POWER DOWN, PECKER UP
Journal of a Futurist - 3 July 2006
Beware the old duffer who warns that the end is nigh. While bright young things throng the bars and the beaches, trailing clouds of credit in the aromatic spa baths, jetting off to base camp for sunsets irresistible, the duffers next stop is the nursing home. No wonder hes cranky. For the fit, the smart and the moderately well heeled, theres oodles of fun to be had at Global Mall, until all too soon the wells run dry. Supplies of oil and groundwater are in decline, and neither resource can be swiftly substituted. Oil is the universal elixir, used for petrol, pesticides, fertilizers, factory farmed food, transportation, refrigeration, heating, lighting, medicines, cement, much of the stuff in shops, in the office, in the factory, in the sky, in the home, in the hospitals, in computers, in our every day life. Peak oil heralds the end of the party, like when the grog runs out. Only worse.
No ride home, except on a bike; no morning Jacuzzi, unless youve got plentiful water tanks and solar panels; no breakfast without an edible garden or a local food co-op. Perhaps malls will morph into farmers markets. Fast companies will slow down. Tomorrows hot jobs will be those now considered uncool, as in organic agriculturalists, water diviners, orchardists, recyclers, compost lavatorians, geologists, petrol siphoners, builders of bamboo bikes, renewable energy boffins
Numerous voices are urging people to powerdown, to adapt to a post carbon future.
Its an issue that remains below the media radar. It will not attract advertising. The life-after-oil scenario embraces a web of perils, such as the depletion of phosphates, topsoil, species; climate chaos, endless war and population overshoot. It foresees the collapse of the consumer society, the end of suburbia, the return of localization, now re-branded as re-localization. It is not a re-run of hippie druggie free love communes, despite the whiff of lentils and dandelion. The powerdown project is practical, community-engaged and globally aware. It rests on the assumption that cheap fossil fuels are the lifeblood of modern civilization, and that their imminent decline invites catastrophe. So chop wood, carry water, put a windmill on the roof, re-skill and get to know your neighbours.
Every object in this picture is derived from oil
BEYOND PEAK OIL AND GAS ALREADY?
No other energy source comes near to replacing oil. The Australian Association for the Study of Peak Oil and Gas (ASPO), puts a high probability of global Peak Oil occurring before 2010 or 2015. In a presentation to the US Department of Defence on June 20, Matthew R Simmons, the founder and chairman of the world's largest energy investment bank, said the world was probably beyond peak oil and gas.
ASPO is scornful of attempts to create synthetic crude oil from coal, gas or tar-sands (costly and impractical). Bio fuels are limited by the lack of arable land not devoted to food. Hydrogen is an energy carrier, not an energy source and has little likelihood of delaying the impact of peak oil. According to ASPO, Britain would need 100 nuclear power plants to produce enough hydrogen to replace its existing use of transport fuel. A Cornell University study has concluded that each unit of ethanol energy requires 117 percent of fossil fuel energy to produce. As for natural gas, Australia only has 1.4% of the world's known reserves and were selling it to China for a song. While an Oil Vulnerability Task Force is a matter of urgency for Australia, our leaders seem unaware of problem. As for the oil companies, only Chevron and Total have so far admitted the situation is dire. On June 19, an industry conference in Darwin was warned that exploration costs had lately jumped by over a third, to little effect, and that progress was further threatened by lack of equipment.
Lets step back a bit. Keep in mind that our addiction is absolute. Oil fuels 90% of all transportation. It is involved in the production of 95% of all the goods in shops, including 95% of all food - produced as it is, mainly by industrialized means and carted across the world, sometimes in refrigerated planes. Current global consumption is 85 million barrels a day, rapidly rising, as China, India, and the rest of Asia gets hooked. Back in 2001, these issues surely plagued the minds of Dick Cheney and his colleagues from Exxon Mobil, Shell and BP America at their Energy Task Force summit, held at White House. Here, the most powerful people on Earth poured over maps of oilfields, pipelines, refineries and terminals in Iraq. The minutes of this meeting remain classified, but its significance is obvious. Saudi Arabias oilfields are less extensive than advertised and some are polluted, brine stained with oil. The oilfields of Iraq are known as the last of the ripe overhanging fruit. Sagging so low, notes Linda McQuaig that it practically touches the ground under the weight of its ripeness. No permafrost, no contamination. Vast pools of oil, yearning for exploitation. In 2001, Iraq was a sitting duck. Ruled by a hated dictator, its geography offered a platform for the US to control the Gulf.. The point of the invasion was to establish a garrison on top of an oil field. Whats next? Only last week, President Vladimir Putin's top political adviser put it bluntly: the US is seeking international energy domination under the guise of promoting democracy. No-one is allowed to mess with the consumer society. The White House credo is powerup; Venezuela beware, dont mention the Greenhouse.
HAIRCUTTING, FRIED CHICKEN,
While demand for oil keeps accelerating, the current rate of decline is about 8% per annum, according to energy specialist, Mathew Simmons, so that by 2020, the total supply could have dropped from 85 to 25mb/d barrels a day. But by 2030, oil demand is expected be 115 barrels a day. Could this be why Bush & Co have been acting like outlaws? Worldwide, a few billion addicts might be facing cold turkey, and right now, weapons are probably being stockpiled in suburbia. Enter the Powerdown scenario, the path of cooperation, conservation, and sharing. Small, self-sustaining communities that are touted as cultural lifeboats in times to come.
The only realistic alternative to endless resource wars, according to Richard Heinberg in his book, Powerdown: Options and Actions for a Post-Carbon World, is a strategy that shrinks per-capita resource usage in wealthy countries, develops renewable power, and humanely but systematically reduces the size of the human population over time. Powerdown would mean a species-wide effort toward self-limitation. Heinberg believes that once the processes and implications of resource depletion are understood, the pro-growth argument will collapse.
The 21st century is not going to be about mobility, writes John Howard Kunstler in The Long Emergency. Its going to be much more about staying where you are, not about being in constant motion. It's going to be about being in a place that you care about and you have to care for and that is going to change the basis of how we live. Does this seem far fetched? Not to the esteemed Trends Research Institute, which is tracking the rapidly growing desire of more people to be self-empowered, non-reliant, and off the grid.
Allora & Calzadilla's video, Under Discussion.
Kunstlers depiction of sprawl as the dirty secret of the American economy has relevance to Australia, with its bottom line also stoked by spreading McMansions, and their endless accessorizing, furnishing, servicing and renovating. Once this is activity is subtracted from the GDP, there isn't much left, according to Kunstler except for haircutting, fried chicken, and open-heart surgery.
BUY NOW, SETTLE IN 2010
What are the possible stages in the collapse of civilization? Richard Heinberg says energy shortages will start to bite in about five more years, leading to economic turmoil, frequent and lengthening power blackouts, and chaos. Over several years, food production plummets, resulting in widespread famine, even in formerly wealthy countries. Wars including civil wars rage intermittently. Meanwhile ecological crisis also tears at the social fabric, with water shortage, rising sea levels, and severe storms
One after another, central governments collapse. Empires devolve into nations; nations into smaller regional or tribal states. But each lower stage reaches its own moment of unsustainability and further collapse ensues. Between 2020 and 2100, the global population declines steeply, because of climate chaos and crop failure.
Its a grim picture, which perhaps under-estimates human ingenuity, though its warning is timely. Over a 100 post carbon local groups have already joined the network.
While some believe that humans are facing the greatest challenge in their history, other are still striding the last beach fronts with charts, publicists and compliant architects. Australias Gold Coast developers are offering sculptured residential skyscrapers of unrivalled luxury living with uninterrupted views of the (rising) ocean from every stunning apartment. One 77 floor tower is called Soul. Another tower phallus is called Oracle, though designed for a future of non Greenhouse skies and gushing wells. You can buy an apartment now, and settle at the end of the decade.
The Oracle offers three outdoor swimming pools/lagoons, water features; indoor lap pool, spa, steam room, sauna, state of the art gym, executive lounge and private wine lockers, plus in house cinema, surround sound, a vast screen, perhaps for watching The Day After Tomorrow. Should that day come, residents can retreat to the zen gardens and tai chi lawn, to stay focused and fit, in case the lift fails. Seventy seven floors is a long hike home, but at least your head will be back in the clouds. ends
Promoted as the new vision for Australias Gold Coast
RESOURCES: Courtesy of Communities magazine -
The Partys Over and Powerdown, Richard Heinberg. Two of the most popular books that present this information in a readable way to lay people. New Society Publishers, 2003 and 2004, respectively.
The End of Suburbia. This 78-minute video (on VHS or DVD), describes, with humor and fact, the energy crisis and how it happened, with testimony by leading petroleum engineers and Peak Oil researchers, including Julian Darley, Richard Heinberg, James Howard Kunstler, and others. www.EndOfSuburbia.com
The Power of Community: How Cuba Survived Peak Oil, Meagan Quinn and The Community Solution. Inspiring, hopeful 60-minute documentary of Cubas crisis and recovery when they ran out of oil 12 years ago, from permaculture design and solar energy, to city gardening on rooftops and balconies, to organic farming with oxen.
High Noon for Natural Gas, Julian Darley. A hard-hitting look at an energy source that rapidly went from nuisance to crutch, and the implications of our increased dependence on a resource that will soon be in rapid decline. Chelsea Green Publishing Company, 2004.
Relocalize Now!: Getting Ready for Climate Change and the End of Cheap Oil, Julian Darley.. New Society Publishers, 2006.
The Long Emergency, James Howard Kunstler. Kunstlers view of what life in the near future will be like, post Peak Oil. Grove Press, 2006.
The Oil Age is Over: What to Expect as the World Runs Out of Cheap Oil: 2005-2050, Matt Savinar. With a question and answer format, one of the easiest resources to understand whats happening and why; also one of the least optimistic (some would say most realistic) perspectives of whats going to happen. Available mail-order or paid download from the authors website: www.LifeAfterTheOilCrash.net.
THE DREAD OF BEING A BYSTANDER
Journal of a Futurist - 14 June 2006
Because of the defilement of our political culture in the aftermath of 9/11, it is now acceptable for a Pentagon General to describe the suicide of three Guantanamo inmates as an act of war and not be laughed out of Washington. Because of the timidity of academia, it is now acceptable for Dr James Carafano of the US Heritage Foundation, currently a visiting professor at the National Defence University, to state on ABC radio that the Iraq people were really the ones who organised the killing of al Zarqawi, and that all the US army did was drop the bombs. In another age, he would have been laughed off campus.
All reports relating to Zarqawis life and death should be treated with caution. It takes a bit of digging to learn that two women and a child perished in the farmhouse along with the Psy-Ops embellished villain. Once upon a time, the targeting of a toddler might have been a matter of regret. Today it is barely a matter worth mentioning. The war against terror is marketed as a defence of civilisation, but from its opening aerial assault on the mud huts of Afghanis, it has been a betrayal of civilisation.
While the Pentagon can sometimes shoot straight, often at civilians, it can never talk straight. It was inevitable that within hours of Zaqarwis reported death by bombing, the official story was revised. He was found to be still alive when the Iraqis arrived and remained so while he was loaded into an ambulance. Next to appear were US soldiers, who took him off, according to Gen. George Casey on Fox News, where he was rendered first aid, and he expired. Not a surprising outcome.
According to Associated Press, a neighbour turned up, Mr. Ahmed Mohammed, who offered this insight into military medicare. "When the Americans arrived they took him out of the ambulance, they beat him on his stomach and wrapped his head with his dishdasha [robe], then they stomped on his stomach and his chest until he died and blood came out of his nose". The advantage of this assisted expiration, if Ahmed Mohammed is to be believed, is that the former leader of Al Qaeda in Iraq will be unable to challenge the Pentagons version of his career. A version that has been subject to constant revision,
According to one military commander, Col. Derek Harvey, Zarqawis input was a very small part of the actual carnage in Iraq. Our own focus on Zarqawi has enlarged his caricature, if you will made him more important than he really is. He was a useful source of propaganda. Magnification of his role and of the threat he posed grew to the point, suggested the Washington Post, that some senior intelligence officers believed it was counterproductive. This problem has now been solved.
Okay, lets step back a bit. No matter how disgusting and self defeating this terror war becomes, its prime instigators insist its on track, that freedom is on the march, that even if 82% of Iraqis and Afghanis want the occupiers out, we must stay the course, knee deep in blood. So whats really going on? In the process of brutally overthrowing two nasty regimes (with logistic help from other nasty regimes), we watch our Government - in Britain, in the US, in Australia - become ever more unscrupulous. We apparently live in a democracy, but it no longer feels like a democracy. British cops shoot before searching. Tony Blair sells seats in the House of Lords and puts his own Lord before his obligations to Parliament. In Australia, we harass refugees, bolster the secret police and turn a blind eye to US war crimes, even to the torture of our own citizens. As for America, it seems to be re-engineering itself into a global monster, albeit with a pin head.
FREEDOM NEXT TIME
Time for a flashback. Try to imagine you have survived a ten day trip on a cattle train from Yugoslavia to Lower Saxony, Germany, in 1944, with people dying all around you. From the station, youre about to be marched off to Bergen Belsen. The local women have turned up to watch the show, and you watch them watching you, as though you were a cockroach. Unlike Anne Frank, you somehow manage to survive the death camp and make your way to brave new Israel, carting along your emotional baggage an ingrained contempt for the dead eyed bystanders, the ones who look from the side and, unlike Ahmed Mohammed, never get involved. This revulsion is passed on to your daughter, the Israeli journalist Amira Hass. In 1993, Amira decided to live and report from among the oppressed residents of the Gaza Strip.
How do I know this? Because it is recounted by John Pilger in his horrifying and illuminating new book, Freedom Next Time, a book that is likely to be blacklisted by the media. In a chapter on The Last Taboo, Pilger interviews Amira Hass about the confluence of Jewish history with the plight of the Palestinians. The everyday humiliations and brutalities inflicted on these citizens, as witnessed by Hass, are as Nazi-like as it gets, short of swastika armbands. Amira says that her decision to live in Gaza, stemmed from the dread of being a bystander. This remark hits like a thunderbolt, because it strikes at the heart of what we in the war-on-terror West have become: oblivious to our own complicity.
But how can that be? You didnt vote for the hawks at the helm. You marched in protest against the attack in Iraq. You sent radical weblinks to friends, letters to editors, a plea to priests. Youve kept abreast of the string of horrors, from the precision bombs shredding crowded markets, the serial checkpoint murders, the illegal weapons, the porno tortures, the razing of cities, the massacres, the defence of massacres
. on and on, ad infinitum. All for what?
The conspirators have not yet been bundled off to The Hague. The US military bases spread like the plague. In Iraq, the gold plated US embassy rises higher, ever higher, from the rubble of wrecked infrastructure and broken dreams. Fresh talks of oil pipes rolling across Afghanistan, even as we bomb a religious school in Kandahar, the liquid black gold destined for tankers, and for our gas tanks, to be discharged into the noxious sky. The show must go on; the never ending spectacle of distraction in our heads, on our screens, supported by the never ending tragedy of disempowerment out of view. Three bodies swinging in their isolation cells. Strange Fruit. Dont mention Geneva. What is our society in danger of becoming? Hypnotised with apathy. The German women lining the road to Belsen got out of their houses to gawk. Today, too many just cruise the cables; immobilised bystanders with a remote control.
POST SCRIPT. ALL IS NOT LOST.
The minute I finished the above, I checked the links at http://www.whatreallyhappened.com and came across a site that renews hope for the future. Congratulations to everyone involved: http://www.worldonfire.ca
Flower empowered at the White House
THE FLOWER CHILDRENS DAUGHTERS
Journal of a Futurist - 18 May 2006
In the sprawling living room of a Blue Mountains house, six young ladies in their last year at high school are draped across cane armchairs and a leather couch, polishing off their assignments. The marks are vital. Heathers head is buried deep in calculus; she wants to be an engineer; Lola is embroiled in her major work, flicking through a paperback on Heidegger, for a screenplay that will pit Buddhism against existentialism. Another is writing a treatise on the links between slam poetry and Dada. As I padded about the house, an invisible caretaker plunging the coffee, tending the fire, I marvelled at their level of expertise. Even more so at their learning strategies.
Each one doing their own thing, at the same time as contributing to each others thing; a creative hot house. Good humoured, productive, multi-focused. I felt wistful. The pre exam period of my student era was a lonely slog, locked up in a cupboard with a tin of Nescafe, phone off the hook, the hi-fi dead. These students from three separate schools, are not only mutually supportive, but faced the future with exuberance, determined to better it. So much is extruded on the collapse of education by politicians who look at the world through the back of a limo. Meanwhile, our 17 year olds look at Othello through the lens of homo-eroticism, and never has Shakespeare been more revealing. These girls borrow books from university libraries; one is now boning up on the CIAs bloody record in 50s Guatemala. The stuff they watch on commercial TV is fun to laugh at, not with. While education ministers bribe high schools to install functioning flagpoles, the students are electronically grazing the global smorgasbord, downloading at will.
Check out your childs i-Tune library; its range is likely to span several decades and as many countries. Ditto for DVD rentals. Kurosawa one weekend, Doris Day the next. Watching an old movie through the eyes of a teen is a treat. Okay, but why the lack of political activism? Because its bad strategy, they say. And maybe theyre right. Street demos look cheesy on TV and fail to influence politicians. Except in France, when the wounds and the skylines turn crimson. In middle Australia, hounded by a shock-jock-ocracy easily incensed by graffiti and tree huggers, the millennial generation is biding its time. Education before agitation. The spanner they will eventually throw at the machine will be of their own design. Its a group that will make history, not repeat it.
Akino Kondoh, Spreading Flowers.
THE REVIVAL OF LETHAL IDEAS
Of whatever persuasion Christian, Hindu, Jewish, Islam - religious fundamentalism is a global curse. As is militarism and market fundamentalism. The Catholic Archbishop of Sydney, Cardinal George Pell, recently took aim at Islam: "In my own reading of the Koran, I began to note down invocations to violence. There are so many of them, however, that I abandoned this exercise after 50 or 60 or 70 pages." He is probably right about violence in the texts, as in so much orthodox drivel, but what about the violence in real life
being done by Christians to Muslims? Most Afghanis had nothing to do with 9/11, but they are still being killed in their homeland by Christians. Ditto Iraq. The Palestinian people are still being punished for a holocaust they did not perpetrate, more so than the Catholic theologians who turned a blind eye at the time. Now they are copping it again for practicing democracy in a way we dont like. The hospitals in Gaza have already run out of bandages and pain killers.
Cardinal Pell has wrath to spare for another enemy of his old time religion, the new pagans, who are really the old pagans dressed up as environmentalists. "In the past, pagans sacrificed animals and even humans in vain attempts to placate capricious and cruel gods. Today they demand a reduction in carbon dioxide emissions." Its a strange sin to add to the Vaticans copious ledger: slashing pollution. Even such bibles of the consumerism as Time and Vanity Fair have accepted the science of climate change. If it wasnt for one of the worlds first greenies, a man who welcomed the wolf and preached to the birds, then Cardinal Pells institution would likely have sunk into a Gothic cesspit. Lets hear it for the 13th Century monk, St Francis of Assisi, the patron saint of animals and ecology. Christ told him, "Francis, go out and build up my house, for it is nearly falling down, so he flung off his shoes, tore down the drapes and howled to the moon. St Francis re-connected Christianity with Christ, and Christ with nature. In so doing he re-invigorated the church with a sense of the sublime. His deeds inspired Giotto, the first genius of art in the Italian Renaissance, and he immortalized St Francis in frescoes. Catholicism was rescued from irrelevance and wildlife from the likes of Pell.
THE REVIVAL OF CENSORSHIP
Two out of the three daily newspapers in Sydney are owned by Rupert Murdoch and reflect his obsessions, which must be a pain for some of the livelier scribes. In the early years of the Iraq invasion, one reporter kept filing gung-ho effusions on street markets buzzing with laughter and jazz, the gleaming hospitals rising from rubble, the plump urchins blowing kisses to Laura Bush, grateful for their new found lodgings at Abu Ghraib, etc .
What the paper excludes is also revealing. When Murdochs foreign correspondent recently rambled on about the rambling letter sent by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to George Bush, I wondered why it wasnt excerpted (and why the White House withheld it). Answer, because it is ingenious and scathing, despite the nuttiness. In reality, Ahmadinejad, has little power and doesnt control the Iranian army, so what we are watching is theatre.
A Murdoch tabloid is campaigning for the suppression of hate filled booklets they discovered on sale at a mosque, despite the content having been declared fit for public consumption. The Director of Public Prosecutions and the Federal Police cleared the books. It seems unlikely these are fronts for subversive cells of pinko libertarian ratbags intent on transforming barbecue nation into a global jihad controlled by Mecca. The booklets do not even breach the tough new sedition laws. According to MurdochWorld, the pages promote nasty anti Australian conspiracies intended to foment dissatisfaction with out political system. Blow me down. Is that a crime? The political systems of Muslim nations are so much worse than our own, that debate is obviously a better weapon than hysteria and censorship. Still, there is something haunting about the phrase, nasty anti Australian conspiracies intended to foment dissatisfaction
. . Change Australian to German and youll get a whiff of the thirties.
From the The Declining World Order, by Richard Falk: "The dangers of global fascism cannot be discounted as imaginary or alarmist."
Tragic geriatric hippies arming themselves against the imminent threat of nasty anti Murdochian conspiracies seething from the catacombs of radical mosques.
BOMBOCRACY: FREEDOMS GIFTS
There were three ravens sat on a tree
They were as black as they might be
The one of them said to his mate
Where shall we our breakfast take?
Down in yonder Iraqi soil
A feast of blood, a sea of oil.
Will not they rise with sword & gun
To send us back to kingdom come?
From sky well strike with shock & awe
And then marines will kill some more.
Add phosphorous, jails, uranium
Pain & pandemonium.
When all is done, asked raven of mate,
Where shall we our breakfast take?
Down in yonder Iranian soil
A feast of blood, a sea of oil.
No foreigner on earth is more loyal to George Bush than Australian Prime Minister, John Howard. This week, he was rewarded with a black tie State dinner at the White House. Lights, cameras, fiction! This re-bonding of blood brothers with a shared aptitude for lying and law-breaking will shake the chandeliers with songs of freedom, even as both men keep shredding the freedoms of their own citizens.
On Howards arrival in Washington, George Bush presented his mate with elm and magnolia saplings taken from the grounds of the White House, for replanting in the grounds of the Australian embassy. Another photo-op that violates truth. Neither leader cares two hoots about trees, emissions, Kyoto or climate change. On Mothers Day, anti war activist Cindy Sheehan, who was demonstrating outside the White House with flower bedecked supporters, reportedly called John Howard a fool. If only. Unlike fellow Christians George Bush and Tony Blair, whose rape of Iraq he fervently embraced, the Australian leader has tightened his grip on the electorate. Even more so than Bush, John Howard was aware that grounds for the invasion were concocted.
RELAXED AND COMFORTABLE
Howard loves Guantanamo Bay. He applauds Military trials. He let Australian officers cover up events at Abu Ghraib and the pain management centre at Baghdad Airport, Camp Nama, run by US Special Forces. When the US inched towards a police state, so did we, only quicker. John Howard has legalised secret trials. He is introducing a national identity card. He has enfeebled the rights of workers. This week, a retiring Federal judge, Ron Merkel QC, warned that the intrusive powers of government agencies are being allowed to expand unchecked. The worse it gets, the more Australia dozes off.
Many citizens are so grid locked by melancholia and workaholia, that all they want from media is entertainment. Like tobacco ads, the evening news should carry an alert, any connection between our edited footage and what really happened is accidental. Three seconds of a smouldering helicopter in Basra and shots of raggedy children hurling stones is what passes for war reportage: be the first to know
and the last to understand. Where is the context? Not in the print media. The capacity to probe is shrinking faster than Arctic ice. Anyway, who has the time?
In Baghdad in April, almost 700 civilians were murdered as a result of terrorist activity. More accurately, murdered as a result of a sequence of terrorist activities, starting with the Coalitions invasion of Iraq. Many bodies are found bound, gagged and mutilated. Who by? Death squads. Who is in charge of these death squads? Why, none other than Iraqs Ministry of the Interior, according to reports. Veteran war correspondent John Pilger, among others, says the Ministry of the Interior is run by the CIA, which directs the principal death squads. One unit was formed and trained by CIA counter-insurgency experts, including veterans of the CIA's terror operations in central America in the 1980s, notably El Salvador. Needless to say, Pilgers dissection of the Salvador Option has not spilled into the media mainstream. Shortly after his column appeared in the UKs New Statesman, the boss of the CIA, Porter Goss, resigned for reasons he mysteriously claimed were mysterious. In my naive way, I wondered whether his bail out could be connected to death squads.
Nah, the general contention is that its to do with gambling and hookers. Which makes sense. At the CIA, death and torture is the goal. So why the fuss over the proposed replacement of Porter Goss with an airforce General? When you think about it, the US air force has long been auditioning for the gig. Fading in memory are plucky skirmishes with the Luftwaffe.Todays gallantry is to bomb the shit out of countries that dont have an air force. Easy. Kill unseen strangers, get medals, die happy. As a commander of aerial death squads, General Hayden is well qualified to run the CIA.
Downfall of a Headless Giant
On January 14, 2005 Newsweek reported rumors of The Salvador Option, the use of death squads as part of the U.S. strategy to subdue the people we had come to free. According to Nicolas J S Davies, in the Dirty War in Iraq, the interior ministry units that are most frequently implicated in these abuses were formed under U.S. supervision and work closely with U.S. advisors - retired Colonel James Steele and former DEA officer Steven Casteel. Both are veterans of previous dirty wars.
HATCHING PLOTS IN MEXICO,
BACK IN 63
The situation becomes scarier the deeper you delve. The occupiers are apparently running competing death squads: those which target the Sunnis and those which target the Shias, with the aim of dividing Iraq on ethnic lines. But what do I know? The sordid details are revealed in Max Fullers masterful essay, Media Disinformation and Death Squads in Occupied Iraq, but these allegations will NEVER penetrate CNN.
The public is locked out, and it doesnt possess the means or even the inclination to break down the doors. As Fuller says, the presence of Anglo-American forces in Iraq does not merely exacerbate the present violence; in Iraq we are the violence." And ninety per cent of our citizens dont even know it. At heart, the mass media remains a servant of the state. Or is the other way round?
How many suspect that the deposed CIA head Porter Goss was once a member of the CIA's super-secret Operation 40, an assassination squad which roamed through North and Central America during the 1960's? So says author Daniel Hospicker.
In a 1963 photograph of this group taken in a Mexico City nightclub, Goss is said to be the second figure on the left. Sitting opposite is Frank Sturgis, famous for being one of the Watergate burglars. Others present are well known to students of the 1963 Kennedy assassination, but thats a whirlpool Ill resist. If Hospicker is correct, and Goss was part of a CIA hit team, then it reinforces claims of CIA death squads in Iraq.
As does the fate of Knight Ridders Baghdad based reporter Yasser Salihee, who was delving into the murky executions. On his day off, he was preparing to drive his family to a swimming pool, when he was cut down with a single shot to the head by Americans in a passing convoy." It didnt make a newsbyte.
On Sunday, while Cindy Sherman, Susan Sarandon and others assembled outside the White House to call for an end to the war in Iraq, brandishing roses, three vicious men climbed into a boat on Chesapeake Bay, Maryland. What did they discuss, these three vicious men in a boat? All three pushed hard for the invasion of Iraq. All three have been caught lying several times on matters of life and death, their lies now playing back ad infinitum on video (LINKS below). All three of these men are cruel and callous. All three of these men have legitimized torture. All three men are besotted with power. Because of their meddling, 20,000 or more are dead in Afghanistan, over 100,000 civilians dead in Iraq a dozen more while they bobbed contentedly on Chesapeake Bay - the world set on a perilous course, the Mid East STILL in flames, death squads in Baghdad, the West in disrepute, many of our citizens depressed, switched off, dumbed down. Rumsfeld, Cheney, Howard; their wives waiting ashore. Three men in a boat. It gives you a sinking feeling.
Down in yonder Iranian soil
A feast of blood, a sea of oil
The launche of SurvivaBall
HALLIBURTON TACKLES GLOBAL WARMING
SurvivaBalls will insulate managers from abrupt climate change, according to Halliburton, which claims its advanced technology will keep the wheels of industry turning, save lives and enable rescue operations in all conditions.
"The SurvivaBall is designed to protect security personnel and corporate managers, no matter what Mother Nature throws his or her way," said Fred Wolf, a Halliburton representative who spoke last week at the Catastrophic Loss conference held at the Ritz-Carlton hotel in Amelia Island, Florida. "This technology is our contribution to coping with abrupt climate change", he told an enthusiastic crowd. More photos.
BLINDED BY SCIENCE,
TRAPPED IN A PARADOX
Journal of a Futurist - 21 April 2006
We live our everyday lives as though the Earth will continue on its orbit, much as always, indifferent to our aspirations and plots. Despite all kinds of upheavals, whether in bedrooms or on battlefields, there is expectation at dawn of solid ground, a jug of water and the rising sun. We lick our wounds and dream. Optimism kicks in, firing the imagination. Long ago we tilted at windmills, now we put them on our roof. Its taken almost 50 years for environmentalism to hit critical mass, from Rachel Carsons Silent Spring in 1962, to Time Magazines April cover story on global warming, declaring The Debate is Over, even as its every ink drop promotes excess. (Full page ads: Toyota Formula 1, Rolex Oyster Perpetual: $US16,400, Peugeot 407 starts at just $US51,990, Mercedes Benz
). The US needs to reduce its emissions, Sunita Nurain, director of New Delhis Centre for Science and Environment tells Time, It is unacceptable and immoral that the US doesnt take the lead on climate change. Actually, the US does take the lead on climate change as its prime cause. The average American emits 20 times as more carbon than the average Indian. Yet the greening of Time marks a turning point, just like its famous 1966 cover, which asked, Is God Dead? Today we ask: Is the Earth dying? And are we dying with it?
Yes, billions will die before the end of the century, according to James Gaia Lovelock, who believes civilisation as it is known is unlikely to survive. So what kind of civilisation will take its place? While we have all begun to experience global warming and the increase in wild weather events, it is depressing to realise that a dozen or so other threats are stalking the future: the Great Wealth Divide, the Oil Peak, the Groundwater Peak, Hyper Consumerism, Mass Medias False Reflection, War Without End, Nuclear Revivalism, the Spread of Megacities, Pandemics, the Rise of Lethal Ideas, the Decline of Free Speech and Toxic Leadership. In the next few days I plan to post a pdf on these issues for anyone who wishes to embark on a dark night of soul, stiff drink at hand, Gotterdammerung at full decibels. Although maybe not, owing to the gaining momentum of the truth versus empowerment paradox. Key experts want to yell, WAKE UP, climate change may have accelerated to such a degree that it will be impossible to reverse or contain. Others want to whistle a happy tune and rave on about hydrogen fuel, organic pears and a carbon neutral lifestyle. Sometimes these are the same person.
IS THE SHOPPING RELIGION
MUTATING INTO A
GLOBAL SUICIDE CULT?
When mingling with climatologists, and hearing of the plight of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet, there comes a point when I ask something crass: yes, but how do you really feel about our chances? Reactions are strikingly similar. Furtive glances, hand across mouth, a muted tone: Were fucked. This is followed by a bleak cascade of data, until I interrupt. Why dont you say this publicly? Youve got to give people hope. But I wonder why cant truth and hope be friends?
We who are citizens of the incredible shrinking coalition of the formerly willing are awestruck at the deceptions of todays democracies. The Bush administration has gagged climatologists and Australia has reportedly attempted the same at the CSIRO. Both nations have repeatedly lied about the situation in Iraq. Its a culture of deceit that starts at the top and filters down, until it meets a whistle blower. Whenever Major Michael Mori, a lawyer for the Marines and the US Navy appears on TV to defend the rights of Guantanamo Bay inmates, it is a reminder that nobility still flourishes down the line, a long way down the line in the case of the US military. In 2003, Major Moris boss, General Richard Myers, famously said that his forces had only fired off 1,500 cluster bombs in Iraq, injuring just one civilian. In fact,13,000 cluster bombs were used, according to Human Rights Watch and over 1,000 Iraqi civilians were killed, mostly children. In their inner selves, are Coalition leaders ashamed of running a blood bath in Iraq, now spilling into a civil war? Theres a whiff of a clue that they might be, which Ill float below in a post script. Now lets return to the issue at hand the truth/empowerment paradox.
DE-SALINATED WHISKY AND
WILD WILD WINDS
Last month in a boardroom on the edge of Sydney Harbour, the cruise ships gleaming in the midday sun, a leading climatologist presented the latest stats on our global predicament. Worse than we feared, he said, displaying mysterious graphs. I asked how long before he expected a significant rise in sea levels? (The usual answer is a hundred years). Perhaps as soon as a decade, he said. Okay, now what? On top of this, theres an energy crisis. Princetons eminent petroleum academic, Kenneth Deffeyes, has already put a date on the oil peak last November. He has expressed a strong conclusion that the oil fields we have already found contain 94 percent of all the oil we are ever going to find". Black gold fuels 90% of all transportation. It is involved in the production of 95% of all the goods in shops, including 95% of all food - produced as it is, mainly by industrialized means and shipped halfway round the world. In the sixties, a poster urged us to Plant a Flower Child Today, but now it might be wiser to plant fruit trees. Except that fresh water could be as scarce as hens teeth, which will indeed be scarce if bird flu strikes.
So to all those bright young things studying advertising, marketing, tourism, urban architecture, food technology, fashion, fine arts and so on, what should the climatologist be saying? That tomorrows shopping malls will be off the grid and T-bone steaks harvested in Petri dishes? That WallMart will re-invent itself as a farmers market, cars will run on hemp and desalinated Coke will get us through the night. Sure. Or will true leadership emerge on the world stage, extracting the West from its psychopathic imperial vortex in time to deal with a dramatic shift of priorities? The sun is indifferent to national boundaries. Aquifers are sinking. Hungry oceans gain advantage on the kingdom of the shore. Its not a dumb duality of us against them, Mr President, or good against evil, at least not yet. In the longer term, everyone on Earth faces the same threats, so it makes sense to switch collectively from exploitation to regeneration. If politicians keep putting the national interest before the interest of the globe, then we may as well start hoarding baked beans and candles.
a natural history museum of a future nature or another nature is a remark from artist Troy Innocent about his earlier work. The image above, New Home, is from a from a forthcoming exhibition at Sydneys Boutwell Draper Gallery 26 April to 20 May, 2006.
DO THEY FEEL SHAME?
Estimates of the total number of civilians who have been killed or maimed as a result of our intervention in Iraq are hardly ever mentioned in the media or by those who barracked for war. When pushed, George Bush recently suggested 34,000. The source of this figure is Iraqi Body Count, which does not claim to provide a tally of total deaths. As explained by Dahr Jamail and Jeff Pflueger this figure derives from a patchy record of war-related violent deaths that have been reported by two approved international English language media sources, whose correspondents are thin on the ground during midnight bombing sorties. Reports from over 500 Arabic and Persian news outlets are excluded. Iraqi Body Count acknowledges that thousands of deaths go unreported in its data base. More thorough compilations are available.
On October 29, 2004, The Lancet published its findings of casualty rates in Iraq: 100,000 deaths, and more. Eighty-four percent of the deaths were caused by the actions of Coalition forces, and most of the victims were women and children. The lead author of the Lancet report, Les Roberts, has elsewhere concluded there could be double this number of civilian deaths. An Iraqi humanitarian group released a report last July, counting 128,000 violent deaths and specified that it included only deaths confirmed by relatives, omitting the large numbers of people who have simply disappeared without trace amid the ongoing bloodletting.
Why are these shocking statistics ignored in the West? Is it from a sense of shame, or from a fear of further inflaming the public distaste for our meddling? Journalists who keep citing the discredited figure of 34,000 are engaging in propaganda.
Contested Zone, 2005, Troy Innocent.
Post script 2
THE JOKE THAT WENT BALLISTIC
After realising it had been hoodwinked by the Prime Minsters department, Melbourne IT has put the domain name back in my control, by which time the parody had outlived its usefulness. The site will be re-activated at a time of my choosing.
The Australian Federal Police has issued a statement relating to its role in the sites suppression:
- The Australian High Tech Crime Centre (AHTCC) can confirm that it was contacted by the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet regarding a website using the domain name of johnhowardpm.org. [Within an hour or so of its appearance on March 13/06, RN]
- The AHTCC can confirm that it did not initiate an investigation in relation to this website.
- The AHTCC can confirm it advised the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet that no criminal offence had been committed with respect to the site and its contents and provided guidance to the Department regarding how they might proceed.
- As this matter is not being investigated by the AHTCC it would not be appropriate to make further comment.
That same afternoon, Melbourne IT received a call from Greg Williams of the People, Resources & Communications Division at the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, which led to the site being closed down. The reasons given remain unclear, but as now confirmed by police, had no legal basis. According to Melbourne IT, Greg Williams followed up his phonecall to them with an email, the contents of which have not been made public. Numerous phonecalls to Greg Williams from media organsations have not been returned. His phone number is 61 (0)2 6271 5828.
If the Prime Ministers Department had closed down a printing press, there would be a hue and cry, and grounds for prosecution. The suppression of an online publication, however, is treated as a quirky footnote, rather than a criminal act, despite its implications for the future of free speech.
Meanwhile, thanks to the several hundred site visitors who emailed support, outrage and offers of legal assistance. My apologies for not replying to you all.
A SELECTION OF MEDIA REACTIONS
20 March 2006
THE MISSING LINKS
Owing to numerous complaints of dead links in our .pdf copy of John Howards disappeared speech, Reflections on the Situation in Iraq, these links have been re-activated below. Also included are new links which support the PMs re-appraisal of the invasions aftermath. A link to the text version of the speech, with some background on its removal, is available.
The domain name, johnhowardpm.org, is hosted by Melbourne IT. In less than 36 hours of its launch, following 10,500 visits to the site, the plug was pulled. By who? On what grounds? It took three days for Melb IT to make contact with me and help lift the veils of confusion. After receiving a phone call from Greg Williams of the People, Resources & Communications Division at the Department of the Prime Minister & Cabinet, Melb IT put the domain name on HOLD, where it remains. This domain cannot be transferred to another, more resilient host, for 60 days. In addition to the complaint from John Howards office, Melbourne IT said they had received calls from THREE Federal Police, and provided the name of an agent from the Australian High Tech Crime Centre. As far as I know, my passport has not met the same fate as my
So, what is the crime?
The nasty tech term is phishing, pronounced fishing. A comment on whether this applies to jonhnhowardpm.org comes from one of hundreds of emailers: For Melbourne IT to consider this a phishing site is ludicrous - phishing has to involve you deliberately trying to con people into giving up some sort of valuable personal information, not just stealing Johnny's traffic from Google. Phishing goes to identity theft, credit card fraud etc. and has nothing to do with satire - it is necessarily criminal in nature! Emulation is not in and of itself enough to constitute phishing.
There is a process that has to be followed if their is any contention over the intellectual property inherent in a domain name. You're entitled to be notified and to argue your case. Melbourne IT is bound to follow this process, and I suggest that you complain to ICANN. I think it's also pretty well established that you can't claim copyright in a person's name.
Furthermore if there's any debate over the actual content of the site being hosted and the intellectual property contained therein, that's a civil matter - a copyright matter - and has to be taken up through the courts. In other words the Attorney General would have had to send you a nice letter asking you to "cease and desist" because you had infringed a copyright vested in the Commonwealth. Thanks for that.
I freely admit that johnhoawrdpm.org looked similar to the previously unknown site that hosts the speeches of the PM, and that this similarity was intentional. My purpose was to make the noble sentiments emanating from the mind of a troubled John Howard seem convincing, if only for a few hours. Without this visual reinforcement, the notion that our PM was being honestly self reflective about the human costs of invading to Iraq , and that he "was looking into his heart", even expressing doubts, etc, would have been dismissed.
An enormous number of people believed the mock speech to be true, - and were thrilled, they report - and many more wanted to believe it. On a second reading, however, or with a bit of playing around, it is obvious that johnhowardpm.org operated in a satirical zone. Would the real John Howard have linked to anti war sites? Or admitted that this claims about improved infrastructure were bogus? Or criticised the US treatment of prisoners, the killing of journalists, the bombing of hospitals?
Yes, johnhowardpm is similar to the PMs site, just as The Chaser's ABC TV series CNNN, captured the tone and design of the real network. Would the site have been left standing if it was less like Johns Howards lonely, grey, un-noticed original? Well never know. Any first time visitor to the US parody site, http://www.whitehouse.org/ , would be alarmingly misled, although http://www.whitehouse.gov had yet to send in the Feds. You be the judge.
SOME ON-LINE REACTIONS
JOHN HOWARDS ORIGINAL HOTLINKS
LINKS IN SUPPORT OF JOHN HOWARDS RE-THINK
SYRIANA AND THE SHIFTING WINDS
Journal of a Futurist - 1 March 2006
Every time I push people to see Syriana, the Arab/Texas oil romp, they emerge impressed, yet bewildered. No-one fully understands the plot, probably not even the writer. Its one of Syrianas many virtues. A geopolitical intrigue touching CIA terror, suicide bombers, spoilt princes, feminist mothers and the rise of China is bound to be murky and complex. Holes in the story are true to life. A furtive achievement is its sympathetic insight into the moulding of a suicide bomber, played by Mazhar Munir, whose performance is gripping. While the sweep is global, the metaphoric skyline is Iraq, awash with oil, blood and extracted fingernails.
Another big-picture critique of the West is the Confessions of an Economic Hit Man by John Perkins, who feels weighed down with guilt for the wreckage he and his colleagues have inflicted on the developing world. The paperback edition is flying out the door of Australian bookshops, hurrah.
A former Peace Corps activist, Perkins was lured by an executive prostitute into Halliburton Heaven, a vortex of Lear Jets, pillage and dodgy statistics. His inflated forecasts of growth served to increase the indebtedness of client states, adding to the poverty of their people and the profits of his employers. Any odd glitch, such as an elected third world leader with good intentions is dealt with by the CIA. The story is almost too evil to be true, and yet Perkins case is solid. The book reprints his photo/bio from corporate brochures, names, dates, minutes of meetings, corroborating sources. A veteran hit on the New York Times & Washington Post best-seller lists, this book was largely ignored by mainstream reviewers. Its revelations make Syriana seem soft.
ALL THAT IS WRONG IN
The State Memorial Service for loveable media magnate, Kerry Packer, inspired a former employee, Richard Walsh, to go into print with some of his own special memories and reflections on Australias champion tax avoider. Packer had utter contempt for politicians, for the arts, for idealism of any kind, for the pursuit of knowledge for its own sake and for those who did not share his world view writes Walsh, a former teenage satirist. His ethics were defined simply as whatever the law allows
In some ways he unfortunately represents all that is wrong with contemporary Australia. In response to an appreciative email, the co-founder of Sydney Oz magazine replied: I have NEVER had such a tsunami of enthusiasm in all my born days. Clearly I touched a nerve.
Around the same time I happened to see the first of The Chasers War on Everything (ABC, Fridays) and was thrilled at the reach of its boot. Clips emailed from mainstream US TV, including David Letterman, reveal a revival of political satire that three months ago would have been unthinkable, thanks to Dick Cheneys trigger finger.
Am I reading too much into straws in the wind? Are we finally watching an awakening? Are Australians, though our swimming pools be full and our global view obscured, becoming aware of the moral emptiness at the core of our political life? Or is it only the emptiness of the landscape that we notice, as featured in the current tourist blitz, SO WHERE THE BLOODY HELL ARE YOU? Lost, perhaps. Appreciating the gifts Australia has to offer, but all too aware of the little shop of horrors at the core of Government. Slightly schizoid, we zoom off to forest and beach.
DOWN ON THEIR KNEES, AMEN
Even today there appears to be no-one in the media with access and courage enough to quiz Bush, Blair or Howard on their true feelings about the deaths and maiming of over a 100,000 Iraqis, many of them children, resulting from our intervention. John Howard lectures the nation on the perversions of Islam, without a hint of awareness that our deeds in the terror war are a perversion of Christianity.
Meanwhile, some Christian groups in the US are taking the kind of radical political stance that befits the followers of Jesus of Nazareth. As army chaplains bless the bombers and anoint the torturers, the US branch of the World Council of Churches has made a public confession to the Assembly of its Global Council, denouncing the policies of the White House.
We acknowledge that we are citizens of a nation that has done much in these years to endanger the human family and to abuse the creation .We lament with special anguish the war in Iraq, launched in deception and violating global norms of justice and human rights. We mourn all who have died or been injured in this war; we acknowledge with shame abuses carried out in our name; we confess that we have failed to raise a prophetic voice loud enough and persistent enough to deter our leaders from this path of preemptive war. Lord, have mercy. WCC members include mainline Protestants, Anglicans and Orthodox churches representing more than 500 million followers.
The confession continues: Rivers, oceans, lakes, rainforests, and wetlands that sustain us, even the air we breathe continue to be violated, and global warming goes unchecked while we allow Gods creation to veer toward destruction. Yet our own country refuses to acknowledge its complicity and rejects multilateral agreements aimed at reversing disastrous trends. Christ have Mercy. And so on.
And let me make my own confession. As the credits rolled on Syriana, the three of us felt so flat as we trudged for the exit. Why? An overheard remark from a teenager offers a clue: Syriana shows how fucked up the world is and theres nothing anyone can do about it. Its disconcerting for a work of art to leave you wiser, but feeling so disempowered. But not for long. Could the rash of confessions, the rebirth of satire and the rise of the politically savvy blockbuster be signalling a shift in the public mood away from soul-dead materialism?
Thanks to Norwegian artist, Edvard Munch for his moody contribution.
SCENES OUR MEDIA ARE TOO TIMID TO SHOW
Listed on US flights as embassy cargo, these planes pass unhindered through global airspace, the hooded prisoners unprotected by law. They haven't even been legally arrested. No limit will be set on the level of torture. The International Red Cross will not be notified. The prisoners have not been charged or convicted.
WHOSE BREAD YOU EAT,
WHOSE SONG YOU SING.
Journal of a Futurist - 25 January 2006
An Hong, Born 1963 Beijing, Untitled, 1998:
In an ongoing series of self-portraits and performances that he calls the Buddha series, An Hong mixes images taken from Chinese and Tibetan Buddhism with elements of popular culture. His sensual, theatrical tableaux throw a sceptical light on both traditional values and those of today's pleasure-seeking society. Of this series, An Hong writes, Buddha may be the monarch who blesses and protects our paths toward a life of kitsch.' The images and those which follow are from the exhibition, Between Past & Future, New Photography and Video from China, held at the V&A. Captions are from the catalogue.
The human potential movement emerged from the fuzzy fringes of late 60s counter culture and managed to shift desiccated radicals and potheads into another state of being. A state many of the original recruits try to maintain, with a focus on self growth and conscious evolution, despite the encroachment of global consumerism. Yoga is a franchise, meditation is a balm for harassed execs, enlightenment is a perfume. In many ways, the mind/body movement has won the day. Most of the activities offered to guests at resort hotels have been adapted from ashrams. Yoga mats at K-Mart. But this is not the big story. The big story is that human evolution is speeding up, and that it is being engineered by scientists with a mission.
In terms of human empowerment, the research is jaw dropping. How to enable humans to function without sleep or food for weeks on end, unburdened by hunger pangs or bursts of paranoia. How to control a computer telepathically, to the extent of one day piloting an aircraft without touching the controls. Mighty budgets, edgy labs and Nobel prize winners are being utilised to extend the horizons of human capacity into realms previously the province Greek Gods, except this isnt mythology. According to a feet-on-the ground futurist, Joel Garreau, the author off Radical Evolution, we are in the forefront of the engineered revolution of mankind. I havent even finished his first chapter, but the cascading examples have stopped me up in my tracks. Like a toddler wandering onto a Hollywood set and watching the birth of Frankenstein. But this isnt a movie thats being produced. Its the future. And its being funded by the US military.
XING Danwen, Born 1967 Xi'an, Shaanxi province: Born with the Cultural Revolution, 1995.
This photograph come from a series documenting people of Xing Danwen's generation, born at the beginning of the Cultural Revolution. The pregnant woman is a close friend of the artist, who - like many in the early 1990s - was a collector of Mao memorabilia. 'Under Mao, there was no separation between the private world of the individual, the family, and the public political realm.' The photographs suggest contradictory feelings towards this period of history.
BE ALL YOU CAN BE
AND MORE, AND YET LESS.
Yes, the guys who gave us Guantanamo Bay, pre-emptive strikes and nuclear arsenals are now in the throes of creating the Metabolically Dominant Soldier (MDS). The military is tinkering with the machinery of human cells to create a soldier who can perform 300 pull-ups and walk forever with a 150-pound pack. Tomorrows killers with X-Ray vision will be primed to bomb and shoot around the clock for weeks on end. No need for food, sleep or even medics, as the MDS can stem bleeding by thought control (!), and will be immune to pain. A vaccination will block intense pain in less than 10 seconds. Its effects last for 30 days, all part of a program called Persistence in Combat. So far there hasnt been a reference to mastering the Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilians in Time of War.
HUANG Yan, Born 1966 Jilin province
Chinese Landscape - Tattoo, 1999
To make these pieces, the painter and poet Huang Yan covered a model's torso with white powder and then applied ink and paint in the manner of the traditional Chinese 'scholar artists'. These artists were civil servants who used landscape painting as an escape from their daily responsibilities. Recalling this attitude, Huang Yan writes that 'landscape is an abode in which my mortal body can reside, landscape is my rejection of worldly wrangling, landscape is a release for my Buddhist ideas.'
SOLDIERS FOR GLOBAL JUSTICE
Much of the funding for radical evolutionaries is provided by DARPA (Defense, Advanced Research Projects Agency), whose goal is to create human beings who are unstoppable. This is in contrast with the timeless wisdom of such mystics and Meister Eckhart, who taught we progress by stopping. Its silly to be picky about a book I havent yet finished, and Joel Garreau is a smart and lucid explorer, but it is tempting to wonder what his billion dollar eggheads would be researching if the funds came from a less bellicose source. Conflict resolution, perhaps, or the infinite provision of cheap, tasty, nutritious food, or sharpening the desire of the Military for social justice, or creating innovations for living sustainably, or re-engineering democracy so its no longer a sham. Am I dreaming too big? Okay, lets think small. How about creating the Morally Dominant Soldier? Someone who knows in their soul that its WRONG to wipe out a household of women and children on the hunch that a suspect is inside.
C-type print Courtesy of the artist
ZHU Ming, Born 1972 Changsha, Hunan province.
Zhu Ming uses bubbles in his performances to evoke the fleetingness of life and feelings of isolation from society. This photograph documents a performance that took place in Beijing. The artist sealed himself inside a bubble and then coated the inside with Chinese ink. After 40 minutes, the bubble was pumped full of water. The photograph records the moment when the paint was washed away and the naked artist emerged into the open.
FULL MANY A GLORIOUS
MORNINGS HAVE WE SEEN
Is it true, as Nancy Goldstein writes in her searing portrait of this Gilded Age, that todays lack of effective dissent is secured by the substitution of consumer choice for genuine political choice, and abetted by a lazy, corporate-run media? The list of deadly threats facing the world Ive been chronicling since first stalking the conference stage as a futurist, seems to get longer/darker every time I open a newspaper. Tucked away the other day was the Howl of James Lovelock, devisor of the Gaia hypothesis, who warns that billions Earthlings will die by the end of the century, and civilisation as it is known is unlikely to survive. Burp, pass the Red Bull. Somehow, the more the ice caps melt, the more we run off to the beach - and why not? These snaps of Bondi captures a certain something of summer 06, and only a killjoy could wish anything less than fun and adventure for the upcoming gens. Our ingenuity is remarkable, IQs seem to be soaring. Out of left field the next leap will come, like Iceland suddenly breaking an addiction to fossil fuel, Bhutan pursuing Gross National Happiness. In battered shoes and bright sweaters the dispossessed of Latin American sweep into high office. Today no less than three World Social Forums in Venezuela, Mali, Pakistan are convening to nourish democracy and opportunity through the power of open debate and grass roots solidarity, not spin and bombs. The dreadful old buzzards who dragged us into the lands of civilisations ancestors to kill and be killed, will slink back into their gilded lairs. The artists and idealists will again emerge naked into the open, lighting the way for leaders driven by values and vision, instead of bigotry and the calculator. True leaders who know the future can no longer be taken for granted, and that another world is taking wing.
Links for 1 July journal
Links for 14 June journal
Links for 18 May journal
Links for 21 April journal
BEYOND ORWELL: No wonder Zacarias Moussaoui changed his tune
Links for 1 March journal
Links for 19 December journal
First, three creepy video links:
DECLINE OF THE WEST 1
A TERRORIST SABOTAGE MANUAL:
THEATRE OF THE ABSURDS LATEST SCRIPT
Links for 20 November journal
And took another week for the news to reach the Australia press, which, like the BBC, omitted this vital proof
THE SAME ATTEMPT TO HOAX THE WORLD ABOUR NAPALM ALSO BACKFIRED.
Links for 30 September journal