,500 people have been infected and 1,700 have died until now.
Air conditioning for all, because we need it to survive the increasing heat. Air conditioning unfortunately consumes plenty of electricity and increased power consumption will in turn accelerate climate change. Which means we then need even more air conditioning. We are screwed anyway, so let’s talk about something more pleasant.

Uncategorized news:

https://www.opendemocracy.net/en/transformation/responding-love-civilization-crisis/ No, this is not idle talk and it contains interesting viewpoints. The question remains, how this discussion applies to the real world. Preparing for the collapse and trying to avoid or mitigate it at the same time is tough if not impossible. One example: Should you arm yourself and join a local militia to defend the village or town against roaming gangs and rogue security forces who may be on the loose after the crash or should you be an advocate and an example for a peaceful society without weapons and violence?

News from cat land:

The cats are fine, enjoying summer. No drought here, it rained regularly. A torrential rain (a rain bomb) flooded the garage, but caused no major losses, only lot of work.

Rita is overjoyed. This is paradise, this is more than what she ever would have imagined or expected in the dreary days at the animal shelter. She now fortunately has shifted her focus from blindworms to mice (not sure, that there are any blindworms left), I only have to make clear to her that she shouldn’t bring the living mice into the house and let them loose there.

Rita once caught and killed a baby grass snake. At first glance, I mistook it for another blind worm, but at closer inspection it was clearly a grass snake. This was bad, because grass snakes are endangered like all other reptiles and amphibians (and all other wildlife in general). It was good, because grass snakes eat (the even more endangered) frogs and toads, which I’m glad to host in a few small garden ponds.

Gandhi Jr. is still Rita’s mentor. She mimics him and emulates him in every aspect as good as she can. Rita will remain a small cat, but at the moment that doesn’t seem to bother her and she appears to be confident and content.

Lucia, the other small cat in our family, doesn’t take it that easy. Every day I have to lift up her spirits and show her that she is my favorite cat companion. And she indeed has become my favorite cat, my little cat angel, the little but bright light guiding my dreams.

It’s good to have such a thrustful, truthful, unassuming, grateful friend. 

Thank you, Lucia! And thank you to the whole pack!