Links June 2015

June 17, 2015

News roundup:

Climate talks in Bonn have not resulted in any concrete policy changes. As usual at such events, G7 leaders vowed to decarbonize their economies this century and reaffirmed their commitment to mobilize 100 billion US$ annually in climate finance by 2020, but the donor countries have yet to elaborate how they will meet this goal.

The world has heard such token commitments before.

Africa, small island states, and the least developed countries have unequivocally demanded that the principle: “loss and damage” has to be part of the envisioned “Paris deal.” This principle means, that while all countries must alleviate climate change, the extent of responsibilities and the amount of funding vary based on historical emissions and economic development.

Western countries reject this view.

Minor technical issues of REDD+ were discussed and reportedly solved, so at least banks and mining corporations got some help.

There are again warnings from researchers about the approximately 1,400 billion tons of carbon locked away in permafrost (perennially frozen ground covering about a quarter of land in the Northern Hemisphere), which will thaw and trigger a severe greenhouse gas and climate feedback loop.

Even before that mechanism comes into play, climate change appears to be real, and as predicted, the increase in temperature causes wether extremes like heat waves, droughts, storms, and floods, killing thousands of people (2,600 recently in an Indian heatwave which had temperature spikes of 47 degrees Celsius/117 degrees Fahrenheit).

Barren land near the Afghan border

US billionaire Sheldon Adelson (a casino tycoon) invited fellow billionaires to his home in Las Vegas to discuss actions against the BDS movement (Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions against Israel for their oppression of Palestinians). That such an initiative takes place is an indication that BDS has an impact.

Settler violence and random killings, home demolitions, burning of olive trees, denial of water services, and any other persecution of Palestinians one could imagine (or barely imagine because some Israeli measures are only imaginable for the most deranged minds) continue unabated.

IDF soldiers and settlers don’t behead, crucify, or burn alive, at least not openly, because Israel is a civilized state and a beacon of democracy. If Palestinians are burned alive, it is done with Hellfire (AGM-114) missiles or white phosphorus bombs thrown onto them in air campaigns. This is deemed as more humane than the high-quality videotaped and proudly heralded atrocities committed by the Islamic State.

Israeli propagandists cater to a different audience that the missionaries of the Islamic State.

IS tank

It is astonishing to what length the imperial propagandists go in order to conceal the fact that Al-Qaeda and IS (Islamic State) were invented and created by Western agents and are still supported by the West. A token ”coalition to fight IS” with a token air campaign and token travel restrictions try to create the illusion of decisive action.

But: IS easily can sell all oil from the conquered oilfields, it can sell precious cultural artifacts (if it doesn’t prefer to destroy them), it gets all needed weapons, ammunition, and spare parts (!), it has the experts to operate the highly sophisticated weapons systems, it can put propaganda material on the web unimpeded, it can recruit members from all over the world and applicants can travel to Syria or Iraq and join IS without problem.

Does nobody wonder how the jihadists are able to achieve this when the NSA has cast a global surveillance net and Western agencies are working hand in hand to identify and persecute even the most petty illegal downloader and intellectual property rights infringer? Does nobody wonder why whistle blowers and dissidents are mercilessly hunted down while IS members get a free ride and even free medical treatment? Does nobody wonder why thousands of websites are taken down because of alleged illegal content and thousand of links are blocked while IS has no problem to place its propaganda material on the net and distribute it widely?

Foreign Policy magazine, another neocon mouthpiece, uttered in a revealing slip of truthfulness: “A military defeat of the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq could scatter extremists around the globe.” Don’t worry, my (disrespected) establishment stenographer, IS will not be defeated, at least not by the farcical efforts of the US led coalition.

Islamic State executions

There are contradicting and incongruent informations about the Ukraine. On one hand, citizens feel the pinch and everybody who can, leaves the country. The 1.5 percent “war tax” on all income bites, benefits for pensioners have been cut. Spending on education and health care has seen big drops, and a fifth of civil servants are being fired.

But the plundering of Ukraine by Western corporations is not going smoothly. Shell quitted because shale gas exploration has become unprofitable, even more so in the military contested east of Ukraine. The ban on sale of farmland will not be lifted anytime soon — patriotism overrules political necessity.

The Ukraine is in silent default, but the IMF will deliver the next payments no matter what.

Ukraine GDP per person

Infighting between the oligarchs continues.

Ostchem, the largest chemicals, gas, and energy firm in the Ukraine, has been seized by the government. Ostchem is owned by Dmytro Firtash, who’s extradition to the USA was denied by Austria.

Authorities also honed in on Rinat Akhmetov, Ukraine’s richest man and a longtime backer of ex-President Viktor Yanukovych. Prosecutors announced plans to cancel his DTEK energy holding’s acquisition of a top electricity generator, saying that the process was uncompetitive.

The military is catching conscripts at checkpoints and with commandos searching busses and trains, to recruit cannon fodder for the next round of the ATO (anti terrorist operation) in Donbass.

The USA will not let up on Ukraine, but Eastern Europe is nevertheless a side show, meant to detract from the final push against Russia, which will be the destabilization of the “tans” (Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan) and the Russian Republics with significant Muslim population (Tatarstan, Bashkoristan in the Volga-Ural region and Chechnya, Ingushetia, Dagestan, Kabardino-Balkaria, Karachay-Cherkessia in the Northern Caucasus).

The caliphate in Syria/Iraq is a possible bridgehead from which the Islamic fighters can start to infiltrate Russia. Turkey and Georgia would be an ideal land route.

IS territory may 2015

US President Obama didn’t get his “fast-track authority” approved by congress, which means, the trade deals TiSA, TPP, and TTIP will become more difficult to push through the legislative bodies.

The political horse trading, scheming and conspiring, which surrounds the approval process of the trade treaties is partly amusing and partly tiresome to watch.

Boys will be boys (expected to be childish, irresponsible, boisterous). Politicians will be politicians.

Apart from this fact, what is bad about free trade agreements? Don’t we all cherish the cheap Chinese consumer goods which an endless convoy of gigantic container ships bring to the West across the oceans?

Containership Marco Polo

Network theory tells us that in a self organizing network nodes which just by chance got a little bit more traffic can acquire additional links and with increased connectivity get more powerful which in turn lets them acquire even more links and so on. In any biological, neurological, social, and economic network inevitably dominating nodes will develop and steadily grow bigger, while surrounding nodes will stagnate or wither away.

The interaction between the dominating nodes and the minor nodes will be one sided and the dominating nodes will determine the rules and terms of trade.

But one wouldn’t need any theory to explain this natural process, one just has to look into a garden or forest. When there is a weed that uses photosynthesis efficiently and also has efficient methods of reproduction (seeds, rhizomes, stolons), it can spread and quickly overgrow all other plants. If there are no hedges, bushes, water bodies, or other natural barriers, if there are no competing plants, no natural enemies or pests, the weed will conquer the garden or forest in no time, and all other plants will decline or die.

In the sphere of economics the corporations and financial institutions (banks, hedge funds, equity firms, insurance companies) are such superweeds. They are the weeds of capitalism. The free trade deals intend to remove the barriers and natural enemies so that the weeds of capitalism can spread more quickly.

In the natural world the superweed will be able to dominate a local biosystem and it will ultimately destroy the system by overriding the fine-tuned balances and synergies of the local plant and animal family. And yet, after a period of domination the weed itself will fall prey to devastating fungal infections or pest infestations or herbivorous animals which will eradicate it, leaving nothing than barren land.

In the natural world the local plants and animals will reemerge from their hideouts in the remote and inaccessible corners of the area and repopulate the land, building a new balanced ecosystem.

blueberry bush

Garden news:

It is hot and the blistering heat restricts the working hours in the garden. This is the “new normal,” like it or not. During daytime the windows and all curtains in the house are closed to keep the temperatures bearable (no energy wasting AC here — never). The windows are open in the night when temperatures drop. Garden work is possible from 6 AM to noon but then one has to retreat into the house. Evening working session in the garden is from 6 PM to 9 PM.

The most pressing issue at the moment is keeping the plants alive with various forms of irrigation. Watering with the watering can is tedious and the rain barrels (all together holding 2,400 liters) are nearly empty. I must increasingly resort to tap water and watering with the hose. A watering nozzle with 8 settings allows to apply the most appropriate spray pattern. I wanted to buy one in metal but they are only available from Amazon or eBay. No!

The plants grow unusual fast, they are maybe energized by increased carbon in the air and increased UV radiation (ozone layer depletion). Scientific studies show that high CO2 levels can impede plants’ ability to absorb nitrogen, and because of this negative effect raised CO2 levels have probably only a marginal effect on plant growth.

I will find out as both my garden project and global warming are progressing over time.

Scientific considerations aside, the strawberry yield is beyond all expectations. I’m harvesting every day a bucket full of strawberries and this is just the start.

strawberry harvest DSCN0662

All other kinds of berries, grapes, and tomatoes also look promising, this could become a year of record yields.

Unfortunately the fruit trees are not that productive. The peach trees are infected with peach leaf curl, the pear trees with pear rust, the one cherry tree with cherry leaf spot. Plucking and putting away all infected leaves into a separate composting container where they will be covered and left to rot for some years is the only thing I can do for now.

In January or February I will have to spray the peach trees with a copper containing fungicide. I will cover the ground around the trees with plastic foil to avoid soil contamination. These are all things I rather would like to avoid. At the moment the four older peach trees look very good, but they have all four together only some 20 fruits, when a healthy peach tree should produce at least 30 fruits.

The younger peach trees are not infected but they also have no fruits. I’m not sure if I shall treat them with the fungicide too.

Two of the apple trees and most jostaberry and gooseberry bushes have lice, but the spiders and ladybugs are already hard at work. No action is necessary in this case, my tiny garden assistants will solve the problem.

Everybody tells me that because of humid wether and strong precipitation the snail and slug population exploded and has caused great harm to vegetables and fruits, yet I have no problems with the snails and slugs. When the first tiny slugs appeared I started to go out at 6 AM and commit a slug and snail massacre with the scissors. The scissors are the AK47 of the gardener.

I’m a passionate slug mass murderer, since the slugs in former years ruined many of the pumpkin and chard sprouts and did eat a good part of the strawberry fruits.

slug-damage 1

I want to eat the vegetables and fruits by myself, I’m not gardening for the slugs and snails, or for the mice and birds. I’m gardening to produce my own food, avoiding the artificial and unhealthy products of the food industry.

The slugs are often tiny and not more than one centimeter long, but they grow fast and they have an insatiable appetite. Slugs like to travel in company. When I have detected one, I carefully search the surrounding area and most times find a few other ones nearby.

They are light brown or dark brown or black. A few are grey, but this is seldom. They can be short or long, small or big. I have learned to recognize them whatever color, size, or shape they have, I know their places and migration routes, and I know their behavior. I walk across the garden and look around the strawberry beds, vegetable beds, bushes, and hedges to find and cut them. One killed slug here and there will not make a difference, but I kill a lot, one every two seconds, sometimes one every single second. A thousand killed slugs per week make a difference.

Slugs love to cannibalize their dead fellow slugs. When I’ve finished my round I quickly check again the places where I was successful, to eliminate the ones that are just gorging on their dead relatives.

Cutting slugs with scissors may seem utterly disgusting to the reader. I find it disgusting too — but somebody has to do the job.

slug damage 2

A few of the vegetable beds are fenced off with stripes of 20 centimeter high aluminum wire mesh. Small slugs can overcome this barrier (don’t ask me how) but if the bed finally is cleared from slugs there will be seldom an intruder and the damage will be negligible. The aluminum mesh barriers significantly impede the migration of slugs.

In addition to cutting them and installing barriers I put small cups filled with beer in strategic places to attract the slugs. They crawl in and drown there. This is also a clever method to gauge the severity of the slug infestation.The first few days after I started my war against slugs all the cups were full of dead slug bodies. Now there are only one or two in the cups, they are indeed nearly extinguished.

Is drowning slugs in beer more humane than cutting them in pieces? I don’t want to discuss the consciousness of slugs and their ability to feel pain extensively here. They die instantly when I cut them, so at least they don’t suffer for more than a moment. Their neural system isn’t highly developed and their bodies responses to injuries are probably not resembling anything close to the pain signals that reach the human brain in case of severe injuries or sicknesses.

Even if they would feel excessive pain, it wouldn’t deter me from killing them. I don’t pity them, I don’t feel empathy or sympathy for them.

I never thought that I could be that cold hearted and indifferent.

Since I started gardening, my whole ethical framework has been uprooted and all values turned upside down. I always despised carnivores and sympathized with herbivores, because I’m a vegetarian myself. Now I hunt the slugs and snails, and the resident hedgehogs and toads are my friends. The spiders have become my friends too, while the woodlice, plant lice, and various beetles have become my foes.

Empathy is always selective and limited, ethical frameworks and moral rules are not absolute but based on practicality and on the urge to thrive and survive. Which entails that one should beware of hypocrites and self-righteous religious fanatics who claim to be in possession of the absolute truth.

toad 2012 tadpoles DSCN0158

This year no toad spawned, maybe the two toads who tragically were killed on the road between the garden and the forest would have been the couple to start a new generation of toads. But a pair of frogs stepped in and spawned in two of the garden ponds. Frogs don’t lay their eggs in strings but in clusters, so the spawn can easily be distinguished. The tadpoles emerged according to plan but in the biggest pond, which is infested with dragonfly nymphs, they disappeared soon. Dragonfly nymphs are terrible predators who easily wipe out every other species in a pond.

I wonder that the dragonfly nymphs are still in charge, because this pond is now evidently frequented by quite a few toads and frogs. I have also seen a lizard, though it could have been a newt. If it was a newt, this would be a very encouraging sighting because these animals only survive in unpolluted water. The big pond is maybe unpolluted, but it is heavily infested with algae, a circumstance which the amphibians and the dragonfly nymphs apparently don’t mind.

While the tadpoles in the main pond disappeared, they thrive and grow nicely in the smaller pond. I transferred some of them to other small ponds which I installed recently in the garden and they seem to like it. Some of them are now three centimeters long and I hope that they will soon become little froglets.

There are a lot of toads and frogs of various ages and sizes hopping around in the garden and despite their ubiquity I’m still excited when I see one. They are my little assistants, helping me to keep the slugs in check. They are the only possible explanation why slugs in the garden here are only a minor annoyance while all other people lament that their crops are eaten away by slugs.

Sadly I’ve already found three dead toadlets and one dead adult, apparently killed by the cats. When I saw the dead animals I was angry and thought for a moment, that it would maybe more viable from an ecological point of view, if I would kill the cats instead of the snails and slugs.

All kind of weird notions go through my head in the course of a day.

This was three weeks ago and since then there were no casualties. The toads and frogs have become more cautious and the cats are lazy and weary. It surely helps that the two main garden ponds and a few other refuges in remote corners of the garden are walled off by wild blackberry shrubs constituting a mesh of thorny twigs which not even cats can penetrate.

News from cat land:

I would be glad if I could say as usual, that the cats are fine, but it unfortunately isn’t so.

Mia hall DSCN1785

Mia, a seven year old member of the cat family, is seriously ill and she has jaundice. This could be a symptom of liver failure, which is difficult to treat. I had to leave her in the animal clinic to get an infusion. The veterinarian told me that one cannot say yet if she will recover. I’m devastated.

Mia is the mother of Gandhi Jr. and the nice of Rosy. These three constitute a family inside the cat family and they have a very close relationship — one can rightfully say that they are more than friends. It is unusual that a cat mother stays together with one of her kids, but Mia stayed with her son and she still licks him passionately when he comes to her. Mia is a quiet cat who never has any quarrels with the other family members. She is well liked and she would be sorely missed.

Mia Gandhi Rosy window DSCN2195

On the internet I read, that “recovery may take two to three months and require home nursing care and complete dedication by the owner.” The problem is, that Mia loves to be out in the forest and the surrounding fields, she would try to get out all the time, making a regular treatment impossible to apply. On the other hand, if I would leave her at the clinic for treatment, she would feel like being imprisoned.

What shall I do?

Mia Gandhi basket DSCN0489

Cat news:
http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2015/jun/07/catcon-2015-comic-con-for-cat-lovers The commercialization of everything. But it is not the cats fault.

Environmental news:
https://euobserver.com/institutional/128768 How the chemical industry lobbies to keep their poisons on our plates.
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/05/13/lead-paint-ppg_n_7273770.html Lead still not phased out.
http://www.colombopage.com/archive_15B/May22_1432308620CH.php A rare outbreak of sanity.
http://www.globaljustice.org.uk/blog/2015/may/15/ghana’s-seeds-under-attack-g7-initiative Monsanto’s relentless war against small farmers.
http://www.sbs.com.au/news/article/2015/05/12/what-happens-when-family-eats-only-organic-food-two-weeks Eat healthy, if you can afford it. Grow your own food.
http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/05/20/us-eu-wildlife-idUSKBN0O518X20150520 Industrial agriculture is main threat to wildlife habitat.
http://www.motherjones.com/blue-marble/2015/04/1-6-species-could-be-killed-climate-change Another (ignored) study about mass extinction.
http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/innovations/wp/2015/06/03/why-you-should-care-about-rhino-poaching-in-one-chart/?wpisrc=nl_tech&wpmm=1 The joy of killing.
http://www.ibtimes.com/chinas-pollution-crisis-nearly-two-thirds-underground-water-graded-unfit-human-1953442 Chinese economic rise comes at a price.

Economic news:
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/economics/11625098/HSBC-fears-world-recession-with-no-lifeboats-left.html Financial armageddon is looming.

Imperial news
http://www.tomdispatch.com/blog/175998/ Like many fellow US-authors, William Astor correctly notices that US foreign policy is spreading chaos, but he fails to conclude that this is a feature, not a flaw.

Imperial conquest news:
http://mondoweiss.net/2015/05/ministers-nagasaki-hiroshima No comment.
http://mideastshuffle.com/2015/05/11/the-mideasts-s-u-n-n-i-problem/ An incisive analysis — Sharmine Narwani is back to her form.
http://rt.com/op-edge/262393-isis-us-coalition-syria-iraq/ To beat IS, kick out US.
https://gowans.wordpress.com/2015/05/14/western-hypocrisy-going-naked-in-the-middle-east/ two well written and intelligent commentaries of a blogger who deserves wider publicity.
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/behlal-azkan/america-turkey-saudi-arabia-syria_b_7278586.html This analysis by the Huffington Post is clearly sugarcoating the role of the Western allies but at least acknowledges their culpability.
http://buchanan.org/blog/our-next-mideast-war-syria-15984 Pat Buchanan gets it (partly), Ron Paul gets it (partly). They are called conservatives and one wonders, what the warmongers who control Washington since decades should be called.
http://www.veteranstoday.com/2015/05/16/french-arrested-in-assad-assassination-attempt/ Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s death would for sure solve a few problems for the West and would be a big step to a chaotic dissolution of the Syrian state. Don’t let us be fooled by voiced concerns and displayed serenity and level-headedness — chaos and more failed states are the true goals of Western Middle East politics.
http://original.antiwar.com/shamus-cooke-2/2015/05/15/syrian-war-set-to-re-explode/ Pulling the strings from behind the scene and letting others do the dirty work while pretending to act cautiously and responsibly. US foreign policy, the greatest show (and the biggest tragedy) on earth.
http://www.worldbank.org/en/news/press-release/2015/05/21/gaza-economy-on-the-verge-of-collapse Why is the World Bank allowed to publish this report?
http://journal-neo.org/2015/05/15/what-if-putin-is-telling-the-truth/ About the CIA’s Chechen Wars and US Global Jihad.
http://rt.com/news/261485-us-blocks-nukes-deal/ They love their nukes.
http://thesaker.is/the-head-of-the-gru-accuses-us-and-allies-of-creating-the-transnational-islamist-terrorist-network/ In essence: IS = US.
http://blogs.reuters.com/great-debate/2015/05/14/putin-ties-ukraines-government-to-neo-nazis-a-new-law-seems-to-back-him-up/ Vladimir Putin’s claims that the Ukraine is overrun by neo-Nazis — and Reuters agrees.
http://www.rferl.org/content/ukraine-poroshenko-land-deal-questions-tsars-village/27013945.html A “New Ukraine” without corruption?
http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/world/2015/05/02/ukraine-draft-dodgers-in-fight-against-separatists/26462801/ Who wants to die for a bunch of greedy oligarchs?
http://russia-insider.com/en/ukraine-economic-ties-russia-are-hard-break/ri7146 Broken promises, dashed hopes.
http://www.veteransnewsnow.com/2015/05/18/518327us-blinks-in-face-off-with-russia/ Putin should be wary and vigilant. The US-Americans are world champions in lying and deceiving. They are most dangerous when they utter conciliatory words, because that usually means that they are secretly preparing a vicious attack from an unexpected direction.
http://journal-neo.org/2015/05/24/washington-blows-itself-up-with-its-own-bomb/ The brilliance of Putin’s moves on the geopolitical chessboard are undeniable.
http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/2015-05/21/c_134259382.htm Transdniester blockaded, this could get nasty.
http://pando.com/2015/05/17/neocons-2-0-the-problem-with-peter-pomerantsev/ though exhaustingly informative, a highly recommendable reading.
http://www.globalresearch.ca/the-destabilization-of-macedonia-greater-albania-and-the-process-of-kosovization/5451039 Mazedonia is next.
http://www.truth-out.org/news/item/30910-dahr-jamail-the-navy-s-great-alaskan-war Militarists are not environmentalists.
http://www.counterpunch.org/2015/05/15/how-to-fight-western-propaganda/ Amen!

Everything else news:
http://www.counterpunch.org/2015/05/15/other-economies-are-possible/ Is it maybe happening right now, and we just don’t hear about it? (the revolution will not be televised)

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