Brett Kavanaugh's facial clues

SUBHEAD: His smile is a grimace and his other expressions are those of someone in constant misery.

By Juan Wilson on 29 November 2018 for Island Breath -

Image above: Brett Kavanaugh attempting to present a pleasant smile during the Senate Judiciary Hearing on 11/28/18 for a Supreme Court Justice nomination. It is something that does not come naturally. Back when I was in High School we called this a "shit eating grin".

I have spent too much time recently listening to and seeing the face of Brett Kavanaugh. It's an ugly sensory experience. I say this because besides the ugly fascist and misogynist ideas embedded in his jurisprudence, he appears to be a bitter and unhappy man with some bad habits like drinking, gambling and womanizing.

I'm reminded of "Bret Maverick". Bret Maverick was a popular television show on ABC-TV from 1957 until 1962 (approximately my high school years). Bret Maverick was a western hero during a time when TV westerns were the main staple of night time TV.

Unlike the cowboys and sheriffs that made up the bulk of these protagonists Bret was a "bad boy". He was a Mississippi riverboat con artist. He gambled, drank and womanized when he wasn't dispensing justice to the "bad guys". Sound familiar?

Brett Kavanaugh was conceived and born not long after the show stopped production. Did his father name him after the TV show idol? Seems possible.

If not, it is still possible that current day Brett took some misinterpreted cues from a 1960's fictional hero - namely the drinking, gambling and womanizing.

The Bret Maverick character was played by the laid back, affable, quick to smile James Garner. And smiling and being laid back seems out of Brett Kavanhaugh's repertoire.

Image above: James Garner in publicity photo as Bret Maverick. From (

Almost all of the photographs and video of Brett Kavanaugh that I have seen do not show a pleasant expression on his face. His smile seems like something of a pattern of muscle maneuvers he has memorized to appear "happy". The rest of the facial expressions I see span a range of emotions from misery, to fear and loathing, to disgust and rage.

His demeanor at Georgetown Prep and Yale University was that of a goody-two-shoes and nasty frat boy. He seems strapped on a treadmill he despises.  Definitely a scary dude. 

Image above: Brett Kavanaugh at the Senate Judiciary Hearing on 11/28/18 for a Supreme Court Justice nomination. Never a pleasant, calm expressoion -but one of pain or revulsion.

Image above: Brett Kavanaugh at the Senate Judiciary Hearing on 11/28/18 for a Supreme Court Justice nomination. The man seems to be hiding a deep unhappiness or sadness.

Image above: Brett Kavanaugh at the Senate Judiciary Hearing on 11/28/18 for a Supreme Court Justice nomination. He is capable of irrational visciousness.

I'd rather have James Garner named to the US Supreme Court - even though he has been dead since 2014. 

RoundUp and honey bee decline

SUBHEAD: Millions of bees mysteriously disappeared, leaving farms with fewer pollinators for crops.

By Tyler Durden on 26 September 3018 for Zero Hedge -
Image above: United State Geological Survey map of the continental states showing extent and intensity of the use of glyphsoates applied to cropland in 2012. Click to enlarge.  From (

Glyphosate, the world's most common weed killer, has caused significant concerns over its potential risk to human health, animals, and the environment for several decades. Earlier this month, a US court awarded a groundskeeper $289 million who claimed Bayer AG unit Monsanto's glyphosate-based weed-killers, including Roundup, gave him terminal cancer.

Now, a new report from PNAS alleges that glyphosate may be indirectly killing honey bees around the world, a threat that could potentially also leave a major mark on the global economy.
“We need better guidelines for glyphosate use, especially regarding bee exposure, because right now the guidelines assume bees are not harmed by the herbicide.
Our study shows that’s not true.” said Erick Motta, the graduate student who led the research, along with professor Nancy Moran.
UT News of The University of Texas at Austin says that glyphosate interferes with an important enzyme found in plants and microorganisms, but not in animals, it has long been assumed to be nontoxic to animals, including humans and bees.

However, the latest study reveals that by altering a bee’s gut microbiome — the ecosystem of bacteria living in the bee’s digestive tract, including those that protect it from harmful bacteria — glyphosate jeopardizes its ability to fight infection.

For this study, scientists exposed honeybees to glyphosate at normal levels found on farms. The researchers painted the bees' backs with colored dots so they could be tracked and later recaptured.

Three days later, they saw that the honeybees exposed to glyphosate suffered a significant loss of bacteria in their guts and were more susceptible to infection and death from harmful bacteria.
“Studies in humans, bees and other animals have shown that the gut microbiome is a stable community that resists infection by opportunistic invaders,” Moran said. “So if you disrupt the normal, stable community, you are more susceptible to this invasion of pathogens.”
In recent times, US beekeepers have reported a massive loss of bees or Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD). Millions of bees mysteriously disappeared, leaving farms with fewer pollinators for crops. Officials have been baffled, and the media has been quiet about the bee population collapse.

Explanations for the phenomenon have included exposure to pesticides or antibiotics, habitat loss, and bacterial infections. The latest study now adds herbicides to the list as a possible contributing factor.
“It’s not the only thing causing all these bee deaths, but it is definitely something people should worry about because glyphosate is used everywhere,” said Motta.
Among the nuts, almond growers have the largest need for bee pollination. Bee pollination is worth $15 billion to the US farming industry.

Any sharp change in global bee populations could affect the beef and dairy industries. Bees pollinate clover, hay, and other forage crops. As the bee population dwindles, it increases the cost of feedstock.

That forces inflation into beef and milk prices at the grocery store and ultimately hurts the American consumer. This could then lead to increased imports of produce from foreign countries where bee populations are healthy, further widening the trade deficit.

Couple this with the current trade war and this particular "black swan" - or rather "black bee" - problem, may be just the tipping point that finally forces the US economy to catch down to the rest of the world.

Image above: United State Geological Survey map of the continental states showing extent and intensity of the use of glyphsoates applied to cropland in 1992, twenty years earlier than map above. Note that  at that time the Central Valley in California was the densest and most intense use of glyphosates on food crops.  From (

See also:
Ea O Ka Aina: Bayer Beware! 9/11/18
Ea O Ka Aina: Side effect of Monsanto's Roundup 6/24/17
Ea O Ka Aina: Glyphosate harms gut enzyme 6/21/17
Ea O Ka Aina: RoundUp for Breakfast 4/20/16
Ea O Ka Aina: RoundUp carcenogenic in California 9/14/15
Ea O Ka Aina: Roundup Threatens Coral Reefs 12/30/14
Ea O Ka Aina: Word out on Roundup soaked wheat 11/24/14
Ea O Ka Aina: Gluten or Glyphosate Intolerance? 11/18/14
Ea O Ka Aina: Roundup and Lymphoma 6/10/14
Ea O Ka Aina: Roundup and human health 4/25/13

The Off-Grid Poster Child

SUBHEAD: After the disaster of hurricane Maria, Puerto Rico is ripe to be the place to find stand-alone off-grid living.

By Juan Wilson on 20 September 2018 for Island Breath -

Image above: Electricity poles and lines lie toppled on the road after Hurricane Maria hit the eastern region of Puerto Rico. Photo: Carlos Giusti. From (

Well before hurricane Maria devastated the island of Puerto Rico on 20 September 2017 the infrastructure of the power grid had deteriorated to the point of fragility not seen elsewhere in America.

That grid was the responsibility of The Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority (PREPA). PREPA is a government-owned corporation of Puerto Rico responsible for electricity generation, power distribution, and power transmission on the island. Hurricane Maria demonstrated that PREPA was a failure and that it would not have the vision or resources needed to serve Puerto Rico.

Without the resources to repair what had been a frail and failing system, Maria provided a death blow to PREPA. The Puerto Rican people tuned to gas operated electrical generators that had been purchased by people who could afford them for the frequent PREPA blackouts. After Maria things got nasty. Neighborhoods strung extension cords between homes in suburban neighborhoods. They got by with less.

There were some isolated small scaled solar photo-voltaic electric systems in place - and they became important. The Wall Street Journal reported (
In the town rural town of Adjuntas, nestled in the mountains about an hour and a half southwest of San Juan, an NGO dedicated in part to solar power, called Casa Pueblo, became a pillar of the local recovery. 
When the town’s 18,000 residents were cut off from the rest of the island after Maria, the NGO’s solar-­powered radio helped authorities find out which roads were clear and which families were in danger, and attend to emergencies when the central government and federal authorities were not yet responding. 
Casa Pueblo subsequently gave out some 14,000 solar-powered lamps and also offered a solar-charged satellite phone at its offices for locals to use. At any given time, five to 10 people waited to make a call.

Arturo Massol, the associate director of Casa Pueblo and an ardent evangelist for decentralized, renewable energy, described what was happening on the island as “an energy insurrection.” Ordinary Puerto Ricans, he said, had woken up to the fact that when it came to electricity, they would have to look for alternatives.
This is part of a real solution. But that is not the direction that Puerto Rico is going. Instead the US government is planning on financing the privatization of PREPA through the creation of the “Puerto Rico Energy Transformation Administration (PRETA) that would provide guarantees (with US tax payer's money) for private energy corporations to rebuild the Puerto Rican grid. According to Debt Wire (
Still in rough draft form, a bill tentatively titled the “Puerto Rico Energy Stabilization and Hurricane Resiliency Act of 2018” delineates specific steps to have the federal government—via the DOE—take over PREPA, impose a temporary administrator to supersede Puerto Rico’s Energy Commission ratemaking power, establish a corporation to issue restructuring bonds, and create special investment assurance accounts as part of the utility’s ongoing privatization process.
Here on Kauai the failure of privately owned Kauai Electric took a different but similar turn.

Those with long memories know what happened when the privately owned Kauai Electric called it quits. We paid off the "stake holders" a couple hundred million dollars of borrowed money to create a the debt ridden Kauai Island Utility Cooperative (KIUC). We now pay about the highest rates in the country.

Like Puerto Rico, Kauai is a stand alone grid on an isolated island. What energy it produces is all the energy it will have available. To its credit, KIUC has aggressively been adding solar voltaic power generation capacity. But it has not encouraged Solar PV stand alone systems.

Instead it encourages "co-generation"... the placement of PV systems on individual homes to supplement KIUC power generation. Co-gen certainly can reduce KIUC's high price for grid power, but it is, by my observation,  no real incentive to reduce power consumption.

Co-gen also means some resilience capability if the grid goes down because of a natural disaster, electro-magnetic pulse (EMP) or other disaster.

But KIUC suffers from the same vulnerability that Puerto Rico faced when Maria struck. All the power distribution is provided by poles and large hurricane can knock those poles down like a house of cards. That happened on Kauai with hurricane Iniki in 1992. But instead of burying the power distribution lines (as is done in most modern community planning) Kauai Electric simply re-erected the old creosote soaked wooden power poles.

Stand alone solar power systems have several advantages if they are not backed up by a electric grid or fossil fuel powered generator.
  • They absolutely limit the consumption of power to the amount of energy collected from the sun.
  • They require customer awareness of usage and some maintenance encouraging greater self reliance.
  • They reduce overall power consumption by high energy appliances like microwave ovens or air compressors.
  • They are resilient in that only the minority of systems that are hit directly by a disaster are damaged.
  • They wean us from living outside the limitations of energy not supplied by nature where you live.  
What we found was that having multiple independent stand alone PV systems is a real advantage. We stumbled into that situation by slowing adding systems over time. We started with a single panel and added increasingly bigger systems over almost a decade as we gained experience and knowledge.

All our systems use an array of one of two battery types. One type are high capacity 12volt 110amp-hour lead acid deep cycle batteries available on Kauai. The other type are 6v 405 amp-hour AGM (absorbant glass mat) batteries.

There are two AGM systems.

One is attached to our circuit breaker panel-box. This is where KIUC used to hook up. We had KIUC come and take off the meter and wiring to our house. This systems powers all the switches and outlets built into the house.

The second AGM system is attached to a power inverter providing energy for our new refrigerator and freezer. See (

The five other systems are smaller for specific tasks using smaller power inverters.
  • One provides counter lighting and strip outlets for our kitchen as well as our guest bathroom.
  • A second one provides lighting and a power strip to our master bedroom and its bathroom.
  • A third one provides lighting and a power strip  (for tool battery charging) in shop/utility room.
  • A fourth provides power for and office computer, wifi system and small appliance batteries.
  • A fifth provides power to a stand-alone shack that serves as a guest house. 
This overlapping redundancy has proved to be valuable. Any one system can go down and we can work around the problem by switching plugs in outlets and/or swapping around compatible batteries.

Redundancy is good. We had a neighbor who went with KIUC co-gen. After about a year the single co-gen system inverter failed and her solar panels were providing nothing to reduce her energy bill. The installer claimed it was out of warranty and not their problem. It took over year to get the system up and working agian.

Looking to the future my advice, as usual, is learn to and act to:
  • Grow your own food
  • Collect your own water
  • Produce your own energy
  • Make and repair what you can.
The alternative is sitting around a fire with pointy sticks.

The Cult of Driverless Cars

SUBHEAD:  Will magic, solar-powered autonomous cars allow us to continue plundering the Earth?

By Andy Singer on 7 September 2018 for -

Image above: Andy Singer cartoon of a driverless car. From original article.

We constantly hear that driverless cars are just around the corner. We’re told they will revolutionize transportation and enable us to continue using our car-based transport and land-use system. If they’re made by Tesla, they’ll be powered by magic, solar-powered, super efficient batteries and we’ll all be able to keep living our hyper-mobile, hyper-consumptive lifestyles without any damage to the environment.

The only problem is we’ve been hearing about all this for the last five to ten years and there’s no evidence that it’s anything but the same old technological, capitalist utopian dreck that we’ve been hearing since General Motors debuted “Futurama” at the 1939 World’s Fair.

Technological utopianism fueled by science fiction is nothing new. If you’ve never seen it, watch Disney’s short animated film “Magic Highway” from 1958. It’s remarkably similar to this recent promotional film for an Elon Musk tubular underground transportation system in Los Angeles.
They’re both fantasies that maintain our inefficient, car-oriented transportation and land-use systems and help the Automobile Industrial Complex retain its stranglehold on our imaginations. They’re also fantasies that dovetail with corporate capitalism’s fantasy of automating the entire workforce and using technology to eliminate jobs and reduce costs.

In many ways, driverless cars have all the makings of a massive cult–the Cult of Technology. This is the idea that technology will somehow solve the problems of human greed, over-population and over-consumption of planetary resources, and therefore will also solve the related problems of climate change, waste, pollution, and species extinction. It’s an old fantasy but one we still buy into.

It preys on our laziness and gullibility and it distracts and deludes us so much that we can’t see basic realities staring us in the face.

Witness all the absurdly hyped stories about driverless cars in the media. This NBC news story is typical, gushing that “Self-driving cars will turn intersections into high-speed ballet.” Their “evidence” for this is just an animated simulation video. They’ve even got city and state governments devoting staff time and resources to “Planning for our driverless future.”

Non-profit “transit” advocacy groups like MoveMN have held seminars on it as if it’s an impending reality. Cheerleaders for driverless cars claim they will reduce traffic deaths, increase the efficiency and carrying capacity of roadways, reduce costs and revolutionize transportation.

Lots of money has poured into research and development of driverless vehicles–Waymo (Google), Volvo, Tesla, Mercedes, Uber and other companies have made and/or operated test vehicles and some sell commercially available cars with driverless features like parallel parking and glorified cruise control, or what they call “autopilot.”

Even companies like Intel are making bets on chip technology for driverless cars. With all this money and hype, you’d think that driverless vehicles will be taking over our roads in the next ten or twenty years.

But many folks, including the owner of the driverless shuttle company EasyMile and scientists at MIT and other institutions who are actually working on the technology say widespread use or deployment of driverless vehicles is a long way off and may never happen at all:
“Google often leaves the impression that, as a Google executive once wrote, the cars can ‘drive anywhere a car can legally drive.’ However, that’s true only if intricate preparations have been made beforehand, with the car’s exact route, including driveways, extensively mapped. Data from multiple passes by a special sensor vehicle must later be pored over, meter by meter, by both computers and humans. It’s vastly more effort than what’s needed for Google Maps.

…Pedestrians are detected simply as moving, column-shaped blurs of pixels—meaning …that the car wouldn’t be able to spot a police officer at the side of the road frantically waving for traffic to stop. …The car’s sensors can’t tell if a road obstacle is a rock or a crumpled piece of paper, so the car will try to drive around either. (Chris) Urmson (former director of the Google Car team) also says the car can’t detect potholes or spot an uncovered manhole if it isn’t coned off.

“There are major, unsolved, difficult issues here. We have to be careful that we don’t overhype how well it works. …I do not expect there to be taxis in Manhattan with no drivers in my lifetime.” (John Leonard, MIT Professor working on robotics navigation).
Uber’s autonomous test vehicles in Pittsburgh all have backup human operators and, in over 20,000 miles of operation, those operators have had to intervene every 0.8 miles. Then there are the crashes:
  • A fatal crash of a Tesla in autopilot mode in Heibei China in January 2016
  • A fatal crash of a Tesla in autopilot mode in Florida in May 2016
  • A pedestrian killed in Arizona by an Uber (Volvo) in December 2017
  • Another fatal crash of an auto-piloted Tesla on March 23 of this year in Mountain View, California
  • Teslas in semi-autonomous mode hitting parked fire trucks in January (Los Angeles) and May of this year (in Salt Lake City)
  • And, in California, the only state that requires reports on autonomous vehicle crashes, there’ve been 95 crashes as of August 31 of this year.

When you think about how few driverless cars are actually in service and that this is just one state’s statistics, that’s a lot of crashes. An early study in 2015, found self-driving cars were involved in twice as many crashes per mile as human-driven cars. You can say, “most of these were the fault of human drivers in other vehicles!”

But part of the technological challenge of driverless cars is that they have to share the road with humans.

We debate the ethics of driverless cars taking away our jobs, or debate whether people will accept them, as if they are an inevitable reality. But this debate obscures the fact that the technology itself is insanely complicated and expensive and many decades if not a lifetime away from widespread usage.

It’s one thing to make some test cars work consistently in ideal situations and another to get tens of thousands of them operating in concert with non-driverless cars, pedestrians, weather and all sorts of other variables.

A simple, fixed-guideway computerized transit system like Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART), with just five lines and a maximum of 54 trains, on set schedules to set destinations, hasn’t been able to go fully driverless and, at its best, experiences failures of on-time performance of around 10%.

Magnify this error rate by thousands for tens of thousands of autonomous cars driving in a metro area with pedestrians, cyclists, animals, potholes, unexpected road work and all sorts of other variables, and you start to get a sense of how complex the engineering problem becomes when you scale it up from just a few test vehicles. I can’t always get decent cell phone reception or a transit ticket vending machine that works correctly.

Yet I’m supposed to believe techno-utopian cultists who tell me that, in twenty years, we’ll all be getting around in driverless cars? They sound like Disney’s “Magic Highway” or like they’ve been watching too many Star Wars movies.

Image above: Andy Singer cartoon of a addicts of drugs and addicts of technology. From original article.

Let’s look at some of the folks hyping this technology. No one is more prominent than Elon Musk–a guy whose companies, Tesla and SpaceX, have never been profitable.

Yet at one point, Tesla was valued at more than major motor vehicle companies like Nissan or Ford, based entirely on hype and stock speculation.

His Hyperloop company hasn’t built an actual system anywhere in the world and is more of a concept and test track than an actually viable transportation system.

His battery and solar companies are also more hype than actual profitable product.

His solar business amounts to his acquisition of the company “SolarCity” from which he laid off 20% of the workforce.

This is a guy who wants to save humanity by colonizing Mars and who sent one of his cars to orbit Mars as a publicity stunt (but missed it).

His net worth is the product of pure stock market speculation, largely based on his cult of personality. To this point, Tesla has mostly made luxury electric automobiles that resemble fancy wrist watches or smartphones–status objects for the wealthy.

If his Model 3 isn’t successful, speculators could lose a lot of money, and Tesla recently had to lay off over 500 people and plans to lay off 2,500 more or about 9% of its workforce.

Indeed some financial analysts have finally started questioning his claims and the value of his companies. While some of his companies could be successful, they also have all the makings of a classic Ponzi scheme or failed start-ups on a massive scale.

Musk companies like Hyperloop remind me of the Personal Rapid Transit (PRT) scheme–a concept that hung around for almost 40 years before being abandoned or relegated to airport people-movers.

This included Taxi 2000, a failed Minnesota company whose investors sued each other to try to recoup some of millions of dollars they foolishly invested. Indeed many PRT simulation videos resemble the ones linked to at the beginning of this post.

Ironically, the PRT concept has died out in part because it has been eclipsed by the driverless car concept.

So when someone like Elon Musk makes wild claims about driverless cars, I’m skeptical. Google spun off its driverless car project (within Alphabet) to Waymo and is just focusing on development not manufacture.

Uber has gotten out of the driverless truck business, perhaps because the backup driver intervention rate was as bad as for its cars (almost once per mile).

A driverless car is still a car. It still needs energy, at least some of it from petroleum, to be manufactured, moved and disposed of. Anywhere from 23-46% of the energy a car consumes in its lifetime is an inherent part of its manufacture and disposal.

The steel, aluminum and plastics in its body and tires, the lithium (or lead/acid) in its batteries, and the asphalt and concrete for its roadways all require fossil fuels, mining, rare-earth metals, and/or huge amounts of energy to manufacture.

Driverless cars fail to address any of this and they fail to fully address another core problem of automobiles–inefficient land use.

Proponents claim that cities of driverless cars will reduce the need for parking and more efficiently use existing roadways but this is assuming the technology is able to decrease vehicle following distances, an even tougher engineering problem.

It’s futile to argue with a fantasy but, even if driverless cars could become widespread, why would I want more technology when all I need is denser, car-free, walkable cities where jobs, goods and services are closer together?

It’s a much surer, cheaper, less resource-intensive path to environmental sustainability.

Five years ago, several people bet me cases of beer that “in ten years at least 20% of cars on the road would be driverless.” I can tell you right now, there’s gonna be an amazing party in my back yard in 2022. You’re all invited.



SUBHEAD: The sudden end of a whole regional economy that was a tragic blunder from the get-go?

By James Kunstler on 14 September 2018 for -

Image above: Bedroom sheetrock drywalls in the home of Rashida Ferdinand in the New Orleans's Lower Ninth Ward blooming with health threatening mold following heavy rain and flooding in the wake of hurricane Katrina in 2005. From (

An awful lot of sheetrock is going to be permanently ruined over the next few days down along the coast of Dixieland. Following the spectacle of hurricane reportage on TV reveals very little while the event is in progress.

The cheapo building materials of the stereotypical strip malls flap around in the gale and the valiant cable news storm-chasers lean into the horizontal deluge in the empty parking lots, but their reportage doesn’t tell much of the real story, which only emerges when the roaring blob of weather moves on and the sun finally comes out.

More than a decade of punishing storms along the US coastline must be wrecking the insurance industry as much as the stuff on the landscape.

They’ve been pummeled from another direction for ten years by the supernaturally low interest rates that make it so hard to refurbish their coffers after whole regions like the Houston metro area and the entire island of Puerto Rico get blasted and they have to pay out billions in claims.

This time around, all those vinyl and chip-board McHouses along the Atlantic beaches will not be replaced. But farther inland, far from the roaring surf, along all the overflowing estuaries that drain the coastal plain, the damage will be widespread and epic.

It may create a whole new social class of de-housed, displaced Sunbelters who will never again have a decent place of their own to live in. Since many are retirees, the event may even lead to a stealth die-off of people who are just too far along to start over.

The lamentation for the northern part of “flyover” America is an old story now. Nobody is surprised anymore by the desolation of de-industrialized places like Youngstown, Ohio, or Gary, Indiana, where American wealth was once minted the hard way by men toiling around blast furnaces.

But the southeast states enjoyed a strange interlude of artificial dynamism since the 1950s, which is about three generations, and there is little cultural memory for what the region was like before: an agricultural backwater with few cities of consequence and widespread Third Worldish poverty, barefoot children with hookworm, and scrawny field laborers in ragged straw hats leaning on their hoes in the stifling heat.

The demographic shifts of recent decades turned a lot of it into an endless theme park of All-You-Can-Eat buffets, drive-in beer emporia, hamburger palaces, gated retirement subdivisions, evangelical churches built like giant muffler shops, vast wastelands of free parking, and all the other trappings of the greatest misallocation of resources in the history of the world.

Like many of history’s prankish proceedings, it seemed like a good idea at the time.

As survivors slosh around in the plastic debris in the weeks ahead, and the news media spins out its heartwarming vignettes of rescue and heroism, will there be any awareness of what has actually happened: the very sudden end of a whole regional economy that was a tragic blunder from the get-go?

It is probably hard to imagine Dixieland struggling into whatever its next economy might be. In some places, it’s not even possible to return to a prior economy based on agriculture. A lot of the landscape was farmed so ruinously for two hundred years that the soil has turned into a kind of natural cement, called hardpan or caliche.

The climate prospects for the region are not favorable either, not to mention the certain cessation of universal air-conditioning and “happy motoring” that made the unwise mega-developments of recent decades possible.

The one salutary effect of Hurricane Florence may be that news of the after-effects will supersede the incoherent manufactured political blather welling up around the coming midterm elections — especially if the financial damage is powerful enough to disturb the debt-fueled occult economic “boom” attributed to the magic powers of our deal-wielding POTUS.


Half-Earth, Half-Baked

SUBHEAD: Can a lower human population on only half of Earth's land allow for continuity of life?

By Chris Smaje on 4 September 2018 for Small Farm Future -

Image above: Insanity itself from Ecomodernists - "A manifesto to use humanity's extraordinary powers in service of creating a good Anthropocene."From (

I’ve been writing in my book draft lately about the role of livestock in a small farm future, which has led me by a somewhat circuitous but probably fairly obvious route to reading Harvard biologist and conservationist E.O. Wilson’s Half-Earth (W.W. Norton, 2016), in which he argues that we should leave half our planet’s surface as “inviolable reserves” for nature.

I found it an interesting and informative, if also somewhat vague and rambling, little book (still, if I succeed in publishing a book that’s no more rambling than Wilson’s when I’m 87 I’ll be happy).

One of Wilson’s key points is that we’re not yet even close to knowing all the species with which we share the biosphere, let alone knowing how they fit into wider sets of ecological relationships.

Therefore, from numerous perspectives but not least human self-preservation, he argues that it’s not a good idea to wantonly let species go extinct.

Yet this, sadly, is what’s currently happening by the hand of humanity, with an extinction rate now around a thousand times higher than before the spread of humans around the world.

This amounts to a sixth mass planetary extinction, which will rival over a few human generations what the last one, the Chicxulub asteroid impact that ultimately did for the dinosaurs, achieved on one bad day – but in geological terms, the time difference is slight.

Wilson deploys his biological expertise to great effect throughout the book in a running battle with Anthropocene theorists, “novel ecosystem” enthusiasts and outriders of the ‘ecomodernist’ Breakthrough Institute like Emma Marris and Erle Ellis who’ve likewise detained me on this website over the years.

The basic message of the Anthropocenites to threatened species and to the people who wish to defend them runs something like ‘this is a human planet now – so deal with it, or get out the way’.

In practical terms, they raise the valid point that in an ever-changing and stochastic biota there’s never a baseline point of ‘balance’ to which conservationism can aim its restorative efforts.

To which Wilson makes the nice rejoinder that this is a problem that should be formulated as a scientific challenge, not an excuse for throwing up our hands and singing que será será.

But then, in the penultimate chapter, he lets it all run through his fingers. Take this passage:
“The [human ecological footprint] will not stay the same. The footprint will evolve, not to claim more and more space, as you might at first suppose, but less. The reason lies in the evolution of the free market system, and the way it is increasingly shaped by high technology….

Just as natural selection drives organic evolution by competition among genes to produce more copies of themselves per unit cost in the next generation, raising benefit-to-cost of production drives the evolution of the economy. Almost all of the competition in a free market…raises the average quality of life.

Teleconferencing, online purchases and trade, e-book personal libraries, access on the Internet to all literature and scientific data, online diagnosis and medical practice, food production per hectare sharply raised by indoor vertical gardens with LED lighting, genetically engineered crops and microorganisms…” (p.191)
Enough already, Edward…we get your point. After nineteen chapters of amiable good sense, Wilson suddenly goes full ecomodernist, as if some devilish Breakthrough Institute hacker finally figured out how to make him stop his anti-Anthropocene agitating by messing with his neurons like a cordyceps fungus attacking one of his beloved ants.

I won’t dwell here on how wrongheaded all this is – regular readers and commenters on this blog are well appraised of the counter-arguments. I don’t even dispute that there are some aspects of emerging high technology that might help us mitigate some of our present predicaments.

But, my dear professor, the ‘evolution’ of the ‘free market system’ is not among them – rather, it’s the ‘free market system’ (or, more precisely, corporate capitalism – which isn’t really the same thing at all, but is the beast that Wilson is implicitly invoking) that has biodiversity in its deathly grip.

Wilson is pretty vague about what a ‘half-earth’ devoted to inviolable nature would actually look like, though he tells us that it needn’t involve dividing off the planet into large pieces the size of continents or nation-states, and earlier on in the book he demurs from the idea that ‘wilderness’ necessarily implies a lack of human residents.

He favors a lower human population, but says nothing about urban vis-à-vis rural residence or the nature of the agriculture necessary to support a half-earth world (other than his half-baked half-earth of vertical farming and LED lights).

His simple point really is that the number of species going extinct usually varies by something like the fourth root of the area available to them, so if we make half the planet available to wild species we should retain about 85% of them.

Of course, things are more complicated than that in reality, but maybe it’s not such a bad place to start – especially if we proceed by trying to ensure that existing wildernesses and centers of biodiversity are protected first.

A quick look at the FAO’s global land use statistics reveals that in fact only about 37% of the planet’s land area is devoted to agriculture, with about 4% devoted to cities, roads and other artificial surfaces.

So by those lights Wilson’s half-earth ambitions are already achieved – though it’s doubtless fair to say that we humans have appropriated the nicest territory for our agriculture (about a third of nature’s 60% share is glaciated or barren land).

Still, perhaps when Wilson says we should leave half the earth as “inviolable reserves” he means really inviolable – so no chemical pollution of any kind, and perhaps no climate change either, creeping in from the human side of the planet.

If that’s so, then the ‘half-earth’ idea is a little misleading because it draws attention to land take, when it should really be drawing attention to human practices like GHG emissions and nitrate pollution (another reason to question the ‘land sparing’ critique of organic farming).

Maybe instead of a half-earth we need a quarter-earth – which would be easily achieved by cutting back on rangeland and arable crops grown as livestock fodder (nearly 70% of global agricultural land is permanent meadow or pasture – yet another inconvenient truth for the land sparers, who illogically obsess over the 1% of organically-farmed land).

But I think what we really need is a no GHG emissions and a no pollution earth. How to achieve that?

Well, I’m open to ideas but here’s my half-earth halfpenny’s worth: stop fishing in the open ocean, stop extracting fossil fuels, stop making synthetic fertilizer (except as a stopgap measure via special government derogation).

Decide on the total human land-take, which gives a global per capita acreage. Then divide it up equally between the people of the world for carbon-free homesteading.

Those who prefer not to avail themselves of this generous offer and continue working in the city would be entitled to do so with the proviso that they forfeit, say, 50% of their earnings on top of tax, split between practical conservation, farmer support, agro-ecological research funds and mitigation of the environmental "bads" caused by the commercial-industrial farming that their old-falutin city-slicking ways would probably bring forth.

I’ll admit that it needs working up a bit more – a few details to fill in, some implementation issues to address. Perhaps you can help me in that task.

My starter for ten is that this system won’t emerge by the ‘evolution’ of a free market system increasingly shaped by high technology. Wilson might have realized this, if only he’d consulted an economist biologist…


Armageddon Rides in the Balance

SUBHEAD: Never before have irrationality and immorality had such a firm hold on the US government.

By Paul Craig Roberts on 10 September 2018 for -

Image above: Many in this world inhabit Armageddon already. Damaged buildings are seen at the Yarmouk Palestinian camp in Damascus, Syria. April 28, 2018. Photo by Omar Sanadiki. From (

IB Publisher's note: Yes Paul Craig Roberts is a nutcake. He is a Ronald Reagan Republican economist who sees clearly, but through a deeply colored filter. None the less, he does have an inkling of the dichotomy between the "Left" and the "Right". The "Left" with elements of the "Deep State" (intelligence complex, CIA, NSA, State Department, etc) and the "Right" with elements of the "Military-Industrial Complex" (Pentagon, Defense contractors, Mercenary operations, ICE, etc.). Both aspects of our government are hurtling towards a more repressive and garrulous America. As these aggressive and regressive forces gain influence, woe is us. America will conduct more war and experience more repression.] 

For some time I have pointed out the paradox of the American liberal/progressive/left being allied with the CIA, FBI, military/security complex and deep state. Now leftist Ann Garrison has noticed the paradox of this alliance. She concludes that the Left has lost its mind.

Indeed, it has.

Out of its hatred of Trump the Left has united with the forces of evil and war that are leading to conflict with Russia. The Left’s hatred of Trump shows that the American Left has totally seperated from the interests of the working class, which elected Trump.

The American Left has abandoned the working class for the group victimizations and hatreds of Identity Politics. As Hillary put it, the working class comprises the “Trump deplorables.” The Democratic Party, like the Republicans, represents the ruling oligarchy.

I have explained that the leftwing lost its bearings when the Soviet Union collapsed and socialism gave way to neoliberal privatizations.

The moral fury of the leftwing movement had to go somewhere, and it found its home in Identity Politics in which the white heterosexual male takes the place of the capitalist, and his victim groups—blacks, women, homosexuals, illegal immigrants—take the place of the working class.

The consequences of the leftwing’s alliance with warmongers and liars is the leftwing’s loss of veracity. The Left has endorsed a CIA orchestration—“Russiagate”—for which there is no known evidence, but which the Left supports as proven truth.

The purpose of “Russiagate” is to prevent President Trump from normalizing relations with Russia. In these times when so many Americans are hard pressed, normal relations could adversely impact the budget and power of the military/security complex by reducing the “Russian threat.”

If there is no real Russian threat, only an orchestrated perceived one, the question arises: why does the military/security complex have a taxpayer-supported annual budget of $1,000 billion dollars?

The presstitutes have kept the truth from emerging that the “Russiagate” investigation has found no sign of a Trump/Putin plot to steal the 2016 presidential election from Hillary.

Indeed, it has been proven beyond all questioning that the Hillary emails were not hacked but were downloaded on a thumb drive. This proof collapses the entire premise of “Russiagate.”
Nevertheless, the hoax continues.

Muller’s indictments are for unrelated matters, such as income tax evasion in the distant past of Republican fund raisers and consultants. These charges have nothing whatsoever to do with Mueller’s mandate.

Indeed, as Andrew C. McCarthy, a former US attorney who led the 1995 terrorism prosecution against Sheik Omar Abdel Rahman for the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, has made clear, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein’s appointment of Mueller to head the “Russiagate” investigation is not in compliance with the regulations that govern the appointment of a special prosecutor.

The appointment of a special prosecutor requires evidence of a specific federal crime that is to be investigated. You only have a special prosecutor when there is factual basis for believing that a federal crime has been committed.

What is the federal crime? What is the factual basis? Mueller’s appointment does not say. Therefore, Mueller’s appointment is invalid. Rosenstein has violated the process.

In my opinion, this is grounds for Rosenstein to be removed from office.

At one time, Congress—both parties—would have been all over the invalid Mueller appointment.

However, after 16 years of Cheney/Bush and Obama regime lawlessness, even Republicans accept that the Constitution’s restraints on executive branch power, along with the laws and regulations Congress has established specifying the exercise of these powers, have been rendered meaningless by the “war on terror,” a hoax designed to further Israel’s interests in the Middle East and the neoonservative doctrine of US hegemony, while making billions of dollars for the military/security complex.

Charlie Savage’s book, Takeover, and David Ray Griffin’s book, Bush and Cheney: How They Ruined America and the World, accurately document how 9/11 was used to destroy the Constitution’s balance of power within the government and to create unaccountable executive branch powers that over-ride the Constitution’s protection of civil liberty.

This demand for an unaccountable executive branch, pushed by VP—actually President in fact—Dick Cheney and his minions, such as Addington and John Yoo, was the agenda of the Republican Federalist Society.

An early book laying out the legally invalid and legally incompetent argument that the president had powers unchecked by Congress or the judiciary was Terry Eastland’s book, Energy in the Executive.

This collection of nonsense became Cheney’s bible as he proceeded in secret to remove constraints on executive branch power. The elevation of the executive branch above the law of the land is documented in Charlie Savage’s book. Read it and weep for your country destroyed by Dick Cheney.

On top of Cheney’s coup against accountable government, we have in America today another coup, organized by former CIA director John Brennan, former FBI director Comey, deputy attorney general Rod Rosenstein, the Democratic National Committee, the departed Republican senator John McCain, a coup fully supported by the entirety of the US presstitute media.

This coup is against the democratically elected President of the United States for the sole reason that he threatens the power and profit of the entrenched military/security complex, about which President Eisenhower warned us 57 years ago, by wanting to normalize relations with Russia, the world’s premier nuclear power.

The question is unavoidable: Why do the American people put up with this? Are they so insouciant that they have no realization that, if a president can be driven from office because he wants peace with Russia, the removed president’s successor will have to stand against Russia or also be driven from office. Trust and negotiation between the nuclear powers becomes impossible.

Why do Americans support conflict with a nuclear power that can completely destroy America?

During the entirety of the Cold War, in which I was a participant, the emphasis was on reducing tensions and creating trust. Today Washington’s interest is piling provocation after provocation on a country that can wipe us off the face of the earth.

The liberal/progressive/left, the Democratic National Committee, the CIA and the rest of the covert state, and the media whores all share this same commitment to the reckless and irresponsible provocation of a powerful nuclear power. As the US military itself acknowledges, Russia’s weapons are far beyond America’s defenses.

So what is going on? Is it the liberal/progressive/left’s desire that evil America be destroyed? Is this desired destruction of evil America the reason the Left has allied itself so tightly with the warmongers in Washington?

Is this the reason that the Left and the Democrats and a handful of Republicans want to impeach President Trump for attempting to make peace with Russia?

How can these crazed immoral people present themselves as some sort of moral arbiter when they are locked on a trajectory that will destroy Earth?

This destruction might be closer than anyone thinks. Here is the situation in Syria:

Russia and Syria, in cooperation with Iran and Turkey, have begun the assult on Iblid province, the last stronghold of Washington’s proxy army consisting of Al Qaeda, Al Nursra, and ISIS mercenaries hired by Washington.

According to reports, which might or might not be true considering the lack of veracity that is the defining characteristic of the Western media, the US and UK have troops among the mercenary forces, hoping apparently that this presence will deter the attack. As the attack has already begun, this is a false hope.

The Russians discovered Washington’s plot to explode a chemical weapon in Iblid province and exposed Washington’s plot to the UN. Washington had it set up that once its proxies created the appearance of a chemical weapon explosion, Washington would send Tomahawk missiles upon the Syrian forces, thus protecting its proxy army that it sent to overthrow Assad for Israel.

The Russian exposure of Washington’s conspiracy has denied Washington UN support. Moreover, Russia has sent a naval force armed with the new Russian hypersonic missiles to Syria and has announced that its aircraft in the area are also armed with these missiles.

As the US Navy and Air Force have no defense whatsoever against these missiles, if the US attacks the Syrian/Russian forces, it will be Putin’s decision whether any US ship or military aircraft in the area exists as anything but a smoldering ruin.

In other words, the entire power in the area lies in Russian hands. If Washington had any sense—and it doesn’t, Washington has hubris and arrogance in the place of sense—Washington would be nowhere close to Syria.

The question is this: Will the hotheads in Washington conclude that the Russian announcements and marshalling of forces is “just another Putin bluff.”

So far Putin has been loaded up with never-ending insults and provocation— blame for the crash of the Malaysian airliner, blame for poisoning a variety of people in England, blame for invading Ukraine, blame for interfering in US elections, blame for supporting the “dictator” Assad, a person democratically elected by a large vote who obviously has the support of the Syrian people as he liberates Syria from the forces Washington sent to put the country into the same chaos that exists in Iraq and Libya.

Have we reached the situation about which I have been worried, worries shared with my readers, in which Washington makes the miscalculation, based on the incorrect understanding of Russia’s resolve, to launch an attack on the Syrian/Russian forces that have begun the final liberation of Syria from Washington’s paid mercenaries?

Yesterday the Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity sent a letter to President Trump advising him of the war danger that the Trump administration has created by its continued illegal interference in Syria’s internal affairs.

The Russian government cannot accept Washington’s military intervention in behalf of Al Qaeda, Al Nursa, and ISIS without completely losing all credibility, not only in the world, but inside Russia itself.

A realistic alternative to military action would be for Washington to stand aside as Syria reconstitutes itself and use a propaganda war to blame Syria and Russia for civilian deaths and for destroying “democratic rebels” who rose against a “dictator.”

The fear could be expanded to the Baltics and Ukraine by reviving the propaganda that Putin intends to reconstruct the Soviet Empire.

Washington has long used an expertly manufactured fear of Russia to control Europe. Fear can keep Europe in line, whereas military action against Russia could scare Europe into taking refuge in a revival of its sovereignty.

Yesterday the Wall Street Journal reported: “President Bashar al-Assad of Syria has approved the use of chlorine gas in an offensive against the country’s last major rebel stronghold, U.S. officials said, raising the prospects for another retaliatory U.S. military strike as thousands try to escape what could be a decisive battle in the seven-year-old war.”

According to the Wall Street Journal, the US strikes could target Russian and Iranian forces as well as Syrian forces.

It is difficult to believe that Washington thinks attacks on Russian forces would go unanswered. Such a reckless and irresponsible act could initiate Armageddon.

The claim that Assad has approved the use of chlorine gas in the liberation of Iblid is propagandistic nonsense put out by Washington as an excuse for Washington’s effort to protect its proxy army in Syria with military strikes.

All Syrian chemical weapons were removed by Russia and turned over to the US during the Obama regime. Moreover, Russia would not permit Assad to use chemical weapons if he had them.

Life on earth is faced with a situation in which Washington is so determined to overthrow Assad and to leave Syria in the same chaos as Libya and Iraq that Washington is willing to risk war with Russia.

Never before have irrationality and immorality had such a firm hold on a government. The world should be scared to death of the recklessness and irresponsibility of the US government.


A search for words in Indian country

SUBHEAD: In a tribal-managed forest I could not use the English language to describe what I was seeing.

By Stephanie Woodard on 3 September 2018 for Yes Magazine -
Image above: Photo of a sustainably managed Native American forest. From original article. Click to enlarge.

My focus on Native subject matter started in the late 1990s, when I was deputy editor of Garden Design magazine. As part of an effort to offer readers more environmental coverage, I assigned a writer to report the story of a guitar owned by music star Rosanne Cash.

The Gibson guitar company had made the instrument from sustainably logged wood provided by the Menominee Tribe’s timber-products firm.

Before asking the writer to trace the guitar back to its origins in the Wisconsin forest, I did the due diligence any editor engages in when assigning a story. I visited Cash at her New York City house and talked to representatives of Gibson and the tribal enterprise.

I interviewed forest-products engineers who had visited the forest as part of a Rainforest Alliance program that certified timber as sustainably logged for buyers that wanted such products.

I learned unexpected things, which would set a pattern for my reporting in years to come. In Indian Country, you can expect to be frequently surprised by facts or ideas that lie around the next corner. Officials of Menominee Tribal Enterprises told me that the tribe had logged its 235,000-acre forest intensively for 150 years, extracting 2.5 billion board feet of lumber according to principles laid down by 19th-century chiefs.

The tribe had, in essence, removed the forest three times over during that period. Yet the tract looked untouched, said the engineers who had toured it. They raved about its biodiversity and beauty.

I saw striking satellite photographs, in which the tribe’s forest was a darker green than the surrounding areas. The Menominees had managed this by making harvesting decisions with all the forest’s inhabitants in mind.

If felling a tree in a certain direction would destroy a butterfly habitat or food for ruffled grouse, the forester looked for another option. Essentially, the forest was treated like a garden. As a result, it was in radiant health.

According to one engineer, the timber cut from it was so good, new grades had been created just for the Menominees. To top it all off, the forest-products company supported job creation that easily outstripped that of most small businesses its size.

The tribe had improved its forest by using it aggressively: to me, sitting in an office building in New York City, this sounded like alchemy.

At the time, not interacting with nature was more typically understood as the way to protect it—a concept that has fallen by the wayside to a large degree because of the influence of indigenous people and their ideas. I thought, if Native timber-products companies were so interesting, their gardens must be amazing.

I called Native Seeds/SEARCH, a Tucson seed bank for heirloom indigenous crops, and talked to Angelo Joaquin, a Tohono O’odham tribal member who was then its director. He suggested I talk to Clayton Brascoupé, a Mohawk/Algonquin farmer who lives at Tesuque Pueblo and runs the Traditional Native American Farmers Association, in Santa Fe.

Brascoupé showed me around the remains of ancient Puebloan plots north of the city, then put me in touch with farmers at Cochiti Pueblo, which is south of Santa Fe. I ended up in a field there, face-to-face with corn, beans, squash, and an indigenous culture’s time-honored yet contemporary way of doing and being.

A culture’s concepts are most accurately conveyed in its own language.

My first inchoate thought was that I had no idea how to use the English language to describe what I was seeing. A culture’s concepts are most accurately conveyed in its own language, so even the basics confused me.

To begin with, was I looking at a garden, which implies guardianship by a caretaker who cultivates each plant as an individual, as the Menominees did the trees in their forest? Or was this large prolific plot better called a farm, which connotes large-scale (and nowadays often industrial) production of food?

If there were no exact equivalents, which words came closest? I started to worry about the ancestry of the English synonyms from among which I would choose as I wrote about this place. Anglo-Saxon contributions to our vocabulary have a sense of simplicity and candor that made sense for these unpretentious plots.

The Latin contribution came into English as the language of scholars; using this part of our vocabulary might convey the contemplative aspects of Native life, including the thinking and activities surrounding the growing of food crops.

I was dumbstruck—no other way to describe it. I posed the language question to two older Pueblo gentlemen who were showing me around Cochiti: Gabe Trujillo and Joseph Benado. “Those aren’t the distinctions we make,” Benado said. He went on to describe a vocabulary that tracked the English words in some ways but diverged in others.

Shifting from English to Keres, the language of the southern Pueblos, Benado explained, as the governor of the Pueblos translated, that plant-rearing is akin to child-rearing for his people. The two activities share terms and concepts. Both involve spiritual and practical considerations.

Benado expanded on the linguistic characteristics of Keres by describing the life cycle of corn: “You plant the corn, and the seed has one name. When it sprouts, it has another. As it grows, it has another name. As the ear comes to life, it is called another thing.

When it is ripe, it is called another, and when it’s harvested, another. As it dries, it has another name. When the stalk has dried in the field, it has another; and what’s left goes back into the earth.” Returning to English, Benado added, “I enjoy what I do so much.

When I look at my family’s table, filled with what I have grown, I feel such joy at having provided for them. Farming makes you a better person, because you are always looking forward to next year.”

When Benado made that first language shift, from English to Keres, the timbre of his voice changed. When he spoke in English, it was low-pitched, or what we might call bass. In Keres, he was a baritone, with the words accompanied by a resonant breathiness and overtones, or higher related notes, that proceeded in harmony with the basic pitch.

Had I not been there in person, I would have thought two different people had spoken in turn. Embedded in each language was an identity so powerful that it transformed the speaker physiologically and further emphasized the cultural divide.

Over the years, I have become used to writing across the divide and describing, however imperfectly, what I saw in one Native community after another. Though I started out writing about agriculture and culture, I quickly realized that you cannot talk about crops without talking about the land, and you cannot talk about the land without talking about why the original people of this country have so little of what they once held.

And you cannot consider that without looking at the human-rights crisis this has wrought in communities whose interaction with the natural world is the basis of every aspect of life, from the most mundane to the most rarified.

Early on, I began receiving weekly and sometimes daily calls—and later emails and texts as well—from all over Indian Country alerting me to events and people I might want to look into and write about. A lot of the leads ended up as articles; some became yearlong, or even multiyear, series. Eventually, they led to this book.

Along the way, I have never lost the feeling that with each reporting assignment I am a visitor to a world whose outlines I can only begin to sense.

• Excerpt from American Apartheid: The Native Struggle for Self-Determination and Inclusion by Stephanie Woodard, with photographs by Joseph Zummo, published with permission of IG Publishing.


The Real 9/11 Conspiracy

SUBHEAD: The US pretending it was not Saudi Arabia that flew two commercial jets into the World Trade Center towers.

By Sonali Kolatkar on 23 May 2016 for TruthDig -

Image above: North tower burning (right) as South tower is struck by commercial jet. From (

I remember watching the towers fall.

My sister called early in the morning to tell me to turn on the television. My husband and I, who had been working closely with Afghan women organizing against the Taliban, stared at the screen, aghast as the buildings crumbled.

Like everyone else the world over, we realized it was a moment that was going to change history. We also realized that ordinary people, including our friends in Afghanistan, were going to pay the price for something they likely had nothing to do with.

And sure enough, on Oct. 7, 2001, despite the fact that 15 of the 19 hijackers were Saudi nationals, the U.S. went to war with Afghanistan. That war, the longest in U.S. history, remains a bloody weight on our collective conscience.

But as soon as the towers fell and Congress rushed to hand over blanket authority to President Bush to wantonly bomb, whispers of “an inside job” began circulating on the internet.

Those whispers snowballed as the war expanded from Afghanistan to Iraq. Many anti-war activists, eager to undermine the flawed rationale for the Iraq War, insisted ever more shrilly that Bush and company were likely behind the attacks or knew ahead of time that the attacks were coming and failed to act purposefully.

Complex and convoluted arguments about the temperatures at which the towers’ beams melted were vociferously trotted out on public radio and in Internet chat rooms. Jesse Ventura jumped into the fray. Films like “Loose Change” and “Zeitgeist” offered seductive theories for Americans to latch onto as they became angry about our rush to war.

As a journalist, I often came under fire from the so-called “9/11 truthers” for being a “gatekeeper” and refusing to take the conspiracy theories seriously. I was much more interested in the devastation being wrought by the U.S. in the name of the 9/11 attacks.

And one irrefutable fact kept arising over and over in my mind: 15 of the 19 hijackers were Saudi nationals. It was a simple fact that everyone agreed on. It had nothing to do with secrets, lies or thermodynamics. It was out in the open.

Here is a plausible conspiracy: The Saudi government, known for aiding and abetting fundamentalist terrorist groups in order to legitimize its own extremist ideology, may well have been involved with some of the 9/11 terrorists, whether or not they knew the hijackers’ intentions.

Once those links were revealed, the U.S. government, which has a history of cozy relations with the Saudis for various reasons (oil, regional influence, weapons sales, etc.), may have wanted to overlook those embarrassing connections and instead divert the American public to countries it had an interest in, namely Iraq (with Afghanistan as a stepping stone).

But in 2004, the 9/11 Commission, a 10-person government panel created to investigate the attacks, absolved the Saudi Arabian government of any involvement. (It also faulted intelligence agencies for lack of coordination.) This was thought to be the end of the story. We were supposed to accept as mere coincidence the fact that the majority of the hijackers were Saudi citizens.
Now it turns out that the far more plausible 9/11 conspiracy could be true. After years of rumors that a classified section of a 2002 congressional report held the key to a Saudi role, The Guardian newspaper recently interviewed a member of the 9/11 Commission who confirmed these suspicions.

John Lehman, a Republican and former U.S. Navy secretary under President Reagan, asserted, “There was an awful lot of participation by Saudi individuals in supporting the hijackers, and some of those people worked in the Saudi government.” According to The Guardian, Lehman was aware of “five Saudi government officials who were strongly suspected of involvement in the terrorists’ support network.”

Lehman, along with several members of Congress, wants the Obama administration to declassify the so-called “28 pages” that were kept secret. While Obama decides whether or not to release the documents, the GOP-dominated Senate has just passed a bill that would allow families of 9/11 victims to sue the Saudi government. The Saudis are predictably outraged, and Obama will likely veto the bill to assuage the U.S. ally.

Why is any of this important, particularly given the GOP’s penchant for finding any excuse, however insignificant, to oppose Obama?

It is important because the entire premise of current U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East is based on an assumption that no government actors were involved in the 9/11 attacks.

 Rather, we were told, it was a series of shadowy and reprehensible groups, including “al-Qaida, the Taliban and their associated forces,” in Obama’s own words, that have been targeted for blame and elimination. Just who those “associated forces” are is unknown. In reality, the “enemy” is about as classified as Saudi Arabia’s role in 9/11.

The wars in Afghanistan and Iraq that began well over a decade ago unleashed chaos and violence. They generated the gulag in Guantanamo, Cuba. They were expanded via drone strikes in Pakistan, Libya, Yemen and Somalia.

They have killed untold numbers of innocents and inspired hatred toward the U.S. The U.S. has undermined the Arab Spring movements for democracy in countries like Egypt and even bolstered Saudi Arabia’s brutal quashing of democracy in Bahrain.

It has partnered with the Saudis on a bloody war in Yemen and continued its long-standing tradition of selling the wealthy Gulf monarchy more weapons than it knows what to do with.

The real 9/11 conspiracy is that, despite recent claims that “U.S.-Saudi relations are strained,” close ties between the two countries are worth far more than uncovering what really happened on Sept. 11, 2001.

The real conspiracy has been out in the open all along. We are told that we need to trust that our government is handling the terrorists who hate us and tried to kill us, even if many contend that the wars have made us less safe. But it turns out our government is simply and amiably working along with the nation most implicated in the 9/11 attacks.

None of this is to imply that the U.S. should have bombed Saudi Arabia instead of Afghanistan in 2001. Our post-9/11 military incursions all point to the singular fact that the “War on Terror” has been a “War of Terror.”

On the lengthy list of reasons our modern era of warfare is immoral, misguided, murderous, violent and in every sense wrong, the revelations of Saudi links to the 9/11 attacks ought to be the final straw.

See also:
Ea O Ka Aina: 9/11 The Day America Ended 9/11/16
Ea O Ka Aina: What We've Lost Since 911 6/16/14
Ea O Ka Aina: New Meaning for Day After 911 9/12/13
Ea O Ka Aina: 911 Aftermath - Our Self Defeat
Ea O Ka Aina: The Price of 911 9/7/11
Ea O Ka Aina: Giuliani 911 NY PD FD Fraud
Ea O Ka Aina: Israel as a Failed State
Island Breath: 7th Anniversary of September 11th
Island Breath: The War on Terror Begins 9/11/2001 9/9/06
Island Breath: Bush-Taliban Deal Disaster


Bayer Beware!

SUBHEAD: Lawyers claim to have "Explosive" documents concerning Monsanto and RoundUp.

By Tyler Durden on 11 September 2018 for Zero Hedge -

Image above: Common Ragweed is becoming resistant to glyphsate applications in Nebraska. Ragweed plants from a glyphosate-resistant (left) and susceptible population (right) three weeks after application of 44 ounces per acre of Roundup PowerMax (that is one ounce per thousand square feet). From (

Lawyers involved in a California lawsuit against Monsanto claim to have "explosive" documents concerning the Bayer-owned agrochemical giant's activities in Europe, according to Euronews.
"What we have is the tip of the iceberg. And in fact we have documents now in our possession, several hundreds documents, that have not been declassified and some of those are explosive," said US lawyer Robert Kennedy Jr, adding - "And many of them are pertinent to what Monsanto did here in Europe. And that's just the beginning."
Monsanto - bought by Germany's Bayer AG in June for $66 billion, was ordered in August to pay a historic $289 million to a former school groundskeeper, Dewayne Johnson, who said Monsanto's Roundup weedkiller gave him terminal cancer. Monsanto says it will appeal the verdict.

Environmental lawyers have been in Brussels in order to address a European Parliament special committee on the issue.
"They are fighting a fight for more democracy and for transparency and to get a better insight in how big corporation such as Monsanto act and try to manipulate the facts," said Belgium MEP Bart Staes.
Last November EU approved the use of glyphosate - a key chemical in Roundup, following five years of heated debate over whether it causes cancer. While it was approved for just five years until 2022 vs. the usual 15 years, there are now rumors that they will withdraw Roundup's license this year altogether.

Labeled a carcinogen by the EPA in 1985, the agency reversed its stance on glyphosate in 1991. The World Health Organization's cancer research agency, however, classified the compound as "probably carcinogenic to humans" in 2015. California, meanwhile, has the chemical listed in its Proposition 65 registry of chemicals known to cause cancer. 

See also:
Ea O Ka Aina: A MAtch Made in Hell 6/30/18


Microdosing with LSD

SUBHEAD: It's a growing phenomena in Silicon Valley. But does it actually work?

By Dominique Mosbergen on 3 September 2018 for Huffington Post -
Image above: Painting titled "St. Albert" by the artist Alex Gray. Dr. Albert Hofmann is the Swiss chemist who discovered LSD, thus catalyzing a consciousness revolution. Surrounding Hofmann in the painting are luminaries who have written about the powerful positive influence of psychedelics. The painting was completed as part of Dr. Albert Hofmann's 100th birthday celebration held in Basel, Switzerland on January 11th, 2006. From ( Click to enlarge.

[IB Publisher's note: About friggin' time! It's been 75 years since LSD was discovered. The drug has had a government sponsored propaganda reputation almost as incorrect as that for marijuana. It has taken half a century of my life to get the issue of the usefulness of cannabis/hemp settled. Remember NORML?] 

A powerful distortion and alteration of perception, mood and cognitive function: The effects of taking larger amounts of psychedelic drugs like LSD and magic mushrooms are fairly well documented and understood.

But when it comes to the growing trend of microdosing or taking very small quantities of these drugs on a regular basis, the science is hazy.

Anecdotally, people who microdose with psychedelics have claimed the drugs deliver a range of benefits such as heightened focus, productivity and creativity, as well as psychological and emotional well-being.

The effects are apparently so positive that microdosing has been described as the “life hack du jour” in Silicon Valley, where the practice first gained widespread popularity.

Yet, despite the burgeoning interest in the technique, research into microdosing and its effects remain scarce ― though scientific interest does appear to be growing.

“If you look around in the scientific literature, you realize there are virtually no studies on [this topic],” neuroscience researcher Balazs Szigeti told Wired magazine in a recent interview.

On Monday, Szigeti and a team of colleagues are working to change this fact with the launch of one of the first ever placebo-controlled trials of microdosing.

The study, which is supported by Imperial College London and the Beckley Foundation, a U.K.-based think tank that funds psychedelic research, aims to find out whether microdosing of LSD actually delivers the positive benefits that users claim — or whether it’s merely a placebo effect.

“As a scientist working in the field, it just feels not very satisfying that something explosively used by a lot of people is basically so non-evidence-based,” David Erritzoe, the study’s principal investigator, told Wired.

For cost and feasibility reasons, the study will not be conducted in a lab but will instead involve adult subjects who have been recruited online and who already microdose with LSD or intend to.

The researchers will not provide the drugs but will facilitate a “self-blinding” procedure that will involve sending the participants eight envelopes with QR codes on them.

The subjects will have to fill these envelopes themselves with either empty pills (the placebo) or capsules with LSD microdoses in them.

The participants will then have to mix the eight envelopes up and pick only four of them, each corresponding to one week in the four-week trial.

Once the trial begins, the subjects will take one pill every morning from that week’s envelope ― though they won’t know whether they’re consuming LSD or a dummy pill.

According to the study’s website, participants will be required throughout the study to “complete a set of online questionnaires and to play a selection of online cognitive games.

The questionnaires focus on examining the psychological state of participants, while the online games have been designed to measure cognitive performance.”

As Wired noted, the study has some clear advantages but also inherent problems. “An advantage of the at-home study is that it can accommodate a large number of potential participants, which means more data,” the magazine said.

“A disadvantage, however, is that researchers will have to rely on people following their instructions correctly, reporting back accurately and not breaking the self-blinding mechanism.”

Still, the researchers say they are hopeful that this innovative trial will offer more insight into microdosing’s effects.

“One can’t and doesn’t want to encourage people to microdose, but it is interesting to try to gather data in a slightly more scientific way from people who are doing it,” Amanda Feilding, director of the Beckley Foundation, told The Guardian of the new research.

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