MatrixLeaks: January 2014

Age of Humans



The Royal Society - Britain's premier scientific institution - has just released a major report called People and the Planet, arguing that per capital resource consumption in the richest parts of the world needs to come down dramatically if the poorest 1.3 billion are to be lifted out of extreme poverty whilst protecting the Earth's environment from irreparable harm.



I wouldn't argue with most of the data underpinning this report, but I do have problems with some of the assumptions. The first is that population growth is necessarily a bad thing, and that there is therefore a pressing need to reduce the rate of growth in developing countries. The report states early on:


"At a time when so many people remain impoverished and natural resources are becoming increasingly scarce, continued population growth is cause for concern."

 What it fails to acknowledge however is that population growth is correlated with economic growth - and therefore if developing countries are to continue to escape from poverty then reducing their rate of population growth should not be the initial priority. In a recent blogpost the World Bank's Wolfgang Fengler starts by reminding us:


Africa's population is rising rapidly and will most likely double its population by 2050. Depending on the source of data, Africa will soon pass 1 billion people (and it may already have) and could reach up to 2 billion people by 2050 [ I am using the UN's 2009 World Population Prospects, which projects Africa to exceed 1.7 billion by 2050 based on sharply declining fertility rates]. This makes it the fastest growing continent and Africa's rapid growth will also shift the global population balance.

Sounds scary. But what no-one mentions is that in terms of population density Western Europe is far more over-populated than Africa:


If we look at Western Europe - where I come from - there are on average 170 people living on each square km. In Sub-Saharan Africa there are only 70 today. This gap will narrow in the next decades but even by 2050, Western Europe is expected to be more densely populated than Africa.

He then concludes:


...population growth and urbanization go together, and economic development is closely correlated with urbanization. Rich countries are urban countries. No country has ever reached high income levels with low urbanization. And this is critical for achieving sustained growth because large urban centers allow for innovation and increase economies of scale. Companies can produce goods in larger numbers and more cheaply, serving a larger number of low-income customers.


Population growth may therefore put us on the edge of a "golden age of development" for Africa - hardly the message from the gloomy Royal Society report. As the excellent book Emerging Africa,  by Steven Radelet, shows, seventeen sub-Saharan African countries have seen sustained economic growth since 1995, vastly improving their prospects and - I suspect - further reducing fertility rates in the process.

Whilst using a lot of dark language about increasing numbers of humans globally, the report nowhere acknowledges that the current median level of total worldwide fertility has fallen dramatically from 5.6 in the 1970s to only 2.4 today. In other words we are already close to natural replacement levels in terms of total fertility - the reason that the absolute population will continue to grow to 9 billion or more is that more children are living long enough have their own children. To my mind a reduction in infant mortality and an increase in life expectancy are self-evidently good and desirable - and their impact on world population levels should be celebrated, not bemoaned.

Secondly, the report seems to be largely predicated on a neo-Malthusian version of economics, where resource use is a zero-sum game, and therefore the rich need to get poorer if there is to be any increase in comsumption for the poorest. It states:

Human impact on the Earth raises serious concerns, and in the richest parts of the world per capita material consumption is far above the level that can be sustained for everyone in a population of 7 billion or more. This is in stark contrast to the world's 1.3 billion poorest people, who need to consume more in order to be raised out of extreme poverty.

Therefore:

The most developed and the emerging economies must stabilise and then reduce material consumption levels...

This redistributive model has been shown in the real world to be completely wrong: China, India and now many African countries have seen rapid and sustained economic growth (and the concurrent lifting out of poverty of hundreds of millions of people) not because we have had to reduce our own wealth and consumption in an absolute sense, but through trade and other globalisation-related liberalisation benefiting both parties (and the poorest most).

Moreover, a dramatic decline in inequality is already actually happening, because the richest countries are either not growing now (due to the post-2008 economic crisis) or are growing very slowly, whilst the emerging economies and even many sub-Saharan African countries are growing at 5% or more per year. The big Malthusian error - which was repeated by the Limits to Growth approach of the 1970s, and many times afterwards - was to see 'natural resources' as some kind of absolutely-limited cake which would have to be shared equally if all were to exit from poverty.


 

In actual fact the stock of natural resources (natural capital) change both both because of consumption patterns and technology. Take fisheries - it is often assumed that because many are over-exploited at the moment then there will never be enough fish for everyone's wants to be satisfied. However, as a scientific report only last week showed, if fisheries and aquaculture are properly managed there can be at least the same levels of per capita fish consumption by 2050 as today (for a 9.5 billion population). There is no reason to assume collapse is inevitable.

Similarly for energy - if we deploy sufficient clean energy resources (renewables, nuclear and gas with carbon capture) there is no fundamental limit on human potential energy consumption. Energy is essential for water supply (increasingly with desalination), agricultural production, urbanisation and so on - and here the Limits to Growth assumptions are both anti-development and nonsensical.

To conclude: I would love to see a much more positive approach from scientists on these issues, one acknowledging human development as a much more positive prospect, and treating environmental resources not as a fixed quantity but as a dynamic part of a rapidly-changing (and in many ways improving) world. This does not mean denying biophysical limits ('planetary boundaries') insofar as they can be scientifically determined, but it does mean taking a radically-different, and much more human-centred, approach to tackling them.





Print Page

The Real Reason for the Afghan War?




When the United States decided to invade Afghanistan to grab Osama bin Laden—and failed, but stayed on like an unwanted guest—could it have known that the Afghans were sitting on some of the world’s greatest reserves of mineral wealth?

We noted the dubious 2010 claim, published by the New York Times, that “the vast scale of Afghanistan’s mineral wealth was [recently] discovered by a small team of Pentagon officials and American geologists.” Other evidence, and logic, point to the fact that everyone but the Western public knew for a long time, and before the 2001 invasion, that Afghanistan was a treasure trove.

So we were interested to see a new piece from the Times that emphasizes those riches without stressing the crucial question: Was the original impetus for the invasion really Osama—or Mammon?


                    “Previously Unknown” mineral deposits in Afghanistan (Click to Enlarge)

The failure to pose this question is significant because the pretense of a “recent discovery” serves only to justify staying in Afghanistan now that the troops are already there—while ignoring the extent to which imperial-style resource grabs are the real drivers of foreign policy and wars, worldwide.

As long as we continue to dance around that issue, we will remain mired in disaster of both a financial and mortal nature. As long as we fail to tote up who are the principal winners and losers then we fail to understand what is going on.


Some of the least likely candidates for insight are waking up. To quote Alan Greenspan: “I’m saddened that it is politically inconvenient to acknowledge what everyone knows: the Iraq war is largely about oil.” Who will say the same about Afghanistan and its mineral wealth? Once we acknowledge what General Wesley Clark claims (and which the media keeps ignoring)—that he was told the U.S. had plans ready at the time of the 9/11 attacks to invade seven countries (including Iraq and Afghanistan)– then the larger picture begins to come into view.

At this point, we can’t help but revisit WhoWhatWhy exclusive tying the 9/11 hijackers to that very reliable U.S. ally, the Saudi royal family— which itself needs constant external war and strife throughout the Middle East to keep its citizens from focusing on its own despotism and staggering corruption, and to maintain its position as an indispensable ally of the West in these wars. It was the actions of the Saudi-dominated 9/11 hijackers and their Saudi sponsor, Osama bin Laden, that created the justification for this endless series of resource wars. So, learning that the hijackers themselves may have been sponsored by, or controlled by elements of the Saudi royal family is a pretty big deal.

Nevertheless, the Times plays a key role in sending us in the wrong direction:

If there is a road to a happy ending in Afghanistan, much of the path may run underground: in the trillion-dollar reservoir of natural resources — oil, gold, iron ore, copper, lithium and other minerals — that has brought hopes of a more self-sufficient country, if only the wealth can be wrested from blood-soaked soil.



So, according to the world’s most influential opinion-making outlet, the fact of Afghanistan’s mineral wealth has nothing to do with why the United States and its allies want to stay—and why others want us to leave. No, we are told, it is just a fortuitous “discovery” that can benefit the Afghans themselves, make them “self-sufficient.” If only it can be extracted…..

Of course, this narrative continues, the suffering Afghans can only be helped to become self-sufficient if enough long-term military and technical might is applied to the country.

We’d love to see more reporting from The Times about what Western companies knew and when they knew it. Instead, we see JPMorgan Chase’s Afghan venture mentioned, in passing, between references to efforts by the Chinese to get their piece of the action:

Already this summer, the China National Petroleum Corporation, in partnership with a company controlled by relatives of President Karzai, began pumping oil from the Amu Darya field in the north. An investment consortium arranged by JPMorgan Chase is mining gold. Another Chinese company is trying to develop a huge copper mine. Four copper and gold contracts are being tendered, and contracts for rare earth metals could be offered soon.

The truth is, as long as the Chinese and Russians are cut in on the deal, their objections to military actions that enrich oligarchs everywhere are likely to be muted.

Imperial militaries exist in large part to grab and hold resources vital to the continuance of empires, while their paymasters back home reap benefits. That includes the rest of us, who must balance the security and creature comforts this approach provides against the death and destruction it inevitably entails. And we can’t begin to do the moral calculus until we acknowledge what’s being done in our name around the world, and why.



By Russ Baker ( author/WhoWhatWhy )





Print Page

Return of Al-Qaida



How did al-Qaida, a tiny anti-Communist group in Afghanistan that had no more than 200 active members in 2001 become a supposed worldwide threat?

How can al-Qaida be all over the Mideast, North Africa, and now much of black Africa? This after the US spent over $1 trillion trying to stamp out al-Qaida in Afghanistan and Pakistan?

The answer is simple. As an organization and threat, al-Qaida barely exists. But as a name, al-Qaida and “terrorism” have become the west’s handy universal term for armed groups fighting western influence, corruption or repression in Asia and Africa. Al-Qaida is nowhere – but everywhere.

If you’re a rebel group seeking publicity, the fastest way is by pledging allegiance to the shadowy, nowhere al-Qaida.

Take Iraq, where fighting currently rages between the Shia government and Sunni militias in Anbar Province. Interestingly, the Sunni uprising is centered on Fallujah, which was almost flattened by US Marines and blasted apart by depleted uranium shells and illegal white phosphorus as a dire warning to Iraqis who resisted.



After the US invaded Iraq in 2003, over a dozen Iraqi resistance groups rose to fight the Americans and their new-found Shia allies. Chief among them were Saddam Hussein’s Ba’ath Party and Iraqi military veterans. As I kept saying at the time on major US TV networks, there was no al-Qaida and no nuclear weapons in Iraq. Thank George W. Bush for Iraq’s so-called al-Qaida.

Thanks to the magic of mass media manipulation, Washington was able to divert attention from all of the Sunni resistance groups – or “terrorists” as they were branded – to a single group of cutthroats led by a mysterious, renegade Jordanian, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. The rest of the resistance groups simply vanished from our view.

A few have now resurfaced in western Iraq, notably the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Syria), or ISIS. It is always branded “al-Qaida linked” by western media, though no evidence is offered. Iraq’s increasingly brutal regime has also claimed it is fighting al-Qaida in Anbar Province.

Mention of the al-Qaida buzz-word has sent America’s conservative Republicans and neoconservatives into a frenzy. They are demanding that the Obama administration do something. Maybe re-invade Iraq? There are some 10,000 US combat troops just down the road in Kuwait.

US special forces, drone and manned aircraft, and CIA mercenaries are already in action around Fallujah and Ramadi. As in past years, CIA is paying millions to Sunni tribesmen to fight anti-government forces.
Crazy as it sounds, the US is considering buying attack helicopters from Russia to give to the Baghdad regime, as it is now doing in Afghanistan with the Kabul regime.


Speaking of Afghanistan, former Pentagon chief Leon Panetta admitted that there were no more than 25 to 50 al-Qaida members in Afghanistan. But now, al-Qaida has popped up in Pakistan, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, across North Africa, Nigeria, Mali, Central African Republic, and so on. Somalia’s anti-western resistance group, Shebab, is also branded “al-Qaida linked.”

Back in the Cold War, almost all groups opposing western domination were called communists. Today, al-Qaida has replaced communism as a hot button name. The widespread – but probably mistaken – belief that Osama bin Laden’s al-Qaida was responsible for the 9/11 attacks has made anything “linked” to al-Qaida fair game for liquidation.

Branding your foes “terrorists” is a fine way of de-legitimizing them and denying them any political or humanitarian rights. Israel did this very effectively with the hapless Palestinians, who foolishly cooperated by bombing civilians.

However, the obvious problem here is that doing so creates an endless supply of “terrorists” and pressure to take action against them. That and oil are the reason US special forces are now beating the bush all over black Africa. It’s the never-ending “long war” that America’s militarist and neocon circles want, and against which President Dwight Eisenhower so presciently warned back in the 1950’s.

Egypt offers another grim example of propaganda becoming fact. The majority of its people who voted for a democratic government in a fair election and its leaders are now condemned as “terrorists” by the thuggish generals who overthrew the legitimate government in Cairo. Anyone daring to oppose the US and Saudi-backed military junta is a “terrorist.” They must drive terrorist cars, eat terrorist food, and have terrorist babies.





Print Page

Happy birthday, Guantánamo! 4



Each Year in January, MatrixLeaks will publish the same article - "Happy birthday, Guantanamo!" - until the cruel cage will not be closed - as Mr. Obama promised in January 2010. 

 "I intend to close Guantánamo, and would not give it up. Many times I have repeated that the United States does not conduct torture and I will make sure that indeed be so. I will make every effort to increase America's moral reputation in the world" , Barack Obama said during his election campaign, in which, among other things, promised to be one of the first things you will do will be closing the Guantánamo base. Base Guantánamo will be closed to 22. January 2010., believe me."


Already we in 2014 year, and Barack Obama president of the nearly five years. Gunatánamo this week have the birthday cake candles. Twelve years of existence. There is no indication that it will close the base, which thinks about its one hundred and seventy four inmates - um, who do they ask?



The camp for prisoners at Guantanamo was opened in 2002, under the Bush administration, and its purpose is, how then said - keeping al-Qaeds members who are or will one day be accused of terrorism. The intention was to quit and other individuals who are considered risky for the security of the United States. It all happened while they were extremely fresh wounds from the so-called terrorist attacks of September 11, so the American public greeted the project with Bush's approval. The base is a large 116 square kilometers and consists of several camps, which, because of the treatment of prisoners, can be called concentration camps. The most important are Delta and Iguana Camp. The first twenty prisoners arrived at Guantánamo 11. January 2002. Since then, the base marched hundredth person, some were released, some convicted, all tortured and changed forever.



Amnesty International sends the years appeals to the U.S. government, saying the violation of the rights of prisoners, and one of their reports, in 2005 George W. Bush commented, it seems to me that they do some of their decisions based on the world and accusations of prisoners, people who hate America , people who are trained not to tell the truth. Indeed, America is a free country you do not have the right to hate. Why the hate, you ask? Gunatánamo is the best illustration of the tactics of intimidation, torture by the U.S. government applies worldwide. Just drape the flag of democracy and crime can begin. In peace, for freedom!

   As in the cage

It has already been written about the case of Omar Khadra, "child of Guantanamo". Recently, his sister, Zaynab Khadra, gave an interview for the site Cageprisoners.


Zaynab Khadra said, among other things, how to work with Omar first heard in 2006, four years after being caught. After that, her and her family were allowed two phone calls a year, why they had to travel to Ottawa, because the conversation could be done only from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. From the calls of 2009 can be performed via the Red Cross, so now the family is able to hear with Omar even three to four times a year. Zaynab said her brother grew up, his voice is more mature, his dialect is changed, such that the same person, and yet completely different. Omar does not believe in the legal system, the only way to find faith and rare interviews with his family. It acts more powerful than all of us, "said Zaynab.
Numerous other interviews can be found at the above-mentioned website. Cageprisoners is a British non-profit organization founded by former inmates of Guantanamo. On their website you can find personal testimonies, reports and latest news related to Guantánamo. Their goal is to be the voice of those who can not speak.



                                   Omar Khadra at the time of his arrest and today (talkleft.com)



   Death as a way

When you torture, humiliate, intimidate, offend, and they themselves may be unsure why, when you are about to end power and a better tomorrow eludes you every day, as the only way you might see them - death. By 2008, at Guantanamo were recorded four committed suicide and hundreds of attempts. It is a fact known to the public, and can only guess at the actual figures, which are assumed to be higher. Only in August 2003 there were eight three p.m. suicide attempt, which the Pentagon described as "manipulative behavior". 10 June 2006, three prisoners were found dead. The official statement was that the Pentagon appears to have committed suicide pact. Prison commander Admiral Harry Harris said the reason for suicide could not be despair, because the reasons for the despair and depression inmates had. I tried to kill himself, said Shad Muhammad, of twenty from Pakistan, was captured in Afghanistan in 2001 and sent to Gunatánamo 2002. I tried four times, because we are disgusted by my life. We needed more blankets, but they did not listen. They never listened, "he said. Washington Post reported that documents on the methods of all sorts torture in Gunatánamo - exposure to hot and cold during sleep, bright light, extremely loud music, hard tests.


   Admit it and you will receive medication

Adel El-Gazzar, former prisoner Gunatánama, the base has arrived with injured leg, after twenty to give a long journey from Pakistan. Twenty-five days he spent in what was then Camp X-ray (the camp was established in 2002, later repealed, and the prisoners were transferred to Camp Delta). After these twenty-five days after being rushed to the hospital to his amputated leg. El-Gazzara asked that he cleaned the wound and change dressings every day, as though to avoid amputation, but his request was denied. Wound was opened and forced him to a shower several times a day, and every new contact with water it was very painful. One day is spent crying in pain. There was a doctor with painkillers. I'll give you a drug, and the pain will go away for ten minutes, you just have to first sign a confession that you are a member of al-Qaeda, he said. El-Gazzara has refused to sign a confession. Shortly after his leg was amputated. During his stay in the database, even thirteen prisoners amputated leg. He says that the problem was not in wounds, and which were not great, but the inadequate medical treatment for which he came to amputation. Despite the pain the prisoners were able to sleep only at certain times and certain number of hours. If they violate the rules, hit them in the head, they took blankets, denied food, and threatened with further abuse.
Adel El-Gazzara after eight years was released from Gunatánamo and sent to Slovakia, the first thing I did was that I cried like a baby. I was really, really happy to leave this awful place, but also sad because my brothers who remained there. I wondered how I'm going to start a new life in an unfamiliar country, with an uncertain future. Prisoners in Gunatánamo my brothers, with them, I've spent more years than with his own wife and children. We suffered together under the same conditions. We are one big family, and I am sorry that I left them on the site. You know, it sounds strange - but Gunatánamo world outside is cold, cold place. There are, even in suffering, were together, side by side. Outside, everyone looks at their job, nobody cares for others.



   The future?

Obviously not enough sad that it closed. Announced the relocation of prisoners in long-Thomson Correctional Center in Illionis. However, on 30 April, 2010th year, the base is closed. Another new year prisoners were greeted with the good old Gitmo, no reason to celebrate. They are one hundred and seventy four pending, they should not move, they need freedom, they want to return to their homes from which they were drawn because they are dark and worship Allah. On their face bonded with a label "terrorist ", they are to blame for all the woes of the great American people on behalf of that with them you can handle whatever the big ones will. Nine years ago, before the eyes of the entire world, with prisoners be treated as the biggest vermin, scum who should be removed from this otherwise vibrant planet. Muslims are guilty!

They hang up first, so they are tried. As the Wild West. Just as the Wild West were both good cowboys, brave fighters who would proudly rode into the sunset.





Note: The first article was written a three year ago can be read here.  
I hope that I would not write about this inhumanity who looks like that is from the 14th century!!!





Print Page
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...