Home » Posts tagged 'counterpunch'

Tag Archives: counterpunch

Olduvai
Click on image to purchase

Olduvai III: Catacylsm
Click on image to purchase

Post categories

Arctic Heat Overwhelms Green Infighting Issues

Arctic Heat Overwhelms Green Infighting Issues

Image Source: Hunter Allen and Richard Rivera – Public Domain

Arctic temperatures are soaring to new records… and staying there, ever since May of this year. Truth be known, the Arctic’s been heating up for years. Siberia recently hit 105°F. That’s not normal. It’s 30°F hotter than normal.

Farther south, the Amazon rainforest is hit with a drought every 5 years like clockwork, not regular run of the mill droughts but massive excessive devastating droughts. NASA’s GRACE satellite, measuring water levels stored deep beneath Earth’s surface showed Deep Red Zones beneath the Amazon rainforest, not watery blue.

Climate activists have been warning about overheating of the planet for decades, ever since Dr. James Hansen’s testimony before the Senate in 1987: “The greenhouse effect has been detected, and it is changing our climate now.” (Hansen)

Fast forward to June 2020: Since Hansen’s testimony, thirty-three years of climate activists bitching, protesting, kicking and screaming and bellyaching about excessive human-generated CO2 has gone nowhere but backward as a relentless rise in CO2 emissions trudges ahead measured at Mauna Loa Observatory, Hawaii.

Post-Hansen’s testimony the annual rate of CO2 increase has more than doubled, not gone down but doubled. Up, up and away, year-over-year, it never goes down. It’s the main culprit blanketing the atmosphere, retaining heat for hundreds of years and fast becoming the Big Oven in the Sky.

Clearly, too much heat has already overwhelmed the Arctic and Amazon rainforest ecosystems. Along the way, greenie frustration is finally coming to a head as environmentalists “catfight” in open public.

For example, Michael Moore and Jeff Gibbs’ controversial film Planet of the Humans (Rumble Media) serves as an opening salvo, exposing a green movement that has turned a light shade of brown. The film paints a painful picture of a movement that, in certain instances, has gone off the rails.

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

The War That Time Forgot

The War That Time Forgot

Drone targeting footage, Afghanistan. Photo: USAF.

I hear it all the time. The most crucial decision of this century was the vote to go to war against Iraq. It’s meant to serve as a political line of demarcation, a sure-fire way to determine which politicians, celebrities and news personalities you can trust.

But there’s little question, to my mind at least, that the impulsive decision to invade Afghanistan was the more consequential and enduring tragedy, a political bloodletting that nearly every political leader, left and right, fell for, even putative peaceniks like Bernie Sanders and Ron Paul. This was the true moral test of our time and almost everyone failed, except Barbara Lee. She was the lone voice of conscience in the fall of 2001, a vote of dissent in a time of mass hysteria that has been vindicated time and again over the past 18 years.

Remember, the vote to go to war against Afghanistan, enacted only seven days after the 9/11 attacks, was actually a vote for an open-ended war waged against nebulous “terrorists” anywhere on the planet: Pakistan, Niger, Yemen, Somalia, Algeria. You name it. No questions asked. It was only Barbara Lee foresaw the consequences, how even a highflying critic of the rush to invade Iraq like Barack Obama could 14-years later use the hastily-written AUMF as a legal basis for launching airstrikes on ISIS forces inside Syria. Now, Donald Trump has claimed the same unilateral authority and used it to justify strikes against the Syrian regime of Bashar al-Assad and to justify the assassination of Qasem Suleimani. It’s the gift that keeps on killing.

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

The Final 100 Seconds

The Final 100 Seconds

Screenshot of the 2020 Doomsday Clock Announcement from the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists YouTube Channel

Never before this year 2020 has the world-famous Doomsday Clock registered only “100 seconds-to-midnight.” According to the Science & Security Board, Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, since WWII, the world has never been so perilous.

Alas, it’s been a long journey (73 yrs) all the way up to 100 seconds to midnight versus the original 1947 setting of seven minutes to midnight. The safest setting was at 17 minutes to midnight in 1991 at the end of the Cold War. The wonderfully famous iconic clock is located in the lobby of the Bulletin offices at the University of Chicago.

Unceremoniously, recklessly the Trump administration carries the indisputable title as one of the most dangerous executives in the history of the country with two key issues that determine the clock’s settings: (1) climate change deniers and (2) atomic bomb explosion enthusiasts for simplicity of political gain, nothing else.

The Doomsday Clock is set by a board of scientists and professionals with depth of knowledge about nuclear technology and climate science. They are established professionals that often provide expert advice to governments and international agencies. Impressively, the Bulletins’ Board of Sponsors includes 13 Nobel Laureates.

The Doomsday Clock is internationally recognized as an important SOS of impending catastrophe. University of Chicago scientists that developed the first atomic weapons in the Manhattan Project founded the concept back in 1945. Thereafter, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists created the Doomsday Clock two years later.

Accordingly, as of June 2020: “In the view of many, the Trump administration’s proposal to expand spending on nuclear weapons is a sad and dangerous illustration of wildly misplaced federal spending priorities. 

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

Turkey’s Big Bet Has Put Libya in Center of a Global Power Struggle

Turkey’s Big Bet Has Put Libya in Center of a Global Power Struggle

Drawing by Nathaniel St. Clair

The series of debilitating military setbacks that Libya’s renegade general Khalifa Haftar suffered in recent months have spurred diplomatic activities over the conflict in the country. But the war is far from over.

Haftar’s dream of capturing Tripoli from the internationally recognized Government of National Accord (GNA) led by Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj has been dashed. Haftar’s Libyan National Army (LNA) has retreated from several cities northwest of Tripoli, near the border with Tunisia, as well as the al-Watiya airbase, a strategic asset southwest of the capital.

A comeback by Haftar can only take place in the fullness of time and that too, if his mentors—France, Egypt, United Arab Emirates (UAE), Saudi Arabia and Russia—repose confidence in him still. Haftar seems to have overreached, and the present setback dents his credibility.

Egypt reacted swiftly by getting Haftar and Aguila Saleh Issa, the head of the Tobruk-based House of Representatives—the third protagonist in the Libyan strife—over to Cairo for a patch-up, following which, on June 6, Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi announced a grandiose roadmap called the Cairo Declaration to end the Libyan conflict.

The Cairo Declaration envisages a ceasefire starting June 8 (which didn’t happen) followed by “disbanding militias, handing over their arms, pulling out foreign forces, electing a ruling presidential council representing all Libyans and drafting of a constitutional declaration to regulate elections for later stages.”

Sisi’s Cairo Declaration has been welcomed by the Gulf states and Russia, while the GNA backed by Turkey remains disinterested and hopes to make some more territorial gains so as to be able to negotiate from a position of strength. The GNA and Turkey estimate—rightly so—that any respite at this point will be utilized by Haftar and his backers to recoup and plan anew to return to the battlefield to make another bid to rule Libya.

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

Forest Restoration or Forest Degradation?

Forest Restoration or Forest Degradation?

These two images display a recent example of a forest “restoration” project designed to improve the “health” of a ponderosa pine forests. The area to the left of the path was recently (about a year ago) thinned and then burned. The area to the right of the trail shows what the “unhealthy” landscape was like before “restoration” occurred.

I would argue from a forest ecosystem health and biodiversity perspective, the managed landscape pictured here is degraded and less “healthy” than the right side of the pathway.

First, note that the forest left of the path is nearly uniform in species and tree size. You see little young age class trees. Other tree species that exist in the area and visible to the right side of the path like lodgepole pine and white fir are gone.

The “treated” side due to its more uniform species and age class is now much more vulnerable to future disease and insect outbreaks.

In addition to the loss of species diversity, there is almost no understory shrubs or other plant species on the left side (left) of the path. While the right side has a greater diversity of “habitat niches” that includes shrubs, flowers, grasses, and other plant species. All of this diversity supports a greater variety of insects, birds, small mammals, reptiles, and other wildlife.

There is a collective loss of dead wood, and even the potential for future snags and dead wood since the goal of these treatments is to preclude natural processes like bark beetles, wildfire and other natural disturbance processes from occurring.

The removal of trees by thinning has also reduced the carbon storage on the site, and as many papers extoll, this loss today is problematic and will take a long time to recover.[1]

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

There’s a Crisis in US Capitalism

There’s a Crisis in US Capitalism

Capitalism has always had business cycles. The capitalist enterprises that produce goods and services are distinctively organized around the conflicted relationship of employer and employees and the competitive relationship of markets. These central relationships of capitalism together generate cyclical instability. Wherever capitalism became a society’s economic system over the last three centuries, business cycles recurred every four to seven years. Capitalism has mechanisms to survive its cycles, but they are painful, especially when employers fire employees. Widespread pain (unemployment, bankruptcies, disrupted public finances, etc.) brought the label “crisis” to capitalism’s cyclical downturns. Only on special occasions, and rarely, did the cyclical crises in capitalism become crises of capitalism as a system. That has usually required other non-economic problems (political, cultural, and/or natural) to reach crescendo peaks around the same time as a cyclical economic downturn. Today is a time of crisis both in and of U.S. capitalism.

U.S. economic policy now focuses on what is already the worst business cycle downturn since the 1929 crash. As data accumulate, it may well prove to be the worst in global capitalism’s entire history. Forty million jobless U.S. workers find incomes lost, savings disappearing and over-indebted family finances worsening.

Today’s mass unemployment also threatens those still employed, the remaining 120 million members of the U.S. labor force. Mass unemployment always invites employers to cut wages, benefits and working conditions. If any of their employees quit, many among the millions of unemployed will accept those abandoned jobs. Knowing that, most employees accept their employers’ cuts. Employers will justify them as required by “the pandemic” or by what they say are its effects on their profits.

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

Food and Agroecology: Coping with Future Shocks

Food and Agroecology: Coping with Future Shocks

The food crisis that could follow in the wake of the various lockdowns that were implemented on the back of the coronavirus may have long-lasting consequences. We are already seeing food shortages in the making. In India, for instance, supply chains have been disrupted, farm input systems for the supply of seeds and fertilisers have almost collapsed in some places and crops are not being harvested. Moreover, cultivation has been adversely affected prior to the monsoon and farm incomes are drying up. Farmers closer to major urban centres are faring a bit better due to shorter supply chains.

Veteran rural reporter P Sainath has urged India’s farmers to move away from planting cash crops and to start cultivating food crops, saying that you cannot eat cotton. It’s a good point. For instance, according to a report that appeared on the ruralindiaonline website, in a region of southern Odisha, farmers have been pushed towards a reliance on (illegal) expensive genetically modified herbicide tolerant cotton seeds and have replaced their traditional food crops. Farmers used to sow mixed plots of heirloom seeds, which had been saved from family harvests the previous year and would yield a basket of food crops. They are now dependent on seed vendors, chemical inputs and a volatile international market to make a living and are no longer food secure.

But what is happening in India is a microcosm of global trends. Reliance on commodity monocropping for international markets, long global supply chains and dependency on external inputs for cultivation make the food system vulnerable to shocks, whether resulting from public health scares, oil price spikes (the industrial global food system is heavily fossil-fuel dependent) or conflict. An increasing number of countries are recognising the need to respond by becoming more food self-sufficient, preferably by securing control over their own food and reducing supply chains.

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

A Machiavellian US in the Middle East

A Machiavellian US in the Middle East

The war in Syria has dropped out of the news, like almost everything else, in a time when the Coronavirus seems to dominate all discourse and reporting. But the regime of Bashar al-Assad continues to strangle its own country. The Russians continue to bomb on his behalf, terrifying civilians and hospitals. The Americans work semi-clandestinely to undermine both the regime and its Russian backers.

There is no sign in the US-Soviet relationship of what was called in the 1970s and 80s détente. The big powers, Russia, the US, the UK and France appear intent on maintaining their interests in the Middle East.

Russia has long been a friend of Syria and has had its single foreign base there since Soviet days. For even longer the US, France and the UK have been a friend of Saudi Arabia and today provide weapons for the Saudi air force so it can support Yemen’s government in its attack on the Houthi rebels, resulting in the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.

Finding a pathway to big power détente in the Middle East seems to be eternally difficult. For those who want to shed some light on how it all works, I refer them to an excellent analysis in the current issue of Harvard University’s International Security by Professor Galen Jackson of Williams College.

Reading this one understands how US Middle East policy in the era of presidents Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford and their national security advisor Henry Kissinger became totally Machiavellian after Nixon’s resignation.

It raises the question about how Machiavellian it is today. Is the US engaged in undermining Russia so that it can ensure its dominance in the Middle East? Has it been about trying to give Russia a bloody nose in Syria via the firepower of its local allies, which it and some of its NATO allies have provided?

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

The Coming Nuclear Menace: Hypersonic Missiles

The Coming Nuclear Menace: Hypersonic Missiles

Photograph Source: David James Paquin (attributed) – Public Domain

The United States is seeking to acquire “volumes of hundreds or even thousands” of nuclear-capable hypersonic missiles that are “stealthy” and can fly undetected at 3,600 miles per hour, five times faster than the speed of sound.

Why so many? A Pentagon official is quoted in the current issue of Aviation Week & Space Technology as saying “we have to be careful we’re not building boutique weapons. If we build boutique weapons, we won’t—we’ll be very reluctant to—use them.”

The article in the aerospace industry trade journal is headlined: “Hypersonic Mass Production.” A subhead reads: “Pentagon Forms Hypersonic Industry ‘War Room.’”

On March 19, 2020, the U.S. conducted its first hypersonic missile test from its Pacific Missile Range Facility on Kauai, Hawaii.

Fast and Furiously Accurate” is the title of an article about hypersonic missiles written by a U.S. Navy officer which appeared last year on a U.S. Naval Institute website.

The piece declares that by “specifically integrating hypersonic weapons with U.S. Navy submarines, the United States may gain an edge in developing the fastest, most precise weapons the world has ever seen.”

“Hypersonic weapons,” explains the article by U.S. Navy Lieutenant Andrea Howard, “travel faster than Mach 5—at least five times the speed of sound, around 3,600 mph, or one mile per second….They are similar to but faster than existing missiles, such as the subsonic U.S. Tomahawk missile, which maxes out around 550 mph.”

“While hypersonic weapons can carry conventional or nuclear warheads, they differ from existing technologies in three critical ways,” writes Howard. “First…a one-kilogram object delivered precisely and traveling multiples of the speed of sound can be more destructive than one kilogram of TNT. 

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

End Game for Green Utopia

End Game for Green Utopia

Wind Turbines, Tehachapi Pass. Photo: Jeffrey St. Clair.

On these two opposing types of responses to the movie “Planet Of The Humans”:

PRO: “The key, however, is that all these [‘greenish’] energy policies have to be carried out after capitalism has been wiped out and under conditions where production is based strictly on use.“

CON: “This documentary is trashy fake news. It’s Trumpian in its disdain for the facts…, they point away from real climate action solutions (such as renewable energy infrastructure) and peddle fascist snake oil of population growth i.e. advocate ecofascist genocide…Meanwhile, those of us who aren’t raving ecofascist lunatics will continue to fight to change society.”

Dreams of Utopias and illusions of self-importance die hard, even in the face of reality. Nature doesn’t care about how we fantasize; it just keeps on with its grand cycles, which those of global heating, environmental destruction and species extinction are now overstimulated by us, homo sapiens. The fundamental question here is: how good of an equitable world society could we energetically have, and by ‘greening it’ can we limit global warming?

PART 1:

The best we could possibly do would be to equalize the standard of living (Human Development Index) worldwide to HDI=0.862 (the range is from 0.28 for the poorest, to 0.97 for the richest nations), with a per capita electrical energy use of u=4000 kWh/c (kilowatt-hours-per-year/capita). The world average by nation (in 2002, and similar now) was: HDI=0.741 at u=2465 kWh/c. The U.S.A. had HDI=0.944 at u=13,456 kWh/c (a rich highly developed country). Niger had HDI=0.281 at u=40kWh/c (a poor underdeveloped country).

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

The Infodemic of Fake News in the Era of CoV-19

The Infodemic of Fake News in the Era of CoV-19

In Italy Facebook and Twitter are not the primary social media apps of Italians generally speaking. More than ever WhatsApp and Instagram are the mobile apps of choice for social media messaging and these apps have been the cause of many fake news stories where local gossip is translated into a media story only later to be discovered as fake. There are even fake animal stories in abundance on social media on Instagram and Twitter and filters on Instagram that made claims to diagnose—and even cure—COVID-19.

Remember the ibuprofen scare that was said to originate from a friend of a doctor at the Medical University of Vienna in March? The claim, originally made as a voice recording in German and quickly translated to many other languages in message form, was that COVID-19 was either caused by or aggravated by patients taking ibuprofen. I saw about thirty tweets to this effect in March that many people aimlessly executed without reading any verifiable studies on this claim. Well, it turns out this was a hoax and wildly successful since even today people are still retweeting the fake news for which there is zero scientific basis.

While fake news is not endemic to Italy, it is having an increasing impact in other European nations as WhatsApp has become the primary vehicle for transmitting fraudulent news stories. Now for every rumour on social media, major and independent news is tasked with correcting the fake news reports to include telling readers how to deal with what is now called an “infodemic.”

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

The Future is Up for Grabs

The Future is Up for Grabs

When it comes to cashing in on Covid-19, the race has just begun. Whether you’re talking about education or contact tracing or medicine or mind control, an anti-democratic, dystopian future is being charted while we the people are locked down, locked up and locked out.

Naomi Klein’s latest piece, “Screen New Deal” in the Intercept, describes in chilling detail the way that a no-touch, no accountability pandemic economy has been being divvied up among corporate kingpins since Covid Shock hit in March.

Google is grabbing our data, Microsoft is coming for our classrooms and Amazon wants to be our one-stop, only shop.

Pandemic panic is making possible fast what the hurdle of popular consent made slow. As Klein reminds us, until recently, public pushback against companies like Amazon, Google and Microsoft was surging.

“Presidential candidates were openly discussing breaking up big tech. Amazon was forced to pull its plans for a New York headquarters because of fierce local opposition. Google’s Sidewalk Labs project was in perennial crisis, and Google’s own workers were refusing to build surveillance tech with military applications,” writes Klein.

Now, the very same companies that the public chased out the front door are walking in the back, repackaged no longer as a threat, but as the solution to our personal and national woes.

The future could certainly be bleak, but as Naomi acknowledges, we’re not there yet. It’s also important to remember that the present as we know it was not always thus.

In 1994, for example, India had a different set of patent laws, which positioned it to become the global supplier of affordable AIDS drugs. It was only the birth of the World Trade Organization and Trade-Related Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) that held them back. In the years that followed, an Indian drug maker and international activists used Indian law to force Big Pharma to cave. A cheap generic drug was able to save millions of lives.

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

Amid the Coronavirus Pandemic, America’s Billionaires Thrive and Prosper

Amid the Coronavirus Pandemic, America’s Billionaires Thrive and Prosper

Although most Americans currently face hard times, with unemployment surging to the levels of the Great Depression and enormous numbers of people sick or dying from the coronavirus pandemic, the nation’s super-rich remain a notable exception.

Financially, they are doing remarkably well. According to the Institute for Policy Studies, between March 18 and April 28, as nearly 30 million Americans applied for unemployment benefits, the wealth of America’s 630 billionaires grew by nearly 14 percent. During April 2020 alone, their wealth increased by over $406 billion, bringing it to $3.4 trillion. According to estimates by Forbes, the 400 richest Americans now possess as much wealth as held by nearly two-thirds of American households combined.

Some of the super-rich have fared particularly well. Jeff Bezos (the wealthiest man in the world) saw his wealth soar between January 1 and early May 2020 to $142 billion―an increase of $27.5 billion. During that same period, Elon Musk’s wealth grew by $11.4 billion to $39 billion and the wealth of Steve Ballmer (ranking sixth in wealth) increased by $8 billion to $66.1 billion. The gains of Mark Zuckerberg (ranking third) were more modest, but his wealth did rise to $79.3 billion.

Although some billionaires lost money, this was not likely to put them out on the streets. The wealth of Bill Gates (ranking second) dropped from about $113 billion to $106 billion, while the wealth of Larry Ellison (ranking ninth) slipped from $58.8 billion to $58.7 billion.

During this time of economic crisis, two features of the U.S. government’s economic bailout legislation facilitated the burgeoning of billionaire fortunes: first, the provision of direct subsidies to the wealthy and their corporations, and, second, the gift of huge tax breaks to rich Americans and their businesses. Consequently, although the U.S. economy continues to deteriorate, stock prices, helped along by this infusion of cash, are once again soaring.

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

Congress Sets Up Taxpayers to Eat $454 Billion of Wall Street’s Losses, Where is the Outrage?

Congress Sets Up Taxpayers to Eat $454 Billion of Wall Street’s Losses, Where is the Outrage?

Photograph by Nathaniel St. Clair

Beginning on March 24 of this year, Larry Kudlow, the White House Economic Advisor, began to roll out the most deviously designed bailout of Wall Street in the history of America. After the Federal Reserve’s secret $29 trillion bailout of Wall Street from 2007 to 2010, and the exposure of that by a government audit and in-depth report by the Levy Economics Institute in 2011, Kudlow was going to have to come up with a brilliant strategy to sell another multi-trillion-dollar Wall Street bailout to the American people.

The scheme was brilliant (in an evil genius sort of way) and audacious in employing an Orwellian form of reverse-speak. The plan to bail out Wall Street would be sold to the American people as a rescue of “Main Street.” It was critical, however, that all of the officials speaking to the media repeat the words “Main Street” over and over.

It was decided that Larry Kudlow would first announce the plan at the White House press briefing on March 24 followed by an unprecedented appearance of Fed Chairman Jerome Powell on the Today show on March 26.

This is how Kudlow explained the program that was going to be tucked into the stimulus legislation known as the CARES Act at the White House press briefing on March 24:

Kudlow: “This package will be the single largest Main Street assistance program in the history of the United States. Phase Two delivered the sick leave for individuals, hourly workers, families and so forth. Phase Three – a significant package for small businesses, loan guarantees will be included. We’re gonna take out expenses and lost revenues…And, finally, I want to mention the Treasury’s Exchange Stabilization Fund. That will be replenished.

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

Water and Cadillac Deserts

Water and Cadillac Deserts

California Aqueduct near Kettleman City. Photo: Jeffrey St. Clair.

My lengthy experience at the US Environmental Protection Agency brought me face to face with the terrors of our “modern” times. One of those awful realizations was that the leaders of America – and the leaders of other countries — are not telling the truth about the impact of people and industries  have been having out there, on the natural world. For example, water.

The degradation, poisoning, and the disappearance of water is, first of all, the result of too many people inhabiting the planet. Despite perpetual wars and plagues, world population is steadily rising.

However, an even bigger force has been undermining water and life on Earth: industrialization: the machine power man acquired and employed to reshape the world to his interests.

This engineering power spread to plantation owners and modern oligarchs who rushed and grabbed land from indigenous people or small family farmers. Water has been absolutely necessary for “landscaping” the natural world and the production of cash crops in large farms and plantations. In addition, developers, miners, river-dam builders, and large cities want lots of water.

Before I tell the story of what “moderns” are doing to water, let’s turn to an earlier age when the Greeks treasured water.

Sacred water and Greek cosmology

Water was sacred to the Greeks because nature and the cosmos were sacred. The gods, and the universe those gods represented, demanded that the Greeks understand their power, which meant an understanding of nature and the cause and effect of phenomena in the natural world and the universe. Mythology informed them that:

(1) the god of southern wind, Notos, was the father of rain, Zeus having given him the prerogative of sending rain-giving clouds from the sky to earth.

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

Olduvai IV: Courage
In progress...

Olduvai II: Exodus
Click on image to purchase