It's time to do the the math again

SUBHEAD: Regarding climate change, only a whole-of-society rescue plan can provide hope of retaining a livable planet.

By Staff on 22 April 2015 for Climate Code Red -
(http://www.climatecodered.org/2015/04/its-time-to-do-math-again.html)


Image above: "SHELL" turns into "HELL". Article "The Real Weapons of Mass Destruction: Methane, Propaganda & the Architects of Genocide". From (https://thebiggestlieevertold.wordpress.com/tag/methane-hydrates/).

Have we gone mad? A new report released today explains why contemporary climate change policy-making should be characterized as increasingly delusional.

As the deadline approaches for submissions to the Australian government's climate targets process, there is a flurry of submissions and reports from advocacy groups and the Climate Change Authority.

Most of these reports are based on the twin propositions that two degrees Celsius (2°C) of global warming is an appropriate policy target, and that there is a significant carbon budget and an amount of "burnable carbon" for this target, and hence a scientifically-based escalating ladder of emission-reduction targets stretching to mid-century and beyond.

A survey of the relevant scientific literature by David Spratt, "Recount: It's time to 'Do the math' again", published today by Breakthrough concludes that the evidence does not support either of these propositions.
The catastrophic and irreversible consequences of 2°C of warming demand a strong risk-management approach, with a low rate of failure. We should not take risks with the climate that we would not take with civil infrastructure.

There is no carbon budget available if 2°C is considered a cap or upper boundary as per the Copenhagen Accord, rather than a hit-or-miss target which can be significantly exceeded; or if a low risk of exceeding 2°C is required; or if positive feedbacks such as permafrost and other carbon store losses are taken into account.

Effective policy making can only be based on recognizing that climate change is already dangerous, and we have no carbon budget left to divide up. Big tipping-point events irreversible on human time scales such as in West Antarctica and large-scale positive feedbacks are already occurring at less than 1°C of warming. It is clear that 2°C of climate warming is not a safe cap.

In reality, 2°C is the boundary between dangerous and very dangerous climate change and 1°C warmer than human civilisation has ever experienced.

In the lead up to the forthcoming Paris talks, policy makers through their willful neglect of the evidence are in effect normalizing a 2.5–3°C global warming target.

This evidence in "Recount: It's time to 'Do the math' again" demonstrates that action is necessary at a faster pace than most policy makers conceive is possible. Decades of procrastination mean there is no longer sufficient time for an incremental and non-disruptive reduction in emissions. 

Only a whole-of-society rescue plan, understood as action at emergency speed outside of the business-as-usual political mode, can provide hope of retaining a livable planet for ourselves and future generations.

In a foreword to the report, Ian Dunlop, the former Chair, Australian Coal Association & CEO, Australian Institute of Company Directors, says that:

For the last two decades global leaders have been guilty of willful denial regarding human-induced climate change, none more so than in Australia. Despite much rhetoric and endless negotiations, human carbon emissions continue in line with a worst-case scenario...

Unfortunately the years of procrastination have cut off options to solve the climate challenge with a graduated response – emergency action is now inevitable if potentially catastrophic and irreversible impacts are to be avoided.

Such views are dismissed as extremist by political and corporate incumbencies, and by most activist NGOs and investors. However, there has never been an honest official acknowledgment of the real climate challenge; as a result realistic solutions have not been forthcoming.

Climate change is happening faster and more extensively than officially acknowledged and sensible risk management requires far more stringent action. This paper explains why.
Download "Recount: It's time to 'Do the math' again"
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Rising police aggression

SUBHEAD:  It is a telling indicator of our societal decline - a historically common marker of failing civilizations.

By Chris Martenson on 24 April 2015 for Peak Prosperity -
(http://www.peakprosperity.com/blog/92427/rising-police-aggression-telling-indicator-our-societal-decline)


Image above: A SWAT robot, a remote-controlled small tank-like vehicle with a shield for officers, is demonstrated for the media in Sanford, Maine, on, April 18, 2013. Howe & Howe Technologies, a Waterboro, Maine company, says their device keeps SWAT teams and other first responders safe in standoffs and while confronting armed suspects. Photo by Robert F. Bukaty/AP Photo. From (http://www.gagdaily.com/appealing/2875-robots-at-work-and-play-part-2.html).

My first Uber lift was in South Carolina.  My driver was from Sudan originally, but had emigrated to the US 20 years ago.  Being the curious sort, I asked him about his life in Sudan and why he moved.  He said that he left when his country had crumbled too far, past the point where a reasonable person could have a reasonable expectation of personal safety, when all institutions had become corrupted making business increasingly difficult.  So he left.

Detecting a hitch in his delivery when he spoke of coming to the US, I asked him how he felt about the US now, 20 years later.  "To be honest," he said, "the same things I saw in Sudan that led me to leave are happening here now. That saddens me greatly, because where else is there to go?"
It’s time to face some uncomfortable ideas about the state of civilization in the United States. This country is no longer the beacon of freedom illuminating a better way for the world. Why not? Because it has ceased to be civilized.

The recent spate of police brutality videos and the complete lack of a useful or even sane response by the police unions is shaping my writing here. But it goes well beyond those incidents and extends into all corners of the lives of US citizens now, as police abuse is only one symptom of a much deeper problem.

What do we mean by "civilized?"  Well, take a look at its official definition and see if you note any descriptors that are lacking in present day US culture:

Civilized adjective

1. Culturededucatedsophisticatedenlightenedhumane All truly civilized countries must deplore torture.
2. Politemannerlytolerantgraciouscourteousaffablewell-behavedwell-mannered
(Source)
A civilized society, then, is one that is humane at its core, that knows right from wrong, and which does not need to conduct lengthy ‘internal reviews’ to discover if videotaped brutality is indeed showing illegal abuse.

Let’s begin by examining a few recent cases of brutality, so many of which now exist that I have to narrow the field substantially in the interest of brevity.  I'm going to skip over the one where an unarmed black man was shot five times in the back and coldly murdered by the officer in South Carolina, because that has already (and rightly) received a lot of media attention.

So, the first case I'd like to discuss comes to us from San Bernardino CA where a man being served with a warrant for suspicion of identity theft started to flee.  Much to the dismay of the police, the last leg of his otherwise humorous escape plan involved a horse, forcing the cops to huff across the hot, dry desert on foot.

The video eventually shows the fugitive falling off his horse, throwing himself flat on the ground in total submission, and then putting his own hands behind his back. Two officers then approach and, in full view of the news chopper camera circling overhead, proceed to violently kick him in the face and groin, pistol whip him with a taser, pile-drive him with their elbows, and then move aside to make room for the other nine officers that also join in the violent 2 minute long beating:
Aerial footage showed the man falling off the horse he was suspected of stealing during the pursuit in San Bernardino County Thursday afternoon.
He then appeared to be stunned with a Taser by a sheriff's deputy and fall to the ground with his arms outstretched. Two deputies immediately descended on him and appeared to punch him in the head and knee him in the groin, according to the footage, reviewed several times by NBC4.
The group surrounding the man grew to 11 sheriff's deputies.
In the two minutes after the man was stunned with a Taser, it appeared deputies kicked him 17 times, punched him 37 times and struck him with batons four times. Thirteen blows appeared to be to the head. The horse stood idly nearby.
The man did not appear to move from his position lying on the ground for more than 45 minutes. He did not appear to receive medical attention while deputies stood around him during that time.
San Bernardino County Sheriff John McMahon told NBC4 he was launching an internal investigation into the actions of the deputies.
"I'm not sure if there was a struggle with the suspect," McMahon said. "It appears there was in the early parts of the video. What happens afterwards, I'm not sure of, but we will investigate it thoroughly."
(Source)
Note the lack of civilized responses there from beginning to the end.  A yielding, non-resisting suspect was repeatedly pounded by 11 officers using means that would land you or me in hot water (justifiably) on “assault with a dangerous weapon” charges if we did the same.

Then the beaten man was left on the ground afterwards without any medical attention for 45 minutes. The physical abuse nor the later disdain for the suspect's condition aren't behaviors you find in a civilized society. Successfully apprehending a 'suspected criminal' does not give you free license to mete out a brutal beat-down, at least not if your humanity is intact. But with these officers, that appears to be precisely what happened. The fact that it did is indicative of a culture in distress.

In the next part of this sad drama, the county sheriff had the audacity to say (in an obvious attempt at damage control) that he was ‘not sure’ if a struggle had happened with the suspect, but that it appeared that there had been one.  Apparently, the sheriff needs some training in evidence review (or a new pair of glasses) because there’s no struggle there at all, which is plainly obvious in the video:
Then the sheriff concludes with “what happens afterward, I’m not sure of,…” Again, anybody who viewed the video is very certain of what happened afterwards because it’s completely obvious: the deputies kicked the crap out of a non-resisting suspect.

So obvious that less than 2 weeks after the beating, San Bernadino county hastily agreed to a $650,000 settlement in attempt to very rapidly put the whole thing behind them.

The only legitimate response from the sheriff, to show that the rule of law applies and that he and his deputies have morals and are part of a civilized society, would have been to say something along the lines of, “Assaulting a compliant and non-resisting suspect is never OK, and it is against our internal policies and training as well as the law.  In the interest of complete transparency and fairness, both real and perceived, we’ve asked for an external review which will include citizen participation.  

Whether laws are broken by citizens of the police, our department believes 100% in equal application of the law because anything else erodes the basic perception of fairness upon which a civilized society rests.”

Of course, nothing of the sort was said here. Nor is it ever said in other brutality cases, where instead we see the ranks close around the accused cop(s), which unfortunately communicates the impression that one of the perks of being a law enforcement officer is being able to dodge the consequences of the same laws they administer daily.

Here are a few more cases, all demonstrating the same unequal application of the laws:

In this next case, an unarmed, fleeing black male suspect was tackled and pinned on the ground by at least two officers. He then was shot in the back by a 73 year-old reserve deputy who apparently couldn't tell the difference between a revolver and a taser. A 73 year-old whose main qualification for being on the scene seems to have been his prior generous donations to the police department.
Tulsa Police Chase And Shoot Eric Courtney Harris


The above video is disturbing for many reasons, but especially because while Eric Harris is dying he says “Oh man, I can’t breathe” to which one of the officer who happens to have his knee firmly on Eris’s head says “Fuck your breath!”

Recall that one of the words used to describe civilized is "humane". Think about how far out of touch with your own humanity you have to be to say that to a dying person. Even if the officer didn't know Harris was dying at the time, he at least knew that he had been shot.

In another case, a man approaches a car blocking the street and asks for it to be moved.  The violent manner of the officer's response would be a case of road rage if it involved another civilian and be prosecuted as a serious crime with multiple charges.
Man Asks Cop Nicely to Stop Blocking Traffic, So the Cop Beat Him and Stomped his Head
Sept 11, 2014 Sacramento, CA — A Sacramento County Sheriff’s deputy is on paid vacation after a video surfaced showing him stomping on a man’s face and hitting him with his flashlight after tasering him.
Undersheriff Jaime Lewis says that they are investigating themselves after viewing the video.
“There are portions of that video that clearly have caused me concern,” Lewis said. “And that is exactly what has caused the department to initiate an investigation, so we can get to the bottom of it.”
The man being beaten in the video is 51-year-old John Madison Reyes, who said the incident started when he asked the deputy, whose car was blocking the road, to move.
“I asked him kindly to move the car,” Reyes said. “He glared at me and stared at me. And then, I said an expletive, ‘You need to move the car because I can’t get through.’”
"Let's face it, had the subject complied with the officer's directives from the initial contact and beyond, we wouldn't be sitting here talking about this today," Lewis said.
(Source)
What seems to have happened in the above story is simply that the cop didn't like his authority being challenged, even in a very minor way, and he over-reacted.

The recipient of the beating, Mr. Reyes, was charged with resisting arrest.  How is that even possible?  It seems like there needs to be something you are being arrested for to resist in the first place.  Something for which the officer has probable cause in the first place which you then resist?  How can the only charge be ‘resisting arrest’?

Sadly, many times after a confrontation has become physically violent the one and only charge applied is ‘resisting arrest.’

Of course, that’s a mighty convenient charge for some police who escalate a situation first, and then resort to using the charge of resisting arrest because, in the end, that’s the only charge they have. And while it’s not wise to resist arrest, there are hundreds of cases where people claim they weren’t resisting at all, merely trying to protect their heads and faces from heavy blows, while the police were beating them yelling “Stop resisting arrest!” like it was a magic incantation.
As in this case:
Brutal LAPD arrest caught on video; Department investigating cops seen bodyslamming nurse twice during cell phone traffic stop

The Los Angeles Police Department is investigating two officers who were allegedly caught on surveillance camera slamming a nurse on the ground twice — and then fist bumping afterward — during a recent traffic stop.

The two officers pulled over Michelle Jordan, 34, of Sunland, Aug. 21, for allegedly talking on her cell phone while driving in Tujunga, in northeast Los Angeles, the department said.

Jordan pulled into the parking lot of a Del Taco restaurant and got out of her car to confront the officers, cops said.

The taco joint's surveillance video appears to show the officers, both men, yanking the 5-foot-4 inch registered nurse from the open driver's seat and then slamming her on the ground to cuff her.

The duo then yank Jordan to her feet and bring her to the patrol car, where they pat her down.

Moments later, one of the cops slams the married mom to the ground a second time.
After placing her in the cruiser's backseat, the two appear to share a celebratory fist-pound.

Jordan was booked for resisting arrest and later released.
(Source)
The pictures of the damage to this woman's face are disturbing.  Think about what it would be like to be pulled over for a minor infraction, be yanked from your car, thrown to the ground, handcuffed, stood up, and then violently body slammed a second time.  While she may have been using words that these officers found to be less than respectful of their authority, in a civilized society grown men do not violently assault the unarmed -- especially handcuffed women.  That's just sadistic and has no place in a decent society.

In another case from Baltimore police broke the leg of a man they were arresting, Freddie Gray, cuffed him, and instead of getting him medical help dragged him to a van obviously alive and screaming in pain from the broken leg. By the time that van ride was over, the man was delivered to a local hospital with a broken neck, his spine 80% severed, and he died a short while later. His “crime?”

He allegedly “fled unprovoked upon noticing police presence," which, by the way, is not actually a crime, something the Baltimore police were forced to acknowledge in the aftermath of the incident.  The police spokesman, Deputy Commissioner Jerry Rodriguez initially stated that there was “no evidence” of any use of excessive force.  I would counter that any time you shatter a person’s neck after they are cuffed during a van ride, that’s "excessive", by definition.

Again, the initial response by the police, which began as silence followed by the filing of an initial report that said Mr. Gray was "arrested without incident or force" reveals just how broken our enforcement system and culture really are.

In another recent case a mentally ill woman in Idaho was shot dead by police within 15 seconds of their arrival.  She had a knife, the police got out of their vehicle, walked straight towards her and when she did not immediately comply with their commands, they opened fire.

Something Is Very Wrong

[note: an incomplete statistic was used here and has been removed and replaced with the following]
In the past ten years police in the UK have been involved in 23 total police shooting fatalities.  In the US in 2013 alone there were a minimum of 458 'justifiable homicides' by firearm committed by US police.  I say 'a minimum' because the FBI statistics are woefully incomplete because there is no mandate that police forces report their killings to the FBI so the database is certainly inaccurate on the low side.  But taking that at face value, there is a vast gap between the number of people shot in the UK as compared to the US.  Adjusting for population, US police officers are killing citizens at roughly 40 times the rate of UK police.  40 times!

How can this be? In the UK they’ve got hooligans and yobs, immigrants and poor people. They’ve got drunks and mentally unbalanced people too. And yet they somehow don’t kill people in the fulfillment of their duties as public safety officers.

In this video you’ll see a mentally deranged man outside of Buckingham palace threatening people while wielding knives. He was successfully apprehended alive by a patient and methodical UK police force that did not aggravate, but instead waited for an opening to make their move, which they did quite successfully using a taser instead of guns.

The problem, it seems, is that the US police have been trained to be highly confrontational and to escalate, rather than defuse, any situation.

Police in the US have shot an individual’s highly trained service dog after showing up at the wrong address, and even a family’s pet pot-bellied pig simply because they ‘felt threatened.’

So the one-two punch here is that cops are trained to be highly confrontational and then to react with force -- oftentimes deadly force -- when they ‘feel threatened.’  See the problem here? It’s pretty easy to end up feeling threatened when you are creating threatening situations.

That’s a recipe for exactly the sort of over-reactive uses of force that are giving us the problems we see today.

An Occupying Force

If you saw the images coming out of Ferguson recently, you may have noticed that the law-enforcement presence did not so much look like police, but an occupying military.  Snipers perched on roofs viewing the crowds through their scopes, tear gas and rubber bullets constantly in use, Humvees, the latest acoustic anti-personnel devices, and officers outfitted with ‘battle rattle’ that even made one Afghanistan vet jealous for its magnificent excess compared to what soldiers were issued in one of the most dangerous regions of the world.

How is it that a small mid-western city arrayed more hardware against its own citizens than you might find in an active Middle East war zone?  Who really thought that necessary and why?

Exactly how and when did policing and crowd control in the US slip into a set of methods that match those used by occupying forces -- like those of Isreal -- who subjugate whole populations?
It turns out, by going to Israel and learning Israeli methods of crowd 'control.'
Israel-trained police “occupy” Missouri after killing of black youth
Feb 8, 2015
Since the killing of eighteen-year-old Michael Brown by Ferguson police in Missouri last weekend, the people of Ferguson have been subjected to a military-style crackdown by a squadron of local police departments dressed like combat soldiers. This has prompted residents to liken the conditions on the ground in Ferguson to the Israeli military occupation of Palestine. 
And who can blame them?
The dystopian scenes of paramilitary units in camouflage rampaging through the streets of Ferguson, pointing assault rifles at unarmed residents and launching tear gas into people’s front yards from behind armored personnel carriers (APCs), could easily be mistaken for a Tuesday afternoon in the occupied West Bank. 
And it’s no coincidence. 
At least two of the four law enforcement agencies that were deployed in Ferguson up until Thursday evening — the St. Louis County Police Department and the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department — received training from Israeli security forces in recent years. 
(Source)
If the tactics and gear of the police in Ferguson looked military that’s because they were. The purpose of APC’s and m4 assault rifles is to go into dangerous battles and kill the other side first so you can survive.

I believe that one’s training and mindset are critical determinants of what happens next.  It should really not surprise anyone that a militarized mindset accompanied by specialized training and hardware has led to scenes like the one we saw in Ferguson, among many other places over the past several years.

I wanted to find out if the assertion of the above article was true. Had US police agencies really trained with the Israelis?

The answer is yes, beginning over a decade ago. Note that US police have been training for a domestic terrorist threat that has been almost completely non-existent, well below the statistical threshold that would seem to justify such advanced training and tactics:
U.S.-Israel Strategic Cooperation: Joint Police & Law Enforcement Training
Sept 2013
In 2002, Los Angeles Police Department detective Ralph Morten visited Israel to receive training and advice on preparing security arrangements for large public gatherings.  From lessons learned on his trip, Det. Morten prepared a new Homicide Bomber Prevention Protocol and was better able to secure the Academy Awards presentation.
In January 2003, thirty-three senior U.S. law enforcement officials - from Washington, Chicago, Kansas City, Boston and Philadelphia - traveled to Israel to attend a meeting on "Law Enforcement in the Era of Global Terror."  The workshops helped build skills in identifying terrorist cells, enlisting public support for the fight against terrorism and coping with the aftermath of a terrorist attack.
“We went to the country that's been dealing with the issue for 30 years,” Boston Police Commissioner Paul F. Evans said. “The police are the front line in the battle against terrorism. We were there to learn from them - their response, their efforts to deter it. They touched all the bases.”
“I think it's invaluable,” said Washington, DC Police Chief Charles Ramsey about the instruction he received in Israel. “They have so much more experience in dealing with this than we do in the United States.”
Also, in 2003, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security established a special Office of International Affairs to institutionalize the relationship between Israeli and American security officials. “I think we can learn a lot from other countries, particularly Israel, which unfortunately has a long history of preparing for and responding to terrorist attacks,” said Senator Susan Collins (R-ME) about the special office. (Source)
Here’s the thing: your chances of dying of ‘terrorism’ on US soil are dwarfed by the chances of dying from practically every other cause of death in the US.  Terrorism simply is not a gigantic and imminent existential threat that requires special hardware and training relationships with nations that practice the tactics and strategies of occupation.

Terrorism is not such a common thing that we need to define our entire crowd control methods around it, but a rare thing, and is really what’s left over after a few individuals feel like every other option of redress has been stripped away.  Which is why it’s practically unheard of in the US, and most other civilized countries.

But domestic US law enforcement agencies have been training and outfitting themselves as if it’s a top threat.  Why is that?

There are not very many reassuring answers to that question.  One is that our law enforcement agencies lack the ability to discern actual threats from imaginary ones.  Another is that they envision a time when some portion of the civilian population feels as if it has lost all hope and options for a better future, and starts resorting to terrorist acts.

Either way, very poor answers.

A Dangerous Job?

One mitigating factor is to note that police have a stressful, dangerous and low paying job.  Erring on the side of personal safety makes sense when looked at this way.

In terms of dangerousness, however, law enforcement doesn't even crack the top-ten list of most dangerous professions:

(Source)

The death rate for sworn officers is 11.1 per 100,000 (2013 data) for job-related injuries. Fishing is ten times more dangerous. And even the 11.1 rate includes some deaths which were not the result of violent actions committed during an arrest, but things that tend to happen among a force more than a million strong.

Even if we assumed that half of the reported job-related deaths were homicides, that would make policing about as dangerous as living in an average city (5.5 per 100,000) but seven-fold less dangerous than simply living in Baltimore (35 per 100,000).

So a stressful job yes. An important job, definitely. But not as dangerous as many other occupations, which is relevant context to this story.

Good Policing

I would be remiss to not also point out other examples of great police work.  We need to illuminate both what’s wrong and what’s right.

One of my favorite examples shows Norwegian police handling a belligerent drunk:

Be sure to watch at least the first full minute, and note that this drunk is yelling, cursing, kicking, and generally ‘resisting’ and yet the police involved never rise to the bait, handle him with good manners and like he’s a human being the entire time.  Well done!

This next clip shows a policeman in Ohio refusing to shoot a man wanted on a double murder charge even though he really probably should have and would have been completely justified in doing so:
The man wanted to be shot and killed by the officer who, despite being rushed, and having the man put his hands in his pockets after being warned not to, and even being knocked to the ground at one point, refused to shoot.

That restraint was quite remarkable and showed someone willing to place his own life in danger before committing to take another’s.  He said afterwards that he “wanted to be absolutely sure” before pulling the trigger that it was absolutely necessary.

I do wonder if the two tours the former marine took before becoming an officer had anything to do with his unwillingness to take another life?

How To Fix This

Well I think I’ve been in the top 5% of my age cohort all my life in understanding the power of incentives, and all my life I’ve underestimated it.
~ Charlie Munger
I think the solution to reducing episodes of police assaults on citizens is contained within the Charlie Munger quote above.  The incentives have to be aligned.

My solution is simply this: every time a police department loses an excessive force or wrongful death case and has to pay out money, that money should come from their local police union’s pension fund.  And by law, these losses cannot be refilled with taxpayer funds.

Every single time a judgment is made against that department and the union pension is reduced, the retired and currently-serving officers will have to decide for themselves if they should keep the indicted officer or officers on the force who lost the pension all that money. Or decide if training and policies need to be adjusted.

I guarantee you that with the incentive to train and behave properly and lawfully now resting with the police itself, rapid behavior and training modification would result.

Moreover, I see no reason why the citizens of any given municipality should be on the hook for repeated violations by any public servant or office.

For some of the most abusive departments, the amounts are far from trivial.
U.S. cities pay out millions to settle police lawsuits
Oct 1, 2014
The Chicago Sun-Times reported earlier this year that the city has paid out nearly half a billion dollars in settlements over the past decade, and spent $84.6 million in fees, settlements, and awards last year.
Bloomberg News reported that in 2011, Los Angeles paid out $54 million, while New York paid out a whopping $735 million, although those figures include negligence and other claims unrelated to police abuse. 
Oakland Police Beat reported in April that the city had paid out $74 million to settle 417 lawsuits since 1990.
And last month, Minneapolis Public Radio put that city’s payout at $21 million since 2003.
(Source)
Just align the incentives and watch what happens next.  The problem is, the incentives are just completely wrong right now, and taxpayers are footing the bill for repeated and expensive police behaviors.

That needs to stop if we want to see real change.

Conclusion

The police serve a very important role in society and I want them to be as effective as possible.  They are there to uphold the law and protect the peace, which are extremely important functions.
Unfortunately there are far too many cases where the police have acted as judge, jury and executioner to suggest that there are just a few bad apples.

Instead there’s a pervasive atmosphere of hostility and force escalation better suited to war zones than maintaining civilian order.  The lines have been drawn in many police departments: it’s us vs. them.

Trust in many departments has been utterly shattered within some communities because the police hold themselves to a different standard than they do the populace.  Police commit brazen acts of brutality and get away with it, largely because they self-investigate and/or because the local District Attorney office is unwilling to press charges.

But the recent cases of police brutality are simply a symptom of a much larger problem. Society in the US is breaking down, civility has been lost, and the country is rapidly becoming uncivilized.

This extends within and across all of the most important institutions. Congress is known to work for corporations first and foremost. Democracy itself is bought and sold by the highest bidders. The Federal Reserve protects big banks from the costs of their misdeeds and enriches the already stupidly rich as a side benefit.

DEA agents are caught in Columbia having sex parties with underage girls and drugs, and the worst punishment handed out is a 10 day suspension without pay.  Nobody is even fired, let alone jailed.
"Crime, once exposed, has no refuge but in audacity".
                 ~ Tacitus, Annals, Book XI Ch. 26
The FBI has just admitted that they had been consistently (and certainly knowingly) overstating forensic lab analysis in ways that favored prosecutors in more than 95% of cases over a period of several decades.  The cases included 32 that resulted in death sentences.  Many people were wrongly convicted, but nobody from the FBI will face any charges and many of the states involved have (so far) decided they won’t be looking into any of the cases to right the wrongs.  The wrongful convictions will stand, an injustice that is incompatible with the concept of being civilized.

The Department of Justice has utterly failed to hold any banks or bankers criminally responsible for any acts despite levying a few billions in fines for crimes that probably netted the banks tens of billions in profits.  For some, crime does pay.

I could go on, but why bother? The pattern is easy enough to see.

The US has lost its way. Fairness, justice, and knowing right from wrong seem to all be lost concepts and the trend has only gotten worse over the past several years.  Without moral bearings, what’s left?
“The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”
Either the people of the US stand up and resist these accumulating injustices or they will get exactly the sort of government, and law enforcement, they deserve.
In the meantime, the challenge for each afflicted institution is to begin to recognize right from wrong, and in the case of law enforcement agencies, stop pretending like every single one of your million+ officers is a good egg.  We all know hiring is imperfect and mistakes get made.  Own up to them and let those who make serious mistakes experience the consequences.  Rebuild our trust in your necessary and important institution by clearly demonstrating that you know right from wrong wherever it occurs and whoever commits the deed.

If we don't do this, if we allow the current trajectory to build more momentum, the loss of civilized behavior will reach a tipping point from which it will be very hard to return without much hardship, and likely, bloodshed.

In Part 2: Preparing For The Coming Breakdown, we analyze how the boom in prosperity seen over the much of the 20th century is evaporating, and as the pie begins to shrink, the means by which the players compete for their slices becomes increasingly brutish and violent.

Ask yourself this: If tensions are this bad now, while relatively abundant resources exist, how bad do you think they’ll get during the next economic downturn or financial crisis?


[IB Editor's note: We are not aware of recent problems with the Kauai Police Department that we have seen in the last few years on the mainland. That's not to say it cannot happen here. For an example see (http://www.islandbreath.org/2008Year/15-justice_law/0815-11PoliceOverReact.html) in 2008 and (http://thegardenisland.com/news/local/police-shoot-kill-kalaheo-man/article_9df127e0-07db-11e3-8ef0-0019bb2963f4.html) in 2013. On the other hand in recent months I have witnessed respectful yet forceful handling of a young man, high very on meth, arrested on an outstanding warrant. Yet one must worry about the militarization of our nation's police department and individual officers isolation from the very ones they are sworn to protect and serve.]



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Mauna Kea Hui responds to OHA

SOURCE: Kerri Marks (occupyhilomedia@yahoo.com)
SUBHEAD: OHA, our beloved Mauna Kea is NOT for sale! In Aloha we remain Mauna Kea Hui.

By Members on 24 April 2015 for Mauna Kea Hui -
(http://islandbreath.blogspot.com/2015/04/mauna-kea-hui-responds-to-oha.html)


Image above: TMT opponents build a Mauna Kea hale, courtesy Occupy Hilo Media. From (http://www.allhawaiinews.com/2015/04/board-of-regents-plans-public-meeting.html).

To be clear, the Mauna Kea Hui, was not invited to this meeting until only yesterday and only after OHA had released its Press Statement claiming we would be in attendance. So we have produced this statement in response.

It is the position of the Hui that we will to uphold the wishes of our Kupuna, those who came before us, such as Uncle Genesis Leeloy, Aunty Leina’ala Apiki McCord, Aunty Kamakahukilani Von Oelhoffen and so many more…because they are who moved us to stand for Mauna Kea so many years ago– their message was clear -- enough is enough—there shall be no further development on Mauna Kea!

While the Mauna Kea Hui will continue to litigate in the courts, and has been adjudicated to have standing to do so, there is also a higher court here and we stand with our Kupuna in asserting the following positions for the protection of Mauna Kea:

  1. The TMT construction shall be halted and any new leases and/or subleases previously issued by BLNR allowing the TMT to be built and that are currently being challenged must be revoked and/or rescinded forever.
  2. The observatories currently operating on Mauna Kea shall pay fair market lease rent now and until the end of the general lease in 2033.
     
  3. No further development shall be allowed in any way, shape, or form and upon the decommissioning of observatories or the current general lease has ended there must be complete clean-up and restoration of the Mauna to its original state and condition as the general lease requires. There shall be no rocks, soils or other materials displaced or removed from the Mauna.
  4. We will consider working with State Official to help find solutions for: the protection of Mauna Kea waters and aquifers, clean-up, and restoration of the Mauna, to insure the “right-holders” (those who the laws are written to protect such as Native Hawaiians and the General Public) have a seat at the table of decision making and lastly we are committed to help to ensure educational opportunities and funds for all the children of Hawai`i are upheld and protected.

OHA … our beloved Mauna Kea is NOT for sale! In Aloha We Remain,

Paul K. Neves, Clarence Ku Ching, Debbie J. Ward, Mauna Kea Anaina Hou, Kealoha Pisciotta, and the Flores-Case ‘Ohana and KAHEA: The Hawaiian Environmental Alliance.

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Grexit Why and When

SUBHEAD: Grexit May 9th is being contemplated as Germany prepares saying Greece would need not only a 3rd bailout, but 4th or 5th.

By Tyler Durden on 25 April 2015 for Zero Hedge -
(http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2015-04-25/germany-prepares-plan-b-says-greece-will-need-not-only-third-bailout-fourth-fifth-or)


Image above: Greek Prime Minister Tsipras eyes German PRime Minister Merkel during recent meeting.  From original article.

It has been a very disturbing 24 hours for Greece.

It all started during yesterday's surprisingly short, just one hour long Eurozone finmin meeting in Riga, where Yanis Varoufakis not only got the most "hostile" reception yet being called "a time-waster, gambler, and amateur", but for the first time one minister openly said that maybe it was time governments prepared for the plan B of a Greek default. This happened after Jeroen Dijsselbloem slammed the door on Varoufakis' proposal for early cash after partial reforms.

"A comprehensive and detailed list of reforms is needed," Dijsselbloem told a news conference following a meeting in Riga. "A comprehensive deal is necessary before any disbursement can take place ... We are all aware that time is running out."

And so, what was once anathema, namely the official hints that a Grexit is being contemplated at the highest ranks, has now become almost commonplace, courtesy of the backstop provided by the ECB's QE, which has lulled everyone into a sense of calm because somehow the hope has been kindled that the ECB (which is rapidly running out of government bonds to buy) can offset the realization that what was once an "unbreakable union" is suddenly not only breakable, but no longer a union. As such the trillions in deposit outflows that will sweep the periphery are somehow to be ignored because, well, "Draghi."

This continued earlier today, when none other than German Finance Minister Schaeuble hinted that Berlin was preparing for a possible Greek default, drawing a parallel with the secrecy of German reunification plans in 1989.

As Reuters reports, at a briefing with reporters after a tense meeting of euro zone finance ministers on Greece on Friday, Schaeuble was asked if euro zone finance ministers were working on a "Plan B" in case negotiations on funding with cash-strapped Athens fail.

"You shouldn't ask responsible politicians about alternatives," Schaeuble answered, adding one only need to use one's imagination to envisage what could happen.
He indicated that if he were to answer in the affirmative that ministers were working on a Plan B -- what to do when Greece runs out of money and cannot pay back its debt -- he could trigger panic.

To explain his position, he drew a parallel with the secrecy that was necessary during the initial stage of planning for German reunification in 1989.

"If back then a minister in charge -- I was one of them -- would have said beforehand, we have a plan for reunification, then the whole world probably would have said: 'The Germans have gone completely crazy.'"
He is correct, but what is left unsaid is that the mere suggestion that Grexit no longer not being contemplated is a major escalation in Europe's attempts to launch a bank run, which they have done an admirable job at so far, leading to more than half of total Greek deposits being funded by the ECB's ELA as of this moment.

In other words, should the ECB boost the haircut on Greek bank collateral, and both a depositor bail-in and capital controls become inevitable.

Which incidentally, is what was also touched upon today, when the head of the Bundesbank and ECB governing council member Jens Weidmann said at a press conference in Riga, Latvia, that officials will discuss haircuts on collateral for emergency funding for Greek banks.
"As you know I have doubts about the provision of this emergency liquidity, because the banks are not doing all they can to improve their liquidity position, which I would expect from banks that avail of this assistance."

"Instead, they are extending their loans -- so-called T-bills -- to the Greek state, which is each time a new credit decision. As these T-bills aren’t liquid, this means that in comparision with the alternatives, this is a deterioration of the liquidity situation which I find unacceptable."

“The haircuts are designed according to the quality of the collateral -- which in this case is mostly government debt securities -- and that depends on the  outlook for debt sustainability which is connected to a successful conclusion of the aid program.”

“From my point of view it is clear: time is running out, the solution cannot come from the central banks, we have a clearly limited task, a clearly limited mandate, and must abide by our rules.”
He, too, is of course correct, and yet his statement is also quite hypocritical, considering it is precisely the check-kiting scheme that Greek banks are engaged in and which the ECB "suddenly" finds objectionably, that has been the norm across Italy, Spain and Portugal for years: all countries whose reform efforst are laughable, and the only reason they haven't imploded in the same pile of rubble as Greece is because the ECB has remained ss a buyer of last resort of their sovereign debt.

For now: because should Podemos or Beppe Grillo take chart in Spain or Italy, all bets are off, and the Greek "contagion", which is really just the realization that there is no ECB bid into insolvent paper, will spread overnight.

Which brings us to the final reason why it has been a very nerve-wracking 24 hours for Greece.
In an interview with Bild, Mark Hauptmann, a lawmaker from German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s political party said that "if Greece stays in the euro, it will need not only a third bailout, but also a fourth, fifth or even more."

He added that a Greek euro exit would be good in the long term because European contracts would regain their validity and Greece could regain its competitiveness.
He, too is correct.

Still, even with three "correct" statements laying out clearly why Greece should Grexit, somehow we doubt that anything will happen even as the posturing on all sides reaches a fever pitch, because while Europe may have Q€ as recourse to a Greek contagion, Greece now has a Putin threat as its final trump card. Because the second Greece is kicked out (or is forced to leave), the construction of the Turkish Stream begins, and with it the cementing of Russian energy dominance for the next decade, as well as the collapse of Ukraine (and the billions of western aid flowing into Kiev over the past year) into irrelevance.



 Is May 9 the Grexit Date?

By Raul Ilargi Miejer 17 April 2015 for the Automatic Earth -
(http://www.theautomaticearth.com/2015/04/is-may-9-the-grexit-date/)

Yes, more Greece, ever more Greece. Well, the focus is still very much there. It’s not the only topic, obviously, China warrants interest too, certainly with things like Tyler Durden quoting Cornerstone Macro as saying China’s true economic growth rate was just 1.6% in Q1 2015, not the official government number of 7%.

Never trust anyone, especially a government, that consistently meets or beats its predictions. With housing prices falling the way they have, -6% or thereabouts, and over 70% of Chinese private investment in real estate, it’s hard to see how a 7% GDP growth number could pass scrutiny. Sure, there’s the stock market bubble, but even then.

But for now back to Athens. Or Washington, actually, where Yanis Varoufakis finds himself. From what we can gather on his schedule, Varoufakis has (or has had) meetings with Obama and Lagarde on Thursday, and with Mario Draghi, Jack Lew and Wolfgang Schaeuble on Friday.

Also on Friday, he’s meeting sovereign debt lawyer Lee Buchheit, who’s a partner at New York law firm Cleary Gottlieb [..Steen & Hamilton], and has helped restructure debt for various countries. The Guardian, back in 2013 (how times have changed!), portrayed Buchheit as the ‘fairy godmother to finance ministers in distress’:
This is the man who stands up to the vulture funds – so named because they buy up the debt of desperately poor countries in order to chase them through the courts for repayment. So it is something of a surprise to meet a slight, mild-mannered lawyer, with more than a whiff of academia about him.
He insists he does not make a moral judgement in choosing who he acts for, but rather enjoys working for the debtor nations. “It’s just more fun,” he says. “If you represent the lender, your client is tiresomely saying things to you like, ‘Why don’t they just pay us the money back?’ When you’re on the debtor side, you can say, ‘If you want to get it back, why did you give it to us?’
In view of that last quote, it may be wise to once again reiterate that only about 8% of the bailout funds Athens is now on the hook for, actually went to Greece; the other 92% was used to save major European and American banks. As I said before, this has been a political decision, not an economic one. In that vein , we can take a look at the following from John Ward at the Slog, dated March 26:
At this link is an official EU release whose sole concern is the subject of ‘contingent liabilities’ entered into by EU member states. [..] the EU release in this instance contains some blockbuster facts….and adds another piece to the eurozone jigsaw of hypocritical mendacity. Contingent liabilities are often referred to as Shadow Debt: if you’re lucky, they won’t become an eventuality. But as the EU table shows, given the parlous nature of the ezone banking sector, every one of the liabilities is a racing certainty
We’ve all been asking why Germany ignored the EC bailin directive last week and bailed out a small Bavarian Bank. The answer is simple: not to do so would’ve been illegal under BundesRepublik law, because Berlin had promised so to do. On this basis, while at first sight German national debt is a ‘mere’ 70% of GDP, add the promises it has made to its banks, and the number comes in at a horrific 222%. Not far behind comes the Netherlands with a similar ‘official’ national debt at 73% of GDP. But the contingent liabilities are 115%…making a pretty nasty mountain of 188%.
The Number One and Number Two top contingent liability millstones in the EU are – by miles – Germany and the Netherlands. Now let me see…who are the two chaps working hardest to stop the Greeks and their contagious banks from going their own way? Why, none other than German finance minister Wolfgang Schäuble, and Dutch finance minister Jeroen René Victor Anton Dijsselbloem. The third prong of Troika2 is of course the ECB’s Italian Mario Draghi. Without any contingencies at all, Italy’s national debt is 132.6% of GDP. Add its 45.5% of contingents, and this too adds up to 178.1% of GDP.
Before you know it, things are no longer what they seem. If you were Lee Buchheit, you might want to argue that Greece is being thrown to the lions and the wolves because Germany and Holland bailed out their bankrupt banking systems, and vowed to keep doing it.

That would make it very hard to imagine them saving Greece today, since to do that, they would risk their own banks, which they bailed out with trillions of their own taxpayers’ money. It would be political suicide. It’s much easier to tell those taxpayers that it’s Greece that’s at fault, not their own heroic leaders (I say heroic because that’s how Bernanke portrays himself in his ‘Courage to Act’ fictional fluff).
So when, oh when, could the Grexit come? Daniel Roberts at Raas Consulting thinks he might have part of the answer:
One thing in common for almost all of my Pinewood International Schools (TiHi to some) class of ’78 is that we left. Many still live in Greece and in Thessaloniki or have returned, and they are closest to the pain. The real pain of the past decade, that has destroyed wealth and hope. Unemployment is running at levels not see in Europe since after the war, and at levels that encouraged the socialist-fascist civil wars of the 1930s. Those did not end well.
But that does not explain why the Grexit is inevitable, and why it will happen very soon.
1) This is what the Greek people voted for. No, they did not vote to stay in the Euro, they voted for the party that said it would reduce the debt and meet pension obligations. The Greek people and voters are not stupid. They knew this could only happen by either the rest of Europe bailing out Greece again, or by leaving the Euro.
2) The Greek people know perfectly well that Europe is not going to bail them out, because to do so will only set everyone up for the next bailout.
3) The Greek people, and the rest of Europe, know full well that the debt will never be repaid, and that the Troika are now acting as nothing better than the enforcers of loan sharks.
4) Syriza knows that it had six months before the voters would throw them out, and once out, Syriza would never come back.
5) The Greeks needed to show “good faith” in actually attempting to negotiate a resolution with the Troika. This has now been done, and is failing.
6) The demand for reparations from Germany is designed not to actually extract the reparations, but to anger the Germans to the point that they will block any compromise that Syriza would have been required to accept.
The Greek government, elected by a battered and exploited Greek people, has been establishing the conditions that will give them the moral high ground (in the eyes of their voters) needed to actually leave the Euro. Having set the conditions, when will it happen? I’m still guessing May 9th. Why? Greece will leave the Euro, and they will do it sooner than later. They’ve made the April payment, but simply do not have the money for the May or June payments, and they cannot pass the legislation required by Europe and the Germans and stay in power. That gives us a late May or June date. So why earlier?
Capital flight. Imposing currency controls will be a fundamental element of any Grexit. Accounts will be frozen, and any money in accounts will be re-denominated in New Drachmas. Once the bank accounts are unfrozen, the residual, former Euros will now be worth whatever the New Drachma has dropped to, and the drop will be significant, over–correcting to the downside. Once it is accepted that the Grexit is coming and there will be no last minute deal, and with memories of Cyprus too fresh in every Greek’s mind, the money will flow out of the country. Not just corporate money (most of which is probably off-share already) but any remaining personal money in bank accounts. So Greece has to move before the coming Grexit is perceived as inevitable, and the money starts to flow out.
Weekend event. When the Grexit happens, it will be on a weekend. The banks will be closed, parliament will be called into emergency session, and a packet of laws will be passed. As this needs to be on a Saturday to avoid wholesale capital flight the moment that parliament is called into session, were it a weekday.
This leaves only a few possible dates. And where there are few possible dates, I’m punting on the earlier date, so earlier in May. And looking at the calendar, that leaves us with May 2nd, 9th or 16th. My own guess is that the 2nd is too soon, and the 16th is too late. That leaves me guessing May 9th.

The top graph on the left side of my essay shows all Greek payments due until September. It comes down to about €13 billion in the next 5 months. The country is desperately waiting for a last €7.2 billion bailout tranche the lenders won’t pay out, but it wouldn’t even make that much difference. So when will the drama come to an end? Turning to the second graph, we see specifics. The next payments are:
• April 17 and 20: a combined total of €273.5 million in interest payments to the ECB.
• May 1: €195.1 million to the IMF.
• May 12: €744.9 million to the IMF. 
It’s hard to see how Greece can even attempt to make that last payment. Let alone the €1.61 billion due in June (numbers on both graphs don’t add up exactly), or the billions after that.

The big questions concern not just the difference between on the one hand, economic issues and on the other, political ones. Syriza doesn’t have the mandate to take Greece out of the eurozone. That is a huge point. But neither does it have the mandate to give in to the troika’s insistence on pensions cuts.

At a certain moment, it may come down to what can be explained to the Greek people, and how well it can be explained. This explanation will almost certainly have to come after the fact, since holding a referendum pre-Grexit would carry far too much potential risk of uncontrolled demolition of the entire Greek economy and banking system.

Tsipras and Varoufakis are not the most enviable people out there at the moment. They have hard choices to make. Still, in the end, running a society, a nation, or a union of nations, cannot be just a matter of balancing your books. That can never be your bottom line. You’re talking about real people, not mere entries in a ledger. Schaeuble and other European politicians keep bragging about the ‘success’ of Greek government policies before Syriza came to power, even as it’s been well documented that many Greek children go hungry and people have no access to health care. How is that a success?

That attitude may be the most valuable argument Syriza has available to it in its upcoming discussions with its voters. Whether these discussions take place before or after a Grexit is hard to say at this point. But Daniel Roberts’ reasoning towards a May 9 event certainly has some logic to it. We may still hope that the troika doesn’t put Syriza into a position of an impossible fork in the road, but right now it doesn’t look good, it looks like they’re getting ready to sacrifice Greece on their pagan altars.

To top off the cynicism involved Bloomberg runs an article today entitled Germany: Has Any Country Ever Had It So Good?. At the same time, a few hundred miles to the south east, children don’t have enough to eat. The European Union sure is a great place to be. What a success story! Pity it’s about to end.

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Disturbed Soil & Troubled Sleep

SUBHEAD: Missing from our understanding is how the deep dreams of the soil ultimately nourish our own dreams.

By -
(http://greenhandinitiative.blogspot.com/2015/04/tossing-and-turning-our-disturbed-soils.html)


Image above: From (http://www.commondreams.org/views/2014/05/26/we-are-soil).

I’m sitting under a halogen light right now and staying up late to write about soil.

That probably doesn’t sound ironic to you. I think it should.

How I came to reflect on soil and sleep as functionally related and analogous in their processes is something of a mystery, though the sequence of events that led to the idea is clear enough. I recently spent a weekend learning about soil in a workshop that outlined some of the basic science.

Weeks later, a person I spent time with at the workshop emailed me late one day wanting to connect about a soil-related project we’re working on together, but informing me that, at the moment, sleep was a higher priority. My response upon reading the email was that no person who is seriously interested in soil would dismiss the importance of sleep.

At first my response puzzled even me. As I thought about it, though, I realized that the work of the body in sleep and what I’d recently learned about the life activity of the soil are very much connected.

Shrouded in layer upon layer of darkness and opacity, both the body in sleep and the soil beneath the surface teem with important goings-on. Interestingly, much of this activity has to do with the movement of nutrients through their respective systems, and the regenerative and growth processes that require these nutrients.

As we fall asleep at night, if everything is working correctly, we shift focus, our eyes and somatic sensibilities adjust to new surroundings, and we engage with these. We move in a different world. We awaken to our dreams.

And these dreams, whether we acknowledge it or not, are absolutely essential to the functioning of our daily waking consciousness. Certain processes of the body wake up in sleep, and the body needs sleep the way the mind needs dreams.

Like our nightly sleep, the sleep of soil isn’t really sleep at all; I would argue that instead it’s a kind of awakening to a different level of being. The dreams of the soil when left undisturbed support the growth of plants into light, just as our own dreams support the growth and flowering of consciousness. These dark processes remain as guessable to those of us walking on the earth as are the dreams of a friend we see twitching in his sleep.

Yet the visible, colorful expressions of plants above the soil surface and their capacity to metabolize light into food are directly dependent on their ability to gather from the sleep of soil the elements needed to accomplish this.

What we find if we look into soil and follow its sublime, heroic dreams are exceedingly complex relationships, fine chains of mycorrhizal fungi and associated bacteria fed by plants in just the right way to help them to locate and channel these nutrients to the plant roots. Mycologist Paul Stamets calls the interconnected mycelial network of soil, "the neurological network of nature."

At night, the plant’s energy and sap move down into the soil to support and feed this hidden activity. At night we likewise descend, in our own way, into the depths, and there make use of the nutrients we have taken in as food that were originally dredged up by plants in their own dreams. Thus, by linking our dreams to those of the soil through the mediumship of plants, we dream our bodies into being.

At some point, people discovered that they could get a temporary boost in productivity from the soil by inverting it, exposing its dreams to the light. As the plow inverts the earth, a vast and largely invisible conflagration ensues within the soil, a plume of CO2 rises from it, and from this waste and sudden death the enterprising food plant draws its life.

Of course, all the other plants, including the weeds and grasses that had formerly held the soil and embraced and fed its microorganisms, are caught up in the maelstrom, and when they die the nutrients they had sequestered are at first liberated, then ultimately leached away.

In time the food plants grown there cannot make it anymore. In traditional farming, the exhausted soil was either abandoned, kept exposed but on life support with manure or compost, or allowed to rest and regenerate during a fallow period.

Like a sick and wounded soldier coming home from war, the land must sleep. Today’s methods of chemical agriculture seek to continually stimulate more productivity from the soil as it lies dying.

There is no rest for the soils that produce most modern foods, and our widespread exhaustion follows.

Missing from our understanding is how the deep dreams of the soil ultimately nourish our own, and how our reckless pattern of disturbing our soils eventually disrupts our ability to sleep as well as the capacity of our sleeping bodies to dream themselves anew.

I don’t think it’s too far of a stretch to say that in the natural course of things, each night we refocus on the place where we connect in the quiet womb of the Earth, and each morning we are born again. Going into that womb, we take with us the products of the communion of plant, sun and soil. We call it food.

The human digestive system can be seen as an internalized placenta by which we draw nutrients from the mother. We are, in every way, still inside of her. These nutrients, the products of the teeming, active dreams of soil and sea, then meet with the imaginative processes of the body that regenerate us in our sleep.

Meanwhile, here I am still writing under the halogen light, following my culture’s habit of inverting things for temporary gains -- this time by using technology to put day in the place of night. As with inverting the soil, there is a short burst of heightened productivity associated with artificial light and the dreams it breaks up and postpones.

There’s always a purchase price for such advantages, however. I can push my fallow period off for an hour or two, convinced that the most important work is happening when my eyes are open, but eventually I reach a point of diminishing returns.

And it’s worth noting that from a biological point of view, a significant part of the price we pay for the stress we induce in this way is the loss of minerals…the very nutritional components that plants are accessing from the earth by feeding the microbes of their soils every night. Turning night to day leaches minerals from the body just as though we are soil being turned to face the sun.

So what are the ultimate consequences of all of this? Let’s put it all together: we diminish the fertility of the soil by disturbing it, gain fewer mineral nutrients needed to build our bodies, then degenerate and sleep badly. In the midst of this, we also focus on our waking consciousness and productive labor at the expense of sleep and productive dreaming. The net effect is that slowly but surely the aperture of human consciousness narrows.

Most people will experience this clearly after even one sleepless night: we can feel how we start to move more robotically, how our thoughts tend to stay in their established channels like computer programs, and how irritation and reactivity supplant creative responses to the day’s events.

Our experience thins out. Deprived of the depths of sleep for a night, we sense that we’re not fully living but just going through the superficial motions. And here’s something worth noticing: vitality, like soil, is a thing of depth. Yet, what happens if sleep and our capacity for it is incrementally eroded over time?

What happens when soils continue to thin and degenerate, artificial light fiddles with our hormones, food plants are tricked into growing on chemicals, diseased plants protected by sprays, people are tricked into feeling ok with drugs, received images from the media take the place of active imagination in people’s minds, and stress takes the place of deep upwellings of primal energy?

If this change were gradual, would we even notice? And what if the perceptual systems by which we would notice such a change are among those that get damaged?

I’m not sure, but the questions are worth asking. What I am growing increasingly confident of is that most of the aisles of my local grocery store are filled with food that is unfit for human consumption.

And I’m sorry to say this, but many people I see putting that same food into their shopping carts look like they’re sleepwalking in a bad dream — they seem startled and annoyed if anything should awaken them. Perhaps this another one of the costs of our ongoing inversions:

We start living nightmares instead of occasionally just dreaming them.

So what’s the answer? I think we’ve tossed and turned and disturbed the sleep of our soils too long, and I’m guessing we need deeper nourishment than what most people are getting. With deeper nourishment comes the possibility of more productive sleep, with deeper sleep the possibility for deeper dreams, and the deeper the dreams, the deeper the capacity for consciousness.

This idea goes against much of our conditioning, which teaches us to extend our waking hours and work harder with our conscious minds. Yet as every toddler eventually figures out, the fastest and best way to get from one exciting day to the next is to let go of the one you’re in, that is: to go to sleep, and then wake to day again. Collectively, we seem to think we’ll arrive at that new day by turning our minds faster.

What it looks like to me is that all we’ve managed to accomplish in this way is to more quickly generate correct answers to the wrong questions.

But what if the world we live in heals fastest and best when moving at the infinite speed of rest?


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I’m Not Crazy, I’m Scared

SUBHEAD: Bloomberg's Richard Breslow, author of "Trader's Notes" is painfully accurate with his latest take on the "markets."

By Richard Breslow 24 April 2015 for Zero Hedge -
(http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2015-04-24/i%E2%80%99m-not-crazy-i%E2%80%99m-scared-why-one-trader-time-it-different)


Image above: Illustration of "Stock Market Crash Ahead".  From (http://www.profitsrun.com/featured/are-you-ready-for-the-next-big-market-crash/).

The Standard & Poor's Index (SPX) flirted with all-time highs. The Nasdaq Index made 15 year highs; Chinese equities, and so many other equity indices are flying. Bonds sold off this week, but the German 10-year yield is still 17/100th percent, the U.S. 10-year yield unable to get beyond 2%, and Greek bonds had a two-day rally that would be truly impressive if it wasn’t on volume that made it just an exercise moving wide bid/offer spreads, representing sentiment not trading.

The US dollar is selling off on the view that Greece is saved, the Fed is scared, and a “we can’t sit with positions because it never works” mentality. The only really new thing the market needs to digest is that commodities may be nearing a bottom

Happy days seemingly, but there have been some very discordant and troubling comments from the creme-de-la-creme of smart - and big - investors.

Over the last three days, we have reported that some of the most important investment voices in the world are more than a little scared about the ravenous appetite for risk playing out in the market, and the fact that they have been ignored is beyond unnerving.  

Central banks are driving all investment decisions, and what this implies is that they are in this trade so deeply that there is no obvious or practical exit.

Over the course of this week we have heard Larry Fink of Blackrock talking about the severe risks of investing in Europe; Bill Gross of Janus saying German bonds are the short trader’s dream; Pimco warning that markets have not addressed the potential of a Fed tightening (I remember 1994); the incoming CEO of Allianz, that TWO trillion dollar asset manager, saying,

 “We see generally meager growth prospects, political dangers and risks of a stock market crash.” 

Even Abby Cohen thinks it is a stock pickers world, not a buy anything and kick back world. And yet, the market didn’t even blink.

What is different this time?

Central Banks and their sovereign wealth funds have become the major players dominating market activity.

One central banker after another has admitted they are fixated on market reaction to their comments and actions. They are relying on markets blessing their actions even though it was market dysfunction (and regulatory malfeasance) that brought us here.

This is a dangerous situation. The focus must return to the REAL economy; we cannot trade our way out of past mistakes.

And we must look at commodities. One thing central bankers do, because forward curves drive all their forecasts, is extrapolate ad infinitum current trends into the future

No central bank in the world got oil right, and that is  arguably the most important commodity in the world.

Well, oil has made new year-to-date highs. Why do you think Treasury Inflation-Protected Securities auctions have been blowing off the shelves?

If central bankers have this wrong, their forecasts are wrong, and the Fed, for one, will be way behind the curve. I posit that a lot of central bankers will be tacking right if Brent Oil holds above $63 a barrel.

So the big question to ponder is why all these very smart people who control trillions of dollars of assets don’t seem to be voting with their money.

If the biggest fund managers and thought leaders of the world were radically changing their asset allocations, wouldn’t we see it? Not if central banks are all on the other side of the trade.

Maybe they think they can just hold to maturity. A wise central banker told me I should learn to live with central banks being the dominant force in the market, whether I like it or not. I, unhappily, think he is right. Oh, how I wish Louis Rukeyser could get them on his couch.

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TPP/ TTIP trade strategy blowback

SUBHEAD: Democrats' frustration with President Obama boils over as trade bills' "fastrack" advances.

By Michael McAuliff/Laura Barron Lopez on 23 April 2015 for HuffPo  -
(http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/04/23/democrats-fast-track_n_7129276.html)


Image above: Grassroots resistance to these trade deals seem to be gaining momentum. From (http://bullhorn.nationofchange.org/grassroots_resistance_finally_overcome_fast_track_push).

Democrats' frustration with President Barack Obama's trade agenda bubbled over Thursday, with key opponents accusing their party's leader of putting more effort into a bid to aid corporate America than anything he's done for the middle class.

Calling it "maddening," Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) told reporters that the Obama administration was putting on a full-court press unlike anything Democrats have ever seen in his presidency in order to win the authority to fast track enormous trade deals.

"I think if you could get my colleagues to be honest, on the Democratic side, with you -- and I think you can mostly -- they will say they've been talked to, approached, lobbied and maybe cajoled by more cabinet members on this issue than any issue since Barack Obama's been president," Brown said.

"That's just sad," he added.

Brown and Sen. Bob Casey (D-Pa.) spoke to reporters about their frustrations a day after the Senate Finance Committee advanced a package of legislation that would grant Obama Trade Promotion Authority, as fast track is more formally known.

With it, the president would be able to use expedited procedures to pass the Trans-Pacific Partnership with a dozen Pacific Rim nations and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership with Europe. Together, those two deals represent about two-thirds of the world's economy. Once Obama signs the pacts, Congress would then have no ability to amend or filibuster them, having only an up-or-down vote.

"I wish they put the same effort into minimum wage. I wish they put the same effort into Medicare at 55. I wish they put the same effort into some consumer strengthening on Dodd-Frank," Brown said.
Casey added that he thought it would be better if the administration took "that intensity to lobby folks on trade" and applied it to the Democrats' efforts to focus on the middle class.

"My God, we should be spending our time on that, not having the debate we're having," Casey said.
On the other side of Capitol Hill, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said she is “disappointed” with the current bill, sponsored by Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah.).

Pelosi backs a substitute version offered by Rep. Sander Levin (D-Mich.), who vehemently opposes the current bill backed by Obama. But Ryan blocked Levin's measure Thursday as their committee debated the trade legislation, ruling Levin's proposal out of order.

“I've said I'm looking for a path to yes. We recognize there will be bumps in that road, that path,” Pelosi said, calling the bill put forward by Hatch, Wyden and Ryan “more like a pothole” on the path to yes.

Still, pressed on whether she was lobbying against the president, Pelosi said she isn’t.
“I'm not lobbying against anything. I'm lobbying for a positive trade promotion and a positive bill,” she said. “So I'm not lobbying anything except for us to arrive at an agreement where we can have 150 Democratic votes for the bill. But that may not be possible.”

The administration and GOP backers say the massive trade deals are needed to boost U.S. exports, increase foreign markets and combat the growing influence of China. They also argue that the increased economic activity will boost jobs and the economy, and say the TPA measure includes formal negotiating objectives that will ensure U.S. workers compete on a level playing field.
Yet most Democrats want obligations written into the law that trading partners must live up to, not just objectives.

Pelosi added that she and other Democrats within her caucus are concerned with currency manipulation, environment, food safety, agriculture and conflict resolution within the current bill.
The minority leader aims to unify Democrats behind the ideas in Levin's competing measure, hoping they can bring Republicans to the negotiating table. The effort pits her against Obama.

Brown wasn't willing to guess why Obama as president had come so far from his stance on trade as a candidate.

"I was sitting in Cleveland with my wife in Cleveland State University watching the debate between Obama and Clinton, and they both said they were going to renegotiate NAFTA," Brown said. "So ask him about his evolution on this."

UPDATE: Wednesday night at 9:56 p.m. -- The House Ways and Means Committee passed its version of the trade legislation later Thursday, setting the stage for both the full House and the Senate to take up the measures.

Like with the Senate Finance Committee, a number of Democrats on the Ways and Means Committee crossed the aisle to back Obama and vote with the GOP, but most expressed frustration.
"I am convinced that President Obama would not have supported this six years ago when he was in the Senate," said Rep. Richard Neal (D-Mass.), before the fast-track bill passed 25 to 13.


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Radiation damages top predator bird

SUBHEAD: Breeding success of goshawk significantly dropping in North Kanto area due to Fukushima meltdowns.

By Iori Mochizuki on 24 April 2015 for Fukushima Diary -
(http://fukushima-diary.com/2015/04/breeding-success-of-goshawk-significantly-dropping-in-north-kanto-area-0-1-%CE%BCsvh-increase-reduces-10-breeding/)


Image above: A closeup of a mature goshawk from original article.

On 3/24/2015, Nagoya city university and NPO Goshawk protection fund published their report on Scientific Reports.

In this report, they proved that the radioactive contamination significantly reduces the breeding success of goshawk in north Kanto area such as Tochigi etc.

Especially the hatching rate is severely affected compared to the past ratio in the same area from 1992 to 2010. It was 90% in 2011, which was within the normal range of past 19 years but it dropped to 85% in 2012, and it was decreased to 67% in 2013.

They concluded this significant decrease is closely related to the atmospheric dose and stated 0.1 μSv/h increase in atmospheric dose reduces breeding success by 10%.

They also reported that even though the atmospheric dose comes back to the normal level as before 311, the breeding success keeps decreasing.

They assume it is because goshawk is on the top of the food chain so it is severely affected by biological concentration. The internal exposure is possibly causing the long term effect in breeding success.

http://www.nagoya-cu.ac.jp/secure/149568/270324.pdf
http://www.nagoya-cu.ac.jp/2211.htm?q=%E3%82%AA%E3%82%AA%E3%82%BF%E3%82%AB
http://goshawkfund.jp/

See also:
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima Die-Offs Occuring 4/17/15
Ea O Ka Aina: Pacific Ocean Catastrophe 4/17/15

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Field Guide to Negative Progress

SUBHEAD:  There will be a demand for tools and simple technologies that make sense in a deindustrializing world.

By John Michael Greer on 22 April 2015 for Archdruid Report -
(http://thearchdruidreport.blogspot.com/2015/04/a-field-guide-to-negative-progress.html)


Image above: Since 2010, Antoine Bruy traveled throughout Europe to meet men and women who made the radical choice to live away from cities, willing to abandon their lifestyle based on performance, efficiency and consumption. From (http://aintbadmagazine.com/article/2014/05/07/antoine-bruy/).

I've commented before in these posts that writing is always partly a social activity. What Mortimer Adler used to call the Great Conversation, the dance of ideas down the corridors of the centuries, shapes every word in a writer’s toolkit; you can hardly write a page in English without drawing on a shade of meaning that Geoffrey Chaucer, say, or William Shakespeare, or Jane Austen first put into the language.

That said, there’s also a more immediate sense in which any writer who interacts with his or her readers is part of a social activity, and one of the benefits came my way just after last week’s post.

That post began with a discussion of the increasingly surreal quality of America’s collective life these days, and one of my readers—tip of the archdruidical hat to Anton Mett—had a fine example to offer.

He’d listened to an economic report on the media, and the talking heads were going on and on about the US economy’s current condition of, ahem, “negative growth.” Negative growth? Why yes, that’s the opposite of growth, and it’s apparently quite a common bit of jargon in economics just now.

Of course the English language, as used by the authors named earlier among many others, has no shortage of perfectly clear words for the opposite of growth. “Decline” comes to mind; so does “decrease,” and so does “contraction.”

Would it have been so very hard for the talking heads in that program, or their many equivalents in our economic life generally, to draw in a deep breath and actually come right out and say “The US economy has contracted,” or “GDP has decreased,” or even “we’re currently in a state of economic decline”? Come on, economists, you can do it!

But of course they can’t. Economists in general are supposed to provide, shall we say, negative clarity when discussing certain aspects of contemporary American economic life, and talking heads in the media are even more subject to this rule than most of their peers.

Among the things about which they’re supposed to be negatively clear, two are particularly relevant here; the first is that economic contraction happens, and the second is that that letting too much of the national wealth end up in too few hands is a very effective way to cause economic contraction.

The logic here is uncomfortably straightforward—an economy that depends on consumer expenditures only prospers if consumers have plenty of money to spend—but talking about that equation would cast an unwelcome light on the culture of mindless kleptocracy entrenched these days at the upper end of the US socioeconomic ladder. So we get to witness the mass production of negative clarity about one of the main causes of negative growth.

It’s entrancing to think of other uses for this convenient mode of putting things. I can readily see it finding a role in health care—“I’m sorry, ma’am,” the doctor says, “but your husband is negatively alive;” in sports—“Well, Joe, unless the Orioles can cut down that negative lead of theirs, they’re likely headed for a negative win;” and in the news—“The situation in Yemen is shaping up to be yet another negative triumph for US foreign policy.”

For that matter, it’s time to update one of the more useful proverbs of recent years: what do you call an economist who makes a prediction? Negatively right.

Come to think of it, we might as well borrow the same turn of phrase for the subject of last week’s post, the deliberate adoption of older, simpler, more independent technologies in place of today’s newer, more complex, and more interconnected ones.

I’ve been talking about that project so far under the negatively mealy-mouthed label “intentional technological regress,” but hey, why not be cool and adopt the latest fashion?

For this week, at least, we’ll therefore redefine our terms a bit, and describe the same thing as “negative progress.” Since negative growth sounds like just another kind of growth, negative progress ought to pass for another kind of progress, right?

With this in mind, I’d like to talk about some of the reasons that individuals, families, organizations, and communities, as they wend their way through today’s cafeteria of technological choices, might want to consider loading up their plates with a good hearty helping of negative progress.

Let’s start by returning to one of the central points raised here in earlier posts, the relationship between progress and the production of externalities. By and large, the more recent a technology is, the more of its costs aren’t paid by the makers or the users of the technology, but are pushed off onto someone else.

As I pointed out a post two months ago, this isn’t accidental; quite the contrary, as noted in the post just cited, it’s hardwired into the relationship between progress and market economics, and bids fair to play a central role in the unraveling of the entire project of industrial civilization.

The same process of increasing externalities, though, has another face when seen from the point of view of the individual user of any given technology. When you externalize any cost of a technology, you become dependent on whoever or whatever picks up the cost you’re not paying.

What’s more, you become dependent on the system that does the externalizing, and on whoever controls that system. Those dependencies aren’t always obvious, but they impose costs of their own, some financial and some less tangible. What’s more, unlike the externalized costs, a great many of these secondary costs land directly on the user of the technology.

It’s interesting, and may not be entirely accidental, that there’s no commonly used term for the entire structure of externalities and dependencies that stand behind any technology.

Such a term is necessary here, so for the present purpose, we’ll call the structure just named the technology’s externality system. Given that turn of phrase, we can restate the point about progress made above: by and large, the more recent a technology is, the larger the externality system on which it depends.

An example will be useful here, so let’s compare the respective externality systems of a bicycle and an automobile. Like most externality systems, these divide up more or less naturally into three categories: manufacture, maintenance, and use.

Everything that goes into fabricating steel parts, for instance, all the way back to the iron ore in the mine, is an externality of manufacture; everything that goes into making lubricating oil, all the way back to drilling for the oil well, is an externality of maintenance; everything that goes into building roads suitable for bikes and cars is an externality of use.

Both externality systems are complex, and include a great many things that aren’t obvious at first glance. The point I want to make here, though, is that the car’s externality system is far and away the more complex of the two. In fact, the bike’s externality system is a subset of the car’s, and this reflects the specific historical order in which the two technologies were developed.

When the technologies that were needed for a bicycle’s externality system came into use, the first bicycles appeared; when all the additional technologies needed for a car’s externality system were added onto that foundation, the first cars followed. That sort of incremental addition of externality-generating technologies is far and away the most common way that technology progresses.

We can thus restate the pattern just analyzed in a way that brings out some of its less visible and more troublesome aspects: by and large, each new generation of technology imposes more dependencies on its users than the generation it replaces. Again, a comparison between bicycles and automobiles will help make that clear.

If you want to ride a bike, you’ve committed yourself to dependence on all the technical, economic, and social systems that go into manufacturing, maintaining, and using the bike; you can’t own, maintain, and ride a bike without the steel mills that produce the frame, the chemical plants that produce the oil you squirt on the gears, the gravel pits that provide raw material for roads and bike paths, and so on.

On the other hand, you’re not dependent on a galaxy of other systems that provide the externality system for your neighbor who drives. You don’t depend on the immense network of pipelines, tanker trucks, and gas stations that provide him with fuel; you don’t depend on the interstate highway system or the immense infrastructure that supports it.

If you did the sensible thing and bought a bike that was made by a local craftsperson, your dependence on vast multinational corporations and all of their infrastructure, from sweatshop labor in Third World countries to financial shenanigans on Wall Street, is considerably smaller than that of your driving neighbor. Every dependency you have, your neighbor also has, but not vice versa.

Whether or not these dependencies matter is a complex thing. Obviously there’s a personal equation—some people like to be independent, others are fine with being just one more cog in the megamachine—but there’s also a historical factor to consider.

In an age of economic expansion, the benefits of dependency very often outweigh the costs; standards of living are rising, opportunities abound, and it’s easy to offset the costs of any given dependency.

In a stable economy, one that’s neither growing nor contracting, the benefits and costs of any given dependency need to be weighed carefully on a case by case basis, as one dependency may be worth accepting while another costs more than it’s worth.

On the other hand, in an age of contraction and decline—or, shall we say, negative expansion?—most dependencies are problematic, and some are lethal. In a contracting economy, as everyone scrambles to hold onto as much as possible of the lifestyles of a more prosperous age, your profit is by definition someone else’s loss, and dependency is just another weapon in the Hobbesian war of all against all.

By many measures, the US economy has been contracting since before the bursting of the housing bubble in 2008; by some—in particular, the median and modal standards of living—it’s been contracting since the 1970s, and the unmistakable hissing sound as air leaks out of the fracking bubble just now should be considered fair warning that another round of contraction is on its way.

With that in mind, it’s time to talk about the downsides of dependency.

First of all, dependency is expensive. In the struggle for shares of a shrinking pie in a contracting economy, turning any available dependency into a cash cow is an obvious strategy, and one that’s already very much in play. Consider the conversion of freeways into toll roads, an increasingly popular strategy in large parts of the United States.

Consider, for that matter, the soaring price of health care in the US, which hasn’t been accompanied by any noticeable increase in quality of care or treatment outcomes. In the dog-eat-dog world of economic contraction, commuters and sick people are just two of many captive populations whose dependencies make them vulnerable to exploitation.

As the spiral of decline continues, it’s safe to assume that any dependency that can be exploited will be exploited, and the more dependencies you have, the more likely you are to be squeezed dry.

The same principle applies to power as well as money; thus, whoever owns the systems on which you depend, owns you. In the United States, again, laws meant to protect employees from abusive behavior on the part of employers are increasingly ignored; as the number of the permanently unemployed keeps climbing year after year, employers know that those who still have jobs are desperate to keep them, and will put up with almost anything in order to keep that paycheck coming in.

The old adage about the inadvisability of trying to fight City Hall has its roots in this same phenomenon; no matter what rights you have on paper, you’re not likely to get far with them when the other side can stop picking up your garbage and then fine you for creating a public nuisance, or engage in some other equally creative use of their official prerogatives.

As decline accelerates, expect to see dependencies increasingly used as levers for exerting various kinds of economic, political, and social power at your expense.

Finally, and crucially, if you’re dependent on a failing system, when the system goes down, so do you. That’s not just an issue for the future; it’s a huge if still largely unmentioned reality of life in today’s America, and in most other corners of the industrial world as well.

Most of today’s permanently unemployed got that way because the job on which they depended for their livelihood got offshored or automated out of existence; much of the rising tide of poverty across the United States is a direct result of the collapse of political and social systems that once countered the free market’s innate tendency to drive the gap between rich and poor to Dickensian extremes.

For that matter, how many people who never learned how to read a road map are already finding themselves in random places far from help because something went wrong with their GPS units?

It’s very popular among those who recognize the problem with being shackled to a collapsing system to insist that it’s a problem for the future, not the present. They grant that dependency is going to be a losing bet someday, but everything’s fine for now, so why not enjoy the latest technological gimmickry while it’s here?

Of course that presupposes that you enjoy the latest technological gimmickry, which isn’t necessarily a safe bet, and it also ignores the first two difficulties with dependency outlined above, which are very much present and accounted for right now.

We’ll let both those issues pass for the moment, though, because there’s another factor that needs to be included in the calculation.

A practical example, again, will be useful here. In my experience, it takes around five years of hard work, study, and learning from your mistakes to become a competent vegetable gardener. If you’re transitioning from buying all your vegetables at the grocery store to growing them in your backyard, in other words, you need to start gardening about five years before your last trip to the grocery store.

The skill and hard work that goes into growing vegetables is one of many things that most people in the world’s industrial nations externalize, and those things don’t just pop back to you when you leave the produce section of the store for the last time. There’s a learning curve that has to be undergone.

Not that long ago, there used to be a subset of preppers who grasped the fact that a stash of cartridges and canned wieners in a locked box at their favorite deer camp cabin wasn’t going to get them through the downfall of industrial civilization, but hadn’t factored in the learning curve.

Businesses targeting the prepper market thus used to sell these garden-in-a-box kits, which had seed packets for vegetables, a few tools, and a little manual on how to grow a garden.

It’s a good thing that Y2K, 2012, and all those other dates when doom was supposed to arrive turned out to be wrong, because I met a fair number of people who thought that having one of those kits would save them even though they last grew a plant from seed in fourth grade.

If the apocalypse had actually arrived, survivors a few years later would have gotten used to a landscape scattered with empty garden-in-a-box kits, overgrown garden patches, and the skeletal remains of preppers who starved to death because the learning curve lasted just that much longer than they did.

The same principle applies to every other set of skills that has been externalized by people in today’s industrial society, and will be coming back home to roost as economic contraction starts to cut into the viability of our externality systems.

You can adopt them now, when you have time to get through the learning curve while there’s still an industrial society around to make up for the mistakes and failures that are inseparable from learning, or you can try to adopt them later, when those same inevitable mistakes and failures could very well land you in a world of hurt.

You can also adopt them now, when your dependencies haven’t yet been used to empty your wallet and control your behavior, or you can try to adopt them later, when a much larger fraction of the resources and autonomy you might have used for the purpose will have been extracted from you by way of those same dependencies.

This is a point I’ve made in previous posts here, but it applies with particular force to negative progress—that is, to the deliberate adoption of older, simpler, more independent technologies in place of the latest, dependency-laden offerings from the corporate machine.

As decline—or, shall we say, negative growth—becomes an inescapable fact of life in postprogress America, decreasing your dependence on sprawling externality systems is going to be an essential tactic.

Those who become early adopters of the retro future, to use an edgy term from last week’s post, will have at least two, and potentially three, significant advantages.

The first, as already noted, is that they’ll be much further along the learning curve by the time rising costs, increasing instabilities, and cascading systems failures either put the complex technosystems out of reach or push the relationship between costs and benefits well over into losing-proposition territory.

The second is that as more people catch onto the advantages of older, simpler, more sustainable technologies, surviving examples will become harder to find and more expensive to buy; in this case as in many others, collapsing first ahead of the rush is, among other things, the more affordable option.

The third advantage? Depending on exactly which old technologies you happen to adopt, and whether or not you have any talent for basement-workshop manufacture and the like, you may find yourself on the way to a viable new career as most other people will be losing their jobs—and their shirts.

As the global economy comes unraveled and people in the United States lose their current access to shoddy imports from Third World sweatshops, there will be a demand for a wide range of tools and simple technologies that still make sense in a deindustrializing world.

Those who already know how to use such technologies will be prepared to teach others how to use them; those who know how to repair, recondition, or manufacture those technologies will be prepared to barter, or to use whatever form of currency happens to replace today’s mostly hallucinatory forms of money, to good advantage.

My guess, for what it’s worth, is that salvage trades will be among the few growth industries in the 21st century, and the crafts involved in turning scrap metal and antique machinery into tools and machines that people need for their homes and workplaces will be an important part of that economic sector.

To understand how that will work, though, it’s probably going to be necessary to get a clearer sense of the way that today’s complex technostructures are likely to come apart.

Next week, with that in mind, we’ll spend some time thinking about the unthinkable—the impending death of the internet.

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