Back to the Future

SUBHEAD: But what may happen as things unfold is that you are trapped in place as well as time.

By Juan Wilson on 31 May 2017 for Island Breath -

Image above: Michale J. Fox as Marty McFly, the 1985 time traveler as he appeared in 2015 (Back to the Future II) and in 1885 (Back to the Future III). Same guy - same place. From (

According to the US Census 26% of Americans described where they live as urban, 53% said suburban and 21% said rural. With what appears to be an approaching crunch on resources, energy, food and water availability it would be wise to evaluate where you want to be when the shit hits the fan.

In all likelihood the urban and suburban areas will be less hospitable than the rural areas not long after any significant interruption of truck, rail and sea transport takes place. Food security is an obvious vital requirement for living anywhere for a length of time.

It may be that cities will be serviced longer and better than suburbs. That's because of current arrangements of distribution networks from major hubs.

Urban centers won't have the food security they once enjoyed when the areas around them were filled with truck farms and dairies that were close by - but have since been converted to suburbs.

But, none the less, some, like Ugo Bardi think cities will do better than suburbs after the coming crash. See ( Some cities, like New York, secured vast water resources two centuries ago that could support millions on urban dwellers.

However, places like Phoenix and Los Angeles will not fair well as we regress into the 21st century. Their urban and suburban areas will suffer greatly.

Here in Hawaii we have the potential to weather the oncoming collapse better than most places. Although Oahu's population of almost one million is doomed if it had to rely on that island's resources, the outer islands still have low enough populations that Hawaii, on the whole, could feed and water its people.

Kauai Land Use Plan

Image above: Proposed Land Use Map for Kauai by Juan Wilson presented at the LEGS Sustainability Conference 10/13/07, and published by the Garden Island News in November. Click to enlarge. From ( See also (

Over ten years ago I wrote about this future though the year 2050, here: ( I certainly got many things wrong in the view forward. I thought then that tourism would collapse in the near future... tourism (escapism) has never been bigger... yet I believe tourism is still about to fail. I also predicted many things that I thought would have already happened... and didn't. I wrote in the 2006 introduction:
Failure of the Suburban Dream
The sourness of the underlying US economy will be tasted for the first time by many who thought they were immune; they were living in the “non-negotiable life style” of America. But an economy with a foundation of building suburban sprawl and filling it with cheap plastic crap will soon seem quaint and naive.

Our efforts to forestall economic disaster with lower interest rates and taking on more debt will fail. The dollar will further erode as the Chinese and Japanese look at our economic death spiral and decide that it’s time to stop enabling us.

Bottom line: America is heading for an economic collapse worse that the crash of 1929. Many of the same elements of speculation and economic risk taking will be at play but the underlying failure of growth based economy in a world of finite resources will be clearer. There won‘t be an easy way out. Epochal change will be at hand.

The signs of the economic collapse of our growth economy are inescapable. The housing market is tanking. People are stretched too thin with too much debt. There will be mortgage failures. Credit cards bills will go unpaid. Chevy Suburbans will not be sold. Plasma HDTVs will never make it past the demo floor.

The crap could really hit the fan as early as the first half of 2007. It could coincide with the beginning of our exit from Iraq. And that does not mean we should stay there. The alternative to leaving Iraq and dealing with the aftermath is worse for America and the world.

If America, feeling cornered and hungering for a sense of power, chose to be lead by a charismatic fascist the damage would be incalculable. Self delusion might drive us to seek past glory. That leader is likely preach “It’s Not Twilight for America”. The hidden message being it is time to grab what we can from the world and bunker down for the end times.

But the world won‘t put up with that solution for long. Even as the only “superpower”, we had been fairly ineffective fighting people hand to hand in their own neighborhoods. Being in a bigger more widespread war with the world won’t save our idea of civilization.

Sustainable Self-Reliance Can Save Us
Let me say, before we begin, it is my opinion that many negative effects on the future could be controlled or modified by reasonable action today. These actions include increasing energy independence and greatly reducing consumption, achieving a moratorium on speculative development, reforesting mountain foothills, and becoming self sustaining on local food production.

But without a compelling reason (like economics) people are unlikely to make the changes in lifestyle necessary to avoid future trouble. Thus this cautionary tale may even be too optimistic.

In any case, with or without a fascist political sidetrack, America will face what much of the world already faces - at best dealing with self sufficiency and diminishing expectations - and at worst dealing with starvation and barbaric conditions. We can only hope that the effort to obtain sustainable self reliance reaches a level that preserves a fair amount of knowledge, culture, and civilization.
There is a case to be made for staying with Urban - if you are there already. Cities flourished in the past without automobiles or electric lights - even without running potable water and flush toilets.
That is if food and energy are going to be available at a reasonable level when the fossil fuel powered delivery system tanks.

My recommendation for the last decade has been that the State of Hawaii reevaluate it's Land Use. See my Garden Island News article from November 2007. (

It made the point that currently there are four land use designations: Conservation (~47% of land), Agriculture (~47% of land), Urban (~5% of land) and Rural (~1%). I have no problem with Conservation being 47%, but Agriculture, in the form of sugarcane and pineapple plantations is all over. Note that depending on the source and time these percentages vary. Most agree that Urban and Rural make up about 10%.

A new designation should be created I call Forest land. That is land that has no residence or homesteading. Forest land would take the inland half of Agriculture for growing timber trees and food bearing trees that would be sustained indefinitely.  It would also have some pastoral and support hunting.

The lowland half of Agriculture would be converted to Rural Land. Rural Land would support homesteading and residential farms like what is currently done on Rural Land. That centers on growing food: fruit, market vegetable as well as traditional taro and rice. It also means raising horses, tending fish-farms and rearing egg laying and meat birds.

People sense time travel is not possible. We know we cannot go back. But Americans have always felt mobile and that were plenty of wide open space available. We were not trapped in place. There were always new new horizons, new fields to plow, new lakes to fish and new forests to hunt.

Well as the old real estate saying goes: "They aren't making land any more." In fact what's left is being devoured. So get to be where you want to ride out the future pronto. It will only be harder later, and you will need lots of practice up front to live in that future.

But what may happen as things unfold is that you are trapped in place as well as time. If that's the case you will have to make it happen where you are... even if you are in the suburbs or in town.

If you are trapped in place, yet imagine a rural homesteading, my advice is to start doing just that wherever you are. - again - you'll need all the practice you can get at any scale. In a dense suburban settings it is possible to grow a food forest and raised-bed garden.

And even if your a renter and do not control the land you live on, you may be able to convince a landlord of the advantage of cost-free fresh garden produce on his/her table.

American way of life is negotiable

SUBHEAD: Communism coming to the US brought by corporations and in the name of technological progress.

By Ugo Bardi on 29 May 2017 for Cassandra's Legacy -

Image above: “Six cars for one driveway of this house every day. It’s not like they had a party… this is EVERY DAY! Who knows if they actually have more cars inside the garage?” – Jason in California. IB Publisher's note: Even here on the isolated tropical island of Kauai it is not unusual in crowded neighborhoods with small house lots with a two car driveway to find four cars in front of the house - One vehicle for every driving age individual living there. From (

In a previous post, I discussed the RethinkX report by James Arbib and Tony Seba on the future of transportation. The report discusses a technological revolution that would bring about a new concept: "Transportation as a Service" (TaaS) that will people to move mainly by using publicly available, driverless cars.

Many took the report (and my comments on it) as just another technofix aimed at keeping things as they are; business as usual. Indeed, the report, framed the "TaaS" concept in terms of economic growth. Nothing else is acceptable in the public debate, today.

So, it seems that few people realized what kind of sacred cow Arbib and Seba are planning to slaughter and serve as well cooked burgers. It is nothing less than the private car, the pivotal element of the American way of life (yes, exactly what George Bush 1st said "is not negotiable").

This idea is as far from business as usual as I can imagine, one of the most disruptive and revolutionary ideas that I came across in recent times. So, I think I can go more in depth into this subject and explain why it is so disruptive and revolutionary.

The growth in car ownership was the result of a political decision that most Western government took at some moment (Even Adolf Hitler did, at least in part). It was a decision that didn't have to be taken; for instance, the Soviet Government always discouraged private car ownership. But governments, although not benevolent organizations, are made of people and people can recognize a good business when they see it.

Image above: The Volkswagen Bug was introduced to America in the late 1940s but sales did not explode until the early 1960's when interest in the "big finned" gas guzzling Detroit "land yachts" waned.  In the background is a photo of Adolf Hitler inspecting a model of a 1939 VW Bug before World War II. From (

More cars meant more highways, more bridges, more shopping centers, more housing developments, and more opportunities to build things. That meant a lot of money flowing. So, the explosive development of private motorization happened because it could happen.

But, in recent times, the trend is reversing. The number of cars per person and per household is going down. These data by Sivak (2015) seem to be the most recent ones available.

And it is not just the number of cars that's going down, also the number of miles driven per person or per car is falling. The trend is the same in many Western countries: we went through some kind of "peak car".

So, what's going on? One factor is that cars are becoming more expensive.

That's mainly because cars are becoming heavier and more complicated. Today, a classic Volkswagen Beetle would cost very little, possibly less than it did at the time of the great motorization growth of the 1950s. But no insurance company would want to insure it, and no government would provide a license plate for it: too noisy, unsafe, and polluting.

But the increasing cost of ownership is probably a minor factor in comparison to deeper changes that are taking place. The increasing social inequality that leads to a larger and larger fraction of people becoming poor or very poor. See below the behavior of the "Gini Coefficient", a measure of the inequality in society.

So, cars are more expensive and there are more poor people. No wonder that car ownership is going down: a gradually higher fraction of the population cannot afford cars any more.

We shouldn't be surprised: for most of humankind's history, most people would walk; only a few could afford horses or coaches. One car in every garage was a very peculiar phenomenon that couldn't possibly last for a long time and that won't probably ever be repeated in the future. But the end of the cycle may not be painless for many. If you live, or have lived, in a Western suburban area, you know what the problem is.

Image above: Aerial photograph of a Pheonix suburban development, that looks like a computer circuitboard, used as an example of a neighborhood that would make residents sick. From (

There you are: miles away from anything that's not other people's homes. Miles from your workplace, miles from the nearest supermarket, miles from the closest train station. No car means no job, no groceries, no place to go.

By far and large, most families living in Western suburbs still own at least one car. They have to, even though that means an increasingly heavy strain to the family's budget. But, as the current trends continue, there will come a moment in which owning a car will become a burden too heavy to carry for a non negligible fraction of the suburban population. Then what happens?

Well, there are several possible ways for people to cope: biking, carpooling, using donkeys, move to the city to live in a shack made of discarded cardboard containers or, simply, go zombie and die.

Cities are unlikely (to say the least) to establish conventional bus services for the citizens who find themselves stranded in the bloated suburbs: it would be awfully too expensive. So, as it happens in these cases, technological innovation is supposed to come to the rescue. And it does that with the concept of "TaaS" (Transportation as a Service).

It is, basically, a high-tech car rental service where you use a vehicle only when you need it, thanks to the technological marvels of Global Positioning Satellites, automated driving, and electric power.

It is not obvious that TaaS will be less expensive than car ownership in terms of dollars per mile. But, with TaaS, you don't have the fixed costs of owning a car: you can save money by reducing your travels to the bare minimum.

So, you can use TaaS to reach your workplace (if you still have a job) and to reach a supermarket to redeem your food stamps. For the rest of the time, you stay home and watch TV or use the social media. What else do you need?

Arbib and Seba have correctly described in their report how this phenomenon is not going to be gradual: it is going to be explosive. As car ownership goes down, the cost of cars will increase simply because of diminishing economies of scale. Add to it the decreasing profits of the oil industry and the whole thing is going to implode fast, generating a textbook example of the "Seneca Cliff".

By the end of the cycle, people (those who will survive the ordeal) might abandon the suburbs and move into high-rise apartment building that can be serviced by public transportation at reasonable costs. At this point, the American landscape could look much like that of the old Soviet Union.

Image above: The Moscow suburb of Novye Cheryomushki (New Cherry Town) is made up of Soviet style apartment blocks, in the style of French architect Le Corbusier. By 1991 75% of all Soviet housing was in this style of Industrialized housing. It was serviced by mass transit and walking paths, as few Soviet citizens could afford to operate a private car. From (

Eventually, TaaS is just an example of the concept of the "Internet of Things" that's so fashionable nowadays. It means that you won't own things anymore: cars or whatever; you rent them. So, your refrigerator, your TV set, even your toaster, are not your property but of the corporations leasing them to you.

It looks like a good idea, because you can have the latest models and you don't have to worry about maintenance. At least as long as don't run out of credit, because, if you do, your toaster will refuse to toast your bread.

All this sounds like... well, you know what it sounds like. Would you have ever imagined that Communism would come one day to the US brought by corporations and in the name of technological progress? The "American way of life" really turns out to be negotiable.


The missing ocean plastic

SUBHEAD: Newly-evolved microbes may be breaking down ocean plastics more than we know.

By Michael LePage on 25 May 2017 for new Scientist -

Image above: Plastic simply continues to evolve into new ecosystems. From (

Plastic. There should be hundreds of thousands of tonnes of the stuff floating around in our oceans. But we are finding less than expected – perhaps because living organisms are evolving the ability to break it down.

Plastic production is rising exponentially, so ever more of it should be ending up in the oceans, says Ricard Sole, who studies complex systems at the Universitat Pompeu Fabra in Barcelona.

But surveys of areas where floating plastic accumulates, such as the North Atlantic gyre, are not finding nearly as much plastic as expected.

Mystery of the missing plastics

In fact, there’s only a tenth to a hundredth as much plastic as expected – and the amount of floating plastic does not appear to be increasing. “The trend should be there,” Sole says.

This lack of trend cannot be explained by physical processes, according to his team’s mathematical models. Instead, they propose that there has been a population boom in microbes that have evolved the ability to biodegrade plastic.

Other researchers agree that surveys are finding far less plastic in the oceans than expected. However, they say there are several other possible explanations for this “missing plastic”.

Surprisingly, even if ocean plastic is being degraded much faster than thought, it is not clear that this is a good thing. “It is difficult to say,” says Matthew Cole of Exeter University in the UK.

For instance, biodegradation could be speeding up the breakdown of large pieces of plastic into lots of very tiny pieces, which might have a greater overall impact.

Plastic also contains various additives that could get released and enter the food chain if the plastic part biodegrades, says environmental chemist Alexandra Ter Halle of the Laboratoire des IMRCP in France.

“To really tackle the plastic problem, we need to stop it getting into the oceans in the first place,” Cole says.

The ‘platisphere’

In theory it is possible that some microbes have evolved the ability to break down plastics. Studies by Linda Amaral-Zettler of the Netherlands Institute for Sea Research show that the microbes colonizing floating plastic are quite distinct from those in the surrounding water, and suggest some are feeding on pollutants.

In effect, the plastic is creating a whole new ecosystem that Amaral-Zettler and colleagues call “the plastisphere”.

But when Ter Halle looked at the DNA of the organisms on floating plastic in the North Atlantic, she didn’t find any microbes known to be capable of breaking down plastic. That could be because they have not yet been discovered of course – there could be millions of unknown microbes still.

Amaral-Zettler and Ter Halle think it is more likely that floating plastic is simply sinking to the seafloor as colonising organisms weigh it down, or breaking into such microscopic pieces that it is not being caught in the nets of research vessels. It could also be being swallowed by living organisms, or carried by currents to unexpected parts of the ocean.

The sinking explanation might also be compatible with his findings, says Sole. His study does not prove that microbes are metabolising plastic, but the lack of an upward trend can only be explained by a biological response that can increase in proportion to the amount of plastic.

If a physical process was responsible, there would still be an upward trend, he says.

It is possible that some plastic is being biodegraded, Amaral-Zettler says, but it could be over too long time-scale – a hundred years, say – to explain the missing plastic. And even if it is happening much faster, there would still be a problem.

Plastics are polluting every part of the ocean, from the beaches of remote islands to the deepest parts of the sea. Large pieces of plastic can accumulate in the stomach of animals such as turtles, which then starve to death.

While there may be less than expected, large amounts of floating plastic are found in the subtropical gyres where surface waters circle.

While terms such as the “Great Pacific Garbage Patch” conjure up visions of litter-covered seas, much of the floating plastic in the ocean consists of tiny pieces just a few millimetres wide or smaller, which are not obvious to the naked eye at all. Its impact on marine life is not clear, either.

Various schemes have been proposed to remove this plastic from the oceans, but trying to clean up the oceans is impractical, says Amaral-Zettler. “We need to look at prevention and reduction at the start.”

Journal reference: Biorxiv, DOI: 10.1101/135582


We cannot admit it's the Saudis

SUBHEAD: Trump ludicrously accuses Iran of being the source of most terrorism in the Middle East.

By Patrick Cockburn on 28 March 2017 for Strategic Culture -

Image above: Armed police in aftermath of terrorist attack at the Manchester Arena after Ariana Grande concert. From (

[IB Publisher's note: We also cannot believe that we created Al  Qaeda (and ISIS) by funding Osama Bin Ladin and the Mujahideen to thwart the Soviet Union in Afghanistan in the 1980's.]

In the wake of the massacre in Manchester, people rightly warn against blaming the entire Muslim community in Britain and the world. Certainly one of the aims of those who carry out such atrocities is to provoke the communal punishment of all Muslims, thereby alienating a portion of them who will then become open to recruitment by Isis and al-Qaeda clones.

This approach of not blaming Muslims in general but targeting “radicalisation” or simply “evil” may appear sensible and moderate, but in practice it makes the motivation of the killers in Manchester or the Bataclan theatre in Paris in 2015 appear vaguer and less identifiable than it really is.

Such generalities have the unfortunate effect of preventing people pointing an accusing finger at the variant of Islam which certainly is responsible for preparing the soil for the beliefs and actions likely to have inspired the suicide bomber Salman Abedi.

The ultimate inspiration for such people is Wahhabism, the puritanical, fanatical and regressive type of Islam dominant in Saudi Arabia, whose ideology is close to that of al-Qaeda and Isis. This is an exclusive creed, intolerant of all who disagree with it such as secular liberals, members of other Muslim communities such as the Shia or women resisting their chattel-like status.

What has been termed Salafi jihadism, the core beliefs of Isis and al-Qaeda, developed out of Wahhabism, and has carried out its prejudices to what it sees as a logical and violent conclusion.

Shia and Yazidis were not just heretics in the eyes of this movement, which was a sort of Islamic Khmer Rouge, but sub-humans who should be massacred or enslaved. Any woman who transgressed against repressive social mores should be savagely punished.

 Faith should be demonstrated by a public death of the believer, slaughtering the unbelievers, be they the 86 Shia children being evacuated by bus from their homes in Syria on 15 April or the butchery of young fans at a pop concert in Manchester on Monday night.

The real causes of “radicalisation” have long been known, but the government, the BBC and others seldom if ever refer to it because they do not want to offend the Saudis or be accused of anti-Islamic bias. It is much easier to say, piously but quite inaccurately, that Isis and al-Qaeda and their murderous foot soldiers “have nothing to do with Islam”. This has been the track record of US and UK governments since 9/11.

They will look in any direction except Saudi Arabia when seeking the causes of terrorism. President Trump has been justly denounced and derided in the US for last Sunday accusing Iran and, in effect, the Shia community of responsibility for the wave of terrorism that has engulfed the region when it ultimately emanates from one small but immensely influential Sunni sect.

One of the great cultural changes in the world over the last 50 years is the way in which Wahhabism, once an isolated splinter group, has become an increasingly dominant influence over mainstream Sunni Islam, thanks to Saudi financial support.

A further sign of the Salafi-jihadi impact is the choice of targets: the attacks on the Bataclan theatre in Paris in 2015, a gay night club in Florida in 2016 and the Manchester Arena this week have one thing in common. They were all frequented by young people enjoying entertainment and a lifestyle which made them an Isis or al-Qaeda target.

But these are also events where the mixing of men and women or the very presence of gay people is denounced by puritan Wahhabis and Salafi jihadis alike. They both live in a cultural environment in which the demonisation of such people and activities is the norm, though their response may differ.

The culpability of Western governments for terrorist attacks on their own citizens is glaring but is seldom even referred to. Leaders want to have a political and commercial alliance with Saudi Arabia and the Gulf oil states. They have never held them to account for supporting a repressive and sectarian ideology which is likely to have inspired Salman Abedi.

Details of his motivation may be lacking, but the target of his attack and the method of his death is classic al-Qaeda and Isis in its mode of operating.

The reason these two demonic organisations were able to survive and expand despite the billions – perhaps trillions – of dollars spent on “the war on terror” after 9/11 is that those responsible for stopping them deliberately missed the target and have gone on doing so.

After 9/11, President Bush portrayed Iraq not Saudi Arabia as the enemy; in a re-run of history President Trump is ludicrously accusing Iran of being the source of most terrorism in the Middle East.

This is the real 9/11 conspiracy, beloved of crackpots worldwide, but there is nothing secret about the deliberate blindness of British and American governments to the source of the beliefs that has inspired the massacres of which Manchester is only the latest – and certainly not the last – horrible example.


Unencumbered by the facts…

SUBHEAD: No links were found between Saddam Hussein and Al Qaeda or stockpiles of chemical weapons. 

By Madeleine Burnside on 27 May 2017 for Sanity Papers -

Image above: Trump meets enthusiastic Born Again Christians at political rally in September 2015. From (

Friends often exclaim to me about Donald Trump voters (some of whom are near and dear to them), “Why don’t they see what Trump’s doing? Why don’t they change their minds?” And of course, some people have—probably those who harbored doubts even while voting for him. Yet a solid majority of his base show unwavering loyalty.

Why is that, really?

A friend of mine, who is a member of that devoted base, thought that Trump would do well with the Saudis because he’s done business with them and knows how to make deals with them. My first reaction was scoffery—how could this president do well at anything?

But, out of respect for my friend, I paused to consider his point. I had to say, maybe. Am I so certain about all of my own facts that I can scoff with impunity? It was an interesting seed of doubt that I decided to follow down a few logical rabbit holes.

Back when dinosaurs roamed the earth and I was a graduate student in California, my doctoral advisor was Norman O. Brown, a fascinating, surprising, and sometimes difficult man.

He started out as a classicist, spent World War II as a code-breaker for the OSS (now the CIA), and eventually worked his way out of classics into the study of Freudian psychology, only to become an icon of 1960s thought.

His most revolutionary book, Love’s Body, mingled snippets of his vast learning into a comprehensive meditation on the big questions of life.

Anyway, he would often come to seminars with two books that he was reading under his arm. He instilled in us that we should never draw our opinions from one source, no matter how apparently primary—we needed to look for the other side of the argument.

Sometimes, when this proved elusive, two books on different subjects—here he would smush together the volumes that he had brought with him—might have a “wedding” (his term) that would bring us to an insightful conclusion.

In many ways, we Liberals like to think of this sort of reasoning as part and parcel of our position. We stay open to new ideas. We dip into Fox News or Drudge Report in order to hear from the other side. We work to tolerate people’s differences. We delight in critical thinking.

Or do we?

When my friend suggested that good things might happen from Trump’s visit with the Saudis I, unencumbered by the facts, was ready to make a vigorous counter-argument.

The government of modern-day Saudi Arabia is a subject on which I know very little and, for me, the event was illuminated only by my disdain for all things Trump.

All things, and that’s a lot. Am I actually not receptive to thinking there might be something of value in the man’s effort without fully exploring the issue? Where did my liberal values slip?

I am reading a fascinating book by Jane Mayer, The Dark Side: The Inside Story of How the War on Terror Turned Into a War on American Ideals. It focuses on George Bush’s presidency after 9/11, and his decision to opt out of the Geneva Conventions armed-conflict protocols regarding imprisonment and torture. It’s not for the squeamish.

Mayer’s book also dwells a great deal on how the Bush administration willfully disregarded reports that torture doesn’t work as reliably as empathy-based interrogation techniques—a fact that has been documented since something like the 12th century.

Bush officials also ignored reports that did not presumptively suit or advance their agenda, for example, the fact that no links were ever found between Al Qaeda and Saddam Hussein’s regime, or that Iraqi stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction were effectively non-existent by the end of the 1990s. Why did these people not pay attention or take these findings into account? Why the heck not?


Another friend, who often has insightful things to say about this blog, sent me to a podcast that had set her thinking—specifically, three episodes from You Are Not So Smart titled “The Backfire Effect.”

They dissect and analyze the phenomenon of fitting the facts to suit one’s preconceived notions or clinging to notions once we’ve established them for ourselves. Why do we do it? Does it serve us in any way? To go deeper: Does it have some sort of evolutionary value?

So there they are: Ostensibly nothing to do with Trump, but I’m reading The Dark Side, listening to “The Backfire Effect,” and thus attending the wedding of two different analyses in a way that would make my wonderful mentor proud.

Here’s the link to the “Backfire Effect - Part One”( - don’t miss it.

We all need to understand the consequences of our own assumptions if we are ever going to turn this country around in a constructive and lasting way.


The so-called "Resistance"

SUBHEAD: What would a real resistance to the complex systemic corruption of America look like? 

By James Kunstler on 29 May 2017 for -

Image above: Left-wing protesters attended an April 29 rally in a "clown bloc," wearing masks to mock their adversaries as Alt-Left  and Alt-Right battle in the streets of Portland. From (

Entropy never sleeps. It works remorselessly to transform things of value into useless, dissipated waste and heat. Complexity stokes it especially as the law of diminishing returns multiplies the wheels of futility spinning down to zero. Hence, the intellectual decay of American life in which spin is everything, anything goes, and nothing matters.

The latest manifestation of this dynamic is the curious movement that styles itself The Resistance, lately adopted by the grotesque handmaiden of the Deep State that the Democratic Party became in the regency of Hillary Clinton.

Its mission is to undo the results of the last national election by claiming that Russia undid it. It pretends to seek the restoration of something — but what? Of dissipated power relations within the Deep State itself?

President Trump is actually taking care of that by turning government management over to his generals and the minions of Goldman Sachs.

The generals are reinvesting in the strategic black hole of our military adventures overseas.

The Goldman Sachs appointees are making Wall Street safe for the continued asset-stripping of the USA. The last time I checked, Hillary’s gang did not oppose either of these endeavors.

The Resistance employs cadres of useful idiots — Black Lives Matter, “undocumented” visitors, “Antifa,” the LGBTQ “community” — to pretend that it stands for social justice, but these are just straw persons fronting a gang devoted only to regaining the levers of “privilege” — which they also pretend to be against.

The Resistance takes its name from the movement in World War Two France that fought the Nazi occupation, thus self-valorizing itself. But the pre-owned styling is just another victory of spin in the public relations nightmare that American political life has become.

It also begs the question: what would a real resistance look like?

First, it would oppose the aforementioned asset-stripping that the US economy has become, the transfer of capital in all its forms — monetary, political, cultural, social — from the dis-employed former middle classes to the tiny, select beneficiaries of financial manipulation.

Note that the things being manipulated — markets, currencies, securities, and interest rates — are increasingly phantom entities that appear to maintain their value only because the high priests of financial authority say that they do.

The shelf-life of that flim-flam approaches its endgame as it self-evidently immiserates the masses and their sheer faith in its recondite promises dwindles away to nothing. A genuine resistance would begin to deconstruct this clerisy and its institutions, namely Too Big To Fail banks and the Federal Reserve.

The best opportunity to accomplish that would have been the early months of Mr. Obama’s turn in the White House, the dark time of the previous financial crash when the damage was fresh and obvious.

But the former president blew that under the influence of high priests Robert Rubin and Larry Summers. And the lower order clerics were allowed run their hoodoo machine flat out in the following eight years.

 Just look at the long chart of the Standard & Poors index. Tragically, this ever-upward arc is now taken to be the normal state of things, and when it fails the implosion will be orders of magnitude more violent than the last time.

One would think that a genuine resistance would also oppose the growing consolidation of power in the now-colossal spying apparatus of the nation — the often averred to “seventeen intel agencies” that show signs of being actively at war against other parts of the government and against citizens themselves.

Hence, the non-stop murmur of allegation about “Russian interference in the election,” going back to the summer of 2016 without either any real evidence, or any clarification of what is actually alleged to have happened.

Another tragic turn is that this fifth column of rogue intel agencies has recruited the major organs of the news to incessantly repeat its allegations until the public accepts the story as established fact rather than just the manufactured story it so far appears to be.

Well, the lives of persons and societies founder on versions of the “reality” they fabricate for their own purposes.

A genuine resistance would show foremost some fidelity to a reality beyond the spin-factories of self-delusion. And it would lead in the hard work of shedding this over-burden of self-multiplying despotisms.

Maybe this Memorial Day is a good moment to question the claims of the so-called resistance, and perhaps patriotically meditate on what the nature of an authentic resistance would be to the ongoing decay of this nation while it is still possible.


Germany can no longer rely on USA

SUBHEAD: Germany's Merkel says Trump and Brexit have left Europe with an unsteady alliance.

By Tyler Durden on 28 May 2017 for Zero Hedge -

Image above: German Chancellor Merkel speaking at Christian Social Union meeting in Bavaria. From (

After the recent G7 meeting in Itlay and faced with a western alliance divided by Brexit and Donald Trump's presidency, Germany's Merkel said "die zeiten, in denen wir uns auf andere völlig verlassen konnten, sind ein Stück vorbei", or loosely translated "the times in which we could completely depend on others are on the way out" and added that "I've experienced that in the last few days."

Merkel then said that while Germany and Europe would strive to remain on good terms with America and Britain, "we have to fight for our own destiny" and she also said that special emphasis was needed on warm relations between Berlin and newly-elected French President Emmanuel Macron.

Her comments came after Trump said during the G-7 meeting he needed more time to decide if the US would continue backing the Paris climate deal, which has frustrated European diplomats. A subseqent report by Axios, Trump privately told multiple people, including EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt, that "he plans to leave the Paris agreement on climate change" which will likely further infurate his European allies.

During his trip, Trump also echoed his past criticism of NATO allies for failing to meet the defensive alliance's military spending commitment of two percent of GDP.
Observers noted that he neglected to publicly endorse the pact's Article Five, which guarantees that member countries will aid the others they are attacked. The omission was especially striking as he unveiled a memorial to the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks against the US, the only time the mutual defense clause has been triggered.
On Friday, Trump also described German trade practices as "bad, very bad," in Brussels talks last week, complaining that Europe's largest economy sells too many cars to the US.

Reactions to Merkel's striking comment came pouring in from the likes of Edward Snowden who called her speech an "era-defining moment".

G7 nations shun Trump

SUBHEAD: G7 leaders plow ahead after Trump throws 'Tantrum' over Paris Climate Accord.

By Lauren McCauley on 27 May 2017 for Common Ground -

Image above: After pushing his way to the front of the G7 leaders Trump has a "tug of War" handshake with newly elected French President Emmanuel Macron who was trying to avoid the orange clown. From (

In addition to stymying action on fossil fuels, Trump also 'forced the Italian prime minister Paulo Gentiloni to shred plans for an ambitious statement stressing the plight of migrants.

Further isolating the United States as other world powers prepare to take on the crisis of climate change, President Donald Trump refused to commit to the landmark Paris Climate Agreement as the remaining G7 leaders reaffirmed their determination to implement the accord.

In what has been described as an "unusually frank statement," the G7 Taormina Leaders' Communiqué (pdf) released Saturday after the two-day meeting in Sicily, says that the U.S. is "in the process of reviewing its policies on climate change and on the Paris Agreement and thus is not in a position to join the consensus on these topics."

"Understanding this process," the document continues, "the heads of state and of government of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, and the United Kingdom and the presidents of the European Council and of the European Commission reaffirm their strong commitment to swiftly implement the Paris Agreement."

Meanwhile, Trump took to Twitter to announce that he would "make a final decision on the Paris Accord next week," but it was clear the U.S. president had been a substantial roadblock over the course of the summit.

"The entire discussion about climate was very difficult, if not to say very dissatisfying," German Chancellor Angela Merkel told reporters on Saturday. "There are no indications whether the United States will stay in the Paris Agreement or not."

On those deliberations, The Guardian reported:
During the two-day conclave in Taormina, other leaders repeatedly urged Trump to recognize that as world's second biggest carbon emitter, the U.S. had to show leadership on climate issues.

Leaders warned the U.S. president that he risks a stampede, as others in the 195-nation agreement use American withdrawal from the treaty to reduce their own commitments.

Trump retained the option of pulling out of the treaty altogether or, more likely, scaling back on the specific commitments made by the Obama administration. Obama pledged to cut domestic greenhouse gas emissions 26-28 % below 2005 levels by 2025.
While not surprised, environmental groups expressed dismay over Trump's recalcitrance.
The truncated six-page document (compared with last year's 32-page tome), which outlines the industrialized nations' top priorities, "offered only minimal language on climate change and energy," the Union of Concerned Scientists noted.

Alden Meyer, a leading expert on the United Nation's international climate negotiations process and director of strategy and policy with the organization, said that Trump's "continued waffling on whether to stay in or withdraw from the Paris Agreement made it impossible to reach consensus at the Taormina summit on the need for ambitious climate action."

But, Meyer continues, "he stands in stark isolation, as the leaders from Europe, Canada, and Japan have made it crystal clear they intend to fully implement their national commitments under the Paris Agreement and pursue efforts to decarbonize the global economy."

More concisely, Alex Doukas, senior campaigner at Oil Change International, said: "even though Donald Trump threw a tantrum, the grown-ups in the room ignored him."

However, Doukas did note that the group stopped short of reaffirming their commitment to phase out fossil fuel subsidies by 2025.

"G7 leaders caved in the face fossil fuel cronyism, and were silent on their prior commitment to end fossil fuel subsidies by 2025—despite this language being agreed at the meeting of G7 energy ministers in April," Doukas said.

"Subsidizing fossil fuel companies in the face of rapid climate change is like spraying jet fuel on a burning home. To put out the fire, we must first stop making the problem worse," Doukas continued.

"Ignoring the problem just because fossil fuel industry mascots like Trump demand it is like agreeing to take the warning labels off of cigarettes because they offend Joe Camel. Our leaders must act now to stop burning our tax dollars and stop trashing the climate."

In addition to stymying action on fossil fuels, Trump also reportedly "forced the Italian prime minister Paulo Gentiloni—the summit host—to shred plans for an ambitious statement stressing the plight of migrants was a global rather than regional responsibility," the Guardian reported.

One unnamed European diplomat told the Independent that "[t]here was very strong opposition by the Americans and British who wanted to refocus on security and water down the expansive language on freedom of movement."

Opening up borders was one of the primary demands of the protesters who rallied on the streets of the Italian resort community on Saturday. Thousands of peaceful activists marched and carried signs, that included phrases like "Freedom, not Frontex," referring to the European Union's draconian border control agency.

Instead, the groups settled on language committing to fighting "protectionism" through trade and terrorism, as well as vowing to impose additional sanctions against Russia if warranted.


Defense contractors fought NoDAPL

SUBHEAD: DAPL Company hired "War on Terror" defense contractors to suppress Native American uprising.

By Lauren McCauley on 27 May 2017 for Common Dreams -

Image above:The Morton County Sheriff's Department deployed a military tank and sprayed peaceful protesters with a water cannon amid below-freezing temperatures on November 20, 2016. Photo byDark Sevier. From original article.

Leaked docs reveal the collusion between local police forces, pipeline company, and defense contractors as they executed 'military-style counterterrorism measures' to suppress the water protectors.

The years-long, Indigenous-led fight against the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) briefly captured the nation's attention last fall as images of peaceful resisters being sprayed with water canons and surrounded by police in tanks and other military-grade equipment were spread widely, fueling global outrage and a fierce protest movement against the oil pipeline.

Now that the pipeline is operational and already leaking, internal documents obtained by The Intercept and reported on Saturday reveal the deep collusion between local police forces, the pipeline company, and defense contractors as they executed "military-style counterterrorism measures" to suppress the water protectors.

TigerSwan, described as a "shadowy international mercenary and security firm" that "originated as a U.S. military and State Department contractor helping to execute the global war on terror," was hired by Energy Transfer Partners to spearhead "a multifaceted private security operation characterized by sweeping and invasive surveillance of protesters," The Intercept wrote.

Reportedly, one of TigerSwan's contractors leaked 100 internal documents to reporters Alleen Brown, Will Parrish, and Alice Speri, who were able to assemble roughly 1,000 more via public records requests.

The trove paints a damning picture of the police response to the Indigenous-led effort to block construction of the pipeline on sacred, treaty land and is a shocking example of how anti-terrorist rhetoric and tactics could be applied to any uprising the government would like to suppress.
According to the reporting:
Internal TigerSwan communications describe the movement as "an ideologically driven insurgency with a strong religious component" and compare the anti-pipeline water protectors to jihadist fighters. One report, dated February 27, 2017, states that since the movement "generally followed the jihadist insurgency model while active, we can expect the individuals who fought for and supported it to follow a post-insurgency model after its collapse." Drawing comparisons with post-Soviet Afghanistan, the report warns, "While we can expect to see the continued spread of the anti-DAPL diaspora...aggressive intelligence preparation of the battlefield and active coordination between intelligence and security elements are now a proven method of defeating pipeline insurgencies."
"As policing continues to be militarized and state legislatures around the country pass laws criminalizing protest," Brown, Parrish, and Speri write, "the fact that a private security firm retained by a Fortune 500 oil and gas company coordinated its efforts with local, state, and federal law enforcement to undermine the protest movement has profoundly anti-democratic implications."

Indeed, in the wake of the 2016 election, Republican legislatures in at least 19 states introduced various anti-protest laws, many with a deliberate nod to the uprising in North Dakota.

Not only that, but Morton County Sheriff Kyle Kirchmeier, who oversaw the police response to the DAPL resistance, has been advising other law enforcement on how to deal with protests and demonstrations.

Indeed, the documents reportedly show that Energy Transfer Partners has "continued to retain TigerSwan," despite the fact that the anti-DAPL camps have disbanded. The security firm continues to produce so-called situation reports that document "the threat of growing activism around other pipeline projects across the country."

These reports include "intelligence on upcoming protests," information gleaned from social media, and "extensive evidence of aerial surveillance and radio eavesdropping, as well as infiltration of camps and activist circles."

In some cases, persons "of interest" were even tracked when they crossed over state lines.

What's more, the documents obtained via open records requests include "communications among agents from the FBI, the Department of Homeland Security, the U.S. Justice Department, the Marshals Service, and the Bureau of Indian Affairs, as well as state and local police," that reveals interagency collusion and information sharing on the anti-DAPL protesters.

Read the extensive reporting and several published documents at The Intercept.


Manchester, or Innocence Long Lost

SUBHEAD: An 8-year old child in Manchester, just like one in Mosul or Aleppo, is innocent.

By Raul Ilargi Meijer on 27 May 2017 for the Automatic Earth -

Image above: Mass media propaganda demonizes children in Iran to exhort more violence against our "enemeies". It's all lies. Stop the violence against the Middle East and Islam. It's our kuleana. From (

[IB Publisher's note: This is a long and detailed piece... certainely longer than most we post on IslandBreath. Raul Ilargi Meijer hits the nail on the head by implicating Western culture with complicity in the atrocity of the endless War on Terrorism.]

There are times when you have to talk about things when it appears most inopportune to do so, because they’re the only times people might listen. Times when people will argue that ‘this is not the right moment’, while in reality it’s the only moment.

A solid 99% of people will have been filled, and rightly so of course, with a mixture of disgust, disbelief and infinite sadness when hearing of yet another attack on civilians in Europe, this one in Manchester. An equally solid 99% will have failed to recognize that while the event was unique for the city of Manchester, it was by no means unique for the world, not even at the time it happened.

Though the footage of parents desperately trying to find their children, and the news that one of the dead was just 8 years old, touches everyone in more or less the same place in our hearts, by far most of us miss out on the next logical step.

In a wider perspective, it is easy to see that parents crying for missing children, and children killed in infancy, is what connects Manchester, and the UK, and Europe, to parents in Syria, Libya, Iraq.

What’s different between these places is not the suffering or the outrage, the mourning or the despair, what’s different is only the location on the map. That and the frequency with which terror is unleashed upon a given population. But just because it happens all the time in other places doesn’t make it more normal or acceptable.

It’s the exact same thing, the exact same experience, and still a vast majority of people don’t, choose not to, feel it as such.

Which is curious when you think about it. In the aftermath of a terror attack, the mother of a missing, maimed or murdered child undergoes the same heartbreak no matter where they are in the world (“I hope the Russians love their children too”). But the empathy, the compassion, is hardly acknowledged in Britain at all, let alone shared.

Not that it couldn’t be. Imagine that our papers and TV channels would tell us, preferably repeatedly, in their reports in the wake of an attack like the one in Manchester how eerily similar the emotions must be to those felt in Aleppo, Homs and many other cities.

That would change our perception enormously. But the media choose not to make the connection, and the people apparently are not capable of doing it themselves.

None of that changes the fact, however, that British lives are not more valuable than Syrian and Libyan ones. Not even when we’ve gotten used to ‘news’ about bombings and drone attacks executed for years now by US-led coalitions, or the images of children drowning when they flee the area because of these attacks.

The overall theme here is that 99.9% of people everywhere in the world are innocent, especially when they are children, but their governments and their societies are not. That doesn’t justify the Manchester attack in any shape or form, it simply lays equal blame and condemnation for western terror attacks in the Middle East and North Africa, perpetrated by the people we elect into power.

 This is something people in the west pay no attention to. It’s easier that way, and besides our media with great enthusiasm pave the way for our collective ignorance, by calling some other group of people ‘terrorists’, which while they’re at it is supposed to justify killing some other mother’s child.

There’s another thing that is also different: they didn’t start. We did. The British and French terrorized the region for many decades, since the 19th century, even way before the Americans joined in.

The presence of oil, and its rising role in our economies, caused them to double down on that terror.
Yes, it’s awkward to talk about this on the eve of a deadly attack, and it’s easy to find arguments and rhetoric that appear to deflect responsibility. But at the same time this truly is the only moment we can hope that anyone will listen. And lest we forget, the UK carries an outsized share of the responsibility in this tragedy, both historically and in the present.

You can say things about the city coming together, or the country coming together, or “not allowing terrorists to affect our way of life”, but perhaps it should instead really be all the mothers who have children missing or dying, wherever they live, coming together. They all see their ways of life affected, and many on a daily basis.

Those mothers in Syria and Libya, who have been through the same hellhole as those in Manchester, are a lot closer to you than the politicians who send out jet fighters to bomb cities in the desert, or sell arms to individuals and organizations to control these cities for their own narrow personal gain, such as the governments of Saudi Arabia and Turkey.

The traumatized mothers in the desert are not your enemies; your enemies are much closer to home. Still, most of you will tend to react to fear and panic by looking for protection in exactly those circles that are least likely to provide it.

The UK government under Theresa May, like those of Tony Blair, Gordon Brown and David Cameron before, is as cynically eager as their predecessors to send bombers into the desert, and sell arms to those living there.

We can illustrate all this with a few bits of news. First, the US-led coalotion, of which the UK is a substantial part, killed more civilians in Syria than at any time since they started bombing the country almost 3 years ago.

They keep saying they don’t target civilians, but to put it mildly they don’t appear to go out of their way not to hit them. For instance, a single attack on Mosul, Iraq in March killed over 105 civilians. ‘Collateral damage’ in these cases, and there are hundreds by now, is a very disrespectful term. Moreover, the files released by Chelsea Manning show US soldiers killing people ‘with impunity’.

US-led air strikes on Syria killed a total of 225 civilians over the past month, a monitor said on Tuesday, the highest 30-day toll since the campaign began in 2014. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the civilian dead between April 23 and May 23 included 44 children and 36 women. The US-led air campaign against the Islamic State jihadist group in Syria began on September 23, 2014. “The past month of operations is the highest civilian toll since the coalition began bombing Syria,” Observatory head Rami Abdel Rahman told AFP. “There has been a very big escalation.” The previous deadliest 30-day period was between February 23 and March 23 this year, when 220 civilians were killed, Abdel Rahman said.
And it’s not as if the British didn’t or couldn’t know what was going on. That was clear as early as 2003, when Tony Blair couldn’t wait to join the Bush coalition to invade Iraq on the false premise of weapons of mass destruction. Before Libya was invaded, which led to Hillary’s disgusting ‘we came we saw he died’, Gaddafi, the one who did die, warned Blair about what would happen. It indeed did, which makes Blair a guilty man.

Muammar Gaddafi warned Tony Blair in two fraught phone conversations in 2011 that his removal from the Libyan leadership would open a space for al-Qaida to seize control of the country and even launch an invasion of Europe. The transcripts of the conversations have been published with Blair’s agreement by the UK foreign affairs select committee, which is conducting an inquiry into the western air campaign that led to the ousting and killing of Gaddafi in October 2011. In the two calls the former British prime minister pleaded with Gaddafi to stand aside or end the violence. The transcripts reveal the gulf in understanding between Gaddafi and the west over what was occurring in his country and the nature of the threat he was facing.

In the first call, at 11.15am on 25 February 2011, Gaddafi gave a warning in part borne out by future events: “They [jihadis] want to control the Mediterranean and then they will attack Europe.” In the second call, at 3.25pm the same day, the Libyan leader said: “We are not fighting them, they are attacking us. I want to tell you the truth. It is not a difficult situation at all. The story is simply this: an organisation has laid down sleeping cells in north Africa. Called the al-Qaida organisation in north Africa … The sleeping cells in Libya are similar to dormant cells in America before 9/11.”

Gaddafi added: “I will have to arm the people and get ready for a fight. Libyan people will die, damage will be on the Med, Europe and the whole world. These armed groups are using the situation [in Libya] as a justification – and we shall fight them.” Three weeks after the calls, a Nato-led coalition that included Britain began bombing raids that led to the overthrow of Gaddafi. He was finally deposed in August and murdered by opponents of his regime in October.
What they are guilty of is no more and no less than Manchester. No hyperbole, but a warning from Blair’s own intelligence services back in 2003. The real weapons of mass destruction were not in Iraq, but in the White House and Downing Street no. 10. The CIA issued warnings similar to this.

Before the 2003 invasion of Iraq led by the U.S. and U.K., he was forcefully and repeatedly warned by Britain’s intelligence services that it would lead to exactly this type of terrorist attack — and he concealed these warnings from the British people, instead claiming the war would reduce the risk of terrorism. We know this because of the Chilcot Report, the seven-year-long British investigation of the Iraq War released in 2016. The report declassifies numerous internal government documents that illustrate the yawning chasm between what Blair was being told in private and his claims in public as he pushed for war.

On February 10, 2003, one month before the war began, the U.K.’s Joint Intelligence Committee — the key advisory body for the British Prime Minister on intelligence matters — issued a white paper titled “International Terrorism: War With Iraq.” It began:

“The threat from Al Qaida will increase at the onset of any military action against Iraq. They will target Coalition forces and other Western interests in the Middle East. Attacks against Western interests elsewhere are also likely, especially in the US and UK, for maximum impact. The worldwide threat from other Islamist terrorist groups and individuals will increase significantly.”

And it concluded much the same way: “Al Qaida and associated groups will continue to represent by far the greatest terrorist threat to Western interests, and that threat will be heightened by military action against Iraq. The broader threat from Islamist terrorists will also increase in the event of war, reflecting intensified anti-US/anti-Western sentiment in the Muslim world, including among Muslim communities in the West.”
Not long behind Blair came David Cameron, a man after Tony’s heart:

European ministers have embarrassed David Cameron by voting to impose an arms embargo on Saudi Arabia on the same day the British prime minister praised the UK for selling “brilliant” arms to the country. Speaking at a BAE Systems factory in Preston, the prime minister said the UK had pushed the sale of Eurofighter Typhoons to countries in the Middle East, including Oman and Saudi Arabia. [..] Cameron’s speech in Preston came at the same time the European Parliament voted to impose an EU-wide ban on arms exports to Saudi Arabia, citing criticism from the UN of its bombing in Yemen.

Asked at the talks how he was helping to export the planes, Cameron said: “With the Typhoon there is an alliance of countries: the Italians, Germans and ourselves. We spend a lot of time trying to work out who is best placed to win these export orders. We’ve got hopefully good news coming from Kuwait. The Italians have been doing a lot of work there. The British have been working very hard in Oman.” The vote will not force EU members to comply with the ban, but will force the government to examine its relationship with Saudi Arabia.

In the last year the British government has sold £3 billion (US$4.18 billion) worth of arms and military kit to the Gulf state, as well as providing training to Saudi forces. A report released by Amnesty International on Friday called the ongoing trade with Saudi Arabia “truly sickening,” and urged governments to attend meetings in Geneva on Monday to discuss the implementation of the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT). The report names the UK, France, Germany, Italy, Montenegro, the Netherlands, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey and the US as having issued licenses for arms to Saudi Arabia worth more than £18 billion in 2015.

The arms sold include drones, bombs, torpedoes, rockets and missiles, which have been used by Saudi Arabia and its allies for gross violations of human rights and possible war crimes during aerial and ground attacks in Yemen, the campaign group said. Control Arms Director Anna Macdonald said: “Governments such as the UK and France were leaders in seeking to secure an ATT – and now they are undermining the commitments they made to reduce human suffering by supplying Saudi Arabia with some of the deadliest weapons in the world. It’s truly sickening.”
British MPs from Cameron’s own party didn’t like it either, but what meaning does that have if it takes 5 years to issue a report, and moreover he can simply refuse to give evidence?

David Cameron’s intervention in Libya was carried out with no proper intelligence analysis, drifted into an unannounced goal of regime change and shirked its moral responsibility to help reconstruct the country following the fall of Muammar Gaddafi, according to a scathing report by the foreign affairs select committee. The failures led to the country becoming a failed a state on the verge of all-out civil war, the report adds. The report, the product of a parliamentary equivalent of the Chilcot inquiry into the Iraq war, closely echoes the criticisms widely made of Tony Blair’s intervention in Iraq, and may yet come to be as damaging to Cameron’s foreign policy legacy.

It concurs with Barack Obama’s assessment that the intervention was “a shitshow”, and repeats the US president’s claim that France and Britain lost interest in Libya after Gaddafi was overthrown. Cameron has refused to give evidence to the select committee. In one of his few reflections on his major military intervention, he blamed the Libyan people for failing to take their chance of democracy.

The committee, which has a majority of Conservative members, did not have Chilcot-style access to internal papers, but took voluminous evidence from senior ministers at the time, and other key players such as Blair, the chief of the defence staff, Lord Richards, and leading diplomats. The result of the French, British and US intervention, the report finds, “was political and economic collapse, inter-militia and inter-tribal warfare, humanitarian and migrant crises, widespread human rights violations, the spread of Gaddafi regime weapons across the region and the growth of Isil [Islamic State] in north Africa”.
It seems obvious that if there were an impartial international body with the power to prosecute, Bush, Cheney, Blair, Cameron, Hillary etc. etc. (don’t forget France) would be charged with war crimes. And Obama too: his ‘shitshow’ comment must be seen in light of the ‘we came we saw he died’ comment by Hillary Clinton, his Secretary of State. Think he didn’t know what was happening?

Another person who should be charged is Theresa May, Cameron’s Home Secretary from May 2010 till July 2016, and of course Britain’s present PM, who sells as much weaponry to Saudi Arabia as she possibly can while the Saudi’s are shoving the few Yemeni’s they leave alive back beyond the Stone Age. And then May has the gall to talk about humanitarian aid.

Theresa May has defended her trip to Saudi Arabia, saying its ties with the UK are important for security and prosperity. The prime minister is facing questions about the UK’s support for the Saudi-led coalition which is fighting rebels in neighbouring Yemen. Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn said UK-made weapons were contributing to a “humanitarian catastrophe”. [..] Mrs May said humanitarian aid was one of the issues she would be discussing on her trip. “We are concerned about the humanitarian situation – that’s why the UK last year was the fourth largest donor to the Yemen in terms of humanitarian aid – £103m. We will be continuing with that,” she told the BBC.

[..] Mr Corbyn called for the immediate suspension of UK arms exports to Saudi Arabia. He criticised the “dictatorial Saudi monarchy’s shocking human rights record” and said the PM should focus on human rights and international law at the centre of her talks. “The Saudi-led coalition bombing in Yemen, backed by the British government, has left thousands dead, 21 million people in need of humanitarian assistance and three million refugees uprooted from their homes,” he said. “Yemen urgently needs a ceasefire, a political settlement, and food aid, not more bombing.
“British-made weapons are being used in a war which has caused a humanitarian catastrophe.”
The one person who would probably not be in front of such a court is Jeremy Corbyn, opponent of May’s in the June 8 elections. Though there is the issue that he never protested in much stronger terms as an MP. Still, if you have to pick one of the two, what is not obvious?

Theresa May has staunchly defended selling arms to Saudi Arabia despite the country facing accusations of war crimes, insisting close ties “keep people on the streets of Britain safe”. Jeremy Corbyn called on the Prime Minister to halt those sales because of the “humanitarian devastation” caused by a Saudi-led coalition waging war against rebels in Yemen. The Labour leader spoke out after the Parliamentary committee charged with scrutinising arms exports said it was likely that British weapons had been used to violate international law.

The Saudis stand accused of bombing multiple international hospitals run by the charity Médecins Sans Frontières, as well as schools, wedding parties and food factories. In the Commons, Mr Corbyn linked weapons sales to the ongoing refugee crisis, which he said should be Britain’s “number one concern and our number one humanitarian response”.

He added: “That is why I remain concerned that at the heart of this Government’s security strategy is apparently increased arms exports to the very part of the world that most immediately threatens our security.

The British Government continue to sell arms to Saudi Arabia that are being used to commit crimes against humanity in Yemen , as has been clearly detailed by the UN and other independent agencies.”

But, in response, Ms May pointed out she had called on Saudi Arabia to investigate the allegations about Yemen when she met with the kingdom’s deputy crown prince at the recent G20 summit in China. The Prime Minister dismissed Mr Corbyn’s suggestion that “what happened in Saudi Arabia was a threat to the safety of people here in the UK”. Instead, she said: “Actually, what matters is the strength of our relationship with Saudi Arabia. When it comes to counter-terrorism and dealing with terrorism, it is that relationship that has helped to keep people on the streets of Britain safe.”
May’s, and Britain’s, utterly mad stance in this is perhaps best exemplified, in one sentence, by her comments during the speedy trip she made to Turkey, again to sell more arms to an at best highly questionable regime. Why do it, why drag your entire nation through the moral gutter for $100 million or a few billion? The military industrial complex.

Theresa May issued a stern warning to Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan about respecting human rights yesterday as she prepared to sign a £100m fighter jet deal that Downing Street hopes will lead to Britain becoming Turkey’s main defence partner.
And once again, no, none of this justifies the Manchester bombing. Neither a government nor an extremist movement has any right to kill innocent people. But let’s make sure we know that neither does.
There’s another aspect to the story. MI6 had close links to the Libyan community in Manchester.

The British government operated an “open door” policy that allowed Libyan exiles and British-Libyan citizens to join the 2011 uprising that toppled Muammar Gaddafi even though some had been subject to counter-terrorism control orders, Middle East Eye can reveal. Several former rebel fighters now back in the UK told MEE that they had been able to travel to Libya with “no questions asked” as authorities continued to investigate the background of a British-Libyan suicide bomber who killed 22 people in Monday’s attack in Manchester.

Salman Abedi, 22, the British-born son of exiled dissidents who returned to Libya as the revolution against Gaddafi gathered momentum, is also understood to have spent time in the North African country in 2011 and to have returned there on several subsequent occasions. Sources spoken to by MEE suggest that the government facilitated the travel of Libyan exiles and British-Libyan residents and citizens keen to fight against Gaddafi including some who it deemed to pose a potential security threat.

One British citizen with a Libyan background who was placed on a control order – effectively house arrest – because of fears that he would join militant groups in Iraq said he was “shocked” that he was able to travel to Libya in 2011 shortly after his control order was lifted. “I was allowed to go, no questions asked,” said the source. He said he had met several other British-Libyans in London who also had control orders lifted in 2011 as the war against Gaddafi intensified, with the UK, France and the US carrying out air strikes and deploying special forces soldiers in support of the rebels.

“They didn’t have passports, they were looking for fakes or a way to smuggle themselves across,” said the source. But within days of their control orders being lifted, British authorities returned their passports, he said. Many Libyan exiles in the UK with links to the LIFG [Libyan Islamic Fighting Group ] were placed on control orders and subjected to surveillance and monitoring following the rapprochement between the British and Libyan governments sealed by the so-called “Deal in the Desert” between then-British Prime Minister Tony Blair and Gaddafi in 2004.

According to documents retrieved from the ransacked offices of the Libyan intelligence agency following Gaddafi’s fall from power in 2011, British security services cracked down on Libyan dissidents in the UK as part of the deal, as well as assisting in the rendition of two senior LIFG leaders, Abdel Hakim Belhaj and Sami al-Saadi, to Tripoli where they allege they were tortured.
Torture one day, passports the other. Lovely. And it still gets better: MI6 didn’t just have close contacts with Libyans in Manchester, it knew the alleged perpetrator’s family, and used his father multiple times as on operative:

According to Scotland Yard, the attack on the crowd leaving the Ariana Grande concert at Manchester Arena, 22 May, has been perpetrated by Salman Abedi. A bankcard has been conveniently found in the pocket of the mutilated corpse of the ‘terrorist’. This attack is generally interpreted as proof that the United Kingdom is not implicated in international terrorism and that, on the contrary, it is a victim of it.

[..] In 1992, Ramadan Abedi [Salman’s father] was sent back to Libya by Britain’s MI6 and was involved in a British-devised plot to assassinate Muammar Gaddafi. The operation having been readily exposed, he was exfiltrated by MI6 and transferred back to the UK where he obtained political asylum.

He moved in 1999 to Whalley Range (south of Manchester) where there was already resident a small Libyan Islamist community. In 1994, Ramadan Abedi returned again to Libya under MI6’s direction. In late 1995 he is involved in the creation of the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG), a local branch of Al-Qaeda, in conjunction with Abdelhakim Belhadj.

The LIFG was then employed by MI6 again to assassinate Gaddafi, for a payoff of £100,000. This operation, which also failed, provoked heated exchanges within British Intelligence, leading to the resignation of one David Shayler. Other former members of the LIFG have also lived at Whalley Range, including Abedi’s friend Abd al-Baset-Azzouz. In 2009, this last joined Al-Qaeda in Pakistan and became a close associate of its chief, Ayman al-Zawahiri. In 2011, al-Baset-Azzouz is active on the ground with the NATO operation against Libya.

On 11 September 2012, he directs the operation against the US Ambassador in Libya, Christopher Stevens, assassinated at Benghazi. He is arrested in Turkey and extradited to the US in December 2014, his trial still pending. Nobody pays attention to the fact that Ramadan Abedi has linked LIFG members to the formation of Al-Qaeda in Iraq and, in 2011, he takes part in MI6’s ‘Arab Spring’ operations, and in LIFG’s role on the ground in support of NATO. In any event, Abedi returned to Libya after the fall of Gaddafi and moves his family there, leaving his older children in the family home at Whalley Range.

According to the former Spanish Prime Minister José Maria Aznar, Abdelhakim Belhadj was involved in the assassinations in Madrid of 11 March 2004. Later, he is secretly arrested in Malaysia by the CIA and transferred to Libya where he is tortured not by Libyan or American functionaries but by MI6 agents. He is finally freed after the accord between Saif al-Islam Gaddafi [Gaddafi’s son] and the jihadists.
Luckily, perhaps the Brits are not that stupid:
Slightly over a half of people in the UK agree that the nation’s involvement in wars abroad has increased the terror threat to the country, a poll out Friday has showed. The survey found that 53% of 7,134 UK adults sampled by YouGov said they believed wars the UK supported or fought were in part responsible for terror attacks at home. [..]

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, who made a speech earlier in the day to mark his return to general election campaigning, said UK’s war on terror had not worked. He cited intelligence experts who said foreign wars, including in Libya, threatened the country’s security.
If that is true, Theresa May obviously should have no chance of winning. May can and will try to use the horror of Manchester, and the subsequent pause in the campaign, to strengthen her position in the upcoming election, by playing on people’s fear and making them believe she’s in control.

Even if the very attack itself makes clear that she’s not. The Tories have already attacked Corbyn for saying their policies have failed; it was the wrong time to say that, according to them.

But it’s not. It’s the very best time. This is when people pay attention. And having this discussion doesn’t disrespect the victims of Manchester. If anything, it shows more respect than not having the discussion. Because you want to make sure this doesn’t happen again, neither here nor there. And to achieve that, you have to look at why these things happen.

An 8-year old child in Manchester, just like one in Mosul or Aleppo, is innocent. Yourself, perhaps not so much. The politicians you vote into power, and the media you read and watch to inform you, not a chance. Guilty as hell.


The New Socialism

SUBHEAD: Moving beyond concentrated state power to owner operated co-operatives.

By Richard D. Wolf on 27 May 2017 for Truth Out -

Image above: New Socialism will mean, at least in part, the state's dependence on masses of workers who democratically control worker co-ops. Photo by  Susannah Kay. From original article.

Capitalism as a system is now increasingly challenged. Critics proliferate and steadily deepen their opposition (alongside, of course, the persistence of capitalism's defenders).

Yet capitalism's traditional "other" -- namely, socialism -- has also been widely devalued. It has lost its position as the goal (however variously interpreted) for anti-capitalist social movements. When not simply ignored, socialism (and even more its derivative "communism") is often treated as utterly passé.

When taken seriously, it is mostly a vague rhetorical gesture expressing criticism of the capitalist status quo, not advocacy of a concrete alternative. Socialist parties now mainly support capitalism but with a human face -- i.e. with the social supports and safety nets that their "conservative" counterparts disdain.

Sometimes the advocacy of socialism expresses a systemic rejection of, or opposition to, capitalism.

But even then, the current use of the term "socialism" lacks a clear, concrete definition of what genuinely new economic system it entails.

What exactly differentiates it from and renders it superior both to capitalism and to what "old" socialism used to mean?

To enrich and strengthen anti-capitalism by giving it such a new, definitive goal, we need to revision socialism. On the one hand that means shedding accumulated historical baggage that now undermines and prevents socialism from being a prominent goal of social change.

On the other hand, a revised socialism requires new content that can inspire and motivate. That is now available.

Old socialism's drawn-out demise since the 1970s helped give birth to a new 21st century socialism whose basic contours we can now contrast with old socialism.

The old socialism that evolved across the 19th and 20th centuries eventually settled its many, rich debates by largely agreeing on two basic ways to distinguish itself from capitalism.

Capitalism entailed;
  1. private enterprises to produce goods and services and 
  2. markets as the means to distribute resources and products among enterprises and individuals (workers and consumers).
In contrast, socialism entailed government-owned-and-operated enterprises and government central planning as the distribution system. Both devotees of capitalism and socialism accepted this set of differentiating definitions.

Debates and struggles over capitalism versus socialism then swirled around the relative virtues and flaws of private versus state enterprises and of markets versus planning. The practice of socialism combined criticism of private enterprise and markets with celebration of state enterprise and central planning.

Once socialists had captured state power in the USSR, the People's Republic of China (PRC) and elsewhere, the demands of managing actual economies tilted socialism's focus ever further toward state enterprises and central planning mechanisms.

In perfectly parallel fashion, attacks upon socialism from devotees of capitalism stressed the failures and excesses of state enterprises and planning.

Many of those debates and struggles seemed to be resolved by the collapse of the USSR in 1989 and subsequent changes in Eastern Europe, the PRC and elsewhere. History, the devotees of capitalism crowed, had "proven" the non-viability of socialism, the superiority of capitalism.

They rarely grasped that what had failed was one version of socialism, an early experiment in what it might mean to construct a system beyond capitalism.

Their eagerness to claim that "socialism/communism had failed" conveniently forgot the many similarly "failed" efforts, centuries earlier, to construct capitalism out of a declining European feudalism.

Only after many such failures did changed social conditions enable a general system change to modern capitalism. Why would the same not apply to socialism qua successor to capitalism?

A major task for socialists has been honestly to admit and contend with the limits and failures of the old 19th and 20th century socialism: chiefly, excesses of over-concentrated state power and inadequately transformed production systems.

Old socialism's achievements -- especially rapid industrial development and the remarkable provision of social safety nets -- might be preserved and built upon if its limits and failures were also recognized and overcome.

One emerging and promising new socialism for the 21st century focuses on worker co-ops. Socialism becomes the campaign to establish and build a sizable worker co-op sector within contemporary capitalism.

In worker co-op enterprises, all workers are equal members of a democratically run production operation. They debate and decide what, how and where to produce and how to utilize the net revenues.

Worker co-op enterprises exist alongside traditional capitalist enterprises. They are eligible for and must obtain tax considerations, subsidies and state supports comparable to what capitalist enterprises received throughout capitalism's history. Indeed, in their initial, emergent phase, worker co-ops deserve extra government support so that the worker co-op sector quickly achieves a significant role in the economy.

Until that role is established, people will remain unable to evaluate, compare and weigh in on what mix of capitalist and worker co-op enterprises they wish for their society.

The worker co-op sector of an economy will have to decide what mix of market and planning mechanisms to utilize for the distribution of its resources and products (much as capitalist enterprises always did).

The relationships -- both competitive and cooperative -- between the two sectors of each economy (capitalist and worker co-op) will have to be determined by negotiations between them.

The third member of those negotiations will be the populace as a whole weighing in on what kind of economic system it wants as the partner for its political system.

With a significant worker co-op sector, the state's dependence on enterprises will no longer mean a dependence on a small minority: shareholders and boards of directors who control capitalist enterprises.

Instead it will mean, at least in part, the state's dependence on masses of workers who democratically control worker co-ops. Under such a system, the prospects for genuine (as opposed to merely formal) political democracy are much enhanced over their sorry state today.

Mass working class support made 19th and 20th century socialism -- with its programs of revolutionary or evolutionary/parliamentary seizures of state power -- historically important.

We cannot now expect to mobilize again any equivalent support for a revival of the old socialism. That is because of its limits and failures and also because of the massive, sustained campaigns against it by capitalism's supporters.

However, a new socialism built upon the best achievements of the old plus a new focus on the democratic transformation of the workplace can mobilize mass support now. It is already doing so.

A new socialism for the 21st century would address as well all those in the population who are not in the workforce because of family, age, education, illness, disability or other comparable causes. Systematic supports for them -- qua relatives, friends and neighbors of workforce members -- are as central to a new and better society as is the democratization of the workplace. Indeed, the latter and the former can and would be mutually supportive.

Old socialist parties are mostly fading or imploding, yet at the same time capitalism's deepening difficulties, especially since the global crash of 2008, are everywhere increasing mass opposition to capitalism. What that opposition needs is a new socialism with attractive, basic transformative goals.

What is not wanted is social change that gives power to some far-away government apparatus. The point is rather and finally to transfer power into the hands of the change-making workers themselves.

Power here refers to more than politics. It refers to the social power at the economic base of society, in the workplaces producing the goods and services upon which social life depends.

The French Revolution's slogan -- liberty, equality, fraternity -- was linked to its economic project of displacing feudalism in favor of capitalism. While its economic project succeeded, it failed to realize that slogan.

It turned out, as Marx noted, that capitalism's class division (between employer and employee) blocked that realization. Overcoming such class divisions -- something a worker co-op can do -- is required to take the next great historical step toward liberty, equality and fraternity.