Links October 2017

October 10, 2017

Most of the blog subscribers are from the USA, and most of the blog posts refer to the USA. The website host is a US company, the texts are composed on an Apple computer, even the keyboard is US-English.

Yet, as readers know, most posts criticize and strongly oppose US politics, culture, and social climate.

This discrepancy emanates from the fact, that the USA is the worlds most influential and most powerful nation both in military, economic, and cultural terms, and that US superior power and reach is used to exploit other countries and nature, or even destroy other countries and nature.

Beside being a menace to everyone who doesn’t share US ideals and doesn’t comply, bow, and cave, the USA gives a terrible example of “social darwinism” (survival of the fittest), of a world without grace, caring, kindness, understanding, compassion, love.

Well, that is just how life is and how nature works, one may argue. Be fast and smart, kill before you are killed. Nature is cruel indeed, and most living beings end up being eaten alive.

Though this is partly true, there are many species who cooperate with their peers and even with other species (in symbiotic relations). An ant-heap, a beehive, a wolf pack, an elephant herd, bird flocks, fish schools, they are all examples of social behavior, they are proof that supporting each other and working together has benefits. At the dawn of human history, as we started to populate and conquer the globe one million years ago, fending off the big beasts and finding enough food was only possible by coordinated hunting and foraging in families, groups, tribes.

Have we lost our social instinct, as the big beasts are extinct and food is plentiful because of cheap fossil fuels?

Back to the USA, leader of the free world, shining city on the hill, beacon of democracy, justice, and fairness. 58 killed, 526 wounded in Las Vegas. A new record for mass shoutings and a new record for investors, as stocks of gun manufacturers jumped more than 3 percent. As everybody knows, gun sales increase after every mass shouting.

What else can be expected from a society which was founded on the genocide of Native Americans and on the slave labor of kidnapped Africans? One should not dwell endlessly on the past, but if history is consistent over centuries and also matched by presence, it says something.

Never ending military interventions, occupations, wars, failed states (Libya), destabilizations via NGOs, CIA-coups, drone assassinations, these are the presence. Not to forget the exploitation of other countries via mega-corporations, trade, the global financial system and Wall Street, petrodollar, and 20.3 trillion US national debt which will never be paid back.

History may be one factor, the internal mechanics of an unchecked superpower, which ignores rules and laws, which misbehaves without ever being punished, is another. There is also the blind faith in technological progress and in human superiority over nature, but these are not special and unique US-American traits.

Isn’t it logical, that the deadly violence inflicted abroad gets mirrored in deadly violence at home?

Mass shoutings are now as American as apple pie, the reaction to Puerto Rico’s plight after Hurricane Maria gives a strong signal about generosity and the social contract, Donald Trump has become the epitome of US-American hubris and vanity.

One may blame the economic system (cutthroat capitalism), culture (white supremacy, religious bigotry, self-righteousness), the social climate (egoism, materialism), in the end they are nothing else than the sum of all social interactions in US-America and the sum of views, values, attitudes, mindsets of all US-Americans. There are for sure many kind, caring, compassionate, humble, thoughtful, wise people living there, but they are either not the majority or they are not at the levers of power.

Is it the family upbringing? Is the education system to blame? Is the exposure to relentless round-the-clock propaganda, indoctrination, deception, lies by mass media at fault?

Deep rooted cultural traditions, customs, habits, views, attitudes are hard to change. Not by a handful of activists, journalists, bloggers, and dissident politicians. Well, the last sentence is an overstatement, is clearly wrong, because they are not only a handful. To be correct, they are thousands and thousands, their names would fill a book or two.

There are unwavering and unflinching peace activists like Philip Berrigan, Grady Flores, Harry Murray, Michael Walli,  Megan Rice, Greg Boertje-Obed, Jessica Reznicek, Kathy Kelly, Cindy Sheehan — just to name a few. 

There are politicians like Kshama Sawant, Elizabeth Warren, Richard Black, Tulsi Gabbard, and others.

There are journalists, writers, bloggers like William Blum, Robert Parry, James Petras, Yves Smith, Sibel Edmonts, Ann Garrison, Glen Ford, and many, many more.

The writers build on a glorious tradition, because US authors like for instance Mark Twain, Ernest Hemingway, John Steinbeck, Truman Capote, Kurt Vonnegut, and Toni Morrison have greatly contributed to world culture, reporting about US life and the human condition in general. They have become part of world literature.

Beyond individual efforts there were popular mass movements like the Madison protests against Governor Scott Walker, Occupy Wall Street, the fight for a $15 minimum wage; Black Lives Matter; the Sanders candidacy, the anti-Trump protests. In fact, there were many mass movements before that, they were happening all the time, they were only ignored and purposefully overlooked by the press.

Upton Sinclair, Jack London were early socialists. After WWII there were Paul Goodman, John Cage, Allan Ginsberg. Philip Randolph led the 1963 March on Washington at which Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered his speech “I have a dream”.

Martin Luther King, Jr. was shot dead, Malcolm X was shot dead. 

The hippie subculture of the 60s influenced young folks around the world. Woody Guthrie, Pete Seeger, Peter, Paul and Mary, Phil Ochs, Joan Baez; they all sang for a peaceful future. Buffy Sainte-Marie’s “Universal Soldier” became a hymn of the anti-war movement.

Beatles member and peace activist John Lennon (working class hero) made New York his second home. He should have stayed in Britain. Or anywhere else, but not in the USA! He was spied on by the FBI and shot death in 1980.

Lennon brought British Pop to the US, but he was heavily influenced by Rhythm & Blues. Blues, Jazz, Gospel, R&B, Soul, and other variants of African American music had emerged from a fusion of European musical structures and African rhythms. This is the greatest cultural gift US-America gave to the world, and the world took it thankfully, enchanted and fascinated by the musics authenticity, primal force, and sophistication.

African American music consequently became a major component of US cultural attraction, of US soft power, yet, as black musicians were cheered around the globe, in their homeland they were not appreciated that much. And many died young.

Same Cook (“A Change Is Gonna Come”) was shot dead by a hotel manager.

Otis Redding died when his plane crashed into a lake. In the night after his death, guitarist Steve Cropper rushed to the studio and mixed preliminary demo takes made a few days before into the song “Dock of the Bay,” which became an instant posthumous hit. Never let a business opportunity go to waste. “Dock of the Bay” and “Try a Little Tenderness” are Otis’ lasting legacy.

Donny Hathaway, partner of Roberta Flack and one of the most gifted composers and singers, jumped to his death from a New York hotel room. 

Al Jackson of Booker T & the M.G.s was killed by a burglar.

King Curtis, R&B saxophonist and singer, was stabbed in the heart in front of his New York home. Steve Wonder performed “Abraham, Martin and John” at his funeral.

Marvin Gaye was shot dead by his father. His album “Whats Going On” was a masterpiece, addressing the insanity of war and environmental destruction.

While their music was an inspiration for people around the world, their life reflected the cruel and unforgiving nature of US society.

So many great minds, so much talent, powerful visions of peace and love, and yet, such a horrible outcome. Maybe (the equally great) Howard Zinn’s “A People’s History of the United States” can give an answer why:

Back to presence:

The Las Vegas mass shouting raises some questions: How can a person cary 23 guns into his hotel room with nobody asking? Why is it even allowed to possess so many weapons? Why can an accessory be openly sold, which converts semiautomatic rifles into assault weapons?

Feline news:
https://www.thedodo.com/in-the-wild/ringling-tiger-escaped-killed Sad news this time. US police did, what they are used to do, they shot and killed.

Environmental news:
https://www.counterpunch.org/2017/09/19/what-we-sow-is-what-we-eat/ So we have to grow our own food as long as it is allowed. And when it is forbidden (under the pretext of preventing the spread of plant diseases and weeds) we have to work for the collapse of the system, which should not be too difficult considering the glaring fundamental systemic flaws.
http://www.alternet.org/environment/how-many-500-year-storms-must-batter-shores-coastal-residents-pack-and-leave People near the coast should move to safer areas. But where can they go, it is crowded everywhere.
http://www.chicagotribune.com/business/ct-biz-wrigley-flavors-lawsuit-20170927-story.html This is about flavoring chemicals such as diacetyl and acetyl propionyl in beverages, baked goods and snack foods, chewing gum and other candy, fats and oils, dairy and imitation dairy products, gelatins and puddings, meat products and gravies.
https://theintercept.com/2017/10/05/factory-farms-fbi-missing-piglets-animal-rights-glenn-greenwald/ The pictures are horrible. Glad to be a vegetarian.
https://www.theatlantic.com/science/archive/2017/10/benzene-tree-organic-compounds/530655/ Long read for the professional environmentalist. Structural formulas are missing.

Economic news:
https://www.bloomberg.com/view/articles/2017-09-12/how-western-capital-colonized-eastern-europe This article is based on the premise, that economic growth will go on forever. In a few years, when one environmental disaster after the other strikes, economic growth will be the least of concerns. Then it will come out who is best prepared for the changes which nature commandeers, who is willing and able to adapt, and how much compassion for and solidarity with the less fortunate is left in western societies.

Media and technology news:

Imperial news
https://www.buzzfeed.com/buzzfeednews/maria-1?utm_term=.ukzeaXEwvq#.esgr17v86w BuzzFeed Puerto Rico updates (Closed now, but still informative).
https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-puertorico-survival/in-puerto-rico-acute-shortages-plunge-the-masses-into-survival-struggle-idUSKCN1C61SZ Neglected, abandoned, forgotten. How the worlds richest country cares for citizens which are not billionaires or at least millionaires.
http://www.reuters.com/article/us-mcnamara-electricity-commentary/commentary-how-we-could-have-prevented-some-of-puerto-ricos-misery-idUSKCN1C42ER Who pays for a resilient electricity grid?
http://www.paulcraigroberts.org/2017/09/19/54625/ About Trump’s UN speech.
https://www.truthdig.com/articles/capitalism-the-nightmare/ Harsh (and justified) criticism, but no plan, no roadmap how to install a better system. In the comments some catchphrases like: Organize, educate, revolt.
If it would be that easy! Around the world ruling elites have a stranglehold on all systems of government and on all media and they aren’t going to let go peacefully. They spy on people and detain them without charges, torture them or let them disappear. The police forces are armed with military grade weapons and tanks and they have a hostile relationship with the public who funds them. The capitalists are prepared for the fight.
Record numbers of US-citizens older than 65 are working — now nearly 1 in 5. The average man retires or partly retires aged 65.1, almost two years later than in 1997, while women work 2.8 years longer to retire at 63.6 years,
Violent crime in US rises for the second consecutive year. Among the reasons that have been cited for the increase: A profusion of handguns, poverty and social isolation, warring gangs involved in the drug trade.

Imperial conquest news:
http://www.defenddemocracy.press/starve-them-to-death/ The self-declared defenders of human rights never had any qualms to starve people to death for political gains.
http://www.defenddemocracy.press/has-the-israel-lobby-destroyed-americans-first-amendment-rights/ Israel’s influence in Washington can be mentioned only if framed in a positive way. So: The military interventions, occupations, CIA-coups, and Islamist proxy wars in the Middle East on behalf of Israel have alienated Arab populations forever and no bribing, no assassinations, no air wars, no propping up of monarchs and military dictators, no funding of Islamic insurgencies will change that. The simmering resentments and hostility on the “Arab street” will thwart US soft power and significantly impede US geopolitical moves.
A lot of people will regard this result as positive!
http://www.refworld.org/pdfid/59ba95824.pdf UN-report about the sanctions against Russia.
https://ingaza.wordpress.com/2017/10/08/syria-war-diary-order-returns-to-western-cities-civilians-recount-horrors-of-rebel-rule/ Very well documented report about the moderate rebels, who in western media fairytales were heroic freedom fighters, but in reality lowlife, thugs, criminals, who gladly took CIA money while at the same time pillaging Syrian towns and terrorizing the hapless population.

Uncategorized news:
http://original.antiwar.com/thomas-harrington/2017/10/04/last-sunday-catalonia-pirates-1-invincible-armada-0/ Many useful hints, how to out-trick an overbearing central state with nonviolent methods. Of course, create parallel structures of governance and communication first.

News from cat paradise:

The leaves are falling and cover everything. Especially the big leaves from the grapevines suffocate the ground vegetation (moss, sedum, glover, strawberries), so I have to clear them away. Some animals dig around in the garden, it could be the cats, birds, hedgehogs, ground squirrels, who knows. They mess up the moss and mix it with the leaves. At certain points I could protect the ground vegetation with metal mesh, but that also protects the slugs, so it is not an universal applicable remedy. The option, which remains, is painstakingly collecting the leaves by hand.

Nature has her distinctive ways, and if you want impose your own order, you have to work hard for it. Zen and the art of gardening, zen and the art of collecting leaves. I’m carrying the leaves to one of the composting containers and I’m meditating at the composting container about time, change, life, mortality, transience.

A lot of grapes are still not completely ripe, which means they are sour. The freezers are completely full anyway, so I’m in no hurry to harvest them. The birds will get some, but that is okay, there is enough for all of us.

As temperatures gradually drop, my feline companions gradually convert from outdoor to indoor cats. They all got their annual vaccination and anti-worming pills. I brought them to the veterinarian two month earlier than planned because at the animal asylum where I regularly volunteer there was a case of leucosis and I was panicking and wanted to have them checked. No leucosis here fortunately.

Rosy has a chronic cold, I have to give here occasionally antibiotics. Miss Marple has skin cancer on her right ear and on her nose. It is progressing very slowly. With 19 years she would not survive surgery, she has a weak heart too. She would probably not awake from anesthesia. I hope, that Miss Marple will have a wonderful summer next year and than we will see what comes next.

We will have a nice fall and winter, gathering around the stove. I replaced nearly all chamotte tiles in the stove because the old ones had cracks and some were broken. Every free space in the cellar is filled up with wood, it will be warm and cosy.

I recently read about the Tambora volcanic eruption in 1815 and the “Year Without a Summer” in 1816, which gave me an idea what a nuclear winter would be like. I hope that Donald Trump can be restrained and that the sane people in the USA, Russia, China, Britain, France, India, Pakistan, Israel, and North Korea prevail.

We surely care, we do what we can, without illusions and false positive thinking. We will enjoy life, every day and every minute of it, whatever may come. If someone has a better idea how to spend life, please tell me.


  1. As a non American looking on it is hard to know how to relate to the United States. Like a multi headed hydra there are aspects of America that love and others that I detest and you are right. It is a nation so powerful and influential that what America does is everybody’s business.

    Senator Corker’s courage was inspiring but the echo of resonating voice seems absent. My humble suggestion is to encourage your representatives to distance you own state from this MAGA madness.

    This confrontation can only end in nuclear war and by no means a one sided one. People who care enough to fight this madness must outflank Trump and rob him of power and influence in Congress before it is too late.

    Respect to all those in America fighting for peace and sanity.


  2. There are so many worlds existing here , not even in the same space or same time . .. not always overlapping . I live in the town where Congress member Gabrielle Giffords was shot a few years ago. We saw kindness blossom after that. It’s an integral part of the community now. The political and social issues of mental health care and gun control were not addressed . Spiritual issues of health , compassion , inclusion , and kindness were, and so the separation between the worlds became reinforced . I only know how to thrive in this world and trust that transformation can cross the borders closed to me. And music! Music helps !


    • The USA is indeed a very diverse society and quite often I come across people like you who defy any stereotypes about Americans. Even more often though I come across Americans who fit the stereotypes.

      I know about the Giffords shooting, I wrote three blog posts about it. That was 6 years ago — some things never change. I live in the country where the Glock pistols are produced, so in some way I’m involved too.
      Glock-works 2 and “The American Dream”
      Glock-works 3 and everything but the kitchen sink

      If I would know a solution to the problems of aggression, violence, weapons, wars, I would tell, sing, shout it to everybody everywhere all the time. People would probably soon get tired of my message. Violence, including gun violence, is predominantly male violence. How many mass shootings are committed by gunwomen? Though Margret Tatcher, Sarah Palin, Hillary Clinton, Samatha Power, Nikki Haley, Theresa May, Andrea Merkel are not shining examples of kindness, generosity, and compassion.

      A matriarchal society would be far less violent for sure. But how do we get there? The traumatic event of a mass shooting can change a community for the better but will it work every time? Also: It shouldn’t need e separate mass murder for every community to achieve nationwide change.

      Can charismatic persons, spiritual leaders, teachers, preachers, sages, saints change a society? They can but they often will be killed by jealous, wicket, deranged persons. One cannot argue against a gun, bullets always win the argument.

      Disarming, stopping weapons production consequently must be part of the solution. Absorbing and diminishing aggression must be another part. Putting young men into a meditation retreat, a Buddhist monastery, a yoga class instead of military service. Plus: Raising their social awareness by letting them work in community services (care for the elderly, environmental cleanups, as medics and nurses).

      Well, thats just pipe dreams and a lot will have to change to make these suggestions reality.

      Liked by 1 person

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