Pine Air Fresheners

SUBHEAD: Research indicates that the smell of forest pine can limit climate change.

By Matt McGrath on 26 February 2014 for the BBC News-

Image above: Path through a scented pine forest. From (

New research suggests a strong link between the powerful smell of pine trees and climate change.

Scientists say they've found a mechanism by which these scented vapours turn into aerosols above boreal forests.

These particles promote cooling by reflecting sunlight back into space and helping clouds to form.
The research, published in the journal Nature, fills in a major gap in our understanding, researchers say.

One of the biggest holes in scientific knowledge about climate change relates to the scale of the impact of atmospheric aerosols on temperatures.

Perfumed Air

These particles form clouds that block sunlight as well as reflecting rays back into space.
They can be formed in a number of ways, including volcanic activity and by humans, through the burning of coal and oil.

According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), they "continue to contribute the largest uncertainty to estimates and interpretations of the Earth's changing energy budget."

One of the most significant but least understood sources of aerosols are the sweet-smelling vapours found in pine forests in North America, northern Europe and Russia.

These aerosols have confounded climate models as scientists haven't been able to accurately predict how many of the particles form.

Now an international team of researchers say they have solved the chemical mystery by which the rich odours become reflective, cooling particles.

They've long understood that the smell of pine, made up of volatile organic compounds, reacts with oxygen in the forest canopy to form these aerosols.

The scientists now found that, in fact, there is an extra step in the process, what they term a "missing link".

They've discovered ultra-low volatility organic vapours in the air that irreversibly condense onto any surface or particle that they meet.

"These vapours are so crazy in structure from what we had known before," said one of the authors, Dr Joel Thornton, from the University of Washington.

"It turns out that this level of craziness is what gives them the special properties to stick to those smallest particles and help grow them up in size to become aerosols."

The scientists say that having a clear understanding of the way in which forest smells become aerosols will improve the accuracy with which they can predict the ability of these particles to limit rising temperatures.

"It's certainly crucial for explaining the response of the boreal forest to a changing climate," said Dr Thornton.

"It's thought that the vapours being emitted from the vegetation in the pine forests are contributing roughly half of the aerosols over the forest," he said.

"We've found the reasons how the vapours get converted into particles, so we are basically explaining around 50% of the aerosol particles."

Cooling Effect

The authors believe that this is playing a significant role in reducing the impact of rising temperatures. They argue that this effect is likely to strengthen in the future.

"In a warmer world, photosynthesis will become faster with rising CO2, which will lead to more vegetation and more emissions of these vapours," said lead author, Dr Mikael Ehn, now based at the University of Helsinki.

"This should produce more cloud droplets and this should then have a cooling impact, it should be a damping effect."

The researchers sampled the air in the forests of Finland and carried out experiments at an air chamber at the Julich Research Centre in Germany.

They believe that the discovery was down to a combination of technique and technology.

"One very important thing is that before now, people haven't had the instrumentation to detect these ultra-low volatile compounds," said Dr Ehn.

"When you pull them through a metal tube into your instrument they come into contact with the tube walls and they are lost, you won't detect them."

"We have an instrument that is as wall-less as can be, we have a very high flow of air and a very short inlet line so that it is almost sampled right from atmosphere."

The scientists stress that the new understanding is not a panacea for climate change as forests will stop emitting vapours if they become too stressed from heat or lack of water.

However, Dr Ehn believes the vapours could have a significant impact in the medium term.

"If you go into a pine forest and notice that pine forest smell, that could be the smell that actually limits climate change from reaching such levels that it could become really a problem in the world."

Beavers in England

SUBHEAD: Wild beavers have been seen in England countryside for first time in centuries spotted in the Devon River.

By Jessica Aldred on 27 February 2014 for The Guardian-

Image above: Adult beaver with juvenile in the wild. From (

A family of wild beavers has been seen in the England countryside in what is believed to be the first sighting of its kind in up to 500 years.

Three European beavers (Castor fiber), believed to be adults, have been filmed together on the River Otter in east Devon and can be seen gnawing at the base of trees, grooming themselves and playing together.

Experts said the sighting was "highly significant" as it strongly suggested a small breeding population of beavers now existed outside captivity.

European beavers were once widespread in the UK but were hunted to extinction by the 16th century in England and Wales for their fur, medicinal value and meat.

There have been successful reintroduction schemes in other parts of the UK. In 2009, three beaver families were released into forest lochs near the Sound of Jura in Argyll, while plans to release the species into the wild in Wales have also moved a step closer. The sighting in Devon would be the first time in centuries that European beavers have bred in the wild in England.

The footage was captured by local retired environmental scientist Tom Buckley, who noticed some trees had been felled in the area in late last year. Together with landowner David Lawrence, he installed three motion sensor cameras along a 400-500m stretch of the river. A lone beaver was spotted on the farm in January and last July a woman claimed she saw a beaver on the river.

"We'd seen bits of trees chewed and cut down and I was starting to think that it was a sign of beavers even though I couldn't believe it," Buckley said.

Beaver expert Derek Gow confirmed that one of the animals filmed by Buckley was a juvenile and the family may have been in the wild for years. Buckley does not know where they have come from or exactly where their home is.

"When I first saw that first beaver it was such a shock. When I saw three it was slightly different – we knew there was one around and we were tracking its activities. When we watched film and all of a sudden another appeared, and then another – I would not just say that was amazing – one was speechless realising what was happening. We had no idea there was more than one, and they are all quite large and active as well."

Devon Wildlife Trust has been running its own Beaver Project since 2011, when an adult male and female were introduced to a securely fenced compound in the north-west of the county.

But the beavers remain in their compound and are not the source of the population now seen on the River Otter.

Steve Hussey from the Devon Wildlife Trust said he supported the reintroduction of beavers to England but that it had to be "properly planned".

"In principle, we would like to see the European beaver reintroduced to England but recognise that a great deal of work needs to be done before this can happen."

He said the beavers should be left alone and observed using a rigorous monitoring programme.

"This group of beavers provides us with a unique opportunity to learn lessons about their behaviour and their impact on the local landscape … [the group] could contribute to this process if they are subjected to thorough scientific study.

Beavers are a "keystone species", meaning they provide more important ecosystem services than their numbers alone would suggest.

Known as "ecological engineers", their dams, burrows and ditches and the branches they drag into the water create habitats for a host of other species. Their dams slow rivers down, reducing scouring and erosion, and improving water quality by holding back silt.

During the recent wet weather and flooding crisis, naturalists called for the reintroduction of beavers to control floods.

Otter tracks and spraint was found alongside the beaver prints, indicating they may have been interacting with wild otters too.

Hussey added: "There's evidence that otters, beavers are coming together here face to face perhaps for the first time in two or 300 years."

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) is investigating the sighting as it is against the law to release beavers in England. A spokeswoman said the department would "look into this case and will consider what action to take".

She said she could not comment on whether the beavers could be removed from the site or destroyed.

Buckley said: "This beaver family has been around for at least a couple of years and no one seems to have noticed them. They haven't caused any trouble for anybody and it's only because they've been caught on camera that people know they are here.

To think about destroying them is totally out of order. This is an insight into what the potential impact is if they are already in a place and at the moment that impact would seem to be zero."


The Great Rewilding

SUBHEAD:  A world which is richer in wildlife, will be also richer for human life.

George Monbiot interview by Jennifer Sahn on 14 February 2014 for Orion Magazine -

Image above: A tiger in the wild is a rare thing today. Without big changes they are likely to go extinct this century. From (

One day, the British environmental writer George Monbiot was digging in his garden when he had a revelation—that his life had become too tidy and constrained. While exploring what it would take to re-ignite his own sense of wonder, he waded into a sea of ideas about restoration and rewilding that so captured his imagination that it became the focus of his next book. 

Feral: Searching for Enchantment on the Frontiers of Rewilding was published in the United Kingdom in 2013, to much acclaim, and is forthcoming in the U.S. in 2014. Orion editor Jennifer Sahn caught up with Monbiot to talk about rewilding—what it means for people, for nature, and for an environmental movement that is in great need of having far wider appeal.

Jennifer Sahn: It’s sort of an obvious starting place, but I think it makes sense to begin by asking how you define rewilding.

George Monbiot: Actually, there are two definitions of rewilding that appeal to me. One is the mass restoration of ecosystems. By restoration, I really mean bringing back their trophic function. Trophic function involves feeding. It’s about eating and being eaten.

Trophic function is the interactions between animals and plants in the food chain. Most of our ecosystems are very impoverished as far as those interactions are concerned. They’re missing the top predators and the big herbivores, and so they’re missing a lot of their ecological dynamism. That, above all, is what I want to restore.

I see the mass restoration of ecosystems, meaning taking down the fences, blocking up the drainage ditches, enabling wildlife to spread. Reintroducing missing species, and particularly missing species which are keystone species, or ecosystem engineers. These are species which have impacts greater than their biomass alone would suggest. They create habitats, and create opportunities for many other species.

Good examples would be beavers, wolves, wild boar, elephants, whales—all of which have huge ramifying effects on the ecosystem, including parts of the ecosystem with which they have no direct contact.

Otherwise, I see humans having very little continuing management role in the ecosystem. Having brought back the elements which can restore that dynamism, we then step back and stop trying to interfere.

That, in a way, is the hardest thing of all—to stop believing that, without our help, everything’s going to go horribly wrong. I think in many ways we still suffer from the biblical myth of dominion where we see ourselves as the guardians or the stewards of the planet, whereas I think it does best when we have as little influence as we can get away with.

The other definition of rewilding that interests me is the rewilding of our own lives. I believe the two processes are closely intertwined—if we have spaces on our doorsteps in which nature is allowed to do its own thing, in which it can be to some extent self-willed, driven by its own dynamic processes, that, I feel, is a much more exciting and thrilling ecosystem to explore and discover, and it enables us to enrich our lives, to fill them with wonder and enchantment.

Jennifer: So you’re using rewilding in part as a reflexive verb? 
George: Absolutely. Of all the species that need rewilding, I think human beings come at the top of the list. I would love to see a more intense and emotional engagement of human beings with the living world.

The process of rewilding the ecosystem gives us an opportunity to make our lives richer and rawer than they tend to be in our very crowded and overcivilized and buttoned-down societies. That means giving ourselves time to go out and explore rewilded habitats, and delight in the spectacles they present to us.

Rewilding is very much not about excluding people. It’s about trying to re-engage people with the natural world.

Now, I’m not suggesting that people give up their houses, give up their jobs, give up their comforts. I’m suggesting that when they want to, they can step into a much more thrilling and enchanting world than surrounds us at the moment.

Jennifer: Nobody’s going back to the Stone Age, then?

George: I do not see rewilding as going back anywhere. The ecosystems that would emerge on rewilded land, or in rewilded seas, would not be the same as the ecosystems of the past—partly because we have irredeemably lost a lot of species, partly because we have changed the physical environment through climate change, through soil depletion, through the acidification of the oceans and acid rain and many other impacts.

Also, it wouldn’t be a fixed ecosystem or a fixed assemblage of species. It would be one which continued to go through dynamic, successional changes for the rest of time.

Jennifer: Your book Feral seems to have captured the imagination of readers, whether they agree with what you are saying or not. Why do you think the notion of rewilding has been so provocative?

George: My sense is that people like me are ecologically bored, that we possess the psychological equipment required to navigate a world that is far more challenging than our own—a world of horns and tusks and fangs and claws. Yet our lives have been reduced to the point at which loading the dishwasher seems to present an interesting challenge.

Having lived for some time with people who are much closer to the living planet—indigenous people in South America, in East Africa, and in West Papua—I’ve found my own life by comparison to seem quite a small and shuffling thing. I think all of us have a sense that we’re not quite fulfilling our potential as the human beings who evolved in this really quite thrilling and exciting and dangerous environment, and that our lives are a bit too small and too constrained.

I think rewilding, or certainly the version of it that I’ve been suggesting, has appealed to people both because it gives hope, in that we can reverse some of the horrible destructive processes of which we’re all aware, but also because it introduces into our lives this element of wonder and delight which is too often missing.

Jennifer: I was rather enamored with the chart in the center of the book that lists the animals now absent from Britain and ranks their likeliness as candidates for reintroduction. It really brought the notion of rewilding to life for me. I’m curious to know about your experience compiling that chart.

George: I must say I greatly enjoyed it. I’m the sort of person who enjoys compiling lists, and that probably says more about me than is entirely comfortable. But that list was a delight to compile because it focused my mind on what we could achieve. It also helped me to get a better grasp of what was once here.

There are plenty of species on there which people are perfectly familiar with as having previously lived in Britain, like beavers and wild boar and wild horses. And some people are aware that there were lynx and bison and moose.

Wolves—people kind of know that they were here, but most people imagine that they were here thousands of years ago, whereas the last one was killed in 1621, or possibly later than that. But when you start getting to lions and hyenas and elephants and hippos, people are absolutely astonished to discover that they lived in this country.

Trafalgar Square, when that was excavated, the gravels there were absolutely full of hippopotamus bones. There once were hippos wallowing in those rivers — the same species that lived in Africa. Gray whales were very common all around the shores of Britain.

European sturgeon, these enormous creatures which would get up to eighteen feet long or so, ran up our rivers. People, even a lot of the professionals I talk to, are amazed at the number of species which were once native here.

Jennifer: It’s amazing to think about all those skeletons buried in the gravel. . .

George: Yes. Well, we tend to think of elephants, rhinos, lions, hyenas as being tropical animals. They’re not. Europe had a megafauna. We had elephants. We had rhinos. We had lions. All lived here during the last interglacial period, and in southern Europe through most of the last glacial period. In most cases, it seems, human beings were the primary agent of wiping that megafauna out.

We now have the opportunity to bring parts of it back.

We’ve lost some of the species for good: the straight-tusked elephant, the Merck’s rhinoceros and narrow-nosed rhinoceros. But the lions, hyenas, and hippos that live in Africa are the same species that we’ve lost from Europe. And the Asian elephant is possibly a good proxy for the straight-tusked elephant. It has a similar ecology. The black rhino might be a good proxy for the Merck’s and the narrow-nosed rhinos.

Of course, in the Americas it was even more extraordinary. You had Argentavis magnificens, a bird which seems to have had a twenty-six-foot wingspan. You had the saber-tooth salmon, a Pacific salmon nine feet long which had these fangs which stuck out over its lower jaw.

You had the giant beaver, Castoroides ohioensis, which was the size of a black bear. It was eight feet from nose to tail. Giant armadillos the size of small cars. The ground sloths which pulled down trees. Loads of different kinds of elephants, including mammoths and gomphotheres and mastodons. Giant lions. American cheetahs. It goes on and on. But almost all of it has been exterminated everywhere now, so it’s much harder to bring back.

One of the things I hope this book will do is encourage people to be aware of paleoecology, the study of past ecosystems. The most extraordinary beasts, which we have missed by only a few thousand years in many cases, shaped many of the ecosystems which are still around us today. When you begin to grasp some of the elements of paleoecology, it’s like passing through a portal into an enchanted kingdom.

Jennifer: I’m curious to know what sort of conditions, what political and cultural common ground, might need to be reached before you could reintroduce a species like the black rhino?

George: Well, for a start, the land becoming available, and that does seem to be happening. One of the effects of globalization is that the less fertile parts of the planet can’t compete, in terms of agricultural production, with the more fertile places. I believe that we’re going to be looking very soon at a number of Serengeti-sized pieces of land on the European continent which are no longer being farmed, and for which there is no clear land-use plan.

This is very much the beginning of a conversation rather than the end. I see rewilding as an open-ended process, and I see the possibility for lots of different kinds of political engagement with it.

For my own part, I would like to see an open, democratic, consensual process not dependent entirely on the whims of a few large landowners and, most importantly, involving no elements of coercion or dispossession. I think it’s very important that it doesn’t become a means of depriving people of their land rights and their homes.

Certainly with the formation of some of the national parks in the United States in the nineteenth century we saw that happen. It’s happened in east Africa as well with the formation of parks and reserves there.

But what would it require to persuade people to bring them back? I think what would persuade people more than anything is the idea that we could all have a Serengeti on our doorsteps, that it’s not some impossible dream but could quite easily be turned into a reality.

Jennifer: But the Serengeti has lions. Will people’s fear of apex predators be a hindrance to rewilding?

George: There’s no doubt that some of the animals I’m talking about as candidates for rewilding are dangerous, though in most cases that danger has been greatly exaggerated. In North America, for example, there are sixty thousand wolves, and the average number of people killed every year by wolves is zero.

The average number of people killed by vending machines is ten. We need a way of weighing the risks that dangerous wild animals might pose against the delight and wonder they would bring to our lives.

Jennifer: So what landscapes do you think are good candidates for rewilding, and which ones are not? 

George: Well, I don’t want to see mass rewilding on very fertile land. There could easily be a clash between the need to feed the growing human population and the desire to see a much richer and more dynamic ecosystem extend across places which are currently being used by people.

But as I said, we’re seeing very large amounts of land from which farmers are now retreating. There are very large amounts of land which were previously being farmed or logged or subjected to other such impacts but now are being more or less left alone.

One estimate suggests that, in the United States, two-thirds of the land which was once deforested has now been reforested because of the retreat of farming and timber cutting. Another suggests that in Europe, between 2000 and 2030, we’ll see 30 million hectares of land being vacated by farmers, which is an area the size of Poland. It’s in places like these, particularly in the uplands, in many of the world’s mountainous or hilly areas where arable farming is much less viable, that I think we have enormous potential for rewilding.

At sea, the potential is even greater, because once you establish proper marine reserves in which there’s no commercial fishing, wildlife bounces back very quickly. Species reintroduce themselves. You see the volume and the size and the age of fish, crustaceans, mammals, and all the rest of it increasing very rapidly.

In fact, if you remove 30 or 40 percent of the sea from commercial fishing, you quickly discover that it’s better not just for the ecosystem but also for the fishing industry, because you get what’s called a spillover effect.

As the fish and other species are allowed to reproduce and mature properly within those areas where there’s no fishing, large parts of the population then spill over into the surrounding seas, and that increases the total catch. It also means that the catch becomes a sustainable one.

You’ll have a continuous supply, and you’ll never fish out the fish or crustaceans or shellfish because they have reserves in which they can keep breeding without interference.

Jennifer: I understand you’ve been contacted by several large landowners who were inspired by the book and want to do something on their own plots. Can rewilding take place acre by acre? Or is there a need to be making something happen on a bigger scale? 

George: I want to involve as many people in this as possible. I want people to be able to contribute on their own land, as well as participating in bigger public projects. In Britain, the project which I find most exciting is Trees for Life in Scotland, where this very small organization has managed to persuade quite a lot of landowners to start rewilding their land. But they have also, through public subscription, bought a ten-thousand-acre estate and started reforesting and rewilding that, having planted over a million trees just using volunteers.

I think that’s a wonderful model because it mobilizes the enthusiasm of landowners while also mobilizing the enthusiasm of the wider public.

I don’t think there’s a single right way of rewilding, and I’d like to see a whole host of different models tried. Even on smaller pieces of land there’s some potential.

What I’d particularly like to see is people getting together to join their gardens up to create wildlife corridors, because the biggest problem that a lot of species face is habitat fragmentation. Gardens are generally very small places, but if you get together with your neighbors and the people all along your street, then you could really make a contribution.

For example, everyone could plant native trees to create a strip of continuous forest going from one garden to another right along the street and possibly linking up with patches of nearby forest which already exist. That would enable a lot of species which otherwise wouldn’t be able to enter that area to pass through, and to use that habitat.

People could also create a chain of ponds and marshy areas, again going from one garden to another so you’ve got this wildlife corridor for wetland species.

Jennifer: Given that the future seems to be marked by increasing ecosystem instability, how can rewilding help us make the most of what’s to come? 

George: If we try to lock down our ecosystems and maintain them in their current state in the face of climate breakdown—and please let’s stop calling it climate change, because it doesn’t really capture what we’re facing—we will fail. They don’t have the resilience. They don’t have the dynamism required to be able to respond to huge and sudden impacts on the scale which we can expect.

 But if we reintroduce some of the key ecosystem engineers, many of which have very wide ecological ranges, and very wide climatic ranges—the lion is a good example, because it can live all the way from arctic to tropical conditions, the wolf, similarly—then we have these very resilient species, which can also then help to make the whole ecosystem more resilient by creating habitats and niches for other species.

We really have to abandon the idea of trying to maintain a fixed assemblage and a fixed landscape and embrace the idea of nature being our guide, finding its own means of adapting and responding to a changing climate and other impacts.

 For that to happen, we need as many different species in place as possible, because by and large a more diverse ecosystem is a more resilient one. And we need to have as little human interference as possible. That seems to be a pretty clear lesson, really. A very impoverished ecosystem is a very vulnerable one.

Jennifer: You wrote recently that you thought the Lake District National Park—England’s equivalent of Yellowstone—was one of the most trashed landscapes in Britain. How would you address the Lake District in a rewilding conversation? 

George: Like so many upland areas, it has been ruined by ranching—in this case, sheep ranching. The sheep have reduced the vegetation from what once would have been dense forests down to either close-cropped turf or bare rock. Many parts of the Lake District now look like a moonscape. Yet somehow this is treasured and considered to be its natural state.

People find it very hard to understand that this is a highly unnatural state which is the product of an ecological disaster—that disaster being woolly maggots on four legs. Somehow, thanks partly to Willliam Wordsworth, who of course lived in and wrote about the Lake District, we’ve come to see industry as being malign and destructive, and agriculture—particularly the keeping of animals—as being benign and ecologically harmonious.

In fact, the sheep has done more damage to the ecosystems of Europe and many other parts of the world than all the industry that has ever been built in those places. It has reduced many of those places to almost nothing. That’s what’s happened in the Lake District. It’s just basically a bowling green with contours now.

I would love to see parts of it allowed to reforest and some of the missing species reintroduced: lynx, wolves, wild cat, wild boar, beavers, maybe moose and bison one day.

Jennifer: It sounds a little like some of the ranching that happens on the public lands in the western United States, where domestic animals completely change the ecosystem and the predator-prey dynamic. 

George: That’s right, but in the United States there seems to be some awareness that it’s damaging. Bizarrely, in Britain that awareness is completely missing. People react with astonishment when I point out that this is a truly screwed-up system that they’re looking at. I’ve had a large number of letters and e-mails from people saying: “I’ll never see the land in the same light again. You’ve changed the way I’ve seen it.” That’s a good starting point, I think.

Jennifer: I imagine the restoration ecologists have a lot to say about what you’re suggesting. What’s the essential difference between rewilding and what they do? 

George: Well, there’s not necessarily a difference. It largely depends what they’re trying to restore. Rewilding, as I say, is not really trying to restore any one physical asset—a heath or a meadow or a rainforest. It’s trying to restore the dynamism of the ecosystem.

Sometimes restoration ecology, particularly in Europe, is about trying to restore past agricultural systems. People will go back to a bucolic idyll four hundred years ago and say, “That’s where it needs to be. We need to have a few cows doing this here. We need to have some reed cutters cutting their reeds. We need to have these people doing some coppicing.” It’s never clear why they choose that time horizon and that method of management and the rest of it.

This is one of the many battles I’m now having with conservationists here, asking, “Why have you decided arbitrarily that the way the land was farmed a hundred years ago or two hundred years ago or four hundred years ago is the right way to manage it? Why is that better than not managing it at all?” I haven’t yet heard a coherent answer.

Jennifer: Basically, you’re saying, let’s forget all the hand-wringing and quit studying the past, and let’s just do something that’s both symbolic and meaningful.

George: That’s not quite what I’m saying. I’m certainly not saying quit studying the past. I think it’s essential to study the past. You cannot understand today’s ecosystems without studying the past. One of the striking findings that I came across while researching the book is the profound ignorance of many contemporary ecologists toward the history of the ecosystems that they’re looking at.

Something which has caused ripples within the scientific community here has been my championing of the idea that our ecosystems in Europe are elephant-adapted, as indeed yours are in the Americas to a large extent.

When we look at the ways that trees respond to being attacked—being cut or splintered or having the bark stripped—those are responses which have evolved as a result of elephant attack. This place was stuffed with elephants. Everywhere was stuffed with elephants except Australasia. They were all over the world. And they had enormous impact.

Whenever you read papers about elephants and trees in Africa, they say, “Well, these trees have obviously evolved to coppice and to hedge and to sprout from whatever point at which the trunk is broken in response to elephant attack, and if they don’t have that adaptation, they’ll quickly die out, because they’ll be killed by elephants.”

I say, well, if that’s so obvious to Africa, why isn’t it equally obvious in Europe and the Americas, where trees have exactly the same responses? It’s only because we don’t see the elephants doing it that we’ve forgotten that these are elephant adaptations. I’m hoping that one of the outcomes of this book will be a re-examination of what we’re looking at in our own ecosystems.

Jennifer: While researching this book you must have learned about so many fantastic things happening around the world. What are the most exciting examples of rewilding that are already under way? 

George: There’s one in Patagonia, where a future Patagonia national park is being created out of land which was bought by Doug and Kris Tompkins and other people with whom they got together. They’re reintroducing puma and jaguar and the indigenous deer of the region while at the same time helping with local community development, bringing people into the process, giving them jobs and opportunities which they didn’t previously have.

There’s the restoration of the southern marshes in Iraq, the great Basra Marshes, which Saddam Hussein drained and destroyed. They’re now being reflooded, and the wildlife has been returning. It’s really a remarkable project. Apparently, the restoration is taking place very rapidly indeed.

We’re seeing large areas in the mountains of Croatia, and in the forests of Romania, which are being rewilded. In 2012, the first five bison, which had been extinct in Romania for 160 years, were released into the Vânători Neamţ reserve. In the dehesas of Spain and Portugal, the Iberian lynx, extinct across much of its former range, is slowly recovering as a result of reintroduction of animals bred in zoos.

The governments of the two countries have set aside over a million hectares of land in this area to protect the lynx, the Spanish imperial eagles, the vultures, Iberian ibex, and other rare wildlife that lives there. he creation of marine reserves in New Zealand and the Philippines are also good examples.

We’ve seen a very rapid restoration, not only of the fish and the crustacea, but also of the sedentary life forms, be they corals, or anemones, or sponges, which were previously trashed by bottom trawling.There’s a lot already happening. But I would love to see it increased by orders of magnitude.

Jennifer: Here in the U.S. we’ve had some success with reintroduction, though certainly not without controversy. What would you say to those who have grown tired or disenchanted with the political red tape and the local disputes that arise around these proposals?

George: Well, please keep going. All these battles are very, very difficult to wage. But you can bet your life that if it’s not difficult, it’s not worth doing.The reintroduction of wolves into Yellowstone National Park is a classic case, showing how the wolves have transformed Yellowstone and greatly boosted the number and variety of other species there because of the ecosystem changes that they have caused.

We think of the wolf as killing other species, but we are less aware that it gives life to many more than it kills, including species with which it has no direct interaction.It’s not just that reintroduction takes essential steps toward restoring ecosystems, but it’s also that it gives hope. It’s the only place, really, where hope lies anymore.

Jennifer: The kind of advocacy you’re talking about is so positive and affirming—so hopeful, as you say. That’s quite different from a lot of today’s environmentalism, isn’t it?

George: Well, I wouldn’t argue for a moment that we should stop campaigning against all the bad stuff that’s happening. We have to maintain those campaigns. But they become very difficult to maintain if all we are trying to do is create a slightly less bad world than would otherwise have developed. That is basically the aim of modern environmentalism—trying to make things a bit less bad. That’s not, in itself, an inspiring aim.

We need something which can motivate us, and I believe that nothing is so effective as a vision of a far better world than we have at the moment. Rewilding offers that vision. But rewilding also offers new human freedoms and new human pleasures which perhaps we can exchange for some of those older ones that we’re trying to restrict, because a lot of the time we’re saying to people,

“Please consume less. Please travel less. Please reduce your impacts on the planet.”

If we can say, “We’re trying to create a better world here, better than the one we already have, a world which is richer in wildlife, but also richer for human life, richer in experience and possibility,” then that, I think, is a far more inspiring message.


Weimar America

SUBHEAD: Fascism and the Future - Part Three - It can't happen here.

By John Michael Greer on 27 February 2014 for Archdruid Report -

Image above: Photo illustrating article "U.K. warns Russia 'Don't intervene in Ukraine'". In sympathy with uprising in Kiev, a woman poses with the figures of Soviet troops fighting Nazis - one of which has been painted over in the colors of the Ukranian flag. An example of unintended consequences and irony of recent right-wing take over of "liberal" revolution there. From (

The discussion on fascism that’s taken up the last two weekly essays here on The Archdruid Report, and will finish up in this week’s post, has gone in directions that will very likely have surprised and dismayed many of my readers.  Some of you, in fact, may even be jumping up and down by this point shouting, “Okay, but what about fascism? We’ve heard more than enough about Depression-era European dictators in funny uniforms, and that’s all very well and good, but what about real fascism, the kind we have in America today?”

If this is what’s going through your head just now, dear reader, you’re in interesting company.  It’s a curious detail that in the last years of the Weimar Republic, a large number of avant-garde intellectuals and cultural figures were convinced that they already lived in a fascist country. They pointed, as many Americans point today, to the blatant influence of big business on the political process, to civil rights violations perpetrated by the administration in power or by state and local governments, and to the other abuses of power  common to any centralized political system, and they insisted that this amounted to fascism, since their concept of fascism—like the one standard in today’s America—assumed as a matter of course that fascism must by definition defend and support the economic and political status quo.

In point of fact, as Walter Laqueur showed in his capable survey Weimar: A Cultural History, denouncing the Weimar Republic as a fascist regime was quite the lively industry in Germany in the very late 1920s and early 1930s. Unfortunately for those who made this claim, history has a wicked sense of humor.  A good many of the people who liked to insist that Weimar Germany was a fascist state got to find out—in many cases, at the cost of their lives—that there really is a difference between a troubled, dysfunctional, and failing representative democracy and a totalitarian state, and that a movement that promises to overturn a broken status quo, and succeeds in doing so, is perfectly capable of making things much, much worse.

It’s entirely possible that we could end up on the receiving end of a similar dose of history’s gallows humor. To an embarrassing degree, after all, political thought in modern America has degenerated into the kind of reflexive venting of rage George Orwell parodied in 1984 in the Two Minutes Hate. Instead of pouring out their hatred at a cinematic image of marching Eurasian soldiers juxtaposed with the sniveling face of Goldstein, the traitorous leader of the Brotherhood, the inhabitants of our contemporary Oceania have their choice of options neatly stapled to the insides of their brains.

For Democrats, the standard target until recently was an image of George W. Bush dressed up as Heinrich Himmler, lighting a bonfire using the Constitution as tinder and then tossing endangered species into the flames; for Republicans right now, it’s usually a picture of Barack Obama dressed up as Ho Chi Minh, having sex with their daughters and then walking off with their gun collections. Either way, the effect is the same.

I wish I were joking. I know people who, during Dubya’s presidency, were incapable of passing a picture of the man without screaming obscenities at it, and I know other people who have the identical kneejerk reaction these days to pictures of the White House’s current inmate.  I’ve commented here before how our political demonology stands in the way of any response to the converging crises of our time.

The same sort of denunciatory frenzy was all the rage, in any sense of that word you care to choose, in Germany during the Weimar Republic—and its most important consequence was that it blinded far too many people to the difference between ordinary political dysfunction and the far grimmer realities that were waiting in the wings.

To explore the way that unfolded, let’s engage in a little thought experiment. Imagine, then, that sometime this spring, when you visit some outdoor public place, you encounter a half dozen young people dressed identically in bright green T-shirts, surplus black BDU trousers, and army-style boots.  They’re clean-cut, bright, and enthusiastic, and they want to interest you in a new political movement called the American Peoples Party. You’re not interested, and walk on by.

A couple of months later you run across another dozen or so of them, just as bright and clean and enthusiastic as the first bunch.  Now the movement is called the National Progressive American Peoples Party, NPAPP for short, and it’s got a twenty-five-point program focused on the troubled economy.

You take a flyer, mostly because the young person who hands it to you is kind of cute. The twenty-five points don’t seem especially original, but they make more sense than what either Obama or the Republicans are offering. What’s more, the flyer says that the economy’s a mess and peak oil and climate change are real problem that aren’t going away, and this impresses you.

Over the months to come you see more and more of them, handing out flyers, going door to door to invite people to local caucus meetings, and doing all the other things that political parties used to do back when they were serious about grassroots organizing. A news website you follow shows a picture of the party’s chairman, a man named Fred Halliot;* he’s an earnest-looking guy in his thirties, an Army vet who did three tours in Afghanistan and earned a Silver Star for courage under fire. You glance at his face and then go look at something more interesting.  (*Yes, it’s an anagram. Work it out yourself.)

Meanwhile, the economy’s getting worse in the same slow uneven way it’s been doing for years. Two of your friends lose their jobs, and the price of gasoline spikes up to $5.69 a gallon, plunges, and finds a new stable point again well above $4. Obama insists that the recovery is already here and people just need to be patient and wait for prosperity to get to them. The Republicans insist that the only reason the economy hasn’t recovered yet is that the rich still have to pay taxes.

The media are full of cheery stories about how the 2014 holiday season is going to be so big a hit that stores may run out of toys and electronic gewgaws to sell; there are record crowds on Black Friday, or that’s what the TV says, but nobody you know has the spare money to buy much this year. Not until midway through January 2015 does the media admit that the shopping season was a disaster and that two big-box chains have just gone broke.

Through all this, the new party keeps building momentum. As spring comes, Halliot begins a nationwide speaking tour. He travels in a school bus painted green and black, the NPAPP colors, and a Celtic tree-of-life symbol, the party’s new emblem.  The bus goes from town to town, and the crowds start to build. A handful of media pundits start talking about Halliot and the NPPAP, making wistful noises about how nice it is to see young idealists in politics again; a few others fling denunciations, though they don’t seem to have any clear sense what exactly they’re denouncing. 

Both mainstream parties, as well as the Libertarians and the Greens, launch youth organizations with their own t-shirts and slogans, but their lack of anything approaching new ideas or credible responses to the economic mess make these efforts a waste of time.

The speaking tour ends in Washington DC with a huge rally, and things get out of hand. Exactly what happened is hard to tell afterwards, with wildly different stories coming from the feds, the mass media, the internet, and the NPAPP headquarters in St. Louis. The upshot, though, is that Halliot and two of his chief aides are arrested on federal conspiracy charges.  The trial is a media circus. Halliot gives an impassioned speech justifying his actions on the grounds that the nation and the world are in deep trouble, radical change is needed to keep things from getting much worse, and civil disobedience is justified for that reason.  He gets sentenced to four years in prison, and the other political parties breathe a huge collective sigh of relief, convinced that the NPAPP is a flash in the pan.

They’re wrong. The NPAPP weathers the crisis easily, and publicity from the trial gives Halliot and his party a major boost. Candidates from the new party enter races across the country in the 2016 elections, seizing much of the limelight from the frankly dreary presidential race between Hillary Clinton and Haley Barbour.  When the votes are counted, the new party has more than three hundred city and county positions, forty-three seats in state legislatures, and two seats in the House of Representatives. The major parties try every trick in the book to overturn the results of each race, and succeed mostly in making themselves look corrupt and scared.

Then Halliot gets released from prison, having served only nine months of his sentence.  (Word on the internet has it that the whole point of locking him up was to keep him out of the way during the election—but is that simply a NPAPP talking point?  Nobody’s sure.) It turns out that he put the time to good use, and has written a book, A Struggle for the Soul of America, which hits the bookstalls the same week President Barbour is inaugurated. Y

ou leaf through a copy at the public library; it’s not exactly a great work of literature, and it’s written in a folksy, rambling style you find irritating, but it’s full of the kind of political notions that Americans swap over beers and pizza: the kind, in other words, that no mainstream party will touch.

The book has an edge that wasn’t in NPAPP literature before Halliot’s prison term, though.  The government of the parties, he insists, must be replaced by a government of the people, guided by a new values consensus that goes beyond the broken politics of greed and special interests to do what has to be done to cope with the disintegrating economy, the challenge of peak oil, and the impacts of climate change.

Time is short, he insists, and half measures aren’t enough to avoid catastrophe; a complete transformation of every aspect of American life, a Great Turning, is the only option left.  Edgy though his language and ideas have become, you note, he’s still the only person in national politics who takes the economic, energy, and climate crises seriously.

The next autumn, as if on cue, the economic troubles go into overdrive.  Petroleum prices spike again—you start commuting via public transit when the price of gasoline breaks $8 a gallon—and a big Wall Street investment bank that had huge derivative bets the other direction goes messily broke. 
 Attempts to get a bailout through Congress freeze up in a flurry of partisan bickering. Over the next two months, despite frantic efforts by the Barbour administration, the stock market plunges and the credit markets seize up.  Job losses snowball. Through the fall and winter, NPAPP people are everywhere, leafleting the crowds, staffing impromptu soup kitchens, marching in the streets. You would pay less attention, but by spring you’re out of a job, too.

The following years are a blur of grim headlines, hungry crowds at soup kitchens, and marching crowds in green and black. In the 2018 election,  there are rumors, never proved, of NPAPP squads keeping opposition voters away from the polls in critical districts.  One way or another, though, Halliot’s party seats six senators and 185 representatives in Congress, and takes control of the governments of a dozen states.

The three-way split in the House makes it all but impossible to get anything done there, not that the Democrats or Republicans have any idea what to do, and the administration copies its last two predecessors by flailing and fumbling to no noticeable effect. One thing of importance does happen; to get NPAPP support to push a stopgap budget through the House in 2019, President Barbour is forced to grant a full federal pardon to Halliot, removing the last legal barrier to the latter’s presidential ambitions.

Fast forward to the 2020 elections, which are fought out bitterly in a flurry of marches, protests, beatings, riots, and charges and countercharges of vote fraud. When the dust has settled, it turns out that no party has a majority in the electoral college.  The election goes to the House, and since neither of the major parties is willing to vote for the other major party’s candidate, Halliot ends up winning by a whisker-thin majority on the forty-second ballot.

He is inaugurated on a bitterly cold day, surrounded by NPAPP banners and greeted by marching files of party faithful in green and black.  He announces that he’s about to call a constitutional convention to replace the government of the parties with a government of the people, get the country back on its feet, and sweep away everything that stands in the way of the Great Turning that will lead America and the world to a bright new future. The crowd roars its approval.

Later that year, the crowds go wilder still when the old constitution is scrapped and the new one enacted. Those with old-fashioned ideas find some aspects of the new constitution objectionable, as it lacks such minor details as checks and balances, not to mention meaningful and enforceable guarantees of due process and civil rights.  

 The media doesn’t mention that, though, because the “new values consensus” is enforced by Party officials—the capital letter becomes standard usage very quickly—and those who criticized the new constitution too forcefully, well, let’s just say that nobody’s quite sure where they are now, and most people know better than to ask.

And you, dear reader? At what point along that trajectory would you have decided that for all its seeming promise, for all the youth and enthusiasm and earnestness that surround it, the National Socialist German Workers Party and the folksy, charismatic veteran who led it were likely to be worse—potentially much, much worse—than the weary, dreary, dysfunctional mess of a political system they were attempting to replace? 

Or would you end up as part of the cheering crowds in that last scene?  You don’t have to tell me the answer, but in the silence of your own mind, take the time to think it through and face the question honestly.

What almost always gets forgotten about the fascist movements of Europe between the wars is just how much promise they seemed to hold, and how many people of good will saw them as the best hope of the future. 

Their leaders were young—Hitler was 43 when he became chancellor of Germany, the same age as John F. Kennedy at his inauguration, and Mussolini was only 39 when he became prime minister of Italy—and most of the rank and file of both men’s followers were younger still. Hitler’s party, for example, had a huge success among German college students long before it had a mass following anywhere else.

Both parties also drew to a very great extent on the avant-garde culture and popular ideas of their time. How many people even remember nowadays that before the Second World War, the swastika was seen as a pagan symbol of life, redolent of ancient roots and primal vitality, with much the same cultural ambiance that the NPAPP’s Celtic tree-of-life emblem might have in America today?

The fascist movements of the 1920s and 1930s were thus closely attuned to the hopes and fears of the masses, far more so than either the mainstream parties or the established radical groups of their respective countries. Unlike the imagined “fascism” of modern radical rhetoric, they were an alternative to business as usual, an alternative that positioned itself squarely in the abandoned center of the political discourse of their eras.  In terms of that discourse, in the context of their own times and places, the talking points of the fascist parties weren’t anything like so extreme as they appear to most people nowadays—and we forget that at our deadly peril.

That’s the thing I tried to duplicate in the thought experiment above, by changing certain details of  German national socialism so I could give the National Progressive American Peoples Party a contemporary slant—one that that calls up the same reactions its earlier equivalent got in its own place and time.

Antisemitism and overt militarism were socially acceptable in Germany between the wars; they aren’t socially acceptable in today’s United States, and so they won’t play a role in a neofascist movement of any importance in the American future. What will play such roles, of course, are the tropes and buzzwords that appeal to Americans today, and those may very well include the tropes and buzzwords that appeal most to you.

There’s a deeper issue I’ve tried to raise here, too.  It’s easy, comfortable, and (for the manufacturers and distributors of partisan pablum) highly profitable to approach every political conflict in the simplistic terms of good versus evil.

The habit of seeing political strife in those terms becomes a reliable source of problems when the conflict in question is actually between the good and the perfect—that is, between a flawed but viable option that’s within reach, and a supposedly flawless one that isn’t. The hardest of all political choices, though, comes when the conflict lies between the bad and the much, much worse—as in the example just sketched out, between a crippled, dysfunctional, failing democratic system riddled with graft and abuses of power, on the one hand, and a shiny new tyranny on the other.

It may be that there are no easy answers to that conundrum. Unless Americans can find some way to step back from the obsessive partisan hatreds that bedevil our political life, though, it’s probably a safe bet that there will be no answers at all—not, quite possibly, until the long and ugly list of the world’s totalitarian regimes gets another entry, complete with the usual complement of prison camps and mass graves.

As long as the word “fascism” retains its current status as a meaningless snarl word that’s normally flung at the status quo, certainly, that last possibility seems far more likely than any of the alternatives.


Neo-Nazi Ukrainia

SUBHEAD: The Ukrainian government falls to Right Sector by intrigue, violence and stupidity.

By Paul Craig Roberts on 26 February 2014 for -

Image above: Here we see a right-wing battalion of Patriots of Ukraine paramilitaries tooled up in the midst of the protests in Kiev. Note the Neo-Nazi symbol on armbands. From (

Reality on the ground in Ukraine contradicts the incompetent and immoral Obama regime’s portrait of Ukrainian democracy on the march.

To the extent that government exists in post-coup Ukraine, it is laws dictated by gun and threat wielding thugs of the neo-Nazi, Russophobic, ultra-nationalist, right-wing parties. Watch the video of the armed thug, Aleksandr Muzychko, who boosts of killing Russian soldiers in Chechnya, dictating to the Rovno regional parliament a grant of apartments to families of protesters.

Read about the neo-nazis intimidating the Central Election Commission in order to secure rule and personnel changes in order to favor the ultra-right in the forthcoming elections. Thug Aleksandr Shevchenko informed the CEC that armed activists will remain in CEC offices in order to make certain that the election is not rigged against the neo-nazis. What he means, of course, is the armed thugs will make sure the neo-nazis win. If the neo-nazis don’t win, the chances are high that they will take power regardless.

Members of President Yanukovich’s ruling party, the Party of Regions, have been shot, had arrest warrants issued for them, have experienced home invasions and physical threats, and are resigning in droves in hopes of saving the lives of themselves and their families. The prosecutor’s office in the Volyn region (western Ukraine) has been ordered by ultra-nationalists to resign en masse .

Jewish synagogs and Eastern Orthodox Christian churches are being attacked.

To toot my own horn, I might have been the first and only to predict that Washington’s organization of pro-EU Ukrainian politicians into a coup against the elected government of Ukraine would destroy democracy and establish the precedent that force prevails over elections, thereby empowering the organized and armed extreme right-wing.

This is precisely what has happened. Note that there was no one in the Obama regime who had enough sense to see the obvious result of their smug, self-satisfied interference in the internal affairs of Ukraine.

If a democratically elected president and ruling party are so easily driven from power by armed neo-nazis, what chance do Washington’s paid stooges among the so-called “moderates” have of forming a government? These are the corrupt people who wanted President Yanukovich out of office so that they could take the money instead. The corruption charge against Yanukovich was cover for the disloyal, undemocratic “moderate” schemers to seize power and be paid millions of dollars by Washington for taking Ukraine into the EU and NATO.

The Washington-paid schemers are now reaping their just reward as they sit in craven silence while neo-nazi Muzychko wielding an Ak-47 challenges government officials to their face: “I dare you take my gun!”

Only Obama, Susan Rice, Victoria Nuland, Washington’s European puppets, and the Western prostitute media can describe the brutal reality of post-coup Ukraine as “the forward march of democracy.”

The West now faces a real mess, and so does Russia. The presstitutes will keep the American public from ever knowing what has happened, and the Obama regime will never admit it. It is not always clear that even the Russians want to admit it. The intelligent, reasonable, and humane Russian Foreign Minister, a person 100 cuts above the despicable John Kerry, keeps speaking as if this is all a mistake and appealing to the Western governments to stand behind the agreement that they pressured President Yanukovich to sign.

Yanukovich is history, as are Washington’s “moderates.” The moderates are not only corrupt; they are stupid. The fools even disbanded the Riot Police, leaving themselves at the mercy of the armed right-wing nazi thugs.

Ukraine is out of control. This is what happens when an arrogant, but stupid, Assistant Secretary of State (Victoria Nuland) plots with an equally arrogant and stupid US ambassador (Pyatt) to put their candidates in power once their coup against the elected president succeeds. The ignorant and deluded who deny any such plotting occurred can listen to the conversation between Nuland and Pyatt here:

The situation will almost certainly lead to war. Only Putin’s diplomatic skills could prevent it. However, Putin has been demonized by Washington and the whores who comprise the US print and TV media. European and British politicians would have their Washington paychecks cut off if they aligned with Putin.

War is unavoidable, because the Western public is out to lunch. The more facts and information I provide, the more emails I receive defending the “sincere [and well paid] protesters’ honest protests against corruption,” as if corruption were the issue. I hear from Ukrainians and from those of Ukrainian ethnicity in Canada and the US that it is natural for Ukrainians to hate Russians because Ukrainians suffered under communism, as if suffering under communism, which disappeared in 1991, is unique to Ukrainians and has anything to do with the US coup that has fallen into neo-nazi hands,

No doubt. Many suffered under communism, including Russians. But was the suffering greater than the suffering of Japanese civilians twice nuked by the “Indispensable people,” or the suffering by German civilians whose cities were firebombed, like Tokyo, by the “exceptional people”?

Today Japan and Germany are Washington’s puppet states. In contrast, Ukraine was an independent country with a working relationship with Russia. It was this relationship that Washington wished to destroy.

Now that a reckless and incompetent Washington has opened Pandora’s Box, more evil has been released upon the world. The suffering will not be confined to Ukraine.

There are a number of reasons why the situation is likely to develop in a very bad way. One is that most people are unable to deal with reality even when reality directly confronts them. When I provide the facts as they are known, here are some of the responses I receive: “You are a Putin agent;” “you hate Ukrainians;” “you are defending corruption;” “you must not know how Ukrainians suffered at the hands of Stalin.”

Of course, having done Russian studies in graduate school, having been a member of the US-USSR student exchange program in 1961, having traveled in Russia, Georgia, Ukraine, and Uzbekistan, having published in scholarly journals of Slavic and Russian studies, having twice addressed the Soviet Academy of Sciences, having been invited to explain to the CIA why the Soviet economic collapse occurred despite the CIA’s predictions to the contrary, I wouldn’t know anything about how people suffered under communism. The willingness of readers to display to me their utter ignorance and stupidity is astonishing. There is a large number of people who think reality consists of their delusions.

Reality is simply too much for mentally and emotionally weak people who are capable of holding on to their delusions in the face of all evidence to the contrary. The masses of deluded people and the total inability of Washington, wallowing it its hubris, to admit a mistake, mean that Washington’s destabilization of Ukraine is a problem for us all.

RT reports that “Russian President Vladimir Putin has ordered an urgent military drill to test combat readiness of the armed forces across western and central Russia.” According to Russia’s Defense Minister, the surprise drill tested ground troops, Air Force, airborne troops and aerospace defense.

The Defense Minister said: “The drills are not connected with events in Ukraine at all.”

Yes, of course. The Defense Minister says this, because Putin still hopes that the EU will come to its senses. In my opinion, and I hope I am wrong, the European “leaders” are too corrupted by Washington’s money to have any sense. They are bought-and-paid-for. Nothing is important to them but money.

Ask yourself, why does Russia need at this time an urgent readiness test unrelated to Ukraine? Anyone familiar with geography knows that western and central Russia sit atop Ukraine.

Let us all cross our fingers that another war is not the consequence of the insouciant American public, the craven cowardice of the presstitute media, Washington’s corrupt European puppets, and the utter mendacity of the criminals who rule in Washington.

Democracy murdered by protest
SUBHEAD: The Ukrainian government falls to Right Sector by intrigue, violence and stupidity.

By Paul Craig Roberts on 23 February 2014 for World News -

Certainly not the bought-and-paid-for-moderates that Washington and the EU hoped to install as the new government of Ukraine.

The agreement that the Washington- and EU-supported opposition concluded with President Yanukovich to end the crisis did not last an hour. Even the former boxing champion, Vitaly Klitschko, who was riding high as an opposition leader until a few hours ago has been booed by the rioters and shoved aside.

The newly appointed president by what is perhaps an irrelevant parliament, Oleksandr Turchynov, has no support base among those who overthrew the government. As the BBC reports, “like all of the mainstream opposition politicians, Mr. Turchynov is not entirely trusted or respected by the protesters in Kiev’s Independence Square.”

In western Ukraine the only organized and armed force is the ultra-nationalist Right Sector. From the way this group’s leaders speak, they assume that they are in charge. One of the group’s leaders, Aleksandr Muzychko, has pledged to fight against “Jews and Russians until I die.”

Asserting the Right Sector’s authority over the situation, Muzychko declared that now that the democratically elected government has been overthrown, “there will be order and discipline” or “Right Sector squads will shoot the bastards on the spot.”

The bastards are any protesters who dare to protest the Right Sector’s control.

Muzychko declared, “The next president of Ukraine will be from Right Sector.”

Another Right Sector leader, Dmitry Yarosh, declared: “The Right Sector will not lay down its arms.” He declared the deal made between the opposition and the President to be “unacceptable” and demanded the liquidation of President Yanukovich’s political party.

The Right Sector’s roots go back to the Ukrainians who fought for Adolf Hitler against the Soviet Union during World War II. It was the Right Sector that introduced armed fighters and turned the tide of the protests in Kiev from peaceful protests in favor of joining the EU to violent attacks on police with the view of overthrowing the democratically elected government, which the Right Sector succeeded in doing.

The Right Sector did not overthrow the Ukraine government in order to deliver it into the hands of the Washington and EU paid “opposition.”

There is a tendency to discount the Right Sector as a small fringe group, but the Right Sector not only took control of the protests away from the Western supported moderates, as moderate leaders themselves admitted, but also the Right Sector has enough public support to destroy the national monument to the Red Army soldiers who died liberating Ukraine from Nazi Germany.

Unlike the U.S.-orchestrated toppling of the stature of Saddam Hussein, which was a PR event for the presstitutes in which Iraqis themselves were not involved, Ukrainian rightists’ destruction of the monument commemorating the Red Army’s liberation of the Ukraine had public support.

If the Right Sector hates Russians for defeating the Nazis, the Right Sector also hates the United States, France, and England for the same reason. The Right Sector is an unlikely political party to take Ukraine into the EU.

The Russian parts of Ukraine clearly understand that the Right Sector’s destruction of the monument commemorating the stand of the Red Army against the German troops is a threat against the Russian population of Ukraine. Provincial governments in eastern and southern Ukraine that formerly were part of Russia are organizing militias against the ultra-nationalist threat unleashed by Washington’s stupidity and incompetence and by the naive and gullible Kiev protesters.

Having interfered in Ukraine’s internal affairs and lost control, Washington is now issuing ultimatums to Russia not to interfere in Ukraine. Does the idiot Susan Rice, Obama’s neoconservative National Security Adviser, think Putin is going to pay any attention to her ultimatums or to any instruction from a government so militarily incompetent that it was unable to successfully occupy Baghdad after 8 years or to defeat a few thousand lightly armed Taliban after 12 years?

In only took a few hours for Russian troops to destroy the American- and Israeli-trained and armed Georgian army that Washington sent to invade South Ossetia.

Where does Obama find morons like Susan Rice and Victoria Nuland? These two belong in a kindergarten for mentally handicapped children, not in the government of a superpower where their ignorance and arrogance can start World War III.

Ukraine is far more important to Russia than it is to the United States or EU. If the situation in Ukraine spirals out of control and right-wing extremists seize control, Russian intervention is certain. The arrogant and stupid Obama regime has carelessly and recklessly created a direct strategic threat to the existence of Russia.

According to the Moscow Times, this is what a senior Russian official has to say: “If Ukraine breaks apart, it will trigger a war.” Ukraine “will lose Crimera first,” because Russia “will go in just as we did in Georgia.” Another Russian official said: “ We will not allow Europe and the United States to take Ukraine from us. The states of the former Soviet Union, we are one family. They think Russia is still as weak as in the early 1990s but we are not.”

The Ukrainian right-wing is in a stronger position than Washington’s paid Ukrainian puppets, essentially weak and irrelevant persons who sold out their country for Washington’s money. The Right Sector is organized. It is armed. It is indigenous. It is not dependent on money funneled in from Washington and EU financed NGOs. It has an ideology, and it is focused. The Right Sector doesn’t have to pay its protesters to take to the streets like Washington had to do.

Most importantly, well-meaning but stupid protesters -- especially the Kiev students -- and an Ukrainian parliament playing to the protesters destroyed Ukrainian democracy. The opposition-controlled parliament removed an elected president from office without an election, an obvious illegal and undemocratic action.

The opposition-controlled parliament issued illegal arrest warrants for members of the president’s government. The opposition-controlled parliament illegally released criminals from prison.

As the opposition has created a regime of illegality in place of law and constitutional procedures, the field is wide open for the Right Sector. Expect everything the opposition did to Yanukovich to be done to them by the Right Sector. By their own illegal and unconstitutional actions, the opposition has set the precedent for their own demise.

Just as the February 1917 revolution against the Russian Tsar set the stage for the October 1917 Bolshevik Revolution, surprising the stupid “reformers,” the overthrow of the Ukrainian political order has set the stage for the Right Sector. We can only hope that the Right Sector blows its chance.

The American media is a useless news source. It serves as a Ministry for Government Lies. The corrupt propagandists are portraying the undemocratic removal of Yanukovich as a victory for freedom and democracy. When it begins to leak out that everything has gone wrong, the presstitutes will blame it all on Russia and Putin. The Western media is a plague upon humanity.

Americans have no idea that the neoconservative regime of the White House Fool is leading them into a Great Power Confrontation that could end in destruction of life on earth.

Ironic, isn’t it. America’s “first black president,” the person liberals thought would restore justice, morality, and reason to Western civilization, is instead now positioned as the person who will have to accept humiliating defeat or risk the destruction of life on earth.


• Paul Craig Roberts was Assistant Secretary of the Treasury for Economic Policy and associate editor of the Wall Street Journal. He was columnist for Business Week, Scripps Howard News Service, and Creators Syndicate. He has had many university appointments. His internet columns have attracted a worldwide following. His latest book, The Failure of Laissez Faire Capitalism and Economic Dissolution of the West is now available.


TPP true colors

SUBHEAD: The plan behind the Trans Pacific Partnership is to replace national sovereignty with multinational corporations.

By Curtis Ellis on 25 Fbruary 2014 for Huffington Post -

Image above: Just like the trailer for "Pacific Rim" the Trans Pacific Partnership hides an ugly story badly told. . From novie poster for the movie (

The TransPacific Partnership is labelled as a "free trade" magic elixir that will cure all ills - Jobs! Prosperity! World Peace! - but in fact it's a toxic brew that weakens the American body politic and the Constitution. And when you look at how it came about you see that those are design features, not bugs.

The historical record is clear: what are misleadingly called "free trade agreements" were never really about trade. Their goal is to render independent nation states null and void, and hand power over to unaccountable, transnational corporatist authorities.

This sounds like a plot lifted from a Bond supervillain, yet it is precisely what a powerful State Department official told a Congressional hearing in 1967. And much of what he laid out nearly 50 years ago has come to pass under both Democratic and Republican administrations.

We can thank journalist and researcher Matt Stoller for uncovering the origins of the TransPacific Partnership and its predecessors, NAFTA and the World Trade Organization.

George Ball, a globalist of the first water who kept himself busy on Wall Street when he wasn't Undersecretary of State for presidents Kennedy and Johnson, had a Just Between You and Me moment with the Congressional Joint Economic Committee in 1967. Ball laid out his plan for a world managed by multinational corporations. As he described it, that meant curbing those pesky little things known as "individual national governments."

Let's go to the Congressional Record transcript of the 1967 hearing "The Future of U.S. Foreign Trade Policy." [Emphasis added] Mr. Ball?
"[T]he widespread development of the multinational corporation is one of our major accomplishments in the years since the war, though its meaning and importance have not been generally understood.

For the first time in history man has at his command an instrument that enables him to employ resource flexibility to meet the needs of peoples all over the world.

Today a corporate management in Detroit or New York or London or Dusseldorf may decide that it can best serve the market of country Z by combining the resources of country X with labor and plan facilities in country Y - and it may alter that decision 6 months from now if changes occur in costs or price or transport.

It is the ability to look out over the world and freely survey all possible sources of production... that is enabling man to employ the world's finite stock of resources with a new degree of efficiency for the benefit of all mankind.

But to fulfill its full potential, the multinational corporation must be able to operate with little regard for national boundaries - or, in other words, for restrictions imposed by individual national governments.

To achieve such a free trading environment we must do far more than merely reduce or eliminate tariffs. We must move in the direction of common fiscal concepts, a common monetary policy, and common ideas of commercial responsibility.

Already the economically advanced nations have made some progress in all of these areas through such agencies as the OECD and the committees it has sponsored, the Group of Ten, and the IMF, but we still have a long way to go. In my view, we could steer a faster and more direct course... by agreeing that what we seek at the end of the voyage is the full realization of the benefits of a world economy.

Implied in this, of course, is a considerable erosion of the rigid concepts of national sovereignty, but that erosion is taking place every day as national economies grow increasingly interdependent, and I think it desirable that this process be consciously continued.

What I am recommending is nothing so unreal and idealistic as a world government, since I have spent too many years in the guerrilla warfare of practical diplomacy to be bemused by utopian visions.

But it seems beyond question that modern business - sustained and reinforced by modern technology - has outgrown the constrictive limits of the antiquated political structures in which most of the world is organized, and that itself is a political fact which cannot be ignored.

For the explosion of business beyond national borders will tend to create needs and pressures that can help alter political structures to fit the requirements of modern man far more adequately than the present crazy quilt of small national states.

And meanwhile, commercial, monetary, and antitrust policies - and even the domiciliary supervision of earth-straddling corporations - will have to be increasingly entrusted to supranational institutions....

We will never be able to put the world's resources to use with full efficiency so long as business decisions are frustrated by a multiplicity of different restrictions by relatively small nation states that are based on parochial considerations, reflect no common philosophy, and are keyed to no common goal."
Ball told the congressmen the EU provided the roadmap to the "imagine there's no countries" borderless world. The economic integration he envisioned would make nations an empty exercise in symbolism, since all important decisions would be beyond the purview of national authorities.

If this were a James Bond film, after revealing his diabolical plan for world domination, George Ball would have activated a needlessly complicated death trap to dispatch the congressmen. However, this being Washington not Hollywood, Ball didn't unleash a congregation of alligators, but David Rockefeller, the High Priest of the Eastern Establishment.

Rockefeller made the case for merging North American economies (NAFTA anyone?), getting rid of non-tariff barriers (a fancy term for health and safety standards), and, at the prompting of a congressman named Donald Rumsfeld, advocated giving the president fast track negotiating power so Congress couldn't get in the way.

Much of what George Ball and David Rockefeller touted has come to pass and is baked into the TransPacific Partnership.

TPP is not about trade, tariffs or quotas - it's about creating 'supranational institutions' whose diktat trumps national governments, Congress and the courts.

Given this reality, why would anyone sworn to uphold the Constitution give President Obama the fast track power he and David Rockefeller want him to have?

Contact Congress and tell them to vote No on Fast track for the TransPacific Partnership.

Read the Congressional Record from 1967 for yourself. Testimony by George Ball and David Rockefeller begins on page 271 of the pdf.

See also:
Ea O Ka Aina: Obama's trade deals skewered 1/31/14
Ea O Ka Aina: TPP - Poison for Resilience 1/15/14
Ea O Ka Aina: TPP - Corporate Domination 1/13/14
Ea O Ka Aina: Obama is a corporate toady 12/9/13
Ea O Ka Aina: TPP is NAFTA on steroids 11/24/13
Ea O Ka Aina: With TPP Big Pharma & GMOs gain 11/14/13
Ea O Ka Aina: TPP & GMO labeling ban 10/15/13
Ea O Ka Aina: TPP revealed once more 8/29/13
Ea O Ka Aina: Green Shadow Cabinet 6/19/13
Ea O Ka Aina: Obama's Third World USA 5/18/13
Ea O Ka Aina: Obama & Multi-Nationals in Pacific 11/25/12


Emerging market collapse

SUBHEAD: Peripheral currency collapse is the leading indicator of a collapsing worldwide monetary system.

By RE on 15 February 2014 for Doomstead Diner -

[IB Publisher's note: This article is ten days old, but still "News". The original is quite long (and rambling) and we have abbreviated it here. Follow link above for full text and diagrams. Most people seem unaware of the slide in the "Second World" peripheral currencies and their connection to the stability of the "First World" Too Big to Fail Banks that we rely on for our energy, transportation, communication, food and water. Can the center hold for long?]

Image above: Bursting the bubble! An overdramatization. From an artist's impression of a 1000km-diameter planetoid hitting a young Earth. From (

The big news on the economic front over the last couple of weeks has been the ongoing collapse of various peripheral currencies, including but not limited to the Argentinian Peso, the Thai Bhat, the Brazilian Real, the Ruskie Rouble and the Japanese Yen.

The last three are actually very Big Players of course, so a complete collapse of any of those currencies would wreak havoc in the world of Foreign Exchange Market (FOREX) trading, and market finance in general.

All sorts of shenanigans have been ongoing here at the same time, with at least four high level Banksters commiting “suicide”, along with the Argentinian Banking System Archives being destroyed by Fire in a basically fireproof building.  Reminds one a little of the collapsing WTC towers taking out all the Enron files.

You really gotta be naive or more likely BRAIN DEAD to think all this insanity is just COINKIDINK.  When FOREX markets collapse, PEOPLE DIE.  This is what starts SHOOTING WARS.

Currency Collapse in all these countries simultaneously is a prelude to WAR.  This is what truly gets World Wars started.  In a country that experiences a currency collapse, they can’t get any basic necessities of life.  Food doesn’t get imported.  The country loses access to International Letters of Credit to guarantee shipping.

It has always been obvious to me that the peripheral currencies would Collapse before the Dollar, and this run is going to take out some very big players.  Even combined, I do not think the People'sBank of China (PBoC) and the US Federal Reserve (the Fed) can funnel enough liquidity fast enough to keep all these currencies floating.

Ambrose Evans-Pritchard is PANICKED that the global monetary system is on the verge of a Deflationary collapse here (
As matters stand, the next recession will push the Western economic system over the edge into deflation …The European Central Bank's (ECB) Mario Draghi talked up the need for a “safety margin” against deflation before Christmas but now seems strangely passive, as if beaten into submission by the Bundesbank. I heard him twice in Davos repeating – woodenly, without conviction – that core inflation is merely back to where it was in 1999 after the Asian crisis and in 2009 after the Lehman crisis, and therefore benign.We are not in remotely comparable circumstances.

Those two events were at the outset of a new credit cycle. Right now we are nearly five years into an old cycle – already long in the tooth – and 80pc of the global economy is tightening or cutting stimulus. As matters stand, the next recession will push the Western economic system over the edge into deflation.

The US has a slightly bigger buffer, but not much. Growth of M2 money has been slowing even faster than it did in the nine months before the Lehman crash in 2008, but then the Fed no longer pays any attention to such data so it may all too easily repeat the mistake.

The Fed is surely courting fate with $10bn of bond tapering each meeting into the teeth of incipient deflation, as Minneapolis Fed chief Narayana Kocherlakota keeps warning.Those who think deflation is harmless should listen to the Bank of Japan’s Haruhiko Kuroda, who has lived through 15 years of falling prices. Corporate profits dried up. Investment in technology atrophied. Innovation fizzled out.

“It created a very negative mindset in Japan,” he said.Japan had the highest real interest rates in the rich world, leading to a compound interest spiral as the debt burden rose on a base of shrinking nominal GDP.

Any such outcome in Europe would send Club Med debt trajectories through the roof. It would doom all hope of halting Europe’s economic decline or reducing mass unemployment before the democracies of the afflicted countries go into seizure. So why are they letting it happen?
Ambrose Muses at the End of this “Why are they Letting it Happen?”

Hey Ambrose!  They AREN’T  letting it happen!  They have been pitching out the Funny Money for 5 years straight now, and it AIN’T working!  The CBs are running Outta Ammo!

For those of you not that conversant in how Capital Flows work in the FOREX market, let me try to make a brief explanation for what has been going on here for the last few years.

The Fed provides basically Zero Interest Rate Policy (ZIRP) money for the Too Big to Fail (TBTF) Banks to do “Investment” with.  The PBoC in China does the same thing.

In search of High Yields, this basically Free Money has been sent to do all sorts of Malinvestment in the Emerging Markets.

In the Panic Exit phase, the “Investors” attempt to Jump Ship and exit stage left fast as they can. 

Sadly for them, there are no BUYERS for the Dogshit they invested in, and prices start dropping on the shit.  Their only HOPIUM here is that the Fed or the PBoC buys the dogshit from them at Par. 

In fact the PBoC did just buy out some Dogshit Gold Trust to keep that one from going Belly Up into this mess right now, but that basically was chump change compared to the several $Trillion in Dogshit that is over there right now.

What Ambrose would like to see is for the Central Banks (CBs) to buy ALL the Dogshit!  That would be “doing something”. The CBs may eventually capitulate and try this, but the currency blowback would be enormous.  Besides that, the moral hazard in the game is outrageous, and if they do it chances are good that faith is lost in their control of the situation.

So they want to pop the bubble “gradually”, but not everybody is going to cooperate with that.  In fact when the Prop Desks sense tightening is coming, they wanna exit stage left before their competitors do.

The rapid outflow of foreign Capital hangs many Locals over there out to dry, and they have to start liquidating other holdings to try and stay solvent and keep their creditors at bay.  So the selloff happens on all the major markets globally, simultaneously.

So far it is not out of control, but how long the PBoC, the Fed and the ECB can keep a lid on it is an open question.  They simply do not have leeway left here anymore with their interest rates already so low, the Balance Sheets already off the charts and the Collateral they hold NOW is dogshit. 

If they heap more dogshit into this pile, “investors” will smell it, and then confidence goes in the CBs.

The result of that?  Monetary System Collapse, on the Grand Scale.  It hasn’t happened at this level probably since the Fall of the Roman Empire.

Suffice it to say that markets all over the world have been in turmoil for a good 2 weeks now, and more bizarre stuff occurs each day.  Like DEAD BANKSTERSIt’s Raining Pigmen.

So why is it all going down here now?  Why won’t Ambrose’s solution of LOTS more Toilet Paper off the Printing Presses of CBs all over the Globe get the economy Kick Started here?  Aren’t Central Banks Omipotent?  They have UNLIMITED ability to create Money, don’t they?

In a sense they do, in terms of creating credit, which the well connected have virtually unlimited access to as well.    What they do not have is unlimited access to resources to buy with the credit they issue.

For quite a long time here it seemed like Resources were Unlimited, and during this period the CBs and the Elite cadre of people who control them were pretty close to Omnipotent, determining the direction society took by issuing the most credit to people developing the Industrial Model.

Almost every individual Nation-State has its own CB long as they still issue their own currency and are not part of a currency union like the (gag, spit, puke) Euro.

Despite the fact they have their own CBs and Currencies, all are still tied into the same system, which the Bank for International Settlements (BIS) in Basel, Switzerland coordinates.  They have been doing this since the end of WWII, originally under the first Bretton-Woods agreements, but morphing over time in various ways since to keep the system running.

The main “reserve” currency the BIS uses to do all their accounting is the DOLLAR, so regardless of whether any other country participating in Global Trade have their own CB and their own currency.

All these currencies have traded with a generally accepted “range” for the past 30 years or so, with some currency arbitrage in the FOREX market through the period.  Interest rates go up and down, currencies get traded back and forth all dependent on which way the people in charge direct the investment capital, through the 3 major markets, the Equity (Stock) Market, the Commodity Market and the Bond Market.  Who “Invests” in these markets?

It is mainly the biggest of the TBTF Banks doing “investment” - Goldman-Sachs, JP Morgan Chase, Wells Fargo, Deutche Bank et al.

Where do they get their money to Invest in the various flavors of Dogshit available on these markets today?  From Depositor Money?  Hell no.  Depositors don’t have the $trillions necessary these days to levitate markets.  They get the money by Borrowing from the Central Banks.

Why can they borrow $billions every day while you have trouble getting a Mortgage or Car Loan?  Because they have “collateral”, which basically is just paper they bought previously, with you guessed it, loans from the CBs. This is called “leveraging”.

It goes along with other methods of multiplying the money you have to play with, Fractional Reserve is another, Rehypothecation still another.  This all adds up to a HUGE Tower of Debt instruments everybody holds, which in theory represent something, but in fact nowadays represent nothing, or very little anyhow relative to the actual size of the tower.

Now to the question at hand, why do we see the Peripheral Currencies hitting the wall here first, and why is it mainly the Emerging Markets that are collapsing first?  The reason is who got to be the “Lenders” in the Growth period versus who got to be the borrowers of the Reserve Currency of the Dollar.

The Lenders all came from the place where Industrialization developed first, Germany, England and the United States of America.  They got the Ponzi started, and as we all know, the first people in on a Ponzi get really rich, while everyone else gets hosed.  

In fact the Federal Reserve here in the USA is owned by the private cartel of banks from these countries, including the Bank of Rothschild, JP Morgan Chase and of course Goldman-Sachs.  

So they have always been able to borrow basically as much as they like to expand the Ponzi, charge a higher rate of interest to everyone they loan money to (all the late entry countries), and collect on the spread over the last Century.  A FABULOUS RACKET!  In the words of Alfonse Capone:
"Capitalism is the legitimate racket of the ruling class."
 To conclude here today, we often read that TPTB in charge of the Fiat money system create “Money from Nothing“, but this is not really true.  The Something they created the money on was the resource base of the Earth, which they basicall were in control of here in the Industrial era by virtue of Military hegemony.

Capitalism was always just a Ponzi which made the initiators of the system Richer than God by exploiting the reosurces of the earth and the rest of the Have Nots populating the planet.  The problem they have now is that though they still are in power to issue credit, they have little in the way of real good resources left to issue that credit out on.  In reality, these folks are as BK as everyone else, in numerical terms really a lot more BK, since what they hold as “Wealth” mainly are debt instruments that will never, can never pay off.

Peripheral Currencies are the Weakest Link in the Daisy Chain of the Ponzi.  As the system implodes, the “Investors” seek to exit these economies, and when they do that those economies lose access to Credit on the FOREX market denominated in Dollars.  For the food Importers (many of them), their ability to access food imports at a price their population can afford to buy becomes constrained.

Once that happens, Political Turmoil in extremis follows and you work your way in progression to a Failed State.  See Syria, Egypt, Greece and soon enough Spain and France too on this Bandwagon.  Doesn’t matter whether they can create their own currency or not really, relative to population size they simply do not have resource upon which to issue credit anymore.

In a sort of Magical Thinking paradigm, the Chinese are buying up Gold, under the concept that when the Dollar Collapses, a Gold Backed Renminby can take its place as World Reserve Currency.

Problem with this?  The Chinese are in bigger resource deficit relative to population size than anybody else in gross numbers, with the possible exception of the Indians.

Japanese are in worse situation per capita and by land mass, but it is a smaller population.  Assuming the few still left Resource Rich countries will TAKE Chinese Gold for their resources after the Dollar collapses, the Chinese would quickly be divested of all their Gold in the basement safe of the PBoC.

Peripheral Currency Collapse is the Leading Indicator of a collapsing Monetary System overall here.  However, once they collapse, the Jenga Puzzle of Derivatives will bring down the Dollar too, and really nothing is out there that can replace it, because the resources aren’t there either.

Not for such a large Global Population and certainly not for this population to try and live the lifestyle of Industrial Culture that the USA did for these last 200 years or so.

This has mostly been burned up now, and floats around the atmosphere as molecules of CO2, exacerbating a climate change and making life ever more difficult to pursue just about everywhere.

So it will get a LOT worse here before it ever gets better, if it ever does.  Negotiating this period will be extremely difficult, and there is no guarantee any strategy you try to employ here will work to make it through to the Other Side.

On the other hand, no guarantee there will be a complete WIPEOUT of Homo Sapiens either, so if you want to LIVE, you try to come up with the best strategies for doing that, and that is what we do on the Doomstead Diner.  It is the challenge of all of history this generation and the next faces.

You only have two choices here, try to Survive or Quit and Die first.  For the Heliopaths here, we will try to survive, and keep Fingers Crossed that some can make it through the Zero Point.

The time of the Terminator has come.