A Dose of Dadaism to Call the Sultan/Saudi Bluff, by Pepe Escobar

Man Ray, c. 1921-22, Rencontre dans la porte tournante, published on the cover of Der Sturm, Volume 13, Number 3, 5 March 1922
Man Ray, c. 1921-22, Rencontre dans la porte tournante, published on the cover of Der Sturm, Volume 13, Number 3, 5 March 1922

Darkness dawns at the break of noon, sirens blare, red alerts convulse – and it feels like we’re 30 seconds from the 9th circle of hell. The best lack all conviction, while the worst are full of demented intensity.

Is this the end, beautiful friend?

Well, not really. It’s a bluff. So let’s invoke Dada – the original internet – to put this hellhole in perspective. Dada was born a century ago at the Cabaret Voltaire in Zurich – smack in the middle of WWI. *Dada was not only a revolution in art; it’s a revolution still in progress.

Dada is a state of mind – pretty much the ideal antidote to manifestations of Cold War 2.0; it is all about destabilizing pomposity; search and destroy symbols; dislocation of language. So with multiple intimations of doom shaping the onset of (fake) WWIII, what’s best than to keep on truckin’ fueled by impertinence and fantasy? After all, “Life is a Cabaret” (Voltaire). Come to the cabaret.

Cut to a gaggle of rollicking Wahhabis making a cabaret entrance, complete with jets overflying Incirlik. They seem to be getting ready for…boo hoo! Ground operations in Syria! They desire it. Utterly. But, alas, there’s no plan. Listen to ringmaster Adel al-Jubeir in all his transgender glory; they may eventually add a “ground component”! But it all depends on ‘His Masters’ Voice’ issuing his permission. And the permission is not forthcoming.

Continue reading A Dose of Dadaism to Call the Sultan/Saudi Bluff, by Pepe Escobar

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The End-State of Western Capitalism—People as Cash Cows, by Janet Phelan

Source: New Eastern Outlook (NEO Journal)

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America is proud of capitalism. Proud of the competition which has produced a dazzling array of inventions and consumer products. Any incursion resulting in government control of the “free market” is generally met with outcries of that old bugaboo: “Communist infiltration!”

The activities of the United States abroad have become  redolent of resource grabs. Under the banner of “Making the world safe for democracy,” her aggression has resulted in an amalgamation of other countries’ resources. Oil and minerals top the list.

Far from protecting her own citizens’ property and economic interests, however, the domestic activities of the US increasingly reveal  finely honed mechanisms resulting in asset seizure and transfer of wealth.In order to accomplish these aims, certain established checks and balances have been nullified or bought off.

Government regulatory agencies are thus high on capitalism’s “Enemies List.” Many of these regulatory agencies were rendered largely ineffective under former President George W. Bush. The EPA, the FTC and other agencies pledged to protect the public went under administrative chiefs who were unfriendly to regulation and believed that their best governance would be to subvert the regulatory agencies they they were appointed to oversee.

As detailed by Thomas Frank, in his 2008 book, The Wrecking Crew, “… Fantastic misgovernment of the kind we saw during the Bush era was not an accident….It was made possible by the triumph of a particular philosophy of government, of a movement that understands the liberal state as a perversion and considers the market the ideal nexus of human society.”

There is a quasi- religious aspect to the worship of the free market. The free market, we are told, will inherently provide for the crème de la crème to rise to its proper altitude. The invisible hand of the free market will enable only the best products to succeed. And the devotees will tell you that this is in everyone’s best interest.

However, consumerism has a dark side. Where everything is commodified, everything becomes gaged by its monetary value alone. Other considerations—truth, beauty and emotional attachment come to mind—may suffer under a bottom line valuation system.

And this brings us to a recent manifestation of trading people for money—selling Granny to the nursing home. Cash for Granny is exactly what Sunrise Senior Living  is offering. The verbiage is slightly spun in an effort to obscure its crassly predatory intent, but the facts are in evidence: Sunrise will pay you $2000 for a successful recommendation of a vulnerable and elderly individual to its nursing facility.

The commodification of human beings is sometimes termed “human trafficking.” Americans were shocked and dismayed back in 2008 when the judicial scandal known now as “Kids for Cash” unfolded in the news. Two Pennsylvania judges were charged and subsequently found guilty for accepting kickbacks when they ordered juvenile offenders into private detention facilities. As it turned out, the judges had struck a backroom deal with Robert Merckle, the builder of two Pennsylvania detention facilities and were being handsomely remunerated in remanding children, including first time offenders with such minimal violations as mocking a principal on Myspace or trespassing in a vacant building, into extended detention in Merckle’s facilities.

The scandal rocked the nation. After an investigation determined that the two judges received over $2.6 million from PA Child Care and its sister facility, Western PA Child Care, and after an initial plea agreement did not produce what a federal judge determined to be satisfactory conduct on the part of the two judges, a criminal trial ensued.

Continue reading The End-State of Western Capitalism—People as Cash Cows, by Janet Phelan

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Fukushima – Deep Trouble, by Robert Hunziker

Source: counterpunch

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The Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant disaster may go down as one of history’s boundless tragedies and not just because of a nuclear meltdown, but rather the tragic loss of a nation’s soul.

Imagine the following scenario: 207 million cardboard book boxes, end-to-end, circumnavigating Earth, like railroad tracks, going all the way around the planet. That’s a lot of book boxes. Now, fill the boxes with radioactive waste. Forthwith, that’s the amount of radioactive waste stored unsheltered in one-tonne black bags throughout Fukushima Prefecture, amounting to 9,000,000 cubic metres

But wait, there’s more to come, another 13,000,000 cubic metres of radioactive soil is yet to be collected. (Source: Voice of America News, Problems Keep Piling Up in Fukushima, Feb. 17, 2016).

And, there’s still more, the cleanup operations only go 50-100 feet beyond roadways. Plus, a 100-mile mountain range along the coast and hillsides around Fukushima are contaminated but not cleansed at all. As a consequence, the decontaminated land will likely be re-contaminated by radioactive runoff from the hills and mountains.

Indubitably, how and where to store millions of cubic metres of one-tonne black bags filled with radioactive waste is no small problem. It is a super-colossal problem. What if bags deteriorate? What if a tsunami hits? The “what-ifs” are endless, endless, and beyond.

“The black bags of radioactive soil, now scattered at 115,000 locations in Fukushima, are eventually to be moved to yet-to-be built interim facilities, encompassing 16 square kilometers, in two towns close to the crippled nuclear power plant,” Ibid.

By itself, 115,000 locations each containing many, many, mucho one-tonne bags of radioactive waste is a logistical nightmare, just the trucking alone is forever a humongous task, decades to come.

According to Japanese government and industry sources, cleaning up everything and decommissioning the broken down reactors will take at least 40 years at a cost of $250 billion, assuming nothing goes wrong. But dismally, everything that can possibly go wrong for Tokyo Electric Power Company (“TEPCO”) over the past 5 years has gone wrong, not a good record.

And, Japan is hosting the 2020 Olympics?

Continue reading Fukushima – Deep Trouble, by Robert Hunziker

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