The Weekly Watch
Round and Round We Go
Deja Vu All Over Again
This week I want to focus on the myriad of cycles in which we live and interact. When I first thought of this topic, my idea was the cycle of seasons, the carbon cycle and its balance of photosynthesis and respiration, the slow geologic gyre of the rock cycle and soil formation, the phase changes of the water cycle, the chemical cycles like nitrogen which orchestrate a dance between the atmosphere, soils, and biosphere, and so on...all natural processes on which we depend for stability of the ecosystem. However, as the week progressed I couldn't help but think back to my youth and the Vietnam war. I fear our immanent invasion of Venezuela will be like multiplying the Vietnam and Iraq fiascos...and then squaring it. With the appointment of Elliot Abrams it really is deja vu all over again.
So the US is about to start another illegal war...in our hemisphere. It is a bad idea....a very bad idea. Can you say unforeseen consequences? Not to mention the simple immorality of the situation. American demockracy...just declare our puppet to be the president of other countries and threaten any country which doesn't acquiesce with debilitating sanctions. Meanwhile we amass arms and troops in Columbia...now a NATO country. Brazil is applying to become a NATO member and Israel has already sent troops there to assist with Brazil's invasion of Venezuela. Additionally US troops and arms are being shipped into Puerto Rico and other locations in the Caribbean.
I heard several good recaps this week. One of the best was from Venezuela’s Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza...“The US is in Front of the Coup Attempt, not Behind it”
This is the first time in the history of Latin America that the spokespersons of the United States government, from its highest levels, confess that they are in front of the coup, that they are leading it, not behind it. Usually you have to wait 50 years for documents to be declassified by the CIA, etc., which show that the United Stated was behind the coup all along. No, this time they are in front of it. They are giving order to the Venezuelan opposition. They are giving orders to the right-wing governments around the world, so that there would be a military coup in Venezuela.
Venezuela’s foreign minister and his counterparts from 16 countries including China and Russia formed a group calling for self-determination, equality, and non-intervention at the UN
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mFEpsOGR1bo (3:45 min)
George Galloway had a righteous rant about the situation. He also warned against an Iraq invasion. Let's hope they listen this time. (23 min)
EDIT: freshly posted.
Jimmy and the gang take on the issue of Venezuela and media hypocrisy
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=duQ_oxPFIAA (20 min)
to add this newly posted interview with Jimmy and Aaron Mate who is in Venezuela
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vq7ngZgzU-k (32 min)
Most EU countries have gone along with our coup, but there are efforts to stop the process. A recent study conducted by the German parliament’s independent scientific research service found that international recognition of the self-proclaimed “interim president” Juan Guaidó probably constitutes a violation of international law. We discuss the study’s implications with Andrej Hunko, who commissioned the study - (video or text)
However to add insult to injury, Elliot Abrams convicted war criminal is to lead the coup.
Elliott Abrams is a right-wing hawk who was convicted in 1991 for lying to Congress during the Iran-Contra scandal, but he was later pardoned by President George H.W. Bush. Abrams defended Guatemalan dictator General Efraín Ríos Montt as he oversaw a campaign of mass murder and torture of indigenous people in Guatemala in the 1980s. Ríos Montt was later convicted of genocide. Abrams was also linked to the 2002 coup in Venezuela that attempted to topple Hugo Chávez. We look at Abrams’s track record with prize-winning investigative journalist Allan Nairn, who has closely tracked Abrams for over three decades.
So, again, you have Elliott Abrams, somebody who’s a certifiable criminal against humanity, meeting with formerly visibly violent youth, who are now suited and tied, and meeting with Nancy Pelosi, meeting with Trump administration officials, meeting with presidents of Colombia, meeting in Europe, getting human rights prizes. I mean, this is—I teach at UCLA. I teach a class in media. And I’m just getting a cornucopia of manufactured consent, because I can’t think of a clear example, when you have Elliott Abrams talking about democracy with—in terms of youth that is known to be linked to extreme and even terrorist elements, if you’re talking about somebody like a young man named Lorent Saleh—S-A-L-E-H. You can see him on YouTube. Lorent Saleh is out there meeting with presidents, with—he just met with Álvaro Uribe, a man who’s—we don’t need to tell you, Amy—you know, 10,000 people were killed, according to a report, by Álvaro Uribe’s government in Colombia, but there was no invasion. So, Saleh is out there meeting. But if you look on YouTube, you can find videos where he was caught plotting assassination attempts, plotting bombings, plotting all manner of what we, in this context, would call a terrorist—terrorist actions. So, this is the kind of manufactured consent we have going on right now.
(video or text)
For more about manufacturing consent see
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AnrBQEAM3rE (2:47 full length film from 1992)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tTBWfkE7BXU&pbjreload=10 (9 min excerpt)
So in the meantime it appears Elliot's old friends which helped with the Iran-Contra arms shipments, the very same company, is at it again in Venezuela
...he was lying to cover up the fact that the Reagan administration had an operation, which he was part of, an operation led by Oliver North, to supply arms to the U.S.-created Nicaraguan Contras to commit aggression against Nicaragua, to invade Nicaragua and go after those soft targets, what the U.S. General Galvin described as “soft targets.” But they were doing that illegally at the time, because Congress had prohibited the U.S. from doing that, but the Reagan administration and Abrams and his colleagues just decided to ignore the legal mandate of Congress and go underground.
The Boeing 767 is owned by a company called 21 Air based in Greensboro, North Carolina. The plane had made nearly 40 round-trip flights between Miami and spots in Venezuela and Colombia since January 11, the day after Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro was sworn in to a second term. The flights ended after McClatchy first reported on them.
McClatchy reports the chairman of 21 Air, Adolfo Moreno, as well as another employee at the company have ties to Gemini Air Cargo, which was involved in the CIA’s rendition program during the administration of George W. Bush. In 2006, Amnesty International identified Gemini as a front company that had authorization to land on U.S. military bases worldwide.
The CIA has a long history of running front companies for covert actions. Most famously, the CIA ran a front airline called Air America, which operated from 1950 to 1976. In the ’80s, a CIA front company called Southern Air Transport was used to send arms to the U.S.-backed Contras in Nicaragua.
Like I said it really is deja vu all over again...
War is Brewing
The Venezuelan government seems to be openly preparing to face a US military invasion.
On February 10, the country’s military kicked off large-scale military drills, which will run until February 15. According to President Nicolas Maduro, the drills are set to become the biggest ones the country has held in its 200-year history.
On the same day, multiple air defense systems, including Pechora-2M launchers, were spotted maneuvering in the area of San Cristobal, near the border with Columbia, an expected member of the US-led coalition in the event of invasion in Venezuela.
On February 7, Israel’s satellite company ImageSat International released a satellite image, allegedly showing that the Venezuelan military was releasing its S-300VN air defense system from mothballs in Captain Manuel Rios Airbase on February 4.
Separately, President Maduro announced the setting up of 50,000 “popular defence units” and promised that the US will get a South American “Vietnam War” if it decides to invade.
https://alethonews.com/2019/02/12/u-s-is-setting-ground-for-military-int... (includes a 4 min video)
Wouldn't it be nice if we really did care about what the Venezuelan people want?
Citizens of Venezuela wait in line to sign a petition denouncing U.S. imperialism.
So as we leave the subject of Venezuela I think about all our foreign military successes in this century alone. Why there's Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria, Ukraine, Yemen, Somalia and much of Africa, not to mention our coups in Brazil, Honduras, and coming soon in Venezuela and Nicaragua.
When you think about the way this litany of war was sold, it is pretty damning. The war in Vietnam was to keep communism from spreading. If Vietnam fell, there would be a domino effect (which of course did not happen). After 9-11 we had to get Al Qaeda and somehow they morphed into the Taliban to insure a forever war. Then there was Saddam and his non-existent WMDs, yet the real reason was he was selling his oil in euros and driving up its value against the dollar. And Qaddafi, he had the audacity of telling the Saudi royals they licked the boots of the US, plus he wanted to start an African gold based currency to challenge the dollar. He had to go! Libya worked out well because we were able to abscond with many weapons which we sent to Syria to foment that war (thanks $hill and Obomber). After all Assad wouldn't let the Kuwaiti-Saudi pipeline go through his country. We simply use profit to justify the catastrophe in Yemen. We're making lots of money selling all those weapons!
Time and time again we are lied into war. Somehow they sell the opposite idea that we are spreading peace and demockracy around the world. Round and round...
To help save Viet nam from Viet Namese.
There is an Emergency
So as our dictator declares a national Trumpergency, he accuses the elected president of Venezuela of being a dictator, and evidently sits ready to create war to obtain the national resources of another country. This was business as usual 100 years ago with America...and it still is...deja vu.
Now during most of human history, the US would just be another empire in decline...another iteration of civilization. However, the collapse of the climate adds urgency to the endless cycle of capital and war. Now this is an emergency, a global emergency...and kids have figured it out!
Thousands of school and university students have gone 'on strike' from school as part of a global movement calling for action on climate change. The Youth Strike 4 Climate protests, inspired by Swedish teen Greta Thunberg's solo demonstrations, took place in more than 60 towns and cities across the UK. Organisers said they want the Government to declare a climate emergency and take decisive steps to tackle the issue, including drastic reforms to environmental policy and education.
A second round of strikes is due to be held on March 15.
https://www.itv.com/news/2019-02-15/thousands-of-students-go-on-strike-f... (text and 2.5 min clip)
Until now 75% of the participants have been schoolchildren but increasing numbers of university students are joining. Luisa Neubauer, a 22-year-old, was among those invited to talk to senior cabinet officials. She told the German minister of economy that he was part of the problem because he was working for industry, rather than for people or the planet.
British PM says that the children on school strike are “wasting lesson time”. That may well be the case. But then again, political leaders have wasted 30 yrs of inaction. And that is slightly worse.
It is not like we haven't abused the planet. Human history is a tale of use and abuse, but it is also a tale of stewardship by some societies and cultures. And the topic of caring for the land, each other, and our fellow creatures has been my primary focus of this column recently.
Perhaps forests tell the story the best. John Perlin's book "A Forest Journey" is an excellent and thought provoking read....
As we proceed to demolish the last great forests on Earth in the tropics of both Africa and America, it is easy to believe this catastrophic event is a novelty. True enough, the global congruence of overpopulation, industrialism and deforestation are novel, but it is equally apparent that history has much to say about the symbiosis of civilization and its forests.
As difficult as it is to imagine today, most of what is now the "civilized world" was forest land prior to its conversion for human purposes. Dense stands of ancient Atlas cedar once blanketed the now-barren mountains and hills of northern Africa. Cedars of Lebanon--the source of timber for Solomon's ships--as well as oak and pine once forested the Holy Land and upper drainages of the Tigris and Euphrates rivers; today these areas are mostly desert or scrub.
The dry, rocky, picturesque hills of Greece, Italy and Madeira, now barely productive enough for grape vines, were once blanketed not only with forests, but with fertile soils. Their rivers were deep and clear, flowing throughout the year, not the droughty arroyos seasonally inundated with silt-laden torrents that characterize the Mediterranean region today. Their very coastlines are altered. Soil washed from the slopes has come to rest in river deltas, extending once sharply defined shorelines far out into marshy shallows and destroying ancient harbors.
John Perlin's new book, "A Forest Journey," is like some Greek epic poem spanning 4,000 years of civilization. The refrain is inevitably tragic. It begins with the "Epic of Gilgamesh" about 2000 BC. Gilgamesh penetrated the primordial cedar forest in the mountains south of Mesopotamia to acquire timber necessary for building his city-state of Uruk. According to Perlin, the "Epic" recounts droughts that plagued southern Mesopotamia in the aftermath of deforestation. Subsequently, during the heyday of Sumerian civilization, ships carried oak from Arabia, cedar from Turkey, juniper and sycamore from Syria to the city-states of Lagash and Ur.
Here's a link with numerous excerpts -
Forest are the sponge absorbing rain and stabilizing soil. As we deforested our planet we have allowed soil to erode creating a water pollution problem and robbing its fertility in the process.
"Conquest of the Land through 7,000 Years" is Dr. Lowdermilk's personal report of a study he made in 1938 and 1939.Despite changes in names of countries, in political boundaries, and in conservation technology, the bulletin still has significance for all peoples concerned with maintaining and improving farm production.Dr. Lowdermilk studied the record of agriculture in countries where the land had been under cultivation for hundreds, even thousands, of years. His immediate mission was to find out if the experience of these older civilizations could help in solving the serious soil erosion and land use problems in the United States, then struggling with repair of the Dust Bowl and the Sullied South.He discovered that soil erosion, deforestation, overgrazing, neglect, and conflicts between cultivators and herdsman have helped topple empires and wipe out entire civilizations. At the same time, he learned that careful stewardship of the earth's resources, through terracing, crop rotation, and other soil conservation measures, has enabled other societies to flourish for centuries.
(full SCS pamphlet from the 40's)
Professor King's manuscript is the writing of a well−trained observer who went forth not to find diversion or to depict scenery and common wonders, but to study the actual conditions of life of agricultural peoples. We in North America are wont to think that we may instruct all the world in agriculture, because our agricultural wealth is great and our exports to less favored peoples have been heavy; but this wealth is great because our soil is fertile and new, and in large acreage for every person. We have really only begun to farm well. The first condition of farming is to maintain fertility. This condition the oriental peoples have met, and they have solved it in their way. We may never adopt particular methods, but we can profit vastly by their experience. With the increase of personal wants in recent time. the newer countries may never reach such density of population as have Japan and China; but we must nevertheless learn the first lesson in the conservation of natural resources, which are the resources of the land. This is the message that Professor King brought home from the East.
A major influence in my approach to agriculture comes from Japan.
This 1975 documentary shows interviews of the then 65 year old farmer-philosopher, who shares his techniques behind his farming success, and the philosophy that underpins it all. "The ultimate purpose of farming is not the cultivation of crops, but the cultivation and perfection of the human being"
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HveaqQy9hUc (9.5 min)
...and another 9 min piece from '75
Masanobu Fukuoka wrote "The One Straw Revolution," about his philosophy and the Four Principles of Natural Farming: no cultivation; no chemical fertilizer or prepare compost; no weeding by tillage and herbicides; and no dependence on chemicals. Even though his methods require less labor, it can result in higher yields for your farm or garden. To learn more, visit www.onestrawrevolution.net.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XSKSxLHMv9k (9 min)
Earth's various cycles are interlinked in a way so that the Earth, the planet itself, acts like a system...The Gaia Hypothesis.
The idea is to learn from natural cycles. That is also at the heart of permaculture.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nOrW_SyDLpA (6 min)
Geoff discusses the design techniques they teach in their workshops.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9ctkh1nkwcE (3.5 min)
Once you get caught in the cycle it is difficult to escape. We seem caught in an endless cycle of war largely focused on extracting evermore fossil fuels that we burn into gases which have carried us to the edge of extinction. I caught this worthwhile TEDx talk about workers coops the other day. In his talk this systems engineer discusses upward versus downward cycles. He claimed if you can change the direction of just one component in the cycle it will spiral the other way. Let's hope young Greta represents that change in direction and we begin to flow in a constructive rather than destructive pattern.
I look forward to your ideas, stories, and comments below.