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Nils Melzer’s book about the persecution of Julian Assange – Nils Melzer, The Trial of Julian Assange, A story of persecution, must be heeded, due to Melzer’s extraordinary position and status as an independent international investigator and legal expert in complaints of torture and ill-treatment,  which has given him access to details and documents not previously available. That is probably why it is hard to get the book in Australia.
Her Majesty the Queen is sitting on top of an explosive pile of stinking manure. Nils Melzer's book is like a bomb about to go off. How long can crooked judges and governments hide? How long can the mainstream press pretend that nothing's happening?
It's not an easy life described within the covers of Donna Ward's semi-autobiography, She I dare not name: A spinster’s meditations on life, Allen and Unwin, NSW, 2020. In a vocabulary measured with precision but rich with imagery, Ward evaluates her experiences as an unmarried woman who achieved this status without wanting it at all. The book is very honest in its descriptions of how this came about and the importance that it has in defining the course of Donna’s life. The term "spinster," is initially called up like some daemonic creature. It is something she almost dare not name! As we read on, we realise that spinsters are not gothic inventions, but human like their married counterparts, probably equally defined by hazard.
It seems to be a case of pot luck that brought Donna to the point of which she writes, in a book finished in her sixty-seventh year.
Donna describes early years rich in experience of nature and travel, warm relationships with larger-than-life parents, and the birth of a young sister in her early childhood. This was however an event notified by her father, only one day prior, with something like sexual shame.
“He said this as if he barely understood anything about it , as if it was something Camille and Mum had cooked up between themselves that very day , something so shameful he’d had to fly all the way home to sort it out, though I didn’t think he was doing a good job of it.”
Mostly, however, her account of her childhood reads almost like a comforting and exciting slide show with non-sequential images and vignettes, depicting mostly carefree recollections. One senses though, that Donna’s parents are involved with each other more than they are with Donna, and that their relationship with her has conditions attached. In primary school, Donna experiences a “desperate relationship with spelling and arithmetic,” to the extent that she is sent to a psychiatrist. No-one can determine whether she is “brilliant or dumb.” Her mother cannot hide her shame from Donna. By the time Donna is ten, though, she is a good student.
It's in adulthood that the going gets really tough. Donna also indicates that she has a very poor relationship with her sister. Where she might have expected to benefit socially in many ways, from an introduction into her parents' well-connected circle in WA mining world, instead, having chosen to do social-work, she is marked as an outsider.
Ward moves from Perth, Western Australia, to Melbourne, Victoria, as a young woman, and predictably has to make her own way in the big city. She shares houses but mostly lives alone. She goes to university and gains her degree. She lands her ‘dream job’ but loses it to a male in the ‘recession we had to have’, as it was termed by the then Federal Treasurer Paul Keating, in 1990.
This job-loss was probably a defining point in Donna’s personal development. Where professional status might have compensated an early lack of unconditional love and brought her earning capacity and social rank up to something recognisable to her former peers, her job-loss plunges her into indeterminate socio-economic status. In parallel with other isolated social and economic victims of economic rationalism, she must individually craft a new survival path. She achieves this with difficulty, an exotic traveller in the new age, finally emerging as a neo-classical philosopher on non-marriage.
Descriptions of her social encounters give the reader a sense of her tumbling around in a sea of strangers interspersed with special friends and lovers poetically anonymised for publication as archetypes or as characters in Ancient Greek tales. Our heroine or protagonist does her best with what she encounters. The life she grapples with is one that has no markers or guideposts and she feels herself to be at the mercy of the preferences of the males she becomes involved with, or the narrative they see for their lives, with respect to other female players. Then again, it was she who decided not to go through with marriage to a Japanese fiancé. In her chapter, ‘The Weight of a child’, we glimpse another of life’s cul-de-sacs as she briefly recollects terminating a pregnancy that resulted from rape.
“I could not have that child, the conception had been so rude. The way his father pushed me onto the couch, held me at the throat, tore my panties and took his revenge, took what I had denied him years before. […] In the autumn of 1977, when the jacarandas were yellowing and the plum trees sapping their leaves, I let that child go, lest I be tied to his father for the rest of my life. I believed another child would come along. (Ward, Donna. She I Dare Not Name: A spinster's meditations on life (pp. 248-249.)
No-one seems to be looking out for Donna, our heroine. She just has to take it on the chin. Is this a failing of her character or is it due to the milieu and time she finds herself in? We found her a very likeable character. In many ways we were reminded of our own photogenic childhoods with happy pictorial vignettes bathed in yellow light, freedom, and cosiness, along with similar struggles in adulthood.
This narrative raises the question: How does a young woman in a big city, away from her parents and her natal community, find love, or find that suitable person with whom to form a family? It is clear from Ward's writing that that her drive to ‘nest’, to be part of a couple (duo), and to have a child, is very strong. It seems both hormonal and social. She wants to be part of the world of couples, to alleviate loneliness, to find security, and to change her status. In the face of disappointment, she soldiers on courageously, but her essentially solitary situation – despite friends and jobs - makes her vulnerable to predatory or incompetent approaches.
She mentions serial recoveries from the emotional hurt of broken relationships. Is life really meant to be so hurtful and stressful? Many women and men would relate to the bruising nature of the relationship-seeking process in the 20th and 21st century urban social environment.
The author describes her experiences, starting in the 1970s until the present. Dating is one way we do this in the West. Both parties do a series of interviews over dinner and this process can go on for years. There are more casual opportunities in which to evaluate potential partners, such as clubs with shared activities, like tennis, bushwalking, or Meetups; churches, political groups, universities, and work. A friend of mine met her life-partner and husband through an ad in a ‘singles magazine’ in the 1980s. These days she might have found him via internet dating services.
The quest for a mate is not a level playing field between men and women if they want children, as the woman is almost invariably up against time constraints. These constraints become increasingly urgent as she moves from her twenties to her thirties. A woman has a brief period in her life from about age sixteen to twenty-five, when she is most sought after by men her own age as well as those considerably older. In terms of sexual attractiveness, she has the odds in her favour then, more than she will have at any time in the future.
If she misses this opportunity to light on the ideal partner, or at least a suitable one, she has her work cut out. It will dawn on her gradually, as she approaches thirty, that really there is not much time and there is a decreasing number of men to choose from.
The finishing post in this ‘race’ is usually considered to be forty, after which a woman will not necessarily expect to ever conceive. If she wants to and she does, it will be a bonus in any permanent partnership she manages to secure.
The woman is, as was Donna Ward, expected, under this pressure, to make a wise assessment of the men who cross her path, to get to know them better than superficially, and to try not to get hurt. Whether she will have descendants depends on how she negotiates this situation. Adding to the difficulty of the task, in her most propitious years, she is necessarily young and inexperienced.
How could our society better provide a benign environment for young marriageable people to meet in relative safety? Should mothers give guidelines to their daughters as to how to as to how to negotiate the situations they will face? Did most mothers also have to just find their way through the minefield? Did they think, "Well I had to do it, and my daughter now faces the same challenge!"
Do most of us leave this all-important decision to complete chance? The writers' parent’s generation, reaching adulthood in the 1940s, were more connected, and their parents more so. They did not often travel far or without introductions. They grew up in more predictable communities with pathways to identifiable milestones (rites of passage) and traditions, and relatives and connections, for negotiating these. At the same time, in the Anglosphere and Europe, in the 1950s and 60s, a burgeoning manufacturing industry meant plentiful jobs. An explosion in energy resources and transport allowed people to commute by car to work, from affordable housing in new estates on land once out of reach. That meant more people could move out of home, get a job, and get married. It was called the Baby Boom. Unfortunately, the explosion just kept magnifying and accelerating globally until mass transport and travel broke time-worn connections, dispersing people, at ever increasing speed to the four winds, far away from the familiar pathways, milestones and traditions.
Thus, our heroine dispersed like a dandelion seed and landed in Melbourne, apparently without any significant connections, in a city with diminishing social capital.
Did most women of her generation negotiate the getting hitched and having children part successfully - if not forever or until ‘death us do part’ - at least for long enough to have a child or two? Why did some, like our heroine miss out, or was the experience more common than we may think? Good luck finding statistics on how many women die without having children. As you can see from the graph, the unmarried proportion of the population has been steadily increasing since the 1970s oil-shock.
Maybe those who did not partner for long enough to have at least one child lacked the connections to find a suitable partner. This seems to be the case with Ms Ward. Many of her encounters with men seem accidental, lacking formal introduction or context, and so she lacks essential information. In assuming reciprocally honest interactions, she is fooled, more than once, by men who are thus easily able to conceal the fact that they are already partnered. Positive tit-for-tat, where good deeds and bad deeds are quickly reciprocated is only possible in viscous societies, where people stay close to where they originate from. Melbourne’s population is close to thirty-five per cent diaspora. Another way of saying this is that people can get away with breaking trust in an anonymous or constantly changing population, unless they belong to a stable enclave within it. Donna didn’t.
A major part of Ms Ward's serial emotional recoveries from serial romantic disappointments come from the blow to her self-esteem, because she mistakenly believes that there must be some flaw in herself, invisible to her, but which these men can see.
A more informed perspective might explain, however, that Ms Ward is a stranger trying to make her way in foreign territory, where her pedigree is unknown, where she has little or no personal status. She does not read the signs accurately or speak the local social language fluently. She is proceeding using signs she learned in West Australia for a small network there, which has probably gone extinct. She did not avail herself of that network when she was in West Australia because she had different values from her parents. This was because she came from a different generation at a time when values were changing rapidly. In her case, Aboriginal rights and Germaine Greer were (by her account) two contemporary changes that obviously influenced her and helped to separate her from her origins. The first affected her relationship with her mining father, and the second affected her relationship with men more generally.
Apparently, she did not want to be part of the money and status oriented, environmentally exploitative, mining crowd her parents belonged to. So, she migrated from West Australia to Sydney, then Melbourne. She acquired some social credentials and connections from universities there, but they were not enough to establish her as a local candidate for the kind of marriage she wanted. She found a good job, but the 2008 recession removed that job, so what were her prospects? We don't know. Having a house is certainly a plus, if you want to attract a mate, but, although she seems to have a house, we do not know how big her mortgage is. She would have needed to be careful not to marry someone with lesser prospects, for fear of being impoverished by divorce, and that would rule out a large and growing demographic.
Ms Ward seems to assume that marriage must have its basis in love. Most people want to marry up and for love, and most who marry say they did marry for love, but how many really do? Is the number of divorces an indication?
Since Ms Ward seemed to have limited opportunities, for one reason or another, perhaps she could have ranked her priorities differently. Reading closely, her real priorities might have been marital status, children, and companionship. Unfortunately, she seemed to put love up at the top. Love is a western ideal but, unless you are very lucky, that is a musical chair game that leaves many more standing than seated, and childless if they persist as the stakes go up. It might be better to look for respect and kindness. Love might come later, and, if it doesn't, affairs within marriage are the tried and true solution.
It is easier to understand the problem of partnership in the west, if you imagine that you are arranging a marriage for someone in 19th century England or in 20th century India, where your parents work out early where you are situated with regard to income expectations and earning, education, charm, and physical attributes. Although your parents might use marriage brokers, it is still likely that they will employ those brokers to find someone within their circle, or at least within a similar circle. When they find a candidate, each set of parents checks the other out for compatibility. After that they decide whether or not to let the children meet.
Given that parents do not generally perform this role as explicitly in contemporary Western society, many young women have to fend for themselves. Perhaps a way women (and men) could try to look after their own interests better could be by cultivating a perspective as if they were their own in loco parentis. Such a perspective would indicate a major change in the concept of marriage in Australia.
This book aims to talk truth to power, using intersectionalist feminist concepts, within the strange paradigm of the corporate newsmedia  and US-NATO foreign policy. Power is identified as whiteness. White women are enjoined to stand with women of colour against male whiteness, which they are charged with propping up for their own benefit.
Whiteness is defined as non-brown and non-blackness. But brown-ness can include whites who are not the ‘right kind of pale’.
“Whiteness is more than skin colour. It is, as race scholar Paul Kivel describes, ‘a constantly shifting boundary separating those who are entitled to have certain privileges from those whose exploitation and vulnerability to violence [are] justified by their not being white.’” 
Hamad accuses white women in Australia today of endorsing non-white slavery and colonialism now and through the ages because they benefited and benefit from it. She writes as if the accused white women are conscious that their attitudes condone such slavery. I would say, however, that the class that endorses these things that are decided by their ‘betters’ does so because its members believe the government and corporate media spin that justifies war, colonialism and exploitation of peoples far away. The women (and men) in the classes the system still works for, or who believe it still works for them, are obedient and unquestioning of authorities anointed by these. Such people erupt in defence of media-anointed authorities they believe to be pillars of virtue. They will also hotly defend the ideas and values they receive from these classes.
Of course, various forms of psychopathic entitlement underlie the public rationales of our leaders for colonialism and wars. These include xenophobic assumptions or just contempt for anyone standing against what empire builders and weapons lobbies want. You would think that anyone could see through these, but they don’t. Obedient Australians respond viscerally to their masters, on whom they depend, like good dogs conditioned by rewards and punishments. Hence they easily fall for the suspicious perpetual recurrence of ‘mad and brutal dictators’ in the Middle East, whom the west must get rid of through regime change. As Dr Jeremy Salt, Middle-East scholar says to cartoonist Bruce Petty (who visited Syria in 2011) in the video below (which I made), "There always has to be a madman in the Middle East" [so that the west can have an excuse to invade.]
The greater basis for their credulity is apparently the idea that the Middle East has not ‘developed’ sufficiently to achieve lawful societies, in part because it is religiously divided and lacks the separation of church and state. No relevant history is provided by the newsmedia as to how these things came about in formerly very stable societies.
Additionally, the newsmedia seems to report on overseas 'interventions' in the most confusing manner possible, as it also does with Australian politics. This leaves the Australian classes that rely for information on the newsmedia with the idea that domestic and foreign politics are incredibly complicated and hard to follow. Bored and helpless, they see no choice but to place their faith in the imagined greater intellects of the journalists and politicians involved in producing this atrocious spin.
I find it difficult, however, to agree with the assumption in Hamad’s argument that all white women (and men) in Australia accept the doctrine of the newsmedia. There seem to be plenty of men and women in Australia who question war, invasion, mass population movements, Julian Assange's imprisonment for exposing war-criminals, and think that sovereignty should be respected, but they don't find any clear echo in the newsmedia, except sometimes in masses of negative comments on line, especially on articles promoting population growth. Those commenters cannot, however, get in touch with each other to organise. Constant demographic, employment, and land-use changes have also interrupted traditional family and neighbourhood networks, and big business has taken over the universities, as the newsmedia has taken over the public talking stick. So, if you believe that the newsmedia represents the opinions of most Australians, as Hamad seems to, I think you would be wrong.
There is still an anti-war movement, but it is very disorganised, almost certainly because the mainstream media ceased to report its point of view leading up to and after the invasion of Iraq.  The anti-war movement exists in the alternative media, both Australian and overseas. (See IPAN (and here) for instance.) Unfortunately, spontaneous voluntary movements using independent and big tech media resources still do not have nearly the same publicity reach of the newsmedia nor the power to authoritatively self-anoint. The Facebook tech-machine geographically limits Australians to Australia when using its promotion system (ads) for criticism of corporate newsmedia talking points and government policies (especially those of the US). They thus continue to be drowned out by the internationally syndicated newsmedia. The greater public, whose smart screens and phones are still commercially tuned to the corporate newsmedia are thus not aware of these other views. They are only aware of them if they use independent search engines, since smart phones and screens have licence restrictions on what they can show. Whilst it is easy to simply put a URL in a browser, most people don’t know this and children are not even taught it. They might use search engines to look for alternative reports, but they are not aware that the license restrictions of the commercial software associated with their ‘smart’ electronic hardware, keep their information sources nearly as narrow as the pre-internet era.
But Hamad is a professional newsmedia journalist. Not only is she a newsmedia journalist, but she refers to what passes for Australian cultural belief and 'leftist' values in the newsmedia as if these were actual reflections of most of Australian society, rather than a sort of echo-chamber for the classes that read and write in them. Does she really believe in the cultural matrix that she refers to, or is she merely using its own language to question it?
Of particular interest to me was Hamad's experience in questioning Australia's support for US-NATO military intervention in Syria. If you weren't already aware of the shocking wrongness of our policy towards Syria, then you might wonder what Hamad is talking about here.
Hamad, who comes from a Lebanese and Syrian background (Greater Syria), and who still has relatives in Syria, describes how she was rebuffed when she tried to express her disapproval of a US intervention in Syria to her feminist white colleagues.
"[Syria] is such a fraught issue that genuine discussion is impossible while smears and misplaced outrage are the norm. On this occasion in early 2018, I felt compelled to say something as it was the day after US president Donald Trump launched strikes on Damascus following an alleged chemical attack on a rebel-held town. Anna [her Anglo-Australian friend] expressed support for the strikes in a post, which I found jarring, and I told her - calmly - that I was confused given that the United States' act signalled a possible escalation of the conflict and further suffering. I was rebuffed as an aggressor who was hurting her and had to be publicly humiliated for it: the damsel requires her retribution. Merely by letting Anna know that although I understood she cared for Syrian civilians, her stance was disappointing to me, I inadvertently unleashed a demonstration of strategic White Womanhood that brushed aside the actual issue - the air strikes - and turned it into a supposed attack by me on her 'just for being white'. The result was a torrent of abuse hurled at me on a Facebook thread." (Pp105.)
Hamad’s analysis of this exchange is that, rather than deal with the political issue of bombing Syria and the atrocious consequences of war, [Anglo-Australian] Anna seemed to interpret the questioning of Hamad’s views on foreign policy as an attack on Anna for being 'white'.
Hamad sees this as a way of avoiding the issue. She thinks that the motive for avoiding the issue is to preserve the status quo from which White Womanhood benefits.
I think this analysis would work better if we substituted the word 'consequence' for motive, because it is hard for me to believe that most Australians who defend US-NATO policy towards Syria do this with a conscious understanding of the issues. Unless they are actually heads of government/ selling weapons, of course.
Where would they acquire such an understanding? Only by venturing beyond the Anglosphere and Eurosphere mainstream, but they have been repeatedly and explicitly conditioned to avoid alternative perspectives like RT and Presstv Iran, and the many independent blogs, in various languages, as ‘fake news’ by that very mainstream. It’s effective wedge politics; middle class Australians hardly dare look over at the other side of the fence on any issues. And, as mentioned, their smart screens have licensing issues.
It is true, however, that by blindly defending official policies, the obedient classes defend that tiny power-elite that pursues those policies consciously and pollutes our public messaging system with false reasons for war.
But, you see, I have encountered just the same kind of reaction when I have criticised military intervention in Syria. My friend’s father expostulated that we were ‘extremists’ and accused his son of falling for ‘fake news’. Mainstream journalists regard you with horror and abhorrence. On-line such views are treated as highly eccentric and laughed at, except when sympathisers find them. Most people you meet have no idea whatsoever about what you are referring to.
Politicians claim not to know anything about foreign affairs or they ignore you. I would have liked it if Hamad had gone to the role of Australia's then foreign policy minister, a [white] woman - Julie Bishop - in officially supporting US policy in Syria. Along with others, I wrote to Bishop about this, but received absolutely no response. And I wrote an article about the absurdity of it all: "Can Trump dodge his deep state destiny by acting absurdly?" Now it is quite possible that Julie Bishop had no idea of the consequences of what she was supporting, but she had direct responsibility, and a duty to inform herself. The reason I would like Hamad to address the role of a successful white female politician on Syria is because such people are elected and propped up via the false rhetoric of the newsmedia. That is how the normalisation of aggression against Syria takes place.
I know also that Syrians who hold the same attitude as me often don’t dare express it in public, and sometimes among Syrian acquaintances. Why is this? One reason is that refugees from Syria are more likely to receive encouragement from the Australian government if they say that the Syrian Government is a brutal dictatorship, even if they don’t really think so, since that is the official opinion of the Australian Government. And I have been told that quite a few Syrians in Australia actually do sympathise with the so-called Rebel armies in Syria, and so you might think twice about denouncing them or even disagreeing with them. New Zealand, our close neighbour, has settled some members of what many believe is a fake Syrian rescue group, with ISIS sympathies,the White Helmets.  Whilst I agree with Hamad that bombing Syria was a terrible idea, note that I am not saying that Hamad holds the same views on Syria as me. She does not actually disclose her views in her book.
It also sounds as if ‘Anglo-Australian’ Anna was out of her depth and was responding to a loss of ‘face’ on Facebook. That Anna then accused Hamad of being racist towards her is for me a symptom of Australia’s contamination with US race-baggage, not surprisingly, because of massive syndication of Australian newsmedia with US newsmedia, which virtually blots out Australia itself.
Whilst it is true that Australia was founded on the dispossession and genocide of non-white hunter gatherers, with some enslaved, others religiously indoctrinated, its initial principle labour source was convicts from the Irish, Scottish, Welsh and English lower classes. Most of these people would, however, meet Hamad’s definition of non-white, because land-tenure and inheritance law disqualified them from white power. They came from a country of severe class division. People there stole in order not to starve. As an example, the numbers of Irish transported soared with the Irish potato famine, due to crimes committed from hunger. 
Numerous convicts were charged with sedition and similar crimes and sent here as punishment for agitating for democratic government.  Many Irish were transported for insurrection due to their participation in revolts against the English. Convicts had no rights and could die in brutal conditions. 
Transportation of revolutionaries and protesters to the ends of the earth was an extreme form of demographic and political atomisation in Britain. Australia was Britain’s gulag and she sent a lot of people there who might otherwise have made a greater difference to British politics. Many recent Australians and mainstream journalists seem to have no knowledge of this or of the biophysical limitations of this continent. 
We do Australia a disservice if we fail to remember that people in this country initiated the Eight Hour Day, and stopped the beginnings of a slave-trade in Pacific Islanders and outlawed that of other ‘non-white’ peoples.
Australian workers at the turn of the 19th century, having ended transportation of forced ‘white’ labour, noting the kidnapping of Pacific Islanders, also rejected ‘non-white’ slavery through the White Australia policy, which was a trade-off for allowing manufacturers to import foreign goods.  Worker reasons for this would have been economic, since unpaid work presents unfair competition to free people. Unsurprisingly, just as today, we have little record of what ordinary people had to say on the matter, however. The rhetoric that we retain from the time is, of course, only from elites. Even among the elites, there was a fair amount of abolitionism, especially regarding the cessation of convict labour. The lack of contemporary documentation has made it easy to promote a view of the White Australia policy as a kind of Nazi doctrine, but it is dishonest to omit the anti-slavery and industrial relations aspects.
Germaine Greer’s The Female Eunuch of 1970, galvanised the Australian and international feminist movements, completely redefining how women saw themselves. Yet today Greer is hardly mentioned in the revisiting of feminism. Between 1972 and 1975 the Whitlam Government promoted multiculturalism, birth control, and feminism in the general population. These values were widely adopted in the generation now called ‘baby boomers’. Bizarrely and unfairly, recent anti-racist and mainstream feminist promotions fail to recognise, let alone build, on these well-established Australian values.
It might achieve more if articulate people like Hamad would look, beyond the mainstream representation of Australia, for similarities, rather than differences with their fellow citizens. She writes of the battle for land-rights (p.216). We need her help, because the colonisation is ongoing here. The fight for land-rights is being lost in Australia to the ultra-rich. Other Australians are fighting many different battles to resist our leaders’ addiction to war and growthism, and to preserve this beautiful country and its beleaguered ecology against land-speculation, overdevelopment and overpopulation. But they are being drowned out by the massive volume of the mainstream corporate media, which assails us all with growthist propaganda day and night, and also accuses us of racism, with the effect of shutting up criticism of absurdly high rates of immigration. As well, by appearing to champion or demonise refugees and asylum-seekers, it takes the public debate away from the regime-change wars that generate these.
Hamad argues within what I see as an anthropocentric, black-white, pseudo-‘progressive’ paradigm, without biophysical reference points. Although, at the end, she questions the idea of chronological progress, she still seems to accept the paradigm that we are all ‘going forward’, although no “progress is ever assured”. The points of reference in her universe are largely human-notional, generalised and global, whereas I look at how humans interact with their biophysical environments within specific land-tenure and inheritance systems. Along the same lines as Walter Youngquist’s paradigm in Geodestinies, I see material wealth, war, and colonisation, as a reflection of geology and geography.
I have a land-tenure and inheritance system explanation for the British class system and its production of great quantities of landless labour, which fed into a fossil-fueled coal and iron industrial revolution that permitted Britain’s industrial-scale exploitation of other countries. (See Sheila Newman, Demography Territory Law 2: Land-tenure and the origins of capitalism in Britain, Countershock Press, 2014.)
In Europe one tribe enslaved another. The Romans enslaved the British. Six hundred years later, the Normans reduced much of the British population to serfdom. They imposed almost universal male primogeniture in England, which meant that English women relied on men due to their inability to inherit land, and the bulk of children were effectively disinherited.
The British practised colonisation, mass migration, and genocide of Catholic whites in Ireland, and despoiled that land, with Henry VIII and Elizabeth I egging on the removal of nearly every tree for wood. Cromwell awarded Irish land to his English soldiers.
Many times the Irish Catholics tried to free themselves from the English, finally rising in revolt in 1798, causing civil war.
The civil war was dogged by savage sectarian differences which added their own violence to the government’s ghastly atrocities. Many Irish Ulster Protestants sided with the British. 
Irish Revolutionary leader, Wolfe Tone, described a landscape “on fire every night” (from burning houses), echoing with ‘shrieks of torture’, where neither sex nor age were spared, and men, women, and children, were herded naked before the points of bayonets to ‘starve in bogs and fastnesses’. He said that dragoons slaughtered those who attempted to give themselves up as they put down their weapons, and, finally, he talked about the spies who had brought the Irish Revolution down.
“And no citizen, no matter how innocent and inoffensive, could deem himself secure from informers.” 
I think that Hamad’s lack of recognition of inter-white racism/classism prevents her from realising that Australia is being recolonised, with ‘diversity’ as the excuse and induced racial schisms as the mechanism to alienate the ‘diverse’ from the incumbent population, the better to over-rule democracy. Australians, despite multicultural policy from Whitlam's time, are stigmatised as white and racist. There is a token nod to Aborigines, whose defining culture can in no way benefit from mass immigration or the 'developed' economy. Hamad is not alone in this complacency because the mass-media constantly massages high immigration and renormalises terra nullius. Hamad has some recognition of this ‘irony’, however.
“I’d be lying if I said I knew how to reconcile all of this. I’m well aware that whatever our own experiences of colonisation and racism-induced intergenerational trauma, non-Indigenous people of colour in Australia are also the beneficiaries of indigenous dispossession. We too live on and appropriate stolen land.” (p.195)
Much of the foreign intervention in Syria has been in order to force it to accept globalisation, privatisation, and leaders sympathetic to these. The same thing is being forced on Australia, but without the need for overt violence so far because, unlike Syria, Australian leaders have not resisted this. And the newsmedia has given no voice to those who are trying to resist it, so they appear invisible.
On a more personal note, I sympathise with Hamad’s experience dealing with frizzy hair during her teenage years (p.180). I had the same problem. I had a different method, which did the same job. I didn’t brush my hair dry for hours, I wound it round my head tightly and fixed it painfully with bobby pins and other clamps, waiting hours for it to dry. I gave up swimming for years, although prior to becoming aware of my appearance, I had swum daily. This was a great sacrifice. Although I was also trying to meet the prevailing standards, which seemed to me to be straight hair, unlike Hamad, I did not identify straight hair with being ‘white’. I was ‘white’ if you like, although descended from Irish, Scottish, and Welsh stock, just not in the ‘in’-crowd as regards hair – or many other things.
A theme in Hamad’s book is that White Women get cross if you challenge their cultural ideas. They shut you out. Hamad has shown that some of these cultural ideas are probably immoral, and she wonders why she is shut out for exposing them. The thing is that all cultures want to control their ideas from the inside and they reject outside challenges. That’s poesis. Basically, to be one of them, you have to embrace their ideology.
Then, within that culture, there are sub-cultures, and cliques. In Australia’s hard new society where seniority and local labour have been dropped and ‘meritocracy’ prevails in an increasingly precarious employment market, women tend to form groups led by the woman closest to power – often a male boss. One of the ways for the dominant women to keep order and stay at the top is to punish anyone who looks like getting close to power by pretending to have been victimised. Another way is to harp on differences, of which ‘race’, ethnicity, religion, hair-type, weight, dress, and opinion, etc are all signs that can be used to define their possessor as a member of the out-group.
This kind of behaviour is also called ‘bullying’. And it is getting worse, unfortunately. Maybe it is a reflection of the way our leaders behave and the economic rationalist anti-society they have forced on us. There is competition out there for food and power. And we are apes.
 Ruby Hamad in her Author’s note, p.xiii.
 “After the enormous demonstrations against the invasion of Iraq in 2003, the anti-war movement disappeared almost as suddenly as it began, with some even openly declaring it dead. Critics noted the long-term absence of significant protests against those wars, a lack of political will in Congress to deal with them, and ultimately, apathy on matters of war and peace when compared to issues like health care, gun control, or recently even climate change.” Source: Harpootlian, Allegra, US Wars and military action: The New Anti-War Movement, https://www.thenation.com/article/tom-dispatch-new-anti-war-movement-iraq-iran/.
“Criticism of the news media’s performance in the months before the 2003 Iraq War has been profuse. Scholars, commentators, and journalists themselves have argued that the media aided the Bush administration in its march to war by failing to air a wide-ranging debate that offered analysis and commentary from diverse perspectives. As a result, critics say, the public was denied the opportunity to weigh the claims of those arguing both for and against military action in Iraq. We report the results of a systematic analysis of every ABC, CBS, and NBC Iraq-related evening news story—1,434 in all—in the 8 months before the invasion (August 1, 2002, through March 19, 2003). We find that news coverage conformed in some ways to the conventional wisdom: Bush administration officials were the most frequently quoted sources, the voices of anti-war
groups and opposition Democrats were barely audible, and the overall thrust of coverage favored a pro-war perspective. But while domestic dissent on the war was minimal, opposition from abroad—in particular, from Iraq and officials from countries such as France, who argued for a diplomatic solution to the standoff—was commonly reported on the networks. Our findings suggest that media researchers should further examine the inclusion of non-U.S. views on high-profile foreign policy debates, and they also raise important questions about how the news filters the communications of political actors and refracts—rather than merely reflects—the contours of debate.” Source: Hayes, Danny and Guardino, Matt, Whose Views Made the News? Media Coverage and the March to War in Iraq, Political Communication, Vol. 27, No. 1, Dec 2009, p59. https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/pdf/10.1080/10584600903502615
“As the [Iraq] war dragged on, and as reporting got better and better, the real problem with news from Iraq would turn out to be how little of it most Americans ever saw or heard. Across the board, as documented by Pew and others, the percentage of the news hole devoted to the war declined steeply.” Source: Murphy, Cullen, The Press at War, From Vietnam to Iraq, Atlantic Monthly, March 20, 2018.
 Independent journalists who have criticised this US and UK-funded and Hollywood-iconified group have been vilified by the mainstream, but the evidence is out there. See, for instance, Rick Sterling, “The ‘White Helmets’ Controversy,” Consortium News,
July 22, 2018”https://consortiumnews.com/2018/07/22/the-white-helmets-controversy/
 Lohan, Rena, Archivist, ‘Sources in the National Archives for research into the
transportation of Irish convicts to Australia (1791–1853)’ National Archives, Journal of the Irish Society for Archives, Spring 1996 https://www.nationalarchives.ie/topics/transportation/Ireland_Australia_transportation.pdf
 Convict Records, British Convict transportation register made available by the State Library of Queensland, Various crimes were assigned to revolutionaries, including sedition and insurrection which included many Irish who participated in rebellions. I08 are listed in the Convict Records simply as ‘Irish Rebels’: https://convictrecords.com.au/crimes/sedition https://convictrecords.com.au/crimes/irish-rebel
 “During the first 80 years of white settlement, from 1788 to 1868, 165,000 convicts were transported from England to Australia. Convict discipline was invariably harsh and often quite arbitrary. One of the main forms of punishment was a thrashing with the cat o’ nine tails, a multi-tailed whip that often also contained lead weights. Fifty lashes was a standard punishment, which was enough to strip the skin from someone’s back, but this could be increased to more than 100. Just as dreadful as the cat o' nine tails was a long stint on a chain gang, where convicts were employed to build roads in the colony. The work was backbreaking, and was made difficult and painful as convicts were shackled together around their ankles with irons or chains weighing 4.5kg or more. During the day, the prisoners were supervised by a military guard assisted by brutal convict overseers , convicts who were given the task of disciplining their fellows. At night, they were locked up in small wooden huts behind stockades. Worse than the cat or chain gangs was transportation to harsher and more remote penal settlements in Norfolk Island, Port Macquarie and Moreton Bay.” Source: State Library New South Wales, https://www.sl.nsw.gov.au/stories/convict-experience
 Recently an Australian Review journalist, Laura Tingle, suggested that convicts seemed almost more inclined to die of starvation than to try to feed themselves by farming. She obviously knew nothing of the difficulties experienced by the early settlers, even with the help of convicts, in producing food in this country, well-documented by Watkin Tench, (e.g. Ed Tim Flannery), Watkin Tench, 1788, 2012. Tingle, in Laura Tingle, "Great Expectations" in Quarterly Essay, Issue 46, June 2012, opines that Australian government began by administering a dependent population in a patronising way. Australians became passive recipients of government benefits - to the extent, Tingle believes, that convicts seemed almost more inclined to die of starvation than to try to feed themselves by farming. Moreover, after the gold rush, Australian men got the vote and could run for parliament whether or not they had property and the quality of politicians declined compared to that when only people with property could vote. In these circumstances, politicians with poor manners came to dominate parliament and Australians therefore lost respect for their politicians. See Sheila Newman, “Tingle shoots blanks despite Great Expectations - review of Quarterly Essay,” 8 July 2012, http://candobetter.net/node/3003
 An ammendment to the Masters and Servants Act August 1847 forbade the transportation of ‘Natives of any Savage or uncivilized tribe inhabiting any Island or Country in the Pacific Ocean’. Masters and Servants Act 1847 (NSW) No 9a. No.IX., 16 August 1847. Six weeks later a Legislative Council motion disapproved the prospect of introducing Pacific Island workers into the colony, because it “May, if not checked, degenerate into a traffic in slaves.” https://www.themonthly.com.au/issue/2019/july/1561989600/alex-mckinnon/blackbirds-australia-s-hidden-slave-trade-history.
 Wilkes, Sue. Regency Spies: Secret Histories of Britain's Rebels & Revolutionaries . Pen and Sword. Kindle Edition. Location 1014.
 Theobald Wolfe Tone, The Writings of Theobald Wolfe Tone 1763-98, Volume 3: France, the Rhine, Lough Swilly and death of Tone, Janurary 1797 to November 1798, Eds. T.W. Moody, R.B. McDowell and C.J. Woods, Clarendon Press, Oxford, 2007, p516.
 I have mixed with Australian Aborigines from most parts of Australia and can tell you that those I got to know well have expressed strong resentment of mass immigration (black or white), for obvious reasons. Yet, again, the newsmedia conflates mass immigration with multiculturalism and creates the impression that Australian Aborigines have nothing to say against being made an ever smaller part of Australia's demography and land-tenure. This is particularly evident with the Australian ABC. It was demonstrated in the Q&A ABC program of 9 July 2018 on Immigration which included the Indigenous lawyer, Teela Reid. Unusually, The Guardian actually noticed this: ‘Reed, a Wiradjuri and Wailwan woman, appeared to find the whole discussion baffling. “Don’t get me started, the whole bloody country has immigrated or invaded,” she said. “It’s crazy to sit and watch the conversation unfold.” ’ How confusing to be forced to use the rhetoric of multiculturalism as a counter to discrimination against Aborigines, while aware that all these Anglo and multicultural groups are uninvited invaders, not necessarily colonising, but moving relentlessly, and as if by right, onto once-Aboriginal lands and resources.
A report provided by the US Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs contains lists of weapons provided by the United States to Iraq, many of which - including aircraft - would later be seized by ISIS and probably later deployed in Iraq and Syria. These included an horrendous US-manufactured arsenal of chemical and biological weapons: including anthrax, botulinium, and E.Coli as well as human and bacterial DNA. Grotesquely, the United States, which had provided these weapons, has later accused the Syrian Government of using chemical weapons, and Trump has used this as an excuse to invade Syria.
Paul Holden, Ed.'s Indefensible: Seven Myths that Sustain the Global Arms Trade was first published in 2016 by Zed Books,UK, a well-written and well-resourced book that brings us up to date with the trade and also explores its many motives. I don't know if it was overtly stated anywhere in the book, but I formed the impression that excessive arms are collected, bought, and sold by national leaders as a power display and that their buying and selling is a kind of social interplay between globally hypertrophied alpha apes, currying favour or swaggering at each other from the top of their weapons piles and taunting smaller apes. In this anthropological light perhaps we can understand North Korea's leader, Kim Jong-un's resort to nuclear weapons as North America teases him with ostentatious displays of military strength while the world press taunts him as mad. Similarly Gaddafi's purchase of over $30b worth of weapons from world powers was perhaps an unsuccessful attempt to palliate the ferocity of the mad apes in the west.
I was particularly interested to read the history of who sold weapons to the Middle East and was not surprised to find out that it is the same powers that are intervening there to 'stop wars'.
"In the early 1990s, the US Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs released a report confirming that The United States provided the Government of Iraq with ‘dual use’ licensed materials which assisted in the development of Iraqi chemical, biological and missile-system programs, including: chemical warfare agent precursors, chemical warfare agent production facility plans and technical drawings (provided as pesticide production facility plans); chemical warhead filling equipment; biological warfare related materials; missile fabrication equipment; and, missile-system guidance equipment." 
"The list of biological material the US provided [to Iraq and which were later stolen by ISIS] was shocking, including anthrax, botulinium, E.Coli as well as human and bacterial DNA. There is credible evidence that when the US invaded Iraq in 1991, US troops were exposed to the very agents that the US had supplied, over and above fighting against the weapons whose acquisition the US had helped to fund and arrange. In the aftermath of the fall of Saddam Hussein, the world was witness to another type of blowback: namely, when an ally is provided arms but fails to stop those arms being stolen by enemies."
"[...]a 2014 UN Security Council Report noted that in June 2014 alone ISIS seized sufficient Iraqi government stocks from the provinces of Anbar and Salah al-Din to arm and equip more than three Iraqi conventional army divisions. Reviewing the evidence, the same report provided a chilling summary of the range of weapons ISIS has at its disposal:
From social media and other reporting, it is clear that ISIL assets include light weapons, assault rifles, machine guns, heavy weapons, including possible man-portable air defense systems (MANPADS) (SA-7), field and anti-aircraft guns, missiles, rockets, rocket launchers, artillery, aircraft, tanks (including T-55s and T-72s) and vehicles, including high-mobility mobility multipurpose military vehicles." 
ISIS took many weapons, almost undoubtedly including chemical weapons, which it probably later deployed in Iraq and Syria, but the United States, which had provided these weapons, later accused the Syrian Government of using chemical weapons, and Trump used this as an excuse to attack Syria militarily.
 Source: Holden, Paul. Indefensible (Kindle Locations 978-982). Zed Books. Kindle Edition.
 US Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs, Second Staff Report on US Chemical and Biological Warfare-Related Dual-Use Exports to Iraq and the Possible Impact on the Health Consequences of the War, 1995. 9Ibid, Chapter 1. 10Ibid, Chapters 2 and 3.
 Source: Holden, Paul. Indefensible (Kindle Locations 987-992). Zed Books. Kindle Edition.
 The Islamic State and the Levant and the Al-Nusrah Front for the People of Levant: Report and Recommendations Submitted Pursuant to Resolution 2170 (2014), S/2014/815, paragraph 39.
 Source: Holden, Paul. Indefensible (Kindle Location 1009-1015). Zed Books. Kindle Edition.
Recording of a timely and important interview with Tony Kevin, author of Return to Moscow UWA 2017. As a young Australian diplomat, Tony Kevin visited Brezhnev's Soviet Union in from 1969-1971. He returned on official business in 1985 when Chernenko was in power, then again, very briefly, in 1990. During these times he was not able to get to know the Russians due to the policy of both governments against fraternisation, thus Russia ironically became a source of growing fascination for him. He continued to inform his fascination from many sources, always at a distance. Concerned today by the threat to peace from US-NATO anti-Russian propaganda, and more fascinated by Russia than ever, he returned on his own to Russia (no longer the Soviet Union, of course) in 2016. Return to Moscow examines past and present attitudes to the people of Russia and to its leaders through empathic eyes and an understanding of the change in geopolitics from cold war to US interventionist.
On Putin: "Not since Britain's concentrated personal loathing of their great strategic enemy Napoleon in the Napoleonic wars was so much animosity brought to bear on one leader. Propaganda and demeaning language against Putin became more systemic, sustained and near universal in Western foreign policy and media communities than had ever been directed against any Soviet communist leader at the height of the Cold War. This hostile campaign evoked an effective defensive global media strategy by Russia. [...] A new kind of information Cold War took shape, with - paradoxically - Western media voices more and more speaking with one disciplined Soviet-style voice, and Russian counter voices fresher, more diverse and more agile." [Cited from Tony Kevin's book.] The interview in the video took place at Russia House in Fitzroy, Victoria, Australia. It was organised by Claire Woods of the Traveller's Bookstore. The interviewer was Associate Professor Judith Armstrong, former head of European Languages Department at Melbourne University.
An example of the afore-cited disciplined Soviet-style now dictating western newsmedia was to be found in another interview conducted by Australian ABC Victoria's Jon Faine on his Conversation Hour at around 25.25 minutes in: Jon Faine interview: http://mpegmedia.abc.net.au/radio/local_melbourne/audio/201703/abi-2017-03-29.mp3. Faine seems to suggest that Russia is nothing much to worry about because:
JON FAINE: "Russia's found it can't match the west militarily. It can't match the west financially. It can't match the west in industrial design, invention and technology, but it can undo the west through the west's Archilles' heel - democracy."
TONY KEVIN: "No. Russia can match the west militarily. It has a huge nuclear deterrent. We tend to talk among ourselves as though that doesn't exist anymore. It's as if we've all said, 'if we don't talk about nuclear weapons, they won't be there.' But they are there. There are militaries on both sides of the frontier training all the time in how to use tactical weapons. This is the world we live in. And Russia has also gained the great command of this country that used to be clunky and used to be unable to keep up with the west technologically. They're now world leaders in handling information technology, as you know."
Back to the video of the Russia House talk: In response to a question from the audience, Tony Kevin concludes his interview with this statement:
"And I say it here and I say it because of Jon Faine: Syria is one of the points where World War 3 could start. The other two are Ukraine and the Balkan states, on the border of Russia, because, in all these situations, there's a lack of understanding, of comprehension of the other side's point of view. There's a self-righteousness and there's a - I think if Hillary Clinton had been elected president, we would already have war involving the west, Russia, and Syria. That's how bad it is. [...] I know Russia's got a very bad press on Syria, but my position is that Russia is there at the request of a sovereign government, which is run by a man called President Assad, which has a seat in the United Nations, and Russia is trying to help that government hold that country together. And, what are we doing in Syria? We seem to be supporting a change in cast of opposition elements, many of whom we don't really know what their politics are, some of whom are extremely unpleasant people, who do extremely unpleasant things. And, so Syria is a mess. But I'm glad that Russia is trying to help bring about some peace and order in Syria."
Yes, Return to Russia is a very important book, with its author in a position of unique authority, given the perspective of his age and his experience of different epoques in Russia and western deep state international policies. Fortunately it will be hard for the Establishment to completely bury his opinion, so lucidly expressed.
Australian Politics Professor Tim Anderson recently wrote a book entitled, The Dirty war on Syria. In the embedded video, he describes the alarming ignorance of Australians generally about why the West is so down on Syria. This is a fascinating, humane and intelligent interview with Syrian TV. Among the many subjects covered are how the Australian media treats Anderson, how he became interested in the war in Syria, interpreting the propaganda war against Syria, and the future of Syria.
One of the most critical emerging power struggles of the 21st Century is taking place – the battle to control the Internet. The Internet offers up the opportunity for exercising extraordinary political, economic, and military power. Already exploitation of this super-network has helped create the world’s most valuable company, toppled governments, led to the largest wealth transfer in history, and created the most extensive global surveillance system ever So who won the Internet Wars in 2015? E-diplomacy expert and author of the recently released Internet Wars Fergus Hanson has delivered the verdict.
Here are the winners and the losers for 2015 Internet Wars 2015 Winners Losers Monopoly Interests Civil Liberties Extremists Intellectual Property Citizen Power Security of Internet Communications Hanson said 2015 was the year a handful of tech titans consolidated their growing control of key economic chokepoints online, making Monopoly Interests the clear winner in 2015.
“In 2013, two tech titans made it into the Fortune 500 top 10 by market “In 2015, there were three in the top five and four in the top 10.
“Apple, the world’s most valuable company, was worth about twice as much as the next two largest companies combined.
“Companies like Apple, Google and Facebook are securing control over key economic chokepoints online.
“This is not to suggest smaller companies will disappear from the Internet, just that to do business, they’ll have to operate through these titans,’ he said.
Hanson said 2015 was also the year extremists ran roughshod over the West “The world’s most powerful militaries, their sophisticated intelligence services and vast financial resources were outmanoeuvred by a relatively tiny number of degenerate fanatics,” said Hanson.
Meanwhile, in the US, the Internet Wars of 2015 have seen the shake up of the Presidential election like never before, shining a light on the aggregating power of the Internet for ordinary citizens.
“Republican voters have flocked in droves to outsider candidates Donald Trump and Ben Carson while, in the Democratic campaign, Hillary Clinton has faced surprisingly strong competition from Bernie Sanders,” said Hanson.
Civil liberties, intellectual property and security of Internet communications are all under siege online, with Hanson declaring them all losers in 2015.
Hanson said the Internet might have extended free speech to many, but in the big picture it has been a double-edged sword.
“Companies like Facebook, with one fifth of the world as users, has begun to exercise an important role as the new moral guardian.
“Its leaked censorship guidelines from 2012 revealed it forbade breastfeeding but gave the thumbs up to crushed heads,” he said.
So is peace possible online?
Hanson said, as a global commons, the Internet will always be open to abuse by individuals, companies, and governments.
“But if broad rules of the road can be agreed, breaches can become the exception rather than the norm, allowing the most important features of the Internet to be preserved.
“This is not an overnight fix. The first step is recognising the turning point we have reached, the critical importance of what’s at stake, and the need to act.
“As an advanced economy and open democracy Australia has a critical interest in securing the Internet’s immense promise into the future.
“Australia should develop a digital foreign policy that identifies our core economic, social and security interests and engage in leading global debates,” he said.
Review of Kenneth Eade's The Involuntary Spy: Who among us realised that Monsanto has huge plans for Ukraine? We learn that Ukraine's current president, Poreschenko, has been in cahoots with the US for years, and that Monsanto has been buying up land and lobbying to change Ukraine's anti-GMO laws, inserting a key clause in an EU Association agreement.
If you wonder what on earth the US is messing around in Ukraine for, this thriller series may actually have some of the inside story.
Kenneth Eade is an international and internet lawyer whose expertise includes the scientific history and laws associated with genetically modified organisms (GMOs). He writes terrific novels around these themes.
Not normally a fan of American spy thrillers, I was, however, intrigued, in light of Edward Snowden, to find that the subject of Eade's spy thriller series, The Involuntary Spy was a US whistleblower who fled to Russia.
Downloading a 'sample' of the book, I was further drawn in by the politics of a car chase through Kiev, as an unsafe place for American whistleblowers in transit to Russia. Hmm, this writer knew a lot about Russia and Ukraine that you don't hear on CNN or read in Murdoch's press. I looked up his biography and discovered that, after practising law for 30 years in the United States, becoming an expert in GMO law, he was disbarred for five years over a disagreement about a Russian goldmine, was married to a Russian woman and lived, apparently more or less in exile, in France. Kenneth Eade's 'faction' novels might have been partly lived as well as derived from real science.
Further reading disclosed that this was an industrial spy novel with a serious ecological and scientific base. Seth, the protagonist, is a genetic biologist attracted to the industry by the ideology of GMOs solving 'world hunger' as well as the prestige and perks of his position. He works for a multinational giant called Germinat, which derives billions from world-wide sales of a pesticide called 'Cleanup Ready' and the promotion of crops it has engineered to be able to survive this ubiquitous and persistant product.
Despite some awareness of French Professor Seralini's (2012-2014) experiments using Monsanto insecticide-resistant GMO sources to feed laboratory rats over a long period of time and how the rats suffered grave consequences which had not happened when they had been fed the actual insecticide, The Reluctant Spy educated me significantly more on the problems with industrial GMOs. I learned that Seralini was not the first scientist to be persecuted for publishing results that put GMOs in a bad light. The author tells us about Arpad Pusztai, who was discredited at first with his 1998 studies (one of the first) on GMO potatoes, showing damage to the gut and immune system.
I knew that Monsanto was extremely powerful and had backed up its patents on genetically modified organisms with legal suits. I did not realise that its position as 'owner' of organisms it has engineered could be used to stop people it did not approve of from testing its scientific claims.
And I learned that, contrary to claims of GMO safe process, organisms used to splice genes have not been limited to the relatively safe unicellular ones; genes from complex organisms with the capacity for multiple and unpredictable outcomes were surrepticiously built into the foundations of today's GMOs.
"It was always thought that bacterial genes were the best form of genes for genetic engineering. Bacterial genes were not as complicated as genes from most plants and animals, because they did not have introns, which could create hundreds or even thousands of different proteins from a single gene, meaning that the gene could not only produce the desired trait, but thousands of others, so there was no chance that the bacterial gene could produce proteins other than the ones it was intended to create. However, when the Bt gene was first introduced into plants, it produced very little Bt protein. So, to pump up production, they added introns because those increased Bt protein production. Instead of testing for whether the introns would also cause the production of other unintended proteins, scientists went with their original assumption that the gene would produce only the Bt protein and nothing else. " Eade, Kenneth (2015-09-15). An Involuntary Spy Series Box Set One: Books one and two (Kindle Locations 857-858). Times Square Publishing. Kindle Edition.)
Seth realises there is a risk that organisms receiving these genes could try to correct what they perceived as a genetic irregularity in themselves and that such an attempted correction could give rise to tumours.
Back at the laboratory, Seth is placed in a position where, like Arpad Pusztai, he is expected to conduct quick and dirty experiments, to back up his employer's dishonest safety claims. His boss, Bill, is 'somewhat of a social climbing stuffed shirt', 'more of an administrator than a scientist' despite 'impressive scientific credentials'. When Seth reports problems, Bill says, irritatingly, "You’re gonna have to do better than shrunken rat’s balls, Seth," and sends him back to the lab.
Typical of the industry, Seth is surrounded by colleagues too fearful of being out of a job to disobey their slickly tyrannical employer, but Seth cannot let go of the truth.
"Genetically modified foods were a grab bag of pesticides, allergens, toxins, dormant viruses and antibiotic resistant molecules that were being consumed by humans for the first time. It was only a matter of time before their immune systems become unable to recognize what to protect against. In this experiment, the entire American public were the test rats and the chemical companies the only winners." Eade, Kenneth (2015-09-15). An Involuntary Spy Series Box Set One: Books one and two (Kindle Locations 1874-1877). Times Square Publishing. Kindle Edition.
Seth discovers more and more apalling things about Germinat, and that people in the United States Government are complicit with its illegal activities. If he goes to the authorities, higher-ups with a stake in Germinat are likely to have him charged as a traitor. He realises his life is in danger. He plans to leave the country. Eventually he has to flee the country. At an unscheduled plane stop in Kiev he narrowly avoids assassination in that state where the elites are so cosy with the US ones.
Half of the book is set in Russia in a seamless and entertaining back and forth. Seth finishes up in a Russian outpost where there is a lot of heavy drinking and promiscuous sex, and he falls in love with a beautiful local. When he tries to negotiate his way back into the United States the author, an international lawyer, gives us some insight into the whistleblower's legal position.
At the end of the first book Kenneth Eade has provided an essay documenting the background to his novel. I cite some highlights here:
[Since 1994] "Genetically engineered foods are in almost all processed food products in the United States. A simple reading of the label will reveal one or more of the following ingredients in every one of them: corn or corn oil, cottonseed oil, canola oil (made from rapeseed oil, a GMO product), soy and/ or soybean oil, and/ or high fructose corn syrup. Genetically engineered corn and soy are used for most of the animal feed in the United States. And GMO sweet corn is now appearing in stores. There are no current federal labeling laws for GMO products, and two labeling measures in California and Washington have been defeated, in the wake of heavy spending of millions of dollars against the measures by Monsanto, Dow Chemical, Bayer, Coca Cola, Kellogg’s, and many others whose name you will see on products on your breakfast, lunch or dinner table. A member of the board of directors of Mc Donalds and one from Sara Lee sit on the board of directors of Monsanto." (Eade, Kenneth (2015-09-15). An Involuntary Spy Series Box Set One: Books one and two (Kindle Locations 786-792). Times Square Publishing. Kindle Edition. ).
In the second book in the series, To Russia for Love, the action takes place in Kiev. It's still about GMOs. Whilst some of you may be aware that Ukraine's location near the Caspian Sea oil reserves and among various oil and gas pipelines thence emanating makes it an object of international interest, who among us realised that Monsanto has huge plans for Ukraine?
We learn that Ukraine's current president, Poreschenko, has been in cahoots with the US for years, and that Monsanto has been buying up land and lobbying to change Ukraine's anti-GMO laws, inserting a key clause in an EU Association agreement. Impoverished Ukraine farmers do not have much defense against financial inducements from Monsanto. Ukraine is the 'bread basket of Europe' with superb soil its main asset, but it is losing control of that last precious resource. And Monsanto benefits from the chaos of US prompted 'regime change' and civil war.
"In late 2013, Victor Yanukovych, the former president of Ukraine, rejected a European Union association agreement tied to a $ 17 billion International Monetary Fund (IMF) loan. Instead, he chose a Russian aid package worth $ 15 billion plus a discount on Russian natural gas. This decision led to his forcible removal from office in February 2014 and the current crisis and devastating civil war. The present government of the Ukraine pursued the IMF loan and a European Union Association Agreement. On July 28, 2014, the Oakland Institute released a report entitled “Walking on the West Side: the World Bank and the IMF in the Ukraine Conflict,” which revealed that the World Bank and the IMF, under the terms of their $ 17 billion loan to Ukraine, would open the country to genetically-modified (GM) crops in agriculture. Because of its rich soil, Ukraine has always been referred to as the “breadbasket of Europe.” According to the Oakland Institute’s report, “Whereas Ukraine does not allow the use of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in agriculture, Article 404 of the EU agreement, which relates to agriculture, includes a clause that has generally gone unnoticed: it indicates, among other things, that both parties will cooperate to extend the use of biotechnologies. There is no doubt that this provision meets the expectations of the agribusiness industry. As observed by Michael Cox, research director at the investment bank Piper Jaffray, ‘Ukraine and, to a wider extent, Eastern Europe, are among the most promising growth markets for farm-equipment giant Deere, as well as seed producers Monsanto and DuPont’. From "Afterword" in Eade, Kenneth (2015-09-15). An Involuntary Spy Series Box Set One: Books one and two, Times Square Publishing. Kindle Edition.
"[...] Recent efforts to speed up the annexation of Ukrainian agriculture have been documented by the Oakland Institute’s report. Their fact sheet on the “Corporate Takeover of Ukrainian Agriculture” shows how the law firm of “Frishberg and Partners” found loopholes in a moratorium on Ukrainian agricultural land sales, and suggested a two-step approach to circumventing this moratorium, which remains in force until January 1, 2016. The first step described by Frishberg is to lease Ukrainian agricultural land instead of purchasing it. This, when combined with legal purchases of industrial spaces adjoining the land, results in ownership. The second step is to buy large amounts of shares in leading Ukrainian agribusinesses and then reform these companies from the inside. This is a strategy that international agribusiness giants such as Cargill, Monsanto and DuPont have employed. For example, in 2014 Cargill bought a five percent share in the largest land bank in Ukraine. From the requirements such as those listed in the EU association agreement it is clear that Ukraine is not being set up for economic prosperity and independence, but for international exploitation. While these develops, on the surface, may appear to be innocent, as Big Ag would prefer Ukrainian farmers and the civilian population to believe, the links between government organizations and agribusiness are clear. The entry point into these connections can be found on the board of the US-Ukraine Business Council. The U.S.-Ukraine Business Council’s Executive Committee contains representatives from Monsanto, John Deere, DuPont Pioneer, Eli Lilly, and Cargill. These companies are taking control of Ukraine’s agricultural sector with the aim of introducing their organizations are at the forefront of introducing GMO products. For the past two years, thanks to the civil war, the news coming out of Ukraine has been providing these U.S. based argi-giants with the perfect cover to exploit Ukraine’s resources. Since the declaration of its independence in 1992, international companies have been colonizing Ukraine’s agricultural sector." From "Afterword" in Eade, Kenneth (2015-09-15), second book of An Involuntary Spy Series Box Set One: Books one and two, Times Square Publishing. Kindle Edition.
Dramatising the truth in novels has a long tradition. Technoscience thrillers are a rising genre with the ability to effectively situate the reader in a novel technical environment. Kenneth Eade's highly enjoyable novels carry profound political and scientific messages.
The situation is dangerously ludicrous:
"Moreover, due to legal and copyright restrictions surrounding GMO patents, independent scientists must ask for the chemical companies’ permission before publishing research on their products. As a result, almost all of the long-term animal feeding studies that have ever been conducted on GMO feed have been carried out by the biotech companies themselves, with their own rules and using their own standards of reporting. What few independent studies have been conducted have shown a range of adverse health effects from reduced fertility to immune system dysfunction, liver failure, obesity and cancer." (Loc 3722 of 6067 in Eade Kenneth (2015-09-15), first book of An Involuntary Spy Series Box Set One: Books one and two, Times Square Publishing. Kindle Edition.
Did fossil fuel cause capitalism or did capitalism cause the creation of the technology to use fossil fuel for industrial processes? Did population start to grow in Britain before or after industrial capitalism? Why did the industrial revolution begin in Britain? Were there any precedents? Beginning before Roman Britain, this work of evolutionary sociology also looks at how Doggerland, sea-level changes accompanying ice-ages and global warming, forestation changes, malaria and plagues may have affected population movement, along with kinship rules, inheritance laws, and access to distant and denser communities through new modes of transport. Then, departing from Roman Britain, the book examines changes to the political system, fuels, technology and demography during the Reformation, the Restoration, the Dutch capitalist revolution, and the Trade Wars, to the eve of the French Revolution, which is the subject of the next volume. Hint: The cover on this book is like a treasure map and contains the major elements of the final theory. Order Demography Territory Law2: Land-tenure and the Origins of Democracy in Britain.
Demography, Territory and Law (Volume 1: The Rules of Animal and Human Populations) identified a bio-social system that keeps populations in steady-state with their environments. In this stand-alone second volume, the author tests that theory on Britain, where the world's first remarkably fast and sustained population increase began. Did this growth coincide with disruption of clan and tribal organization and relationship to place? Other possible causes investigated include capitalism itself, as well as fossil fuel.
Did fossil fuel cause capitalism or did capitalism cause the creation of the technology to use fossil fuel for industrial processes? Did population start to grow in Britain before or after industrial capitalism?
The author finds that Britain's unusual population growth was built into the British land-tenure system, which caused more fertility opportunities and diverged from that of the Romans or their successors on the European continent. The author confirms the long held suspicion that this inheritance system had something to do with the development of capitalism in Britain rather than elsewhere, and this book develops a completely new theory of capitalism.
Beginning before Roman Britain, this work of evolutionary sociology also looks at how Doggerland, sea-level changes accompanying ice-ages and global warming, forestation changes, malaria and plagues may have affected population movement, along with kinship rules, inheritance laws, and access to distant and denser communities through new modes of transport.
The book finds that the industrial revolution was not inevitable, but more likely in Britain than elsewhere because of the confluence of land-less labour, proximity of coal and iron, and deforestation after the injection of gold and silver from the New World. As it produces more private property and capitalism, the peculiar British system increases wealth disparities and reduces democracy. In France, however, population increase and industrial capitalism did not develop spontaneously, but a democratic revolution did.
Demography, Territory and Law2: Land-tenure and the Origins of Capitalism in Britain
Reviews by Dr Joseph Wayne Smith and Professor Peter Pirie: "A contribution to [evolutionary] sociology of Weberian dimensions, combining innovative hypotheses, critical thinking of the highest calibre and a firm commitment to seek facts rather than be bound by politically correct dogmas. It is scholarship at its best ..." (Smith). "A major contribution of Newman's book is the examination of incest avoidance and the Westermarck Effect. The way in which incest avoidance and and the Westermarck effect limit mating in proximate populations and therefore on the distribution and density of populations is particularly important in the Pacific Islands which characteristically are of small area and were populated recently compared to other regions and originally by small bands surmounting marine distances. In the future, demographers, sociologists, population geographers and particularly, anthropologists, will be unable to ignore these two forces, and need to be grateful to Sheila Newman for bringing them to our attention." (Pirie)
Joseph Wayne Smith
Discipline of Obstetrics and Gynaecology
School of Paediatrics and Reproductive Health
University of Adelaide
This book by evolutionary sociologist Sheila Newman, is book one of four books developing an evolutionary and ecological sociological study of the biological basis of politics, economy and demography. It is a broad-ranging multidisciplinary approach to the study of human society which sociology has long ago abandoned for a descent into jargon, word games and empirically unsubstantiated theory. Not so for Newman who believes and demonstrates that sociology can be scientific, but only if it abandons its isolationist Durkheimian commitment to seeing social facts as sui generis.
The subtitles of the other forthcoming volumes in Newman’s master work are: Volume 2: Land Tenure and the Origins of Capitalism in Britain; Volume 3: Land Tenure and the Origins of Modern Democracy in France; Volume 4: After Napoleon: Incorporation of Land and People. The collected works promises to be, judged by the outstanding merits of the present volume under review, one of the most important contributions to sociology in recent times. Newman systematically applies insights from a wide range of sciences. Further, and refreshingly, she is a French speaker as well as other Latin-based languages, and she has studied the history and philology of Roman language, all giving her access to debates outside of the Anglosphere.
The principal thesis of The Rules of Animal and Human Populations is that both human and animal societies have distinct patterns of dispersal. These patterns affect the size of populations, and in humans, the very nature of economic and political systems. Thus, different land-use, planning and inheritance systems have different outcomes, with some systems resulting in sustainable steady-state economies, while others are geared to exponential growth, the ultimate price of which is collapse. Peeping ahead, clan-based communities, in the Pacific and New Guinea for example, where traditional land-use and inheritance systems are retained, people retain control over natural resources and do not commodify the land by buying and selling it. People strive to prevent, as best they can, natural resources from being alienated and destroyed. This contrasts with the fossil-fuel intensive Anglophone countries where almost everything which can be commodified, has been. These countries are facing a multi-dimensional environmental crisis that is likely to result in social breakdown and dislocation. When collapse does occur societies’ property ownership returns to family connections with the land, and over time the family and clan system re-emerges. Newman hopes that people in the rapidly growing Anglophone societies may be able to regain these organic systems of social organisation as protection against the onslaught of global capitalism.
Newman argues that these seemingly unstoppable forces of population and economic growth which are leading Anglophone countries like the United States, Australia, Britain and Canada to overshoot, do not exist in the Western continental European systems. Europe’s population is already too big and is causing environmental destruction, but natural attrition is downsizing the population to more sustainable levels. Writers like “Spengler”, David P. Goldman, in books with melodramatic titles such as It’s Not the End of the World, It’s Just the End of You, (RVP, New York, 2011), raise an alarm about such a decrease in population, but ecologically it is really just the population returning to more sustainable levels. By contrast, countries such as Australia, through undemocratically imposed immigration, largely produced by the lobbying muscle of powerful ethnic and business groups (especially the housing/real estate lobby), are set to push their populations to completely unsustainable levels, paying no respect to environmental and resources crises such as peak oil. Part of the problem with Australia’s runaway growth in population, Newman points out, is that people, as in other Anglophone countries, have little democratic power to defend communities from the assault of the forces of the market, by contrast to continental Europe where the state controls most of the land-use.
Anglophone countries have political and business elites dogmatically committed to unending economic growth and “progress.” Progress has become a secular religion for them. In chapter 1 Newman subjects this religion of progress to a penetrating critique. Progress requires vast quantities of materials and energy, in the form of fossil fuels. What happens in complex computer societies if there is no longer abundant fossil fuel? Is freedom, democracy and “progress” in such complex societies a product of relatively cheap fossil fuel, and will these institutions disappear in the coming age of scarcity? Her answer is “yes”, for democracy in the sense of full participation in decisions is more likely in small communities not based on techno-industrialism. She sees “peak oil” and the rapid depletion of other resources needed for techno-industrial societies to grow, as major forces terminating their lives.
If economists have been wrong about the ideology of progress, what else have they been wrong about? Chapter 2 of Rules of Animal and Human Populations discusses myths of fertility and mortality that have dominated contemporary anthropology, especially the idea that hunter-gatherer societies, supposedly lacking mechanical contraception, only maintain stable populations through Malthusian forces and violence, producing high mortality. Newman goes to considerable lengths in this chapter to show that modern anthropology has forgotten a massive body of evidence about “pre-transitional” societies, such as the Kunimaipa people in the highlands of Papua New guinea, who maintain stable populations through a variety of strategies such as breastfeeding for four or five years, abortion, infanticide and post-partum taboos. Other societies have used equally as innovative strategies to prevent women being sexually active during a large part of their adult life, including norms of premarital virginity, incest avoidance and other restrictions. For example, brothers traditionally shared one wife in Tibet leaving 30 percent of women without an opportunity for marriage. Surprisingly enough, even Malthus documented cases of stable populations in continental Europe at the end of the 18th century, such as the Swiss parish of Leyzin. There are, though, other important factors including incest avoidance and the Westermarck effect which Newman discusses in depth.
Newman advances a new theory about how incest avoidance and the Westermarck effect impact upon patterns of human settlement and population growth. Incest avoidance, the avoidance of inbreeding, is not limited to humans but occurs in many other organisms including cockroaches. Second, the Westermarck effect, first observed by 19th century Finnish sociologist Edvard Westermarck (1862-1939), is that incest avoidance also applies to people raised together independent of whether or not they are genetically related. The effect has been confirmed many times. Newman argues that contrary to received sociology, incest avoidance and the Westermarck effect are probably indistinctive norms in humans, a product of genetic algorithms underpinning human social organisation. Inbreeding avoidance occurs in many other species, including plants, suggesting that a mechanism such as hormones may be the generative mechanism rather than conscious calculations. In short; “hormones will deliver more or less fertility according to the availability of living space. Space (territory) required per individual will be affected by density and reliability of food distribution, and all of this will be mediated by some degree of incest avoidance/Westermarck effect, which is also related to social dominance.” (p.83)
Incest avoidance and the Westermarck effect have the impact of avoiding the genetic ills of inbreeding, producing fewer homozygous defective genes, but beyond this, incest avoidance regulates population size and density so that animals would have more territory than if numbers were greater without restrictions on inbreeding. For humans, Newman argues, population dispersal and spatial organisation are a function of incest avoidance. Conventional sociology holds that incest avoidance is achieved by modes of population dispersal, but Newman proposes that incest avoidance itself causes dispersal. The same algorithms of population spacing found in other species are hypothesized to occur in humans and these algorithms are adjusted to hormonal responses to sensory feedback from the environment. Anglophone countries have been severely disorganised by runaway capitalist development which has broken relationships with the land which have traditionally been used to navigate incest avoidance and the Westermarck effect, leading to a “chaotic soup.” Disrupted societies, be they of men or mice, have a tendency for unstoppable population growth and the overshoot of ecological resources.
Many collapseologist theorists have agreed with writers such as Jared Diamond in Collapse in seeing Easter Island (Rapanui) as a paradigm case of a society overshooting its ecological limits. However, Newman in the final chapter of her book sets out to show that this story is incorrect. In a fascinating critique she points out that there is no evidence that the Easter Islanders ever achieved population levels of 10,000 or even 5,000, and that demographic decline is poorly documented. Further, these people lasted 900 years before the collapse, which suspiciously enough occurred just before the arrival of Europeans. She notes that European trade wars over South American and other colonies had been occurring for more than a century, so it is implausible to suppose that Easter Island was in splendid isolation up to 1722. It is a more parsimonious explanation to posit that European contact led to Easter Island’s destruction, and there are in fact documents indicating that Europeans enslaved the people of Easter Island (see Benny Peiser, Energy and Environment, vol. 16, 2005, pp. 513-539). The population of Easter Island may never have exceeded 2,000 – 3,000 people.
In conclusion, Rules of Animal and Human Populations is a contribution to sociology of Weberian dimensions, combining innovative hypotheses, critical thinking of the highest calibre and a firm commitment to seek facts rather than be bound by politically correct dogmas. It is scholarship at its best which is now being frequently done outside the intellectually stifling confines of the modern university.
This is an original, enjoyable and thought-provoking book which additionally, has the admirable virtue of quoting one of my works at some length. The paper cited was "Untangling the Myths and Realities of Fertility and Mortality in the Pacific Islands",(1997). "The Rules of Animal and Human Populations" examines the rules, workings and effects of economic, political and social systems as they have developed in modern societies as compared with the same systems as they applied to traditional societies. The Pacific Islands, because of their small dimensions, relatively recent human settlement and varied histories of colonialism are particularly useful as examples of the transitions. Newman's interest in my work lay in the instances I described in which Pacific Island populations did not conform to the theory of demographic transition.
For instance I suggested that the surge in fertility that followed the introduction of effective public health in most colonial territories was not, as was then commonly described, a return to "traditional" levels that had been disturbed by the introduction of alien diseases following their "discovery" and colonization by European powers. It was instead a destabilization that could lead to unsustainable population densities and poverty if not checked by limiting birth numbers or permitted emigration. In the absence of the vast majority of communicable diseases that could have depressed population densities, traditional societies on the Pacific islands employed an ingenious variety of ways of limiting human reproduction in the interests of keeping population densities in comfortable relationship with local resources. Among these stratagems were gender separation, customs which delayed marriage such as bride-price, prolonged lactation, post-partum taboos and temporary separations, attempted contraception, abortion and infanticide, deprecation of sexual interest, acceptance of homosexuality, and the encouragement of celibacy. All of these have been observed in recent times in isolated or less impacted populations such as remote atolls and in parts of New Guinea but also recorded in descendant cultures where contact has been more prolonged so that these practices may have been abandoned (or suppressed).
What I did not include in my primarily demographic account, because the anthropologists on whose work I depended never mentioned them, were incest avoidance" and the Westermarck Effect. The examination of these two is a major contribution of Newman's book. The way in which incest avoidance and and the Westermarck effect limit mating in proximate populations and therefore on the distribution and density of populations is particularly important in the Pacific Islands which characteristically are of small area and were populated recently compared to other regions and originally by small bands surmounting marine distances. In the future, demographers, sociologists, population geographers and particularly, anthropologists, will be unable to ignore these two forces, and need to be grateful to Sheila Newman for bringing them to our attention.
S. M Newman, Demography, Territory and Law: Rules of Animal and Human Populations, Countershock Press, Lulu.com, 2013 (paperback). Kindle and paperback version available from www.amazon.com. Order by mail from PO Box 1173, Frankston, VIC, Australia, 3199 or write to astridnova[AT]gmail.com. Or buy direct from Amazon.com or from Lulu.
You don’t have to live there. But drop in for a while and feel what it is like to belong to a family of Lebanese drug dealers, the Habibs — loving, cashed up, religious, and always on the watch for violence. Best take some tough body guards with you; they do. See the rest of Sydney through their eyes and wonder at the Skips and Jacks: cold dissolute people who go around half dressed, drink alcohol and who don’t seem to love their mothers, or respect their sisters. John Habib will take you there.
Or you could spend time with Bec Ralston. Young indigenous policewoman, left alone to cope with far too much responsibility in this dislocated world. There’s a body in Gallipoli Park with four bullets in him. He’s a dealer and standover man. Works for the rival gang – the Deebs. Is the youngest Habib, sweet cherished Rafiq the killer?
This is not a safe journey. But Michael Duffy makes it irresistible.
The overview below is supported by a 40 page summary based on 10 peer reviewed publications presented in 5 countries: China, USA, Morocco, Russia and Sweden in the last three years, available on Dr Wright's website: www.new-relativity.com You may contact him at selwyn.wright [ AT ] ntlworld.com .
All observations are made possible through electromagnetic (EM) light waves. Light waves require a light propagation medium (ether) to propagate their disturbances, and make their wave equation causal so as to predict wave motion. However, Einstein claimed that EM waves were somehow special, they did not require a propagation medium. Einstein's resulting ether-less predictions included time travel and no absolute time and space, neither of which have been measured. Wave motion without a propagation medium is not possible, Maxwell established the EM propagation medium, and Lorentz used the medium to predict EM wave motion in his Lorentz transform. Reinstating the medium now allows observations to be described naturally, rather than confusion and endless difficulties of concealing their actual events through an artificial ether-less universe. The medium removes all ambiguities and paradoxes present in Einstein's relativity.
Since the advent of H D Well's Time Machine, Star Trek and Doctor Who, it is popular to go time travelling. However, according to the new relativity theory, this cannot be, it's non causal (impossible). It is possible, causally to go back to the past but not to interfere, it has already happened. One can, perhaps view a broken cup reassemble itself, a supernova implode or more macabre see ones ancestors rise from their graves. All these light predictions are causal because they are based on a causal solution of the light wave equation, an expression based on a propagation medium that predicts wave motion. But it is not possible to visit the future, it is not a valid solution, it is non causal, it has not yet occurred. Thus causally, 'time machines' can only visit the past but cannot interfere with what has already happened.
Steady electrical fields and unsteady electric causing EM fields (light), are propagated by a well measured EM propagation medium, established by Maxwell. A medium is the basic conduit that supports any kind of wave propagation; there is no known physics that can account for wave propagation without a propagation medium. A vacuum is no exception, it is filled with an electrical medium having measured properties, electrical permeability (inertia) and electrical permittivity, (stiffness) which gives the medium its springiness, enabling EM waves to ‘bounce’ through the vacuum. For systems stationary in a stationary medium away from large gravitational bodies, clocks ticks at a constant rate and that the rate is the same throughout gravity-free space.
These were the causal descriptions of physics that were recognised to govern EM wave propagation before the 1900’s; they have not been superseded since. However, Einstein in 1905 muddied the waters by making the non causal claim that a propagation medium is not required to propagate light. This is as irrational as saying water waves don’t need water or sound waves can travel between the source and observer without air. Einstein believed Lorentz’s invariant speed of light (no difference in light speed in space or moving with an object) and Michelson and Morley’s (MM) invariant speed of light (no difference in light speed on Earth propagating in and against the direction of the Earth’s motion through space) supported his ether-less position (no medium).
But this is not so, it is not supported by Maxwell’s field equations and his propagation medium. It is shown that Lorentz’s contraction of time and space, resulting in an invariant speed of light, is based on a propagation medium, and that the medium moves with the Earth explaining the MM in a causal (rational) way. Sagnac in 1913 with rotating mirrors actually demonstrated motion with respect to the medium stationary on the Earth’s surface. Relativists who support the ether-less view, argue that these effects can be explained by relativistic theory. But again this is not possible, on Earth relativistic effects are negligible compared to the classical motional propagation time asymmetry (PTA) created around a moving system. Einstein’s measured predictions work because his field equations are based on a medium, which he did not realise. Whereas, his ether-less predictions are non causal (cannot be measured).
Real time continues to move forward, where the EM wave equation determines causality. A new theory has been developed that corrects and extends Einstein’s relativity, giving new insight. Restoring the medium now allows relativistic effects to be explained in a rational way, removing the mystical ether-less predictions. But at the same time, the new theory confirms Einstein’s measured predictions based on a medium. We can now extend the theory to a more general solution of the wave equation, not completed previously. For example, distinction can be made between sources (satellites) and observers (telescopes) in motion, not possible without a medium reference. This is achieved by using three sets of motional transforms (source, observer and medium), rather than the two unspecified in Einstein's relativity.
Systems (atoms and molecules) contract, both time and space, moving through the medium, i.e. time slows and structures shrink in the direction of motion, including people. Therefore, space travel could result in painless slimming; however one should rotate regularly to prevent flattening in one direction. Also, gravity compresses the medium and everything within it, both time and space. So if one wishes to age less than their cousins, then one could go space travelling or reside in a gravity compressed medium around a heavy planet or black hole for a while.
Turning to space travel, colonization of our local universe now seems possible. Distances were considered so large colonization of the universe was physically impossible. However, assuming the speed of light cannot be exceeded in the propagation medium, it can be spectacularly exceeded across what are called hybrid frames. What would normally take millions of years to cross, for instance our local Milky Way galaxy, could be achieved in a life time. After a few generations, our local universe could be reached and colonised. For the expert the medium is the reference distance and the time is measured in the moving frame.
Although like charges attract and unlike charges repel, groups of dissimilar charges (dipoles) with difference fields between positive and negative charges, have a fascinating property, they always attract. Van der Waals, as early as 1873, showed that the near field attraction between induced dipoles (positive and negative charges) in atoms and molecules held them together, creating for example soap films and mercury beads. However, this field decays rapidly with distance and its degree of attractiveness, which decides whether the element is a solid, liquid or gas, is not proportional to its atomic number.
Instead, the gravitational field now appears to be generated by the number of physical dipoles in the atom (electrons in orbit and protons in the nucleus), whose atomic weight is basically proportional to the atomic number (number of dipoles). This means that both light (unsteady electric) and gravity (steady difference electric ) are two forms of the same electric field, using the same propagation medium. Thus light and gravity have a common reference. Einstein, not recognising the medium existence, strived to achieve unification in his later years without success. The medium’s restoration now allows the unification of electromagnetism and gravity.
These new revelations are described with many others in a new book Unification of Electromagnetism and Gravity. The book is a fascinating development of science over the last three hundred years, written in a simple fashion for the thinking layperson to understand but updates aspects of relativity in a rigorous manner. The author Selwyn E Wright is a retired professor, former NASA and Stanford University Scientist, and Scientific Adviser to ONERA. The book is published by Trafford Publishing.
Dismayingly, but not unexpectedly, in her writing, Clinton shows little knowledge, interest in, or respect for Syria. In summary, she tries to justify the anti-Assad US position with the alleged brutality of Assad based on two mantras:
1. Bashar Al-Assad’s father’s massacre in Hama in 1982. (No context supplied).
2. Saudi Prince Saud’s  opinion that Bashar was being led by his mother to follow his father’s brutal example in Hama (repeated twice in this chapter).
The only other rationale she provides in this chapter dedicated to Syria is shockingly unsustainable and unsustained, that:
”Most predominantly Sunni Arab countries, especially Saudi Arabia and the other gulf states, backed the rebels and wanted Assad gone.” (p. 450)
She does not explain here why these states desire this end nor why their desires mean so much to the United States. That is not saying a lot. The Gulf states and Saudi Arabia and Qatar in particular have no moral credibility as political states at all. Saudi Arabia particularly, has been continuously documented for institutionalised murder, cruelty, injustice, slavery and abuse of women. It is a huge and rigid monarchy, utterly repressive, of women, prisoners and religious differences and presiding over slavery and abject poverty, despite the multi-nodal royal family’s extraordinary oil-wealth. Regarding Qatar, although women can now vote there, they are segregated from most public activity and wear hijabs and similar clothing. It is known as a ‘slave state’ for the way it treats the massive immigrant population who outnumber its own citizens, and is currently the target of a coordinated protest at the treatment of imported workers on the next World Cup.
As well as failing to justify the US alliance with these gulf states, Clinton admits that she knew that those Gulf state NATO allies were channelling arms into the extremist ‘rebels’:
”It wasn’t a secret that various Arab states and individuals were sending arms into Syria.” (p.461)
These war-mongering countries are members of the Arab League. Clinton writes as though she used the Arab League as her negotiating point of departure. The Arab League has very little credibility. It is infamous for its Western stooges. It contains a London-based representative of the so-called Free Syrian Army, but no representative of the Syrian Government.
So it’s no surprise when Clinton says that, “[…] in October 2011, the Arab League demanded a cease-fire in Syria and called on the Assad regime to pull its troops back from the major cities, release political prisoners, protect access for journalists and humanitarian workers, and begin a dialogue with the protestors. “ […] ”Assad nominally agreed to the Arab League plan, but then almost immediately disregarded it.” In December, they ”tried again.”
This time they sent Arab monitors to war-torn Syrian cities. Not surprising either that this did not go down well; it inflamed the situation.
”In late January 2012, the Arab League pulled the observers out in frustration and asked the UN Security Council to back its call for a political transition in Syria that would require Assad to hand over power to a Vice President and establish a government of national unity.” (p. 450.
This bizarre proposal came from Syria’s traditional enemies, backed by the United States which had no business in the area at all! Of course the Syrian government did not comply.
The only sense I can see in such a doomed demand is that it might be massaged by a complicit or ignorant mass media into an excuse to step up international hostilities against Syria. That is in fact what seems to have transpired, with the White House promoting the script.
Ignoring the secular nature of Syrian civil society and government, Clinton uses the sectarian argument familiar to us with the US invasion of Iraq, which was also secular, that the Assad ruling clique is composed of Alawites over a Sunni majority. Although, in passing, she notes that the French engineered this after World War II, but does not say why the US should try to reverse this now and does not say how Syria managed for so long before colonisation and before the United States ever existed. She does not acknowledge the sophisticated tribal nature of Syrian society and, with her very narrow socio-economic philosophical base, would be most unlikely to recognise the value of this.  She evidently subscribes to the myth that anything at all is justified in her goal of transforming all polities into capitalist free markets, which the US/NATO call ‘democracies’ – erroneously, in my opinion. 
After reading Clinton’s chapter on Syria, I switched back to an earlier chapter on “Russia: Reset and regression,” seeking a heads up re her view of Russia and found it in this infantilising statement:
“To manage our relationship with the Russians, we should work with them on specific issues when possible, and rally other nations to work with us to prevent or limit their negative behaviour.” (p.228)
Throughout the Syria chapter Clinton describes Russia’s attitude, mostly quoting the Russian foreign minister, Lavrov. Although one senses that Clinton is trying to make herself look good, for me, she only succeeds in making herself look ridiculous, with Lavrov coming off looking like a genius talking to a moron. Look at the following quote, direct from Clinton’s pages:
”The Russians were implacably opposed to anything that might constitute pressure on Assad. The year before, they had abstained in the vote to authorize a no-fly zone over Libya and to take ‘all necessary measures’ to protect civilians and then chafed as the NATO-led mission to protect civilians accelerated the fall of Qadafi. Now, with Syria in chaos, they were determined to prevent another Western intervention.”
”Assad’s regime was too strategically important to them.”
Like, it wasn’t important for the United States too?
"Libya was ‘a false analogy’, I argued in New York. The resolution did not impose sanctions or support the use of military force, focusing instead on the need for a peaceful political transition. Still the Russians weren’t having any of it.”
“I spoke with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov […] I told him we needed a unified message from the international community. Moscow wanted the resolution to be tougher on the rebels than on the regime. Lavrov pressed me on what would happen when Assad refused to comply. Would the next step be a Libya-style intervention?
No, I responded. The plan was to use this resolution to pressure Assad to negotiate. ‘He’ll only get the message when the Security Council speaks with one voice. We have gone very far in clarifying this isn’t a Libya scenario. There is not any kind of authorization for force or intervention or military action.’
[…] ‘But what is the endgame?’ Lavrov asked.”
Clinton’s dialogue with Lavrov and with the reader reminds me of the dialogue of an addict who swears that this time, when they pick up the drug, it will be different. They say, “Why can’t you trust me? The other times were an unfortunate mistake, but this time I’m not drinking to get drunk or shooting up to get stoned, I’m just doing it for medicinal reasons. Why can’t you understand? Why are you so mean and unreasonable, you bastard!” Clinton sounds immature (co-dependent in psych-speak), arguing on behalf of the Gulf Arabs, manipulated by the people who want to get rid of Assad.
She reveals that Russia argued to uphold Syria’s sovereignty. That sounds laudable to me after watching Afghanistan, Libya, Iraq implode. Russia’s support of Syrian sovereignty appeals to me especially in the light of activists’ ongoing fight for citizens’ rights to effective self-government in my own country, Australia. Hillary seems oblivious to this human right to self-government. Her counter to Russia’s raising the most important question of Syria’s sovereignty was not to tell the reader her answer to that burning question, but to make an ad hominem attack on Russia, implying that Russia was insincere.
Her first reason was that Russia had sent troops to Georgia. There were good strategic reasons for this, in my opinion. See ”What's in it for Russia? Georgia, Ossetia, & Caspian oil and gas?”. Her second claim, that Russia had ‘sent troops into the Ukraine’ is untrue. They were already there by agreement, in the same way that the US has bases all over the world. There had long been a Russian military base in Crimea. Crimea also had a separate administration from Ukraine. On this matter, Putin has said,
” in my conversations with my foreign colleagues I did not hide the fact that our goal was to ensure proper conditions for the people of Crimea to be able to freely express their will. And so we had to take the necessary measures in order to prevent the situation in Crimea unfolding the way it is now unfolding in southeastern Ukraine. We didn’t want any tanks, any nationalist combat units or people with extreme views armed with automatic weapons. Of course, the Russian servicemen did back the Crimean self-defence forces. They acted in a civil but a decisive and professional manner, as I’ve already said."
"It was impossible to hold an open, honest, and dignified referendum and help people express their opinion in any other way. Still, bear in mind that there were more than 20,000 well-armed soldiers stationed in Crimea.
In addition, there were 38 S-300 missile launchers, weapons depots and rounds of ammunition. It was imperative to prevent even the possibility of someone using these weapons against civilians. [I.e. there was a safety issue.](Source: http://eng.kremlin.ru/news/7034)
Clinton had been beating the war drum on Syria for much of her appointment, but had to step down in early 2013, “with the plan to arm the rebels dead in the water […],” she writes, in a gruesome Freudian slip.
Then, in December 2013, there were claims that the Syrian government had used chemical weapons on its citizens. In fact this has never been proven. Russia described the story as a false-flag attack and it is undeniable that the Western media and NATO messages have been suspiciously lax in admitting their failure to effectively document blame. It all sounds like a tragic beat-up similar to the alleged Iraq weapons of mass destruction and the 1990 hoax about Kuwait babies in the incubators which was part of a campaign to launch the Gulf War.
“In June 2013, in a low-key statement, the White House confirmed that it finally felt confident that chemical weapons had indeed been used on a small scale on multiple occasions, killing up to 150 people. The President decided to increase aid to the Free Syrian Army. […]administration officials told the press that they would begin supplying arms and ammunition for the first time, reversing the President’s decision [of] the previous summer.” (p. 465)
So Clinton reveals here that the US began officially supplying weapons against the Syrian government, making war.
Reports of a much bigger chemical weapons event followed in August 2013. Indignant war-making rhetoric increased, despite the ongoing difficulty of proof in assigning guilt. The British parliament failed to give Prime Minister David Cameron permission to use force on Syria. [I.e. invade.] Obama then decided to ask permission of Congress before making any war decisions.
Clinton describes experiencing consternation at these ‘delays’, worrying about US prestige and credibility if they did not go to war, whereas I would have worried about these things if they did go to war on such flimsy pretexts. One senses Hillary, like some circus performer banned from the tent, desperately seeking a way back in to the White House in order to push her views. Finally, she thinks she has found one:
“During this time, I spoke with Secretary Kerry and White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough about ways to strengthen the President’s hand abroad, especially in advance of this trip later that week to the G-20 summit in St. Petersburg, where he’d see Vladimir Putin. Not wanting Putin to be able to hold the contentious Congressional debate over the President, I suggested to Denis that the White House find some way to show bipartisan support ahead of the vote. Knowing that Senator Bob Corker, the leading Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, was no fan of Putin’s, my advice to Denis was that he be enlisted to help send a message. The idea was to use a routine committee hearing that week to hold a vote on the authorization to use military force that the President would win. Denis, always open to ideas and very familiar with the ways of Congress from his time serving on Capitol Hill, agreed. Working with Corker, the White House got the vote. While not the world’s most significant statement, it was enough to telegraph to Putin that we were not as divided as he hoped. ”
Clinton seems here to see Putin as the real opposition and Syria as an abject pawn in prestige politics, without even a reference to geopolitics or humanitarian pretexts.
She relates that, on September 9, 2013 the new State Secretary, John Kerry, was asked at a London press conference ‘if there was anything Assad could do to prevent military action’.
”’Sure’, Kerry replied, ‘he could turn over every single bit of his chemical weapons to the international community in the next week – turn it over, all of it without delay and allow a full and total accounting for that. But he isn’t about to do it and it can’t be done.’”
Clinton goes on to comment:
”Although Kerry’s answer may have reflected conversations he was having with allies and the Russians, it sounded to the world like an offhand remark. A State Department spokesperson downplayed it as ‘a rhetorical argument’. The Russians, however, seized on Kerry’s comment and embraced it as a serious diplomatic offer.”
She gives no credit to Lavrov’s brilliant strategy to rid Syria of chemical weapons. She is clearly disappointed at its other effect which was to remove the excuse that the United States was in danger of using to openly enter war against Syria.
Whilst attending another event at the White House that day, she was invited to a briefing in the Oval office:
”I told the President that if the votes for action against Syria were not winnable in Congress, he should make lemonade out of lemons and welcome the unexpected overture from Moscow.” [Another Freudian slip about her bizarre lust for war.]
” Just a month later, the UN agency charged with implementing the deal, the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. It was quite a vote of confidence. Remarkably, as of this writing, the agreement has held, and the UN is making slow but steady progress dismantling Assad’s chemical weapons arsenal, despite extraordinarily difficult circumstances. There have been delays, but more than 90 percent of Syria’s chemical weapons had been removed by late April 2014.”
Again, no acknowledgement of Lavrov’s contribution to peace.
Towards the end of the chapter she notes that in January 2014,
“For the first time, representatives of the Assad regime [in fact it was a legitimate government; ‘regime’ is a propaganda word] sat down face-to-face with members of the opposition. But talks failed to produce any progress. The regime refused to engage seriously on the question of a transitional governing body, as mandated by the original agreement, and their Russian allies stood faithfully behind them. Meanwhile the fighting on the ground continued unabated.”
To me this insistence on the idea that a legitimate government will step down and allow foreign powers to replace it with a synthetic government of their choice is simply incorrigible on the part of Hillary Clinton and those who think like her. It is this lack of respect for sovereignty and self-government and the willingness to engage in international shoot-outs in a high-handed approach to the rest of the world that makes the United States a terrorist in its own right and Bashar al-Assad a hero for standing up to them.
This view of Assad as a hero is greatly supported by the extraordinary fervour and happy enthusiasm with which over 73% of Syrians went to vote in the scheduled Syrian elections in May 2014, voting Bashar in by 88.7%. These elections were scheduled within the constitution and it would have been highly problematic if they had not gone ahead, but the government received no recognition for this from the US/NATO and aligned press. This was the first election where there was actually a choice of candidates, which was another part of the Assad Government’s undertaking to the people. Although some rebel-held regions were not able to vote because the anti-government forces prevented them from participating, the turn-out was still remarkable. [Contrast with the 42% turn-out in Libya which has been reduced to a ghastly shambles by US/NATO.] Shamefully, expatriates were also prevented from voting in several NATO countries, including the United Arab Emirates, France, and countries where Syrian embassies and consulates had been closed down, such as Turkey, Australia and the United States. But SBS Australia reports that “Ninety-five per cent of Syrians living overseas have voted in the presidential election at 43 embassies worldwide.” Where expatriates could vote, they voted in legion, carrying flags and posters indicating their support for Assad. Many of them filmed and photographed the event to show the world how they felt. Scenes of expatriates voting in Lebanon show them thronging the streets. Apparently Lebanese authorities had greatly underestimated the turnout and ran out of printed ballots. Foreign observers of the election reported this as their impression on the ground, in an hour-long testimony and report at a UN news-conference. The possibility of individuals voting more than once was also discussed and shown to be unlikely. Other forms of fraud were reckoned no more than in most elections and insignificant within the massive return for Bashar. Unfortunately this UN report received almost no coverage because Michele DuBach, Acting Deputy Director-News & Media Operations, cut off the webcast after 5 minutes. You can see it here.
Such problems with coverage of a world event with implications for many lives show what Syria is up against in terms of the NATO propaganda machine. The fact that there has been almost no positive reporting of these remarkable elections from the NATO machine and the Western Press shows how hollow their support really is for self-government and self-determination. In fact, political self-determination is antithetical to the free market.
Finally I am left wondering whether Hillary Clinton really does not understand the energy resources at stake in the Caspian and Middle Eastern region, which are the principal attraction for the US and NATO. And, with regard to the ‘democracy’ and ‘development’ issues her side claims to promote, can she actually be ignorant of the historical role of the West in colonising this region and of the subsequent fight for independence by the countries which the US-NATO forces have been ripping apart? Can she really not understand that Russia and the former Soviet Union countries all have a role to play in the region and hold different but entirely valid values and institutions from those of the West? I could not perceive in her chapter on Syria awareness or sympathy or human awe at the ancientness of Syria, nor any appreciation its continued unity and function in the face of NATO-backed jihad monsters, a testimony to the strength of its tribal basis and secular overlay. Although she admits at the beginning of her chapter that the Syrian government had substantial national support, she subsequently fails to inform readers of the fact that the Assad Government has succeeded in protecting the majority of its population. Nor does it tell us that the Syrian population had successfully coped for decades with huge numbers of refugees from the surrounding regions, as a result of US/NATO ‘interventions’. This includes 1.3 million refuges from Iraq. Why would so many refugees remain in Syria and marry citizens if it were such a terrible place? Bashar al Assad is not his father, and, anyway, there was a history to his father’s iron will that should be told. As for the streams of refugees leaving the country, did it not occur to Mrs Clinton that many of those people would have been refugees once safely harboured in Syria? Nor does she tell her readers about the free education and hospital systems and the national banking system. The United States’ open-market agenda disapproves of this kind of political institution and when it talks of bringing democracy to Syria, we must understand that it means to break down those institutions, just as it did to similar ones in Iraq and Libya.
I hastened to finish this article today, 27 June 2014, after hearing that "President Obama is seeking approval from Congress to approve $500m to train and equip what he described as "moderate" Syrian opposition forces. The funds would help Syrians defend against forces aligned with President Bashar al-Assad, the White House said."
I can only think with despair at the betrayal by the United States of all those Syrians who ran, walked and drove with such enthusiasm and dedication to their democratic cause and to stop the war and who asked to be left to solve their problems alone. America has become a parody of all it claims to represent and would chase its own shadow to hell, mistaking it for some foreign enemy.
 “Frenemies” is a term used by Max Keiser in the Keiser Report where he referred to the situation in the Middle East where NATO and its allies were aligned through the sense that the enemy of my enemy is my friend, although few of them really respect each other. They are ‘frenemies’. Unfortunately I cannot seem to locate the correct episode for this quote. However, the argument is clear.
 Prince Saud has been the foreign minister of Saudi Arabia since 1975.
 Europe is also a tribal society, also targeted for disorganisation by US/NATO via the market system, like Syria, like Australia.
 Sometimes I find that people assume, from such statements, that I am actually ignorant of the institutionalised cruelty I have described already in this article that flourishes in a number of Muslim states. So it seems necessary to explain here that (a) Syria is a secular state containing a number of religious groups, not just Muslim, and Sharia Law is largely subsumed to French style law, although it is preserved for certain religious minorities as customary law. “The judicial system of Syria remained a synthesis of Ottoman, French, and Islamic laws up until the 1980s. The civil, commercial and criminal codes were primarily based on the French legal practices. Promulgated in 1949, those laws had special provisions sanctioned to limit application of customary law among beduin and religious minorities. The Islamic religious courts continued to function in some parts of the country, but their jurisdiction was limited to issues of personal status, such as marriage, divorce, paternity, custody of children, and inheritance. Nonetheless, in 1955 a personal code pertaining to many aspects of personal status was developed. This law modified and modernized sharia by improving the status of women and clarifying the laws of inheritance.” Source: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Judiciary_of_Syria#cite_note-Lib-1 (citing a 1987 Library of Congress article, which seems to be the most up-to-date info on the net at the moment.) (b) There are anthropological reasons for the evolution of gender differences in human societies that have a lot to do with land-tenure and inheritance, which have extreme and inappropriate outcomes in some Middle Eastern tribal societies that have become urbanised. This is very little analysed, unfortunately. (c) I do not condone the abuse of human rights in such societies but I do not think that bombing them or enlisting them to terrorise each other so that some western countries can get unilateral access to their oil reserves is a way of changing this. In fact, reducing such countries to rubble and disorder tends to make this situation worse. (d) I acknowledge that colonialism, old and new in these areas makes them enemies of the West, but I frankly think that the real enemy is free market-law, which will ultimately designate almost everyone who claims civil rights to be a terrorist.
 Compare with the turn-out in Ukraine, which for Eastern Ukraine’s (Donesk and Luhansk) was less than 10 percent, and where in most of the other regions, it did not exceed 45 percent of registered voters, with only one oblast in Western Ukraine in excess of 45%. Source: http://www.globalresearch.ca/ukraine-presidential-elections-low-turn-out-poroshenko-declares-victory/5383777
Compare with the turn-out in Libya on 25 June where just 42% of the 1.5mn registered voters turned out, according to the commission’s preliminary estimates. Source : http://www.gulf-times.com/region/216/details/398036/count-under-way-in-libya-vote-clouded-by-deadly-attacks.
Compare with the turn out in the United States: “Voter turnout dipped from 62.3 percent of eligible citizens voting in 2008 to an estimated 57.5 in 2012. That figure was also below the 60.4 level of the 2004 election but higher than the 54.2 percent turnout in the 2000 election.” Source: http://bipartisanpolicy.org/news/press-releases/2012/11/2012-election-turnout-dips-below-2008-and-2004-levels-number-eligible.
Most dieters and the resigned obese will find a certain resonance in the idea that we of the industrialised world have been mis-educated to have an irrational fear of going without food even for one day. This book says that it is okay to hardly eat at all, or even just to drink water, for a day or two at a time. It helps that it is co-written with Mimi Spencer by Dr Michael Mosely, a medical doctor best known for his testing of new medical theories on the BBC. The book bases its theory on the premise that the lifestyle of humans in a more natural state was punctuated with famine as well as feasts. A BBC Horizons documentary preceded the creation of the book. (See further down for link to BBC video.)
Instead of the privations of dieting, this approach helps one to see fasting as a liberation from the chains of almost compulsory regular meals and between-meal grazing, furtive snacking and shameful binging. The book also questions the received wisdom on the importance of breakfasts.
For me this idea of fasting takes care of the intellectual problem of how overeaters might 'abstain' from overeating the way alcoholics abstain from drinking alcohol a day at a time in Alcoholics Anonymous. The Overeaters Anonymous approach suggests abstaining from bad eating habits, from your 'trigger foods', however this does not work very well when all food beyond a few raw or steamed vegetables may be your trigger, when just the act of eating brings on overeating.
Choosing to fast a couple of non-consecutive days a week seems to take care of that problem; you simply don't get started.
As with Alcoholics Anonymous, which promotes the idea that anyone can go without a drink just for one day, this book promotes the idea that anyone can go with an absolute minimum of food one day at a time. The idea is not to then cease to eat at all, but to happily return to one's old habits for the next three or four days, until the time comes for the second fasting day of that week.
The book cites some fascinating scientific work which shows that fasting has many physiological benefits - on mice and men. It sounds almost too good to be true but this way of eating and not-eating can quickly drop blood pressure, cholesterol and raise insulin resistance as well as steadily drop weight. There are some even stronger claims which are well argued, but I will leave you to read the arguments in the book.
No less interesting, however, were the psychological benefits which people felt from being released of the need to overeat, a freedom which seemed to persist into those non-fasting days. Correspondence which the authors have received amounts over time to a social change in how those people deal with food.
The book touches on the commercial pressures that shape our attitudes to food, but it focuses more on empowering us to shut these out with a focused approach to fasting.
I could not help but see that this attitude could be widened to liberate us from other persuasions of the consumerism and growth economy.
As with taking a day off from eating and cooking, I would like to suggest that people start to spend a couple of non-consecutive days a week not buying anything - actively abstaining from purchasing.
The principle behind this idea is that, as we are slaves to continuous impulsive grazing, we are also slaves to continuous impulsive purchasing of stuff.
Immediately stemming from reducing one's involvement with continuous eating and consumption of stuff, is a reduction in driving and shopping. Hours of time and energy can be saved from exhausting navigation of supermarket mazes trying to choose from competing displays, then unpacking everything and putting it away. Ditto for cooking complex meals day in and day out.
Stopping buying non-food 'stuff' which we then spend our lives trying to use or tidy away in ever more crowded lives and living spaces would bring similar benefits. More time, more space, more clarity. The fasting process would also reduce the need for a wardrobe of clothes in various sizes and styles to accommodate inconvenient fluctuations in girth. Thus we would not need to buy so many clothes or have such overstuffed wardrobes and drawers.
I am suggesting that overeating and overpurchasing are both responses to consumerism brainwashing.
Such two day a week stances present a new way of seizing our lives back from the remorseless growth economy.
With a total reduction in food consumption, animal liberationists would see a drop in the rate of killing and consumption of animals and environmentalists would see a reduction in the clearing of forests to grow crops. With the reduction in car-use and cooking and refrigeration we would see a reduction in fuel use.
The fasting and purchasing abstinence days could also be computer-sit-down and internet-free days, and active days, twice a week.
We could apply the same approach to stem the continuous tuning in to radio, television, apps and phones.
It's then easy to see how we might further reduce the amount of stuff our economies churn out and the amount of time we spend working. If we did this then our consumption of finite resources would drop, giving us more time to evolve our economies out of the trap they are marching us all into.
The marketeers would fight back of course. If people succeeded in liberating themselves two days a week from the consumer grind, the growth-lobby would simply try to import more people into industrialised countries, which it is currently doing. But perhaps, with those days we will have seized from the jaws of futile consumerism, we the people might return to community involvement and the associated politics and law, standing up to demand real democracy and against inflicted population and economic growth.
 Of course that doesn't work with addictions to alcohol and other drugs which affect dopamine release in the brain for longer periods than 24 hours. So if you are doing abstinence from drugs a day at a time, just keep on abstaining.
La Feuille Verte/The Green Leaf is a bi-lingual production about a dystopia where humans have become alienated from their organic origins. Sound familiar? Mariette has created characters of a deceptive simplicity. She uses the metaphore of trees and cages to describe the life force, the brain and caged, regimented minds.
Originally written in words for her children and friends, years later it occurred to Mariette to illustrate that story. She says that the drawings were quite quickly executed, but that it took her years to reduce the written story to the sparse narrative that remains. That was the hardest part for her.
"The writing is only necessary for those who don't understand the pictures without explanation," she says. In fact working out what the pictures mean is part of the pleasure of the exhibition.
The illustrations are finely executed in very soft earthy pastel tones of coloured pencil and ink. They are lightly stylised.
The book, The Green Leaf/La Feuille Verte sells for $20.00 at the exhibition and is also available from (613)98981304 if you are ringing from overseas or 03 98981304 if you are in Australia. Inquiries from individuals and booksellers welcome.
Details of Gallery location and hours:
Chapel on Station Gallery
cnr Station St & Ellingworth Pde
Box Hill Vic 3128
Ph 9890 5810
Hours : Tues-Fri 11:30-3:00
Meanwhile they’re on a rampage, doing millions of dollars in damage clogging intakes of nuclear, coal, and desalination plants, killing millions of farmed fish, and destroying fishing nets with their sticky icky bodies.
The more we overfish, pollute, acidify and warm the ocean, create vast dead zones, and trawl ocean bottoms, the better the jellyfish do.
The oceans make the earth habitable for us. They generate most of the oxygen we breathe, stabilize temperatures, drive climate and weather, and absorb a third of the CO2 we’re emitting. Over 3 billion people depend on the oceans for their livelihoods; 2.6 billion depend on seafood as their main source of protein.
Most alarming of all, 40% of phytoplankton has died off globally since the 1950s – they’re not only at the base of the food chain, but they generate most of the oxygen we breathe, as well as absorb half of the carbon dioxide, and their increasing death rate will make the ocean get warmer even faster.
They’ve everywhere, spread around the world in ship ballast or sea currents.
Ubiquitous – from top to bottom of the ocean, from pole to pole, year-round.
Grow faster than other species to quickly take advantage of any food, and they’ll eat almost anything — copepods, fish eggs, larvae, flagellates. They eat past when they can keep consuming, spit food out, waste a great deal other creatures could have eaten. Even when they’re full, their tentacles keep capturing prey.
If there’s no food, jellyfish can consume their own body mass and get smaller and smaller until they find food again, and rapidly return to normal. Even when they grow smaller they can still reproduce.
Consume many times their body weight in high-value food but are of low-value themselves because they provide little energy, ounce for ounce, compared to the food they ate. So they have few predators.
When 2 weeks old they can lay 10,000 eggs a day that hatch 12-20 hours later
They reproduce many ways: massive orgies, fission, fusion, cloning, hermaphroditism, external fertilization, self-fertilization, copulation.
If they lose a body part, they can regenerate it within 2 days.
They are the “Last Man Standing” in eutrophication zones because they need less oxygen
Many species can tolerate any salinity level, from fresh water to salt water
They’ve survived ice ages, hothouse climates, all five mass extinctions, predators, competitors, and us.
Jellyfish in the oceans have been known to live over 10 years
Many of them avoid predators by long vertical migrations from the deep sea to the surface at night and back down again by daylight
Just as plants have seeds which can endure many years waiting for optimum conditions to grow, jellyfish have a seed-like state called a polyp that waits for good conditions, and can clone themselves to create armies of ‘seeds’ waiting to burst into jellyfish blooms seemingly overnight. Polyps don’t “grow up” to become jellyfish. They spawn what we think of as jellyfish – the medusa — which then mate sexually to produce polyps, which stick to rocks, shells, man-made structures, plastic, etc. Both the polyps and the medusa could be considered “immortal” – when a polyp dies it’s clones live on, and there is one species of jellyfish, where after it dies, its pieces turn back into polyps (“Logically, it would seem that other species probably do it too, but we have yet to identify others,” according to Gershwin in a reply to this book review).
That seems so wrong– a primitive brainless blob? But jellyfish eat much larger clams, crabs, starfish, snails, and fast, smarter fish and squid.
They’re also at the top because not much wants to eat them.
Worse yet, they outcompete other sea life by devouring the eggs and larvae of species that would have grown up to eat jellyfish larvae. It’s a double whammy since these larvae never grow up, leaving a lot more food for jellyfish to consume. A jellyfish bloom can clear the water of all eggs, larvae, copepods, and small plankton in less than a day. This makes it almost impossible for some overfished species to make a comeback.
Many of the small fish that compete with jellyfish for the same food, such as anchovies and sardines, are being overfished and turned into farmed fish food, pet food, and fertilizer. We harvest a whopping 44% of these small fish at the base of the food chain, which are also what cod, snapper, tuna, and halibut feed on, which prevents the recovery of fish we’d much rather eat.
We’ve already fished out 90% of all large fish in the ocean. And it’s only a matter of time before we find the other 10% with sonar, radar, LORAN, GPS, and spotter aircraft.
The United Nations has predicted all commercial fish species will be extinct by 2048. In 2002 we were fishing 72% of fish stocks faster than they could reproduce. 90 fish stocks around the world have had no recovery in population even 15 years after they collapsed.
Few small fish left, few big fish left – that opens up a lot of space for jellyfish to move in and take over. We’re creating a feedback loop that favors jellyfish.
Worse yet, overfishing can create trophic cascades when we remove keystone predators. We’ve nearly driven 11 species of large sharks along the Atlantic coast into extinction. They kept the ray population in check, but now that they’re gone, the ray population has exploded, and they’re devouring almost a million tons of scallops, clams, and oysters a year. Fishermen only harvested 330 tons. The Chesapeake used to famous for shellfish, now it’s best known for its jellyfish (p261-263).
You’ve probably heard of bycatch – all the unwanted and unintended dolphins, turtles, fish and so on that are discarded, most so mangle they don’t survive when thrown back. I was unaware that tropical shrimp are the worst of the worst because they’re obtained by bottom trawling and have a bycatch of 125 to 830% more than the shrimp captured. In the Gulf of Mexico shrimp fishery 12,000,000 juvenile snappers and 6,000,000 pounds of sharks are discarded every year. Since most bycatch is unreported, these figures are probably too low. Further destroying the fish are the thousands of miles of “ghost nets” – the nets lost from boats that drift aimlessly still catching fish.
Jellyfish even eat other jellyfish, so when we’ve caught most of the fish, or otherwise destroyed them by dredging, ocean warming and acidification, pollution, dead zones, etc., jellyfish will still survive.
Sewage provides nourishment for jellyfish since they can get 10 to 40% of what they need by absorbing nutrients through their skin. And there’s plenty of sewage for them. In just 7 days a 3,000 passenger cruise ship generates 210,000 gallons of sewage, a million gallons of gray water, 37,000 gallons of oil bilge water, 8 tons of solid waste. In the USA, animal feedlots produce 500 million tons of manure a year, 3 times as much as humans.
Bottom-trawls weigh thousands of tons and rake the seafloor for sole, halibut, cod, haddock, plaice, rockfish, rays, skates, prawns and son on, destroying corals and sponges as trawls rake across miles of seafloor, crushing what isn’t scooped up. The raking creates a fog of tiny particles. Fish can’t find their food in this dense fog of raked up particles or murky sewage, but guess who can….jellyfish, who just dangle their tentacles and it capture any food that drifts or swims into them.
Trawling dredges up toxic DDT, PCBs, hydrocarbons, mercury, radioactive particles, heavy metals, and plastics that add to eutrophication, destroy clams, scallops, bryozoans, tunicates, and other creatures. These substances, which had been buried in the sediment and removed from the food chain are released back again, and incorporated into the muscle, bone, blood, and fat of sea organisms.
Jellyfish don’t have these tissues, so they’re not much affected. Nor do they live long enough to store a high concentration of harmful toxins, or develop mutations or cancer.
Dredging creates many more areas for jellyfish polyps to attach to as pieces of plastic and other flotsam are dredged up, increasing the size of jellyfish blooms.
As climate change raises temperatures, the metabolic rate of all creatures rise, and they have to catch more food to stay alive.
The ocean has risen 1.8 F the past century, most of that the past 30 years, and may increase another 3.6 F over the next 100 years. In the ocean heat is even harder on organisms because warmer water has less oxygen. This means increased respiration which uses more energy and finding more food to eat. A creature that can’t respire fast enough will suffocate.
Warmer oceans are a dream come true for jellyfish – they can grow fast very quickly while other species are struggling. Phytoplankton blooms make even more food available. Jellyfish rates of reproduction increases and they can reproduce longer too.
Climate change also means far more unpredictable weather, another advantage for jellyfish, since they respond quickly to change and bloom explosively to cope. They’re the first to arrive and the last to leave. And jellyfish can tolerate a wide range of temperatures.
Jellyfish can even increase CO2 levels because
Their goo and poo are preferred by bacteria that emit high amounts of CO2.
Jellyfish displace fish, whose fecal pellets would have sunk to the bottom and sequestered CO2
The more we damage and stress the ocean, the more likely the sedentary polyps will feel compelled to produce the next generation, the getaway medusa jellyfish who can escape the eutrophication, warming temperatures, changes in salinity, pollution, acidification, oil spills, or whatever else we’ve thrown at them. The medusa disperse to safer areas, and new areas, live to see another bloom, and eat and outcompete fish.
Jellies can survive low oxygen conditions because they store oxygen in their tissues and breathe through their skin. They can swim in the top layer of water above and form a wall of slime that keeps fish out.
They can cause eutrophication by eating so many copepods that phytoplankton blooms erupt, die, and tilt the balance towards flagellate-based organisms, which jellyfish eat but fish don’t. And also their goo and poo favors microbes that respire a lot which generate CO2 and increase ocean acidification. Jellyfish can survive low oxygen levels better than most creatures.
As we create conditions that favor larger jellyfish blooms, their concentrations grow more dense, so when they release sperm and eggs the odds of contact and fertilization are greater.
And the greater the density of jellyfish, the more likely prey will be unable to escape. Nor will the small predators of jellyfish larvae be able to do so – the dense numbers of parent medusae will eat the small predators before their own larva can be consumed.
Larger jellyfish blooms makes even larger jellyfish blooms more likely, ratcheting up their ascent to dominance in the oceans.
Jellyfish harm salmon farms through their mucous, bacteria, and stinging. The salmon waste and uneaten food also probably change the ocean to favor jellyfish and algal blooms.
- There are 1,500 known species of jellyfish, but probably quite a few more we haven’t identified yet
- They have no heart, brains, ears, heads, feet, gills, or bones
-They range from the size of a pea to 8 feet in diameter with tentacles that can be 200 feet long
- Kinds of jellies: moon, comb, pink meanies, rainbow, box, fire, sea wasps, sea nettles, sea gooseberries,Venus’s girdles, lion’s manes, purple people eaters, blubbers, snotties, agua vivas, blue bottles, the long stingy stringy thingy, etc.
-They’ve been here at least 565 million years practically unchanged, long before predators with shells or teeth evolved
-The Box Jellyfish is the world’s most venomous animal that can kill within 2 minutes. There are other lethal jellyfish as well.
This is one of the best books you can read about the myriad ways we’re destroying the ocean, which Gershwin has to explain so that she can then explain how that relates to how those factors affect jellyfish. Gershwin’s writing is witty and funny, making this grim topic easier to take. The natural history of jellyfish is amazing and bizarre. And despite this long book review, I’ve left out quite a bit, the story is far too complex to summarize — I hope you’ll read this book to learn more.
Even if we stopped overfishing, polluting, and so on, once we tip the ecosystem into one controlled by jellyfish, they will become the “new normal” and that will quite likely be impossible to change.
What a dismal future — an ocean of slimy, repulsive, stinging, sticky, lethal, spooky, scary, alien jellyfish. Bye-bye fish, oysters, shrimp, scallops, lobsters, Beluga caviar, abalone, sharks, whales, seals, sea lions, penguins, dolphins, sea otters, polar bears. Hello jelly-O.
The time when jellyfish rule is not far away, it could be in your lifetime, or your children’s lifetime. The climate and chemistry of the ocean is becoming like the Ediacaran ocean 565 million years ago, when jellyfish ruled the oceans for over 100 million years as the top predators.
In the last chapter, Gershwin writes that in the end, jellyfish are “also outcompeting the human race, because we depend on the oceans’ fish for our own food.”
Gershwin wrote this book assuming she’d have advice at the end of actions you could take to bring back the fisheries and keep jellyfish from dominating the oceans, but she ends the book saying it’s too late to do anything. Hold the presses — perhaps not, Lisa replied to this book review and said “I welcome thoughts that you or your readers may have toward saving the oceans and fixing the damage… the subject of my next book!”.
I like Gershwin’s honesty, and the willingness of the University of Chicago Press to publish her book, since most publishers won’t print a book that doesn’t have a happy ending (and also why our political and economic leaders deny or don’t talk about peak oil, climate change, and other insoluble problems.)
People have asked me when the fish would come back, since after all, they’re here now, they must have defeated the jellyfish in the past. That’s why you need to read this 344 page book. the ocean ecosystem is complex and Gershwin spends most of the book explaining how it works in order to then say how this relates to jellyfish. I’ve only reported on jellyfish part of what she wrote.
One important concept I didn’t cover was on low versus high-energy food chains, since that’s a big part of why the ocean is tipping in favor of the jellyfish, who do better in a low-energy system like the Ediacaran oceans hundreds of millions of years ago (read pages 288-344).
We’re returning the oceans to an Ediacaran state — warm oceans favor jellyfish, low energy food chains favor jellyfish, low oxygen favors jellyfish, ocean acidification favors jellyfish, billions of jellyfish consuming most fish eggs, larva, and juveniles favors jellyfish, ability to catch food in murky water favors jellyfish, their ability to bloom and grow faster than any other creature, humans removing most of the jellyfish predators and competitors from overfishing, the amazing adaptability of jellyfish, their being at the top of the food chain, and the synergy of all of these and the dozens of other factors above.
When this becomes a stable state, how do you get back?
“The Earth without us” gave me great hope. Because we’re at peak fossil fuels the climate change scenarios won’t be as bad as the worst forecasts (perhaps), without oil there will be only a billion people or less, who can’t do nearly as much harm without oil-powered vehicles and combustion engines.
A day will come when the earth cools, oceanic oxygen and pH levels go up, and fish and sea mammals will return. If they’ve survived, that is. The problem with an extinction like this 6th one we’re causing is that the hangover can last for millions of years before evolution refills the lost niches of extinct creatures, sigh.
This is a book on the theory of Nuclear Fusion which ventures into theoretically defending cold fusion. Candobetter.net gets lots of scientific book reviews and we can only field a minority. It is good to give the more esoteric some publicity they might not otherwise get, even if we cannot actually review them. In this case candobetter.ed ran the subject and a cited paper past Dr Boris Osadin in Russia and you can read his comment at the bottom of this book.
Written by Dr. Stoyan Sarg, ‘Structural Physics of Nuclear Fusion’ offers a new understanding of the physical process.
Toronto, Ontario – Following a diligent period of research and development, Canada’s Dr. Stoyan Sarg is delighted to announce the launch of his new book – ‘Structural Physics of Nuclear Fusion’.
This latest book is a continuation of the original approach used in Sarg’s ‘Basic Structures of Matter - Supergravitation Unified Theory (BSM-SG)’, published by in 2002, where the feasibility of cold fusion was predicted. The remarkable advances in cold fusion during the last few years prompted a new book to focus on the problems that bother many theorists and researchers.
Using the atomic models derived in BSM-SG theory, Sarg theoretically shows that overcoming the Coulomb barrier does not require a temperature of millions of degrees, rather an accessible temperature by using properly selected isotopes and technical methods. Furthermore, it is possible to obtain nuclear energy with a lack of minimum radioactive by-products.
The book also provides a method for analysis of the cold fusion (LENR) experiments using the BSM-SG models, as well as a selection of isotopes suitable for a more efficient energy yield with a minimum of radioactivity. Finally, it focuses on practical considerations for selection of the technical method and the reaction environment.
“The cold fusion might be an environmentally safer replacement of the nuclear power based on enriched uranium-235. It also has a potential of a delocalized energy source with much lower cost,” says Sarg.
Structural Physics of Nuclear Fusion is available from Amason.com in paperback (ISBN9781482620030) and Kindle versions (ISBN9780973051582).
A video of a talk at the International Scientific Conference in 2012 preceding the publishing of the new book, is available here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S3gJp8rLHWg
A scientific paper is available here: http://gsjournal.net/Science-Journals/Essays/View/4805
About the Author:
Stoyan Sarg - Sargoytchev, a Bulgarian born Canadian, holds an engineering diploma and a PhD in Physics. From 1976 to 1990 he was a scientist at the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences, working on space projects coordinated by the program Intercosmos, established by the former Soviet Union in collaboration with European countries. From 1990 he was a visiting scientist at Cornell University for two years and worked on NSF project at Arecibo Observatory, PR.
In 1992 he took scientific positions in Canadian government institutions and universities working on space and atmospheric research projects. Paying attention to unexplained phenomena and unsolved problems in Physics, he arrived at an original idea about space, matter and energy that he elaborated in his treatise BSM-SG. Stoyan Sarg has over 70 scientific publications in English and Russian languages, four US patents, and four scientific books in English. He is an emeritus member of the Society for Scientific Exploration and a Distinguished scientific advisor to the World Institute for Scientific Exploration.
Dr. Stoyan Sarg
Dale Peterson begins his thesis with the execution of elephants for crimes of murder against humans. An unusual, well-argued and inspiring book. Peterson co-authored the famous Demonic Males, an anthropological study in their own environment of several kinds of apes, including humans. I expected him to come up with something new on the subject of animal morality, and I was not disappointed. This is a real thesis, a slow burning one that reaches a high temperature.
Dale Peterson begins his thesis with the execution of elephants for crimes of murder against humans. He thus arrests our attention with a couple of concepts most of us probably don't mull over every day in relation to elephants: 'execution' and 'murder'.
Firstly, he calls to our minds the difficulty of killing an elephant and of how authorities 'execute' elephants mostly when those animals have done something that makes them seem pretty dangerous - generally maiming or killing a human. The level of decision-making and authority to kill the elephant in question is such that it takes on the character of an execution and a punishment.
Then he introduces the concept of 'murder' by non-humans of humans. He shows how people in earlier times have tended to assume intent and deliberation in animals and that, even though this assumption has been largely dropped with the institution of Cartesian values that say animals are machines without feelings, with elephants people tend, despite themselves, to assume intelligence and planning.
Australians might recognise the motif of execution and murder in the way we sometimes deal with sharks and crocodiles after one of them has killed one of us. And then, there is our attitude to dingos. And pit-bulls.
An important part of Peterson's logic depends on establishing that most species think of themselves as the most important, possibly the only 'real' species, just as humans do. He gives an example of how, when human observers were educated not to interact at all with non-human apes in the Goodall studies - the non-human apes simply forgot the human apes were there. They accommodated their presence in the sense that they went around them, but the almost never attempted to interact. Humans went off their radar - just as most other species are nearly always off most humans' radars.
Obviously you have to read the book to understand what Peterson is talking about here. He is sufficiently original to surprise most people saturated in animal ethology, evolution and animal rights literature.
Species self-centredness does not exclude a capacity for empathy when there is meaningful interaction with another species and within one's own. Peterson defines empathy and argues very effectively that this is an evolutionary trait shared by many species apart from humans. Readers may not be surprised by this observation, but they will probably be impressed by the reasoning and examples.
With this significant beginning, Peterson goes on to examine other perspectives on animals in laboratories and in the wild which many of us won't have thought of. He also has a lot of unusual but well documented examples from the wild, in part due to his long association with Jane Goodall.
When I was deliberating about buying this book, I wondered how Peterson would deal with his own emotions on these subjects and with those he might expect in a reader. Emotional attitude is very important in such works because it can put readers off for a number of different reasons. For instance, some readers might seek to avoid the pain of knowing of awful treatment of animals. Conversely, animal rights readers might suspect an author who did not express indignation and anger. On the other hand, scientific readers and people used to repressing their emotions might prefer an absence of emotion. How does Dale Peterson deal with this? He doesn't become 'emotional' but he nonetheless validates the experience of animals by describing their reactions - for instance how laboratory rats would go hungry and even risk starvation to avoid imposing pain on their rat-neighbours when that was a risk entailed in seeking food - for instance where pressing a lever to get a pellet of food appeared to cause another rat to receive some kind of 'punishment'.
Does Peterson rail against the people who would deliberately cause animals - from lab rats to chimpanzees and elephants - pain? No, he doesn't. But the actions of the animals to protect each other dignify the animals themselves, and so the reader makes their judgement.
Peterson succeeds here in a very difficult field: he teaches us that the matter is too serious for mere indignation. Serious in a manner that requires intense reflection on our relationship with other creatures, with ourselves and each other.
"The puffin (harvested locally, the waitress promised) was sliced thin, its gaminess muted with litchi and fig. The minke whale, also finely carved, tasted like beef tenderloin with a faint metallic finish; it was savoury and delicate when paired with an airy washabi cream." (Liz Alderman, New York Times travel journalist, 2013)
The industrialized killing of whales during the twentieth century was 'perhaps the most callous demonstration history offers of humankind's self-appointed dominion over animals. One searches almost in vain for an expression of sympathy, compassion, understanding, or rationality. In their place were only insensitivity and avarice.' (Richard Ellis,2003. The Empty Ocean).
Whales are present throughout the book, an undercurrent in the form of educated interpretations of Moby Dick, which will absolutely fascinate anyone who has studied it, but the cetaceans surface, so to speak, in their full glory, in the last chapter.
Now I am not one to be impressed by interspecies comparisons with human intelligence because I don't think I judge other species' worth in relation to humans. I have therefore never been very taken by the popular iconology of whales and porpoises. I love the sea and enjoy the creatures in it. They are a whole other planet. They do not need to be like me for me to want them to be.
No, when I think of whales, I think about how, when I was a child about five years old I participated in one of the last whale hunts off the West Australian coast. Two whalers were involved - one Australian and one Russian. My father (a scientist) was a guest for the day on the Russian boat and my mother and I were on the Australian one. The two boats competed for a mother whale and her calf. The Russians caught the mother and the calf. It was windy. The sea was roiling. The whales, although huge, appeared and disappeared among the waves. I remember the excitement of the pursuit and apparently friendly competition between the boat crews pursuing the same whale.
When we came ashore, we left the real crews to deal with their catch and drove to the country pub where we were sleeping.
Early the next morning we returned to the whaling station, eager to see the work that had been done. We climbed up on a rise above the station and looked down into a bay like a pit between cliffs. Our stomachs lurched at the sight. Humans were climbing over the partially exposed skeleton of the huge mother whale in a scene that resembled one of Hieronymous Boch's versions of hell. They were hacking away at the giant creature like ants with axes and knives. Was the little one lying beside its mother? I cannot be sure of my memory. I do remember that even my father (a man who made his own spears for underwater fishing) lost his bullish enthusiasm for the scene. The terrible smell of rotting whale even outdid the visual desecration of such an obviously monumental animal. Above everything else, the smell drove us away, gagging with horror, suddenly deeply depressed.
I was glad when I became aware they had banned whaling some years after that. Since then I have enjoyed the sight of whales with the feeling that - at least those I can see in Australia - are not menaced by a local whaling industry. Since there are already so many people out there protesting on behalf of whales, with an apparent appetite for associated posters and films, I have felt I could choose to spend my time trying to defend our very deserving Australian indigenous land-creatures and vegetation, which lack the profile in their own country that whales do, but suffer similarly.
Reading Dale Peterson's last chapter, however, concentrated my mind on the precarious position of whales. Peterson doesn't waste the reader's time with excess adjectives and examples. He makes the matter perfectly clear. Some whale populations that recovered from initial whaling bans are now nearly extinct, largely due to the current activities of the Japanese, the Greenlanders and the Icelanders. Some of the biggest creatures on the earth - with much larger brains than ours and similar neuronal connections - and perhaps with superior morality and values - are close to being wiped out by a bunch of badly-educated apes who no longer are in touch with what is going on around them. There is no excuse for whaling. There is no excuse for extinction. We have no excuse, except perhaps that, collectively, we humans are not as smart as we think.
"Altogether the brains of cetaceans show 'a structural complexity that could support complex information processing, allowing for intelligent, rational behavior.' That's the word from the neuroanatomists, and those scientists who have been studying cetacean behavior for the last several decades strongly support it, finding a group of animals who have excellent memories and high levels of social and self-awareness, who are excellent at mimicking the behavior of others and can respond to symbolic representations, who form complex and creatively adaptive social systems, who show a broad capacity for the cultural transmission of learned behaviors ... and so on."
"Nearly half of the thirteen great whale species are currently listed as endangered, some critically so, while a number of localized populations are gone or just about gone. The right whale of the North Atlantic, once common, is now down to a population of around three hundred and still declining. These giant animals were given their name in the old days because, as slow-moving and naturally-buoyant-after-death creatures, they were the 'right' ones to find and kill. Now they are right for extinction, with their continuing decline today, largely the consequence of accidental collisions with ships. The magnificent blue whales of the Antarctic, abundant until whalers discovered them, have been reduced to around 1 percent of their original numbers. At more than a hundred feet long and 150 tons heavy, incidentally, these animals are the largest creatures ever to have lived on this planet, land or sea, but they, too, are teetering on the edge of nonexistence. Also endangered or threatened are the gray whales of the northwestern Pacific, the fin whales, the sei, the beluga, and the sperm whales. 'Trusting creatures whose size probably precluded a knowledge of fear,' writes author and marine wildlife expert Richard Ellis, in The Empty Ocean (2003), 'the whales were chased until they were exhausted and then stabbed and blown up; their babies were slaughtered; their numbers were halved and halved again.' The industrialized killing of whales during the twentieth century, Ellis concludes, was 'perhaps the most callous demonstration history offers of humankind's self-appointed dominion over animals. One searches almost in vain for an expression of sympathy, compassion, understanding, or rationality. In their place were only insensitivity and avarice.'
"The International Whaling Commission (IWC) was originally organized in 1946 to support the industry by promoting the supposedly 'sustainable' harvesting of whales. But commercial whaling had, by the second half of the century, reduced the numbers of most species so decisively that in July of 1982 the IWC declared a moratorium on all whaling.
That important and positive event has been challenged continuously by the Starbucks of this world. The Soviet whaling industry simply continued harvesting whales of all species, all ages and sizes, while falsifying their reports. The Japanese officially adhered to the terms of the moratorium by identifying their whaling as 'scientific' rather than a commercial enterprise. Iceland ignored the moratorium, allowing its ships to kill one hundred minke whales and as many as one hundred and fifty endangered finned whales during the 2008 and 2009 seasons. The Norwegians have never stopped whaling either and continue to slaughter hundreds of minke whales yearly, insisting that whale killing is a glorious part of their cultural heritage and, furthermore, that these giant mammals eat too many fish. During the 2009 meeting of the IWC, meanwhile Greenland,backed by the Danish government, applied for permission to harvest as many as fifty endangered humpback whales over the next five years for the purposes of 'aboriginal subsistence,' even though Greenland already has a surplus of whale meat, which is sold in supermarkets."
After I began writing this review, I was sad to read the following in an internationally syndicated travelogue by New York journalist, Liz Alderman, about Iceland nightlife:
"We studied the menu and pointed to the puffin and minke whale appetisers, Icelandic delicacies. The puffin (harvested locally, the waitress promised) was sliced thin, its gaminess muted with litchi and fig. The minke whale, also finely carved, tasted like beef tenderloin with a faint metallic finish; it was savoury and delicate when paired with an airy washabi cream."
Liz Alderman was not starving, was not an indigenous hunter, was not unable to procure other kinds of food, so how could she be so blind and deaf and dumb to the imminent extinction of the whale and the puffin? And, if it sold articles, would she also sample elephants' tusks and tigers' bones? Where would she draw the line? Would she, could she draw a line anywhere?
Is there any hope for the world? Are we any different from the Ancient Romans who gorged themselves with rare animal dishes and self-induced vomiting so as to be able to eat more?
It is as if every local rule that ever developed to save something for later and maintain the populations of food sources is being eroded by marketing for short-term gain to nations of unhappily fat people who cannot avoid exposure to the brainwashing.
I know I am not the only one who is absolutely sick of the multiplication of cooking shows on television. I rarely turn on my own television, but television is now everywhere - on the back of airline seats, in hospitals and doctors' waiting rooms, in public squares. It is a form of ideological pollution. At every hour of day and night we are sold the idea of eating more and more kinds of animals, to seek the out wherever they may hide and popularise their demise. So we are supposed to admire a man who urges us to taste fried spiders, then follow the camera's eye as it roves greedily over other produce, passing casually over the sad little face of a small dead bat. The image haunts me still, because I have actually been friends with a bat. I recorded it in this film, Gracie, the flying fox.
Julia Buch, who introduced me to the friendly bat took to saving baby bats orphaned on bat hunts in New Guinea, when she was a child. A tradition of bat eating among a small population of New Guinea clans-people is one thing; 7.5 billion people hunting down every bat and every spider, every tasty rare plant and turning their habitats into fields for soy and corn is like some kind of scary nightmare. Yet that is what is happening! Humans have become the nemesis of every other creature in the world. Our behaviour is monstruous.
 Starbuck was one of the characters in Moby Dick. He was less impressed by Moby Dick and Captain Ahab than most of the crew. He wanted to get on with business and go home to his wife.
 Liz Alderman, "The nights and lights of Reykjavik," Australian Financial Review, February 22-24, 2013, pp22-24.
 Puffins are hunted for eggs, feathers and meat. Atlantic Puffin populations drastically declined due to habitat destruction and exploitation during the 19th century and early 20th century. They continue to be hunted in Iceland and the Faroe Islands.
The Atlantic Puffin forms part of the national diet in Iceland, where the species does not have legal protection. Puffins are hunted by a technique called “sky fishing”, which involves catching low-flying birds with a big net. Their meat is commonly featured on hotel menus. The fresh heart of a puffin is eaten raw as a traditional Icelandic delicacy.
SOS Puffin is a conservation project based from the Scottish Seabird Centre at North Berwick to save the puffins on islands in the Firth of Forth. Puffin numbers on the island of Craigleith, once one of the largest colonies in Scotland, with 28,000 pairs, have crashed to just a few thousand due to the invasion of Tree Mallow, an exotic plant which has taken over the island and prevented the puffins from accessing their burrows and breeding. The project has the support of over 450 volunteers and progress is being made with puffins returning in numbers to breed this year.
In the summer, children in Iceland walk around local areas with boxes and containers to rescue puffins that land in dangerous spots, such as close to cities, where the city light has confused them into trying to fly into that direction, as opposed to diving in the direction of the light reflecting off the sea water near their burrows. The children who rescue puffins then later release them at sea, and away from the city. Source: Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Puffin
As one who was involved early on in reporting on the 2008 incident that sparked off this book, and then in some proof-reading, I can personally say that I think this book is a triumph in embodying the goodness of children and their love of nature. This is a book that I will buy for children I know.
Menkit Prince, 2013, Chloe and Joey meet a very wise Kiwi. Illustrated by Kathleen McLaren.
This delightful novel by Menkit Prince features a real little Australian girl called Chloe. The story, which is charming, logical and satisfying, as well as exotic and adventurous, begins with the actual experiences of a primary school class in Epping, Victoria. The teacher in charge of the class observed her pupils' distress at seeing many injured kangaroos displaced by new suburbs. She helped them write to the then Minister for the Environment, Gavin Jennings (depicted here with his heart missing).
The outcome was even more distressing. The children's letters got scant attention. The kangaroos continued to be deprived of their habitat, and the teacher seemed to receive a firm message not to encourage this kind of political engagement with truth.
Of course we think this is just the kind of engagement with nature and population that children should engage in with courage but lots of support. The absence of support from the official channels struck us as a tragic sign of the times.
Menkit Prince's book empowers Chloe, a character inspired by one of the children in the class, to act to save kangaroos by elevating their status in the hearts and minds of Australians, taking advice from a New Zealand kiwi bird.
It is a lovely and important story and a superior children's novel.
In fact I know it very well because I was originally contacted to do the illustrations, but the author finished up choosing another artist who did an excellent job. I worked with Menkit, however, by helping her to proof-read. I do quite a lot of proof-reading but can truthfully say that it was some of the most pleasurable proof-reading I have ever done.
I love this book!
The book took a long time to get to publication, which is the nature of publishing.
I really want to recommend it to parents and their children. I think it should be destined to be a classic and also think that it will help the plight of kangaroos and the plight of children, from whom the experience of magical nature is being stripped.
Editor and Evolutionary Sociologist
Policy Advisor for the AWPC
 Click here for the original 2008 article, "Children in Epping tread where adults and politicians fear to go"
Perry Cornish writes about a recent book by an Afghan-born New Yorker who felt there had to be more to history than the Western version. The book explores the theory of protestantism as an enabling force of the Enlightenment because it released Christians from the supervision of Church authorities.
I have recently finished reading this book. It was published in 2009, so I'm a bit behind the times and I would like to see it discussed, so here goes.
The full title is Destiny Disrupted - A history of the world through Islamic eyes by Mir Tamim Ansary.
Tamim is a Muslim, born in Afghanistan. He lives in New York. He was frustrated with the Western bias on recorded history of the last 1500 years since Mohammed's birth, so he researched and wrote this historical view.
Its an excellent read.
I reckon its as important a book as Jarad Diamond's Guns, Germs and Steel in its discussion of cultural and technological evolution, though covers a much shorter time span.
It makes you realise how strongly biased our understanding of the history of the last 2000 years is, and how that has skewed our thinking such that we consider ourselves more mature and advanced than these Eastern cultures.
The most resonating part for me was his discussion of the Protestant Reformation which he argued was a significant reason for the cultural difference between those cultures that are community based, and those that are based on the individual. He discusses why the apparently free and advanced cultures of Europe, with their advanced technologies and
goods was so appealing to the East, but that they were (are still?) culturally not evolved enough to deal with reproducing the culture required to deal with its ramifications.
The Protestant Reformation, freeing science and the individual from having to consider the
community, allowed for the birth of corporations (East India Companies etc).
He describes their practice of not invading but heavily trading with the East Indies and with their advanced technologies, offering themselves as consultants, manipulating local politics and economies to favour their interests, until they basically ran the country. Basically
the same practices that we are fighting against today [in Australia].
He gives a good understanding of the fundamental difference of these two cultural types and how incompatible they are.
He has no bias as to which culture he considers better, but being Muslim, he certainly paints a favourable picture of Muslim culture, and a rather barbarian picture of European culture, pre 1600/1700.
We are taught that about Europe as well but we paint it as being "the Dark Ages" for Europe. He fills in those Dark Ages with a very detailed history of the Middle East that was happening in significant isolation from Europe.
At the end of the crusades the strong, authoritarian hierarchical structure of Catholic church started to crumble. John Wycliffe attacked the organisation, its righteous, powerful control over individuals. He started printing the Bible in English, advocated that all archbishops should be poor.
Martin Luther, German theology professor, tormented by guilt, tried everything his priest suggested to free himself from guilt, but none of it worked. He then realised he would not be free of guilt until he himself believed he was. Which then begged the question - what was the purpose of the priest.
Part of the crusades was the practice of offering indulgences for those going off to fight the Turk. At the end of the crusades, these indulgences had become a way of giving the church money for a ticket to heaven. The church had become quite corrupt. Luther believed the church were extorting bribes to let people into heaven when they had no right at all (according to his recent revelation).
In 1517 he nailed a 95 theses document on the Wittenberg church door stating that salvation was here and now, achieved by faith alone, no intermediary was needed, the Bible was all they needed. It was an overnight sensation that became the Protestant Reformation (PR).
But unlike Islamic reformations, that sparked a new branch of ideology, with a new religious leader etc, the PR was an attack on the authority of the church, a release from its rule. Tamim argues that Christianity is an individualistic religion, based on salvation of the individual soul. Whereas Islam was a plan for how a community should work. So PR was an empowering of the individual, released from the church.
PR enabled the individual to think about God in their own way, and by extension to think about anything in their own way. It freed the individual from having to consider what they were doing/thinking in terms of faith. It allowed Copernicus (and others) to come up with his theories, without having to have it approved by the church.
So Tamim appears to be saying that it was this PR that enabled the Age of Enlightenment to happen, though he doesnt discuss the Age of Enlightenment from my recollection. But he does continue to explain how this new freedom of thought enabled Europeans to race forward in terms of scientific understanding, social freedoms and technological achievements.
"Russell argues that the enlightenment was ultimately born out of the Protestant reaction against the Catholic counter-reformation, when the philosophical views of the past two centuries crystallized into a coherent world view. He argues that many of the philosophical views, such as affinity for democracy against monarchy, originated among Protestants in the early 16th century to justify their desire to break away from the pope and the Catholic Church. Though many of these philosophical ideals were picked up by Catholics, Russell argues, by the 18th century the Enlightenment was the principal manifestation of the schism that began with Martin Luther"
Available in kindle and in print. This book was inspired by 'collapse theory' to look at stable systems in animal and human populations and to define their principles. It introduces a new biological theory of human population numbers, land-ownership and property inheritance. As such it is also about the economic 'fundamentals' of civilisation. Using the concepts of endogamy and exogamy the author points out the persistent importance in world affairs of clans and tribes - be they royal dynasties, family corporations or nation states. Newman shows that in Britain, the United States, Canada and Australia, power, wealth and land are accumulated in fewer and fewer hands by systems that promote disorganisation and displacement of the masses. In contrast, other modern systems in continental Europe and elsewhere, enable families and clans to much better defend citizens' rights and to democratically conserve local land, resources and environment, effectively resisting population growth. This information is not available elsewhere and needs to be widely known. The book is the first of four volumes. SECOND VOLUME NOW OUT: Demography, territory, law 2: Land-tenure and the origins of capitalism in Britain, Countershock Press, 2014.
"Concerning Sheila's [theory] chapters, they are very sound according to my knowledge. I could not find anything to be critical of. There is no question of the genetic benefits of avoiding incest in populations, but the selection processes are a little difficult to understand. Sheila's two chapters appear to be sound to me and I do not have any suggested changes." Prof. Pimentel, Population scientist, Cornell University.
"An amazingly good piece of work and definitely a major scholarly work." Dr Joseph Smith (Environmental Law)
"This book takes us to a completely new paradigm in multiple species population science. It shows how little we understand, and how much we need to know, of the sexual reactions when closed colonies with an orderly reproduction system are destroyed, be it people or animals."(Hans Brunner, Biologist and Forensic Animal Hair expert)
A new theory of the biological basis of land-use planning, political systems and demography by an evolutionary sociologist. It exercises the kind of “consilience” that E.O.Wilson hoped could save biodiversity.
The author identifies a poly-species norm and a genetic algorithm using well-established biological and anthropological studies, then relates these to the human land-tenure systems which underpin our political systems. The book convincingly shows how one land tenure and inheritance system promotes steady state societies and the other promotes uncontrollable growth and overshoot of resources. This theme is developed more in the subsequent volumes of this series, which compare the Germanic (English) and the Roman (Napoleonic) systems in European history.
The Rules ... begins by describing the social costs of infrastructure expansion and population growth in economic growth systems in some modern societies. After reviewing population theories, Newman introduces a new theory of an additional function of genetic diversity in two chapters that look at impacts on fertility opportunities of the Westermarck Effect and incest avoidance in non-human species. A final chapter compares these with kinship marriage restrictions and non-sale of land in Pacific Islander and other traditional social systems. It's all about the balance between endogamy and exogamy, which makes and breaks clans and tribes and their control over territory. We learn that modern societies ignore these traditions at their peril and that Anglophone systems with rapidly growing populations a seeming norm are quite different from those of continental Europe, where population growth is slowing. We come to understand that our destinies and societies are still very dependent on who we are, whom we marry, how far away we live from our parents and whether we inherit, buy or rent, plus the transport we use.
Most economic demographic theory begins with the industrial revolution as its norm, ignoring the exceptionality and relative transience of this period and treating other species and the natural environment as ‘externals’. Although informed by ‘collapse’ theory (Tainter) Newman is interested in what keeps some societies going for thousands of years. She finds that stable populations are not limited to hunter gatherer communities. Newman has a completely new take on the 'riddle' of Easter Island which will surprise everyone.
Demography Territory & Law: Rules of Animal & Human Populations, Countershock Press, 2013, is the first of four by environment and energy sociologist, Sheila Newman, in a series identifying and comparing the biological origins and outcomes of two major world demographic economic and political systems. The rest of the series develops this theme and theory in the following titles, of which the second will be available within weeks and the third late 2013 and the fourth by 2014:
Demography, territory, law 2: Land-tenure and the origins of capitalism in Britain, Countershock Press, 2014.
Demography Territory & Law 3: Land Tenure and the Origins of Modern Democracy in France
Demography Territory & Law 4: After Napoleon: Incorporation of Land and People
The core biological theory of this series was first published as The Urge to Disperse., Candobetter Press, 2011. This new book provides human societal examples to which the Urge only referred in passing. Sheila Newman is also known as editor and author of energy resources analyses including, The Final Energy Crisis, 2nd Ed. Pluto Books, 2008. Her website is at Sheila Newman, where she writes as a journalist and researcher on growth lobby politics and illustrates articles.
"Let me return to my old primary school, St Joseph's convent [in Cloncurry]. Saint Mary McKillop, I'm sure, was just like my principal, Sister Thomas..." Bob Katter's book, while retrieving some good Australian ideas and paying its respects to our ancestors, also markets big population ideas uncannily like those of B.A. Santamaria.
Bob Katter An Incredible Race of People Murdoch Books, September 13, 2012.
Hurrying through a mall in outer Brisbane, a few weeks ago a book by outback Queensland independent politician, Bob Katter Jr., caught my eye amongst the fat-foodie and ‘life-changing’ array in the bookshop. It was strangely alluring like the rabbit hole for Alice.
A friend and I found it so fascinating in its chronicle from a particular point of view of Australian political and economic history that we bought two copies; one for kindle and the other a hardback, so that we could compare notes.
Even so, this book review was very hard to write. Katter’s book reflects a long lifetime of quirky political observations and experience in a head-long rush of a narrative, opinion and anecdote. It is a long and detailed book. Even if you disagree with every word, it is hard to dislike the enthusiasm and overt individuality, so rare in an Australian politician.
Surprisingly, I found it easiest to start by comparing Katter’s book with professional journalist Laura Tingle’s article, “Great Expectations”, in Quarterly Essay recently. See [See "Tingle shoots blanks ..."]
Tingle dumbfounds in her strangely arrogant and unempathic painting of Australian convicts as wimps and whiners, and the Australian population as curiously dependent, whereas Katter writes warmly of an 'incredible race of people' who came from the "convict crucible".
Katter performs an educational service in telling of all the things that Australians managed to create and do with a population of only about 7 million - proportionately more than we now achieve in manufacture. But he seems not to realise the contradiction between his acknowledgement of how well we achieved and what we created at 7 million and his current perception that we now need a much bigger population. In fact, in his last two chapters, he puts on the growth spurs and urges for a population of 55 million by ... wait for it... 2037! That's in 24 years. One generation. An immigration invasion, no less.
Katter is a self-confessed 'developmentalist'. He admires 'doers' and despises ‘pygmyism’ [what he perceives as the opposite of developmentalism]. His whole book is a hymn to engineering, peasant farming, empire building and … did I say? … population growth.
The son of a Cloncurry Labor Party secretary, Katter seems to be a B.A. Santamariarist (a Grouper) at heart in his desire to irrigate the Australian desert and settle tens of millions of peasant farmers there. You wonder why and, in the very last chapter, you realise that he is the product of a Catholic education and the associated ideology about civilization as a moral imperative, medical science as having saved us from an eternal struggle against pestilence and disease, without which one in four would not survive birth,  and that population growth is normal or good. Despite all his lauding of the 'first Australians', he is a fan of the 'civilising' influence of the Conquistador.
"Let me return to my old primary school, St Joseph's convent [in Cloncurry]. Saint Mary McKillop, I'm sure, was just like my principal, Sister Thomas..."
Katter's values shape the things he chooses as important in history. It makes sense to compare Katter with Tingle because both use quite different interpretations of the same events to kick off opposite ideologies. Tingle uses the history of politicians selling off our institutions to argue that we can no longer expect anything of governments. Katter uses a different interpretation of the same thing to argue for the election of his party of 'doers' to bring back those lost empowering institutions - like a Peoples' Bank, patriotic Australian employers, Australian manufacturing and design, and an owner–operator society, in which men sell their labour or their produce through collectively owned ‘means of production’, or at least through statutory collective marketing arrangements. Many Australians would welcome these among Katter’s policies.
Tingle mentions how Australia has been subject to constant mass immigration. She then glaringly omits to comment on this. Katter can hardly stop talking about it. He wants more, more, MORE!
Most Australians don’t want a bigger population.
What is to underpin Katter's vision of turning of rivers inland and the flooding of the interior with water to create an inland sea for a hugely swollen population? Katter believes that almost limitless coal resources underlie about 20 per cent of Queensland. In fact he believes that Australia has the most coal of any country in the world. (Usually Australia is placed around third in coal reserves globally). He actually believes that Australia can be a great power just on these, with 'clean coal technology'  and ethanol from sugar cane. These energy sources combined with massive irrigation throughout much of Australia, for Katter would enable a host of peasant farms across northern Australia, to feed the world and power Australian industry and huge new cities in the north and south, plus our current cities ballooned to megapolises.
Creating an inland sea, if you added trees (which Katter does not mention) might affect climate positively, although this is an old idea which has been criticized as unlikely to do what it purports, and of a scale so financially costly that no government has ever gone further than look at the idea and hastily discard it. If our population stayed the same, in theory such a scheme might help our current environmental problems, however, Katter simply wants to use it to add to our problems by turbo-charging immigration. So we would have massive increased energy costs associated with a vast engineering scheme, plus all the additional costs of the new population. Katter, however, only assesses things in terms of a credit side to an imaginary financial balance sheet. He just doesn’t get that the financial balance sheet depends on the health of the environment and that we are already overpopulated. Or, maybe he does get it but he knows that he is more likely to get coverage in the mainstream press and funding if he makes an appeal to the big populationists of corporate Australia.
Katter believes that big populations carry ‘economies of scale’. He seems not to have heard about the diseconomies of scale we are all experiencing with congestion in Australian cities. Nor does he seem to notice the loss of democratic representation as our representatives preside at a great altitude over more and more vast electorates in a materialistic hierarchy antithetical to the Australian egalitarianism that Katter also extols. His answer to our overlarge population’s overshoot of Australia’s water supply is to turn the northern rivers inland. Katter is the kind of man who cannot acknowledge limits. (In this he is no different from nearly every Australian politician).
He thinks that Australia can return to farming and manufacturing and inventing with
"[...] an extra 100,000 migrants a year [...adding] to the current immigration mix of 250,000 a year, giving us a population by 2037 that would be in line with most countries: around 55 million."
Yet he began his book saying how much we manufactured with only 7 million people. He also notes how successive economic liberalization policies put Australian business out of business and promoted international corporations. It seems to me that, if we changed our anti [small and medium] -business laws, our enterprise would again flourish, probably better without the constant pressure on land and resources prices of a bigger population.
He does not explain how he arrives at a definition of 'most countries' nor why we would aim to be of a particular [big] size. If you look up countries with populations over 30m but less than 100m you get: Philippines, Vietnam, Germany, Ethiopia, Egypt, Iran, Turkey, Congo Democratic Republic, France, Thailand, United Kingdom, Italy, Myanmar, South Korea, South Africa, Spain, Ukraine, Colombia, Tanzania, Argentina, Kenya, Sudan, Poland, Algeria, Canada, Uganda, and Morocco. The list of countries with much smaller populations than that is much longer and includes Switzerland, Sweden, Israel, Hong Kong, Singapore, Denmark, Ireland, Finland, New Zealand, Norway, Taiwan, Australia, Syria, Romania, Netherlands, Greece, Belgium, Portugal, Czech Republic, Hungary, Iraq, Venezuela, Malaysia, Saudi Arabia, and more...
In his barracking for a huge population for Australia, Katter is also calling for increased irrigation and the canalization of Australia's waterways on an unprecedented scale. He completely ignores wild ecology, animal rights, and the right of people to have wilderness. He celebrates as worthwhile the activities of engineering, road building, dam building, and irrigation channel building above all.
He is like a man in the grip of an ecstatic vision driving at 200 kpm down a highway in the middle of the night without any lights on, with no brakes and no insurance. In this he seems to be exactly like nearly every other politician in the country – except that he remains interested in primary products.
"Our mining product, our beef and our ethanol would be carried out on great canals fanning in from Spencer Gulf and south from [...] Two per cent of northern Asutralia's land and just 7 per cent of its water, combined with 10 per cent of Australia's grain [...] a real, open and sensible migration system. It will be unlike our current migration system that chokes off people [...] Some of this new population and much of the old will have moved out of rabbit-warren cities and onto their own one to three [...] A population of that size will provide great prosperity and great economies of scale. [...] All of northern Australia will become 'the land of 10,000 billabongs', with wildlife and nature no longer struggling [...]
Note that this last statement is the only one that sounds even faintly kindly towards our natural environment. My impression was that Katter's catholic education probably taught him to block nature out, in the belief that endless human expansion was our manifest destiny. For Katter, science is not about understanding and cooperating with our wonderful natural world; it is about dominating it and subduing it. And that means dominating and subduing local senses of place and local empowerment with massive engineering projects and mass immigration, for all his talk about democracy.
Whilst one can understand his position as a representative for farming influencing his perception of engineering rivers and dams, he actually seems to be irrigation and production- mad, to the extent that there can never be enough! For this reason (as well as the extraordinary financial and engineering costs and poor chances of success), one cannot endorse his wish to revive the Bradfield Scheme to water Australia's inland deserts, leaving the rest of Australia trashed and going forth to multiply and trash the rest.
(For a dissection of the Bradfield scheme and its paroxysmal resurgence from time to time in Australia, see, Dr Robert Wooding, "Populate, parch and panic: two centuries of dreaming about nation-building in inland Australia," Chapter 6 of John Butcher (Ed.), Australia under construction : nation-building : past, present and future, ANU School of Government, 2008.] [For a discussion of the Australian tendency to big huge and costly projects of little real benefit, see, Dr Richard Evans' "A passion for white elephants: some lessons from Australia’s experience of nation building" in Chapter 5 of John Butcher (Ed.), Australia under construction : nation-building : past, present and future, ANU School of Government, 2008.)
For Katter, private property is the key to civilisation. Unfortunately he is unable to see that modern economics in Australia also has a downside in its zero-sum capitalisation of land.
Convinced of the British capitalist system as the way forward, Katter thinks that Aboriginal land should be alienable - that is, that Aborigines should be able to buy and sell their community land - principally in order to borrow from banks so as to start businesses.
"It should appear obvious to any objective social commentator or historian that the often portrayed ugly picture of ‘Aboriginal’ Australia would be exactly the same picture in every town, village and city in the rest of Australia if the inhabitants were suddenly bereft of the private ownership of land and realty, and all that land and realty was suddenly to belong to the so-called ‘community’." (Jnr, Bob Katter (2012-05-15). An Incredible Race of People (Kindle Locations 714-716). Murdoch Books Australia. Kindle Edition.)
He is right, of course, as far as his philosophy goes, but it doesn’t go very far. The problem is that all that privately-owned land and realty is exponentially gravitating to fewer and fewer hands because of our 'wonderful' land-tenure system, so that the majority of Australians are becoming increasingly land and capital poor and endebted. What is the point in turning Aboriginal land into this economic quicksand?
Equity is preserved far better in the European roman law or Napoleonic system, but Katter, like most Anglophone politicians does not know of this alternative system that almost every country in Europe uses. (Pity, because he might like French dirigism and he might learn something from a system that counts population growth as costs to the community.) Aboriginal land as the founding institution of their 60,000 year old society has a much better record than a 300 year old capitalism that is cannibalising its own people and their property. Try taking Maori land away! No-one would dare to suggest that as a good idea.
Katter damns the Queensland Labor Government for reversing attempts to privatise Aboriginal land. Basically he believes in 'progress' as an evolutionary and divinely inspired constant. He does not seem to appreciate (and it does not seem to occur to him) that the Australian Aboriginal way of life retains its intrinsic validity, any more than he seems to appreciate the intrinsic validity (or value) of nature itself without the imprint of industrial man. Even though he describes gallantly the stand that the Australian Aborigines made against the British invasion, one can see that he feels it is all in the past, in a time unredeemed by Progress, Catholicism, mining and irrigation.
He also cannot stand to see all that water in the north under native title.
Inspired by the Brazilian ethanol industry, Katter promotes the idea that carbon emissions will be taken care of by the production of ethanol from sugar cane, which can be substituted for petroleum. The next sugar cane crop will reabsorb the carbon emissions, he believes. Although he is a rural politician, he has a strange disregard for soil.
The main problem with the production of biofuels from crops is the overuse of soil, which is biologically alive. The constituent soil organisms cannot survive frequent mechanical disturbance and applications of rich fertilizers, which is what is required for the production of monocrops. Another problem is the great amount of water necessary to grow the crops and create the fuel. Use of diesel fuel for mechanical operations, especially at farm level, detracts from the ultimate net energy production and from the ultimate net CO2 production. (It is true that the latter would be zero if it were not for the use of fossil fuels in production.)
Brazilian scientists have costed their ethanol industry:
“…the production of 1 liter of ethanol from sugarcane requires approximately 18.4 l of water, 0,07 kg of crude oil equivalent, and 1.52 m2 of annual land use and results in the lost of 1.8 kg of soil due to erosion. These results are impressive, especially when the Brazilian ethanol production, 16 billion of liters in 2006 (Brazil, 2007) is considered. The soil lost is of utmost importance since the ability in growing sugarcane to ethanol production, or any other crop, is directly related to this natural non-renewable resource.” Source: Consuelo L. F. Pereira and Enrique Ortega, 2005. “Sustainability Assessment of Ethanol Production from Sugarcane,” Conference Paper, , http://www.advancesincleanerproduction.net/first/textos%20e%20arquivos/sessoes/4a/1/Consuelo%20Fernandez%20Pereira%20-%20Resumo%20Exp..doc
“Although the popular belief that ethanol systems have no net CO2 emissions, they do have because of direct and indirect oil consumption; this system uses external inputs that demand petroleum in their production: fertilizers, equipments, chemical inputs, infra-structure and so on. Our estimate is that there is a release of 0.29 kg of CO2 per liter of ethanol produced.” Source: Source: Consuelo L. F. Pereira and Enrique Ortega, 2005. “Sustainability Assessment of Ethanol Production from Sugarcane,” Conference Paper,
To summarise the above: There is no such thing as a free lunch; the transformation of one energy form to another costs. A lot. We are using giant fossil fuel oil reserves. When they are gone we won’t be able to replace them with anything even remotely so vast. Trying to do so with sugarcane is a wet dream.
Katter expresses religio-economic beliefs in the value of capitalism and a notion of 'progress' similar to those of most parliamentarians today. This makes him argue like an ecological and thermodynamic simpleton about economies of scale with an increased population when we are looking at fossil fuel resource depletion and cannot cope with the pollution and emissions fall-out from what he have already used. Confident as a brave hunter that there will always be something out there to spear, he sounds like too much of a Man to carry a dilly bag or stop to clean up the mess before inviting 35 million more people along to the barbecue.
As a "Developmentalist" much of his economic philosophy is founded on the Keynesian way out of the Great Depression, when, in an age of cheap oil, governments poured money into projects to employ their people to build infrastructure for future manufacture and expansion. Reasonable for that era, but not for ours. The circumstances have changed.
His hero, Ted Theodore, who built the Australian Workers Union up, was Premier of Queensland from 1919 to 1925, a member of the federal House of Representatives from 1927 to 1931, and Federal Treasurer from 1929 to 1930, was a champion of the Keynesian approach, but was not able to get support to implement it, due to a political scandal.
Katter’s opus is peppered with positive delivery of the kinds of statements that give ecologists and enlightened farmers the willies, such as:
"Les Thiess had revolutionised scrub clearing by putting a big cable or chain between two tractors, but the cable would ride up, particularly with brigalow scrub. Joh,[Bjelke Joh Petersen] using a similar method, had added a huge steel ball in the middle of the chain that stopped it from riding up over the scrub." [Kindle Location 3752]
Katter's heroes are typically the object of 'green attacks'. You can see where his solid antipathy to the Greens arises. Their rhetoric attacks the heart of his values.
Even if Katter's big population, big engineering, big irrigation, big roads, big development obsessions etc make you want to run away and hide, they aren't much different from those of the Liberal Party, the Queensland LNCP, or the Labor Party. Furthermore, the Greens do precious little to stop the push for population growth that causes all the big engineering projects and expansion that oppress and destroy nature, biodiversity and democracy. What's different is that Katter's writing is complimentary and sympathetic to most Australians and he pays his dues to those who laid down their lives or toiled to build this colony from its desert beginnings. You sense his fellow feeling and you respect his ancestors because he seems to respect yours.
He has noted and taken to his heart our battles. Often he was there. He is friend to the soldier, the miner, the worker, the disaffected ALP True Believer, the ex-Lib, the strayed CP member, the misunderstood Pauline Hanson party member, the capitalist Aborigine - and the Catholic Church.
I can't be the only Australian to wonder if Katter is for real or if he's just a brilliant politician in his ability to appeal to marginalised Australians in farm, mine, and satellite suburb and anyone who is just sick of the economic rationalist parliamentary babble. It takes more than luck to survive this long by yourself in Australian politics. But then Katter is second in a dynasty of rural politicians, headed by his father. Katter's father had a country store and Katter himself spent some time in mining – which probably accounts for the rigid solidification of his pioneer mentality. He now occasionally buys and sells cattle and mining interests and his wife buys and sells houses which might be worth around 700,000 (according to disclosure of interests for Parliament).
Katter might have written an unusual and interesting book, but I was surprised at the media coverage it got and the coverage of his party, The Australian Party in the mainstream media - including The Australian. In fact I thought that Katter's new salience in Australian politics probably relates to the huge promotion he makes for rapidly expanding the population in Australia, especially for The Australian. The Murdoch press constantly promotes the idea of a bigger population for Australia. Surely Katter’s book cannot have escaped the notice of the desperados in the growth lobby, who one would expect to be queuing up to throw money at him. Surprisingly, he seems not to be able to attract candidates to his Party, which would otherwise present competition to the Stable Population Party Australia candidates in marginal seats. I think many people would front up to join, were it not for his big population policies.
Finally, one cannot help noticing how Katter’s push for a big population for Australia and his Catholicism are, as I mentioned earlier, very reminiscent of B.A.Santamaria’s philosophy which, with the backing of the Pope, caused enormous harm to Australian democracy. The Catholic Church in Australia has a long history of immigrationism and the Vatican is possibly the richest corporation in the world, with a penchant for interfering in politics and economies. For years The Australian employed Santamaria as a journalist. For anyone interested in familiarising themselves with this fascinating era of Australian history, see "Pronatalist Policy in Australia: 1945-2000" On the other hand, I have no evidence that anything like that is going on with Mr Katter.
 Katter, for instance, believes that one in four people alive today would be dead if it were not for modern medical technology - antibiotics and vaccinations. Like most people he has fallen for the lurid myth that people in simple societies had life expectancies of around 30 years old and that the appallingly low life expectancy of Europeans in early industrialisation was a norm that had existed up until then. This is complete and utter nonsense but it underpins much of the developmentalist dogma of the Catholic Church and capitalist foreign aid. For the real demographic story read Sheila Newman, Demography, Territory and Law: The Rules of Animal and Human Populations, Countershock Press, December 2012.
 These are deceased Queensland Premier Ted Theodore’s words, but they also seem to be among Katter’s policies.
 A good book to read about a future relying on coal and for an explanation of the concept of clean coal is Barbara Freeze, Coal, a Human History 2004.
 Dr Robert Wooding, "Populate, parch and panic: two centuries of dreaming about nation-building in inland Australia," Chapter 6 of John Butcher (Ed.), Australia under construction : nation-building : past, present and future, ANU School of Government, 2008.] [For a discussion of the Australian tendency to big huge and costly projects of little real benefit, see, Dr Richard Evans' "A passion for white elephants: some lessons from Australia’s experience of nation building" in Chapter 5 of John Butcher (Ed.), Australia under construction : nation-building : past, present and future, ANU School of Government, 2008.]
Having trouble finding the right man or the right woman? Not sure which you want? You are not alone - well, not completely .... Female fish in Mexico, living in polluted streams, are mating with male fish of the wrong species, West Australian beetles are mistaking beer bottles for prospective partners. A new book by Bob Wong and Ulrika Candolin, Behavioural Responses to a Changing World: Mechanisms and Consequences is the first book of its kind devoted to understanding animal behavioural responses to environmental change. Behavioural Responses emphasises the vital links between environmental change, behaviour and population dynamics. Topics as diverse as endocrine disruption, learning, reproduction, migration, species interactions and evolutionary rescue are canvassed.
Male beetles in Western Australia are mating with beer bottles in response to environmental change caused by human activity. A new book examines why, and the impacts on biodiversity.
Oxford University Press today announced the launch of Behavioural Responses to a Changing World: Mechanisms and Consequences by Dr Bob Wong, of Monash University, and Ulrika Candolin from The University of Helsinki, Finland.
Drawing on international experts from across the globe, it is the first book of its kind devoted to understanding animal behavioural responses to environmental change. Behavioural Responses emphasises the vital links between environmental change, behaviour and population dynamics which have been rarely examined in the context of one another.
Co-editor Dr Bob Wong, Senior Lecturer at Monash University’s School of Biological Sciences and an expert in behavioural and evolutionary ecology, said how animals respond to changed conditions was a growing area of research interest.
“Due to human activities, almost all creatures live in environments that have been altered to some degree. The ability to behave accordingly under new conditions is crucial for survival,” Dr Wong said.
“Environmental change caused by human activity is considered the greatest single threat to global biodiversity. Scientists are only now beginning to appreciate the important ecological and evolutionary implications of altered behaviours due to environmental change."
Dr Wong said the initial response of many animals to human-induced environmental change is often behavioural, which in turn affects species’ interactions, population viability, evolution, and ultimately, biodiversity.
“Some of these behaviours can be beneficial and buy more time for populations and species to genetically adapt to altered conditions. Some species might even thrive in urban environments. But behaviours can also be maladaptive,” Dr Wong said.
Source of photo: http://qvcproject.blogspot.com.au/2012_02_01_archive.html
“Male beetles, for example, are mating with beer bottles because they resemble female beetles and female fish in Mexico, living in polluted streams, are mating with male fish of the wrong species.”
The comprehensive text discusses impacts on both the mechanisms underlying behavioural processes, as well as the longer-term ecological and evolutionary consequences. Topics as diverse as endocrine disruption, learning, reproduction, migration, species interactions and evolutionary rescue are canvassed.
Dr Wong will officially present ‘Behavioural Responses to a Changing World’ at a post-congress symposia of the 14th International Behavioral Ecology Congress on 18 August in Sweden.
For more information or to arrange interviews, contact Courtney Karayannis, Monash Media & Communications on +61 3 9903 4841 | +61 408 508 454 or [email protected]
We are all here for a limited time, but when we have to work harder and harder to stay in one place, that is not really living. Who is stealing our time? Were it not for the cost of housing, Australians would need to work only half the hours they have to and manufacturers would halve their costs! We have only to consider how, in two generations, Australians have gone from needing one income to purchase a house to a situation where both spouses must work and pay for others to bring up any children they may find a brief instant to produce. The writer reviews two works on time-poverty: one a heavyweight and the other a lightweight and remarks that time is money. Time is life. See the film or watch the trailer; feel the truth: spot the enemy.
I rushed out and bought Barbara Pocock, Natalie Skinner and Philiippa Williams' book, Time Bomb, NewSouth, NSWU Press, 2012, because it seemed like such a great title and subject. I should have been warned off by the fact that it was recommended by Geraldine Doogue, a great apologist for growth and economic neo-liberalism.
Disappointingly, Pocock et al's book fails to make some blindingly obvious points. It phaffs around the edges. I wonder if the authors simply did not see beyond the superficial or they thought that the publishing market could not take the heat. Are they somehow placed in the eye of the storm where all is quiet whilst the damage rages all around them. The book is published by the University of New South Wales, which makes me wonder again why universities these days turn out such dross. Is polite comment and a few boring graphs a prerequisite for a doctoral thesis these days? What's the market? The anguished New Class?
What really got to me was the fact that the authors don't ever link the ridiculously rising cost of living to the time-poorness of Australians. They don't even mention the cost of housing, which is easily the greatest thief of time. Okay, they give two pages (pp. 130-131) to the idea that 'for a minority of young people, housing is a significant issue.'
Housing is the Number One issue! Were it not for the cost of housing, Australians would need to work only half the hours they have to and manufacturers would halve their costs! We have only to consider how, in two generations, Australians have gone from needing one income to purchase a house to a situation where both spouses must work and pay for others to bring up any children they may find a brief instant to produce. And then there are the other Australians, who live on the streets, sell drugs and beg on trains to survive.
Why do people publish this kind of much ado about nothing? Are they just marketing titles at airports which people buy, read the first chapter of, and bin on their way out of the arrivals door?
In contrast, the movie In Time was a (for lack of a new word) brilliant dramatization of how the parasitic rich are thieves of time and that life is measured out in money. In Time is about a world just like ours where the poor die young and spend their precious lives hanging around begging for work or for credit from a rarer class of landlords by any other name that owns the means of production and all the assets.
"Four minutes for a cup of coffee? Yesterday it was only three!" a customer exclaims in a down-market take away shop.
Time is money. Money is time. Time is life.
People might recognise the metaphor more easily if the short-lived class were from the traditional poor and overcrowded countries but the poor in this film are mostly unremarkable by their colour or their accent. They could be Americans, Australians, Canadians, British. The wealthy live almost indefinitely in this film, while the poor must pay by the hour for their lives after the age of 21. Most people accept an ideology called the Demographic Transition where peoples of 'undeveloped countries' are supposed to normally not live past 35 or so, until 'we' bring development to them. So if the film had been made on the edges of the Ganges River, perhaps no-one would have been startled. But this was a film about the future that many candobetter readers would recognise as Now. In Australia.
This is a short article because I don't have much time - frankly. Maybe readers can add to this with their experiences and their responses to In Time.
Social Scientist and petroleum depletion writer, Ted Trainer, gives his views on a way forward that does not involve growth. Most of you out there are working three times too hard, and going down with depression and obesity, as your social cohesion crumbles. How about trying a different, simpler way?
So much of the discussion of the human predicament takes for granted a uni-dimensional view of development, wealth, progress. For example many people (especially of the red-left variety) argue that there must be much more economic growth and therefore energy use to increase production so that the poorest billions can rise to satisfactory living standards. They therefore criticise the many green people who are saying that there is already far too much producing and consumption, production, energy and resource use going on. Many red left people argue for redistribution but many green people say that wouldn’t change the amount of consuming so it wouldn’t reduce resource and environmental pressure. So it looks like an insoluble dilemma.
The way out is to take The Simpler Way. I first put it in Abandon Affluence, Zed, 1985, and have detailed a more elaborate case in The Transition to a Sustainable and Just World, Envirobook, 2010. The first point is that the big global problems cannot be solved unless there is dramatic reduction in the resource consumption, GDP and “living standards” we have in rich countries, probably to one-tenth of their present levels. Several lines of argument within the general “limits to growth” analysis should now leave no doubt about this. For instance the Australian per capita “footprint” is 8 ha of productive land but by 2050 the amount available in the world will be at best .8 ha; so we are 10 times over a level that it would ever be possible for all to have. ...and these numbers totally ignore the absurd commitment to economic growth. Anyone who thinks 9 billion can rise to the “living standards” Australians expect by 2050 given 3% economic growth is assuming the planet can sustain 30 times the present global volume of producing and consuming.
It follows that we must move to ways of living, institutions and systems that allow us to live well on a small fraction of the our present rich world affluence affluence, and indeed of the present world resource production levels. The Simpler Way argument is that this could be done, easily and quickly, thereby defusing all the big problems...if enough people saw the sense of it. TSW involves mostly small and highly self-sufficient local economies processing local resources to meet local needs, via intensely participatory and cooperative ways, with no economic growth, in economies that are not determined by market forces...and value systems in which there is no interest in competing or gaining.
Many of us in the ecovillage and Transition Towns movements live in very resource-cheap but quality of life rich ways. I live way under the “poverty line”, never travel, never watch TV, almost never buy new clothes, and could build you abeautiful small earth house for under $5000. My quality of life is high, but nothing like that in some of the communities I know. Meanwhile most of you out there are working three times too hard, going down with depression and obesity, as your social cohesion crumbles. Why don’t you come across to TSW and devote most of your week to your arts and crafts, conversation or just sitting in the sun (…working three hours a week in the remnant offices and factories we’d need)?
Now you might think the prospects for such a transition are remote. My view is that the transition will not be achieved. But that’s not central here. What matters is that you are going to move towards TSW whether you like it or not. We are entering the era of intense and irremediable scarcity. The resources are already inaccessible for most people, and becoming scarcer, especially if you attend to declining EROI (energy return on investment) rather than price. (EROI has halved for oil in a couple of decades.) Only 1.5 billion are using the resources now...just wait until another 8.5 billion go after them. And we few in rich countries are losing our capacity to hog all the available resource wealth as we have for 500 years The Chinese are racing past us and Uncle Sam doesn’t seem to be able to win the necessary resource wars any more. You are in for a rocky road down to getting by on something like your fair share of the world’s resources for a change.
So you might be wise to join us in trying to work out how to run very frugal and self-sufficient communities well, because the most likely alternative will be a nasty feudalism as the rich and the middle classes call for repressive state power to secure their property and privileges against the accelerating scarcity, discontent and breakdown.
My main point is that TSW represents a rejection of the uni-dimensional way of thinking, i.e., that the only way development can be thought about is in terms of moving up the slope of progress towards more jobs, production, income, GDP, wealth and development. No group has been more trapped in this mind-set than one of the teams I belong to, the Marxists. They adopt the same capitalist conception of development as the neo-liberals; development involves investment of capital to increase production for sale...how else could it be conceived? (Marxists just don’t want the capital to be privately owned.) So 3-4 billion Third World people are trapped in hopeless squalor waiting for trickle down from capital invested in the most profitable ventures ... when most of them have all around them the soil, rainfall, forests, traditions, networks, knowledge and labour that could quickly develop the simple but sufficient housing, cooperatives, chicken pens, permaculture gardens, swales, schools, woodlots, sheds, clinics etc. they need to meet most of their basic needs. Appropriate development needs little monetary capital.
Of course the rich countries work hard to prevent the available resources being devoted to such purposes; they must be kept free for use by transnational corporations, and devices such as deb t and the Structural Adjustment Packages ensure that they are. (And any country foolish enough to still deviate is likely to find itself invaded on some pretext.) But the main factor preventing appropriate development is the mentality that can’t deviate from the development=growth dimension. It’s as blindingly dominant within NGOs as within the IMF.
The main reason why I don’t think we will make it is because the commitment to affluence is now so deeply entrenched. No one wants to think about moving to any alternative to it. It has a firm grip on academics in general and Marxists in particular. Their classic statement is that the revolution will take the factories off the capitalist class and then everyone can have a Mercedes. The left has no idea about, and evidently no interest in living simply in highly self-sufficient communities. It is still focused on getting control of the state to organise utopia from the centre. Scarcity rules that out; from here on there can be very little centralisation, heavy industrialisation, globalisation, transport , travel or tourism. Now a satisfactory society all could share can only be organised and run by small towns, suburbs and regions via political systems directly involving all in the decision making and implementation. Sorry but the Anarchist have the right vision now. (There will still be a remnant role for centralised “state” bureaucracies...which are given no power...see Chapter 10.)
The Transition book argues that both red and green people urgently need to take these simpler way themes on board.
In her marvellously lucid book, Wilful Blindness, Margaret Heffernan, writes about the institutionalisation of denial in the service of profit, the acquisition of wealth, and the defence of personally comforting ideologies. "Bandura has spent a lifetime dissecting the moral disengagement required for the perpetration of criminal and inhuman acts, a journey that has taken him from the tobacco industry, the gun lobby, the television business to the multiple industries implicated in environmental degradation. He has a deep understanding of the forces at work which encourage employees to be blind to their collusion in these processes. But nothing enrages him more than the economic justifications used to defend continued population growth."
'Wilful blindness' is an English legal concept that arose in a 19th century case where a person could not be convicted of stealing government property unless they either knew where the property came from or they had 'wilfully shut their eyes' to its origin. Modern travellers are asked to sign declarations that they are aware of the contents of their suitcases, which may then be used against them if illegal drugs come to light during customs searches. Not knowing was also no defence for the guilty in the Enron trials. Legally it doesn't matter whether or not your knowledge was unconscious, but outside the courts you can still get away with manslaughter and dispossession for commercial purposes by kidding yourself and you will find that most people in the community will back you right up.
Heffernan examines a remarkable list of wilful blindnesses that have caused innumerable deaths and other highly adverse circumstances. Most of her cases are huge and massively documented, yet a number were quite unknown to me. Her book is a remarkable document for that reason, of enormous use for the political and social researcher, as well as a jolly good read. Among the cases she examines in detail are:
- childhood cancer and foetal X-rays. The very strong link and occurrence was proven for decades yet doctors continued to X-ray pregnant women until the mid-1980s.
- Enron and how everyone there looked the other way
- asbestosis and how an entire town was moribund but refusing to face the cause in the local mine, instead ill-treating the only woman in the town who tried to fight the mine
- Greenspan before Congress, finally admitting his market-ideology was flawed
- Avoidable collisions of battleships where officers followed a captain's orders even though they knew these would cause two ships to collide
- Hospitals that protected an incompetent surgeon and ostracised the doctor who tried to stop him
- BP's remarkable record of ignoring safety regulations and orders and causing death among workers before it even came to Deepwater Horizon.
Margaret Heffernan asks why whistleblowers and Cassandras are so rare, when they save lives and communities often simply by stating the obvious over and over again. She writes on the several ways individuals become deliberately blind by denial of painful truths, interspersing her political and social case studies with records of psychological experiments and theory.
Hearing of this wilful blindness legal concept, before I read the book, I wondered how it might apply to those who maintain the growth lobby for their own and corporate profit against democratic wishes of the majority and in the face of costs it imposes on individuals and communities. On reading the book I was very interested to read the following about overpopulation, in which she quotes another clear thinker, Professor Bandura, of Stanford University.
“No one visiting Stanford University could fail to be impressed by its sheer scale or its wealth. Over twelve square miles, it's ten times larger than Vatican City and the vast avenues of palms leading to fountains and Spanish courtyards are reminiscent more of Renaissance papal power play than 21st-century cutting-edge research. Such lavish public buildings feel brash in their confidence, but their rooms harbour perpetrators of doubt and scepticism. At the heart of the campus, ensconced in an unremarkable lino-floored, booklined room, sits Albert ‘Al’ Bandura. In many respects, Bandura is the grand old man of psychology: its most cited living author, the father of social-learning theory and one of the first people to argue that children's behavior derived not just from reward and punishment but horn what they observed around them. That this seems such an obvious thought to us nowadays is testimony to how profound Bandura's impact has been on our thinking. The very phrase 'role model' would scarcely exist without him.
Much of Bandura's work has so seeped into public consciousness that we are barely aware that it is there, and his work has attracted scores of awards, honours and distinctions. But today, at the age of eighty-five, this hasn't stopped him working, nor has it rendered him complacent. For all his eminence, he's an engaging and accessible man whose mild manner belies a tenacious mind. And one of the issues he has wrestled with for years is the process by which individuals lose sight of morality in their need to preserve their sense of self-worth.
‘People are highly driven to do things that build self-worth; you can't transgress and think of yourself as bad. You need to protect your sense of yourself as good. And so people transform harmful practices into worthy ones, by coming up with social justification, by distancing themselves with euphemisms, by ignoring the long-term consequences of their actions.’
One of the most prominent ways in which people justify their harmful practices is by using arguments about money to obscure moral and social issues. Because we can't and won't acknowledge that some of our choices are socially and morally harmful, we distance ourselves from them by claiming they're necessary for wealth creation. Nowhere is this more dangerous, he argues, than in our attitudes to the environment and population growth. The easiest way for those who resist calls to curb population growth, and who oppose environmental controls, is to represent themselves as the good guys because they just want to make everyone better-off.
'To defend their positions, they can't say "Sure, we're the bad guys and we want to rape and pillage the planet",’ Bandura told me. 'They have to vindicate harmful practices that take such a heavy toll on the environment and the quality of human life-they have to make out that what's harmful is, in fact, good. And one way they do that is to use the notion of nature as, in fact, an economic commodity. So they see nature in terms of its market value rather than its inherent value.'
That's why, Bandura argues, those who claim to love nature can also support, for example, drilling for oil in Alaska. They can't see themselves as destroyers, so they position themselves as the rational liberators of natural wealth. In this vein, Bandura quotes Newt Gingrich: 'To get the best ecosystem for our buck, we should use decentralised and entrepreneurial strategies.' Similarly, when China signed a multi-billion-dollar deal with the Indonesian Government to clearcut four million acres of forest, in order to replace it with palm-oil plantations, a clan elder could not conceive of himself as doing the wrong thing. As he put it succinctly, 'Wood is gold.' It is, says Bandura, the economic justification that makes the environmentally damaging decision possible. Seeing nature as just a source of money blinds such decision makers to the moral consequences of their decisions.
Bandura has spent a lifetime dissecting the moral disengagement required for e perpetration of criminal and inhuman acts, a journey that has taken him from the tobacco industry, the gun lobby, the television business to the multiple industries implicated in environmental degradation. He has a deep understanding of the forces at work which encourage employees to be blind to their collusion in these processes. But nothing enrages him more than the economic justifications used to defend continued population growth.
'I went to a conference in Germany,' Bandura recalled, 'where a young African woman spoke about the tremendous difference that birth control and health education had had on her community. The fact that she and her peers now had control over the number of children that they conceived and raised had transformed their lives. And she spoke of this very eloquently. And there, in that audience of well-heeled Europeans, rich Westerners, she was booed!'
When he recovered from his shock, Bandura analysed what was going on in the minds of the audience. What drove them, he reasoned, was their recognition that Western birth rates won't pay for the pension requirements of the elderly; if the West doesn't produce more children, it can't produce the wealth needed to look after parents when they retire. Therefore, even though consumption and environmental degradation are clearly linked, the needs of the market trump the needs of the planet.
Nor was this a purely Western phenomenon. The need for money effectively positions infants as money-making machines.
In some countries (Bandura writes], the pressure on women to boost their childbearing includes punitive, threats as well. The former prime minister of Japan, Yoshiro Mori, suggested that women who bore no children should be barred from receiving pensions, saying 'It is truly strange to say we have to use tax money to take care of women who don't even give birth once, who grow old living their lives selfishly and singing the praises of freedom.' In this campaign for more babies, childbearing is reduced to a means for economic growth.
In this mindset, children are nothing more than money-makers in the eyes of politicians merely crunching the numbers, blind to the moral, environmental or humanitarian consequences of their policies. Market thinking has obliterated moral thinking on a grand scale.
So persuasive (and pervasive) has the economic argument in favour of population growth become, says Bandura, that all of the major NGOs have had to stand aside from it. Fear of alienating donors, criticism from the progressive left and disparagement by conservative vested interests claiming that overpopulation is a 'myth' served as further incentives to cast off the rising global population as a factor in environmental degradation. Population growth vanished from the agendas of mainstream environmental organisations that previously regarded escalating numbers as a major environmental threat. Greenpeace announced that population ‘is not an issue for us’. Friends of the Earth declared that 'it is unhelpful to enter into a debate about numbers'. The fear of losing money disabled those very organisations best placed to understand the ultimate consequences of thinking only about money.
What money does, Bandura argues, is allow us to disengage from the moral and social effects of our decisions. As long as we can frame everything as an economic argument, we don't have to confront the social or moral consequences of our decisions. That economics has become such a dominant, if not the prevalent, mindset for evaluating social and political choices has been one of the defining characteristics of our age. As long as the numbers work, we feel absolved of the harder, more inchoate ethical choices that face us none the less. We appear to have gone from having a market economy to being a market society (if that isn't an oxymoron) and it's an interesting thought that our obsession with economics has just been one long sustained phase of displacement activity.
Money is just one of the forces that blind us to information and issues which we could pay attention to - but don't. It exacerbates and often rewards all the other drivers of wilful blindness: our preference for the familiar, our love for individuals and for big ideas, a love of busyness and our dislike of conflict and change, the human instinct to obey and conform and our skill at displacing and diffusing responsibility. All of these operate and collaborate with varying intensities at different moments in our lives. The common denominator is that they all make us protect our sense of self-worth, reducing dissonance and conferring a sense of security, however illusory. In some ways, they all act like money: making us feel good at first, with consequences we don't see. We wouldn't be so blind if our blindness didn't deliver rewards: the benefit of comfort and ease.
But in failing to confront the greatest challenge of our age - climate change - all the forces of wilful blindness come together, like synchronised swimmers in a spectacular water ballet. We live with people like ourselves, and sharing consumption habits blinds us to their cost. Like the unwitting spouse of an alcoholic, we know there's something amiss but we don't want to acknowledge that the lifestyles we love may be killing us. The dissonance produced by reading about our environmental impact on the one hand, and living as we do, is resolved by minor alterations in what we buy or eat, but very few significant social shifts. Sometimes we get so anxious we consume more. We keep too busy to confront our worries, a kind of wild displacement activity with schedules that don't allow us to be as green as we'd like. The gravitational pull of the status quo exerts its influence and global conferences end when no one has the stomach for the levels of conflict they engender. In our own countries, no politician shows the nerve for the political battles real change would require.
We're obedient consumers and we might change if we were told to, but we're not. We conform to the consumption patterns we see around us as we all become bystanders, hoping someone else somewhere will intervene. Our governments and corporations grow too complex to communicate or to change and we are left just where we do not want to be, where our only consolation is cash.
This is wilful blindness on a spectacular scale and it would leave us abject with despair, were it not that, all around us, are individuals who aren't blind. That they can and do see more, and act on what they see, offers a possibility that we can be wilfully sighted too.”
Most interesting and alarming of all, despite all of these cases and situations being well known and recognised at academic or legal level, the general public remains in the dark because somehow, these lessons learned are never institutionalised for our collective good. With rare exceptions politicians, governments and the mass media, continue to maintain fictions blown apart time and again, because they have a vested interest. Somehow, somewhere, this time, they maintain, it will be different.
I was particularly struck, as an Australian, by how the following statement sums up what is happening in Australia:
"In this mindset, children are nothing more than money-makers in the eyes of politicians merely crunching the numbers, blind to the moral, environmental or humanitarian consequences of their policies. Market thinking has obliterated moral thinking on a grand scale."
And it has obliterated democracy in Australia - aided and abetted by 'moral' books that seem wilfully blind to the focused benefits that population growth brings to the growth lobby, like Ian Angus and Simon Butler's, Too many people, Haymarket Books, Chicago, 2011, published with the help of the US-based Lannan Foundation and the Wallace Global Fund. It seems true to say that, if you'll defend controlling population upwards, you can always find a wealthy sponsor.
Alan Thornett, an ecosocialist, amazes positively in this thoughtful review of yet another pseudo-environmental book. Simon Butler and Ian Angus's Too Many People predictably attempts to stifle linking population numbers to ecological survival. (Simon Butler is co-editor of the Australian publication Green Left Weekly.) "Unfortunately it is the authors themselves who continue to draw false lessons from the past: i.e. that the left should leave this subject alone, keep out of the debates, and insist that there is nothing to discuss. The problem with this is that it is not just wrong but dangerous. If socialists have nothing to say about the population of the planet the field is left open to the reactionaries, and they will be very pleased to fill it. And one thing the authors are certainly right about is that there are plenty of such people out there with some very nasty solutions indeed." Even more surprisingly, this article was first published by a British Trotskyist organisation.
Introduction to this review:
Candobetter Editor: Candobetter.net wants to believe that there is a socialist organisation out there that is in favour of free speech, science, and rich ecology. One of our tests for this is sound environmental thinking on human population numbers and ecology. The review below, published by Socialist Resistance, demonstrates sound thinking, in our view on ecology and on democracy. Socialist Resistance describes itself as "the ecosocialist magazine in Britain, has relaunched itself as the British section of the Fourth International, the worldwide socialist organisation. A national conference on July 4 completed a regroupment process begun a year earlier." But, one swallow does not a summer make, and Trotskyist organisations (i.e. socialist organisations aligned with the Fourth International) have notoriously been infiltrated by the establishment, and push growth by aggressively opposing the anti-growth lobby, thereby defending the growth lobby and the kinds of planners, developers and governments, who are destroying democracy, abrogating land-rights, and placing whole populations in precarity all over the world. We are therefore keeping our fingers crossed about the Socialist Resistance, but not holding our breaths.
First published here: http://socialistresistance.org/3013/too-many-people-a-review
As a long-time comrade of Ian Angus, a fellow ecosocialist, and an admirer of his work on Marxism and ecology, I am disappointed by the tone he has adopted in his new book on population Too Many People?—which he has authored jointly with Simon Butler, co-editor of the Australian publication Green Left Weekly.
The thesis they advance is that the population of the planet is irrelevant to its ecology, and that even discussing it is a dangerous or even reactionary diversion—a taboo subject. They even argue that such discussion is divisive and detrimental environmental campaigning. [page 97]
The book appears to be a response to Laurie Mazur’s very useful book published last year A Pivotal Moment— Population, Justice and the environmental challenge. This was reviewed by Sheila Malone in SR (July 2010), as part of a debate on the issue.
Mazur argues that it is not a matter of choosing between reactionary policies from the past but that “we can fight for population policies that are firmly grounded in human rights and social justice”. I agree with her on this point, though not with everything in her book.
I didn’t expect to agree with Ian’s book as such, since I have differed with him on this issue for some time. I did expect, however, an objective presentation of the debates without the ideas of fellow ecosocialists being lumped together with those of reactionaries and despots.
What we have is the branding (in heavy polemical tones) of anyone with a contrary view to the authors as ‘Malthusianist’—i.e. supporters of the 18th century population theorist the Reverend Thomas Malthus who advocated starving the poor to stop them breeding—or more precisely as ‘populationist’, by which the authors mean neo-Malthusianist.
They explain it this way: “Throughout the book we use the term ‘populationism‘ to refer to ideologies that attribute social and ecological ills to human numbers and ‘populationist’ to people who support such ideas.” They go on: “We prefer those terms to the more traditional Malthusianism and Malthusian, for two reasons”. The first is because not everyone is familiar with Malthus and the second is because most of their protagonists don’t actually agree with what he wrote. The “more traditional term”, however, never goes away. [page XX1]
This leaves the book stuck in the past, more concerned with rehashing the polarised conflicts of the last 200 years than engaging with the contemporary debates.
The authors are right to say that population is not the root cause of the environmental problems of the planet. It is capitalism. They are also right to say that stabilising the population would not in itself resolve them. But they are wrong to say that it is irrelevant. The fact is that current rate of increase is unsustainable were it to continue—and whether it will continue or for how long no one knows. What we do know it that it has almost tripled in just over 60 years—from 2.5bn in 1950 to the recently reached figure of 7bn.
According to UN figures it will reach between 8bn and 11bn (with 9.5bn as the median figure) by 2050. After that it could begin to stabilise—possibly doing so by the end of the 21st century. Even this, however, is highly speculative. Long-term population predictions, as the authors themselves acknowledge, are notoriously inaccurate. Meanwhile nearly half the current world population is under 25—which is a huge base for further growth.
Yet throughout the book the charge of ‘Malthusianism’ or ‘populationism’ is aggressively leveled against anyone who suggests that rising population is a legitimate, let alone important, subject for discussion. These range from those who do indeed see population as the primary cause of the ecological crisis to those who blame capitalism for it but see population as an important issue to be addressed within that.
This is reinforced by a sleight of hand by the authors over the term population ‘control’. They refuse to draw any distinction between control and empowerment and then brand those they polemicise against—including fellow ecosocialists who advocate empowerment—as being in favour of population ‘control’. This allows them to create a highly objectionable amalgam between every reactionary advocate of population control they can find—and there is no shortage of them including Malthusians—and those who are opposed to such control. This is then referred to throughout the book as “the populationist establishment”.
My own views would certainly fall within this so-called establishment. Yet I am opposed to population control and support policies based on empowerment—policies based on human rights and social justice, socially progressive in and of themselves, which can at the same time start to stabilise the population of the planet.
Such policies involve lifting people out of poverty in the poorest parts of the globe. They involve enabling women to control their own fertility through the provision of contraception and abortion services. It means challenging the influence of religion and other conservative influences such as patriarchal pressure. They involve giving women in impoverished communities access to education.
These are major strategic objectives in their own right, with the issue of rising population giving them an additional urgency. Yet the book dismisses them as secondary, as issues already dealt with! This reflects the fact that the book has nothing at all to say on the substantive (and huge) issue of women and population.
Some important progress towards empowerment policies was made at the UN conference on population and development held in Cairo in 1994. This, for the first time, pointed to the stabilisation of the global population through the elimination of poverty, the empowerment of women, and the effective implementation of basic human rights. That its proposals were sidelined by a vicious pro-life backlash and the arrival of George W Bush on the world stage does not invalidate the contribution it made.
The above approach, however, along with the Cairo Conference, is heavily slapped down in the book. In fact this is one of the author’s principal preoccupations. Empowerment is presented as the slippery slope to not only population control but “at its most extreme” to programs, human rights abuses, enforced or coercive sterilization, sex-selective abortion, female infanticide, and even to ethnic cleansing! [page 94]
The authors put it this way:
“Most supporters of population control today say that it is meant as a kindness — a benevolent measure that can empower women, help climate change, and lift people out of poverty, hunger, and underdevelopment. But population control has a dark past that must be taken into account by anyone seeking solutions to the ecological crisis.”(page 83) They go on: “…At its most extreme, this logic has led to sterilisation of the ‘unfit’ or ethnic cleansing. But even family planning could be a form of population control when the proponents aim to plan other people’s families.” [page 84]
The term population ‘control’ is again perversely attributed to anyone with contrary views and we are again warned of the ‘dark past’ of population debates and the dangers of engaging in them—and anything can be abused, of course, including family planning. But only enforced contraception, which we all oppose, could rationally be seen population control—not the extension to women of the ability to control their own fertility.
Equally mistaken is the crass assertion that to raise the issue of population under conditions where fertility levels are highest in the global south and declining in the north is in some way to target the women of the south and to blame them for the situation. For Fred Pearce, who endorses the book, makes advocates of empowerment into “people haters”: “How did apparently progressive greens and defenders of the underprivileged turn into people-haters, convinced of the evils of overbreeding amongst the world’s poor”.
What the empowerment approach actually targets, of course, is the appalling conditions under which women of the global south are forced to live and the denial basic human rights to which they are subjected. It demands that they have the same opportunities and resources as the women of the global north.
Even more confused is the allegation that the provision of contraception to women in the global south is in some way an attack on their reproductive rights; an attempt to stop them having the family size they would otherwise want — a view which appears to be endorsed in the Socialist Review review of the book. If that were the case, of course, it would not be the right to choose but enforced contraception.
In any case the proposition that most women in the global south, given genuine choice, would choose to have the large families of today is not supported by the evidence. Over 200m women in the global south are currently denied such services and there are between 70m and 80m unintended pregnancies a year—of which 46m end in abortions. 74,000 women die every year as a result of failed back-street abortions—a disproportionate number of these in the global south.
After attacking empowerment from every conceivable angle the authors then appear to accept at least the possibility that not all of us who think population is an important issue to discuss support enforced sterilisation and human rights abuses:
“We are not suggesting that everyone who thinks population growth is an ecological issue would support compulsory sterilisation or human rights abuses. Most modern-day populationists reject the coercive programmes of the 20th century, but that does not mean that they have drawn the necessary lessons from those experiences.” [page 95]
Unfortunately it is the authors themselves who continue to draw false lessons from the past: i.e. that the left should leave this subject alone, keep out of the debates, and insist that there is nothing to discuss.
The problem with this is that it is not just wrong but dangerous. If socialists have nothing to say about the population of the planet the field is left open to the reactionaries, and they will be very pleased to fill it. And one thing the authors are certainly right about is that there are plenty of such people out there with some very nasty solutions indeed.
Subject changed from: A groundbreaking history of the Second World War. I posted the following which is, partly a review and partly my own observation about the Second World War and questions raised from those observations. Roger Moorhouse, who reviewed the book for The Independent asked when he received a copy, as, no doubt, many others also will: "Do we really need yet another big book on the Second World War?"
In fact, as with much other history of modern and earlier times, accepted conventional mainstream histories don't properly explain the Second World War, although a growing number of alternative historians have in recent years provided better and better explanations.
Unless lessons of that and other conflicts are properly understood, it is likely that a new global war, fought with weapons vastly more advanced and terrible than those used to kill 60 million from 1939 to 1945, may make that barbarity seem civilised.
More than anyone else I can bring to mind right now, Max Hastings has demolished any possible view that the Second World War was not a ghastly tragedy for most people affected by it.
I think, however, that All Hell Let Loose fails to adequately address one of the most vital questions that should concern anyone who takes the trouble to study this war:
That question is, once the war began, could the leaders of the anti-fascist alliance -- Britain, the US, the Soviet Union, etc. -- have won the war more rapidly and with less bloodshed and destruction? Was it necessary for all of 60 million to die to rid the world of the evil that caused the Second World War?
Even Max Hastings acknowledges that opportunities that the Western Allies had to rout the Axis armies in North Africa and Southern Europe were thrown away, , time and time again, by what he depicts as poor judgment or incompetence on the part of a number of generals charged with running the ground war in North Africa and Southern Europe.:
I could add a number of other examples not raised by Hastings.
Had the British and American leaders acted more decisively, Germany's war machine would have collapsed in 1943, if not earlier, but it seems that Western governments found two more bloody years of war and destruction preferable to the collapse of the Third Reich.
Could it be that an unstated war goal of Western governments was for stable capitalist rule to be maintained? Had the German Army collapsed in Western Europe, popular Communist-led partisans who triumphed in Yugoslavia would have also triumphed in Italy, Greece and possibly elsewhere.
As it was the de-facto co-operation given by the Western Allied military to the Wehrmacht in its suppression of partisans in Greece and Italy ensured the triumph of right-wing forces, including many former collaborators in the Western sphere of influence. Stalin also contributed to the triumph of right-wing forces, through, for example, his cynical betrayal in 1944 of triumphant Greek communist partisans, whom he ordered to lay down their weapons before the British,
A more vexing question is how the terrible bloodshed on the Eastern Front, in which the vast majority of lives were lost, could possibly have been reduced.
Surely, it should have been possible for Stalin to have offered Germany peace in return for reparations and punishment for the leaders who had caused the war and those German soldiers who had committed the worst crimes against Soviet citizens?
If that had been done, say, after the German offensive against Moscow was stopped in 1941, and Germans, who surrendered, treated humanely, then surely fewer and fewer Germans would have seen reason to continue to fight for Hitler.
Instead, the brutal conduct of the war against all Germans, with no realistic prospect of peace with dignity offered to them, ensured that most fought ferociously until the very end, making the toll paid by the Soviet Union much higher than it need have been. The brutal treatment of Eastern Germany by its Soviet occupiers after 1945 would have helped confirm in the mind of many former German soldiers that they were right to fight to the end.
1. I don't necessarily include General Eisenhower in this. He started the war as a relatively junior officer (Lieutenant-Colonel, I recall) and was promoted to Supreme Commander of the Western Allied armed forces because of his demonstrated ability. It seems that 'mistakes' which served to prolong the war, were made on a number of occasions by officers junior to him, including, in Sicily, by Patton and Montgomery. He may have had, at the back of his mind, his experiences in the Second World War, when in January 1961, in his departing speech as US President, after JFK had been elected, he warned against the "military-industrial complex".
2. I haven't yet reached the part of the book which describes the ground war in Northern Europe from June 1944.
Paul Cleary’s book Too Much Luck: The Mining Boom and Australia’s Future, is a timely appraisal of the dramatic economic and social impacts, as well as the political ramifications of the current resource boom.
Paul Cleary’s book Too Much Luck: The Mining Boom and Australia’s Future, is a timely appraisal of the dramatic economic and social impacts, as well as the political ramifications of the current resource boom.
(The reviewed work covers much of the same ground as Dirty Money of 2011 by Matthew Benns, which I am currently reading and can also recommend.) This review of Paul Cleary's book by Professor Kerry Carrington, Head of School of Justice at Queensland University of Technology was originally published on theconversation.edu.au on 25 November. It is being reprinted here with her kind permission. Professor Carrington asked that this review be republished as widely as possible.
Paul Cleary’s book Too Much Luck: The Mining Boom and Australia’s Future, is a timely appraisal of the dramatic economic and social impacts, as well as the political ramifications of the current resource boom.
Cleary argues that the resource investment stampede is squandering Australia’s precious non-renewable fossil fuels, leading to a high dollar, inflation and interest rates, at the expense of manufacturing, education and tourism industries.
There is, he argues, a strong case for a more measured approach to harvesting these resources in the long-term interests of all Australians through better taxation, saving and regulation of the resource sector. This book is not anti-mining and does not argue that resources should be left in the ground, as Stephen Kirchner would have us believe.
Cleary coins the phrase “investment stampede” to capture the seismic shifts at work. The sector is growing fast – too fast – at 15% per annum, with a pipeline investment of $174 billion. Global demand especially from Asia has fuelled this boom. Current economic returns for the mining corporations and their shareholders are staggering.
Cleary coins the phrase “investment stampede” to capture the seismic shifts at work. The sector is growing fast – too fast – at 15% per annum, with a pipeline investment of $174 billion. Global demand especially from Asia has fuelled this boom. Current economic returns for the mining corporations and their shareholders are staggering.
In August 2011 BHP announced an annual net profit of $23.5 billion, while earlier in the year Rio Tinto had announced an annual profit of $14.3 billion.
Cleary’s book analyses an array of adverse impacts resulting from an investment stampede, including the growth of fly-in, fly-out (FIFO) workforces. Until the 1970s, mining leases tended to be issued by governments subject to conditions that companies build or substantially finance local community infrastructure, including housing, streets, transport, schools, hospitals and recreation facilities. Townships and communities went hand in hand with mining development.
Not any more. The haste of this extraction process has become increasingly reliant on a continuous production cycle of 12-hour shifts, seven days a week, and one increasingly reliant on fly-in, fly-out or drive-in, drive-out (non-resident) workers who typically work block rosters, and reside in work camps adjacent to existing rural communities.
There are estimated to be around 150,000 non-resident workers directly employed by the resources sector, anticipated to rise to around 200,000 by 2015, but no government body appears to be counting and projected growth is equally elusive.
This is an odd oversight given the rapid growth of reliance on non-resident workers in the resources sector carries significant impacts for individual workers and their families and host communities, as evidenced by the many submissions to the Australian Parliament House inquiry into FIFO/DIDO work practices, chaired by the Independent MP Tony Windsor. Some of the significant impacts include:
These impacts undermine the long-term sustainable community development of rural Australia. It is troubling therefore that dramatic socio-demographic processes have been unleashed by this boom without concerted attempts to accurately research, measure or account for the numbers of non-resident workers involved and their nation-changing impact on the Australian society and economy.
Just as the number of non-resident workers is not being researched or counted, Cleary draws our attention to how the rapid depletion of natural non-renewable resources is not being counted either. Again, the long term social and environmental costs, including the time value of Australia’s natural resources and the opportunity costs of squandering them through an investment stampede are not being measured.
Instead, the gaze of most state politicians in particular has been transfixed on the short-term economic benefits shared by so few. Cleary draws attention to the dominance of a short-term economic view which frames the current resources boom – a view to which Kirchner appears wedded.
The real challenge for a government of and for the people – and not just a government at the beck and call and in the pocket of the powerful mining industry lobby – is to recalibrate the frame of reference for assessing and responding to the social and ecological impacts of the mining boom in the long term interests of the nation.
The corporate power of the mining industry, especially to lobby governments, state and commonwealth to influence policy making in Australia is alarming. As Cleary points out, “Not only did the miners change the prime minister and change government policy, they went on to brag about how their coup had stopped similar schemes from spreading around the world.”
State governments who grant mining licenses and regulate the industry also earn a share of the minerals extracted through royalties. Last year Queensland and Western Australian governments collected around $6 billion.
The Queensland government’s endorsement of the BHP Billiton Mitsubishi Alliance proposal at Moranbah to allow up 100% of workers to be non-resident is a more recent example of Cleary’s complaint about the impact of corporate power. It even contradicts Queensland’s own resource sector housing policy that workers should be allowed the choice where the live and work industry. The Moranbah mining community, with its long history of communal solidarity, is now destined to become surrounded by thousands of non-resident workers housed in dongas.
While the Queensland government introduced social impact assessment processes as part of the Environmental Impact Assessment approval process in Sept 2010 in part to address these concerns, it has failed to regulate the long term cumulative impacts of resource development. Why? State governments have a fundamental conflict of interest in setting themselves up as the arbiters in disputes over access to agricultural land, the granters of exploration licenses and the approvers of environmental and social impact statements, precursors to project development consent from which royalty payment to the state flow
Cleary’s book offers a much needed critique of the collision of self-interest between state governments and mining companies which both profit handsomely from the speedy extraction of resources.
Given the state governments’ conflict of interest and susceptibility to being courted by corporate power, the need for a commonwealth power to over-ride state powers in the interests of the more effective long-term regulation of the mining industry is long overdue. This week, Australia got one thanks the insistence of independent MPs Tony Windsor and Rob Oakeshott, who supported the Mineral Resources Rent Tax (MRRT) in return for the overhaul of the environmental approval processes and legislation.
Given the state governments’ conflict of interest and susceptibility to being courted by corporate power, the need for a commonwealth power to over-ride state powers in the interests of the more effective long-term regulation of the mining industry is long overdue. This week, Australia got one thanks the insistence of independent MPs Tony Windsor and Rob Oakeshott, who supported the Mineral Resources Rent Tax (MRRT) in return for the overhaul of the environmental approval processes and legislation.
Too Much Luck can be credited for fanning the shift in public opinion and political climate in support of the MRRT. We are at a critical moment in the boom, when strong, not weak, Australian Government leadership through the policy-making processes of federalism are absolutely vital, if, to use one of Cleary’s metaphors, Australia is not to look like Nauru, “but on a continental scale”.