Article 43

 

Revelations

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Carl Sagan’s Warnings

The Reptile Within Us

By Horst Sommer and The Planetary Society
Opinion piece by Michael Paine. 
This does not represent the views of any organisation.
September 21, 2001

The attempt by the US media to make news rather than report it is my greatest concern.

In the book and TV series COSMOS, CARL SAGAN warns against politicians appealing to the “reptilian” portions of our brain and inciting aggression, territoriality and fear of strangers. His concern at the time was the nuclear arms race but the same concerns apply now, at a time when the USA is contemplating a response to the dreadful events in New York and Washington.

The US media have not helped the situation with a constant demand for retaliation that is pushing the nation’s leaders into making hasty decisions. There is a grave danger that an indiscriminate, aggressive response will destablize some of the many friendly Arab nations and plunge them into fundamentalist oppression.

At times like this it is not easy to question the actions of leaders. Those who do are labelled unpatriotic or traitors. But the reality is that the USA is not under any immediate threat, other than an economic slump of its own making. The US economy is highly dependent on consumer spending. The first thing that consumers did when their President said “Prepare for War” was to stop spending. The economic consequences of the terrorists attacks are becoming far more severe than they ever needed to be.

Here are some quotes from the book Cosmos:

· [Description of the human brain] Capping the brain stem is the R-Complex, the seat of aggression, ritual, territoriality and social heirarchy, which evolved hundreds of millions of years ago in our reptilian ancestors...on the outside, living in uneasy truce with the more primitive brains beneath, is the cerebal cortex...Civilisation is a product of the cerebal cortex.

· [War] When our well-being is threatened, when our illusions about ourselves are challenged, we tend - some of us at least - to fly into murderous rages. And when the same provocations are applied to nation states, they, too, sometimes fly into murderous rages, egged on often enough by those seeking personal power or profit. But as technology of murder improves and the penalties of war increase, a great many people must be made to fly into murderous rages simultaneously for a major war to be mustered. Because the organs of mass communciation are often in the hands of the state [or a privileged few] this can commonly be arranged.

· The global balance of terror is a very delicate balance. It depends on things not going wrong, on mistakes not being made, on the reptilian passions not being seriously aroused.

From the perspective of someone outside the USA, I have to say that President Bush sounds more like the coach of a high school sports team than a statesman. There is a need for Americans to call “time-out” and to scrutinise the strategy that has been cobbled together by the nation’s leaders under the untenable glare of the media. Don’t rush into actions that may have grave, far-reaching consequences.

The terrorists can be brought to justice by less reptilian means. We have to remember the traits that make us “civilised”.

From ’PALE BLUE DOT‘ also by Carl Sagan.

The Earth is a very small stage in a vast cosmic arena. Think of the rivers of blood spilled by all those generals and emperors, so that, in glory and triumph, they could become the momentary masters of a fraction of a dot. Think of the endless cruelties visited by the inhabitants of one corner of this pixel on the scarcely distinguishable inhabitants of some other corner, how frequent their misunderstandings, how eager they are to kill one another, how fervent their hatreds. Our posturings, our imagined self-importance, the delusion that we have some privileged position in the Universe, are challenged by this point of pale light.

SOURCE

EISENHOWER’S WARNINGS

Posted by Elvis on 02/23/06 •
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Sunday, February 12, 2006

Global Warming - Undeniable

By Paul Rincon, Science reporter
BBC News
February 10, 2006

The last 100 years is more striking than either the Medieval Warm Period or Little Ice Age - Timothy Osborn, UEA

In the late 20th Century, the northern hemisphere experienced its most widespread warmth for 1,200 years, according to the journal Science.

The findings support evidence pointing to unprecedented recent warming of the climate linked to greenhouse emissions.

University of East Anglia researchers measured changes in fossil shells, tree rings, ice cores and other past temperature records or “proxies”.

They also looked at people’s diaries from the last 750 years. 

Timothy Osborn and Keith Briffa of UEA analysed instrument measurements of temperature from 1856 onwards to establish the geographic extent of recent warming.

Then they compared this data with evidence dating back as far as AD 800.

The analysis confirmed periods of significant warmth in the Northern Hemisphere from AD 890 - 1170 (the so-called “Medieval Warm Period") and for much colder periods from 1580 - 1850 (the “Little Ice Age").

Natural records

The UEA team showed that the present warm period is the most widespread temperature anomaly of any kind since the ninth century.

“The last 100 years is more striking than either [the Medieval Warm Period or Little Ice Age]. It is a period of widespread warmth affecting nearly all the records that we analysed from the same time,” co-author Timothy Osborn told the BBC.

Osborn and Briffa used 14 sets of temperature records from different locations across the Northern Hemisphere.

The records included long life evergreen trees growing in Scandinavia, Siberia and the Rockies which had been cored to reveal the patterns of wide and narrow tree rings over time. Wider rings related to warmer temperatures.

The chemical composition of ice from cores drilled in the Greenland ice sheets revealed which years were warmer than others.

Dear diary

The researchers used proxy data developed from the diaries of people living in the Netherlands and Belgium during the past 750 years that revealed, for example, the years when the canals froze.

“These records extend over many centuries and even thousands of years. We simply counted how many of those records indicated that, in any one year, temperatures were warmer than average for the region they came from,” said Dr Osborn.

Professor John Waterhouse, director of the Environmental Sciences Research Centre Anglia Ruskin University in Cambridge commented: “Although we’re getting increasingly accurate measurements of present-day temperature, we’ve got nothing like that from the past to compare those with.

“There’s much uncertainty in past reconstructions. You’ve got to look at the reconstructed data in the past in light of the likely errors that those data have.”

But he added: “As we get more and more evidence in, it is looking as if the current period is the warmest for over 1,000 years.”

In November, Science published a paper showing atmospheric levels of the greenhouse gases carbon dioxide and methane are higher now than at any time in the past 650,000 years.

SOURCE

Posted by Elvis on 02/12/06 •
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Thursday, January 26, 2006

China Takes Over World Economy

DAVOS, Switzerland
China Wire
January, 25, 2006

Deepening concern about US deficits and a possible oil supply shock are weighing on a world economy that will be driven largely by China during 2006, a panel of leading economists predicted at the World Economic Forum Wednesday.

"This is the year to watch out carefully for the end of the great American spending binge,” Stephen Roach, chief economist at US bank Morgan Stanley, told the annual meeting of global business and political leaders.<

Just hours after China announced that its economy had grown by 9.9 percent in 2005, the panel said Chinese growth was set to continue at the kind of pace that helped it leapfrog over Britain and France to become the world’s fourth-biggest economy.

However the four economists cautioned that while Chinese policymakers appeared to be moving to prevent their economy overheating, there was little sign of action in the United States to tackle imbalances.

Roach cautioned that investors appeared to be “plugging ahead irrespective of current account issues and the asset price bubble”.

“What’s occurring right now in markets and in policy circles is a dangerous degree of complacency. And out of complacency usually comes the surprise that ends up doing the most damage to markets and economies.”

The danger lurking behind the high US current account deficit is that foreign investors might begin to lose confidence in the US economy and start withdrawing their assets.

This would cause a fall in the value of the dollar and could lead to a sharp growth-dampening increase in US interest rates.

Roach also said data from the United States indicated that “the property bubble is nearing an end”, potentially drying up the last source for the spending spree.

The panel warned that other parts of the world such as Asia—where savings levels are high—would need to compensate for a forthcoming slump in US consumption.

“When the US increases its savings—and it must increase its savings—that will reduce aggregate demand in the world,” said banker Jakob Frenkel of American International Group.

“This is the time the rest of the world must reduce its savings to make up for the slack. That’s the tango principle,” he added.

Laura Tyson of the London Business School commented: “I think that’s understood as a policy issue in China. I don’t think it’s understood as a policy issue in the United States.”

Growth in China fuelled by export demand is set to reach 8.8 to 9.3 percent in 2006, according to Min Zhu, executive assistant president Bank of China.

“I would say Chinese GDP (gross domestic product) is still underestimated,” he added, pointing to “millions” of small and medium-sized businesses that were not accounted for in domestic economic data.

“There is still room for China to grow.”

Highlighting a “fundamental change in the centre of gravity” in the world economy, Frenkel said national savings in China amounted to 45 percent of GDP compared with 10 percent in the United States.

“You do not need to be a nuclear scientist to ask where the growth will continue in the future,” he added, also pointing to China’s booming imports from the rest of Asia, which are fuelling the regional economy.

French Finance Minister Thierry Breton acknowledged China’s stature as he arrived in the Swiss Alpine resort of Davos.

“I think the big story is that China is moving up,” he told journalists.

“We tried to be prepared in France for many years—China is an extremely important industrial partner in this new global environment.”

Concern also focused on the potential for an energy shock caused by bottlenecks in supplies due to a shortage of capacity or political problems.

“The real question is what is the probability of a supply shock on the energy front,” Laura Tyson of the London Business School underlined, amid consensus on the durability of high oil prices.

The economists admitted they were largely “in the dark” on oil due to international tensions over Iran, a rebellion in Nigeria and the potential for a repeat of Hurricane Katrina, which temporarily shut down extraction in the Gulf of Mexico.

SOURCE

Posted by Elvis on 01/26/06 •
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Friday, January 20, 2006

US World Domination - Is Iran Next

If I were a betting guy - I bet we attack Iran, the only thing I’m not so certain about is what excuse our leaders will use. Here’s a post from ANOTHER DAY IN THE EMPIRE.

---

As now appears obvious, the Straussian neocons will attack Iran, sooner before later. Secretary of State CONDI RICE INDICATED as much when she said, there’s not much to talk about until Iran promises to stop working on a nuclear weapon, never mind that - as MIKE WHITNEY, citing nuclear weapons expert Gordon Prather, points out Iran is NOT WORKING on a nuclear weapon. History is a harsh task mistress and history teaches that when nations stop talking, war is the result. As the Prussian general and military theorist Carl von Clausewitz once declared, “war is a continuation of politics by other means,” and the neocons are using a blood-soaked political ace to trump the United Nations and the Security Council into providing a familiar nod in the direction of war. As Whitney notes, the neocons believe they “can garner the necessary votes to bring Iran before the Security Council” and, perhaps, win support for punitive action, in other words support for total war, or rather total shock and awe, including the use of GLOBAL STRIKE nukes, as Cheney has promised.

Once again, the spineless United Nations is being set-up to rubber stamp the Straussian neocon plan for the total destruction of Islamic society and culture, as per the long-held neocon plan. It was nearly three years ago the cardboard cut-out non-president, George W. Bush, announced that diplomacy has failed and would rally the so-called coalition of the willing (or rather coalition of the bribed) to illegally and immorally invade Iraq and thus divest Saddam of his illusory weapons of mass destruction. As we know but far too many of us are wont to forget, prior to this decision (or implementation of the long-held Straussian neocon plan), there was a flurry of useless and (in retrospect) absurd diplomacy and debate amongst the members of the UN Security Council about the legality of invading an essentially defenseless and sanctions-wracked country.

As for the latter, France and Russia had asked long before the neocons grabbed the White House and the Pentagon that the murderous sanctions (more than a million people suffered and died, 500,000 of them children) but first Bill Clinton and then George Bush the Lesser, with the help of his faithful sidekick, Tony Blair, insisted on an unending cycle of mass murder, otherwise known as genocide. For its squeamishness and lack of fortitude in the task carved out by the neocons - kill hundreds of thousands of Iraqis and reduce the once proud nation to a violent cauldron France was vilified and demonized in Congress (remember Freedom Fries) and the corporate media disparagingly referred to it as Old Europe (while New Europe semi-nations, such as Hungary, Georgia, Estonia, Czechoslovakia, Estonia, Poland, and other post-communist wrecks, signed on in the hope they would be remunerated for their slavish behavior). It’s basically THE SAME dog-eared scriptthe Straussian neocons are following this time around.

It is sincerely pathetic (although more or less predictable) to see stuffed shirts Philippe Douste-Blazy (France), Jack Straw (Britain), Frank-Walter Steinmeier (Germany), and Javier Solana (European High Representative of the Common Foreign and Security Policy) - holding talks in Berlin, basically pow-wowing in arrogant blue-blood fashion on how best to refer the sovereign nation of Iran to the bankrupt Security Council, greasing the skids for the neocons, who plan to kill as many Iranians as possible and, if the Straussian necromancer Cheney has his way, nuke the place and, as mindless Bush supporters, waving their plastic flags made by slaves in China, like to caterwaul, turn the place into a radioactive parking lot.

Meanwhile, as the old war criminal Ariel Sharon lies in a coma, acting Israeli PM EHUD OLMERT decided to egg on the coming death dance. Under no circumstances, and at no point, can Israel allow anyone with these kinds of malicious designs against us, to have control of weapons of destruction that can threaten our existence, Olmert told a joint news conference with Israeli president Moshe Katsav. The state of Israel cannot reconcile itself to a situation in which there is a threat against us, just as, in my view, the nations of Europe and the United States cannot reconcile themselves.

Some of us cannot reconcile ourselves with the fact Israel has around 400 nuclear bombs (according to estimates based on information provided by MORDECHAI VANUNU, who was locked up for nearly 20 years for revealing the truth about Israels nukes to the world). Israel has unscrupulously used these nukes to blackmail the United States (for instance, they forced Kissinger and Nixon to airlift supplies during the 1973 Yom Kippur War, according to SEYMOUR M. HERSCH in his book, The Samson Option: IsraelҒs Nuclear Arsenal and American Foreign Policy). Too many senior Israeli officials have taken to issuing threatening statements vis-a-vis Iraq and Iran,Ӕ declared defense analyst Zeev Schiff. Off-the-cuff Israeli nuclear threats have become a problem, even before the onset of the Iraqi crisis. Washington may decide it wants to distance itself from Israel in order to avoid being accused of having conspired with us on an action we planned exclusively by ourselves (see previous link). Of course, Washington did no such thing - and no politician there would think of it, considering the almighty clout of AIPAC and lobbyistsœ with all the thuggish finesse of Jack Abramoff.

But none of this is relevant now. Israel will goad the United Stateswith the dumbfounded blessing of the Europeans (or their blue-blood rulers) and the ineffectual suck-up Security Council - into blasting the daylights out of Iran, probably killing thousands, if not eventually hundreds of thousands of innocent people.

It appears all of this will go down in March, when diplomacy finally fails in the United Nations and, significantly, when America reaches its $8,184 trillion debt ceiling, thus forcing the nation (to the greedy glee of the criminal neolib financier class) into a spurt of military Keynesianism in order to jump-start the economy. Few seem to notice this is what happened in Germany in the 1930s and the result was fascism and mass misery and incomprehensible numbers of dead people. Wars provide an economic boost but typically produce little of lasting value, notes Gracchus Jones. But in America today, there is no economic engine, and if there is one thing modern economic history proves, it is that you cannot have prosperity without one.

And that’s why we are inexorably headed for a dictatorship in this country. Iran will be the catalyst. The Straussian neocon Iran attack will undoubtedly ignite the Middle East and the coming depression will fill the ranks of a newly minted slave-conscription military with young unemployed bodies. Total war and economic misery mixed with a police state now rearing its ugly head is manna from heaven for the Straussian neocons. No stages, John Pilger reports Richard Perle declaring. This is total war. We are fighting a variety of enemies. There are lots of them out there. All this talk about first we are going to do Afghanistan, then we will do Iraq this is entirely the wrong way to go about it. If we just let our vision of the world go forth, and we embrace it entirely and we don’t try to piece together clever diplomacy, but just wage a total war our children will sing great songs about us years from now.

Of course, it will be difficult to sing when youre dying from cancer, thanks to a planet polluted with depleted uranium.

SOURCE

Posted by Elvis on 01/20/06 •
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Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Taylor Law and Slavery

I got this off LABOR BLOG.  It’s makes a good point about the TAYLOR LAW.

Against Slavery

Yes, Jordan is right that I am so envious of those blogging the TRANSIT STRIKE (Can you send over another Banana Lassi? Namaste.)

But just a quick point that’s the most basic about the Taylor Law - and any law that prohibits strikes.

They are slave laws, nothing less. They tell people they must show up to work on threat of government-backed punishment.

Early in the 20th century, the courts regularly banned most strikes, even in the private sector, and labor progressives denounced those court decisions as a violation of the 13th Amendment ban on involuntary servitude. The Norris-LaGuardia Act of 1932 ended much of that power to ban private strikes but left intact the ability of governments to enforce slave conditions on their employees-- covenient that. (Of course, the 1947 Taft-Hartley Act and followup laws led to the banning of a range of other private strikes as well).

Getting paid is not enough to make someone free. They have to have the right to refuse to work, which is why the right to strike is promoted as a basic international human right.

Lech Walesa recently led a group of Nobel Prize winners who condemned US labor practices. It’s worth remembering that all those Solidarity strikers in the Lenin Shipyard were government workers. Yet the same folks who loved illegal union actions in Poland often denounce public employees in the US going on strike.

Commuters don’t have to love the transit union strikers—although they should since they are fighting not just for themselves but a whole range of workers - but should be ashamed of themselves if they endorse the Taylor Slave Labor Law.

SOURCE

Posted by Elvis on 12/21/05 •
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