Archive for the ‘chatting/pondering’ Category

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Links March 2019

March 18, 2019

We live in amazing times and things are progressing fast. Those who clamor for change will be heard and those who detest the old order will see it disappear. Change will come and it will exceed or defy any predictions. Everything will change in often surprising and completely unexpected ways. There will be more change than anybody could ever have imagined.

https://medium.com/matter/it-s-not-climate-change-it-s-everything-change-8fd9aa671804 

There are countless reasons to write a blog post. For example:

To tell about oneself and satisfy narcissistic urges.
To show how clever one is, in order to become admired or envied.
To proselytize, convert, recruit for a religion, philosophy, or ideology.
To advertise goods or services one wants to sell.
To beg for a donation or a nod on social media.
To keep oneself busy, because doing nothing could let you slip into depression.
To distract oneself from the pointlessness of ones life.
To find like-minded people, friends, a mate.
To start a conversation and have some kind of social interaction.
To counter the horrible, despicable, gut wrenching mainstream media propaganda.
To discuss topics where one has enough expertise to contribute essential thoughts.
To warn about impending dangers and discuss ways of preparation or prevention.
To teach the reader skills that oneself has acquired.
To uplift spirits, to describe the beauty of nature, of art, of life in general.

Please tell me, if I forgot an important reason.

To teach skills and to uplift spirits, that is what I would like to do, but most times I get stuck in dire warnings and apocalyptic predictions. Sad as it is, I have to admit to myself, my blog posts about violence, destruction, death, environmental collapse, and the poisoning of everything will not uplift spirits.

Shall I stop discussing politics and ecology?

One could surely just ignore the dark clouds on the horizon, the writing on the wall, the forebodings of catastrophe, but that would leave everyone unprepared and no measures would be taken to alleviate the pain when disaster finally strikes.

Another method to cope with a dire situation and keep ones sanity is to stay calm and relaxed, to rationalize, and to control ones emotions, especially the fight-and-flight response of the sympathetic nervous system.

I will return back to that soon, but first the hard part:

Bad news continue to come in as reliably as night follows day. Scientists have uncovered, that stratocumulus clouds could disappear with rising CO2 concentrations in the atmosphere. This particular effect, the melting permafrost in the north of the globe, and a collapse of oceanic ecosystems are the main positive feedback loops which could cause unstoppable “runaway” climate change and raise temperatures on earth by 8 degrees Celsius or more. 

Climate change indirectly led to the Syrian war, and the Arab Spring of 2011 was catalyzed by high grain prices which were in turn caused by a severe drought. There will be more of this as the climate worsens. Food insecurity is the biggest cause of unrest and hot weather is known to magnify unrest and violence in such a situation.

And yet, it seems, that the movers and shakers in the higher echelons of the global government are not concerned about global warming, probably because a nuclear war, even a limited regional one (for instance between Pakistan and India) would more than offset the warming and cause a nuclear winter by the dust clouds from nuclear explosions.

The USA suspended compliance with the INF (Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces) Treaty and New START maybe next. What will happen when the USA and Russia position submarines with nuclear hypersonic missiles just outside each territorial waters, reducing warning time to a few minutes and making a decapitation strike against each other not only possible but nearly inevitable?

Therefore, as nuclear war and a nuclear winter become increasingly likely, why should anybody bother about global warming?

The Doomsday Clock is still 2 minutes to midnight
(https://thebulletin.org/doomsday-clock/).

Why should anybody care about the future?

Humans may disappear in a firestorm or a dustbowl. So what?

We are most likely not that exceptional, we are most likely not the center of the universe. Without an abundance of carbon, oxygen, hydrogen, and nitrogen, life based on proteins, RNA, and DNA would not have emerged. And if an asteroid hadn’t struck the Yucatan 66 million years ago, dinosaurs might still rule this planet, and humans might never have evolved.

Life will go on without us or reemerge after some thousand years, and nobody will miss us. Anyway, get used to the idea: We all have to die one day! 

In the great, great scheme of things, it will not make a difference. Just look at the stars, look at the majestic firmament. The stars will shine down on this planet even if it has become as habitable as Mars.

I could go on endlessly in this fashion but I don’t want to overdo it and therefore unceremonially conclude my end time musings with the obligatory caveat: Be skeptical, don’t believe, don’t trust, use common sense, follow your heart, and be aware, that

“it ain’t necessarily so!”

In this complicated world, surrounded by electronic gadgets and machines which pretend to serve you but in fact follow the agenda of their parent company; in this society where the most cunning thieves, cheaters, imposters, and con-men are hailed as innovative entrepreneurs; where the amount of money and goods which they have looted from their fellow humans is a measure of their merit and virtue; where the most impertinent tricksters and charlatans are admired celebrities; where truths are lies, appearances are illusions, facts are fabrications, it is understandable if one gets confused and distrustful.

Whom should one believe? The politicians, the pundits, experts, and TV-show hosts? Or dissident bloggers like for example the heroic Cindy Sheehan or the somewhat feisty and always brilliant Caitlin Johnstone. Here a few quotes from Caitlin:

Sometimes it’s hard to say what’s more frustrating: the fact that these deadly imperialist regime change power grabs keep happening, or the fact that people keep buying the same tired old stories that are used to sell them.

If you’ve paid much attention to human behavior throughout your life, you know that we reliably repeat the same patterns until there’s inner healing and personal growth. If you’ve experienced inner healing and personal growth, you know that the actual experience of it is generally anti-climactic. True healing is always a game of subtraction, and it moves in the exact opposite direction of the egoically satisfying mental narratives which Hollywood has grown so skilled at providing us. When true inner healing takes place, it doesn’t usually make for a good story, and its effects often go unnoticed for some time, because they are evidenced not in the addition of something new but in the subtraction of something old. You look at your memories of your old unwholesome behavior patterns and think “Hmm, how strange that I used to do that sort of thing!”

Which brings me to the promised uplifting part of the blog post:

Smile and watch your breath, was my suggestion in earlier blog posts. For some readers this may smell of New Age, but it comes from a skeptic who tries to base all assumptions either on the scientific method or on common sense, it comes from someone who doesn’t regard any assumptions as “absolute truth” or “natural law.”

Smile

The facial muscles are connected to the brain via the cranial nerves. The facial motor nucleus (cranial nerve VII) receives cortical input from the primary motor cortex in the frontal lobe of the brain, but the limbic lobe and especially the amygdala are also involved. This is important, because limbic lobe and amygdala are well known for their central role in mediating emotional behavior. 

The autonomic nervous system is also in play, demonstrated by involuntary facial expressions (reactions to odors, sights, and sounds). Like all bodily functions which are controlled by both the autonomic nervous system and the conscious mind, relaxing muscles consciously will activate the parasympathetic part of the autonomic nervous system and increase overall calmness and composure.

A genuine, natural smile helps to loosen the facial muscles, including those controlling the cheeks, lips, and eyes. There are hundreds of wellness or meditation sites on the internet describing hundreds of methods to improve ones smile, but I have no time to check them and separate the ones who are sincere from the ones who just try to advertise and sell courses, books, or cosmetics.

A genuine smile relaxes all muscles with one exception. The risorius muscle, located on both sides of the mouth, pulls mouth corners laterally (outward) and forms dimples in the cheeks. The bright, wide smiles seen in show business, advertising, TV, Hollywood, and election campaigns uses the risorius muscle. This kind of smile is not what we are talking about here.

The genuine smile, sometimes called “enlightened smile,” is the one seen on serene statues and pictures of the meditating Buddha. It is no simplification to consider this kind of smile and the complete relaxation of ones face to be the same thing.

Switching a few times between smiling naturally, spontaneously, and relaxing the facial muscles, will make clear that these are only two different approaches of the same process.

The little experiment will also make clear that smiling improves your mood, makes life easier, helps you to find friends, and appeases your adversaries. One can smile everywhere, at any time, in (nearly) any situation. One doesn’t need a yoga cushion, a quiet room, incense burning, Buddha statues, singing bowls, though it would be surely nice to have all these meditation paraphernalia at hand.

Smiling works without all this, you just remind yourself and smile. Again, and again, and again… Smile a thousand times, over month and years, it will become a part of your personality, it will change your life.

Breathe

Most of the things you read about smiling in the preceding paragraphs also apply to breathing. Breathing is the most vital bodily function that can be either autonomic or consciously controlled. Because of this duality, breathing can function as a bridge between body and mind, it can be a balancing device and a tuning tool that allows conscious control of ones emotions and access to states of deep relaxation, serenity, and harmony.

The way we breathe, in other words, directly affects the chemistry of our brains in a way that can enhance our attention and improve our brain health. The levels of neurotransmitters (for instance noradrenalin or acetylcholine) will change with the way we breathe.

Slow, deep breathing is probably the oldest folk remedy to counter distress. People often do it instinctively ahead of public performances or dangerous employments. It works in almost any scenario where the fight-or-flight response of the sympathetic nervous system is activated because of a perceived danger, but one nevertheless should better remain calm and focused. 

Slowing and deepening breathing improves arterial oxygenation, cardiac output, pulmonary gas-exchange efficiency, and other functions that are important in a body state of physical exertion. Not only that, breathing slower and deeper is a signal for the body to switch off the fight-or-flight response and activate the parasympathetic nervous system, which will trigger detoxing, regeneration, and healing processes.

Slowing and deepening breathing though is not the whole story. One has to breath through the nose, and one has to use diaphragmatic breathing (breathing with the belly rather than with the chest).

In The Zhuangzi, one of the two foundational texts of Taoism (the other being the Tao Te Ching), it is said that ordinary men “breathe from their throats, while the sage breathes from his heels” (meaning: with his whole body).

Learning diaphragmatic breathing can be life changing. A study in India concluded that the average volume of air inhaled can be increased by up to 50 percent after just 15 minutes of deep diaphragmatic breathing and that the average number of breaths per minute reduced from 15 to just 5 breaths a minute, thus making breathing more efficient, energy producing, and stress reducing.

Both Qigong (which literally means “energy work” or “breathing skill”) and Yoga teach a basic form of diaphragmatic breathing that can be learned and practiced easily and without complex instruction.

There are many guides about diaphragmatic breathing on the internet, especially on YouTube. Some of them are even useful.

A very short introduction to my personal method of deep diaphragmatic breathing:

Always start by exhaling. Exhale deeply but not forcefully — just let the air flow out. Relax your ribcage and allow your bellybutton to move in towards your spine, so that it feels like your stomach is moving inward. Exhaling could eventually be coupled with a heightened awareness of the area below the navel, the guts (vagus nerve), and the spine, though it is better not to force anything.

Wait till the inhaling reflex starts automatically. Don’t expand you chest, don’t elevate your shoulders. When you inhale, the diaphragm flattens downward, expanding the volume of the lungs. Only the diaphragm should be involved, your stomach will be moving out, your waist will get wider.

Rest a moment, then let the air flow out again.

One will find many deviant breathing methods. Check them out and select what fits you best. Lower your expectations and brace yourself for disappointments. Like with smiling (and most other skills one needs to acquire), persistence, endurance, and patience is necessary. One has to start again and again thousands of times over years and decades.

And then there is the brain chatter, the steady flow of notions, pictures, sounds, episodes, emerging from nowhere and igniting never-ending chains of associations which are irritating and distracting. The gurus and yogis will tell you: Let them pass, don’t bother, they will fade away. The gurus and yogis are right, but quieting the brain chatter is nevertheless something one has to learn, and it can take a long, long time. It can take a whole life.

Some readers may be discouraged by the necessary longtime investment of time and effort. If it just would work immediately, like checking out at the cashier and taking the desired ware home. Instant gratification, that is what we are used to.

Starting these scheme, reminding oneself constantly to smile and consciously breathe would just add another burden, and we are already burdened enough in this complicated consumer world.

But the reservations are unfounded. This would not add another burden, to the contrary, it would lift the burdens from ones shoulders. It would be gratifying, though not from one moment to the other. Sensitive persons would feel the benefits instantly, patient ones would watch them grow by and by.

You may come home, exhausted after a busy day; or you may sit down in the kitchen, tired from the household chores; or you may lay in bed in the middle of the night, woken up by the hauling winds of a storm.

Then you remember to smile, to exhale softly, and relax. The brain chatter starts, but you smile and breathe again. And again. And one more time again. And then, unexpectedly and suddenly you feel a steadily growing stream of happiness and love flowing through your body — from your toes to your fingertips to your forehead and the back of your head.

How could you ever manage to carry on without this?

How can anybody live differently?

Feline news:

https://abc7ny.com/5125347/ A frozen cat.
http://hatchingcatnyc.com/2019/02/12/strato-lizzie-cat-laguardia/ Cat history.
https://www.theatlantic.com/science/archive/2017/06/cat-domination/530685/
https:www.theatlantic.com/science/archive/2019/02/cat-psychopaths/583192/ Why cats think that humans are psychopaths.
http://www.bbc.com/culture/story/20190221-amsterdams-museum-dedicated-to-cats-in-art
http://hatchingcatnyc.com/2019/03/10/swimming-vegetarian-cats-barge-office/

Environmental news:

Rising seas are poisoning farmland, causing salty soils, ruined crops, and shortage of potable water. As salt crystals rise out of the mud and make the soil sparkle in the sunlight, once-rich coastal land is turning barren. The trend is expected to worsen as the world continues to warm.

https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-019-00441-1 About fluorinated chemicals.
https://www.theglobeandmail.com/opinion/article-the-secret-danger-of-everyday-things/ BPA receipts.
https://truthout.org/articles/the-world-is-on-the-brink-of-widespread-water-wars/
https://meta.eeb.org/2019/02/13/revealed-the-eu-countries-using-the-rest-of-the-world-as-a-dumping-ground/ A disgrace.
https://www.ehn.org/plastic-pollution-and-human-health-2629322391.html Plastic planet.
https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2019/mar/07/microplastic-pollution-revealed-absolutely-everywhere-by-new-research
https://researchmatters.in/news/breathing-poison-air-pollution-leading-cause-death-india-reports-study Well, why should Western consumers care about the health of brown people in India or elsewhere? (The answer depends on ones personal ethics.)
https://www.theguardian.com/science/2019/feb/17/plastics-reach-remote-pristine-environments-scientists-say
https://www.independent.co.uk/environment/pollution-chemicals-hormone-disruption-whales-reproduction-gender-a8798376.html It’s not true that chemicals are not tested for toxicity, they are tested every day on all of us and the results will come out over the next years.
https://www.hakaimagazine.com/news/the-shells-of-wild-sea-butterflies-are-already-dissolving/
https://www.asiatimes.com/2019/03/article/paradise-lost-in-the-solomon-islands/ Just the usual corporate crime story happening thousands of times all over the world.
https://text.npr.org/s.php?sId=700668277
https://truthout.org/articles/endangered-wildlife-are-getting-dosed-with-rat-poisons/ Useless critters. Let’s kill them all.
https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2019/02/warming-oceans-are-hurting-seafood-supply-and-things-are-getting-worse
https://www.fastcompany.com/90310600/is-the-fight-against-ocean-plastic-distracting-us-from-bigger-deadlier-problems
https://news.mongabay.com/2019/03/record-levels-of-deforestation-in-peruvian-amazon-as-gold-mines-spreads/
https://truthout.org/articles/plastic-is-probably-harming-your-health-heres-how/
https://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2019/02/plastic-health-hidden-costs-plastic-planet.html
https://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2019/03/india-bans-plastics-imports-fossil-fuel-plastics-pushers-us-china-ramp-party.html
https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2019/mar/12/surge-in-chemical-use-a-threat-to-health-and-environment
https://phys.org/news/2019-03-fukushima-current-state-clean-up.html
https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/mar/11/fukushima-toxic-soil-disaster-radioactive
https://www.huffpost.com/entry/nature-destruction-climate-change-world-biodiversity_n_5c49e78ce4b06ba6d3bb2d44
https://truthout.org/articles/organic-farms-are-under-attack-from-agribusiness-weakened-standards/ 

Economic news:

Richard Murphy writes:

Apple has lost its edge. Fewer people are buying its jewelry, which is what any phone costing more than £200 appears to be to me.

And now Tata has written off more than £3 billion of investment in Jaguar Landrover. It’s true that the loss of faith in diesels has a lot to do with that. Which is good news for the planet. But so too, I suspect, is the fact that its jewelry (because most of its cars do sell on the basis of being bling) has less appeal these days.

This may just be consumers spotting the economic downturn early this time.

It could just be those same consumers can face no more debt.

And it could be they have rumbled the marketing myths.

But what it says to me is that the time for a rethink of the economy is arriving, and fast. Markets are not supplying what people want.

And much of what people really want, from secure and suitable housing for everyone, to long term economic security, to proper social care as well as decent eduction and functioning public services, all wrapped in a green transformation, can only be supplied by the state.

I have nothing against the market. It does some things extraordinarily well. But I am beginning to think people are realizing that bling is no substitute for what those who have been buying it want for their children and their parents. And the mood is changing.

http://evonomics.com/the-real-reason-why-stock-buybacks-are-a-problem/ Stock buybacks are a massive tax dodge for shareholders.
http://www.bbc.com/capital/story/20190212-how-to-save-money-with-a-no-buy-year? How irresponsible to publish such an article! This can’t be good for GDP growth, especially when the economy is already strained by BREXIT.
https://consortiumnews.com/2019/02/22/taking-away-the-ladder/
https://www.globalresearch.ca/wealth-concentration-drives-new-global-imperialism/5671426
https://truthout.org/articles/the-gentrification-of-payments/ 

Media and technology news:

Since 2011 domestic security spending in China has rivaled the military’s budget. Journalists may view Chinese authorities as somewhat incompetent, but the unravelling of CIA operations in China from 2010 to 2012 offers a compelling counterexample. One CIA source was killed in public right in front of his colleagues.

The Russian military has recently banned smartphones, tablets and laptops. Phones with basic calling and messaging facilities can still be used. Meeting security objectives often entails sacrificing the convenience of technology.

https://truthout.org/articles/the-problem-is-not-fake-news-its-the-noise-that-drowns-out-the-news/
http://medialens.org/index.php/alerts/alert-archive/2019/894-dump-the-guardian.html
http://www.bbc.com/capital/story/20190220-how-can-a-distracted-generation-learn-anything?
https://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2019/02/20/cens-f20.html Facebook allows only Western propaganda, Eastern propaganda (Russia, China) is banned. If you are interested in views from non-Western sources, you have to use VK (Vkontakte).
https://www.mintpressnews.com/ebay-founder-pierre-omidyar-is-funding-a-global-media-information-war/255199/
https://truthout.org/articles/big-brother-steps-closer-as-parents-shackle-teens-to-ankle-monitors/ Ankle monitors. Get used to them. In a few years, so they hope, everybody will be obliged to wear one. Those who resist will be second class citizens, losing social benefits, being excluded from higher education and well paid jobs.
https://www.theregister.co.uk/2019/03/07/hard_drive_eavesdropping/ Don’t get paranoid, and listen to Sting’s “Nothing ‘Bout Me.”
The lyrics:
Pick my brains pick my pockets
Steal my eyeballs and come back for the sockets
Run every kind of test from A to Z
And you’ll still know nothing ’bout me.
Yes, that’s the same guy who wrote “Every Breath You Take,” a song often misinterpreted as love song, but in fact intended to depict an obsessive stalker.

Imperial news:

The US Federal Reserve increased interest rates four times in 2018, pushing up the value of the US dollar, thereby making imports cheaper and increasing the price of exported US goods and services. This is good news for consumers and bad news for employees in export depending businesses, who may be laid off when sales slump. 

The deficit in traded goods hit an all-time high of 891.3 billion US$ last year, an increase of 10 percent. After tourism, education and banking were taken into account, it was still 621 billion US$, the highest level in ten years.

The deficit with China, the major target of Trump’s trade war measures, reached a new record, as did the deficit with Mexico. The goods deficit with China widened by 44 billion US$ last year to reach 419 billion.

Corporate America has routed its supply chain so deeply into China that by now 3.5 times as many goods are imported from China to the USA than are exported from the USA to China.

Corporate America is largely responsible for the trade deficit. No one forces companies to run their supply chains through China and around the world, but incentives in the US tax code and cheap labor overseas make it very profitable.

While the systems in China, Japan, and Germany coddle their local exporters, and impede imports, the US system does the opposite: It coddles US importers, and they range across the whole economic spectrum, from Walmart and GM to Apple and Pfizer.

It appears that the expansion of the trade gap is accelerating. It increased by 18.8 percent in December to almost 60 billion US$, larger than economists’ predictions, as exports fell by 1.9 percent and imports increased by 2.1 percent.

The federal deficit in 2018 soared to 779 billion US$ and is projected to approach 1 trillion in 2019. The national debt is 21 trillion US$ and counting.

In comparison:
Japan National Debt: ¥1,028 trillion ($9.087 trillion US$)
Italy National Debt: €2.17 trillion ($2.48 trillion US$)
Spain National Debt: €1.09 trillion ($1.24 US$)

And yet, as the sole manufacturer of dollars, whose debt is denominated in dollars, the US government can never become insolvent, i.e., unable to pay its bills. In this sense, the government is not dependent on credit markets to remain operational. The United States will be able to pay any debt it has because it can always print the money to do that.

Being the sole superpower with the biggest military force the earth has ever seen has clear advantages.

https://civileats.com/2019/02/07/what-the-green-new-deal-has-to-say-about-sustainable-agriculture/?utm
https://www.npr.org/2019/02/08/691409795/a-water-crisis-is-growing-in-a-place-youd-least-expect-it?t=1549809141913
http://www.environmentalintegrity.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/02/EIP-Enforcement-Report.pdf
https://covertactionmagazine.com/index.php/2018/08/11/american-exceptionalism-the-naked-truth/ Keeping the flame burning.
https://publicintegrity.org/national-security/radiation-is-good-for-you-the-heretical-view-gains-ground-under-trump/
https://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2019/03/08/deat-m08.html
https://truthout.org/articles/puerto-rico-forced-to-slash-basic-food-aid-while-waiting-for-washington-to-act/
https://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2019/03/12/pers-m12.html
https://www.asiatimes.com/2019/03/opinion/trumps-slush-fund-defense-budget/
https://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2019/03/15/amaz-m15.html Read this before you order something from Amazon.
https://theconversation.com/the-mental-health-crisis-among-americas-youth-is-real-and-staggering-113239 The future shape of society.
https://truthout.org/articles/medieval-diseases-flare-as-unsanitary-living-conditions-proliferate/ 

Imperial conquest news:

The Trump administration proposes to give the Pentagon an increase nearly double that sought by the military establishment itself: A 4.7 percent rise over current spending, double the 2.4 percent increase for which Defense Department officials had been planning. The dollar amount of the increase is 34 billion US$, while the Pentagon asked for only 17 billion.

Total US military spending of 750 billion US$ would be larger than the 2018 military spending of the next 14 countries combined (they are China, Saudi Arabia, Russia, India, Britain, France, Japan, Germany, South Korea, Brazil, Australia, Italy, Israel, and Iraq)).

Perhaps the most startling and ominous figure in the budget request is the proposed increase for Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO), the all-purpose war-fighting category that includes funding for the US interventions in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria, drone warfare across the wider Middle East including North Africa, and the US military buildup on the borders of Russia (European Deterrence Initiative). While the fiscal year 2019 budget provides 69 billion US$ for OCO, the request for fiscal year 2020 balloons to a staggering 164 billion.

The Trump administration issued a decree to the US Congress extending a declaration of “national emergency” over Venezuela, describing the country as an “unusual and extraordinary threat” to US national security. The extraordinary threat is apparently constituted by the fact, that Venezuela’s oil reserves, the largest on the planet, are not under the control of US energy conglomerates, and that Caracas has forged close economic and political ties with Beijing and Moscow.

The Venezuelan government responded to the decree, stating that “For the immense majority of the countries of the world, it is inconceivable that the greatest military power on the planet, which misses no opportunity to violate international law and which systematically uses force to benefit its own interests, attempts to describe Venezuela as a ‘threat’.”

Since 1999 (the start of the “Bolivarian Revolution”), Venezuela has been consistently demonized and misrepresented in Western media, but with President Donald Trump’s embargo, stealing of Venezuelan property (CITGO), sabotage of the electrical grid (Guri Dam), and possible preparations for an invasion, the media’s Venezuela-baiting has been turned up to until now unseen levels, reminding of the month before operation Desert Storm.

Mainstream media has always attacked progressives, liberals, leftists, or whatever they are called, for their positions on Venezuela, and at the moment Tulsi Gabbard is the main target. She gets the treatment of a deranged and irrelevant outsider.

Progressive flags bearer and potential presidential candidate Bernie Sanders was never fond of President Nicolas Maduro, alleging that his 2018 re-election was a vote “many observers said was fraudulent” (the elections were watched over and endorsed as free by over 150 international observers).

Sanders condemned Maduro’s “violent crackdown on Venezuelan civil society” (“civil society” is a term usually reserved for the US-oriented white upper class) and insisted “humanitarian aid” be allowed into the country (UN and Red Cross have rejected US aid as politically motivated and have worked closely with the Venezuelan government in supplying and distributing genuine international aid).

Sanders has consistently maintained a strongly adversarial position to Venezuela, calling Maduro’s predecessor Hugo Chavez a “dead Communist dictator.”

Are Tulsi Gabbard, Ilhan Omar, Cindy Sheehan, Ann Garrison, Bruce Dixon, and Glen Ford really the only US-Americans who oppose war and are brave enough to make their voices heard?

Since she arrived on the political scene, congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard has been  subjected to the usual narrative control subversion for her opposition to US interventionism in Syria, Venezuela, and Iran, her criticisms of disastrous US interventionism in Iraq and Libya, and her calls to end the new cold war against Russia.

After she announced her candidacy for the presidency, US mass media has become even more hostile and is now working overtime to smear her as a friend of Russian President Vladimir Putin and of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. During a recent guest appearance on The View, Gabbard was told by the daughter of late warhawk John McCain that “When I hear the name Tulsi Gabbard, I think of Assad apologist.”

Gabbard’s response unfortunately was only contributing to the media propaganda narratives about Syria. “There is no disputing the fact that Bashar al-Assad in Syria is a brutal dictator,” Gabbard said. “There is no disputing the fact that he has used chemical weapons and other weapons against his people.

Thus Gabbard capitulated to narratives she knows well are highly questionable in a vain attempt to appease the quibbler. This is counterproductive, this is not how you beat these thugs.

https://www.telesurenglish.net/news/Thuggish-Trump-Imposes-Visa-Bans-on-ICC-Staff-Probing-US-War-Crimes-in-Afghanistan-20190315-0015.html US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo just said that the USA will not give visas to ICC (International Criminal Court) employees and will not allow the tribunal, based in The Hague, to investigate US troops or those of allies like Israel. So, international law is suspended from now on.
https://www.mintpressnews.com/leaked-wikileaks-doc-reveals-how-us-military-uses-of-imf-world-bank-as-unconventional-weapons/254708/ World Bank, IMF, and OECD. WTO, free trade agreements, arbitration courts, big investment banks, and the petrodollar need to be added to this list.
https://consortiumnews.com/2019/02/15/the-end-of-the-observer-mission-in-hebron/
https://truthout.org/articles/torture-fans-and-war-criminals-determine-u-s-foreign-policy/ For simple minded people, like the ones who shape US foreign policy, war is the universal and easily fathomable solution to all problems.
https://www.juancole.com/2019/02/israeli-bulldozers-palestinian.html Another outrage mainstream media never will report.
https://truthout.org/articles/why-has-haiti-risen-up-once-again/ Neocolonialism.
https://www.newsclick.in/unravelling-us-made-venezuela-coup-and-blowback-haiti
https://www.blackagendareport.com/how-us-strangling-haiti-it-attempts-regime-change-venezuela
https://www.strategic-culture.org/news/2019/03/01/military-intervention-and-mercenaries-inc-miami.html
https://mideastshuffle.com/2019/03/15/us-officials-offered-my-friend-cash-to-take-down-tehrans-power-grid/ 

Armageddon news:

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2019/feb/10/plummeting-insect-numbers-threaten-collapse-of-nature
https://truthout.org/articles/worlds-most-dangerous-nuclear-weapon-rolls-off-assembly-line/
https://truthout.org/articles/its-possible-to-face-climate-horrors-and-still-find-hope/
http://www.bbc.com/future/story/20190218-are-we-on-the-road-to-civilisation-collapse
https://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2019/feb/21/worlds-food-supply-under-severe-threat-from-loss-of-biodiversity
https://truthout.org/articles/if-emissions-arent-curbed-clouds-may-disappear/
https://www.quantamagazine.org/cloud-loss-could-add-8-degrees-to-global-warming-20190225/
https://www.counterpunch.org/2019/02/26/game-over-report-card-on-our-planets-environment/
https://www.thenation.com/article/climate-change-media-humanitarian-crises/
https://grist.org/article/our-planet-just-set-a-scary-new-carbon-dioxide-record/
https://www.counterpunch.org/2019/03/08/as-the-world-burns-hurtling-towards-an-unlivable-planet/

Uncategorized news:

https://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2019/02/16/ande-f16.html
http://www.wrongkindofgreen.org/2019/02/27/playing-politics-with-human-rights-how-amnesty-international-distorted-the-facts-on-nicaragua/
https://www.localfutures.org/saving-japans-seed-heritage-from-free-trade/ 

News from cat land:

Rita got spayed. A feral tomcat was straying around the house and though Rita was still resisting it would have been only a few days for her to get into heat (estrus). The veterinarian performed the least invasive surgery, only removing the ovaries.

Rita recovered astonishing fast. After only three days she is as active as ever and only the plaster on her belly signals that she had surgery.

The tomcat in the meantime has given up and fortunately leaves us alone. Maybe Linda or Gandhi Jr. shooed him away.

Rita has already got a base vaccination against FPV (feline panleukopenia), FHV-1 (feline herpesvirus-1), and FCV (feline calicivirus). I was considering to get here a second vaccination and in addition also a vaccination against FeLV (feline leukemia virus), because the nearby farms all host colonies of cats who never get any veterinarian treatment and carry all kind of diseases. These cats are practically feral cats and the straying tomcat who courted Rita most likely came from one of these colonies.

When I talked about the issue with a friend who works part-time as an assistant in a veterinary clinic, she told me that she herself didn’t let her cats (of whom she has a two digit number) vaccinate against FeLV, because she has already seen two cases in the clinic where cats died from a very aggressive injection-site sarcoma probably caused by a FeLV vaccination.

This kind of cancer is incurable, is deadly. Nothing helps, no surgery, no radiation or chemo therapy. It always comes back after a few month or even weeks and the invasive treatments only cause unnecessary suffering. If the cancer diagnosis is confirmed without a doubt by a biopsy the only rational and sensible decision is to euthanize the cat.

As soon as I got home I researched on the internet and found, that feline injection-site sarcoma indeed has become a concern for veterinarians and cat owners alike and has resulted in changes to official vaccine protocols. Especially the FeLV vaccination is recommended only in rare situations. The risk that a cancer develops is one in thousand, but all my cat friends (except Rita) got two FeLV shots, Lucia and Wendy got even three, which theoretically increases the risk to one in 500 respective one in 333. This is a risk I personally wouldn’t like to take, but the cats didn’t have a chance to reject the treatment because I didn’t ask them.

I should have asked them!

And I know what their answer would have been.

I’m devastated and I already imagine how I will hold my dying feline friends in my arms, whisper softly to them, listen to their purring, caress them till the deadly injection is applied. If indeed one of them gets cancer, it would be a heavy burden and the feeling of guilt would haunt me till the end of my life.

I never wanted to learn that much about feline injection-site sarcoma. The veterinarian should have warned me. Maybe she didn’t know either, maybe she just wanted to sell the vaccines no matter what. Overall I have a rather good impression of her and Ritas surgery was perfect.

Maybe her mind is squirming just like mine under the load of more and more information poured onto us in a more and more complicated, technology driven world, where making business means to make a quick buck to succeed and destroy the competitors.

In the end, it is my responsibility. I was careless, naive, and again forgot a key principle which served me well all my life: In case of doubt, just let it be as it has been naturally.