What if? just imagine, and don’t be scared

When you reach retirement age, after an eventful life with many highs and lows, every now and then the question arises about unfulfilled aspirations, about tasks which still need be done, and about the potential of further contributions to the common good.

While you are considering the various possibilities, it can easily be that bold dreams come to mind, ingenious ideas, creative, daring visions. Creative thinking is not necessarily a youth privilege, and creativity coupled with life experience still can bring amazing results.

Who would not like to be a visionary thinker, a teacher, preacher, saint, prophet? Like Francis of Assisi or Buddha? The dreams and visions which come to your mind must of course first be molded into captivating, mesmerizing, energizing speech, because you have to tell them to other people. You need to recruit followers, supporters, pupils, disciples. Without them you will achieve nothing.

Finding the right words and sentences may be as hard as finding the right ideas, and it will make your head spin. This is strenuous, arduous work, but let’s try it nevertheless, starting with the headline:

I have a dream

Sounds very good, but Martin Luther King Jr. wrote that already in 1963.


Also sounds good, but John Lennon wrote a song with this title in 1971.

Apart from that, if you don’t want to end up like King and Lennon, it may be better to act in a small local setting, undetected by the forces of evil. Maybe you also open with a rather innocent and uncontested phrase, like for instance:

What if?

What if people were living in harmony with nature, taking only what they really need, being content with what they have?

What if there was no advertising and shopping was not one of the most important things in life; what if people would meet in person and take to each other eye to eye, instead of staring at screens of computers, TV sets, smartphones?

What if respect, tolerance, generosity, selflessness were commonplace and self-evident?

What if wealth, prestige, power were unimportant and undesirable?

What if land, houses, companies would not belong to anyone but those working and living there; what if there were no billionaires, no financial debts, and no income from interest, rent, dividends?

What if there were no prisons, no armies, and no nuclear weapons?
Unrealistic, crazy ideas, say the guardians and high priests of the global, neoliberal economic system. Economic growth, global trade, technological advances are the answer to all problems, the prospering of multinational corporations and big banks means also our own prospering.

Did not Adam Smith in The Wealth of Nations and Friedrich Hayek in The Road to Serfdom convincingly demonstrate the superiority of free market economies (the invisible hand), laissez-faire (non-interference of the state), and social Darwinism (the survival of the fittest)?

Have we not subjugated the world in this way, created tremendous wealth (with 1,800 billionaires), and replaced nature in large areas with our high-tech, automated environment? Have we not changed the climate, eradicated annoying critters, replaced grueling, repetitive work in the field, garden, and kitchen with automated industrial processes of food production?

Are fully stacked shelves in supermarkets, mobility by car and plane, music everywhere, pictures and films on screens of all kinds and sizes, digitization, automation, robotization in all areas of life not a proof of our success?

Progress cannot be stopped; we will destroy the old, antiquated world and build an improved, artificial, electrified version exactly to our liking.
What should one answer to that? What should one do against them? How could one prevent their plans? They will not argue and they will not negotiate. They are on top of the world and they know, that the might of big machines and big business cannot be broken just by dreams and visions of peace and harmony.

I withdraw into the forest, to a hiding place which nobody knows except me, sit down on a tree stump, and listen to the animals of the forest. The plants grow there as they please and not as a directive of the European Union or the fine print in an international trade treaty dictates. The forest has its own laws and regulations and no TPP, CETA, NAFTA, TTIP, BIT treaty will override them.

The vegetation has changed in recent years and aggressive grass has overgrown some areas of the forest. But where I am now, everything is as it always was. If I wait long enough, deer, hares, hedgehogs will come to visit me. They know that I’m their friend.

I’m not discouraged. I know many people who think and feel like me and meet them regularly in the activist groups where I volunteer. Together we will try to take our world back. Secretive, quiet, gradual, non-violent.
This would be the usual way to end such an article, leaving the reader with the cosy feeling that there is a solution for the most existential problems and that all will turn out well in the end. Unfortunately, as comprehensive evaluations and analyses reveal, it will take an enormous, relentless effort to turn things around and a positive outcome is not assured.

It will need the brightest ideas, the most sophisticated strategies, and a lot of luck.
The global warming alarmists at it again?

Many people dismiss the increasingly dire predictions and warnings as unjustified panic, as unwarranted hysteria, while a lot of other people, among them the most knowledgable and well informed, are scared and look for novel solutions and ways out of the quagmire.

The world government meets in Davos

From January 23 to 26 some 2,500 bankers, hedge fund managers, corporate CEOs, government officials (including US President Donald Trump), and celebrities will descend once again on the Swiss Alpine resort of Davos for the annual WEF (World Economic Forum).

Admission price is 55,000 US$, this makes sure the rich and powerful will be among themselves, undisturbed by lower class individuals.

The Bloomberg Billionaires Index published last month established that the fortunes of the world’s wealthiest 500 billionaires, many of whom will be in attendance, rose 23 percent over the past year, making them one trillion US$ richer than at the end of 2016. Everything seems to be going well for the wealthy elite, and yet, they are still living in mortal fear that a growing ecological crisis, social unrest, and world war may endanger not only their fortunes, but their lives as well.

Their fears are well founded.

The WEF’s 2018 Global Risks Report, titled “Fractures, Fears and Failures,” includes subheads such as “Grim Reaping,” “The Death of Trade,” “Democracy Buckles,” “Precision Extinction”, “Into the Abyss”, “Fears of Ecological Armageddon” and “War without Rules.”

The report’s introduction declares: “This generation enjoys unprecedented technological, scientific and financial resources, which we should use to chart a course towards a more sustainable, equitable and inclusive future. And yet this is perhaps the first generation to take the world to the brink of a systems breakdown.”
The report was drafted in conjunction with a survey conducted among nearly 1,000 banking and business executives, government officials and academics, which found that 93 percent of them feared a dangerous confrontations between the major powers in 2018. 79 percent foresaw a heightened threat of a major “state-on-state” military conflict. The report cited both the confrontation between USA and North Korea and the increasingly complex inter-state conflicts produced by Washington’s military intervention in Iraq and Syria.

A consistent refrain in the annual Davos surveys is, that the risks listed in the report are interconnected. That is especially true for water scarcity, which the forum deems a societal risk. “The truly systemic challenge here rests in the depth of the interconnectedness that exists both among these environmental risks and between them and risks in other categories — such as water crises and involuntary migration,” the report states, referring to mass displacement of people in Syria, the Sahel zone, and the Horn of Africa due to the intersection of drought, political instability, and war.
In the section titled “Into the Abyss,” the document warns: “Against a backdrop of domestic and international political strife — and with economic policy-makers already operating in uncharted territory — the eruption of another global financial crisis could overwhelm political and policy responses. A systemic collapse of the sort that was averted in 2007-2008 could push countries, regions or even the whole world over the edge and into a period of chaos.”

In addition to “rising military tensions,” “military buildups,” “proxy conflicts,” and multiple “flashpoints” threatening war, the document points to the danger of rising social tensions within every industrial country.

In many countries the social and political fabric has been badly frayed by many years of stagnating real incomes,” it states, pointing to figures illustrating decelerating wages and rapidly rising social inequality.

High levels of personal debt, coupled with inadequate savings and pension provisions, are one reason to expect that frustrations may deepen in the years ahead.”

There is a reminder of the WEF’s 2014 Global Risk Report’s warning that one of the world’s greatest threats was a level of youth unemployment so high that it threatened to create a “lost generation.” The report notes dryly that in the three years since, this level has remained “broadly static.” It warns that with so many millions of young people without work, “generational clashes over fiscal and labour-market policies” may erupt.

Democracy is already showing signs of strain in the face of economic, cultural and technological disruption. Much deeper damage is possible: social and political orders can break down. If an evenly divided country sees polarized positions harden into a winner-takes-all contest, the risk increases of political debate giving way to forms of secession or physical confrontation. In these circumstances, a tipping point could be reached. A spiral of violence could begin, particularly if public authorities lost control and then intervened on one side with disproportionate force. In some countries — with widespread ready access to weapons or a history of political violence — armed civil conflict could erupt. In others, the state might impose its will by force, risking long reverberating consequences: A state of emergency, the curtailment of civil liberties, even the cancellation of elections to protect public order.”

Extreme weather and natural disasters took the top two spots in the WEF Global Risk Report, ranking above cyberattacks and data fraud. This warning about ecological risks comes right after in December more than 15,000 scientists declared, that the current trajectory is deeply troubling. The scientists warned, that if carbon emissions are not reined in quickly enough, the future will see supercharged storms, crop failures, drought, famine, and mass migration.
With current atmospheric concentrations of CO2 at 405 parts per million, as opposed to about 280 parts per million before the dawn of the industrial era, the climate will surely change dramatically.

2017 was 0.84 degrees Celsius warmer than the 20th century average and it was the second-hottest year on record. In the last years temperatures were rising 10 times faster than during the bounce back from the last ice age.

Predictions about warming range from 2 degrees Celsius to 4 degrees, which means, depending one ones viewpoint, either that one doesn’t need to do much about climate change except adapt, or that imminent action is necessary, or that it’s already too late and we just have to accept that we are doomed.

Most political leaders opt to do nothing, just wait and see.

Which could be a serious mistake.

Climate change and human activity can shift forests to grasslands, savannas to deserts, coral reefs to algae-based systems, and Arctic sea ice to open waters.

One can live quite good in a forest, and if the forest is clear-cut to get wood for heating and cooking, one can live on the grassland as a herder. But if the grassland turns to desert because of overgrazing, it will become very hard to survive in this area.
There are several big climate change impacts relevant to drinking water quality and quantity: The timing of rainfall is changing and in general wet periods will get wetter, dry periods will get drier. There is less snow — snow has always leveled out periods of high and low precipitation. In a hotter climate evaporation from plants, waterways, reservoirs will increase. Agriculture will need more irrigation, there will be more forest fires, wells and reservoirs will run dry, lakes and rivers will disappear.

As troubling as climate change is the mass extinction of species.

Extinction levels are currently at least 1,000 times the rate before industrialization, and scientists differ about what that may mean for the ecosphere and ourselves.

Every loss of species counts, though the damage is gradual, incremental, and may not be instantly visible. In the long term the effected biological system will be less productive, less efficient, less healthy.
Biodiversity influences the stability of the worlds climate, soil, ozone layer, and oceans, all of which have clear planetary boundaries and can lead to a catastrophic collapse of the ecosystem. Johan Rockström from the Stockholm Resilience Centre: “Without biodiversity, no ecosystems. No ecosystems, no biomes. No biomes, no living regulator of all the cycles of carbon, nitrogen, oxygen, carbon dioxide, and water.”

Will our beloved planet, Mother Earth, “Gaia,” end up like Mars?

250 million years ago the planet suffered what may be described as its greatest holocaust: 96 percent of marine genera and 70 percent of land vertebrate vanished for good. Even insects suffered a mass extinction, the only time before or since, and entire classes of animals (trilobites for instance) disappeared.

Yet, catastrophic as this event, known as the Permian-Triassic extinction, was, some species survived and after millions of years nature recovered and went on to write new tales. Life, it seems, is so ridiculously adaptable that not only did certain species make it through whatever killed off nearly everything else, but they populated the planet again and laid the basis for a natural environment even richer and more stable than before.

So, there’s at least the chance, that the current Holocene extinction, caused by human activity, may not result into the extinction of life as a whole, and a few species may survive even a total breakdown of natural systems, starting all over again to create in just a few million years a world as fascinating and wonderful as the one which we are now destroying.

This will be regarded as cold comfort by some readers.
Lets end with a positive and uplifting note:

Initially I didn’t want to add another verse to John Lennon’s wonderful song, which accompanied me through many decades, yet …

Imagine, there’s no TV
Nobody tells you lies
No news that will confuse you
No experts’s foul advise
Imagine all the people
Living for today….

Imagine, the big machines
Fall silent one by one
The jets and bombs and missiles
Are suddenly be gone
Imagine all the people
Living life in peace…

You may say I’m a dreamer
But I’m not the only one
I hope someday you’ll join us
And the world will be as one

Here is the original:

Imagine there’s no heaven
It’s easy if you try
No hell below us
Above us only sky
Imagine all the people
Living for today…

Imagine there’s no countries
It isn’t hard to do
Nothing to kill or die for
And no religion too
Imagine all the people
Living life in peace…

You may say I’m a dreamer
But I’m not the only one
I hope someday you’ll join us
And the world will be as one

Imagine no possessions
I wonder if you can
No need for greed or hunger
A brotherhood of man
Imagine all the people
Sharing all the world…

You may say I’m a dreamer
But I’m not the only one
I hope someday you’ll join us
And the world will live as one


Links January 2018

Finally we’ve turned the corner and the days get longer again, but it will take a few weeks till there’s a noticeable increase of daylight. One cannot rule out occasional cold spells and snow, but, in case that nobody starts a nuclear war, it only can get warmer and brighter.

Here it is sunny and unseasonable warm, but thats Europe. Across the Atlantic, a record-shattering cold is gripping most of the USA, and the sustained period of cold weather has claimed the lives of at least 20 people, mostly homeless or elderly.

Homeless people are the most susceptible to the winter cold. While the lack of affordable housing effects everybody, homeless individuals are especially hard-pressed to find accommodation in winter, as funding for shelters is cut back and decent living spaces are few and far between. Much of the increase in homelessness is connected to the ever rising cost of housing while real wages have stagnated.

The city of Detroit appealed for donations after it had to open three additional emergency warming centers. Working with local churches and religious groups, the centers are sending volunteers out to locations where homeless communities congregate, in an effort to bring them to the various shelters.

This is not a minor issue, more than half a million people are homeless in the USA. Well, its the richest nation on earth, what can one say?

Heavy snow, strong winds, and bitter cold battered the US East Coast and snow was on the ground in every state from Florida to Maine.

There was a snow storm which meteorologists described as a “bomb cyclone,” followed by a deep freeze with minus 40 degrees Celsius in New England. Snow made roadways impassable, businesses closed and flights were grounded. In New England, gusts threatened to bring down power lines and leave residents without power or heat.

Power outages affected more than 12,400 Georgia Power customers, 10,200 Florida Power & Light customers and 2,700 South Carolina Electric & Gas customers. 8,000 New York City Housing Authority residents were without heat. Heating systems in five public housing developments were shut down completely.

Many schools had to close because of failing heating systems and broken pipes. Due to funding cuts nobody was being there during the holidays to make sure the heat stayed on and pipes didn’t freeze (can that be? My central heating has an automatic function which turns circulation on no matter what and keeps the water in the pipe system at 4 degrees Celsius when temperatures reach the freezing point).

Reading all that one can only hope that the US economic and political model is not implemented here. Maybe the reports are exaggerating, are sensationalism, but the plain statistics suggest, that things are indeed that bad: 13.5 percent of US inhabitants live in poverty (in Russia poverty is also 13 percent), 42 million are on food stamps, half a million are homeless, 27 million are despite ACA (Affordable Care Act) without health care, depending on emergency room treatment. 

To keep US-capitalism at bay is one of my concerns, another concern is the threat of war, especially nuclear war. Nuclear war is unimaginable, millions would die in a few hours, permanent nuclear winter would make us starve or freeze to death.

A report by the International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War described the effects of a single 1-megaton warhead:

At ground zero, the explosion creates a crater 100 meter deep and 360 meter in diameter. Within one second, the atmosphere itself ignites into a fireball more than a 800meter in diameter. The surface of the fireball radiates nearly three times the light and heat of a comparable area of the surface of the sun, extinguishing in seconds all life below and radiating outward at the speed of light, causing instantaneous severe burns to people within one to three miles. A blast wave of compressed air reaches a distance of three miles in about 12 seconds, flattening factories and commercial buildings. Debris carried by winds of 250 mph inflicts lethal injuries throughout the area. At least 50 percent of people in the area die immediately, prior to any injuries from radiation or the developing firestorm.

Another concern is the steadily increasing chemical contamination of the biosphere. Agricultural chemicals, industrial waste, degrading plastic materials, household chemicals, paint, ink, household waste, pharmaceutical drugs, etc contribute. Humans emit more than 250 billion tonnes of chemical substances a year. The pollutants are found everywhere; mercury is found in polar bears, Mount Everest’s snow is so polluted it fails to meet WHO drinking water standards, DDT, banned since 1972, can be detected in every human hair sample taken.

Well, as long as only bees and other insects, amphibians, bats, and fish are affected, thats fine. Who needs the critters anyway? But wait:

60 percent of US-Americans have one and 40 percent have multiple chronic conditions, like allergies, arthritis, asthma, cancer, cystic fibrosis, diabetes, heart disease, obesity, osteoporosis, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, MS etc.

Can you remember when the “victory over cancer” was promised to be a matter of only a few years? Nobody speaks of that anymore. 

According to the WHO, cancer accounted for 8.8 million deaths in 2015. There were 4.3 million new cancer cases in China and more than 2.8 million cancer deaths in 2015, with lung cancer the most common occurrence. Cancer is the leading cause of death in China.

Denmark, Belgium, Bulgaria, Serbia, Poland, Slovenia, Australia, Norway, USA, Ireland, South Korea, Netherlands, Canada, Hungary also report high cancer rates. Cancer deaths are more prevalent in developed/industrialized countries and the cancer rates align by and large with the consumption of chemicals and plastics.

Cancer deaths in developed countries are between 24 and 32 percent of all deaths and have become the leading or second leading cause of death.

Another concern is the steadily decreasing nutritional value of fruits and vegetables. Mineral content has dropped 76 percent in the last 50 years. This is due to the use of fast growing new varieties wich were bred for hight yield, but also because there is more sunlight, more UV radiation, more CO2 in the air. The plants produce a lot of sugar via photosynthesis and the fruits ripen faster, but in the shorter period of growth they don’t absorb as much of the trace minerals which our body needs for metabolic functions.

This will lead to nutritional deficiencies (iron, iodine, calcium, magnesium, zinc, selenium, potassium). To avoid this problem, one could eat meat instead of plants, but this also has serious downsides:

Meat production is environmental damaging. Meat from factory farms is laced with growth hormones and antibiotics. All meat is contaminated with environmental pollutants, which are accumulated in the fatty tissue of animals as they eat contaminated plants. This is called bioaccumulation. If several animals (prey, predator) in a food chain are involved, the accumulation multiplies. This is called biomagnification, and it means, that meat eaters can have levels in their body 1000 times higher than the initial concentration of a substance in soil, water, air.

Heavy metals (mercury, arsenic, cadmium, lead), PAHs, PFAs, dioxins, pesticides, PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls), and other POPs (persistent organic pollutants) are the most common pollutants in meat.

A related concern is climate change. Droughts are not a problem here until now, because this is a rainy country, but extreme weather events can do lot of damage. Last year in April a series of cold spells damaged the blooms of fruit trees, there were nearly no plums and pear fruits, apples were greatly reduced. Peach harvest was great, because peach trees bloom early and they were ready before the cold snaps.

This could happen every year from now on, because wide temperature swings are increasingly common, and the only precaution one can take is to plant a wide variety of fruit trees, blooming at different times of spring.

A hefty storm damaged two of the peach trees, both full of fruits. This could also become a frequent occurrence.

Other concerns: China plans to implement a social credit system, with your lifelong credit score influencing every aspect of your life: For instance your chances of getting education, employment, finding friends, finding a wife. Not even George Orwell did imagine this. If the Chinese rulers can pull that off, it will be swiftly adopted everywhere else.

Compared to this, the envisioned “cashless economy” is a minor threat. In Sweden, Australia, Netherlands, UK, USA, France, Canada the majority of transactions is cashless. Cashless means, one is depending on a bank, on a computer, smartphone, or tablet. I never liked banks. 

Bertolt Brecht: “What is the robbing of a bank compared to the founding of a bank?” (from The Threepenny Opera). Some clever guy reformulated that into: “Robbing a bank is for amateurs. True professionals found one.” I once composed a tune “Angels robbed the bank,” its even here on the blog, in the Music section.

Bankless, not cashless.

I set up an account at the only remaining cooperative bank here only to find out, that after half a year it merged with another bank, one that had nearly gone bankrupt before and was bailed out with taxpayer money. I considered going bankless and it still is possible in my country, but it is so cumbersome and costly (because of transaction fees) that for now I stay with this bank.

At least I never bought anything at Amazon. One doesn’t need the 480 million items that Amazon offers. One can stop shopping, drop out of the consumer society. Flea markets, bartering and swapping groups, local organic gardeners and farmers are possible sources to get the necessities of life.

Though many people sense, that it cannot go on like this forever, few try to change their habits. When the economy of affluence and plenty one day will collapse into an economy of scarcity, it will get ugly, as people will scramble to get their piece of the shrinking cake.

Maybe we are already there and the only thing that keeps the illusion of affluence and plenty intact are the flickering pictures on the screens at which people stare most of their time.

Feline news:
http://www.tampabay.com/news/courts/civil/Feline-at-center-of-Skypoint-lawsuit-is-not-a-bobcat-owner-says_164201178 The world is full of sick people.

Environmental news
“Avoiding GMOs isn’t just anti-science. It’s immoral.” At least according to a headline in the Washington Post.
http://www.tomdispatch.com/blog/176360/ About climate refugees and the walls to hold them back.
http://www.euractiv.com/section/energy-environment/news/mercury-poisoning-widespread-as-even-un-delegates-test-positive/ Mercury poisoning is widespread, yet mercury mining increases.
https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-12-06/china-s-blow-to-recycling-boosts-u-s-s-185-billion-plastic-bet You thought recycling is the answer — it seems that China knows better.

https://dgrnewsservice.org/resistance/strategy/the-significance-of-renewables/Renewables are not the solution.
https://www.counterpunch.org/2017/12/11/dying-ecosystems/ Armageddon. One doesn’t have to make a will, one doesn’t have to worry about the future. Just accept the inevitable.
https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/dec/13/english-rivers-polluted-by-powerful-insecticides-first-tests-reveal They spread agro-poisons like candy.
http://www.ehn.org/plastic_pollution_ocean_turtles-2516639433.html The end of the sea turtle.
https://www.localfutures.org/what-does-organic-mean/ Hijacked by industry.
https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/dec/14/a-different-dimension-of-loss-great-insect-die-off-sixth-extinction Another long and detailed article written, published, and ignored.
https://ensia.com/videos/watch-fixers-club-argentina-pushing-back-throwaway-culture/ Use the old appliances and gadgets as long as possible and, in case of a defect, repair them. The new ones are no good, they are crap, they don’t last long, they are purposely designed to make mending impossible.
https://www.counterpunch.org/2017/12/18/pesticide-suicide/ This is not scaremongering. This is just the well documented, scary reality of the global ubiquitous contamination with agricultural poisons.
http://www.ehn.org/capitalism-and-our-environmental-collapse-2521833465.html Armageddon. I’m considering to establish a separate category, as these kind of articles become more numerous. Disaster porn? Or could it really be that bad?
https://www.counterpunch.org/2017/12/29/a-future-free-for-all/Armageddon, a poetic version.
https://www.counterpunch.org/2018/01/01/the-unsung-epidemic/ And? Are you using less chemicals after reading this?
https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/men-resist-green-behavior-as-un-manly/ Huh! Prove them wrong, please!

Economic news:
http://evonomics.com/less-work-job-creation-peter-gray/ About work and automation.
https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/dec/07/amazon-hunger-games-players-losers-second-headquarters-site-us-techno-capitalist “Smart cities” are not smart. Smart cities would avoid Amazon.
http://www.bbc.com/news/technology-42322706 The most dangerous insurgency.
https://wolfstreet.com/2017/12/10/a-new-stealth-attack-in-eus-war-on-cash/ Surveil and control.
http://www.defenddemocracy.press/capitalism-reduced-indonesian-cities-to-infested-carcases/ Must read. This is what they are planning for us too in the name of modernity and progress.
Long read, some debatable conclusions, but still worth the time.
https://www.edge.org/response-detail/26756 Maybe you read it twice, there is something in it.

Media and technology news:
http://www.bbc.com/news/av/world-asia-china-42248056/in-your-face-china-s-all-seeing-state Our future. Surveilled and controlled.
https://www.treehugger.com/culture/france-will-ban-mobile-phones-elementary-schools.html A rare example of rationality.
https://medium.com/ill-ixi-lli/-da9326e97d1f About Bitcoin. Difficult to read but interesting.
http://www.atimes.com/article/jailed-journalists-hide-mass-graves-myanmarPress freedom in Myanmar.

Imperial news:
US Police fatally shot 987 people in 2017, two dozen more than they killed in 2016, according to a project by The Washington Post that tracks police shootings.
https://phys.org/news/2017-12-gun-related-deaths-tied-sandy-mass.htmlAbout after effects of gun violence.
https://williamblum.org/aer/read/153 Blum’s Anti-Empire Report 153.
http://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2017/12/12/repo-d12.html The free market forces eventually will fix everything, including infrastructure deficiencies.
https://www.theguardian.com/society/2017/dec/15/america-extreme-poverty-un-special-rapporteur Special UN rapporteur Philip Alston, fresh from a fact-finding tour, issued a devastating critique of US society and condemned ‘private wealth and public squalor’: “Trump is turning US into world champion of extreme inequality”.
John Chuckman commented the remark about Trump:
I’m sorry, but that is an uninformed statement.
I grew up in the United States, in a large city, and the kind of slums we see here have been around since I was young.
Detroit, Baltimore, Toledo, New Orleans, parts of Chicago, parts of New York, Newark, Gary, and dozens of other places would shock Europeans who are used to seeing only travel photos and Hollywood movies.
The stark poverty and ugliness are not in any way distinguishable from parts of the third world.
And it’s not just cities. Many years ago, I was taking some photos of river bridges near Joliet, Illinois, and turned onto a small road to get one of the shocks of my life. There was a sizable settlement of homemade shanty structures ahead on both sides of the road. It looked exactly like something from Soweto, South Africa, and perhaps worse.
The United States is full of such surprises. You find them in Appalachia and out on the Southwestern desert, quite apart from all the vast urban slums. A great many Americans live in beat-up little trailers in places like rural Maine or Arizona.
It isn’t Trump, although I’m sure he won’t be helping.
And it isn’t just Republicans.
Democrats in the national government along with Republicans have done nothing about this.
Obama, the first black president, did nothing.
The places I’ve listed plus many others have looked like scenes from hell for forty or fifty years.
America’s government has busied itself with creating new ruins in many parts of the world. Instant ruins with bombs. That’s how it spends its time and resources.
Washington has shown no interest and made no effort for decades to help the American people. Washington resembles more an occupying power than a government “of the people.”

Imperial conquest news:
http://www.mintpressnews.com/76-years-of-pearl-harbor-lies/235375/ Long read, but worth it. You will not be disappointed, though maybe you will be depressed.
http://www.defenddemocracy.press/read-this-if-you-want-to-understand-korea/ The crimes of empire.
https://www.sipri.org/sites/default/files/2017-12/fs_arms_industry_2016.pdfThe exceptional arms-producer.
https://www.globalresearch.ca/africa-in-review-2017-africom-finance-capital-and-the-elusive-independent-policy/5624557 Informative overview from an undisputed authority in the field.
https://www.almasdarnews.com/article/houthi-navy-discovers-spy-device-along-yemeni-coast-video/ In Yemen Houthi divers have captured a US Navy UUV (unmanned underwater vehicle) off the coast and published a video about it. Why Houthis call it a spy drone, US defense officials say, the REMUS 600 UUV was operated by the Navy as part of a meteorological study. The REMUS 600 has been used by the USA during the war in Iraq, it is remotely controlled and capable of spotting mines underwater.

Uncategorized news:
Peace efforts are not popular in some quarters.

News from cat land:

Still missing Miss Marple.

Initially I wanted to write about why the cat family doesn’t like dogs and I myself, in loyalty to my feline friends, am also not too fond of dogs. Dogs bark, dogs don’t purr, dogs often smell bad — they are not even able to clean themselves properly.

No, I shouldn’t elaborate on that and discuss thorny details, it would only cause animosity and make enemies. I also want to go out and work in the garden. The weather is incredibly mild here, its the perfect time to do some further cleanup and preparations for spring.

Eventually the issue will come up again, and till then I have to find out, how to bridge the gap between dog lovers and cat lovers. This may be even more difficult than bridging the gap between religious believers and atheists.

I will try, but later. First comes the garden.