|Posted on Wednesday, October 29, 2008 - 07:22 pm: |
This is a continuation of Post Scripts, so let us know what you think, or where you're from if just visiting. This page will remain open when forums are archived. Of if shy, send an email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Posted From: 126.96.36.199
|Posted on Saturday, November 01, 2008 - 11:24 am: |
Postcard from Robinson Crusoe's island:
Dig finds camp of 'real Crusoe'
My favorite story as a child first learning to read... in French.
Cairo's Al-Azhar Park
Posted From: 188.8.131.52
|Posted on Tuesday, November 04, 2008 - 12:03 am: |
Old Cairo's Darb al Ahmar coming back to life.
Scenes from Old Cairo, Darb al Ahmar
I visited this area of Old Cario with a friend back twenty years ago, where we got one of those famous Egyptian haircuts, very short, finished off with a razor sharp string treatment to remove facial hairs... Ouch! It hurt! But I have a fond memory of it all, and am so glad to see it being restored from what once was the poorest section of Cairo into an area of rehabilitation, thanks in part to the Aga Khan Trust for Culture, which was instrumental by Lord Aga Khan in creating a beautiful green People's Park over what once was a 500 year old dump for the city, the 74 acre Al-Azhar Park. Here are some more street scenes in Darb al Ahmar:
The People's Park, for a small fee, is available for all visitors from Cairo, or outside. Along its western boundary is an important archeological site, the ancient 13th century wall, now restored, as part of the Citadel.
Located on the western side of the park are the old Fatimid city and its extension Darb Al Ahmar, with their wealth of mosques, madrasas and mausolea, signaled by a long line of minarets. To the south are the Sultan Hassan Mosque and its surroundings, as well as the Ayyubid Citadel. On the eastern side is the City of the Dead with its many social welfare complexes sponsored by the Mamluk Sultans and dignitaries, which became an area that developed into a dense neighborhood of its own. This area was indeed in great need of an open green space. The hilly topography of the site, formed by debris accumulated over centuries, now provides elevated view points dominating the city and offers a spectacular 360° panorama over the townscape of historic Cairo.
(interactive - Al Maridani mosque)
The Citadel of Cairo
In a city that today is home to some 17 million people, this green park and revitalization going on is an important development for Egypt and its people.
[A note of caution: Crime is not generally a problem in Cairo, but western women may be molested, which is annoying and disrespectful, as was our experience; also radical extremists have their own evil agenda, so be careful when visiting this fascinating city.]
Ancient Rome 3-D
|Posted on Saturday, December 06, 2008 - 01:53 pm: |
Ancient Rome in 3-D
See it in 3-D with Google Earth
Forum Romanum, National Geographics 3-D
Visit ancient Rome as if you're there.
Merry Christmas 2008
|Posted on Wednesday, December 24, 2008 - 12:13 pm: |
Beautiful Earthrise, 40 years ago on Christmas Eve of 1968.
(interactive - BBC)
The first Earthrise to be witnessed by a human
Back in 1948, the British astrophysicist Sir Fred Hoyle predicted that when spaceflight enabled us to see the whole Earth from space, the view would change us forever.
He was right. When we see the whole Earth from space, she is beautiful and only filled with light and peace.
Merry Christmas 2008, in Peace.
Slave girl shame
|Posted on Monday, December 29, 2008 - 12:15 pm: |
This pretty little Egyptian girl was a slave in America.
(interactive - Huffington Post)
Her employers were not satisfied, she said. "Nothing was ever clean enough for her. She would come in and say, 'This is dirty,' or 'You didn't do this right,' or 'You ruined the food,'" said Shyima.
She started wetting her bed. Her sheets stank. So did her oversized T-shirt and the other hand-me-downs she wore.
While doing the family's laundry, she slipped her own clothes into the load. Madame slapped her. "She told me my clothes were dirtier than theirs. That I wasn't allowed to clean mine there," she said.
A Childhood in Slavery (includes video and pictures)
IRVINE, Calif. (Dec. 29) -- Late at night, the neighbors saw a little girl at the kitchen sink of the house next door. They watched through their window as the child rinsed plates under the open faucet. She wasn't much taller than the counter and the soapy water swallowed her slender arms.
To put the dishes away, she climbed on a chair.
Read it all. What civilized culture would allow such a vile slavery? A barbaric shame this happens in the 21st century.
|Posted on Saturday, January 03, 2009 - 01:39 pm: |
We are at war with those who would coerce us against our freedoms: http://www.humancafe.com/discus/messages/88/94.html#POST1491
"Freedom of thought, freedom over our bodies, freedom of sexual orientation, freedom of belief; all these must be put aside as issues (in my opinion they shouldn't even be issues, anymore than teaching evolution in schools), because fighting over these inherently innate freedoms interfere with the war into which we had been suddenly cast. There should be no question these freedoms are to exist. Freedom to coerce, on the other hand, must not be allowed anywhere, stopped completely, so those who would stop us in our beliefs, and our civil liberties, who would even kill us, must be stopped."
Resist coercions with all your strength, fight all coercions against your human rights, for the right to fight coercions is your God given right. This war the Islamo-Barbarians cannot win.
This is war they cannot win, and may not win, but this final war against the barbarians we must win for Freedom.
|Posted on Saturday, January 17, 2009 - 12:28 pm: |
ENRON - how markets failed the Fraud Test.
See the whole of it, but here are the trailer videos:
Enron the smartest guys in the room - Trailer
Enron traders conversation recorder
Markets fail two tests for Fraud if these two rules are violated:
1. Fraud when trust is broken through coercive collusion destroying the normal price function of exchange.
2. Criminal behaviors which coerce and deceive the markets are deregulated or otherwise not restricted by law.
In the chapter on market exchange of Habeas Mentum, it says:
"Through time, the reality that defines the then value of exchange also changes to suit the subjective and constantly shifting tastes and desires of demand, and the existing and changing ability to satisfy these demands. These changes, which result in constantly shifting market prices, are difficult to appraise without the entry of competitors eager and able to gain an advantage from the opportunities created by them. Thus, the advantage of a competitive exchange over one that is always decided upon by two individuals is that it allows other individuals to enter into the constantly shifting state of exchange and improve upon it to, in effect, contribute additional individual assessments of market conditions as they are then. The reward of this introduction of competitive assessments is that those assessments, which are most correct in relation to demand and how that demand can be most realistically and profitably satisfied, are those that will result in exchange. The price at which this exchange will take place is, consequently, that price that is most competitive and that cannot be improved upon, as assessed by all the participants involved and reduced from their individual decisions. Because it is the best possible price, or at least because it tends that way though it may not be perfect, it is also the most efficient price in relation to how things were then and to how the mind assessed them to be. An exchange is always a subjective human act judged by those individuals directly involved in it either by virtue of their demand or their ability to satisfy this demand; it is a price arrived at that is most relevant and correct then and there, to them. As in the case of our original two traders, because our knowledge is not always perfect, the competitive market environment tends to fill in those gaps that result from our failure to perceive all in our individual assessments. What we cannot see can be seen by another, as seen in another way or from a more advantageous perspective, and acted upon to correct our unintentional omission. That other, either through being more clever or better positioned, then contributes a price of exchange that is more advantageous and, thus, more an expression of real market value. Thus, without the need for superhuman intelligence, the competitive market is able to improve upon our individual shortcomings and arrive at a comparably efficient price at all times. Its constantly changing price then reflects the constantly changing aggregate of human decisions as these are made in response to their individual realities and to how these realities seek each other in agreement. The result is an agreed upon and correct state of exchange.
So, for markets to be efficient, they do not have to be composed of many participants, but they do have to be free from coercion. A market in which exchange is restricted, because entry is prohibited or because the costs of exchange are too great, is a market in which will not be reflected the greatest price efficiency. When free from this coercion, whether or not the price then reflected is optimum will be determined by whether or not the conditions of exchange are then optimum. If there is undue risk, such as from theft or currency instability or from confiscatory measures, then the price will also reflect the concern for this risk; the price mark up will be higher as insurance compensating for this risk. Then, if the price so arrived at appears to be less than optimum, it is only a reflection of conditions as they then are; the market cannot be improved upon if the conditions of exchange are negative. Exchange by agreement, when free from coercion, only reflects the state of things as they are between individuals. It is the property of free markets that, when allowed to work efficiently, they always reflect things as they are; if these conditions are constructive and unrestrictive, then they reflect efficiently our human effort and productivity; if they are negative and coercive, plagued by undue risk and by disregard for the rights of the individual, then they reflect human inefficiency as forced from coerced labor. If we are not pleased with our results, the blame does not rest with the exchange mechanism; a free market reflects only human agreements. The correction of those conditions lies in correcting what the market is reflecting and not in correcting the market itself. If, however, it is the market that is being hindered from its free function as a reflection of agreements, then it fails as an efficient tool of interhuman exchange and as a reflection of things as they are; individuals must be free to form agreements. Coerced, it expresses reality only darkly and the myth that forces it to work poorly then becomes the new reflection of our social reality. That myth is then the attempt to change the reality of our human condition by forcing that which describes it for us; it is a form of social camouflage which masks what the aggregate of our human agreements is telling us. Then, through our social error, the market ceases to be an efficient social tool. A market not free cannot be efficient.
That includes a market "not free" from criminal behaviors and fraud. Once a market fails the Fraud Test, as happened in the Enron electricity market manipulations in California, then the market price is no longer reflecting the reality of the supply and demands of the market place. In the end, the whole market fails, and when the fraud is exposed, the participants behind the deceits and manipulations, or mythical profits, fail with the whole structure built up on fraud crashing down into bankruptcy. Why have we not learned our lessons from Enron in the recent banking crisis meltdowns? It was financialization run amok. The market in the end will always win.
Criminal fraud can never be deregulated.
|Posted on Wednesday, January 28, 2009 - 01:40 pm: |
The Battle of Gaza: http://www.jihadwatch.org/archives/024601.php
"The Gaza Operation and its Aftermath Read it all...
Hamas, learning from the HIzballah experience, turned Gaza into a civilian trap. It turned its children, journalists, foreign workers and innocent citizens into its shields, and its foreign institutions, mosques, schools and hospitals into arms depots. It turned Gaza’s underground into a complex web of tunnels which began or ended inside houses, and innocent-looking apartment buildings into deadly booby-traps. The tragic death of so many non-involved civilians and the destruction of so many non-military targets did not emanate from the will of the Israeli army to devastate them, but from the necessity to put an end to that rain of missiles which were launched from those houses. Israel set out to destroy depots of illegally smuggled in weapons, of ammunition and missiles, and the launching pads of the missiles. And if they happened to have been placed, purposely, by the Hamas in mosques, schools or apartment buildings, then those were hit and destroyed.
Many media reports tried to evaluate the relative guilt on both sides of the divide by measuring the tragic amount of devastation, coming to the conclusion that since many more Palestinians lost their lives and much more Palestinian real estate was demolished, that meant that Israel was guiltier, acted “out of proportion”, and was even accused of genocide. It was as if after the German blitz on London and Coventry, the British would be blamed for flattening the city of Dresden on Valentine's Day, 1945, since in doing so they killed more “innocent” citizens and destroyed more real estate than did the Germans. To kill more does not make one a culprit, and to be killed more does not make one innocent. The judgment has to be made by the volume of fire and by the intention of its shooters. When the Hamas pointed those 7000 missiles to Israel, they were intended to fall in the center of cities and towns, and to kill whomever was hit. Most fell in the open, by chance or failure, not by design, and when their targets were hit, they found the citizens, who had been trained by frequent alerts, in the shelters which were built and prepared to protect them. That made for a minimum of casualties and of damages.
In Gaza, all the millions were invested in weapons, not one penny for shelters. No provision was made to alert people or warn them. Hence the inordinate disproportion between the parties -- not the evil of the one and the innocent victimhood of the other. Quite the contrary, those who claim innocence were guilty of a priori sacrificing their civilian population, and those who are accused of wanton destruction took all the necessary precautions and risks of battling from house to house, instead of simply razing entire areas by artillery and air-force without taking any risk. A reporter of Al-Arabiya was caught on tape telling her editors on the telephone from the rooftop of the foreign correspondents building in Gaza that she saw a missile fired from the lower levels of the building. But her station only reported the denial of the foreign correspondents association to the effect that their building was hit by design of the Israelis. The same went for the UNRWA building."
- by Raphael Israeli
When will we ever learn? Human shields shield no one, but are a crime against humanity.
|Posted on Friday, February 06, 2009 - 01:46 pm: |
Natural born believers?
Is it any wonder Earth's pantheistic religions are universal?
Here is the NewScientist article: Born believers: How your brain creates God
WHILE many institutions collapsed during the Great Depression that began in 1929, one kind did rather well. During this leanest of times, the strictest, most authoritarian churches saw a surge in attendance.
This anomaly was documented in the early 1970s, but only now is science beginning to tell us why. It turns out that human beings have a natural inclination for religious belief, especially during hard times. Our brains effortlessly conjure up an imaginary world of spirits, gods and monsters, and the more insecure we feel, the harder it is to resist the pull of this supernatural world. It seems that our minds are finely tuned to believe in gods.
Religious ideas are common to all cultures: like language and music, they seem to be part of what it is to be human. Until recently, science has largely shied away from asking why. "It's not that religion is not important," says Paul Bloom, a psychologist at Yale University, "it's that the taboo nature of the topic has meant there has been little progress."...
Read it all, very interesting. We are born believers?
|Posted on Saturday, February 07, 2009 - 02:23 pm: |
Universe thinking itself as the Logos?
Is Habeas Mentem's "interrelationship" the same as the ancient Heraclitean "Logos"?
The weeping philosopher, Heraclitus
Logos need not be the "word of God" in the modern Judeo-Christian sense, nor does it mean necessarily "divine animating principle" of the Stoic philosophers; it fits better as a modern western philosophical idea first proposed by Heraclitus, "as meaning both the source and fundamental order of the cosmos." Take another look at "What is the form of interrelationship", Ch.3, and you will see that any totality of interrelationship forms a definition for its internal parts in terms of the totality image, so nothing can be defined as a "fundamental source and order" other than its place in time within that totality interrelationship image, that which defines its particular things within it. (This is better explained in Ch. 2, "Let us created an idea" of Habeas Mentem.) So if an idea such as interrelationship can from its totality image define, or "think" itself, then it becomes the "Logos" as sought after through the ages. What was missing was an ancients understanding that philosophically the Logos was not in our reason alone, nor some mystical universal principle, but already existed independently of us as a universal principle of "interrelationship": a self sustained mechanism that we in time were able to identify in our minds as the Logos, the source and fundamental order of the universe, and all in it.
Taking the Logos out of the pantheism of religions and placing it back in the fundamental principles of the universe, "one true belief system based upon real evidential proofs" that are verifiable, is what the basic concept of Interrelationship does. That it is then also an "animating principle" of all life, or the Totality that is the "word of God" follows naturally, of course. Does that make sense?
Also see: Universe is natural computer
|Posted on Wednesday, February 18, 2009 - 01:16 pm: |
More Woo-woo Universe Big Bang stuff.
New Model of the Early Universe (Space.com -interactive)
New computer simulations reveal how the early universe would have appeared 500 million years after the theoretical Big Bang.
According to the standard Big Bang model, the universe was born about 13.7 billion years ago in a burst of inflation, growing from something smaller than the size of an electron to about golf-ball size within a fraction of a second. In its early stages, the universe was flooded with energy, which congealed into particles and the lighter atoms. Over time, as the cosmos continued to expand on a vastly greater scale, these atoms clumped together into stars and galaxies.
Helloo? Dr. Who? Are we there yet?
|Posted on Thursday, February 19, 2009 - 06:30 pm: |
Totally different take, on a non-expanding Universe can be found here, at Mining Deep Space Gravity:
No woo-woo here?
Plasma axial jets
|Posted on Monday, February 23, 2009 - 12:27 pm: |
Follow up on Matsumoto simulation where axial jets were recreated with rotating plasma, 2000
Single jet recreated in a lab, 2005
Operating in a vacuum chamber, Bellan's group was able to make jets up to a third of a metre long that travelled at between 10 and 50 kilometres per second. Bigger jets would require a bigger power supply.
A different approach was used here, 2009, to recreate plasma 'burping' astrophysical jets:
Jets of charged particles have been created in successive bursts for the first time in the laboratory. The work could shed light on the behaviour of astrophysical jets from stars and galaxies.
Astrophysical jets are among the largest and most energetic objects in the universe. The matter inside them travels at nearly the speed of light from colossal black holes at the centres of galaxies. Smaller jets spew at lower speeds from young stars surrounded by discs of gas and dust.
However, we are still a very long way from understanding galactic black hole axial jets, or how this newly released plasma energy can be used in the future, such as suggested by applying the Axiomatic Equation (SMBH):
Any hot rotating plasma, or star energy, will result in a vortex center where all electromagnetic energy lambda cancels on a point, which per Axiomatic, is where this canceled electromagnetic hot energy will re-release primordial extreme gravity, where G=c, such as witnessed in a black hole.
The above article does not make it clear these plasma jets are from the same phenomenon first simulated by Matsumoto, however, so they may not be same genre.
If this is a modifiable event that can be re-created artificially, then it may be a usable future source of energy, or in effect, "gravity in a bottle" type energy. Stay tuned for further research, especially in plasma physics.
No woo-woo here either?
|Posted on Tuesday, February 24, 2009 - 12:03 pm: |
Gravity Probe B (GP-B) Relativity Mission - latest update, maybe last.
Science Results -- NASA Final Report
(image: Spacetime warped and twisted by the mass and spin of the earth)
This is the first of five connected papers giving details of progress on the Gravity Probe B (GP-B)
Relativity Mission. GP-B, launched on 20 April 2004, is a landmark physics experiment in space to test
two fundamental predictions of Einstein’s theory of general relativity, the geodetic and frame-dragging
effects, by means of ultra-precise cryogenic gyroscopes in Earth orbit. Data collection began 28 August
2004 and science operations were completed 29 September 2005. The data analysis has proven deeper
than expected. Patch effect anomalies on the gyro rotor and housing have given rise to two mutually
1) A changing polhode path affecting the calibration of the gyroscope scale factor Cg against the
aberration of starlight
2) Two larger than expected manifestations of a Newtonian gyro torque due to patch potentials on
the rotor and housing.
In earlier papers, we reported two distinct methods, ‘geometric’ and ‘algebraic’, for identifying and
removing the first Newtonian effect (‘misalignment torque’) and also a preliminary method of treating
the second (‘roll-polhode resonance torque’). Central to the progress in both torque modeling and Cg
determination has been an extended effort from January 2007 on “Trapped Flux Mapping”. A new
turning point came in August 2008 when it became possible to include a detailed history of the roll-
polhode resonance torques into the computation. The frame-dragging effect is now plainly visible in the
processed data. The current statistical uncertainty from an analysis of 154 days of data by the algebraic
method is 6 marcsec/yr (~15% of the frame-dragging effect). The systematic error will be added to this
statistical uncertainty using the methods discussed in an accompanying paper by Muhlfelder et al. A
covariance analysis, incorporating the impact of patch effect anomalies, indicates that a 3 to 5%
determination of frame-dragging is possible with a more complete, but computationally intensive data
Did they find what they were looking for? Was Einstein right (again)? The report seems to indicate the 'frame-dragging' was visible but still inconclusive, so an additional layer of measurement parameters need to be explored and analyzed.
A “simple” strategy of the GP-B data analysis has evolved in the complex two-floor structure after on-
orbit discoveries of the changes in the rotor’s polhode period and path, and of patch effect torques. Direct
modeling of the readout scale factor at the 1st Floor, and the misalignment and roll-resonance torque
modeling at the 2nd Floor, allowed us to separate the relativistic drift from the drift induced by classical
torques. A cascade of four interconnected estimators applied to the GP-B science data has demonstrated a
consistent determination of the geodetic and frame-dragging effects for all GP-B gyroscopes, as well as
fidelity of the physical models used.
Time to put it to bed... Relativistic drift may be no more than classical momentum transfer, same as Mercury's precession?
space time question/BAUT
|Posted on Thursday, February 26, 2009 - 01:49 pm: |
Some questions of space-time expansion discussed at BAUT ATM thread. Not part of discussion, just posted for your info.
Modern Cosmology: Science or Folktale?
Read it all, and add your comment to question.
Editor's note: the above questions were posed on Humancafe in the Modern Universe in G-flat pages, Sept. 1, 2007, same referenced article; above is post on universal Logos as interrelationship.) - FYI
Whose time 2?
|Posted on Wednesday, March 04, 2009 - 12:08 pm: |
Who's Time are we talking about?
This was asked on the "Who's time" entry (that thread closed due to spam attacks). But Whose Time are we really talking about? Obviously it is Einstein's Relativity, which has been such an alluringly paradoxical idea that we cannot stop talking about it. Is it really true for more than the observer?
This is all it is, just a time-dilation equation, as seen by the observer. So if t or t', it is all up to the observer whose measurement of light c based observations will be modified by time-dilation 'proper time'. From whose point of view is all.
Move along... nothing to see here... just time-dilations
|Posted on Friday, March 06, 2009 - 12:12 pm: |
Mars Opportunity rover update.
This is a follow-up to Mars density post earlier, Feb. 4, 2009, where Mars Rover Opportunity had descended into Victoria Crater (see photo), where it had spent over a year exploring. Since then this hardy little robot rover has climbed out by retracing its tracks, and about to engage Endeavour Crater, some 12 km away.
NASA's Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity climbed out of Victoria Crater following the tracks it had made when it descended into the 800-meter-diameter (half-mile-diameter) bowl nearly a year earlier. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech
This journey to Endeavour Crater, traveling about 100 meters per day, could take two years:
Let's hope this trusty little robot with a troubling forward wheel will make its hazardous journey intact.
The Endeavour crater, a bowl 13.7 miles (22 km) across, should offer the chance to study a much deeper stack of rock layers than those Opportunity saw in Victoria Crater.
"I would love to see that view from the rim," Squyres said. "But even if we never get there, as we move southward we expect to be getting to younger and younger layers of rock on the surface. Also, there are large craters to the south that we think are sources of cobbles that we want to examine out on the plain. Some of the cobbles are samples of layers deeper than Opportunity will ever see, and we expect to find more cobbles as we head toward the south."
Also see: Curiosity Mars Rover, incredible panorama scan (interactive)
|Posted on Monday, March 09, 2009 - 01:11 pm: |
A couple of good GR papers, FYI
General Theory of Relativity: Will it survive
the next decade? (2006)
common misconceptions of cosmological horizons and the superluminal expansion of the universe (2003)
Are we about to see Einstein's GR modified or unseated as the basis for our understanding of cosmology and astrophysics?
Read it all.
|Posted on Monday, March 16, 2009 - 12:13 pm: |
Modified Gravity? Maybe 'variable G' too?
(BBC - interactive)
1. Goce senses tiny variations in the pull of gravity over Earth
2. The data is used to construct an idealised surface, or geoid
3. It traces gravity of equal 'potential'; balls won't roll on its 'slopes'
4. It is the shape the oceans would take without winds and currents
5. So, comparing sea level and geoid data reveals ocean behaviour
6. Gravity changes can betray magma movements under volcanoes
7. A precise geoid underpins a universal height system for the world
8. Gravity data can also reveal how much mass is lost by ice sheets
There is an exotic re-interpretation taking place in the mysterious world of infinite scale gravity, though not as simple as to say a variable gravity G is simply an electro-magnetically modifiable force with distance from a hot star. But it, like MOND, is a start.
Observational Evidence for Cosmological-Scale Extra Dimensions
We present a case that current observations may already indicate new gravitational physics on cosmological scales. The excess of power seen in the Lyman-alpha forest and small-scale CMB experiments, the anomalously large bulk flows seen both in peculiar velocity surveys and in kinetic SZ, and the higher ISW cross-correlation all indicate that structure may be more evolved than expected from LCDM. We argue that these observations find a natural explanation in models with infinite-volume (or, at least, cosmological-size) extra dimensions, where the graviton is a resonance with a tiny width. The longitudinal mode of the graviton mediates an extra scalar force which speeds up structure formation at late times, thereby accounting for the above anomalies. The required graviton Compton wavelength is relatively small compared to the present Hubble radius, of order 300-600 Mpc. Moreover, with certain assumptions about the behavior of the longitudinal mode on super-Hubble scales, our modified gravity framework can also alleviate the tension with the low quadrupole and the peculiar vanishing of the CMB correlation function on large angular scales, seen both in COBE and WMAP. This relies on a novel mechanism that cancels a late-time ISW contribution against the primordial Sachs-Wolfe amplitude.
The full NewScientist article dealing with the above physics paper can be found at: Gravity may venture where matter fears to tread
Another on 'dark matter' is on Space.com: Galaxies Protected by Dark Matter
It gets odder yet: Telescope Captures Grouping of Oddball Galaxy and Supernova
Another 'variable gravity' potentials? Experimental Tests of General Relativity: Recent Progress and Future Directions, by Slava G. Turyshev , Jan.18, 2009.
Considering gravitation and fundamental physics, our solar system is the laboratory that offers many opportunities to improve the tests of relativistic gravity. A carefully designed gravitational experiment has the advantage to conduct tests in a controlled and well-understood environment and can achieve accuracies superior to its ground- based counterpart. Existing technologies allow one to take advantage of the unique environments found only in space, including variable gravity potentials, large distances,...
Read it all.
Life on Mars
|Posted on Friday, March 20, 2009 - 12:53 pm: |
Not if, but when, Life is found on Mars.
If these three articles are correct, then subsurface mud pools will harbor microbial life on Mars. Here is the lineup:
1. Is life bubbling up in Mars mud? (NewScientist) If this is correct, then the warm water mud pools may be the base for bacterial life.
2. Scientists find new bacteria species (CNN) If so, then ultraviolet light resistant bacteria high in Earth's atmosphere may be distant cousins of Martian bacteria.
3. Life's Crystal Code (Space) If this is true, then we are made of 'clay' after all, and Life is universal wherever it can find a foothold. Mars now offers very good odds that there is life in our neighborhood.
Quartz crystals that grew out of mineral-rich solutions in large rock cavities
Think of 'interrelationship' as the basic building blocks of Life... and Mind.
|Posted on Sunday, March 22, 2009 - 12:02 pm: |
The Universe is Simple, et al.
Universum - C. Flammarion, Woodcut, Paris 1888
Welcome to Humancafe forums! An anthology of thinkers who brought together a vast pantheon of ideas into logical simplicity.
Watch this space for future paper on the absolute economy of the Universe, which is simplicity itself, so even I understand it.
|Posted on Friday, March 27, 2009 - 12:45 pm: |
RELATIVITY+ by John Duffield - now available at Amazon.com
Visit this page for details on book
This is a followup of an earlier post, October 11, 2008, on the forum.
Very fine book review.
Sum, ergo sum
|Posted on Thursday, April 02, 2009 - 12:59 am: |
"Cogito, ergo sum."
"I think, therefore I am," is Rene' Descartes.
In neo-Descartes "I Am, therefore I am."
"Sum, ergo sum."
Is this the post-Cartesian world of the universe according to the Universe is Simple?
|Posted on Saturday, April 04, 2009 - 11:24 am: |
Here's a postcard from space "The Hand" - NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory
Red represents low-energy X-rays, the medium range is green, and the most energetic ones are colored blue. The blue hand-like structure was created by energy emanating from the nebula around they dying star PSR B1509-58. The red areas are from a neighboring gas cloud called RCW 89. Credit: NASA/CXC/SAO/P.Slane, et al.
Tiny and dying but still-powerful stars called pulsars spin like crazy and light up their surroundings, often with ghostly glows. So it is with PSR B1509-58, which long ago collapsed into a sphere just 12 miles in diameter after running out of fuel.
The star now spins around at the dizzying pace of seven times every second -- as pulsars do -- spewing energy into space that creates the scene...
How does a twelve mile diameter star spinning seven rotations per second hold together? Extreme G, of course.
|Posted on Sunday, April 05, 2009 - 01:19 pm: |
Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.
|Posted on Wednesday, April 08, 2009 - 12:54 pm: |
Expanding-space-contraction of galaxies?
This is a follow up on an earlier post on expanding space by Aladim and successive posts on how the universe is expanding, though with colliding galaxies it is also 'contracting'. Now comes this 'postcard' from space:
Nearby Galaxy Looks Bigger in Infrared -Space.com
The Spitzer Space Telescope image of M33. Stars are blue, and in the image several are actually foreground stars in our own galaxy. Dust rich in organic molecules glows green. Diffuse orange-red glowing areas indicate regions where stars are forming. Small red flecks outside the spiral disk of M33 are most likely distant background galaxies, astronomers figure. NASA/JPL-Caltech/Univ. of Ariz.
A new infrared image from NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope reveals the colorful M33 to be surprising large -- bigger than its visible-light appearance would suggest, astronomers said in a recent statement.
With its ability to detect cold, dark dust, Spitzer sees emission from cooler material well beyond the visible range of M33's disk. Exactly how this cold material moved outward from the galaxy is still a mystery, but winds from giant stars or supernovas may be responsible, Spitzer astronomers said.
What is intriguing is that the cold dark dust surrounding this M33 galaxy is in fact 'visible' in the infrared band. Could this be the Cold Dark Matter sought after, only cold dust in higher G per Axiomatic Equation? If so, there is no space expansion, and galaxies are free to collide gravitationally as expected.
Not to worry, a light-year is 10 trillion kilometers, so it may take a while.
M33, the third largest galaxy in our group, is also moving toward the Milky Way (which is about 100,000 light-years in diameter). Nothing to worry about, however. This galactic cousin is presently some 2.9 million light-years away in the constellation Triangulum.
Cosmo-constant, which one?
|Posted on Friday, April 10, 2009 - 11:04 am: |
The Cosmological Constant in an 'Expanding' Universe. where 'empty' space itself is filled with this vacuum energy.
"The cyclic universe model is a simple mechanism for solving the cosmological constant problem" - 19 Sep, 2006
The cosmological constant is a surname for what we call vacuum energy, the energy of empty space. What we mean by empty is without particle, radiation, or any object. There can still be energy, there can still be fields, like electric or magnetic fields, in it but all particles or objects are missing from it.
Even though it’s empty, there can still be energy, and that’s what we call the cosmological constant.
Based on the observation, what have we learned about this cosmological constant?
The cosmological constant, because the value is so small, because it doesn’t change with time, has almost no observable consequences, except for one thing: it affects the expansion of the Universe. If the vacuum energy is greater than all the other forms of energy, like the energy of the matter or radiation, then it causes the expansion of the Universe to speed up. This effect has been observed. When we look at the motion of distant galaxies compared to more nearby galaxies, we can observe that the expansion of the Universe has been speeding up the last 4 or 5 billion years. That’s the sign that there is a small and positive vacuum energy. ....
This above is how the universe is understood today. Contrast it with the Simple Universe idea here: http://www.humancafe.com/discus/messages/1177/1872.html - March 26, 2009
Energy in modern physics is always Energy , which means E=E in all its forms, such as kinetic energy, work energy, heat energy, or electromagnetic energy. This Energy equivalence also applies to the famous de Broglie E=hf equation, where Energy equals Planck's constant times electromagnetic frequency, the basis of Quantum physics. However, where all mechanical and electromagnetic energy may be interchangeable, gravity stands out as something different. Gravity may have more to do with inertial mass than electromagnetic energy , and in fact may prove to be inversely proportional. In effect, where today's Cosmology is based on Gravity as a universal constant, taken from Newton's gravitational constant G, and enhanced relativistically with Einstein's General Relativity mathematics; this universal constant may not be as now postulated, but is likely a variable constant, a constant on a curve .
This means some universal constants, which are measured and true in our region of space, may be variable elsewhere; in particular gravity's Newton G, which may be “constant” on a curve  with distance from our Sun or any hot star. Per force, this means the interaction within Quantum theory's E=hf and gravity theory  become paradoxical because they are both constants and variables. What this means in the end is that gravity is not a "universal constant" as now believed, but dependent inversely upon the Energy density where G is measured, so the universe may be "isotropic and homogenous" at gravity levels far greater than now assumed ....
Is there a Dark Energy pushing all the galaxies apart? Or is there a gravitational redshift in deep space causing all distant light to appear as if it were Doppler-space-expanding? Which is it?
Universe is this 'simple'?
How will history remember this? How close are we to learning the truth?
|Posted on Sunday, April 12, 2009 - 12:10 pm: |
Galileo's Legacy, 400th anniversary
Galileo's Telescope (1610)
WITH all the attention on Darwin this year, one could almost overlook the 400th anniversary of one of the most significant events in the history of science: the first time Galileo peered through his telescope and provided conclusive evidence that the Earth circles the sun. Two exhibitions are marking the occasion, though, both in conjunction with the Institute and Museum of the History of Science (IMSS) in Florence, Italy.
The impressive section on Islamic cosmology includes a small, stunning 15th-century spherical astrolabe - the only known example of its kind. From there we see the Christianisation of astronomy: the addition of more complex epicycles to the Ptolemaic system in order to maintain Earth's centrality and regular, circular movements of the heavens.
Galileo famously came into conflict with the Church: his Dialogo was placed on the Vatican's Index of Prohibited Books and he was called before the Inquisition and forced to abjure his views - a scene depicted in Cristiano Banti's 1857 painting Galileo Before the Inquisition.
Whether Galileo ever uttered the apocryphal E pur si muove ("And yet it moves"), he was, of course, proved right. The power of his observations in supplanting religious ideology is best captured in a single arresting image: Galileo's finger, detached from his remains in 1737, encased in glass and gilt and pointing heavenward. It is a scientific reliquary for a secular saint.
Four centuries later, Galileo continues to impress, proven right again for our age of religious ideology conflicts and reconciliations; or secular resolutions.
Also see: Galileo almost right?
Galileo's complaint - a short (fiction) story
|Posted on Friday, April 17, 2009 - 12:15 pm: |
More on Galileo's legacy postcard, go tell it on the mountain.
One of the most famous 'Wacky Ideas'..? - by Seth Shostak
But even an unrefereed publication – indeed even that icon of immodesty, a self-published book – will buff your idea to a better gloss. Consider: When Galileo made his telescopic discoveries of the moons of Jupiter and a few other important things, he felt the need to get them typeset and bound ASAP (he was worried about being scooped by competitors). Rather than wait around 285 years for the Astrophysical Journal, Galileo rushed into print with his own, small book. Smooth move.
Data are valuable. Ideas, on the other hand – like phone calls and e-mail – are cheap. Your creative genius may have hatched a truly revolutionary idea. Indeed, you probably think so. But no matter what your opinion of your hypothesis might be, if you hope for someone to fly you to Stockholm and hand you a check, don't just call me up and lay out your case. Do something better: write it up and tell the world.
SETI call Home - interactive
Or just write it up, kick up your heels, and sit back. Who cares?
New gravity physics?
|Posted on Monday, April 20, 2009 - 12:21 pm: |
New gravity physics called?
Experimental Tests of General Relativity: Recent Progress and Future Directions
- pg 13
Given the magnitude of this problem, a number of authors have considered the possibility that cosmic acceleration is not due to a particular substance, but rather that it arises from new gravitational physics (see discussion in [112, 113, 114]). In particular, certain extensions to general relativity in a low energy regime [114, 115, 116] were shown to predict an experimentally consistent universe evolution without the need for dark energy . These dynamical models are expected to explain the observed acceleration of the universe without dark energy, but may produce measurable gravitational effects on the scales of the solar system.
Getting there, metric millimeter by tensor metric?
|Posted on Tuesday, April 21, 2009 - 11:26 am: |
I think the mistake in Turyshev's paper is here, pg. 18:
[mG/mI]SEP = 1 + n(E/mc2)
where E is gravitational self-energy, mc2 is total mass-energy, and n is a dimensionless (variable?) constant for SEP violation.
The answer will always be =1, regardless if E and G are directly or inversely proportional. This is a null result equation.
Editor's note: The reason behind "This is a null result equation" in the above is most simply explained, per email exchanges, as follows:
On the right side (E/mc2), there is a modifier kg'/kg which corresponds with E and G as either fixed or variables; this modifier may then be expressed as n on the right side,
I.e., (E/mc2) kg'/kg, will reflect either:
1) E and G are fixed, so m is fixed within the parameters of the equation, so E and m are not affected by G, and kg'/kg remains constant = 1, or
2) E and G are variables, so m per equivalence is G proportional to some variable value of E, so in kg'/kg there is an inverse relation, whereby:
3) If kg' is greater due to greater G, which would happen per Axiomatic in lower E, then the kg'/kg value is greater in proportion to kg, but where the G-local-units of kg' is < than m in kg.
4. E/mc2 must always equal to =1, by definition.
For example, on Mars where G is about 1.5 times that of Earth's, hypothetically per Axiomatic, then its kg' locally is higher than Earth's kg, which means it would take fewer kg' on Mars to equal one kg on Earth (not yet clear by how much, until empirically tested), so lower E and higher G would balance out on the right side of above equation with kg'/kg adjusted. The end result is null, so mG/mI remains =1 in all cases, where n=kg'/kg.
(Note: Nordvedt's equation (1968) in Equivalence Principle for Massive Bodies, II is predicated on the assumptions that mg/mi=1.)
The only way to adequately prove a variable G, given that the above equation will yield null results of =1, is to check for local densities of known chemical compositions. If we know the density of water on Mars, based on local gravity (which is known), we can then calculate based on this density the local G-units (which are unknown) by the relative variable density of water on Earth (which is known). This would apply to any other substance, including water ice, or gases, including the atmosphere; as also found in Martian 'clumpy' soil.
See Anisotropy of kg/kg mass, posted Mar. 2, 2008, on "The Modern Universe in G -flat" thread, for further explanation and linked references.
SEP violation, or violation of Strong Equivalence Principle, per Einstein's, is best reflected in local chemical densities, thermal ice and vapor densities, and atmospheric densities, per the above. -- Eds.
|Posted on Saturday, April 25, 2009 - 10:11 am: |
At first glance, I can't say Nordvedt's equation (1968) makes sense to me, as used by Turyshev, because it seems to assume G is a universal constant; so the [mG/mI]SEP side of the equation assumes gravity G constant and Inertial mass variable. That makes no sense, since they are always proportional, so =1 per Einstein's proof. If G is a variable, there is only one way i can imagine, just intuitive gut feeling, how the equation should read:
n[mG/mI]SEP = (E/mc2)kg'/kg
where 1+ drops out (redundant) and n as a representation of kg'/kg moves to the left. Does this really mean anything? Only if we find G is variable, IMHO. Thanks.
In the dark about dark energy
|Posted on Monday, April 27, 2009 - 12:36 pm: |
And the fantastic theories continue...
We are so in the dark about 'dark energy' that it borderlines absurd.
As if the discovery of dark energy weren't bizarre enough, it has stirred up a whole host other issues. For example, dark energy adds fuel to the fire of believers in multiple universes, or the idea that our own existence is just one of countless worlds in which the constants and conditions are different. There might be other universes in which dark energy doesn't exist, and the universe does slow in its expansion, cosmologists say.
Heavy local concentrations of 'invisible' gases followed by more distant concentrations yield different gravitational redshifted densities of space dust and gas (very high G), which leads to an 'accelerating' space-expansion [sic], as now believed. Any dissenters, or are all lulled by the same fantastic story?
What is Dark Energy?
Impact Lab - Dark Energy site
Addendum: And it gets bigger yet...
Space Explosion Is Farthest Thing Ever Seen By SPACE.com Staff
A stellar explosion has smashed the record for most distant object in the known universe.
The gamma-ray burst came from about 13 billion light-years away, and represents a relic from when the universe was just 630 million years old.
Astronomers in the U.S. and UK quickly scrambled to follow up on the stunning discovery. They found that the infrared light of the afterglow had the highest redshift ever measured, meaning that the wavelengths had been very stretched out during their long journey.
Swift's new find may indicate an active early universe, even as scientists still try to understand what existed so close to the start of it all.
"We now have the first direct proof that the young universe was teeming with exploding stars and newly-born black holes only a few hundred million years after the Big Bang," Berger said. ...
How big is the universe? The next deep redshift coming above z~9 will let the cosmic cat out of the bag. It's much much bigger than 13.7 billion light years 'old'... How big is 'infinity'?
'She's too beautiful'
|Posted on Wednesday, May 20, 2009 - 12:41 am: |
She's so beautiful, a post card from space.
Earth seen from space is a beautiful thing.
(interactive -Space.com article)
Sinai Peninsula and the Mediterranean Sea. The Red Sea is just out of frame at bottom right.
We humans are blessed. Let's not turn a blessing into a curse.
UFO or 'Klingons'?
|Posted on Saturday, October 03, 2009 - 12:19 pm: |
UFO - or Kllingon vessel? See the video, weird sound with it.
Picture of strange orbiting object taken from space
It doesn't looks like space junk, has three clear lights on one end, maybe windows on the other, so what was it? I had seen strange UFOs in the past, but this one really is weird. Who is 'watching' our beautiful planet?
Are they friendly? (click image for more details in 5 min video) Just visiting?
See more UFOs on this page at PostScripts.
More Planetary Society news and blog.
Shuttle image from space
|Posted on Wednesday, February 17, 2010 - 01:17 pm: |
Nope, not Klingons - just our Space Shuttle.
Stunning Space Photo Shows Shuttle in Silhouette - Space.com
This one's ours
What Aliens would see
|Posted on Wednesday, September 29, 2010 - 09:31 pm: |
Our Solar System a 'dust ball'?
Space.com: What Aliens Would See When Spying On Our Solar System - article
Computer simulations of Kuiper Belt dust
Is this what Aliens would see looking down on us?
Comet coma gassing
|Posted on Monday, November 08, 2010 - 01:55 pm: |
Long Period Comet Ikeya-Murakami "gassing out" at Saturn's cold region?
It seems too early to be "gassing out" at such cold regions as Saturn's orbit, but this is what is happening for this long-period comet, as seen in this photograph.
Comet Ikeya-Murakami (click image for more)
However, if this comet comes in from the deep cold of the far outer solar system where Newton's gravity G is orders of magnitudes greater than on Earth, and its 'compacted' accumulated dust and matter is now 'decompacting' closer into the Sun where G is lower, then this Saturn regional 'coma' is totally natural and 'expected'.
Stay tuned... until they check for Variable G in outer solar system.
This more recent Space.com article on Comet Hartley-2 seems to support, without stating so, the hypothesis presented here, that comets are 'compacted' far out in the solar system where gravity-G is greater than for the inner solar system, and then 'de-compact' when swinging closer in to lower G. This accumulation-sublimation cycle would result in a 'layering' of the comet, as the accumulated dust and gas molecules at aphelion would sublimate closer in to perihelion, likely losing the lighter more volatile elements; hence resulting in a 'layered' comet interior structure, as heavier elements accumulate with each orbit cycle.(*)
Comet Pelted NASA Probe with Bits of Ice During Flyby (Nov. 18, 2010).
More than just 'passing gas' at Hartley-2 flyby: Comet caught throwing basketball-sized snowballs.
More on 'long distance comets' coming from the Oort Cloud regions: Giant Stealth Planet May Explain Rain of Comets from Solar System's Edge By Charles Q. Choi. However, rather than a 4X Jupiter sized planet there, it is more likely to be a smaller body with much higher gravity-G making mass appear 'as if' it were so much larger, if it in fact exists.
This just in: Philae's Comet May Host Alien 'Life': Astronomers
(*) Rosetta's 67P comet layered like an onion and
Rosetta's 'rubber duck' comet was once two objects - where comet was layered like an onion, both lobes separately
You' lost boy!
|Posted on Saturday, November 27, 2010 - 01:54 pm: |
Is this pre-Big Bang-theory now 'Mainstream' science?
Concentric circles in WMAP data may provide evidence of violent pre-Big-Bang activity:
(interactive -BBC article)
Could all these "circles" observed on specific points of the CMB be no more than "gravitational lensing" artefacts?
Also see: New look at microwave background may cast doubts on big bang theory (2005)
"You' lost boy!"
Is Earth's G seasonal?
|Posted on Sunday, May 01, 2011 - 01:24 pm: |
What if gravity-G changes with the seasons?
As the Earth orbits the sun, the strength of its gravity could vary because of interactions with an undiscovered force, nicknamed the "X-field".
Echoes of seasonal planetary spin?
(See: http://www.humancafe.com/discus/messages/88/185.html#POST4580 for earlier discussions.)
Okay, here is the line-up as how this 'seasonal-G' should play out:
1. In a variable-G environment where gravity 'constant' grows at the rate of 1G per 1 AU, it should register slightly greater at planet's aphelion, and slightly smaller at perihelion in its orbit around the Sun.
2. This (slightly) variable-G phenomenon should register in a Cavendish type gravity experiment; it should show these (very small) seasonal variations, where G will be slightly greater at aphelion and slightly smaller at perihelion.
3. As a phenomenon of variable planetary spin, this same variation should show up as slightly faster spin (shorter day) at aphelion (northern hemisphere summer), and slightly slower spin (longer day) at perihelion (northern winter).
4. As a 'seasonal-G' variable, these slight differences at perihelion and aphelion should be measurable consistently, and annually.
This is only a slightly variable phenomenon because the Earth-Sun system of gravity and spin equal out nearly totally: Orbital velocity accelerates slightly at perihelion, but slows at aphelion; counter to where spin accelerates slightly in (higher G aphelion), and slows slightly in (lower G) perihelion.
But these things are all measurable, and if Newton's G is a variable as hypothesized (and perhaps confirmed by Pioneer Anomaly), it should show up in our measuring instruments when clocking both gravity-G and planetary spin, seasonally. If so, then we have one more chink in the search for understanding gravity, that it is not a 'universal constant' (as Einstein, Newton, Strings Quantum-G, et al thought), but a variable G, which changes our understanding the universe totally... We're inching closer on this mysterious "X-field".
|Posted on Wednesday, June 01, 2011 - 12:23 pm: |
Postcard from Yosemite National Park
I got 'blessed' by this large waterfall at Yosemite Valley, reminiscing on 'Adam's original sin' on Memorial Day visit to the park, May 2011, when I took this short video clip from under the falls.
Bridalveil Fall, Yosemite
The wind shifted and the waterfall came on top of me! Was I wet, cold, but happy.
Post card Gobi
|Posted on Wednesday, November 16, 2011 - 07:47 pm: |
Copy and paste these coordinates into Google Maps: 40.458679,93.31314
Then zoom in as much as you can. Here is the article that describes this pattern in China's Gobi Desert:
Did Neanderthals hibernate?
|Posted on Sunday, February 26, 2012 - 01:35 pm: |
Was "human hibernation" partial cause in Neanderthal man's extinction?
Profile of Neanderthal woman, reconstruction
It seems that bears become torpid in winter and slow down their metabolism, but are not true hibernators, since their body temperature remains more constant than dropping as in other hibernators.
Physicians already are using temperature cool-downs to reduce their patients' metabolic rate, and most researchers assumed that bears naturally operated under the same principle for their winter hibernation. Past studies with other species, such as ground squirrels, have shown that metabolic rates are typically reduced by 50 percent when body temperature drops 18 degrees Fahrenheit (10 degrees Celsius).
But when researchers conducted their experiment with five black bears who were captured in Alaska as nuisance animals, they were surprised by the results. The bears' temperatures fluctuated over the course of two- to seven-day cycles, between nearly the normal level (about 98.6 degrees F or 37 degrees C) and a minimum of 86 degrees F (30 degrees C). And yet their metabolism rate still fell to just 25 percent of the norm. The bears typically hibernated for five to seven months without eating, drinking, urinating or defecating, and roused themselves in the spring with no ill effects.
Could something like this been part of Neanderthal winter survival during the last Ice Age, where they largely became torpid during their winter months? Were Neanderthals quietly 'hibernating' in their caves, same as the (then) extinct Ice Age cave bears? Interesting how the depth of the last Ice Age seems to coincide with Neanderthal extinction, about the same time as Homo Sapiens were populating their regions. Could a hibernating Neanderthal be easy pickings for the Cro-Magnon of the area? And if so, what happened to their bodies? Could saw and cut marks on their bones give clue? Not theirs but ours? Did we 'eat' the competition during the last Ice Age? Sobering thought, though gruesome if so.
Neanderthal or Neanderthal 'hybrids'?
Clue to Neanderthal breeding barrier - BBC
Habeas Mentem evolution
|Posted on Sunday, February 10, 2013 - 02:14 pm: |
HABEAS MENTEM evolution
These may have been the first use of this term meaning "man has a right to his own mind" :
"Creative Health and the Principle of Habeas Mentem" by FILLMORE H. SANFORD, Ph.D. (1955)
Aldous Huxley used the term in his Brave New World Revisited, 1958
More follow up posts:
Man in All that Is (Habeas Mentem),1986 (PE Randall Publisher)
Conscious vs. Unconscious-ness -Humancafe dialogue, 2002
Having a Mind, We have a Right - Chapter 7, Habeas Mentem text
A Letter to My Students by Frank Trujillo, teacher (1987)
Is there proof of universal consciousness (other than human) - references to examined Humancafe dialogue (2001) by Paul Haseman
Humanitarian fundamentalism by Danilo Zolo (2007)
The juridical guarantee of the fundamental rights to liberty for citizens with uncertain identities and little autonomy risks being devoid of meaning: this is particularly true in today's high-tech societies. In such societies the exercise of fundamental rights is necessarily linked to what could be called the fundamental "new right" upon which the effectiveness of all other fundamental rights increasingly depends: habeas mentem, that is an individual's capacity to manage, screen and rationally interpret the growing flow of multimedia information inundating him or her.
12 Keys to Understanding Habeas Mentem (1998)
Habeas Mentem is a total all encompassing, universal system held together by 'interrelationship' as the unifying principle. Its full spectrum defines Who we are personally at the micro level, and manifests as Agreement in interpersonal exchange at the macro level. The more conscious humanity, the more universal this principle becomes in our reality, because we 'have the mind'. It is inherent in our human evolution that the more conscious we become, the more natural this mind awareness will be, someday as common as a smile on our face.
As Aldous Huxley and other pioneers undoubtedly understood, habeas mentem disempowers all totalitarian regimes both present and future. But we are still in the very early stages of that natural evolution.
Also see: HABEAS MENTEM applied
Where Labor Unions?
|Posted on Tuesday, April 16, 2013 - 03:01 am: |
Where to Labor Unions: Public good or Private interest?
Implicitly the Public good is served by the political process, especially within a democratic, constitutional framework of laws and regulatory bodies to protect the public good. Conversely, Private or corporate public interests are best served by the market mechanism, provided the markets are free of coercions and fraud; albeit this insurance per force falls into the 'public good' sector of laws and regulations. Consequently, we cannot 'deregulate' markets to the point where fraud and market manipulations go unchecked; by same reason we cannot 'privatize' government functions serving the public good. But the lines between public good and private interest are often blurred in the popular mind.
This distinction is especially blurred as it concerns Labor Unions. Are unions in the private interest sector, or for the public good? Are they a Capitalism function, or a Socialism function? If private interest, then unions fall under the same rules governing market systems, which includes globalization of capital and labor (where money and jobs go to most efficient producers, at loss to less efficient), and answer to the impersonal forces of market mechanism determining price and distribution. But if unions fall under public good label, then they are made to answer to the same rules and regulations that concern the public good (including social restrictions on market forces affecting price and labor distribution), so Unions become a quasi government function. But this had never been adequately addressed in the public mind, the result of which confuses what role unions play in the economy (with consequent confusions over globalization, communism, capitalism, etc.), so no meaningful dialogue and debate between labor and capital can evolve. But if better defined, as to whether Labor Unionism is a Public good or Private interest, then some of this confusion can clear up, and the role of Unions be better defined. Very likely, in the end, Unionism will fall into the government category for the 'public good' as opposed to 'private interests', so market functions are suspended for the public good rather than for market efficiencies on a global scale. And if so, then Labor Unions are a political process rather than market dominated one, which means they must be structured within constitutional and democratic principles to be fair and effective, for the Public good.
Lost Coast Review essays
|Posted on Thursday, August 08, 2013 - 01:28 pm: |
Lost Coast Review - culture, philosophy and literature from the left coast (by Casey Dorman and editorial staff)
This periodical offers interesting insights into the state of our social world and mind, including psychology. Read the essays and short stories, poems and other commentary. Very nicely put together by thoughtful minds. For example:
An Encounter with Moral Relativism by Casey Dorman
Even restriction of speech based upon the value of sanctity is not uncommon in many parts of the world. In nearly all countries with a Muslim majority, including such disparate nations as Saudi Arabia, Iran, Pakistan and Indonesia, blasphemy against Islam is forbidden by law. Furthermore, this pattern is not confined to Muslim countries. Greece prohibits blasphemy against God, the Greek Orthodox Church and “other tolerated religions.” Malta forbids blasphemy against the Roman Catholic Church and Italy forbids “vilification of religion.” The guarantee of nearly absolute freedom of speech is a unique position taken by the United States.
I could not convince myself to approve of violence as the method of protesting violation of one’s moral values (although there are several moral outrages that routinely provoke violence in the United States). But I could no longer condemn the Middle Easterners for their reaction to the insulting video.
The final test of my newfound tolerance and understanding came with the infamous statement by Republican Senate candidate Richard Mourdock, that, “life is that gift from God. And, I think, even when life begins in that horrible situation of rape, that it is something that God intended to happen." I had to wade through the onslaught of hype by my fellow liberals who deliberately distorted Mourdock’s remarks to imply that he was saying that a rape itself was intended by God when he clearly was referring to the pregnancy resulting from the rape.
But could I give credence to someone’s opinion that a fetus conceived as a result of a rape was a “gift from God?” Mourdock’s premise was that, as a religious person, he believed that all human life was created by God. A significant proportion of the world’s population would probably agree with him. I doubt if most of them would view God as capable of making a mistake and creating a child by accident or believe that unborn babies fell into two groups: those created by God and those not created by God. So Mourdock’s point of view made sense, given his assumptions.
I had become a moral relativist.
But is moral relativism really desirable or even possible? Aren’t there some absolute values, which shouldn’t be forsaken no matter what? Haidt listed six moral dimensions. Which of these is mandatory? An argument can be made that liberty, fairness, loyalty, authority and sanctity can each be interpreted so differently by different cultures (or even by different factions within the same culture) that none of them can be considered a bottom line value that cannot be overridden by another. But what about the harm/care dimension? Nearly every culture subscribes to the idea that an innocent person should not be harmed, that an injured person should be helped. Are these values often overridden in the name of other values? Certainly, cruelty exists. Certainly, innocents are often slaughtered in the name of some other value (authority, liberty, sanctity, loyalty, even fairness when it is defined as revenge. It’s not hard to think of examples). Certainly, “do not harm another,” is violated in practice everyday, in every society.
A country such as the United States is built upon a philosophy which holds some values higher than others. I think it is fair to say that liberty and fairness are at the heart of the American value system and I believe that even a cursory reading of either the Declaration of Independence or the Constitution would support my claim. But that doesn’t make such values a universal priority to which everyone else in the world must subscribe. Even within our American system there is ample room for argument regarding the limits of liberty. When does it conflict with the value of not harming others? When does it conflict with loyalty or obedience to authority? And, as we have seen in the argument over Romney’s 47%, fairness may be in the eye of the beholder and may come in conflict with the moral dimension of caring.
Read it all. Lost Coast Review, Vol 4 No 4, August 2013, including Short Stories (The Day the Seagulls Flew by Ivan D. Alexander)
Can Putin win Ukraine?
|Posted on Wednesday, March 05, 2014 - 03:24 pm: |
Can Putin win on Ukraine?
Putin's Russia is not a Western state, so his unfolding maneuvers in Ukraine's Crimea cannot be viewed in the same light as would any modern, democratic Western nation handle the perceived problem in Ukraine. Putin's response to Ukraine's popular uprising against their corrupt President Yanukovych, who has since fled seeking Russian protection (with some $70 billion missing Ukrainian public funds) was to send in troops to guard key Russian interests in Crimea and (unfolding) in the predominantly Russian speaking Eastern Ukraine. The situation is further complicated by Ukraine's below average performance for former Soviet Republics, where economic interests had sided more with Russia and its natural resources; like natural gas for Europe passing through Ukraine, its 'leased' air and naval bases in Crimea, and the large Russian speaking, and largely Russian leaning, population within the country, especially south and eastern regions like Crimea; rather than siding with the economies of the West. So sending in Russian troops (unmarked, like a private army of Mafia boss goons) to protect what Putin felt was Russia's interests within Ukraine can be understood more in 19th century Czarist Russia terms more than in modern 21st century European Geopolitics. Putin sees Ukraine as a 'client state' to be protected from its own anarchic developments, so feels justified in his military actions.
(interactive -Ukraine crisis)
Putin observing military control of Crimea
However, Ukraine is a separate nation, not a client state of Russia, no matter how deep the cultural, historic, and economic ties with Russia. The rest of the world sees it this way, that Putin's maneuver is a military invasion of a sovereign state, so there is little world sympathy for what Russia is doing at present. Western nations and the American administration clearly condemn Putin's actions. Ukrainians had strongly voiced their preference for siding with Europe's economic developments than Russia's, as the demonstrations since last November, when Mr. Yanukvych canceled Ukraine's efforts to join the European Union and accepted Russian financial aid instead. This would have costs, mainly that Ukraine's economic and political independence would be compromised by Russian interests there. Now that Ukraine's Treasury is broke, these economic interests have become even more pressing. Europe and the US have pledged aid of some $17 billion to relieve the financial stress of Mr. Yanukovych's corrupt government (Russia's promised $15 billion aid had been stopped), but this does not solve the problem of Putin's troops in Crimea. And the problem runs deeper, as the country has not yet proven able to rid itself of politicians of graft and corruption, as the public funds stolen attest. So whether or not Putin was justified in sending in troops to protect Russian interests in Ukraine, the other real problem is whether or not Ukraine is able to muster the strength to rid itself of such corrupt, oligarchic practices and define itself as one Ukrainian whole and democratic western nation, and not one divided by oligarchic pro-Russian sentiments. In this latter, the West is largely exempt from Ukraine's future developments, except to offer financial aid and watch. A military response, by either Ukraine or the West, to Putin's military troops is not really an option as this time. Rather, better a solution diplomatically, as it would be in both Russia's and Europe's best interests.
Ukraine's language divide, all East Slavs
Putin cannot win militarily in Ukraine. He and Russia would lose too much. Not only economic and financial sanctions, but loss of all other cooperation with the West, military cooperation, visa and travel cooperations, technological cooperations, political cooperations, intellectual and scientific, medical cooperations, etc. All these would be put on hold, with as much pain for Russians as it would generate for the West, perhaps more. The Russian Ruble has already suffered loss, and this may be but the tip of it all. From history, we know Russia can stand a lot of pain, but is it necessary to repeat such past in the present? Probably not in the long run, and that is Putin's weakest hand here: they need us more than we need them. So even if Russian troops were able to take control of Ukrainian military bases by force, they would lose in the end by Russia paying a too high political price for their hollow victory. Economic sanctions against Ukraine makes no sense, so not even considered here. Nor is Ukraine Russia's Chechnya, where a religious led fanaticism feeds separatism to form an Islamic state. Ukraine and Russia share a common religious heritage, so while Russian military actions make sense in the Caucasus, they are senseless in Ukraine. Not the cost of lives at stake, but the costs at all levels in a modern world interconnected by instant communications, social networks, instant news and Tweets, and international financial flows. Russia would have too much to lose, so it cannot win militarily. Putin made a bad move.
Protests outside Russian embassy, Washington DC
Internationally, Ukraine has a right to its nationhood unmolested by a large overbearing neighbor. It is not size or military might that calls this, but a right of nations to exist as self determined by their people. The solution must fall within those parameters, that Ukraine has a right to exist. Whether it will be truly Ukrainian or quasi-Russian as a nation will be determined by its people and future, not by Russia. So the only open road ahead for resolving the issues at hand in Crimea, and Eastern Ukraine, is diplomatic, where all parties at risk sit together and work it out. The naval and air bases of Crimea are first priorities for Russia, if troop deployment priority considered, so they should be resolved first. Strengthen the leases, make better and clearer agreements on how the Russians are to use the bases, and what compensations are to be paid for them. For example, a 99 year lease like Britain had with China in Hong Kong could be a model. Next, work out whether Crimea is a Russian protectorate or a Ukrainian state; the same must be resolved on Eastern Ukraine with large Russian speaking populations. Which interests are better served there, by Russia or Ukraine, to secure the livelihood and safety and well being of the people, regardless of nationality, language, or religion? These are basic fundamental human rights, and it is the duty of government to protect those rights for its people. Whose people are they? Who do they wish to be? The diplomatic resolve must not shy away from offending historical Russian sentiments of Empire; we live in a different world now, and 'czar' Putin cannot enter another nation, whether Ukraine or Poland or Estonia or Lithuania, guns blazing. The world will not accept that and will isolate Russia, to her loss. There is much to be gained diplomatically, if good agreements are made between nations, better than by pushing troops within their borders. Treaties of friendship between Russia and her neighbors will have far greater positive effects in the long run, if not in the short. It would behoove Ukraine to follow through on its desire to lean West, negotiate peace with Russia, and join the EU. It would behoove the Russians to let her do so, and in time even join themselves. All benefit, and for another reason: China is watching.
Also see: Analysis: Why Russia's Crimea move fails legal test - BBC News, 7 March 2014.
According to a UN definition of 1974, the use of foreign armed forces on the territory of a state in contravention of the agreement governing that presence amounts to aggression. Still, under present conditions an "armed attack", which is the trigger point in the UN Charter for the application of the right to self-defence, has probably not yet occurred.
Ukraine crisis: EU signs association deal -BBC
Update, 60 days later:
Putin may have taken a bishop, Crimea, but he lost the queen, Ukraine. If he loses his knights, and his oligarchs turn against him, then it is game. 'Checkmate.'
The Russian banditry in eastern Ukraine, whether or not complicit with Moscow, should be cleaned up. Same for Ukraine's internal corruption. Those are Ukrainian internal affairs. Putin played a good hand at the start, an easy win, but it cost him the game. Gaining Crimea cost him world prestige. It isolated Russia, which means it now becomes a second rate power; and the economic sanctions from the West, the EU and USA, are working. It also means Ukraine will gravitate towards Europe to enjoy same benefits seen in other former Soviet Eastern European republics, outside Russia's orbit. In time Ukraine will also become part of NATO. 'Check.'
What's Russia's alternative? War with First World? ...Time to call his bluff.
Also see: Why we have to win in Ukraine -Kiev News
Ukraine, 120 days later
Bloomberg: Ukraine Army Advances as EU Plans Tougher Putin Sanctions
Since Putin took control of Crimea, the incursions of Russia separatist rebels into Eastern Ukraine are ongoing. The missile downing of Malaysian flight MH17 has galvanized the world's negative opinion of these events, with addition sanctions by EU and US further isolating Russia's economy and its key oligarchic players. The Russian currency is down, inflation up, and the central bank has ratcheted up interest rates. This will hurt, but the fighting supported by Moscow continues, perhaps intensified with increased clandestine support for the separatists in Eastern Ukraine. Russia's response has been weak, complaining of the West 'slandering' Russia, while weapons and military activity moves closer the the border and missiles are fired from Russia on Ukrainian military. Overall this signals weakness on the Russian side. The sanctions hurt, especially now that oil exports are being targeted. At some point the oligarchic structure around Putin will be frightened, they have a lot to lose. To what end? What will they gain from invading Eastern Ukraine and supporting their separatists? Do they even have control of events, or is this anti-Ukraine rebellion taking on a life of its own? How much Russian treasure and world prestige must be sacrificed? And for what elusive gain? These are question still left unanswered as any perceived gains are overshadowed by the costs.
Crimea was a cake-walk. Eastern Ukraine, with Poroshenko's military defenses to secure Ukraine's territorial integrity, has proven problematic for Russia. No clear gains in Moscow's support of the separatists, or gangs, seem evident. Donetsk is now the key focus of operations, where Ukrainian forces are about to take control. For Russia, short of a full invasion of Eastern Ukraine, there is no possible victory. Ukraine's ambitions are to join with the West, with which they are already allied psychologically and culturally, as it wants to become more a part of Europe. This leaves Russia's empire with the East, cementing relations with China and Iran, the Caucasus and possibly North Korea, further turning Russia away from Europe. The world of Pushkin, Dostoevsky, and Tchaikovsky is being pushed away from Europe. To their loss as Ukraine, after centuries of Russian association, most of it uneasy, is finally able to break free. Russia moves East, while Ukraine heads West.
Update, 22 August, 2014:
Russia could have chosen transparency and peace in eastern Ukraine, instead it chose duplicity and pain. The white trucks allegedly used to delivery aid have now entered Ukrainian territory, so have trespassed into a sovereign state without approval from Ukrainian authorities, raising the question of 'invasion', and without cooperation with international oversight of the Red Cross. Earlier inspections by reporters showed some of the trucks arrived near empty, which is puzzling. Why would half empty trucks, without bills of lading, be sent to the breakaway rebel held part of the country, except perhaps to evacuate personnel and equipment? In effect, these white trucks are now rogue, their contents still unknown, so may get caught in the cross-fire as Ukrainian military fights to regain control in the region. Also, why hasn't Ukraine sent in humanitarian aid to reconquered areas affected?
Further condemnation of this rogue action may mean added punishing sanctions adding to the pain Russians already feel from frozen bank accounts, travel restrictions, and economic embargo. This pain will especially be felt by the Russian oligarchs who are most affected by the sanctions. How much pain can they, and the people affected, stand in isolation as the West tightens sanctions? What will Moscow have gained from its duplicity, except further scorn proving Russia is an unreliable partner, both to its friends and trading partners? It's not a positive development, unless Russia decided to cut its losses and use the white trucks to evacuate. But at this time the breakaway rebels are unlikely to comply, which further raises the question of who is in charge. Perhaps Russia's support of the rebels in eastern Ukraine was a bet on the wrong horse? Sending in decoy white trucks may be a stalling tactic, hoping they get fired on so Russia can intervene militarily? Duplicity is thick in this cynical maneuver.
Russia's Putin would have gained more from a stable Ukraine, both politically and economically, so to have a viable partner. But he chose duplicity instead, and now the world will watch Russia's next moves with cold narrowed eyes. How much pain can they stand? Nobody wins, as Russia drifts further east into deeper isolation.
Also see: We Need To Tell The Truth About What Russia Is Doing In Ukraine
As the Ukraine crisis has intensified over the past six months, Russia has been developing a new form of warfare – inserting special forces, provoking, and slowly, deliberately escalating the conflict.
Russian actions flout international law and the agreements that have assured stability in the post-cold war world.
The NATO summit in Wales this week offers the best, and perhaps last, opportunity to halt aggression in Europe without major commitments of NATO forces.
But to do so requires a deeper understanding of the situation and much more resolute allied action.
First, Vladimir Putin’s actions against Ukraine haven’t been “provoked”.
They are part of a long-term plan to recreate a greater Russia by regaining control of Ukraine and other states in the “near abroad”....
Six months on, in Putin's bid for Ukraine - 4 September, 2014
The trouble with being an alpha wolf is that when the wolf pack spots weakness, they turn on you. This may be happening in Russia now, where Putin's war on Ukraine is souring as the West rejects his duplicitous 'non involvement' by Russian forces bolstering the eastern Ukraine pro-Russian separatists, Ukrainian forces putting up a heroic fight, NATO pressuring, and new sanctions by EU and US are about to be imposed on his cronies. Now he wants to negotiate 'peace', or at minimum a cease fire. Other than taking Crimea, his Ukrainian adventure to rebuild the Russian empire is stalling, without clear gains. The wolf pack is feeling the pinch of sanctions, where large wealth is lost, the oligarchs are starting to nip at his heels. They are unhappy, their wives are unhappy, and new economic sanctions will enlarge the unhappy pack; at any moment they can turn on him. This is bad for Putin, so he needs to 'negotiate' with Kiev.
This undeclared, proxy war by Russia on Ukraine is failing to achieve its goals. Rather, the losses to Putin's oligarchic cronies are beginning to feel greater than the gains. Their alpha pack leader is weakening. While the West readies its next round of sanctions, travel bans, canceled contracts, frozen assets, financial restrictions, and generally treating Russia as a backwards pariah state (with nuclear weapons like Pakistan and North Korea), the pack is getting restless. That is the real Achilles heel in the Russian adventure on Ukraine. Whether or not the pro-Russia separatists in Donetsk understand this is immaterial. Once they lose support of Moscow, it is game. And once Ukraine is accepted into NATO, it is game over.
How will it end? As Putin said, he cannot forecast the ending outcome. But be may have meant his own.
22 November 2014: Steady as she goes... One year since Maidan revolution.
West seeks 'regime change' in Russia? Not realistic, sounds like cracks of panic.
* * *
5 December, 2014, Nearly a year has gone by since Yanukovych's Russia-backed government fell, then followed by separatist unrest in eastern Ukraine... And this is what we see, that it is the West's fault that eastern Ukraine is occupied by pro-Russian separatists? Have Russia's ambitions on Ukraine gone delusional?
Russia’s Putin Accuses West Of Provoking Ukraine Crisis
The next step is NATO's.
A year later, the West is still confused on Putin's imperial ambitions: UK and Europe 'badly misread Russia' - BBC
The report claimed that for too long the EU's relationship with Moscow had been based on the "optimistic premise" that Russia was on a trajectory to becoming a democratic country.
The result, it said, was a failure to appreciate the depth of Russian hostility when the EU opened talks aimed at establishing an "association agreement" with Ukraine in 2013.
Mr Cameron rejected claims Britain "sleepwalked" into the crisis in Ukraine.
JUNE 05, 2015
Ukraine Crisis: Ukraine's War Is Back... And so it goes like a festering wound as more die...
Also see: One Hundred Years War
Jus Gentium - Law of Nations
|Posted on Thursday, July 31, 2014 - 02:51 pm: |
Jus Gentium - The Law of Nations
Roman law - Jus Gentium
In classical antiquity, the ius gentium was regarded as an aspect of natural law (ius naturale), as distinguished from civil law (ius civile).The jurist Gaius defined the ius gentium as what "natural reason has established among all peoples":
"Every people (populus) that is governed by statutes and customs (leges et mores) observes partly its own peculiar law and partly the common law of all mankind. That law which a people established for itself is peculiar to it and is called ius civile (civil law) as being the special law of that civitas (state), while the law that natural reason establishes among all mankind is followed by all peoples alike, and is called ius gentium (law of nations, or law of the world) as being the law observed by all mankind. Thus the Roman people observes partly its own peculiar law and partly the common law of all mankind."
The idea of a Universal Law carried over from the Roman period into Europe's Medieval legal theory based on canon law, later adopted by the West, as the international Law of Nations. The ideas originating in Classical times were further codified by Emmerich de Vattel in his Law of Nations, which led to modern ideas of International Law, here summarized as:
International law is the set of rules generally regarded and accepted as binding in relations between states and between nations. It serves as a framework for the practice of stable and organized international relations. International law differs from state-based legal systems in that it is primarily applicable to countries rather than to private citizens. National law may become international law when treaties delegate national jurisdiction to supranational tribunals such as the European Court of Human Rights or the International Criminal Court. Treaties such as the Geneva Conventions may require national law to conform.
As in American philosopher and historian Will Durant's "The Story of Civilization: Part III, Caesar and Christ, A History of Roman Civilization and of Christianity from their beginnings to A.D. 325":
Non-citizens in Rome were not entitled to the privileges and protections afforded to the citizen under Roman Law. The institution of citizenship placed the individual on a status coequal with the state. The alien or "denizen" was placed on a different level. The ius Civile, or Roman Civil Law, absolutely excluded non-citizens from the "nexum" or mode of contract and conveyance, rendering the foreigner incapable of dominium. He could not have the benefit of Quiritarian law. He could not sue by the Sacramental Action, (a mode of litigation.) Necessity in adjudicating conflicts involving foreigners required the creation of a separate body of law.
The concept of Universal Law is that it applies equally to all people of the world, according to their status as citizens of a state, or alien visitors to that state. Though both have equal access to just laws, they are treated as separate entities regarding their respective rights according to the laws of the land. Where citizens are placed as co-equal with the state, non citizens are treated as subjects of the state. Both have rights of protecting their persons and property, including their natural human rights, but the obligations of the state towards either must differ. Citizens may sue the state, for example, whereas alien visitors may not.* This same principles carries over to international affairs, in principle, where nations may sue each other as equals, but they may not violate the right of the state to exist. Violation of this principle would necessitate for states to presuppose the rights of some states to be greater than that of others. Same as an alien visitor cannot sue the state, nor can a foreign state challenge its right to being a state. All this carries over into modern inter-state conflicts, such as now witnessed in Ukraine or Israel.
The origins of nations in Earth's turbulent history are complex. Though some are formed by treaty, most had been formed by war and conquest, where the victors defined their boundaries. What holds nations together, besides political will, are the commonalities of language and culture. These may include ethnicity and religions, where the people of a nation feel part of a common weal. If diverse cultures and languages are brought together, as witnessed in the Americas, then a common ethos and legal governance will bond the people into a nation. Either way, whether by treaty or conflict, the people will feel themselves better served as a common nation by its resulting structure and governance, than by being subject to a foreign power. This is especially true of Ukrainians who prefer to preserve their union as a common people, without interference from foreign power, in particular of its powerful neighbor, Russia. The same exists in Israel, though its history be very different, as the nation was formed by mandate of the United Nations, that they now feel themselves a common people. Their Arab state neighbors, most also formed by mandate, do not feel inclined to accept Israel's nationhood or territorial integrity, especially territory lost to them through war. It matters not that the original Arab lands were conquered by them in Islam's early gains through expansion by war; this is conveniently forgotten, that all these lands were once Christian states fallen to Mohammed and his armies. Arabs now feel themselves a common Umma bonded by language, culture and religion, the nation states being a recent post-Ottoman creation; the exception is the Palestinian Arab territories, which were left pending in limbo, so no natural state emerged. Today's Palestinian refugees are essentially a people without a nation, belonging to neither Egypt, Jordan, nor Syria, so they are citizens of no state.
Under a natural Law of Nations, Ukraine and Israel have international legitimacy as states; the Palestinian Arabs kept in perpetuity as refugees do not. There is the crux of the problem in the Middle East, where warring factions, including in Iraq and Syria, have not accepted the sovereignty of nations as formed. The newly self-declare Caliphate, the Islamic State, feel themselves subject to no law, nor International Law, as they have declared their own law dictated by the Koran and Sharia, so do not respond to any benefits perceived as being part of an established state. They instead envision an international state without borders, where their laws dominate throughout the world, though such is untenable, as it has no common bond with the people's of the world. None would feel themselves better served, in a Jus Gentium sense, neither is there a common weal that would serve humanity except in the very narrow interest of imposing a Medieval brand of Islam on its subjects. The gains perceived would be illusory, and the peoples of the world would feel themselves ill served if it were imposed on them by force. Modern human rights would be systematically violated, as there would be no freedom of speech, freedom of belief, freedom of conscience, equality before the law, gender equality, nor protection for minorities. In effect, the Islamic Caliphate, as now envisioned, is impossible. It violates every principle of the Law of Nations.
This leaves resolution of Middle Eastern conflicts to force, as there can be no treaties amongst unequals, so the victors will decide the boundaries of future states. Were there a Palestinian state, systematically rejected by the leaders of the refugees at Gaza and West Bank, there might have been a possibility of resolving the conflicts by mandate. But as the existence of Israel is consistently rejected by the Arab states, especially by Hamas, which has in its constitution the mandate to destroy Israel's Jewish state, so no such treaty of co-existence is forthcoming. This is the tragic failure of all efforts to bring the warring sides to negotiations, as the natural Law of Nations does not exist for them. Israel will not negotiate with those who would seek its destruction and not recognize it a state; Palestinians will not negotiate because they refuse to exist as a natural state. Tragically, there is no possible outcome that would lead to optimism.
In the case of Ukraine there is prospect for peace, though it would require Russia abandoning its ambitions of making it a client state, that Ukraine is not a 'foreign visitor' state within Russia. Peace is possible if, and only if, the Ukrainian people feel themselves better served by their union as a common nation rather than subject to a foreign interest. This demands reforms from within, economic and political stability, and observance of natural human rights. It also means making peace with its more domineering neighbor. Or in the words of de Vattel:
Nations being composed of men naturally free and independent, and who, before the establishment of civil societies, lived together in the state of nature, — Nations, or sovereign states, are to be considered as so many free persons living together in the state of nature.
It is a settled point with writers on the natural law, that all men inherit from nature a perfect liberty and independence, of which they cannot be deprived without their own consent. In a State, the individual citizens do not enjoy them fully and absolutely, because they have made a partial surrender of them to the sovereign. But the body of the nation, the State, remains absolutely free and independent with respect to all other men, and all other Nations, as long as it has not voluntarily submitted to them.
The same is true for Israel, that it exists not as a 'foreign state' within Arabia, but as its own nation. It would also apply, if it ever abandons belligerence to become a state, for the existence of the nation of Palestine. Then both can be part of the Universal Law of nations.
Also see: Opus Rex - HumanCafe, on Universal Principles
Thinking with Reason rather than Emotion
*(Jus Gentium applied) this just in: US Justice Department defends 'lawful' Trump travel ban
Winning war on terror
|Posted on Thursday, August 28, 2014 - 03:24 pm: |
The modern war on guerrilla insurgencies, world wide terrorism; and cancer - how it can be won.
This is a fight to win, not to contain. The war on so-called 'popular' wars involving rebel insurgencies, guerrilla war, and fanatical religious terrorism, is to fight it as if it were a War on Cancer. Quote Wikipedia:
The War on Cancer refers to the effort to find a cure for cancer by increased research to improve the understanding of cancer biology and the development of more effective cancer treatments, such as targeted drug therapies.
This approach to fighting cancer, or insurgencies, can be compared to a pincer strategy, where they are attacked on two fronts simultaneously. One fight is from above, where the source of fuel is suppressed. For cancer, this normally means to restrict blood flow to the cancer affected area; for insurgencies it means suppressing financial and material support. This strategy aims to stop the spread of cancer, or insurgency, by starving it. The lower pincer is at the grass roots, where cancer cells are targeted specifically with medication, or the 'popular' support for insurgency is quelled at its source. The cancer is fought with radiation, chemotherapy, and genetic pre targeted therapy; for insurgencies, it is to monitor and suppress preaching that inflames the passions of the insurgents, to combat propaganda. Both pincer approaches must be further supported by research (as in quote above), where the causes and reasons for the disease are understood in depth, and where this understanding is used with intelligence to prevent its spread, or stop it at its source. These three methods combined in a concerted effort to combat the pathology must be pursued consistently until all traces of its development are halted.
On a world stage, the guerrilla insurgencies find root in poorly functioning societies. The rebels in eastern Ukraine, or Boko Haram in Nigeria, or the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq, or Al Shabab, Al Qaeda, Taliban, Hezbollah, etc., are all made possible by weaknesses exploited in the host societies. Poorly led government, confused national policy, and economic failures all give fertile soil in which these insurgencies can take root and grow; in cancer, the host body's immune system is compromised, so cancer can develop. These pathologies exist with us all the time, where the body's immune system eliminates cancerous cells continually; in healthy societies, there are checks and balances in government, market economies, and intellectual debate that keep such pathologies at bay. Without a strong underlying system in place, whether biological or societal, the host is at risk. For this reason, intelligence and research are paramount to combat these pathologies.
The commonality of fighting both cancer and insurgencies is that both need support from outside sources as well as 'popular' acceptance from the local source. Governments must focus their attention on what is brewing beneath the surface, whether from preachings at the mosque to inflame insurgents, or 'popular' sentiments to aid and abet them (such as seen in present day recruitment of jihadis in Europe and the West); doctors must identify when patient lifestyles, such as obesity or unhealthy diets, lack of exercise (especially in an aging population), puts persons at risk for cancer. Intelligence is key, if these pathologies are to not take root. Outside sources in cancer may include environmental pollutants; in insurgencies it usually involves foreign powers. Clearly in Ukraine, Russia is the source. In North Africa or the Middle East, the foreign support is more shadowy, most likely stemming from Iran, the United Arab Emirate, Qatar, and Saudi Arabia. These foreign supports must be confronted if the insurgencies be prevented. Stopping of funding and transfer of weapons is paramount in combating the rebels and their guerrilla wars. Funding of hostile minorities in host countries, whether from financial support for rebel groups or funding mosques preaching religious war, is the other root cause that must be addressed. Both pincers must be proactive at the start, if guerrilla styled insurgencies are to be stopped.
When nations fight nations and armies are mobilized, the enemy is clearly identified. Not so when fighting guerrilla insurgencies, or cancer, as the enemy is shadowy without clear markings or borders. Therefore, diplomatic solutions are limited, containment only temporary. This war is fought to win.
In sum, there are 6 key weapons against such war fronts, both social and medical, which must be met if there is hope of conquering these worldwide pathologies:
1. Stop all outside sourcing and empowerment of conditions.
2. Address underlying grievances or pathological conditions.
3. Monitor conditions at their basic root source.
4. Intelligent understanding of underlying causes, what fuels them.
5. Quarantine or isolate conditions when necessary.
6. Persistence and continuance.
With persistence and consistent pressure the world can win against these modern pathologies. The rest of the solution is military.
See also: Islam needs a 'Council of Nicea'
Massacre at French 'Charlie Hebdo' Magazine Office
BBC News: Latest updates on Charlie Hebdo attack - condemnations from around the world, including Egypt.
It’s Not Just Islam, It’s the Tribal Mentality
|Posted on Thursday, January 15, 2015 - 02:20 pm: |
What to do with the 'village idiot'?
If non violent, the village idiot is merely a human caricature, to be loved, or helped, not pitied, with no need to be restrained. He may be an endearing amusement, or an unfortunate, and harmless. But otherwise, if malicious, even in small ways, the village idiot could be an annoyance that at times must be constrained. For example a graffiti artist who defaces public places would be restrained or punished as a public nuisance. Or a hack who defaces web pages (including malicious posts, like on Wikipedia, for example) would be caught, so his defilement would be stopped from further damage. His public annoyance would be sanctioned and barred from further malicious actions. But it gets more sinister, if the village idiot mentality takes on greater proportions than merely a public nuisance, even an amusing nuisance, then the village must come together to address a deeper problem.
So is it on a larger scale in public life, whether a prominent person making embarrassing gaffs, or a preacher teaching hate of anyone, or a politician lying, there is greater damage to society at large, and such actions must be condemned immediately. The 'village idiot' mentality is potentially damaging to the smooth functioning of a social order, tolerated only on the periphery as a public divergence all understand to be outside the norm.
But if, for example, the fool takes to plan an attack on government officials (BBC article), or anyone, whether civilian or official, then it is our social duty to expose him and stop him. Any threats that involve causing harm to others, whether or not carried out, puts the idiot into a new category than merely public nuisance or amusement. Excusing such actions as misguided by "a good kid who was lost" does not absolve him from the responsibility of his actions, and so must be arrested and prosecuted. Unfortunately, the world is filled with misguided persons 'who are lost', and so there is a present danger of them executing their idiotic plans.
Though it is wrong to mock and ridicule the feeble of mind, it is necessary to lampoon those who would intend to do us harm, no matter their mental state. It is no insult to do so, sometimes with humor, no matter what their motives, even if religiously inspired, if theirs is a public danger. It is for the greater social responsibility to not excuse our social idiots to prevent them from doing harm. We can exercise compassion, because he is an idiot, to a point. But beyond compassion, the village idiot who is a potential danger to society must be removed from it.
It is a sad testimony that today's world is well represented with public idiocy, for it seems our freedoms, tolerance and good will, have let them proliferate. But it is socially irresponsible to let them have free reign in our midst. It must be made clear that social idiocy will not be tolerated if it means harm to ordinary citizens and their protectors, or our government representatives. Without hesitation, we must stand together on this. They must and will be stopped.
Well, that's Africa
|Posted on Wednesday, February 04, 2015 - 01:53 pm: |
Well, that's Africa...
Whenever horrible news rises out of Africa, like the desperate survival from Islamic militants attacking villagers and killing all they could find, the helpless and children, men killed while their daughters and wives are taken as slaves, this is in modern times, there is a temptation to shrug and think "well, this is Africa". The Arab African slave trade goes back centuries, so what is different now? Hasn't sectarian and tribal fighting always been part of Africa's history? So when Boko Haram attack villagers in Baga in Nigeria, at the Chad border, and slaughter them or take the women as captive slaves, is it really still stirring news, or have we grown inured to it, and just say that this is Africa? The horrors continue, the media faithfully reports it, but the reading audience is growing cold. Ebola is making a come back, but we shrug. Even back in European Colonial days there was not the wholesale slaughter we see almost daily today. Why Africa?
There are many other attacks on Christians and other religions around the world today, such as written in Winter of Slaughter. This is not mere tribalism between pastoralists, who often are Muslim, and farmers, who are mostly Christians. This is ethnic cleansing at its worst, where the followers of the most violent tenets of Islam attack all they deem 'non-believers', including each other if deemed not believing enough. When in history, not only African history, had such savagery been unleashed? When Arab slavers captured and sold to other slave traders some 12 million Black African? Probably not, as they were a valuable commodity. Was it during the European occupation in Heart of Darkness? At least European colonials left a legacy of building, charitable works, churches and hospitals, schools and infrastructure, much of which is being ground down into dust. Railroads gave way to corrupt officialdom, bridges to petty tyranny. And what of the millions of Black Africans who are decent human beings, loving and caring of their families, of each other, who wish to do good, to see their world improve? Are they to be banished to a fatalism, that this is Africa?
Africa should not be the abandoned continent. It is, after all, the birthplace of the whole of humanity. And what of the devastation of wildlife to poachers? Should we not preserve the greatest legacy of life this continent has to offer? It deserves better than a shrug, "Oh well, this is Africa."
Also see: The Dark World of the Arab Child Slave Trade
Born to fly in South Sudan - BBC News
Palestinian self determination
|Posted on Saturday, February 07, 2015 - 01:45 pm: |
The Palestinian Right to Self Determination Question.
Refugee camp of West Bank
In UN resolution of 1974 it says:
After the 1967 Arab-Israeli war, the United Nations Security Council unanimously passed resolution 242 calling for Israeli withdrawal from the territories occupied during the war, in exchange for "termination of all claims or states of belligerency" and "acknowledgement of sovereignty, territorial integrity and political independence of every state in the area". The Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), which had been formed in 1964, strongly criticized the resolution, saying that it reduced the question of Palestine to a refugee problem.:18
In September 1974, 56 Member States proposed that “the question of Palestine” be included as an item in the General Assembly’s agenda. In a resolution adopted on 22 November 1974, the General Assembly affirmed Palestinian rights, which included the "right to self-determination without external interference", "the right to national independence and sovereignty", and the "right to return to their homes and property". These rights have been affirmed every year since.:24
This in essence remains the stand off between Israel and the Arab lands of Gaza and the West Bank. There had been a dozen or so efforts since the 1967 Arab-Israeli war to find a solution to resolving the Palestinian problem, of their self determination, but to date none had yielded a credible solution. In each case, one or both parties refused the conditions for a credible peace. The obstacles encountered in the past 45 years of negotiations had failed mainly on these four sticking points:
There are numerous issues to resolve before a lasting peace can be reached, including the following:
* Borders and division of the land;
* Strong emotions relating to the conflict on both sides;
* Palestinian concerns over Israeli settlements in the West Bank;
* Status of Jerusalem;
* Israeli security concerns over terrorism, safe borders, incitements, violence;
* Right of return of Palestinian refugees living in the Palestinian diaspora.
Of these six, the main issues that are beyond meaningful negotiations are: 1) Jerusalem as the capital of a future Palestinian state; 2) division of land back to the 1967 borders; and 3) the unconditional right of return to formerly Arab occupied lands. The fourth, which is essentially the right of Israel's existence is an ideological issue, inherently emotional and unresolvable, so should be kept off the table. The issue of security is an ongoing problem. Until there is a politically and economically viable, and trustworthy Palestinian state, the right of Israel's existence is not a condition; Arab Islamic values cannot allow it, since in their Koranic value system, no land conquered by them can ever revert back to original (infidel) inhabitants, for all eternity; hence, from Spain to France, to Italy and the Balkans, to Eastern Europe, Islamic ideology forbids land cessation and forever sees these as targets for future reconquests. So this issue is off the table on religious grounds, and need not be resolved at this time, as they cannot be resolved short of military reconquest.
But of the first three, resolutions can be achieved, though it will require solidly firm positions in negotiations. Firstly, Israel exists as a viable and functioning state; Palestine does not. Primary is lands reconquered from the Arab war of
1967 against Israel, whether or not accepted by UN resolutions, cannot be surrendered back to the Palestinian authorities, as by their own logic, that once conquered they cannot be returned. This of necessity leaves out Eastern Jerusalem as the Palestinian capital; it also negates the return to pre-1967 borders, as these were lost in the Arab-Israel war. So this leaves the issue of who controls the West Bank, also conquered land. The Gaza had been returned, Jewish settlements dismantled, and Israeli forces removed. But the events that followed militate against doing the same in West Bank, for the results were counter-productive; the constant barrage of rockets launched by Hamas on Israel proves this is not a viable solution. Second, the right of return is possible only in a controlled, non-confrontational manner. It would necessitate economic exchange for those who claim descent from the original Arabs who were evicted from their lands, or whose families fled the Arab-Israeli conflicts since 1967 (not 1947, as the clock was reset with the subsequent war) and who have legitimate claims to their properties. They should be allowed to repurchase their homesteads, but that only, and only if paying current (not 1967) prices for the properties; and the returnees must swear allegiance to the Israeli state if they are not to be militant and treasonous combatants within Israel. Third, the question of Israel's right to exist is fundamentally beyond negotiating, and largely symbolic, so in reality irrelevant as a given. Neither party will ever yield on this point at this time in history. So the balance of whether an Israel-Palestine dual state solution can exist rests on the remaining negotiable conditions, which are the right of selective return, and the administration of the West Bank.
Gaza is off the table in these negotiations, as it has proved itself a hostile state. A final resolution of the two state solution would cast them free, and they would exist as an independent, self determined Arab state, their borders open, conditional upon two factors: 1) they do not accept foreign weapons or combatants, and 2) they cease attacking Israel (regardless of whether they accept its existence); these two conditions would be monitored by a multinational consortium to prevent weapons and combatants from foreign sources delivered to Gaza, and any military activity would be considered an act of war. But that leaves the difficult issue of West Bank.
The right of return issue has been addressed, that it is conditional and economic. However, any returnees who prove hostile will be deported to any country that would accept them. The West Bank administration would be conditional on who is best able to manage its governing responsibilities of just government and guarantees of equality and human rights. At this time, there has not yet been proof positive from he Palestinian Authorities with facts on the ground to protect the religious rights of people from persecution, no matter their beliefs; Israel has succeeded in such protection. Also, economic viability cannot be assured under a hostile and corrupt administration, so the governorship of the West Bank has not proven viable under current conditions. The alternative is it becomes an annexed state of Israel, or a governed province of Jordan. The Jewish settlements must be acknowledged and protected, regardless of who is the administration, if their rights are to be equally protected under the law; the West Bank's constitution must spell this out in advance and protecting inhabitants enforced. If this is achievable, the West Bank would become its own state with its own citizenship and economic freedoms. However, same as Gaza, they must be monitored for foreign hostile influence, especially as it applies to delivery of weapons and hostile combatants. Again, regardless of who administers it, Israel retains the right to military options should the West Bank Palestinian authorities fail.
So in summation, the roadmap to Israel-Palestine Peace is a firm position on the two items that are not on the negotiations table: "No" to Jerusalem and pre-1967 borders; otherwise, it would default to a roadmap to future war. The two items that are on the table are the right if return and the West Bank, both of which can find workable solutions with the help of an international consortium military and humanitarian involvement. The third issue of the right of existence is not an issue at this time, as it is an ideological question, not a political one.
The Palestinian authorities will not yield on these issues easily, nor will their Arab supporters. But this is the only viable path to resolving the more than half century of conflict in the Middle East between Jews and Islamic Arabs. The important factor to a sustainable peace, when achieved, is to incapacitate the ability of foreign hostile influences, such as delivery of weapons and combatants, if this roadmap to Peace is to be achievable. The right of self determination by the Palestinians is achievable, and doable with dignity, as per conditions listed above. The rest is then in God's hands.
Also see: A New World Confederation
New West Bank Palestinian city that lacks water - BBC
A dissenting point of view: LET’S CREATE A REAL PALESTINIAN STATE -Daniel Greenfield
Let’s create a real Palestinian state instead. And I don’t mean the PLO’s President for Life Mahmoud Abbas going down to the UN to give another speech. Abbas is on his 11th year of a 4-year term. The US spent $4.5 billion promoting “Palestinian democracy” and the last PLO election was ten years ago.
'Out of Context' paradox
|Posted on Friday, April 24, 2015 - 06:16 pm: |
When "out of context" is out of context.
The usual interpretation of "out of context" is that a particular statement or quote is disassociated from a larger written or spoken context of what was being expressed. This usually means that the quote misrepresents the true intent of what was being said, so it skews the message in some biased manner to benefit a particular point of view, itself not necessarily shared by the author's message. However, there may be other ways to use "out of context" where the purpose for claiming this is itself skewed to deceive or obfuscate rather than clarify what is being said. This form of claiming a quote or statement 'out of context' may be a clever way to shroud in subtle ways the message to confuse and conceal its true meaning.
One way is to construct an argumentation-logic fallacy, where what is being said, intentionally or unintentionally, promotes a meaning other than what the full context aims to express. This in effect is a way to construct a lie from the truth as it would otherwise be understood, hence it is a misquote. Another way is to claim something is "out of context" so the true meaning remains hidden from our understanding of what is being said. The two are different, where one is simply a false argument or misquote, while the other hides the argument in a kind of paradox, where our understanding is cloaked in what we perceive it to mean while meaning something else. An example of this is where the P5+1 are negotiating with Iran over its developments of nuclear energy, where Iran claims its nuclear program is for "peaceful" purposes while the world thinks it is for development of nuclear weapons. This claim could be taken "out of context" in that what Iran describes as 'peaceful' may not agree with how the rest of the world understands it. For example, is making the bomb to eliminate what they deem a threat, like Israel, so their region will be rid of their perceived enemy a form of "peace" in their thinking? That's a subterfuge with intent to deceive if so. To annihilate a perceived enemy is not peaceful as we understand it; but it may be 'peaceful' for them. This term "peaceful" is therefore "taken out of context" of how Iran sees its actions. The same can be said of Russia's involvement in eastern Ukraine, where they deny involvement. But denial of clear involvement is 'out of context' if Russia's intent with "volunteers" and armaments is meant to subvert Ukraine's stability. In effect, such denial is a lie.
It can also be said that quoting religious text, such as Koranic verses advocating warfare against "non-believers", as often claimed by Islamic clerics, can be out of context. But the 'context' in this case is the audience being addressed, where non-believers are not meant to understand the true nature of what is being said; it is not for their ears. The "out of context" claim is not that the text is missing the full meaning of the Koranic quote, but rather that the quote is addressed to a select audience of "true believers", and not to infidels, i.e., the rest of us 'non-believers'. This is a sinister use of terms, where what means one thing in our common understanding means something entirely different in theirs. Even the narrow context of "there is no compulsion in religion" can become a delicate balancing act between interpreting it as true non-coercion on the one hand, and as 'necessary' coercions (to advance the jihad cause, for example) on the other; though conversely, the 'out of context clause' can also be used to justify a "true non-coercion" interpretation of sacred texts by their religious jurisprudence, if they choose to do so. Such interpretation would invalidate coercion for a cause because it too would be 'out of context'. Therefore, out-of-context can be a double edged sword, where on the one hand it is meant to confuse, while on the other hand it is to interpret within clearer context what was confused: viz., "no compulsion" vis-a-vis "war on the infidels", can either mean what it says, or its opposite. In the end, if the out-of-context clause is itself "out of context", that it means to confuse rather than clarify, then it is simply a distortion of the truth, a lie.
Whenever anyone claims something said or written is "out of context", warning bells should go off. Is it truly misquoted, or incomplete, or is it to throw off the scent and distort its true meaning? When "out of context" is itself out of context, beware. The truth may be the lie twisted in subtle ways, obscured to keep our understanding off balance. Then, in that context, it is paradox, that the lie itself becomes the truth.
Also see: The Messiah Paradox
Also see: Hiding behind an Invisibility Cloak
Large Scale Human Dysfunctions
|Posted on Friday, July 10, 2015 - 01:34 pm: |
Large Scale Human Dysfunctions, from massive debt to mass murder.
Debt is a useful tool, it had been present since ancient times, but it had always been a two edged sword. When used prudently, debt is a dynamic engine of economic human activity; but when debt is abused, it becomes a Damocles sword that mercilessly cuts at our achievements. There is a balance to debt that must be carefully observed, or the whole sinks of its own weight, and in the end it often turns to violence. Same as on a personal scale, large scale debt must observe certain truths: if it can be repaid with increased human productivity, it leads to economic growth; but if it overwhelms economic productivity, it leads to economic collapse. If a person assumes consumer debt, say to buy a house or car, the evaluation of debt sustainability is determined by their level of income, which is either sufficient to service debt repayment, both principle and interest, or the consumer goes underwater, is unable to repay the debt. This latter necessitates to either extend the debt or renegotiate the terms. On a national or international scale, the viability of the debt is determined by the economy's ability to generate enough income, hence its economic productivity, as to whether or not the debt is viable. If it is not, as has been the case with some countries, presently the Greek debt crisis for example, rather than debt enhancing economic activity, it begins to shrink it, where the repayments exceed economic productivity. Then we are faced either with economic catastrophe or, as was done in biblical, ancient times during a proclaimed Debt Jubilee, debt is relieved in part or in full with amnesty. This may be a situation faced today by many world governments as their debts have reached unsustainable levels.
When debt on a large economic scale is created, usually by 'inflating' the bank assets via creating money credit backed by bank deposits, e.g., savings, there is a substantial increase in 'capital' to employ and invest in future economic activity. This had been used since antiquity, where major public works, or wars, were financed either through private wealth or debt. Usually this debt is financed with obligation instruments, promissory notes or bonds, so the terms of debt repayment are formalized. But this 'new money' is in fact fictional, since it adds to the national stock of money only in an illusory manner; which unlike private wealth, it has to be repaid. If the ensuing economic activity leads to increased production and productivity, then the investment is successful; if not, then it results in economic and personal loss. This loss, of necessity, is borne by the savings of those who invested in the debt bonds, so such loss impacts their capital directly. It follows that such loss of savings leads to economic shrinkage, capital is destroyed, and the whole economy suffers. This sequence of events is unyielding, had been true throughout history, where nations fell into economic decline, weakened to the point where whole civilizations collapsed. The first to suffer such capital collapse are the savers, by extension those who saved for their future years, e.g., pensioners, so it leads to social discontent. If serious enough, it ultimately leads to mass violence, and society goes into an economic down spiral.
In modern times, such economic shrinkage usually leads to equities market collapse, where the market exchange senses increased risk, lower productivity, and higher interest rates as savers and financial institutions seek compensation for increased risk. This then leads to further economic instabilities as the whole suffers from the burdensome costs of increased risk, and economic activity slows, perhaps leading to economic depression. This is the reality faced today with the high leverage of national debt in the industrialized nations, which spills further into lesser developed nations. This then becomes a vicious cycle, where the weaker nations suffer social instability, combined with desperate economic measures or dictatorial rule rife with theft and corruption, which leads to mass migrations; all of which relates back to the more developed nations, now engulfed with alien immigrants, which ultimately leads to social dysfunctions there. As the cycle progresses, violence becomes an 'end game', so all suffer. We are witnessing this today in Europe, Australia and New Zealand, and North America. Throw in aggressive religious fanaticism, and we have the mass murder carnage witnessed in the Islamic world today, persecution of 'infidel' peoples, especially Christians in the Middle East and Africa, as well as religious persecutions of Christians, Hindus and Buddhists, and secterian Muslims in Asia. It has become a world phenomenon of social instability, in some countries of total governmental and social collapse, such as Somalia, Libya, and Syria, which then spills over into adjacent countries. This is the unhappy ending of massive, unbridled world debt.
In effect, a world debt bondage leads to a resurgence of what had been institutionally abolished, a modern day slavery. The violence against universal human rights leads to further social discontent, and the vicious cycle continues. In the past, such cycles were often broken with massive public works to once again harness the power of human productivity, which if mandated by the state often demanded public sacrifice; these demands, if failed, may in turn lead to wars, which themselves demand more sacrifice in blood and treasure. At the end, when the violence subsides, or is exhausted, a new cycle of reconstruction once more engages the world economies. This inevitably revives the use of institutionalized debt, which if handled in a prudent manner resumes the cycle of economic gains, productivity, formation of capital, and a general sense of economic well being. But if the lessons of history are forgotten, and debt creation becomes imprudent, the inevitable cycle repeats itself, until it once more ends in mass violence. This is the bitter truth of debt, that if used well, it offers economic benefits; but if abused, it ends in consuming capital, and civilizations come crashing down. Then, the only salvation from this vicious cycle, as kings of old discovered, is debt amnesty, a modern day version of Debt Jubilee.
This just in: Ukraine 'secures 20% debt write-off' - Greece to get 50% write off on private debt
When "frustration" leads to random murder by Daniel Greenfield, Frontpage
Psychology behind the San Bernardino terror attack
Death on our Oceans
|Posted on Monday, August 17, 2015 - 01:58 pm: |
Death on our Oceans, and global warming.
Phytoplankton in the ocean produce dimethyl sulfide (DMS) that is converted to sulfate aerosols (SO4), which influence the amount of sunlight reflected by clouds.
Life as we know it would not exist on Earth were it not for the planet's oceans. From the beginning, microbial life in the oceans had 'terra formed' our world into the life forms we know today, from microorganism to complex multi-celled evolved life, including us humans. Per link:
This means that were such oceanic life forms destroyed, particularly oxygenic life forms, such as plankton and other oxygen producing plants, our atmosphere would be compromised, reverting back to anoxygenic life forms unable to produce life sustaining oxygen. But before such a natural calamity occurs, there could be intermediary events that would likely compromise complex life's ability to sustain itself. It may be happening already.
The evolution of photosynthesis remade the Archaean Earth. Before photosynthesis, the air and oceans were anoxic. Now the air is a biological construction, a fifth of which is free molecular oxygen, and the ocean can sustain animal life even in the depths. The evolution, first of anoxygenic [not producing oxygen] and then of oxygenic [producing oxygen] photosynthesis, sharply increased the productivity of the biosphere. Oxygenic photosynthesis sustains free oxygen in the atmosphere. In the oceans, the beneficiaries of the first photosynthetic prokaryotes [bacteria and archaea] today range from cyanobacterial and algal plankton to large kelp. Wearing plants as landsuits, from tiny mosses to giant redwoods, cyanobacteria as chloroplasts have occupied the land. The oxygen emitted has allowed the evolution of animal life, to browse the plants and, in turn, to respire the CO2 that sustains photosynthesis.
There is prevalence today's discussions on global warming as climate change having adverse effects on our environment and planet welfare of human societies. It has been projected our ocean levels will rise over the next century inundating coastal cities, forcing populations to move higher inland, adversely affecting food production, causing mass human migrations, and perhaps causing chaotic weather conditions on the planet, all of which have high cost and negative future implications. But there may be a parallel development that had not gotten as much attention, that the oceanic flora may be getting degraded by a slow choking of reduced oxygen producing plankton, which may also be affecting future climate. This pollution related ocean life degradation is resulting from ocean dumping of waste, plastic debris breakdown into micro-plastic waste worldwide, untreated sewage discharge, overfishing destabilizing natural balances in the oceans, oil spills and other large scale industrial pollution; all of which are killing off oxygen producing life in the world's oceans. If these mass die offs are also impacting our planet's terra-forming activity, then there will be the inevitable degradation of life's sustainability on the planet. We may have already have hints of what that means.
First cause and effect of such die offs is an increase in atmospheric carbon dioxide as the planet's oceans falter in their ability to absorb excess carbon dioxide, which leads to global warming. From Oceanography in the 21st Century by Robert Steward:
Earth has a surface temperature that is just right for life. Water vapor from the ocean is essential for setting the earth's temperature.
The tropical ocean supplies almost all the water that falls on land.
The ocean absorbs half of the carbon dioxide released by our burning of fossil fuels. This reduces global warming caused by carbon dioxide.
So much heat is absorbed by the oceans, that the the warming of earth's surface by greenhouse gases is slowed down. 84% of the energy available to warm earth's surface has gone into the ocean during the 48 years from 1955 to 2003; 5% has gone into the land; 4% has gone into the atmosphere; and the remainder has gone into melting ice. (Levitus, 2005).
Second effect is the planet's oceans warming and the natural balances are disturbed, leading to weather extremes already experienced: colder winters and hotter summers, combined with more violent hurricane and typhoon storms, tornadoes, and flooding. Once these microbial 'terra-forming' balances are lost, our climates lose their ability to self-regulate and weather activity goes into more chaotic modes, with obvious adverse impact on human society. With over 7 billion human beings on the planet, massive food production shortages, mass and uncontrollable migrations, and likely resulting wars, the future century will face seriously disturbing challenges. The key issue being that global warming is not merely from fossil fuel generating green house gases, but also to an increasingly large extent from human pollution of our oceans. Kill plankton's ability to generate oxygen and our carbon dioxide footprint can grow exponentially.
We are all breathing and polluting, burning fires, using fossil fuel for energy, including producing vital electricity worldwide, and thus all are contributing to the world's environmental degradation by merely being here. If these human activities are also killing off terra-forming microbial life in our oceans, and all life from mollusks to whales, we are risking increasingly unbalanced climatic conditions, so our planet goes into a spiral of massive weather instability. This is tragic and perhaps not easily reversible, so the strains in human societies, and all life, may take decades to reverse the degradation. But it is doable, if we take a concerted world view of how to stem further mass die offs of oxygenic life in the ocean.
Human society had always worshipped its heroes, though the past half century seems to have been overshadowed with self pity, so the heroes lost their importance. But when crisis happens, and this death on our oceans is a slowly unfolding crisis, then our heroes must once more be publicly honored. There is much to be done to reverse global warming, not just cutting emission of green house gases, but also stemming the pollution gradually killing off life on our oceans. These oceans are the natural life support of our living biosphere and terra-formed global weather, so they are pivotal to life's survival on the planet. Turning to renewable resources energy production, especially solar energy, is upmost in future strategy, as is the leadership necessary for the global effort to do this. It is equally paramount to once more restore the natural microbial and biological health of our ocean environment, starting with cleaning up the megatons of plastic waste choking it. These will demand our heroes to save our planet, for without them our human societies will regress into mass chaos, which will lead to mass die offs. Perhaps this will happen regardless, as the deleterious effects of our planet's overpopulation had already begun, but with effort and intelligent action we can limit the damage done. In time, perhaps in the next century, a reversal will show itself to have begun. Death on our oceans is not just global warming and mass extinction, but the death of our civilization, and us with it.
Also see: Microbial life may be the key to macro-multicellular life
Hiding behind an Invisibility Cloak
|Posted on Sunday, September 06, 2015 - 04:23 pm: |
Hiding behind an Invisibility Cloak.
Imagine an ideology that forbids searching deeper into itself except for reading the basic tenets of such ideology. So in principle, any questions seeking answers outside the ideology are strictly discouraged, if not forbidden. Is this not a basic definition of 'dogma'? To ask questions outside the ideological tenets (to show contradictions, for example), is then considered inappropriate or disrespectful, even rude, and possibly punished severely for heretics who dare venture out. From the outside, such questions are met with silence or condemnation, or answers vague, so any who dare venture in are met with a cloak of 'invisibility', and no answers forthcoming, except those to convince the acolyte enshrined in dogma. In the secular world, such ideology challenge is usually political, challenging the politically correct, or where dissenters are punished; in religion it is heresy, or apostasy, often punished; and in the scientific world, such uncomfortable questions are usually shunned, demading mathematical proof, or branded 'pseudoscientific', so no dialogue ensues. This is the cloak of invisibility often assumed when dogma is questioned, where conversation stops. In all cases further questioning is met with 'out of context' rebuttals, meaning it is not even a question worth asking.
Now imagine further that rather than subscribing to the ideology's indoctrination of accepted dogma, there is reasonable cause to doubt their faith in it. If ideology is accepted on faith, no reasonable argument can be heard; it is simply forbidden. But if real evidence is discovered that could shake such faith, what is the outcome? Then there is usually a 'circling of wagons', where those in authority, or accepted mainstream, combine their forces to either refute or silence the intruders into their closed world. They might refer back to their scriptures, challenging to refute what they say; usually, this is a futile enterprise, as it falls on closed ears and minds. Worst case it leads to conflict and personal ad hominem attacks. Dogma is not to be argued with. In the religious world such argument can lead to circular reasoning, where it all doubles back to what scripture says. In the scientific world, unshakable tenets are extremely difficult to dislodge. So once again one is met with an invisibility cloak, and no new light can enter or escape. To persist is to invite wrath of the true believers, leading to derision or punishment.
In extreme cases, this cloak of invisibility keeps the population of believers in a somnambulist state of submission, where any who ask uncomfortable questions are immediately checked and confronted. To go against these self appointed 'authorities' is equivalent to going against their Deity. If the holy scriptures were revealed to appoint them to speak for the Deity, then no argument can win against them, as such arguments are now against the Deity. To push further merely pushes further into the Deity's domain, so the end result is punishment by the representatives of the Deity who are there to guard it. Deeper challenges merely engenders deeper retreat into the holy scriptures, if not punished outright. The ultimate fall back is 'death' to the apostate or infidel heretics, so no dialogue is possible.
Dogma is not to be challenged by those who are not qualified to challenge, meaning they are not well enough versed in it. That is the closed circle of invisibility that none can penetrate. The circle tightens completely onto a point when the final decree is that 'God wills it', or that it is 'predetermined', and though there may be historical, ontological, and circumstantial evidence to doubt this, the argument is closed. No matter how deep one digs, one comes up against the shadowy, reclusive and mythical, infinitely silent Deity, which absorbs all light of inquiry into an unfathomable black hole, itself the ultimate invisibility. If so, then God becomes the ultimate 'cloak of invisibility', the same hiding behind all clerics of dogma. And there is no argument with them, for it is like arguing the circumference of a point, which is beyond understanding. In short, one submits to an invisible, ideological black hole totally, and one which must be accepted on faith. Failure to submit to this is failure to believe in the ultimate invisibility cloak, for which there can be no winning argument, and therefore it becomes punishable, sometimes with death.
ADDENDUM: Caveat. It is unfortunate that Islam's holy scriptures command Taqiyya (lying) to the Infidels. By this same religious command, it is impossible to fully believe when Muslims address infidels, as it is pre-loaded with deceit, and the intent to deceive. Therefore, by their holy writ, infidels cannot accept anything said to them, as it is commanded by Allah. In effect, their word cannot ever be their bond, the worth of a man, as their commandments condemns them a priori.
Quran (16:106) - Establishes that there are circumstances that can "compel" a Muslim to tell a lie.
Quran (3:28) - This verse tells Muslims not to take those outside the faith as friends, unless it is to "guard themselves" against danger, meaning that there are times when a Muslim should appear friendly to non-Muslims, even though they should not feel that way..
Quran (9:3) - "...Allah and His Messenger are free from liability to the idolaters..." The dissolution of oaths with the pagans who remained at Mecca following its capture. They did nothing wrong, but were evicted anyway. (The next verse refers only to those who have a personal agreement with Muhammad as individuals - see Ibn Kathir (vol 4, p 49)
Quran (40:28) - A man is introduced as a believer, but one who had to "hide his faith" among those who are not believers.
Quran (2:225) - "Allah will not call you to account for thoughtlessness in your oaths, but for the intention in your hearts" The context of this remark is marriage, which explains why Sharia allows spouses to lie to each other for the greater good.
Quran (3:54) - "And they (the disbelievers) schemed, and Allah schemed (against them): and Allah is the best of schemers." The Arabic word used here for scheme (or plot) is makara, which literally means 'deceit'. If Allah is supremely deceitful toward unbelievers, then there is little basis for denying that Muslims are allowed to do the same. (See also 8:30 and 10:21)
Taken collectively these verses are interpreted to mean that there are circumstances when a Muslim may be "compelled" to deceive others for a greater purpose.
Hadith and Sira
Bukhari (52:269) - "The Prophet said, 'War is deceit.'" The context of this is thought to be the murder of Usayr ibn Zarim and his thirty unarmed men by Muhammad's men after he "guaranteed" them safe passage (see Additional Notes below).
Bukhari (49:857) - "He who makes peace between the people by inventing good information or saying good things, is not a liar." Lying is permitted when the end justifies the means.
Bukhari (84:64-65) - Speaking from a position of power at the time, Ali confirms that lying is permitted in order to deceive an "enemy."
Muslim (32:6303) - "...he did not hear that exemption was granted in anything what the people speak as lie but in three cases: in battle, for bringing reconciliation amongst persons and the narration of the words of the husband to his wife, and the narration of the words of a wife to her husband (in a twisted form in order to bring reconciliation between them)."
Finally, the circumstances by which Muhammad allowed a believer to lie to a non-spouse are limited to those that either advance the cause of Islam or enable a Muslim to avoid harm to his well-being (and presumably that of other Muslims as well). Although this should be kept very much in mind when dealing with matters of global security, such as Iran's nuclear intentions, it is not grounds for assuming that the Muslim one might personally encounter on the street or in the workplace is any less honest than anyone else.
The Taqiyya issue brings up an un-intended conundrum, such as occurred in the swearing in of London's new mayor, Sadiq Khan. An observant Muslim, Khan asked to place his hand on the Koran rather than the Bible in his swearing in ceremony. On the surface this is an innocent enough request, which in the spirit of all inclusive cultural and religious tolerance was accepted without reserve. However, underneath lurked a more sinister issue, one likely not held by Khan, that to swear on a holy book which endorses lying (Taqiyya at any level) prejudices the meaning of the oath sworn. This issue applies to any Muslim sworn to office in a country where the Christian Bible is the cultural norm for swearing allegiance to the office. Would this request be reciprocated? To swear an oath on a book other than the traditional Bible redefines the meaning of the oath, especially if the original swearing in is replaced with a book commanding (at times) lying. This may be genuinely unintentional, but in principle, how valid is the oath when there is this element of doubt?
Also see: Lying to protect
IRAN AFTER THE DEAL: the road ahead, addendum
|Posted on Tuesday, November 03, 2015 - 03:59 am: |
IRAN AFTER THE DEAL: the road ahead.
(Papers by ISPI, edited by Paolo Magri et al, 2015)
(Addendum notes - by Ivan D. Alexander)
Reference, book 4: In Search of a New Balance by Rouzbeh Parsi
Mr. Parsi writes:
Realities and realignments after the nuclear accord. (p. 71)
"In this regard, what the discussion of Syria and Yemen above show us is that Iranian foreign and security policy is reactive and, in a sense, opportunistic rather than strategic. There is a basic security doctrine: confront potential enemies in foreign theatres rather than at home, insist on global actors like the US staying out of the region and thus accentuate Iran’s geopolitical weight. But beyond this general approach the actual behaviour is much more pragmatic and reactive than the accompanying rhetoric would let on. Syria, for instance, has its own relevance for Iran, but Bashar al-Assad’s place within it is more of an open question than the rhetoric from Tehran would let on. The more hardline and security related Iranian officials are the most vociferous in explicitly equalising Iran’s support for Syria with standing by Assad. And they do so partly in reaction to Western insistence on Assad having to go. In short this is also part of the Iran-West dynamic within the security and ideological framework of Iranian domestic politics."
Another position paper by the ISPI think tank, same issue, different author, book 6. The Iran-Russia Entente: Marriage of Convenience or Strategic Partnership? by Clément Therme, (p.95) states:
Since the election of Hassan Rouhani to the Iranian presidency in 2013, Tehran’s policy towards Moscow has remained focused on the search for a ‘strategic partnership’. This was also the objective of the Ahmadinejad administration between 2005 and 2013. Nevertheless, given the critical discourse of Iranian reformist and so- called ‘moderate’ media during the conservative rule on this specific issue, one could argue that there is a lack of conviction of Iranian moderate and reformist factions regarding what should be the optimal Iranian strategy towards Moscow. While criticizing the Ahmadinejad administration, the reformist discourse targeted the ideological tenet driving Iranian strategy towards Moscow, namely antiwesternism, which contradicts Iranian national interests. Despite these critics, since his election Hasan Rouhani has pursued almost the same policy towards Russia as the Ahmadinejad administration. The use of the détente with the West in gen- eral and the European Union in particular to reinforce Iran’s position towards Russia in their asymmetric relationship, appears to be the main innovation of the Rouhani administration.
Bringing these two statements together, the common theme is that Iran wooing Russian interest in their regional affairs is more an opportunistic maneuver to keep foreign powers, particularly the US and Europe, off balance in their interests for the region, rather than a genuine interest of courting Russian support for the Islamic Republic. But the reality is more complicated when we consider how many players are involved in the region. Key players are Iran, Russia, the EU and US; next players are Turkey, Lebanon's Hezbollah (Iran proxy), Kurds, and the currently dysfunctional states of Iraq and Syria, Yemen; then are the Gulf Arab states, UAE, Qatar, and Saudi Arabia; finally there is Israel. All these players have an interest in developments vis-a-vis Iran, which are not necessarily in common, and their geo-political needs being perhaps divergent, but all would like to have an interest in post nuclear deal Iran's unfolding economic potential. This is the one area common to all players, including Iran itself. While their geo-political interests tend to pull in opposite directions to create, as self perceived, external balances of power, commercial trade benefits all parties. That seems to be the fundamental condition surrounding Iran today, and now that it is being released from the grip of sanctions, all players seem eager to take part in their future commercial and geo-political developments.
If we place Iran at the center of this schematic map, with the EU and US (the West) folded to one side and Russia folded to the other side, these then surrounded by Arab states and other players (Afghanistan, Central Asia nations), balanced by Israel, we get a rough map of how the counterbalanced powers hold each other in check, with Iran the centerpiece in this balance of power. In fact, Iran's Islamic Republic seems to relish its position as the center of world attention, as if highlighting the glory of its 1979 revolution; the sanctions were negative attention, but now the nuclear deal puts them (though they may yet run afoul of the agreement, and cheat) in a more positive light as a key player in the region. Russia is for now considered an expedient economic and political partner, but their vastly different ideological camps leaves this alliance open to amendment at any time; while Iran's opposition to the US and EU, mainly on ideological grounds (threatening 'death' to their nations, especially Israel), puts them ill at ease in courting their political alliance. Iran seems to prefer a more even balance of powers, pitting the West against Russia, with themselves the central fulcrum to lean whichever way favors their interests. And now that Russia had earned enmity from the West over its invasion (undeclared, and denied) into eastern Ukraine, this power instability between East and West plays perfectly into the Iranian viewpoint of the world, that with the world divided in its opposition to their Islamic ideology, they feel themselves superior. But underlying all this geo-political posturing remains the one common binding interest for all parties involved, their commercial interests. This is sought as eagerly by Iran, and its power oligarchs, as it is sought by Russia's, and by the commercial interests of the West, especially Europe. Opening up markets, gaining access to natural resources of oil and gas, as well as developing banking and consumer links; all these play out as a win-win for all parties involved. So all are motivated by this business common interest, though balanced out by their counter-leaning geo-political and ideological interests, to create the schematic map we have around Iran today, what gives it confidence that it is a key player on the world scene, certainly in the Middle East arena.
Now, what would happen if we slightly shifted this schematic map, where the counter-balanced powers of Russia and the West are shifted away from their mistrust and antagonism towards each other; imagine the sanctions against Russia, imposed after the Ukrainian adventure (with minimal gains except Crimea), are lifted and instead of antagonism, Russia and the West come closer together in their commercial and geo-political interests. Of course, this could only happen if Russia abandons its Ukrainian ambitions (of keeping Ukraine tightly in its sphere of influence) and let it drift naturally to the West (which it will do anyway, it already feeling itself a part of Europe). How would the map around Iran look then? Would Iran not feel themselves imbalanced in their geo-political posturing, more isolated from their secure counter-balanced interests, and more drifting on their ideological moorings? Would the Arab states, and Turkey, feel themselves allied with a fundamentalist Shia Iran, while they are ideologically Sunni? Though all may share common commercial interests, not so the geo-political, where they all tend to pull in different directions; hence the Iranian sought after balance of powers would be shifted. Syria and Iraq, and Yemen, are battlefields for power, so they are a separate category from these counterbalances. Then there is Israel, which having been threatened repeatedly with annihilation by Iran (a threat voiced must be taken seriously), will likewise see a West-Russia alliance more in its favor. That leaves Iran without the benefit of playing parties against each other, what gave it a privileged position in the region, and thus degrades it in status as a world player. All that is needed to unhinge the power balance, therefore, is for Russia and the West to revive economic and geo-political cooperation (easily done if Ukraine is resolved). And if done, Iran is then divested of its central power role in the region.
That new schematic map has the West and Russia on one side of Iran, folded against the Arab states, Afghanistan and Turkey on the other side, so a new balance of power now dominates the region. The nuclear deal now takes on a different perspective. It becomes a second fiddle to the main thrust of Iran's balance of power play. That power play will be resolved in Syria, and secondarily in Iraq. Whatever destabilization is taking place there, what is a fertile ground for the Islamic State, so called, with all its brutality, mass population displacement, human suffering brought by ISIS, the real play is assumption of regional domination. Russia seems to understand this, so Assad is supported; America and Europe seem more confused, not meaningful players, as they appear naive of the forces, both cultural and religious, at play. Same with Yemen, which is another power play, where Iran wants to wrest control from Arab States, especially Saudi Arabia, in its 'balancing of powers' scenario. None of these states trust each other, least of all Iran, so they all jockey for positions of balanced destabilization, something American interest seem to fail to grasp; but it is not lost on the Russians, who play the same Byzantine game. So in the murky geo-politics of the Middle East, those who best understand the nuances of double deceit, in word and deed, and how these counterbalances against each mistrusted power play out, are the best suited to destabilize their counter off-balances against each other. And there lies the plot for undoing the ISIS, by working within these regional counter-balances to bear force on the Islamic State in unison. The nuclear Treaty, for all its promises and dialogue, serves in only one way: Iran is allowed central place on the schematic map of the Middle East, at least for now; but the counter balances of mistrust are fluid. So now it must be shifted off center with a tighter Western alliance, which works best if it includes Russia.
That leaves the nuclear question, what had been in the background all along. First, we must assume Iran will cheat, almost a given. All statements to the contrary, they will develop nuclear weapons capability. But so had North Korea and Pakistan, neither reliable players regarding nuclear agreements, and both with near fanatical agendas. We have learned to tolerate this, same as we will learn to tolerate Iran's nuclear arsenal. The main difference is Iran's religious Apocalyptic ideology, which calls for a return of their hidden imam in the 'end of times' mythology (return of the Twelfth Imam, a Mahdi like figure), which makes them unpredictably dangerous. Verbalized threats to Israel calling for its annihilation also plays into their 'end of times' prophecy, so they must be taken seriously; they are a real threat to Israel, and likely all Europe. The best defense is technological, like the Iron Dome over Israel, with immediate response. That should keep the Iranian power oligarchy in check. But their religious clerics are a wild card. The other end of the spectrum is that their commercial interests outvote their ideologues, in which case trade with Iran is important by all parties, especially if they feel themselves put off balance in their world view of themselves. Give their people a chance for change, something the Obama administration seems to understand (and why the sanctions had been lifted), and change may happen. The nuclear question will works itself out best if Russia is on our side, and the battle grounds in Syria, Iraq, and Yemen play out their sordid destinies, that they are the proving grounds for major power plays in the Middle East. Who will win? Saudi Arabia? Or Iran? Does Europe care? Do Americans? Only if their commercial interests, vis-a-vis oil, are threatened. The reality is really no one cares for what happens in these countries, so the mass suffering there continues; ISIS is a commercial threat to all parties, and so they will be addressed likewise. In the end, once ISIS is subdued, the balance of powers, and counter- powers, will resume as before. No one trusts the other, and in an environment of 'mutual deceit' this is the only possible solution. Likely, the central role of Saudi Arabia will shift somewhat towards a greater role assumed by Iran, with oil geo-politics at play, their religious ideologies aside. But the key is how Russia plays its hand. Drop Ukraine, and the all the pieces fall in place, with Iran held in check.
Longer term we must consider the Iranian people. What are their ambitions, which way will they lean culturally? Will the young people of Iran lean towards Russia, learn the language, embrace their conservative style of power politics? Or will they lean West, learn English, and explore Western ideals of secular rule of law, gender and social equality, democracy and human rights? These are long term considerations, as the current theocratic power base will not relinquish power easily. No doubt they will be watching these developments warily, so one should not expect an easy transition, even if the populace demands it, which likely will initially be suppressed. But over time change in the modern world is inevitable, best if without bloodshed. China may be a viable model of change, where orthodox Communism gave way to a more market based economy . Once again, commercial interests will drive the change, over time, where autocratic coercion becomes a less reliable modus operandi. If the transition is bloodless and patient, Iran could again resume its central role in Middle Eastern geo-politics, this time in a positive mode. I vote English.
THE ISLAMIC REPUBLIC OF IRAN: AT WAR WITH THE U.S.
Have the 'Happy Days' gone?
|Posted on Saturday, November 21, 2015 - 03:09 am: |
Can Encrypted secret messaging be unlocked?
The recent discovery that ISIS operatives may have used an encrypted messaging service to coordinate terror attacks, such as recently witnessed in Paris, has called into question whether totally secret encryption services, like Telegraph and others, have the right to create encryption without a 'back door key' to crack the encoded messages. In the article, Silicon Valley faces backlash over attacks, one is left with the feeling that totally secret encryption, where they "throw away the key" to decoding creates a regulatory and policing dilemma, since authorities cannot access the messages used by the Jihad terrorists or other criminals. From the article:
The "problem" is to do with encryption.
Without encryption, all of the things we do online would be insecure, be it emailing, or shopping, or banking. They all rely on the principle that if you encrypt data using complex mathematics it is nigh-on impossible to crack.
If you're using communication apps such as WhatsApp, Apple's iMessage, WeChat and so on, your messages are encrypted by default.
It means that even if those companies wanted to hand over your messages to law enforcement, they couldn't.
This creates a dilemma that may appear insurmountable for law enforcement. It therefore fans an encryption debate, as to whether criminals and terrorists can exploit Internet secrecy to their own malignant ends, leaving authorities powerless to stop them. But this dilemma can be solved if the problem is broken down to its basic factors of what 'encryption ' represents.
In this new age of instant world wide information, there are three basic factors to be considered in encoded messaging: public information, open to view; private messaging, hidden from public view; and secrecy, where it is encrypted and totally hidden. But except for when used for military or police enforcement, all fall within the 'public domain'. If criminal elements and terrorists are using these 'public domain' encrypted services to coordinate activities, using private messaging with encrypted secrecy, then they are abusing the public trust by acting within the parameters of an otherwise restricted military domain. Therefore, there must be a way of making 'private and secret' messaging open for public access when there is criminal intent. This is achievable, without violating privacy laws, if two out of three factors are invoked in judging their intent within the public domain.
In effect, if the message is of 'secrecy', such as found in espionage or military applications, where secrecy is demanded and necessary, then it is not the same venue as for public information, in public domain where it free to all, and privacy laws apply; so secrecy as such is not strictly 'private' and must be restricted in the public domain. But if it is 'private', in the public domain but hidden from viewing, then it cannot also be 'encrypted' for secrecy, of necessity, as it is not in the military domain. To not have the 'right to privacy' be violated by secrecy intent, it must be in public domain, not military or governmental venues. Privacy is protected only in a free environment, not one where secrecy empowers those who would take that freedom away, which is self negating. We might call it an "encryption law", whereby it is legislated as a condition of encrypted messaging activity; viz., if it is secret, it cannot be 'private', in the sense that law enforcement must have a back key to access it, given the usual privacy safeguards of court order, probable cause, public safety, etc.; but if it is private, it cannot be 'secret', if there is legitimate cause to suspect criminal activity, meaning a priory the message must be accessible for viewing in the public domain for law enforcement. Of course, if it is 'public', then it is neither secrecy nor privacy, except for 'anonymity', and the usual safeguards of copyright, libel, incitement, fraud, etc., are invoked to protect the public, so the 'encryption law' does not apply.
Such legislative action for the "encryption law" can safeguard the public from malicious and dangerous activity on the public Web. The responsibility for creating conditions where the 'encryption law' applies rests with the authors of the messaging services, where first defense is their 'self-policing'. A fully encrypted, unbreakable messaging service can only be used for secret military or law enforcement. Otherwise, corporations and companies failing to encode 'secret' messaging with access to private content are acting illegally, and can be restrained or shut down from public access; conversely, if the messaging is 'private', then it cannot be without a back key to access it if necessary, to protect the public. In short, one cannot have a messaging service that is both private and secret, without violating the encryption law. But it must be a legislated law for this to be valid.
To make this law workable will demand a wide debate on what is categorized as "secret" and what is "private". In a free information society, such as we have in the Free World, it must be regulated with rules of law that both protect public interest and safety, as well as insure our personal rights to privacy and free expression, so they are not violated. By breaking down the encryption phenomenon into three factors helps better focus the debate. Otherwise, the free access to private or secret communications is conflated, and confused it remains unregulated, where criminal elements take control; or quasi-military-terrorist groups access to our public domain internet, which violates its freedom of information. We cannot deregulate criminality, for it must be addressed with the rule of law where illegal, coercive, and dangerous activity is involved, to protect the public good. Anything less is lawless anarchy, which does not belong in a free society on any level, including the Web.
Also see: IS propaganda kicked off Telegram - BBC
Gun control debate
|Posted on Tuesday, June 21, 2016 - 12:53 pm: |
Gun control and firearms related deaths debate.
Though in principle we generally eschew political discussions, the recent US Senate debate over gun control involves principles of good governance and the right of individuals to own weapons for self protection and other purposes. The consideration is wether limiting the Second Amendment, our Constitutional right to own guns, will help reduce crime rates in the US. As can be seen from the above link on firearms related deaths, the highest homicide rates are in South American countries, Venezuela, Columbia, Honduras, Brazil, El Salvador, Guatemala, Jamaica, US Virgin Islands, or Africa, Swaziland, Lesotho, South Africa, many African nations; while the lowest rates are Bahrain, Japan, Bolivia, India, South Korea, Hong Kong, Poland, UK, Iceland, most European countries. It seems no clear pattern emerges from these, as to whether or not control of gun ownership reduces gun related deaths. Some countries with near universal gun ownership, such as Israel and Switzerland, have low homicide rates, for example, as opposed to Washington DC, the Nation's capital, with an exceptionally high homicide rate. So perhaps 'guns' is not the problem. People are.
See: Gun control laws by nation
Guns do not kill, people do. It's what's behind the trigger that causes deaths. If the culture of the people is violent, including firearms, as well as knives, bats, box cutters, explosives, then the society will have a high murder rate. Making it more difficult or impossible to own guns will not change the murder rate significantly, except to leave citizens exposed to ambient violence without the ability to protect themselves. Where society functions and policing is reliable, there is less dependence on personal weapons, but where it is not, that extra level of self protection is necessary. The intent of the American Second Amendment was to give citizens that extra layer of protection that social governance might fail to fill, not only as a legal right of the collective, hence government, but as an individual right to protect that right from government infringement. Therefore, both considerations are necessary, what is right for the collective society as a whole, as well as what is right for the individual. Taken together, the Second Amendment, in our opinion, would allow for some restrictions on gun ownership, especially in the hands of violent individuals with the intent to kill, as well as restricting certain types of weapons, such as used for mass killings, machine guns, military assault rifles, explosives, nuclear materials, etc. It should be the right thing for Congress to pass such restrictions while at the same time insure Americans have the right to own arms to protect themselves. In principle, the two are not mutually exclusive.
What needs to be addresses socially is the culture of violence. Why is it some nations are violent while others are not? The debate should be about that, not whether Americans have the right to own arms.
Crime and punishment
|Posted on Wednesday, July 27, 2016 - 09:39 pm: |
Crime and Punishment: rehabilitate or punish?
In Ancient Rome, criminals were often sent to the arena. One form of execution was to strap criminals to a large see-saw, where fierce predatory animals were then released on them. Another was to make criminals fight to the death against trained gladiators. Either way, the punishment was fatal. Justice was swift and summary, and cruel, with no chance for appeal. Every man, woman, and child knew the consequences of crime, and were forewarned. Criminal activity was a dangerous game.
The level of cruelty and summary justice see-sawed through the ages, often brutal and damned, prisoners left to die in dark cold dungeons, starved and beaten, or brought out for public executions to the entertainment, and warning, of the general public. Such was the criminal justice until recent times. Sometime during the Age of Enlightenment criminals were given rights. They could seek defense in court, appeal rulings, and demand more humane prison conditions. Though still incarcerated, as today, criminals are treated vastly better than the unfortunates of ancient times. Today's punishments for crime are relatively mild, prisons operated as large, if unpleasant, holding centers until the court ordered sentence is served. In effect, the culture of 'crime and punishment' had changed.
Central to 18th century Enlightenment 'crime and unishment' reform can be summed as:
This was a more pragmatic approach to punishing crime, that 'repairing' the crime, not only punishing it but retributive penalty, became an operative philosophy, one adopted in most of the Western world. (For example, philosopher Emmanuel Kant argued that a mother killing her illegitimate child was not murder but an act of nature.) Criminals were still prosecuted and imprisoned, but with a different intent. The death penalty in many progressive countries was abolished, a long way from how punishment was administered in Ancient Rome.
Enlightened reformers moved away from corporal punishment, seeking to design a penal system that would make punishment more useful, edifying the prisoner while simultaneously repairing the damage the prisoner had inflicted upon society.
The progressive movement of the 19th and 20th centuries further redefined 'retributive' punishments of criminals to involve them in 'rehabilitation' into society. For example:
This current operative philosophy, employed to varying degrees in progressive prison systems, assumes there are other qualifying factors that militate against purely 'free will' causing crime; and if so, then rehabilitating the criminal as a functioning member of society becomes doable. This is partly based on criminals having lost control of their senses in committing a crime, perhaps due to temporary insanity, or crime of passion, or of weak ethics and moral character, which in theory can be cured or corrected. (Crimes of bestial religious fanaticism, lately virtually daily news in their cruel and murderous deeds, may be corrected as to their understanding of their religion, in theory, with a kind of 'deprogramming' reeducation, but that is problematic, as recidivism may be high.) So the theory of modern, progressive 'crime and punishment' has shifted from swift and summary punishment, or execution, still practiced in many parts of the world, to a retributive correctional imprisonment and reeducation to rehabilitate the person guilty of crime, rather than simply punishing them.
The concept of rehabilitation rests on the assumption that criminal behavior is caused by some factor. This perspective does not deny that people make choices to break the law, but it does assert that these choices are not a matter of pure "free will." Instead, the decision to commit a crime is held to be determined, or at least heavily influenced, by a person's social surroundings, psychological development, or biological makeup.
But nothing is a hundred percent, and crime in terms of severity comes in varying degrees of social damage and danger. Some crimes are irredeemable, where brutal murder and torture of victims premeditated, driven by hatred and fanaticism, are unconscionable to civilized people. In effect, some percent of criminals are likewise irremediable. How do we separate the truly bad from those bad in degrees? Historically, when there was no effort to rehabilitate criminals, it was not a question; today we must ask it. Are there some criminals so monstrous that rehabilitation is impossible, even undesirable and pointless? Likely "yes." That is the red line jurisprudence must draw between those who are to be punished, and those potentially rehabilitated. The level of mercy for those who are irredeemable is then a matter of public conscience and level of humanitarian concern for the incarcerated, whether in solitary confinement (so fellow prisoners don't kill them), or in a correctional facility where they are put to work. That is how society must address those who cannot be rehabilitated, and in time one hopes their numbers will fall, and with good education and wise jurisprudence, and policing, they will ultimately disappear. But it cannot come about without cause and effect. Same as ancient Romans executed their prisoners without pity, so must we reparably retribute certain crimes without pity; but where the criminal is humanely rehabilitatable, we must make every effort as a civilized society to make it so.
|Posted on Wednesday, October 19, 2016 - 12:50 pm: |
On Responsible Journalism.
(Latin news - interactive)
Who really leads the polls?
While there are many challenges for 'truth in reporting' in modern journalism, our present age appears to have lost its keel. This is especially true in the present presidential race, where reporting has found itself floundering , mired in acrimonious personal attacks. Have we lost our way in Journalism Ethics?
For example, regarding Ethics in journalism:
These principles are a basic policy statement, the bedrock of responsible journalism. But these basic principles seem forgotten in the current presidential debate and reporting, where rather than focussing on critical national and world issues, the race has devolved to ad hominem attacks. Has media failed us in its responsibilities?
While various existing codes have some differences, most share common elements including the principles of—truthfulness, accuracy, objectivity, impartiality, fairness and public accountability—as these apply to the acquisition of newsworthy information and its subsequent dissemination to the public.
Would it not better serve the electorate were the critical issues at hand more a priority in reporting than personal attacks? Hillary's mismanagement of personal emails may have been of possible importance as a national security failure, but does it need to be hammered to death? While groping may be a personal failure in Trump, does it demand such intense scrutiny at the expense of greater issues of America's future? It would serve far better to have media reporting, instead of these side shows, on real issues facing the nation. Key issues such as taxation, especially repatriated hundreds of billions corporate overseas income held abroad due to punitive domestic tax rates; or issues of universal healthcare, righting what had passed under Obama's office, essentially a giveaway for the insurance industry; or critical racial issues in America, what has turned into a Black on White acrimonious blame game; or education, addressing failure in the public school system, especially in inner cities; or criminality, and treating drug addiction as a disease; or illegal immigration, or cyber security; and what of defense, against creeping Russian aggression, 'land' grab by China in the South Seas, jihad terrorist attacks both domestic and international? Are these not more pressing issues journalists should be tackling than both candidates' obvious personal faults? Surely both candidates have policy statements to be made on this. So they're not morally perfect... Move on. What are the priorities? Where are these policy issues? Buried somewhere in the back pages, or dissected on the blogal Internet? Shouldn't that be front page?
Responsible journalism starts at the editor's desk, as to what is real news and what is theater. The focus of mainstream media has been in sensationalism, and the public is revolting in disgust. If Trump wins, it will be for media having failed its basic principles of good reporting, and gave us circus rather than facts. And all the mainstream political power interests will be left out in the cold January. If the voting public is fed up, the revolt against 'business as usual' in Washington will have come to this: The news media lost its bearings, and the people had enough.
This just in: Trump victory in maps - 2016
|Posted on Friday, October 21, 2016 - 09:24 am: |
World Tax - is it viable?
A World Tax system, also known as the 'Tobin tax', had been proposed by some economists as a way to fund global concerns, such as underdeveloped nations' poverty, development of green energy to combat global warming, minimizing environmental degradation and deforestation in developing countries, fighting world pandemic disease, hunger and malnourishment, wildlife conservation issues, an international defense system, and more. On the surface, these seem viable ideas, that we need to address these issues on a global scale. However, upon closer examination, a world tax system, whether levied on sales, financial transactions, or personal and corporate income, would need certain tests on its viability. Who levies the tax, and how is it used?
In a Capitalist, market exchange based economic system, taxation is seen a confiscation of wealth and capital. In a Socialist system, taxes are used for economic management and redistribution of income. At bottom, taxation exists to fund the government and its activities. This is never a popular payment, which most parties will seek ways of avoiding or minimizing, so it is fundamentally a coercive activity. Taking people's money for activities they had not chosen to pay for is largely unpopular with both business and individuals, who try to conserve their income, to save it for the future or build capital, so there is a built in resistance to taxation in general. Nevertheless, government must be funded, if it is to govern effectively, so taxes are as sure as death, that we must pay our share.
So taxation is a political issue, since it involves government a priori. In a democracy, the taxes levied are decided upon by elected representatives (no taxation without representation), so it is agreed upon by Social Contract. The governed had authorized revenue through taxation for the government to perform its duties to the public. In an autocracy or theocracy, the tax is dictated by those in power, or by bureaucratic authorities deemed best suited to manage it. This is done at the national level, as well as by local jurisdictions, to pay for maintaining infrastructure, social and policing services, and of course defense. But in the past century, largely due to Marxist-Socialist ideology, economic theory has also relegated taxation to a form of economic 'management', where taxes are levied at the national level to redirect economic activity to better redistribute personal income and business activity, usually to ameliorate economic downturns and redress poverty issues. This has become basic economic theory for most modern economies, and to a greater or lesser extent, it works favorably provided the taxes are not onerous to the point where they restrict economic activity; then such overburdening taxes become counterproductive and fail in their economic purpose. Generally, those in favor of such income redistribution are those who have less, and pay less or no taxes, so reap the benefits; those opposed are the wealthy who pay a larger share with fewer returns. In a democracy, this income redistribution, a Socialist ideal, is favored by the poorer majority, so socially acceptable with broad based support as most people are not wealthy. So the politics favor a populist appeal to taxation (without commensurate representation), as a minority is forced by a majority to pay a larger share. And if so, what happens on a world scale if we introduce a World Tax scenario?
The same political principle would play out, where the majority of poor countries would politically coerce the minority of rich countries to pay a disproportional levy, which would be redistributed to the poorer countries. This in principle would benefit the whole, as the world's populations would be on more equal footing to participate in global economic activity. However, in reality it may not work as expected, as those who pay more are economically more productive than those who receive, which makes it at bottom counterproductive. If all economies internationally were equal, supposedly what we would hope to find on a more national level, then such redistribution might prove effective to better everyone's welfare; but as these economies are largely unequal, some unproductive for political reasons (North Korea, Cuba, Venezuela, Zimbabwe, Somalia, Libya, etc.), or for socio-geographic reasons, then the failed states become a productivity drain on the successful states. And same as those who most support 'income redistribution' are those who are least likely to pay taxes for it, so would poorer countries lobby for it, without contributing their equal share. In the end, the world's economic system would tilt towards lower productivity as taxation drains capital from richer countries to be spent on poorer countries, making 'taxation without representation' a counterproductive system economically (though desired politically). Without capital formation, economies regress into spending more than they produce, taking on unsupportable debt, so over time the end result is everyone gets impoverished.
But this scenario is only one aspect of World Taxation, that of eliminating poverty, a paramount concern. But what of the other issues facing the world that need to be addressed internationally? There is a case to be made that some world issues cannot be handled domestically by nations, but need supranational policy administration, something like the United Nations to address them. Indeed this is the case for environmental issues as well as international defense issues. However, rather than levying a World Tax on the populations, what would be unpopular and in violation of national sovereignty, these issues should be paid for collectively by national governments rather than taxing personal and corporate incomes. The government officials elected by the people have the responsibility of addressing both national and international issues, and if there is a tax to be levied internationally, it would be paid nationally how these elected representatives deemed proper and productive. Otherwise, if raised by an international body unrepresentative of the democratically elected officials, there is too much room for mismanagement, graft and corruption, so the funds levied would be wasted or abused. Such abuse is better checked nationally, where representatives answer to the people, rather than internationally, where decisions are made bureaucratically. In fact, this alone is a serious case on why an international taxation is unproductive, and not viable, that it would fail to ameliorate conditions, and degrade them instead. A far more viable policy for raising poor countries and people out of poverty is responsible investing in their infrastructure and enterprises, education and health, so the people can raise themselves up from their unhappy state.
Finally there is the issue of taxation itself. Who is in favor of a tax? It is not the corporate bodies running businesses, as they see this tax levied against their treasury confiscatory, which inhibits their ability of future investments. It is not retired workers who had paid into a retirement fund all their working years, and now are tapping into those funds. Nor is it the working man and woman who are trying to build a life, ultimately an estate with their savings, putting children through better education, saving for their future years. So who wants to pay the necessary taxes for running government? Virtually no one (except perhaps those who would voluntarily pay) wants to pay into the nation's treasury to keep the government functioning. Taxation is a necessary coercion. This is made worse at the international level, where resistance to taxation would be even stronger than domestically. Therefore, it would require serious coercions to make individuals and corporations pay an international tax; where there is excessive coercion, there are the seeds of failure. So in effect, a World Tax scenario is unrealistic, naive and disengenuous, poorly accountable, and ultimately unworkable. If there are issues that need to be paid for internationally, then it is the domain of governments to form (acceptable to their electorates) agreements to pay for them. That is the bottom line.
Also see: A New World Confederation
Expanded 'public health' plan
|Posted on Sunday, November 27, 2016 - 12:10 pm: |
Expanded 'Public Health Facilities' as a new universal American healthcare plan?
During the Franklin D. Roosevelt years of the New Deal, along with establishing the Social Security Act of 1935 (covering benefits for the unemployed, for dependent children, the blind, and for old age retirement), there was an expansion of public health facilities. Today the expansion has manifest into Medicare and Medicaid, but it only covers people over 65 years of age, or the disabled, bypassing a large portion of the working population. Why not extend these same benefits, perhaps in reduced services, as a basic lifeline safety net for the healthcare of all Americans who cannot afford private health care, such as now provided by Obama's Affordable Health Care program, by expanding 'public health facilities' universally to all, both young and old? This would per force create a competitive pressure on both medical insurance premiums (and high deductibles) as well as on the cost of medical treatments and pharmaceuticals, to operate in a more competitive market place than we have today.
Medicines and treatments, both public and private, are far less expensive in countries where there is a choice between public and private healthcare; costs of both healthcare services are a fraction of American prices for same in Europe, for example, including dentistry. So why not break the strangle hold of high medical costs in America's private health insurance and medical care markets, which now have grown to monopoly like structures insulated from market competition (in effect a protected market place with up-spiraling costs), and bring real competition back into the healthcare market by providing a basic floor of healthcare.
This could be accomplished most easily by expanding the Social Security Act to having more basic 'public health facilities' universally for all, which could be staffed by trained medical technicians, doctors and interns (on a reduced pay, public service basis), and trained volunteer staffing; these basic services can focus on wide ranging health issues, including flu season, under nutrition (common 'junk food' related) Type-2 diabetes, hypertension and depression, minor injuries and sexual diseases, and other easily treatable conditions affecting the mass population. Patients who have medical conditions graver than those easily treatable would be referred to more specialized medical treatments. The expanded public health service could be overseen by professional organizations, both private and government institutions, like the AMA and FDA, etc. This program of universal healthcare may not be of the same high end standard afforded at expensive private hospitals available to those who wish to pay 'boutique prices' for it, but it would provide at least a foundation of basic minimum healthcare services for those who could least afford it. Even if the wait time for some healthcare services may be longer (a common experience in countries with national health services), its dual public and private availability gives those needing care some flexibility as to which service they would realistically choose: either pay more for faster service in private care, or wait for lower cost care.
All this can be run efficiently at a lower cost borne by public funds redirected from private and public insurance premiums (and insurance companies' excessive profits, especially where insurance industry gets de facto Federal subsidies), to manage the basic public health operations. Cheaper basic public healthcare may not prove as sophisticated and medically advanced as private healthcare, but it would overall and overtime prove itself a pragmatic solution to delivering basic health services at minimum cost to all. As a dividend, it would also bring down competitively the cost of healthcare and medicines in all markets, both low end and high end, universally for all Americans. In fact, the money saved by insurers on not having to pay for medical issues that would have otherwise been claimed (against them) in private healthcare, these savings could be redirected towards funding the low cost alternative care in public health facilities. The Social Security programs can be expanded to accommodate the overall management of these basic healthcare services and, on a negotiated basis with the pharmaceutical companies, to better distribute essential medicines to the population at large. In essence, this basic public healthcare would be but an extension of existing public health services already provided, but now available universally.
Oligarchy, Tyranny, and Constitutional Government
|Posted on Saturday, January 14, 2017 - 02:12 pm: |
Oligarchy, Tyranny, and Constitutional Government.
We the Peo...
Can America become an oligarchy? It can be shown that wealthy individuals and families in recent history rose to power in government to influence American politics. Names like Rockefeller, Kennedy, come to mind, as well as J. P. Morgan, Carnegie, Vanderbilt in the past, and perhaps Donald Trump at present. These are individuals whose wealth led to influencing power in government. But can modern powerful and wealthy individuals also lead to a resurgence in oligarchy, or plutocracy, in the United States?
The historic distrust of oligarchy is that it is government by a small minority controlling large wealth to maintain their power, usually for personal benefit, and that such power leads to tyranny. An example of such self serving oligarchy is Putin's Russia, where the fall of Soviet Communism concentrated economic power in the hands of a few who control government. Their power is seen by the populace as a means of preserving Russian prestige in the world, so has popular support for those in favor. Those opposed are usually politically and economically persecuted, imprisoned, and if vocal enough are eliminated. So the basic idea of a Russian democracy is undermined by a tyrannical oligarchic structure of Russian politics. Something like it is the Ayatollahs' theocratic Iran. Play along with the powerful, and you coexist; resist and you get imprisoned, stripped of rights, or die. To an American point of view, this is simply tyranny.
The fear expressed after the last American presidential election, where a financially powerful Trump won against a progressive populist Hillary Clinton, is that America will slide into oligarchy as Trump's wealthy entourage take control of government for their benefit. But is this realistic? In the past large trusts were broken, railroad trusts, oil trusts, banking trusts, and others who benefitted from powerful government contacts, so there were put brakes in place to restrict their power. Monopoly power was broken by anti-trust laws, with the effect of encouraging greater competition. This had become precedence in American politics, that the powerful wealthy were checked in their self serving ambitions. Should the Trump camp seek similar power, they too could be forestalled from their greater control of government. His campaign rhetoric gives pause to his intentions in government. Will Trump seek to lead a nation for the benefit of general welfare of the people, or to serve his economic interests? This will be an open question in the next four years of his presidency.
There are those who, in the extreme, fear a Trump presidency could echo Hitler's rise to power. He took command of Germany's government through democratic means, but once in power he consolidated this power into a dictatorship. Could it happen here? The quick answer is this is unlikely, as we have a constitutional form of government that would, at least in principle, stop him. However, if there was enough support from the general populace, for economic reasons or national prestige, then there could be a move towards a Putin like plutocracy as seen in post Soviet Russia. The rich and powerful take control, and government falls into their hands. So the long answer is it depends. Will Trump's gang seek oligarchic powers, given a chance?
We must remember that America is a republic built on a 'rule of law' defined by our Constitution, as established by the Founding Fathers of the American Revolution. It was a constitutional government founded on principles of checks and balances to avert concentration of power in the hands of a few that would lead to tyranny. If such checks on power were in the Russian constitution, if not in the people's collective psyche, they proved ineffectual. Trump has voiced admiration for Putin, so there is potential for his tenure in office leaning towards an oligarchy. However, we as a nation have precedence of trust busting to prevent it from happening. It may be natural for the wealthy to preserve their power, but it cannot be endorsed by a people if the Republic would lose its natural sense of economic and political competition, why it is a democracy, to abrogate citizens' equality and rule of law. Both the US constitution and government's checks and balances were established to prevent such concentration of power from abrogating our natural human rights: freedom of expression, of assembly, freedom of belief, equal opportunity, and equality before the law. We have three competing branches of government, the executive, legislative, and judicial with constitutionally defined powers to check on concentration of power. So for an oligarchy to succeed in American politics, all three branches would have to come together in collusion. Is this likely? Most likely it is not.
Furthermore, we are a nation of states, so any change to our constitution, such as seen in Erdogan's Turkey, to concentrate power in the executive branch would need states' ratification. This too is unlikely. Finally, there is the voting public. Even if Trump's popularity, ala Putin, were to be endorsed by a large populace, bought off with government largess, and even if congress were behind it, the democratic voting system, including the electoral college, would be checked by Constitutional law to prevent it.
Americans have a history as a people of distrusting large government, where our political complacency is only skin deep. And though in recent decades we have seen a burgeoning Federal government, this distrust puts democratic brakes on our loss of liberty. Only if we were to lose our sense of liberty could an oligarchy form of government take hold in America. There are many grass roots organizations, including their army of lawyers, ready to resist exaggerated powers in government, why the American Republic survived as a democracy, so it becomes highly unlikely any one group can marshal sufficient power at the expense of other groups. This in the end may be America's greatest defense against the tyranny of oligarchic plutocracy, that we are by nature a freedom loving, rebellious people. We are always on watch, and when government gets too comfortable with power, we become uncomfortable with government.