The Need for a Greater Vision: Recognizing Reality

By Jennifer Ladd

Source: Resilience

Question Beliefs

We live in a culture that is embedded in unquestioned beliefs passing as truth. These beliefs are the source of our current crisis. We attempt to solve the problems of degradation of our environment and climate disruption, but we do not look at these core beliefs. We hold on to the idea that capitalism is the only right way to organize an economy, that democracy is essential to our freedom, that freedom itself is a core ingredient to our happiness. We believe corporate slogans such as “Progress is our most important product” (General Electric), and subscribe to the belief that technology will solve whatever problems we have, even the ones caused by technology.

Grasp the Scope of the Crisis

Most of us are unable to back away far enough to grasp the whole picture. We are like a tourist with a flashlight trying to get a view of a huge mural that covers a block-long wall. The news media can only focus our attention on a tiny fraction of the image at any one time. We read daily reports of record temperatures in the arctic, of ice sheets melting in the Antarctic, of floods, forest fires all over the world, political gridlock, and recession fears. We are deluged with information. Most of us have been touched directly by at least one aspect of the crisis. Today I am breathing the smoke of fires in British Columbia and Alaska hundreds of miles away. These are direct experiences, yet there are still those who deny that climate change is real or that it is a problem. And worse yet we do not have the political will or mechanism to respond. Many scientists clam we are beyond the tipping point. They say the damage done to the ecosystem is so great that further decline is assured, even if we drastically reduce our impact in the next 5 years.

We are confronting a confluence of issues – environmental degradation, climate disruption, political tension and economic instability – that create an unprecedented risk to future generations. Climate disruption is getting all the headlines, but talk to a fisherman anywhere on the coast and he will point to depleted fish stocks making it impossible to earn a living fishing. Some of that is due to climate, but over-fishing, water pollution and destruction of spawning grounds also play major roles. Agricultural runoff is creating large dead zones at the mouths of rivers, areas that used to be some of the most productive.

Insect populations are plummeting with some reports of 75% loss in the last 50 years1.Insects are the base of the food chain for many creatures. If they die off then we will all go. The cause is not simple but insecticides on farm land and habitat destruction are major factors.

Fresh water is another resource in critical decline. We have been pumping water from aquifers at rates that far exceed the rate of recharge. Worldwide, 40% of our food grown on irrigated land.2 Without irrigation we will face severe food shortages. In addition, much of the remaining irrigated land is dependent on snowpack that feeds reservoirs in the mountains. As the climate warms there is less snow and it melts sooner, reducing the amount of stored water available.

If we listen to the economic news we cannot help but be aware of the rapid increase in the US national debt. Politicians seem incapable of holding the debt in check, especially the Trump administration that established policies and tax cuts that have dramatically increased the debt at a time when the economy is doing relatively well and we should be reducing the debt. Despite the ignorance of some lawmakers, debt cannot continue to rise indefinitely. Many countries have tried that. In the end it leads to hyper inflation, and in extreme cases, a collapse of the government.

A more subtle and less talked about issue is that of resource depletion. True, Malthus warned the world of this 200 years ago during a time when energy resources in the form of wood were being depleted.Then we discovered coal, then oil, and the industrial revolution sparked a new level of development and environmental destruction on a level Malthus could never have foreseen. The issue is that while technology has kept the price of raw materials from increasing dramatically, metals like copper, and energy sources like oil and gas are finite. The deeper we have to mine or drill and the more complex the extraction process, the smaller the final product derived from the energy expended to get the material. When oil was first discovered it took roughly one barrel of oil’s worth of energy to extract 100 barrels. Now that one barrel might get us 10 barrels. The costs are multiplied throughout the system. In other words if it now takes 3 times as much energy to mine a ton of copper as it did 50 years ago, because the high quality and easily extracted ore are gone, and that energy is derived from oil which itself requires 10 times more energy to extract, then the two factors multiply the real cost of the copper. In our example it now “costs” the equivalent of 30 times more oil to produce a ton of copper. Again, we run into limits.

I am proposing that the solution is a radical redesign of our civilization based on a more sustainable model. To do that we need to examine the core beliefs of our society to see which ones are compatible with a new vision and which ones need to be abandoned. This requires that we face our fear of change, grieve for the losses, clear our nervous systems of intergenerational trauma that blinds us to seeing the reality of our time and open our hearts to living in connection. This cannot come about by any rational decision by a governing body. Those in power have a vested interest in keeping the current system alive as long as possible. Call it a form of corruption, but it is also simply a matter of self preservation. We can, however, make changes on a personal and local level. We can have working models established on a small scale that can replace systems on a national level as they fail. We either cling to the existing paradigm as it implodes, or we can place our attention and focus our energy on creating new systems that support life in harmony on the planet.

Look Below the Symptoms

A partial list of these beliefs was mentioned already – that our prosperity depends on capitalism, democracy, and progress through technology. Let’s go deeper to see how these structures of society evolved, and how they affect us today. The core belief that underlies our current civilization is the idea that we are separate from nature and superior to other creatures and even other races of human beings. It leads to a distrust of nature which shows up even in the fables we tell our children, which are filled with images of the dark and dangerous forest and the merciless ocean depths.

Another belief is that security consists of having enough food or money stored away to last through hard times. In itself the belief is true, but it becomes dysfunctional in a world of finite resources when each person is focused on maximizing their own resources without consideration for the whole. To justify our actions we convince ourselves that there are no limits, we can have it all and, through technology, everyone can be raised up to the lifestyle we enjoy in the USA.

We are embedded in the psychology of capitalism, and we live in a world shrouded in fear. The combination is lethal. Fear leads to contraction and thinking only of one’s own survival. Capitalism promotes the value of gathering resources for our own use and enjoyment. When capitalism is combined with the Puritan work ethic, it allows us to justify income inequality because of the unspoken belief that if we have more than our neighbor it is because we worked harder or smarter and therefore deserve the rewards. We may feel no obligation to share our good fortune because those who are less well off obviously did not work hard enough. The result is a society that is fundamentally adversarial, pitting the wealthy against the poor, those in power against those who would like to be in control.

That leads to us versus them thinking that pervades our culture and shows up on all levels, particularly in public arenas like politics. The two party system has devolved into two conflicting ideologies that feel irreconcilable. Each party has become more isolated and rigid in their doctrine to the point that many people only listen to information that supports their point of view or their party’s view. Where is the middle ground that allows for a cooperative solution? Problems that require dramatic solutions like climate disruption cannot be effectively addressed.

Capitalism has been the driving force behind the industrial age. It has brought us technology that was unimaginable 200 years ago.  The problem is that it is fundamentally incompatible with a sustainable world. The core precepts – private ownership of goods and land, a competitive market for labor and materials, emphasis on capital accumulation – lead to a society that is made up of a few wealthy “owners” and a large number of “workers”. The system is dependent on keeping the wages paid to labor low enough that the owners can produce products that are competitive in the market place. When labor unions were strong there was a balance of power, but the advent of free trade and multinational corporations has robbed labor unions of their bargaining power because of the availability of cheap labor in the developing world. The result is an ever increasing disparity of wealth between the owners and the workers, and an ever increasing number of workers at the lowest level of the economy. Until the last 10 years, this has been partly disguised by an overall improvement in living standards through technology, but when one compares the hours worked in 1950 to support a family, when one person’s income was adequate, compared to the present when both adults of the family have to work, it’s clear that the average working family has to work harder simply to pay for the necessities of life. Free time to enjoy life has evaporated. We do not account for that in the statistics of progress like GDP.

To facilitate the transactions of a capitalistic economy we invented money and a banking system to manage the creation of money. In our system, money is created by the banks in an equal amount to the loans they make. In other words the creation of money is dependent on the creation of debt. Debt, however, once created, tends to grow faster than the money supply because of the effect of compounding interest. Debt will tend to accumulate with those members of society that are unable to pay it off, and capital will accumulate to those who have wealth already and are free from debt. At first it works well, but as debt accumulates to the workers, they have less money to buy the goods produced by the owners and the economy goes into recession. Debt is reduced through bankruptcies and foreclosures. Capital is reduced by the downsizing and failure of businesses. Eventually a new cycle begins. Historically, the cycle often becomes extreme and outcome is revolution as the tension between the wealthy and the poor becomes intolerable.

Capitalism is a natural outgrowth of our survival instinct in disconnected world. If we do not feel supported by our fellow humans, by the natural world, and by a greater presence, then there is a level of insecurity that we continually try to appease by building protective shells around us. In modern times this translates into ownership of land, house, and enough money and other resources to allow us to feel secure. Unfortunately in the rush to acquire these items we have sold our soul to the banks which in effect own our homes and often our cars. We end up feeling even less secure because we now have even more to lose if the economy turns down and we lose our job. We crave a sense of control over our lives, but we can no longer hunt for our food or harvest it directly from the earth so even to eat we are dependent on a complex web of corporate-run systems of transportation and production that we do not control or even understand.

Healing the Wound Of Separation

In order to live in harmony with each other and with the earth we need to heal the core wound of separation from a close community, separation from the earth and the natural world, and separation from the spiritual ground from which all of this manifested world arises. Without resolving all three levels of separation we will continue to live in fear and grief, maybe depression. It is that core sense of not enough that drives the Euro-American addiction to doing, to trying to get somewhere or get something that we think will cure that sense of not enough. We invent better technology, more powerful machines to get us there faster, but the result is that we find out ever sooner that the goal we had set is not going to satisfy the sense of lack. We may accumulate more wealth at the expense of the community around us and defend that wealth with all our strength, but it does not bring us the security we seek.

In order to heal, let us acknowledge the true state of our own life and of the world. Let us fully feel the grief of the separation and fully feel the rage that lies hidden. We may have a sense of being betrayed by the society that we were taught to trust as a child. We accepted the promise of perpetual progress and came to expect that we should have a better life than our parents.

On a global level, can we feel the pain and destruction this has caused to the earth? Can we acknowledge and feel the horrors of genocide against the native population of this country and other colonized places in the world? Can we feel the full impact of enslaving millions of African natives to work our fields? The grief is immense. We have kept it suppressed for centuries, but it must be felt. Let us clear the intergenerational trauma so we can come into our hearts and truly feel the connection with the earth and with each other.

Only then, free from clinging to a failing system, in the hope of preserving the status quo, can we reconnect with source and make the leap to a new way of living. We do not have to invent better ways of living on this planet. There are models of aboriginal societies that have lived here for more than 10,000 years without destroying their environment or collapsing from internal dysfunction. They have evolved sophisticated systems of government and economic systems that allowed the wealth that was accumulated to be redistributed to those in need. They held their land in common for the benefit of the whole tribe. We have much to learn from their societies.

1. In 2017, scientists reported a decline of more than 75 percent in insect biomass across 63 nature areas in Germany between 1989 and 2016. https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/as-insect-populations-decline-scientists-are-trying-to-understand-why/

2 .http://www.fao.org/nr/water/aquastat/infographics/Irrigated_eng.pdf

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Saturday Matinee: Embrace of the Serpent

From Wikipedia:

Embrace of the Serpent (Spanish: El abrazo de la serpiente) is a 2015 internationally co-produced adventure drama film directed by Ciro Guerra, and written by Guerra and Jacques Toulemonde Vidal. Shot almost entirely in black and white, the film follows two journeys made thirty years apart by the indigenous shaman Karamakate in the Colombian Amazonian jungle, one with Theo, a German ethnographer, and the other with Evan, an American botanist, both of whom are searching for the rare plant yakruna. It was inspired by the travel diaries of Theodor Koch-Grunberg and Richard Evans Schultes, and dedicated to lost Amazonian cultures.

Embrace of the Serpent was premiered on 15 May 2015 during the Directors’ Fortnight section at the 2015 Cannes Film Festival, where it won the Art Cinema Award. The film was released in Colombia on 21 May 2015, and worldwide over the course of the following twelve months. It has received universal acclaim from critics, who praised the cinematography and the story’s impact of the destruction of the Amazon rainforest and way of life by white colonialism. It has won numerous awards, including the Alfred P. Sloan Prize at the 2016 Sundance Film Festival, the Grand Jury Prize for Best Picture at the 2017 Riviera International Film Festival, and seven awards at the 3rd Platino Awards to recognise the best Ibero-American films of 2015, including the Platino Award for Best Ibero-American Film. In 2016 the film was submitted as Colombia’s entry for the category of Best Foreign Language Film at the 88th Academy Awards and was included among the final five nominees, becoming the first Colombian film ever to receive a nomination for an Academy Award.

The film tells two stories thirty years apart, both featuring Karamakate, an Amazonian shaman and last survivor of his tribe. He travels with two scientists, firstly with the German Theo von Martius in 1909 and then with an American named Evan in 1940, to look for the rare yakruna, a sacred plant.[4]

Theo, an ethnographer from Tübingen who has already been residing in the Amazon for several years, is very sick and is travelling by canoe with his field notes and a westernised local named Manduca who he saved from enslavement on a rubber plantation. Karamakate prolongs his life, blasting white powder called “the sun’s semen” (possibly a hallucinogenic made from virola[5]) up his nose, but is reluctant to become involved with a westerner and refuses his money. Theo is searching for yakruna as the only cure for his disease and the three set off in the canoe to search for it.

Many years later an American botanist, Evan (Brionne Davis), paddles up to a much older Karamakate (Antonio Bolívar) who has apparently forgotten the customs of his own people. Evan says he is hoping to complete Theo’s quest and Karamakate does assist, again reluctantly, saying his knowledge is spent. Evan has a book of Theo’s final trek, which his aide had sent back to Europe, as he did not survive the jungle. The book includes an image of Karamakate, which he refers to as his chullachaqui, a native term for hollow spirit. Karamakate agrees to help him only when Evan describes himself as someone who has devoted himself to plants, although Evan’s real purpose is actually to secure disease-free rubber trees, since the United States’s supplies of rubber from South East Asia had dwindled due to the Japanese wartime advance.

Both expeditions feature a Spanish Catholic Mission by the side of an Amazon tributary, run in 1909 by a sadistic, lone Spanish priest who beats orphan boys for any “pagan” behaviour, and in 1940 by a delusional Brazilian figure who believes he is the Messiah. He only trusts the visitors when he believes they are the Biblical Magi, but Karamakate wins his respect when he heals his wife. By now the children of 1909 have grown into disturbed and violent acolytes.

In 1909, we are left with Theo, sick and having fled the Mission, arriving at a frontier post just about to be invaded by Colombian soldiers during the Amazon rubber boom, where the sacred yakruna is being abused by drunken men, and cultivated, against local traditions. Karamakate is furious and destroys it. In 1940, Karamakate does show Evan the origin of the plant in striking denuded dome-shaped mountains (Cerros de Mavecure), allegedly the home of yakruna. He reveals one yakruna flower that is on the last plant – he has destroyed all the others – and prepares it for Evan. The preparation being hallucinogenic, aids Evan in undergoing a superconscious experience. While most of the film is in black-and-white, a part of this experience is shown in colour to signify its intensity. The film ends with a transformed Evan remaining enamoured by a group of butterflies.

Watch the full film on Kanopy.

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US Again Complicit in an Illegal Coup, This Time in Bolivia

Pen and watercolor of Bolivia’s Evo Morales. (Flickr/Arturo Espinosa)

By Marjorie Cohn

Source: Consortium News

Once again, the United States is complicit in an illegal coup d’état in Latin America, this time in Bolivia. On Nov. 10, a right-wing, anti-indigenous group seized power after the Bolivian military’s removal of President Evo Morales, who had declared victory in the Oct. 20 presidential election.

The United States’ fingerprints are all over the coup. Advisers from the U.S. Southern Command have been stationed on Bolivia’s border with Argentina, Ivanka Trump made a surprising visit to an Argentine province near the Bolivian border in September, the pro-U.S. Organization of American States (OAS) cast unfounded doubt on Morales’s election victory, and the U.S.’s National Endowment for Democracy provided suspicious grants to Bolivia.

At least 32 people have been killed and hundreds injured since the coup began. Sacha Llorenti, Bolivian ambassador to the United Nations, told Democracy Now!, “We are going through not just a coup d’état, but a violent one.” Indeed, it has resulted in “the rise of a far-right regime of terror,” professor Gabriel Hetland wrote in The Washington Post.

Morales — Bolivia’s first indigenous leader in a country where 65 percent of the people are indigenous — received 10 percent more votes than Carlos Mesa, the second-place candidate who has close ties to the U.S. government. Mesa was in regular communication with U.S. officials who were trying to destabilize Morales, U.S. government cables published by WikiLeaks reveal.

The day after the election, the U.S.-funded OAS sought to delegitimize the election results. “The OAS Mission expresses its deep concern and surprise at the drastic and hard-to-explain change in the trend of the preliminary results revealed after the closing of the polls,” it stated.

But the Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR) published a comprehensive statistical analysis on Nov. 8 that found no evidence of fraud or irregularities in the election and determined that the results reflected highly similar patterns from past elections. Other research conducted by CELAG (Centro Estratégico Latinoamericano de Geopolítica) confirmed CEPR’s findings and identified insufficient evidence to support the assertions in the OAS statement.

CEPR Co-director Mark Weisbrot noted in an op-ed for Market Watch, “The OAS isn’t all that independent at the moment, with the Trump administration actively promoting this military coup, and Washington having more right-wing allies in the OAS than they did just a few years ago.”

The OAS was established during the Cold War to prevent the proliferation of leftist governments. USAID considers OAS a critical tool in “promot[ing] US interests in the Western hemisphere by countering the influence of anti-US countries” such as Bolivia.

The Nov. 10 military coup led to the forced resignation of Morales, who received asylum in Mexico. Right-wing politician Jeanine Añez declared herself interim president, and Donald Trump immediately recognized her illegitimate claim to the presidency. Añez then issued a decree immunizing the military from criminal liability “for carrying out necessary actions in their legitimate defense while performing their constitutional duties.” Morales supporters accused Añez of giving soldiers “carte blanche” to shoot demonstrators. Bolivia’s human rights ombudsman and reporters have documented widespread injuries and fatalities from gunshots.

U.S. Involvement

During Morales’s nearly 14 years in office, his Movement Towards Socialism (MAS) party reduced poverty by 42 percent and extreme poverty by 60 percent. It cut unemployment by 50 percent and nearly tripled the per-capita G.D.P. “It’s indisputable that Bolivians are healthier, wealthier, better educated, living longer and more equal than at any time in this South American nation’s history,” Anthony Faiola wrote in The Washington Post.

There was discontent about Morales seeking a fourth term among some sectors in Bolivia, who thought there should be space for new leadership. But Morales had a strong record of establishing policies to help the people of Bolivia, which angered the U.S. government, Western corporations and the corporate media, “who function as ideological shock troops against leftist governments in Latin America,” Alan MacLeod wrote at Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting.

The U.S. and Argentine governments helped to engineer the Bolivian coup, Stella Calloni reported in Resumen: Latinoamerico. She cited the presence of advisers from the U.S. Southern Command on the Argentine border with Bolivia.

Calloni also documented “the surprising trip of Ivanka Trump” to the Argentine province of Jujuy near the Bolivian border on Sept. 4-5. Accompanied by 2,500 U.S. agents and Undersecretary of State John Sullivan, Ivanka Trump was ostensibly there to “visit” a small NGO dedicated to furthering women’s rights, and she delivered an “aid” package of $400 million for “road works.” Alicia Canqui Condori, national representative of MAS, said that, “in Jujuy Donald Trump’s daughter had met with Gov. Gerardo Morales to plan what happened in Bolivia.”

Moreover, according to Calloni, Bolivian Gen. Williams Kaliman, who “suggested” that Morales resign after the election, traveled to the United States 72 hours after the coup began and he received $1 million from the U.S. embassy in Bolivia. Like many Latin American strongmen over the years, at least six of the top military leaders involved in the coup, including Kaliman, were trained at the notorious U.S. Army School of the Americas (now called the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation) in Fort Benning, Georgia.

Months before the coup, Bolivia concluded a $2.3 billion deal with a Chinese consortium to mine lithium. Bolivia has 70 percent of the world’s supply of lithium, which is used in car batteries, electronic devices and weapons systems. “The idea that there might be a new social compact for the lithium was unacceptable to the main transnational mining companies,” Vijay Prashad wrote. U.S. and Canadian companies sought to make a lithium agreement with Bolivia but they could not meet Morales’s conditions. “Morales himself was a direct impediment to the takeover of the lithium fields by the non-Chinese transnational firms,” according to Prashad. “He had to go.”

Meddling in Latin America

U.S. complicity in the Bolivian coup follows in a sordid tradition of meddling in the political and economic affairs of Latin American countries. “For many years, the US government has provided overt financial support to opposition political parties and civic groups, including to many of the groups that have been engaged in violent insurrections and coup plotting since at least 2008,” Thomas Field wrote in Jacobin.

One key vehicle that the U.S. government uses as a cover for its imperialist policies is the National Endowment for Democracy (NED). After disturbing revelations of covert CIA operations in the second half of the 1970s, NED was established under President Ronald Reagan. “The idea was that the NED would do somewhat overtly what the CIA had been doing covertly for decades, and thus, hopefully, eliminate the stigma associated with CIA covert activities,” William Blum wrote in 2005. NED co-founder Allen Weinstein concurred, stating in 1991, “A lot of what we do today was done covertly 25 years ago by the CIA.” Although ostensibly a private, nonprofit organization, NED is largely funded by the United States. “In effect,” Blum noted, “the CIA has been laundering money through NED.”

Peter Haberfeld, a retired lawyer and labor organizer who has studied the “Pink Tide” governments in Latin America, documented NED grants in Bolivia. He told Truthout that “between 2016 and 2019, NED gave grants to over 30 organizations for ‘democracy promotion’ in Bolivia. The grants total $3,209,887.”

Haberfeld said the grants were officially earmarked for “lofty objectives such as expanding participation by women, youth, media and entrepreneurs in a vibrant political process, particularly in connection with elections,” but cautioned “it is wise to be suspicious.” Haberfeld cited author Neil A. Burron, who wrote in “The New Democracy Wars: The Politics of North American Democracy Promotion in the Americas,” that “democracy promotion is typically formulated to advance commercial, geopolitical and security objectives that conflict with a genuine commitment to democracy development.” Burron noted, “For the U.S., the political manipulation of democracy promotion in support of a North American-led regional order is a continuation of long-standing forms of intervention [that have been] used as a license to meddle in the domestic affairs of others.”

NED was complicit in the Iran-Contra affair in the 1980s, manipulated the 1990 Nicaraguan elections, heavily funded the 2002 failed coup attempt against socialist President Hugo Chavez in Venezuela, and supported the opposition to progressive President Jean-Bertrand Aristide in Haiti in the 1990s. Between 1990 and 1992, NED donated a quarter-million dollars to the Cuban-American National Foundation, the violent anti-Castro group based in Miami.

In 2018, under the guise of “democracy,” “human rights” and “entrepreneurship,” NED funneled more than $23 million to opposition groups in Latin American countries, including Venezuela, Nicaragua, Cuba and Bolivia.

Former National Security Advisor John Bolton called Venezuela, Cuba and Nicaragua the “Troika of Tyranny” in November 2018. A few months later, in April 2019, the U.S. government orchestrated another unsuccessful coup in Venezuela. Juan Guaidó, Washington’s chosen puppet to seize power from President Nicolás Maduro, was funded by NED.

Trump not only took aim at the progress President Barack Obama had made toward normalization of relations with Cuba, he has escalated the U.S. economic war on Cuba and unleashed untold numbers of lawsuits that threaten to destroy the fragile Cuban economy.

The Obama administration, led by former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, supported the 2009 coup in Honduras. The fraudulent election following the coup was financed by NED and the State Department, ushering in a repressive and militarized regime. Conditions deteriorated, leading to the exodus of thousands of Honduran children fleeing north.

U.S. Complicity Is Illegal

U.S. complicity in the coup in Bolivia is illegal under both U.S. and international law. The United Nations Charter prohibits the use of or threat to use force against the territorial integrity or political independence of another nation. The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights guarantees the right to self-determination.

The Charter of the Organization of American States, to which the U.S. is a party, forbids any country from intervening in the internal or external affairs of another country. The OAS charter declares that, “Every State has the right to choose, without external interference, its political, economic, and social system and to organize itself in the way best suited to it, and has the duty to abstain from intervening in the affairs of another State.”

The Foreign Assistance Act forbids the United States from assisting a country “whose duly elected head of government is deposed by military coup or decree.”

There has been global condemnation of the coup. Sixty-four organizations of jurists, lawyers, NGOs, social movements and trade unions from around the world, including the International Association of Democratic Lawyers and the National Lawyers Guild, sent a letter to the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet, urging her to strongly condemn the human rights violations resulting from the coup.

Fourteen members of the House of Representatives sent a letter to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo saying they were “deeply concerned” about the contribution of the Trump administration to the “escalating political and human rights crisis” in Bolivia.

Over 800 scholars, activists and public figures published an open letter demanding that the United States and the international community halt all support to the right-wing, anti-indigenous regime that took power after the military coup.

Veterans For Peace condemned the racist coup in Bolivia and demanded an end to U.S. intervention in Latin America:

Veterans For Peace stands in solidarity with the Indigenous majority in Bolivia who are resisting the racist, right-wing takeover of their democracy. We demand that the coup be stopped and democracy restored in Bolivia. As military veterans who have been used and abused in too many unjust wars, we demand an end to 200 years of U.S. intervention in Latin America.

The situation in Bolivia is volatile and there is danger it could devolve into civil war. This is the time to urge senators and Congress members to end all U.S. support for the illegitimate regime, demand free and fair elections with all political parties represented, and insist that fundamental human rights of all Bolivians are protected.

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Impeachment hearing opens with Democratic Party blast against Russia

By Patrick Martin

Source: WSWS.org

The House Judiciary Committee opened its first formal hearing on the impeachment of President Trump Wednesday with a statement by committee chairman Jerrold Nadler that confirmed the right-wing character of the Democratic campaign.

Nadler openly declared that the effort to impeach Trump for withholding military aid from Ukraine was a continuation of the investigation by Special Counsel Robert Mueller into alleged Russian interference in the 2016 elections in support of Trump.

He first recounted Trump’s withholding of military aid to browbeat Ukraine into opening an investigation into Hunter Biden, the son of former Vice President Joe Biden, an action that Trump hoped would benefit him in the 2020 election. Nadler then said, “Of course, this is not the first time that President Trump has engaged in this pattern of conduct.”

He continued: “In 2016, the Russian government engaged in a sweeping and systematic campaign of interference in our elections. In the words of Special Counsel Robert Mueller, ‘the Russian government perceived it would benefit from a Trump presidency and worked to secure that outcome.’ The President welcomed that interference.”

In invoking the bogus claims of massive Russian intervention in the 2016 elections—and raising the even less credible suggestion that Ukraine’s actions could play a major role in the 2020 elections—Nadler revealed the essential falsehood that underlies the entire Democratic impeachment campaign over Ukraine.

The United States is not the victim of global efforts to subvert its electoral processes. The reality is just the opposite. The US government is the most active and aggressive saboteur and manipulator of democratic processes all over the world, routinely intervening to ensure that pro-American regimes are placed in power. Its intelligence agencies regularly organize political overturns, up to and including bloody military coups, in those cases where the people of a targeted country vote the “wrong” way, from the perspective of Washington.

Ukraine is one of the most prominent recent examples of this, as the CIA and State Department backed a right-wing coup against the elected president, Viktor Yanukovych, viewed as too sympathetic to Moscow. US agencies financed and mobilized ultra-right and neo-Nazi forces who spearheaded the uprising that drove Yanukovych into exile in 2014. Since then, the US and its NATO allies have been preparing feverishly for a war with Russia in which Ukraine would serve as a key battlefront, even though such a conflict would bring with it the danger of nuclear conflict.

The Judiciary Committee’s opening hearing took testimony from a panel of four law school professors on the legal and constitutional requirements for a legitimate impeachment proceeding. This was an effort to mimic the initial hearings that began impeachment proceedings against Richard Nixon in 1973-74 and Bill Clinton in 1998-99.

The three professors chosen by the Democratic majority all testified that Trump’s actions constituted impeachable offenses. Each cited historical instances to demonstrate that those who drafted the US Constitution were deeply concerned about the possibility of foreign intervention into US elections, particularly as it related to the election of the president, the chief executive of the new government.

Citing these 230-year-old concerns of a small and newly independent country, in a world dominated by powerful foreign empires, only underscores the contradiction with today’s power realities. The United States is the most powerful imperialist nation. It is Ukraine that has been the target of a two-decades-long campaign of subversion and manipulation by Washington, aimed at transforming the country into a base of operations directed against Russia.

As several witnesses in the previous round of hearings held by the House Intelligence Committee asserted—and as reiterated in the Democrats’ 300-page impeachment report released Tuesday—the United States’ client regime in Kiev is already engaged in a “hot war” with Russian-backed forces in eastern Ukraine.

The campaign to transform Ukraine into a US subject state and military staging ground against Russia, on which the CIA, State Department and Pentagon have expended more than $10 billion, was threatened by Trump’s withholding of military aid. It was this action that sparked the retaliatory “whistleblower” complaint by a CIA officer formerly assigned to the White House, which then became the pretext for the launching of the impeachment inquiry.

Again and again, throughout the eight-hour hearing, Democratic members of the Judiciary Committee returned to the theme of alleged Russian intervention in the 2016 US elections and the ongoing US military-diplomatic operations directed against Moscow.

Eric Swalwell of California, for example, declared, “We’re here because of this photo,” while having a photograph displayed on a huge television screen showing President Volodymyr Zelensky dressed in combat gear in eastern Ukraine, where he stood on the “front line against Russia.” Swalwell added that the US was aiding Zelensky to fight Russia “so that we don’t have to fight them here,” as though Russian soldiers were about to parachute onto the streets of Washington DC.

The anti-Russian hysteria was combined with claims that Trump’s conduct in relation to Ukraine bore comparison to Watergate. One of the legal witnesses, Noah Feldman of Harvard University Law School, flatly stated, “Richard Nixon sent burglars to break into the headquarters of the Democratic National Committee. This president just made a direct phone call to the president of a foreign country asking for his intervention in our election.”

Another witness, Michael Gerhardt of the University of North Carolina Law School, went even further, declaring in his opening statement that Trump’s conduct was far worse than Nixon’s in Watergate—because Nixon used American operatives against his political rivals, while Trump resorted to foreign ones.

These comparisons collapse as soon as one considers the stark difference between the current political crisis and the situation that led to Nixon’s resignation in Watergate, as well as the crisis that shook the Reagan administration in the Iran-Contra affair of the 1980s. In both these cases, the president engaged in criminal conduct in order to pursue unpopular and illegal wars—in Nixon’s case, the wars in Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos; in Reagan’s case, the “contra” war against Nicaragua.

It was the massive popular opposition to these imperialist wars that led the president in each case to resort to criminal actions. Nixon approved the formation of the “plumbers” unit of ex-CIA agents to spy on his political opponents and collect information by illegal methods, including, ultimately, the burglarizing of the Democratic National Committee offices in the Watergate complex.

Reagan authorized his National Security Council, with Lt. Col. Oliver North taking the lead, to organize the sale of weapons to Iran to obtain funds that could be routed to the “contra” forces engaged in CIA-backed terrorist attacks in Nicaragua, in direct violation of the Boland Amendment, which prohibited such aid.

In the case of Ukraine, it is not Trump but his Democratic opponents who are demanding a more aggressive pursuit of illegal and militaristic foreign policy objectives, including the arming of the regime set up in the Ukraine by the CIA-backed “Maidan Revolution” of 2014. In this, the Democrats are acting as political attorneys for the CIA, Pentagon and State Department, as was made clear in the parade of national-security officials who defied Trump’s orders and testified before the House Intelligence Committee.

This embrace of the CIA-backed overthrow of an elected government in Ukraine makes nonsense of the Democrats’ claims that their concern in bringing charges against Trump is to defend democracy in America.

There would be no lack of grounds for a legitimate political indictment of Trump on charges of anti-democratic criminal actions: the forced separation of parents and children by his border Gestapo, the illegal diversion of congressionally appropriated funds to build the border wall, the “Muslim ban” on travelers from targeted countries, or Trump’s incessant appeals to racist and fascist forces.

The Democrats choose not to raise these issues because their invocations of democracy are entirely false and hypocritical. Trump’s drive towards fascism cannot and will not be fought by appealing to the CIA and State Department. These are merely two different roads to the same end: the establishment of an authoritarian regime in America.

The hypocrisy of the Democrats is demonstrated in the choice of the witness who led off the impeachment hearing. Professor Noah Feldman is not just a Harvard Law School professor. He has a long and noxious record as an apologist for American imperialist intervention, most notably serving in 2003 as a political adviser to the Iraqi Governing Council, the provisional administration set up after the US invasion.

After helping the Bush administration set up its puppet regime in Iraq at the onset of an imperialist war that has cost the lives of more than a million people and set in train a series of catastrophes in the Middle East, Feldman is hardly in a position to posture as an expert on the defense of democratic rights and constitutional processes.

Similarly, Pamela Karlan from Stanford University Law School, the second legal expert to testify, served in the Obama administration’s Department of Justice in 2014-2015, at a time when this agency was spearheading the attack on Edward Snowden and Julian Assange for exposing US war crimes and mass surveillance, and when Chelsea Manning was serving a 35-year prison term for her leaks of classified information detailing these crimes.

Posted in black ops, CIA, corporate news, culture, Deep State, Dirty Politics, elites, Empire, Geopolitics, imperialism, Neocons, news, Oligarchy, propaganda, Psy-ops, Social Control, Social Engineering, society, State Crime, war | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

The Ministry of Wiki-Truth

By C.J. Hopkins

Source: Dissident Voice

OK, here’s a silly one for you.

Have you ever wondered how all those Wikipedia articles get produced … you know, the ones you pull up on your phone to look up an actor, an author, or a recipe, or a historical or scientific fact? Unfortunately, one of the Consent Factory staff had an opportunity to find out recently.

Apparently, what happened was, someone (presumably one of my readers) tried to add a reference to one of my essays to Wikipedia’s Identity Politics page. The Ministry of Wiki-Truth objected, adamantly. A low-level edit war ensued. Once the Ministers had quashed the rebellion, one of them, “Grayfell,” immediately went to the CJ Hopkins Wikipedia article and started punitively “editing” its contents for “neutrality.”

Other Ministers soon joined in the fun. The list of my awards was summarily deleted. My debut novel, Zone 23, which I published under the Consent Factory’s literary imprint, Snoggsworthy, Swaine & Cormorant Paperbacks, was “edited” into a vanity publication that I “self-published,” probably in my mother’s basement. The “Snoggsworthy, Swaine & Cormorant” imprint (which every bookseller, library, and professional catalog recognizes) was disappeared so that my potential readers will be warned that I’m trying to trick them into buying a book that wasn’t published by a “real” (i.e., corporate) publisher, like the Penguin Group, or one of its … uh, imprints. References to my “political satire and commentary,” and to many of the alternative outlets that regularly repost my essays (like the outlet you’re probably reading this in) were also zapped, because they’re all “fake news” sites operated by Putin-Nazi agents.

Also, given my attempted book fraud, the Wikipedia Ministers immediately launched an investigation into whether I had possibly made up my entire career. Perhaps I had invented all the productions of my plays, and my awards, and even my existence itself. I assume they have contacted my “legitimate” publishers, Bloomsbury Publishing and Broadway Play Publishing, to verify that I haven’t somehow hacked their websites and faked my other books. If they haven’t … well, they should probably get on that.

This “editing” and pursuant investigation was overseen and approved by a senior member of the Ministry’s Arbitration Committee, Doug Weller, who is apparently a “Grandmaster Editor” or a “Lord High Togneme Vicarus” in Wiki-speak. (I kid you not … click the link.) Given Lord Weller’s supervision of the process, I think it’s probably safe to say that this was not just the work of a bunch of kids attempting to negatively impact my book sales because someone on the Internet pissed them off.

This brouhaha was brought to my attention by the Consent Factory’s in-house Wikipedia Liaison, King Ubu (or König Ubu in German). As his job title suggests, King Ubu’s duty is to periodically check my Wikipedia article and make sure that no one has posted anything false, defamatory, or just plain weird. Naturally, when he saw how the Ministers of Wiki-Truth were punitively “editing” my page for “neutrality,” he attempted to engage them. This did not go well. I won’t go through all the gory details, but, if you’re curious, they’re here on the CJ Hopkins “talk” page (which King Ubu reports that he has copied and archived, which I find a bit paranoid, but then, I’m not an IT guy).

Look, normally, I wouldn’t bore you with my personal affairs, but my case is just another example of how “reality” is manufactured these days. In the anti-establishment circles I move in, Wikipedia is notorious for this kind of stuff, which is unsurprising when you think about it. It’s a perfect platform for manufacturing reality, disseminating pro-establishment propaganda, and damaging people’s reputations, which is a rather popular tactic these days. The simple fact is, when you google anything, Wikipedia is usually the first link that comes up. Most people assume that what they read on the platform is basically factual and at least trying to be “objective” … which a lot of it is, but a lot of it isn’t.

If the name Philip Cross doesn’t ring any bells, you might want to have a look into his story before you go back to uncritically surfing Wikipedia. As of May 14, 2018 (when Five Filters published this article about him and his service at the Ministry of Wiki-Truth), he had been editing Wikipedia for five years straight, every day of the week, including Christmas. He (if Cross is an actual person, and not an intelligence agency PSYOP) specializes in maliciously “editing” articles regarding anti-war activists and other anti-establishment persons. The story is too long to recount here, but have a look at this other Five Filters article. If you’re interested, that’s a good place to start.

Or, if you don’t have time to do that, go ahead and use my case as an example. See, according to Ubu, the Ministry’s punitive “editing” of my article to make it more “neutral” began when this specific Minister (“Grayfell”) discovered (a) that I existed, and (b) that I am a leftist heretic. “Grayfell,” as it turns out, is extremely invested in maintaining a positive image of Antifa, whose Wikipedia article he actively edits, and whose honor and integrity he valiantly defends, not only from conservatives and neo-fascist bozos, but apparently also from nefarious leftist authors and political satirists like myself.

Which … OK, I probably deserve it, right? I have satirized identity politics. I have satirized Antifa. I have satirized liberals. I don’t forbid controversial outlets (or any other outlets for that matter) from republishing my political satire and commentary, even after I was instructed to do so by the Leftism Police at CounterPunch. Jesus, I even included a link to a Breitbart article in the preceding paragraph … don’t read it, of course, it’s all a bunch of lies, notwithstanding all the supporting evidence.

Chief among my leftist heresies, I haven’t insulted Trump nearly enough. I don’t believe he’s a “Russian asset” or the resurrection of Adolf Hitler. I believe he is the same narcissistic ass clown and self-absorbed con man he has always been. Much as I dislike the man, I’m not on board with the deep-state coup the Intelligence Community, the Democrats, and the rest of the neoliberal Resistance have been trying to stage since he won the election.

I’m not a big fan of Intelligence agencies, generally. I don’t care much for imperialism, not even when it’s global capitalist imperialism. I do not support the global capitalist ruling classes’ War on Populism, or believe in the official Putin-Nazi narrative that they and their servants in the corporate media have been disseminating for the last three years. I do not sing hymns to former FBI directors. I don’t believe that all conservatives are fascists, or that the working classes are all a bunch of racists, or that “America is under attack.

Let’s face it, I’m a terrible leftist.

So it’s probably good that “Grayfell” and his pals discovered me and are feverishly “correcting” my article, and God knows how many other articles that don’t conform to Wikipedia “policy,” or Philip Cross’ political preferences, or Antifa’s theory of “preemptive self-defense,” or whatever other non-ideological, totally objective editorial standards the “volunteer editors” at the Ministry of Wiki-Truth (who have nothing to do with the Intelligence Community, or Antifa, or any other entities like that) consensually decide to robotically adhere to.

How else are they going to keep their content “neutral,” “unbiased,” and “reliably sourced,” so that people can pull up Wikipedia on their phones and verify historical events (which really happened, exactly as they say they did), or scientific “facts” (which are indisputable) … or whether Oceania is at War with EastAsia, or Eurasia, or the Terrorists, or Russia?

Oh, and please don’t worry about my Wikipedia article. König Ubu assures me he has done all he could to restore it some semblance of accuracy, and that the Ministers have moved on to bigger fish. Of course, who knows what additional “edits” might suddenly become a top priority once “Grayfell” or Antifa gets wind of this piece.

Posted in Authoritarianism, censorship, civil liberties, culture, Dystopia, freedom of speech, internet freedom, media, Media Literacy, Psy-ops, Social Control, Social Engineering, society, Technocracy, Technology | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Two for Tuesday

Paris

Posted in Art, culture, Music Video, Two for Tuesday, Video | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

The Tech Giants Are a Conduit for Fascism

By Michael Krieger

Source: Liberty Blitzkrieg

A second former Amazon employee would spark more controversy. Deap Ubhi, a former AWS employee who worked for Lynch, was tasked with gathering marketing information to make the case for a single cloud inside the DOD. Around the same time that he started working on JEDI, Ubhi began talking with AWS about rejoining the company. As his work on JEDI deepened, so did his job negotiations. Six days after he received a formal offer from Amazon, Ubhi recused himself from JEDI, fabricating a story that Amazon had expressed an interest in buying a startup company he owned. A contracting officer who investigated found enough evidence that Ubhi’s conduct violated conflict of interest rules to refer the matter to the inspector general, but concluded that his conduct did not corrupt the process. (Ubhi, who now works in AWS’ commercial division, declined comment through a company spokesperson.)

Ubhi worsened the impression by making ill-advised public statements while still employed by the DOD. In a tweet, he described himself as “once an Amazonian, always an Amazonian.”

– From the must read ProPublica expose: How Amazon and Silicon Valley Seduced the Pentagon

That U.S. tech giants are willing participants in facilitating mass government surveillance has been widely known for a while, particularly since whistleblower Edward Snowden risked his life and liberty to tell us about it six years ago. We also know what happens to executives who don’t play ball.

Perhaps the most high profile example relates to Joseph Nacchio, CEO of telecom company Qwest in the aftermath of 9/11. Courageously, he was the only executive who pushed back against government attempts to violate the civil liberties of his customers. A few years later, he was thrown in jail for insider trading and stayed locked up for four years. He claimed his incarceration was retaliation for not bending the knee to government, which seems likely.

Charges his defense team claimed were U.S. government retaliation for his refusal to give customer data to the National Security Agency in February, 2001. This defense was not admissible in court because the U.S. Department of Justice filed an in limine motion, which is often used in national security cases, to exclude information which may reveal state secrets. Information from the Classified Information Procedures Act hearings in Nacchio’s case was likewise ruled inadmissible

Fast forward to today, and the tech giants have willingly and enthusiastically transformed themselves into compliant organs of the national security state. Big tech executives have by and large embraced this extremely lucrative and powerful role rather than push back against it. There’s simply too much money at stake, and nobody wants to go to the big house like Joe Nacchio. There is no resistance.

Just yesterday, we learned that Twitter’s executive for the Middle East is an actual British Army ‘psyops’ soldier. Unfortunately, this is not a joke.

As reported by Middle East Eye:

The senior Twitter executive with editorial responsibility for the Middle East is also a part-time officer in the British Army’s psychological warfare unit, Middle East Eye has established.

Gordon MacMillan, who joined the social media company’s UK office six years ago, has for several years also served with the 77th Brigade, a unit formed in 2015 in order to develop “non-lethal” ways of waging war.

The 77th Brigade uses social media platforms such as Twitter, Instagram and Facebook, as well as podcasts, data analysis and audience research to wage what the head of the UK military, General Nick Carter, describes as “information warfare”.

Here’s how Twitter responded to the revelation…

Twitter would say only that “we actively encourage all our employees to pursue external interests.”

They don’t even care.

While that’s troubling enough, I want to focus your attention on a brilliant and extremely important piece published a couple of months ago at ProPublica, which many of you may have missed. It details the troubling and incestuous relationship between Amazon and Google executives with the Department of Defense. A relationship which virtually guarantees these CEOs immunity as long as they play ball. It’s impossible to read this piece and come away thinking these are “just private companies.” They demonstrably are not.

In the case of Amazon, a Pentagon whistleblower named Roma Laster grew uncomfortable with the cozy relationship Jeff Bezos had with DOD leaders.

We learn:

On Aug. 8, 2017, Roma Laster, a Pentagon employee responsible for policing conflicts of interest, emailed an urgent warning to the chief of staff of then-Secretary of Defense James Mattis. Several department employees had arranged for Jeff Bezos, the CEO of Amazon, to be sworn into an influential Pentagon advisory board despite the fact that, in the year since he’d been nominated, Bezos had never completed a required background check to obtain a security clearance.

Mattis was about to fly to the West Coast, where he would personally swear Bezos in at Amazon’s headquarters before moving on to meetings with executives from Google and Apple. Soon phone calls and emails began bouncing around the Pentagon. Security clearances are no trivial matter to defense officials; they exist to ensure that people with access to sensitive information aren’t, say, vulnerable to blackmail and don’t have conflicts of interest. Laster also contended that it was a “noteworthy exception” for Mattis to perform the ceremony. Secretaries of defense, she wrote, don’t hold swearing-in events…

The swearing-in was canceled only hours before it was scheduled to occur.

Bezos would’ve certainly been sworn into that board had Laster not had the courage to speak up. She later received her reward.

Laster did her best to enforce the rules. She would challenge the Pentagon’s cozy relationship not only with Bezos, but with Google’s Eric Schmidt, the chairman of the defense board that Bezos sought to join. The ultimate resolution? Laster was shunted aside. She was removed from the innovation board in November 2017 (but remains at the Defense Department). “Roma was removed because she insisted on them following the rules,” said a former DOD official knowledgeable about her situation.

Real whistleblowers are never celebrated by mass media and are always punished. That’s how you distinguish a real whistleblower from a fraud.

As mentioned above, Laster also called out and angered Eric Schmidt who, as chairman of Alphabet (Google, Youtube, etc), was trying to sell services to the Pentagon while at the same time serving as Chairman of the Department of Defense’s Innovation Board. That’s about as incestuous and corrupt as it gets.

Schmidt, the chairman of the innovation board, embraced the mission. In the spring and summer of 2016, he embarked, with fellow board members, on a series of visits to Pentagon operations around the world. Schmidt visited a submarine base in San Diego, an aircraft carrier off the coast of the United Arab Emirates and Creech Air Force Base, located deep in the Nevada desert near Area 51.

Inside the drone operations center at Creech, according to three people familiar with the trip, Schmidt observed video as a truck in a contested zone somewhere was surveilled by a Predator drone and annihilated. It was a mesmerizing display of the U.S. military’s lethal reach…

A little more than a year after Schmidt’s visit, Google won a $17 million subcontract in a project called Maven to help the military use image recognition software to identify drone targets — exactly the kind of function that Schmidt witnessed at Creech…

Schmidt’s influence, already strong under Carter, only grew when Mattis arrived as defense secretary. Schmidt’s travel privileges at the DOD, which required painstaking approval from the agency’s chief of staff for each stop of every trip, were suddenly unfettered after Schmidt requested carte blanche, according to three sources knowledgeable about the matter. Mattis granted him and the board permission to travel anywhere they wanted and to talk to anyone at the DOD on all but the most secret programs.

Such access is unheard-of for executives or directors of companies that sell to the government, say three current and former DOD officials, both to prevent opportunities for bribery or improper influence and to ensure that one company does not get advantages over others. “Mattis changed the rules of engagement and the muscularity of the innovation board went from zero to 60,” said a person who has served on Pentagon advisory boards. “There’s a lot of opportunity for mischief”…

Over the next months, Schmidt and two other board members with Google ties would continue flying all over the country, visiting Pentagon installations and meeting with DOD officials, sessions that no other company could attend. It’s hard to reconstruct what occurred in many of those meetings, since they were private. On one occasion, Schmidt quizzed a briefer about which cloud service provider was being used for a data project, according to a memo that Laster prepared after the briefing. When the briefer told him that Amazon handled the business, Schmidt asked if they’d considered other cloud providers. Laster’s memo flagged Schmidt’s inquiry as a “point of concern,” given that he was the chairman of a major cloud provider.

The DOD became unusually deferential to Schmidt. He preferred to travel on his personal jet, and he would ferry fellow board members with him. But that created a problem for his handlers: DOD employees are not permitted to ride on private planes. Still, the staff at the board didn’t want to inconvenience Schmidt by making him wait for his department support team to arrive on commercial flights. So, according to a source knowledgeable about the board’s spending, on at least one occasion the department requisitioned military aircraft at a cost of $25,000 an hour to transport its employees to meet Schmidt on his tour. (The DOD’s spokesperson said employees did this because “there were no commercial flights available.”)

Similar to the situation with Bezos, Roma Laster started asking questions, which angered master of the tech and military-industrial-complex universe Eric Schmidt.

Schmidt responded by threatening to go over her head to Mattis, according to her grievance. She was told to stand down and never again speak to Schmidt. According to the grievance, her boss told her, “Mr. Schmidt was a billionaire and would never accept pushback, warnings or limits.”

There’s so much more in this excellent article, but the key takeaway is the troubling extent of the existing merger between tech giants and the national security state. Disturbingly, this appears to have become even worse in the aftermath of the Snowden revelations, and the reasons why are clear. First, there are billions upon billions of dollars to be made. Second, nobody from the private sector ever gets punished for violating the civil liberties of the American public on behalf of the government and intelligence agencies. On the contrary, the only people who ever lose their freedoms and livelihoods are those who blow the whistle on government criminality (Thomas Drake, John Kiriakou, Chelsea Manning, Edward Snowden and Julian Assange, just to name a few).

Which brings up a very uncomfortable, yet fundamental question. How dangerous are tech giants that have near monopoly level power in core areas such as communications and online retail and also enjoy state sponsorship and the total immunity that comes with it? Add to the equation the enormous amount of money up for grabs provided you play ball with the national security state and you have a very precarious situation. This isn’t a hypothetical future dystopian scenario. It’s where we stand today. 

Facebook and Google are two companies with known ties to the national security state that together have enormous control over who, for all practical purposes, gets to speak in the modern online public square. Then consider that the tech giants represent a perfect vehicle for the national security state to censor or disappear from the conversation those deemed problematic to imperial narratives.

The U.S. government cannot explicitly restrict most kinds of speech, but tech giants can do whatever they please and don’t even need to provide a reasonable justification. This means any relationship between companies with this sort of online speech-policing power and the national security state is extremely dangerous. It’s a conduit for fascism.

Then there’s Amazon. A company that has a $600 million contract with the CIA, has used questionable practices in attempts to secure a $10 billion JEDI cloud deal with Pentagon, is aggressively marketing its facial recognition software to police departments across the country, and is coaching cops on how to obtain surveillance footage from its Ring doorbell camera without a warrant. But it gets even worse.

In light of recent public concerns around facial recognition, Bezos and his company are actively writing legislation for Congress on the issue.

We learn:

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos says his company is developing a set of laws to regulate facial recognition technology that it plans to share with federal lawmakers.

In February, the company, which has faced escalating scrutiny over its controversial facial recognition tech, called Amazon Rekognition, published guidelines it said it hoped lawmakers would consider enacting. Now Amazon is taking another step, Bezos told reporters in a surprise appearance following Amazon’s annual Alexa gadget event in Seattle on Wednesday.

“Our public policy team is actually working on facial recognition regulations; it makes a lot of sense to regulate that,” Bezos said in response to a reporter’s question.

The idea is that Amazon will write its own draft of what it thinks federal legislation should look like, and it will then pitch lawmakers to adopt as much of it as possible…

In a statement, ACLU Northern CA Attorney Jacob Snow said:

“It’s a welcome sign that Amazon is finally acknowledging the dangers of face surveillance. But we’ve seen this playbook before. Once companies realize that people are demanding strong privacy protections, they sweep in, pushing weak rules that won’t protect consumer privacy and rights. Cities across the country are voting to ban face surveillance, while Amazon is pushing its surveillance tech deeper into communities.”

Meanwhile, Amazon is now using mafia tactics to pressure retailers who feel forced to use the platform given its dominance in online retail, to pay for advertising. It’s not just small brands under the gun, even large companies with high name recognition like Samsonite are being twisted via increasingly unethical practices.

Via Vox:

As Recode’s Jason Del Rey explored in his Land of the Giants podcast about the rise of Amazon, companies that sell on Amazon are increasingly having to pay to show up in search results — even when people are searching for their specific brands.

Case in point: the luggage brand Samsonite, which has to pay for sponsored ads in order to be the top result when you search “Samsonite” on Amazon.

As Samsonite’s Chief E-commerce Officer Charlie Cole told Del Rey, “Amazon is making money off your products, making money off your data by creating brands, and Amazon is making money off the privilege of being on their platform by selling you advertising to protect your brand.”

“It’s been a tough relationship,” he added.

Think about how completely insane that is, yet it’s also exactly what you’d expect to happen when one company comes to completely dominate a space as fundamental to the modern economy as online shopping.

Naturally, there’s more. It’s been well documented how Amazon uses its knowledge of product sales on its platform to then rip off existing brands by copying them and making its own version.

The more connected these tech giants are to the national security state, the more dangerous and unassailable they become. A destructive process which is already very much underway.

Centralized and unaccountable government power is alway an existential threat to human liberty, but centralized and unaccountable government power exercised via tech behemoths which aren’t restrained by the Constitution is even worse. This is the world being built around us, and we’d be wise to address it soon.

Posted in Authoritarianism, censorship, civil liberties, Corporate Crime, culture, Dystopia, Economics, elites, freedom of speech, media, Media Literacy, Militarization, Oligarchy, police state, propaganda, Psy-ops, Social Control, Social Engineering, society, State Crime, surveillance state, Technocracy, Technology, Whistleblowers | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Our Vanishing World: Wildlife

By Robert J. Burrowes

Throughout its history, Earth has experienced five mass extinction events. See, for example, ‘Timeline Of Mass Extinction Events On Earth’. It is now experiencing the sixth.

  1. The Ordovician-Silurian Extinction, which occurred about 439 million years ago, wiped out 86% of life on Earth at the time. Most scientists believe that this mass extinction was precipitated by glaciation and falling sea levels (possibly a result of the Appalachian mountain range forming), catastrophically impacting animal life which lived largely in the ocean at the time.
  2. The Late Devonian Extinction happened about 364 million years ago and destroyed 75% of species on Earth. Possibly spread over hundreds of thousands of years, a sequence of events that depleted the oceans of oxygen and volcanic ash that cooled the Earth’s surface are believed to have driven the extinctions. It was to be 10 million years before vertebrates again appeared on land. ‘If the late Devonian extinction had not occurred, humans might not exist today.’
  3. The Permian-Triassic extinction, which occurred 251 million years ago, is considered the worst in all history because around 96% of species were lost. ‘The Great Dying’ was precipitated by an enormous volcanic eruption ‘that filled the air with carbon dioxide which fed different kinds of bacteria that began emitting large amounts of methane. The Earth warmed, and the oceans became acidic.’ Life today descended from the 4% of surviving species.
  4. The Triassic-Jurassic extinction happened between 214 million and 199 million years ago and, as in other mass extinctions, it is believed there were several phases of species loss. The blame has been placed on an asteroid impact, climate disruption and flood basalt eruptions. This extinction laid the path that allowed for the evolution of dinosaurs which later survived for about 135 million years.
  5. The Cretaceous-Paleogene extinction, best known of ‘the Big 5’ mass extinctions, occurred 65 million years ago, ending 76% of life on Earth including the dinosaurs. A combination of volcanic activity, asteroid impact, and climate disruption are blamed. This extinction period allowed for the evolution of mammals on land and sharks in the sea.
  6. The sixth mass extinction event in Earth’s history is the one that is being experienced now. Unlike earlier mass extinctions, which helped to pave the way for the evolution of Homo sapiens, the precipitating cause of this extinction event is Homo sapiens itself and, moreover, Homo sapiens is slated to be one of the species that becomes extinct.

Let me explain why this is so by touching on the diverse range of forces driving the extinctions, concepts such as ‘co-extinction’, ‘localized extinctions’ and ‘extinction cascades’, the ways in which extinction impacts are often ‘hidden’ in the short term, thus masking the true extent of the destruction, and the implications of all this for life on Earth, including Homo sapiens, in the near term.

But before I do this, consider this excerpt from the book Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind written by Yuval Noah Harari, commenting on the expansion of ancient humans out of Africa:

‘If we combine the mass extinctions in Australia and America, and add the smaller-scale extinctions that took place as Homo sapiens spread over Afro-Asia – such as the extinction of all other human species – and the extinctions that occurred when ancient foragers settled remote islands such as Cuba, the inevitable conclusion is that the first wave of Sapiens colonisation was one of the biggest and swiftest ecological disasters to befall the animal kingdom. Hardest hit were the large furry creatures. At the time of the Cognitive Revolution [which Harari argues occurred during the period between 70,000 and 30,000 years ago and probably involved an internal restructuring of the Sapiens brain to facilitate learning, remembering, imagining and communicating while also, in the case of the earlier date, coinciding with the time when Sapiens bands started leaving Africa for the second time], the planet was home to about 200 genera of large terrestrial mammals weighing over fifty kilograms. At the time of the Agricultural Revolution [about 12,000 years ago], only about a hundred remained. Homo sapiens drove to extinction about half of the planet’s big beasts long before humans invented the wheel, writing or iron tools.

‘This ecological tragedy was restaged in miniature countless times after the Agricultural Revolution’ with mammoths, for example, vanishing from the Eurasian and North American landmasses by 10,000 years ago as Homo sapiens spread. Despite this, mammoths thrived until just 4,000 years ago on a few remote Arctic islands, most conspicuously Wrangel, then suddenly disappeared with the arrival of humans.

While there has been some debate about the full extent of the human impact compared to, say, climate and environmental changes including ice age peaks – see, for example, ‘What killed off the giant beasts – climate change or man?’ and ‘What Killed the Great Beasts of North America?’ – the archeological record provides compelling evidence of the role of Homo sapiens as, in Harari’s words, ‘an ecological serial killer’. There is further well-documented evidence in Professor Tim Flannery’s The Future Eaters: An Ecological History of the Australasian Lands and People an excerpt of which in relation to New Zealand, where the megafauna survived until Maoris arrived just 800 years ago and then rapidly vanished, can be read here: ‘The Future Eaters’.

And the onslaught has never ended as the inexorable encroachment of Homo sapiens to the remotest corners of the Earth (including virtually all of the thousands of islands of the Atlantic, Indian and Pacific Oceans) has inevitably led to the extinction of myriad local species including birds, insects and snails. In fact, following the Industrial Revolution about 270 years ago which enabled the development of killing technologies on a scale unheard of previously, the human assault on life on Earth has accelerated so effectively that 200 species of life are now driven to extinction daily.

Whatever other claims they might make about themselves, human beings are truly the masters of death.

So where do we stand today?

According to one recent report, the Earth is experiencing what could be described as ‘just the tip of an enormous extinction iceberg’. See ‘Co-extinctions annihilate planetary life during extreme environmental change’. ‘Just the tip?’, you might ask.

Extinction-causing Behaviours

The primary human behaviours that are modifying Earth’s biosphere, with catastrophic outcomes for many species, are readily apparent and well-described in the scientific literature: destruction of habitat (such as oceans, rainforests, grasslands, wetlands, mangroves, lakes and coral reefs) whether through military violence, radioactive contamination, industrial activities (including ecosystem destruction to build cities, roads and railroads but a vast range of other activities besides), chemical poisoning or other means; over-exploitation; biotic invasion and the effects of environmental modification, including climatic conditions, leading to temperature rise, more frequent droughts, ocean acidification and other impacts which so alter a locality’s environmental conditions that tolerance limits for inhabiting species are breached causing localized extinctions. Unfortunately, however, there are other, more complicated, mechanisms that can exacerbate species loss.

‘In particular, it is becoming increasingly evident how biotic interactions, in addition to permitting the emergence and maintenance of diversity, also build up complex networks through which the loss of one species can make more species disappear (a process known as ‘co-extinction’), and possibly bring entire systems to an unexpected, sudden regime shift, or even total collapse.’ In simple language, a species cannot survive without the resources (the other species) on which it depends for survival and the accelerating loss of species now threatens ‘total collapse’ of ‘entire systems’.

This is because resource and consumer interactions in natural systems (such as food webs) are organized in various hierarchical levels of complexity (including trophic levels), so the removal of resources can result in the cascading (bottom-up) extinction of several higher-level consumers.

Summarizing the findings of several studies based on simulated or real-world data, Dr. Giovanni Strona and Professor Corey J. A. Bradshaw explain why ‘we should expect most events of species loss to cause co-extinctions, as corroborated by the worrisome, unnatural rate at which populations and species are now disappearing, and which goes far beyond what one expects as a simple consequence of human endeavour. In fact, even the most resilient species will inevitably fall victim to the synergies among extinction drivers as extreme stresses drive biological communities to collapse. Furthermore, co-extinctions are often triggered well before the complete loss of an entire species, so that even oscillations in the population size of a species could result in the local disappearance of other species depending on the first. This makes it difficult to be optimistic about the future of species diversity in the ongoing trajectory of global change, let alone in the case of additional external, planetary-scale catastrophes.’

In an attempt to emphasize the importance of this phenomenon, Strona and Bradshaw note that ‘As our understanding of the importance of ecological interactions in shaping ecosystem identity advances, it is becoming clearer how the disappearance of consumers following the depletion of their resources – a process known as “co-extinction” – is more likely the major driver of biodiversity loss’ [emphasis added] and that ‘ecological dependencies amplify the direct effects of environmental change on the collapse of planetary diversity by up to ten times.’ See ‘Co-extinctions annihilate planetary life during extreme environmental change’.

In their own recently published scientific study ‘Biological annihilation via the ongoing sixth mass extinction signaled by vertebrate population losses and declines’ the authors Professors Gerardo Ceballos, Paul R. Ehrlich and Rodolfo Dirzo document another frequently ignored element in understanding the accelerating nature of species extinctions.

‘Earth’s sixth mass extinction is more severe than perceived when looking exclusively at species extinctions…. That conclusion is based on analyses of the numbers and degrees of range contraction … using a sample of 27,600 vertebrate species, and on a more detailed analysis documenting the population extinctions between 1900 and 2015 in 177 mammal species.’ Their research found that the rate of population loss in terrestrial vertebrates is ‘extremely high’, even in ‘species of low concern’.

In their sample, comprising nearly half of known vertebrate species, 32% (8,851 out of 27,600) are decreasing; that is, they have decreased in population size and range. In the 177 mammals for which they had detailed data, all had lost 30% or more of their geographic ranges and more than 40% of the species had experienced severe population declines. Their data revealed that ‘beyond global species extinctions Earth is experiencing a huge episode of population declines and extirpations, which will have negative cascading consequences on ecosystem functioning and services vital to sustaining civilization. We describe this as a “biological annihilation” to highlight the current magnitude of Earth’s ongoing sixth major extinction event.’

Illustrating the damage done by dramatically reducing the historic geographic range of a species, consider the lion. Panthera leo ‘was historically distributed over most of Africa, southern Europe, and the Middle East, all the way to northwestern India. It is now confined to scattered populations in sub-Saharan Africa and a remnant population in the Gir forest of India. The vast majority of lion populations are gone.’

Why is this happening? Ceballos, Ehrlich and Dirzo tell us: ‘In the last few decades, habitat loss, overexploitation, invasive organisms, pollution, toxification, and more recently climate disruption, as well as the interactions among these factors, have led to the catastrophic declines in both the numbers and sizes of populations of both common and rare vertebrate species.’

Further, however, the authors warn ‘But the true extent of this mass extinction has been underestimated, because of the emphasis on species extinction.’ This underestimate can be traced to overlooking the accelerating extinction of local populations of a species.

‘Population extinctions today are orders of magnitude more frequent than species extinctions. Population extinctions, however, are a prelude to species extinctions, so Earth’s sixth mass extinction episode has proceeded further than most assume.’ Moreover, and importantly from a narrow human perspective, the massive loss of local populations is already damaging the services ecosystems provide to civilization (which, of course, are given no value by government and corporate economists and accountants).

As Ceballos, Ehrlich and Dirzo remind us: ‘When considering this frightening assault on the foundations of human civilization, one must never forget that Earth’s capacity to support life, including human life, has been shaped by life itself.’ When public mention is made of the extinction crisis, it usually focuses on a few (probably iconic) animal species known to have gone extinct, while projecting many more in future. However, a glance at their maps presents a much more realistic picture: as much as 50% of the number of animal individuals that once shared Earth with us are already gone, as are billions of local populations.

Furthermore, they claim that their analysis is conservative given the increasing trajectories of those factors that drive extinction together with their synergistic impacts. ‘Future losses easily may amount to a further rapid defaunation of the globe and comparable losses in the diversity of plants, including the local (and eventually global) defaunation-driven coextinction of plants.’

They conclude with the chilling observation: ‘Thus, we emphasize that the sixth mass extinction is already here and the window for effective action is very short.’

Another recent study examined ‘Experimental Evidence for the Population-Dynamic Mechanisms Underlying Extinction Cascades of Carnivores’, and was undertaken by Dr. Dirk Sanders, Rachel Kehoe & Professor F.J. Frank van Veen who sought to understand ‘extinction cascades’. Noting that ‘Species extinction rates due to human activities are high’, they investigated and documented how ‘initial extinctions can trigger cascades of secondary extinctions, leading to further erosion of biodiversity.’ This occurs because the diversity of consumer species is maintained due to the positive indirect effects that these species have on each other by reducing competition among their respective resource species. That is, the loss of one carnivore species can lead to increased competition among prey, leading to extinctions of those carnivore species dependent on prey that loses this competition.

Another way of explaining this was offered by Dr. Jose M. Montoya: ‘Species do not go extinct one at a time. Instead… ecosystems change in a kind of chain reaction, just like in bowling. The impact of the ball knocks down one or two pins, but they hit other pins and this ultimately determines your score. Likewise, when in an ecosystem one species goes extinct many others may follow even if they are not directly affected by the initial disturbance. The complex combination of direct and indirect effects resulting from species interactions determines the fate of the remaining species. To predict the conditions under which extinctions beget further extinctions is a major scientific and societal challenge under the current biodiversity crisis…. Sanders and colleagues… show how and why initial extinctions of predators trigger cascades of secondary extinctions of the remaining predators.’ See ‘Ecology: Dynamics of Indirect Extinction’.

To fully grasp the extent of the crisis in our biosphere, we must look well beyond Earth’s climate: There are a great many variables adversely impacting life on Earth, many of which individually pose the threat of human extinction and which, synergistically, now virtually guarantee it absent an immediate and profound response. As reported in the recent Global Assessment Report on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services researched and published by the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) – the scientific body which assesses the state of biodiversity and the ecosystem services this provides to society – ‘Nature is declining globally at rates unprecedented in human history. The IPBES Global Assessment ranks, for the first time at this scale, the 5 direct drivers of change in nature with the largest global impact. So what are the culprits behind nature’s destruction?’ Number 1. on the IPBES list is ‘Changes in land and sea use, like turning intact tropical forests into agricultural land’ but, as noted, there are four others. According to this report: one million species of life on Earth are threatened with extinction.

And in their latest assessment of 100,000 species, the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) concluded that not one species had improved prospects of averting extinction since their previous ‘Red List’ report. See ‘News Release’ and ‘From over 100,000 species assessments in IUCN update, zero improvements.

Of course, separately from the systemic extinction drivers noted above, including the unmentioned destruction of Earth’s oceans through its absorption of carbon dioxide, pollution with everything from pesticides to plastic, and chronic overfishing which is pushing many ocean species to, or over, the brink of extinction as well, humans also engage in yet other activities that drive the rush to extinction. Hunting wildlife to kill it for trophies or pet food – see ‘Killing Elephants “for Pet Food” Condemned’ – and trafficking wildlife: a $10-20 billion-a-year industry involving illegal wildlife products such as jewelry, traditional ‘medicine’, clothing, furniture, and souvenirs, as well as exotic pets – see ‘Stop Wildlife Trafficking’ and ‘China must lead global effort against tiger trade’ – play vital roles as well.

In summary, the tragedy of human existence is that the Cognitive Revolution gave Homo sapiens the capacity to plan, organize and conduct an endless sequence of systematic massacres all over the planet but, assuming that we have the genetic capacity to do so, our parenting and education models since that time have ensured that we have been denied the emotional and intellectual capacities to fight, strategically, for our own survival. And the time we have left is now incredibly short.

So what can we do?

Given that the ongoing, systematic industrial-scale destruction of Earth’s wildlife has its origin in evolutionary events that took place some 70,000 years ago but which probably had psychological origins prior to this, it is clearly a crisis that is not about to be resolved quickly or easily.

‘Why the mention of psychology here?’ you might ask. Well, while many other factors have obviously played a part – for example, abundance of a species in a particular context might mean that the issue of killing its individual members for food does not even arise, at least initially – it is clear that, given the well-documented multifaceted crisis in which human beings now find themselves, only a grotesquely insufficient effort is being put into averting the now imminent extinction of our own species which critically requires us to dramatically stem (and soon halt) the tide of wildlife extinctions, among many other necessary responses. See, for example, ‘Human Extinction by 2026? A Last Ditch Strategy to Fight for Human Survival’ and ‘Doomsday by 2021?’

It is psychologically dysfunctional, to put it mildly, to participate in or condone by our silence and inaction, activities that will precipitate our own extinction, whether these are driven by the insane global elite – see ‘The Global Elite is Insane Revisited’ – or by our own dysfunctional overconsumption. See ‘Love Denied: The Psychology of Materialism, Violence and War’.

For that reason, after 70,000 years, we must finally ask ‘Why?’ so that we can address the fundamental drivers of our extinction-threatening behaviour as well the several vital symptoms that arise from those drivers. Let me explain what I mean.

The fundamental question is this: Why are humans behaving in a way that will precipitate our own extinction in the near term? Surely, this is neither sensible nor even sane. And anyone capable of emotional engagement and rational thinking who seriously considers this behaviour must realize this. So why is it happening?

Fundamentally it is because our parenting and education models since the Cognitive Revolution 70,000 years ago have failed utterly to produce people of conscience, people who are emotionally functional and capable of critical analysis, people who care and who can plan and respond to crises (or even problems) strategically. Despite this profound social shortcoming, some individuals have nevertheless emerged who have one or more of these qualities and they are inevitably ‘condemned’ to sound the alarm, in one way or another, and to try to mobilize an appropriate response to whatever crisis or problem confronts them at the time.

But, as is utterly obvious from the state of our world, those with these capacities have been rare and, more to the point, they have had few people with whom to work. This is graphically illustrated by the current failure to respond strategically to the ongoing climate catastrophe (with most effort focused on lobbying elite-controlled governments and international organizations), the elite-driven perpetual (and ongoing threat of nuclear) war as well as the other issues, such as the use of geoengineering and the deployment of 5G, that threaten human survival. See ‘The Global Climate Movement is Failing: Why?’, ‘The War to End War 100 Years On: An Evaluation and Reorientation of our Resistance to War’ and ‘Why Activists Fail’.

Given the preoccupation of modern society with producing submissively obedient students, workers, soldiers, citizens (that is, taxpayers and voters) and consumers, the last thing society wants is powerful individuals who are each capable of searching their conscience, feeling their emotional response to events, thinking critically and behaving strategically in response. Hence our parenting and education models use a ruthless combination of visible, ‘invisible’ and ‘utterly invisible’ violence to ensure that our children become terrified, self-hating and powerless individuals like virtually all of the adults around them.

This multifaceted violence ensures that the adult who emerges from childhood and adolescence is suppressing awareness of an enormous amount of fear, pain and anger (among many other feelings) and must live in delusion to remain unaware of these suppressed feelings. This, in turn, ensures that, as part of their delusion, people develop a strong sense that what they are doing already is functional and working (no matter how dysfunctional and ineffective it may actually be) while unconsciously suppressing awareness of any evidence that contradicts their delusion. See Why Violence?, Fearless Psychology and Fearful Psychology: Principles and Practice, ‘Do We Want School or Education?’ and ‘Love Denied: The Psychology of Materialism, Violence and War’.

So if we are going to address the fundamental driver of both the destruction of Earth’s wildlife and the biosphere generally, we must address this cause. For those adults powerful enough to do this, there is an explanation in Putting Feelings First’. And for those adults committed to facilitating children’s efforts to realize their potential and become self-aware (rather than delusional), see ‘My Promise to Children’ and ‘Nisteling: The Art of Deep Listening’.

Beyond this cause, however, we must also resist, strategically, the insane elite-controlled governments and corporations that are a key symptom of this crisis – see ‘The Global Elite is Insane Revisited’ – by manufacturing and marketing a vast range of wildlife (and life)-destroying products ranging from weapons (conventional and nuclear) and fossil fuels to products made by the destruction of habitat (including oceans, rainforests, grasslands, wetlands, mangroves, lakes and coral reefs) and the chemical poisoning of agricultural land (to grow the food that most people eat) while also using geoengineering and deploying 5G technology worldwide. See Nonviolent Campaign Strategy.

But we can also undermine this destruction, for example, by refusing to buy the products provided by the elite’s corporations (with the complicity of governments) that fight wars (to enrich weapons corporations) to steal fossil fuels (to enrich energy, aircraft and vehicle-manufacturing corporations) or those corporations that make profits by destroying habitats or producing poisoned food, for example. We can do this by systematically reducing and altering our consumption pattern and becoming more locally self-reliant as outlined in The Flame Tree Project to Save Life on Earth or, even more simply, by committing to The Earth Pledge (below).

In a nutshell, for example, if we do not travel by car or aircraft, NATO governments will have much less incentive to invade and occupy resource-rich countries to steal their resources and corporations will gain zero profit from destroying wildlife habitat as they endlessly seek to extract the resources necessary to manufacture and fuel these commodities thus saving vast numbers of animals (and many other life forms besides) and easing pressure on the biosphere generally.

You can also consider joining those working to end violence in all contexts by signing the online pledge of The Peoples Charter to Create a Nonviolent World.

The Earth Pledge

Out of love for the Earth and all of its creatures, and my respect for their needs, from this day onwards I pledge that:

  1. I will listen deeply to children (see explanation above)
  2. I will not travel by plane
  3. I will not travel by car
  4. I will not eat meat and fish
  5. I will only eat organically/biodynamically grown food
  6. I will minimize the amount of fresh water I use, including by minimizing my ownership and use of electronic devices
  7. I will not buy rainforest timber
  8. I will not buy or use single-use plastic, such as bags, bottles, containers, cups and straws
  9. I will not use banks, superannuation (pension) funds or insurance companies that provide any service to corporations involved in fossil fuels, nuclear power and/or weapons
  10. I will not accept employment from, or invest in, any organization that supports or participates in the exploitation of fellow human beings or profits from killing and/or destruction of the biosphere
  11. I will not get news from the corporate media (mainstream newspapers, television, radio, Google, Facebook, Twitter…)
  12. I will make the effort to learn a skill, such as food gardening or sewing, that makes me more self-reliant
  13. I will gently encourage my family and friends to consider signing this pledge.

Conclusion

Perhaps the key point to be learned from the evidence cited above is that just as we have triggered a series of self-reinforcing feedback loops that ‘lock in’ an ongoing deterioration of Earth’s climate which we are now virtually powerless to halt (if we were even trying to do so), we have also precipitated a biodiversity crisis that is self-reinforcing because the loss of each and every species has an impact on those species that are dependent on it, precipitating chains of events that make further extinctions inevitable. This is one of the ‘negative synergies’, for example, contributing to the Amazon rainforest’s rapid approach to the tipping point at which it will collapse. See ‘Amazon Tipping Point’.

Hence, we are approaching the final act of a tragedy that had its origins in the Cognitive Revolution some 70,000 years ago and which we have not been able to contain in any way. The earlier acts of this tragedy were the countless species of plants, birds, animals, fish, amphibians, insects and reptiles that Homo sapiens has driven to extinction.

Now, in the final act, we will drive to extinction 200 species today. 200 species tomorrow. 200 species the day after….

Until, one day very soon now, unless you and those you know are willing to commit yourselves wholly to the effort to avert this outcome, the human assault on life on Earth will reach its inevitable conclusion: the extinction of Homo sapiens.

 

Biodata: Robert J. Burrowes has a lifetime commitment to understanding and ending human violence. He has done extensive research since 1966 in an effort to understand why human beings are violent and has been a nonviolent activist since 1981. He is the author of Why Violence? His email address is flametree@riseup.net and his website is here.

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