“Please don’t go to Haiti — it could be dangerous down there!” several worried friends begged me right before I left. But boy were they wrong. Haiti is totally fun! I never had so much fun in my life as I did this past week in Haiti. And this is my very own tourist guidebook to all the neat stuff that I’ve done down here. Not exactly the Lonely Planet. But boy am I having a good time.
The most frequently asked question before I left was, “Are you going down there to do humanitarian work?” No no no. I’m going down there to be a tourist!
To start with, I got a really great bargain deal on Expedia — $800 to fly me from SFO to Port au Prince and five nights in a convenient, clean and quiet hotel called the Diquini Guest House. This was absolutely the smartest thing that I did on this trip. Why? Because the manager of the guest house, a former member of the Haitian diaspora and long-time resident of Washington DC, took me under his wing and for a reasonable fee let me hire his driver, translated for me, kept me fed on nicely-flavored Haitian stew and rice — and then took me off to explore Port au Prince. www.diquinigh.com.
First we went to the famous Hotel Oloffson where the ghosts of past American ex-pat writers such as Graham Greene and Lillian Hellman roam its gardens, terraces and gingerbread-style balconies; where Mick Jagger and even Jacqueline Kennedy have stayed — and where the famous vudou-inspired RAM band was playing that night. http://hoteloloffson.com/
The next day we explored what is left of the 2010 earthquake ruins, from what was left of the tragically beautiful stone-filigreed huge rose window of the old cathedral and the site of the historic National Palace to various small tent cities dotting Port au Prince that still house earthquake victims today, and the ruined buildings that still have market stalls precariously tucked into whichever concrete slabs are still left standing.
“So, Jane, how is Port au Prince actually doing now, four years after the quake?” you might ask, now that I’m an actual eye-witness to the scene of the crime. It’s not doing super-good, but not doing as badly as I had expected either. Most of the tent cities are gone now — as a lot of the homeless victims have by now squashed themselves in with relatives, left for the countryside or otherwise made do.
“But what are Haitians really like?” you might ask next. You can tell what Haitians are really like by the way that they drive. There are only a handful of traffic signals in Port au Prince and even fewer rules of the road. And Haitians drive very fast. But they also drive in a way that is almost polite. Everyone wants to get where they are going (and to get there fast) — but no one wants to actually hurt anyone else. I didn’t see any road rage there. Just people trying to get by.
Basically, Haitians are just people trying to get by after having been dealt a very rough hand for a very long time, from the moment they were kidnapped from Africa and sold as slaves here — starting in 1503, just eleven years after Columbus discovered the island. And those slaves were expendable too, worked to death in a few years at most and then replaced by other new slaves.
Then after having fought for and achieved its freedom in 1804, Haiti was also constantly attacked, exploited and/or invaded for the next 200-plus years by America, Canada and various combinations of European nations. And now Haiti is one of the poorest countries in the world, resembling the slums of Uganda or the slums of Zimbabwe. And yet despite their poverty, which is dire and extreme, Haitians still remain stoically polite.
Next we went off to the Iron Market bazaar to buy Haitian stuff to hang on my walls when I get home. And then we drove all over Port au Prince — the grand tour. And that night we went off to Carnival in the Carrefour district. Are you jealous yet?
Carrefour’s pre-Lenten carnival was like one gigantic block party and was actually as much fun as Berkeley in the 1960s, the benchmark against I always measure how much fun something is.
I also wanted to go see San Souci and the Citadel, UNESCO world heritage sites up in Cap Haitien, but it was a seven-hour drive to get there, so we went to Fonds des Negres instead, which was only a three-hour drive, and I met a vodou master there. “No one is cursing you,” he told me. Not even the NSA? Good to know. Then he performed a candlelight ritual to help my knees get better. Then he pulled out a business card for his son who owns a botanica in SoCal who, for a price, could finish my knee treatment when I got back home .
And there’s also a cave in the mountains near Fonds des Negres where a “Suzan,” a vodou spirit, resides. But you have to get there by motorcycle and we didn’t have time to do all that on this day trip. So I just bought a sequin-covered vodou flag instead.
“Have you seen any zombies in Haiti?” might be your next question. Sorry, no. But on my plane ride down here, we ran into a bunch of really scary turbulence over Chicago and I thought I was going to die. So I had an epiphany. “When you are in your mother’s womb, the only way out is by going through a whole bunch of pain first — and death is also like that. First you pass through a whole bunch of pain and then, poof, you are out on the Other Side.” As a zombie? Let’s hope not.
The next day we went out searching for Jean-Bertrand Aristide and then ended the day in that famous five-star hotel in Petionville — just to see how the other 1% lives. Trust me, they are living well.
What else have I done down here? I can’t remember exactly. But I will tell you this: I have really had fun. And if you ever want to go to Haiti too, I totally recommend it highly. And, no, I’m not getting paid to say this.
PS: While in Haiti, I also watched the winter Olympics on TV — thus getting a chance to compare Port au Prince and Sochi. One city has far too little city planning and one city had far too much!
According to journalist Roi Tov, “With less than 350,000 denizens, [Sochi] has been occupied by at least 25,000 police officers, 30,000 soldiers, 8,000 special forces, and an undisclosed number of FSB agents.”
Port au Prince is nothing like that. The streets go every which-way like a patchwork quilt. But it does have one thing in common with Sochi — abuse of its fragile labor force.
And let’s also compare Port au Prince with Havana. I’m currently reading Carlos Eire’s autobiography, “Learning to Die in Miami”. Eire appears to believe with all his heart that the Castro experience was a nightmare — and yet just compare Cuba and Haiti today. Haiti has been under the thumb of American and European corporatists for ages and ages. And now, despite all its amazingly fertile soil and impressive mineral riches, Haiti is currently one of the poorest countries in the world. Seven out of ten Haitians live on less than $2 a day, according to the International Red Cross.
But in Havana under the Castro brothers, everyone has a good chance of getting a college education.
But, hell, most Haitians are lucky to have a chance to even get as far as fourth grade!
If Fulgencio Batista and the American corporatists who owned him back in 1959 had remained in power and Castro had never taken over Cuba, Cuba today would more than likely look just like Haiti today. And does anyone with a working brain really think that having American and European oil companies, bankers, war profiteers and neo-cons in control in Syria, Venezuela and Ukraine are going to help those countries either? Hell, just look at what those guys did to Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya — and to Detroit!
When thinking about Haiti, a lot of people think first about that terrible earthquake disaster of 2010 — and also about President Jean-Bertrand Aristide. And I do too. So on my first day in Port au Prince, I toured most of the earthquake disaster areas. And on my third day there, it only seemed logical that I also attempt to meet up with the great man himself. And I actually came THIS close to doing that too!
After recovering from wandering around the Carrefour district’s Carnival celebration the night before, I then went over to check out Aristide’s house. “President Aristide is actually here today,” said the guard at the door, “but he’s not seeing visitors right now. However, you can always wave to him on our closed-circuit TV camera.” Great idea! So I smiled and waved and smiled and waved at the CCTV camera like the idiot tourist that I am.
Next I went off to visit Aristide’s Foundation Pour la Democratie and looked around there. Met some interesting diplomats, students, professors and a chicken.
Then I visited UniFA, a medical school established by Aristide in order to create more doctors in Haiti — where the ratio of Haitians to doctors is 10,000 to 1 in urban areas and 20,000 to 1 in the countryside (no wonder vodou cures are so popular here). “How many students study here?” I asked a bright-eyed first-year physician wannabe, sitting outside eating her lunch between classes. (Actually all the students here are clearly bright-eyed and diligent and idealistic — all young, gifted and Black. Go them.)
“About 700,” the student replied.
“So can you tell me how cure my sore knees?” I asked.
“No, we haven’t gotten that far in our curriculum quite yet.” Rats.
Lastly, I stopped by a large apartment building that had been constructed during Aristide’s presidency in order to house some of Port au Prince’s homeless population, right before GWB sent in the Marines. Two things about this apartment building were note-worthy. First, it was the only building for blocks around that had actually withstood the 2010 earthquake. And, second, the apartments all had two bedrooms, a bathroom and a kitchen.
In stark contrast, directly across the street one could also see a hundred-odd new U.N. housing units — such as they were. Each family had been allocated a really really small cube-shaped one-room dwelling with no bathroom, no bedroom, no kitchen and no running water. And their shared port-a-potties were all way down the street.
So just exactly who is this guy Jean-Bertrand Aristide? And why do American neo-cons and corporatists all hate him so much? I don’t know. Maybe because Aristide doesn’t want to keep Haiti forever “barefoot and pregnant”? Maybe because Aristide, a former priest, actually tries to practice the teachings of Jesus? Your guess is as good as mine.
In any case, here’s a bit more about Aristide’s back-story for those of you who have never heard of the guy. In 2001, Aristide was democratically elected as president of Haiti, just one year after George Bush stole the 2000 American election. But, unlike GWB, Aristide’s emphasis was on inclusion and education.
In just the few years that he was president, Aristide built more schools in Haiti than had ever existed in all of its long miserable history of being controlled by U.S. interests. Aristide also devoted 20% of the nation’s budget to healthcare. Good grief! No wonder Wall Street and War Street hated him. And overthrew him too. Violently. In favor of deadly U.N. “peacekeepers” and the Marines, who immediately shot everything up and turned UniFA into a military barracks. That was back in 2004.
And now, ten years later, Haiti has been stuck with President Michel Martelly, aka the “Neo-Cons’ Choice,” elected in the same way that the U.S. got stuck with Dubya — illegally. “He is our guy!” cries Wall Street, War Street and the Deep State.
And now WalMart is once again happily running sweatshops in Haiti, where workers get paid $4.56 a day.
What the freak was Aristide thinking!
Surely Aristide should have known that anybody who denies WalMart access to economic slave labor is naturally gonna be in big trouble — and educating a country’s children and providing its citizens with healthcare is also a really bad idea because then countries like Haiti will no longer have a subservient labor force and a really dumb electorate — and that’s just not the corporatist way. Aristide should have known better. Most Even Americans are clear on this concept, keeping their eyes down and their mouths shut. Why couldn’t Aristide do the same?
And if you still want even more information on Aristide and Haiti, here’s a great video to watch: https://ia700401.us.archive.
A few years ago I participated in a radio debate on “white privilege” with a certain man, whose name is unimportant, who had a Ph.D. in “ethnic studies.” At one point he introduced an argument by saying, “If whites are 80 percent of the population…,” which prompted me to interject and point out that whites (non-Hispanic) are now only 63 percent of America. Of course, you might think that someone with a doctorate in “ethnic studies” would know what the ethnic and racial composition of the country is.
While no one wants to be a real-life Cliff Clavin (of Cheers fame), mistaking trivia for intellectualism, facts matter because they’re small snippets of reality. They’re little pictures — and, as with a jigsaw puzzle — if you have enough of them, assembled properly, you can see the big picture. This is otherwise known as being in touch with reality.
This is why a certain trend in that liberal bastion called education is quite interesting. Educators will often say today, “We don’t just teach kids facts [uttered dripping with derision]; we teach them how to think.” This is quite convenient. After all, it’s easy to test knowledge of facts; thus, such measures can reveal modern education as a fraudulent enterprise. But “how to think” is a bit more nebulous, and, if you define the expression of feelings-derived folderol as reason, your students cannot fail.
Yet there is a deeper reason why liberals eschew facts: they refute fiction. And since leftist agendas have no basis in reality, exposure to snippets of it is deadly; for, just as one small pin can pop a balloon, one little fact can shatter a rationalization.
This brings us back to Dr. Ethnic Studies. His field of expertise isn’t about anything as old-fashioned as facts, but he can expound at length on oppression, white privilege, critical-race theory and “micro-aggressions.” These things, you see, are the stuff of sophisticated modern men. Never mind that they’re complete fiction.
But liberals are raised on fiction. Fiction about America’s nature and Western influence; fiction about the races and sexes (not to mention “genders”), and fiction about sex; fiction about history and culture; fiction about economics; fiction about religion. Heck, with how liberals claim old fairy tales are destructive, they’re raised with fiction about fiction. This brings us to another fiction: Barack Obama as educated man.
If we were to mention, again, that he thought “Austrian” was spoken in Austria, pronounced “corpsman” “corpse-man” (three times in one speech) or that he called the “transcontinental” railroad the “intercontinental” one (Amtrak to Bangkok, anyone?), we’d obviously have to be racists. After all, anyone can make a mistake. But it’s one thing to commit a Spoonerism and say “a scoop of boy trouts” or, like Dan Quayle, correct a spelling-bee participant based upon the antiquated word form “potatoe” (which The New York Times used as recently as 1988). But then there are those mistakes indicating that, just perhaps, you don’t really possess the knowledge base one might expect from an educated Western gentleman.
And a fact about Obama’s upbringing is that it was defined by fiction. Clergyman Hosea Ballou said, “Education commences at the mother’s knee…,” but not only was Obama’s mother’s knee not around all the time, but what an odd knee it was. Her father had given her his first name, Stanley, because he’d wanted a boy, and Stanley Ann Dunham’s personal development reflected that bizarre beginning. She attended Mercer Island High in Seattle, which had a wing known as “anarchy alley” that was infested with radical leftist teachers. It is said that Dunham “thrived” in that atmosphere, and she became a committed left-wing atheist herself. Then there was Obama’s mentor in Hawaii, Frank Marshall Davis, a pornographic-novel writer and anti-white, card-carrying member of the Communist Party USA. And how radical were Obama’s leftist grandparents, with whom he lived in the AlohaState? Obama’s grandfather, Stanley Armour Dunham, was the one who chose Davis to be scrambler of young Barry’s brains.
The point is that there was no prominent person in the young Obama’s life who could or would expose him to reality. It was all anti-American, anti-Western isms and destructive schism. This brings us to Obama’s mind-numbingly ridiculous description of his 2008 campaign travels: “I’ve now been in 57 states; I think, one left to go.” Where does such a bizarre mistake come from? After all, that there are 50 states is drummed into every American child so that it just instinctively rolls off the tongue: 50 states, 50 states, 50 states….
That is, again, every “American child.”
It’s not that I don’t think Obama knew there are 50 states. Rather, he doesn’t have the intellectual foundation you’d expect of an educated Western man, and this includes a lack of the rote knowledge that, like an actor who has spoken a certain line in 500 rehearsals and performances, is expressed the same way every time. And this, by the way, has nothing to do with where anyone thinks Obama was born. He simply is not truly American in mind, heart and spirit.
But to fully grasp the nature of leftists’ ignorance, an understanding of their philosophical foundation is necessary. There is a certain experience many conservatives know very well: You debate a liberal, and he just seems immune to facts and reason. No matter how airtight your point, it rolls off him like water off a duck.
To explain this, let’s start with an analogy. Becoming proficient at golf involves gaining knowledge about the swing. And if you realize you’ve fallen victim to a misconception, improvement depends upon rejecting it and accepting the truth in question. But what if you were so bent on using your old swing — so attached to “hackerism” — that you simply would not accept that truth? A pustule on the face of the game you’d remain.
So it is in all of life. Everyone falls victim to certain misconceptions, and growing in knowledge and wisdom involves rejecting them when we’re blessed enough to discover refutative truths. But this can be difficult for two reasons. First, it may involve relinquishing ideas to which we’re strongly attached. This could be because they’re integral pieces of an incorrect jigsaw puzzle we’ve glommed onto, an example of which would be a committed atheist who insists there are no moral absolutes because he knows their existence implies God’s. Or it could be that an incorrect belief is embraced as a justification for a behavior (e.g., sexual perversion, heavy drinking) to which we’re attached. Or it could be both.
Second, pride can get in the way, as correcting oneself involves admitting error, often with respect to ideas we’ve spent an entire lifetime defending. It can be like giving up a cherished son.
And while most everyone exhibits to some degree this tendency to rationalize, leftists are defined by it. They are, to use a favored psycho-babble term, morally and philosophically “dysfunctional” people. They live lives of rationalization — which is when you lie to yourself, sell yourself on a fiction — and for this reason only intensify whatever dislocation from reality their upbringing, sometimes, might have wrought.
Their greatest act of self-delusion — their ultimate denial of reality and the one that facilitates all others — is their embrace of moral relativism, the idea that there are no moral absolutes. The appeal of this fiction is that it allows one to justify any behavior imaginable. After all, my sins are not sins if there’s no vice, only viewpoint. Who is to judge? Who is to say? There’s no black and white, only gray.
But once you unmoor yourself from objective moral reality, there is no limit to how immoral you can become. This is why Fyodor Dostoevsky’s Ivan Karamazov said that without God, “everything is permitted.” It’s why occultist Aleister Crowley insisted, “Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the law.” And it explains leftists’ bizarre thinking. Did you ever wonder, for instance, how modern liberals can say something so preposterous as “The truth is no defense against a hate-speech charge”? It’s not hard to understand.
When a person who lives a sincere life finds that part of his ideology conflicts with the Truth, he alters his ideology. But what if you not only were attached to your ideology like a drunkard to drink, but didn’t acknowledge Truth’s existence? It is then that you, instead, rationalize away the Truth.
In fact, with his denial of Truth, the leftist places his ideology where Truth should be: the center of his life. This ideology, which just reflects his emotions, anyway, then takes on the role of God. It becomes the ultimate arbiter, the fiction that becomes “fact.” This is why Nazi propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels once said, “National Socialism is a religion. …My Party is my church….” Like him, today’s leftists have repeated a big lie to themselves so often that it has become the “truth.”
Interestingly, or maybe ominously, the Bible speaks of the end times in 2 Timothy 3 and writes of “men of depraved minds” who are “always learning but never able to come to a knowledge of the truth.” I don’t know if these are the last days, or just the last days of freedom, but our republic is now infested with millions of fiction voters who elected a fiction president based on fairy-tale promises. And it’s looking less and less like our story ends with “happily ever after.”
Are the Warring Parties Playing Round Two of Geneva II?
El Nubek, Syria – As two delegations, one representing the Government of the Syrian Arab Republic, led by Bashar Assad, and the other claiming to represent the popular opposition which is seeking its overthrow, arrived in Switzerland this morning to continue with Round Two of Geneva II, there is uncertainty over the agenda and whether to extend this weekend’s 36 hour “Humanitarian pause” to allow aid into the Old City of Homs. Such a deal, which could come at any time, would bolster confidence ahead of the Round Two of the peace talks.
Some observers, including this one, predict that the ceasefire will in fact be extended as a result of a meeting on 2/10/14 being held between Syrian government officials here in Homs and UN representatives that will likely result in more civilians being allowed out of the old city later today or tomorrow.
But it is not certain. And meanwhile, on 2/10/14, the meager amounts of aid trickling into Yamouk Palestinian refugee camp in Damascus was stopped due to yet another breach of a “humanitarian pause” that was agreed upon last week.
The governor of Homs, Talal al-Barazi, has advised journalists and observers gathered in his office yesterday that the ceasefire may be extended by a further three days; to allow all those who might want to leave the chance to do so. The operation to help trapped civilians in Homs was the one concrete agreement reached at recent peace talks in Geneva, which are due to resume on Monday.
There remains much mistrust and plenty of PR jockeying from both sides as the public awaits the sound of the gavel from UN envoy Lakhdar Brahimi to resume discussions to end the killing in Syria. The new opposition team, at press time, is not fully identified but has announced that it wants the focus of Round Two to be solely or how to transition ( it demands a clean slate in Damascus) and nothing else.
In contradistinction, Syrian government Presidential Political and Media Adviser Dr. Buthaina Shaaban argues that the continuing essential problem in the search for a political solution through the Geneva track lies in the fact that “we don’t know whom is representing those who came by the name of opposition, how many, and what is their relation to Syria.” She added that the coalition delegation came to Geneva for discussing one word in the 12/12/13 Geneva I Communiqué; transition. Whereas the Syrian official delegation wants initially to discuss the first item in the Communiqué, the halt of violence, combating terrorism and the preservation of state institutions.
Whether there will be an extension of the just competed “three day” humanitarian pause cease-fire” is not yet sure. In point of clarification, the so-called “three day” partial ceasefire to allow humanitarian aid to the area which for more than 600 days has experienced nearly daily bombardment of the city which is labeled by some as the ‘Birthplace of the Revolution.” is a misnomer in the extreme. The so-called “Humanitarian Pause” such as it was, never comprised three days. Rather in reality it was for less than 36 hours given that aid deliveries and evacuations were strictly limited to 12 hours, from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. over three days.
One spokesman for a European aid organization, attempted to enlighten this observer on the ceasefire terms by claiming that “After 6 p.m. any aid distributors within a snipers scope is fair game and they are for warned. I told them it is kind of like caveat emptor after six or before six.”
Frankly, the gentleman could not be more mistaken and he should have known better given his job. His view constitutes a shocking and fundamentally flawed edict and misstatement of applicable binding international norms anchored in black letter public international humanitarian law, including but not limited to the Geneva Conventions and other principles, standards and rule of international humanitarian law requiring protection by all belligerents of aid workers whenever and wherever they perform their humanitarian work. Nor can International customary law and treaty law on this subject be abrogated bilaterally by warring parties who may choose not to kill aid workers or civilians only during a mutually declared 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. day shift.
The aid workers in Homs, as are all civilians, are inviolate during military action. Nor is there any suggestion that either party has complied international law, which requires all warring factions to allow unconditional humanitarian access. It is no excuse, but there does appear, according to information given to these observers from local residents, that more than 30 different armed groups operate in the Old City, making any agreement among them unlikely. The Regional Advisor of UNICEF, Mr. Geoffrey Ijumba a reasonable sounding fellow, claims that “the main stumbling block is that the 30 plus militia groups inside Homs want guarantees that the aid will still be delivered to the Old City once the civilians are evacuated.” An extended ceasefire, given recent government military gains is, according to some observers monitoring developments in Homs, a rather tough precondition to expect from the Syrian government given the price it has paid for advancing militarily over the past two years in this area.
There is currently plenty of mistrust and much PR jockeying from both sides. The new opposition team, at press time not fully identified, wants the focus of Round Two to be solely transition and nothing else. Syrian government Presidential Political and Media Adviser Dr. Buthaina Shaaban strongly argues that an essential problem in the search for a political solution through the Geneva track lies in the fact that “we don’t know whom is representing those who came by the name of opposition, how many, and what is their relation to Syria.” She added that the coalition delegation came to Geneva for discussing one word in the Geneva I Communiqué; transition whereas the Syrian official delegation wants initially to discuss the first item in the Communiqué, the halt of violence, combating terrorism and the preservation of state institutions. For its part, Damascus has been keen to portray the humanitarian deal outside the framework of talks, with pundits and parliamentarians taking to the airwaves to tout the deal as evidence of the government’s ongoing efforts to aid civilians. It has come under pressure from its allies Russia and Iran to make humanitarian concessions.
Predictably perhaps, both sides accuse the other of violations of the claimed three-day humanitarian aid ceasefire as the Opposition team announced that its delegation to “Round Two” was being re-configured. Many observers of Genera II judged that the strong personalities and intellects of the Syrian delegation, including Foreign Minister Walid Mouallum, Dr. Bouthania Shaaban, and Minister of Information Omran Zoubi as well as Faisal Mekdad, among others, “won” Round I of the public relations challenge of G II and that the Obama Administration via John Kerry advised the opposition to that, “It had better field a stronger team or risk losing ground”.
The first civilians were evacuated from a rebel-held area of the Syrian city of Homs on 2/8/14 after more than a year and half of struggling to survive. Six buses arrived with three UN vehicles and six Red Crescent ambulances to pick up women, children, and elderly. Dina Elkassaby, a spokeswoman for the World Food Program, said its staff had reported that many of the evacuees were in “very, very bad shape,” with children showing signs of malnutrition.
Humanitarian workers braved mortar shells and gunfire on 2/9/14 as they pushed forward with their mission to deliver aid into besieged parts of the Syrian city of Homs through Jouret al Shayah al Qoubaisi. 12 civilians came out on the first bus from the rebel enclave.
Syria state television said four members of the Syrian Arab Red Crescent (SARCS) were wounded by ”armed terrorist groups”, on 2/9/14)as the aid workers tried to deliver humanitarian supplies to a besieged, rebel-held district of Homs city. At sunset on 2/9/14 Abu Bilal, an activist trapped in the old city since June 2012 explained: “We hope more aid will come in, and we hope the civilians can be evacuated, but we don’t know whether that will happen. We are afraid that we will only see more of yesterday’s shelling.” The Syrian Red Crescent Society told observers that it has been “a challenge” to get its staff and the UN team out of the area. SARCS official Khaled Erksoussi said the convoy came under attack from mortars and gunfire as it was leaving the Qarabis neighborhood.
Many of those evacuated on 2/7/14 looked frail and described extreme hardships inside the area, which has been under army siege for nearly a year-and-a-half. They said bread had not been available for months, and many residents were gathering weeds and leaves to eat. As the BBC’s Lyse Doucet reported: “The tide of people continued – elderly men and women on stretchers or crutches, exhausted mothers in tears, children who went straight into the arms of waiting aid officials from the UN and the Syrian Arab Red Crescent Society. Water, bread, even polio vaccinations were provided on the spot. Many residents who have finally escaped speak of having only grass and olives to eat.”
On Sunday, 2/9/14, 611 civilians, an increase from 83 on 2/7/14, who were besieged for more than 600 days in the old city of Homs were evacuated, the majority being women, children and elderly. According to one of the Governate of Homs officials responsible for monitoring their evacuation, their ages ranged between 16 and 54 years of age. It is not yet clear if the warring parties will agree to a three day (36 hour) extension of the aid mission and if so that it will be honored. The governor of Homs, Talal al-Barazi sated on 2/0/14 that his administration will cooperate if the UN mission and the Syrian Red Crescent are the ones delivering the aid. Food and hygiene kits and have also been distributed in the neighborhoods of Bustan al-Diwan and al-Hamidieh.
The humanitarian aid gesture in the Old City of Homs is modest, compared to the more than four million civilians living under siege across this great country, being war deprived of adequate food, water, or sanitation. In all, some 9.3 million people in Syria need some form of aid, according to the U.N.
This past week, the U.N. Security Council pushed for a resolution that would enable broad-based aid deliveries to Syria. So did France. On the morning of 2/10/14, French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said France and other countries would present a resolution at the UN calling for greater access for humanitarian aid. He told the media in Homs and internationally, “It is absolutely scandalous that there have been discussions for quite a while and that people are still being starved every day, and so along with a number of other countries, we will present a resolution at the UN along those lines.” Yet, many in Homs voice skepticism that Moscow would allow UN Security Council Chapter Seven action given its rivalry with Washington on this and other Syria related regional issues.
Some 3,000 people are slated to receive aid during the humanitarian pause. At sunset on 2/9/14 Abu Bilal, an activist trapped in the old city since June 2012 explained: “We hope more aid will come in, and we hope the civilians can be evacuated, but we don’t know whether that will happen. We are afraid that we will only see more of yesterday’s shelling.”
It appears certain that in the coming few days the intentions of both sides will become clearer with respect to the Geneva process and their willingness to allow full humanitarian aid into Homs and the evacuation of those who want to exit the Old City.
Whichever side fails in its humanitarian duties will be harshly judged by history and quite possibly by a Special Tribunal for Syria, already being planned by some, to be held at The Hague.
A geopolitically tense atmosphere prevails.
Security is extremely tight. It’s prioritized for good reason. Terrorist attacks are possible. Don’t discount potential Washington shenanigans.
Perhaps raining on Putin’s parade is planned. Obama may want him embarrassed. False flags are a longstanding US tradition. Will Sochi be Washington’s next target? The fullness of time will tell.
It’s a virtual armed camp. Measures in place are unprecedented. Around $2 billion was spent on security.
Ahead of February 6, around 23,000 personnel assured proper measures were in place as planned.
Tens of thousands of police officers are deployed. They’re backed by helicopters, drones, gunboats, submarines, and 70,000 Russian troops.
Hundreds of Cossacks are involved. They’ll check IDs. They’ll detain suspects. Sochi’s proximity to the North Caucasus raised concerns.
Islamist jihadists named it a target. They’re US assets. They’re used strategically. Washington used likeminded ones against Soviet Russia in Afghanistan.
Libya was targeted this way. They comprise America’s anti-Syrian proxy death squads.
Russia raised concerns after December Volgograd bombings killed 34 people. Were Washington’s dirty hands involved?
Is something similar planned for Sochi? Hegemons operate this way. America is by far the worst. Anything ahead is possible.
According to Sochi Organizing Committee chairman Dmitry Chernyshenko:
“Terrorism is a global threat, and for terrorism there is no boundaries, no territories, but here in Sochi from the very beginning of the construction phase the state authorities did their utmost to prepare special measures, starting from the screening of raw materials, checking all the venues and preparing far-reaching security measures to provide the safest ever environment here.”
A controlled zone was established. It covers 60 kilometers. It runs along the coast. It extends 25 kilometers inland.
It includes all venues. They’re heavily guarded. The entire area is for authorized visitors only.
Western anti-Russian sentiment persists. Cold War politics continues. Putin bashing is featured. He’s not about to roll over for Washington.
He wants rule of law principles respected. He opposes Western imperialism. He’s against meddling in the internal affairs of Russia, Syria, Ukraine and other nations.
He stresses Moscow’s “independent foreign policy.” He affirms the “inalienable right to security for all states, the inadmissibility of excessive force, and unconditional observance of international law.”
He and Obama disagree on fundamental geopolitical issues. Key is national sovereignty. So are war and peace. America claims a divine right to fight. Putin prioritizes diplomatic conflict resolution.
Disagreements between both countries play out in dueling agendas. Washington notoriously plays hardball. Putin protects Russia’s national interests. They’re too important to sacrifice.
US media scoundrels target him. They vilify him. They mischaracterize him. They call him a Russian strongman. They make all kinds of baseless accusations.
Lies, damns lies and misinformation substitute for truth and full disclosure. They want him embarrassed. They’re raining on his Sochi parade.
On February 6, the Financial Times headlined “Putin gambles all on creation myth behind Sochi.”
“I am particularly pleased to see what is happening here because I chose this place myself,” he said.
“It must have been in 2001 or 2002,” he added. “(W)e were driving around and arrived at this brook, and I said: ‘Let’s start from here.’ That’s how it all began.”
Putin staked much on the games, said the FT. George Washington University’s Sufian Zhemukhov said “(i)f all goes well, (he’ll) be seen as the leader who resurrected Russia.”
Failure perhaps won’t be forgiven, he added. His forthrightness for peace “made him a force on the world stage,” said the FT.
A January Levada Center poll showed he’d be elected today by a wide margin. At the same time, his overall support dropped.
Excluding undecided respondents, its “higher than ever.”
He’s taking no chances. He’s going all out to make Sochi successful. FT comments were tame compared to America’s media.
The Wall Street Journal headlined “The Putin Games.” He wants them to “showcase…modern Russia.”
“(H)e succeeded (but) not as he intended…What could go wrong?” Sochi is the most expensive Olympics in history.
Around $50 billion was spent. It’s five times the original estimate. It’s double what Britain’s 2012 summer games cost. It’s a fourth more than China spent in 2008.
Much of Sochi’s cost related to building vital infrastructure. It had to be done from scratch. Doing so added enormously to costs.
Major projects are expensive. According to Journal editors, “(t)he games are proving to be a case study in the Putin political and economic method.”
They claim billions of dollars “lost to corruption.” They provide no evidence proving it. They said “Russians call this Olympiad the Korimpiad.”
More Putin bashing followed. It’s standard scoundrel media practice. Journal editors feature it.
They claim he “made it impossible to hold his regime accountable through free elections or media.”
Russian elections shame America’s sham ones. They’re democratic. They not rigged. Monied interests don’t control them.
Outcomes aren’t predetermined. Russian voters decide. US ones have no say.
Don’t expect Journal editors to explain. Or how Voice of Russia and RT (formerly Russia Today) shame America’s corporate media.
They feature news, information and opinion viewers most need to know. They do it forthrightly. They’re polar opposite America’s managed news misinformation.
Truth is systematically suppressed. Demagoguery, propaganda, scandal, sleaze, junk food news, and warmongering substitute.
Journal editors ignore truth and full disclosure. Bias permeates their opinions. They betray readers. They shame themselves doing so.
They claimed billions spent on Sochi left it unprepared. They cite “unfinished hotel rooms, incomplete road work and now the famous photographs of two toilets in a single stall.”
RT.com responded. On February 6, it headlined ”Spread fear, toilet humor? MSM guide to ‘Worst. Olympics. EVAR!” (Repeat: EVAR!)
Even before the opening ceremony, MSM scoundrels drew conclusions “Sports? Not really,” said RT. At issue is malicious Putin bashing. It’s longstanding practice.
It’s MSM’s “own Sochi 2014 moan-athon.” Imagine claiming something yet to occur the “worst Olympics ever.” They beat up on Beijing the same way.
They “never believed in Sochi,” said RT. They called its climate unfit for winter games. They cite corruption with no substantiating evidence.
They claim lax security despite unprecedented measures in place. They discuss possible terrorist threats. They leave unexplained what most worrisome – a possible disruptive US false flag attack.
It bears repeating. Perhaps Washington plans raining on Putin’s parade.
On August 7, 2008, hours before Beijing’s summer Olympics’ opening ceremony, Georgia’s Mikheil Saakashvili invaded South Ossetia. He did so at Washington’s behest. Attacking was strategically timed.
After Soviet Russia’s 1991 dissolution, South Assetia broke away from Georgia. It declared independence. It’s home to many Russian nationals.
Moscow responded responsibly. Conflict continued for days. Then President Medvedev was on vacation. Then Prime Minister Putin was in Beijing.
In half a day before Russia intervened, 1,700 people were killed. Included were 12 Russian peacekeepers.
Moscow was blamed for Georgian aggression. Does Washington plan something similar this time? Will a false flag attack occur?
Will Obama usurp a freer hand in Ukraine? Will he take advantage in Syria? Does he plan other mischief? Is disrupting Sochi planned?
Hegemons operate this way. Washington’s disturbing history gives Russia good reason for concern.
Preparations in Sochi aren’t perfect, said RT. “(F)laws and problems” exist. “But what makes the Sochi Olympics ‘the worst’ so far is…accommodation for the global media elite.”
“See it, slam it,” said RT. “Intrepid Olympic reporters, we thought, would get behind the scenes, unravel the PR.”
“Nope. Not this time. Of global importance were rooms (if they were available), toilets, floors, and shower curtains.”
“Oh – and a request to not flush toilet paper (it’s rarely done in public toilets) had the press pack throwing up.”
Washington Post reporter Kathy Lally was upset about “a tiny, tiny (hotel room) sink.”
It “sits atop an exposed white plastic pipe, stuck to the wall and surrounded by an unruly gob of caulk,” she said.
“The single room has two lamps – which don’t have light bulbs, but that’s okay because they aren’t near any unused outlets.”
Other journalists reported missing shower curtains, lamps, chairs, inadequate heat and hot water, and whatever else they wanted to cite to bash Putin.
Fox News called conditions “laughably bad.” It warned about event coverage being just as dreadful.
MSM scoundrels feature daily “hotel horror stories.” They regurgitate similar tweets to each other. They find new reasons to complain.
BBC journalist Steve Rosenberg tweeted about two sit-down toilets shown side-by-side with no partition. It went viral.
RT calls it a “must have” for every Sochi story. Imagine toilet humor substituting for real journalism. It gets worse.
Whatever is happening in Russia multiple time zones away gets reported. A Moscow school shooting creates Sochi shudders.
So does a derailed gas-laden freight train exploding. It happened 500 miles northeast of Moscow. It made Sochi headlines.
CNN connected Sochi to the September 2004 Beslan school siege. Its February 5 report said:
“Amid the shrill noise of militant threats ahead of the Sochi Olympic Winter Games, the gym in Beslan is now steeped in silence, a monument to the dead, untouched almost.”
Trashing Sochi bashes Putin. MSM scoundrels are deplorable. They disgrace themselves before dwindling audiences.
CNN and other US cable news networks report increasing to fewer viewers. Maybe one day they’ll all tune out.
RT called Sochi the “biggest construction site in the world over the past seven years.”
“Everything there – most of the hotels, sport venues, high-speed rail links, highways, 50 bridges, even the Olympic village itself – was built from scratch.”
It’s an extraordinary achievement in a short time. It’s almost like building an entirely new city in record time. Sochi deserves praise, not criticism.
Toronto Star reporter Rosie Dimanno wrote:
“Mounds of debris, parts of roads unpaved, mesh hoarding to hide the eyesore bits, lots of trash, unreliable power – nothing upsets journalists more than an internet that goes up and down – these have all featured in Olympics over the past three decades, as the Games have grown too big, too gaudy and too complicated.”
“The Olympics are no (place) for old sissies,” she added. “So I’ll take my own advice: Just chill.”
Most MSM scoundrels report as expected. They mock legitimate journalism. It’s verboten in America. It’s lacking in Canada. It’s largely absent in Western Europe. Managed news misinformation substitutes.
WSJ editors called Sochi “a shrine to authoritarianism.” They bashed Putin relentlessly. One bald-faced lie followed others.
“(T)he underbelly of Mr. Putin’s regime (was) exposed,” they claimed.
New York Times editors were just as bad. They headlined “A Spotlight on Mr. Putin’s Russia,” saying:
“(T)he reality of (his) Russia…conflicts starkly with Olympic ideals and fundamental human rights.”
“There is no way to ignore the dark side – the soul-crushing repression, the cruel new anti-gay and blasphemy laws, and the corrupt legal system in which political dissidents are sentenced to lengthy terms on false charges.”
NYT editors have a longstanding disturbing history. They one-sidedly support wealth, power and privilege. Whenever Washington wages imperial wars or plans them, they march in lockstep.
They long ago lost credibility. They feature mind-numbing misinformation. They violate their own journalistic code doing so.
They invented anti-gay law controversy. Russian gay propaganda law has nothing to do with persecuting people for their sexual orientation.
Everyone’s rights are respected. Russia wants its children protected from malicious anti-gay propaganda, illicit drugs, alcohol abuse and whatever else harms them.
Responsible governance demands it. America leaves millions of children unprotected. Cutting food stamps alone denies them vital nutrition.
Don’t expect Times editors to explain. Or about thousands of political prisoners languishing in America’s gulag.
About torture being official US policy. About rigged US elections. About impoverishing neoliberal harshness.
About destroying social America. About eliminating America’s middle class. About waging war on freedom.
About unprecedented levels of public and private corruption. About kleptocracy masquerading as democracy.
About out-of-control corporate empowerment. About Washington being corporate occupied territory. About crushing organized labor.
About commodifying public education. About ignoring international, constitutional and US statute laws.
About violating fundamental human and civil rights. About Obama’s war on humanity.
Bashing Putin takes precedence. Managed news misinformation proliferates.
Times editors report like other media scoundrels. MSM ones long ago lost credibility. They replicate the worst of each other.
They support what demands condemnation. They back wrong over right. Readers and viewers demand better.
MSM scoundrels don’t deliver. Sochi games run through February 23. Expect lots more Putin bashing ahead.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at email@example.com.
His new book is titled “Banker Occupation: Waging Financial War on Humanity.”
Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com.
Humanity needs sleep and we quickly realize how much we need it after a night of no sleep. Sleep is vital for health, mood, memory, better thinking, stronger immunity, weight, sex and stress.
Dreams are also important to allow our subconscious to express. Science is now uncovering that dreams play a central role in our emotional health, psychological health, our memory, our learning and as a way to help us to find solutions to our problems. If we are seriously sleep deprived, we actually start to dream while awake.
Sleep also may help the human brain get better organized by filing away important memories and discarding unwanted information.
Scientists at the University of Rochester have found one of the reasons our brain needs sleep to survive. Turns out, when we sleep, our brain takes that time to clean out the build-up of brain junk we accumulate during our waking hours. When cells do their daily cell-type work, they produce waste product. The brain has its own garbage men, carried on the waves of cerebrospinal fluid, who surf the leftovers straight down to your liver for elimination. As it turns out, the brain’s garbage men move twice as fast when you’re sleeping, because your neurons shrink by half, making the fluid channels wider.
You spend 1/3 of your life on a mattress. You are drooling, sweating, having sex, lounging around and holding children on a mattress. You are making direct contact with a mattress and if you didn’t know this already, the vast majority of today’s mattresses are made from highly toxic volatile chemicals compounds that are linked to serious health problems. You breathe in these chemicals while you sleep and you absorb them when you sweat through a process of osmosis.
Sleeping disorders in the U.S. are growing at an alarming rate, and have been labeled as epidemic. Is the problem literally staring them in the face at night?
Most people aren’t sleeping well and research shows that 95% will go undiagnosed, and 70 million people in the U.S. report that they suffer from sleep-related pain (Time Magazine). And recent studies have linked poor sleep with the growth of many disease states, specifically: diabetes, obesity, stroke, heart disease, allergies, and fibromyalgia.
Since the mid- to late ’60s, most mattresses have been made of polyurethane foam, a petroleum-based material that emits volatile organic compounds. Most mattresses sold today contain some polyurethane foam and many contain specialty foams such as latex or memory foam, which consistently break down and release chemicals. The most common toxic materials used in making a mattress include petrochemicals, polyurethane, polyvinyl chloride (PVC), formaldehyde, antimony trioxide, phthalates, and boric acid. These chemicals are used for the foam fillers, material adhesives, and for water-resistance. Most are used to make the mattress flame retardant, per federal law, causing mattress toxicity to increase. All these chemicals individually give off their own noxious fumes, commonly referred to as off-gassing.
Sleepers may report smelling the fumes when the mattress is first bought, which eventually ceases; however, although the off-gas smell no longer is detectable, toxins are still continuously being released and inhaled by the sleeper. Studies show that when a person is sleeping on a mattress with such chemicals, the toxins can seep into the body through the skin. This is supported through scientific research that has shown PCDE’s to be found in women’s breast milk in the U.S., a fact that has led many to fear that children are more likely to suffer greater than adults from mattress toxicity.
In 2005, Walter Bader, author of the book Toxic Bedrooms, sent several mattresses to an Atlanta-based lab. A memory-foam model was found to emit 61 chemicals, including the carcinogens benzene and naphthalene. But hey, it’s ok because its government approved? Right.
But there is another troublemaker in your mattress that you should be aware of and that is pesticide residue lurking in the cotton components of your mattress. Non-organic cotton is grown with pesticides, which are neurotoxins and endocrine disruptors that can cancer and nervous-system disorders. There are 107 active ingredients in pesticides still used in the U.S. that are carcinogenic, and 14 are known to cause reproductive problems in animals, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Not “in the mood?” Your mattress may be contributing.
Also, most mattress covers are made with synthetic fabrics that pose more health risks. Man made synthetic fabrics are made of toxic petrochemicals and then sprayed with flame retardants and other dangerous chemical finishes. Using synthetic, non-organic bedding and blankets also contributes to toxicity.
Researchers are questioning the origin of the increased incidences in pediatric respiratory issues, such as asthma, learning disabilities (specifically Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder), and lower IQ levels. Some have speculated there is a strong correlation between these issues and the materials used in children’s mattress and bedding items. Infants, children and pregnant women require more sleep per day in order to develop and function properly, resulting in an increased amount of exposure time.
Another study, utilizing mice, was conducted to measure the effect of breathing the emission (off-gassing) of four types of mattresses on the respiratory system. This study revealed that all mattresses containing synthetic materials caused upper airways irritation in up to 57% of the breaths measured, and saw decreased air flow by 17-23%.
Taking this information into account, it is then no surprise for many who wake up feeling, sick, tired and stuffy. Chemicals in your mattress and bedding are the culprit and they are also interfering with your much needed rest.
Compound mattress toxicity, with environmental toxins, household toxins, toiletry toxins, synthetic fabric toxins and pesticide ridden foods, it is no wonder people are getting cancer at alarming rates! We are drowning in a toxic soup and a “safe amount” every day soon becomes a heavy burden taking its toll.
But organic mattresses and organic mattress pads do exist! They are made with organic cotton, organic wool, organic latex (comes from rubber trees), with no chemicals of any kind. There are companies that sell mattresses that are completely natural and toxin-free, not just a little bit organic. The best companies will provide you with transparency from harvest to factory to showroom.
A sleep study conducted by Peter R. Dickson (1984) examined sleep quality of participants when sleeping on natural wool (participants slept on a wool pad that was placed under their sheet). He found that participants moved (tossed and turned) significantly less in the night. Additionally, participants in the study reported that they had slept better and that they felt better the next day when sleeping on the wool. Wool is hypothesized to increase sleep quality and reduce tossing and turning because 1) it reduces pressure points; and 2) it regulates body temperature.
Wool has an abundance of air spaces between the fibers that cushion the body and alleviate pressure points. This helps to support the spine and eventually distribute pressure to allow for a night free of tension and full of REM sleep. You will feel the difference.
Wools natural ability to wick away moisture and regulate temperature results in calmer heart rates due to lower humidity next to the skin. This provides for an optimal skin temperature that allows for a great nights’ rest.
Wool is the only fiber that is naturally flame resistant. Its main component, a protein called keratin, coupled with the moisture collected in its fibers, make it difficult to ignite.
The benefits of an organic, natural fiber mattress include: chemical free, hypoallergenic, provides ventilation, sustainable, biodegradable, durable, safe for children and adults, alleviates pressure, itch free, non toxic, absolute comfort, long lasting and coil free. Coils act as cancer-causing radiation antenna.
Don’t trust your government to protect your health. Take control of your own health. Research. Buy wisely.
Source: Lana Lokteff | Red Ice Creations
One food parcel & one polio vaccination at a time…
Damascus – As of 2/6/14 it’s been seven days since the first humanitarian aid, generally in the form of 56 lb. food parcels packed by UNWRA, the World Food Program, the ICRC or European aid organizations have been able to enter Yarmouk Palestinian refugee camp following half a dozen aborted attempts the past few months by various militia and political groups to achieve consensus to deliver aid. The aid parcels, including two kilos of rice, two kilos sugar, three kilos lentils, three kilos dry macaroni, plus flour, jam, tea, oil, and sweet Halawi spread are intended to feed a family of five to eight for ten days. The boxes have been trickling into the South side of the Yarmouk Palestinian camp and up along Rima Street where this observer has seen crowds this past week tensely waiting and hoping for food and clean water. For some camp residents the wait for relief began in June of 2013 when all entrances and exits to Yarmouk camp were cut.
Up to this morning, approximately 5,300 food parcels have been allowed into Yarmouk or an average of 800-1,000 food packages daily. Aid has been entering sporadically and sometimes chaotically, with perceptible but slight increases over the past week.
A large yellow flat-bed truck arrived on the morning of 2/5/14 and this observer watched as food parcels were off-loaded and neatly stacked into six white pick-up trucks that were then driven into Yarmouk under the watchful gaze of pro and anti-regime forces and security agents. According to one source from South Beirut who this observer had met earlier, Jabhat al Nusra, Jabhat Islam, Daash and Jund al Cham snipers could be observed on rooftops monitoring the distribution activity with their eyes pressed against their rifle scopes. One SARCS volunteer who this observer has known for two years advised that she feared there might be a shootout between these fighters and nearby Palestinian forces allied with the government (Ahmad Jibril’s PFLP-GC) suspected Hezbollah fighters with hand radio phones who were watching and seemingly discussing the events. Frankly, for this observer, it is increasingly difficult to distinguish which group which around here is given the proliferation of fighters with beards and essentially indistinguishable attire.
For many food parcel recipients, their first act is to open the jar of jam inside the cardboard box and scoop the confections into the mouths of their children or the nearby infirm refugees, usually elderly. On 2/6/14, UNWRA also started a polio vaccination program, its first in Yarmouk and which is urgently needed by thousands of trapped camp residents. Ten thousand dosages of polio vaccines are being allowed into the camp with vaccinations currently underway for the second day running.
In addition to the so far paltry amount of food allowed into the camp, approximately 1,600 people have been allowed to leave Yarmouk for medical treatment. Young Palestine Red Crescent Society (PRCS) volunteers, wearing shirts with large Red Crosses can be seen trickling out from the besieged camp this morning. Invariably holding the hands, arms, or shoulders of those who could walk the 50 yards to waiting ambulances that will evacuate and transport these patients, suffering the effects of starvation including muscle atrophy and dehydration. Most will be taken to the PCRS Jaffa hospital two kilometers away. Others are being transferred to Syrian government hospitals in Mazah, in central Damascus, including al-Mujtahed, al-Muwasat, al-Tawleed and children hospital.
This observer mingled for a couple of hours among the approximately 250 family members of trapped refugees, many of whom appear daily outside the only exit from Yarmouk camp, hoping that a relative might be allowed to leave. One elderly lady, maybe in her late sixties, explained to this observer that every day for the past seven months, i.e. since the tight siege of Yarmouk began last June, she has stood in the same location waiting for her son Mahmoud to come to her from inside besieged Yarmouk. She has no idea if he is alive but she explained to me that she believes that God will deliver him safely to her.
Another view of much needed Divine assistance was articulated by a lovely young mother who had just exited Yarmouk with her two toddlers who looked, as she did, to be in fairly bad shape and in need of immediate hospitalization. A former English literature student, the lady, whose family is from Haifa, Occupied Palestine, explained to this observer that she no longer has any belief in God and as she elaborated why, she lowered her voice so as not to offend the nearby elderly believer waiting for her son Makmoud.
She told of her experience trapped inside Yarmouk: “For the past more than five months I have sold my body for one hour to whoever would give me a kilo of rice which sometimes costs as much as 14,000 s.p. (close to $ 100). I was proud to be a whore for these terrorists in order to keep my parents alive and who are still trapped and I also prevented complete starvation of my children.” She continued, “God did not help me and my family but I promise if I live and ever see one of those dogs I will kill him and he can learn if his God exists or not. None existed for me!” and she sobbed as two young lady volunteers from the PRCS held her as she and her little ones made their way to a waiting PRCS ambulance.
Given the 18,000 in need of urgent aid this cold winter morning inside Yarmouk camp, what has been allowed in so far has been a mere trickle, rather minor in a sense. But major for those getting the live saving food parcels and urgently required medical treatment.
As this observer waits to return to Yarmouk this morning, and for a promised and expensive taxi to hopefully arrive, for few cabs want to go anywhere near Yarmouk camp these days and charge five times the normal fare if they do, ones imagines that as has been the case this past week, there will be large crowds and long lines of people waiting and sometimes jostling for food. This attests to the enormous humanitarian need and to the desperation of thousands of civilians, Palestinian and Syrian, being starved and used as a weapon of war and as human shields.
After months of false starts toward reaching an agreement among fourteen Palestinian factions here in Damascus, as well as a green light from the Syrian government, and more than a dozen rebel militias, each with disparate agendas, this week’s agreement, and the 8th since early December, may or may not hold. And it may not end the carnage that criminally took 6000 more lives just last month.
If it does succeed, it will be one more half-step, to use UN Envoy, Lakhdar Brahimi Geneva II term, toward lifting the siege of Yarmouk camp which achievement might then augur well for more widespread humanitarian efforts to achieve a nationwide ceasefire as a full step toward serious reconciliation work in order to save this great country.
The pressing question of this commentary: what are we doing to ourselves and why do we keep doing it?
In the past 50 years, scientists and chemists from all over the world created 80,000 different chemicals to work all sorts of havoc on Mother Nature. You can find pharmaceuticals and pesticides in Polar bears as well as seals and fish in the Southern Oceans of Antarctica.
Guess what? You can find many of the same chemicals in human beings. If you look across America’s landscape, 30 years ago, Autism affected 1 in 110,000 births. Today, it affects 1 in 110. (Source: CDC report)
When we poison the plants and animals of the food chain around the planet, we ultimately poison ourselves. Witness cancer rates skyrocketing around the world. Witness Parkinson’s disease, fibromyalgia, lupus and other neurological maladies affecting millions of Americans.
Fukushima reactors spill billions of gallons of radioactive wastewater into the Pacific Ocean. It circulates to all corners of the planet. But closer to home, we continue injecting drugs and chemicals into our own Great Lakes.
An International Joint Commission report, conducted by scientists from both the US and Canada, discovered that the Great Lakes region suffers severely contaminated waters replete with chemicals and prescription drugs that slipped past treatment methods at sewage treatment plants.
“The commission found that about half of all prescription drug and other chemical contaminants remain in sewage waste after it is treated,” said a Natural News report. “The situation is so dire that the commission is calling out for new water treatment methods, warning residents of the area of “chemicals of emerging concern” that may affect the health of both aquatic life and humans in negative ways.”
The Great Lakes – becoming a cocktail of pharmaceutical and chemical compounds
Antonette Arvai, physical scientist of the International Joint Commission, said, “It is hard to tell how one contaminate may affect the human body, let alone a whole mix of chemicals and pharmaceuticals. The compounds, which can’t be seen, are showing up in mixed proportions at parts per billion or parts per trillion. As compounds combine randomly and in different proportions, water from the Great Lakes is becoming a wicked cocktail travesty of science.”
According to the commission, “A chemical flood of 4.8 billion gallons of waste water is treated and discharged into the Great Lakes basin every day. All the intermingling, parts per billion of untreated waste chemicals add up. The Great Lakes are basically becoming a pharmaceutical stew, a melting pot of side effects waiting to be drunk.”
This list shows chemicals and pharmaceuticals that accumulate in the Great Lakes region.
- A couple of antibiotics drugs and commercial antibacterial triclosan - Triclosan, the antibacterial compound found in commercial soaps, toothpastes and other body care products is a known toxin to algae and has been shown to be a hormone disruptor to fish. How might triclosan and other antibiotics spawn the creation of dangerous and evolved bacteria strains?
Diana Aga, chemistry professor and chemical researcher of the Great Lakes region said, “Even at low levels you don’t want to have people ingest antibiotics regularly because it will promote resistance.”
- An herbicide - How might this destroy nutritional algae and other beneficial plants, which are needed for a thriving ecosystem?
- Acetaminophen and an anti-inflammatory drug called diclofenac. Dicolfenac accumulates in fish. How might continual dosing through water sources accumulate in the cells of humans and tax the liver over time?
- An estrogen, estriol - How might hormones in the water affect mating patterns in wildlife and in humans?
- An anti-seizure drug - How might drugs like these, with side effects including suicidal thoughts and behaviors, effect people over time?
Do you filter your water? Start today!
Commission board member and scientist for the National Wildlife Federation’s Great Lakes Regional Center Michael Murray said, “Wastewater plants weren’t designed to handle these types of chemicals.”
As wastewater treatment plants fail to keep up with high levels of pharmaceuticals and chemical compounds, obtaining clean water will become the responsibility of the individual family.
Most municipal water sources suffer contaminating with fluoride, chlorine and other chemicals. You must filter your own water. Gravity-fed activated charcoal filtration devices are becoming more popular for their ability to eliminate pharmaceuticals and herbicides from tap water. Other filters that use reverse osmosis help eliminate fluoride and arsenic. Some water filtration systems utilize both methods to free water of practically all contaminates.
Finally, a friend of mine said that my quest to educate all Americans as to the ramifications of adding 138 million people within 36 years fails from the git-go. Most Americans and certainly our Main Stream Media cannot grasp the enormity of it, or if they do, they flee the subject because it proves extremely unsettling. Better to deny it today and deal with it tomorrow.
Unfortunately, that’s like driving a car toward a cliff at 100 miles per hour and start braking within 100 feet of the edge. You certainly know what happens to anyone in that car.
That’s why we need to take action today. We must stop mass immigration into America. We don’t want to become a “refugee nation” and we don’t want our civilization overwhelmed and unsustainable.
Call Speaker of the House John Boehner and demand he not pass S744 amnesty that will flood the country with two million immigrants annually and give amnesty to 20 million plus. The reasonable solution: enforce our current laws against employers. Call him: 202 225 0600.
An editorial in the Financial Times last week, entitled “End drift to war in the East China Sea,” highlighted the growing alarm in ruling circles about the prospect of a conflict between Japan and China. “The possibility of war,” it declared, “is rapidly emerging as one of the biggest security risks facing the world,” and the two governments “are doing nothing to make conflict less likely.”
The FT focussed on comments by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, in which he explicitly drew the comparison between the current rivalry in East Asia and that between Britain and Germany prior to World War I. “For Japan’s prime minister to allow any comparison with 1914 in Europe is chilling and inflammatory,” it stated.
The immediate source of tensions is the territorial dispute over rocky outcrops in the East China Sea, known as Senkaku in Japan and Diaoyu in China. However, the chief responsibility for inflaming this dangerous flashpoint, along with others throughout the region, lies with the Obama administration’s “pivot to Asia”—a strategy aimed at isolating China economically and diplomatically, and encircling it militarily.
While hypocritically claiming to be “neutral” on the territorial dispute, Washington has repeatedly declared that, in the event of a war over the islands, the US would support its ally Japan. Moreover, as part of the “pivot,” the Obama administration has been restructuring its military bases in Japan and encouraging Japan to remilitarise.
Asia in 2014 does bear a chilling resemblance to Europe in 1914. World War I arose over the intractable competition for spheres of influence between the major powers. As Lenin and Trotsky, the great Marxists of that period explained, it marked the opening of the imperialist epoch—the epoch of the death agony of capitalism.
The global financial crisis that erupted in 2008, the worsening world economic slump and rising geo-political tensions make clear that capitalism has resolved none of the fundamental contradictions that produced the horrors of a century ago.
Over the past decade, US imperialism has plunged into one war of aggression after another—Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya—as well as numerous intrigues and provocations, in a desperate bid to offset its relative economic decline through its military predominance. The installation of Obama as president and his “pivot” to Asia reflected deep concerns in the American establishment that the Bush administration’s focus on the Middle East undermined US hegemony in Asia, including over its cheap labour platforms, above all China, that had become central to corporate profit.
Under Obama, the US has encouraged allies such as Japan and the Philippines to take a more assertive stance in their disputes with China; begun to “rebalance” 60 percent of US air and naval forces to the Indo-Pacific; and is establishing new basing arrangements with Australia and other Asia-Pacific countries as part of its war preparations.
In Japan, the US “pivot” has helped foster the emergence of the right-wing Abe government that, in the space of a year, has increased military spending for the first time in a decade and moved to end constitutional restrictions on the Japanese armed forces. Last month, Abe provocatively visited the notorious Yasukuni Shrine to the country’s war dead—a potent symbol of Japanese militarism in the 1930s and 1940s.
Abe is being driven by the interests of Japanese imperialism, which is not prepared to relinquish its position as a leading power in Asia. In his speech at Davos, Abe dismissed pundits who “called Japan the land of the setting sun” and declared that “a new dawn” was breaking. The two themes of his speech were equally aggressive—thinly-disguised criticisms of China, alongside cut-throat economic measures designed to undermine rivals and turn Japan into one of the “most business-friendly places in the world.”
By likening China to Germany in 1914, Abe is seeking to portray Beijing as a dangerous new menace. Unlike Germany, however, China is not an imperialist power. Despite the size of its economy, it continues to function as a cheap labour platform, completely dependent on foreign corporate investment and technology, as well as the existing centres of finance capital. In the military sphere, the US has an overwhelming preponderance, and a global network of bases and alliances that can threaten Chinese interests anywhere in the world.
Backed into a corner by the US over the past four years, the Chinese leadership has responded by offering further economic concessions to the major powers, on the one hand, while boosting military spending and asserting its claims in waters immediately adjacent to the Chinese mainland, on the other. The Beijing regime is whipping up anti-Japanese chauvinism both to justify its military build-up and to divert attention from the extreme social tensions produced by three decades of capitalist restoration.
While drawing attention to the rising danger of war, the Financial Times editorial offered no solution, other than an impotent appeal for “both sides to stop rattling sabres and start talking to one another.” Ignoring the fact that the US “pivot” has stoked the present confrontation, the editorial appealed for Washington to intervene as the voice of peace and reason. Both Abe and Chinese President Xi Jinping “should look for a route away from Armageddon before it is too late,” it concluded.
However, as in 1914, the drive to war is being fuelled by the inherent contradictions of capitalism—between global economy and the outmoded nation state system, and private ownership of the means of production and socialised production—that have erupted with full force in the wake of the 2008 global breakdown. The only means of averting the catastrophe being prepared for humanity is the abolition of the bankrupt profit system and the socialist reorganisation of society to meet the social needs of vast majority, not the super-profits of a tiny wealthy elite. The dangers of another world war underscore the necessity of rejecting all forms of nationalism and patriotism and building a unified international anti-war movement of workers and youth in China, Japan, the US and around the world to carry out this urgent task.
There comes a time when a coming convergence becomes apparent. But when it spells a very probable major cataclysm people are not too eager to see it.
But see it we must. And sound the alarm we must…as well as prepare.
Funny how that’s another thing “they” minimize and belittle. “Conspiracy freak” leads into “gloom and doomer”, “fear and hate monger” etc., all being cleverly wrapped into the “terrorist” catch-all these fascist, police state days.
They are the authors and manufacturers of terror, always accusing the very ones they’re murdering and manipulating. Sadly, the snooze button has been hit seemingly permanently for some. Nothing rattles them anymore – until the food runs out.
The wake up will hit, one way or another. It’s already happened for very many. The key is to be awake, aware and ready.
Our Surreal News
With multiple extremely serious realities striking home from a possible banking shutdown to Fukushima to martial law and beyond there are more and more people who are catching on. But the hour is late.
That’s not to mention concurrent massive geo-engineering and weather manipulation.
Shrimping was finally banned off the Gulf of Mexico due to horrific deformities and lesions in specimens being found; the arrival of radioactive Japan tsunami debris and massive radiated levels in the Pacific showing high readings in fish and algae and other samples and now even beach conditions on the US west coast; growing concerns about “fracking” causing earthquakes and severe water pollution around the world; GMO toxins and vaccines now known to not only maim humanity but drastically reduce fertility – are all major ongoing concerns that are adding up and causing people to boil over.
And that doesn’t touch on the economic and corporate manipulations, the police state crackdowns, and the massive war machine that’s gobbling up the world with hardly a peep of resistance or protest.
Something’s seriously amiss. And that’s just a sampling.
All of these man made anomalies are outrageous. And of course under or non-reported. And the Fukushima mutation weirdness has hardly begun with the millions of tons of nuclear contaminated water being continually, and dutifully I might add, dumped off of Japan.
The mutations and die-offs have started, but just barely. And as our forests and crops fail from aluminum and barium poisoning from our chemtrail poisoned skies you can be sure it will get very distressing as the days and weeks progress, as evidenced by California’s severe drought that will have devastating repercussions.
The World’s Been Thoroughly Conned…and Set Up
You’d think everyone would start to realize something serious is actually going down. But most can’t begin to fathom the degree to which we’re being attacked. It’s way too horrific to grasp, never mind fully realize and integrate into their lives.
If just one spent fuel rod pool at Fukushima collapses, there will be so much plutonium-based radiation released it would be called a potential Extinction Level Event (ELE). Just that. And if that doesn’t “bake your noodle”, do you know how many hundreds of these types of old dangerous fuel rod pool stocked reactors there are around the world?
Over 800! And all those, built in the 60′s and 70′s, are now due for “expiration”! Never mind the plethora of nuclear bomb manufacturing facilities in the US and around the world. We’re talking insane, people. And most of us had nothing to do with any of this. At least not consciously.
This planet is one large deliberately bomb-ridden Murrah Building or explosive-laden Twin Tower. Earth has been and is being engineered for demolition, whether a man-made or natural disaster triggers it, the charges have been thoroughly and deliberately set in place.
Waiting around and living “business as usual” are no longer options.
The Virtue of Knowledge
This doesn’t have to spell the end of everything, as awful as that sounds. People who love you tell you the Truth.
I’m fully convinced that our number one job here is to wake up, first and foremost, individually, and then wake up everyone around us. It’s imperative people see the vast extent of the perfidy of this parasitic force destroying our planet. And that’s not an easy task…UNTIL someone wakes up! Once the light gets in all will follow to the True in Heart.
The coming cataclysms, in whatever form they take, will work in Truth’s favor. Universe doesn’t fail in anything within any of its realms. How it plays out here is only perceived from our small, limited viewpoint. We will learn, come what may.
But the viewpoint from the heart?!….that’s where the answers reside. All we have to do is listen. And learn. And do.
False Flag Earth and the Plan of the War gods
Anyone reading this knows false flags have been perpetrated by rulers since time immemorial. It’s virtually primordial evil to secretly do some evil deed yourself or have someone do it for you and blame someone else, all for a desired effect.
This huge scam is admittedly off the charts wrong and engineered by the dark side, however you perceive it. The loving and kind-hearted would never consider such acts, which is why many can’t conceive them, yet the controllers use these tactics with abandon.
Earth will survive their puny efforts in some form, if need be. Humanity may not, at least here, until the earth recovers or we take off for new horizons. I don’t know. But to deliberately bring on such catastrophic conditions is not an easy one for the lay unaware earth man to wrap his head around. Very strange indeed, but that’s how they’ve gotten away with it.
They say mega catastrophes, natural and perhaps otherwise, have wiped out previous civilizations and thousands of animal species on earth. They’ve even found evidence of a nuclear conflagration in ancient India, and it’s theorized Atlantis and Lemuria had it out in some sort of nuclear war and that’s how they came to an end.
It seems these warlike “gods” through the ages have a propensity for this type of wanton death-dealing and destruction. They really should find their own already decimated rock somewhere out there and fight it out between themselves and leave us the hell alone.
Wouldn’t you say?
Non Cooperation and Resistance is Essential
Our job is to first wake up to the horrific reality that we’re being deliberately killed off, and then wake up as many others as possible. I don’t know about any cavalry coming to save us but I do know it’s a time of energetic change that will help more and more see what’s going on and hopefully wake up out of slumber.
And when we activate, Universe activates. And I don’t doubt there aren’t “agents of good” who help us from other realms. When we put feet to our new found knowledge things on every level activate. But the responsibility is ours. It will always remain ours. That’s the cycle we’re on. If you don’t get it and respond you’re doomed to repeat it till you do..in one form or another. To me that makes total sense. But then again, I’m just wondering…
The Universe is intrinsically right and just. If we didn’t have free will life would be a drag. And with free will comes a lot of messiness. And responsibility. It’s ours to handle responsibly. Our hearts tell us so.
So let’s enjoy this anyway! But let’s get Love and Truth back in charge here, shall we?
Perspective – They Can’t Win Over Truth and Love
You really wonder how these anti-natural freaks can take themselves seriously. Just look at the magnificence of our Universe. It’s beyond description. Clearly forces play out that we’re only slightly aware of. But one thing we can be sure of…puny man or any other power-crazed entity is nothing to be feared. We’re inter connected with Something so much greater and profound we can rest assured all will come out for the better no matter what happens in the short term.
The current awakening is changing the entire dynamic on our planet by the hour. The matrix is coming down, which is why they’re so frantically trying to slap up structural supports for it everywhere with more laws and draconian regulations. There’s a vibrational change that is exposing the Truth and accelerating drastic life changes all around us. This will no doubt change the course of all of their plans as everyone’s perceptions will be changing as well.
If we’re on to their scam, we should identify it, non-comply and rise up in defiance of it and overcome it. Whatever form we take. Even if the whole place blows, you think that’s the end?
Fear of death is possibly the biggest con going. How many parallel dimensional worlds are right now spinning, slipping and sliding around us? Even our so called big brained physicists say at least 11. You think that’s all? (And btw, notice no one’s calling themconspiracy freaks! Ha!)
The biggest lesson we can all learn: Heart trumps brain trumps programming.
Stick to your convictions, come what may.
And go with the flow – synchronicity leads and confirms and encourages.
A final thought from Lao Tzu…
“A good traveler has no fixed plan, and is not intent on arriving.”
Source: Zen Gardner | ZenGardner.com
Any analysis of domestic fossil fuel production and use must acknowledge that independence for U.S. energy has not been the national goal. Contrary to utopian dreamers and radical environmentalists, oil, natural gas and coal are the backbone of power in any modern economy. This power extends both to the fuels themselves and to the political security that is required for any economy to prosper. Therefore, it seems counterproductive to encourage corporatist to export our own precious resources for the mere motive of higher profits. Unfortunately, their ill-conceived greed is at the core of much of our countries instability.
Often ignored, coal was once the dominate resource in the generation of electricity. The utterly destructive and suicidal EPA regulations and Obama’s determination to bankrupt the coal industry has put into motion an export strategy that threatens the entire utility sector.
The Motley Fool writes in the article, Can Exports Save U.S. Coal?
“Although it remains the country’s largest private sector provider of jobs, the U.S. coal industry is hurting. Domestic utilities are turning to lower-priced natural gas. Environmental opponents are working hard to keep the mineral in the ground.
The idea of expanding exports to the world’s biggest customers — currently China, the Netherlands (a large transshipment point), the U.K., South Korea and Brazil — sounds good. And the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) reports shipments of 6.3 million short tons of steam coal and 7.4 million short tons of metallurgical coal in March set a monthly record. Increased Asian demand contributed to the standout month.”
The absurd notion at clean coal is impossible; drive this train directly to ports that ship our own most prolific natural resource overseas. So much for national security considerations and who in their right mind thinks that advance scrubbers will be used in all the Chinese plants being built.
Natural gas is the new boom fuel, especially because of the questionable hydrofracking process. Leaving aside the risks to our finite water aquifer, extraction from deep field using this fracking method is the primary argument to drill. In the essay, Hydrofracking Boom or Bust, cites Deborah Rogers, points out the most significant economic consequence from hydrofracking.
“Exporting is a last ditch effort to shore up a failing balance sheet. Exportation will drive the price higher in the U.S. There’s no doubt about it. The question is how high will it go. When you are producing a commodity and have produced it to such a high extent, you want to find someone who will buy it, and in this case, it will be the Asians.”
The Wall Street Journal reports how this economic model will take place in, U.S. Approves Expanded Gas Exports.
“The decision reflects a turnaround in the U.S. energy trade. Five years ago, many companies built natural-gas import terminals, anticipating greater U.S. demand for imported fuel.
Proponents of greater exports, including the oil and gas industry, say that exporting inexpensive natural gas will help the U.S. trade balance, help advance the adoption of clean-burning fuels around the world and shore up energy-poor U.S. allies.”
Let’s be real. The corporatist only care about the margins they can squeeze out of any resource extracted from mother earth. Importing when the price is right or exporting when the world price goes the other way, but never any concern about energy INDEPENDENCE for our own people and country.
Now look at the grand daddy of all, petroleum. The Oil Roustabout Economy explains the way the oil policy actually plays out. Virtually no real apprehension for domestic oil autonomy is factored into the economic schemes, that drive the economic, political and foreign policies, which keep the global a permanent tinderbox. “Remember that drilling in Anwar is prohibited, while waging war for oil is celebrated.”However, the scale of refining raw crude into a range of utilitarian end user products, lends merit to the resale for export, especially if the original crude comes from an imported source. A valid benefit is achieved by enhancing a natural resource, with value added functionality for exporting. Nonetheless, draining your own oil fields for an immediate infusion of short-term profit, only hastens the day when domestic oilfields run dry.
The Washington Post illustrates the latest insanity coming out of the political class servants of the oil barons. The article, U.S. oil exports have been banned for 40 years. Is it time for that to change?, has a chilling message.
“Some people think so — especially now that the United States is producing more oil than it has in decades. Overturning the ban, in theory, would allow companies to sell even more oil and keep expanding.
On Tuesday, Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) gave a speech at the Brookings Institution calling on the Obama administration and Congress to loosen restrictions on crude-oil exports in order to boost domestic production. “We need to act,” she said, “before the crude export ban raises problems and hurts American jobs.” Jack Gerard, the head of the American Petroleum Institute, expressed similar sentiments later in the day.”
Ah, that long journey to save jobs cry is most flexible depending where the campaign contributions come from. When was the last time you heard a national debate on the necessity to conserve and the prudent use of our own energy resources, strictly for domestic usage?
Not in this lifetime, instead of exporting our natural gas overseas, what happened to How to Convert the Country to Natural Gas, by T. Boone Pickens. Read the Pickens Plan and ask where are all those converted from diesel to LNG trucks?
Folks, the selling of our coal, gas and oil resources for export are more important to the internationalists that own the corporate businesses, which control the global resources, than true national energy independence. It is that simple. The establishment plutocrats are the designers, perpetuators and exploiters of an American economy that is held hostage to energy extortion. Not until this pattern is broken, will genuine prosperity return.
I used to really really hate housework but don’t hate it so much any more — ever since I developed my fabulous new housecleaning system wherein I just do 15 minutes of housework a day, but do it each day consistently, using a timer so as not to cheat.
You’d be surprised how much you can get done in just 15 minutes, but you gotta do it daily, no matter what — even if some newbee student dentist has just finished scraping all those extra bone fragments out of the socket of your recently-pulled (phantom) tooth and then practiced her rusty stitching techniques on your poor bleeding gums.
And here’s another added bonus to my housecleaning system: After having spent approximately 5,475 minutes a year for the past six years on trying to keep this damn place clean, I have actually sort of started to bond with my home.
So. A few days ago I was cleaning stuff out of an old filing cabinet, and came across a whole bunch of articles that I had written way back in the day — back before we had all kinds of self-publishing apps available online; and even back before there was FaceBook or blogs or Kindle or Twitter or even Instagram and YouTube.
And, way back in those old paleo days, writers such as myself had actually been forced to photocopy our articles, write up a cover letter and then send them all off to magazine editors with self-addressed stamped envelopes enclosed. Totally old school. Can you even imagine doing that now?
And there at the very bottom of one of those file drawers, I found over two hundred rejection letters from various editors and publishers. Amazing.
Dontcha just love publishing over the internet instead? (And thank goodness for net neutrality too — which is currently being threatened. Shouldn’t we start boycotting Verizon, AT&T and Comcast over this? C’mon, all you independent bloggers, Tweeters and self-publishers, let’s get off our butts and fight for less intervention and more high-speed!) http://www.latimes.com/
And speaking of the internet, those huge and powerful corporations which now own our government are still using it to spy on all of us — and not just us writers. Now why would corporations want to do that? Because they are paranoid. And greedy. And afraid.
I used to be paranoid and greedy and afraid too — but am now here to tell you that, in the long run, paranoia and greed and fear are just too damn much hard work. Wisdom and kindness are better. And easier too. Just ask Jesus. And Gandhi. And Martin Luther King Jr.
“But Jane,” you might say, “that kind of slacker attitude could get you killed.” True. It certainly got King and Gandhi and Jesus killed. But at least I would die while feeling all proud of myself as I cross over — not huddled up in some miserable isolated Midas-like earthly fortress while watching the rest of the world end before my very eyes and with only my black, ice-cold-hearted evil soul (that nobody else would ever want to spend time with, ev-ah) to keep me company. Yuck.
Anyway, back at the filing cabinet, I began reading through some of my old articles again — and some of them were really actually quite good. The one about my struggles to get my aging father into an assisted-care home was particularly poignant — and how my mean sister had dragged me through probate court after he died, just when I was grieving the most. I later published it on the internet, entitled “Probating the Family Feud” — and a lot of people actually read it there too. http://veracityvoice.com/?p=
And I also found something I had written back in 2005 — back when Fallujah was a horrible war-crime-induced hot mess; about all my efforts to embed with the Army there. And how I finally did embed with the Marines in Heet and Haditha two years later http://jpstillwater.blogspot.
But apparently Fallujah is still a war-torn hot mess even today; the only difference being that Iraqis, not Americans, are now doing most of the killing in Al Anbar province. So does that make all this current senseless slaughter of civilians less of a war crime — because civilians are now being senselessly slaughtered by local hordes instead of by American hordes? http://www.globalresearch.ca/
Ten years later, I still want to go to Fallujah.
Or as one friend in Iraq calls it, “Fallujahpaloooza”. Laughter through tears. http://www.youtube.com/watch?
And then I discovered, hidden back at the very bottom of my filing cabinet, a rough draft of my first novel. I loved that novel so much! But NOBODY would publish it. Nobody. That novel had everything — love, death, war, peace, history, philosophy, drama, even intergalactic travel — and even one fast-moving chapter on how wisdom and kindness always trumps greed, paranoia and fear. “Pictures of a Future World” was the title. I may get around to publishing it yet — but this time I’ll try Kindle.
PS: Here’s an excerpt from my old unpublished novel, “Pictures of a Future World”:
All eyes turn to the Shaman, who continues to speak from his deep trance.
The atmosphere in the sandstone kiva comes alive. The Shaman moves his mind to a new point of consciousness. Another one of his emanations begins to speak, this time in an intensely penetrating tone. ”There is a tree on the mesa top,” the deep voice slowly intones. ”It has watched the raider warriors kill our people one by one. It has seen us begin to build our houses here in the dark shadows of the canyon walls instead of up on the sunny mesa tops where they belong…so that we might be safe…from the raider warriors.
“They are killers.
“We are prey.
“So has it always been. So shall it always be.
“There is no place that we can go on the face of this earth that is safe from them…either now or in the far distant future… when even our mesa-top trees are dead.
“Raiders will always hunt peaceful men.
“They will find us, and they will kill our bodies just as the coyote kills the hare.”
Absolute silence falls like a black shroud inside the kiva.
Everyone waits for the Shaman to speak again. Even the Shaman himself waits. Is this all that he is going to say? By now the ceremonial kiva is as bright as day, the elders rigid with attention.
“Of these things we must never be afraid, ever,” the Shaman continues. ”The raiders may search us out, the barbarians may chase us down and trap us and corner us like rats…from now until the end of time.
“The needy ones, the greedy ones will hunt us in order to make our wisdom and our abundance their own. They will act out of evil caused by envy, jealousy or need. Whatever their reasons — that is the way of it. No place is safe. We must be prepared to give up our bodies at any time, willingly and without fear or regret.
“Because our bodies are not us.”
The Shaman breathes slowly now, and the clan members sense that he is struggling within himself, trying to clarify what he alone is seeing, forcing himself to go on. A moment passes. The mask presses heavily upon him. Finally he continues: ”We of the pueblo all know this. We are all made brave because of this knowledge. This we know: That always men of peace will die bravely. That always barbarians will try to kill us and to take our spirits.
“All of us know that the spirit of a man of peace can never belong to a barbarian and can never be harmed. Ever. It is this knowledge that gives us the courage to continue to live without fear in a world exploding with enemies, enemies gone mad with their own anger and need and violence and lust for our blood.”
The air inside the womb-like kiva begins to take on a life of its own; humid, dense, and pulsing.
Inside the ponderous deer-head mask, the Shaman tries to refocus his energy. He watches his body and his mind divide into a series of complex grids. Each one of these grids contains an image of himself. A part of him wonders which grid is his real self. A part of him knows that his real self is all of them — or none.
More chanting fills the air. The Shaman forgets about the raider warriors. They are a part of life. They will always be there…like the trees. Like the mesa.
Can the sharing economy movement address the root causes of the world’s converging crises? Unless the sharing of resources is promoted in relation to human rights and concerns for equity, democracy, social justice and sustainability, then such claims are without substantiation – although there are many hopeful signs that the conversation is slowly moving in the right direction.
In recent years, the concept and practice of sharing resources is fast becoming a mainstream phenomenon across North America, Western Europe and other world regions. The internet is awash with articles and websites that celebrate the vast potential of sharing human and physical assets, in everything from cars and bicycles to housing, workplaces, food, household items, and even time or expertise. According to most general definitions that are widely available online, the sharing economy leverages information technology to empower individuals or organisations to distribute, share and re-use excess capacity in goods and services. The business icons of the new sharing economy include the likes of Airbnb, Zipcar, Lyft, Taskrabbit and Poshmark, although hundreds of other for-profit as well as non-profit organisations are associated with this burgeoning movement that is predicated, in one way or another, on the age-old principle of sharing.
As the sharing economy receives increasing attention from the media, a debate is beginning to emerge around its overall importance and future direction. There is no doubt that the emergent paradigm of sharing resources is set to expand and further flourish in coming years, especially in the face of continuing economic recession, government austerity and environmental concerns. As a result of the concerted advocacy work and mobilisation of sharing groups in the US, fifteen city mayors have now signed the Shareable Cities Resolution in which they officially recognise the importance of economic sharing for both the public and private sectors. Seoul in South Korea has also adopted a city-funded project called Sharing City in which it plans to expand its ‘sharing infrastructure’, promote existing sharing enterprises and incubate sharing economy start-ups as a partial solution to problems in housing, transportation, job creation and community cohesion. Furthermore, Medellin in Colombia is embracing transport-sharing schemes and reimagining the use of its shared public spaces, while Ecuador is the first country in the world to commit itself to becoming a ‘shared knowledge’-based society, under an official strategy named ‘buen saber’.
Many proponents of the sharing economy therefore have great hopes for a future based on sharing as the new modus operandi. Almost everyone recognises that drastic change is needed in the wake of a collapsed economy and an overstretched planet, and the old idea of the American dream – in which a culture that promotes excessive consumerism and commercialisation leads us to see the ‘good life’ as the ‘goods life’, as described by the psychologist Tim Kasser - is no longer tenable in a world of rising affluence among possibly 9.6 billion people by 2050. Hence more and more people are rejecting the materialistic attitudes that defined recent decades, and are gradually shifting towards a different way of living that is based on connectedness and sharing rather than ownership and conspicuous consumption. ‘Sharing more and owning less’ is the ethic that underlies a discernible change in attitudes among affluent society that is being led by today’s young, tech-savvy generation known as Generation Y or the Millennials.
However, many entrepreneurial sharing pioneers also profess a big picture vision of what sharing can achieve in relation to the world’s most pressing issues, such as population growth, environmental degradation and food security. As Ryan Gourley of A2Share posits, for example, a network of cities that embrace the sharing economy could mount up into a Sharing Regions Network, then Sharing Nations, and finally a Sharing World: “A globally networked sharing economy would be a whole new paradigm, a game-changer for humanity and the planet”. Neal Gorenflo, the co-founder and publisher of Shareable, also argues that peer-to-peer collaboration can form the basis of a new social contract, with an extensive sharing movement acting as the catalyst for systemic changesthat can address the root causes of both poverty and climate change. Or to quote the words of Benita Matofska, founder of The People Who Share, we are going to have to “share to survive” if we want to face up to a sustainable future. In such a light, it behoves us all to investigate the potential of sharing to effect a social and economic transformation that is sufficient to meet the grave challenges of the 21st century.
Two sides of a debate on sharing
There is no doubt that sharing resources can contribute to the greater good in a number of ways, from economic as well as environmental and social perspectives. A number of studies show the environmental benefits that are common to many sharing schemes, such as the resource efficiency and potential energy savings that could result from car sharing and bike sharing in cities. Almost all forms of localised sharing are economical, and can lead to significant cost savings or earnings for individuals and enterprises. In terms of subjective well-being and social impacts, common experience demonstrates how sharing can also help us to feel connected to neighbours or co-workers, and even build community and make us feel happier.
Few could disagree on these beneficial aspects of sharing resources within communities or across municipalities, but some controversy surrounds the broader vision of how the sharing economy movement can contribute to a fair and sustainable world. For many advocates of the burgeoning trend towards economic sharing in modern cities, it is about much more than couch-surfing, car sharing or tool libraries, and holds the potential to disrupt the individualist and materialistic assumptions of neoliberal capitalism. For example, Juliet Schor in her book Plenitude perceives that a new economics based on sharing could be an antidote to the hyper-individualised, hyper-consumer culture of today, and could help rebuild the social ties that have been lost through market culture. Annie Leonard of the Story of Stuff project, in her latest short video on how to move society in an environmentally sustainable and just direction, also considers sharing as a key ‘game changing’ solution that could help to transform the basic goals of the economy.
Many other proponents see the sharing economy as a path towards achieving widespread prosperity within the earth’s natural limits, and an essential first step on the road to more localised economies and egalitarian societies. But far from everyone perceives that participating in the sharing economy, at least in its existing form and praxis, is a ‘political act’ that can realistically challenge consumption-driven economics and the culture of individualism – a question that is raised (although not yet comprehensively answered) in a valuable think piece from Friends of the Earth, as discussed further below. Various commentators argue that the proliferation of new business ventures under the umbrella of sharing are nothing more than “supply and demand continuing its perpetual adjustment to new technologies and fresh opportunities”, and that the concept of the sharing economy is being co-opted by purely commercial interests – a debate that was given impetus when the car sharing pioneers, Zipcar, were bought up by the established rental firm Avis.
Recently, Slate magazine’s business and economics correspondent controversially reiterated the observation that making money from new modes of consumption is not really ‘sharing’ per se, asserting that the sharing economy is therefore a “dumb term” that “deserves to die”. Other journalists have criticised the superficial treatment that the sharing economy typically receives from financial pundits and tech reporters, especially the claims that small business start-ups based on monetised forms of sharing are a solution to the jobs crisis – regardless of drastic cutbacks in welfare and public services, unprecedented rates of income inequality, and the dangerous rise of the precariat. The author Evgeny Morozov, writing an op-ed in the Financial Times, has gone as far as saying that the sharing economy is having a pernicious effect on equality and basic working conditions, in that it is fully compliant with market logic, is far from valuing human relationships over profit, and is even amplifying the worst excesses of the dominant economic model. In the context of the erosion of full-time employment, the assault on trade unions and the disappearance of healthcare and insurance benefits, he argues that the sharing economy is accelerating the transformation of workers into “always-on self-employed entrepreneurs who must think like brands”, leading him to dub it “neoliberalism on steroids”.
Problems of definition
Although it is impossible to reconcile these polarised views, part of the problem in assessing the true potential of economic sharing is one of vagueness in definition and wide differences in understanding. The conventional interpretation of the sharing economy is at present focused on its financial and commercial aspects, with continuous news reports proclaiming its rapidly growing market size and potential as a “co-commerce revolution”. Rachel Botsman, a leading entrepreneurial thinker on the potential of collaboration and sharing through digital technologies to change our lives, has attempted to clarify what the sharing economy actually is in order to prevent further confusion over the different terms in general use. In her latest typology, she notes how the term ‘sharing economy’ is often muddled with other new ideas and is in fact a subset of ‘collaborative consumption’ within the entire ‘collaborative economy’ movement, and has a rather restricted meaning in terms of “sharing underutilized assets from spaces to skills to stuff for monetary or non-monetary benefits” [see slide 9 of the presentation]. This interpretation of changing consumer behaviours and lifestyles revolves around the “maximum utilization of assets through efficient models of redistribution and shared access”, which isn’t necessarily predicated on an ethic of ‘sharing’ by any strict definition.
Other interpretations of the sharing economy are far broader and less constrained by capitalistic assumptions, as demonstrated in the Friends of the Earth briefing paper on Sharing Cities written by Professor Julian Agyeman et al. In their estimation, what’s missing from most of these current definitions and categorisations of economic sharing is a consideration of “the communal, collective production that characterises the collective commons”. A broadened ‘sharing spectrum’ that they propose therefore not only focuses on goods and services within the mainstream economy (which is almost always considered in relation to affluent, middle-class lifestyles), but also includes the non-material or intangible aspects of sharing such as well-being and capability [see page 6 of the brief]. From this wider perspective, they assert that the cutting edge of the sharing economy is often not commercial and includes informal behaviours like the unpaid care, support and nurturing that we provide for one another, as well as the shared use of infrastructure and shared public services.
This sheds a new light on governments as the “ultimate level of sharing”, and suggests that the history of the welfare state in Europe and other forms of social protection is, in fact, also integral to the evolution of shared resources in cities and within different countries. Yet an understanding of sharing from this more holistic viewpoint doesn’t have to be limited to the state provision of healthcare, education, and other public services. As Agyeman et al elucidate, cooperatives of all kinds (from worker to housing to retailer and consumer co-ops) also offer alternative models for shared service provision and a different perspective on economic sharing, one in which equity and collective ownership is prioritised. Access to natural common resources such as air and water can also be understood in terms of sharing, which may then prioritise the common good of all people over commercial or private interests and market mechanisms. This would include controversial issues of land ownership and land use, raising questions over how best to share land and urban space more equitably – such as through community land trusts, or through new policies and incentives such as land value taxation.
The politics of sharing
Furthermore, Agyeman et al argue that an understanding of sharing in relation to the collective commons gives rise to explicitly political questions concerning the shared public realm and participatory democracy. This is central to the many countercultural movements of recent years (such as the Occupy movement and Middle East protests since 2011, and the Taksim Gezi Park protests in 2013) that have reclaimed public space to symbolically challenge unjust power dynamics and the increasing trend toward privatisation that is central to neoliberal hegemony. Sharing is also directly related to the functioning of a healthy democracy, the authors reason, in that a vibrant sharing economy (when interpreted in this light) can counter the political apathy that characterises modern consumer society. By reinforcing values of community and collaboration over the individualism and consumerism that defines our present-day cultures and identities, they argue that participation in sharing could ultimately be reflected in the political domain. They also argue that a shared public realm is essential for the expression of participatory democracy and the development of a good society, not least as this provides a necessary venue for popular debate and public reasoning that can influence political decisions. Indeed the “emerging shareability paradigm”, as they describe it, is said to reflect the basic tenets of the Right to the City (RTTC) – an international urban movement that fights for democracy, justice and sustainability in cities and mobilises against the privatisation of common goods and public spaces.
The intention in briefly outlining some of these differing interpretations of sharing is to demonstrate how considerations of politics, justice, ethics and sustainability are slowly being allied with the sharing economy concept. A paramount example is the Friends of the Earth briefing paper outlined above, which was written as part of FOEI’s Big Ideas to Change the World series on cities that promoted sharing as “a political force to be reckoned with” and a “call to action for environmentalists”. Yet many further examples could also be mentioned, such as the New Economics Foundation’s ‘Manifesto for the New Materialism’ which promotes the old-fashioned ethic of sharing as part of a new way of living to replace the collapsed model of debt-fuelled overconsumption. There are also signs that many influential proponents of the sharing economy – as generally understood today in terms of new economic models driven by peer-to-peer technology that enable access to rather than ownership of resources – are beginning to query the commercial direction that the movement is taking, and are instead promoting more politicised forms of social change that are not merely based on micro-enterprise or the monetisation/branding of high-tech innovations.
Janelle Orsi, a California-based ‘sharing lawyer’ and author of The Sharing Solution, is particularly inspirational in this regard; for her, the sharing economy encompasses such a broad range of activities that it is hard to define, although she suggests that all its activities are tied together in how they harness the existing resources of a community and grow its wealth. This is in contradistinction to the mainstream economy that mostly generates wealth for people outside of people’s communities, and inherently generates extreme inequalities and ecological destruction – which Orsi contends that the sharing economy can help reverse. The problem she recognises is that the so-called sharing economy we usually hear about in the media is built upon a business-as-usual foundation, which is privately owned and often funded by venture capital (as is the case with Airbnb, Lyft, Zipcar, Taskrabbit et cetera). As a result, the same business structures that created the economic problems of today are buying up new sharing economy companies and turning them into ever larger, more centralised enterprises that are not concerned about people’s well-being, community cohesion, local economic diversity, sustainable job creation and so on (not to mention the risk of re-creating stock valuation bubbles that overshadowed the earlier generation of dot.com enterprises). The only way to ensure that new sharing economy companies fulfil their potential to create economic empowerment for users and their communities, Orsi argues, is through cooperative conversion – and she makes a compelling case for the democratic, non-exploitative, redistributive and truly ‘sharing’ potential of worker and consumer cooperatives in all their guises.
Sharing as a path to systemic change
There are important reasons to query which direction this emerging movement for sharing will take in the years ahead. As prominent supporters of the sharing economy recognise, like Janelle Orsi and Juliet Schor, it offers both opportunities and reasons for optimism as well as pitfalls and some serious concerns. On the one hand, it reflects a growing shift in our values and social identities as ‘citizens vs consumers’, and is helping us to rethink notions of ownership and prosperity in a world of finite resources, scandalous waste and massive wealth disparities. Perhaps its many proponents are right, and the sharing economy represents the first step towards transitioning away from the over-consumptive, materially-intense and hoarding lifestyles of North American, Western European and other rich societies. Perhaps sharing really is fast becoming a counter-cultural movement that can help us to value relationships more than things, and offer us the possibility of re-imagining politics and constructing a more participative democracy, which could ultimately pose a challenge to the global capitalist/consumerist model of development that is built on private interests and debt at the cost of shared interests and true wealth.
On the other hand, critics are right to point out that the sharing economy in its present form is hardly a threat to existing power structures or a movement that represents the kind of radical changes we need to make the world a better place. Far from reorienting the economy towards greater equity and a better quality of life, as proposed by writers such as Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett, Tim Jackson, Herman Daly and John Cobb, it is arguable that most forms of sharing via peer-to-peer networks are at risk of being subverted by conventional business practices. There is a perverse irony in trying to imagine the logical conclusion of these trends: new models of collaborative consumption and co-production that are co-opted by private interests and venture capitalists, and increasingly geared towards affluent middle-class types or so-called bourgeois bohemians (the ‘bobos’), to the exclusion of those on low incomes and therefore to the detriment of a more equal society. Or new sharing technology platforms that enable governments and corporations to collaborate in pursuing more intrusive controls over and greater surveillance of citizens. Or new social relationships based on sharing in the context of increasingly privatised and enclosed public spaces, such as gated communities within which private facilities and resources are shared.
This is by no means an inevitable outcome, but what is clear from this brief analysis is that the commercialisation and depoliticisation of economic sharing poses risks and contradictions that call into question its potential to transform society for the benefit of everyone. Unless the sharing of resources is promoted in relation to human rights and concerns for equity, democracy, social justice and sound environmental stewardship, then the various claims that sharing is a new paradigm that can address the world’s interrelated crises is indeed empty rhetoric or utopian thinking without any substantiation. Sharing our skills through Hackerspaces, our unused stuff through GoodShuffle or a community potluck through mealshare is, in and of itself, a generally positive phenomenon that deserves to be enjoyed and fully participated in, but let’s not pretend that car shares, clothes swaps, co-housing, shared vacation homes and so on are going to seriously address economic and climate chaos, unjust power dynamics or inequitable wealth distribution.
Sharing from the local to the global
If we look at sharing through the lens of just sustainability, however, as civil society organisations and others are now beginning to do, then the true possibilities of sharing resources within and among the world’s nations are vast and all-encompassing: to enhance equity, rebuild community, improve well-being, democratise national and global governance, defend and promote the global commons, even to point the way towards a more cooperative international framework to replace the present stage of competitive neoliberal globalisation. We are not there yet, of course, and the popular understanding of economic sharing today is clearly focused on the more personal forms of giving and exchange among individuals or through online business ventures, which is mainly for the benefit of high-income groups in the world’s most economically advanced nations. But the fact that this conversation is now being broadened to include the role of governments in sharing public infrastructure, political power and economic resources within countries is a hopeful indication that the emerging sharing movement is slowly moving in the right direction.
Already, questions are being raised as to what sharing resources means for the poorest people in the developing world, and how a revival of economic sharing in the richest countries can be spread globally as a solution to converging crises. It may not be long until the idea of economic sharing on a planetary scale - driven by an awareness of impending ecological catastrophe, life-threatening extremes of inequality, and escalating conflict over natural resources – is the subject of every dinner party and kitchen table conversation.
Agyeman, Julian, Duncan McLaren and Adrianne Schaefer-Borrego, Sharing Cities, Friends of the Earth briefing paper, September 2013.
Bollier, David, Bauwens Joins Ecuador in Planning a Commons-based, Peer Production Economy, 20th September 2013, bollier.org
Botsman, Rachel, The Sharing Economy Lacks a Shared Definition: Giving Meaning to the Terms, Collaborative Lab on Slideshare.net, 19th November 2013.
Childs, Mike, The Power of Sharing: A Call to Action for Environmentalists, Shareable.net, 5th November 2013.
Daly, Herman and John Cobb, For the Common Good: Redirecting the Economy toward Community, the Environment, and a Sustainable Future, Beacon Press, 1991.
Eberlein, Sven, Sharing for Profit – I’m Not Buying it Anymore, Shareable.net, 20th February 2013.
Enright, Michael in interview with Benita Matofska and Aidan Enns, Sharing, Not Buying at Christmas (Hr. 1), CBC Radio, 16th December 2012.
Friends of the Earth, Big Idea 2: Sharing – a political force to be reckoned with?, 26th September 2013.
Gaskins, Kim, The New Sharing Economy, Latitude, 1st June 2010.
Gorenflo, Neal, What’s Next for the Sharing Movement?, Shareable.net, 31st July 2013.
Grahl, Jodi (trans.), World Charter for the Right to the City, International Alliance of Inhabitants et al, May 2005.
Griffiths, Rachel, The Great Sharing Economy, Co-operatives UK, London UK, 2011.
Grigg, Kat, Sharing As Part of the New Economy: An Interview with Lauren Anderson, The Solutions Journal, 20th September 2013.
Heinberg, Richard, Who knew that Seoul was a leader in the sharing economy?, Post Carbon Institute, 12th November 2013.
Herbst, Moira, Let’s get real: the ‘sharing economy’ won’t solve our jobs crisis, The Guardian, 7th January 2014.
Jackson, Tim, Prosperity without Growth: Economics for a Finite Planet, Routeledge, 2011.
Johnson, Cat, From Consumers to Citizens: Welcome to the Sharing Cities Network, Shareable.net, 9th January 2014.
Kasser, Tim, The High Price of Materialism, MIT Press, 2003.
Kisner, Corinne, Integrating Bike Share Programs into a Sustainable Transportation System, National League of Cities, City Practice Brief, Washington D.C., 2011.
Martin, Elliot and Susan Shaheen, The Impact of Carsharing on Household Vehicle Ownership, Access (UCTC magazine), No. 38 Spring 2011.
Matofska, Benita, Facing the future: share to survive, Friends of the Earth blog, 4th January 2013.
Morozov, Evgeny, The ‘sharing economy’ undermines workers’ rights, Financial Times, 14th October 2013.
Olson. Michael J. and Andrew D. Connor, The Disruption of Sharing: An Overview of the New Peer-to-Peer ‘Sharing Economy’ and The Impact on Established Internet Companies, Piper Jaffray, November 2013.
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Orsi, Janelle and Doskow, Emily, The Sharing Solution: How to Save Money, Simplify Your Life and Build Community, Nolo, May 2009.
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Yglesias, Matthew, There Is No “Sharing Economy”, Slate.com, 26th December 2013.
The 13th Amendment to the Constitution abolished slavery. This means that if you are a slave today, it’s either illegal, or you have voluntarily accepted your servitude.
Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.
You have a Constitutionally protected right to be free. If you aren’t free, then revolution is your duty.
Many people believe that revolution requires that they lead a march, stand in front of a crowd with a bullhorn, or form a militia. They feel like it’s a job for the Alex Joneses, the Adam Kokeshes, the James Wesley Rawleses, and the Bradley Mannings of the world.
They’re wrong. You don’t have to be a person with thousands of followers on Twitter and Facebook . You don’t have to be a person with a military leadership position on your resume. You need not get yourself arrested on the steps of the White House, got to prison forever for telling the truth about your unit in the army, or stare down a bunch of scary-looking thugs in jack boots.
But you do have to do something.
You can’t just sit there and complain unless you are really just another armchair Rambo.
The way you lead your life every single day can be an act of revolution. By refusing to concede your natural rights, quietly and resolutely, you are performing an act of revolution. Walking the walk doesn’t always require civil disobedience or militia membership (although those actions definitely have their places). It requires your consistent determination not to be infringed upon.
It doesn’t matter if you are a soccer mom from the suburbs, a college student in a dormitory, a church-going dad and husband, or a person who has found themselves homeless through the ongoing economic crisis – by living resolutely, you are performing an act of revolution.
Don’t get me wrong – we need the Alexes, the Adams, the militias, the Bradleys, and the JWRs. We need the people who stand in protest. We need those who expose wrongdoing. We need the organizers, the shouters, the big personalities, the quiet strong types, and the leaders. But these are not the only ways to revolt. If every single person was off organizing their own rally, there’d be no one left to march in it.
What it is imperative upon us to do is to find our compass and follow it. We must make ourselves immune to control by not needing what “they” hand out. We have to be armored against the way everyone else lives and choose our own paths. We must stubbornly refuse to participate in the hoop-jumping that is everyday life in North America. By all of us who believe in liberty doing this, we form an army of stubborn non-participants in the status quo.
Here’s an example. It’s a small thing, a battle that today only affected my daughter and me. My daughter is not vaccinated. She attends a public school where the kids must be vaccinated, or hoops must be jumped through. I filled out the initial forms stating that I had an objection of conscience to vaccines. I was contacted by a representative of the school system who suggested that I sign instead the form that stated a religious objection, because that was “easier”. I refused, because my objection is NOT one of religion, and I felt like that was a cop-out. I knew that I was within my rights to have an objection of conscience, and I felt that it was important to make a point that might make it easier for the next parent. I was then told that I’d have to pay $25 and get a statement notarized to allow her exemption on my basis. I said I’d be happy to get a statement notarized, but not at my expense. I pointed out that nowhere does our local law state that I should have to pay any money for my child to NOT do something. Lo and behold, after 5 months of politely going back and forth, being escalated through numerous different superiors of superiors in the school board and public health system, my daughter is still unvaccinated, I have not spent $25, and she was not suspended from school. The point I’m making is not about vaccines, but about not stepping back from your rights, for your convenience or for the convenience of others. This requires that you read the relevant laws and understand them. It requires a certain degree of persistence and a willingness to be a pain in the butt.
There are valid reasons for revolution.
One of the benchmarks of tyranny is the dizzying arrays of laws on the books, with more and more added every single day. It is humanly impossible not to break multiple laws every single day. Regulations are revenue builders and/or control mechanisms. If the “authorities” can ALWAYS find a law that you’ve broken, then they can ALWAYS give a “reason” for punishing you. Punishment might include incarceration, hefty fines, or the removal of some privilege (like taking away your driver’s license or not allowing your child to go to school).
If the laws be so voluminous that they cannot be read, or so incoherent that they cannot be understood; if they be repealed or revised before they are promulgated, or undergo such incessant changes that no man, who knows what the law is to-day, can guess what it will be to-morrow. Law is defined to be a rule of action; but how can that be a rule, which is little known, and less fixed? - James Madison, Federalist Papers 62
The police state is growing at a dizzying rate, and often the news makes it look like we live in Nazi Germany. It is now or never. Like cockroaches, “they” – the thugs in jackboots and their masters – multiply in the dark, and will soon overtake us if we don’t put a stop to it right now. They want to take our guns because that would make our resistance more difficult. They keep buying up ammo and now have more than enough to kill every man, woman, and child in America multiple times. The NDAA means that any person can be indefinitely detained. There has been a sustained attack on the Bill of Rights and one by one our rights are being submerged beneath the desires of those who would demand our submission.
How can you be an everyday revolutionary?
The most revolutionary act is to be self-sufficient and in need of nothing that the government can provide for you in exchange for some small liberty. When there is nothing that you require enough to submit, then bullying you becomes much more difficult.
This list of suggestions is by no means comprehensive. Please, add your own random acts of resistance in the comments below.
- Question absolutely everything you hear on the news. Always be a skeptic. All major media goes back to just a few conglomerates. The “news” is now all a propaganda ploy to help the rich get richer and the powerful remain in power. The media can make or break a candidate with unholy zeal in less than a week. These people and others like them are the ones that decide what “we the people” get to see. If they feel like a candidate or a news item might upset the status quo, they black it out by refusing to cover it.
- Call out the media. Let everyone know that the mainstream media is the enemy of the people. When you see coverage that is clearly biased, take a moment to call out the media about it. Take the time to comment on mainstream media websites and point out the unbalanced coverage. If you use social media, share this information and post on the media outlet’s social media pages as well.
- Get out of the banking system. By opting to “unbank” or “underbank” there is a limit to what can be easily stolen from you. When you have physical control of your financial assets, you are not at as high a risk of losing those assets, and therefore, less likely to be dependent on “the system.”
- Turn your savings into precious metals or tangible assets. On the same note as unbanking, you definitely don’t want to rely on a 401K or savings account to provide for you in your old age. Ask the people of Cyprus how well that worked out for them. Diversify with assets you can touch. Purchase tangible goods like land, food, ammo, and seeds. Once you are well supplied, move on to precious metals to preserve your wealth.
- Educate others. At the (very high) risk of people thinking you’re crazy, it’s important to let people know WHY you do what you do. If you are an anti-Monsanto activist, teach others about the dangers of GMOs. If you object to a municipal policy, speak at a town meeting or send a letter to the editor of your local paper. By ranting incoherently or by keeping your mouth shut, you influence no one. By providing provable facts, you can open minds and awaken others to tyranny.
- Get others involved in the fight. For example, if you are fighting with the city council that wants to rip out the vegetables growing in your front yard, let your friends and neighbors know, post a notice at the grocery store, and write a letter to the editor. When injustice occurs, use the power of social media to spread awareness. Often a public outcry is what is necessary to get the “authorities” to back down. Look at the case of Brandon Raub, the veteran who was kidnapped and taken to a mental hospital for things he posted on Facebook. Raub was not charged, but he was detained in the psych ward involuntarily. His friends and family immediately mobilized and spread the videos of his arrest all over the internet. It snowballed and alternative media picked it up – soon Raub was released, and all because of a grass roots and social media campaign to bring the injustice to light.
- Grow your own food. Every single seed that you plant is a revolutionary act. Every bit of food that you don’t have to purchase from the grocery store is a battle cry for your personal independence. When you educate yourself (and others) about Big Food, Big Agri, and the food safety sell-outs at the FDA, you will clearly see that we are alone in our fight for healthy, nutritious foods. Refuse to tolerate these attacks on our health and our lifestyles. Refuse to be held subject to Agenda 21′s version of “sustainability”.
- Take control of your health. It is imperative that you not blindly trust in the medical establishment. Many members of this establishment are merely prostitutes for their pimp, Big Pharma. Millions of children are given powerful psychotropic drugs to help them fit into the neat little classroom boxes, and the numbers are growing every day. Americans spent 34.2 BILLION dollars on psychiatric drugs in 2010. (Source) Big Pharma is an enormously profitable industry that only pays off if they can convince you that you’re sick. Learn about the toxic injections and medications, weight the risks and benefits, and always look for second and third opinions before making a medical decision. Maintain your health by avoiding toxins, exercising, and ditching your bad habits to reduce the number of doctor’s visits that are necessary.
- Refuse to comply. If you know your natural rights, which are guaranteed under the Constitution and its Amendments, then it makes it much harder for “authorities” to bully you. You don’t have to let them search your home without a warrant, you don’t have to answer questions, and you don’t have to comply with laws that are in conflict with the Constitution.
- Learn. Every day, spend time learning. This shouldn’t stop once our formal education ends. Fill your mind with history, with current events, with constitutional law, and information about the natural world. Learn about health, study economics, research things that interest you, and unravel the complicated conspiracies that are afoot. To pursue unbiased knowledge is to free your mind from the prison of propaganda and indoctrination.
- Don’t consume chemicals that cause you to be dumbed down. Avoid chemical-laden food with brain-killing neurotoxins like MSG and aspartame. Don’t drink fluoridated water.
- Embrace your right to bear arms. Be responsible for your own safety and security.
- Don’t be in debt. No one can be free if they are in debt. If you are in debt, you are forced to work in whatever conditions are present, for whatever amount is offered, complying with whatever criteria is necessary to keep your job. in order to either pay your debt or face penalties. As well, the high interest rates that you pay only serve to make the bankers more wealthy. Instead of borrowing, save until you can afford something or realize that if you could actually afford it, you wouldn’t need to borrow money to have it.
- Be prepared for disaster. Have enough food, water, and supplies to take care of your family in the event of a natural disaster. Don’t expect FEMA to take care of you.
- Be involved in your children’s education. For some, this means homeschooling or unschooling, and for others this means being on top of what they are learning in a formal school setting. Join the PTA and actively volunteer if your child goes to school. Be an advocate for your child and insist that the teachers teach. If your child goes to school, supplement this at home with discourse about current events and outings that help them learn about the world around them.
- Be the squeaky wheel. If you see something wrong, don’t just ignore it. Say something about it, and keep saying something until it changes. Whether this is some process that infringes on your privacy, a job requirement that impedes your health, or another injustice, pursue it relentlessly. Ask questions publically, write letters, and use social media to bring pressure to encourage a change.
- Reduce your consumer spending. Spending less helps to starve the beast by reducing the sales taxes you pay and withdrawing your financial support to big conglomerates. If we vote with our dollars, eventually there will, of a necessity, be a paradigm shift that returns us to simpler days, when families that were willing to work hard could make a living without selling their souls to the corporate monoliths. A low-consumption lifestyle reduces your financial dependency, which allows for more freedom.
- Ditch popular culture. If reality TV isn’t a tool for dumbing people down, I don’t know what it is. My daughter recently begged to watch an episode of a popular reality TV show that “everyone” was watching. She managed about 15 minutes of it and then said, “This is the stupidest thing I’ve ever seen.” She decided to read a book instead. Popular entertainment is a media tool used to change our perspectives about our personal values, and to tell us how to think and feel about issues.
- Buy locally. Support local small businesses to help others who are fighting for independence from the system. You might pay a little bit more than you would at your big box store, but the only people benefiting from your purchases made at the corporate stores are those with the 7 figure annual bonuses.
- Develop multiple streams of income. Don’t put all of your eggs in one basket. Figure out several ways to bring in income. Not only does this free you from being a wage slave, but it allows you to hire friends or family members. You are less entangled in the system and not subject to corporate whims. If one business fails, or becomes subject to regulations that make it no longer worthwhile, you are not forced to comply just to keep a roof over your head.
- Say thanks, but no thanks. There is no such thing as a benevolent hand out. Nearly anything offered for free (particularly by a government entity) has strings attached. Maybe there is a handy-dandy registration form that you need to fill out. You might be influenced to vote a certain way just to keep the freebies coming. You might have to pee in a cup every two weeks. Perhaps one day you’ll need to have a microchip embedded in your hand. Either way, by accepting handouts from those in “authority”, you become beholden to them or you need them, and someone who is free is neither beholden nor needy.
- Don’t take the easy road. The PTB like to seduce people with simplicity. ”If you just sign this paper, it will be much easier,” they say. ”This chip is for your convenience,” they tell you. ”By giving up this, it lets us take care of you and you will be much safer.” The easy road only gets you to Slave Street a whole lot faster. Take the difficult road and be responsible for yourself. Don’t take shortcuts that compromise your beliefs. Go to court to fight a ticket, read the laws and defend yourself, and know that anything you give up, you will never get back.
According to the Declaration of Independence, ”Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.”
That means that you don’t have to accept the unjust laws. That means you don’t have to quietly take it, muttering under your breath that it isn’t right, but not daring to raise your voice. That means that “they” are only in control of you if you allow it.
There are nearly 316 million people in the United States. (source)
Only 3% of the population fought in the Revolutionary War, and 10% actively supported them.
If 9,480,000 people quietly and peacefully revolted by withdrawing their consent to be governed by tyrants we could not be silenced.
If 31,600,000 people supported those revolting, we could not be stopped.
The government might be watching us, but we can watch them right back. Make the way you live your life a revolutionary act.
Source: The Organic Prepper
“I was part of that strange race of people aptly described as spending their lives doing things they detest, to make money they don’t want, to buy things they don’t need, to impress people they don’t like.” ― Emile Gauvreau
If ever a chart provided unequivocal proof the economic recovery storyline is a fraud, the one below is the smoking gun. November and December retail sales account for 20% to 40% of annual retail sales for most retailers. The number of visits to retail stores has plummeted by 50% since 2010. Please note this was during a supposed economic recovery. Also note consumer spending accounts for 70% of GDP. Also note credit card debt outstanding is 7% lower than its level in 2010 and 16% below its peak in 2008. Retailers like J.C. Penney, Best Buy, Sears, Radio Shack and Barnes & Noble continue to report appalling sales and profit results, along with listings of store closings. Even the heavyweights like Wal-Mart and Target continue to report negative comp store sales. How can the government and mainstream media be reporting an economic recovery when the industry that accounts for 70% of GDP is in free fall? The answer is that 99% of America has not had an economic recovery. Only Bernanke’s 1% owner class have benefited from his QE/ZIRP induced stock market levitation.
The entire economic recovery storyline is a sham built upon easy money funneled by the Fed to the Too Big To Trust Wall Street banks so they can use their HFT supercomputers to drive the stock market higher, buy up the millions of homes they foreclosed upon to artificially drive up home prices, and generate profits through rigging commodity, currency, and bond markets, while reducing loan loss reserves because they are free to value their toxic assets at anything they please – compliments of the spineless nerds at the FASB. GDP has been artificially propped up by the Federal government through the magic of EBT cards, SSDI for the depressed and downtrodden, never ending extensions of unemployment benefits, billions in student loans to University of Phoenix prodigies, and subprime auto loans to deadbeats from the Government Motors financing arm – Ally Financial (85% owned by you the taxpayer). The country is being kept afloat on an ocean of debt and delusional belief in the power of central bankers to steer this ship through a sea of icebergs just below the surface.
The absolute collapse in retail visitor counts is the warning siren that this country is about to collide with the reality Americans have run out of time, money, jobs, and illusions. The most amazingly delusional aspect to the chart above is retailers continued to add 44 million square feet in 2013 to the almost 15 billion existing square feet of retail space in the U.S. That is approximately 47 square feet of retail space for every person in America. Retail CEOs are not the brightest bulbs in the sale bin, as exhibited by the CEO of Target and his gross malfeasance in protecting his customers’ personal financial information. Of course, the 44 million square feet added in 2013 is down 85% from the annual increases from 2000 through 2008. The exponential growth model, built upon a never ending flow of consumer credit and an endless supply of cheap fuel, has reached its limit of growth. The titans of Wall Street and their puppets in Washington D.C. have wrung every drop of faux wealth from the dying middle class. There are nothing left but withering carcasses and bleached bones.
The impact of this retail death spiral will be vast and far reaching. A few factoids will help you understand the coming calamity:
- There are approximately 109,500 shopping centers in the United States ranging in size from the small convenience centers to the large super-regional malls.
- There are in excess of 1 million retail establishments in the United States occupying 15 billion square feet of space and generating over $4.4 trillion of annual sales. This includes 8,700 department stores, 160,000 clothing & accessory stores, and 8,600 game stores.
- U.S. shopping-center retail sales total more than $2.26 trillion, accounting for over half of all retail sales.
- The U.S. shopping-center industry directly employed over 12 million people in 2010 and indirectly generated another 5.6 million jobs in support industries. Collectively, the industry accounted for 12.7% of total U.S. employment.
- Total retail employment in 2012 totaled 14.9 million, lower than the 15.1 million employed in 2002.
- For every 100 individuals directly employed at a U.S. regional shopping center, an additional 20 to 30 jobs are supported in the community due to multiplier effects.
The collapse in foot traffic to the 109,500 shopping centers that crisscross our suburban sprawl paradise of plenty is irreversible. No amount of marketing propaganda, 50% off sales, or hot new iGadgets is going to spur a dramatic turnaround. Quarter after quarter there will be more announcements of store closings. Macys just announced the closing of 5 stores and firing of 2,500 retail workers. JC Penney just announced the closing of 33 stores and firing of 2,000 retail workers. Announcements are imminent from Sears, Radio Shack and a slew of other retailers who are beginning to see the writing on the wall. The vacancy rate will be rising in strip malls, power malls and regional malls, with the largest growing sector being ghost malls. Before long it will appear that SPACE AVAILABLE is the fastest growing retailer in America.
The reason this death spiral cannot be reversed is simply a matter of arithmetic and demographics. While arrogant hubristic retail CEOs of public big box mega-retailers added 2.7 billion retail square feet to our already over saturated market, real median household income flat lined. The advancement in retail spending was attributable solely to the $1.1 trillion increase (68%) in consumer debt and the trillion dollars of home equity extracted from castles in the sky, that later crashed down to earth. Once the Wall Street created fraud collapsed and the waves of delusion subsided, retailers have been revealed to be swimming naked. Their relentless expansion, based on exponential growth, cannibalized itself, new store construction ground to a halt, sales and profits have declined, and the inevitable closing of thousands of stores has begun. With real median household income 8% lower than it was in 2008, the collapse in retail traffic is a rational reaction by the impoverished 99%. Americans are using their credit cards to pay their real estate taxes, income taxes, and monthly utilities, since their income is lower, and their living expenses rise relentlessly, thanks to Bernanke and his Fed created inflation.
The media mouthpieces for the establishment gloss over the fact average gasoline prices in 2013 were the second highest in history. The highest average price was in 2012 and the 3rd highest average price was in 2011. These prices are 150% higher than prices in the early 2000′s. This might not matter to the likes of Jamie Dimon and Jon Corzine, but for a middle class family with two parents working and making 7.5% less than they made in 2000, it has a dramatic impact on discretionary income. The fact oil prices have risen from $25 per barrel in 2003 to $100 per barrel today has not only impacted gas prices, but utility costs, food costs, and the price of any product that needs to be transported to your local Wally World. The outrageous rise in tuition prices has been aided and abetted by the Federal government and their doling out of loans so diploma mills like the University of Phoenix can bilk clueless dupes into thinking they are on their way to an exciting new career, while leaving them jobless in their parents’ basement with a loan payment for life.
The laughable jobs recovery touted by Obama, his sycophantic minions, paid off economist shills, and the discredited corporate legacy media can be viewed appropriately in the following two charts, that reveal the false storyline being peddled to the techno-narcissistic iGadget distracted masses. There are 247 million working age Americans between the ages of 18 and 64. Only 145 million of these people are employed. Of these employed, 19 million are working part-time and 9 million are self- employed. Another 20 million are employed by the government, producing nothing and being sustained by the few remaining producers with their tax dollars. The labor participation rate is the lowest it has been since women entered the workforce in large numbers during the 1980′s. We are back to levels seen during the booming Carter years. Those peddling the drivel about retiring Baby Boomers causing the decline in the labor participation rate are either math challenged or willfully ignorant because they are being paid to be so. Once you turn 65 you are no longer counted in the work force. The percentage of those over 55 in the workforce has risen dramatically to an all-time high, as the Me Generation never saved for retirement or saw their retirement savings obliterated in the Wall Street created 2008 financial implosion.
To understand the absolute idiocy of retail CEOs across the land one must parse the employment data back to 2000. In the year 2000 the working age population of the U.S. was 213 million and 136.9 million of them were working, a record level of 64.4% of the population. There were 70 million working age Americans not in the labor force. Fourteen years later the number of working age Americans is 247 million and only 144.6 million are working. The working age population has risen by 16% and the number of employed has risen by only 5.6%. That’s quite a success story. Of course, even though median household income is 7.5% lower than it was in 2000, the government expects you to believe that 22 million Americans voluntarily left the labor force because they no longer needed a job. While the number of employed grew by 5.6% over fourteen years, the number of people who left the workforce grew by 31.1%. Over this same time frame the mega-retailers that dominate the landscape added almost 3 billion square feet of selling space, a 25% increase. A critical thinking individual might wonder how this could possibly end well for the retail genius CEOs in glistening corporate office towers from coast to coast.
This entire materialistic orgy of consumerism has been sustained solely with debt peddled by the Wall Street banking syndicate. The average American consumer met their Waterloo in 2008. Bernanke’s mission was to save bankers, billionaires and politicians. It was not to save the working middle class. You’ve been sacrificed at the altar of the .1%. The 0% interest rates were for Jamie Dimon and Lloyd Blankfein. Your credit card interest rate remained between 13% and 21%. So, while you struggle to pay bills with your declining real income, the Wall Street bankers are again generating record profits and paying themselves record bonuses. Profits are so good, they can afford to pay tens of billions in fines for their criminal acts, and still be left with billions to divvy up among their non-prosecuted criminal executives.
Bernanke and his financial elite owners have been able to rig the markets to give the appearance of normalcy, but they cannot rig the demographic time bomb that will cause the death and destruction of our illusory retail paradigm. Demographics cannot be manipulated or altered by the government or mass media. The best they can do is ignore or lie about the facts. The life cycle of a human being is utterly predictable, along with their habits across time. Those under 25 years old have very little income, therefore they have very little spending. Once a job is attained and income levels rise, spending rises along with the increased income. As the person enters old age their income declines and spending on stuff declines rapidly. The media may be ignoring the fact that annual expenditures drop by 40% for those over 65 years old from the peak spending years of 45 to 54, but it doesn’t change the fact. They also cannot change the fact that 10,000 Americans will turn 65 every day for the next sixteen years. They also can’t change the fact the average Baby Boomer has less than $50,000 saved for retirement and is up to their grey eye brows in debt.
With over 15% of all 25 to 34 year olds living in their parents’ basement and those under 25 saddled with billions in student loan debt, the traditional increase in income and spending is DOA for the millennial generation. The hardest hit demographic on the job front during the 2008 through 2014 ongoing recession has been the 45 to 54 year olds in their peak earning and spending years. Combine these demographic developments and you’ve got a perfect storm for over-built retailers and their egotistical CEOs.
The media continues to peddle the storyline of on-line sales saving the ancient bricks and mortar retailers. Again, the talking head pundits are willfully ignoring basic math. On-line sales account for 6% of total retail sales. If a dying behemoth like JC Penney announces a 20% decline in same store sales and a 20% increase in on-line sales, their total change is still negative 17.6%. And they are still left with 1,100 decaying stores, 100,000 employees, lease payments, debt payments, maintenance costs, utility costs, inventory costs, and pension costs. Their future is so bright they gotta wear a toe tag.
The decades of mal-investment in retail stores was enabled by Greenspan, Bernanke, and their Federal Reserve brethren. Their easy money policies enabled Americans to live far beyond their true means through credit card debt, auto debt, mortgage debt, and home equity debt. This false illusion of wealth and foolish spending led mega-retailers to ignore facts and spread like locusts across the suburban countryside. The debt fueled orgy has run out of steam. All that is left is the largest mountain of debt in human history, a gutted and debt laden former middle class, and thousands of empty stores in future decaying ghost malls haunting the highways and byways of suburbia.
The implications of this long and winding road to ruin are far reaching. Store closings so far have only been a ripple compared to the tsunami coming to right size the industry for a future of declining spending. Over the next five to ten years, tens of thousands of stores will be shuttered. Companies like JC Penney, Sears and Radio Shack will go bankrupt and become historical footnotes. Considering retail employment is lower today than it was in 2002 before the massive retail expansion, the future will see in excess of 1 million retail workers lose their jobs. Bernanke and the Feds have allowed real estate mall owners to roll over non-performing loans and pretend they are generating enough rental income to cover their loan obligations. As more stores go dark, this little game of extend and pretend will come to an end. Real estate developers will be going belly-up and the banking sector will be taking huge losses again. I’m sure the remaining taxpayers will gladly bailout Wall Street again. The facts are not debatable. They can be ignored by the politicians, Ivy League economists, media talking heads, and the willfully ignorant masses, but they do not cease to exist.
“Facts do not cease to exist because they are ignored.” – Aldous Huxley
Source: The Burning Platform
Just sit right back
And you’ll hear a tale,
A tale of a fateful trip…
(Theme song from the TV show “Gilligan’s Island”)
You’re probably familiar with the “scientific” expedition from Australia which got stuck in the ice in Antarctica last Christmas Eve, but you may not be aware what a rollicking good tale it is. “You’re sure to get a smile,” as the show’s theme song promises, but I promise you more than just a chuckle. There’s a moral to the story as well.
The first comic relief – other than the fact it’s summer down under, mate – comes with the introduction of the organizer of the “Australasian Antarctic Expedition (AAE)”, Chris Turney, self-described “scientist, explorer, writer” and ardent global warmist. Christened “The Spirit of Mawson” after an Australian scientist who led an expedition to Antarctica in 1911, the expedition’s purpose was to “meld science and adventure, repeating century old measurements to discover and communicate the changes taking place in this remote and pristine environment”. Despite the scientific veneer, the make-up of the 50-odd person crew resembled more the complement of the good ship Minnow (“The millionaire and his wife; The movie star; The professor and Mary Ann”) than that of Mawson’s S. Y. Aurora. The pseudo-scientific antics of this menage a trois of scientists, journalists, and tourists made the voyage look more like Winter Carnival at Dartmouth than Darwin aboard the Beagle.
Comments on Turney’s website (“marked shift in westerly winds… melting large sections of the Antarctic ice sheet” ) suggest he expected to find more open water than had Mawson a century earlier. Why Turney hoped to find open water when it was well known sea ice in the Antarctic was setting records is a mystery. I suspect he’d been led astray by fellow warmists like Al Gore, who predicted in 2008 “the entire North Polar ice cap may well be completely gone in five years” . Gore almost achieved prophet status in 2012 when Arctic ice shrank to its smallest extent since modern recordkeeping began, but last year the ice made a huge comeback and is now almost back to normal.
Whatever the case, the expedition’s Russian ship, the Akademik Shokalskiy, got stuck in the ice. The Australian government sent out its ice breaker, the Aurora Australis, to rescue the ship, but they could come no closer than 10 miles from their fellow countrymen. A larger icebreaker, the Chinese Xue Long, got within six miles but could get no further. The decision was made to helicopter the stranded Aussies to the Chinese ship, leaving the Russians to their fate. But for days bad weather forced postponement of the airlift.
Meanwhile, aboard the Shokalskiy it wasn’t exactly “No phone, no lights, no motor car; Not a single luxury; Like Robinson Crusoe; It’s primitive as can be”, but then our castaways weren’t exactly basking in the tropics, either. The first mate and his Skipper too, will do their very best to make the others comf’terble in their tropic island nest (make that “antipodal mess”). Courageously ignoring their life-threatening predicament (or too drunk to remember they were in one), the boozy explorers partied as if there were no tomorrow (which might be true if the weather didn’t break and the heat ran out). On New Year’s Eve the ice-olated penguin-huggers celebrated with a concerned world through
YouTube (a bit nerdy, almost makes them look like scientists).
Unable to get a good weather forecast, the expedition contacted a San Diego TV station and asked if they could help. The station’s weatherman, John Coleman, contacted some colleagues knowledgeable on the Antarctic, who came up with a
forecast which held out the hope the wind might shift to offshore, causing the ice to break up and free the vessel. But before that could happen, the expedition opted for evacuation by helicopter when the weather improved sufficiently a day or two later.
From the Xue Long, the now world-infamous Australasian Antarctic Expedition was transferred to the Aurora Australis, which then continued on its original mission to re-supply an Australian Antarctic base. Meanwhile, the Xue Long now became stuck in the ice. Fortunately, the wind shift postulated by the weathermen came to pass, and both stuck ships, the Xue Long and the Akademik Shokalskiy, were able to free themselves. As it turns out, our intrepid explorers would have gotten home sooner had they not abandoned ship as the Shokalskiyarrived back in Australia while our parka-clad party animals were still stuck in Antarctica waiting for a ride home.
If all this hasn’t given you a chuckle, you’re a diehard warmist with no sense of humor. One last attempt to tickle your funny bone. The meteorologists who predicted the weather might improve sufficiently for the Akademik Shokalskiy to free itself are global warming skeptics, or, as the still unbowed leader of the AAE might say, deniers.
Not so funny (even by my warped standards) is the hundreds of thousands, maybe millions, of dollars someone, maybe the Australian taxpayer, is going to have to ante up to cover the cost of the rescue. The AAE vowed prior to departure to plant trees in New Zealand to offset the carbon emissions resulting from their expedition. Adding in the emissions spewed out by the fossil fuel-guzzling icebreakers, this should result in a forest of taigan proportions, which, like its Siberian counterpart, will be a tribute to the awesome, fear-inspiring forces of nature.
On the bright side, the expedition fared better than Mawson’s in one respect: they all came back alive. Mawson and two companions were forced to make a 300-mile trek across the ice back to their base camp. Losing his companions to the harsh conditions along the way, Mawson stumbled into the camp after a months-long trek only to see the S. Y. Aurora steaming away in the distance. Living off the provisions left behind, Mawson spent the winter alone on Terra Australis, dreaming of that other “Land of the South” from whence he came and to which he would belatedly return the next summer.
The moral of the story? Global warming is real. Just kidding. The true moral is not to defy settled science, the science that is settled being that there is a lot about the climate we don’t understand. To see everything through the prism of a still young, still baffling warming trend is to risk, to put it ironically, snow blindness. The attribution of the recent Polar Vortex-induced cold wave in the United States to
global warming is a case in point. An obsessively global warming-centric view of the world can lead to errors of the fatal variety, as almost befell our Gilliganesque lot, but perhaps even more dangerous in the long run, to errors of science.