Links and ruminations August 2021

August 12, 2021

Too many links, too much text. Who can read that all? Maybe it’s useful if one picks out the matters of personal special interest and disregards everything else. Maybe one just looks at the pictures. Maybe one just trashes the email or saves it for later. 


For a moment it looked like the coronavirus pandemic could be controlled, with politicians and pundits fantasizing about an economic recovery and solid (meaning unlimited) economic growth. UK recovery was expected to be the fastest of the major Western economies.

It was all wishful thinking — or maybe deliberate misinformation to get the rulers some breathing space.

The pandemic and climate change-caused disasters have proven again, that there is no international solidarity. Any discussions, how richer countries should compensate poorer ones for having to bear the brunt of crises largely not of their making, have been silenced.

Empathy and compassion are not part of political and economic plans. The egoism of nations is a reflection of the egoism, greed, and hubris in their societies. How did we come to this point? Could education in the family and in schools teach empathy and compassion? As the coronavirus pandemic has reduced face-to-face contact, the coldness and selfishness in modern societies will only get worse.  

How the societal impacts of the pandemic and the ecological catastrophes will play out in the longer term can only be guessed, but it could lead to rapidly decreasing social cohesion, a (dog eat dog) fight of everybody against everybody, political, cultural, economic mayhem, and the abandoning of the weak, poor, disabled, and elderly. 

Various countries in the Middle East, Southeast Asia, Latin America, and Africa are especially hard hit by the pandemic and climate change caused disasters. Myanmar (Burma) and Lebanon can be added to the list of failed states. 

People are out of work, unable to buy food and other essential items to survive. Farmers have lost their livelihoods, crops have been ruined.

About 30 percent of Indonesia’s 277 million people are officially regarded as living in poverty as a result of the pandemic, increasing from less than 10 percent in 2019.

The aid agency Oxfam reports that the number of people facing severe hunger around the world has increased sixfold from the end of 2019 to June 2021.

The FAO’s Food Price Index increased by 31 percent between March 2020 and June 2021. Although this represents the average price importers have to pay – and not retail prices – the increase for staple foods is reflected in the world’s supermarkets and market stalls. South Africans, for example, have to spend 30 percent more for tomatoes, vegetable oils and beans than they did a year ago.

Droughts and extreme weather (storms, torrential rains, hail, floods) ruined or diminished harvests in many food-exporting countries, like Brazil, Argentina, Russia, Ukraine, and the USA.

Then there are the increased prices for transportation. The cost of transporting food commodities by ship has more than doubled in the last 12 months and many passenger flights, which were also used to carry food, have been eliminated. A rise in gasoline prices and regional shortages of truck drivers has made road transport costlier.

Rising costs and scarcity are not yet fully reflected in consumer prices, but a gradual price increase over the next month is expected. 

Developing and poor nations ini the global south are most affected. Prices in sub-Saharan Africa rose up 200 percent in some areas. Famine is now looming because incomes have collapsed at the same time, as the continent is experiencing a third wave of the coronavirus pandemic.

While in the USA, 40 percent of edible produce, enough to feed 164 million people, is thrown away.

And the first remedies for all these misfortunes? More surveillance, less civil rights, more propaganda, and more censorship.

Censoring people for talking about COVID-19 and environmental policies that affect everyone is what one gets when institutions have such an extensively established track record of deceitful and unethical behavior that the public will never be convinced through plain argumentation and facts.

Feline news:


Against all odds:


Environmental news:

Microplastics and PFAS (forever chemicals) are in the news, and so are floods caused by torrential rain, wildfires caused by increasing temperatures, and the coronavirus pandemic. Under the radar for now because of ignorance or censorship by industrial pressure groups are rising chemical contamination (of air, water, and soil), mass extinction, and ecosystem collapse (oceans, forests).

A few tidbits: 

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change issued its latest – and most alarming – summary of the state of climate science. Climate change impacts are described as “widespread and severe.”

All of Central Asia is currently under intense pressure not only from the effects of the coronavirus pandemic, but also from unusual heat and from water scarcity.

Climate scientists found warning signs of the collapse of the Gulf Stream, also called AMOC (Atlantic meridional overturning circulation), a development which is considered one of the planet’s main potential tipping points.

This would severely disrupting the rains that billions of people depend on for food in India, South America, and West Africa, increase storms and lower temperatures in western Europe, and raise sea levels on the US and Canadian east coast. It would also further endanger the Amazon rainforest and Antarctic ice sheets.

New science and innovation, this is what the pundits offer as a solution. This is what they offered since the start of the industrial revolution in 1760. But the technological approach has failed, it has failed for 260 years, and it made matters only worse.
Putin may be a prudent, even sagacious leader, but he is not an environmentalist. The deadly risk of ecological collapse has not yet entered the consciousness of Russias leadership.
Synthetic food, cultured meat from the laboratory, food from beans or soy which tries to mimic meat, food from insects, food from algae, space food (astronaut food), all these offerings from the food industry have one thing in common: They are produced in big factories to make big profits for big companies.
Please, tell this Bill Gates and his fellow billionaires.
Space tourism is not only a folly of billionaires, it is criminal irresponsibility.
Russia has no intentions “to leave it in the ground,” and tries hard to fit the late US Senator John McCain’s description (a gas station masquerading as a country).
Libyan environmental devastation caused by war, but at least Muammar Gaddafi got killed and is not anymore a danger to Western interests.
Microplastics may damage cells of living organisms.

Economic news:

The US think tank Jamestown foundation had to admit:

The Russian economy has sources of strength beyond the production of oil, gas and coal: agriculture is benefitting from state subsidies aimed at ensuring self-sufficiency; timber remains a valuable export resource; and the bosses of metal corporations sit at the top of the list of Russian billionaires. The Russian IT sector is also blossoming notwithstanding persistent government efforts to expand control over the virtual economy, justified by an informational security doctrine that treats the cyber domain as part of state sovereignty. Russia also has solid financial reserves estimated at 600 billion US$, and the state budget remains balanced even in the situation of protracted stagnation.


Pandemic news:

Pharmaceutical company Pfizer has announced record profits exceeding 10 billion US$ as a result of vaccine sales. Pfizer hopes to make even more money with “booster shots” for already vaccinated persons. Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla said people will likely need a booster dose of a Covid-19 vaccine within 12 months of getting fully vaccinated. Germany will offer booster shots from September on and Israel will give booster shots to everyone over 60. 

Pfizer and Moderna raised vaccine prices in Europe. The new price for BioNTech-Pfizer’s shot is 19.50 €, compared with 15.50 € previously. The price of the Moderna shot is now 21.50 €, an increase of 2.50 €.

Hundreds of thousands expired vaccine doses in the USA, Israel, Europe, and some African countries are being destroyed.


The Delta Plus variant (B.1.617.2.1 or AY.1) contains a new mutation in the spike protein the virus uses to enter human cells, called K417N. As it’s still very similar to Delta, it’s been called Delta Plus rather than another letter in the Greek alphabet. Until now Delta Plus has been found in relatively low numbers in India, Indonesia, and South Korea.

Characteristics of Delta Plus are: increased transmissibility, stronger binding to receptors of lung cells (suggesting easier entry into human cells), and a potential reduction in response to monoclonal antibodies (which could imply that people’s immune systems may be less effective against this variant, or that they may be less responsive to lifesaving monoclonal antibody treatments).

The Lambda variant, first identified in Peru, is more resistant than Delta to vaccine-induced immunity. So far there are not many cases, but they are in 29 countries and the potential for this variant to evade immunity is frightening. As predicted: the more the virus is allowed to spread, the more it mutates to inevitably become immune to vaccines.


For many month China appeared to have controlled the coronavirus pandemic. Now, as infections with the Delta varian have spread to several big cities, we will see how well their methods work. If they cannot control the virus, nobody will be able to and there is no hope for an end of the pandemic.

The USA is currently in the midst of a fifth wave of cases and this new wave is growing faster than the first and second waves. South Korea is hit by the worst COVID-19 outbreak.

As the Delta variant wave gathers strength, authorities in several countries have given up the zero-infection approach and plan to treat coronavirus as a manageable endemic disease. Which means that the Sars-CoV-2 virus will establish itself as a permanent part of our germ environment just like influenza and cold. 

This will profoundly change human lives in ways we hardly can imagine or predict right now. One thing though is for sure: It will cause more suffering and pain.

Delta variant infections are probably more severe, a CDC document says, citing data showing vaccinated people can spread coronavirus. The delta variant of the coronavirus spreads as easily as chickenpox, according to the document, which argues officials must “acknowledge the war has changed.”


Russian President Vladimir Putin doesn’t seem to trust the vaccines. According to official reports, President Putin is fully vaccinated against COVID-19 (with Sputnik V), but still observes a strict isolation regime. At the recent air-and-space show in Zhukovsky, Putin wandered through the exhibition without a mask, but was surrounded by a screen of body guards. According to a member of his personal press pool, he was at all times inside a “clean zone.” No person was allowed anywhere near the president if he or she was not free of COVID-19. A negative test is not enough. Anyone permitted close to Putin must first spend two weeks in total isolation under FSO (Federal Protective Service) surveillance.

Increasing doubts about the effectiveness of vaccines. Even countries with high vaccination rates (Iceland, Israel, Germany, UK, Canada, Uruguay) see again a rise in infections and the prospect on another pandemic wave. Vaccines maybe aren’t a panacea, and they certainly aren’t time capsules which will transport us magically back to pre-pandemic lives.
Harold Lasswell, one of the founding fathers of communications studies, wrote in 1927: the best propaganda is that which is the “champion of our dreams”.
Cognitive deficits in persons who recovered from COVID=19. Another reason not to get infected.
Cognitive decline persists even after people have recovered from COVID-19.
Other scientists beg to differ.

Media, technology, and propaganda news:

Protests were limited and media channels had to use footage of pro-government demonstrations to illustrate their articles.
About Pegasus spyware.
Important, though it overstates the threat by AI compared to the existential dangers of biosphere contamination, environmental collapse, or war.
Craig Murray jailed for eight month.

Imperial news:

The revolution of the 60s and 70s didn’t die, it only never succeeded. And the capitalists even make money (with YouTube for instance) from cultural manifestations of the revolutionary spirit.

Uncle Remus George Duke wrote it for Frank Zappa.
Frank Zappa died, much too young (52), from prostate cancer.
Marvin Gaye What’s Going On. 44 years old, he was shot dead by his father.
Phil Ochs Love me, I’m a liberal. Phil Ochs committed suicide at 35.

But maybe Caitlin is right:

Caitlin Johnstone about US Whistleblowers:

The US government imprisons journalists and whistleblowers for telling the truth about its murderous behavior. All US government statements about authoritarianism in other nations are invalidated by its treatment of whistleblowers and journalists.

They do evil things, they make it illegal to report those evil things to the public, they sentence anyone who does to draconian prison sentences to deter all other potential whistleblowers, then when the public starts guessing what they are up to behind those veils of secrecy, they are branded “conspiracy theorists” and banned from internet platforms.

Life expectancy decreased by a year and a half in 2020, the largest decline  since World War II, according to provisional data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Data also prove the disproportionate toll of the coronavirus on communities of color, with African Americans losing 2.9 years of life expectancy and Latinos losing 3 years.
Isn’t independent judiciary a human right?

Glen Ford passed away.
More on the website https://www.blackagendareport.com 

Imperial conquest news:

As US combat troops are promised to leave Iraq by end of this year, 900 soldiers, including a number of Green Berets, will remain in Syria to continue supporting and advising the Kurdish led SDF. In reality, no US troops have accompanied local forces on combat patrols for over a year in either Iraq or Syria.

The presence of US soldiers prevents the Russian-backed Syrian government from accessing the oil fields and agricultural resources of northeastern Syria, and serves to obstruct Iran’s goal to establish a geographic corridor connecting Tehran with Lebanon and the Mediterranean.

US forces in Syria have come under fire in recent weeks. Troops at the al Omar oilfield in eastern Syria were attacked by a drone on July 7 and in a separate incident hit with multiple rockets on June 28. The incidents were part of a series of attacks by Iranian-backed militias against US  in both Iraq and Syria, which have stepped up efforts to push the US out of the region in recent months.

Russian forces repeatedly encroached on US-controlled territory in eastern Syria as part of what officials said was a deliberate campaign to squeeze the US military out of the region. In August, four US service members were injured after an altercation with Russians in northeast Syria.

Blocking Russia is not really achievable anymore since Putin essentially got what he wanted. Bashar al Assad is in charge and isn’t going anywhere anytime soon, Russia got airbases, a mediterranean port, and political influence. Iran practically got their Lebanon highway, because blocking Iran is not possible as the al Tanf base can be bypassed via al Bukamal. Oil from the Omar field will not be tradable without a feasible mass export route.

So why does the US care these days? Sure it keeps Syria poor, but if the 60+ year Cuba embargo is any case to go by then this won’t lead to regime change anytime soon.

Defying the US blockade, Mexican and Russia send humanitarian aid to Cuba,. On July 25, the Russian government sent a cargo of 88.8 tons of high quality wheat flour, refined sunflower oil, cans of canned food, and one million disposable face masks. In the next days, another aid shipment of medicines will reach the country. Likewise, on July 26, the Mexican government announced that it is sending Cuba two navy ships loaded with syringes, oxygen tanks, masks, powdered milk, tuna, beans, flour, cooking oil, and gasoline.
Sanctions are the US’ weapon of choice in less than clear-cut international conflicts. Put in place on the pretext of protecting international peace and national interests, history shows their effect is more usually the opposite.
Using the global financial system for regime change or for stealing assets of vulnerable nations (Libya).
Sending soldiers instead of economic help. Securing Western investment for resource exploitation (Total’s Afungi gas field).

China news:

Covid-19 has now spread into around half of China’s provinces, causing authorities to impose new movement restrictions nationwide as the country returns to the mass testing and lockdowns imposed when the first virus outbreak erupted in early 2020.

There is also growing support for a “Covid city” plan, envisioned as the sole point of entry into China for all inbound foreign flights to contain the spread of Covid-19, on the pages of influential Chinese state media like Xinhua and the Global Times.

Increased Japanese support for an independent Taiwan. In some ways, history is repeating itself. Japan annexed Taiwan from the Qing Dynasty following the Sino Japanese war in 1895, an occupation which lasted 50 years. Seizing Taiwan was the first objective in Tokyo’s broader aggression against Beijing.

Iran-China cooperation pact.
Education is a human right and every child should have the best possible education. But that is only possible in a non-profit system.

Armageddon news:

Todays competitive media world provides journalists (including aspiring and would-be journalists) with a clear choice: Either to write what the puppet masters expect one to write and have some kind of career, or be trapped in the low wage, high risk world of independent progressive media. This is one of the rare examples, where authors chose the second option.

Uncategorized news:

Being open minded and tolerant.

News from cat land:

I often try to put a more positive spin on the ecological, social, and political developments which are portrayed in the blog texts, but the dangers seem to be real and plausible, confirmed by constant reevaluation, corroboration, and common sense

It the duty of everyone to warn of the looming disasters.

I went to a local demonstration against the redesignation of a large forest are to an industrial zone. Lot of familiar faces from bygone times, and they still remember me. But the speakers at the concluding gathering were not impressive or convincing, most of them seemed to be egocentric self-promoters. 

Wasn’t that me also, when I founded an environmental activist group, who later became the local greens?

Not much has changes since then in the environmental movement. What has changed is the level of threats, which increases day by day. But people are tired of the consistent Cassandra calls and they despise the callers.

So what shall I do? Just try to prepare for and isolate myself from the upcoming catastrophes? Try to have a few more easy years using up the few privileges and entitlements which I acquired over time? 

One cannot escape ones fate. As I already told in my last post, two of my beloved cat companions are severely sick. These are my most honest and loyal friends and I’m saddened by the prospect that I will lose them. My closest human friend, (a former cameraman of film director Werner Herzog) has advanced prostate cancer. He just undergoes radiation therapy, but will that help at this stage?

Princess Min Ki, who suffers from kidney failure, is getting thinner but otherwise is still doing reasonable well. Wendy is very weak and she weights only 2.4 kg, one kilo less than her normal weight. I was now by three veterinarians and they didn’t find what causes her decline. The blood test and an X-ray didn’t show any abnormalities, according to that she should be fine.

Wendy eats all the time, she eats more than any other cat and still loses weight, so something must be wrong with her digestion. 

This morning I made a forest walk with Wendy. We didn’t go very far but I nevertheless had to carry her half of the way. Wendy seemed to enjoy the walk and especially the time when I carried her. 

I hummed “He ain’t heavy he’s my brother” (Donny Hathaway’s version). No, Wendy ain’t heavy, she’s my sister, and I will carry her as long as she likes it.


The road is long
With many a winding turn
That leads us to who knows where
Who knows where

But I am strong enough to carry him
He ain’t heavy, he’s my brother

So on we go
His welfare is my concern
No burden is he to bear
We’ll get there

For I know he will not encumber me
He ain’t heavy, he’s my brother

If I’m laden at all
I’m laden with sadness
That everyone’s heart
Is not filled with gladness
Of love for one another



  1. Wishing you and the cats many peaceful and pleasant days.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you! Living our quiet lives in a noisy and hectic world as good as it is possible.


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