19.04.2017

Links April 2017

This post is hastily written because I’m busy with garden work. The links are incomplete, I just trashed one week of email news alerts which I simply cannot check in the little time that I’m still able to spend on the computer.

A few people cancelled the blog subscription after the last post, which rejected the Western media narrative about “a murderous tyrant (Syrian President Assad) who committed another warcrime.” It would be easier of course for me just to howl along with the pack, but that’s not my nature, I always tried to sing my own tune.

A tale of two cities

The difference of reports about fighting in Mosul to the reports about the Aleppo siege are stunning. Thousands of civilians have died in Mosul, many of them in US bombing raids, at least five hundred thousand are on the run. The suffering and pain in Mosul dwarfs anything what happened in Aleppo, but while the liberation of Aleppo from Islamist gangs was covered daily and called hell-hole, slaughterhouse, bloodbath, holocaust, warcrime, torched earth, etc., Mosul is barely mentioned and the enormous civilian death toll is apparently regarded as inevitable. The Islamic State is blamed for using civilians as human shields, US bombings are deemed absolutely necessary, the resulting “collateral damage” seen as unavoidable.

A tale of two atrocities

After the alleged nerve gas attack in Khan Sheikhun, Western media instantly condemned Syrian President (butcher) Assad and called for his removal. The USA first conducted a retaliatory strike against the Syrian airbase Al Shayrat, then spoke of the necessity to carry out an investigation. President Donald Trump’s approval ratings rose significantly, showing off US military might has surely won him sympathies at home (where is the US “anti-war movement”?).

It appears that Trump finally has given in to the “permanent government,” becoming just another figurehead for the economic, political, military elite who reigns in Washington D.C.

In case you missed it and you could be forgiven to miss it, because the event barely made it into Western news reports: The BRICS block (Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa) issued a joint statement, that illegal military intervention in Syria is unacceptable.
Another event to be underreported was a suicide bombing against civilians with even more victims than the mentioned alleged nerve gas attack.

As part of a swap deal brokered by Qatar, a bus convoy with hundreds of civilians, mostly women and children, who had been evacuated from Foua and Kefraya, a Shia enclave in Idlib under siege by Tahrier al-Sham and their (moderate) Islamist friends, was driving towards Aleppo. The bus convoy was guarded by the jihadist group Ahrar al Sham. Shortly before reaching Aleppo, Ahrar al Sham blocked the convoy for two days, keeping the families on the buses in limbo with little food and water.

People were desperate and hungry, and when someone was handing out crisps and sweets to children, they all ran toward him. At this moment, a blue truck, apparently delivering food, drove along the column of buses and, as it reached the crowd of children, exploded in a gigantic blast. Four buses and six other vehicles were destroyed, 127 civilians, 95 of them children, died. Nearly 300 other people were severely injured. 200 evacuees are missing, thought to have been kidnapped by the Islamists in the chaos after the bombing.

Normally a swap deal would be denounced as “ethnic cleansing,” and the suicide bombing would dominate the front pages for days, declared as a heinous attack by deranged terrorists and called rightfully a warcrime, with enough graphic footage of injured and dead children to give you nightmares.

But not in this case, because, according to CNN and other Western media channels, the victims were just “Assad supporters,” killed in a sectarian war between Sunni and Shia. CNN told its audience: “Dozens of supporters of president Bashar al-Assad are the latest victim of Syria’s brutal civil war.”

Instead of looking to blame a particular side, most stories in the mass media focused on the human tragedy of the situation, basically absolving blame and trying to frame the Islamists in a sympathetic light despite that a) the attack was killing much more children than what happened in Khan Sheikoun and b) the attack most likely was carried out by one of the Islamist factions.
http://www.ohchr.org/EN/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=21506&LangID=E

https://twitter.com/MmaGreen/status/853320893673635842
Never mind the killed “pro Assad” children, Assad has to go, as the USA ultimately told Russia. Assad has to go, ending the stranglehold of his minority Alawite sect onto power and ending the disenfranchisement of the Sunni majority.

Unfortunately there is no Sunni leader who could come even close to Dr. Bashar al-Assad’s popularity and most Sunni citizens of Syria don’t feel disenfranchised and are supporting him. Syrians have voted with their feet, and 14 millions prefer to live under President Assad, while 4 million refugees live abroad, 1,5 million in Tahrir al-Sham (al-Qaeda) controlled Idlib and Turkish controlled northern Aleppo along the border, 1.5 millions in Kurdish cantons, below 1 million in IS territory.

This is the reason the West calls for a transitional government and for banning President Assad to stand in a subsequent election. Everybody knows that he would win this election.
Feline news:
http://www.lifewithcats.tv/2017/04/16/this-family-got-much-more-than-a-boat-in-the-bargain-1/
https://www.aol.com/article/news/2017/04/12/a-cat-halted-the-marlins-game-by-running-onto-the-field-leading/22037086/ Not fond of spectator sports, but this game I would have enjoyed.
http://news.trust.org/item/20170316194141-6h7pn/ Who buys cat food from Nestle and Mars anyway? (Purina, Felix, Friskies, Gourmet, Fancy Feast; Royal Canine, Pedigree, Whiskas, Sheba). Please treat your cat companion with something better!
http://www.boredpanda.com/evil-cats-demons-summoning-satan/

Environmental news:
https://dgrnewsservice.org/civilization/ecocide/habitat-loss/2-7-million-animals-killed-federal-wildlife-destruction-program-2016/
https://qz.com/934106/egypts-nile-river-delta-once-the-bread-basket-of-the-world-may-soon-be-uninhabitable/
http://www.dw.com/en/drought-and-forest-loss-cause-vicious-circle-in-the-amazon/a-37882115
http://www.smh.com.au/environment/climate-change/they-died-of-thirst-extreme-conditions-wipe-out-forest-over-1000-kilometres-20170313-gux252.html
http://www.globalresearch.ca/stop-protecting-the-criminality-of-the-global-pesticides-industry/5580188
http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2017/04/01/national/real-cost-fukushima-disaster-will-reach-¥70-trillion-triple-governments-estimate-think-tank/#.WOXnjlKB0UQ
http://www.reuters.com/article/us-toshiba-accounting-board-idUSKBN17006KJubilation!
http://www.bmj.com/content/357/bmj.j1638.full Not surprising. Journalism for hire.
http://www.cbc.ca/news/health/cfia-report-glyphosate-1.4070275
https://www.minnpost.com/earth-journal/2017/04/agriculture-depleting-world-aquifers-new-satellite-measurements-show
http://earthfix.info/news/article/trees-or-bees-growers-fungicides/ The inevitable problems of monoculture and large scale food production.
http://www.truth-out.org/news/item/40223-the-legacy-of-monsanto-s-pcbs-oozing-pus-birth-defects-and-immune-problems

Media and technology news:
While the St. Petersburg subway bombing hardly was mentioned in Western media and if so with a certain amount of schadenfreude, the Stockholm truck terror had all the headlines. Well, “the Russians brought it upon themselves with their aggressive meddling in the Middle East,” one could read between the lines.
http://www.truthdig.com/avbooth/item/joel_whitney_cia_propaganda_cold_war_scheer_intelligence_20170317
https://hbr.org/2017/04/a-new-more-rigorous-study-confirms-the-more-you-use-facebook-the-worse-you-feel
http://www.independent.co.uk/news/health/teenage-technology-addiction-smartphone-rehab-seattle-clinic-children-aged-13-mobile-devices-a7684356.html
http://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-39617883?ocid=global_bbccom_email_16042017_top+news+stories Its on Facebook — how exiting!
http://medialens.org/index.php/alerts/alert-archive/2017/843-nuking-the-west-coast-bbc-news-massively-hypes-north-korean-threat-to-the-united-states.html
http://medialens.org/index.php/alerts/alert-archive/2017/844-trump-s-tomahawks-the-instant-certainty-of-the-mainstream-press.html
Imperial news:
http://www.counterpunch.org/2017/03/17/killing-the-elderly-social-security-starves-us-slowly-as-the-gop-tries-to-kill-us-by-gutting-health-care/
http://www.strategic-culture.org/news/2017/03/20/americans-support-increasing-budget-most-wasteful-federal-department.html
http://www.workers.org/2017/03/21/detroits-lights-out-whos-to-blame/ This couldn’t happen without serious consequences in a civilized country.
https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2017/mar/27/us-facial-recognition-database-fbi-drivers-licenses-passports
http://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-aid-cuts-idUSKBN1752ME More weapons, less food. One has to set priorities.
http://www.tomdispatch.com/blog/176264/ Why should they treat their own land differently?
https://www.adn.com/alaska-news/military/2017/04/12/northern-edge-military-exercise-again-brings-unease-to-coastal-towns/
http://www.yesmagazine.org/people-power/what-is-it-like-to-live-without-running-water-detroit-families-know-20170411
Imperial conquest news:
http://www.smh.com.au/world/fury-in-cambodia-as-us-asks-to-be-paid-back-hundreds-of-millions-in-war-debts-20170311-guvxyp.html
https://www.liberationnews.org/china-sounds-the-alarm-trump-prepares-for-war-against-korea/
http://journal-neo.org/2017/03/13/north-korea-the-grand-deception-revealed/
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4416406/Demand-home-bunkers-soars.html
http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2017/03/confirms-idlib-air-raid-denies-targeting-mosque-170317034322651.html
https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/mar/17/syria-mosque-airstrike-kills-dozens-of-civilians-near-aleppo Nothing to see here, because Russia and Syria were not involved.
https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/mar/15/libya-national-army-oil-ports-sidra-ras-lanuf-russia-us Why Libyans yearn for a return of Gaddafi’s Jamahiriya, the West tries to keep the Islamists afloat. The warning about increased Russian influence shall prepare the public for another military intervention on behalf of the Islamic miscreants.
http://www.alternet.org/world/us-nato-invasion-libya-destroyed-country-beyond-all-recognition
Even US-media cannot hide anymore the devastation and pain which the US-NATO regime change in Libya has caused. Yet, mentioning Gaddafi still has to be avoided and any reference to the situation in Libya before his murder is forbidden.
http://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-39567632 This writes the BBC: “Libya has been in chaos since the 2011 Nato-backed ousting of Muammar Gaddafi.” The editor must have been asleep on the job to let this slip through.
http://news.trust.org/item/20170313181039-3p7o4/ Our (the West’s) Saudi friends cannot subdue the Yemenis despite having the third largest military budget in the world. So they just starve them to death.
http://www.globalresearch.ca/us-nato-is-using-saudi-arabia-the-west-is-the-true-perpetrator-of-genocide-in-yemen-genocide/5581737
http://www.commondreams.org/views/2017/03/21/reality-and-made-usa-famine-yemen Even the (so called) US progressives (liberals, left), who abandoned their most lofty ideals in support of Obama and Clinton, realize that something is not right with the US/Saudi war against Yemen. Not so fast, shout the apologists. The USA only supplies the weapons and bombs occasionally, and the war is not against Yemen but against Iranian influence in Yemen. Help me! And tell that the seven millions wo are starving, the 400,000 malnourished children, the ten thousand who have been killed until now.
https://consortiumnews.com/2017/03/30/aiding-saudi-arabias-slaughter-in-yemen/
http://www.workers.org/2017/04/05/u-s-military-to-increase-aggression-in-yemen/
https://mideastshuffle.com/2017/03/22/danger-of-a-waterways-war-with-iran/
http://www.mcclatchydc.com/news/politics-government/white-house/article141336388.html After Brasil and Argentina, Venezuela is next on the US regime change list in its South American backyard.
http://www.telesurtv.net/english/news/Ecuador-Farmers-Sue-US-Defense-Contractor-over-Toxic-Fumigation-20170403-0019.html
https://www.infowars.com/rebels-admit-responsibility-for-chemical-weapons-attack/ More infos about the Syrian gas attack.
https://www.rt.com/news/335069-kurds-turkey-syria-rebels-sarin/
https://consortiumnews.com/2017/04/08/where-was-cias-pompeo-on-syria/
http://necpluribusimpar.net/chemical-attack-syria/ Very detailed and in-depth analysis. Must read!
http://logophere.com/Topics2017/17-04/17_015-BLA-ShajulIslam.htm
http://theindicter.com/analysis-of-evidence-contradicts-allegations-on-syrian-gas-attacks/
http://blogs.rediff.com/mkbhadrakumar/2017/04/10/turkeys-role-in-idlib-chemical-attack-needs-to-be-probed/
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/syria-chemical-attack-al-qaeda-played-donald-trump_us_58ea226fe4b058f0a02fca4d This is from former weapons inspector Scott Ritter.
http://downwithtyranny.blogspot.co.at/2017/04/new-evidence-that-syrian-gas-story-was.htmlUncategorized news:
http://www.defenddemocracy.press/egypt-2016-who-is-worse-mubarak-morsi-or-sisi/ Egypt is one of the nations with too many people and too little arable land left. There are not enough mineral resources to trade for food, large portions of the population will fall into poverty, many will starve.
The Sisi regime at the moment is succeeding in fueling the fear of a fate like Syria, Iraq, Libya, or Yemen, and this fear is greater than any will to change. On the name of the war on terrorism, the regime justifies any unpopular measures, while the Islamists wait for their chance. They will have no peaceful solution for Egypts problems, because there are no solutions. They will call for jihad and the young men will go to war in foreign lands, because that is the only way they can make a living. More refugees, more terror, more failed states.

News from cat paradise

This morning I noticed, that peach leaf curl has resurged. I probably sprayed the fungicide two weeks too early. Two weeks before it would have been most effective. Maybe the pouring rain has washed it away. The peach trees bloomed beautifully, but freezing temperatures in the last two days may have ruined the blossoms anyway — there will not be many self grown peaches this year.

After the shocking discovery I visited three hardware stores and gardening centers in nearby towns to look for the peach trees on offer there and every tree I found was infected with peach leaf curl, most of them looked even worse than the trees in my garden. I felt somewhat relieved because if that happens to professionals, my failing may be not as unforgivable.

I know, another year lost…

The cats are in good spirit and good health. It is cold and it rains at the moment, giving me the chance to photograph the complete cat family in the sitting room.
Two more pictures of Linda
And one of Miss Marple, who is now 19 years old
Happy birthday, my lovely old lady! Have a good time and enjoy your life.

06.04.2017

Outrages and suspicious coincidences

At least 70 people have been killed in northern Syria after being exposed to toxic gasses and the civilized world is shocked and calls for punishment of the perpetrator, which is clearly and easily made out as Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, the (after Putin) most despised person in Western media.

Take this from an unwavering, unshakable, and unrepenting Bashar al-Assad apologist:

There’s the principle of presumption of innocence. And there are momentous coincidences, lucky coincidences, defining moments. Just when two military offensives by Al-Qaeda affiliate Tahrir al-Sham (former Jabhat Fateh al-Sham, Jabhat al-Nusra) with the help of their TOS-approved (moderate) Islamist minions got stuck and the Syrian army is winning on nearly every front, a brutal nerve gas attack by butcher Assad’s air force obligates the worlds policeman to act and remove the criminal tyrant from power.

Historians once may write, that it was a pretext for war based on false evidence, or a false flag attack, just like the explosion of the USS Maine in Havana Harbor, or the USS Maddox (Gulf of Tonkin) incident, or the Kuwait incubator babies, or Saddam Hussein’s weapons of mass destruction, or Muammar Gaddafis mass rapes.

Maybe there will be no historians and nobody left to read such a text. Russia, outspent militarily nine times by the USA, has still operational nuclear weapons. The USA can destroy Russia four times over, while Russia can destroy the USA only once. Once though is enough in this case.
US envoy to the UN Nikki Haley accused Russia of covering up for Damascus.

Time and time again Russia uses the same false narrative to deflect attention from their ally in Damascus,” she said during a heated UN Security Council debate in New York, and hinting at possible unilateral action by the US, she added: “When the United Nations consistently fails in its duty to act collectively, there are times in the life of states that we are compelled to take our own action.”

US President Donald Trump said he considers the use of chemical weapons “beyond a red line” that “would not be tolerated.” Trump put the blame for the chemical attack squarely at Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and said his previous attitude toward the Syrian government — presented essentially as a hands-off approach — has “changed very much” in the last 24 hours.

I will tell you, that attack on children yesterday had a big impact on me,” Trump said.

In the already mentioned heated UN Security Council debate, Russia’s deputy UN envoy Vladimir Safronkov stressed, that both the Russia and Syria reject the narrative emerging in western media and that the source of a deadly chemical cloud was an ammunition depot operated by Islamist forces which had been hit in a Syrian air raid.

Russia called for an unbiased and transparent investigation, but such an investigation will not happen, because the location of the gas poisoning, the village Khan Sheikhun in Idlib, is Tahrir al-Sham territory and no independent investigator will dare to visit it.

Even if the UN should be involved, the investigation would not be impartial and objective, as Jordanian Prince Zeid bin Ra’ad Zeid al-Hussein, the current UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, is well known for his Islamist sympathies.

From a broader view, common sense and logic speak against a nerve gas attack by Syria. What would be the benefit of using chemical weapons? Khan Sheikhun isn’t a critical military target, US President Trump has declared his intention to abandon the longtime US policy of regime change, and the Syrian government is more secure than it has been in years. The reckless use of WMD’s (weapons of mass destruction) is the only thing that could change the momentum and jeopardize a Syrian victory.

Who would gain from an apparent WMD attack by the Syrian army? Short answer: The Islamic insurgents, Turkey (Erdogan just announced another offensive into Syria), the Gulf potentates, Israel (the Israeli cabinet just held a discussion about increasing involvement in the war, while Israeli jets bombed Deraa), the USA (because Russia’s position would be weakened).

The evidence:

A satellite picture of the compound which was hit and is said to be the chemical storage site shows what appears to be a trench. This alone would make it a logical target of an attack.

Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Major-General Igor Konashenkov said, that the bombed warehouse was used to both produce and store shells containing toxic gas. The same chemical munitions were used by militants in Aleppo, where Russian military experts took samples in late 2016. Khan Sheikhun civilians  apparently displayed identical symptoms to those of Aleppo chemical attack victims.

Islamic insurgents in 2013 used Sarin at Khan al Assal in Aleppo province, killing 16 Syrian soldiers. The Syrian army later captured sarin shells from insurgents and nerve gas precursors were smuggled across the Turkish border, though these reports are of course disputed by the West.
All testimonies, pictures, videos of the incident in Khan Sheikhun are from the Islamist support organization White Helmets. The White Helmets reports are as usual contradictory, first mentioning bombs from helicopters, then from planes. Videos show victims and White Helmets personal in a military hideout dug deep inside a mountain. It doesn’t look like a hospital at all. The White Helmets act unprofessional, touching and washing people without even wearing gloves, chatting and looking quite relaxed.

The crater which according to the White Helmets was left by the nerve gas bomb looks awfully small and rather like the impact of a grenade. A bomb from an airplane would have left a much bigger crater. The presented bomb fragment doesn’t match any Russian bomb used by the Syrian SU-22 jet.

The Swedish newspaper Aftonbladet cites activist Hussam Salloum and presents a video clip of a white cloud spreading over the village. Sarin and chlorine are colorless.

The method of creating sarin is fairly simple (even easier than to synthesize chlorine or phosgene) if one has the precursors, though the gas degrades fast because of hydrolysis and residual acid. The creation and use of sarin shells for a falls flag attack would be possible even with limited technical equipment and experience.

The videos of dying victims are not consistent with symptoms of sarin. The people in the video which are still alive are suffocating and slowly dying, a sarin death should involve a puddle of vomit from every victim and the ones still alive would be experiencing powerful spasms and painful deaths.

A MSF medical team providing support to the emergency department of the Bab Al Hawa hospital reported that some of the victims showed symptoms of sarin, but others of chlorine, suggesting that at least two different chemical agents were involved. This would support the theory that a chemical storage site was hit.

It is entirely possible that the symptoms in the videos are the impact of organophosphates such as pesticides or fertilizers which may have been stored at the warehouse for agricultural use or for bomb making. It could also be that the symptoms are from a low but persistent concentration of gas, as it would happen if storage tanks would have been hit.

There is a report that all the victims were captives of Tahrir al-Sham from their recent Hama offensive. The high number of poisoned civilians, including many children, near a warehouse, in a place with nothing but hills and a White Helmet base makes only sense if they were inmates of a prison camp.
There is no presumption of innocence in the Western press and the war drums are beating loudly. A steady stream of pro war articles from the New York Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, Foreign Policy, Guardian, Spiegel, and similar “reputable” outlets shapes public opinion and creates pressure on the US administration to intervene in order to “save the Syrian children”.

A new report by the Jerusalem Post claims, that Syrian helicopters dropped barrel bombs with chlorine gas in the village of Al-Lataminahin in Hama province.

As US President Trump has been experiencing lots of problems with much of his initiatives blocked, he could be enticed to start an air campaign against Syria to distract from his domestic failings. One should keep an eye on US destroyers and cruisers in the Gulf and maybe the Mediterranean Sea. Any air-led mission against the Syrian army and air force will start with their cruise missiles.

Other Bashar al-Assad apologists:

08.03.2017

Links March 2017

We have reached Utopia without even realizing it. Screens of various sizes surround us and replace reality as we perceived it before. The one, who controls the flow of pictures on the screens controls us. Are we happy to be controlled? Are we questioning, doubting the pictures? Are we still alive or are we the Zombie-audience of Google, Hollywood, Facebook, Disney, Twitter, Clear Channel, Fox, ABC, MSNBC, CNN, Sky, and the rest of the mass media pack?

The lights that men have made
Outshine the moon and all the stars


The sounds of human works
Drown out the twiddling of the birds


While concrete, steel, and plastic buries
The earth and all the life she carries


What’s left are pictures flickering
On the screens setup around us


Whatever may happen and regardless of anything else, enjoy the coming spring and be happy, if your social media duties leave you enough time for it.

Feline news:
http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2017/02/istanbul-turkey-cats-documentary-kedi.html Rare good news from Turkey
https://sputniknews.com/art_living/201702201050872284-cat-cleaners-friendship/
https://medicalxpress.com/news/2017-02-cat-ownership-linked-mental-health.html
http://www.oeil-da.net/fr/cat-cafe/

Environmental news:
https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/energy-environment/wp/2017/02/15/its-official-the-oceans-are-losing-oxygen-posing-growing-threats-to-marine-life
http://cluborlov.blogspot.com/2017/02/you-are-not-in-control.html
http://non-gmoreport.com/articles/scientists-ground-breaking-research-uncovers-new-risks-gmos-glyphosate/
http://www.paulcraigroberts.org/2017/02/13/globalization-environmental-degradation/
https://independentaustralia.net/politics/politics-display/helen-caldicott-the-fukushima-nuclear-meltdown-continues-unabated,10019
http://www.globalresearch.ca/pro-gmo-scientists-blinded-by-technology-and-wedded-to-ideology/5574988
http://gizmodo.com/excessive-radiation-inside-fukushima-fries-clean-up-rob-1792217866
http://thediplomat.com/2017/02/why-is-asia-returning-to-coal/
http://journal-neo.org/2017/02/13/will-superweeds-choke-gmo-to-a-timely-death-in-usa/
http://yournewswire.com/radioactive-leak-europe-constant-phoenix/
http://environment.nationalgeographic.com/environment/habitats/last-of-amazon/
https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/energy-environment/wp/2017/03/01/its-not-just-corals-sharks-and-other-big-reef-predators-are-also-vanishing/
https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/energy-environment/wp/2017/02/27/scientists-just-measured-a-rapid-growth-in-acidity-in-the-arctic-ocean-linked-to-climate-change/
https://www.connexionfrance.com/index.php/French-news/EU-fails-again-to-agree-way-to-ban-hormone-disruptors
https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/feb/25/half-all-species-extinct-end-century-vatican-conference
http://cen.acs.org/articles/95/i9/chemicals-use-today.html
http://ronnie.organicconsumers.org/beyond-monsantos-gmo-cotton-why-consumers-need-to-care-what-we-wear/
https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/feb/23/deep-ocean-life-dark-future-warming-food-shortages-study
https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2017/feb/20/how-air-pollution-harms-your-health-and-how-to-avoid-it
https://news.mongabay.com/2017/02/environmental-lawyer-killed-in-the-philippines/ Unsung heroes.
https://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2014/03/the-toxins-that-threaten-our-brains/284466/
https://documents-dds-ny.un.org/doc/UNDOC/GEN/G17/017/85/PDF/G1701785.pdf

Economic news:
https://www.theautomaticearth.com/2017/02/outrageous-malevolence/
https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/feb/19/grexit-talk-lenders-demand-austerity-greece-bailout-euro
http://mondediplo.com/outsidein/exiled-in-exarchia
http://www.visualcapitalist.com/map-shows-valuable-brand-country/
https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2017/mar/02/robot-tax-job-elimination-livable-wage
http://www.resilience.org/stories/2017-02-22/economic-growth-a-primer/

Imperial news:
Trump seeks 54 Billion US$ increase in military spending, while the budgets of most federal agencies will be cut. Especially the EOA (Environmental Protection Agency) will be on the chopping block to balance increased military spending.
https://theintercept.com/series/the-fbis-secret-rules/
http://www.commondreams.org/views/2017/02/10/ive-never-been-so-ashamed-be-american-really
http://fortune.com/2017/02/18/oroville-dam-california-flood/
http://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2017/02/20/balt-f20.html
http://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-39073303
https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/energy-environment/wp/2017/02/22/americans-once-moved-away-from-forests-now-forests-are-moving-away-from-americans
https://indiancountrymedianetwork.com/news/environment/san-carlos-apache-dioxin/
https://www.infowars.com/former-cia-analyst-obama-gave-green-light-for-nsa-cia-to-sabotage-trump/
Well informed citizens make better decisions. A survey by Statista (January 28, 7,150 participants) about the percentage of US-American adults who consider one of the following countries their main enemy:
The class war is nearly won. What’s still left to do is the official reintroduction of feudalism and slavery.
Imperial conquest news:
http://www.workers.org/2017/02/14/eyewitness-the-indomitable-strength-of-cubas-revolution/#.WKSIlRiZMUQ
http://theduran.com/4-dead-russian-diplomats-in-3-months/
http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2017/02/syria-jihadist-factions-tahrir-al-sham-jabhat-fateh.html
https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/feb/20/islamic-state-foothold-pakistan-government-sehwan-bombing-saudi-fundamentalism
http://journal-neo.org/2017/02/24/us-war-on-islamic-state-designed-to-fail/
https://www.mintpressnews.com/syrias-water-cut-off-by-turkey-following-mccain-erdogan-meeting/225483/
http://theduran.com/why-bashar-al-assads-brand-of-baathism-is-the-right-solution-for-syria-and-for-this-age/
Russia is one of the few nations who are reducing military expenditures, it is outspent nine times by the USA, three times by China, one time by Saudi Arabia. How can Russia be considered a threat to Western countries, why is it necessary to deploy more and more troops on Russia’s borders? As a defensive measure this makes no sense.
Make your own conclusions about Western intentions.

Uncategorized news:
https://thewire.in/109515/four-famines-mean-20-million-may-starve-next-six-months/
https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/feb/14/wealthy-retire-austerity-pensioners-work
http://www.globalresearch.ca/without-poetry-we-are-dead-with-it-we-die-living/5574992
https://aeon.co/ideas/why-i-am-not-going-to-buy-a-cellphone
http://www.spectator.co.uk/2015/03/swedens-feminist-foreign-minister-has-dared-to-tell-the-truth-about-saudi-arabia-what-happens-now-concerns-us-all/
https://www.ineteconomics.org/perspectives/blog/dismantling-public-education-turning-ideology-into-gold
https://aeon.co/essays/like-start-ups-most-intentional-communities-fail-why

News from cat paradise:

It is raining and for that reason there is a little spare time to write and publish this blog post. Normally I would work in the garden, weeding, pruning, clearing foliage away. The fallen leaves protect plants during winter but in spring they have to be removed because they could suffocate the ground vegetation, especially the moss. Blackberry bushes and common hornbeam are still shedding leaves, so this is a never ending task.

A few tiny sprouts and leaves have emerged, but most of nature is still sleeping. Because of climate change the gardening season is now two month longer, including March and October. More time to grow, but also more risks of failure. 

The huge neighboring field, which right now is just a mud desert, reminds of the unmitigated catastrophe modern farming has become. Industrial farming turns fields into factories. Inorganic fertilizer adds nitrogen, potassium, and phosphorous to the soil; pesticides kill anything that crawls, herbicides  anything green and unwanted — all to create an assembly line that spits out a single crop.

Organic farming, agro-ecology, no-till farming (Masanobu Fukuoka’s One Straw Revolution), permaculture are related and complementary methods which try to utilize nature’s complex systems to do the same thing more efficiently without chemicals and large machines. Nitrogen-fixing plants are grown instead of inorganic fertilizer, flowers are used to attract beneficial insects which reduce pests; weeds are crowded out with more intensive planting. The result is a polyculture which produces many crops (fruits, vegetables, herbs) simultaneously, though not in industrial quantities.

Back to the cat paradise and the associated garden.

The strawberry runners which didn’t develop a solid root connection with earth have all died but the strawberries in the green houses are okay. I have to remove all dead strawberry leaves because they could be carrying fungal infections like leafspot.

Quite a few thyme colonies survived but they are not as numerous that self propagation is guaranteed. How many sage, camomile, marigold, and dill will grow by itself cannot be foreseen right now.

Mint plants are still in an embryonic stadium but there are enough stolons to make it clear that the various mint species this year will overtake lemon balm to become the most prominent herb. I planted all kind of mint varieties, including peppermint, spearmint, aquatic mint, apple mint, pennyroyal, Korean mint, moroccan mint, Spanish mint, ginger mint, horsemint. Natural hybridization seems to have occurred and there are now mint varieties popping up which I’ve never seen before.

Fennel unfortunately is gone, I will have to make serious research to find out how to grow and propagate it.

The categorization of plants as weeds, herbs, vegetables, forage, ground cover, etc. changes from year to year, even from season to season. Many of the weeds are edible, are medical herbs, deter pests, or simply produce bio mass via photosynthesis, removing CO2 from the atmosphere and creating mulch.

All kinds of clover are welcome, white or red or crimson, because of their symbiotic nitrogen fixation. Yarrow is plentiful in the garden, there are white and pink blooming varieties. Field horsetail is also growing nicely. I like it because it looks good and reduces mold, yet one has to be careful that it doesn’t get too dominant.

Purple dead-nettle, sow thistle, broadleaf plantain are filling gaps. Like some other not too aggressive weeds they will be usually tolerated and ignored, as they contribute to the desired species richness.

Small geranium and dovesfoot geranium are kind of cover crops, modest and easy to remove. I would prefer sedum, but the slugs have killed every sedum colony I tried to set up. Sedum grows nevertheless in protected places like retainers and elevated beds, but has to be watched constantly and guarded with slug traps containing beer. When I go out into the garden early in the morning with scissors to commit the daily slug mass murder I first look at the sedum.

I’ve already discovered and “neutralized” a few slugs. They are tiny, only six to ten millimeter long. There were also a few small green caterpillars. They have exactly the same hue as the leaves and are hiding on the backside of the leaves, being nearly invisible. As there are no leaves at the moment they cannot hide. Bad luck. 

Fig buttercup would also be a nice cover crop because it grows excessively in April but soon wilts and in May has completely withered away, making room for herbs and vegetables. Unfortunately fig buttercup is poisonous for greasing animals and though this doesn’t matter here I want to keep it in check. Ramson (wild garlic) is also developing early to be active only till May, it is growing in some areas but not spreading much. Replacing fig buttercup with ramson would be the ultimative solution, yet that will need longtime strategic planning.

Creeping buttercup is also poisonous and I’ve nearly eradicated it. This weed is deep rooted just like ground elder and dandelions, which both would be useful but are very hard to manage because of their strong roots. When the garden experiment started six years ago, dandelions and ground elder were all over the place, now they are rare (endurance pays off).

Hedge bindweed has nice white blooms but spreads rapidly; European ivy looks good but has to be kept in check, it is fortunately not poisonous like the American variety. Ground-ivy is edible but it also spreads rapidly and so has to be decimated.

Rosmarin and lavender, together with mint, lemon balm, and other aromatic herbs, are deterring aphids (lice) and other pests. Unfortunately aphids and ants live in symbiotic relationship, where the ants protect the aphids from spiders and other predators. The ants on the other hand are useful against mice and voles. Tricky!

There are hundreds of other things to keep in mind, because a garden is indeed a very complex nonlinear dynamical system. The thousand of web pages with tips and tricks are sometimes useful but many tips and tricks don’t work because of differing circumstances. In this case one has to find the solution by oneself. Decades of experience and an intuitive understanding of the ways of nature  would be needed.

I don’t have the decades of experience, I make this only since six years. It nevertheless goes rather well — I muddle through somehow, learning by doing.

It has been mentioned before, but just as a reminder: The garden is a huge operation with 30 fruit trees, nearly 200 berry bushes (mainly blueberries, gooseberries, jostaberries, raspberries and blackberries, some red currants and black currants), 20 grapevines, 9 hazelnut bushes, a thousand strawberry plants, tomatoes (in two green houses, on a large covered balcony, and under the balcony), pumpkins, chard, onions, garlic, chive, ramson, various tee herbs (lemon balm, many mint varieties, sage, thyme, nettle, camomile, marigold).

There are three levels of vegetation: Moss. strawberries, and low growing herbs on the ground, berry bushes and high growing herbs in the middle, trees, large bushes, and vines at the highest level, providing a protective canopy. Trellis keep the vines and blackberry bushes in place.

The area is large enough to support a family, but there are limitations. Two years ago I planted potatoes in two areas, just to get experience with them. The buried potatoes multiplied by three, but there was not enough space to grow them in meaningful quantities and I had to abandon the project. Never mind, the potatoes don’t give up easily and every year there are more potato plants from the tubers which were left in the ground. I wonder how this will end. 

No carrots and beans this year, there is no space left. 

The garden has 8 big compost containers and 24 rain water barrels with 4.000 liter capacity. Some additional water from the tap (municipal utility) is nevertheless needed, disbursed with sprinklers and water hoses. Watering is always early in the morning (right after the slug killing spree).

Even eight hours work a day is not enough to maintain the garden, and for that reason blog posts will be rare in spring and summer.The cats are fine and they are busy catching mice. Every day I have to collect the remains (head and intestines). One has to do it and as the cats will never learn to clean up the mess on their own, it is my job. Rosy has still a slight cold and sneezes occasionally, Miss Marple is now 19 years old and fortunately still in reasonable good health.

On one occasion Miss Marple slipped and nearly fell down from the couch while she was approaching her favorite place on the windowsill east. She panicked, growled and hissed at the other cats which didn’t growl and hiss back but just went up and looked at her disapproving. For a few moments it was completely quiet as Miss Marple seemed to realize how awkward she had acted, sighing and just slowly walking to the windowsill. She appeared to be very ashamed.

The cats grew together over winter, being most of the day in the living room sitting around the wood stove. No separate territories which one has to defend against intruders, only one shared territory.

The cats play with each other and tease each other, they have their tree climbing competitions, and Linda tries to show that she is the boss (with mixed results). There is never a fight among them, they never hurt each other. Im sure that they would miss each other, as they are indeed not just a group of cats, but a close family.