Friday, 15 July 2016
"Our nation, this generation, will lift a dark threat of violence from our people and our future. We will rally the world to this cause, by our efforts and by our courage. We will not tire, we will not falter and we we will not fail." - US President George W. Bush, War on Terror Speech, 20/9/2001.
Nearly 15 years on from that address to the American people, following the days of 9/11, and nearly 15 years on since Bush's pledge to defeat terror, has the US' most ambitious war been a success or a failure?
The answer, unsurprisingly, is unmitigated failure. There is no doubt, as the recent findings of the Institute for Economics and Peace in its annual Global Peace Index indicate, the world is a more violent place since 2001 - and it's getting increasingly worse.
The last decade has seen a historic decline in world peace. Terrorism is at an all-time high, battle deaths from conflict are at a 25 year high, and the number of refugees and displaced people are at a level not seen in sixty years. The number of refugees and internally displaced persons increased dramatically over the decade, doubling from 2007 to 2015, to approximately 60 million people. The refugees entering other countries then causes politically instability in those countries, further exacerbating the problem.
The Global Peace Index not only records a historically less peaceful world, but an unequal one too, with the most peaceful countries continuing to improve while the least peaceful are falling into greater violence and conflict. Who would have thought that proclaiming a whole region, namely the Middle-East, as terrorists, proceeding to invade many of them and ultimately leaving a trail of death and destruction in your wake, would actually bring more instability and less peace?
It's not just the threat of terrorism and more wars that we have to contend with, and all the horrific human, spiritual and environmental costs involved. There is an economic cost to bear, also. The world continues to spend enormous amounts on creating and containing violence and little on building peace. The economic impact of violence on the global economy in 2015 was $13.6 trillion. This figure represents 13.3 per cent of the world’s economic activity. It cost every single person in the world $1,876 last year in this war on terror. Do you still think it is worth it?
You might well ask where the peacekeeping costs in the previous chart is. Surely, to build a more peaceful world, the priority spending would have be on this. Well, it appears only 2% of all expenditure is for creating peace. The economic losses from conflict dwarf the expenditures and investments in peace-building and peacekeeping. Why are our investments in peace so small when there is an enormous payoff to investing in peace and preventing conflict and violence?
According to the report, the more peaceful a country is the more likely it is to remain peaceful, due to “the attitudes, institutions and structures which sustain peace”.
It is clear that the war has failed, as all wars inevitably fail.
Maybe it's time to finally give peace a chance.
"Peace is its own reward" - Mahatma Gandhi.
Monday, 11 July 2016
"Sway to the rhythm of the new world order,
And count the bodies like sheep,
To the rhythm of the war drums".
- Maynard James Keenan
This week, we really got to see "the freak show", appropriately coined by George Carlin, in its full glorious splendor. Which classic bedtime story were we offered this time?
Well, boys and girls, we had the spectacular live matinee press conference from the villian at the heart of this week's pantomime, Anthony Charles Lynton Blair.
The show itself was agonising to watch and not recommended for viewing by children (unless used as education material in psyche class).
With the sickly yellow flowery wallpaper and single podium, the scenery had a great deal to be desired, but when we were finally treated to the reading of the script, it was evident the bulk of the production costs were spent on that and Mr. Blair's suit.
I must stress though, it is not a comfortable watch. A visibly aged Blair standing solitary, doing his shtick. It's not that we've not seen and heard it all before during the entire ice age it's taken for the Chilcot report to be published, giving us ample time to hear this grinning loon's deluded drivel that makes it uncomfortable, it's because its the establishment's final chapter on the saga. As with the 9/11 report, once the official ruling is in print, the end of the story.
Nevertheless, it is somehow guiltily pleasurable to watch a wilful liar squirming so uncomfortably in front of a trial by media. It's truly engrossing in how we get see a true psychopath at work.
Blair is still unable to apologise for the devastating war he co-led, the only apology incredibly coming about the poor planning, and even more incredibly the only thing that apparently keeps Blair up at night is his bad choice of military decisions.
He candidly speaks of the real evil men which are in far away lands and how he slayed the true dragon, former puppet Saddam Hussein. I imagine he still sees himself as the white prince that rode in on horseback and saved us all from the horrible nasty brown people. He still probably thinks we should be praising him for making the world a better place and should be beset upon erecting gargantuan golden statues of him, where we can pray to him and adorn the effigies of him with gifts of money.
With every treasonous bead of sweat that dripped off his guilty brow, with every poisonous utterance from his cheshire-cat grin and with every deceptive shard of his corrupted soul on view, a piece of democracy, a piece of liberty and a piece of justice died.
Master War Criminal Blair has risen spectacularly lofty since when he became Glorious Leader of New Labour, after ex-leader John Smith died suddenly on 12th May 1994 at 8:05 a.m., whilst in his Barbican flat, suffering a fatal heart attack. Untimely for Smith, timely indeed for Blair, as he grabbed his chance and won the leadership of the party.
Smith's death was not seen as suspicious, but a quick glance at his Wikipedia page, reveals "certain coincidences".
For instance, "On 9 October 1988 he [Smith] had complained of chest pains. He was examined at the Edinburgh Royal Infirmary by an ECG. The doctor who examined him said "Whatever it is, we don't think it is your heart"", and "Smith made modifications to his lifestyle by going on a 1,000-calories per day diet, cutting down on rich foods and fine wines, giving up smoking and taking up Munro bagging by the time of his death".
Also, strangely, "On the day of his death, the BBC 9 O'Clock News was extended to an hour as opposed to the usual half-hour. This replaced the medical drama which was due to follow at 9:30, coincidentally entitled "Cardiac Arrest"".
After he slaughtered hundreds of thousands of Iraqi men, women and children, Blair was triumphantly crowned "Middle East Peace Envoy". The man who burnt Iraq to the ground was now, according to the powers that be, the right man to mend relations with them. The same people who were burning effigies of him and Bush after the war because of the devastation left behind, are now to embrace him in the road to peace and reconciliation.
And just when you think the plot couldn't possibly thicken, our weaselly protagonist was named “Philanthropist of the Year” by GQ Magazine for “his tireless charitable work”, and later awarded Save The Children’s "Global Legacy Award" at a gala charity at The Plaza in New York. They give this particular accolade, presumably, to the white man with the most infanticides beside his name. But then, it's not just a white man's game, as Barrack Obama's Nobel Peace Prize for, coincidentally again, bombing brown people, proves. At least we know psychopathic war criminals are not racially discriminated against. That's progress kids!
The Chilcot report is aptly named, for it has served an icy chill up the spines of the establishment.
Of course, they will once again escape any real punishment for their despicable crimes, with the Chilcot report being merely a retrospective analysis from a former civil servant, nothing legally binding here. There may of course be, and rightly so, a civil litigation against Mr Blair and his cronies from the families of the dead soldiers, who it has been proved now were duped into a deceptive war, and if they choose that course of action I sincerely hope they succeed and they can finally lay their loved ones to rest. However, I fear for their chance of success. The establishment do not like bringing their own to account for their actions, no matter how monstrous the consequences of those actions may be.
What is more incredible though, is that prosecutors at the International Criminal Court will sift through the 2.3 million word report for war crimes committed by the soldiers, and not by the men who put them there.
It is yet another reminder we live in Topsy-Turvy land.
Where the people walk upon their heads,
The sea is made of sand,
And the children go to school by night.
And the guilty people go unpunished, whilst they murder the innocent.
Until next time,
Sweet dreams, children.
"The boogeymen are coming,
The boogeymen are coming.
Keep your head down, go to sleep,
To the rhythm of the war drums".
- Maynard James Keenan
Thursday, 25 February 2016
Wednesday, 24 February 2016
"And the future hangs over our heads
And it moves with each current event
Until it falls all around like a cold steady rain."
- Conor Oberst
What's the difference between a presidential race in the United States and a presidential race in Uganda? Nope? Well, as it appears, not much. Of course, they are poles apart in terms of economic, social and, naturally, geographic factors. But in terms of democracy, and specifically the election process, there's really not much difference at all.
Recently, the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon has backed the concerns of international observers about "shortcomings and irregularities" in the Ugandan election race. These concerns come after it was revealed that during the week prior to polling day, the main opposition leader was arrested 3 times in 5 days, the other 3 opposition leaders were also arrested and there had been an aggressive use of security forces against opposition candidates and supporters, with at least 2 people confirmed dead as a result.
Okay, granted, perhaps the election fraud is not as blatant in the land of the free and brave, but election fraud is still a criminal offense and it is still denying the electorate their freedom to choose who represents them (ignoring the obvious faults in that system, but at present it is the only form of voice the people have).
In the current US election Republican race, Ted Cruz has already been accused of misleading voters by spreading lies about opponent Ben Carson dropping out, using dirty tricks against Marco Rubio and sending fake government checks to voters in Texas. There's doubtless countless more and that's just one of the candidates!
The Democratic party is equally a joke. Their hideously out-dated caucus method is embarrassing and who ever thought it was a democratically viable option to "coin-toss" an election result? We might as well get Punxsutawney Phil to decide the outcome. The one who doesn't cast a shadow is a witch and we burn them (my money's on Hillary) and elect the other, because it makes about as much sense. Interesting to notice that Hillary won 6 straight coin-tosses, in 6 straight caucuses to give her 6 delegates! (now you're thinking about the witch thing again, aren't you?)
Remember Bush Jr's controversial victory in 2000? Even though Democratic candidate Al Gore won the popular vote by 500,000 votes, and all the major news outlets had already called Mr Gore triumphant (bar Fox News), he did not become US president. Instead, the Republican "clown" George W Bush became president, and, the rest, as they say, is "an alternative history line in some other weird, God-forsaken dimension because I refuse to believe those calamitous 8 years ever happened!"
So, how did Bush become the victor? Journalist Greg Palast has shown that Choicepoint, a data aggregation company, cooperated with Florida Governor Jeb Bush, Florida Secretary of State Katherine Harris, and Florida Elections Unit Chief Clay Roberts, in a conspiracy of voter fraud, involving the central voter file, during the US Presidential Election of 2000. The allegations charge that 57,700 people (15% of the list), primarily Democrats of African-American and Hispanic descent, were incorrectly listed as felons and thus barred from voting. Palast estimates that 80% of those people would have voted, and that 90% of those who would have voted, would have voted for Al Gore.
Not only that, but the Supreme Court essentially decided the election by stopping the Florida recount, where all independent recounts show Gore would have won if the supreme court hadn’t halted the counting.
So, as you can see, no matter what the methods used, both are election fraud. But, of course, you didn't hear the UN Secretary General having concerns about "irregularities" in the US democratic process in 2000.
This is just one example, however, of many other suspected election frauds throughout US history. The presidential election of 1876 was the first major and considered the most controversial to date, the Chicago crime syndicate was believed to have "played a role" in John F. Kennedy's win in Illinois in 1960 and there were "possible data irregularities and systematic flaws during the voting process" which got, yes, you guessed it, Bush into power again in 2004. It appears that almost endless pots of money from corporations and rich individuals, the monopoly on mainstream media and good-old fashioned lies, misinformation and voter intimidation just sometimes are simply not enough.
A great example of the joke of the democratic process is a superb 2005 documentary titled "Street Fight", which shows the plight of a young councilor, Cory Booker, running for Mayor of Newark, New Jersey and his fight against the more experienced long-term incumbent, Sharpe James. The use of the local police to climb up lampposts to take down Booker's signs was one of James' many stunts to help drive up those percentage points.
If the people have no freedom of choice, be that in the US or Uganda, what the hell is the point of the system? Everybody knows the system's kaput. It's beyond band-aids now. Why try to preserve it anyway? No matter who "gets in", the structure is designed to corrupt by its very nature. That's what sadly happens if few wield power over many. It's the same old tired cycle, generation after beleaguered generation. King after king, queen after queen, oligarchs after oligarchs. Snafu.
If, as predicted by the polls, the current US presidential race goes with the two favourites, it will be Trump vs Hillary.
An orange faced buffoon with a dead animal hide intricately styled on his head vs a malign serial liar and vacuous queen of corruption.
The system would have chosen to the 2 most gleaming candidates out of a population of 300 million.
Be proud America.
The whole world must watch the sad, comic display.
"Greed is a bottomless pit,
And our freedom's a joke we're just taking the piss,
And the whole world must watch the sad comic display.
If you're still free start runnin' away.
'Cause we're comin' for ya."
- Conor Oberst.
Monday, 7 December 2015
It is not mere fantastical speculation or dooms day conspiracy mumbo-jumbo to suggest the very possibility we are facing, not only the extinction of our species, but every other species of life on this planet. The evidence, despite the aggressive effort of planet-killing corporate entities in conjunction with our corrupted politicians and media to have us believe otherwise, points glaringly and alarmingly towards global catastrophe. We inherited Eden and are turning it, with frightening proliferation, into Hell.
The Cambridge Project for existential risk states that the "greatest threats" to the human species are man-made; they are artificial intelligence, global warming, nuclear war and rogue biotechnology. In a nutshell, we are most likely to be the harbingers of our own destruction. What a legacy that will be in the vastness of time. A species so incapable of working together through their own fears and anxieties, so incapable of overcoming their individual gluttony and collective greed, so incapable of altering their blind stupidity into one of wisdom, so unwilling to turn their unending cycle of anger and hate into peace and compassion, they eventually annihilated themselves and the entire planet they existed on. Not really going to be a legitimate contender for "Intergalactic Time Magazine Species of the Nano-Second" are we?
Whether you subscribe to the man-made global warning phenomenon or not, it does not take a genius to come to the realisation that we are having a serious negative impact, even disregarding the rising carbon dioxide levels, on our planet.
Over-fishing has resulted in 1/3 of the world's fisheries becoming severely depleted.
We now have less than half of the forests left that formerly covered the Earth.
It is estimated 1 billion people are in serious threat of desertification (the process of areas of dry land becoming void of vegetation and wildlife), with 20% of land already succumbed.
The Western honeybee, vital for pollination, is now declining rapidly, at twice the rate prior to 2007. According to some theories, we are at present entering the Holocene extinction, sometimes called the Sixth extinction, and the name proposed to describe the ongoing extinction event of species due to human activity. That figure is believed to be as high as 140,000 a year.
Even freshwater, accounting for less than 1% of all water, is under threat. It is estimated that by 2025, 2/3 of the world's population will be "under stress conditions", with regards to freshwater availability.
I have only touched on some of the most urgent aspects of the sustained war we are raging with the planet. I know that we in the West have a particularly destructive habit of declaring war on things we don't like (see war on drugs, war on terror, etc), but to enact a war of aggression on our own eco system is clearly insane.
"Never underestimate the power of human stupidity". - Robert A. Heinlein
Of course, we might avoid the long, protracted, slow death of ecological disaster. Instead, we might realise human extinction in an instant. There are an estimated 17,000 nuclear weapons in existence worldwide. The US nuclear attack on Japan killed 200,000. If we take that as 100,000 per bomb, that's a total killing potential of 1.7 billion. Or 1 in 4 people. That, however, was the killing capacity of a 1945 bomb. Yields and explosive capabilities have increased significantly in 70 years. Any poor sods who do survive would have to eek out a relatively short but bleak existence, trying to survive the murderous warlords and their rampaging death cults, or fighting off giant cockroaches for the scraps of some irradiated dog meat, whilst simultaneously watching the sun fade forever from the skies, leaving permanent darkness and a painful death of everything.
If we do somehow stave off both ecological and nuclear disaster, we may have an equally horrifying scenario in store for us instead. In 2009, experts attended a conference hosted by the Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence (AAAI) to discuss whether computers and robots might be able to acquire any sort of autonomy, and how much these abilities might pose a threat or hazard. They noted that some robots have already acquired various forms of semi-autonomy, including being able to find power sources on their own and being able to independently choose targets to attack with weapons. They also noted that some computer viruses can evade elimination and have achieved "cockroach intelligence". So, in place of fighting mutant cockroaches, we will be instead hunted down and terminated by robot ones.
We have already seen the devastation that the AIDS virus has had worldwide, not to mention the deadly Ebola virus in Western Africa. The consequences of a man-made virus unleashed upon an increasingly connected world could be catastrophic. According to Nick Bostrom, a Swedish philosopher at the University of Oxford, given current development, more risk from novel, engineered pathogens is to be expected in the future.
There are plenty of possible non-anthropogenic extinction events on the horizon; Asteroids, Mega-tsunamis, Super-volcanoes, Extra-terrestrial invasion. The risk from these "acts of God" cannot be eradicated, but man-made disasters, well, the name kind of gives it away. It is nothing less than tragic. I often wonder what an intelligent sentient being might think if he looked down on our planet and saw what was unfolding. I imagine it would be thoughts of horror and disbelief. I imagine his question to us would simply be, "why?"
Some might point to the follies of man; his greed, his ignorance, his lack of empathy.
Others might point to the controlling powers of the world screwing it up for the rest of us.
Whatever the reason, the facts are there to be seen.
We can continue burying our head in the sand (after all, we may have a whole lot more of it soon), or we can come to terms with our current reality, fight past our fears and act now before it really is too late, and we do instigate our own demise.
This is my humble plea to the rest of humanity to wake up before we, ultimately, destroy ourselves, and this precious cradle of life we inhabit.
A concerned denizen of Earth.