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22.02.2018 Robert Burrowes

Junk Planet: Is Earth the Largest Garbage Dump in the Universe?
(Image by Anita Szeics)

Is Earth the largest garbage dump in the Universe? I don’t know. But it’s a safe bet that Earth would be a contender were such a competition to be held. Let me explain why.

To start, just listing the types of rubbish generated by humans or the locations into which each of these is dumped is a staggering task beyond the scope of one article. Nevertheless, I will give you a reasonably comprehensive summary of the types of garbage being generated (focusing particularly on those that are less well known), the locations into which the garbage is being dumped and some indication of what is being done about it and what you can do too.

But before doing so, it is worth highlighting just why this is such a problem, prompting the United Nations Environment Programme to publish this recent report: ‘Towards a pollution-free planet’.

As noted by Baher Kamal in his commentary on this study: ‘Though some forms of pollution have been reduced as technologies and management strategies have advanced, approximately 19 million premature deaths are estimated to occur annually as a result of the way societies use natural resources and impact the environment to support production and consumption.’ See ‘Desperate Need to Halt “World’s Largest Killer” – Pollution’ and ‘Once Upon a Time a Planet… First part. Pollution, the world’s largest killer’.

And that is just the cost in human lives.

So what are the main types of pollution and where do they end up?

Atmospheric Pollution

The garbage, otherwise labelled ‘pollution’, that we dump into our atmosphere obviously includes the waste products from our burning of fossil fuels and our farming of animals. Primarily this means carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide generated by driving motor vehicles and burning coal, oil and gas to generate electricity, and agriculture based on the exploitation of animals. This is having a devastating impact on Earth’s climate and environment with a vast array of manifestations adversely impacting all life on Earth. See, for example, ‘The World Is Burning’ and ‘The True Environmental Cost of Eating Meat’.

But these well-known pollutants are not the only garbage we dump into the atmosphere. Airline fuel pollutants from both civil and military aircraft have a shocking impact too, with significant adverse public health outcomes. Jet emissions, particularly the highly carcinogenic benzpyrene, can cause various cancers, lymphoma, leukemia, asthma, and birth defects. Jet emissions affect a 25 mile area around an airport; this means that adults, children, animals and plants are ‘crop dusted’ by toxic jet emissions for 12 miles from a runway end. ‘A typical commercial airport spews hundreds of tons of toxic pollutants into our atmosphere every day. These drift over heavily populated areas and settle onto water bodies and crops.’ Despite efforts to inform relevant authorities of the dangers in the USA, for example, they ‘continue to ignore the problem and allow aviation emissions to remain unregulated, uncontrolled and unreported’. See Aviation Justice. It is no better in other countries.

Another category of atmospheric pollutants of which you might not be aware is the particulate aerosol emitted into the atmosphere by the progressive wear of vehicle parts, especially synthetic rubber tyres, during their service life. Separately from this, however, there are also heavier pollutants from wearing vehicle tyres and parts, as well as from the wearing away of road surfaces, that accumulate temporarily on roads before being washed off into waterways where they accumulate.

While this substantial pollution and health problem has attracted little research attention, some researchers in a variety of countries have been investigating the problem.

In the USA as early as 1974, ‘tire industry scientists estimated that 600,000 metric tonnes of tire dust were released by tire wear in the U.S., or about 3 kilograms of dust released from each tire each year’. In 1994, careful measurement of air near roadways with moderate traffic ‘revealed the presence of 3800 to 6900 individual tire fragments in each cubic meter of air’ with more than 58.5% of them in the fully-breathable size range and shown to produce allergic reactions. See ‘Tire Dust’.

A study in Japan reported similar adverse environmental and health impacts. See ‘Dust Resulting from Tire Wear and the Risk of Health Hazards’.

Even worse, a study conducted in Moscow reported that the core pollutant of city air (up to 60% of hazardous matter) was the rubber of automobile tyres worn off and emitted as a small dust. The study found that the average car tyre discarded 1.6 kilograms of fine tyre dust as an aerosol during its service life while the tyre from a commercial vehicle discarded about 15 kilograms. Interestingly, passenger tyre dust emissions during the tyre’s service life significantly exceeded (by 6-7 times) emissions of particulate matters with vehicle exhaust gases. The research also determined that ‘tyre wear dust contains more than 140 different chemicals with different toxicity but the biggest threat to human health is poly-aromatic hydrocarbons and volatile carcinogens’. The study concluded that, in the European Union: ‘Despite tightening the requirements for vehicle tyres in terms of noise emission, wet grip and rolling resistance stipulated by the UN Regulation No. 117, the problem of reduction of tyre dust and its carcinogenic substance emissions due to tyre wear remains unaddressed.’ See ‘Particulate Matter Emissions by Tyres’.

As one toxicologist has concluded: ‘Tire rubber pollution is just one of many environmental problems in which the research is lagging far behind the damage we may have done.’ See ‘Road Rubber’.

Another pollution problem low on the public radar results from environmental modification techniques involving geoengineering particulates being secretly dumped into the atmosphere by the US military for more than half a century, based on research beginning in the 1940s. This geoengineering has been used to wage war on the climate, environment and ultimately ourselves. See, for example, ‘Engineered Climate Cataclysm: Hurricane Harvey’, ‘Planetary Weapons and Military Weather Modification: Chemtrails, Atmospheric Geoengineering and Environmental Warfare’, ‘Chemtrails: Aerosol and Electromagnetic Weapons in the Age of Nuclear War’ and ‘The Ultimate Weapon of Mass Destruction: “Owning the Weather” for Military Use’.

With ongoing official denials about the practice, it has fallen to the ongoing campaigning of committed groups such as GeoEngineering Watch to draw attention to and work to end this problem.

Despite the enormous and accelerating problems already being generated by the above atmospheric pollutants, it is worth pausing briefly to highlight the potentially catastrophic nature of the methane discharges now being released by the warming that has already taken place and is still taking place. A recent scientific study published by the prestigious journal Palaeoworld noted that ‘Global warming triggered by the massive release of carbon dioxide may be catastrophic, but the release of methane from hydrate may be apocalyptic.’ This refers to the methane stored in permafrost and shelf sediment. Warning of the staggering risk, the study highlights the fact that the most significant variable in the Permian Mass Extinction event, which occurred 250 million years ago and annihilated 90 percent of all the species on Earth, was methane hydrate. See Methane Hydrate: Killer cause of Earth’s greatest mass extinction’ and Release of Arctic Methane “May Be Apocalyptic,” Study Warns’.

How long have we got? Not long, with a recent Russian study identifying 7,000 underground [methane] gas bubbles poised to “explode” in Arctic’.

Is much being done about this atmospheric pollution including the ongoing apocalyptic release of methane? Well, there is considerable ‘push’ to switch to renewable (solar, wind, wave, geothermal) energy in some places and to produce electric cars in others. But these worthwhile initiatives aside, and if you ignore the mountain of tokenistic measures that are sometimes officially promised, the answer is ‘not really’ with many issues that critically impact this problem (including rainforest destruction, vehicle emissions, geoengineering, jet aircraft emissions and methane releases from animal agriculture) still being largely ignored.

If you want to make a difference on this biosphere-threatening issue of atmospheric pollution, you have three obvious choices to consider. Do not travel by air, do not travel by car and do not eat meat (and perhaps other animal products). This will no doubt require considerable commitment on your part. But without your commitment in these regards, there is no realistic hope of averting near-term human extinction. So your choices are critical.

Ocean Garbage

Many people will have heard of the problem of plastic rubbish being dumped into the ocean. Few people, however, have any idea of the vast scale of the problem, the virtual impossibility of cleaning it up and the monumental ongoing cost of it, whether measured in terms of (nonhuman) lives lost, ecological services or financially. And, unfortunately, plastic is not the worst pollutant we are dumping into the ocean but I will discuss it first.

In a major scientific study involving 24 expeditions conducted between 2007 and 2013, which was designed to estimate ‘the total number of plastic particles and their weight floating in the world’s oceans’ the team of scientists estimated that there was ‘a minimum of 5.25 trillion particles weighing 268,940 tons’. See ‘Plastic Pollution in the World’s Oceans: More than 5 Trillion Plastic Pieces Weighing over 250,000 Tons Afloat at Sea’ and ‘Full scale of plastic in the world’s oceans revealed for first time’.

Since then, of course, the problem has become progressively worse. See ‘Plastic Garbage Patch Bigger Than Mexico Found in Pacific’ and ‘Plastic Chokes the Seas’.

‘Does it matter?’ you might ask. According to this report, it matters a great deal. See New UN report finds marine debris harming more than 800 species, costing countries millions’.

Can we remove the plastic to clean up the ocean? Not easily. The US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Adminstration has calculated that ‘if you tried to clean up less than one percent of the North Pacific Ocean it would take 67 ships one year’. See ‘The Great Pacific Garbage Patch’. Nevertheless, and despite the monumental nature of the problem – see ‘“Great Pacific garbage patch” far bigger than imagined, aerial survey shows’ – organizations like the Algalita Research Foundation, Ocean Cleanup and Positive Change for Marine Life have programs in place to investigate the nature and extent of the problem and remove some of the rubbish, while emphasizing that preventing plastic from entering the ocean is the key.

In addition, the UN Convention on Biological Diversity outlined a series of measures to tackle the problem in its 2016 report ‘Marine Debris Understanding, Preventing and Mitigating the Significant Adverse Impacts on Marine and Coastal Biodiversity’. In February 2017, the UN launched its Clean Seas Campaign inviting governments, corporations, NGOs and individuals to sign the pledge to reduce their plastic consumption. See #CleanSeas Campaign and ‘World Campaign to Clean Torrents of Plastic Dumped in the Oceans’.

Sadly, of course, it is not just plastic that is destroying the oceans. They absorb carbon dioxide as one manifestation of the climate catastrophe and, among other outcomes, this accelerates ocean acidification, adversely impacting coral reefs and the species that depend on these reefs.

In addition, a vast runoff of agricultural poisons, fossil fuels and other wastes is discharged into the ocean, adversely impacting life at all ocean depths – see ‘Staggering level of toxic chemicals found in creatures at the bottom of the sea, scientists say’ – and generating ocean ‘dead zones’: regions that have too little oxygen to support marine organisms. See ‘Our Planet Is Exploding With Marine “Dead Zones”’.

Since the Fukushima nuclear reactor disaster in 2011, and despite the ongoing official coverup, vast quantities of radioactive materials are being ongoingly discharged into the Pacific Ocean, irradiating everything within its path. See ‘Fukushima: A Nuclear War without a War: The Unspoken Crisis of Worldwide Nuclear Radiation’.

Finally, you may not be aware that there are up to 70 ‘still functional’ nuclear weapons as well as nine nuclear reactors lying on the ocean floor as a result of accidents involving nuclear warships and submarines. See ‘Naval Nuclear Accidents: The Secret Story’ and ‘A Nuclear Needle in a Haystack The Cold War’s Missing Atom Bombs’.

Virtually nothing is being done to stem the toxic discharges, contain the Fukushima radiation releases or find the nuclear weapons and nuclear reactors on the ocean floor.

Waterways and Groundwater Contamination

Many people would be familiar with the contaminants that find their way into Earth’s wetlands, rivers, creeks and lakes. Given corporate negligence, this includes all of the chemical poisons and heavy metals used in corporate farming and mining operations, as well as, in many cases around the world where rubbish removal is poorly organised, the sewage and all other forms of ‘domestic’ waste discharged from households. Contamination of the world’s creeks, rivers, lakes and wetlands is now so advanced that many are no longer able to fully support marine life. For brief summaries of the problem, see ‘Pollution in Our Waterways is Harming People and Animals – How Can You Stop This!’, ‘Wasting Our Waterways: Toxic Industrial Pollution and the Unfulfilled Promise of the Clean Water Act’ and ‘China’s new weapon against water pollution: its people’.

Beyond this, however, Earth’s groundwater supplies (located in many underground acquifers such as the Ogallala Aquifer in the United States) are also being progressively contaminated by gasoline, oil and chemicals from leaking storage tanks; bacteria, viruses and household chemicals from faulty septic systems; hazardous wastes from abandoned and uncontrolled hazardous waste sites (of which there are over 20,000 in the USA alone); leaks from landfill items such as car battery acid, paint and household cleaners; and the pesticides, herbicides and other poisons used on farms and home gardens. See

‘Groundwater contamination’.

However, while notably absent from the list above, these contaminants also include radioactive waste from nuclear tests – see ‘Groundwater drunk by BILLIONS of people may be contaminated by radioactive material spread across the world by nuclear testing in the 1950s’ – and the chemical contamination caused by hydraulic fracturing (fracking) in search of shale gas, for which about 750 chemicals and components, some extremely toxic and carcinogenic like lead and benzene, have been used. See ‘Fracking chemicals’.

There are local campaigns to clean up rivers, creeks, lakes and wetlands in many places around the world, focusing on the primary problems – ranging from campaigning to end poison runoffs from mines and farms to physically removing plastic and other trash – in that area. But a great deal more needs to be done and they could use your help.

Soil Contamination

Our unsustainable commercial farming and soil management practices are depleting the soil of nutrients and poisoning it with synthetic fertilisers, herbicides, pesticides and antibiotics (the latter contained in animal manure) at such a prodigious rate that even if there were no other adverse impacts on the soil, it will be unable to sustain farming within 60 years. See ‘Only 60 Years of Farming Left If Soil Degradation Continues’.

But not content to simply destroy the soil through farming, we also contaminate it with heavy metal wastes from industrial activity, as well as sewer mismanagement – see ‘“Black Soils” – Excessive Use of Arsenic, Cadmium, Lead, Mercury…’ – the waste discharges from corporate mining – see, for example, ‘The $100bn gold mine and the West Papuans who say they are counting the cost’ – and the radioactive and many other toxic wastes from military violence, discussed below.

We also lose vast quantities of soil by extensive clearfelling of pristine forests to plant commercially valuable but ecologically inappropriate ‘garbage species’ (such as palm oil trees – see ‘The Great Palm Oil Scandal’ – soya beans – see ‘Soy Changes Map of Brazil, Set to Become World’s Leading Producer’ – and biofuel crops). This leaves the soil vulnerable to rainfall which carries it into local creeks and rivers and deposits it downstream or into the ocean.

Staggering though it may sound, we are losing tens of billions of tonnes of soil each year, much of it irreversibly.

Is anything being done? A little. In response to the decades-long push by some visionary individuals and community organizations to convert all farming to organic, biodynamic and/or permaculture principles, some impact is being made in some places to halt the damage caused by commercial farming. You can support these efforts by buying organically or biodynamically-certified food (that is, food that hasn’t been poisoned) or creating a permaculture garden in your own backyard. Any of these initiatives will also benefit your own health.

Of course, there is still a long way to go with the big agricultural corporations such as Monsanto more interested in profits than your health. See ‘Killing Us Softly – Glyphosate Herbicide or Genocide?’, ‘Top 10 Poisons that are the legacy of Monsanto’ and ‘Monsanto Has Knowingly Been Poisoning People for (at Least) 35 Years’.

One other noteworthy progressive change occurred in 2017 when the UN finally adopted the Minimata Convention, to curb mercury use. See ‘Landmark UN-backed treaty on mercury takes effect’ and ‘Minamata Convention, Curbing Mercury Use, is Now Legally Binding’.

As for the other issues mentioned above, there is nothing to celebrate with mining and logging corporations committed to their profits at the expense of the local environments of indigenous peoples all over the world and governments showing little effective interest in curbing this or taking more than token interest in cleaning up toxic military waste sites. As always, local indigenous and activist groups often work on these issues against enormous odds. See, for example, ‘Ecuador Endangered’.

Apart from supporting the work of the many activist groups that work on these issues, one thing that each of us can do is to put aside the food scraps left during meal preparation (or after our meal) and compost them. Food scraps and waste are an invaluable resource: nature composts this material to create soil and your simple arrangement to compost your food scraps will help to generate more of that invaluable soil we are losing.

Antibiotic Waste

One form of garbage we have been producing, ‘under the radar’, in vast quantities for decades is antiobiotic and antifungal drug residue. See ‘Environmental pollution with antimicrobial agents from bulk drug manufacturing industries… associated with dissemination of… pathogens’.

However, given that the bulk of this waste is secretly discharged untreated into waterways by the big pharmaceutical companies – see ‘Big Pharma fails to disclose antibiotic waste leaked from factories’ – the microbes are able to ‘build up resistance to the ingredients in the medicines that are supposed to kill them’ thus ‘fueling the creation of deadly superbugs’. Moreover, because the resistant microbes travel easily and have multiplied in huge numbers all over the world, they have created ‘a grave public health emergency that is already thought to kill hundreds of thousands of people a year.’

Are governments acting to end this practice? According to the recent and most comprehensive study of the problem ‘international regulators are allowing dirty drug production methods to continue unchecked’. See ‘Big Pharma’s pollution is creating deadly superbugs while the world looks the other way’.

Given the enormous power of the pharmaceutical industry, which effectively controls the medical industry in many countries, the most effective response we can make as individuals is to join the rush to natural health practitioners (such as practitioners of homeopathy, ostepathy, naturopathy, Ayurvedic medicine, herbal medicine and Chinese medicine) which do not prescribe pharmaceutical drugs. For further ideas, see ‘Defeating the Violence in Our Food and Medicine’.

Genetic Engineering and Gene Drives

Perhaps the most frightening pollutant that we now risk releasing into the environment goes beyond the genetic mutilation of organisms (GMOs) which has been widely practiced by some corporations, such as Monsanto, for several decades. See, for example, ‘GM Food Crops Illegally Growing in India: The Criminal Plan to Change the Genetic Core of the Nation’s Food System’.

Given that genetic engineering’s catastrophic outcomes are well documented – see, for example, ‘10 Reasons to Oppose Genetic Engineering’ – what are gene drives? ‘Imagine that by releasing a single fly into the wild you could genetically alter all the flies on the planet – causing them all to turn yellow, carry a toxin, or go extinct. This is the terrifyingly powerful premise behind gene drives: a new and controversial genetic engineering technology that can permanently alter an entire species by releasing one bioengineered individual.’

How effective are they? ‘Gene drives can entirely re-engineer ecosystems, create fast spreading extinctions, and intervene in living systems at a scale far beyond anything ever imagined.’ For example, if gene drives are engineered into a fast-reproducing species ‘they could alter their populations within short timeframes, from months to a few years, and rapidly cause extinction.’ This radical new technology, also called a ‘mutagenic chain reaction’, combines the extreme genetic engineering of synthetic biology and new gene editing techniques with the idea ‘that humans can and should use such powerful unlimited tools to control nature. Gene drives will change the fundamental relationship between humanity and the natural world forever.’

The implications for the environment, food security, peace, and even social stability are breathtaking, particularly given that existing ‘government regulations for the use of genetic engineering in agriculture have allowed widespread genetic contamination of the food supply and the environment.’ See ‘Reckless Driving: Gene drives and the end of nature’.

Consistent with their track records of sponsoring, promoting and using hi-tech atrocities against life, the recently released (27 October 2017) ‘Gene Drive Files’ reveal that the US military and individuals such as Bill Gates have been heavily involved in financing research, development and promotion of this grotesque technology. See ‘Military Revealed as Top Funder of Gene Drives; Gates Foundation paid $1.6 million to influence UN on gene drives’ and the ‘Gene Drive Files’.

Why would the US military be interested?’ you might ask. Well, imagine what could be done to an ‘enemy’ race with an extinction gene drive.

As always, while genuinely life-enhancing grassroots initiatives struggle for funding, any project that offers the prospect of huge profits – usually at enormous cost to life – gets all the funding it needs. If you haven’t realised yet that the global elite is insane, it might be worth pondering it now. See ‘The Global Elite is Insane’.

Is anything being done about these life-destroying technologies? A number of groups campaign against genetic engineering and SynBioWatch works to raise awareness of gene drives, to carefully explain the range of possible uses for them and to expose the extraordinary risks and dangers of the technology. You are welcome to participate in their efforts too.

Nanoparticles

A nanoparticle is a microscopic particle whose size is measured in nanometers. One nanometer is one billionth of a meter. In simple English: Nanoparticles are extraordinarily tiny.

Nanoparticles are already being widely used including during the manufacture of cosmetics, pharmacology products, scratchproof eyeglasses, crack- resistant paints, anti-graffiti coatings for walls, transparent sunscreens, stain-repellent fabrics, self-cleaning windows and ceramic coatings for solar cells. ‘Nanoparticles can contribute to stronger, lighter, cleaner and “smarter” surfaces and systems.’ See ‘What are the uses of nanoparticles in consumer products?’

Some researchers are so enamored with nanoparticles that they cannot even conceal their own delusions. According to one recent report: ‘Researchers want to achieve a microscopic autonomous robot that measures no more than six nanometers across and can be controlled by remote. Swarms of these nanobots could clean your house, and since they’re invisible to the naked eye, their effects would appear to be magical. They could also swim easily and harmlessly through your bloodstream, which is what medical scientists find exciting.’ See ‘What are Nanoparticles?’

Unfortunately, however, nanoparticle contamination of medicines is already well documented. See ‘New Quality-Control Investigations on Vaccines: Micro- and Nanocontamination’.

Another report indicates that ‘Some nanomaterials may also induce cytotoxic or genotoxic responses’. See ‘Toxicity of particulate matter from incineration of nanowaste’. What does this mean? Well ‘cytotoxic’ means that something is toxic to the cells and ‘genotoxic’ describes the property of chemical agents that damage the genetic information within a cell, thus causing mutations which may lead to cancer.

Beyond the toxic problems with the nanoparticles themselves, those taking a wider view report the extraordinary difficulties of managing nanowaste. In fact, according to one recent report prepared for the UN: ‘Nanowaste is notoriously difficult to contain and monitor; due to its small size, it can spread in water systems or become airborne, causing harm to human health and the environment.’ Moreover ‘Nanotechnology is growing at an exponential rate, but it is clear that issues related to the disposal and recycling of nanowaste will grow at an even faster rate if left unchecked.’ See ‘Nanotechnology, Nanowaste and Their Effects on Ecosystems: A Need for Efficient Monitoring, Disposal and Recycling’.

Despite this apparent nonchanlance about the health impacts of nanowaste, one recent report reiterates that ‘Studies on the toxicity of nanoparticles… are abundant in the literature’. See ‘Toxicity of particulate matter from incineration of nanowaste’.

Moreover, in January, European Union agencies published three documents concerning government oversight of nanotechnology and new genetic engineering techniques. ‘Together, the documents put in doubt the scientific capacity and political will of the European Commission to provide any effective oversight of the consumer, agricultural and industrial products derived from these emerging technologies’. See ‘European Commission: Following the Trump Administration’s Retreat from Science-Based Regulation?’

So, as these recent reports makes clear, little is being done to monitor, measure or control these technologies or monitor, measure and control the harmful effects of discharging nanowaste.

Fortunately, with the usual absence of government interest in acting genuinely on our behalf, activist groups such as the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy and the Organic Consumers Association campaign against nanotechnology as part of their briefs. Needless to say, however, a lot more needs to be done.

Space Junk

Not content to dump our garbage in, on or under the Earth, we also dump our junk in Space too.

‘How do we do this?’ you may well ask. Quite simply, in fact. We routinely launch a variety of spacecraft into Space to either orbit the Earth (especially satellites designed to perform military functions such as spying, target identification and detection of missile launches but also satellites to perform some civilian functions such as weather monitoring, navigation and communication) or we send spacecraft into Space on exploratory missions (such as the Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity).

However, getting spacecraft into Space requires the expenditure of vast amounts of energy (which adds to pollution of the atmosphere) and the progressive discarding of rocket propulsion sections of the launch craft. Some of these fall back to Earth as junk but much of it ends up orbiting the Earth as junk. So what form does this junk take? It includes inactive satellites, the upper stages of launch vehicles, discarded bits left over from separation, frozen clouds of water and tiny flecks of paint. All orbiting high above Earth’s atmosphere. With Space junk now a significant problem, the impact of junk on satellites is regularly causing damage and generating even more junk.

Is it much of a problem? Yes, indeed. The problem is so big, in fact, that NASA in the USA keeps track of the bigger items, which travel at speeds of up to 17,500 mph, which is ‘fast enough for a relatively small piece of orbital debris to damage a satellite or a spacecraft’. How many pieces does it track? By 2013, it was tracking 500,000 pieces of space junk as they orbited the Earth. See ‘Space Debris and Human Spacecraft’. Of course, these items are big enough to track. But not all junk is that big.

In fact, a recent estimate indicates that the number of Space junk items could be in excess of 100 trillion. See ‘Space Junk: Tracking & Removing Orbital Debris’.

Is anything being done about Space junk? No government involved in Space is really interested: It’s too expensive for that to be seriously considered.

But given the ongoing government and military interest in weaponizing Space, as again reflected in the recent US ‘Nuclear Posture Review 2018’, which would add a particularly dangerous type of junk to Space, the Global Network Against Weapons and Nuclear Power in Space has been conducting an effective worldwide campaign since 1992 to mobilize resistance to weapons and nuclear power being deployed and used in Space.

Military Waste

The carnage and waste produced by preparation for and the conduct of military violence is so vast that it almost defies description and calculation. In its most basic sense, every single item produced to perform a military function – from part of a uniform to a weapon – is garbage: an item that has no functional purpose (unless you believe that killing people is functional). To barely touch on it here then, military violence generates a vast amount of pollution, which contaminates the atmosphere, oceans, all fresh water sources, and the soil with everything from the waste generated by producing military uniforms to the radioactive waste which contaminates environments indefinitely.

For just a taste of this pollution, see the Toxic Remnants of War Project, the film ‘Scarred Lands & Wounded Lives’, ‘U.S. Military World’s Largest Polluter – Hundreds of Bases Gravely Contaminated’, ‘Depleted Uranium and Radioactive Contamination in Iraq: An Overview’ and ‘The Long History of War’s Environmental Costs’.

Many individuals, groups and networks around the world campaign to end war. See, for example, War Resisters’ International, the International Peace Bureau and World Beyond War.

You can participate in these efforts.

Nuclear Waste

Partly related to military violence but also a product of using nuclear power, humans generate vast amounts of waste from exploitation of the nuclear fuel cycle. This ranges from the pollution generated by mining uranium to the radioactive waste generated by producing nuclear power or using a nuclear weapon. But it also includes the nuclear waste generated by accidents such as that at Chernobyl and Fukushima.

Again, for just a taste of the monumental nature of this problem, see ‘Emergency Declared at Nuclear Waste Site in Washington State’, ‘Disposing of Nuclear Waste is a Challenge for Humanity’ and ‘Three Years Since the Kitty Litter Disaster at Waste Isolation Pilot Plant’.

While the London Dumping Convention permanently bans the dumping of radioactive and industrial waste at sea (which means nothing in the face of the out-of-control discharges from Fukushima, of course) – see ‘1993 – Dumping of radioactive waste at sea gets banned’ – groups such as Friends of the Earth and Greenpeace continue to campaign against the nuclear industry (including radioactive waste dumping) and to promote renewable energy.

They would be happy to have your involvement.

Our Bodies

Some of the garbage that ends up being dumped is done via our bodies. Apart from the junk food produced at direct cost to the environment, the cost of these poisoned, processed and nutritionally depleted food-like substances also manifests as ill-health in our bodies and discharges of contaminated waste. Rather than eating food that is organically or biodynamically grown and healthily prepared, most of us eat processed food-like substances that are poisoned (that is, grown with large doses of synthetic fertilizers, herbicides and pesticides that also destroy the soil and kill vast numbers of insects – see ‘Death and Extinction of the Bees’ and ‘Insectageddon: farming is more catastrophic than climate breakdown’ – and then cook this food in rancid oils and perhaps even irradiate (microwave) it before eating. Although microwave ovens were outlawed in the Soviet Union in 1976, they remain legal elsewhere. See ‘The Hidden Hazards of Microwave Cooking’, ‘How Your Microwave Oven Damages Your Health In Multiple Ways’ and ‘Microwave Cooking is Killing People’.

Unfortunately, however, considerable official effort still goes into developing new ways to nuclearize (contaminate) our food – see ‘Seven examples of nuclear technology improving food and agriculture’ – despite long-established natural practices that are effective and have no damaging side effects or polluting outcomes.

But apart from poisoned, processed and unhealthily prepared food, we also inject our bodies with contaminated vaccines – see ‘New Quality-Control Investigations on Vaccines: Micro- and Nanocontamination’, ‘Dirty Vaccines: New Study Reveals Prevalence of Contaminants’ and ‘Aluminum, Autoimmunity, Autism and Alzheimer’s’ – consume medically-prescribed antibiotics (see section above) and other drugs – see ‘The Spoils of War: Afghanistan’s Multibillion Dollar Heroin Trade. Washington’s Hidden Agenda: Restore the Drug Trade’ – and leave the environment to deal with the contaminated waste generated by their production and the discharges from our body.

Many individuals and organizations all over the world work to draw attention to these and related issues, including the ‘death-dealing’ of doctors, but the onslaught of corporate media promotion and scare campaigns means that much of this effort is suppressed. Maintaining an unhealthy and medically-dependent human population is just too profitable.

If you want to genuinely care for your health and spare the environment the toxic junk dumped though your body, the ideas above in relation to growing and eating organic/biodynamic food and consulting natural health practitioners are a good place to start.

Ordinary’ Rubbish

For many people, of course, dealing with their daily garbage requires nothing more than putting it into a rubbish bin. But does this solve the problem?

Well, for a start, even recycled rubbish is not always recycled, and even when it is, the environmental cost is usually high.

In fact, the various costs of dealing with rubbish is now so severe that China, a long-time recipient of waste from various parts of the world, no longer wants it. See ‘China No Longer Wants Your Trash. Here’s Why That’s Potentially Disastrous’.

Of course there are also special events that encourage us to dump extra rubbish into the Earth’s biosphere. Ever thought about what happens following special celebrations like Christmas? See ‘The Environmental Christmas Hangover’ or the waste discharged from cruise ships? See ‘16 Things Cruise Lines Never Tell You’.

Does all this pollution really matter? Well, as mentioned at the beginning, we pay an enormous cost for it both in terms of human life but in other ways too. See ‘The Lancet Commission on pollution and health’.

Junk information

One category of junk, which is easily overlooked and on which I will not elaborate, is the endless stream of junk information with which we are bombarded. Whether it is corporate ‘news’ (devoid of important news about our world and any truthful analysis of what is causing it) on television, the radio or in newspapers, letterbox advertising, telephone marketing or spam emails, our attention is endlessly distracted from what matters leaving most humans ill-informed and too disempowered to resist the onslaught that is destroying our world.

So what can we do about all of the junk identified above?

Well, unless you want to continue deluding yourself that some token measures taken by you, governments, international organizations (such as the United Nations) or industry are going to fix all of this, I encourage you to consider taking personal action that involves making a serious commitment.

This is because, at the most fundamental level, it is individuals who consume and then discharge the waste products of their consumption. And if you choose what you consume with greater care and consume less, no one is going to produce what you don’t buy or discharge the waste products of that production on your behalf.

Remember Gandhi? He was not just the great Indian independence leader. His personal possessions at his death numbered his few items of self-made clothing and his spectacles. We can’t all be like Gandhi but he can be a symbol to remind us that our possessions and our consumption are not the measure of our value. To ourselves or anyone else.

If the many itemized suggestions made above sound daunting, how does this option sound?

Do you think that you could reduce your consumption by 10% this year.?And, ideally, do it in each of seven categories: water, household energy, vehicle fuel, paper, plastic, metals and meat? Could you do it progressively, reducing your consumption by 10% each year for 15 consecutive years? See ‘The Flame Tree Project to Save Life on Earth’.

I am well aware of the emotional void that makes many people use ‘shopping therapy’ to feel better or to otherwise consume, perhaps by traveling, to distract themselves. If you are in this category, then perhaps you could tackle this problem at its source by ‘Putting Feelings First’.

No consumer item or material event can ever fill the void in your Selfhood. But you can fill this void by traveling the journey to become the powerful individual that evolution gave you the potential to be. If you want to understand how you lost your Selfhood, see Why Violence?’ and Fearless Psychology and Fearful Psychology: Principles and Practice’.

You might also help ensure that children do not acquire the consumption/pollution addiction by making ‘My Promise to Children’.

If you want to campaign against one of the issues threatening human survival discussed briefly above, consider planning a Nonviolent Campaign Strategy.

And if you wish to commit to resisting violence of all kinds, you can do so by signing the online pledge of ‘The People’s Charter to Create a Nonviolent World’.

In the final analysis, each of us has a choice. We can contribute to the ongoing creation of Earth as the planet of junk. Or we can use our conscience, intelligence and determination to guide us in resisting the destruction of our world.

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22.02.2018 Pressenza London

#NeverAgain: Parkland students lead thousands in rally to demand gun control legislation
(Image by Common Dreams video- screen grab)

We may be too young to vote, but soon we will be able to vote and we will vote you out!”

by Julia Conley, staff writer for Common Dreams

The steps of the Florida State Capitol building were crowded with thousands of students, teachers, parents, and advocates on Wednesday as survivors of last week’s shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School led a rally to demand gun control reforms including a ban on military-style firearms.

An estimated 3,000 people attended the rally, with many students traveling 450 miles from Parkland, where Nikolas Cruz killed 17 people and injured 14.

The crowd chanted “Never again!” and “Shame on you!”—directing their anger at Florida lawmakers who on Tuesday voted against a motion to consider a military-style firearm ban for guns like the AR-15 that was used in Parkland as well as a number of other mass shootings in recent years.

“To shoot down a bill like that is absolutely abhorrent, to not even give it a chance to be discussed,” said Delaney Tarr, one of the Parkland survivors, who spoke at the rally. “That disgusts me and it disgusts my peers, because we know what we’ve been through and we know that this needs to be changed…To every lawmaker out there: you can no longer take money from the NRA…We are coming after every single one of you and demanding that you take action, demanding that you make a change.”

“We are out here advocating for change because of this Capitol’s failure to do their primary job by keeping us safe,” said Florence Yared, one of the students from Parkland. “Some of you said, ‘It’s too soon to talk about gun control.’ No, it is not too soon, no it is not the wrong time, there’s no better time than now to talk about gun control. If we wait, someone else might become a victim too. Your children might become victims too!”

Ahead of the rally, Parkland students marched to the office of Republican Governor Rick Scott, chanting, “You work for us!” Scott was attending the funeral of one of the Parkland victims, but the students spoke with some of the legislators who had voted on Tuesday about proposals including raising the minimum age to purchase military-style semi-automatic weapons.

Tarr expressed anger regarding the meetings, where she said representatives were dismissive of the students’ demands.

“We are not here to be patted on the back,” Tarr said. “We know what we want. We want gun reform, we want common sense gun laws, we want stronger mental health checks and background checks to work in conjunction. We want a better age limit. We want privatized selling to be completely reformed so you can’t just walk into a building with $130 and walk out with an AR-15.”

As the rally was underway, students in towns across Florida and in other states including Iowa and Pennsylvania, as well as Washington, D.C., staged walkouts in solidarity with Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. In Iowa City, teenagers marched in the rain chanting, “Enough is enough!” and “Keep your coins, we want change!”

“To Congress: you are responsible to every community that has lost due to gun violence and you have the power to change this,” said Yared. “And if you don’t, then we will change you. We may be too young to vote, but soon we will be able to vote and we will vote you out!”

20.02.2018 – London UK Silvia Swinden

Brexit between the lines: plot to ditch EU safety standards on food and drugs
The UK/Republic of Ireland border at Killeen marked only by a speed sign marked in km/h (Image by Oliver Dixon Wikimedia Commons)

A document uncovered by Greenpeace’s investigative unit (published accidentally by the Initiative for Free Trade) has revealed “a drive to lobby ministers to ditch strict EU safety standards in order to secure a US trade deal is being drawn up by a transatlantic group of conservative thinktanks”.

The report according to the Guardian involved right wing conservative groups such as “the Heritage Foundation, which has pushed for the lifting of environmental protections, and the Cato Institute, co-founded by billionaire oil barons Charles and David Koch. In Britain the project is being overseen by the Initiative for Free Trade (IFT), an organisation founded by the hard-Brexit advocate and Tory MEP Daniel Hannan.”…”Such a move would allow imports of chlorinated chicken and hormone-reared beef to be sold in the UK for the first time.” It has also become known that the US use far more antibiotics in farming and imports of such animals may contribute to antibiotic resistance, a huge problem already.

It would also imply abandoning the EU “precautionary principle” that means testing properly new products before allowing them into the market in favour of the looser American model of earlier approval in the process and intervening only if problems arise. This leads to cheaper but lower quality products and standards.

It is no coincidence that many of the strong “hard” Brexit supporters have their eye on the profits to be made out of US-UK trade deals depicting the Brussels bureaucracy as an unfair constrain, when in reality in many areas it is a source of safety standards, in food, medicines, environmental protection and working practices.

The threat to British farming businesses which ‘could be wiped out after Brexit transition’ has already been highlighted, with its resulting increase in food prices. At present British farmers receive £3bn from the EU in subsidies that would of course stop after Brexit.

The National Health Service is haemorrhaging European workers uncertain about their position after Brexit (and fearful of the growing nationalist bigotry) at the same time that the (absence of) border between Northen Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, the great success of the European guaranteed Friday Agreement which did so much to largely eliminate the violence in the conflict, is being discussed in search for a creative solution to prevent a return to the clashes of the past as being out of the EU will establish a hard border between North and South with immigration and customs controls, but for the time being none has been found. It does not help that the Conservative Government depends now on a group of ten Northern Irish MPs, the DUP, to have a tiny, and very conditional on having their way, majority in the Commons.

What is emerging more and more clearly is the human cost of Brexit for the sake of profit.

 

 

18.02.2018 – US, United States Pressenza New York

The US Needs “Eureka!” Moments Re: ‘Vetting’; ‘Displacement’; ‘Discernment’; ‘Integration’!

By Gary Corseri

“Eureka! Eureka! (I have found it!)”
–Archimedes

“Having played with fire, one knows inner forms, inner function.”
-–Kijima Hajime

Let’s first debunk the “fake news”! Famed scientist and mathematician, Archimedes, probably did not cry out “Eureka! Eureka!” (Greek for “I have found it!”) when he sat in a public bath in Syracuse, Sicily, discovering one of his—and our—“laws of buoyancy”!

But, as with most good, apocryphal stories—the parables in the Bible, for example—there are grains of truth, lessons to be vetted and discerned—pieces to be integrated into the bigger puzzle.

Here’s the story/myth: Hiero, the local tyrant, suspects a goldsmith of replacing a measure of gold with silver in a golden crown. Hiero contacts Archimedes to verify his suspicions. But…, how?

During a trip to a local bathhouse, “the Arch” observes that the more he sinks in the bath, the greater the displacement of water. And, that displaced water correlates with his body’s weight and volume! Now he reasons: gold is heavier than silver; therefore, a crown of silver and gold would be bulker than a crown solely of gold—thus displacing more water! “Voila!” he cries (or, more precisely, “Eureka!”) And he leaps out of the bath, runs naked through the Greek colony, declaring his discovery. (Whether or not the ladies were amused or alarmed is not reported….)

It’s a good story about the way critical minds work: they “vet.” They test ideas and propositions. They theorize and test their theories and then they vet their own conclusions with careful observations, records and consideration. They test—again and again. It’s a shining example of “trust, but verify”: The critical mind trusts the methodology—the sceintific/methodical/hypothetical approach. But the results need to be noted, verified, repeated. Modulations of methodology and results also need to be noted and recorded.

Can the US Empire learn a thing or two about critical thinking?

In addition to his “laws of buoyancy”—much less apocryphal than the bathhouse story—the Arch thought a lot about levers. “Give me a lever big enough,” he said—“and a place to stand…and I will move the Earth.” (When imperialist Theodore Roosevelt spoke about his “big stick,” was he echoing the ancient Greek? Or merely being “salacious”?) Do we have levers big enough now to “move the Earth”? Do we have “a place to stand”?

Let’s start with “vetting”!

In 2017 it seemed to have become a wing-sprouting, ubiquitous neologism. That’s because Trump had campaigned on “building a big, beautiful wall” along America’s southern border—“vetting” illegal aliens, as well as legal immigrants, passing through Mexico. Now that the victorious presidential candidate intended to carry through with his campaign promise, the opposition party suddenly balked: unfair to immigrants! Unfair to “dreamers.” Not in the “tradition” of America’s “nation-of- immigrants” policies.

What balderdash!

Odd how our “opposition party”—either one–always seems to make its strongest case—and loudest complaint—at just the wrong time! I recall John McCain squawking about “campaign finance reform” before that (s)election. After defeat, not a peep! (Why would he bother? He had lost, and he was a one-trick pony!) Back to the old system! After the 2016 election, we suddenly heard much more strident voices about the phoniness of the “electoral college”! When those vocal chords had belonged to those convinced they would win both popular and electoral votes—they had been mum on the subject! Not justice, not fairness, but opportunism rules our day.

Overload the system, and there can be no “vetting”! Much of our problem in the US today is not so much about “fake news” (a major problem in itself), but about a glut of news—both the fake and the legit. We are overwhelmed! What, and whom, to believe?

Don’t like “vetting”? Do you like your skin? If you don’t like “vetting,” remove your skin—a “vetting” agent between your internal organs and the enveloping world…of dust, toxins, microorganisms, etc. How about your lungs—“vetting” the air you breathe, taking in oxygen, expelling CO2? How about ideas? If we are lucky, we are “vetting” throughout our lives: determining what works, what doesn’t; who are the “good kids,” who are the “bullies”; what’s smart and what’s dumb; what lessons to take from teachers, parents, books, the arts; and what to file away—there if we need it (if we can discern). Cerebellum and cerebral “vetting”…to maintain physical and mental balance! And moral balance, too!

Why wouldn’t we want to “vet” who comes into America and who does not? Trump is right about this: “without borders, you have no country.” He might have said, “without skin, no body; just an exoskeletal-muscular system and a blob of organs.”

Our “nation of immigrants” mantra is nonsense. We’ve been a nation of conquerors from the beginning! The greatest growth in our numbers occurred in the 16-year period following the French and Indian War to our American Revolution! Americans don’t like to pay much attention to that war—probably because it had much more to do with defeating France’s “Indian” allies than with defeating the 60,000 French colonists. Britain’s 1,600,000 American colonists (in what would become the US eastern states), led by our “Great White Father”—General Washington—easily made mincemeat of the “savages” allied with the French. (“Savages,” btw, is how Jefferson referred to our “Original Peoples” in our “sacred” Declaration of Independence. Of course, most Americans never get past the first few flourishing, hyperbolic sentences. “All men are created equal”! Really?)

Having defeated the uppity, dandified French and their “savage” allies, we—i.e., the Brits–were now free to import boatloads of folks from Europe—mostly poor Brits, some Dutch, some Germans. “Immigrants!”—though, of course, only weathy white men could vote! (We were also mercilessly packing non-immigrant African Blacks into sailing “cattle cars,” destined for “concentration camps–i.e., “plantations–in the South.) We had nearly doubled our population by 1776—the year of our own “Glorious Revolution.” And we’ve been growing like crazy ever since—more than 160-fold since 1763! (And about 150% in just the past allotted 3-score and ten—about my lifetime up to now!)

And what was all that “largesse” about? Helping out “the wretched of the earth”? Much more to do with getting wealthy on slave labor in the South, indentured servitude and close-to (and sometimes worse than)-“slave labor” in the factories in the North. Much more to do with constant displacement of those remaining “savages” in that vast Western “territory” conquered from Mexico. More to do with consolidating the Empire, knitting it together with railroads, and stretching past its borders (it’s skin!) to conquer the Caribbean (by 1898; we already had the “Monroe Doctrine” justifying all that, didn’t we?), and then across the Pacific to conquer the kingdom of Hawaii, the betrayed Philippines (handy “coaling stations there!), butting heads with land-starved Japan, and always justifying all our conquests, all our “interventions,” with pleasant-sounding platitudes; e.g.:

“Give me your tired, your poor; your huddled masses, yearning to breathe free.”

Pretty good for a platitude…, but, what about “displacement”? Archimedes discovered the correlation between body weight, volume and displacement of water. It was measurable, quantifiable. In the US, we ignore “displacement.” Yeah, sure—we brought in all these “pioneers” from Britain, etc.—but what about the “savages” displaced? Yeah, sure, we bring in all these tawny, olive-skinned people from southern Europe—some relatives of mine included!–but what about the people “displaced” in our factories, spewing pollution to the now unemployed, no-longer-needed “deplorable” masses? (And consider this, George M. Cohan, et. al.: No doubt we would have far fewer people wishing to immigrate here if we made far fewer wars “over there”! And, is it not strange that no one talks about the Ehrlichs’ “Population Bomb” anymore?) The more the merrier? Really?

Is our “Labor Movement” getting a bit too big for its britches? Let’s pollute the “Movement”—bring in more immigrants! Let’s crowd our laboring masses into crime-ridden cities like Chicago and Detroit where they can be better “managed” by political “bosses” and our militarized police. And let’s just keep feeding the masses their fast-food slop, and fake-news and glut-of-news B.S.! The people are overwhelmed! They cannot “vet.” Education has been displaced by political, rhetorical nonsense. Media, including “the Arts”—their own kind of “media”—for the most part: titilate, inundate, reiterate, eviscerate and regurgitate! They don’t educate, certainly don’t elevate. Whether it’s a TV “anchor,” late-night mouthpiece “host,” Hollywood predator-producer, or some other hyped-on-self-importance android…for the most part the name of the game is degrade and evade. Students at the “best” universities do not learn “how” to think, but “what” to think. Techno-humans (and non-humans) displace the extended family, the nuclear family, the individual, et. al..

It takes most of us a long time to “discern”: to put the puzzle pieces together, to vet ideas and notions, weigh, observe and correlate. Do people still read books? Is there time? I finally got around to reading Upton Sinclair’s “The Jungle” last year! (One upsetting, unsettling capsule of a lesson learned: “Adulteration”!—of food, of truth. It’s been an egregious, omnipresent fact of life since Sinclair’s time…and before….) I still haven’t read “War and Peace”! Much as I like Mark Twain for work like “The Mysterious Stranger,” isn’t it time for our public schools to replace “Tom Sawyer” with “The Jungle”? Might we replace “Julius Cesar” with Brecht’s “Mother Courage and Her Children”? Could we be a little more “relevant”?)

Life is short; and the grains of sand flow ever-faster through the hour-glass, and the algorithms now reach “conclusions” before we passing mortal beings can even stammer out a premise. What are our “human” values now? The very notions of “humanity” and “The Humanities” seem fading flowers.

One idea still lingers: after the vetting, and the discernment and recognition of the pain of “displacement”–the idea of “integration” remains.

After the old monuments are dismantled, what new monuments can we assemble? Do I have the right to destroy a man or woman’s pride in his/her heritage because it differs radically from my understanding? Does that “other” have a right to destroy my pride? Where are the teachers to help us understand our history, to help us reconcile our differences; to help us recognize who we are, who we have been, who we may become?

It is not a dreamy, nationalist, “melting-pot” fantasy we’ve nurtured, about forming a “greater Union”—as Lincoln had it. (Shall we tear down the Lincoln Memorial or blow up Mt. Rushmore? The greatest mass-hanging in American history was ordered by “rail-splitter!” and “Indian-fighter!” President Lincoln, when hungry, destitute and desperate Sioux “Indians” wandered off their open-air-prison-“reservation” to gather food for their starving families. Over 30 hanged in a few shivering moments. A spectacle to teach them kind their place!)

Whom shall we lionize; whom condemn? While victorious and prosperous Americans were jitter-bugging during the “Roaring Twenties,” German children were starving in the streets…and their parents prayed for a “savior”! Who is “innocent”; who is “guilty”? What generation has been free of folly…or delusions of grandeur…or solipsistic violence? Is the pain of disenfranchised Palestinian children less keen than the “never-forgotten” pain of the Jewish holocaust? Is that holcaust less terrible, or more terrible, than the holocausts of North and South American native peoples…, or those holocausts in Ukraine under Stalin, or in Russia during World War II when 20 million died; and Hiroshima and Nagasaki and Dresden? Their embers burn in our hearts evermore.

Not a greater “nation-state” to win the competitive economic battles ahead—and possible sanguinary battles—with an emergent China, a peristent Russia, or some new alliance based on the SCO (Shanghai Cooperation Organization) or OBOR (“One Belt, One Road”—China’s own super-version of the American rail system that knit our land-empire together, and our Interstate highways that changed our culture forever)! Nein! Nyett! No! We need a greater Eureka vision now!

When I think about “integration” it is Martin Luther King’s words that I hear—about “all God’s children” being “free at last.” That is the “freedom” and “integration” of a greater vision, a greater calling. But, how can there be “freedom” without knowledge, without understanding? (“Where shall wisdom be found?” Job wondered. “Where is the place of understanding?” And, a long time after, “The Preacher” pondered: “In much wisdom is much grief: and he that increaseth knowledge increaseth sorrow.” And yet, he pondered: “A wise man’s heart discerneth both time and judgment.”)

On this tiny, threatened planet–this electron whirling around our flash-bulb-sun–can we possibly transcend to a higher vision—a Carl Sagan/Archimedes kind of vision of that miniscule “blue-dot” of Earth in a spiraling galaxy? Transcend to a sensibility that courageously vets ideas and concepts rationally, educates our children honestly, and recognizes/discerns the pain we have inflicted by displacement, “deplorable” put-downs, and our ignorance and prejudices?

Can we rectify the names (as Kung Fu-tzu/Confucius taught)? Can we correlate, and balance the equations?…judge between real gold and fool’s gold? Is it too late? Is it time to give up?

Then…, who will tell the children?


Dr. Gary Corseri’s articles, poems, fiction and dramas have appeared in hundreds of global periodicals and websites. He has performed his work at the Carter Presidential Library, and his dramas have been produced on PBS-Atlanta and elsewhere. He has published 2 novels, 2 collections of poems, and a literary anthology (edited). He has taught in US public schools and prisons, and in universities in the US and Japan. Contact: Gary_Corseri@comcast.net.

16.02.2018 Aram Aharonian

This post is also available in: Spanish

NGOs, the attack on Oxfam’s credibility and the accidental coincidences

Oxfam, the Non-Governmental Organization, the same organization that in recent weeks had launched a devastating report on inequality in the world, has been left with its once high reputation on the ground, following a synchronized attack by the hegemonic press.

It is not about defending the disfunction of the NGO and its officials, but about making sure that only those who do not follow the scripts of the powerful are persecuted. The big NGOs have the same sins as the United Nations and the big corporations that send part of their staff to poor countries.

The Oxfam report noted that the crisis of inequality is worsening: 82% of the world’s wealth generated during the past year went into the hands of the richest 1% of the world’s population, while the poorest 50% -3. 700 million people- did not benefit in the least from said “growth”.

Our failed economic model is widening the gap between rich and poor. This model allows the wealthiest to continue to accumulate immense fortunes while hundreds of millions of people are undermined in their fundamental rights and have to struggle every day to survive with poverty wages, especially women, it added. Obviously the powerful did not like it.

When conservative politics return to power there are two budgets they eliminate or try to minimize: the social rights of citizens and development aid, always with the support of the local and transnational press. And while these denunciations take place, the international weakening of multilateralism is observed, the only way capable of curbing the risk of the use of cooperation as a business.

The truth is that NGOs in Latin America not only infiltrate ideologically the popular sectors – penetration from below and inside – with which they work directly in self-help and microenterprise development projects, in schools, neighborhoods, cooperatives, marginal communities, rural areas, factories, but also infiltrate ideologically the cadres of organizations and these, potentially qualified to invigorate the popular movement, give it political-ideological training and become promoters and companions of political-social change.

Local activity, an emblem of NGO action, is an ideological trap, since it dismantles the popular movement through false paradigms such as “helplessness” and also through competition for financial resources. And it works in parallel with the hegemonic project, because it allows the neoliberal regimes, transnationals and international financial entities to dominate macro-economic policy and channel most of the State’s resources as subsidies to export capital and to the payment of the external debt.

Oxfam International, a federation of civilian humanitarian organizations, is accused of violations committed by some of its members in South Sudan and Liberia, as well as members of its mission to Haiti after the earthquake that struck that nation in 2010 hiring prostitutes with money from the humanitarian organization itself.

Meanwhile, the NGO Doctors Without Borders (MSF) admitted that during the past year it has registered 24 cases of sexual harassment or abuse and 146 complaints of harassment in general. Therefore, 19 people were dismissed and another five sanctioned with various disciplinary measures. The count does not include the cases directly managed by the teams in the field and not reported to the headquarters.

Various foundations and NGOs have been identified by public scrutiny, even subjected to judicial processes, because they worked, in fact, as a screen for the commission of crimes, some of them serious. Others have been denounced as façade institutions for political and propaganda purposes of various governments, and some others, as instruments for the realization of fraud and diversion of resources, points out the Mexican newspaper La Jornada.

Oblivious to all control and all regulation, some of these organizations arrogate to themselves the power to judge and condemn governments, companies, media and partisan formations, using the mantle of purity in which they have previously been covered, it adds.

Oxfam, Malcorra, the Clintons

Oxfam, which receives millions of euros from British and European institutions, and thousands of people, commissioned Helen Evans in 2012 to set up a mechanism to receive and process complaints about cases of sexual exploitation and all kinds of abuses such as those that occurred in 2010 in Haiti (relations with prostitutes and rape accusations) and several years before in Chad.

After leaving Oxfam, Evans communicated her findings to the Charity Commission (public body that oversees the NGOs and charities) and the Ministry of Cooperation. The Oxfam scandal will be used by all those who believe that development aid is wasteful.

The concealment existed: when the man who organized parties with prostitutes in Haiti agreed to leave and was able to find employment in another NGO that also sent him to Bangladesh. Seven years before the events in Haiti, that same man, Roland van Hauwermeiren, had been responsible for similar acts in Liberia, with another NGO.

But a similar event involving UN peacekeepers and the DAAT, responsible for cooperating with the deployment of the UN “peace missions” around the world (the then Argentine Foreign Minister Susana Malcorra, accused of covering up sexual abuse of children in Africa) did not have the same treatment.

Anders Kompass, veteran Swedish human rights fighter and until then UN Field Operations Director, resigned after presenting an internal document denouncing the abuse documented by Unicef ​​of 16 children in the Central African Republic by the troops French Peace Corps and not having a single answer.

Both The Guardian and Foreign Policy pointed directly to the negligence of Malcorra and the UN high command to deal with this case, suspicions that increased when the world organization Aids-Free World leaked an interchange of internal UN mails between Malcorra, the person in charge of the Ethics Office Joan Dubinsky and the Deputy General Secretary of Internal Oversight Services Carman LaPointe, in which they planned how to deal with and diminish the impact of the Kompass accusations: an attempt to cover up at Machiavellian level.

A month earlier, Malcorra had organized a meeting in Turin, Italy, with Dubinsky, Lapointe and the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Prince Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, where the plan to cover up the scandal was designed.

German judge Thomas Laker, of the UN Dispute Court, decided months after the suspension of Kompass it was “prima facie illegal” and before such pressure, the then Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon appointed an independent panel of three judges, who carried out the investigation. The resolution was clear: there was a “serious institutional failure, to pass the investigation -of violations- from table to table without stopping to study it”, and pointed to the responsibility of Malcorra. But there was no scandal of the dimensions of Oxfam.

The never-cleared death of former Haitian Klaus Eberwein who was to appear before the Ethics and Anticorruption Committee of the Senate of this country to declare against the Clinton Foundation for the appropriation of international donations by billions of dollars for humanitarian aid, but never reached the island.

It was not until 2016 that US media began to address a problem that Haitians have raised for years: that Hillary Clinton and her husband Bill had a terrible record in Haiti, where they have manipulated elections, poorly targeted earthquake reconstruction funds and undermined Haitian sovereignty.

The Washington Post reviewed how Secretary of State Clinton “pressured then-President René Préval with the loss of US and international aid unless the election results changed to conform to the OAS recommendation” (his), and that was how Michel Martelly came to power.

In June 2011, Haïti Liberté, in association with the magazine The Nation, began to publish a series that analyzed about 2,000 WikiLeaked secret cables, which among other facts indicated that “even before the Haitian government authorized it, Washington began to deploy 22,000 troops in Haiti after the earthquake of January 12, 2010, although officials of the US embassy said there was no serious security problem.”

The article “Washington supports famous brand contractors” explained how the Clinton State Department continued the policy of George W. Bush to work “closely with factory owners hired by Levi’s, Hanes and Fruit of the Loom to aggressively block a miser increase in the minimum wage for workers in the area, the lowest paid in the hemisphere. ”

To conclude, one of Hillary’s brothers, Tony Rodham, is in charge of a major gold mine on the island and has a contract for 26 years, after – together with his partners – he proposed a project to rebuild homes by a value of 22 million dollars after he proposed a housing reconstruction project with funds from the Clinton Foundation.

The role of NGO-ism

Since the 1980s, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) have spread throughout the world, opening an important political, cultural and socio-economic space, practically in every corner of the planet. It is estimated that there are currently more than 10 million NGOs on the planet.

In India, for example, there is one NGO per 600 people. In order to achieve this, the globalized media highlighted day by day their role in education, the fight against poverty and illiteracy, the protection of the environment, the promotion of civil liberties, the protection of human rights, etc., but they hid its dark side. When their action bothers them, the scandals arrive.

There are approximately 40,000 NGOs subsidized by the US and European governments and created for the specific purpose of being instruments of the globalizers of Washington and Brussels.

The idea of ​​creating non-governmental organizations that could be used by intelligence services for the creation of social networks in Africa, Asia and Latin America for the purpose of promoting American interests emerged at the end of the first half of the 20th century, but it was only launched in 1961, driven by the triumph of the Cuban revolution in 1959, when the US Agency was created by an executive order. US for Development (Usaid).

The American William A. Douglas in Developing Democracy (1972) noted that people in developing countries were like “children” who needed “a tutelage, regulation and control by the US government.” For Douglas, the process of global transformation could not be done through governments, it was necessary to create grassroots organizations in every place of the planet under the control of specialized American agencies.

These grassroots organizations in the 1980s took the form of non-governmental organizations that, under the control of the State Department, had to destabilize governments not related to US policy through subtle work, concealing their subversive purposes with some real programs like the fight against extreme poverty.

At the same time, it was precisely USAID that sent the famous American torture specialist Dan Mitrione to Brazil in 1960-1967, the Dominican Republic in 1965 and Uruguay in 1969-1970. USAID also actively participated in all the coups and attempted coups that took place in Africa, Asia and Latin America from 1961 until now, in close collaboration with the CIA, the MIS (Military Intelligence Service), the FBI, the DEA , the NSA (National Security Agency), etc.

While the Soviet Union and the socialist camp existed, USAID, along with other NGOs such as the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), did everything possible to contain the ideological influence of the USSR, being ideological and operative missionaries of the empire during the Cold War.

The revelations about the participation of the CIA and its covert organization, Usaid, in the murder of Patricio Lumumba in the Congo, in the death of Salvador Allende in Chile and in hundreds of attacks against Fidel Castro forced the NED to be put out of operation in 1983.

Its creator, Georgetown professor Allen Weinstein, was more specific when he declared in 1991: “The great number of tasks that we fulfilled today were 25 years ago the responsibility of the CIA.” A few years earlier, in 1986, the first director of the NED, Carl Gershman, recognized that his organization was a facade of the CIA.

Colophon

There are no coincidences. There is no doubt about the violations carried out by members of NGOs, UN peacekeepers, and the United Nations Stabilization Mission In Haiti (UNSTAMIH). But the broadside against Oxfam is more like a demonstration of strength by the world’s powerful against those who denounce the inequality and inequities of their model of plunder and subjection.

13.02.2018 Pressenza London

Jeremy Corbyn: nationalize, democratize electricity grid to avert climate crisis

[UK] Labour Party leader calls for ‘radical’ action to help avert climate catastrophe

by Andrea Germanos, staff writer for Common Dreams

UK Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn said making the nation’s electricity grid publicly-owned is the best course to “put tackling climate change at the heart of our energy system.”

Speaking Saturday at a conference in London, Corbyn decried the failure of privatization of public services and laid out an economic vision that addresses the climate crisis while narrowing inequality.

“The challenge of climate change requires us to radically shift the way we organize our economy,” he said.

The Attlee administration that presided over Britain following World War II and created the welfare state, he said, “knew that the only way to rebuild our economy was through a decisive turn to collective action.”

“Necessary action to help avert climate catastrophe requires us to be at least as radical,” he said.

The Tory-led government of Prime Minister Theresa May has not taken that radical action, Corbyn charged, instead having “licensed fracking, declared a moratorium on renewable levies while massively subsidizing fossil fuels, dithered over tidal, held back onshore wind, U-turned on making all new homes zero carbon, and is failing to take the necessary measures to meet our legal commitments to reduce CO2 emissions.”

As such, “A green energy system will look radically different to the one we have today,” he said. “The past is a centralized system with a few large plants. The future is decentralized, flexible, and diverse with new sources of energy large and small, from tidal to solar.”

“The greenest energy is usually the most local,” he said, “but people have been queuing up for years to connect renewable energy to the national grid.”

“With the national grid in public hands we can put tackling climate change at the heart of our energy system, committing to renewable generation from tidal to onshore wind.”

Such a grid would “act as the great leveler, distributing energy from where it is plentiful to where it is scarce and guaranteeing that everyone has access to clean, affordable energy all of the time,” he said.

“Anything else is not only unjust, it risks doing immeasurable harm to the climate cause.”

“Because we will only win support for the changes that are needed if we make sure that everyone shares in the benefits,” he said, echoing themes of his party’s manifesto. The benefits, Corbyn argued, are “not just in cheaper energy, an end to fuel poverty, cleaner air, and a sustainable planet, but also in the creation of new good jobs and industries in renewable energy and green tech across the country.”

According to the Campaign against Climate Change Trade Union Group, Corbyn’s speech is a “must read for anyone who recognizes that ‘business as usual’ won’t cut it to tackle the climate crisis.”

11.02.2018 – Paris Rédaction France

This post is also available in: Spanish, French, Italian, German, Greek

Paris: Jean-Luc Mélenchon meets Tomás Hirsch

The humanist deputy [Member of Parliament] of the Chilean Broad Front [Frente Amplio], Tomás Hirsch, met today in Paris with Jean-Luc Mélenchon, Sabine Rubin and Alexis Corbière, deputies of the France Insoumise caucus, in the offices of the National Assembly.

In a close dialogue and in perfect Spanish, Mélenchon was very enthusiastic about the strengthening of Frente Amplio, which led the coalition to elect 20 deputies and a senator in the last election in Chile. The French referent highlighted the coincidence between the concerns, proposals and experiences of France Insoumise with those of the Frente Amplio.

“Together we will put the Latin American pseudo-democracies in check, the processes of that region are a mirror of French. We must be professional, serious, work hard and not just be a new force”, said the former French presidential candidate.

Tomás Hirsch highlighted “the warmth, energy and passion of Jean-Luc Mélenchon, as well as the group of young deputies in France Insoumise that broke into French politics.”

Both leaders agreed to strengthen the relationship between the Humanist Party and the Broad Front, with France Insoumise.

After this meeting, Tomás Hirsch met with the parliamentary friendship group France-Chile, where he was formally asked to form a similar group in the Chilean Chamber of Deputies, in order to establish a new instance of permanent communication between both parliaments. Tomás Hirsch undertook to take the necessary steps so that this request could be implemented.

The elected deputy will meet on Wednesday and Thursday in Madrid with Pablo Iglesias, of Podemos, as well as with other Spanish leaders, holding working meetings to reach agreements that allow projecting the relationship with the Humanist Party and the Chilean Broad Front.

How a GM giant ‘bought control’ of what millions of Londoners read

10.02.2018 Pressenza London

How a GM giant ‘bought control’ of what millions of Londoners read
GM foods (Image by Sudhir Gandotra Facebook)

By JAMES CUSICK and CRINA BOROS 8 February 2018 for openDemocracy (see reference pictures in the original article)

The Evening Standard’s lucrative deal with Swiss chemical giant Syngenta shows how commercial giants pay for news – with readers left in the dark.

London’s Evening Standard, the city’s flagship free newspaper read by millions of commuters every week, struck a lucrative deal that helped to varnish the reputation of one of the world’s largest agribusiness companies – with readers unaware that the firm was paying for positive coverage, openDemocracy can reveal today.

Billion dollar lawsuits the company was facing from farmers in the US were not mentioned in the paper’s coverage, and the ongoing controversy over UK plans to soften post-Brexit rules on GM seeds in farming was also bypassed.

As part of a major commercial deal in 2017 between the Swiss giant Syngenta and ESI Media – a major UK media company owned by Russian oligarch Alexander Lebedev and run by his son Evgeny – a series of public ‘debates’ and articles on the ‘future of food’ were run by London’s Evening Standard.

In the debates and related content, paid for by Syngenta, there was no examination of the financially damaging billion-dollar legal challenges Syngenta was facing across the United States.

Also omitted from the Standard’s coverage was the emerging political controversy over plans by the UK government to rewrite post-Brexit rules on the use of genetically modified seeds in farming – which Syngenta continues to back through expensive lobbying.

Syngenta’s paid-for debates and coverage in the Evening Standard are part of a growing practice inside ESI Media which deliberately blurs the division between advertising and editorial content, senior inside sources have told openDemocracy.

As part of a wider investigation by openDemocracy into the commercial pressures now affecting Europe’s media, former executives, journalists, and other insiders at ESI described a culture where senior editors play a subservient role to commercial masters who effectively run ESI’s operations – with readers left in the dark about who pays for their news, and on what terms.

Coverage ‘money can’t buy’
“Content creators” are described by ESI’s own marketing materials as “embedded” within the company’s editorial departments. High-profile brands like Virgin and Sainsbury’s are promised an “emotional relationship” with Evening Standard readers. As an ESI client, Syngenta, one of the world’s largest crop chemical producers that has previously been accused of orchestrating attacks on scientists who challenge the safety of their products, would have been promised “cut through” content and coverage that “money can’t buy.”

Inside sources claim that the difference between commercial and editorial content at ESI has become so weak at the paper, now edited by former Conservative chancellor George Osborne, that one former executive told openDemocracy: “The sleight of hand is so routine that if they renamed it the London Advertiser, that would be more appropriate.”

Former chancellor George Osborne arrives at the Evening Standard offices to begin new role as editor. Victoria Jones/PA Images. All rights reserved.

China takeover and a new commercial “partnership”
When the lucrative deal between Syngenta and ESI Media was agreed in early 2017, the Swiss agri-chemical company was on course to be taken over by ChemChina, the state-owned Chinese chemical company. The $43 billion take-over figure was mentioned in a March 2017 article in the Evening Standard.

But it is what the Standard omitted to tell its readers about Syngenta – and what it failed to highlight in the public debates it hosted, paid for by Syngenta – that marks the difference between editorial information intended to inform readers, and commercial content paid for by a company looking to boost its balance sheet.

An executive source from within ESI has confirmed to openDemocracy that the March 8 piece last year, written by a Standard news and technology reporter, was part of the commercial “partnership” between Syngenta and ESI. (ESI Media also owns the Independent, now an online-only UK newspaper, and the London Live TV channel.)

In the article, pictured below, there was nothing to tell readers the piece was part of a lucrative commercial relationship with Syngenta.

However, under a sub-heading, ‘Join the debate’, the Standard said it had 25 pairs of tickets to “give away” to a series of debates on the future of food that were being run “in conjunction with Syngenta.” A deadline and internet address for the ticket offer was included.

The piece described Syngenta as “one of the world’s leading crop protection firms” and stated that the Swiss firm believed “future shoppers face a stark compromise” – accept innovation or face higher prices and supply shortages.

The company, whose net income in 2016 was put at $1.2 billion, was described as “believing that ‘technology is key to sustainable and environmentally friendly agriculture, including new genetic techniques, such as genome-editing…’”

Almost two thirds of the article was devoted to a positive presentation of Syngenta by senior company executives. Although GM (Genetic Modification) is still regarded as highly controversial by many UK farmers and consumers, the Standard described GM as simply a “more rapid process of what has been undertaken by seed breeders for centuries.”

The Swiss company’s often controversial technologies were described in the article as “the best possible outcome”, with those campaigners critical of genetically engineered crops dismissed as holding a “deep suspicion of technology.”

Public ‘education’ – paid for by Syngenta

The first of the ESI-Syngenta ‘future of food’ events, on March 22, was chaired by the then-editor of the Standard, Sarah Sands, now editor of BBC Radio 4’s prestigious Today Programme.

Industry sources told openDemocracy that given the high profile involvement of the editor (Sarah Sands) in the event, and the global importance of well-timed positive editorial, Syngenta would have been expected to pay north of £100,000 to ESI for their overall deal. The marketing agency, Green Street Media, were also paid to assist ESI with the public events.

Both Syngenta and ESI have declined to reveal what the deal was worth.

But for ESI, revenues from the Syngenta “partnership” and other paid-for content which blur the divide between editorial and advertising have become increasingly important. Three months after the food conference, the paper announced that profits had fallen by a third, down from £3.3m the previous financial year, to £2.2m. A further fall in profits is anticipated by City analysts when new figures are released later this year, linked to the fall in traditional advertising revenue and increased costs in distributing the freesheet across London.

Although the March 22 ‘future of food’ discussion panel in Somerset House, chaired by Sands, was described as containing “industry experts”, discussions were dominated by those making the case for the importance of technology, with the North Europe head of Syngenta, Alex Steel, given a prominent role in the event.

A Standard staff reporter covered the debate, later stating it was between “Syngenta at one end and the co-owner of the healthy eating restaurant chain Leon [Henry Dimbleby] at the other.”

Yet Dimbleby – a long-term friend of the current environment secretary, Michael Gove – repeated what others on the panel had stated: that technology was critical and that UK consumers were not technology-averse. Concluding, Dimbleby said: “I’m very optimistic that technology is going to solve our problems.”

Michael Gove, Henry Dimbleby and John Vincent from Leon Restaurants visit the breakfast club at Lauriston School in Hackney on 4 July 2012. Image used under Fair Use: Flickr/educationgovuk. All rights reserved.

Syngenta’s own company website used the content from the Standard debate, stating it had been a “pioneering example of the mainstream media highlighting the issues we face and educating the public on how food is produced.” There was no mention that the public’s “education” had been bought by the company itself.

What they also failed to mention…
At the time of the Standard extolling the virtues of Syngenta’s technology, legal trials in the US were pending, with lawsuits from some 350,000 corn growers across 20 US states claiming as much as $13 billion in losses.

In 2013 China had tested corn shipments from the United States and discovered they contained a specific genetically modified corn seed. Two years earlier Syngenta had marketed two varieties of corn seed to farmers in the US – Viptera and Duracade. Both were approved in the United States, but several other markets, including China, had not given formal approval for their use.

Farmers claimed Syngenta had rushed the genetically modified seed to market before getting export approval from China. The legal actions also claimed that Syngenta had misled them over when China would licence the GM seed.

Lawsuits against the Swiss company began piling up. The loss of the Chinese export market decreased overall demand for US corn, resulting in falling prices for US crops. Farmers affected included big producers in Arkansas, Illinois, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, Ohio, Alabama, Colorado, Kentucky, Minnesota, Montana, North and South Dakota, Oklahoma, Texas and Wisconsin.

Devastating losses’

Syngenta logo in a corn field near Basel, Switzerland. Xu Jinquan/PA Images. All rights reserved.

With more than 90% of corn grown in the US genetically engineered, the loss of the Chinese market was devastating. Farmers and other companies involved in the corn industry filed a series of lawsuits against Syngenta. Studies by the US National Grain and Feed Association and the North American Export Grain Association estimated the minimum damage to the industry was north of $3 billion.

The Swiss multinational claimed it had done nothing wrong and that the Chinese had not been interested in food safety, but were instead intent on lessening its dependence on the US corn market.

The massive China-related lawsuits had featured in coverage by international wire services such as Reuters, with Syngenta’s financial difficulties also spelled out in articles in the Financial Times and the Mail. Rumours early last year that the scale of Syngenta’s lawsuit liabilities in the United States would lead to a credit-rating downgrading were confirmed later in 2017 when the two ratings agencies, Standard & Poor, and then Fitch, both put Syngenta “on notice” for a potential downgrade. In October last year, Fitch rated Syngenta at BBB, two notches above junk.

However, the ESI-Syngenta coverage focused only on the positives of new genetic technology.

One international trade broker in London, who asked not to be named because of his continuing involvement in global agribusiness, told openDemocracy: “The scale of Syngenta’s problems in early 2017 pointed to a potential credit rating downgrading. And though Syngenta has now reached settlement with a large number of litigants, there still remains concern about how these high-level settlements will be funded. I’d want to know all of this kind of stuff if I was attending a conference or reading about global food safety.”

The Brexit context
The timing of the Standard’s “partnership” was also politically critical for Syngenta. Early last year, Andrea Leadsom, then agriculture secretary, told a conference in Oxford: “as we prepare to leave the EU, I will be looking at scrapping the rules that hold us back and focusing instead on what works best for the UK.”

After Leadsom’s hint, the government confirmed that as part of the preparations for Brexit it would be reviewing regulations surrounding genetically modified organisms. It remains possible that GM crops could be licensed for commercial purposes as part of the UK’s post-Brexit regime, and the “precautionary” principles that have been a signature of Brussels’ rules could be ended.

This agricultural turnaround, given the enduring scepticism about the merits of GM, will not come without a loud public debate. In anticipation of this, leading GM companies including Monsanto and Syngenta are understood to have increased their budgets for high-profile lobbying campaigns to change public hearts and minds on genetic biotechnology.

Lobbying for GM
What the ESI Media partnership indicates, according to a leading UK lobbyist, is that in addition to some much-needed reputation-boosting after the China-related lawsuits, Syngenta “wanted to begin the assault on changing consumer attitudes to GM. From the highly controlled debate [in the Evening Standard], it would appear the message the company wants the public to hear, and were prepared to pay for, is: ‘accept-our-technology or face more expensive food’”.

Tamsin Cave at the transparency group Spinwatch said: “Syngenta is doing what lobbyists always do: trying to shape public opinion. It’s the only thing standing in the way of GMOs in the UK. So, it is framing the debate as this fictional choice between food shortages and price increases (the problem) and GMOs (the solution). Plus, we’re being told not to listen to their critics, who are apparently all Luddites. None of this is fact, it’s all just manufactured PR, and the Evening Standard is just the latest vehicle willing to spread it.

“Expect to see a lot more of this as we approach Brexit, which lobbyists see as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to roll back regulations. We should all be extra vigilant.”

openDemocracy asked Syngenta how its content contract with ESI Media was intended to work, and whether image and reputation was considered a key ingredient of its deal with Evgeny Lebedev’s company. We also asked if the London debates were deliberately timed to address the difficult commercial backdrop that at one point was looking to cost the company billions of dollars. In addition we asked what ESI Media was paid for the deal, and whether the company stipulated that background details from Syngenta’s global operations should be “held back” from London’s Evening Standard readers.

The full statement from a Syngenta spokesman reads:

“Syngenta partnered with the London Evening Standard in 2017 to undertake a series of events in London with the aim of engaging Londoners in open debate about the challenge of sustainably feeding major cities worldwide. Whilst many living in the rural environment have a direct understanding and relationship to farming and food production those in cities are sometimes less engaged despite forming the largest number of food consumers.
“Through the events Syngenta demonstrated that it is open, engaged and responsible in promoting its technologies and responding to concerns of consumers. The events were fully advertised and included a fully public all-day pop up at Kings Cross Station. At both of the events held in 2017 we were happy to engage and discuss any issue with anyone.”
ESI Media were also asked to comment on the commercial details of their deal with Syngenta, and why there was no mention of the global financial difficulties the Swiss company was experiencing that had been widely reported elsewhere.

The company’s managing director, Doug Wills, said the partnership had been “news driven” and claimed the public debate about the future of food had been “an issue of considerable interest to our readers.” Wills said the Standard’s coverage around the event and a subsequent article later in the year “reflected both sides of the debate”.

This article is part of openMedia a project funded by the Adessium and Democracy and Media foundations to investigate and expose commercial interference in editorial decisions across Europe’s media. If you are a journalist who recognises any of the issues described here, please fill out our confidential survey below, anonymously if you wish. Thank you.

09.02.2018 – London, UK Silvia Swinden

This post is also available in: Spanish

Not guilty verdict for 4 campaigners against the London Arms Fair Sep 2017
(Image by CAAT Facebook)

According to the Newham Recorder four anti-DSEI (Arms Fair) campaigners have been found not guilty by a Magistrates Court.

The newspaper article states that “District Judge Hamilton today dismissed the case against the three women and one man accused of wilfully obstructing the highway ahead of the Defence and Security Equipment International (DSEI) gun show….[they] were among more than 100 people arrested for blocking weapons arriving at the ExCeL for the fair last September. All four defendants accepted they had “locked on”, a peaceful technique making it hard for them to be removed, in the road leading to the exhibition centre, only to be arrested minutes later.”

“On the day after the actions of the suffragettes were lauded, it is apt that today’s generation of direct action protesters do not have to wait 100 years to be vindicated,” said lawyer Raj Chada, who represented one of the accused. “These defendants seek to bring to our attention to the evil of the arms trade – it is to that cause that we must focus.”

The Campaign Against the Arms Trade Facebook page reports:

“More good news today as the 4 abseiling activists during #StopDSEI protests were all acquitted! They’re another group who were arrested on the No Faith in War day of action, and the judge has again thrown out the charges under the grounds of their actions being ‘reasonable’. If you’re available to support the other #StopDSEI defendants in person, check out the other court dates: http://www.facebook.com/events/263815450809367/”

The UK is now the second largest arms exporter and it has been criticised for selling weapons to repressive regimes, in particularly Saudi Arabia over its actions in Yemen. Protesters have been opposing the Arms Fair for several years in order to prevent greater crimes, such as genocide and torture, as well as the promotion of banned weapons.

 

08.02.2018 Robert Burrowes

The Fear Driving US Nuclear Strategy
(Image by youtube.com)

The United States Department of Defense released its latest ‘Nuclear Posture Review 2018’ (NPR) on 2 February, updating the last one issued in 2010 during the previous administration. See ‘Nuclear Posture Review 2018’.

The Executive Summary of the NPR is also available, if you prefer. See ‘Nuclear Posture Review 2018 Executive Summary’.

Several authors have already thoughtfully exposed a phenomenal variety of obvious lies, invented threats, strategic misconceptions and flaws – such as the fallacious thinking behind ‘deterrence’ and significantly increased risk of nuclear war given the delusional ‘thinking’ in the document – as well as the political fear-mongering in the NPR. For example, eminent scholar Professor Paul Rogers has pointed out: ‘The risk now is that we are on a slippery slope towards “small nuclear wars in far-off places”, which themselves could either escalate or at the very least break the 70+ year taboo on treating nuclear weapons as useable.’ See ‘Nuclear Posture Review: Sliding Towards Nuclear War?’

Stephen Lendman has reminded us that US ‘defense spending far exceeds what Russia, China, Iran and other independent countries spend combined’ and that the US ‘nuclear arsenal and delivery systems can destroy planet earth multiple times over’ with the document suggesting ‘preparation for nuclear war’. Moreover, the NPR ‘falsely claims the nation must address “an unprecedented range and mix of threats” posed by Russia, China, North Korea, Iran and other countries’ and this despite the incontrovertible fact that no nation has threatened US security since World War II and none threatens it now.

He further points out that the NPR’s claim that there is ‘an unprecedented range and mix of threats, including major conventional, chemical, biological, nuclear, space, and cyber threats, and violent nonstate actors’ is ‘utter rubbish’ and that ‘America’s rage for endless wars of aggression, along with its rogue allies, poses the only serious threat to world peace and stability.’ See ‘Trump’s Nuclear Posture Review’.

Even Andrew C. Weber, an assistant defense secretary during the Obama administration, has warned that

‘Almost everything about this radical new policy will blur the line between nuclear and conventional’ and ‘will make nuclear war a lot more likely.’ See ‘Pentagon Suggests Countering Devastating Cyberattacks With Nuclear Arms’.

Despite the obvious belligerence in the document, we are supposed to believe, according to words in the NPR, that ‘The United States remains committed to its efforts in support of the ultimate global elimination of nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons’ despite the US denunciation of the ‘UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons’ negotiated by 122 countries just a few months ago in mid-2017. See ‘U.S., UK and France Denounce Nuclear Ban Treaty’.

Presumably, we are supposed to have shorter memories than members of the US administration or to be even more terrified and unintelligent than are they. This would be difficult.

Rather than further critique the document, which several authors have done admirably, I would like to explain my observation immediately above.

Let me start by explaining why those who formulated the current US nuclear strategy, wrote the Nuclear Posture Review, now promote it and are responsible for implementing it, are utterly terrified and quite delusional, and constitute a threat to human civilization.

The NPR is full of language such as this: ‘There now exists an unprecedented range and mix of threats, including major conventional, chemical, biological, nuclear, space, and cyber threats, and violent nonstate actors. These developments have produced increased uncertainty and risk.’

Are these individuals, notably including Donald Trump, Secretary of Defense General Jim ‘Mad Dog’ Mattis, Chief of Staff Marine General John Kelly and National Security Adviser General H. R. McMaster, really frightened of countries such as Iran (with its non-existent nuclear arsenal) or North Korea (with its handful of ‘primitive’ nuclear weapons and inadequate delivery systems)? Or are they really frightened of countries such as Russia and China, whose nuclear arsenals pale in comparison to that of the United States and whose strategic posture in any case is decidedly non-aggressive (particularly towards the United States) despite its ongoing provocations of them?

Are US government leaders really so terrified of possible conventional, chemical, biological, space and cyber attacks that they need to threaten nuclear annihilation should it occur?

Well, the answer to each of these questions is that Trump, Mattis, Kelly, McMaster and other US political and military leaders are, indeed, terrified.

However, they are projecting their obvious terror away from its original source and onto a ‘safe’ and ‘approved’ target so that they can behave in accordance with their terror. They do this because the original cause of their terror – their parents and/or other significant adults in their childhood – never allowed them to feel their terror and to direct and express it safely and appropriately. For a full explanation of why this happens, see Why Violence?’ and Fearless Psychology and Fearful Psychology: Principles and Practice.

Unfortunately, and in this case potentially catastrophically, this dysfunctional behavioural response to deeply suppressed terror cannot ‘work’ either personally or politically for the individuals concerned. Let me explain why.

Evolution devised an extraordinarily powerful response to threats: it gave many organisms, including human beings, the emotion of fear to detect threats as well as other tools that can be used in conjunction with fear to respond powerfully to threats. Hence, in response to a threat, humans are meant to feel their fear and, while doing so, engage other feelings, conscience and intelligence so that the source of the threat can be accurately identified and the most powerful and effective behavioural response to that threat can be devised and implemented. In simple language: We need our fear to tell us we are under threat and to play a part in defending ourselves. In evolutionary terms, this was highly functional.

If, however, during childhood, the fear is suppressed because the individual is too frightened to feel it (usually because their parents deny them a safe opportunity to do so), then they will be unconsciously compelled to project their fear onto those who pose no threat (precisely because these people do not immobilize them with terror) and to endlessly seek to control these people (during childhood this usually means their younger siblings and/or friends, and during adulthood it usually means people of another sex, race, class, religion or nation) so that they can gain relief from experiencing their suppressed (childhood) fear.

The relief, of course, is delusionary. But once someone is terrified, it is not possible for them to behave functionally or powerfully. They will live in a world of delusion and projection, endlessly blaming those who they (unconsciously) project to be a threat precisely because these people are not frightening and not a threat and seem more likely to be able to be ‘controlled’.

This projection and behaviour happen all of the time, both in personal interactions and geopolitically, but it doesn’t usually threaten imminent annihilation, even if, to choose another example, it endlessly and perhaps disastrously impedes efforts to tackle the environmental and other assaults on our biosphere.

It is because parents are frightened to feel and experience their own fear that they also fear their child’s fear and they act (consciously or unconsciously, depending on the context) to prevent the child from feeling this fear, perhaps by doing something as simple as reassuring them.

However, parents also use a variety of methods to distract their child from feeling their feelings. They might offer the child a toy or food to distract them. But another important way in which fear is suppressed is by teaching children to use play as a distraction from having their feelings. This fear might then remanifest in the form of the child wanting others to play with them but particularly by doing so in a game of their choosing and over which they have control (so that they can ensure that their fear is not raised).

Once the child has learned to use gaining control over play to distract themselves from their terror, it might well become a lifetime addiction, subsequently manifesting as a dysfunctional desire for control within a family or perhaps even economically, politically or militarily.

Unfortunately, as some of these children grow up and the nature of their ‘game’ changes, the outcome can have deadly consequences. This is simply because there is never any guarantee that others will submit willingly to control by others. And, if they do not, this can trigger the original person’s (unconscious) terror ‘necessitating’ action – a higher-risk strategy in an attempt to secure this higher degree of control over others – to resuppress their terror.

However, for example, even if the terrified person ends up owning a major corporation and exercising a great degree of control over employees, markets and possibly countries, the terror driving their delusional need for control can never be satisfied. See ‘Love Denied: The Psychology of Materialism, Violence and War’. But the same principle applies in other domains as well, including the political and military.

And in the most dangerous collective manifestation of this major psychological disorder, the current US political/military leadership, which has been effectively merged by Trump’s appointment of military generals to his political staff, we now have the situation where a collection of individuals who are terrified and also project their dysfunctional desire for control onto other nations, are willing to threaten (and use) nuclear weapons in a delusionary attempt to feel (personally) ‘in control’.

It is little wonder that the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists has moved the Doomsday Clock to two minutes to midnight! See It is now two minutes to midnight: 2018 Doomsday Clock Statement.

So what can we do?

Well, I would tackle the problem at several levels and I invite you to consider participating in one or more of these.

To help prevent this problem from emerging at its source, you are welcome to consider making ‘My Promise to Children’. This will play a vital role in ensuring that children do not grow up suppressing their fear.

Given the extraordinary emotional and other damage inflicted by school, you might consider educational opportunities for your child(ren) outside that framework. See ‘Do We Want School or Education?’

If you suspect that you are not as powerful as you would like, you might consider ‘Putting Feelings First’ so that you can learn to behave with awareness – a synthesis of all of the feedback that your various mental functions give you and the judgments that arise, in an integrated way, from this feedback. This will enable you to love yourself truly and always courageously act out your own self-will, whatever the consequences.

If you wish to work against the many threats, including military threats, to our environment simultaneously, you are welcome to join those participating in ‘The Flame Tree Project to Save Life on Earth’.

And if you wish to be part of efforts to end violence and war, including the threat of nuclear annihilation, you are welcome to consider signing the online pledge of ‘The People’s Charter to Create a Nonviolent World’ and/or using sound nonviolent strategy for your campaign or liberation struggle. See Nonviolent Campaign Strategy or Nonviolent Defense/Liberation Strategy.

Our world is poised perilously on the brink of catastrophic nuclear war. This has happened because we have given responsibility for holding the nuclear trigger to a handful of men who, emotionally speaking, are terrified little boys cowering from the imaginary threat of the bogeyman under their bed.

There is no easy way back from this brink. But you can help, both now and in the future, by doing one or more of the suggestions above.

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Dietrich Bonhoeffer

We must act and dare the appropiateness and not whatever comes to our mind not floating in the likelihood but grasp the reality as brave as we can be freedom lies in action not in the absence of mind obedience knows the essence of good and satisfies it, freedom dares to act and returns God the ultimate judgment of what is right and what is wrong, Obedience performs blindly but Freedom is wide awake Freedom wants to know why, Obedience has its hands tied, Freedom is inventive obedient man respects God’s commands and by virtu of his Freedom, he creats new commands. Both Obedience and Freedom come true in responsability (Dietrich Bonhoeffer)

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