Posts Tagged ‘Rex Dexter’

Oscar Platt – Tue, Feb 26, 2019 https://russia-insider.com/en/putin-explains-detail-why-his-mach-20-missiles-change-world-balance-power/ri26377

Russia’s new Avangard (Fr. “Avant-garde”) missile system is a technological wonder. Scientists and engineers managed to overcome a number of technological hurdles, like how to keep a vehicle from disintegrating while traveling at mach-20, with temperatures reaching 3000 degrees Celsius. 

In light of the US’ withdrawal from the INF treaty, this is a big development.

It is also alarming, because Sunday evening Dmitry Kiselyov, TV personality and Kremlin confidant, listed Russian targets inside the US, including the Pentagon and Camp David, Maryland.


Transcript 1:https://youtu.be/NvXiO_iItGg

But our American friends invented the anti-ballistic missile defence system to safeguard against these ballistic missiles.

Therefore, we had to provide an adequate, asymmetrical but serious response. What kind of a response is this?

The Avangard system is our response.

A winged glider vehicle moves at Mach 20-plus inside dense atmospheric layers; it was difficult to imagine this in the past.

In terms of our defense capability, this amounts to the same landmark achievement as the launch of the first space satellite.

This is because that launch implied ballistic missiles, and we are now talking about a new strategic weapons system that moves along a flat trajectory inside dense atmospheric layers.

This is another delivery vehicle?

Yes, of course, this amounts to another delivery vehicle. But this is an absolute breakthrough in terms of modern technologies and materials.

This winged glider vehicle’s nose section heats up to almost 3,000 degrees Celsius. Can you imagine this? What does 3,000 degrees feel like?

The Sun’s surface heats up to 6,000 degrees, and here we are talking about 3,000 degrees.

I have already mentioned the chocolate-coated ice cream effect, when the vehicle flies along and melts away as it goes.

It is coated with a plasma layer, and its sides heat up to 1,900–2,000 degrees. At the same time, the vehicle is controlled accordingly.

You know, when I attended the latest tests and when I watched them, the operator said “Acknowledge message” which means that the vehicle had hit the bull’s eye, the target.

The Russian science, engineering school and defense sector have scored an amazing success. Indeed, this is absolutely tremendous.

Therefore, a comparison with the first near-Earth satellite is quite adequate and appropriate.

Komsomolskaya Pravda Editor in Chief Vladimir Sungorkin: Mr President, you have compared the Avangard system with the first near-Earth satellite today.

Does this not seem to be an overstatement because the first satellite is a far cry from the Avangard system?

What happened? Why did you use such a powerful comparison?

President Vladimir Putin: I see, thank you for your question.

As you can see, I have made a reservation.

This system absolutely compares with the first near-Earth satellite in terms of maintaining our security.

I will explain.

The launch of the first space satellite implied, in terms of ensuring security, that the Soviet Union had received systems, or ballistic missiles, for delivering nuclear warheads to the territory of the potential enemy.

In effect, that launch ushered in an entire missile programme.

Of course, that programme had been developing before that event, but, in effect, it began with that launch.

This implies ballistic missiles.

Transcript 2: https://youtu.be/nT9hYgO9X1s

Now, let’s discuss the military part of the address. Experts are commenting on the most advanced weapons which the president spoke about yesterday, such as Zircon the hypersonic missile.

Elizaveta Khramtsova has the details of its combat specifications.

It’s like a knife through butter. That’s how experts describe the capacities of the new Russian hypersonic system Zircon. It’ll outperform any anti-aircraft and anti-missile defense system of a potential adversary. The high-precision cruise missile Zircon will have a range of over 600 miles. Its hypersonic speed of Mach 9 is also impressive. The Zircon will pose a treat not only to the intermediate-range missiles deployed in Europe; it’ll help destroy the key elements of the control system of their decision-making units which are located outside of the European continent.

Vsevolod Khmyrov, Rear Admiral (Retired): “Given the fact that the missile systems belong to the Americans, it’s clear that they’ll be controlled from the decision-making units located in the territory of the American continent.”

This type of weapons plays a special role, given the situation with the INF Treaty, which Washington decided to ruin. If the treaty is terminated, the American partners will be able to deploy shock troops onto the European continent. In the framework of the American anti-missile defense system, Aegis Ashore systems with MK 41 systems have already been deployed in Romania. The same systems will be in Poland soon. Not only defense missiles but also strike Tomahawks with a range of 1,500 miles can be launched from them.

The experts stress that the Zircon can destroy the Pentagon’s illusion that in the case of an escalation, American servicemen will be safe. Anti-missile defense systems won’t help the opponent.

Vsevolod Khmyrov: “If a vehicle carrying Zircon missiles is 300 miles away from the coastline, it’ll take the missiles five minutes to reach the targets in the coastal zone at a distance under 300 miles. What can be done during this period of time? At best, one can detect the missiles flying to the target but not intercept them. A hypersonic system as such as the Zircon practically pierces any anti-missile and anti-aircraft defense system. There’s no defense against it.”

The number of Zircons which can be put in service leaves no doubt that decision-making units will be destroyed. According to experts, there can be 2-3 surface ships and submarines carrying Zircons which are on combat duty in the Western Atlantic Ocean or the Eastern Pacific Ocean on each direction. Each vessel can carry about 40 missiles.

Vladimir Putin mentioned the projects to create a promising novelty in his previous address to the Federal Assembly. The president stressed that today, the work on the hypersonic missile Zircon is successfully progressing according to schedule. The new missile is supposed to be launched from sea-based carriers, follow-on surface ships, and submarines. Some of them either have already been made or being made to carry the high-precision missile system Kalibr. This means that the development of the new type of weapons won’t affect the budget.

The sea-based system Poseidon also undermines all of the Pentagon’s efforts to create a naval anti-missile defense system. The president also mentioned this system in his address. The system is automated and compact. The unmanned underwater apparatuses of Poseidon are extremely hard to detect and harder to intercept. Vladimir Putin noted that the first nuclear submarine carrying the Poseidon unmanned vehicle will be launched this spring.

Blog Copy: https://randrewohge.wordpress.com/?p=3626

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https://theintercept.com/2019/03/04/google-ongoing-project-dragonfly/
Ryan Gallagher 3/4/19 [Op-Ed By R Andrew Ohge: https://randrewohge.wordpress.com/?p=3621

GOOGLE EMPLOYEES HAVE carried out their own investigation into the company’s plan to launch a censored search engine for China and say they are concerned that development of the project remains ongoing, The Intercept can reveal.

Late last year, bosses moved engineers away from working on the controversial project, known as Dragonfly, and said that there were no current plans to launch it. However, a group of employees at the company was unsatisfied with the lack of information from leadership on the issue — and took matters into their own hands.

The group has identified ongoing work on a batch of code that is associated with the China search engine, according to three Google sources.

The development has stoked anger inside Google offices, where many of the company’s 88,000 workforce previously protested against plans to launch the search engine, which was designed to censor broad categories of information associated with human rights, democracy, religion, and peaceful protest.

Google Dragonfly
Read Our Complete Coverage: https://theintercept.com/collections/google-dragonfly-china/

Google Dragonfly

In December, The Intercept reported that an internal dispute and political pressure on Google had stopped development of Dragonfly.

Google bosses had originally planned to launch it between January and April of this year.

But they changed course after the outcry over the plan and indicated to employees who were working on the project that it was being shelved.

Google’s Caesar Sengupta, an executive with a leadership role on Dragonfly, told engineers and others who were working on the censored search engine in mid-December that they would be allocated new projects funded by different “cost centers” of the company’s budget.

In a message marked “confidential – do not forward,” which has been newly obtained by The Intercept, Sengupta told the Dragonfly workers:

Over the past few quarters, we have tackled different aspects of what search would look like in China.

While we’ve made progress in our understanding of the market and user needs, many unknowns remain and currently we have no plans to launch.

Back in July we said at our all hands that we did not feel we could make much progress right now.

Since then, many people have effectively rolled off the project while others have been working on adjacent areas such as improving our Chinese language capabilities that also benefit users globally.

Thank you for all of your hard work here.

As we finalize business planning for 2019, our priority is for you to be productive and have clear objectives, so we have started to align cost centers to better reflect what people are actually working on.

Thanks again — and your leads will follow up with you on next steps.

Sources with knowledge of Dragonfly said staff who were working on the project were not told to immediately cease their efforts.

Rather, they were instructed to finish up the jobs they were doing and then they would be allocated new work on other teams.

Some of those who were working on Dragonfly were moved into different areas, focusing on projects related to Google’s search services in India, Indonesia, Russia, the Middle East, and Brazil.

“I just don’t know where the leadership is coming from anymore.”

But Google executives, including CEO Sundar Pichai, refused both publicly and privately to completely rule out launching the censored search engine in the future.

This led a group of concerned employees — who were themselves not directly involved with Dragonfly — to closely monitor the company’s internal systems for information about the project and circulate their findings on an internal messaging list.

The employees have been keeping tabs on repositories of code that are stored on Google’s computers, which they say is linked to Dragonfly.

The code was created for two smartphone search apps — named Maotai and Longfei — that Google planned to roll out in China for users of Android and iOS mobile devices.

The employees identified about 500 changes to the code in December, and more than 400 changes to the code between January and February of this year, which they believe indicates continued development of aspects of Dragonfly. (Since August 2017, the number of code changes has varied between about 150 to 500 each month, one source said.)

The employees say there are still some 100 workers allocated to the “cost center” associated with Dragonfly, meaning that the company is maintaining a budget for potential ongoing work on the plan.

Google sources with knowledge of Dragonfly said that the code changes could possibly be attributed to employees who have continued this year to wrap up aspects of the work they were doing to develop the Chinese search platform.

“I still believe the project is dead, but we’re still waiting for a declaration from Google that censorship is unacceptable and that they will not collaborate with governments in the oppression of their people,” said one source familiar with Dragonfly.

The lack of clarity from management has resulted in Google losing skilled engineers and developers.

In recent months, several Google employees have resigned in part due to Dragonfly and leadership’s handling of the project.

The Intercept knows of six staff at the company, including two in senior positions, who have quit since December, and three others who are planning to follow them out the door.

Colin McMillen, who worked as a software engineer at Google for nine years, quit the company in early February.

He told The Intercept that he had been concerned about Dragonfly and other “ethically dubious” decisions, such as Google’s multimillion-dollar severance packages for executives accused of sexual harassment.

“I think they are going to try it again in a year or two.”

Prior to leaving the company, McMillen said he and his colleagues had “strong indications that something is still happening” with Google search in China.

But they were left confused about the status of the China plan because upper management would not discuss it.

“I just don’t know where the leadership is coming from anymore,” he said. “They have really closed down communication and become significantly less transparent.”

In 2006, Google launched a censored search engine in China, but stopped operating the service in the country in 2010, taking a clear anti-censorship position.

At the time, Google co-founder Sergey Brin declared that he wanted to show that the company was “opposing censorship and speaking out for the freedom of political dissent.”

Pichai, Google’s CEO since 2015, has taken a different position.

He has a strong desire to launch search again in China — viewing the censorship as a worthwhile trade-off to gain access to the country’s more than 800 million internet users — and he may now be waiting for the controversy around Dragonfly to die down before quietly resurrecting the plan.

“Right now it feels unlaunchable, but I don’t think they are canceling outright,” McMillen said. “I think they are putting it on the back burner and are going to try it again in a year or two with a different code name or approach.”

Anna Bacciarelli, a technology researcher at Amnesty International, called on Google “to publicly confirm that it has dropped Dragonfly for good, not just ‘for now.’”

Bacciarelli told The Intercept that Amnesty’s Secretary General Kumi Naidoo had visited Google’s Mountain View headquarters in California last week to reiterate concerns over Dragonfly and “the apparent disregard for transparency and accountability around the project.”

If Google is still developing the censored search engine, Bacciarelli said, “it’s not only failing on its human rights responsibilities but ignoring the hundreds of Google employees, more than 70 human rights organizations, and hundreds of thousands of campaign supporters around the world who have all called on the company to respect human rights and drop Dragonfly.”

Google did not respond to a request for comment.

Ric/Rex Suggests: A Chinese Google With Its Growing Business Base PLUS A Heady Wireless Market IS TOO Big For Google To Walk Away From.

With the censorship and tracking tech wanted by the Chinese, having Google Plus remain operating-ESPECIALLY with its former “Freedom of Speech”, Artistic expression, and broad global reach would be an anathema to the Chinese government, and a definite deal breaker…a deal worth ongoing BILLIONS.

Even with the “safeguards” built in required by the Chinese for “Dragonfly”, the remaining operation of G+ would be a customer service nightmare for the CHINESE, and those billions of Yuan are just TOO ATTRACTIVE.

SOOO…Google Plus users, if you’re wondering what made Google shut down the most effective global community ever imagined, NONE of the explanations offered comes through very clear, as it’s too hard to make out through the “googling mumbles” caused by the presence of a giant dragonfly appendage in the mouths of the Google boardroom sellouts and traitors to the cause of Free Speech.

https://www.globalresearch.ca/how-people-save-planet/5670336  
By Richard Gale and Dr. Gary Null 
Global Research 2/4/19
Theme: Environment 

The recent release of the proposed Green New Deal is a template, an outline identifying some of the most crucial issues facing the nation regarding climate change and a wish list of measures to address those issues. 

It contains a variety of inspired agenda items, many of which have been voiced by the Green Party and environmental fringe groups in Washington for over a decade. According to the Deal’s Fact Sheet, 92 percent of Democrats and 64 percent of Republicans support the Deal. 

Almost every Democrat throwing their hat into the 2020 presidential race backs it. 

And the Deal has gained wide approval in the climatology and atmospheric science communities; among hundreds of conservation, environmental, renewable energy, and social activist organizations; and within the younger generation. 

It has been a long time coming, and the question is whether it is too late. 

It is optimistic to think that we can reverse accelerating global warming trends and mitigate their impact by keeping the planet below the International Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) 1.5 degree C warming mark for the next 12 years, and it is even more optimistic to think that Congress will be able to enact legislation like this without prioritizing the interests of the multinational corporations and lobbies that contribute to their re-election campaigns over the people who elected them. 

It took no time for the Deal’s co-authors, Rep. Ocasio-Cortez and Democrat Senator Ed Markey, to be broadsided with disparaging criticisms by corporate leaders and political opponents, including old rank-and-file Democrats. 

The critics include the President of the Laborers’ International Union of North America, fossil fuel backer Terry O’Sullivan, who labeled the report a “fantasy manifesto” that will create “divisions and inequality.” 

Billionaire Michael Bloomberg called it “pie in the sky.” 

And Pelosi and her multi-million dollar corporate colleagues are simply clueless about the “Green Dream or whatever they call it,” as Pelosi dismissed it. 


It took no time for the Deal’s co-authors, Rep. Ocasio-Cortez and Democrat Senator Ed Markey, to be broadsided with disparaging criticisms by corporate leaders and political opponents, including old rank-and-file Democrats. 

But there are plenty of legitimate criticisms too, and progressives would be wise not to let their desire to see pro-environmental legislation enacted at last blind them to the very real problems with Ocasio-Cortez and a legislative blueprint that could very easily become as much of a giveaway to multinational corporations as the Affordable Care Act was to insurance companies. 

The Green New Deal largely relies for precedent upon the idealism behind great accomplishments in the US’ history when the nation succeeded in mobilizing to tackle difficult challenges that critics argued could never be accomplished. 

Examples include FDR’s transformation of the private auto and manufacturing industries to meet military needs during World War 2, Eisenhower’s interstate highway system, and the achievement of JFK’s promise to reach the moon before the end of the 1960s. 

Although Washington remains strait-jacked by the interests of the finance and energy lobbies, at the local level, constructive change is happening. 

Over one hundred cities across the country have issued statements pledging to transition to 100 percent renewable energy.1

Unfortunately, their dateline targets are far off track, and the best case, Hawaii, is looking at reaching 100 percent clean energy efficiency in another 26 years. 

Farmers are forgoing energy-intensive chemical agriculture and transitioning to organic.

And the public is becoming increasingly more aware and educated about their energy usage and slowly changing its consumption habits. 

Nevertheless, compared to other developed nations, the US lags far behind in reaching realistic targets to address the IPCC’s 1.5 degree prediction, which is overly conservative. 

Absent the IPCC’s statistical limitations, the actual time frame, according to most independent climate scientists, is more dire. We may have only 7 years to get off fossil fuels. 

However, reaching the Deal’s goal is potentially doable if the country’s industries and finance giants get behind it. 

Sweden already gets over half of its energy from renewables. In 2015, Denmark’s wind farm industry reached 140 percent of energy demands. 

In 2016 Portugal reached a milestone by operating for four days without any fossil fuels.2 

Due to its favorable clean energy geothermal resources, Iceland generates the most clean energy per capita in the world; almost 90 percent of its total energy needs are satisfied by non-fossil fuel sources. 

Costa Rica has managed to run for over two months on 100 percent renewables. 

In 10 years, Uruguay’s unique public and private sector partnerships now supply 95 percent of its national energy needs with renewables.3 

Many other nations are also making aggressive efforts to power themselves exclusively with clean energy. 

And where does the US stand? 

According to the US Energy Information Administration, for 2017, non-fossil fuel sources only accounted for a dismal 20 percent of energy consumption. 

And still 34 percent of fuel for our electric power sector relies on coal!4

While getting off fossil fuel dependency is absolutely critical, the US’s electricity production only accounts for 28 percent of its greenhouse gas emissions (GHEs). 

While switching to renewable energy for electrical power needs is very likely achievable, the obstacles to reach the IPCC target are enormous. 

In our estimation, several stumbling blocks may make it impossible for the US to eliminate fossil fuels during the next dozen years. 

Aside from opposition within with the Democratic Party by corporatists such as Nancy Pelosi, Chuck Schumer and Steny Hoyer, the cost to overhaul all industry, manufacturing and current and new technological developments would be astronomical. 

A Republican-aligned think tank, the American Action Forum, recently published a report estimating the Green New Deal would cost between $51 trillion and $93 trillion over ten years, though the lion’s share of that sum relates to the Deal’s provision of jobs and healthcare for all, rather than its environmental measures. 

Eliminating carbon emissions from the power and transportation sector, the group said, would “only” cost between $8.3 and $12.3 trillion over a decade. The national debt is already almost $22 trillion and growing. 

Since Trump took office, the debt has increased $2 trillion, and there is no indication it will shrink. 

Increasingly extreme weather and its aftereffects will only further raise the debt. 

A closer examination of these numbers is required. 

The “official” price tag of the “War on Terror,” which has laid waste to the Middle East over the last 20 years, creating an endless supply of future enemies by slaughtering entire villages full of civilians via depersonalized drone warfare, recently climbed north of $6 trillion,5 and an investigation last year turned up an eye-popping $21 trillion in fraudulent budgeting by the Pentagon and the Department of Housing and Urban Development6.

Thousands of whistleblowers are swept under the rug by the Defense Department’s Inspector General every year in their efforts to call attention to waste and fraud within the wealthiest military in the world. 

The first-ever attempt to audit the Pentagon, performed last year, was an embarrassing failure, revealing $6.5 trillion had simply vanished.7 

The US spends nearly $1 trillion a year on “defense”8– and while no one would suggest dismantling the American military, there are thousands of bases sprinkled around the world in countries the US does not belong, with undeclared conflicts raging in 134 countries.9 Surely some of this largesse could be repurposed to save the planet. 

There is always money in the budget for war, which currently eats up more than half of every dollar spent by the US government, despite the fact that the US is not facing any credible military threats from state actors. 

Despite the evidence-free charges it meddled in the 2016 election, Russia does not pose a threat to the US – indeed, Russian President Vladimir Putin in a recent speech expressed frustration that Russia was “banging on a locked door” regarding friendship between the two nations, rendered all but impossible with every round of draconian sanctions imposed as a form of legislative virtue-signaling by congressmen eager to demonstrate their allegiance in Cold War Part 2.10

Even China prefers to flex its muscles economically, rather than militarily, spending trillions to build its Belt and Road throughout the developing world and amassing allies by funding large infrastructure projects – where the US has historically bullied poorer nations into submissions through military force. 

The Green New Deal would merely take roughly the yearly expenditure on the War on Terror and use it for constructive, rather than destructive, purposes. 

Troops returning from costly and destructive foreign wars could even be put to work planting trees or building infrastructure, much as environmental projects are undertaken in less wealthy nations. 

Because that scary $12.3 trillion figure is the cost if the Green New Deal were undertaken in the typical American fashion of rolling out grand legislation. 

If environmental reforms were enacted the way other countries work, the figure would shrink dramatically. 

Unfortunately, Ocasio-Cortez is open about her wish to work with “business interests” to get the job done, just as Barack Obama was willing to work with the insurance companies to pass the Affordable Care Act, resulting in a ruinously expensive and flawed plan that forced Americans to buy health insurance they could not afford while subsidizing a tiny sliver of the population. 

Healthcare costs did not go down – they skyrocketed – and healthcare quality certainly did not improve. 

Involving corporations with their profit-above-all value system guarantees the Green New Deal will enrich wealthy conglomerates like Bechtel and Halliburton. 

These will receive the big contracts for building renewable infrastructure, repurposing existing infrastructure, etc. but will contract the work out to other, smaller companies while keeping most of the money as profit. 

The smaller companies will then outsource the jobs (constructing solar panels in the desert, say, or planting a hardy forest on now-barren disused farmland) to poorly-paid local firms, while keeping most of the remaining money as profit. 

The poorly-paid local firms will then do the jobs with the cheapest materials and shoddiest standards in the hope of retaining whatever funds are left for their CEOs and investors. 

This is the American way, and it is why any grand infrastructure or rebuilding project costs so much. 

If enacted along the lines of past grand projects like the Affordable Care Act, the Green New Deal will essentially be a giveaway to the big corporations Ocasio-Cortez claims to oppose, with her champagne socialism, neoliberal economics degree, and unhealthy affection for the trappings of wealth and power. 

It is no secret that the very real climate catastrophe we all face has been weaponized by multinational interests interested in pushing global governance measures as the only “solution” to the climate change problem. 

Too often, this has made those rightly suspicious of the motives of government and the ruling class also doubt the existence of climate change, in a form of guilt by association. 

But taking action on a grand scale need not be ruinously expensive or involve an authoritarian clampdown on the rights of the individual. 

China assigned 60,000 soldiers to plant enough trees to cover an area the size of Ireland last year11 with an aim toward eventually upping their forest coverage from 21 percent to 26 percent by 2035. 

Even Bangladesh – one of the poorest countries in the world – began planting one million trees in 2017 after rural deforestation had so denuded the countryside that farmers were dying from lightning strikes at high rates, copying a similar program in Thailand.12

India set a world record – twice! – using millions of volunteers to plant trees in order to bring its forests in line with the commitments it made under the Paris Agreement. 

With modern technology like “seed bombing,” a single airplane or drone can plant 900,000 trees in a day, dropping seeds encased in ready-to-grow soil bundles. 

This technology is already used in Africa, and it has advanced significantly beyond simply dropping seeds indiscriminately – modern seed bombing drones are equipped with imaging capability to ensure the seeds go where they are most likely to thrive. 

None of this requires outsourcing, subcontracting, slicing and dicing profit margins, or any of the typically American approaches to the problem, and it will save billions. 

Relying on the government to do the right thing almost invariably leaves one disappointed. 

If it was not Ocasio-Cortez pushing cooperation with the business community as an integral part of the Deal, it would be another congressperson. 

When all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail, and the US Chamber of Commerce – the “business lobby” – is so massive it’s difficult for lawmakers to see outside its edges. 

Add in the size of the “energy lobby” and it’s easy to see how lawmakers find it difficult to conceive of taking large-scale action in a way that does not primarily benefit large corporations. 

The voice of the people has not been heard in Washington in decades, and it’s doubtful it would be recognized if it was heard. 

Sweden Aims To Become The World’s First Fossil Fuel-Free Nation

Moreover, although the US is the world’s second-largest emitter of greenhouse gases (15 percent of global total emissions), China far surpasses us at 30 percent. 

Together with the European Union (10 percent) and India (6 percent), these four regions account for over half of all GHEs. 

The bottom 100 countries combined only contribute to 3.5 percent. 

Launching a universal, global environmental Marshall Plan may well be beyond humanity’s means. If we consider that China is currently constructing a single sprawling megapolis that will cover over 83,000 square miles — larger than Great Britain or New England — it is impossible to imagine how such a humongous urban operation could not be unsustainable and fossil-fuel dependent. 

The booming city of Jing-Jin-Ji will be the heaviest concentration of human beings on the planet, housing upwards of 130 million people, or the equivalent of the combined populations of the world’s four largest cities: Tokyo, New Delhi, Shanghai and Sao Paulo. 

And all of these residents will want the conveniences of a modern, western lifestyle: more cars, more meat on their tables and more energy-consuming luxuries. 

Surprisingly, surveys seem to indicate that the Chinese are better-educated about climate change than the average American. 

After last year’s record-breaking heatwaves, droughts, deadly flash floods and a category 5 typhoon, 94 percent of Chinese polled said they believe climate change is happening now and 66 percent believe it is anthropocentric.  

Seventy-three percent are willing to pay extra for climate-friendly products. 

Yet similar to average Americans, the Chinese are not changing their consumption habits to adapt to the new climate reality. 

Likewise, similar to the US, the Chinese government is eager to press forward with unsustainable growth projects that will increase rather than decrease emissions.13 

Among the other stumbling blocks the Green New Deal faces is that Washington has unfortunately almost reached its goal of being totally energy independent. 

While we produce the most energy in the world, we also consume the most per capita. 

The US has also risen to the third largest fossil fuel exporter, after Saudi Arabia and Russia. 

Together, these three nations account for 38 percent of the world’s total oil.14 

At the same time the US still needs to import petroleum, predominantly for our auto and transportation demands. 

Although the US now produces about 11 million barrels per day, it consumes almost 20 million barrels daily.15 

For natural gas production, the US is king, and is expected to reach over 90 billion cubic feet per day of production, according to the EIA.16 Trump’s abhorrent policies have revitalized the coal industry and escalated production. 

Worse, the oil and coal industries are the recipients of monstrous corporate welfare to the tune of $20 billion in annual government subsidies.17 

Jeremy Brecher properly notes that “global warming has rightly been called history’s greatest market failure. 

Correcting it cannot be left to the market.”18

Unlike the faux urgency for building a silly wall on the border, climate change is THE national emergency. 

It is a planetary emergency.

Therefore, when thousands of large and small coal-gas-oil related companies reap enormous windfalls, employ almost 1.1 million workers — compared to under 374,000 working full- or part-time in solar and 102,000 at wind firms — there is zero incentive for any of these major greenhouse gas emitters to leap off the gravy train and shift to cleaner, renewable forms of energy.19 

A second major obstacle to the Green New Deal is that all of our leading institutions, politicians, legislative policymakers and opinion leaders, think tanks and foundations, and the mainstream media that is controlled by these institutions, are not going to truthfully challenge the paradigm of free-market capitalism and the myth that constant economic growth and expansion will better society. 

This means we only have more toxic pollution, urban sprawl, destruction of the environment and habitats, and depletion of natural resources to look forward to, and with it, warmer seasons and more extreme weather events such as superstorms, droughts, wildfires, and floods. 

This may be the 3,000-pound gorilla in the room. 

We are caught in the perpetual cycle of earning more in order to buy more and accumulate more debt. 

The transition of weaning ourselves off of fossil fuels to increase investment in renewables and the new technologies necessary to meet the IPCC benchmark means a trade-off for a much slower or no-growth economy in order to reach a more sustainable and livable future. 

It may require up to $10 trillion to re-engineer entire industries and infrastructures in order to reach anything close to zero emissions. 

Yet with America’s new wealthy class of 11 million millionaires governing private industries, investments and policy-making to keep the capitalist engine churning, enactment of the kind of green agenda proposed and demanded today is unlikely. 

Again, there is no incentive for the ruling elite to cut back on consumption. 

The legions of lobbyists in Washington will make every effort to scuttle the Green New Deal and ensure it is dead on arrival. 

The ruling class has no allegiance to nationality. 

It is the most unpatriotic class in the nation.

When the stresses of climate change get tough or their personal security and assets are threatened, the ruling class have the means to pick up and move elsewhere. 

Furthermore, the ruling class and the conservative populace — even those educated enough to agree on anthropocentric climate change – lean heavily upon Libertarian values, which means smaller government and more freedom for the free market. 

Looking at the Green New Deal from any angle, it is clear this plan will require handing over enormous power to Washington. 

Trust in all branches of government has already eroded to a level where even true progressives doubt anything good can come out of the duopoly in Washington. 

Therefore, a sizable percentage of the public will be deeply suspicious of the government’s will and competence in executing any legislation that emerges from the Deal’s current outline. 

The free-market economy is polluting everything, creating seas of plastic, landfills of toxic junk, and stores of computers and electronic equipment. Forests and ecosystems are being leveled to expand growth. 

There is little to no time to dramatically change our steel, auto, and high tech industries. 

And private industries and the population’s collective consumption behaviors will not change overnight. 

While we commend the Green New Deal’s authors and the progressive caucus that backs it, we encourage the public not to become passive with high expectations that Washington is willing or capable of solving the climate crisis. 

There are no saviors. 

Blind faith should not be directed towards the compliance of Washington, nor to new technologies developed to pull us through. 

We live in remarkably tense times; but drastic times require drastic measures. In fact, the Deal may not be radical enough. 

Gutting our military expenditure — the largest fossil fuel consumer as well as the top recipient of our tax dollars — and the Washington Consensus’ cowboy adventurism to instigate regime changes as the world burns is absent from its wish list. 

Are there any solutions that are doable without the body politic of government standing in the way? 

Reducing GHEs can no longer be regarded as solely a challenge for government and private industry. It is a responsibility of every individual. 

First, the public must become deeply and consciously aware of the climate problem and how our lives and culture contribute to global warming. 

We must also become deeply and consciously aware of how our lives will change as the world deteriorates. 

Our education system has been a complete failure in teaching people about the basic science of climate change and the immediate and long-term impacts of global warming. 

Nothing we can do will efficaciously change the melting of the Arctic ice, the warming oceans and environmental dead zones, multi-gigaton methane burps from the thawing permafrost, the decimation of insect populations that will contribute to national food crises, rising coastal waters and the next season of record-setting wildfires in the Western states.

The next category 5 super-hurricane could be the final straw for many Floridians and residents living along the Gulf. Industrial over-consumption is depleting our aquifers. 

There are in fact hundreds of canaries in the coal mine, not just one. 

Second, every person and family can begin to gradually transition to eating a plant-based diet. 

This does not need to be an abrupt change. 

We can start by going meatless for a single day every week and then increase the days. 

The agriculture industry generates anywhere between 10 and 40 percent of GHEs, primarily methane and nitrous oxide, depending upon which metrics are being used in the equations. 

The United Nation’s Food and Agriculture Organization estimates that livestock production accounts for about 14.5 percent of all human-caused emissions.20 In the US, 42 percent of agricultural emissions come from the raising of livestock, and globally it accounts for approximately 16 percent of all human-induced GHEs.21 

When storage, transportation and distribution of meat and produce are added, the CO2 footprint rises substantially. Imagine the footprint of a single bushel of tomatoes traveling from a California farm to a Maine supermarket. 

If a sufficient number of people also purchase more locally-grown food, this too would have an impact. 

These are two efforts — a meatless diet and buying locally — that every American can adopt in order to be part of the solution rather than the problem. 

Third, our consumption behaviors are traveling on a high speed rail off a cliff. We have the will to make conscientious choices about our buying habits. 

There is only one solution to this and that is to downsize, purchase only what is essential for our needs and find other ways to increase the quality of our lives. 

Before making a purchase, consider the item’s carbon footprint before it reaches your hands. 

As the world gets warmer and the economic and social stresses of life increase, inevitably a time will arrive when people will be forced to downsize. It will no longer be a matter of choice. 

Finally, if it is within your financial means, find ways to increase your reliance on renewable clean energy sources. 

If you can install solar panels to get off the grid and become energy self-sufficient, it will pay off in the long term. 

Although there remains considerable debate on whether or not our global civilization has reached a “peak oil” moment, oil prices will unquestionably increase steadily in the future. 

What the nation can do collectively is adequately if vaguely summarized in the Green New Deal.

During a press conference following the report’s release, Sen. Markey and Rep. Ocasio-Cortez were clear that the plan at this time does not include any “individual prescriptions” for the issues outlined. 

The details and following legislation will be developed following Congressional vote and approval and the creation of a Congressional committee to develop the solutions. 

However, the Deal is clearly defined as a “national, industrial, economic mobilization plan.” 

It will take years for the US to become “greenhouse gas emission neutral.” 

The report notes that it will require “massive investment” to reduce existing and future greenhouse gases. 

It acknowledges it is crucial to develop and install “a national, energy-efficient smart grid,” upgrade our entire infrastructure, residential and industrial base for “state-of-the-art energy efficiency,” and eliminate GHE from the agricultural industry. 

The report also includes the need for expanding education and training for such a nationwide mobilization effort. 

The report also finally acknowledges that America’s energy grid is a disaster. 

The majority of people and even most politicians are unaware our energy and power infrastructures are sorely inefficient. 

In an analysis conducted by Lawrence Livermore National Laboratories to evaluate US energy consumption, 59.1 percent of electricity generation was “rejected energy” — energy lost due to inefficiencies in power plants, engines, buildings, etc.22 

Almost all of this “rejected energy” is generated from coal, natural gas and petroleum. 

In the Livermore report, renewable energy sources such as solar, wind and geothermal barely contributed to any infrastructural energy loss.23 

And yet Washington, and the Trump administration in particular, find it economically feasible to subsidize these fossil fuel industries for their ineptitude, negligence towards energy efficiency and exorbitant waste. 

Even Ocasio-Cortez seems to believe progress can be achieved by working with these monuments to inefficiency. 

This is naïve at best, and disingenuous at worst. 

In a true capitalist system – such as our president pays lip service to at every opportunity – the best performers come out on top. 

Why, then, does the government continually prop up failed systems, from energy to banking? This money would be better invested in funding sustainable alternatives. 

A simple fact that opponents of the Deal in private industry, Wall Street and climate change deniers fail to understand as a rule is that the enormous costs for implementing a New Deal are already here. 

And they have been increasing annually due to rising frequency and damages from extreme weather events due to humanity’s messing with the atmosphere and environment. 

NASA conservatively reported $91 billion lost in damages due to climate change episodes in 2018 alone.24 And the federal government’s most recent National Climate Assessment warns we will rapidly reach $500 billion per year in economic losses due to sea level rise and worsening weather, droughts, storms, floods and fires.25 

Next, it is sheer negligence that the federal and state governments have failed to upgrade our public transportation system. 

The US falls far behind even banana republics in its inefficient rail system compared to high speed 200-plus mph rails in China, France, Japan and elsewhere. 

Creating a new high-speed rail system across America may be too optimistic at this time; nevertheless, upgrading our trains between major urban hubs is perfectly doable immediately. 

This would mean high-speed rails between Boston, New York, Washington, Chicago, Dallas and Houston, and Los Angeles, San Francisco and Las Vegas for starters. 

High speed trains between these city hubs would significantly reduce the carbon footprint of transportation and could even be faster than airlines after considering time spent at airports. 

It could also be accomplished at the state level through public-private partnerships. 

In addition, a tax incentive could be added for those who use public transportation. 

Finally, the nation needs to act immediately upon a national reforestation program and roll back the Trump’s regressive orders to further devastate public land and ecosystems to increase corporate profits. 

Forests and trees are recognized as perhaps the most important natural resource to offset carbon emissions. 

China and India are making huge advances in reforesting their nations. 

China has reserved an area four times the size of the United Kingdom for reforestation. 

There are few areas on the planet with large swathes of forest canopies. 

Most are located in northern Canada, the Latin American countries in the Amazon basin, Scandinavia and Russia. 

Therefore, we would recommend a national conservation corps to start an aggressive reforestation campaign. 

If India can hold the world record in planting 66 million trees within a 12 hour period in 2017, and a single 53-year-old New Delhi resident can plant 1,100,000 trees in a single year, the US could reforest ourselves easily in a short period of time. 

For all the Deal’s good points, it will go nowhere if the legislation that results is larded with giveaways to the same industries and corporations that led us to environmental and economic ruin in the first place. 

Ocasio-Cortez’s desire to liaise with these actors may be born out of a genuine desire for cooperation, but it is more likely her Democratic Socialism is being used as a more palatable face for the same rapacious neoliberalism that has created all the problems the Deal purports to solve. 

While we wait for government to get its act together and legislate its way out of this mess, we would be wise to begin solving as many problems as we can ourselves even as we hold our government representatives’ feet to the fire. 

Richard Gale is the Executive Producer of the Progressive Radio Network and a former Senior Research Analyst in the biotechnology and genomic industries. 

Dr. Gary Null is the host of the nation’s longest running public radio program on alternative and nutritional health and a multi-award-winning documentary film director, including Poverty Inc and Deadly Deception. 

Notes

1 Steinbrecher, Stephanie. “100 US Cities are Committed to 100 Percent Clean, Renewable Energy.” Sierra Club. 5 Dec 2018. https://www.sierraclub.org/press-releases/2018/12/100-us-cities-are-committed-100-percent-clean-renewable-energy

2 Osborne, Samuel. “Sweden phases out fossil fuels in attempt to run completely off renewable energy.” Independent. 24 May 2016. 

3 “12 Countries Leading the Way in Renewable Energy.” Click Energy. 10 Aug 2017. https://www.clickenergy.com.au/news-blog/12-countries-leading-the-way-in-renewable-energy/

4 US Energy Information Administration. “Where Greenhouse Gases Come From.” Energy and the Environment Explained. https://www.eia.gov/energyexplained/index.php?page=environment_where_ghg_come_from Retrieved 27 Feb 2019. 

5 Watson Institute of International & Public Affairs. “Costs of War.” Brown University. https://watson.brown.edu/costsofwar Retrieved 27 Feb 2019. 

6 Skidmore, Mark and Andy Henion. “MSU scholars find $21 trillion in unauthorized government spending; defense department to conduct first-ever audit.” MSUToday. 11 Dec 2017. https://msutoday.msu.edu/news/2017/msu-scholars-find-21-trillion-in-unauthorized-government-spending-defense-department-to-conduct/

7 Syrmopoulos, Jay. Audit: Pentagon Cannot Account for $6.5 Trillion Dollars in Taxpayer Money.” MintPress. 8 Aug 2016. https://www.mintpressnews.com/audit-pentagon-cannot-account-6-5-trillion-dollars-taxpayer-money/219246/

8 Cordesman, Anthony. “US Military Spending: The Cost of Wars.” Center for Strategic & International Studies. 10 Jul 2017. https://www.csis.org/analysis/us-military-spending-cost-wars

9 Turse, Nick. “America’s Secret War in 134 Countries.” The Nation. 16 Jan 2014. https://www.thenation.com/article/americas-secret-war-134-countries/

10 “Putin: Russia is not an enemy of US, but it will not be banging on a locked door.” FARS News Agency. 21 Feb 2019. https://www.msn.com/en-ae/news/other/putin-russia-is-not-an-enemy-of-us-but-it-will-not-be-banging-on-a-locked-door/ar-BBTTCfE

11 Osborne, Samuel. “China reassigns 60,000 soldiers to plant trees in bid to fight pollution.”Independent. 13 Feb 2018. https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/asia/china-tree-plant-soldiers-reassign-climate-change-global-warming-deforestation-a8208836.html

12 “Bangladesh plants 1 million trees to cut lightning toll.” Straits Times. 24 Jan 2017. https://www.straitstimes.com/asia/south-asia/bangladesh-plants-1-million-trees-to-cut-lightning-toll

13 Jing, Lin. “Does the Chinese public care about climate change?” China Dialogue. 21 Sep 2018. https://www.chinadialogue.net/article/show/single/en/10831-Does-the-Chinese-public-care-about-climate-change–

14 Wilson, Robert. “Which Countries Produce the Most Fossil Fuels?” The Energy Collective Group. 31 Jul 2014. https://www.energycentral.com/c/ec/which-countries-produce-most-fossil-fuels

15 Gaffen, David and Ayenat Mersie. “US crude oil output hits 11 million barrels per day for first time ever.” Reuters. 18 Jul 2018. https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-oil-eia/us-crude-oil-output-hits-11-million-barrels-per-day-for-first-time-ever-idUSKBN1K81XT and US Energy Information Administration. “How much oil is consumed in the United States?” Frequently Asked Questions. 3 Oct 2018. https://www.eia.gov/tools/faqs/faq.php?id=33&t=6

16 US Energy Information Administration. “Short Term Energy Outlook.” Analysis & Projections. 12 Feb 2019. https://www.eia.gov/outlooks/steo/report/natgas.php

17 Roberts, David. “Friendly policies keep US oil and coal afloat far more than we thought.” Vox. 26 Jul 2018. https://www.vox.com/energy-and-environment/2017/10/6/16428458/us-energy-coal-oil-subsidies

18 Brecher, Jeremy. “The Green New Deal can work – here’s how.” AlterNet. 25 Feb 2019. https://www.alternet.org/2019/02/the-green-new-deal-can-work-heres-how/

19 2017 US Energy and Employment Report. Energy.gov. January 2017. https://www.energy.gov/downloads/2017-us-energy-and-employment-report

20 Gustin, Georgina. “Factory Farms Put Climate at Risk, Experts Say in Urging Health Officials to Speak Out.” Inside Climate News. 23 May 2017. https://insideclimatenews.org/news/22052017/factory-farms-cafos-threaten-climate-change-world-heath-organization

21 Friedman, Lisa et.al. “The Meat Question, by the Numbers.” New York Times. 25 Jan 2018. https://www.nytimes.com/2018/01/25/climate/cows-global-warming.html

22 Fares, Robert. “Is the US Energy Independent?” Scientific American. 31 Oct 2016. https://blogs.scientificamerican.com/plugged-in/is-the-u-s-energy-independent/

23 ibid. 

24 Zorn, Justin Talbot et.al. “A Green New Deal is fiscally responsible. Climate inaction is not.” Guardian. 25 Feb 2019. https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2019/feb/25/green-new-aoc-deal-fiscally-responsible-climate-inaction

25 Irfan, Umair. “3 big takeaways from the major new US climate report.” Vox. 24 Nov 2018. https://www.vox.com/2018/11/24/18109883/climate-report-2018-national-assessment

via Ecuador Endangered

Ecuador Endangered
Posted By Luther Blissett By John Seed 03/05/18: https://desultoryheroics.com/2018/03/05/ecuador-endangered/ Or: https://wordpress.com/post/randrewohge.wordpress.com/3569

The tropical Andes of Ecuador are at the top of the world list of biodiversity hotspots in terms of vertebrate species, endemic vertebrates, and endemic plants.

Ecuador has more orchid and hummingbird species than Brazil, which is 32 times larger, and more diversity than the entire USA.

In the last year, the Ecuadorean government has quietly granted mining concessions to over 1.7 million hectares (4.25 million acres) of forest reserves and indigenous territories.

These were awarded to transnational corporations in closed-door deals without public knowledge or consent.

This is in direct violation of Ecuadorean law and international treaties, and will decimate headwater ecosystems and biodiversity hotspots of global significance.

However, Ecuadorean groups think there is little chance of stopping the concessions using the law unless there is a groundswell of opposition from Ecuadorean society and strong expressions of international concern.

The Vice President of Ecuador, who acted as Coordinating Director for the office of ‘Strategic Sectors’, which promoted and negotiated these concessions, was jailed for 6 years for corruption.

However, this has not stopped the huge giveaway of pristine land to mining companies.

From the cloud forests in the Andes to the indigenous territories in the headwaters of the Amazon, the Ecuadorean government has covertly granted these mining concessions to multinational mining companies from China, Australia, Canada, and Chile, amongst others.

The first country in the world to get the rights of Nature or Pachamama written into its constitution is now ignoring that commitment.

They’ve been here before. In the 80’s and 90’s Chevron-Texaco dumped 18 billion gallons of crude oil there in the biggest rainforest petroleum spill in history.

This poisoned the water of tens of thousands of people and has done irreparable damage to ecosystems.

Now 14% of the country has been concessioned to mining interests.

This includes a million hectares of indigenous land, half of all the territories of the Shuar in the Amazon and three-quarters of the territory of the Awa in the Andes.

Please sign the petition and contribute to the crowdfund which will help Ecuadorean civil society’s campaign to have these concessions rescinded.

As founder and director of the Rainforest Information Centre (RIC), I’ve had a long history of involvement with Ecuador’s rainforests.

Back in the late ‘80’s our volunteers initiated numerous projects in the country and one of these, the creation of the Los Cedros Biological Reserve was helped with a substantial grant from the Australian Government aid agency, AusAID.

Los Cedros lies within the Tropical Andes Hotspot, in the country’s northwest. Los Cedros consists of nearly 7000 hectares of premontane and lower montane wet tropical and cloud forest teeming with rare, endangered and endemic species and is a crucial southern buffer zone for the quarter-million hectare Cotocachi-Cayapas Ecological Reserve.

Little wonder that scientists from around the world rallied to the defense of Los Cedros.

In 2016 a press release from a Canadian mining company alerted us to the fact that they had somehow acquired a mining concession over Los Cedros!

We hired a couple of Ecuadorean researchers and it slowly dawned on us that Los Cedros was only one of 41 “Bosques Protectores” (protected forests) which had been secretly concessioned.

For example, nearly all of the 311,500 hectare Bosque Protector “Kutuku-Shaimi”, where 5000 Shuar families live, has been concessioned. In November 2017, RIC published a report by Bitty Roy, Professor of Ecology from Oregon State University and her co-workers, mapping the full extent of the horror that is being planned.

Although many of these concessions are for exploration, the mining industry anticipates an eight-fold growth in investment to $8 billion by 2021 due to a “revised regulatory framework” much to the jubilation of the mining companies.

Granting mineral concessions in reserves means that these reserves aren’t actually protected any longer as, if profitable deposits are found, the reserves will be mined and destroyed.

In Ecuador, civil society is mobilising and has asked their recently elected government to prohibit industrial mining “in water sources and water recharge areas, in the national system of protected areas, in special areas for conservation, in protected forests and fragile ecosystems”.

The indigenous peoples have been fighting against mining inside Ecuador for over a decade.

Governments have persecuted more than 200 indigenous activists using the countries anti-terrorism laws to hand out stiff prison sentences to indigenous people who openly speak out against the destruction of their territories.

Fortunately, the new government has signalled an openness to hear indigenous and civil society’s concerns, not expressed by the previous administration.

In December 2017, a large delegation of indigenous people marched on Quito and President Moreno promised no NEW oil and mining concessions, and on 31 January 2018, Ecuador’s Mining Minister resigned a few days after Indigenous and environmental groups demanded he step down during a demonstration.

On 31 January, The Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of Ecuador, CONAIE, announced their support for the platform shared by the rest of civil society involved in the anti-mining work.

Then on 15 February CONAIE called on the government to “declare Ecuador free of industrial metal-mining”, a somewhat more radical demand than that of the rest of civil society.

But we will need a huge international outcry to rescind the existing concessions: many billions of dollars of mining company profits versus some of the most biologically diverse ecosystems on Earth and the hundreds of local communities and indigenous peoples who depend on them.

PLEASE SIGN THE PETITION TO SUPPORT THEIR DEMANDS: http://www.rainforestinformationcentre.org/save_ecuadors_forests_from_mining

From 2006, under the Correa-Glas administration, Ecuador contracted record levels of external debt for highway and hydroelectric dam infrastructure to subsidize mining.

Foreign investments were guaranteed by a corporate friendly international arbitration system, facilitated by the World Bank which had earlier set the stage for the current calamity by funding mineralogical surveys of national parks and other protected areas and advising the administration on dismantling of laws and regulations protecting the environment.

After 2008, when Ecuador defaulted on $3.2 billion worth of its national debt, it borrowed $15 billion from China, to be paid back in the form of oil and mineral exports.

These deals have been fraught with corruption. Underselling, bribery and the laundering of money via offshore accounts are routine practice in the Ecuadorean business class, and the Chinese companies who now hold concessions over vast tracts of Ecuadorean land are no cleaner.

Before leaving office Correa-Glas removed much of the regulation that had been holding the mining industry in check.

And the corruption goes much deeper than mere bribes.

The lure of mining is a deadly mirage.

The impacts of large-scale open pit mining within rainforest watersheds include mass deforestation, erosion, the contamination of water sources by toxins such as lead and arsenic, and desertification.

A lush rainforest transforms into an arid wasteland incapable of sustaining either ecosystems or human beings.

Without a huge outcry both within Ecuador and around the world, the biological gems and pristine rivers and streams will be destroyed.

But it doesn’t have to be this way.

Civil society needs an open conversation with the state.

Ecuador has enormous potential to develop its economy based on renewable energy and its rich biodiversity can support a large ecotourism industry. In 2010 Costa Rica banned open-pit mining, and today has socioeconomic indicators better than Ecuador’s.

Costa Rica also provides a ‘Payment for Ecosystem Services’ to landholders, and through this scheme has actually increased its rainforest area (from 20% to just over 50%).

Ecuador’s society and government must explore how an economy based on the sustainable use of pristine water sources, the country’s incomparable forests, and other natural resources is superior to an economy based on short term extraction leaving behind a despoiled and impoverished landscape.

For example, studies by Earth Economics in the Intag region of Ecuador (where some of the new mining concessions are located) show that ecosystem services and sustainable development would offer a better economic solution let alone ecological and social.

The Rainforest Information Centre is launching a CROWDFUND to support Ecuadorean NGO’s to mobilise and to mount a publicity and education campaign and to help advance a dialogue throughout Ecuador and beyond: ‘Extractivism, economic diversification and prospects for sustainable development in Ecuador’.

We have set the crowdfund target at A$15,000 and Paul Gilding, ex-CEO of Greenpeace International is getting the ball rolling with an offer to match all donations $ for $ so that every $ that you donate will be matched by Paul.

Donations are tax-deductible in Australia and the US.

When you sign the PETITION you will reach not just to the President of Ecuador and his cabinet.

The petition is also addressed to the other actors who have set the stage for this calamity, being:

The World Bank who funded a project which collected geochemical data from 3.6 million hectares of Western Ecuador including seven national protected areas and dozens of forest reserves thus doing the groundwork for the mining industry.

The international governments and NGO’s who funded the creation and upkeep of these Bosques Protectores and indigenous reserves and other protected sites and who now need to persuade Ecuador to prevent their good work from being undone.

The governments of the countries whose mining companies are preparing this devastation.

Australian senator Lee Rhiannon (who was part of helping us create Los Cedros 30 years ago) wrote to the Canadian Environment Minister on our behalf and the Canadian Embassy has expressed concern about the bad name Cornerstone is giving the other Canadian mining projects.

They have asked us for a meeting to discuss the reports of bad business practices by the company.

Likewise, the Chinese government is beginning to develop some guidance which will come into effect in March 2018.

We are lobbying the Australian government to put pressure on BHP, Solgold and other Australian companies preparing to mine protected forests and indigenous reserves in Ecuador.

Visit Ecuador Endangered for more links to the history and causes of Ecuador’s mining crisis: https://ecuadorendangered.com/

There you will find research, detailed reports and news updates.

Contact information can be found for those wanting to be involved in the campaign, which is being run entirely by volunteers.

To let the Ecuadorean Government, World Bank and mining companies know you want them to invest in a sustainable future for all, a petition can be found here: http://www.rainforestinformationcentre.org/save_ecuadors_forests_from_mining

via Globalists weaponize the stock market to control presidents

Globalists Weaponize The Stock Market To Control Presidents-Anatomy Of A Fake Reality By Jon Rappoport 03/04/18: https://jonrappoport.wordpress.com/2018/03/04/globalists-weaponize-the-stock-market-to-control-presidents/ OR:  https://wordpress.com/post/randrewohge.wordpress.com/3566

The economy is on the rise.

No, it’s sinking.

There are very good indicators.

No, all the signals are catastrophic.

We’ve seen pundits on television hawking their version of the near future.

Many of them represent organizations who have political and financial agendas.

For example, Globalist forces and their mouthpieces would have you believe that laying tariffs on imports will sink the stock market.

However, since the stock market is a rigged game for insiders, here is a proper translation of the above paragraph:

“If tariffs are laid on, Globalist insiders will MAKE the stock market sink, and characterize that as a natural consequence of the new tariffs.”

In turn, then, a diving stock market will be PROMOTED (by the Globalist press) as a sign that the overall economy is in big trouble.

Trump surrounded himself with Goldman Sachs people because they could give him a rising stock market.

This is not an ironclad agreement.

If Goldman decides Trump’s policies are wandering off-track, they can bail on him and send the stock market down.

This is how the economic game is played.

The return of some corporations from overseas, to set up factories in the US again?

Fine. No problem.

But Trump’s statement, several days ago, that he would lay a 25% tariff on imported steel and a 10% tariff on aluminum—that’s an anti-Globalist earthquake.

Globalist leaders in foreign countries are lining up to say they’ll retaliate.

They’ll lay tariffs on imports from America.

Bourbon, jeans, motorcycles, orange juice, rice.

But is this the end of the world?

No.

It should be the first step in sorting out unfair and ruinous trade policies that have eaten into the US economy for decades.

The stock market is hyped as the prime indicator that passes judgment on what Trump (or any president) is doing.

If it falls precipitously, that means he’s wrong and very badly wrong.

But in truth, the stock market is a separate giant Vegas casino.

Investment funds’ algorithms move billions in and out of trades, minute by minute.

Individual speculators bet on rises and falls.

Claiming the condition of the entire US economy is reflected in the stock market is like saying the Powerball lottery reveals the financial health or sickness of the US automobile industry.

The stock market and the precious Dow are set up as a very profitable playground for insiders.

That’s the beginning and the end of that story.

Imagine we have a company, X, which is listed on the New York Stock Exchange.

Its price is very low, and has been low for quite some time.

It crawls along, doing nothing.

Quietly, insiders are buying up the stock.

When they’re ready, they take the price up.

Then the rubes, seeing the rise, buy the stock, too.

THEN there is a shakeout: the insiders momentarily take the stock price down.

The rubes, frightened, sell—and the insiders scoop up those shares.

Now they’re really ready.

They take the stock for a long ride.

Up.

They make a bundle.

When they’ve had enough, they put out news that company X’s stock is a terrific buy.

The rubes buy in—but this the top.

The insiders unload their shares on the rubes and take stock price down.

The insiders also sell short (bet against a rise) and profit on the way down. It’s a piece a cake, a very handsome piece of cake.

This is the game. It really has nothing at all to do with the condition of the economy.

But—there is another game.

The insiders, through their minions in the press, continue to promote the illusion that the overall condition of the stock market reveals “how the economy is doing.”

Therefore, by being able to control the stock market, the insiders can control THE PERCEPTION of how the economy is doing.

If they decide it’s time to give the impression the economy is in deep trouble—and therefore the economic policies of a president sitting in the White House are disastrous for the country—they take the stock market down.

Every president faces this situation.

He’s at the mercy of forces beyond his control—unless he tries to expose the game and show the American people what’s really going on.

But most presidents are unaware of the overall op.

If they do know the score, they’re reluctant to blow the whistle on it, in part because they believe the public is too ignorant to grasp the mechanics of how the op works.

And the howling press, firmly in the pocket of the insiders, would call the president a conspiracy nutcase in a hundred different ways, day and night, 24/7.

The stock market is a casino.

The economy is the economy.

They are two separate realities.

But shills and operatives and propagandists and sold-out economists and idiot financial reporters forever connect the two realities and make it seem as if they are entangled in an intimate cause-and-effect relationship.

They aren’t.

Many people believe the sale of stock benefits a company.

This is true when a privately held company goes public by issuing stock in what’s called an initial public offering (IPO).

During the limited time period of the IPO, money from the sale of stock does go back to the company issuing it, and that money can used for company growth.

Yes.

Later, the company can issue more stock in what’s called a follow-on offering, and then, too, money from the sale of the stock goes back to the company.

But…by far the greatest amount of activity in the stock market is the simple buying and selling of shares…and none of the ensuing profits and losses accrue to the companies whose shares are being traded.

It’s a pure casino operation.

This casino operation does nothing to benefit the companies in the way of adding cash to their assets.

Consider what can happen to a large retirement pension fund.

The fund takes in money from employees.

It will later pay back that money, plus “add-ons.”

How?

The pension fund invests a great deal of the money it is holding in the stock market.

It buys a variety of stocks and sells them and buys them and sells them.

So if those stocks plummet and stay down, and the pension fund isn’t willing to ride out the storm in hopes that the fall will eventually turn into a rise, the pension fund will sell off those stocks and end up losing much money.

It gambled in the casino with other people’s money, and it lost.

But even here, the reason for the loss was an incorrect perception/prediction about what was going to happen in the casino.

It wasn’t about actualities of the economy.

Getting the picture?

Fake reality.

Top to bottom.

via Philip K. Dick and the Fake Humans

Philip K. Dick and the Fake Humans
Posted By Luther Blissett-By Henry Farrell: Boston Review 03/02/18: https://desultoryheroics.com/2018/03/02/philip-k-dick-and-the-fake-humans/ Or https://wordpress.com/post/randrewohge.wordpress.com/3564

(Editor’s note: on this 36th anniversary of the passing of Philip K. Dick, it seems an appropriate time to note the relevance of his work to our current dystopia as Henry Farrell does in the following essay. Unfortunately the author is less astute regarding the ways in which the dystopias of Orwell and Huxley are equally relevant to our current milieu.)

This is not the dystopia we were promised.

We are not learning to love Big Brother, who lives, if he lives at all, on a cluster of server farms, cooled by environmentally friendly technologies.

Nor have we been lulled by Soma and subliminal brain programming into a hazy acquiescence to pervasive social hierarchies.

Dystopias tend toward fantasies of absolute control, in which the system sees all, knows all, and controls all. And our world is indeed one of ubiquitous surveillance.

Phones and household devices produce trails of data, like particles in a cloud chamber, indicating our wants and behaviors to companies such as Facebook, Amazon, and Google.

Yet the information thus produced is imperfect and classified by machine-learning algorithms that themselves make mistakes.

The efforts of these businesses to manipulate our wants leads to further complexity.

It is becoming ever harder for companies to distinguish the behavior which they want to analyze from their own and others’ manipulations.

This does not look like totalitarianism unless you squint very hard indeed.

As the sociologist Kieran Healy has suggested, sweeping political critiques of new technology often bear a strong family resemblance to the arguments of Silicon Valley boosters.

Both assume that the technology works as advertised, which is not necessarily true at all.

Standard utopias and standard dystopias are each perfect after their own particular fashion.

We live somewhere queasier—a world in which technology is developing in ways that make it increasingly hard to distinguish human beings from artificial things.

The world that the Internet and social media have created is less a system than an ecology, a proliferation of unexpected niches, and entities created and adapted to exploit them in deceptive ways.

Vast commercial architectures are being colonized by quasi-autonomous parasites.

Scammers have built algorithms to write fake books from scratch to sell on Amazon, compiling and modifying text from other books and online sources such as Wikipedia, to fool buyers or to take advantage of loopholes in Amazon’s compensation structure.

Much of the world’s financial system is made out of bots-automated systems designed to continually probe markets for fleeting arbitrage opportunities.

Less sophisticated programs plague online commerce systems such as eBay and Amazon, occasionally with extraordinary consequences, as when two warring bots bid the price of a biology book up to $23,698,655.93 (plus $3.99 shipping).

In other words, we live in Philip K. Dick’s future, not George Orwell’s or Aldous Huxley’s.

Dick was no better a prophet of technology than any science fiction writer, and was arguably worse than most.

His imagined worlds jam together odd bits of fifties’ and sixties’ California with rocket ships, drugs, and social speculation.

Dick usually wrote in a hurry and for money, and sometimes under the influence of drugs or a recent and urgent personal religious revelation.

Still, what he captured with genius was the ontological unease of a world in which the human and the abhuman, the real and the fake, blur together.

As Dick described his work (in the opening essay to his 1985 collection, I Hope I Shall Arrive Soon):

The two basic topics which fascinate me are “What is reality?” and “What constitutes the authentic human being?”

Over the twenty-seven years in which I have published novels and stories I have investigated these two interrelated topics over and over again.

These obsessions had some of their roots in Dick’s complex and ever-evolving personal mythology (in which it was perfectly plausible that the “real” world was a fake, and that we were all living in Palestine sometime in the first century AD).

Yet they were also based on a keen interest in the processes through which reality is socially constructed.

Dick believed that we all live in a world where “spurious realities are manufactured by the media, by governments, by big corporations, by religious groups, political groups—and the electronic hardware exists by which to deliver these pseudo-worlds right into heads of the reader.” He argued:

“The bombardment of pseudo-realities begins to produce inauthentic humans very quickly, spurious humans—as fake as the data pressing at them from all sides.

My two topics are really one topic; they unite at this point.

Fake realities will create fake humans.

Or, fake humans will generate fake realities and then sell them to other humans, turning them, eventually, into forgeries of themselves.

So we wind up with fake humans inventing fake realities and then peddling them to other fake humans.”

In Dick’s books, the real and the unreal infect each other, so that it becomes increasingly impossible to tell the difference between them.

The worlds of the dead and the living merge in Ubik (1969), the experiences of a disturbed child infect the world around him in Martian Time-Slip (1964), and consensual drug-based hallucinations become the vector for an invasive alien intelligence in The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch (1965).

Humans are impersonated by malign androids in Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? (1968) and “Second Variety” (1953); by aliens in “The Hanging Stranger” (1953) and “The Father-Thing” (1954); and by mutants in “The Golden Man” (1954).

This concern with unreal worlds and unreal people led to a consequent worry about an increasing difficulty of distinguishing between them.

Factories pump out fake Americana in The Man in the High Castle (1962), mirroring the problem of living in a world that is not, in fact, the real one.

Entrepreneurs build increasingly human-like androids in Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, reasoning that if they do not, then their competitors will.

Figuring out what is real and what is not is not easy.

Scientific tools such as the famous Voight-Kampff test in Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? (and Blade Runner, Ridley Scott’s 1982 movie based loosely on it) do not work very well, leaving us with little more than hope in some mystical force—the I Ching, God in a spray can, a Martian water-witch—to guide us back toward the real.

We live in Dick’s world—but with little hope of divine intervention or invasion.

The world where we communicate and interact at a distance is increasingly filled with algorithms that appear human, but are not—fake people generated by fake realities.

When Ashley Madison, a dating site for people who want to cheat on their spouses, was hacked, it turned out that tens of thousands of the women on the site were fake “fembots” programmed to send millions of chatty messages to male customers, so as to delude them into thinking that they were surrounded by vast numbers of potential sexual partners.

These problems are only likely to get worse as the physical world and the world of information become increasingly interpenetrated in an Internet of (badly functioning) Things.

Many of the aspects of Joe Chip’s future world in Ubik look horrendously dated to modern eyes: the archaic role of women, the assumption that nearly everyone smokes.

Yet the door to Joe’s apartment—which argues with him and refuses to open because he has not paid it the obligatory tip—sounds ominously plausible.

Someone, somewhere, is pitching this as a viable business plan to Y Combinator or the venture capitalists in Menlo Park.

This invasion of the real by the unreal has had consequences for politics.

The hallucinatory realities in Dick’s worlds—the empathetic religion of Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, the drug-produced worlds of The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch, the quasi–Tibetan Buddhist death realm of Ubik—are usually experienced by many people, like the television shows of Dick’s America.

But as network television has given way to the Internet, it has become easy for people to create their own idiosyncratic mix of sources.

The imposed media consensus that Dick detested has shattered into a myriad of different realities, each with its own partially shared assumptions and facts. Sometimes this creates tragedy or near-tragedy.

The deluded gunman who stormed into Washington, D.C.’s Comet Ping Pong pizzeria had been convinced by online conspiracy sites that it was the coordinating center for Hillary Clinton’s child–sex trafficking ring [likewise, the masses may have been convinced by mainstream media that a real child-sex trafficking ring never existed].

Such fractured worlds are more vulnerable to invasion by the non-human.

Many Twitter accounts are bots, often with the names and stolen photographs of implausibly beautiful young women, looking to pitch this or that product (one recent academic study found that between 9 and 15 percent of all Twitter accounts are likely fake).

Twitterbots vary in sophistication from automated accounts that do no more than retweet what other bots have said, to sophisticated algorithms deploying so-called “Sybil attacks,” creating fake identities in peer-to-peer networks to invade specific organizations or degrade particular kinds of conversation.

Twitter has failed to become a true mass medium, but remains extraordinarily important to politics, since it is where many politicians, journalists, and other elites turn to get their news.

One research project suggests that around 20 percent of the measurable political discussion around the last presidential election came from bots.

Humans appear to be no better at detecting bots than we are, in Dick’s novel, at detecting replicant androids: people are about as likely to retweet a bot’s message as the message of another human being.

Most notoriously, the current U.S. president recently retweeted a flattering message that appears to have come from a bot densely connected to a network of other bots, which some believe to be controlled by the Russian government and used for propaganda purposes.

In his novels Dick was interested in seeing how people react when their reality starts to break down.

A world in which the real commingles with the fake, so that no one can tell where the one ends and the other begins, is ripe for paranoia.

The most toxic consequence of social media manipulation, whether by the Russian government or others, may have nothing to do with its success as propaganda.

Instead, it is that it sows an existential distrust.

People simply do not know what or who to believe anymore.

Rumors that are spread by Twitterbots merge into other rumors about the ubiquity of Twitterbots, and whether this or that trend is being driven by malign algorithms rather than real human beings.

Such widespread falsehood is especially explosive when combined with our fragmented politics.

Liberals’ favorite term for the right-wing propaganda machine, “fake news,” has been turned back on them by conservatives, who treat conventional news as propaganda, and hence ignore it.

On the obverse, it may be easier for many people on the liberal left to blame Russian propaganda for the last presidential election than to accept that many voters had a very different understanding of America than they do.

Dick had other obsessions—most notably the politics of Richard Nixon and the Cold War.

It is not hard to imagine him writing a novel combining an immature and predatory tycoon (half Arnie Kott, half Jory Miller) who becomes the president of the United States, secret Russian political manipulation, an invasion of empathy-free robotic intelligences masquerading as human beings, and a breakdown in our shared understanding of what is real and what is fake.

These different elements probably would not cohere particularly well, but as in Dick’s best novels, the whole might still work, somehow.

Indeed, it is in the incongruities of Dick’s novels that salvation is to be found (even at his battiest, he retains a sense of humor).

Obviously, it is less easy to see the joke when one is living through it. Dystopias may sometimes be grimly funny—but rarely from the inside.

Hallatar – No Stars Upon The Bridge (2017) This Is A Tribute Album For Aleah Liane Stanbridge Known Also As Aleah Starbridge Or Simply Aleah: https://youtu.be/cX-nZoqadZA,

Her Last Full Album Was The “Trees Of Eternity” Full Debut(Nov 2016-Three Months After Aleah’s Death At 39 Of Cancer): https://youtu.be/sTAYLA6hIis

Tracks For Hallatar:
01 – Mirrors (0:00)
02 – Raven’s Song (7:09)
03 – Melt (7:42)
04 – My Mistake (with Heike Langhans) (15:21)
05 – Pieces (22:06)
06 – Severed Eyes (23:28)
07 – The Maze (26:20)
08 – Spiral Gate (33:32)
09 – Dreams Burn Down (with Aleah Starbridge) (34:02)

Tracks For Trees Of Eternity:
1. My Requiem
2. Eye of Night
3. Condemned to Silence (feat. Mick Moss of Antimatter)
4. A Million Tears
5. Hour of the Nightingale
6. The Passage
7. Broken Mirror
8. Black Ocean
9. Sinking Ships
10 .Gallows Bird (feat. Nick Holmes of Paradise Lost)

Ric/Rex’s Comments: My first exposure to the vocals, poetry and lyrics of Aleah ‘Starbridge’ was on the Trees of Eternity’ Debut Album.

Musically, it’s called “Down-Tempo/Doom Metal” Or Melodic Black Metal-a highly dramatic and deeply introspective musical form.

I found it compelling on its own, but even more so because of the vocals, an angelic whisper of purest emotion one often had to strain to hear every word clearly, but a sound that cut to the heart, even more once you understood you were listening to the final works of a dying woman, so private, only those closest to her knew the battle she was waging…and ultimately losing.

Her musical and life partner, Juha Raivio, spoke of her upon the debut of the Tribute Album:

“After the death of my beloved and my life partner Aleah Starbridge last April, I have been gathering writings, lyrics, and the poems of Aleah to keep them safe and close to my heart.

About one month after the world came down on the blackest day of my life on April 18th, I knew I needed to pick up the guitar and try to create something or I would be truly destroyed.

And something did arrive out of the darkness, and I wrote the music for the HALLATAR album in a week’s time.

I don’t have much memory of this week, not a memory of a single day of writing the music.

But all I remember when going into this abyss of the writing process was a promise to myself that whatever music would come out, I would not touch or change anything of it afterwards.

What mattered was that the music would stay forever as an absolute truth of those moments as they came out.

I asked my good friends — and amazing musicians — Tomi Joutsen and Gas Lipstick if they would want to record this music with me, and both of them said yes without even hearing a note of it.

I am forever grateful to both of them for sharing this road with me; even the weight of the process has not been easy to carry, or will be.”

Says Gas Lipstick:

“I am grateful and very honored to be asked to join this band.

Juha is a dear friend of mine since many years ago, and when he told me about his vision for HALLATAR and asked me to join, I said yes instantly — I just had to be part of this amazing journey.

I had never heard a single note of the music before I gave my ‘yes’ because I didn’t need to.

Juha has been one of my favorite songwriters already for years, and I knew that HALLATAR will be a very deep, personal, and one-of-a-kind story which I wanted to help him to bring alive.”

Adds Tomi Joutsen:

“I have known Juha from the year 2007, when we worked together for the first time.

A couple years ago, I had the privilege to meet Juha’s life partner, Aleah Starbridge, who was such a beautiful person, inside and outside, and had an angelic voice out of this world.

Aleah lent her voice on the latest AMORPHIS album, and we called her ‘the whispering ghost.’

When I heard about Aleah’s passing last spring, it came as a total shock and heartbreaking news out of the blue.

When Juha asked me if I would want to be part of this album and carry Aleah’s flame with him, I didn’t have to think twice.

When everything has been taken, all that is left is the music.

The sorrow strips us naked and leave us humble — this is how it sounds like.”

Concluded Raivio:

“What we recorded was a raw moment in time honoring the memory, lyrics, and poems of Aleah Starbridge with all its pain, beauty and darkness.
There are no stars left upon the bridge to light the way anymore, but the music will always be a dim light, even in the darkest of the night.”

Obituary

Aleah Liane Stanbridge:
BIRTH 1 Jul 1976 Eastern Cape, South Africa
DEATH 18 Apr 2016 Örebro län, Sweden

Swedish singer Aleah Liane Stanbridge passed away April 18th cause of death due to cancer.

Aleah was the lead singer for Trees Of Eternity, who were just working on their debut album, she also contributed as a guest vocalist for Amorphis, Under the Red Cloud and on the last studio album of Swallow The Sun, Songs From The North I, II & III, and first was noticed as a solo singer in 2007 with one demo released under the name Aleah.

She was born Julia Liane “Aleah” Stanbridge on the 1st of July 1976 in Cape Town, South Africa, to Roland and Gillian Stanbridge; And had moved to Örebro, Sweden.

Rest In Peace Sweet Angel Aleah