Indigenous Peoples' Day

SUBHEAD: The Seattle City Council is replacing Columbus Day with Indigenous Peoples' Day.

By Phuong Le on 6 October 2104 for Huffington Post -
(http://bigbigbigthings.com/2010/10/happy-indigenous-peoples-day/S)


Image above: Indigenous people at market from Chichci area of the Yucatan in Mexico. From (http://bigbigbigthings.com/2010/10/happy-indigenous-peoples-day/).

The Seattle City Council is replacing Columbus Day with Indigenous Peoples' Day in the city.
The resolution that passed unanimously Monday celebrates the contributions and culture of Native Americans and the indigenous community in Seattle on the second Monday in October, the same day as the federally recognized Columbus Day.

Tribal members and other supporters say the move recognizes the rich history of people who have inhabited the area for centuries.

"This action will allow us to bring into current present day our valuable and rich history, and it's there for future generations to learn," said Fawn Sharp, president of the Quinault Nation, a tribe on the Olympic Peninsula, who is also president of the Affiliated Tribes of Northwest Indians.

"Nobody discovered Seattle, Washington," she said to a round of applause.

Several Italian-Americans and others objected to the change, saying Indigenous Peoples' Day honors one group while disregarding the Italian heritage of others.

Columbus Day is a federal holiday that commemorates the arrival of Christopher Columbus, who was Italian, in the Americas on October 12th 1492.

"We don't argue with the idea of Indigenous Peoples' Day. We do have a big problem of it coming at the expense of what essentially is Italian Heritage Day," said Ralph Fascitelli, an Italian-American who lives in Seattle, speaking outside the meeting.

"This is a big insult to those of us of Italian heritage. We feel disrespected," Fascitelli said. He added, "America wouldn't be America without Christopher Columbus."

Seattle Mayor Ed Murray is expected to sign the resolution, his spokesman Jason Kelly said.

The Bellingham City Council also is concerned that Columbus Day offends some Native Americans. It will consider an ordinance October 13th to recognize the second Monday in October as Coast Salish Day.

The Seattle School Board decided last week to have its schools observe Indigenous Peoples' Day on the same day as Columbus Day. Earlier this year, Minneapolis also decided to designate that day as Indigenous Peoples' Day. South Dakota, meanwhile, celebrates "Native Americans Day."

Seattle councilmember Bruce Harrell said he understood the concerns from people in the Italian-American community, but he said, "I make no excuses for this legislation." He said he co-sponsored the resolution because he believes the city won't be successful in its social programs and outreach until "we fully recognize the evils of our past."

Councilmember Nick Licata, who is Italian-American, said he didn't see the legislation as taking something away, but rather allowing everyone to celebrate a new day where everyone's strength is recognized.

David Bean, a member of the Puyallup Tribal Council, told councilmembers the resolution demonstrates that the city values tribal members' history, culture, welfare and contributions to the community.

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American war crimes in Hawaii

SOURCE: Ken Taylor (taylork021@hawaii.rr.com)
SUBHEAD: The problem is that there is no treaty where the Hawaiian Kingdom ceded its sovereignty and territory to the United States.

By on 5 October 2014 for HawaiianKingdom.org -
(http://hawaiiankingdom.org/blog/u-s-department-of-justice-acknowledges-war-crimes-being-committed-in-hawaii/)


Image above: US military at war in the Philippines in 1899 after overthrowing Hawaiian Government. Still image from scene in movie "Amigo". From (http://www.honolulupulse.com/2011/08/filmslashtv-amigo-and-american-adventurism/).

Under the criminal code of the United States of America, Title 18 U.S.C. §4, provides for the reporting of felonies to federal authorities, whether civil or military, as a duty and not a choice. According to Black’s Law Dictionary (1996), a duty is defined as an obligation “to conform to legal standard of reasonable conduct in light of apparent risk.”

A person who fails to report a felony as soon as possible risks being fined or face up to three years in prison, which is a felony as well. In other words, failure to report a felony is a felony.

On September 17, 2014, Professor Williamson Chang, senior law professor at the University of Hawaii William S. Richardson School of Law, reported the commission of war crimes to U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder at the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) in Washington, D.C. Professor Chang held a press conference on September 22, 2014 at the University of Hawaii in front of the William S. Richardson School of Law.

Although American media in the United States and Hawaii were notified by press release of the press conference, none were present, and the press conference was covered by Kingdom Media Hawaii. The story was then picked up by ABC Australia news and radio and New Zealand’s radio The Wire. ABC Australia reported:

In his letter to the Attorney General, Professor Chang stated, “Pursuant to 18 U.S.C. §4—Misprision of felony, I am legally obligated to report to you the knowledge I have about multiple felonies that prima facie have been and continue to be committed here in the Hawaiian Islands.

I have been made aware of these felonies through the memorandum by political scientist David Keanu Sai, Ph.D., who was contracted by the State of Hawaii Office of Hawaiian Affairs, entitled Memorandum for Ka Pouhana, CEO of the Office of Hawaiian Affairs regarding Hawaii as an Independent State and the Impacts it has on the Office of Hawaiian Affairs.” Professor Chang’s letter was endorsed with the signatures of seventeen other State of Hawaii officials and employees.

The U.S. Attorney General received Professor Chang’s reporting of war crimes on September 19, 2014 by FedEx courier under tracking number 8061 7191 0836.

“Further, as a State of Hawaii employee, I and other State officials and employees receive State monies that have been implicated as being gained through the commission of felonies, namely the war crime of pillaging,” stated Professor Chang. Under 18 U.S.C. §662, receiving stolen property is a felony punishable by a fine or up to three years in prison.

Receiving stolen property has four elements that need to be met in order to be considered a crime: (1) the property must be received; (2) it must have been previously stolen; (3) the person receiving the property must know it was stolen; and (4) the receiver must intend to deprive the owner of his or her property.

Professor Chang’s reporting of war crimes, being felonies under 18 U.S.C. §2441, to the DOJ effectively placed a corresponding obligation upon the U.S. Attorney General to either initiate a criminal investigation into the reported felonies, or explicitly state that felonies have not been committed thereby removing the apparent risk of a fine or up to three years in prison under both §4—misprision of felony, and §662—receiving stolen property.

Professor Chang stated, “If your office’s response in two weeks is able to refute the evidence provided for in the Memo, then assuredly the felonies—war crimes—have not been committed. But if you office is not able to refute the evidence, then this is a matter for the U.S. Pacific Command, being the occupying power, and all State of Hawaii officials and employees, as well as I, are compelled to comply with Hawaiian Kingdom law and the law of occupation.” The U.S. Attorney General was requested to respond by October 3, 2014.

The U.S. Department of Justice has not responded to Professor Chang’s reporting within the requested time of two weeks, which expired yesterday. The DOJ’s silence on the reporting is acquiescence or acknowledgment that war crimes have and continue to be committed in Hawaii.

According to Black’s Law Dictionary (1996), acquiescence is “equivalent to assent inferred from silence with knowledge or from encouragement and presupposes knowledge and assent.” Bouvier’s Law Dictionary (1984) also defines acquiescence as “a silent appearance of consent.”

Specifically, the silence of the DOJ admits there is evidence of the commission of war crimes and that it “is a matter for the U.S. Pacific Command, being the occupying power,” and not the DOJ.

In order to refute Professor Chang’s reporting that the State of Hawaii government committed war crimes of pillaging by illegally appropriating monies from the inhabitants of the Hawaiian Islands, would be for the DOJ to show evidence that the United States is the successor to the Hawaiian Kingdom under international law and that the State of Hawaii, being an extension of the United States government, is a lawful government and legally authorized to collect taxes.

In Larsen v. Hawaiian Kingdom arbitral award, the international tribunal at the Permanent Court of Arbitration stated “in the nineteenth century the Hawaiian Kingdom existed as an independent State recognized as such by the United States of America, the United Kingdom and various other States, including by exchanges of diplomatic or consular representatives and the conclusion of treaties.”

This acknowledgment of the Hawaiian Kingdom’s status as a State under international law by an international tribunal is called “presumptive evidence,” which Black’s Law Dictionary (1996) defines as “evidence which must be received and treated as true and sufficient until and unless rebutted by other evidence.”

According to Professor James Crawford, in his book The Creation of States in International Law (2006), p. 34, “There is a strong presumption that the State continues to exist, with its rights and obligations, despite revolutionary changes in government, or despite a period in which there is no, or no effective, government.

Belligerent occupation does not affect the continuity of the State, even where there exists no government claiming to represent the occupied State.”

Professor Crawford is the leading expert in State sovereignty under international and he also served as President of the Arbitral Tribunal in the Larsen v. Hawaiian Kingdom arbitration case at the Permanent Court of Arbitration.

The fundamental problem for the DOJ is that there is no treaty where the Hawaiian Kingdom ceded its sovereignty and territory to the United States.

The only claim the United States has over the Hawaiian Islands is that the Congress says it annexed the Hawaiian Islands in 1898 and then later created the State of Hawaii government in 1959.

It is undisputed that Congress has no effect beyond its borders, so the U.S. Congress could no more annex Hawaii and create a State of Hawaii government by enacting statutes, than it could annex Canada and create a State of Canada government by enacting statutes.

There is no treaty, which is evidence under international law that would rebut the evidence of the Hawaiian Kingdom’s continued existence as an independent and sovereign State under international law.

Without extinguishing the Hawaiian Kingdom under international law, the United States presence in the Hawaiian Islands is a situation of military occupation, which is regulated by the international laws of occupation and international humanitarian law.

As a federal agency of the United States government, the DOJ is limited to investigating the violation of federal criminal laws that occur within the territory of the United States. The DOJ does not have extra-territorial authority, and nor do federal statutes, which includes §2441.

Since the DOJ acquiesced to the evidence that Hawaii is not a part of the territory of the United States as provided in Dr. Sai’s Memo for the Office of Hawaiian Affairs, which Professor Chang relied on for his reporting of felonies, the investigation of war crimes now falls upon the commander of the U.S. Pacific Command who is the occupying power in Hawaii.

§2441 states “Whoever, whether inside or outside the United States, commits a war crime…shall be fined under this title or imprisoned for life or any term of years, or both, and if death results to the victim, shall also be subject to the penalty of death.”

According to the House Report 104-698 that accompanied the War Crimes Act of 1996 under the heading Current Prosecutability Under United States Law of Individuals for “Grave Breaches” of the Geneva Conventions and the Impact of H.R. 3680, “Military tribunals—or commissions—have been used widely by the United States from the Mexican-American War to the Civil War to World War II to prosecute criminals and to provide a system of justice in lands occupied by our armed forces.”

The House Report continued to state, “Military commissions were most recently used during and immediately following World War II to prosecute German and Japanese war criminals and to provide a legal system for occupied areas,” and that “American military commissions have generally prosecuted individuals whose acts were committed in lands occupied by our military.”

Since the Hawaiian Kingdom has been under an illegal and prolonged occupation by the armed forces of the United States, the commander of the U.S. Pacific Command is primarily responsible for the United States presence and its compliance with international law and the law of occupation.

According to U.S. Army Field Manual 27-10, section 498, “any person, whether a member of the armed forces or a civilian, who commits an act which constitutes a crime under international law is responsible therefor and liable to punishment.

 Section 449, which has a more expansive definition of war crimes than 18 U.S.C. §2441, “the term ‘war crime’ is the technical expression for a violation of the law of war by any person or persons, military or civilian. Every violation of the law of war is a war crime.”

And according to section 500, “Conspiracy, direct incitement, and attempts to commit, as well as complicity in the commission of war crimes are punishable.”

[IB Editor's note: We regret that there is no identified author for this article. Others have had similar problems with the posts on the HawaiianKingdom.org site, as Mahealani noted in her comment on the website on 8/25/14. See below.]


Mahealani on said:
 
May I ask who is the author/writer of the Hawaiian Kingdom Blog, since there isn’t a name showing at the end of every post/article. Inquiring minds wants to know?

The articles are very well written and I would like to acknowledge that individual or individuals on his/her foundational knowledge of the Hawaiian Kingdom.

Mahalo Nui Loa,
Mahealani (Aupuni o ko Hawaii Pae Aina)

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Permaculture and Scarcity

SUBHEAD: Permaculture is a transition in our thinking, our habits, and our forms of economic organization.

By Charles Eisenstein on 20 September 2014 for the Economics of Happiness -
(http://theeconomicsofhappiness.wordpress.com/2014/09/20/permaculture-and-the-myth-of-scarcity/)


Image above: Watercolor illustration by Lucy Everett for Australian City Farms And Community Gardens Network. From (https://lucyeveritt.wordpress.com/2011/03/09/latest-commission-poster-for-australian-city-farms-and-community-gardens-network-acfcgn-watercolour/).

[IB Publisher's note: The idea of feeding 10 billion people through the use of permaculture is not really a desirable target for numerous reasons. Foremost is the cost to wilderness and all other megafauna on the planet. We do not think the world will be a better place with another three billion humans if there are no lions, bears, elk, tigers or moose. However we do think that permaculture and food-forest techniques can co-exist with greater biodiversity than we see today.]

At a conference a couple weeks ago, an activist who does work in Africa recounted an encounter she had with the minister of agriculture of a certain African country. The minister spoke with excitement about the high-tech agricultural technologies he was bringing into the country in partnership with large agribusiness companies, so the activist brought up the topic of organic agriculture.

The minister said, “Stop. You don’t understand. We cannot afford such luxuries here. In my country, people are starving.”

This reflects a common conception about organic agriculture – that it sacrifices productivity in the interests of the environment and health. It stands to reason that if you forgo pesticides and chemical fertilizer, yields are going to suffer.

This, in fact, is a myth. In Sacred Economics I cite research showing that when it is done properly, organic growing methods can deliver two to three times the yield of conventional methods.

Studies showing the opposite are poorly constructed. Of course if you take two fields and plant each with a monocrop, then the one without pesticides will do worse than the one with, but that isn’t really what organic farming is.

Conventional agriculture doesn’t seek to maximize yield per acre; it seeks to maximize yield per unit of labor. If we had 10% of the population engaged in agriculture rather than the current 1%, we could easily feed the country without petrochemicals or pesticides.

It turns out, though, that my statistics are way too conservative. The latest permaculture methods can deliver much more than just double or triple the yield of conventional farming. I recently came across this article by David Blume chronicling his nine-year permaculture enterprise in California.

Running a CSA for 300-450 people on two acres of land, he achieved yields eight times what the Department of Agriculture says is possible per square foot. He didn’t do it by “mining the soil” either – soil fertility increased dramatically over his time there.

When people project an imminent food crisis based on population growth or Peak Oil, they take for granted the agricultural methods we practice today. Thus, while the transitional period may involve temporary food shortages and real hardship, permaculture methods can easily feed the peak world population of perhaps 10 or 11 billion we’ll see by mid-century.

It is true that the old, control-based methods of agriculture are nearing the peak of their productive potential. Further investments in this kind of technology are bringing diminishing marginal returns – witness the proliferation of Roundup-resistant weeds and the “necessity” of new kinds of herbicides to deal with them.

This parallels the situation with so many other kinds of control-based technology, whether in medicine, in education, politics…. we are indeed nearing the end of an era.

One sign that this is so is that the old models are not working financially anymore either. Once upon a time, monocropping may have been the most economically efficient way to farm, but today even farmers who play by the conventional rules can barely stay in business. Blume outperforms them not only ecologically and yield-wise, but also financially.

Making the transition to permaculture is therefore a transition in our thinking, our habits, and our forms of economic organization. It springs naturally from ecological thinking, it embodies that habit of service to others, and it concords with the economic form of small, independent or cooperative producers.

For this reason, it does not easily fit into the operations of large agribusiness corporations. Let us note, though, that they too are becoming obsolete in their current hierarchical, centralized form.

The defining image of 20th century agriculture was the huge combine harvesting endless fields of grain. I’d like to offer a very different vision for 21st century agriculture:
  1. High-intensity permaculture around major population centers that meet 80/% of their food needs. Blume points out that even without modern permaculture techniques, the city of New York, with over one million people, met all its food needs from within seven miles prior to 1850.
  2. Widespread gardens replacing a significant portion of America’s current number one crop: lawn grass. Many suburbs could be nearly self-sufficient in food.
  3. A healing of the damaged lands of the farm belt and a restoration of the original forests and prairies of many of those areas. With high-intensity local production, many of the acres planted with corn, wheat, and soybeans in the Midwest will be unnecessary for food production. This is not to say that commodity crops for export to other regions will disappear, just that they will have a much diminished role.
  4. Increased biofuels production on decreased acreage. While most biofuel in the U.S. Is made from corn, Blume points out that other crops can deliver as much as ten times the fuel per acre – and that’s not even counting cellulose conversion technologies.
  5. As presaged by the resurgence of interest in farming among young people, a far greater proportion of the population will be engaged in agriculture, and gardening will be nearly universal. Depopulated rural areas will be repopulated and small town economies will flourish based on local production and consumption.
In America, the transition to this vision will involve a severe disruption of our present way of life. In other countries where people still practice small-scale farming akin to modern permaculture, the transition might be much smoother. They can leapfrog the 20th century directly into the 21st, without repeating our ecologically and socially devastating mistakes.

People in other lands can adapt the principles of permaculture to their own specific environmental and social circumstances. This is not about clever white people inventing a new model and imposing it on someone else.

Indeed, many permaculture techniques have been adopted from indigenous farmers around the world. It is about everyone learning from everyone else, all guided by the ideal of wedding agronomy to ecology and fostering bioregional food self-sufficiency.

• Charles Eisenstein will be speaking at Voices of Hope in a Time of Crisis on November 8th in New York City. In his work, Charles focuses on themes of human culture and identity. He is the author of several books, most recently Sacred Economics and The More Beautiful World our Hearts Know is Possible. His background includes a degree in mathematics and philosophy from Yale, a decade in Taiwan as a translator, and stints as a college instructor, a yoga teacher, and a construction worker. He currently writes and speaks full-time. He lives in Pennsylvania with his wife and children. http://charleseisenstein.net

This is the second article in our series by the speakers of Voices of Hope in a Time of Crises, a one-day event, which will explore localized solutions to our global problems and launch the International Alliance for Localization.

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Season of the Witch

SUBHEAD: The diminishing returns of the Information Age are about to bite our collective ass like an army of Orcs. 

By James Kunstler on 6 October 2014 for Kunstler.com - 
(http://kunstler.com/clusterfuck-nation/must-be-the-season-of-the-witch/)


Image above: Detail of painting The "Wyndham Sisters" by John Singer Sargent: (l-r) Madeline, Pamela and Mary. They were three sisters of wealth who were at the center of cultural and political life in late Victorian and Edwardian Britain. From (http://www.theguardian.com/books/2014/feb/03/those-wild-wyndhams-claudia-renton-review#_).

As the Governor goblins at the Federal Reserve whistle past the graveyard of dead Quantitative Easing and the US dollar magically expands like a prickly puffer fish and Mario Drahgi does what it takes with Euro duct tape to patch all black holes of unpayable debt from Athens to Dublin, Japan watches its once wondrous economy congeal in a puddle of Abenomic sludge (with a radioactive cherry on top) and China chokes on its dollar-peg, and Russia waits patiently with its old friend, Winter, covering its back...

 — and notwithstanding the violent chaos, beheadings, and psychopathic struggles across the old Levant, not to mention the doubling of Ebola cases every 20 days, which the World Health Organization did not have the nerve to project beyond 1.2 million in January (does the doubling just stop there?) — 

... there is enough instability around the globe for the gentlemen of Wall Street to make one last fabulous fortune arbitraging the future before the boomerang of consequence circles this suffering planet and finally accomplishes what the Department of Justice under Eric Holder failed to do for six long years.

It’s the season of witch and you should be nervous. Especially if you live in part of the world where money is used. Pretty soon nobody will know what any currency is really worth, at least for a while, or what anything else is worth, for that matter. 

Perhaps the fishermen of India will start using their worthless gold for sinkers. Jay-Z and Diddy will gaze down on their bling in despair, thinking, perhaps, they should have invested in Betamax players instead. In the time of anything-goes-and-nothing-matters, it’s dangerous to expect anything.
 
Here’s what I expect: the surge of the dollar is the crest of an historic Great Wave. A Great Wave is an awesome event, and its crest is a majestic sight, but soon the foam spits and hisses and the wave breaks and crashes down on the beach — say, out at the Hamptons — where hedge funders stroll to catch the last dwindling rays of a beautiful season, and all of a sudden they are being swept out to sea in the rip-tide that retracts all that lovely green liquidity, and no one is even left on the beach to weep for them. 

Indeed their Robert A. M. Stern shingled manor houses up behind the dunes are swept away, too, and the tennis courts, and the potted hydrangeas, and the Teslas, and all the temporal bric-a-brac of their uber-specialness.

And, of course, it being the season of the witch, that’s where the zombies come out for real — the tattooed savages who all this time have been stewing in their own rancid juices awaiting their turn to get jiggy with the nation that left them restlessly undead. 

I don’t think you can overestimate the depth of ill-feeling that the American public harbors for the cravens who engineered their USA into the biggest booby-trap the world has ever seen. The trouble is, they lost their humanity in the process, so when they have their way with the feckless folks tweaking the dials, you might want to contemplate moving to Finland.

Who can feel confident about the tending of things just now? The diminishing returns of the Information Age are about to bite our collective ass like an army of Orcs. 

The sum of all that digital magic is a nation completely incapable of telling itself the truth or acting honorably. Unemployment is down without employment being up. Candy Crush is making the world safe for democracy. We have the finest health care system in the world. 

ISIS is trying to compete with our homegrown videogame industry for supremacy in porno-violence (actually, I thought we already won that) but now we will obliterate all the bad guys in the world by remote control from the drone bunkers of Las Vegas, and that will show them. Thank goodness the long holiday season is almost upon us to juice the so-called economy ever-higher.

There has never been a crazier moment in history. The weeks before the outbreak of the First World War seem like a garden party compared to the morbid antics of these darkening days. America, you’ve been wishing fervently for the Zombie Apocalypse. What happens when you discover you can’t just change the channel?

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"Ebola" - a bad horror movie

 SOURCE: David Ward (ward.david7@gmail.com)
 SUBHEAD: How much more like a bad pandemic horror movie is this so-called “Ebola crisis” going to get?


By Melissa Melton on 3 October 2014 for Activist Post -
(http://www.activistpost.com/2014/10/the-handling-of-this-ebola-crisis-is.html)


Image above: Photo from Chopper 5 tweet (@wfaachannel8) showing how Ebola vomit at Dallas apartment building was cleaned up - with a power washer spraying it into the street where a woman walks in open sandals. From original article.

We hate to be the one to state the obvious (again), but how much more like a bad pandemic movie is this so-called “Ebola crisis” going to be allowed to get?

Yes. “Allowed.” The word was chosen carefully here. Why?

Let’s start back at in oh, let’s go with June, back when Ebola first began murdering people in Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone. Somewhere between 300 and 400 people had died, and the news was still fit for little more than the ticker tape at the bottom of the screen on most 24/7 networks. Barely anyone was even paying attention. People shrugged it off with little fanfare and the apathetic attitude of, “Well, that’s just what happens in Africa sometimes…”


The death toll continued to rise. Ebola continued to openly spread. No travel restrictions between borders were put in place. No air travel bans were instituted. No nothing. Finally officials had to call it — this Ebola outbreak was the deadliest in known human history. So what did that change?

Not much. The World Health Organization (WHO) declared the situation was “totally out of control” and “one of the most challenging Ebola outbreaks ever.” So challenging in fact, that they rushed to action by…
calling a meeting .

Meanwhile, more people died. The virus continued to spread. The healthcare system in these African nations was finally — not surprisingly — overwhelmed. 


No one in the mainstream press bothered to mention the fact that biowarfare researchers from Tulane University and the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases, Fort Detrick had just so happened to have been over in the Ebola hot zone countries, propagating cultures of different types of Ebola viruses (and Marburg virus and Lassa virus and Dengue virus and West Nile virus and yellow fever virus and chikungunya virus) in labs in the years leading up to this outbreak.


Here’s one of the scholarly articles published from that research just this past July in the CDC’s journal Emerging Infectious Diseases .

In it, the researchers conclude, “PRNT is the laboratory standard for immunologic assays… In the ebolavirus PRNTs, we did not include the newest discovered ebolavirus, Bundibugyo virus, which cross-reacts with EBOV [Ebola virus] in immunoassays. Ebolavirus infections in Sierra Leone might be the result of Bundibugyo virus or an ebolavirus genetic variant and not EBOV.”

By the way, there are five types of Ebola virus and the newest strain is named Bundibugyo, or Ebobun for short. The U.S. government actually holds a patent on this strain —
US 20120251502 A1 , for “Human Ebola Virus Species and Compositions and Methods Thereof” related to the Bundibugyo version of the virus.

Jon Rappoport was one of the few alternative journalists who actually reported on this:
The research program, occurring in Sierra Leone, the Republic of Guinea, and Liberia—said to be the epicenter of the 2014 Ebola outbreak—has the announced purpose, among others, of detecting the future use of fever-viruses as bioweapons. Is this purely defensive research? Or as we have seen in the past, is this research being covertly used to develop offensive bioweapons?
and

Why do we have reports that the government of Sierra Leone has recently told Tulane researchers to stop this testing?

Why indeed.

Once Ebola got out of control enough that the doctors, nurses and aid workers in those countries began dying of it regardless of all medical precautions taken including bleach baths and full body protective gear, two Americans were infected. So what did our government do?

The State Department spent an astounding $5 million and made a big huge PR deal, with the lapdog establishment media in lock step, to deploy a jet complete with a special Aeromedical Biological Containment System that looked more like a bunch of plastic sandwich bags quilted together with twisty ties to fly these people — a male doctor and a female nurse — back to America for (experimental) treatment.


These two Ebola-infected Americans were handled with what appeared to be the utmost caution. Helicopter video from news outlets shows medical teams decked out in full-body protective gear to bring these people into the hospital for treatment…
except.

Except in the first instance, there was an
unprotected cameraman snapping away just a few feet from the infected doctor as he got out of the ambulance to walk into the hospital. In the instance of the nurse, the crew suited up to wheel her in on a gurney, and another guy in protective gear stood watch on the sidewalk, seemingly to block if off from the public, but take a look for yourself:

A completely unprotected man with a cell phone is just standing there while they are wheeling this lady in and they don’t do anything about it. They seemingly don’t even bother to tell him, “Hey buddy, you might want to get off this sidewalk, we’re dressed like this for a reason and that reason is we’re bringing in a patient infected with the highly infectious, deadly Ebola virus. So ya know… You might want to go talk on your cell phone somewhere else for a minute…just to be safe.” Instead he’s right there and they do nothing.

By August, the governments of these African nations began declaring medical
martial law and the people there started just abandoning their dead in the streets for fear they too would be dragged off to a treatment center as a precaution where they might end up contracting Ebola if they didn’t already have it. 

In fact, many Africans believe the Ebola outbreak is a government conspiracy . Which government? The United States, specifically the Department of Defense. In fact, on September 9th, Dr. Cyril Broderick published an article on the front page of Liberia’s Daily Observer titled, "Ebola, AIDS Manufactured by Western Pharmaceuticals, US DoD?" subhead, "Scientists Allege" .

Martial law declarations continued full force. Civil liberties were suspended. Soldiers in some places were instructed to
shoot people on sight if they tried to leave the Ebola hot zone. Homes were searched door-to-door, and people were rounded up and forced into treatment centers.

Fast forward to September, when rates of infection had increased to the point that an average of five people are now infected with Ebola every hour there. Now officials are estimating that some
1.4 million people could be infected by the end of January.

This is the level we’re at. And now, the U.S. government has done pretty much everything it can to
not stop Ebola from coming here (considering we’ve actually shipped it in multiple times). In fact, it’s as if they did everything they could to ensure it would get here at some point. Now, for the first time in the history of the disease, an Ebola patient has been diagnosed here on American soil in Dallas, Texas, the first nation in the world outside of the continent of Africa to do so.

As our government continues to tell us to stay calm, and they have it all “under control” just like in every Hollywood blockbuster where they don’t have anything under control at all (
The Stand or Outbreak , anyone?) complete with continued reassurances that the safety protocols are sound, those protocols have already failed with Ebola Patient Zero Thomas Eric Duncan. 

The man went to the hospital suffering Ebola symptoms and reported to the nurse he had just come back from Liberia six days prior, so what did they do? They just sent him home with some antibiotics, where he had contact for several days with a bunch of people including five school children from four different Dallas area schools who continued to attend public school for at least two days afterward . Public school: the place where germs and mucous membranes go on romantic dates.

Regrettably, they say it was all just a case of bad communication.

Now health officials have gone door-to-door in Dallas searching for anyone who had contact with Ebola Patient Zero and forced these family members into quarantine under a control order, after Duncan was rushed back to the hospital in an ambulance, but not before vomiting on the sidewalk outside his house. 


No official sanitation was done, but the family is forced to stay there anyway, forced to give blood draws and be on mandatory standby for any other medical tests and examinations public health officials deem necessary on demand or they will face criminal charges .

 
The hour-to-hour account of what happened leading up to Duncan’s official Ebola diagnosis does not bode well that the virus has been contained at all. Some 100 people have likely come in contact with him at this point at least . He left Liberia on September 19th and he went through Brussels and Dulles Airport in D.C. before finally arriving in Dallas on the 20th. 

Who actually remembers every person they came in physical or close contact with in a week (the same week they are coming down with Ebola and in serious condition)? Who can remember every time they coughed or sneezed and where that cough or sneeze took place and around whom? They claim the man wasn’t exhibiting any symptoms until two days before his first trip to the hospital on September 26th, but no one can say for sure what moment this man became truly infectious.

Two of Duncan’s
three flights — that’s right, three — were on United Airlines, but the company says there is “zero risk of transmission” on their flights, regardless of the fact that A) that is simply an impossible thing to state with absolute certainty, and thus, inherently untrue, and B) the only thing there is zero of in regards to commercial airplanes and Ebola transmission is the number of airline cabin cleaning standards  which is zero .

There are
only 19 level 4 bio-containment beds in this country, but that’s okay, because the National Institutes of Health (NIH), an agency now proudly admitting their very own Ebola patient, put out a press release claiming that Ebola patients can be safely treated at any hospital with little risk as long as the CDC’s protocol is followed (the same protocol that already wasn’t followed in Dallas ).

And about that vomit outside Duncan’s apartment? Here’s the
cleaning crew — wearing nothing more than jeans and a couple t-shirts — pressure washing it off the sidewalk and right down the storm drain:



Do baseball caps count as protective headgear? And look at that lady in the lower left hand corner. She appears to be about to walk right through the runoff in what, sandals?

Real “level 4″ stuff, right? Oh, and as of today, the same health officials who had quarantined Duncan’s family in his apartment
still had yet to sterilize it after he had been there for at least a week. Via The New York Times :

In the latest indication, state and local authorities confirmed Thursday that a week after a Liberian man fell ill with Ebola in Dallas, and four days after he was placed in isolation at a hospital here, the apartment where he was staying with four other people had not been sanitized and the sheets and dirty towels he used while sick remained in the home. County officials visited the apartment without protection Wednesday night. [emphasis added]
“Without protection?” Without protection ? In God’s name, why? Why even take that chance?? 

What in the hell going on here? So which is it? A $5 million Aeromedical Biological Containment System jet and hazmats? Or will t-shirts, ball caps, and a complete failure to do even a basic disinfection job on the places that have been knowingly contaminated with the virus suffice?

Did we forget to mention that now a Dallas paramedic has come out to say he drove the ambulance the Ebola patient was transported in without anyone bothering to tell him it was used to transport an Ebola patient (who at the time had not been officially diagnosed yet)? As
Mac Slavo of SHTFplan wrote, “It is not known how many paramedics drove the ambulance during the 48 hour period or how many patients were transported.”

…yeah.

 
By definition, “Under control” is the last phrase anyone should call this situation.

In fact, this is every stupid horror movie on pandemic virus outbreaks ever, compounded by an all new level of fail. When we watch these films, many of us get frustrated at the sheer idiocy displayed by the actors onscreen as things continue to get worse by the minute
because of the casts’ own actions written into the script to be stupid and we as viewers declare that, “People would never be this dumb in real life,” and that’s why it’s a movie, right?

Wrong. This is happening right here, right now and while we’re all screaming at the people in charge to run out the front door as the serial killer looms behind them (slow as it has been coming on all these months), they’re apparently waving their arms and yelling “Come and get me psychopath! I’m right here!” as they run in slow motion (more like casually jog) up the stairs instead.

Don’t worry though; now the
Council on Foreign Relations is saying that Obamacare may hold the key to saving us Americans from Ebola. Yippee!

Oh, and the U.S. Department of State has issued an
alert about traveling to the Ebola-ravaged African countries. NOT A WARNING mind you, an alert. Just to allow the agency to clarify that difference for you, “We issue a Travel Warning when we want you to consider very carefully whether you should go to a country at all.” (Something most of us wouldn’t want to do if people are dropping dead in the streets from Ebola and martial law has been declared, just by the way). For a mere alert, however, they say, “We issue a Travel Alert for short-term events we think you should know about when planning travel to a country. ” 

That’s right. Ebola might outlast the war in Ukraine or even Syria, but you don’t need to consider very carefully if you want to even go to these Ebola-stricken, martial law controlled countries in Africa at all right now…you just might want to “know about” the fact that OH BY THE WAY, YOU COULD DIE FROM EBOLA IF YOU GO THERE RIGHT NOW.

Also, the government has no plans to cancel any flights from Guinea, Sierra Leone or Liberia according to the
White House press secretary (even though that’s how the first guy got here undetected) because, well, that just makes too much sense. So, yeah. Be “alerted” and get your tickets today. They’re probably even on sale.

In the meantime, the CDC keeps fidgeting on exactly how Ebola is transmitted…mostly because they can’t say anything definitive with 100% surety
and they know it.

 
First, the CDC removed the phrase “contaminated air” from their Ebola information webpage on August 4th. Then on September 22nd, the CDC updated the agency’s question and answer page on Ebola transmission to include a section on what happens if an Ebola patient coughs or sneezes on you (not whether or not the person vomits, by the way. Coughing and sneezing aren’t symptoms of Ebola, but vomiting is. 

All of these produce bodily fluids which can transmit the disease). Prior, the agency held steadfast to the idea that one absolutely has to have direct physical contact in order to catch Ebola. They have now admitted this is not true.

Now an
NBC Cameraman has caught the disease, and he was behind the camera wearing a bunch of protective gear, just as many of the doctors and medical staff treating the infected who later became infected themselves also wore protective gear and took precautions. If it’s not airborne, how exactly are all these people still getting infected?

Well…our health agencies aren’t
entirely sure. First they said it’s possibly bats, and they claim person-to-person it has to be direct bodily contact…but it’s definitely not airborne, right? Nope. No way. They’ll never say it even if it is. 

And viruses never mutate (even as the United Nations has now declared that the longer this Ebola outbreak lasts, the more chance the highly infectious, deadly virus has to mutate and become airborne, something that would be globally devastating). Hey, if a mosquito bites someone with Ebola, draws blood, then flies off to bite someone else? Well, that question has yet to be answered too…

Still, when the CDC Director Dr. Tom Frieden appeared on CNN recently with Dr. Sanjay Gupta to discuss how the disease is transmitted, Frieden failed to address the CDC’s new coughing and sneezing addendum, and then actually managed to contradict himself in less than two minutes live on air:

You can tell by the big fat (creepy) smiles this was supposed to be a cutesy, reassuring exchange for the masses, but it went bad pretty quick. Here’s a partial transcript (the particular clip begins at 5:44ish in the video above, emphasis added below):

Dr. Thomas Frieden, CDC director [standing right next to CNN's Sanjay Gupta]: Well actually, Sanjay and I, if one of us had Ebola, the other would not be a contact right now. Because we’re not in contact. Just talking to someone is not a way to get infected. It’s not like the flu, not like the common cold. It requires direct physical contact.
CNN host Michaela Pereira: But if he sneezes on you, it’s a different story.
Sanjay Gupta: I think there’s a utility here because we’re having this conversation but I am within 3 feet of you. Wouldn’t I be considered a higher risk? My understanding reading your guidelines, sir, is that within 3 feet or direct contact — if I were to shake your hand, for example — would both qualify as being contact.
Frieden: We look at each situation individually and we assess it based on how sick the individual is and what the nature of the contact is. And certainly if you’re within 3 feet, that’s a situation we’d want to be concerned about. But in this case, where we haven’t hugged — we haven’t shaken hands — we have not had any contact that would allow either of our body fluids to be in contact with the other person.
Gupta: So, to Michaela’s point, the reason we talk about coughing and sneezing not being a concern — if you were to have coughed on me — you’re saying that would not be of concern?
Frieden: We would look at that situation very closely…
Sure they would… sure they would.


• Melissa Melton is a co-founder of TruthstreamMedia.com, where this first appeared. She is an experienced researcher, graphic artist and investigative journalist with a passion for liberty and a dedication to truth. Her aim is to expose the New World Order for what it is — a prison for the human soul from which we must break free.

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Oil, Empire and the Great Game

SUBHEAD: Nations waiting for the U.S. to collapse may find their own stability is more fleeting than they reckoned.

By Charles Hugh Smith on 3 October 2014 for Of Two Minds -
(http://www.oftwominds.com/blogsept14/oil-game9-14.html)


Image above: Map of the Mideast with notes by Charles Hugh Smith showing Iraq and afgahanistan as fulcrums through which it controlls the region with support from Navy and Air Force.  From original article.

Those waiting for the U.S. and its dollar to collapse in a heap may find their own stability is more contingent (and fleeting) than they reckoned. Many observers (including myself) question the coherence of U.S. foreign policy in the Mideast: The Fatal Incoherence of the Bush/Obama Foreign Policy (June 18, 2014).

In my view, the incoherence stems from the intrinsic conflict between traditional (i.e. pre-1941) U.S. foreign policy (based on an uneasy marriage of non-intervention and the explicitly interventionist Monroe Doctrine) and the anti-imperialist values of the Founding Fathers, and the demands of maintaining global hegemony.

The other source of incoherence is the recent policy dominance of an intrinsically incoherent ideology of neo-Conservative Imperialism that is disconnected from both traditional non-interventionist U.S. values and the nuanced demands of maintaining global hegemony.

If we strip away these sources of incoherence, we're left with the Deep State playing the Great Game of controlling the master resource, oil. A consistent narrative has little value in the playing of this game, other than for public-relations value, and those seeking a single narrative are inevitably perplexed by the multiple paradoxes and agendas of the Deep State.

This leads many observers to declare the Deep State's game plan a disaster.

The important question is: which game plan? The incoherent one articulated by the president and his secretary of state? Or the one that nobody lays out because it would be the equivalent of showing everyone at the table all your cards?

The real game plan is flexible enough to tolerate multiple inconsistencies and paradoxes. The only goal is controlling the extraction and distribution of oil, and whatever serves this goal is in play. Switching sides, abandoning proxies, cutting deals with enemies--it's all in play, all the time.

From this perspective, the game requires constant shifting of strategies in response to what's working and what's not working. If taking down Syria's Assad with proxies didn't work, then move on to Plan B or Plan C. If degrading Iran's influence isn't working, then move on to reproachment (privately at first, of course).

In other cases, the strategy is public but the working parts are not necessarily public. Financial sanctions are a good example; beneath the PR bravado and the propaganda war of sanctions and counter-sanctions, one side is getting hurt where it counts (i.e. in the personal fortunes of its Power Elites). If sanctions aren't working, they're replaced with Plan B or C. What Plan B or C might be is only visible between the lines.

In other cases, allies are reminded of who controls $40 trillion in financial resources and who controls $2 trillion.

The U.S. Deep State isn't collecting "likes." Everyone with a piece on the board has to deal with the U.S. in some fashion, whether they like it or not. Even the cliche of the enemy of my enemy is my friend doesn't explicate the conflicting alliances the U.S. maintains.

One need only recall Nixon's visit to China as evidence that all sorts of sacrosanct policies are fluidly jettisoned once the board changes and the Deep State sees the advantages of another arrangement.

In the case of Nixon and China, Nixon sought to rearrange the triangle of China, the U.S.S.R. and the U.S. to the advantage of the U.S. and China at the expense of the U.S.S.R.

In other cases, the U.S. game is served by disrupting competitors' control of resources; if direct control isn't possible with available assets, then indirect control via global finance is always an option. If that isn't possible, then disrupting competitors' control until other stresses bring them to their knees might work.

Everybody with a piece on the board is serving their own best interests. When cutting a deal with an implacable enemy serves your interests better than remaining enemies, that's what you do--consistency doesn't count. Friends, enemies, frenemies--labels, like consistency, don't count.

I don't know any more than any other marginalized, non-insider citizen. But just reading between the lines, I see the various Deep States playing 3-D chess and constantly adjusting strategies and game plans in response to other players' moves.

I would guess one U.S. Deep State strategy involves disrupting the alliance of Russia, Iran and Syria by whatever means are available, with the goal of securing working relationships of some sort with all three such that energy flows serve the U.S. Deep State agenda.

This doesn't mean others' interests aren't being served; arrangements are only stable if they meet all the players' core interests. Costs are raised or reduced, changing the incentives to deal, and at some point the benefits of changing the arrangement outweigh the costs.

Just glancing at this map, I'd guess it would serve both the U.S. and Iran to reach some sort of mutually beneficial arrangement.

  1. As I described on Monday, I expect oil to plummet at some point as the global economy implodes. As demand and price crash, oil exporters on the thin edge of domestic instability will maintain production in a desperate attempt to keep their welfare states afloat. The Oil Head-Fake: The Illusion that Lower Prices Are Positive.
    The Oil Head-Fake: The Illusion that Lower Prices Are Positive

  2. This dramatic decline in oil revenues will trigger domestic regime change in nations which are dependent on oil revenues for the maintenance of their welfare state/Armed Forces/Political Elites.

  3. Capital restrictions will increasingly be viewed as necessary as nations awaken to the fact that their sovereignty and control of their own assets will be lost if they allow uncontrolled flows of capital in and out of their economy.

    The currency that will be needed for reserves and to service debts is the U.S. dollar. As demand for USD rises and U.S. imports (i.e. the supply of USD being exported) decline, the value of USD will rise sharply.

  4. That means the U.S. can outbid other bidders for any global resource. The U.S. funds its Empire by selling its bonds (debt) to those who have traded goods for our dollars. Thus the cost of the Empire is largely borne by other nations as the U.S. exports inflation and its currency in exchange for goods and resources.

    Until China gains an equivalent advantage (and as I have explained many times, nations with trade surpluses cannot issue reserve currencies), then it will have to bid for resources with earned income. Recall that China's apparently substantial wealth is ultimately based on its currency's peg to the U.S. dollar and an export-dependent economy that will run aground once the global recession kicks in.
    The Impossibility of China Issuing a Reserve Currency (October 14, 2013)
    Understanding the "Exorbitant Privilege" of the U.S. Dollar (November 19, 2012)

  5. Capital controls will be followed by resource controls. The export of energy, food and minerals will be limited as a matter of necessity. The excuses given won't matter; there will be no alternative. Governments which let their own populaces starve in order to ship food overseas will be overthrown by whatever means are necessary. As Bob Marley observed, a hungry mob is an angry mob. That's how Bastilles get torn down, brick by brick, by enraged mobs. That means there will be far fewer resources available for export.
  6. The clock is ticking on China's moment in the sun. Its citizens' monumental ambitions will be thwarted by the limits facing all consuming nations, and as the costs of its aging (and increasingly diabetic) populace ratchet higher, China's resources will be stretched too thin to construct a Global Empire with a reserve currency and decisive hard and soft power.

    Perhaps if Mao hadn't struck down an entire generation in the Cultural Revolution and China had started integrating its economy and ambitions 20 years earlier, that hard and soft power might have been assembled. But now there are too many demands on China's financial resources and too many imbalances in its corrupt, centrally planned financial house of cards. Its stash of foreign reserves is modest compared to the demands of Empire and a populace of 1.2 billion people with expectations raised to the sky.

When competition between the U.S. and China comes up, I always ask this:

Which nation's Power Elites have made sure their children have green cards and homes in the others' home turf?

If the U.S. Power Elites had secured Chinese citizenship for their beloved children and purchased properties in Beijing, then that would be proof that the leadership of the U.S. Empire had lost faith in the Empire's durability and future.

But it is the other way round: it is China's leadership which has moved its capital and offspring to Canada and the U.S. Indeed, having U.S./Canadian passports or green cards for one's children is unequivocal evidence of membership in the Chinese Elite.

In many cases, core goals can be met by doing nothing more than waiting patiently for already-visible internal instabilities to blossom in competing nations and alliances. Those waiting for the U.S. and its dollar to collapse in a heap may find their own stability is more contingent (and fleeting) than they reckoned.

The game is many boards deep. Nobody has god-like powers, every player makes mistakes and miscalculations. The advantages and arrangements are all contingent and temporary; those with the most flexibility and the deepest spectrum of assets will eventually increase their influence at the expense of those with weaker hands and those who fail to respond promptly and decisively to new configurations on the multiple boards in play.

Of related interest:
Ukraine: Follow the Energy (March 4, 2014)
The Systemic Sources of Geopolitical Turmoil:  Resource Wars (June 30, 2014)
The Great Game: Geopolitics and Oil (October 19, 2010)
The Great Game: Regime Change in Syria (September 6, 2012)


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The Buffalo Wind

SUBHEAD: The buffalo extermination was an essential step in shattering that ecosystem and extracting the richness of its topsoil.

By John Michael Greer on 1 October 2014 for Archdruid Report -
(http://thearchdruidreport.blogspot.com/2014/10/the-buffalo-wind.html)


Image above: Buffalo herd on American prairie.  From (http://www.tumblr.com/search/bison%20nation).

I've talked more than once in these essays about the challenge of discussing the fall of civilizations when the current example is picking up speed right outside the window.  In a calmer time, it might be possible to treat the theory of catabolic collapse as a pure abstraction, and contemplate the relationship between the maintenance costs of capital and the resources available to meet those costs without having to think about the ghastly human consequences of shortfall.

As it is, when I sketch out this or that detail of the trajectory of a civilization’s fall, the commotions of our time often bring an example of that detail to the surface, and sometimes—as now—those lead in directions I hadn’t planned to address.

This is admittedly a time when harbingers of disaster are not in short supply. I was amused a few days back to see yet another denunciation of economic heresy in the media. This time the author was one Matt Egan, the venue was CNN/Money, and the target was Zero Hedge, one of the more popular sites on the doomward end of the blogosphere.

The burden of the CNN/Money piece was that Zero Hedge must be wrong in questioning the giddy optimism of the stock market—after all, stock values have risen to record heights, so what could possibly go wrong?


Zero Hedge’s pseudonymous factotum Tyler Durden had nothing to say to CNN/Money, and quite reasonably so.  He knows as well as I do that in due time, Egan will join that long list of pundits who insisted that the bubble du jour would keep on inflating forever, and got to eat crow until the end of their days as a result. He's going to have plenty of company; the chorus of essays and blog posts denouncing peak oil in increasingly strident tones has built steadily in recent months.

I expect that chorus to rise to a deafening shriek right about the time the bottom drops out of the fracking bubble.

Meanwhile the Ebola epidemic has apparently taken another large step toward fulfilling its potential as the Black Death of the 21st century. A month ago, after reports surfaced of Ebola in a southwestern province, Sudan slapped a media blackout on reports of Ebola cases in the country.

Maybe there’s an innocent reason for this policy, but I confess I can’t think of one. Sudan is a long way from the West African hotspots of the epidemic, and unless a local outbreak has coincidentally taken place—which is of course possible—this suggests the disease has already spread along the ancient east-west trade routes of the Sahel.

If the epidemic gets a foothold in Sudan, the next stops are the teeming cities of Egypt and the busy ports of East Africa, full of shipping from the Gulf States, the Indian subcontinent, and eastern Asia.

I’ve taken a wry amusement in the way that so many people have reacted to the spread of the epidemic by insisting that Ebola can’t possibly be a problem outside the West African countries it’s currently devastating. Here in the US, the media’s full of confident-sounding claims that our high-tech health care system will surely keep Ebola at bay.

It all looks very encouraging, unless you happen to know that diseases spread by inadequate handwashing are common in US hospitals, only a small minority of facilities have the high-end gear necessary to isolate an Ebola patient, and the Ebola patient just found in Dallas got misdiagnosed and sent home with a prescription for antibiotics, exposing plenty of people to the virus.

More realistically, Laurie Garrett, a respected figure in the public health field, warns that ”you are not nearly scared enough about Ebola.”  In the peak oil community, Mary Odum, whose credentials as ecologist and nurse make her eminently qualified to discuss the matter, has tried to get the same message across. Few people are listening.

Like the frantic claims that peak oil has been disproven and the economy isn’t on the verge of another ugly slump, the insistence that Ebola can’t possibly break out of its current hot zones is what scholars of the magical arts call an apotropaic charm—that is, an attempt to turn away an unwanted reality by means of incantation.

In the case of Ebola, the incantation usually claims that the West African countries currently at ground zero of the epidemic are somehow utterly unlike all the other troubled and impoverished Third World nations it hasn’t yet reached, and that the few thousand deaths racked up so far by the epidemic is a safe measure of its potential.

Those of my readers who have been thinking along these lines are invited to join me in a little thought experiment. According to the World Health Organization, the number of cases of Ebola in the current epidemic is doubling every twenty days, and could reach 1.4 million by the beginning of 2015. Let’s round down, and say that there are one million cases on January 1, 2015.  Let’s also assume for the sake of the experiment that the doubling time stays the same.

Assuming that nothing interrupts the continued spread of the virus, and cases continue to double every twenty days, in what month of what year will the total number of cases equal the human population of this planet? Go ahead and do the math for yourself.  If you’re not used to exponential functions, it’s particularly useful to take a 2015 calendar, count out the 20-day intervals, and see exactly how the figure increases over time.

Now of course this is a thought experiment, not a realistic projection. In the real world, the spread of an epidemic disease is a complex process shaped by modes of human contact and transport.  There are bottlenecks that slow propagation across geographical and political barriers, and different cultural practices that can help or hinder the transmission of the Ebola virus.

It’s also very likely that some nations, especially in the developed world, will be able to mobilize the sanitation and public-health infrastructure to stop a self-sustaining epidemic from getting under way on their territory before a vaccine can be developed and manufactured in sufficient quantity to matter.

Most members of our species, though, live in societies that don’t have those resources, and the steps that could keep Ebola from spreading to the rest of the Third World are not being taken. Unless massive resources are committed to that task soon—as in before the end of this year—the possibility exists that when the pandemic finally winds down a few years from now, two to three billion people could be dead.

We need to consider the possibility that the peak of global population is no longer an abstraction set comfortably off somewhere in the future. It may be knocking at the future’s door right now, shaking with fever and dripping blood from its gums.

That ghastly possibility is still just that, a possibility. It can still be averted, though the window of opportunity in which that could be done  is narrowing with each passing day.

Epizootic disease is one of the standard ways by which an animal species in overshoot has its population cut down to levels that the carrying capacity of the environment can support, and the same thing has happened often enough with human beings.

It’s not the only way for human numbers to decline; I’ve discussed here at some length the possibility that that could happen by way of ordinary demographic contraction—but we’re now facing a force that could make the first wave of population decline happen in a much faster and more brutal way.

Any of my readers who have read a good history of the Black Death—not a bad idea just now, all things considered—know that human societies can take a massive population loss from pandemic disease and still remain viable.

That said, any such event is a shattering experience, shaking political, economic, cultural, and spiritual institutions and beliefs down to their core. In the present case, the implosion of the global economy and the demise of the tourism and air travel industries are only the most obvious and immediate impacts.

There are also broader and deeper impacts, cascading down from the visible realms of economics and politics into the too rarely noticed substructure of ecological relationships that sustain human existence

And this, in turn, has me thinking of buffalo.

In there among all the other new stories of the last week, by turns savage and silly, is a report from Montana, where representatives of Native American peoples from the prairies of the United States and Canada signed a treaty pledging their tribes to cooperate in reintroducing wild buffalo to the Great Plains.

I doubt most people in either country heard of it, and fewer gave it a second thought. There have been herds of domesticated buffalo in North America for a good many decades now, but only a few very small herds, on reservations or private nature sanctuaries, have been let loose to wander freely as their ancestors did.

A great many of the white residents of the Great Plains are furiously opposed to the project. It’s hard to find any rational reason for that opposition—the Native peoples have merely launched a slow process of putting wild buffalo herds on their own tribal property, not encroaching on anyone or anything else—but rational reasons are rarely that important in human motivation, and the nonrational dimension here as so often  is the determining factor.

The entire regional culture of the Great Plains centers on the pioneer experience, the migration that swept millions of people westward onto the prairies on the quest to turn some of North America’s bleakest land into a cozy patchwork of farms and towns, nature replaced by culture across thousands of miles where the buffalo once roamed.

The annihilation of the buffalo was central to that mythic quest, as central as the dispossession of the Native peoples and the replacement of the tallgrass prairie by farm crops. A land with wild buffalo herds upon it is not a domesticated land.

Those who saw the prairies in their wild state brought back accounts that sound like something out of mythology: grass so tall a horseman could ride off into it and never be seen again, horizons as level and distant as those of the open ocean, and the buffalo: up to sixty million of them, streaming across the landscape in herds that sometimes reached from horizon to horizon.

The buffalo were the keystone of the prairie ecosystem, and their extermination was an essential step in shattering that ecosystem and extracting the richness of its topsoil for temporary profit.

A little while back I happened to see a video online about the ecological effects of reintroducing wolves to Yellowstone Park. It’s an interesting story:  the return of wolves, most of a century after their extermination, caused deer to stay away from areas of the park where they were vulnerable to attack. 

Once those areas were no longer being browsed by deer, their vegetation changed sharply, making the entire park more ecologically diverse; species that had been rare or absent in the park reappeared to take advantage of the new, richer habitat.  Even the behavior of the park’s rivers changed, as vegetation shifts slowed riverine erosion.

All this was narrated by George Monbiot in a tone of gosh-wow wonderment that irritated me at first hearing. Surely it would be obvious, I thought, that changing one part of an ecosystem would change everything else, and that removing or reintroducing one of the key species in the ecosystem would have particularly dramatic effects! Of course I stopped then and laughed, since for most people it’s anything but obvious.

Our entire culture is oriented toward machines, not living systems, and what defines a machine is precisely that it’s meant to do exactly what it’s told and nothing else. Push this button, and that happens; turn this switch, and something else happens; pull this trigger, and the buffalo falls dead.  We’re taught to think of the world as though that same logic controlled its responses to our actions, and then get blindsided when it acts like a whole system instead.

I’d be surprised to hear any of the opponents of reintroducing wild buffalo talk in so many words about the buffalo as a keystone species of the prairie ecosystem, and suggesting that its return to the prairies might set off a trophic cascade—that’s the technical term for the avalanche of changes, spreading down the food web to its base, that the Yellowstone wolves set in motion once they sniffed the wind, caught the tasty scent of venison, and went to look.

Still, it’s one of the basic axioms of the Druid teachings that undergird these posts that people know more than they think they know, and a gut-level sense of the cascade of changes that would be kickstarted by wild buffalo may be helping drive their opposition.

That said, there’s a further dimension. It’s not just in an ecological sense that a land with wild buffalo herds upon it is not a domesticated land. To the descendants of the pioneers, the prairie, the buffalo, and the Indian are what their ancestors came West to destroy. Behind that identification lies the whole weight of the mythology of progress, the conviction that it’s the destiny of the West to be transformed from wilderness to civilization.

The return of wild buffalo is unthinkable from within the pioneer worldview, because it means that “the winning of the West” was not a permanent triumph but a temporary condition, which may yet be followed in due time by the losing of the West.

Of course there were already good reasons to think along those unthinkable lines, long before the Native tribes started drafting their treaty.  The economics of dryland farming on the Great Plains never really made that much sense.

Homestead acts and other government subsidies in the 19th century, and the economic impacts of two world wars in the 20th, made farming the Plains look viable, in much the same way that huge government subsidies make nuclear power look viable today. In either case, take away the subsidies and you’ve got an arrangement without a future.

That’s the subtext behind the vacant and half-vacant towns you’ll find all over the West these days. That the fields and farms and towns may be replaced in turn by prairie grazed by herds of wild buffalo is unthinkable from within the pioneer worldview, too—but across the West, the unthinkable is increasingly the inescapable.

Equally, it’s unthinkable to most people in the industrial world today that a global pandemic could brush aside the world’s terminally underfunded public health systems and snuff out millions or billions of lives in a few years.

It’s just as unthinkable to most people in the industrial world that the increasingly frantic efforts of wealthy elites to prop up the global economy and get it to start generating prosperity again will fail, plunging the world into irrevocable economic contraction.

It’s among the articles of faith of the industrial world that the future must lead onward and upward, that the sort of crackpot optimism that draws big crowds at TED Talks counts as realistic thinking about the future, and that the limits to growth can’t possibly get in the way of our craving for limitlessness.

Here again, though, the unthinkable is becoming the inescapable.

In each of these cases, and many others, the unthinkable can be described neatly as the possibility that a set of changes that we happen to have decked out with the sanctified label of “progress” might turn out instead to be a temporary and reversible condition.

The agricultural settlement of the Great Plains, the relatively brief period when humanity was not troubled by lethal pandemics, and the creation of a global economy powered by extravagant burning of fossil fuels were all supposed to be permanent changes, signs of progress and Man’s Conquest of Nature.

No one seriously contemplated the chance that each of those changes would turn out to be transient, that they would shift into reverse under the pressure of their own unintended consequences, and that the final state of each whole system would have more in common with its original condition than with the state it briefly attained in between.

There are plenty of ways to talk about the implications of that great reversal, but the one that speaks to me now comes from the writings of Ernest Thompson Seton, whose nature books were a fixture of my childhood and who would probably be the patron saint of this blog if Druidry had patron saints.

He spent the whole of his adult career as naturalist, artist, writer, storyteller, and founder of a youth organization—Woodcraft, which taught wilderness lore, practical skills, and democratic self-government to boys and girls alike, and might be well worth reviving now—fighting for a world in which there would still be a place for wild buffalo roaming the prairies: fought, and lost. It would be one of his qualifications for Druid sainthood that he knew he would lose, and kept fighting anyway. The English warriors at the battle of Maldon spoke that same language: “Will shall be sterner, heart the stronger, mood shall be more as our might falters.”

He had no shortage of sound rational reasons for his lifelong struggle, but now and again, in his writings or when talking around the campfire, he would set those aside and talk about deeper issues.

He spoke of the “Buffalo Wind,” the wind off the open prairies that tingles with life and wonder, calling humanity back to its roots in the natural order, back to harmony with the living world: not rejecting the distinctive human gifts of culture and knowledge, but holding them in balance with the biological realities of our existence and the needs of the biosphere.

I’ve felt that wind; so, I think, have most Druids, and so have plenty of other people who couldn’t tell a Druid from a dormouse but who feel in their bones that industrial humanity’s attempted war against nature is as senseless as a plant trying to gain its freedom by pulling itself up by the roots.

One of the crucial lessons of the Buffalo Wind, though, is that it’s not always gentle. It can also rise to a shrieking gale, tear the roofs off houses, and leave carnage in its wake. We can embrace the lessons that the natural world is patiently and pitilessly teaching us, in other words, or we can close our eyes and stop our ears until sheer pain forces the lessons through our barriers, but one way or another, we’re going to learn those lessons.

It’s possible, given massively funded interventions and a good helping of plain dumb luck, that the current Ebola epidemic might be stopped before it spreads around the world. It’s possible that the global economy might keep staggering onward for another season, and that wild buffalo might be kept from roaming the Great Plains for a while yet.

Those are details; the underlying issue—the inescapable collision between the futile fantasy of limitless economic expansion on a finite planet and the hard realities of ecology, geology, and thermodynamics—is not going away.

The details also matter, though; in a very old way of speaking, the current shudderings of the economy, the imminent risk of pandemic, and the distant sound of buffalo bellowing in the Montana wind are omens.

The Buffalo Wind is rising now, keening in the tall grass, whispering in the branches and setting fallen leaves aswirl. I could be mistaken, but I think that not too far in the future it will become a storm that will shake the industrial world right down to its foundations.



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