News and ruminations July 2021

July 11, 2021

Hastily collected, here a few links to articles and a few personal thoughts:

The coronavirus pandemic has exasperated the existing inequality between the global rich and the global poor. In 2020, the number of individuals with a net worth above 50 million US$ rose by nearly 25 percent.

The vaccination campaigns in rich nations have contributed to a reduction of global cases but only to levels seen during the worst part of the first wave of the pandemic in the fall of 2020. Epidemiologists are now warning that the world’s population, which is still largely unvaccinated, must prepare for a new global resurgence of the pandemic.

The policy of “herd immunity” that guided the response of the US, UK, Swedish and other governments has failed. Its proponents claimed that the more the disease spreads, the better the population’s natural immunity would be at suppressing the disease. The exact opposite has happened: the more the disease has spread, the better it has become at evading not only natural immunity, but also the immunity offered by vaccinations.

Studies have shown that the fast spreading Delta variant is twice as infectious as the original version of COVID-19 and one cannot rule out that even more contagious versions of the virus will emerge.

And yet, the pandemic is not the biggest problem humanity is facing. There is the constant contamination of the biosphere with toxic chemicals, the destruction of habitats (oceans, forests, wetlands), mass extinction, collapse of eco-systems, and climate change.

Planet Earth is losing its Arctic ice, the biggest, most important giant reflector of incoming solar radiation, which has been around since humans discovered fire but is now gone in only a few short decades because of greenhouse gas emissions from burning fossil fuels like oil and natural gas and coal.

As the planet is absorbing twice the heat, NASA reported, that 2020 was the hottest year ever. And, by all appearances, 2021 is shaping up to break the records once again, with abnormally high temperatures throughout the planet shattering previous all-time records.

The Washington Post writes about a heat record of 50 degrees Celsius in Canada: “Weather and climate experts all over the world are shocked, speechless, and deeply concerned about the future of the planet.” Which is complete nonsense, because scientists have warned about record heat for decades and it was not them but the journalists of mainstream media who were speechless.

Feline news:

Recommended reading.

Against the odds:

Please read to the end of the interview to see why this is in the “against the odds” category.

Environmental news:

Despite pandemic, level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere reaches historic levels

Scientists said that levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide peaked in May, reaching a monthly average of nearly 419 parts per million.

That figure marked the highest level since measurements began 63 years ago at NOAA’s Mauna Loa Observatory in Hawaii, and it came despite a sharp but temporary dip in global emissions during the coronavirus pandemic.

Mark Twain: “Whiskey is for drinking, water is for fighting over.”
About the X-Press Pearl cargo ship disaster.
The disgusting prospects of ubiquitous synthetic food.
And mainstream media dutifully starts the propaganda campaign for synthetic food.
A desperate plea for finally doing something.

Economic news:

All animals are equal but some are more equal than others (George Orwell’s allegorical novel Animal Farm).

Bill Gates is the biggest owner of US farmland. It was reported before. Like Mark Twain said: “Buy land, they’re not making it anymore.”
Consumer prices rise, while wages stagnate.
Vanguard and BlackRock are the top two owners of media and pharmaceutical companies.
In a few words: US-China interdependence is indefeasible and may be the main safeguard against war.

Pandemic news:

The pandemic continues to disproportionately impact the Global South, due to both vaccine imperialism and the decades of neoliberalism that have kept these countries economically subjugated. South America in particular is experiencing a catastrophic death rate. While the contributing factors to this crisis are varied, the United States’ role cannot be overstated, as it has been interfering in the region since foundation days. In recent years, this interference includes economic manipulation via the IMF and supporting rightwing coups in Bolivia, Venezuela, Chile, and Brazil. 

Cuba and Iran have to develop their own vaccines because of US sanctions and embargo.

While wealthy nations are hoarding vaccines and pharmaceutical companies’ insist on turning a profit on them, case counts are rising in various countries, including Nepal, Russia, Afghanistan, Paraguay, Uruguay, Indonesia, Vietnam, and most countries in Africa (where fewer than one percent of people have been vaccinated). 

The renewed spread of the disease in the USA, Britain, Russia, and South Africa has been caused by the Delta variant. Delta has been detected in at least 98 countries and is spreading quickly in countries with both low and high vaccination coverage. A new study from Hebrew University claims, that the Pfizer COVID vaccine is just 64 percent effective against Delta and is also less effective at preventing infected people from developing serious symptoms.

In Latin America, just 1 in 10 people have been fully vaccinated, contributing to a rise in cases in countries such as Colombia, Brazil, Bolivia, and Uruguay. Mexico is entering its third wave of the coronavirus pandemic, as infections rise by 29 percent.

Meanwhile, the virus is penetrating remote areas of Africa that were previously spared, contributing to a sharp rise in cases.

South Africa, Tunisia, Zambia, Uganda, and Namibia are among the worst-hit so far, largely due to difficulties in acquiring vaccines as wealthier nations buying up most of the current supply. In Uganda, hospitals are also running low on oxygen and ICU capacity. In Russia, the problem is largely the opposite: they have plenty of vaccines, but relatively few people (so far, only 13 percent) are interested in getting a shot. 

In Afghanistan, more than a third of all tests recently have come back positive, and hospitals are at capacity in Kabul and other areas.

600,000 US inhabitants have died now from COVID-19, but mainstream media didn’t take notice of this pandemic milestone.
Suspend patents. No royalties for sleazy companies like Pfizer.
Severe side effects of vaccines are reported everywhere and dismissed by establishment media.
The ugly face of US imperialism.
Efficiency of HEPA (high efficiency particle absorbing) filters in air purifiers. (I myself bought two units and also some replacement filters.)

Media, technology, and propaganda news:

Thousands descended on Miami to glorify Bitcoin. It was the largest Bitcoin event in the world and the first major in-person crypto conference since the pandemic started. The jargon, the liquor, and the millionaire talk flowed. Yet most of the cryptocurrencies tanked more than 5 percent since this event and Bitcoin is struggling around the 33000 US$ mark.

If left unchecked, bitcoin miners in China could consume as much energy as the UK by 2024. The recent Chinese government crackdown, which banned crypto mining in coal-rich Inner Mongolia, helps reign in the sector’s voracious appetite for cheap energy, which often has a hefty carbon cost.

But bitcoin’s energy demand isn’t just a Chinese problem — it’s a global one. In attics, shipping containers and vans all over the world, stacks of mining computers worth millions of dollars are running 24/7 to generate bitcoins, causing power outages and forcing up fossil fuel consumption, pushing climate goals further out of reach. The answer, according to international development expert Peter Howson, is global cooperation to outlaw mining equipment and end cryptocurrency price speculation.

“White man’s burden” again. For more than hundred years a constant of Western thinking.
https://www.presstv.ir is still online. Please bookmark.
Just as a reminder some empty words of the US constitution, turning semantics on its head:
The First Amendment of the US constitution guarantees freedoms concerning religion, expression, assembly, and the right to petition. It forbids Congress from both promoting one religion over others and also restricting an individual’s religious practices. It guarantees freedom of expression by prohibiting Congress from restricting the press or the rights of individuals to speak freely. It also guarantees the right of citizens to assemble peaceably and to petition their government.
Stealth propaganda via Wikipedia.

Imperial news:

Caitlin Johnstone about the new domestic terror policies of the Biden administration: The agenda to sustain an unsustainable economic model and an unsustainable empire is expected to require a few more screw turns than the public is likely to accept voluntarily, and precautions are being put in place to prevent a meaningful backlash.

In the global context: Try to foment right wing violence in America and Democrats will demand your imprisonment. Try to foment right wing violence in Russia and Democrats will demand your freedom.

More crimes, more murders, more police. Where is US society heading?
Correct observations about Biden’s broken promises but unwavering support for globalization and technology based energy transition.
Police arrested 200 activists and appeared to use a crowd-dispelling sonic device at the Line 3 pipeline in Minnesota, which would carry oil across sensitive waterways and tribal lands.

Imperial conquest news:

They hate us for our freedom.” Wrong, they hate you for your wickedness!

Israel teaches the world how to oppress or expel unwanted populations.
Ottoman empire. Forests in Kurdish areas of Turkey are set on fire.
Erez Israel.
Desperate lies to prevent the collapse of the houses of lies.
A useful compendium.
Ottoman Empire.
A remarkable admission from this eminent US think tank.
Afghanistan is a problem not only for Russia (Chechens) but also for China (Xinjiang Uyghurs).
This is the beauty of being shielded by two oceans – the USA can create a bloody mess everywhere on the planet without being negatively affected more than marginally.
If Russia would engage in Afghanistan, the CIA would instantly start supporting Islamic State and Taliban, using existing communication channels in Syria. It would be Charlie Wilson’s War II. It’s another story, if China steps in, because they are perfectly capable to cut the radical Islamists to size with the help of drones and AI.

Chinese news:

Caitlin Johnstone writes: If you don’t oppose western imperialist agendas against China then none of your other anti-imperialism matters. All of the western empire’s aggressions on the world stage are ultimately about smashing China.

Preventing the rise of any other nation has been the foremost priority of the US empire since the fall of the Soviet Union. All the other little chess moves on the board have revolved around this ultimate goal. China is the only nation in a position to surpass the US.

The western empire has been acutely aware that China would need to be smashed since before the empire had its headquarters in Washington. As Winston Churchill once put it:

“I think we shall have to take the Chinese in hand and regulate them. I believe that as nations become more powerful they will get more ruthless, and the time will come when the world will impatiently bear the existence of great barbaric nations who may at any time arm themselves and menace civilized nations. I believe in the ultimate partition of China—I mean ultimate. I hope we shall not have to do it in our day. The Aryan stock is bound to triumph.”

The US Senate passed broad 250 billion US$ legislation to counter and compete with China. 

The 470-page bill is titled “Ensuring American Global Leadership and Engagement Act.” It addresses a range of issues, including increased investment to promote US manufacturing, trade, work with allies and partners, re-engagement in international organizations, and recognition of the treatment of China’s Uyghur Muslim minority as genocide.

The bill will serve as the legal and political foundation of Biden’s economic war on China. Like previous administrations, Biden’s cabinet is motivated by the Chicago Boys’ mentality, i.e. free market that suits the interests of the US versus economic war when this “free market” deviates from its ultimate goal.

One of the most baffling aspects of the US-Chinese economic war is that both countries are similar in terms of economic ambitions. The Chinese in fact copied various aspects of the US economic model. China is a capitalist country managed by a communist Party. The Party’s intervention in the economy, though it uses unique ideological justification and political discourse, is similar to the US government’s management of the US economy, especially during times of crisis, for example, the 2008 recession.

This conflict is hardly motivated by ideology or human rights violations, but by the fact that China’s economy continues to soar, thus increasing its share of the global economic largesse. With an 18.3 percent growth in the first quarter of 2021 – the biggest jump in GDP since 1992 – the Chinese momentum is eclipsing the performance of the US economy and its European allies. As economic power naturally increases political influence, China will soon be able to rearrange global alliances, not just in Asia, Africa, and South America, but also in Europe.

The Biden administration established a “trade strike force,” led by US Trade Representative Katherine Tai, to halt the “hollowing out” of US industry and the dependence on global supply chains, but Asia’s convenience, reliability, and cost-effectiveness make it unlikely, that US companies will reshore production and ease US supply chain dependence on China.

This month marks 100 years since the founding congress of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) opened in a Shanghai girl’s school in July 1921. Inspired by the 1917 Russian Revolution, it was an event of world historical significance, marking a critical turning point in the protracted struggle of the Chinese people against Western domination.

The 94-million strong CPC (Communist Party of Chin) celebrated the centenary under the motto of President Xi Jinping’s “China Dream,” thought to mark the country’s final exit from its “century of humiliation” national narrative to herald “rejuvenation of the nation” as the new goal for its domestic and foreign policies.

Chinese people have not forgotten, that the West tried everything to keep them down. For instance: 

The Opium Wars (1839 – 1842 and 1856 – 1860) were triggered by the Qing dynasty’s campaign against Western merchants who sold opium in China. In both wars the European force’s modern military technology led to easy victory over the Qing forces, with the consequence that the Chinese government was compelled to grant favorable tariffs, trade concessions, reparations, and territory to the Europeans.

The Boxer Rebellion was an uprising against foreigners in 1899, begun by peasants but eventually supported by the government. It was suppressed by an eight-Nation Alliance (USA, Austro-Hungarian, British, French, German, Italian, Japanese, and Russian), which brought 20,000 troops to China and defeated the Imperial Army,

In the aftermath of World War I, the major victorious powers at the Versailles Peace conference in 1919 endorsed the claims of Japan to Shandong Province, seized from Germany. 

After the defeat of the KMT (Kuomintang), the CCP’s seizure of power and its proclamation of the People’s Republic of China in October 1949, the USA launched the Korean War in 1950. China was compelled to intervene, facing internal sabotage from remnants of the capitalist class that regarded the US-led armies in Korea as their potential liberators. 

Western propaganda characterize Mao’s campaigns of the “Great Leap Forward,” and the “Cultural Revolution” as catastrophic failures which allegedly destabilized society, crippled the economy, produced mass famine, and caused the death of millions.

There have been indeed catastrophic miscalculations, exacerbated by ignorance and inflexible central planning. The Four Pest campaign in the Great Leap Forward from 1958 to 1962 tried to eliminated rats, flies, mosquitoes, and sparrows. Sparrows were included because farmers accused them of consuming lot of grain, overlooking the fact, that sparrows also ate a large number of insects. Rather than increasing, rice yields after the campaign decreased, causing widespread famine. Mao subsequently ordered the end of the campaign against sparrows, replacing them with bed bugs, but it was too late, as the extermination of sparrows had upset the ecological balance, and locusts destroyed crops as a result of the absence of their natural predators.

Despite various setbacks and failures, the CCP succeeded in eliminating much of what was socially and culturally backward in Chinese society, including polygamy, child betrothal, foot binding, and concubinage. Illiteracy was largely abolished, students swarmed out to the country side to teach improved hygiene, poverty was alleviated, and life expectancy increased significantly.

In 1978 Deng Xiaoping introduced initial pro-market reforms, The reforms included special economic zones for foreign investors, private enterprise instead of communes in the countryside, and the replacement of economic planning with the market. The result was a vast expansion of private enterprise, especially in the countryside, but also a rapid rise of social inequality, looting and corruption by party bureaucrats, growing joblessness, and soaring inflation that led to a national wave of protests and strikes in 1989. 

Deng Xiaoping is still hailed as a savior by Western commentators, but his reforms would not have been possible without the far-reaching social reforms of Mao’s revolution, and China’s staggering economic development over the past three decades reflect in a contradictory way the impact of the Chinese revolution.

Inequality also grows in China, sparking resentment.
Chinese authorities take no chances and always have cracked down hard on separatist movements in Tibet, Xinjiang, and other restive places. These allegations are based on interviews with 55 people. It will not be hard to find 55 Uyghurs who for whatever reason have an ax to grind with Chinese authorities. The report comes handy just as Western war propaganda against China is cranked up. Amnesty International does its job. The reported torture seems not be worse than Guantanamo, extraordinary renditions, black sides, and the US prison system in general. Why does Western media not equally discuss and condemn the repression in Colombia, Honduras, Haiti, and other Latin American nations? What about the Israeli treatment of Palestinians? The evidence against Israel is solid and based on much more than just 55 interviews!
NATO warns of military challenge posed by China.
The authorities deny that there is a leak but admit, that several of the reactor’s more than 60,000 fuel rods have been damaged. China has expanded its use of nuclear energy in recent years to about 5 percent of all power generated in the country. According to China Nuclear Energy Association, there were 16 operational nuclear plants with 49 nuclear reactors in China as of March 2021, with a total generation capacity of 51,000 megawatts.
High value goods from China against cheap commodities from US. How the roles have reversed! The USA cannot compete economically and has no chance to stop China with peaceful means. But, apart from geopolitical considerations, all this is not good for the environment, as industrial activity should be reduced, not expanded.
“Trust us,” whisper the technology wizards. “We have a solution for everything.”

Armageddon news”


Uncategorized news:

Long read, but very important. Please take the effort!
In an acoustic environment where the subtle sounds of nature and the evenly subtle sounds of human interaction (like breathing, sighing, humming, singing, laughing or crying) are drowned out by industrial noise, it is very hard to create visions of peace and love instead of just reflecting cultural reality. Nevertheless, don’t stop trying, your audience of a few lost souls will be grateful.

News from cat land:

Princess Min Ki, who suffers from kidney failure, is still alive and doing comparatively well. The weekly visits to the veterinarian are a nuisance but she has got used to it. She still refuses most of the renal diet food, but I’ve found some food for sensitive digestion which she likes. Wendy, who had all her life problems with diarrhea, also improved after eating a special diet, though she lately relapsed.

Wendy has been ailing all her life and I never expected that she would get that old. 13 years ago, as we checked an abandoned farm for abandoned kittens, my then wife grabbed this tiny bundle of fur coated with milk. Wendy had obviously just fallen into a milk bucket. We brought her instantly to the veterinarian to get the full treatment, and she got the best possible treatment for sure. It was nevertheless a month-long struggle to keep her alive and a constant worry since then, but overall she had a good life full of joy and excitement. With lot of love and patience maybe she can make it some more years. 

Gandhi Jr., with 9 years the third oldest cat, has no apparent health problems but he is lazy and sleeps all the time, very much like the comic strip character Garfield. 

The younger cats are all healthy. They patrol the garden and roam the adjacent forest, that is their territory, their kingdom, and their paradise. In the forest, they have hidden places that nobody knows, which no human (except me) ever will reach, where they can rest and sleep undisturbed in the warming sun.

At the moment there is not much sun, because it is constantly raining. This is a rainy area, though precipitation is not as much as in tropical countries (Colombia, Panama, Costa Rica,) or on island nations. 

The yield of berries (strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, gooseberries, blackberries, jostaberries, currants) is very high and I have to collect them every day to get ahead of birds, caterpillars, and snails.

The Cornelian cherry is also doing fine, though berries will be ripe not earlier than fall.

Hefty winds have thrown off many fruits but the harvest of apples, plums, and peaches could be nevertheless sufficient to last through winter and spring.

The Mirabelle plums are doing great. In the last years dozens of Mirabelle plum trees have grown up on their own. I didn’t plant them, I just had to let them grow undisturbed, just let them have their way. Later I had to cut down many of the little trees, but the remaining 20 or so will supply me with enough fruits for all my personal needs and even make it able to give some away to friends and neighbors. I like these plums very much, they are sweat, they are delicious. The trees are resistant to most fungal and bacterial infections, don’t need any special care, and grow even in the most uninhabitable locations.

Hail or other extreme weather events could of course dash all my hopes but right now it looks quite good. 

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