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The Great Reckoning A Look Back from Mid-Century E-mail
Posted by Joan Russow   
Tuesday, 23 July 2019 10:07

Tom Dispatch https://mail.google.com/mail/u/0/#inbox/WhctKJVRQMhMCccVGRgzjtbVwlhDdncrhCDjPrJlXWrfxDXXLTcNxxGTpcCpxRDSTLKZvvv[

Editorial note: This remnant of a manuscript, discovered in a vault near the coastal town of Walpole, Massachusetts, appears to have been part of a larger project, probably envisioned as an interpretive history of the United States since the year 2000. Only a single chapter, probably written near the midpoint of the twenty-first century, has survived. Whether the remainder of the manuscript has been lost or the author abandoned it before its completion is unknown.] 
 
Chapter 1
 
The Launch
 
From our present vantage point, it seems clear that, by 2019, the United States had passed a point of no return. In retrospect, this was the moment when indications of things gone fundamentally awry should have become unmistakable. Although at the time much remained hidden in shadows, the historic pivot now commonly referred to as the Great Reckoning had commenced.
 
Even today, it remains difficult to understand why, given mounting evidence of a grave crisis, passivity persisted for so long across most sectors of society. An epidemic of anomie affected a large swath of the population. Faced with a blizzard of troubling developments, large and small, Americans found it difficult to put things into anything approximating useful perspective. Few even bothered to try. Fewer succeeded. As with predictions of cataclysmic earthquakes or volcanic eruptions, a not-in-my-lifetime mood generally prevailed.
 
During what was then misleadingly known as the Age of Trump, the political classes dithered. While the antics of President Donald Trump provoked intense interest -- the word “intense” hardly covers the attention paid to him -- they also provided a convenient excuse for letting partisan bickering take precedence over actual governance or problem solving of any sort. Meanwhile, “thought leaders” (a term then commonly used to describe pontificating windbags) indulged themselves with various pet projects.
 
In the midst of what commentators were pleased to call the Information Age, most ordinary Americans showed a pronounced affinity for trivia over matters of substance. A staggering number of citizens willingly traded freedom and privacy for convenience, bowing to the dictates of an ever-expanding array of personalized gadgetry. What was then called a “smartphone” functioned as a talisman of sorts, the electronic equivalent of a rosary or prayer beads. Especially among the young, separation from one’s “phone” for more than a few minutes could cause acute anxiety and distress. The novelty of “social media” had not yet worn off, with its most insidious implications just being discovered.
 
 
Divided, distracted, and desperately trying to keep up: these emerged then as the abiding traits of life in contemporary America. Craft beer, small-batch bourbon, and dining at the latest farm-to-table restaurant often seemed to matter more than the fate of the nation or, for that matter, the planet as a whole. But all that was about to change.
 
Scholars will undoubtedly locate the origins of the Great Reckoning well before 2019. Perhaps they will trace its source to the aftermath of the Cold War when American elites succumbed to a remarkable bout of imperial hubris, while ignoring (thanks in part to the efforts of Big Energy companies) the already growing body of information on the human-induced alteration of the planet, which came to be called “climate change” or “global warming.” While, generally speaking, the collective story of humankind unfolds along a continuum, by 2019 conditions conducive to disruptive change were forming. History was about to zig sharply off its expected course.
 
This disruption occurred, of course, within a specific context. During the first two decades of the twenty-first century, American society absorbed a series of punishing blows. First came the contested election of 2000, the president of the United States installed in office by a 5-4 vote of a politicized Supreme Court, which thereby effectively usurped the role of the electorate. And that was just for starters. Following in short order came the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, which the world’s (self-proclaimed) premier intelligence services failed to anticipate and the world’s preeminent military establishment failed to avert.
 
Less than two years later, the administration of George W. Bush, operating under the delusion that the ongoing war in Afghanistan was essentially won, ordered U.S. forces to invade Iraq, a nation that had played no part in the events of 9/11. The result of this patently illegal war of aggression would not be victory, despite the president’s almost instant “mission accomplished” declaration, but a painful replay of the quagmire that U.S. troops had experienced decades before in Vietnam. Expectations of Iraq’s “liberation” paving the way for a broader Freedom Agenda that would democratize the Islamic world came to naught. The Iraq War and other armed interventions initiated during the first two decades of the century ended up costing trillionsof taxpayer dollars, while sowing the seeds of instability across much of the Greater Middle East and later Africa.
 
Then, in August 2005, Hurricane Katrina smashed into the Gulf Coast, killing nearly 2,000 Americans. U.S. government agencies responded with breathtaking ineptitude, a sign of things to come, as nature itself was turning increasingly unruly. Other natural disasters of unnatural magnitude followed. In 2007, to cite but one example, more than 9,000 wildfires in California swept through more than a million acres. Like swarms of locusts, fires now became an annual (and worsening) plague ravaging the Golden State and the rest of the West Coast. If this weren’t enough of a harbinger of approaching environmental catastrophe, the populations of honeybees, vital to American agriculture, began to collapse in these very same years.
 
altAmericans were, as it turned out, largely indifferent to the fate of honeybees. They paid far greater attention to the economy, however, which experienced its own form of collapse in 2008. The ensuing Great Recession saw millions thrown out of work and millions more lose their homes as a result of fraudulent mortgage practices. None of the perpetrators were punished. The administration of President Barack Obama chose instead to bail out offending banks and large corporations. Record federal deficits resulted, as the government abandoned once and for all even the pretense of trying to balance the budget. And, of course, the nation’s multiple wars dragged on and on and on.
 
Through all these trials, the American people more or less persevered. If not altogether stoic, they remained largely compliant. As a result, few members of the nation’s political, economic, intellectual, or cultural elites showed any awareness that something fundamental might be amiss. The two established parties retained their monopoly on national politics. As late as 2016, the status quo appeared firmly intact. Only with that year’s presidential election did large numbers of citizens signal that they had had enough: wearing red MAGA caps rather than wielding pitchforks, they joined Donald Trump’s assault on that elite and, thumbing their noses at Washington, installed a reality TV star in the White House.
 
To the legions who had found the previous status quo agreeable, Trump’s ascent to the apex of American politics amounted to an unbearable affront. They might tolerate purposeless, endless wars, raise more or less any set of funds for the military that was so unsuccessfully fighting them, and turn a blind eye to economic arrangements that fostered inequality on a staggering scale. They might respond to the accelerating threat posed by climate change with lip service and, at best, quarter-measures. But Donald Trump in the Oval Office? That they could not abide.
 
As a result, from the moment of his election, Trump dominated the American scene. Yet the outrage that he provoked, day in and day out, had this unfortunate side effect: it obscured developments that would in time prove to be of far more importance than the 45th American president himself. Like the “noise” masking signals that, if detected and correctly interpreted, might have averted Pearl Harbor in December 1941 or, for that matter, 9/11, obsessing about Trump caused observers to regularly overlook or discount matters far transcending in significance the daily ration of presidential shenanigans.
 
Here, then, is a very partial listing of some of the most important of those signals then readily available to anyone bothering to pay attention. On the eve of the Great Reckoning, however, they were generally treated as mere curiosities or matters of limited urgency -- problems to be deferred to a later, more congenial moment.
 
Item: The reality of climate change was now indisputable. All that remained in question was how rapidly it would occur and the extent (and again rapidity) of the devastation that it would ultimately inflict.
 
Item: Despite everything that was then known about the dangers of further carbon emissions, the major atmospheric contributor to global warming, they only continued to increase, despite the myriad conferences and agreements intended to curb them. (U.S. carbon emissions, in particular, were still risingthen, and global emissions were expected to rise by record or near-record amounts as 2019 began.)
 
Item: The polar icecap was disappearing, with scientists reporting that it had melted more in just 20 years than in the previous 10,000. This, in turn, meant that sea levels would continue to rise at record rates, posing an increasing threat to coastal cities.
 
Item: Deforestation and desertification were occurring at an alarming rate.
 
Item: Approximately eight million metric tons of plastic were seeping into the world’s oceans each year, from the ingestion of which vast numbers of seabirds, fish, and marine mammals were dying annually. Payback would come in the form of microplastics contained in seafood consumed by humans.
 
Item: With China and other Asian countries increasingly refusing to accept American recyclables, municipalities in the United States found themselves overwhelmed by accumulations of discarded glass, plastic, metal, cardboard, and paper. That year, the complete breakdown of the global recycling system already loomed as a possibility.
 
Item: Worldwide bird and insect populations were plummeting. In other words, the Sixth Mass Extinction had begun.
 
All of these fall into the category of what we recognize today as planetary issues of existential importance. But even in 2019 there were other matters of less than planetary significance that ought to have functioned as a wake-up call. Among them were:
 
Item: With the federal government demonstrably unable to secure U.S. borders, immigration authorities were seizing hundreds of thousands of migrants annually. By 2019, the Trump administration was confining significant numbers of those migrants, including small children, in what were, in effect, concentration camps.
 
Item: Cybercrime had become a major growth industry, on track to rake in $6 trillion annually by 2021. Hackers were already demonstrating the ability to hold large American cities hostage and the authorities proved incapable of catching up.
 
Item: With the three richest Americans -- Jeff Bezos, Bill Gates, and Warren Buffet -- controlling more wealth than the bottom 50% of the entire population, the United States had become a full-fledged oligarchy. While politicians occasionally expressed their dismay about this reality, prior to 2019 it was widely tolerated.
 
Item: As measured by roads, bridges, dams, or public transportation systems, the nation’s infrastructure was strikingly inferior to what it had been a half-century earlier. (By 2019, China, for instance, had built more than 19,000 miles of high-speed rail; the U.S., not one.) Agreement that this was a problem that needed fixing was universal; corrective action (and government financing), however, was not forthcoming.
 
Item: Military spending in constant dollars exceeded what it had been at the height of the Cold War when the country’s main adversary, the Soviet Union, had a large army with up-to-date equipment and an arsenal of nuclear weapons. In 2019, Iran, the country’s most likely adversary, had a modest army and no nuclear weapons.
 
Item: Incivility, rudeness, bullying, and general nastiness had become rampant, while the White House, once the site of solemn ceremony, deliberation, and decision, played host to politically divisive shouting matches and verbal brawls.
 
To say that Americans were oblivious to such matters would be inaccurate. Some were, for instance, considering a ban on plastic straws. Yet taken as a whole, the many indications of systemic and even planetary dysfunction received infinitely less popular attention than the pregnancies of British royals, the antics of the justifiably forgotten Kardashian clan, or fantasy football, a briefly popular early twenty-first century fad.
 
Of course, decades later, viewed with the benefit of hindsight, the implications of these various trends and data points seem painfully clear: the dominant ideological abstraction of late postmodernity -- liberal democratic capitalism -- was rapidly failing or had simply become irrelevant to the challenges facing the United States and the human species as a whole. To employ another then-popular phrase, liberal democratic capitalism had become an expression of “fake news,” a scam sold to the many for the benefit of the privileged few.
 
“Toward the end of an age,” historian John Lukacs (1924-2019) once observed, “more and more people lose faith in their institutions and finally they abandon their belief that these institutions might still be reformed from within.” Lukacs wrote those words in 1970, but they aptly described the situation that had come to exist in that turning-point year of 2019. Basic American institutions -- the overworked U.S. military being a singular exception -- no longer commanded popular respect.
 
In essence, the postmodern age was ending, though few seemed to know it -- with elites, in particular, largely oblivious to what was occurring. What would replace postmodernity in a planet heading for ruin remained to be seen.
 
Only when...
 
[Editor’s note: Here the account breaks off.]
 
Andrew Bacevich, a TomDispatch regular and the author most recently of The Age of Illusions: How America Squandered Its Cold War Victory, is a co-founder of the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft, a Washington, D.C. think tank in formation.
 
Follow TomDispatch on Twitter and join us on Facebook. Check out the newest Dispatch Books, John Feffer’s new dystopian novel (the second in the Splinterlands series) Frostlands, Beverly Gologorsky's novel Every Body Has a Story, and Tom Engelhardt's A Nation Unmade by War, as well as Alfred McCoy's In the Shadows of the American Century: The Rise and Decline of U.S. Global Power and John Dower's The Violent American Century: War and Terror Since World War II.
 
Copyright 2019 Andrew Bacevich
Last Updated on Tuesday, 23 July 2019 10:15
 
A Message for Prime Minister Trudeau on his visit to Victoria on July 18, 2019 E-mail
Posted by Joan Russow   
Friday, 19 July 2019 04:36

Image result for images of rally against trudeau in victoria july 18 2019

Remember, in 2013, Canada agreed to Sustainable Development Goal 13- “Climate change presents the single biggest threat to development, and its widespread, unprecedented impacts disproportionately burden the poorest and most vulnerable. Urgent action to combat climate change is needed

 

Remember in 2015. at COP 21, Ban Ki Moon, in Paris, urged states to negotiate with a global vision

Implementing SDG13 and achieving A global vision for Canada would be:

 

(i)Fulfilling article 2, The ultimate objective of this Convention and any related legal instruments that the Conference of the Parties may adopt is to achieve, in accordance with the relevant provisions of the Convention, stabilization of greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that would prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system

(ii) Ending subsidies for fossil fuel, and the investment in fossil fuels through the Canada pension fund

(iii) Closing down the tar sands, not rationalizing the continuation  of the tar sands to fund renewable energy

Last Updated on Tuesday, 23 July 2019 13:59
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B.C. Civil Liberties Association to release CSIS papers on environmental groups Social Sharing E-mail
Posted by Joan Russow   
Monday, 08 July 2019 03:16

BCCLA complained to the Security Intelligence Review Committee in 2014

Last Updated on Monday, 08 July 2019 07:44
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Tomgram: Allegra Harpootlian, Ending the Forever Wars? E-mail
Posted by Joan Russow   
Sunday, 23 June 2019 17:40

Tomgram: Allegra Harpootlian, Ending the Forever Wars?

Posted by Allegra Harpootlian at 3:15pm, June 23, 2019.
Follow TomDispatch on Twitter @TomDispatch.

I remember well the antiwar movement of the Vietnam era. I was in it and it was distinctly in the streets, big time. I was typical, for instance, in traveling to Washington in October 1967 for a march on the Pentagon, which proved to be the largest antiwar protest ever staged to that point -- a crowd so vast I had never seen the likes of it before. And I returned to the capital a year or two later for a far more chaotic antiwar demonstration in which I remember having to choose between staying with a bold friend eager to rush further into the tear-gas-laced streets around the Washington Mall or run for it -- alone. (I reluctantly chose to stay.) And then there were all the little moments of work and opposition over so many years, the moments when you weren’t with crowds of people in those streets, but you were still focused on opposing that American war from hell.

And then, of course,

Last Updated on Monday, 24 June 2019 11:40
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Consent Means Consent Not Consultation, Coercion or “after the Decision", Notification E-mail
Posted by Joan Russow   
Thursday, 13 June 2019 07:22

1.The Lubicon Cree: Ongoing human rights violations

Image result for The Lubicon Cree: Ongoing human rights violations

The Lubicon Cree: Ongoing human rights violations

 

The Lubicon Cree: A case study in ongoing human rights violations exerpts from article by  Amnesty International

he Lubicon Cree: A case study in ongoing human rights violations. ... 

Territory that the Lubicon have relied on to hunt, fish and trap is now crisscrossed by more than 2400 km of oil and gas pipelines.

That's more than five wells for every Lubicon person.“..

.the basic health and resistance to infection of community members has deteriorated dramatically.

The lack of running water and sanitary facilities in the community, needed to replace

the traditional systems of water and sanitary management...is leading to the development of diseases associated

with poverty and poor sanitary and healthconditions.” Lubicon complaint upheld by the United Nations Human Rights Committee in 1990

 

 

Last Updated on Monday, 24 June 2019 11:37
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We Must do More to Speed up Ending Fossil Fuel Subsidies E-mail
Posted by Joan Russow   
Wednesday, 05 June 2019 11:43

By Niklas Hagelberg iklas Hagelberg is Coordinator, Climate Change Programme, UN Environment

alt

NAIROBI, Kenya, Jun 5 2019 (IPS) - Fossil fuels—oil, gas, coal and their derivatives—pollute the atmosphere and emit the greenhouse gases that are ramping up global heating to dangerous levels. But did you know that governments around the world are subsidizing this pollution?

Historically, governments around the world have used fossil fuel subsidies for a variety of reasons, including to promote energy independence, encourage industry and cushion the poorest in society.

But they never took sufficient account of what economists call “externalities” such as air pollution and the resulting impacts on our health.

There is a special kind of madness in a system that funds the healthcare burden from asthma, respiratory diseases and lung cancer, and at the same time funds companies that pollute the air and contribute towards these health issues in the first place.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 12 June 2019 09:10
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Elementary students restore, reclaim neighbourhood park E-mail
Posted by Joan Russow   
Thursday, 30 May 2019 18:50

Students from Janet Langston’s Grade 3 and 4 class at Margaret Jenkins elementary celebrate the school’s efforts to remove invasive species from Trafalgar Park (below King George Terrace). The park was covered in gorse and blackberry and wild flowers and roses are now thriving. (Travis Paterson/News Staff)

Margaret Jenkins students 2.5 years into restoration

 

The reclamation of Trafalgar Park continues but to anyone who has visited in the past three years, the removal of invasive species has revealed a landscape unseen for decades.

And the work has been done by a pair of Margarets.

Well known Uplands Park advocate and volunteer Margaret Lidkea helped lead a program for nearby Margaret Jenkins elementary school students. Lidkea provides the know-how and the students provide the muscle.

Last Updated on Sunday, 02 June 2019 14:50
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WITH INDUSTRY DATING BACK TO 1859, PENNSYLVANIA STRUGGLES WITH 200,000+ ORPHAN WELLS E-mail
Posted by Joan Russow   
Monday, 27 May 2019 10:58
 
FULL STORY: E&E NEWS @EENEWSUPDATES
 
MAY 26, 2019PRIMARY AUTHOR MIKE LEE @MIKELEEFW0
Jeremy Buckingham/flickr
https://theenergymix.com/2019/05/26/with-industry-dating-back-to-1859-pennsylvania-struggles-with-200000-orphan-wells/
 
alt
 
 
 
Although pressure is building on the fossil industry to address fugitive emissions from abandoned oil and gas wells, deadbeat drillers and insufficient public funds for cleanup mean Pennsylvania landowners who once played host to oil and gas extraction remain captive to all that was left behind.
 
While orphan wells have emerged as a tough, legally contentious issue in Alberta and British Columbia, they’re a much more established problem in Pennsylvania, where the United States’ first well was drilled in 1859, E&E News reports. Today, the state is “home to between 200,000 and 750,000 so-called orphan wells that have been abandoned and that have no apparent owner.” Taken together, these wells “emit 40,000 to 70,000 tonnes of methane a year, between 5% and 8% of the state’s human-caused methane emissions.”
 
Like this story? Subscribe to The Energy Mix and never miss an edition of our free e-digest.
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Do We Need a Global Convention of Common Principles for Building Peace? E-mail
Posted by Joan Russow   
Friday, 17 May 2019 12:45

By Thalif Deen - Reprint

Sweden’s Minister for International Development Cooperation Peter Eriksson

STOCKHOLM, May 17 2019 (IPS)  - When the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) concluded a three-day forum on “Peace and Development” on May 16, the primary focus was the daunting challenges threatening global security, including growing military interventions, spreading humanitarian emergencies, forced migration, increasing civil wars, extreme weather conditions triggered by climate change and widespread poverty and conflict-related hunger.

For many decades, said the Swedish Minister for International Development Cooperation Peter Eriksson, the rules of war were designed by the Geneva Conventions.

“Do we need to develop and adopt common principles for building peace?,” he asked, before a gathering of more than 400 high-level policymakers, researchers and practitioners in the Swedish capital during the opening session of the sixth annual Stockholm Forum on Peace and Development

Last Updated on Tuesday, 21 May 2019 10:06
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Monsanto’s “Rain of Death” on Canada’s Forests E-mail
Posted by Joan Russow   
Thursday, 16 May 2019 13:42
 
By Joyce Nelson
 
 
egion: Canada
 
Theme: Biotechnology and GMO, Law and Justice
 
altFirst Nations in Ontario have run out of patience. For 43 years, the forest industry has been conducting aerial spraying of glyphosate herbicide on Indigenous lands – a “rain of death” used in forest management practice that has slowly been killing off a wide range of animals, plants, fish and insects. First Nations have tried to stop this practice since the 1990s through a variety of measures including meetings with logging companies and government officials, protests and reports, but all to no avail. The “rain of death” keeps coming.
 
 
Now, members of the Traditional Ecological Knowledge (TEK) Elders of the North Shore of Lake Huron say they will be going to court to force the Canadian federal government to live up to Robinson Huron Treaty of 1850. That treaty guarantees First Nations in the area the right to hunt, fish, gather berries and use plant medicines in traditional territories. The TEK Elders say that by allowing the aerial spraying to continue, the Trudeau government is violating this treaty and the Constitution Act of 1982, which reaffirms those rights.
 
“We’re done waiting,” Raymond Owl, one of the founding members of TEK, told the press in April. [1] Formed in 2014, the TEK Elders group is comprised of Elders from 21 bands in the area.
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UN chief concerned nuclear 'coffin' leaking in Pacific E-mail
Posted by Joan Russow   
Thursday, 16 May 2019 09:05

A huge concrete dome built over a crater left by one of the 43 nuclear blasts on Runit Island photographed in 1980

A huge concrete dome built over a crater left by one of the 43 nuclear blasts on Runit Island photographed in 1980 (AFP Photo/)

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres raised concerns Thursday that a concrete dome built last century to contain waste from atomic bomb tests is leaking radioactive material into the Pacific.

Speaking to students in Fiji, Guterres described the structure on Enewetak atoll in the Marshall Islands as "a kind of coffin" and said it was a legacy of Cold War-era nuclear tests in the Pacific

Last Updated on Tuesday, 21 May 2019 10:26
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