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The New Normal: Cascading and Multilayered Crises

The New Normal: Cascading and Multilayered Crises

“The crisis consists precisely in the fact that the old is dying and the new cannot be born; in this interregnum a great variety of morbid symptoms appear.”

– Antonio Gramsci

The Pandemic & Public Health Crisis

On January 20th, 2020, the first confirmed case of COVID-19 infection took place in the United States. Since then, over 240,000 Americans have tested positive for the COVID-19 virus, with over 6,000 dying as a result of the pandemic. The New York Times suggests that the actual numbers are likely 6-10 times higher than is being currently reported.

According to studies from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), people with underlying health conditions such as diabetes, obesity, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, heart disease, and those who smoke, are at high-risk of severe illness or death if they contract the virus. Unfortunately, that’s a lot of Americans.

Several days ago, Dr. Anthony Fauci estimated that anywhere between 100,000-240,000 Americans will die from COVID-19 by the end of August, and that’s if “we do everything perfectly,” as the good doctor put it. Since no one actually believes that the United States will conduct the response in a “perfect” manner, we can assume those numbers are low.

For the sake of discussion, let’s assume they’re correct. For some perspective, 116,708 Americans died in World War I (1914-1918). Roughly 416,800 Americans died in World War II (1941-1945). Over 40,000 Americans died in the Korean War (1950-1953). And 70,000 Americans died in the Vietnam War (1965-1975).

Perhaps we throw around large numbers too often, or maybe there’s simply no way to humanize 240,000 lives — regardless, we cannot allow the U.S. government to normalize gross numbers of fatalities, especially as a result of a completely preventable pandemic. Remember, this isn’t a ‘Natural Disaster’ — this is a ‘Man Made Disaster,’ and it should be treated as such. Yes, Trump is responsible, but he’s not the only one. In fact, individuals aren’t the problem. The entire Neoliberal Capitalist project is to blame.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

How the US Wages War to Prop up the Dollar

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How the US Wages War to Prop up the Dollar

At Counterpunch, Michael Hudson has penned an important article that outlines the important connections between US foreign policy, oil, and the US dollar.

In short, US foreign policy is geared very much toward controlling oil resources as part of a larger strategy to prop up the US dollar. Hudson writes:

The assassination was intended to escalate America’s presence in Iraq to keep control of the region’s oil reserves, and to back Saudi Arabia’s Wahabi troops (Isis, Al Quaeda in Iraq, Al Nusra and other divisions of what are actually America’s foreign legion) to support U.S. control of Near Eastern oil as a buttress of the U.S. dollar. That remains the key to understanding this policy, and why it is in the process of escalating, not dying down.

The actual context for the neocon’s action was the balance of payments, and the role of oil and energy as a long-term lever of American diplomacy.

Basically, the US’s propensity for driving up massive budget deficits has created a need for immense amounts of deficit spending. This can be handled through selling lots of government debt, or through monetizing the debt. But what if there isn’t enough global demand for US debt? That would mean the US would have to pay more interest on its debt. Or, the US could monetize the debt through the central bank. But that might cause the value of the dollar to crash. So, the US regime realized that it must find ways to prevent the glut of dollars and debt from actually destroying the value of the dollar. Fortunately for the regime, this can be partly managed, it turns out, through foreign policy. Hudson continues:

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Gladio: the Story of a Conspiracy

Gladio: the Story of a Conspiracy


Rome.

Albert Camus in his essay “L’Exil d’Hélène” discusses contemporary disregard for the Greek value of limits. Camus writes that only the artist by his nature recognizes his limits, limits which the historic spirit disregards. The very idea of a super-secret organization like Gladio to remake the world in its own image reflects that same disregard for the Greek values that Camus so cherished.

When in the early 1970s an Italian right-wing journalist told me about a secret army training in Italy’s mountains, I scoffed at first thinking he was repeating a rumor picked up from some scoop-obsessed reporter. But my tune began changing when he gave it a name—“Stay Behind Army”—and explained it was a secret army to fight the Soviet armies which someday soon would invade West Europe. He gave me the name of a member of that secret army who would talk with me.

A few days later on a street corner near Rome’s Sapienza University I met a sleazy-looking Roman in his early twenties accompanied by a friend. Both of them kept looking around us, as if checking for tails. Their behavior was that of men on the run, yet men of destiny. They talked readily. And I, without realizing it, was being shown a speck of a new planet. Speaking softly in a crisp language with their Rome accents, they told me they had just finished a military training course in the nearby Abruzzi Mountains after having done basic training in Sardinia. Several times they used the term “Secret Army”, lowering their voices and glancing around each time they pronounced the words. And no, they answered, the organizers would not allow journalist visits, and that yes, the secret army was well equipped and ready.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

FK: What the CIA Hides

JFK: What the CIA Hides

Photograph Source: Abbie Rowe – Public Domain

When I launched JFK Facts, a blog about the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, in 2012, I was often asked by strangers, “So who killed JFK?”  “I don’t know,” I shrugged. “It’s too early to tell.” Given that the handsome liberal president had been shot dead a half-century before, my answer was a lame joke based on an apocryphal story. Henry Kissinger once said that when he asked Zhou Enlai, “What was the effect of the French Revolution on world history?” the Chinese statesmen replied, “It’s too early to tell.”

True to Kissingerian form, the story turns out to be not exactly true. Zhou was actually responding to a question about France’s political convulsions in 1968, not 1789. But Kissinger’s spin on the anecdote struck me as perceptive. The meaning of a great historical event might take a long time–a very long time–to become apparent. I didn’t want to jump to conclusions about the causes of JFK’s murder in downtown Dallas on November 22, 1963.

It’s still too early to tell. Fifty six years after the fact, historians and JFK researchers do not have access to all of the CIA’s files on the subject The 1964 Warren Commission report exonerated the agency with its conclusion that Kennedy was killed by one man alone.  But the agency was subsequently the subject of five official JFK investigations, which cast doubt on its findings.

The Senate’s Church Committee investigation showed that the Warren Commission knew nothing of CIA assassination operations in 1963. JFK records released in the last 20 years show the Commission’s attorneys had no real understanding the extensive counterintelligence monitoring of Lee Harvey Oswald before JFK was killed. We now know that senior operations officers, including counterintelligence chief James Angleton, paid far closer attention to the obscure Oswald as he made his way to Dallas than the investigators were ever told.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Peak Hubris

Peak Hubris

Illustration for John Milton’s Paradise Lost by Gustave Doré (1866) – Public Domain

“Hubris” is defined as rash and foolish pride, a dangerous overconfidence, manifested with arrogance.  The Deep State vaunts our “exceptionalism”, and since Reagan’s “City on a HIll” trope Americans have been assured by all succeeding Presidents that ours is the “indispensible nation”. The word describes the way America sells itself to the world, and has for generations.

The yawning cognitive gap between our nomenklatura’s relentless self-promotion and its pathetic history of botched, humiliating failures in every single act of Imperial overreach, demands examination.  Are we at Peak Hubris?  When exactly should the hubris of a vicious, lying, sloganeering criminal state be identified as what it is, a cover for unhinged stupidity?

Viz. the deranged, hysterical Democratic Party, a subsidiary of the Deep State, led–if that term applies–by a geriatric clutch of morally squalid throwbacks and vacuous nonentities, which has its Depends in a knot in the effort to blame the entire debacle of recent U.S. historic crime on the repulsive Yahoo squatting in the White House.  As Einstein observed, all explanations should be as simple as possible…but no simpler.

Of all the villainies attributed to Trump by Democrats and the Deep State–the Power Elite, Establishment, Ruling Clique, Permanent Unelected Government–the most egregious and only unforgivable one, is that his gross and vulgar bathos in Holy Office has exposed and profoundly embarrassed them, punching holes in their diligently crafted image.  The Masters of Disaster can’t tolerate open revelation of their evil, witness the methodical crushing of a roster of whistleblowers, among whom the most damning and brutally handled are Manning, Assange, and Snowden.  Two are jailed on bogus “charges” in peril of their lives, and Snowden is in exile, only free because the vengeful engine of American “justice” can’t nail him.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

After Evo, the Lithium Question Looms Large in Bolivia

After Evo, the Lithium Question Looms Large in Bolivia

Photograph Source: Sámediggi Sametinget – CC BY 2.0

Bolivia’s President Evo Morales was overthrown in a military coup on November 10. He is now in Mexico. Before he left office, Morales had been involved in a long project to bring economic and social democracy to his long-exploited country. It is important to recall that Bolivia has suffered a series of coups, often conducted by the military and the oligarchy on behalf of transnational mining companies. Initially, these were tin firms, but tin is no longer the main target in Bolivia. The main target is its massive deposits of lithium, crucial for the electric car.

Over the past 13 years, Morales has tried to build a different relationship between his country and its resources. He has not wanted the resources to benefit the transnational mining firms, but rather to benefit his own population. Part of that promise was met as Bolivia’s poverty rate has declined, and as Bolivia’s population was able to improve its social indicators. Nationalization of resources combined with the use of its income to fund social development has played a role. The attitude of the Morales government toward the transnational firms produced a harsh response from them, many of them taking Bolivia to court.

Over the course of the past few years, Bolivia has struggled to raise investment to develop the lithium reserves in a way that brings the wealth back into the country for its people. Morales’ Vice President Álvaro García Linera had said that lithium is the “fuel that will feed the world.” Bolivia was unable to make deals with Western transnational firms; it decided to partner with Chinese firms. This made the Morales government vulnerable. It had walked into the new Cold War between the West and China. The coup against Morales cannot be understood without a glance at this clash.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Agrochemical Apocalypse: Interview with Environmental Campaigner Dr Rosemary Mason

Agrochemical Apocalypse: Interview with Environmental Campaigner Dr Rosemary Mason

The renowned author and whistleblower Evaggelos Vallianatos describes British environmentalist and campaigner Dr Rosemary Mason as a “defender of the natural world and public health.” I first came across her work a few years ago. It was in the form of an open letter she had sent to an official about the devastating environmental and human health impacts of glyphosate-based weed killers. What had impressed me was the document she had sent to accompany the letter. It was over 20 pages long and contained official data and referred to a plethora of scientific papers to support the case she was making.

For almost a decade, Rosemary Mason has been writing open letters and sending reports she has compiled to media outlets and prominent officials and agencies in the US, the UK and Europe to question their decisions and/or to inform them of the dangers of pesticides. She has been relentless in exposing conflicts of interest, fraudulent science and institutionalised corruption in regulatory processes surrounding glyphosate and other agrochemicals. Her quest has been fired by a passion to protect the natural world and the public but there is also a personal aspect: she is affected by a serious health condition which she attributes directly to the reckless use of pesticides in South Wales where she resides. And her assertion here is not based on idle speculation. In her reports, she has presented a great deal of evidence about the deterioration of the health of the British public and how agrochemicals play a major contributory role.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

The Politics of Tyranny

The Politics of Tyranny

Politicians are more likely than people in the general population to be sociopaths. I think you would find no expert in the field of sociopathy/psychopathy/antisocial personality disorder who would dispute this… That a small minority of human beings literally have no conscience was and is a bitter pill for our society to swallow — but it does explain a great many things, shamelessly deceitful political behavior being one.”

—Dr. Martha Stout, clinical psychologist and former instructor at Harvard Medical School

Twenty years ago, a newspaper headline asked the question: “What’s the difference between a politician and a psychopath?

The answer, then and now, remains the same: None.

There is no difference between psychopaths and politicians.

Nor is there much of a difference between the havoc wreaked on innocent lives by uncaring, unfeeling, selfish, irresponsible, parasitic criminals and elected officials who lie to their constituents, trade political favors for campaign contributions, turn a blind eye to the wishes of the electorate, cheat taxpayers out of hard-earned dollars, favor the corporate elite, entrench the military industrial complex, and spare little thought for the impact their thoughtless actions and hastily passed legislation might have on defenseless citizens.

Psychopaths and politicians both have a tendency to be selfish, callous, remorseless users of others, irresponsible, pathological liars, glib, con artists, lacking in remorse and shallow.

Charismatic politicians, like criminal psychopaths, exhibit a failure to accept responsibility for their actions, have a high sense of self-worth, are chronically unstable, have socially deviant lifestyles, need constant stimulation, have parasitic lifestyles and possess unrealistic goals.

It doesn’t matter whether you’re talking about Democrats or Republicans.

Political psychopaths are all largely cut from the same pathological cloth, brimming with seemingly easy charm and boasting calculating minds. Such leaders eventually create pathocracies: totalitarian societies bent on power, control, and destruction of both freedom in general and those who exercise their freedoms.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

The Green New Deal and Accursed Wealth

The Green New Deal and Accursed Wealth

Pulp mills, Longview, Washington. Photo: Jeffrey St. Clair.

Accursed Wealth! O’er bounding human laws,
Of every evil thou remains’t the cause:
Victims of want, those wretches such as me,
Too truly lay their wretchedness to thee:
Thou art the bar that keeps from being fed,
And thine our loss of labour and of bread.

Al Gore missed this memo, written at some time between 1809 and 1813, by the poet John Clare in Norhamptonshire, England. However, in his latest op-ed, It’s Not too Late – The climate crisis is the battle of our time and we can win, in the New York Times, September 22, 2019, the former Vice President helpfully notes that the fastest-growing occupation in the United States is solar installer and the second fastest- growing is wind turbine service technician. The loss of Clare’s world is un-remediated. The loss of our world, apparently, is salved by the growth of mostly low-wage ‘green-tech’ jobs. Clare, at least, identifies the cause of his loss – Accursed Wealth, or, as we might call it today, capitalism.

Gore, in his best, ever youthful, Gee-Wiz journalese proclaims that, “…we are in the early stages of a sustainable revolution that will achieve the magnitude of the Industrial Revolution and the speed of the digital revolution, made possible by new digital tools”. John Clare’s erstwhile bucolic freedom had been proscribed by the British parliament’s Enclosure Acts early in the nineteenth century, under which he lost his rights to the common lands that were seized for the benefit of proto-capitalist land-owners newly cognizant of the wealth generated by grazing sheep. Wool, like cotton, was a fiber fundamental to the modern capitalist ethos whereby the acquisition of wealth transcended the interests of both humanity and the natural world.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Green Party Debates Green New Deal

Green Party Debates Green New Deal

Photograph Source: Senate Democrats – CC BY 2.0

Despite the furor over the Green New Deal (GND), many of its supporters have no idea of the wide variety of views on it, especially within the Green Party (GP), where it originated in the US. From June through August, 2019 Missouri Greens held public discussions contrasting at least three distinct GP views to those from the Democratic Party (DP).

In June, the Green Party of St. Louis hosted a forum “The Green New Deal: Promise and Problems.” It led off with Ben Eisenberg of the Sunrise Movement describing his concerns with climate change and the extreme need for political groups to demand a switch to “100% clean, renewable energy” by 2030. Local Greens had coordinated an Extinction Rebellion protest at corporate Earth Day in April and realized the widespread appeal of the Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez AOC approach.

Henry Robertson of the Missouri Green Party followed, criticizing the popular DP perspective that climate problems require “a massive, urgent response.” He emphasized the destructiveness of economic growth and concluded “massive is not the cure for massiveness.” Robertson pointed out that “steel can’t be mass-produced without fossil fuels” and insisted that the Earth has hit its limits, meaning that production must be cut back.

Howie Hawkins, who spoke next, was the first to run for office on a GND platform as the 2010 New York Green Party candidate. He said that his original US program for a GND seeks 100% renewable energy by 2030 along with the right to single-payer healthcare, a guaranteed job at a living wage and affordable housing. It would create 20 million jobs and end destructive extraction.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

The Disaster of Negative Interest Rates

The Disaster of Negative Interest Rates

The dollar strengthened against the euro in August, merely in anticipation of the European Central Bank slashing its key interest rate further into negative territory. Investors were fleeing into the dollar, prompting President Trump to tweet on Aug. 30:

The Euro is dropping against the Dollar “like crazy,” giving them a big export and manufacturing advantage… And the Fed does NOTHING!

When the ECB cut its key rate as anticipated, from a negative 0.4% to a negative 0.5%, the president tweeted on Sept. 11:

The Federal Reserve should get our interest rates down to ZERO, or less, and we should then start to refinance our debt. INTEREST COST COULD BE BROUGHT WAY DOWN, while at the same time substantially lengthening the term.

And on Sept. 12 he tweeted:

European Central Bank, acting quickly, Cuts Rates 10 Basis Points. They are trying, and succeeding, in depreciating the Euro against the VERY strong Dollar, hurting U.S. exports…. And the Fed sits, and sits, and sits. They get paid to borrow money, while we are paying interest!

However, negative interest rates have not been shown to stimulate the economies that have tried them, and they would wreak havoc on the U.S. economy, for reasons unique to the U.S. dollar. The ECB has not gone to negative interest rates to gain an export advantage. It is to keep the European Union from falling apart, something that could happen if the United Kingdom does indeed pull out and Italy follows suit, as it has threatened to do. If what Trump wants is cheap borrowing rates for the U.S. federal government, there is a safer and easier way to get them.

The Real Reason the ECB Has Gone to Negative Interest Rates

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

The Illusion of Saving the World

The Illusion of Saving the World

Old power plant, West Linn, Oregon. Photo: Jeffrey St. Clair.

At the end of this month, as you probably know by now, an extraordinary hoopla event will descend on Manhattan in the form of a “Climate Action Summit,” summoned by UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres, to get the nations of the world finally to take seriously the threat of “global warming” and pledge to actually take serious action to save the world from catastrophe.

The chances of that happening are nil.

Oh, yes there will be speeches and promises. Under increasing pressure from alarmed citizens, led by the enlightened youth of the world who know they will be the primary victims of the coming environmental disaster, most national leaders will toss around ideas like carbon taxes, bans on coal mining and nuclear energy, building “retrofitting,” renewable solar fuels, carbon dioxide entrapment, and “net zero” greenhouse gas emissions. Some will be willing to start doing something about one or another, while simultaneously asking for somebody else to pay for the astronomic costs.

But the whole thing is an illusion. The problem is too big, the solutions too imperfect, and the timing, even if everything got fixed in a decade, is too late.

Most scientists believe, with the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, that if the earth’s temperature should increase by 2 degrees Celsius (35.6 degrees Farenheit) the rise in sea levels would engulf 280 million people, earthquakes could wipe out 17.6 million, and subsequent droughts and famines would like result in another 231 million, not to mention uncontrolled worldwide migrations, the collapse of many fragile states, and the threat of civil disorder throughout the developed world.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Pesticides in the Dock: Ecological Apocalypse But Business as Usual

Pesticides in the Dock: Ecological Apocalypse But Business as Usual

Photograph Source: United States Department of Agriculture – Public Domain

In a new paper published in King’s Law Journal –  ‘The Chemical Anthropocene: Glyphosate as a Case Study of Pesticide Exposures’ – the authors Alessandra Arcuri and Yogi Hale Hendlin state:

“As the science against glyphosate safety mounts and lawsuits threaten its chemical manufacture’s profits, the next generation of GMO crops are being keyed to the pesticide dicamba, sold commercially as XtendiMax® – and poised to be the next glyphosate. Regulatory agencies have historically been quick to approve products but slow to reconsider regulations after the decades of accumulated harms become apparent.”

They add that the entrenched asymmetries between public and ecological health and fast-to-market new chemicals is exacerbated by the seeming lack of institutionalised precautionary policies.

According to environmentalist Dr Rosemary Mason, these ‘entrenched asymmetries’ result from the corporate capture of key policy-making bodies and their subversion by agri-food oligopolies.

In her new report, ‘Why Does Bayer Crop Science Control Chemicals in Brexit Britain’, she states that Bayer is having secret meetings with the British government to determine which agrochemicals are to be used after Brexit once Britain is ‘free’ of EU restrictions and becomes as deregulated as the US.

Such collusion comes as little surprise to Mason who says the government’s ‘strategy for UK life sciences’ is already dependent on funding from pharmaceutical corporations and the pesticides industry:

“Syngenta’s parent company is AstraZeneca. In 2010, Syngenta and AstraZeneca were represented on the UK Advisory Committee on Pesticides and the Committee on Toxicity of Chemicals in Foods, Consumer Products and the Environment. The founder of Syngenta, Michael Pragnell CBE, was the Chairman of Cancer Research UK (CRUK) from 2011-2017. CRUK started by giving money (£450 million/year) to the Government’s Strategy for UK Life Sciences and AstraZeneca provided 22 compounds to academic research to develop medicines. AstraZeneca manufactures six different anti-cancer drugs mainly aimed at breast and prostate cancer.”

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Strike for the Environment, Strike for Social Justice, Strike!

Strike for the Environment, Strike for Social Justice, Strike!

Photograph by Nathaniel St. Clair

A very large chasm exists between those in power, including most of the 2020 presidential candidates, and environmentalists and scientists intent on acting now to resolve growing environmental crises. To reiterate what is known, the United Nations, through its IPCC and the IPBES committees, has provided comprehensive evidence that little time remains to avert catastrophic global warming. And the world is already in the midst of the sixth mass extinction.

Given that oligarchs, corporate executives and politicians are at least in theory physical beings as dependent on a livable world as the rest of us, it is incompatible views of the world that are illustrated by this indifference. Some people care more about wealth and power than they do about the environment, the planet and the rest of us. Lest this be confused with the human condition, the power to destroy the world has only existed for about seven decades.

The conclusion of the UN committees, considered conservative by many environmentalists, is that the opportunity to make incremental changes to industrial practices has passed. There is no way to achieve necessary goals without quickly and radically reorganizing Western political economy. And the alternative isn’t to continue on the current path. Doing nothing will alter the world in ways that will put hundreds of millions of people’s lives and livelihoods at risk.

Graph: the IPCC estimated that the world has twelve years from one year ago to cut carbon emissions in half or adverse consequences will rise at an increasing (exponential) rate. Many environmental scientists view this window as too conservative. They argue that adverse consequences are already assured by carbon releases to date. The American political class remains unbowed. Climate science believers in congress have joined deniers to assure that no environmental legislation of consequence will be passed. Source: c2es.org.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Extinction Via Rugged Individualism

Extinction Via Rugged Individualism

Black-tailed Prairie Dog, Greycliff, Montana. Photo: Jeffrey St. Clair.

I was recently amused by a train of thought on Twitter excoriating Henry David Thoreau for his experiment in self-sufficient living. True, he was on the land of his wealthy neighbor, his mother did his laundry (and brought him old-timey donuts to eat), but it was rugged, dammit. Okay, it was something akin to a 10 year old living in a tree-house in the backyard with mom sending up sandwiches in one of those nifty rope and bucket contraptions, but this was a white man doing something and writing about it so of course it’s monumental and imbued with all sorts of significance. This to me, is a perfect analogy for America and its early beginnings. Never mind the back-breaking labor provided by the women, the horrendous slave trade and lethal work that made the infrastructure possible–the convenient clearing (genocide) of the already here peoples through illness and murder……. the narrative is that it was magically produced by powdered wig donning men who weren’t just all about a self-serving course correction. This fallacy has permeated the psyche of most Americans, and doesn’t allow for adequate self-reflection or improvement, and I would say is a path to eventual extinction if a new narrative and belief system isn’t adopted.

Nature gives us ample metaphor to realize the interconnectedness of our lives. I can never look at an Aspen grove and not consider the exquisite synergy of the system.  All tethered together in an interlocking root system—what affects one tree, manifests in the whole. The 80,000 year old Pando grove in Utah has managed this interplay.  For perspective, the last Neanderthals in Europe seem to have been around about 40,000 years ago. Working together has its benefits. We’ve managed to do incredible harm in only about 300 years. We could be gone rapidly and take Pando with us at this rate.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Olduvai IV: Courage
In progress...

Olduvai II: Exodus
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