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Links January 2019

January 10, 2019

No predictions for 2019 here, except that things will change even faster, tasks will get more taunting, and threats more haunting.

Most people will regard war as the main threat to their life and wonder, if there is indeed an increased likelihood of war or armed conflict, as various pundits and commentators say.

The Doomsday Clock, created by the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, has been set to 2 minutes before midnight.

A short Internet search produces this collection of causes for war:

Economic Gain.
Territorial Gain.
Religion.
Nationalism.
Revenge.
Civil War.
Revolutionary War.
Defensive War.

https://owlcation.com/social-sciences/The-Main-Reasons-For-War 

Stanford University released this paper:
https://web.stanford.edu/~jacksonm/war-overview.pdf 

Common sense would suggest, that increased levels of social tensions and internal conflict in a nation mean also an increased chance of war and there is solid historical evidence to support this assumption.

As it happens, news from all over the world imply that at the moment tensions and aggressions increase in most countries. This would mean more war, so it is a dead serious matter and it compels us to look at the evidence more closely.

For practical reasons only a few indicators of US-society shall be listed here. The USA, wealthier, more powerful, and more influential than any other country, leads the way which most other nations have to follow, therefore it represents to some extent also the global situation.

US social indicators which could intensify the danger of war:

Wage and wealth inequality increased, with the overall level of inequality now approaching the level before the Great Depression. The top 10 percent have seen their overall median net worth increase by 200 percent since 1995, while the bottom 40 percent at the same time have experienced a decline. The bottom 50 percent’s income share fell from 20 percent in 1980 to 13 percent in 2016.
40 million people (12.3 percent) are poor, child poverty is 20 percent. Half a million people are homeless.
Life expectancy is declining since 2015.
In 2016, there were 44,965 recorded suicides, the annual US suicide rate increased 24 percent between 1999 and 2014.
There is an opioid epidemic, drug-overdose deaths reached record highs with 70,000 in 2017.
Every year more than thousand people are shot dead by police.
2.2 million people are held in US prisons.
Mass shootings have tripled since 2011, in 2018 there were about 320 mass shooting incidents (the number depends on the concrete definition of “mass shooting”). 113 people have been killed or injured in school shootings.

In addition to these grim statistics there is anecdotal evidence that life gets more hectic, distressful, and cumbersome. People are stuck in commuter traffic, the work climate is competitive (meaning tense), there is a constant fear to be laid off. People are working overtime without pay, 40 percent don’t take all of the vacation days to which they are entitled.

Teachers who want to strike for a pay rise are told by the union bosses, which are all corrupt and bought by the corporations: “You have a job which is at least meaningful, you do work which can be satisfying and rewarding. Would you rather do a dull job in an office which benefits nobody except some already superrich rentiers?”

The teachers shall be glad, that they at least have a chance do something useful, and that alone must be reason enough to be content with their meager wages. So say the union bosses.

The distant observer wonders, how long this can go on without a serious calamity (like war, for instance), but until now speculative bubbles didn’t burst, pyramid schemes didn’t collapse, market crashes could be deferred, and illusions be upheld. Mass media, social media, and new electronic gadgets (like personal assistants Alexa, Siri, Cortana) keep people pacified and paralyzed.

Surveillance increases with every software update and every new device which we buy. One only can escape by disconnecting from the internet or using one computer for surfing and another one for anything else.

Enough grumbling and groaning.

This month link list includes less text and more cat pictures. I intent to further curtail my computer usage. Don’t worry about me if posts get rare, it’s only because I’m busy in the garden and the forest.

The cats also need and deserve my care and attention.

Feline news:

https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-england-bristol-46723408
https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-england-cornwall-46594868
https://www.mirror.co.uk/news/politics/jeremy-corbyn-puts-cat-el-13714446
https://www.nationalgeographic.com/animals/2018/09/Weasel-like-fishers-prey-on-Canada-Lynx-in-Maine-news/ It’s a cruel world.

Environmental news:

https://thenarwhal.ca/we-have-left-it-too-late-scientists-say-some-b-c-endangered-species-cant-be-saved/
https://theintercept.com/2018/12/11/dupont-water-filter-saudi-arabia/
https://earther.gizmodo.com/permafrost-melt-could-destroy-a-third-of-all-arctic-inf-1831011572
https://www.desmogblog.com/2018/12/09/warning-dangers-solar-radiation-management-geoengineering-global-ban
https://www.bbc.com/news/av/world-africa-46606645/ghana-s-e-waste-dumpsite-pollution-could-get-into-breast-milk
http://www.atimes.com/article/japans-christmas-treat-could-be-a-whale-of-a-feast/?utm
https://theconversation.com/cargo-ships-are-emitting-boatloads-of-carbon-and-nobody-wants-to-take-the-blame-108731
https://news.mongabay.com/2018/12/illegal-mining-in-the-amazon-not-comparable-to-any-other-period-of-its-history/
https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/dec/18/christmas-shoppers-warned-avoid-plastic-toys-toxin-levels Avoiding plastic is getting harder by the day.
https://www.treehugger.com/economics/beginning-end-traditional-christmas-shopping.html Peak stuff, finally?
https://truthout.org/articles/agribusiness-invasion-threatens-indigenous-of-paraguays-chaco-region/ It’s to provide us Westerners with cheap and plentiful food, so what’s bad about it?
https://news.mongabay.com/2018/12/adapt-to-a-changing-amazon-now-or-pay-far-higher-price-later-experts-say/
https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/newfoundland-labrador/ocean-phytoplankton-zooplankton-food-web-1.4927884
https://www.trtworld.com/magazine/the-deadly-consequences-of-agrochemical-farming-in-argentina-22843
https://www.hcn.org/issues/50.21/nuclear-energy-theres-no-easy-fix-for-our-nuclear-past
http://www.atimes.com/article/philippines-becoming-a-rich-world-dumping-ground/?utm
https://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/giraffes-silently-slip-endangered-species-list-180961372/
http://triplecrisis.com/un-backs-seed-sovereignty-in-landmark-peasants-rights-declaration/
https://aeon.co/essays/how-20th-century-synthetics-altered-the-very-fabric-of-us-all
https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2019/01/once-considered-outlandish-idea-plants-help-their-relatives-taking-root
https://www.dw.com/en/cargo-ship-loses-270-containers-near-german-island-in-north-sea/a-46937361 The costs of globalization. And it’s not only the regularly occurring accidents. These ships use the cheapest and most polluting fuel available. It has been estimated that just one of these container ships, the length of around six football pitches, can produce the same amount of pollution as 50 million cars. The emissions from 15 of these mega-ships match those from all the cars in the world. And if the shipping industry were a country, it would be ranked between Germany and Japan as the sixth-largest contributor to global CO2 emissions.
http://www.atimes.com/article/fears-of-environmental-threat-from-burnt-tanker-off-hong-kong/?utm
https://www.ehn.org/environmentally-friendly-flame-retardants-break-down-into-potentially-toxic-chemicals-2625440344.html 

Comparison of per capita water use.

Economic news:

http://www.atimes.com/article/trumps-asian-bankers-hold-brazil-sized-debt-tranche/?utm
https://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2018/12/hard-countries-economically-independent-west.html The comments are more interesting than the article.
https://fpif.org/the-ugliest-chapter-since-slavery-how-illicit-financial-flows-thwart-human-rights-in-africa/
https://www.globalresearch.ca/washingtons-silent-weapon-for-not-so-quiet-wars-a-world-full-of-dollars/5651266
https://truthout.org/articles/could-a-maximum-wage-gain-traction-in-the-united-states/
https://inequality.org/great-divide/billionaire-bonanza-2018-inherited-wealth-dynasties-in-the-21st-century-u-s/

Media and technology news:

If you rely only on news sources from one country you will get a lopsided view of the world. All nations and cultures have ingrained biases and distortions. Key to neutralize this effect is the inclusion of sources from outside one’s culture, is looking beyond the echo chamber. Many people find this hard as they do not like having their core assumptions challenged.

The BBC on December 21, rewriting history and ignoring “Charlie Wilson’s war”:

Conflict in Afghanistan goes all the way back to the 1970s. In 1979, the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan and when it eventually withdrew, Afghanistan was in ruins, with over one million civilians killed.
This set the stage for the Taliban’s eventual takeover of the country.

There is even a film “Charlie Wilson’s war,” and US support for Islamic radicals has been discussed publicly in great detail. 

https://www.bbc.com/news/technology-46642760 Be careful while using US-based internet services. You could be cut off without a warning. Look out for alternatives.
https://www.thelancet.com/journals/lanplh/article/PIIS2542-5196(18)30221-3/fulltext
https://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2018/12/14/huaw-d14.html 5G-technology is unnecessary, a surveillance tool, and a health threat, no matter who implements it.
https://www.lrb.co.uk/v40/n24/owen-bennett-jones/cant-afford-to-tell-the-truth About the BBC.
https://www.opendemocracy.net/uk/nik-williams/writers-silenced-by-surveillance-self-censorship-in-age-of-big-data
http://medialens.org/index.php/alerts/alert-archive/2018/888-limits-of-dissent-glenn-greenwald-and-the-guardian.html
http://medialens.org/index.php/alerts/alert-archive/2018/889-veneration-of-power-leading-to-climate-catastrophe.html
https://caitlinjohnstone.com/2018/12/16/dont-laugh%E2%80%8A-its-giving-putin-what-he-wants/ As Wavy Gravy said, “Keep your sense of humor, my friend; if you don’t have a sense of humor it just isn’t funny anymore.”
https://timhayward.wordpress.com/2018/12/15/integrity-grasping-the-initiative/ About the UK “Integrity Initiative.”
https://grayzoneproject.com/2019/01/08/new-documents-reveal-a-covert-british-military-intelligence-smear-machine-meddling-in-american-politics/
https://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2019/01/07/inte-j07.html
https://www.moonofalabama.org/2018/12/the-strange-mind-of-christopher-nigel-donnelly.html
https://www.moonofalabama.org/2018/12/new-integrity-intitiative-papers-include-proposal-for-a-large-disinformation-campaign.html
https://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2018/12/29/pers-d29.html
https://caitlinjohnstone.com/2018/12/20/twitter-locks-wikileaks-and-multiple-wikileaks-staff-accounts/ More internet censorship.
https://www.truthdig.com/articles/banishing-truth/ About Seymour Hersh.

Imperial news:

William Blum, a dissident US author, known for his well researched, hard hitting books and for his Anti-Empire Report, has died.
https://www.globalresearch.ca/the-legacy-of-william-blum-renowned-u-s-foreign-policy-critic/5662413
https://www.moonofalabama.org/2018/12/william-blum-died.html
https://fair.org/home/william-blum-us-policy-critic-derided-by-nyt-dies-at-85/
He will be missed.

Former FoxNews celebrity Heather Nauert, now US ambassador to the UN, when asked to name the highpoint of US/German relations answered with the firmness of a contestant on Jeopardy: “D-Day.”

https://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2018/12/18/pers-d18.html About alleged Russian efforts to “sway American opinion and divide the country.”
https://truthout.org/articles/trumps-great-american-forest-liquidation-sale/
https://www.counterpunch.org/2018/12/07/laws-of-the-jungle-the-free-market-and-the-continuity-of-change/
https://www.cbsnews.com/news/i-blame-myself-retirement-remains-out-of-reach-for-millions-of-americans/
https://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2018/12/19/home-d19.html Homelessness rises in the richest nation.
https://edition.cnn.com/2018/12/12/politics/james-inhofe-purchase-raytheon-stock/index.html Good old corruption.
https://truthout.org/articles/the-first-step-act-opens-the-door-to-digital-incarceration/ 

Imperial conquest news:

Comments across the web about Donald Trump’s decision to leave Syria alone:

With the US leaving there isn’t anyone left to keep the Syrian Army from crossing the Euphrates and finishing the job to eliminate IS.”

Actually, IS isn’t beaten yet because the US prevented Syrians from doing so

Russian President Putin is quoted as saying, that pulling out US troops is a good idea, but did cast doubt on Washington’s plans, saying “we don’t see any signs of withdrawing US troops yet, but I concede that it is possible.”‘

Patrick Lawrence in Consortium News:

Don’t Hold Your Breath.”

It would be nice to think the president has final say on foreign policy, given the US Constitution. But the misleading troop withdrawal announcement, followed by Trump’s boastful tweet, suggests the exact opposite.

John Chuckman:

It would be a very good thing, if true. Syria and Russia could get on with establishing a new peaceful order, and this beautiful land could set itself to rebuilding and calling its refugees home.

Of course, Presidents are not really in charge despite what it may say on the dusty old parchment in the National Archives, and the Neocons now surrounding Trump have rather intense loyalties to Israel, as does Trump himself.

https://www.globalresearch.ca/university-of-sydney-professor-tim-anderson-suspended-for-criticism-of-war-propaganda-against-syria-iraq-and-palestine/5662229
https://www.globalresearch.ca/nicaragua-corruption-co-optation-human-rights/5664733
http://www.atimes.com/article/deal-of-the-century-to-benefit-israel-despite-delays/?utm 

Atmageddon news:

https://www.counterpunch.org/2018/12/21/ecocide-as-creative-destruction/
https://www.newsclick.in/cop24-achieving-nothing-cementing-trend
https://truthout.org/articles/ten-ways-2018-brought-us-closer-to-climate-apocalypse/

Uncategorized news:

https://godsandradicals.org/2018/12/14/yuletide-musings/
https://truthout.org/articles/us-corporations-are-micromanaging-curricula-to-miseducate-students/ 

News from cat land:

Suddenly it is 2019, incredible, how time rushes by. One week ago I would have written, that this is a very mild winter, just as we expected, but now I wade through 40 cm high snow and I have to regularly clear the roof of the toolsheds and the greenhouses from snow to avoid damage by the heavy snow loads.

The cats until last week spent a lot of time outside, just in the evening gathering round the wood stove, but at present they are mostly confined to the house. I repeatedly waded along the main pathways in the garden to create furrows for them and they use it, but it’s not much fun if one is restricted to just a few short routes.

Rita is growing fast, her cold is lessening, maybe she will overcome it and get completely healthy. She will have to be sterilized one day, but not now, she is not interested in any worldly pleasures other than eating, playing with the cat toys, and running around in the house or garden.

The main entrance door to the animal asylum had become warped and was sticking, one hardly could open or close it. I tried to fix it provisionally to avoid that someone ruins it with brutal force. The work had to be done outside and it was very uncomfortable. The fix is a temporary solution, when the weather allows it a carpenter has to plane down both the frame and the door.

One of the old cats, who’s custodian, a lady in her eighties, died unexpectedly, has found a new home. The cat, called Lea, is a beautiful big calico. She seemed to be less traumatized that the other abandoned or widowed cats, but she had (and probably still has) mouth sores and was a little bit drooling. Lea is not shy and in the two weeks where I meet her in the asylum I spent at least two hours talking with her and petting her. She was sitting on my lap, purring and rubbing her head against my hand. Two hours are not much, but it will be a nice memory for both of us. Lea is now hosted by a woman who declared that she doesn’t mind the health problems and the advanced age of Lea and just will try to make her life as easy and joyful as possible.

Such people fortunately still exist despite the “survival of the fittest” paramount paradigm.

5 comments

  1. Love the cat pics!

    Like


  2. Such a beautiful cat!

    In my state (Arizona), the teachers’ union is probably the strongest union (this is a state that actively discourages unionization), and last year it coordinated a very successful walk-out that led to increased funding which benefits all who work in education, not solely the teachers. We have great union leaders for our teachers.

    Like


    • Thank you for setting this straight. There is always the danger, that one generalizes, and when I made some research I found out, that most teacher strikes are union supported. Overall US union leaders though have a bad reputation. There is also a danger, that one exaggerates to emphasize a point

      In Arizona, teachers earn just 63 cents on the dollar compared with other college graduates. That gap is 79 cents in Kentucky, 67 cents in Oklahoma, and 75 cents in West Virginia.

      Do you know Rebecca Garelli, Amy Vizino, and Melissa Espindola?

      I read: Teacher pensions and health benefits, where they exist at all, have been slashed. Nationally, the number of public K–12 teachers and other school staff has fallen by 135,000, while the number of students rose more than 1.4 million. The cuts to public education mean larger class sizes, old textbooks, and in Oklahoma and Colorado, a four-day week in many school districts. And in addition to lower salaries, for teachers this has also meant cuts to benefits.

      I read: In Arizona, Gov. Doug Ducey and a Republican Legislature tried to quell the rebellion by belatedly promising pay increases and some modest restoration of school funding cuts. But at the same time, Ducey and the Koch brothers are pursuing the wholesale privatization of Arizona schools through voucher and charter schemes.

      LA will be most interesting now.

      There is lot of material and it’s a hot topic. With enough time at hand I would make a post about this.

      Like


      • Well now, educational funding (and, in fact government funding in general) is an entirely different matter, and working, as I do, in public education in both my jobs, something that impacts my professional and personal life, and something I have experience with. The societal costs are tremendous. My first comment was merely to state that your claim about the union leaders for educator associations wasn’t verified by my experience. As you know, it’s hard to get an accurate account through the news or other media, so since this is something I have firsthand knowledge of, I thought it worthwhile to share.

        Like


      • I appreciate your annotations and corrections, and hope I can count on your critical input also in future.

        Like



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