- VIDEO: Gov’t experts highly suspicious of Japan’s claim that nobody suffered acute radiation syndrome after Fukushima — So many workers were ill they had to lay on cardboard after running out of beds — Officials “repeatedly talked of death” — CBS: There were reports of people with radiation sickness
- Gov’t Scientists: “Something very unusual occurring” off west coast of US, Canada — “Unprecedented in historical record” — “Will dramatically reduce productivity” in 6,500 sq. miles of ocean — Anomaly extends “across Pacific to Japan” — “Who knows what will happen?” (MAP)
- AFP: Strong quake rocks Eastern Japan, “biggest this year” — Fukushima Officials: Experts say Magnitude 8 quake “will occur” offshore; “Temporary seawall built as measure against the accompanying tsunami aftershock” (VIDEO)
Gov’t experts highly suspicious of Japan’s claim that nobody suffered acute radiation syndrome after FukushimaSeptember 18, 2014
Members of the media look at the new iPhone 6 during Apple’s launch event in Cupertino, Calif., on Tuesday. (photo: EPA)
10 September 14
“How do we have this amazing microtechnology? Because the factory where they’re making these, they jump off the fucking roof because it’s a nightmare in there. You really have a choice – you can have candles and horses and be a little kinder to each other, or let someone suffer immeasurably far away just so you can leave a mean comment on YouTube while you’re taking a shit.” ~ Louis C.K., Of Course, But Maybe
he iPhone 6 is coming out soon. But you don’t need one. Your lining up to buy Apple’s latest product is enabling their abuse of workers around the world, including in the United States. Of course, Apple isn’t the only one guilty of this. The HP laptop I’m using to write this article was made in the same way. As is the Samsung smartphone I used to tweet this article after it was published. But Apple is the most glaring example that our need for shiny new gadgets perpetuates atrocities.
Since 1998, seven million people have died in a civil war that continues to plague the Eastern region of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). The war began when Rwanda-backed rebels attempted an overthrow of the Congolese government. The government teamed up with local militias known as the “Mai Mai,” who are known to occupy local villages, steal resources, and rape women. The DRC has become known as the “rape capital of the world,” in which marauders use rape as a weapon of coercion. Today, Mai Mai fighters and corrupt members of the Congolese military both enslave children in the DRC to mine columbite and tantalum, which together can form coltan, a necessary ingredient in modern laptops and smartphones.
As this mini-documentary from the Pulitzer Center shows, children as young as 13 are forced to work in the mines for as little as 2 dollars a day. They wear no safety protection, carry a store-bought, battery-powered flashlight, and often die from brutal working conditions that result in suffocation, cave-ins, and death from sheer exhaustion. Multinational corporations like Apple, Samsung, Dell, and HP all depend on the Congolese mining operations for their raw materials, as 80% of the world’s coltan supply comes from the region. The children have no other option but to work in the mines, because school is beyond the financial means of ordinary Congolese families.
The raw materials mined in Congo are then sent to factories in China – most notably, the Foxconn plant in Shenzhen. The factory has been described by local media as a “labor camp,” in which teenage students are sought out for employment and are forced to work more than double or even triple the overtime limit (36 hours a month under China’s labor laws), and workers are routinely uncompensated for injuries suffered on the job. Seventeen workers attempted suicide, and 14 died jumping from the roof of the building in 2010. The company responded by putting anti-suicide nets around the building, and forced employees to sign agreements stating that their employer would be exempt from lawsuits brought by family members in the event of their suicide. Foxconn claims to have raised workers’ wages to $298 per month, but workers say those pay raises never came.
After the raw materials for phones and computers are mined by underpaid and overworked Congolese teenagers, and those materials are assembled by underpaid and overworked Chinese teenagers, American teenagers and adults making poverty wages are then put to work in Apple stores hawking the new phones and computers. This is not unlike the triangular slave trade of the 18th century, in which African slaves were traded to America, American sugar and tobacco was traded to Europe, and European textiles, rum, and manufactured goods were traded to Africa. This time, the slaves are in Africa and Asia, and Americans are forced into wage slavery by an economy that encourages corporations to distribute profits upward to executives, while paying workers less and less.
This Forbes article describes how little Apple’s 30,000 Apple store employees nationwide make compared to Apple CEO Tim Cook, who received stock options last year worth $570 million. The average Apple store employee makes $11 to $12 an hour. Sure, it’s higher than the federal minimum wage, but that only amounts to $23,400 to $24,960 in pre-tax income for a full-time employee working 52 weeks in a year. That means even though Apple is raking in massive, record profits by selling expensive technology, and even though Apple has twice more cash on hand than the U.S. Treasury, and even though Apple pays a far lower effective tax rate than the average American family, their workers make so little that they qualify for food stamps and Medicaid.
However, it isn’t just low-paid Apple store workers who are getting shafted. Tech engineers and coding experts looking for work in Silicon Valley have recently found themselves on the end of a wage restriction conspiracy. A Pando.com investigation published leaked emails showing that leading tech companies like Google, Apple, Dreamworks, Comcast, eBay, Lucasfilm, and others have been conspiring together to keep wages for tech engineers at a set rate, violating workers’ rights to seek competitive compensation. The wage conspiracy encompasses over 1,000,000 employees at over a dozen companies.
Corporations like Apple and HP could do the right thing by simply entering into contracts with the Congolese and Chinese governments to ensure that raw materials are mined and products are manufactured by workers who are paid a living wage and given adequate benefits. They could pay American workers at least $15 an hour, and provide opportunities for high-performing employees to share in some of the skyrocketing profits that were normally only preserved for executives and wealthy shareholders. All of this would result in iPhones and iPads costing a few dollars more. But American consumers would still be more than willing to buy shiny new gadgets for a little more if they knew they were made sustainably.
The decision will ultimately be up to us, the buyers. We either have to collectively decide that we’ll hold onto our current products as long as we can until the promise of sustainable manufacturing is made, or to line up like cattle for the next level of expensive gadgets made possible by a tremendous amount of human suffering.
Carl Gibson, 27, is co-founder of US Uncut, a nonviolent grassroots movement that mobilized thousands to protest corporate tax dodging and budget cuts in the months leading up to Occupy Wall Street. Carl and other US Uncut activists are featured in the documentary We’re Not Broke, which premiered at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival. Carl is also the author of How to Oust a Congressman, an instructional manual on getting rid of corrupt members of Congress and state legislatures based on his experience in the 2012 elections in New Hampshire. He lives in Sacramento, California.
Reader Supported News is the Publication of Origin for this work. Permission to republish is freely granted with credit and a link back to Reader Supported News.
By 2025, half the kids born in the U.S. will be diagnosed with autism, according to Dr. Stephanie Seneff, Senior Research Scientist at the MIT Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory. She, like many others says autism isn’t just genetic – it is almost surely due to environmental factors. Just a couple of those factors are Monsanto’s RoundUp (glyphosate) and heavy exposure to a cocktail of heavy metals, including aluminum.
Dr. Seneff isn’t respected by the ivory towers of the pharmaceutical medicine paradigm or industrial agriculture, but she has something to say about autism. She is a computer scientist who transitioned into biology and toxicology, so people like to attack her credentials, but what Dr. Seneff has to say is key, and many other mainstream researchers have been negligent in reporting these findings.
She has been studying autism for over 7 years, along with the environmental factors that lead to the disease. Decreased exposure to sunlight, poor diet, vaccines (specifically aluminum and mercury), as well as glyphosate toxins from RoundUp are causing skyrocketing rates of autism. She explains this in a two-hour presentation given recently at Autism One.
Aluminum and Glyphosate
Furthermore, glyphosate chelates manganese. Dr. Seneff believes that just the absence of appropriate amounts of manganese can help to cause autism. Glyphosate also promotes aluminum uptake into our tissues, and interrupts an important path for amino acid uptake called the shikimate pathway, into our guts.
“The way glyphosate works is that it interrupts the shikimate pathway, a metabolic function in plants that allows them to create essential amino acids. When this path is interrupted, the plants die. Human cells don’t have a shikimate pathway so scientists and researchers believed that exposure to glyphosate would be harmless.”
In fact, industrial claims don’t match the science on RoundUp. It is often used because it is considered one of the ‘safest’ of all herbicides. This claim is touted by Monsanto and other chemical pushers, but it turns out that RoundUp is one of the least safe herbicides on the market.Incidentally, scientists were mistaken about a human shikimate pathway, and we rely upon it for many important functions in our body, including ridding our body of poisons like RoundUp as well as other herbicides and pesticides.
“The problem is that bacteria DO have a shikimate pathway and we have millions of good bacteria in our guts – our ‘gut flora.’ These bacteria are essential to our health. Our gut isn’t just responsible for digestion, but also for our immune system. When glyphosate gets in our systems, it wrecks our gut and as a result our immune system.”
“The effects are insidious. You won’t notice when you eat a food that contains glyphosate, but over time you will enter an old-age state before you should.”
It’s Time for Chemical Reform
Though Dr. Seneff’s findings are in the research stages, there are plenty of families that have autistic children who have chosen to drastically change their children’s diets, eliminating all pesticides, herbicides and as many neurotoxins as possible while eating organic food. They often experience some incredible results, seeing improvement in their children’s speech patterns, cognitive abilities, and social skills in weeks, not years. This amounts to circumstantial evidence, but it supports Dr. Seneff’s claims.
The rate at which diseases like autism (along with Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s and others) are growing would be unheard of just 50 years ago. You can’t simply discount this phenomenon as the result of ‘better screening and diagnosis.’ In the past 5 years alone, autism rates have increased from 1/150 to 1/50. This is an environmental epidemic; it isn’t genetic.
When you factor in the levels of glyphosate being found in women’s breast milk is ten times that which is allowed in European drinking water, and people in 18 different countries were found to have glyphosate in their blood, you have to question the rise in autism from another perspective, aside from the genetic one, and connect the dots. This leads to glyphosate as a synergistic compound that works with other suggested autism causes – like vaccines (controversial, I know).
“Ordinarily the body is quite good about keeping aluminum out. The gut will absorb very little of what’s in the diet…assuming you have a healthy gut. Glyphosate produces a leaky gut, and that’s going to help the aluminum get in. What I believe now is that the aluminum in the vaccine is far more toxic as a consequence of the glyphosate that’s also in the blood. The two of them are synergistic, because the glyphosate forms a cage around the aluminum and keeps it from getting expelled. The aluminum ends up accumulating, getting trapped with the glyphosate, and then the aluminum ends up in the pineal gland, and messes up sleep, and causes a whole cascade of problems in the brain. The glyphosate and aluminum are working together to be much more toxic than they would be, acting alone.”
RoundUp chemicals are the most used chemicals in numerous lived-in cities such as New York City, not just on American farms. In just ten years, the use of RoundUp chemicals on American farms grew more than 89%. More than 80000 tonnes are currently used on GMO corn, soy and other crops. We are being poisoned by the truckload. This isn’t Big Ag against the masses anymore, it looks like pure genocide.
You can watch Dr. Seneff’s speech at Autism One, here.
Additionally, all of Dr. Seneff’s papers can be studied to corroborate her assertions that glyphosate and aluminum, among other environmental toxins, are synergistically causing autism:
“Anthony Samsel and Stephanie Seneff, “Glyphosate’s Suppression of Cytochrome P450 Enzymes and Amino Acid Biosynthesis by the Gut Microbiome: Pathways to Modern Diseases” Entropy 2013, 15(4), 1416-1463; doi:10.3390/e15041416 (Download)
- Robert M. Davidson, Ann Lauritzen and Stephanie Seneff, “Biological Water Dynamics and Entropy: A Biophysical Origin of Cancer and Other Diseases” Entropy 2013, 15, 3822-3876; doi:10.3390/ e15093822 (Download)
- Stephanie Seneff, Ann Lauritzen, Robert Davidson and Laurie Lentz-Marino, “Is Encephalopathy a Mechanism to Renew Sulfate in Autism?” Entropy 2013, 15, 372-406; doi:10.3390/e15010372 (Download)
- Stephanie Seneff, Ann Lauritzen, Robert Davidson and Laurie Lentz-Marino, “Is Endothelial Nitric Oxide Synthase a Moonlighting Protein Whose Day Job is Cholesterol Sulfate Synthesis? Implications for Cholesterol Transport, Diabetes and Cardiovascular Disease.” Entropy 2012, 14, 2492-2530; doi:10.3390/e14122492 (Download)
- Stephanie Seneff, Robert M. Davidson and Jingjing Liu, “Is Cholesterol Sulfate Deficiency a Common Factor in Preeclampsia, Autism, and Pernicious Anemia?” Entropy 2012, 14, 2265-2290; doi:10.3390/e14112265 (Download)
- Samantha Hartzell and Stephanie Seneff, “Impaired Sulfate Metabolism and Epigenetics: Is There a Link in Autism?” Entropy 2012, 14, 1953-1977; doi:10.3390/e14101953 (Download)
- Stephanie Seneff, Robert M. Davidson, and Jingjing Liu, “Empirical Data Confirm Autism Symptoms Related to Aluminum and Acetaminophen Exposure,” Entropy 2012, 14, 2227-2253; doi:10.3390/e14112227 (Download)
- Robert M. Davidson, and Stephanie Seneff, “The Initial Common Pathway of Inflammation, Disease, and Sudden Death,” Entropy 2012, 14, 1399-1442; doi:10.3390/e14081399 (Download)
- Stephanie Seneff, Glyn Wainwright, and Luca Mascitelli, “Nutrition and Alzheimer’s Disease: The Detrimental Role of a High Carbohydrate Diet,” European Journal of Internal Medicine 22 (2011) 134-140; doi:10.1016/j.ejim.2010.12.017 (Download)
- Stephanie Seneff, Glyn Wainwright, and Luca Mascitelli, “Is the Metabolic Syndrome Caused by a High Fructose, and Relatively Low Fat, Low Cholesterol Diet?” Archives of Medical Science, 2011; 7, 1: 8-20; doi:10.5114/aoms.2011.20598 (Download)
Stephanie Seneff, Robert Davidson, and Luca Mascitelli, “Might cholesterol sulfate deficiency contribute to the development of autistic spectrum disorder?” Medical Hypotheses, 8, 213-217, 2012. (Download)“
Chelsea Manning. (photo: Scott Galindez/RSN)
16 September 14
Degrade and destroy? The west should try to disrupt the canny militants into self-destruction, because bombs will only backfire
he Islamic State (Isis) is without question a very brutal extremist group with origins in the insurgency of the United States occupation of Iraq. It has rapidly ascended to global attention by taking control of swaths of territory in western and northern Iraq, including Mosul and other major cities.
Based on my experience as an all-source analyst in Iraq during the organization’s relative infancy, Isis cannot be defeated by bombs and bullets – even as the fight is taken to Syria, even if it is conducted by non-Western forces with air support.
I believe that Isis is fueled precisely by the operational and tactical successes of European and American military force that would be – and have been – used to defeat them. I believe that Isis strategically feeds off the mistakes and vulnerabilities of the very democratic western states they decry. The Islamic State’s center of gravity is, in many ways, the United States, the United Kingdom and those aligned with them in the region.
When it comes to regional insurgency with global implications, Isis leaders are canny strategists. It’s clear to me that they have a solid and complete understanding of the strengths and, more importantly, the weaknesses of the west. They know how we tick in America and Europe – and they know what pushes us toward intervention and overreach. This understanding is particularly clear considering the Islamic State’s astonishing success in recruiting numbers of Americans, Britons, Belgians, Danes and other Europeans in their call to arms.
Attacking Isis directly, by air strikes or special operations forces, is a very tempting option available to policymakers, with immediate (but not always good) results. Unfortunately, when the west fights fire with fire, we feed into a cycle of outrage, recruitment, organizing and even more fighting that goes back decades. This is exactly what happened in Iraq during the height of a civil war in 2006 and 2007, and it can only be expected to occur again.
And avoiding direct action with Isis can be successful. For instance, in 2009 and 2010, forerunners to the Isis group attacked civilians in suicide and car bombings in downtown Baghdad to try and provoke American intervention and sectarian unrest. But they were often not effective in their recruiting efforts when American and Iraqi forces refused (or were unable) to respond, because the barbarity and brutality of their attacks worked against them. When we did respond, however, the attacks were sold to the Sunni minority in Iraq as a justified response to an occupying government favoring the Shia government led by former prime minister Nouri al-Maliki.
Based on my intelligence work in Iraq during that period, I believe that only a very focused and consistent strategy of containment can be effective in reducing the growth and effectiveness of Isis as a threat. And so far, Western states seem to have adopted that strategy. With very public humanitarian disasters, however, like the ones on Mount Sinjar and Irbil in northern Iraq, and the beheadings of journalists James Foley and Steven Sotloff, this discipline gets tested and can begin to fray.
As a strategy to disrupt the growth of Isis, I suggest focusing on four arenas:
- Counter the narrative in online Isis recruitment videos – including professionally made videos and amateur battle selfies – to avoid, as best as possible, the deliberate propaganda targeting of desperate and disaffected youth. This would rapidly prevent the recruitment of regional and western members.
- Set clear, temporary borders in the region, publicly. This would discourage Isis from taking certain territory where humanitarian crises might be created, or humanitarian efforts impeded.
- Establish an international moratorium on the payment of ransom for hostages, and work in the region to prevent Isis from stealing and taxing historical artifacts and valuable treasures as sources of income, and especially from taking over the oil reserves and refineries in Bayji, Iraq. This would disrupt and prevent Isis from maintaining stable and reliable sources of income.
- Let Isis succeed in setting up a failed “state” – in a contained area and over a long enough period of time to prove itself unpopular and unable to govern. This might begin to discredit the leadership and ideology of Isis for good.
Eventually, if they are properly contained, I believe that Isis will not be able to sustain itself on rapid growth alone, and will begin to fracture internally. The organization will begin to disintegrate into several smaller, uncoordinated entities – ultimately failing in their objective of creating a strong state.
But the world just needs to be disciplined enough to let the Isis fire die out on its own, intervening carefully and avoiding the cyclic trap of “mission creep”. This is certainly a lot to ask for. But Isis is wielding a sharp, heavy and very deadly double-edged sword. Now just wait for them to fall on it.
Professor Noam Chomsky, linguist, philosopher, cognitive scientist and activist. (photo: Va Shiva)
16 September 14
The way the system is set up, there is virtually nothing people can do anyway to influence the real world.
UESTION: You’ve written about the way that professional ideologists and the mandarins obfuscate reality. And you have spoken — in some places you call it a “Cartesian common sense” — of the commonsense capacities of people. Indeed, you place a significant emphasis on this common sense when you reveal the ideological aspects of arguments, especially in contemporary social science. What do you mean by common sense? What does it mean in a society like ours? For example, you’ve written that within a highly competitive, fragmented society, it’s very difficult for people to become aware of what their interests are. If you are not able to participate in the political system in meaningful ways, if you are reduced to the role of a passive spectator, then what kind of knowledge do you have? How can common sense emerge in this context?
CHOMSKY: Well, let me give an example. When I’m driving, I sometimes turn on the radio and I find very often that what I’m listening to is a discussion of sports. These are telephone conversations. People call in and have long and intricate discussions, and it’s plain that quite a high degree of thought and analysis is going into that. People know a tremendous amount. They know all sorts of complicated details and enter into far-reaching discussion about whether the coach made the right decision yesterday and so on. These are ordinary people, not professionals, who are applying their intelligence and analytic skills in these areas and accumulating quite a lot of knowledge and, for all I know, understanding. On the other hand, when I hear people talk about, say, international affairs or domestic problems, it’s at a level of superficiality that’s beyond belief.
In part, this reaction may be due to my own areas of interest, but I think it’s quite accurate, basically. And I think that this concentration on such topics as sports makes a certain degree of sense. The way the system is set up, there is virtually nothing people can do anyway, without a degree of organization that’s far beyond anything that exists now, to influence the real world. They might as well live in a fantasy world, and that’s in fact what they do. I’m sure they are using their common sense and intellectual skills, but in an area which has no meaning and probably thrives because it has no meaning, as a displacement from the serious problems which one cannot influence and affect because the power happens to lie elsewhere.
Now it seems to me that the same intellectual skill and capacity for understanding and for accumulating evidence and gaining information and thinking through problems could be used — would be used — under different systems of governance which involve popular participation in important decision-making, in areas that really matter to human life.
There are questions that are hard. There are areas where you need specialized knowledge. I’m not suggesting a kind of anti-intellectualism. But the point is that many things can be understood quite well without a very far-reaching, specialized knowledge. And in fact even a specialized knowledge in these areas is not beyond the reach of people who happen to be interested.
QUESTION: Do you think people are inhibited by expertise?
CHOMSKY: There are also experts about football, but these people don’t defer to them. The people who call in talk with complete confidence. They don’t care if they disagree with the coach or whoever the local expert is. They have their own opinion and they conduct intelligent discussions. I think it’s an interesting phenomenon. Now I don’t think that international or domestic affairs are much more complicated. And what passes for serious intellectual discourse on these matters does not reflect any deeper level of understanding or knowledge.
One finds something similar in the case of so-called primitive cultures. What you find very often is that certain intellectual systems have been constructed of considerable intricacy, with specialized experts who know all about it and other people who don’t quite understand and so on. For example, kinship systems are elaborated to enormous complexity. Many anthropologists have tried to show that this has some functional utility in the society. But one function may just be intellectual. It’s a kind of mathematics. These are areas where you can use your intelligence to create complex and intricate systems and elaborate their properties pretty much the way we do mathematics. They don’t have mathematics and technology; they have other systems of cultural richness and complexity. I don’t want to overdraw the analogy, but something similar may be happening here.
The gas station attendant who wants to use his mind isn’t going to waste his time on international affairs, because that’s useless; he can’t do anything about it anyhow, and he might learn unpleasant things and even get into trouble. So he might as well do it where it’s fun, and not threatening — professional football or basketball or something like that. But the skills are being used and the understanding is there and the intelligence is there. One of the functions that things like professional sports play, in our society and others, is to offer an area to deflect people’s attention from things that matter, so that the people in power can do what matters without public interference.
QUESTION: I asked a while ago whether people are inhibited by the aura of expertise. Can one turn this around — are experts and intellectuals afraid of people who could apply the intelligence of sport to their own areas of competency in foreign affairs, social sciences, and so on?
CHOMSKY: I suspect that this is rather common. Those areas of inquiry that have to do with problems of immediate human concern do not happen to be particularly profound or inaccessible to the ordinary person lacking any special training who takes the trouble to learn something about them. Commentary on public affairs in the mainstream literature is often shallow and uninformed. Everyone who writes and speaks about these matters knows how much you can get away with as long as you keep close to received doctrine. I’m sure just about everyone exploits these privileges. I know I do. When I refer to Nazi crimes or Soviet atrocities, for example, I know that I will not be called upon to back up what I say, but a detailed scholarly apparatus is necessary if I say anything critical about the practice of one of the Holy States: the United States itself, or Israel, since it was enshrined by the intelligentsia after its 1967 victory. This freedom from the requirements of evidence or even rationality is quite a convenience, as any informed reader of the journals of public opinion, or even much of the scholarly literature, will quickly discover. It makes life easy, and permits expression of a good deal of nonsense or ignorant bias with impunity, also sheer slander. Evidence is unnecessary, argument beside the point. Thus a standard charge against American dissidents or even American liberals — I’ve cited quite a few cases in print and have collected many others — is that they claim that the United States is the sole source of evil in the world or other similar idiocies; the convention is that such charges are entirely legitimate when the target is someone who does not march in the appropriate parades, and they are therefore produced without even a pretense of evidence. Adherence to the party line confers the right to act in ways that would properly be regarded as scandalous on the part of any critic of received orthodoxies. Too much public awareness might lead to a demand that standards of integrity should be met, which would certainly save a lot of forests from destruction, and would send many a reputation tumbling.
The right to lie in the service of power is guarded with considerable vigor and passion. This becomes evident whenever anyone takes the trouble to demonstrate that charges against some official enemy are inaccurate or, sometimes, pure invention. The immediate reaction among the commissars is that the person is an apologist for the real crimes of official enemies. The case of Cambodia is a striking example. That the Khmer Rouge were guilty of gruesome atrocities was doubted by no one, apart from a few marginal Maoist sects. It is also true, and easily documented, that Western propaganda seized upon these crimes with great relish, exploiting them to provide a retrospective justification for Western atrocities, and since standards are nonexistent in such a noble cause, they also produced a record of fabrication and deceit that is quite remarkable. Demonstration of this fact, and fact it is, elicited enormous outrage, along with a stream of new and quite spectacular lies, as Edward Herman and I, among others, have documented. The point is that the right to lie in the service of the state was being challenged, and that is an unspeakable crime. Similarly, anyone who points out that some charge against Cuba, Nicaragua, Vietnam, or some other official enemy is dubious or false will immediately be labeled an apologist for real or alleged crimes, a useful technique to ensure that rational standards will not be imposed on the commissars and that there will be no impediment to their loyal service to power. The critic typically has little access to the media, and the personal consequences for the critic are sufficiently annoying to deter many from taking this course, particularly because some journals — the New Republic, for example — sink to the ultimate level of dishonesty and cowardice, regularly refusing to permit even the right of response to slanders they publish. Hence the sacred right to lie is likely to be preserved without too serious a threat. But matters might be different if unreliable sectors of the public were admitted into the arena of discussion and debate.
The aura of alleged expertise also provides a way for the indoctrination system to provide its services to power while maintaining a useful image of indifference and objectivity. The media, for example, can turn to academic experts to provide the perspective that is required by the centers of power, and the university system is sufficiently obedient to external power so that appropriate experts will generally be available to lend the prestige of scholarship to the narrow range of opinion permitted broad expression. Or when this method fails — as in the current case of Latin America, for example, or in the emerging discipline of terrorology — a new category of “experts” can be established who can be trusted to provide the approved opinions that the media cannot express directly without abandoning the pretense of objectivity that serves to legitimate their propaganda function. I’ve documented many examples, as have others.
The guild structure of the professions concerned with public affairs also helps to preserve doctrinal purity. In fact, it is guarded with much diligence. My own personal experience is perhaps relevant. As I mentioned earlier, I do not have the usual professional credentials in any field, and my own work has ranged fairly widely. Some years ago, for example, I did some work in mathematical linguistics and automata theory, and occasionally gave invited lectures at mathematics or engineering colloquia. No one would have dreamed of challenging my credentials to speak on these topics — which were zero, as everyone knew; that would have been laughable. The participants were concerned with what I had to say, not my right to say it. But when I speak, say, about international affairs, I’m constantly challenged to present the credentials that authorize me to enter this august arena, in the United States, at least — elsewhere not. It’s a fair generalization, I think, that the more a discipline has intellectual substance, the less it has to protect itself from scrutiny, by means of a guild structure. The consequences with regard to your question are pretty obvious.
QUESTION: You have said that most intellectuals end up obfuscating reality. Do they understand the reality they are obfuscating? Do they understand the social processes they mystify?
CHOMSKY: Most people are not liars. They can’t tolerate too much cognitive dissidence. I don’t want to deny that there are outright liars, just brazen propagandists. You can find them in journalism and in the academic professions as well. But I don’t think that’s the norm. The norm is obedience, adoption of uncritical attitudes, taking the easy path of self-deception. I think there’s also a selective process in the academic professions and journalism. That is, people who are independent minded and cannot be trusted to be obedient don’t make it, by and large. They’re often filtered out along the way. [...]
As a few of the march’s organizers, though, we can give some sense of why we, at least, are marching, words we think represent many of those who will gather at Columbus Circle for the walk through midtown Manhattan.
We march because the world has left the Holocene behind: scientists tell us that we’ve already raised the planet’s temperature almost one degree C, and are on track for four or five by century’s end. We march because Hurricane Sandy filled the New York City subway system with salt water, reminding us that even one of the most powerful cities in the world is already vulnerable to slowly rising ocean levels.
We march because we know that climate change affects everyone, but its impacts are not equally felt: Those who have contributed the least to causing the crisis are hit hardest, here and around the world. Communities on the frontlines of global warming are already paying a heavy price, in some cases losing the very land on which they live. This isn’t just about polar bears any more.
But since polar bears can’t march, we march for them, too, and for the rest of creation now poised on the verge of what biologists say will be the planet’s sixth great extinction event, one unequalled since the last time a huge asteroid struck the Earth 66 million years ago.
And we march for generations yet to come, our children, grandchildren, and their children, whose lives will be systematically impoverished and degraded. It’s the first time one century has wrecked the prospects of the millennia to come, and it makes us mad enough to march.
We march with hope, too. We see a few great examples around the world of how quickly we could make the transition to renewable energy. We know that if there were days this summer when Germany generated nearly 75 percent of its power from renewable sources of energy, the rest of us could, too — especially in poorer nations around the equator that desperately need more energy. And we know that labor-intensive renewables would provide far more jobs than capital-intensive coal, gas, and oil.
And we march with some frustration: Why haven’t our societies responded to 25 years of dire warnings from scientists? We’re not naïve; we know that the fossil fuel industry is the 1 percent of the 1 percent. But sometimes we think we shouldn’t have to march. If our system worked the way it should, the world would long ago have taken the obvious actions economists and policy gurus have recommended — from taxing carbon to reflect the damage it causes to funding a massive World War II-scale transition to clean energy.
Marching is not all, or even most, of what we do. We advocate; we work to install solar panels; we push for sustainable transit. We know, though, that history shows marching is usually required, that reason rarely prevails on its own. (And we know that sometimes even marching isn’t enough; we’ve been to jail and we’ll likely be back.)
We’re tired of winning the argument and losing the fight. And so we march. We march for the beaches and the barrios. We march for summers when the cool breeze still comes down in the evening. We march because Exxon spends $100 million every day looking for more hydrocarbons, even though scientists tell us we already have far more in our reserves than we can safely burn. We march for those too weak from dengue fever and malaria to make the journey. We march because California has lost 63 trillion gallons of groundwater to the fierce drought that won’t end, and because the glaciers at the roof of Asia are disappearing. We march because researchers told the world in April that the West Antarctic ice sheet has begun to melt “irrevocably”; Greenland’s ice shield may soon follow suit; And the waters from those, as rising seas, will sooner or later drown the world’s coastlines and many of its great cities.
We don’t march because there’s any guarantee it will work. If you were a betting person, perhaps you’d say we have only modest hope of beating the financial might of the oil and gas barons and the governments in their thrall. It’s obviously too late to stop global warming entirely, but not too late to slow it down — and it’s not too late, either, to simply pay witness to what we’re losing, a world of great beauty and complexity and stability that has nurtured humanity for thousands of years.
There’s a world to march for — and a future, too. The only real question is why anyone wouldn’t march.
September 12, 2014
National Science Foundation
The age of the Anthropocene — the scientific name given to our current geologic age — is dominated by human impacts on our environment. A warming climate. Increased resistance of pathogens and pests. A swelling population. Coping with these modern global challenges requires application of what one might call a more ancient principle: evolution.
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Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus bacteria, more commonly known as MRSA. It is a bacteria resistant to many antibiotics; in medical facilities, MRSA causes causes life-threatening bloodstream infections and pneumonia. In this image, the MRSA (in yellow), is being ingested by neutrophil (in purplish blue), a type of white blood cell.
Credit: National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases
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The age of the Anthropocene–the scientific name given to our current geologic age–is dominated by human impacts on our environment. A warming climate. Increased resistance of pathogens and pests. A swelling population. Coping with these modern global challenges requires application of what one might call a more ancient principle: evolution.
That’s the recommendation of a diverse group of researchers, in a paper published today in the online version of the journal Science. A majority of the nine authors on the paper have received funding from the National Science Foundation (NSF).
“Evolution isn’t just about the past anymore, it’s about the present and the future,” said Scott Carroll, an evolutionary ecologist at University of California-Davis and one of the paper’s authors. Addressing societal challenges–food security, emerging diseases, biodiversity loss–in a sustainable way is “going to require evolutionary thinking.”
The paper reviews current uses of evolutionary biology and recommends specific ways the field can contribute to the international sustainable development goals (SDGs), now in development by the United Nations.
Evolutionary biology has “tremendous potential” to solve many of the issues highlighted in the SDGs, said Peter Søgaard Jørgensen, another Science author from the University of Copenhagen’s Center for Macroecology, Evolution and Climate. The field accounts for how pests may adapt rapidly to our interventions and how vulnerable species struggle to adapt to global change. The authors even chose this release date to coincide with the upcoming meeting of the UN General Assembly, which starts September 24.
Their recommendations include gene therapies to treat disease, choosing drought-and-flood-resistant crop varieties and altering conservation strategies to protect land with high levels of genetic diversity.
“Many human-engineered solutions to societal problems have turned out to have a relatively short useful life because evolution finds ways around them,” said George Gilchrist, program officer in NSF’s Division of Environmental Biology, which funded many of the Science authors. “Carroll and colleagues propose turning the tables and using evolutionary processes to develop more robust and dynamic solutions.”
Applied evolutionary biology just recently made the leap from an academic discipline to a more-practical one, spurred by an effort within the community to better synthesize and share research insights. And–above all–increasing environmental pressures.
“The fact that we’re changing the world means that evolutionary processes are going to be affected,” said Thomas Smith, of the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) and another Science author. The question is, according to Smith: Do we want to be engaged in this change, or not?
The paper also serves as a platform for establishing a cross-disciplinary field of applied evolutionary biology, Carroll said, and a way to promote the field as a path to sustainable development solutions.
“Evolutionary biology touches on many elements of the life sciences, from medicine to conservation biology to agriculture,” said Smith. “And unfortunately, there hasn’t been an effort to unify across these fields.”
This disconnect exists despite the use of evolutionary tactics in many disciplines: treating HIV with a cocktail of drugs, for example, to slow pathogen resistance. And the effects of evolution already swirl in the public consciousness–and spark debate. Think of the arguments for and against genetically modified crops, or warnings about the increasing price of combating drug resistance (which costs more than $20 billion in the U.S. each year, according to the nonprofit Alliance for Prudent Use of Antibiotics).
Seldom are these issues described in an evolutionary context, said Smith. “We’re missing an opportunity to educate the public about the importance of evolutionary principles in our daily lives.”
In conservation, evolutionary approaches are often disregarded because of the belief that evolution is beyond our ability to manage and too slow to be useful, according to a paper Smith co-authored in the journal Annual Review of Ecology, Evolution and Systematics (AREES).
That article, recently published online, also tackles applied evolution. It was co-authored by Carroll, University of Maine Biologist Michael Kinnison, Sharon Strauss–of the Department of Evolution and Ecology at University of California-Davis–and Trevon Fuller of UCLA’s Tropical Research Institute. All are NSF-funded. Kinnison and Strauss are also co-authors on the Science paper.
Yet contemporary evolution–what scientists are observing now–happens on timescales of months to a few hundred years, and can influence conservation management outcomes, according to the AREES paper.
Considering the evolutionary potential and constraints of species is also essential to combat “evolutionary mismatch.” This means the environment a species exists in, and the one it has evolved to exist in, no longer match.
Such disharmony can be “dire and costly,” the authors write in Science, citing the increasingly sedentary lifestyles–and processed food diets–of modern humans. These lifestyles are linked with increasing rates of obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular disorders. Restoring our health requires greater physical activity and less refined carbohydrates: “Diets and activity levels closer to those of the past, to which we are better adapted,” the Science paper said.
Implementing applied evolutionary principles often requires very careful thinking about social incentives, said Jørgensen. Public vaccination programs, for example, and pest control in crops often create tension between individual and public good.
Applied evolution, therefore, requires input from biologists, doctors, agriculturalists: “We’re making a call for policy makers, decision-makers at all levels,” to be involved, Jørgensen said.
Evolutionary biologists don’t have all the answers, said Smith. And using applied evolution is not without risk. But we have reached a point “where we need to take risks in many cases,” he said. “We can’t just sit back and be overly conservative, or we’re going to lose the game.”
The above story is based on materials provided by National Science Foundation. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.
S. P. Carroll, P. S. Jorgensen, M. T. Kinnison, C. T. Bergstrom, R. F. Denison, P. Gluckman, T. B. Smith, S. Y. Strauss, B. E. Tabashnik. Applying evolutionary biology to address global challenges. Science, 2014; DOI: 10.1126/science.1245993
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National Science Foundation. “How evolutionary principles could help save our world.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 12 September 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/09/140912152112.htm>.
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Chris Hedges gave this speech Saturday at the Sauk County Fairgrounds in Baraboo, Wis., before a crowd of about 2,000. His address followed one there by U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders, a Vermont independent who seems to be preparing to run in the Democratic presidential primaries. The Fighting Bob Fest, the annual event at which they appeared, brings together progressive speakers from around the country and honors Robert “Fighting Bob” La Follette (1855-1925), a U.S. senator from Wisconsin who opposed the United States’ entry into World War I. Parts of this talk were drawn from Hedges’ past columns.
I would like to begin by speaking about the people of Gaza. Their suffering is not an abstraction to me. I was the Middle East bureau chief for The New York Times. I spent seven years in the region. I speak Arabic. And for much of that time I was in Gaza, including when Israeli fighter jets and soldiers were attacking it.
I have stood over the bodies, including the bodies of children, left behind by Israeli airstrikes and assaults. I have watched mothers and fathers cradle their dead and bloodied boys and girls in their arms, convulsed by an indescribable grief, shrieking in pitiful cries to an indifferent universe.
And in this charnel house, this open-air prison where 1.8 million people, nearly half of them children, live trapped in an Israeli ghetto, I have witnessed the crimes of occupation—the food shortage, the stifling overcrowding, the contaminated water, the lack of health services, the crippling poverty, the endemic unemployment, the fear and the despair. As I have witnessed this mass of human suffering I have heard from the power elites in Jerusalem and Washington the lies told to justify state terror.
An impoverished, captive people that lack an army, a navy, an air force, mechanized units, drones, artillery and any semblance of command and control do not pose a threat to Israel. And Israel’s indiscriminate use of modern, industrial weapons to kill hundreds of innocents, wound thousands more and make tens of thousands of families homeless is not a war. It is state-sponsored terror and state-sponsored murder.The abject failure by our political class to acknowledge this fact, a fact that to most of the rest of the world is obvious, exposes the awful banality of our political system, the cynical abandonment of the most vulnerable of the earth for campaign contributions. Money, after all, has replaced the vote.
The refusal to speak out for the people of Gaza is not tangential to our political life. The pathetic, Stalinist-like plebiscite in the [U.S.] Senate, where all 100 senators trotted out like AIPACwindup dolls to cheer on the Israeli bombing of homes, apartment blocks, schools—where hundreds of terrified families were taking shelter—water treatment plants, power stations, hospitals, and of course boys playing soccer on a beach, exposes the surrender of our political class to cash-rich lobbying groups and corporate power. The people of Gaza are expendable. They are poor. They are powerless. And they have no money. Just like the poor people of color in this country whose bodies, locked in cages, enrich the prison-industrial complex.
When you are willing to sacrifice the most vulnerable for political expediency it becomes easy, as Barack Obama and the Democratic Party have amply illustrated, to sacrifice all who are vulnerable—our own poor, workers, the sick, the elderly, students and our middle class. This is a Faustian compact. It ends by selling your soul to Goldman Sachs and ExxonMobil. It ends by deifying a military machine, now largely beyond civilian control, that, along with our organs of state security, has established surveillance and a security state that make us the most spied-upon, eavesdropped, monitored and photographed populace in human history. It is impossible to describe yourself as free when you are constantly watched. This is the relationship of a master and a slave.
Politics, if we take politics to mean the shaping and discussion of issues, concerns and laws that foster the common good, is no longer the business of our traditional political institutions. These institutions, including the two major political parties, the courts and the press, are not democratic. They are used to crush any vestiges of civic life that calls, as a traditional democracy does, on its citizens to share among all its members the benefits, sacrifices and risks of a nation. They offer only the facade of politics, along with elaborate, choreographed spectacles filled with skillfully manufactured emotion and devoid of real political content. We have devolved into what Alexis de Tocquevillefeared—“democratic despotism.”
The squabbles among the power elites, rampant militarism and the disease of imperialism, along with a mindless nationalism that characterizes all public debate, which Bob La Follette denounced and fought, have turned officially sanctioned politics into a carnival act.
Pundits and news celebrities on the airwaves engage in fevered speculation about whether the wife of a former president will run for office—and this after the mediocre son of another president spent eight years in the White House. This is not politics. It is gossip. Opinion polls, the staple of what serves as political reporting, are not politics. They are forms of social control. The use of billions of dollars to fund election campaigns and pay lobbyists to author legislation is not politics. It is legalized bribery. The insistence that austerity and economic rationality, rather than the welfare of the citizenry, be the primary concerns of the government is not politics. It is the death of civic virtue. The government’s system of wholesale surveillance and the militarization of police forces, along with the psychosis of permanent war and state-orchestrated fear of terrorism, are not politics. They are about eradicating civil liberties and justifying endless war and state violence. The chatter about death panels, abortion, gay rights, guns and undocumented children crossing the border is not politics. It is manipulation by the power elites of emotion, hate and fear to divert us from seeing our own powerlessness.