Links February 2020

February 4, 2020

It is raining, and according to weather forecasts, it will be raining for a few more days. With temperatures around 8 degrees Celsius (46 degrees Fahrenheit), there’s no snow. 

Snow covered meadows and lanes are probably history, are waning memories from pre-global warming times. Maybe there will be snow in an “extreme weather” (freak weather) event, taking everyone by surprise and causing major disruption and chaos.

It is constantly raining, and as always in such a situation the cats and I have gathered in the living room, listening to the crackling of firewood in the stove. This is the perfect time to compile another blog post, a task which will make it necessary to spend quit a few hours on the computer. 

Sitting on the computer is something I’m increasingly reluctant to do, this is the reason why blog posts are rare and infrequent. The readers who find my posts interesting and informative are the reason why I continue posting.

Songs for the People 
Based on a poem by Frances Ellen Watkins Harper 

Let make us songs for people,
Songs both for old and young;
Encouraging all like a battle-cry
Wherever they are sung.

Not for the clashing of armies,
Nor for carnage, nor for strife;
But songs to thrill all mortals hearts
With joy and love of life.

Let make us songs for the weary,
Amid life’s strain and fret,
Till hearts can ease their tensions,
And careworn minds forget.

Let us sing for little children,
Before their footsteps stray,
Anthems of love and kindness,
To lead them along life’s way.

We will sing for the poor and aged,
When shadows dim their sight;
At their bright and quiet mansions,
Till they peaceful rest at night.

Our world, so worn and weary,
Needs music, pure and sweat,
To hush the jangle and discords
Of sadness, pain, defeat.

Music to soothe all sorrows,
Till war and crime shall cease;
And hearts of those grown tender
Lustrate the world with peace.

We live in interesting times and there are constant far reaching ecological changes which nullify traditions, common knowledge, and the wisdom of the elders. Unexpected developments and woefully inadequate responses by the concerned authorities prove again and again that this world is much too complex for our limited human minds.

As the population gets more desperate and the state security services more brutal, the state propaganda machine (aka mainstream media or Ministry of Truth) tries to quell or deflect anger. Immigrants, minorities, and rival (disobeying, not yet subjugated) nations are the usual scapegoats. If the unrest escalates to system-threatening proportions, war against the scapegoats is the ultimate solution. 

This ultimate solution of war is promoted by weapons producers, which promise lavish campaign funds for the next elections. In case that there are no elections, the owners of the weapons companies (the billionaire class) still can fund military and police directly.

War means chaos and disaster, and the disaster capitalists, hovering like vultures over conflict areas, wait for their chance to grab what they can if political, economic, social, and ecological collapse occurs.

We live in interesting times and there are a lot of things goin on. 

The new coronavirus (2019-nCoV) epidemic (and potential pandemic), spreading from Wuhan in the Hubei province of China, has infected 21,000 people, more than 400 have died, 500 are in critical condition. A bird flu (H5N1) outbreak in nearby Hunan province appears not to be as dangerous, but could complicate matters further.

The Ebola epidemic in Congo until now has killed more than 2,200, more than 3,400 were infected. An upsurge in violence in Congo’s North Kivu and Ituri provinces has disrupted the provision of care, surveillance, vaccination, contact tracing, and other activities, threatening a resurgence of the disease.

All these potential pandemics have beside the personal tragedies of the sick ad dying also a social, political, and economic dimension. To make it very clear: This is not cheering a “Pianka solution” (which lizard expert and ecologist Dr. Eric Pianka himself didn’t promote in the way his opponents tried to frame it). This is just sober account-taking and looking for a way out of humanities existential dilemma.

China’s economy is second only to the USA, with a gross domestic product of nearly 14.55 trillion US$ in 2019, making up 16.38 percent of the global economy. China’s global exports were worth 2.5 trillion US$ in 2018, and China flights account for 12 percent of total worldwide. 

A large proportion of China’s massive export manufacturing industries are in virtual shutdown, countries are attempting to seal their borders, and financial markets are gyrating as the stocks of exposed companies are sold off. Financial experts have warned, that the medical emergency could be the “black swan” event that triggers another global meltdown.

As the Lunar New Year holiday has been extended in much of China and travel restrictions are in place, factories, offices, and shops remain shut. Apple and IKEA have closed all stores. Starbucks and McDonald’s have severely restricted services.

That means the world’s biggest importer of crude oil, which usually consumes about 14 million barrels a day, needs a lot less oil to power machinery, fuel vehicles, and keep lights on. The outbreak has a particularly large impact on demand for jet fuel as airlines around the world suspend flights to China. Last week, 9,807 flights (10.8 percent of all scheduled flights) within, to, and from mainland China were cancelled.

China’s daily crude oil consumption has slumped by 20 percent (the equivalent of the UK and Italy’s oil needs combined), and Asia’s largest oil refiner Sinopec (owned by the Chinese government) has cut the amount of processed crude oil by 12 percent.

Bad news for economists, good news for environmentalists and for everybody who wants to preserve nature, the ecological system which makes life on this planet possible. Maybe nature, exploited and abused by humans, finally defends itself, maybe this is just the start of an epic battle to preserve life on this planet by restricting and regulating the most dangerous predator, the most devastating plague on this planet.

We live in interesting times and a lot of unexpected things can happen.

In Syria, the army and supportive militias try to take over the last Islamist stronghold in Idlib and West Aleppo. Idlib is ruled by al-Qaeda affiliate HTS (Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, former al-Nusra), designated as a terrorist organization by the UN and most nations, including the USA. One should keep in mind that al-Qaeda was responsible for the 9/11 terrorist attack which killed nearly 3,000 US inhabitants.

Yet, one shouldn’t expect the West or Turkey to applaud the Syrian offensive. Turkey has designated the Aleppo-Latakia road as a military zone and has sent multiple big convoys with heavy armor and supporting equipment into Idlib, making a confrontation with Syrian forces more likely. There are reports that Turkey entered the strategic town Saraqeb.

8 Turkish and 14 Syrian soldiers are said to have died in artillery strikes. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has warned that Turkey will start new intrusions into Syrian territory if the Syrian offensive does’t stop. The collusion of Turkey with HTS is obvious and not even denied anymore.

Comment on an Internet forum: “Turks really want the world to hate them. This is not just about Idlib, it is about everything Turkey has done to vex the entire world in the last years, from Cyprus to Greece to Armenia to Libya to Syria to Iraq to Georgia to the Kurds and many other examples.”

The USA has similarly demanded a stop of the Syrian offensive. From a US State Department briefing:

Our next question comes to us from Ece Goksedef with BBC’s Turkish service. They ask, “Moscow says that they were fighting against terrorists in Idlib – in Idlib, but as per Ankara, the fighters in Idlib are not terrorists; they are fighting for their freedom.  What is the US stance on that?

US Ambassador Jeffrey (Special Representative for Syria Engagement): “Our stance is there are groups that are — been designated by us and by the United Nations as terrorist organizations in Idlib. We have taken military operations against several of them, several al-Qaida elements, and, as everybody knows, ISIS’s leader, al-Baghdadi, several months ago. So, we recognize that there are terrorists in Idlib.”

There’s also a very large group, the al-Nusra or Hayat Tahrir al-Sham group, HTS, that is an al-Qaida offshoot. It is considered a terrorist organization, but it is primarily focused on fighting the Assad regime. It itself claims — we haven’t accepted that claim yet, but they do claim to be patriotic opposition fighters, not terrorists. We have not seen them generate, for example, international threats for some time.”

Nonetheless, none of them have been threatening the Russians or the Syrian military in any way out of Idlib. We watch very closely the claims that the Russians say that these people are launching attacks and the Russians are only retaliating, or the Syrian regime is only retaliating. That’s not true. There are a few inconsequential attacks from time to time – drones and the like – coming out of Idlib, but extremely minor, rare, and doing little damage, creating little, few, or no casualties. These are just used as an excuse for this massive thing.”

This whole statement is just Jeffrey pandering to Turkeys Erdogan, as he is supposed to do since he was appointed. But the idea of legitimizing al-Nusra/HTS as solely anti-Assad rebels, “non-internationalist” jihadists is nothing new.

General David Petraeus suggested arming them in 2016, and the elaborate distinctions and taxonomies of “internationalist and non-internationalist” jihadists were invented by the DC think tank terror expert crowd precisely to legitimize al-Qaeda off-shots and similar Sunni jihadists, which are useful to US interests as long as they are mainly engaged in fighting the Syrian army and Iran-backed groups.

Ambassador Jeffrey’s remark “doing little damage, creating little, few, or no casualties,” is plain wrong (one could also rightfully say it is a lie). The Islamists at the western outskirts of Aleppo regularly indiscriminately shell nearby Aleppo suburbs causing civilian casualties. On the Latakia front many Syrian soldiers die in unprovoked raids by Islamic elite (inghimasi) units.

Funny how the USA makes a nationalist / internationalist Jihadist distinction after Islamists occupied significant parts of the Lebanese border and some even claimed they would invade Lebanon once they were done with Syria.

HTS (Hayat Tahrir al-Sham) is not different from the Islamic State, as their harsh rule and implementation of Sharia law show. Their main disagreement with IS was about leadership and execution of their plans, not about the desired outcomes. Just like IS they aim to create a global Caliphate under Sharia law. They only keep quiet and silent about their aspirations to avoid being destroyed like the Islamic State. 

Certain analysts and politicians try to delude the public that the radical Islamists who form HTS can be accommodated when every single move they have made in Idlib has involved violently solidifying their control.

Feline news:

https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2020/jan/22/claws-out-why-cats-are-causing-chaos-and-controversy-across-britain This is probably exaggerated to write an article about a non-problem. Anyway, if there are troubles, it’s only because of the notion of “cat ownership.” Cats are not owned, they are independent-minded persons in their own right. They may be companions, friends, partners, but they are not possession.

Against all odds:


Environmental news:

https://theintercept.com/2020/01/29/chevron-ecuador-lawsuit-steven-donziger/ Must read! Though it is common knowledge, that corporations are criminal enterprises, this story is scary, because it shows, that they have the judiciary (and most certainly all other state institutions) in their pockets. Which means: In this political system, in this society one cannot stand up against corporations and the billionaire class behind them. Many things will have to change drastically…

Economic news:

https://www.asiatimes.com/2020/01/article/big-brother-australia-aims-to-ban-cash-spending/ The war against cash is a war against the informal economy, a war against financial prudence (saving money for “rainy days”), and a war against privacy. Negative interest rates will force citizens to spend their savings for things which they don’t really need, in order to boost the economy.
https://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2020/01/18/life-j18.html The rich live longer (one wouldn’t have needed a scientific study to realize this).
https://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2020/01/22/debt-j22.html Growing debt.
https://www.macrobusiness.com.au/2020/02/australia-faces-calamity/ The new coronavirus epidemic could easily crash the world economy, significantly reducing economic activity and bringing much needed relief to nature.

Media and technology news:

From an Article on the OpenDemocracy website about a conference by the campaign group “Compassion In Politics”

Most speakers agreed that one of the great illnesses afflicting 21st century democracy is a lack of trust — not just in politicians but in each other and ourselves. George Monbiot talked of the need for ‘radical trust’ via the massive decentralization of power and responsibility from Westminster. He argued that decentralization enables democracy to become a habit, which in turn means that it can be owned by the public.

George Monbiot said all the right words to please a progressive audience, but his statements as well as the whole conference were insubstantial and irrelevant. They were only meant to earn the trust of gullible lefties, targeted to be indoctrinated and swayed to support economic sanctions, theft of foreign assets, covert regime change operations, and military interventions. Monbiots employer The Guardian publishes a lot of articles about environmental issues for exactly the same reasons.

The New York Times advises: “Other sites labeled as unreliable include InfoWars, the Daily Kos, Sputnik, RT, and WikiLeaks.” (Thank you for the cues!)

Protests in Chile are still ongoing and four protesters have died in the last days. If this would happen in Hong Kong, China, Iran, Venezuela, or Russia, it would be the number one story, but Western media channels are reluctant to report unrest in “friendly” nations (Chile, Colombia, France, Spain, etc.).

Mainstream media, quick to condemn violence against protesters elsewhere in the world, also largely ignored the brutal assault by masked, black-clad riot police on firefighters who had joined the months-long nationwide protests in France. These are the largest and most sustained protests in France since May 1968 but they are mostly ignored in news reporting.

The whistleblowers who came forward to debunk the Douma OPCW report were equally ignored. Their revelations are devastating OPCW’s reputation and have the potential to unravel the Western narrative of “Assad slaughtering and gassing his own people,” revealing in the end that most of the alleged regime atrocities were in fact “false flag” or staged by the Islamists.

If omission is not an option, mainstream media workers change facts as they please. A few weeks ago Mohammed Alshamrani, a Saudi national, killed three US sailors at the Naval Air Station in Pensacola, Florida. As al-Qaeda in Yemen claims responsibility now, the assailants Saudi nationality is not mentioned anymore.

And before I forget: The Nazi concentration and extermination camp Auschwitz was liberated by heroic US soldiers, not by the Soviet Army, as we erroneously assumed until now.

https://apnews.com/eb29de015e3d454ca24025777a8784ed Surveillance technology is all the rage.
https://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2020/01/16/tube-j16.html A solid overview of US censoring, but you better ignore the last sentence.
https://www.bbc.com/news/technology-51358192 The “zombie” generation indeed.
https://www.reuters.com/article/us-apple-fbi-icloud-exclusive/exclusive-apple-dropped-plan-for-encrypting-backups-after-fbi-complained-sources-idUSKBN1ZK1CT State agencies have full access to all your cloud data and you never will know that you are investigated.
https://fair.org/home/how-western-left-media-helped-legitimate-us-regime-change-in-venezuela/ Propaganda at its finest because it comes from a trusted source targeting a trusting audience.

Imperial news:

A US study, using measures of unhappiness, including being in despair, anxious, sad, sleepless, lonely, tired, depressed, tense, and under strain, suggest that optimistic people live longer and show that “while both women and blacks became more optimistic in the ’70s due likely to rights improvements, the only group that began to decline in optimism were less-than-college-educated whites.”

1.5 million public school students experienced homelessness in the 2017-18 school year.

https://www.counterpunch.org/2020/01/22/the-cops-the-klan-go-hand-in-hand/ Interesting historical insights!
https://www.rt.com/uk/479091-harry-dunn-extradition-rejected-sacoolas/ Above the law.
https://www.craigmurray.org.uk/archives/2020/01/the-fbi-has-been-lying-about-seth-rich/ The land of the free, the home of the brave, and the scene of countless mysterious and never solved murders.
How can there be social justice and peace in a nation where the crime fighting institutions are themselves criminal, and their main purpose is not to prevent crime, but to suppress dissent and shield the ruling elites? 

Imperial conquest news:

The US State Department issued a press statement in response to Iraq’s vote to demand that the US remove its military presence, saying the USA won’t even discuss a troop withdrawal:
America is a force for good in the Middle East. Our military presence in Iraq is to continue the fight against ISIS and as the Secretary has said, we are committed to protecting Americans, Iraqis, and our coalition partners. We have been unambiguous regarding how crucial our D-ISIS mission is in Iraq. At this time, any delegation sent to Iraq would be dedicated to discussing how to best recommit to our strategic partnership — not to discuss troop withdrawal, but our right, appropriate force posture in the Middle East. Today, a NATO delegation is at the State Department to discuss increasing NATO’s role in Iraq, in line with the President’s desire for burden sharing in all of our collective defense efforts. There does, however, need to be a conversation between the US and Iraqi governments not just regarding security, but about our financial, economic, and diplomatic partnership. We want to be a friend and partner to a sovereign, prosperous, and stable Iraq.”

The New York Times published a report with the title: “Venezuela’s Capital Is Booming. Is This the End of the Revolution?” and continued: “American sanctions, intended to oust an authoritarian president, forced changes that have eased tensions and improved life — for some. Others see a more unequal country that has turned away from its socialist-inspired revolution.”
Which revolution do they mean? Who has benefitted from US sanctions? If the Bolivarian Revolution is meant, the headline reflects wishful thinking. Sanctions have forced people to organize, to use local councils, co-ops, and militias for the services which capitalist businesses stopped providing in order to create chaos and bring about regime change. And exactly as it happened in Cuba in the 60s, the US embargo of Venezuela was counterproductive and only accelerated the transformation to a socialist economy.

http://archive.vn/k4tXs Might makes right.

Armageddon news:

Australia is ground zero for the climate catastrophe. Its glorious Great Barrier Reef is dying, its world-heritage rain forests are burning, its giant kelp forests have largely vanished, numerous towns have run out of water or are about to, and the vast continent is burning on a scale never before seen. The fires have already burned about 14.5 million acres and Canberra’s air on New Year’s Day was the most polluted in the world.

Australian scientists estimate that more than a million animals have died until now and that the bushfires, fueled by record heat and drought, have put endangered species at risk of total extinction.

The southern corroboree frog and the mountain pygmy-possum could be wiped out as fires ravage crucial habitat in Victoria’s Alpine National Park and New South Wales’ neighboring Kosciuszko National Park. Other threatened species, such as the glossy black cockatoo, the spotted-tail quoll, and the long-footed potoroo are also facing risks of extinction in large parts of their habitat.

https://fpif.org/our-last-decade-to-get-climate-right/ One could argue, that the last decade to get climate right was already in the 90s, and that we are now merely fighting to mitigate the catastrophe.
https://thebulletin.org/2020/01/the-low-yield-nuclear-warhead-a-dangerous-weapon-based-on-bad-strategic-thinking A hypothetical discussion about the unimaginable scenarios of nuclear war.

Uncategorized news:


News from cat land:

It has 8 degrees Celsius (46 degrees Fahrenheit) here in the middle of Europe and it is raining. This used to be the coldest time of the year. People are quite content because of the reduced heating costs. 

Some pests (slugs, aphids) and weeds will thrive. Weeds are likely to show greater resilience and better adaptation to changes in CO2 concentrations and rising temperature than cultivated edible plants. Back to heirloom. In spring I will be crawling around in the garden, pulling out weeds and filling up the snail traps with beer. The spiders, my indispensable garden helpers, will hopefully do their work to reduce aphids, woodlice, and the like.

The cats are doing well. Aunt Rosy and Princess Min Ki are getting more quiet as they grow older. Princess Min Ki is still catching mice (and unfortunately birds too), but Rita and Lucia are now in the lead. They are maybe not as efficient as black-footed cats or cheetahs, but their success rate is surely over 30 percent. If I only could explain to them that they shall focus on mice, voles, rats, and leave the other critters alone. 


  1. Greetings to you across the Internet wires. I always appreciate your updates.


  2. Thank you 🌹


  3. […] via Links February 2020 — Mato’s Blog […]


  4. […] via Links February 2020 — Mato’s Blog […]


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