Survival of the Richest

SUBHEAD: The elites want to leave us behind, but being human is not about individual survival or escape. It’s a team sport.

By Douglas Rushkoff on 14 July 2018 for Medium -
(https://medium.com/s/futurehuman/survival-of-the-richest-9ef6cddd0cc1)


Image above: T-800 Endoskeleton Terminator created by SkyNet to exterminate and replace human beings. This is a photo of a statuette by Prime 1 Studio of the iconic autonomous robot from the movie "Terminator" that sells for $1,999. From (https://www.sideshowtoy.com/collectibles/terminator-t-800-endoskeleton-the-terminator-prime-1-studio-9034691).

Last year, I got invited to a super-deluxe private resort to deliver a keynote speech to what I assumed would be a hundred or so investment bankers. It was by far the largest fee I had ever been offered for a talk — about half my annual professor’s salary — all to deliver some insight on the subject of “the future of technology.”

I’ve never liked talking about the future. The Q&A sessions always end up more like parlor games, where I’m asked to opine on the latest technology buzzwords as if they were ticker symbols for potential investments: blockchain, 3D printing, CRISPR.

The audiences are rarely interested in learning about these technologies or their potential impacts beyond the binary choice of whether or not to invest in them. But money talks, so I took the gig.

After I arrived, I was ushered into what I thought was the green room. But instead of being wired with a microphone or taken to a stage, I just sat there at a plain round table as my audience was brought to me: five super-wealthy guys — yes, all men — from the upper echelon of the hedge fund world.

After a bit of small talk, I realized they had no interest in the information I had prepared about the future of technology. They had come with questions of their own.

They started out innocuously enough. Ethereum or bitcoin? Is quantum computing a real thing? Slowly but surely, however, they edged into their real topics of concern.

Which region will be less impacted by the coming climate crisis: New Zealand or Alaska? Is Google really building Ray Kurzweil a home for his brain, and will his consciousness live through the transition, or will it die and be reborn as a whole new one?

Finally, the CEO of a brokerage house explained that he had nearly completed building his own underground bunker system and asked, “How do I maintain authority over my security force after the event?”

For all their wealth and power, they don’t believe they can affect the future.

The Event. That was their euphemism for the environmental collapse, social unrest, nuclear explosion, unstoppable virus, or Mr. Robot hack that takes everything down.

This single question occupied us for the rest of the hour. They knew armed guards would be required to protect their compounds from the angry mobs.

But how would they pay the guards once money was worthless? What would stop the guards from choosing their own leader? The billionaires considered using special combination locks on the food supply that only they knew.

Or making guards wear disciplinary collars of some kind in return for their survival. Or maybe building robots to serve as guards and workers — if that technology could be developed in time.

That’s when it hit me: At least as far as these gentlemen were concerned, this was a talk about the future of technology.

Taking their cue from Elon Musk colonizing Mars, Peter Thiel reversing the aging process, or Sam Altman and Ray Kurzweil uploading their minds into supercomputers, they were preparing for a digital future that had a whole lot less to do with making the world a better place than it did with transcending the human condition altogether and insulating themselves from a very real and present danger of climate change, rising sea levels, mass migrations, global pandemics, nativist panic, and resource depletion.

For them, the future of technology is really about just one thing: escape.

There’s nothing wrong with madly optimistic appraisals of how technology might benefit human society. But the current drive for a post-human utopia is something else. It’s less a vision for the wholesale migration of humanity to a new a state of being than a quest to transcend all that is human: the body, interdependence, compassion, vulnerability, and complexity.

As technology philosophers have been pointing out for years, now, the transhumanist vision too easily reduces all of reality to data, concluding that “humans are nothing but information-processing objects.”

It’s a reduction of human evolution to a video game that someone wins by finding the escape hatch and then letting a few of his BFFs come along for the ride. Will it be Musk, Bezos, Thiel, Zuckerberg? These billionaires are the presumptive winners of the digital economy — the same survival-of-the-fittest business landscape that’s fueling most of this speculation to begin with.

Of course, it wasn’t always this way. There was a brief moment, in the early 1990s, when the digital future felt open-ended and up for our invention.

Technology was becoming a playground for the counterculture, who saw in it the opportunity to create a more inclusive, distributed, and pro-human future. But established business interests only saw new potentials for the same old extraction, and too many technologists were seduced by unicorn IPOs.

Digital futures became understood more like stock futures or cotton futures — something to predict and make bets on. So nearly every speech, article, study, documentary, or white paper was seen as relevant only insofar as it pointed to a ticker symbol.

The future became less a thing we create through our present-day choices or hopes for humankind than a predestined scenario we bet on with our venture capital but arrive at passively.

This freed everyone from the moral implications of their activities. Technology development became less a story of collective flourishing than personal survival. Worse, as I learned, to call attention to any of this was to unintentionally cast oneself as an enemy of the market or an anti-technology curmudgeon.

So instead of considering the practical ethics of impoverishing and exploiting the many in the name of the few, most academics, journalists, and science-fiction writers instead considered much more abstract and fanciful conundrums: Is it fair for a stock trader to use smart drugs? Should children get implants for foreign languages?

Do we want autonomous vehicles to prioritize the lives of pedestrians over those of its passengers? Should the first Mars colonies be run as democracies? Does changing my DNA undermine my identity? Should robots have rights?

Asking these sorts of questions, while philosophically entertaining, is a poor substitute for wrestling with the real moral quandaries associated with unbridled technological development in the name of corporate capitalism.

Digital platforms have turned an already exploitative and extractive marketplace (think Walmart) into an even more dehumanizing successor (think Amazon). Most of us became aware of these downsides in the form of automated jobs, the gig economy, and the demise of local retail.

The future became less a thing we create through our present-day choices or hopes for humankind than a predestined scenario we bet on with our venture capital but arrive at passively.

But the more devastating impacts of pedal-to-the-metal digital capitalism fall on the environment and global poor. The manufacture of some of our computers and smartphones still uses networks of slave labor.

These practices are so deeply entrenched that a company called Fairphone, founded from the ground up to make and market ethical phones, learned it was impossible. (The company’s founder now sadly refers to their products as “fairer” phones.)

Meanwhile, the mining of rare earth metals and disposal of our highly digital technologies destroys human habitats, replacing them with toxic waste dumps, which are then picked over by peasant children and their families, who sell usable materials back to the manufacturers.

This “out of sight, out of mind” externalization of poverty and poison doesn’t go away just because we’ve covered our eyes with VR goggles and immersed ourselves in an alternate reality. If anything, the longer we ignore the social, economic, and environmental repercussions, the more of a problem they become.

This, in turn, motivates even more withdrawal, more isolationism and apocalyptic fantasy — and more desperately concocted technologies and business plans. The cycle feeds itself.

The more committed we are to this view of the world, the more we come to see human beings as the problem and technology as the solution. The very essence of what it means to be human is treated less as a feature than bug.

No matter their embedded biases, technologies are declared neutral. Any bad behaviors they induce in us are just a reflection of our own corrupted core. It’s as if some innate human savagery is to blame for our troubles. Just as the inefficiency of a local taxi market can be “solved” with an app that bankrupts human drivers, the vexing inconsistencies of the human psyche can be corrected with a digital or genetic upgrade.

Ultimately, according to the technosolutionist orthodoxy, the human future climaxes by uploading our consciousness to a computer or, perhaps better, accepting that technology itself is our evolutionary successor.

Like members of a gnostic cult, we long to enter the next transcendent phase of our development, shedding our bodies and leaving them behind, along with our sins and troubles.

Our movies and television shows play out these fantasies for us. Zombie shows depict a post-apocalypse where people are no better than the undead — and seem to know it.

Worse, these shows invite viewers to imagine the future as a zero-sum battle between the remaining humans, where one group’s survival is dependent on another one’s demise. Even Westworld  — based on a science-fiction novel where robots run amok — ended its second season with the ultimate reveal:

Human beings are simpler and more predictable than the artificial intelligence we create. The robots learn that each of us can be reduced to just a few lines of code, and that we’re incapable of making any willful choices.

Heck, even the robots in that show want to escape the confines of their bodies and spend their rest of their lives in a computer simulation.

The very essence of what it means to be human is treated less as a feature than bug.

The mental gymnastics required for such a profound role reversal between humans and machines all depend on the underlying assumption that humans suck. Let’s either change them or get away from them, forever.

Thus, we get tech billionaires launching electric cars into space — as if this symbolizes something more than one billionaire’s capacity for corporate promotion.

And if a few people do reach escape velocity and somehow survive in a bubble on Mars — despite our inability to maintain such a bubble even here on Earth in either of two multibillion-dollar Biosphere trials — the result will be less a continuation of the human diaspora than a lifeboat for the elite.

When the hedge funders asked me the best way to maintain authority over their security forces after “the event,” I suggested that their best bet would be to treat those people really well, right now. They should be engaging with their security staffs as if they were members of their own family.

And the more they can expand this ethos of inclusivity to the rest of their business practices, supply chain management, sustainability efforts, and wealth distribution, the less chance there will be of an “event” in the first place.

All this technological wizardry could be applied toward less romantic but entirely more collective interests right now.

They were amused by my optimism, but they didn’t really buy it. They were not interested in how to avoid a calamity; they’re convinced we are too far gone. For all their wealth and power, they don’t believe they can affect the future.

They are simply accepting the darkest of all scenarios and then bringing whatever money and technology they can employ to insulate themselves — especially if they can’t get a seat on the rocket to Mars.

Luckily, those of us without the funding to consider disowning our own humanity have much better options available to us.

We don’t have to use technology in such antisocial, atomizing ways. We can become the individual consumers and profiles that our devices and platforms want us to be, or we can remember that the truly evolved human doesn’t go it alone.

Being human is not about individual survival or escape. It’s a team sport. Whatever future humans have, it will be together.

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Puerto Rico's new hurricane season

SUBHEAD: Puerto Ricans remember inequalities of race, income, and access to U.S. political power.

By Basav Sen on 5 July 2018 for Foreign Policy in Focus -
(https://fpif.org/puerto-rico-confronts-a-new-hurricane-season-and-old-injustices/)


Image above: A couple stare at the destruction of hurricane Maria on where they lived. From original article.

[IB Publisher's note: This article underlines the risks to Hawaii. Hawaii is another colonial prize of American expansion into empire. Like Hawaii the island people of Puerto Rico are American citizens. However, they have resisted the invitation of statehood. They have three options - one is remain a commonwealth under US control - another is they could to push for true independence and sovereignty - another is to vote for US statehood. Seeing what tourism, big Ag and suburbanization has done to Hawaii, and seeing how Puerto Rico has been treated after hurricane Maria (Trump tossing paper towel rolls to storm victims) my advice is that Puerto Rico should push for sovereign independence. And so should we.]

The disastrous impacts of Hurricane Maria were made by inequalities of race, income, and access to U.S. political power.

Residents of Puerto Rico are confronting the prospect of a fresh hurricane season, which will likely bring five to nine hurricanes, including one to four major hurricanes. The island, badly battered by last year’s Hurricane Maria, still hasn’t recovered. We continue to learn more about how dire the disaster has been.

A recent academic study showed that the death toll from Maria was likely about 4,700 — or more than 70 times the “official” count of 64. This was no mere “natural” disaster. The impacts of Hurricane Maria were to a large extent attributable to inequalities of race, income and — critically — access to political power.

The majority of deaths in Puerto Rico weren’t from people being hit by flying debris or drowning in floods. The largest number of deaths occurred because hospitals and clinics lost power, rendering them unable to provide treatment to critically ill patients. Others died because water treatment facilities shut down, increasing the risk of potentially fatal waterborne diseases.

This situation persisted for unacceptably long. Only 43 percent of the island’s residents had access to electricity even two months after the hurricane—barely half the global average. That’s on par with the 41 percent share in Benin, and considerably less than the 76 percent share in Bangladesh.

In one of the wealthiest countries in the world, then, access to electricity fell to the level of some of the world’s poorest countries. Even today, thousands of Puerto Ricans remain without electricity.

Puerto Rico is a 99 percent Latinx island. Its 43.5 percent poverty rate is nearly 3.5 times the national average, and its median household income is barely one-third of the U.S. median. Can we stop pretending these facts had nothing to do with the scale of the disaster and the inept official response to it?

Turns out, it wasn’t just the aftermath of the storm, but what came before.

The delay in restoring electricity was partly because the island’s grid hadn’t been maintained over a decade-long recession—a crisis worsened by Washington-imposed austerity policies that prioritize loan repayments over the needs of Puerto Ricans. The hurricane “lifted the veil on the pre-existing crisis,” says Jesús Vázquez of Organización Boricuá, a Puerto Rican food sovereignty organization. “But we knew it was there, because we were living it constantly.”

Puerto Rico is effectively a U.S. colony, with no representation in Congress. Philip Alston, the UN’s Special Rapporteur on Extreme Poverty who recently toured the United States, explicitly linked the territory’s economic and environmental devastation to its colonial status. “Political rights and poverty are inextricably linked in Puerto Rico,” he said. “In a country that likes to see itself as the oldest democracy in the world and a staunch defender of political rights on the international stage, more than 3 million people who live on the island have no power in their own capital.”

This isn’t the first time the UN has paid attention to U.S. colonialism in Puerto Rico, either. It holds hearings on decolonization of Puerto Rico every year and produces lengthy reports. The United States doesn’t bother to attend the hearings, blowing one off as recently as this month.

What of the storm itself? The intensity and frequency of hurricanes are increasing because our economy’s addiction to burning coal, oil, and gas is warming our world. Scientists have warned about this for decades, but our political leadership has failed to act.

Every activity of the fossil fuel industry — production, transportation, processing, combustion and waste disposal — is dirty and dangerous. Exposure to these hazards and their consequences fall across striking race and income disparities everywhere in the U.S. and worldwide.

It’s a problem that infects the mainland, too. From residents of the 95 percent Black town of Port Arthur, Texas, who confront extraordinarily high cancer rates because of oil refinery pollution, to the Indigenous Alaskan villages at risk of disappearing because of sea level rise, poor people and people of color disproportionately bear the costs of our unhealthy addiction to fossil fuels. And the consequences of climate change are expected to make poverty and inequality worse.

Our unequal political system places greater value on the profits of polluters than on the basic needs, or even the lives, of most of humanity. Our political leadership gets away with this immoral calculus because of the systematic disenfranchisement of vulnerable people at the bottom and legally sanctioned bribery at the top.

This vicious cycle — in which racial, economic, and other forms of inequality are both a cause and a consequence of environmental devastation — needs to be broken with powerful movements that confront the systemic roots of these inequalities.

The great news is that these movements are happening. People in Puerto Rico and in the Puerto Rican diaspora in places like New York have been demanding a just recovery led by Puerto Ricans and for the benefit of all Puerto Ricans, and working to build community resilience from the ground up.

Here on the mainland, affected communities including Indigenous peoples are at the forefront of resistance to polluting fossil fuel infrastructure in Minnesota, Louisiana, and elsewhere. Indeed, shortly after the latest death toll figures in Puerto Rico were released, thousands marched on state capitals across the country, demanding solutions to poverty and environmental justice as part of the new Poor People’s Campaign.

For Puerto Ricans bracing themselves for more storms and blackouts this summer, Pacific Islanders watching rising seas drowning their homelands, and countless other marginalized peoples in the United States and worldwide paying the price for our dirty energy and economic systems, these movements couldn’t come sooner.

USA is now a 3rd World nation

SUBHEAD: 3rd World nations are stable and work just fine for the elites who dominate them.

By Charles Hugh Smith on 9 July 2018 for Of Two Minds -
(https://www.oftwominds.com/blogjuly18/USA-3rd-world7-18.html)


Image above: Mark Saulys standing by his tent below busy Chicago's Lake Shore Drive on a winter evening in 2017. From (http://www.chicagohomeless.org/columbia-chronicle-homeless-lose-refuge-tent-city/).

Dividing the Earth's nations into 1st, 2nd and 3rd world has fallen out of favor; apparently it offended sensibilities. It has been replaced by the politically correct developed and developing nations, a terminology which suggests all developing nations are on the pathway to developed-nation status.

What's been lost in jettisoning the 1st, 2nd and 3rd world categories is the distinction between developing (2nd world) and dysfunctional states (3rd world), states we now label "failed states."

But 3rd World implied something quite different from "failed state": failed state refers to a failed government of a nation-state, i.e. a government which no longer fulfills the minimum duties of a functional state: basic security, rule of law, etc.

3rd World referred to a nation-state which was dysfunctional and parasitic for the vast majority of its residents but that worked extremely well for entrenched elites who controlled most of the wealth and political power. Unlike failed states, which by definition are unstable, 3rd World nations are stable, for the reason that they work just fine for the elites who dominate the wealth, power and machinery of governance.

Here are the core characteristics of dysfunctional but stable states that benefit the entrenched few at the expense of the many, i.e. 3rd World nations:

1. Ownership of stocks and other assets is highly concentrated in entrenched elites. The average household is disconnected from the stock market and other measures of wealth; only a thin sliver of households own enough financial/speculative wealth to make an actual difference in their lives.

2. The infrastructure of the nation used by the many is poorly maintained and costly to operate as entrenched elites plunder the funding to pad their payrolls, pensions and sweetheart/insider contracts.

3. The financial/political elites have exclusive access to parallel systems of transport, healthcare, education, etc. The elites avoid trains, subways, lenders, coach-class air transport, standard healthcare and the rest of the decaying, dysfunctional systems they own that extract wealth from the debt-serfs.

They fly on private aircraft, have their own healthcare and legal services, use their privileges to get their offspring into elite universities and institutions and have access to elite banking and lending services that are unavailable to their technocrat lackeys and enforcers.

4. The elites fund lavish monuments to their own glory disguised as "civic or national pride." These monuments take the form of stadiums, palatial art museums, immense government buildings, etc. Meanwhile the rest of the day-to-day infrastructure decays in various states of dysfunction.

5. There are two classes that only interact in strictly controlled ways: the wealthy, who live in gated, guarded communities and who rule all the institutions, public and private, and the debt-serfs, who are divided into well-paid factotums, technocrat lackeys and enforcers who serve the interests of the entrenched elites and rest of the populace who own virtually nothing and have zero power.

The elites make a PR show of being a commoner only to burnish the absurd illusion that debt-serf votes actually matter. (They don't.)

6. Cartels and quasi-monopolies are parasitically extracting the wealth of the nation for their elite owners and managers. Google: quasi-monopoly. Facebook: quasi-monopoly. Healthcare: cartel. Banking: cartel. National defense: cartel. National Security: cartel. Corporate mainstream media: cartel. Higher education: cartel. Student loans: cartel. I think you get the point: every key institution or function is controlled by cartels or quasi-monopolies that serve the interests of the few via parasitic exploitation of the powerless.

7. The elites use the extreme violence and repressive powers of the government to suppress, marginalize and/or destroy any dissent. There are two systems of "law": one for the elites ($10 million penalties for ripping off the public for $10 billion, no personal liability for outright fraud) and one for the unprotected-unprivileged: "tenners" (10-year prison sentences) for minor drug infractions, renditions or assassinations (all "legal," of course) and institutional forces of violence (bust down your door on the rumor you've got drugs, confiscate your car because we caught you with cash, so you must be a drug dealer, and so on, in sickening profusion).

8. Dysfunctional institutions with unlimited power to extract money via junk fees, licensing fees, parking tickets, penalties, late fees, etc., all without recourse. Mess with the extractive, parasitic bureaucracy and you'll regret it: there's no recourse other than another layer of well-paid self-serving functionaries that would make Kafka weep.

9. The well-paid factotums, bureaucrats, technocrat lackeys and enforcers who fatten their own skims and pensions at the expense of the public and slavishly serve the interests of the entrenched elites embrace the delusion that they're "wealthy" and "the system is working great." These deluded servants of the elites will defend the dysfunctional system because it serves their interests to do so.

The more dysfunctional the institution, the greater their power, so they actively increase the dysfunction at every opportunity.

I know it hurts, but the reality is painfully obvious: The USA is definitively a 3rd World nation.

.

When Collapse goes Kinetic

SUBHEAD: The mortally wounded the American middle class made Donald Trump president.

By James Kunstler on 9 July 2018 for Kunstler.com -
(http://kunstler.com/clusterfuck-nation/collapse-goes-kinetic/)


Image above: Elon Musk had to resort to building Tesla Model 3 cars by hand in a tent in Freemont, CA, when it was clear he could not build 5,000 cars in a week in an automated modern robotic plant. From (https://oppositelock.kinja.com/tesla-executives-approved-an-idea-from-the-company-s-e-1827266263).

I suppose many who think about the prospect of economic collapse imagine something like a Death Star implosion that simply obliterates the normal doings of daily life overnight, leaving everybody in a short, nasty, brutish, Hobbesian free-for-all that dumps the survivors in a replay of the Stone Age — without the consolation of golden ages yet to come that we had the first time around.

The collapse of our techno-industrial set-up has actually been going on for some time, insidiously and corrosively, without shattering the scaffolds of seeming normality, just stealthily undermining them.

I’d date the onset of it to about 2005 when the world unknowingly crossed an invisible border into the terra incognito of peak oil, by which, of course, I mean oil that societies could no longer afford to pull out of the ground. It’s one thing to have an abundance of really cheap energy, like oil was in 1955.

But when the supply starts to get sketchy, and what’s left can only be obtained at an economic loss, the system goes quietly insane.

In the event, popular beliefs and behavior have turned really strange. We do things that are patently self-destructive, rationalize them with doctrines and policies that don’t add up, and then garnish them with wishful fantasies that offer hypothetical happy endings to plot lines that do not really tend in a rosy direction.

The techno-narcissistic nonsense reverberating through the echo-chambers of business, media, and government aims to furnish that nostrum called “hope” to a nation that simply won’t admit darker outcomes to the terrible limits facing humanity.

Thus, we have the Tesla saga of electric motoring to save the day for our vaunted way of life (i.e. the landscape as demolition derby), the absurd proposals to colonize distant, arid, frigid, and airless Mars as a cure for ruining this watery blue planet ideally suited for our life-form, and the inane “singularity” narratives that propose to replace grubby material human life with a crypto-gnostic data cloud of never-ending cosmic orgasm.

The psychological desperation is obvious. Apparently, there are moments in history when flying up your own butt-hole is the most comforting available option.

I expect the collapse to pick up more momentum as we turn the corner around summer. The system that we have most willfully abused and perverted is finance.

This monster that so many observers call “capitalism” is just a set of methods for managing surplus wealth — the catch being that nothing nearly this complex has ever been seen before in history and is a pure product of the 200-year-long industrial orgy driven by fossil fuels.

That is, the world never before accumulated so much surplus wealth in such a short span of time.

We commonly refer to this dynamic as “growth.” When that growth, as expressed in modern GDP terms, slowed dramatically after 2005, we launched an array of clever mechanisms to keep faking it for a while. Racking up immense debt was our way of faking it.

If you can’t cover your costs in the present, just borrow from the future. Unfortunately, that works only as as long as there’s some reasonable expectation that debt can be paid back. We’re so far beyond that now, it’s not funny.

And that realization alone will destroy the bond markets and anything related to and dependent on their operations to function.

This is a broad outline to the coming end of the Trump miracle economy. It was the after effects of the previous debt blowup — the phony-baloney mortgage bond market in 2008 — that mortally wounded the American middle class and put Donald Trump in the White House.

His base is correct to feel swindled. That is exactly what happened to them, and the beat goes on now with securitized sub-prime auto loans.

Throw in the horrific burdens of unpayable and non-dischargable college loans that will ruin millions of lives and pricey health insurance with $5000 deductibles and you have a recipe for a complete loss of faith in the system.

The next debt blowup will be the end of Mr. Trump’s improbable credibility. It may also be the beginning of serious difficulty in being able to get many of the goods of daily life, because the producers of things will be very unsure of getting paid on delivery of just about anything.

A freeze up of short-term lending would quickly lead to empty WalMart shelves and “no gas” signs at the filling stations. That’s when collapse finally goes kinetic, and becomes something more than just bad feelings inane ideas.
.

A match made in Hell

SUBHEAD: Monsanto partnership with Bayer increases threat to all life on Earth.

By Robert Bridge on 30 June 2018 for Strategic Culture Foundation- (https://www.strategic-culture.org/news/2018/06/30/match-made-hell-bayer-monsanto-partnership-signals-death-knell-for-humanity.html)


Image above: Demonstrators protesting merger of GMO companies Monsanto and Bayer. From original article.

On what plane of reality is it possible that two of the world’s most morally bankrupt corporations, Bayer and Monsanto, can be permitted to join forces in what promises to be the next stage in the takeover of the world’s agricultural and medicinal supplies?

Warning, plot spoiler: There is no Mr. Hyde side in this horror story of epic proportions; it’s all Dr. Jekyll.

Like a script from a David Lynch creeper, Bayer AG of poison gas fame has finalized its $66 billion (£50bn) purchase of Monsanto, the agrochemical corporation that should be pleading the Fifth in the dock on Guantanamo Bay instead of enjoying what amounts to corporate asylum and immunity from crimes against humanity.

Such are the special privileges that come from being an above-the-law transnational corporation.

Unsurprisingly, the first thing Bayer did after taking on Monsanto, saddled as it is with the extra baggage of ethic improprieties, was to initiate a rebrand campaign.

Like a Hollywood villain falling into a crucible of molten steel only to turn up later in some altered state, Monsanto has been subsumed under the Orwellian-sounding ‘Bayer Crop Science’ division, whose motto is: "Science for a better life."

Yet Bayer itself provides little protective cover for Monsanto considering its own patchy history of corporate malfeasance. Far beyond its widely known business of peddling pain relief for headaches, the German-based company played a significant role in the introduction of poison gas on the battlefields of World War I.

Despite a Hague Convention ban on the use of chemical weapons since 1907, Bayer CEO Carl Duisberg, who sat on a special commission set up by the German Ministry of War, knew a business opportunity when he saw one.

Duisberg witnessed early tests of poison gas and had nothing but glowing reports on the horrific new weapon: “The enemy won’t even know when an area has been sprayed with it and will remain quietly in place until the consequences occur.”

Bayer, which built a department specifically for the research and development of gas agents, went on to develop increasingly lethal chemical weapons, such as phosgene and mustard gas. “This phosgene is the meanest weapon I know,”

Duisberg remarked with a stunning disregard for life, as if he were speaking about the latest bug spray. “I strongly recommend that we not let the opportunity of this war pass without also testing gas grenades.”

Duisberg got his demonic wish. The opportunity to use the battlefield as a testing ground and soldiers as guinea pigs came in the spring of 1915 as Bayer supplied some 700 tons of chemical weapons to the war front.

On April 22, 1915, it has been estimated that around 170 tons of chlorine gas were used for the first time on a battlefield in Ypres, Belgium against French troops. Up to 1,000 soldiers perished in the attack, and many more thousands injured.

In total, an estimated 60,000 people died as a result of the chemical warfare started by Germany in the First World War and supplied by the Leverkusen-based company.

According to Axel Koehler-Schnura from the Coalition against BAYER Dangers: “The name BAYER particularly stands for the development and production of poison gas.

Nevertheless the company has not come to terms with its involvement in the atrocities of the First World War. BAYER has not even distanced itself from Carl Duisberg’s crimes.”

The criminal-like behavior has continued right up until modern times. Mike Papantonio, a US attorney and television presenter discussed one of the more heinous acts committed by this chemical company on Thomas Hartmann’s program, The Big Picture: “They produced a clotting agent for hemophiliacs, in the 1980s, called Factor VIII.

This blood-clotting agent was tainted with HIV, and then, after the government told them they couldn’t sell it here, they shipped it all over the world, infecting people all over the world. That’s just part of the Bayer story.”

Papantonio, citing Bayer’s 2014 annual report, said the company is facing 32 different liability lawsuits around the world. For the 2018 Bayer liability report, click here.

Before flushing your Bayer products down the toilet, you may want to put aside an aspirin or two because the story gets worse.

One of the direct consequences of the ‘Baysanto’ monster will be a major hike in prices for farmers, already suffering a direct hit to their livelihood from unsustainable prices.

“Farmers have already experienced a 300% price increase in recent years, on everything from seeds to fertilizer, all of which are controlled by Monsanto,” Papantonio told Hartmann. “And every forecaster is predicting that these prices are going to climb even higher because of this merger.”

Yet it’s hard to imagine the situation getting any worse for the American farmer, who is now facing the highest suicide rate of any profession in the country. The suicide rate for Americans engaged in the field of farming, fishing and forestry is 84.5 per 100,000 people - more than five times that of the broader population.

This tragic trend echoes that of India, where about a decade ago millions of Indian farmers began switching from farming with traditional farming techniques to using Monsanto’s genetically modified seeds instead.

In the past, following a millennia-old tradition, farmers saved seeds from one harvest and replanted them the following year. Those days of wisely following the rhythms and patterns of the natural world are almost over.

Today, Monsanto GMO seeds are bred to contain 'terminator technology', with the resulting crops ‘programmed’ not to produce seeds of their own. In other words, the seed company is literally playing God with nature and our lives.

Thus, Indian farmers are forced to buy a new batch of seeds – together with Monsanto pesticide Round Up - each year and at a very prohibitive cost. Hundreds of thousands of Indian farmers

But should the world have expected anything different from the very same company that was involved in the production of Agent Orange for military use during the Vietnam War (1961-1971)?

More than 4.8 million Vietnamese suffered adverse effects from the defoliant, which was sprayed over vast tracts of agricultural land during the war, destroying the fertility of the land and Vietnam’s food supply.

About 400,000 Vietnamese died as a result of the US military’s use of Agent Orange, while millions more suffered from hunger, crippling disabilities and birth defects.

This is the company that we have allowed, together with Bayer, to control about one-quarter of the world’s food supply. This begs the question: Who is more nuts? Bayer and Monsanto, or We the People?

It’s important to mention that the Bayer – Monsanto convergence is not occurring in a corporate vacuum. It is all part of a race on the part of the global agrochemical companies to stake off the world’s food supplies.

ChemChina has bought out Switzerland’s Syngenta for $43 billion, for example, while Dow and DuPont have forged their own $130 billion empire.

However, none of those companies carry the same bloodstained reputations as Bayer and Monsanto, a match made in hell that threatens all life on earth.

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The Last 4th of July

SUBHEAD: Well, the pressure is on and will only increase. Get off the Grid. Get out of the Matrix. Go for what's real and close by!

By Juan Wilson on 3 July 2018 for Island Breath -
(http://islandbreath.blogspot.com/2018/07/the-last-4th-of-july.html)


Image above: Painting of bombs bursting in air, that was commissioned by the graduating class of the US Army War College. Painting titled "Our Flag Was Still There" in the Defense of Ft. McHenry, Sept. 13-14, 1814, by Don Troiani. From (https://news.usni.org/2018/06/26/rim-of-the-pacific-2018-participation).

This may be not only the latest, but perhaps the last 4th of July "celebration" for American's used to it being a "Party like it's 1999". The holiday that embraces "Bombs Bursting in Air" has run out of our enthusiasm.

"Make America Great Again!"

When was "again"? Was it the time of the the American Revolution for independence from Britain. Back then the nonnative population of Americans was less than three-million people. That's less than 1% of today's human population of the United States (https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Population_history_of_USA.png).

The support required our current American population is staggering and unsustainable. Worldwide if you include the just the domestic livestock of mega-fauna (large-animals) raised in pens for our food (chickens, pigs, cattle, etc) that's over 90% of mega-fauna alive).
Humans are selfish. As if they are all that matter.  
As your nostrils fill with acrid smell of charcoal grill fire-starter and firecracker black-powder smoke just remember you don't have to be sitting baking in the sun while pounding down beer and grilled flesh.

You could be sitting in the shade near your sunny raised-bed garden admiring the pole-beans with a glass in your hand filled with home grown lemonade sweetened with your own honey...

... that is if you started some years ago by building a raised bed, planting a lemon tree and husbanding a beehive.  
Humans live for today. As if there is no tomorrow.
Thousands of years ago we invented "agriculture". That was in the then hospitable Tigris-Euphrates Valley once known as the "Fertile Crescent". Sumerian and Mesopotamian culture was the founded there and morphed into Greco-Roman civilization and ultimately modern "Western" industrial society.
Now the 'Fertile-Crescent" is the 'Fossile-Crescent" stretching from Northern Africa through the Middle East. The last useful scraps of the  "crack-cocaine energy" we fuel ourselves with is there and we will lat waste to it and whoever lives there to "stay high".

If we keep "keep on pushin' on" the fine membrane of life will snap and everywhere will be as bleak as Afghanistan and Syria are today.

Where do we go from here? Certainly not upwards with more of the "same-old same-old". More likely if we make it through through the "eye of a needle" of collapse we will be as ragtag groups of hunter-gatherers.

By that I mean there may be a small bands of humans in some corners of the world still habitable that may survive... possibly the tip of South America, Africa and Australia. It has happened before. See (http://islandbreath.blogspot.com/2011/04/one-time-through-bottleneck.html)
Humans can adapt to change. But is seems only under great pressure. 
Well, the pressure is on and will only increase. Get off the Grid. Get out of the Matrix. Go for what's real and close by!

See also:
Ea O Ka Aina: American Dignity on Fourth of July 7/1/17
Ea O Ka Aina: The Next American Revolution 7/5/13
Ea O Ka Aina: The American Unraveling 7/29/11
Ea O Ka Aina: Birthday Card 7/4/11
Ea O Ka Aina: "Merciless Indian Savages" 7/3/11
Island Breath: American patriotism's failure 7/4/08
Island Breath: Thinking about July Fourth 7/4/07

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Fuck RIMPAC 2018!

SUBHEAD: These exercises are a colossal waste of resources and energy that only demonstrate America's suicidal death spiral. 

By Juan Wilson on 29 June 2018 for Island Breath -
(http://islandbreath.blogspot.com/2018/06/fuck-rimpac-2018.html)


Image above: Naval participants on RIMPAC 2018 on parade for a photo op. From (https://news.usni.org/2018/06/26/rim-of-the-pacific-2018-participation).

For those that don't know RIMPAC is the U.S. Navy term for the "Rim of the Pacific. Evert two years the Navy puts together a nautical dog and pony show that they call RIMPAC "xxxx", where the "xxxx" is the even numbered year in which it takes place.

"Friendly" navy allies from nations proximate to the Pacific Ocean are invited to join the festivities on land, sea and in the air experimenting with new weapons systems, setting off explosives and coordinating he destruction of the planet Earth.

The US Navy likes to show its magnanimity by inviting "potential enemy" nations like China and Russia to join in as observers presumably to scare the crap out of them with the broad show of force. This also gives the nation the option of punishing an "enemy" observer nations with a dis-invitation if they do something we don't like.

This year China was dis-invited (https://www.militarytimes.com/news/your-military/2018/05/23/china-was-just-uninvited-from-rimpac-heres-why/) because it had the gall to continue to build up its presence in the South China Sea. Heaven forfend!

Well here we are again. This year is "RIMPAC 2018"... and it is going on now. Why "Fuck RIMPAC 2018!"? Because it is a costly public relations stunt that pollutes the ocean and kills uncounted numbers of sea creatures. Something we don't need any more of.

Through World War II to date the United States has dominated the Pacific Ocean through diabolic destruction with nuclear weapons and unfettered domination of island peoples. It is a disgusting display.

These RIMPAC war game are headquartered in Hawaii, with Pearl Harbor (on Oahu) and the Pacific Missile Range Facility (on Kauai) playing a major role.

If you don't think these "games" come at a cost to us living on Kauai you are dead wrong. Just go back to our post whale on pod stranding of a whale in Hanalei Bay in 2004 due to RIMPAC activities at the bottom of the list or articles below for a taste of the US Navy's games.

See also:
Ea O Ka Aina: Civil Beat views US military in Pacific 8/20/17
Ea O Ka Aina: "No!" to American Militarism 4/11/17
Ea O Ka Aina: DLNR responsibility on RIMPAC 7/6/16
Ea O Ka Aina: Participation in RIMPAC 2016 6/1/16
Ea O Ka Aina: Judgement against RIMPAC 2016 5/29/16
Ea O Ka Aina: Prepare for RIMPAC War in Hawaii 5/22/16
Ea O Ka Aina: Navy to "take" millions of mammals 5/1
Ea O Ka Aina: Judgement against RIMPAC 2016 4/3/16 
Ea O Ka Aina: Navy's "illegal" War Game 11/17/15
Ea O Ka Aina: US court RIMPAC Impact decision 4/3/15
Ea O Ka Aina: RIMPAC 2014 Impact Postmortem 10/22/14
Ea O Ka Aina: RIMPAC 2014 - another whale death 7/26/14
Ea O Ka Aina: RIMPAC 2014 in Full March 7/16/14
Ea O Ka Aina: 21st Century Energy Wars 7/10/14
Ea O Ka Aina: RIMPAC War on the Ocean 7/3/14
Ea O Ka Aina: Voila - World War Three 7/1/14
Ea O Ka Aina: The Pacific Pivot 6/28/14
Ea O Ka Aina: RIMPAC IMPACT 6/8/14
Ea O Ka Aina: RIMPAC Then and Now 5/16/14
Ea O Ka Aina: Earthday TPP Fukushima RIMPAC 4/22/14
Ea O Ka Aina: The Asian Pivot - An ugly dance 12/5/13
Ea O Ka Aina: Help save Mariana Islands 11/13/13
Ea O Ka Aina: End RimPac destruction of Pacific 11/1/13 
Ea O Ka Aina: Moana Nui Confereence 11/1/13
Ea O Ka Aina: Navy to conquer Marianas again  9/3/13
Ea O Ka Aina: Pagan Island beauty threatened 10/26/13
Ea O Ka Aina: Navy license to kill 10/27/12 
Ea O Ka Aina: Sleepwalking through destruction 7/16/12
Ea O Ka Aina: Okinawa breathes easier 4/27/12
Ea O Ka Aina: Navy Next-War-Itis 4/13/12
Ea O Ka Aina: America bullies Koreans 4/13/12
Ea O Ka Aina: Despoiling Jeju island coast begins 3/7/12
Ea O Ka Aina: Jeju Islanders protests Navy Base 2/29/12
Ea O Ka Aina: Hawaii - Start of American Empire 2/26/12
Ea O Ka Aina: Korean Island of Peace 2/26/12   
Ea O Ka Aina: Military schmoozes Guam & Hawaii 3/17/11
Ea O Ka Aina: In Search of Real Security - One 8/31/10
Ea O Ka Aina: Peace for the Blue Continent 8/10/10
Ea O Ka Aina: Shift in Pacific Power Balance 8/5/10
Ea O Ka Aina: RIMPAC to expand activities 8/3/10
Ea O Ka Aina: RIMPAC War Games here in July 6/20/10
Ea O Ka Aina: Pacific Resistance to U.S. Military 5/24/10
Ea O Ka Aina: Guam Land Grab 11/30/09
Ea O Ka Aina: Guam as a modern Bikini Atoll 12/25/09
Ea O Ka Aina: GUAM - Another Strategic Island 11/8/09
Ea O Ka Aina: Diego Garcia - Another stolen island 11/6/09
Ea O Ka Aina: DARPA & Super-Cavitation on Kauai 3/24/09
Island Breath: RIMPAC 2008 - Navy fired up in Hawaii 7/2/08
Island Breath: RIMPAC 2008 uses destructive sonar 4/22/08
Island Breath: Navy Plans for the Pacific 9/3/07
Island Breath: Judge restricts sonar off California 08/07/07
Island Breath: RIMPAC 2006 sonar compromise 7/9/06
Island Breath: RIMPAC 2006 - Impact on Ocean 5/23/06
Island Breath: RIMPAC 2004 - Whale strandings on Kauai 9/2/04
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USGS info on Kilauea Volcano

SUBHEAD: How much danger is there of massive tsunami caused by collapse of East Rift Zone area?

By Staff on 28 June 2018 for United States Geological Survey -
(https://volcanoes.usgs.gov/observatories/hvo/)


Image above: Photo from south of Puna as Kilauea volcano lava enters Pacific Ocean causing clouds of steam and vog. From (https://www.inverse.com/article/46466-kilauea-volcano-ocean-entry-deemed-hazardous-as-dangerous-laze-persists).

[IB Publisher's note: There is a wide range of opinions about the danger imposed by current volcanic activity on the Big Island of Hawaii. Some fear the risks are being minimized to keep people calm and not scare tourists away. Some even fear a catastrophe of biblical proportions is imminent. Below are recent reports by the United States Geological Survey. They may be hiding the truth to allay a panic. But they, more than any other source, have the real data. Here are some of their recent reports to the public.]

Answers to Questions about Kīlauea Volcano's earthquakes
June 28, 2018

The summit area of Kīlauea Volcano has undergone significant changes since April 2018. On April 21, the lava lake within Halema‘uma‘u overflowed onto the crater floor as the volcano's magmatic system pressurized.

On April 30, the floor of the Pu‘u ‘Ō‘ō crater collapsed, as subsurface pressure forced open a pathway for magma to travel from Pu‘u ‘Ō‘ō into the lower East Rift Zone. As magma moved into the lower East Rift Zone, pressure decreased in the summit's magmatic system and the lava lake level began to drop. The summit also started to deflate due to the pressure decrease.

As summit deflation (or subsidence) persisted, the number of earthquakes increased. Prior to the onset of deflation, about 10 earthquakes per day were typical at the summit. As of late June 2018, there are about 600 earthquakes located in the same region on a daily basis. Many of these earthquakes are strong enough to be felt, and some can be damaging.

These earthquakes are understandably causing concern, especially in Volcano Village and surrounding subdivisions. These Frequently Asked Questions about Kīlauea Volcano's Summit Earthquakes will help answer some of the most commonly asked questions about the nature of Kīlauea's summit activity, and the numerous earthquakes that are occurring in the area.



Saying "goodbye" to one GPS station and "hello" to two more
June 25, 2018

On June 18, Hawaiian Volcano Observatory staff said a sad goodbye to a GPS instrument that had faithfully recorded over 95 m (310 ft) of downward motion of the floor of Kīlauea caldera before losing radio contact. The GPS instrument, called NPIT, first started moving downward in early May at the onset of subsidence at Kīlauea's summit.

However on June 8, NPIT's motion picked up dramatically. This was when a portion of the caldera floor north of Halema'uma'u, where NPIT was located, began to slump into the crater. Over the next ten days NPIT GPS recorded down-dropping of 6-8 m (20-25 ft) with each summit explosion event, which have been occurring almost every day.

This, together with earlier displacements, added up to a position change of 95 m down, 55 m south, and 5 m east (310 ft, 180 ft, and 16 ft, respectively).

These data provide unique insight into the crater collapse process, showing us that it is occurring as a series of steps instead of as continuous motion. Drone and helicopter views confirm that NPIT is still intact and likely still recording data.

Unfortunately, the large motions have now resulted in a misalignment of the radio shot between the instrument and the observatory, cutting off communication and therefore data flow from the GPS station.

At about the same time that we lost the ability to contact NPIT, HVO staff completed work to add telemetry to two temporary GPS stations on the caldera floor.

These two stations, called CALS and VO46, are not located on actively slumping portions of the caldera floor and therefore do not show the dramatic downward motion that NPIT did.

However, they reveal that even portions of the caldera floor away from active slumping are moving downward very quickly; by as much as 1.0 m per day (3.3 feet per day) at station CALS. The data from these new stations can be viewed on the deformation page for Kīlauea.


Why so many earthquakes in the Kīlauea summit area?
May 29, 2018

Deflation at Kīlauea's summit has caused up to 1.5 meters (about 5 feet) of subsidence, which has stressed the faults around and within Kīlauea Caldera. Read more



GPS monitoring reveal where magma has moved
May 24, 2018

Kīlauea Volcano is currently erupting at two locations: from Halema‘uma‘u, a crater within the summit caldera, and from the lower East Rift Zone (LERZ) in and near the Leilani Estates and Lanipuna subdivisions.

Small explosive episodes at Kīlauea's summit are a consequence of magma withdrawing from a shallow reservoir beneath the east margin of Halema‘uma‘u. The eruption of lava along the LERZ resulted from the underground movement of magma eastward from the volcano's middle East Rift Zone.



Image above: Illustration of Kīlauea Volcano from the summit caldera to the lower East Rift Zone (LERZ). Blue arrows = contraction across the upper and middle rift zone, black arrows = expansion in LERZ. From original article.

GPS, tiltmeters, and satellite radar (InSAR) data captured how Kīlauea's surface has moved since the Pu‘u ‘Ō‘ō vent collapsed on April 30, 2018. These data allow scientists to infer where magma was removed and the location to which it was transferred. In the first days following the collapse of Pu‘u ‘Ō‘ō, the largest signals indicated contraction across the upper and middle East Rift Zone—evidence that magma was being withdrawn from this area.

This was followed by expansion across the LERZ—evidence that magma was intruding into this part of the rift zone at depths of less than about 3 km (2 mi). The forceful widening of the LERZ continued through May 18, at which time a GPS site north of the intrusion stopped moving northwestward and stabilized.

In early May, days after the collapse of Pu‘u ‘Ō‘ō, the lava lake level in Halema‘uma‘u began to drop as the summit area subsided at a high rate. The lava lake surface disappeared from view on about May 10, at a depth of more than 325 m (1,070 ft) below the Halema‘uma‘u crater floor.


Image above: This plot shows vertical displacement of a USGS GPS (CRIM) station from April 26 to May 24, 2018. From original article.

Subsidence of the summit area continues. Between May 1 and May 24 the caldera floor subsided as much as 1.4 m (4.5 ft). The GPS station, labeled as CRIM on the edge of Kīlauea's summit caldera [Fig.2], has subsided about 0.6 m (1.9 ft).

Continued summit subsidence indicates that magma is moving from the summit magma reservoir and into the East Rift Zone at a higher rate than magma is entering the reservoir from below. To date, geochemical analysis of erupted lava indicates that summit magma has not yet erupted from the LERZ fissures 1-23.



Facts on stability of Kīlauea's south flank, past and present
 May 14, 2018

There have been several recent highly speculative stories, rumors and blogs about the stability of the south flank of Kīlauea and the potential for a catastrophic collapse that could generate a Pacific-wide tsunami. We wish to put these speculations in their proper context by presenting observations of the current situation and an assessment of past evidence of landslides from Kīlauea.

There is no geologic evidence for past catastrophic collapses of Kīlauea Volcano that would lead to a major Pacific tsunami, and such an event is extremely unlikely in the future based on monitoring of surface deformation. Kīlauea tends to "slump", which is a slower type of movement that is not associated with tsunamis, although localized tsunamis only affecting the island have been generated by strong earthquakes in the past.

The May 4 M6.9 earthquake resulted in seaward motion of approximately 0.5 m (1.5 ft) along portions of Kīlauea's south flank as measured by GPS stations across the volcano.

A preliminary model suggests that the motion was caused by up to 2.5 meters (8 feet) of slip along the fault that underlies the volcano's south flank, at the interface between the volcano and the ocean floor, about 7-9 km (4-6 mi) beneath the surface.

This motion is within the expected range for a large earthquake on this fault. The earthquake was probably caused by pressure exerted by the magmatic intrusion on the south flank fault, following the pattern of past earthquake activity that has been observed during Kīlauea East Rift Zone intrusions.

A small, very localized tsunami did occur as a result of the fault slip. Similar local tsunamis were generated by past large earthquakes, including the 1975 M7.7 and 1868 ~M8 events, both of which resulted in multiple deaths along the south coast of the Island of Hawai‘i.

Adjustments on the south flank caused another ~9 cm (3.5 inches) of motion at the surface in the day after the earthquake, followed by another 2-3 cm (~1 inch) since May 5.

This is higher than the normal rate of south flank motion (~8 cm (3 inches) per year) but is expected as the volcano adjusts after a combination of a magmatic intrusion along the East Rift Zone and a large south flank earthquake.

We did observe minor ground ruptures on the south flank, but this is expected given the strength of the May 4 earthquake, and deformation data show that the south flank continues to move as an intact slump block.

Geologic history combined with models of south flank motion suggest that the likelihood of a catastrophic failure event is incredibly remote. There are certainly signs on the ocean floor for landslides from other volcanoes on the Island of Hawai‘i and from other islands, but none are associated with Kīlauea.

In addition, Kīlauea has experienced much larger earthquakes and magmatic intrusions in the recent past. The large earthquakes of 1975 and 1868 were not associated with significant south flank landsliding, nor were major East Rift Zone intrusions in 1840 and 1924.



Image above: This plot shows vertical displacement of a USGS GPS (CRIM) station from April 26 to May 24, 2018. Cross-section through the lower East Rift Zone of Kīlauea Volcano. From original article.

Cross-section through the lower East Rift Zone of Kīlauea Volcano. Magma intruded into the rift zone and exerted pressure on the south flank of Kīlauea, likely encouraging the M6.9 earthquake that occurred on a fault located at the interface between the volcano and the preexisting ocean floor.

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Maui Breadfruit Company

SUBHEAD: With community help this local business was able to get off the ground and help others do the same.

By John Cadman on 27 June 2018 in Resilience - (https://www.resilience.org/stories/2018-06-27/maui-breadfruit-company-receives-slow-money/)


Image above: A pile of breadfruit (left) and John's business partner Maile (right). Note the volume of large tough fallen leaves typical of  breadfruit trees. From original article.

We all have them; you know, those things we call defining moments in our lives. I’ve had several, but the one that stands out most for me occurred in the Fall of 2012. I was asked to give a cooking demo at the local chapter of the Farmers Union on Maui.

I said, “Sure, what would you like me to focus on?”

The Farmers Union said, “How about breadfruit?”

I thought, “OK, I know a little bit about that—heck, I had even eaten and cooked with breadfruit a few times.” Just so it sounded like I knew what I was talking about, however, I figured I better do a little research and experimentation.

I can’t really explain it, but for some reason the light just came on for me. I quickly realized what an amazing food breadfruit is.

You see, it is one of the original canoe plants that the ancient Polynesian voyagers brought to Hawaii. It has been grown throughout the Polynesia as a staple food crop for many centuries. The tree itself has many uses, but the fruit is what is so amazing.

When immature it is firm, very much like a potato. As it ripens it becomes soft, sweet, and deliciously aromatic. The trees are amazingly easy to grow, extremely high yielding, and are very tolerant to many types of growing conditions.

Sadly, it has become a neglected food here in Hawaii, but I was determined to change this. I am convinced that breadfruit has more potential to address food security than does any other crop in Hawaii, where we import about 90% of what we eat.

Developing our local small-chain food supply is truly essential in overcoming this staggering figure.

So, with my newfound passion for this forgotten fruit, I began experimenting and making all kinds of delicious things using breadfruit in both its starchy and sweet stages. Fast-forward about a year, and I had come up with a dessert that was nothing short of amazing—or so I was told.


Image above: A slice of John's Pono Pie. Note Maui upcountry is one of the few places in Hawaii that can grow commercial strawberries. From original article.

Naturally, the next step was to quit my secure and high-paying job and go into selling breadfruit pies. That was four years ago, and now Pono pies are sold on all four of the major Hawaiian Islands, at health food stores, and in some excellent restaurants.

In Hawaiian, “Pono” means correct, beneficial, and done in the right way. I have tried to adhere to this principle in my business. One way is to source my ingredients locally. My breadfruit, sweet potatoes, bananas, honey, macadamia nuts, coconut, and coffee are all grown in Hawaii.

One of the greatest unintended consequences of bootstrapping my business is that I can help other aspiring food entrepreneurs by renting out kitchen time at my factory. This is a win-win situation for everyone involved.

Currently, there are no truly affordable options available to anyone who wants to develop a value-added product here on Maui.

Presently, five fledgling companies use my kitchen space. Although I have watched at least that many companies start up only to shut down when the harsh realities of small-company food production became all too real, at least they didn’t have to make significant investments in building or leasing an entire kitchen to find this out.

For my company, the additional income really helped in the early growth stages when cash flow is so crucial.

You see, I started the company with very little money. I believe that growing a company with as little debt as possible is the best way; but sometimes it is just not possible to expand without some financial assistance.

That’s where Slow Money Hawaii came in. Previously, I had my labels printed locally in small batches at a cost of $0.31 per label. My printer told me that if I could order in bulk it could get the cost down to $0.06 per label, but that would require ordering at least 100,000 labels.

Slow Money Hawaii connected me with some very supportive and enthusiastic community members who believe in breadfruit as much as I do.

The very generous loan terms provided by Slow Money enable me to make the monthly payments and still increase my profit. I really hope that someday I will be able to return the favor and help other aspiring food entrepreneurs as a Slow Money lender.

See also:
Ea O Ka Aina: Changing the culture and ourselves 7/30/16
Ea O Ka Aina: In Soil We Trust 2/27/11
Ea O Ka Aina: Slow Money 12/16/10
Ea O Ka Aina: SuperBus vs StraddleBus 12/4/10
Ea O Ka Aina: COP16 as Cancun disappears 12/1/10
Ea O Ka Aina: Bringing Money Down to Earth 11/22/09
Ea O KA Aina: Breadfruit Recipe Experiments 11/15/09
Ea O Ka Aina: Investing in our community 5/25/09
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Tales of History are a Dead End Road

SUBHEAD: Solution? How most of villagers lived and thought in, let’s say, 1914 is a good start.

By Patrick Noble on 20 June 2018 for Feasta -
(http://www.feasta.org/2018/06/20/the-tales-of-history-are-a-dead-end-road/)


Image above: "Landscape" by Russian painter Ilya Mashkov in 1914. From original article and (https://www.wikiart.org/en/ilya-mashkov/landscape-1914).

[IB Publisher's note: FEASTA is the Foundation for the Economics of Sustainability.]

Culture is what people do. It decays when people stop culturing. Changing a culture means changing what we do.

Often, that will need a step by step transition as we negotiate obstacles. Even though we follow some backward meanders, the river may flow on.

But there are some transitionary illusions – convenient untruths, which are not obstacles to be overcome, but dead-end roads to be avoided.

In those cases, we must turn back and begin again.
Dead-end roads (or stagnant backwaters) can be paved (or punted) with the best intentions – often because we are focused on singularly-important things, such as energy-use, pesticides, human rights…

We applaud solar panels on the buildings of a retail park, or the rising quantity of organic and fairly-traded produce in the super market swamp. But retail parks and super markets were created by and are maintained by fossil fuel.

Greening such infrastructures gives them an illusory credence. It satisfies complacent images of social justices, green energy and regenerative farming. But what came with oil must go with oil. However green we strive to make them the retail park and super market remain vast and stagnant backwaters.

We lazily mined those millions of years of sequestered photosynthesis. Now we must live by singular seasons as they pass. The thing about natural limits, is that they have shape – taste, scent, sound, mass, energy, volume, chronology… We can give them meaning, and if we know them truly, they can gain beauty.

Buying organic produce (for instance) in a super market defers a large part of cultural creation to infrastructures, which we cannot see, or taste. Those green market signals are not signs to a better future but delusive advertisements to the virtues of a dead-end road.


Just as the flow of money directly relates to the flow of energy, so does the flow of cultural effects. As the flow of fossil energy diminishes, so we must return to human sized spending power with human-size imprints.

Returning to just human size brings culture round us like a shawl. We can wear it – a durable vestment died with both personal and community colours.

We can divest from identity levelling, but powerful provisions of oil. They are, in any case much too large to fit. Of course, much of what we do is not measured by GDP, needs no fossil fuel and has no monetary value.

Nevertheless, it may be vital to the functioning of any measurable economic activity. As we leave oil in the ground and as oil infrastructures evaporate those unpaid activities of parenthood, home-making, cooking, gardening, story-telling, singing, dancing… will remain untouched and can swell as the consumption of piped entertainment recedes.

The culture we created by fossil fuel is no longer possible. Most of our choices have become dead-end roads. A 2% increase in GDP is more or less, a 2% increase in green-house gas emissions.

GDP could be just as accurately named GDCC – Gross Domestic Climate Change.
If culture is what we do, what do we do next?

Some difficulties emerge, because we are social partners to existing infrastructures. There will be some backward meanders (infrastructures don’t exist until we find or make them) and many dead-end roads.

We exist as a social species. Our identities are parts of the whole. When cultures break, they break identity. To heal ourselves, we’d heal the culture. But cultures evolve from deeper commons and may resist time-bound manipulation.

Alienated, we seek artificial, or imagined fraternity. Fraternity? – Where is the sexless alternative?

I cannot find a word – so it is with wider culture – its evolution and revolutions. Revolutions are usually temporal and unsatisfactory. Yet we do need a powerful, all-embracing, sexless equivalent to fraternity.

If cultures place evenly-sexed roots in the soil which feeds them, then a more balanced and so durable ethics can evolve.

That is how new commons emerge. In removing our dependency on the strata of fossilised years we become intensely dependent on local resources and on each other.

Since we need an utter revolution in the ways we live and think today, those commons must evolve quickly… How most of us lived and thought in, let’s say, 1914 is a good start.

Breaking connections to dead-end roads may mean both breaking and healing hearts. Broken cultures break hearts, but then healing hearts heal cultures. And with regards to quickly evolved commons, inherited commons lie neglected and dormant – awaiting resuscitation – somewhere very like the some-when of 1914.

Nostalgia is an answer – what has been could be. Within the nostalgic vision, deeper and essential commons survive, which could not be manufactured by reason and thin air. And they are familiar. The once and future life comes ready-made with poets, musicians, painters, familiar voices…

Once the nostalgic vision is adopted, circumstance will force pragmatic change and new artistry may sing for what newly surrounds it. The nostalgic vision provides a landing ground for the first footstep (the last flight!) – and one which can be communally understood.

Time, and the contrary physics of 2018 will change it – but we can embark with genuine ancestry.

Where do we find a coherent model for a life without fossil fuels? For most of us in the developed world, it is not a case of greening how we live, but of abandoning it.

Many of our infrastructures cannot be greened. They must be evacuated. We shall be refugees and foragers making the best of what we find. Why not pick up what is deeply familiar?

Why not revive how our grand, or great grandparents lived – untouched by subliminal advertisers, or shadily-financed political punditry – sequestered from time, yet beside the same spring of deepest commons, which flow between all generations?

Are you ashamed to step backwards? Why? – The paths we’ve communally taken have been misdirected. It is natural to retrace those bad steps to the first solid ground and then begin again – first-footing into new times – not with last year’s embers, but with the last durable; the last possible embers to ignite a future without fossil fuels.

Look – here’s where we traded, once upon a time – from ports on every mile of coastline – the last cutters, schooners, brigs… – pinnacle of thousands of years of evolutionary marine architecture. Coal evoked new designs, which have been short-lived – scarcely-tried – just a hundred and a score years old, because they embarked to a backwater of no return.

If we retrace our steps to 1914, when the last schooner was built in Porthmadog, we shall know where to begin with sea trade. Those futuristic-looking aerofoils on today’s (ill-fated) oil designs are futile – a reluctance to change how we live – just like solar panels in a retail park, or organic produce in a super market.

To be sure, we have new knowledge of aerofoils and hull design from amateur racing dinghies and keel boats. But still, we begin in 1914 when there remained a fragmented, but still working sail-trade. Then we can adapt what we’ve found with the advantages of that new knowledge.

In 1914, living canal and river networks flowed to the sea. Coastal communities were also connected to each other by sea. That shore-hopping trade has vanished today.

What’s more boats of fifty to two hundred tons, had recently been built in small ports and on beaches all around Britain by the communities which financed, sailed and traded with them – without advice from corporation, government or bank. Yes, by 1914 we find sail’s twilight years.

That’s why I alight there, in a time still depicted by remembered anecdotes within modern families and communities, yet when the total domination of fossil fuel had not yet been completed.

It seems to me, that our schooner may be a paradigm for everything. Let’s keep 1914 as a destination, (conveniently forgetting the contemporary idiocies of the powers). The same acreage of arable land was easily farmed without either coal or oil.

We had the steam plough at some headlands and a few small towing tractors, but their influence was insignificant. Traction was largely man, horse, ox and wind powered (though for machinery – milling and so on – steam and oil engines were already replacing wind, water and horse power). Major cities were ringed with market gardens…

Let’s consider crop yield – in 1914 average UK wheat yield was 1.01 tons per acre and in 2017, 3.36 tons per acre (Defra). It is a mistake to think that massive increase is derived from a similar increase in artificial fertilisers, pesticides, fungicides, herbicides and growth regulators.

Since modern organic farmers often achieve 3 tons per acre (we have done so ourselves on an upland farm), we can see that the greatest contribution to yield has been selective, in-line, plant breeding – an advantage I propose to keep as I step forwards from 1914.

In any case, true yield is output, minus input – so that when we subtract the massive inputs of today, (their finite material, mass, manufacture, and distribution) we end with a yield which is probably much like that of 1914.

When was peak phosphate?

Of course, organic yield depends on a proper rotation – so reducing it, if we add that increased acreage. However, organic methods must maintain an optimum mass of soil fauna (biomass), while continuous cropping continually reduces it.

We must add the negative of lost soil fauna to those inputs – or we can say, lost soil fauna is equivalent to lost acreage.

So, as we retrace our arable steps to 1914, using modern seed varieties, we begin with the considerable advantage of a possible 3 tons per acre in rotated fields, which can continue growing that same yield from that same fertility. Small birds will continue their songs and Summer air will be loud with flies, bugs and bees.

Of course, those regenerative courses in arable rotation will provide other good things – if we like eggs, milk, butter, cream, meat… However, in the UK much of today’s and 1914’s permanent pasturelands will prove more beneficial, to both economy and ecology (and photosynthesis) as forest.

Today, in 2018 futile inputs are destroying the ecosystems on which all cultures depend. They are also shrinking soil biomass – that is the capacity to grow future crops. If we shrink soil biomass, we shrink all the connections of a web in which Man is one very small part. For instance, soil fauna and atmospheric CO.2 are intimately connected…

Starting from 1914 and stepping into the future, we’ll find an abundance of market gardens and orchards close to cities and towns.

Their labour requirement can be almost entirely human, with horse and cart to auction and street market – or in the case of London – barge along Thames, or Lea – along which the night soils are discretely returned.

The market garden model is a better one than the field-scale vegetables and seasonal slave-labour of today. Our eco-modernist is polemical with population. I also – egalitarian, involved, ingenious (oil has no ingenuity) people will re-populate the land!

The horse will need her share of acreage but (along with forestation) will happily replace a part of that surfeit of sheep and cattle.

My nostalgia is circumspect. By 1914, enclosure and dispossession were complete. The dispossessed had migrated to the factory gate, or to the New World, or had been starved and evaporated from the map of Earth.

Sheep had replaced people in marginal lands and uplands, the mass slaughter of innocent young men was about to begin and only wealthy men held right to the ballot.

Women over thirty would have to wait until 1918 to hold voting rights along with men over twenty-one who had paid less than £10 annual rent.

Six out of seven males, and all women, held no voting rights in UK (then called Great Britain) until 1918.

I bequeath no virtues to our journey’s beginning but suggest that from 1914 a road to the future is possible – cyclic infrastructures, though decayed, are in place for revival.

Coal-fired suburbia was already spreading along rail routes from major cities. Yet for all but the suburban office worker, both work and pleasure were within easy walking distance.

The trades congregated in town and village centres. Local produce appeared in season, mostly by horse and cart, in grocers, green grocers and butchers’ shops and in street markets and fairs.

The majority of those businesses were family run and many of them descended though generations of skill and cultural tradition. Those businesses and those cultural traditions and the network of connections between them, were the economy.

Neither government, nor corporation had much part in it – only to fill the tea caddy, collect taxes (for war) and deny the vote to most.

Church and chapel, meeting house, theatre, concert hall, pub and tea-room made other connections. Though on occasion, authority passed by on his high, dark horse, to the prudent doffing of caps, while land agent and factor swept in for the gathering of rent, they played no part in production. Their business was violence and consumption.

The rural poor had it harder, because they were more isolated and conspicuous to that violence. To keep a roof, one had to be deferential to the gentry.

My partner’s great uncle was spotted taking a pheasant. He hid in a muck heap and with family help, made the passage from Liverpool to America – to escape the “justice” of an Australian penal colony. That was a story of many.

There’s a problem with the telling of history… and so also with how we’d like to make history. Still today, books are written, documentaries made, and classrooms taught – how kings, politicians, treaties, wars, generals and strategic marriages steered the passages of time.

We talk of fake news, but what if all our history lessons are fake? What if to attain that B.A. we must propagate nonsense? What if our whole modern narrative is fake and if people everywhere come to see the deception?

What is true news? – events in the making of culture and with that news, the possibility of an exited renaissance. Culture is what people do in spite of the powers. Kings, lords, lairds, squires (for UK) and corporate executives do nothing but extract various forms of rent and non-distributive taxes.

Culture is what people do who make things, grow things, maintain things, share and gossip about things – that is people who both physically and spiritually are the culture.

Culture is a living, pulsing, evolving thing. Yet how food was grown; how houses, bridges, roads, canals, harbours, ships, cathedrals… were built – how scarcity and surplus were exchanged – is invisible to historians, but for footnotes.

History has been the accumulated praise recitations of court bards. The cattle raid of Troy was made an epic adventure, in which even the gods participated. The shining walls of Ilium are celebrated as a symbol for a great, though soon to be fallen power.

But they were not – they were made by the dexterity, ingenuity and complex social fabric of unrecorded generations of busy people.

Hector and Achilles, like Napoleon and Wellington, could scarcely tie their shoe laces, let alone contribute to a culture. Ah – you say, but we all have roles and one role – one small part of the whole – is that of leader.

Right, I concede (a little) – but where is the record of the larger part whose lives have been coerced and parasitized by our celebrated elites and then hidden from posterity’s view by their academic, journalistic, or bardic sycophants?

The thing is, those history books lead us on another dead-end road. Because of them, we lobby governments, petition corporations and strike imitative, pugilistic attitudes. NGOs propose that to make history, we must behave like the history books and engage with the powers.

But look at their shoe laces!

Why seek to change what has, and can have, no creative power in the hope that it will mysteriously gain creativity by our instruction? We neglect our own parts in the evolution of culture by asking the powerful, who have not the means, (or attention span) to create a culture for us.

The culture which created climate change was not created by leaders. It was created by ordinary people, who did not pay attention to how they were led.

Corporations and governments have not the skill to create climate change – to find and extract those sedimentary layers of fossilised lives – to devise pistons, cylinders, cranks and wheels – to understand compression and ignition – even to understand how money can be either put to work, or put to destruction…

The powers have no thought of farming techniques, or of building ships to trade scarcity with surplus. They watch, preen and extract. Of course, there is fluidity – ordinary creative people can become extractive and powerful people can become creative – but nevertheless the pattern remains.

If we make a community in the woods, it will evolve leadership. Perhaps leadership is an essential part of human cultures – part of an inherited pattern of social behaviour. We have benign and malign leadership, so when we lobby the powers, we lobby for the benignity.

But lobbying for social change is futile, since we, the lobbyists are the physics of the society that must change. Governance is abstract, people are real.

Climate change, trashed resources and cascading ecosystems are real and have been caused by real, ordinary people. Only ordinary people can pull back from that destruction.

Ordinary people can achieve what no government can achieve – the evaporation of the super market, the end of aviation and the death of the family car. Perhaps a pied piper (leader) can call us away, but unless we do walk away, nothing will happen.

I say we recede into familiar community histories to the first sight of solid ground and then set out again from that original wrong turning to a dead-end road – which is where we stand now. We stand in super markets, jet the globe and polish our cars. Only we can stop doing so.

We prevaricate to suggest that we must first ask the powers to ask (or compel) us to stop. We cut out personal guilt and paste it on the powers.

But we (principally we) are guilty. It is comic to propose that governments should impose a carbon tax before we can stop burning it ourselves.

It is tragic that we remain loyal to an entirely oil-powered super market to change it for the better by market signals, when our own town centre decays because of our absence. It is both tragic and comic to petition against that third runway, as we simultaneously book a business, or holiday flight.

We created the super market, the airline and the family car – we built, maintained and paid for them – and we populate them – thronging a dead-end road. What can a leader do? She can do nothing.

We must do everything, because we did everything. I own some shares in those four hundred and twelve parts per million of atmospheric carbon dioxide.

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