Subject: ON NEW CONTEXTS AND OLD SCRIPTS, THE LIMITS OF INTERPERSONAL RELATIONSHIPS.
2 April 2011
Dear Colleagues and Friends of CEIMSA,
According to context theory, the system of which we are a part and the constraints thereof influence overwhelmingly the choices we make in our lives. Still we do make some choices and to some degree are held accountable for them, but no one in his "right mind" would arrest and try to convict a person for war crimes, merely because he paid taxes which facilitated the slaughter of innocent people day after day. This "common sense" reality of systemic relationships is often forgotten, and the strategic importance of context is often ignored. This neglect is not without its consequences, however; by ignoring the larger system, we are thrown periodically into states of confusion, mistaking effect for cause..., necessity for virtue..., contradiction for opposition.... When we are thrust into this confusion, there often appears to be only one way out: verbal bridges from one imaginary construction to another. Without a grasp of historical reality, without the capacity to abstract elements from the material context which governs our interpersonal relationships, we appear helpless, with no knowledge and no strategy, without a clue on how to secure the necessities of life from the world around us. We pass our lives more or less on automatic pilot, largely governed by sets of constraints which exist beyond our control, indeed beyond our powers of perception, or at least out of range for most of us. William Shakespeare attempted to come to terms with this reality at the end of the 16th Century in his play, As You Like It (Act II, Scene 7) :
All the world's a stage,
And all the men and women merely players:
They have their exits and their entrances;
And one man in his time plays many parts,
His acts being seven ages. At first the infant,
Mewling and puking in the nurse's arms.
And then the whining school-boy, with his satchel
And shining morning face, creeping like snail
Unwillingly to school. And then the lover,
Sighing like furnace, with a woeful ballad
Made to his mistress' eyebrow. Then a soldier,
Full of strange oaths and bearded like the pard,
Jealous in honour, sudden and quick in quarrel,
Seeking the bubble reputation
Even in the cannon's mouth. And then the justice,
In fair round belly with good capon lined,
With eyes severe and beard of formal cut,
Full of wise saws and modern instances;
And so he plays his part. The sixth age shifts
Into the lean and slipper'd pantaloon,
With spectacles on nose and pouch on side,
His youthful hose, well saved, a world too wide
For his shrunk shank; and his big manly voice,
Turning again toward childish treble, pipes
And whistles in his sound. Last scene of all,
That ends this strange eventful history,
Is second childishness and mere oblivion,
Sans teeth, sans eyes, sans taste, sans everything.
Such observations are subversive, in that they serve to deflate authoritarian figures and reduce them to their constituent elements. The ruthless management of power is within the reach of everyone ("We are all potentially concentration camp "Kapos" or Saints!" Noam Chomsky once observed), and the will to use this power ruthlessly is associated with delusions of what it might accomplish if we only tried. Thus, we are occasionally reminded of paradoxes presented by the context of our everyday lives, when reality trips us up --when the ends cannot be used to justify the means-- and ruinous results beyond any recognition of what was originally intended are successfully avoided.
The 9 items below speak to the fact that context stubbornly remains a determining influence on our behavior and our interpersonal relationships. Who we are and what we do is largely beyond our control. Therefore, one might conclude, the decisions we make within that very small margin which exists and constitutes the relm of our potential freedom is of vital importance. Community organizing and local labor union activity can be an important moment in the life of anyone, a time when constraints are confronted, when we participate in the collective expression of our desires for a better life and of our intentions to become more than what we are presently allowed to be, by actually changing the context of our lives. This is the closest we will ever get to immortality, when we storm heaven, demanding justice, and remake our own history . . . .
Item A. is a message from Wisconsin, where BoldProgressive.org is announcing "The First Successful Recall: Republican Law Maker Dan Kapanke": people are successfully organizing to defend their rights to collective bargaining and to social services, employing tactics which actually work.
Item B., sent to us by NYU political science Professor Mark Crispin Miller, is a list of very useful Internet sites monitoring with frequent updates the current crises, including the Fukushima nuclear power plant explosions.
Item C., sent by New School for Social Research economics Professor Richard Wolff on the hopeful signs of Main Street pushing back against Wall Street.
Item D., from San Diego educator and social activist, Byron Morton, is an article by Stephanie Clifford and Catherine Rampell on how "food inflation is kept hidden in tinier bags."
Item E., is a Petition sent to us from The Boycott National Committee in Palestine calling for boycott actions around the world in defense of the Palestinian people.
Item F., sent to us by Professor Edward Herman, is an article by Pepe Escobar on US strategies in Libya.
ItemG., sent to us by Professor Vicki Briault, is a text by Michel Bernard, reporter with the ecological magazine, Silence, accompanied by a commentary by Alex Manus.
Item H. is a report from the Institute for Public Accuracy on "The U.S.-Saudi Libya Deal," sent to us by Professor Herman.
Item I., sent by Al Burke, is a "mea culpa" by a former Norwegian NATO officer who apologizes to Yugolavia for "the avoidable war" NATO inflicted on their nation in 1999.
And finally, we urge readers to become acquainted with the Internet site Project World Awareness, which presents the following scientific discussion :
Francis McCollum Feeley
Professor of American Studies
Université de Grenoble 3
Director of Research
Université de Paris 10
P.S. We remind readers that they are invited to our May 19 International Conference on the University of Paris campus at Nanterre. Resistation at the door with no fees required: please see May 19 Program = http://dimension.ucsd.edu/CEIMSA-IN-EXILE/newsletter/newsletter45.html
Note: Among the speakers at the May 19 conference on the Nanterre campus will be US political critique, William Blum, author of many books and articles, including the best selling book,"Killing Hope". Please see below the latest edition of Mr. Blum's regular publication:
From Earl Katz:
This is the best info I've seen. If nothing else, watch the 1st link immediately below:
USA / EU Radiation and Jetstream Forecast - March 26, 2011
Stricken nuclear plant's No.3 reactor 'may have cracked' as Fukushima Fifty workers are treated for radiation contamination
Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1369822/Japan-nuclear-crisis-3-Fukushima-Fifty-exposed-radiation-taken-hospital.html
iTunes Radiation Map Tracker app - I just bought RadMap (RadTracker) from the iTunes store for $0.99. It is currently just a static map of the world with monitoring spots that are supposed to show radiation levels when you touch them. They don't work yet, but this kind of software front-end has the potential to be tied into a real time radiation map.
Livestream iTunes app: Al Jazeera, BBC and other feeds are accessed with this viewer for iPad or iPhone.
Live NHK Japan News and Video link (English)
Fukushima Live Webcam
Japan Radioactivity Map
MEXT - Ministry of Education Culture, Sports, Science and Technology Japan
NISA - Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency
Japan Atomic Industrial Forum
EPA - US Environmental Protection Agency
Online Geiger Counter Nuclear Radiation Detector Map
Nuclear Power Plants Around the World
Finland Radiation Monitoring - Finnish Radiation and Nuclear Safety Authority
Dutch Radiation Monitoring
Swiss Radiation Monitoring
Europe Radioactivity Maps
NEWLY ADDED LINKS:
Northern Hemisphere Cryosphere Conditions
Northwest Pacific Infrared Loop
Weather Model - Global Jet Stream Wind and 250 mb Pressure
Jet Stream Analyses and Forecasts
Realtime radiation data collected via the System for Prediction of Environment Emergency Dose Information (SPEEDI)
Telascience Map Visualization - twenty-three values from two hundred+ stations, every ten minutes, including: radiation level, wind speed, wind direction and precipitation
RDTN created this site to display the reliable data readings as they become available
The best information and links are being consolidated on
from Richard Wolff :
Date: 23. March 2011
Subject: Popular anger at greedy bankers in the USA.
For your consideration, my latest from The Guardian website
(At last, the first signs that politicians are heeding popular anger at the austerity measures imposed to pay for bankers' greed)
from Byron Morton :
Date: 29 March 2011
Subject: Food Inflation Kept Hidden in Tinier Bags.
I thought you'd be interested in this article. Basically, it's a hidden price increase, tax increase and the like!
As an expected increase in the cost of raw materials looms for late summer, consumers are beginning to encounter shrinking food packages.
With unemployment still high, companies in recent months have tried to camouflage price increases by selling their products in tiny and tinier packages. So far, the changes are most visible at the grocery store, where shoppers are paying the same amount, but getting less.
For Lisa Stauber, stretching her budget to feed her nine children in Houston often requires careful monitoring at the store. Recently, when she cooked her usual three boxes of pasta for a big family dinner, she was surprised by a smaller yield, and she began to suspect something was up.
“Whole wheat pasta had gone from 16 ounces to 13.25 ounces,” she said. “I bought three boxes and it wasn’t enough that was a little embarrassing. I bought the same amount I always buy, I just didn’t realize it, because who reads the sizes all the time?”
Ms. Stauber, 33, said she began inspecting her other purchases, aisle by aisle. Many canned vegetables dropped to 13 or 14 ounces from 16; boxes of baby wipes went to 72 from 80; and sugar was stacked in 4-pound, not 5-pound, bags, she said.
Five or so years ago, Ms. Stauber bought 16-ounce cans of corn. Then they were 15.5 ounces, then 14.5 ounces, and the size is still dropping. “The first time I’ve ever seen an 11-ounce can of corn at the store was about three weeks ago, and I was just floored,” she said. “It’s sneaky, because they figure people won’t know.”
In every economic downturn in the last few decades, companies have reduced the size of some products, disguising price increases and avoiding comparisons on same-size packages, before and after an increase. Each time, the marketing campaigns are coy; this time, the smaller versions are “greener” (packages good for the environment) or more “portable” (little carry bags for the takeout lifestyle) or “healthier” (fewer calories).
Where companies cannot change sizes as in clothing or appliances they have warned that prices will be going up, as the costs of cotton, energy, grain and other raw materials are rising.
“Consumers are generally more sensitive to changes in prices than to changes in quantity,” John T. Gourville, a marketing professor at Harvard Business School, said. “And companies try to do it in such a way that you don’t notice, maybe keeping the height and width the same, but changing the depth so the silhouette of the package on the shelf looks the same. Or sometimes they add more air to the chips bag or a scoop in the bottom of the peanut butter jar so it looks the same size.”
Thomas J. Alexander, a finance professor at Northwood University, said that businesses had little choice these days when faced with increases in the costs of their raw goods. “Companies only have pricing power when wages are also increasing, and we’re not seeing that right now because of the high unemployment,” he said.
Most companies reduce products quietly, hoping consumers are not reading labels too closely.
But the downsizing keeps occurring. A can of Chicken of the Sea albacore tuna is now packed at 5 ounces, instead of the 6-ounce version still on some shelves, and in some cases, the 5-ounce can costs more than the larger one. Bags of Doritos, Tostitos and Fritos now hold 20 percent fewer chips than in 2009, though a spokesman said those extra chips were just a “limited time” offer.
Trying to keep customers from feeling cheated, some companies are introducing new containers that, they say, have terrific advantages and just happen to contain less product.
Kraft is introducing “Fresh Stacks” packages for its Nabisco Premium saltines and Honey Maid graham crackers. Each has about 15 percent fewer crackers than the standard boxes, but the price has not changed. Kraft says that because the Fresh Stacks include more sleeves of crackers, they are more portable and “the packaging format offers the benefit of added freshness,” said Basil T. Maglaris, a Kraft spokesman, in an e-mail.
And Procter & Gamble is expanding its “Future Friendly” products, which it promotes as using at least 15 percent less energy, water or packaging than the standard ones.
“They are more environmentally friendly, that’s true but they’re also smaller,” said Paula Rosenblum, managing partner for retail systems research at Focus.com, an online specialist network. “They announce it as great new packaging, and in fact what it is is smaller packaging, smaller amounts of the product,” she said.
Or marketers design a new shape and size altogether, complicating any effort to comparison shop. The unwrapped Reese’s Minis, which were introduced in February, are smaller than the foil-wrapped Miniatures. They are also more expensive $0.57 an ounce at FreshDirect, versus $0.37 an ounce for the individually wrapped.
Add to Portfolio
At H. J. Heinz, prices on ketchup, condiments, sauces and Ore-Ida products have already gone up, and the company is selling smaller-than-usual versions of condiments, like 5-ounce bottles of items like Heinz 57 Sauce sold at places like Dollar General.
“I have never regretted raising prices in the face of significant cost pressures, since we can always course-correct if the outcome is not as we expected,” Heinz’s chairman and chief executive, William R. Johnson, said last month.
While companies have long adjusted package sizes to appeal to changing tastes, from supersizes to 100-calorie packs, the recession drove a lot of corporations to think small. The standard size for Edy’s ice cream went from 2 liters to 1.5 in 2008. And Tropicana shifted to a 59-ounce carton rather than a 64-ounce one last year, after the cost of oranges rose.
With prices for energy and for raw materials like corn, cotton and sugar creeping up and expected to surge later this year, companies are barely bothering to cover up the shrinking packs.
“Typically, the product manufacturers are doing this slightly ahead of the perceived inflationary issues,” Ms. Rosenblum said. “Lately, it hasn’t been subtle I mean, they’ve been shrinking by noticeable amounts.”
That can work to a company’s benefit. In the culture of thinness, smaller may be a selling point. It lets retailers honestly claim, for example, that a snack package contains fewer calories without having to change the ingredients a smidge.
“For indulgences like ice cream, chocolate and potato chips, consumers may say ‘I don’t mind getting a little bit less because I shouldn’t be consuming so much anyway,’ ” said Professor Gourville. “That’s a harder argument to make with something like diapers or orange juice.”
But even while companies blame the recession for smaller packages, they rarely increase sizes in good times, he said.
He traced the shrinking package trends to the late 1980s, when companies like Chock full o’ Nuts downsized the one-pound tin of ground coffee to 13 ounces. That shocked consumers, for whom a pound of coffee had been as standard a purchase unit as a dozen eggs or a six-pack of beer, he said.
Once the economy rebounds, he said, a new “jumbo” size product typically emerges, at an even higher cost per ounce. Then the gradual shrinking process of all package sizes begins anew, he said.
“It’s a continuous cycle, where at some point the smallest package offered becomes so small that perhaps they’re phased out and replaced by the medium-size package, which has been shrunk down,” he said.
from Marlena Santoyo :
Date: 29 March 2011
Subject: The Boycott National Committee in Palestine has called for boycott actions around the world.
OK, I signed- your turn now.
As we witness an escalation in violence in Israel, the West Bank and Gaza, we remind ourselves that one life lost is too many, whether Palestinian or Israeli, and condemn all acts of brutality. As one of our allies wrote to us [ http://jewishvoiceforpeace.org/blog/updated-from-gaza-to-jerusalem-jvp-statement-on-the-escalation-of-violence ], "These terrible acts of violence remind us that to end the Israeli occupation our best hope is supporting the inspiring nonviolent Palestinian movement for change... the Global Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement."
This week in commemoration of the Palestinian Land Day, March 30, which marks the murder of six unarmed Palestinian protesters killed in 1976, the Boycott National Committee in Palestine has called for boycott actions around the world.
Today we have an urgent request - will you sign our petition to big box store Bed Bath & Beyond asking them to stop carrying products made in illegal Israeli settlements - Ahava cosmetics and SodaStream home carbonation system. These products are fraudulently labeled as "Made in Israel", but are in fact produced in illegal settlements under the conditions of the military occupation in the West Bank, way outside the internationally-recognized borders of Israel.
****Sign the petition here. http://salsa.democracyinaction.org/o/424/petition.jsp?petition_KEY=741 ***************
On Wednesday, Palestinian Land Day, we will deliver your signatures to Bed Bath & Beyond stores and fax the letter and signatures to the corporate headquarters (to CEO Steven Temares). Email us [ mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org?subject=Store%20Petition%20Delivery%20 ] if you can deliver the printed petition to a store in your area.
****Take 30 seconds now to sign our petition to Bed Bath & Beyond (LINK to petition) and we'll deliver your signature to stores around the country on Wednesday!
"Onward for justice,
"Ali, Chelsea, Dalit, Jodie, Kristen, Nancy, and Rae for the Stolen Beauty Boycott Team
PS Join us in DC May 21-24 [ http://www.moveoveraipac.org ] [ http://www.moveoveraipac.org ] to counter the largest pro-occupation lobby in the US - AIPAC - with creative protests, an educational summit, cultural events and more. Together we can be a voice for change to usher in a new foreign policy in the Middle East. Be part of this historic event with Alice Walker, Patch Adams, The Israel Lobby authors John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt, Cindy and Craig Corrie, and many more authors and changemakers from around the country! Sign up today! [ http://codepinkalert.org/form.php?modin=133 ]
from Edward Herman :
Date: 30 March 2011
Subject: Queen Hillary of Libya.
To follow Pepe's articles on the Great Arab Revolt, please see below.
THE ROVING EYE
"Queen Hillary of Libya"
by Pepe Escobar
The current stalemate in Libya could last weeks, if not months. In that case, balkanization looms. Think of eastern Libya with Benghazi as capital, oil-rich and with a United States-installed puppet regime (a Libyan Hamid Karzai, like the Afghan president). It would be like a kind of northern Africa Saudi Arabia (the House of Saud would love it).
And think of a western Libya with Tripoli as capital, impoverished, angry and ruled by Muammar Gaddafi and sons. If that applies, we're back to the 1950s; Libya as the new Korea. Or, more
ominously, back to the 1960s; Libya as the new Vietnam.
Vietnam? No wonder a paranoid Anglo-American-French consortium will pull all stops to take out Gaddafi. They don't want half a spring roll; they want the whole kebab.
The queen's speech
The new Libyan government kingmaker is actually a queen: US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Any doubts that the US State Department is now frantically setting up a new government peppered with English-speaking collaborators have been dismissed after the London conference on Libya.
The "official" Libyan opposition used to tautologically call itself "Interim Transitional National Council". Now it's Interim National Council (INC). Anyone running for cover to the sound of the acronym INC is excused; it does bring appalling memories of the Washington-propped Iraqi National Congress and its fabled "weapons of mass destruction" in the run-up to the invasion of Iraq in 2003.
And what about the INC's new military commander, Khalifa Hifter - a former Libyan army colonel who spent nearly 20 years in Vienna, Virginia, not far from the Central Intelligence Agency in Langley? Progressives will love to learn that the romantic "rebels" are now led by a CIA asset.
At the London conference, the INC launched in style its slick political manifesto - "A vision of democratic Libya" - which makes all the right noises; freedom of expression, presidential and parliamentary elections, and crucially, the promise of "a state that draws strength from our strong religious beliefs in peace, truth, justice and equality".
This is - extremely polite - code for Islam in post-Gaddafi Libya (so not to ruff Western feathers). Along with the impeccable English redaction, the whole thing screams, "slick Western PR stunt". The council swears the platform was originally drawn up in Arabic. It definitely doesn't feel like a Google Translate job.
So the INC says the gift to the West for the Tomahawks, Tornados and Rafales is going to be a secular democracy. Someone else might say a coalition of opportunists and military defectors climbed upon the wave of mass radicalization in northern Africa, profited from the absence of political leadership among the working class and middle class, and struck a military alliance with Western imperialism. Which is more plausible?
The INC now is being paraded for the whole world to see as a Western puppet - totally dependent on political and military support. Welcome to Libya as a Pentagon-style forward operating base (FOB) - to the benefit of the Pentagon itself (via Africom), Western oil majors, and all manner of shady Anglo-French-American business interests (see There's no business as war business Asia Times Online March 30 ). Welcome to a new Libya hosting a US military base and NATO exercises, and not spending oil money in sub-Saharan African development projects.
As major players - the BRIC countries and Germany – had already warned, United Nations Security Council resolution 1973 is being twisted like a pretzel. Queen Hillary now openly says that arming the "rebels" is legal. Another one of the queen's women combat squad, US ambassador to the UN, Susan Rice, said the US had "not ruled out" arming the rebels - mimicking the exact wording of President Barack Obama. Impressed, British Foreign Secretary William Hague agreed. So did Qatar.
Meanwhile, NATO is taking over. Literally. Starting this Thursday, NATO's air strikes will be conducted out of the Combined Air Operations Center at Poggio Renatico base in Italy, 40 kilometers north of Bologna. But that's just the start.
Admiral James Stavridis, NATO's supreme allied commander for Europe, told a US senate hearing in Washington NATO was not considering ground forces in post-Gaddafi Libya - at least not yet. But as NATO had installed peacekeepers in the Balkans, added Stavridis, "the possibility of a stabilization regime exists".
There you have it - the whole package; a Western puppet regime, Western boots on the ground, a squalid Western protectorate. Goodbye to Libya's sovereignty. And this only a few hours after Obama passionately told the world this was just a humanitarian mission.
It requires major suspension of disbelief that an Obama administration that keeps unleashing drones and air strikes over civilians in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen and - now and then - Somalia is now deeply concerned with protecting Libyan civilians. "Democratic" Israel may bomb 1,500 Lebanese civilians in 2006 or kill nearly 1,500 civilians in the winter of 2008/2009 in Gaza - and no way there will be a UN resolution, or Tomahawks flying, or righteous humanitarian imperialists invoking R2P (“responsibility to protect”) en masse.
In 1999, NATO almost destroyed Belgrade to "protect civilians" in Kosovo. Kosovo subsequently became an infinitely corrupt protectorate ruled by a drug mafia. Cue to echoes of neo-cons arguing that the real reason for Washington to invade Iraq was to "protect" Iraqis from the evil dictator Saddam by bringing democracy (by shock and awe).
The stark fact is that Washington - now with Anglo-French help - is bombing yet another Muslim/Arab capital. Miraculously - if one believes the Pentagon - with zero "collateral damage".
And what about the Ivory Coast?
A true genocide is about to happen in the Ivory Coast. There are already one million internal refugees. The "international community" - which now seems to consist of the US, Britain, France, a few NATO countries and a few Arab autocracies, with Qatar as the superstar - has not emitted a peep.
Laurent Gbagbo lost a presidential election in the Ivory Coast but has refused to concede. He controls a huge militia armed to their teeth - and they're going all guns blazing to snatch elected opposition figures, intellectuals and civil society leaders. Anyone who has supported the winner of the election, Alassane Ouattara, is fair game.
Shades of Gaddafi, anyone? Better yet; shades of Rwanda in 1994, Uganda in 2008 and Congo during the 1990s. Not a few thousand dead civilians but hundreds of thousands of dead civilians (and in the case of Congo, perhaps as many as four million). Not a R2P (responsibility to protect) squeak from the "international community".
If the Anglo-French-American consortium really wanted to stop the violence in Libya the sensible solution would have been to dispatch an UN fact-finding commission to really analyze the facts on the ground. No one really knows how many civilians Gaddafi forces killed, or how many air strikes his regime conducted. No one really knows how many black Africans have been raped or murdered by the “rebels”, who assumed they were Gaddafi mercenaries.
Gaddafi himself agreed to an independent UN commission. The first measure of R2P is not to exercise the Tomahawk option; it is to mediate, call for a ceasefire and start negotiations.
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan is correct when he says this "humanitarian" war is fast becoming a "second Iraq" or "another Afghanistan". He also said Turkey is talking to both Gaddafi and the INC. Sensibly - and as part of NATO - Turkey is about to take over the harbor and the airport in Benghazi to speed up humanitarian aid. If there is a ceasefire the credit must go to Turkey - which is working hard to establish a humanitarian corridor, with support from Italy. Neo-Napoleonic Arab liberator French President Nicolas Sarkozy won't be amused.
Turkey is also linking up with the African Union (AU) - which has been totally marginalized by the Anglo-French-American consortium. France and Britain may be paranoid about the upcoming immigration waves from Africa, now that Libya - which was the cop on the beat for the Europeans - is not playing that role anymore. Italy - already coping with waves and waves of new arrivals at the isle of Lampedusa - at least is trying to work in the humanitarian front alongside Turkey.
There's no guarantee Turkey's mediation efforts will work. The Pentagon/Africom/NATO foreign intervention in Libya - "legitimized" by a dodgy UN cover - is shaping up as a counter-revolutionary master coup. Make no mistake as to what is the ultimate target; to squash the great 2011 Arab revolt momentum, to show who's boss, and to present neo-colonialism with a facelift. To see how it develops, one just has to focus on Queen Hillary's speech.
Pepe Escobar is the author of Globalistan: How the Globalized World is Dissolving into Liquid War (Nimble Books, 2007) and Red Zone Blues: a snapshot of Baghdad during the surge. His new book, just out, is Obama does Globalistan (Nimble Books, 2009).
from Vicki Briault :
Date: 30 March 2011
Subject: When Silence speaks of anger....
I'm sending this version of Michel Bernard's letter to all the English speakers among those to whom I sent the first version. This one has my brother Alex's comments (from Britain) in English. He is a vet and has been a green activist for all his adult life. His input is in bold.
Je suis en colère
George Monbiot (well-known and respected environmentalist and writer on social justice etc) has said in the Guardian this month that he is now converted to nuclear power because nobody has been hurt even though Fukushima exploded. He has been taken to task by Caroline Lucas (only Green MP in England) amongst others - apart from anything else, Fukushima hasn't exactly been sorted out yet?!
Excellent point about countries managing without nuclear power (ie most) and that it's always poorer standards in 'other' countries which lead to problems.
Very importantly he brings up energy efficiency - Amory Lovins refers to Negawatts (energy not requiring generation because we avoid using it) - in many studies energy efficiency measures are shown to be far the most effective way to spend money. If the billions of euros/pounds/dollars spent on nuclear went into energy efficiency, it would be much safer and more cost-effective. The point about nuclear is the same as the one about why we build skyscrapers when most people prefer to live in more human spaces - big important clever (men) get to look big, important and clever, and get rich, developing massive, dangerous, centralized power stations, whereas persuading people to turn lights off and live nearer to where they work isn't nearly as exciting.*
Je suis en colère quand on me dit que l'on peut continuer à exploiter encore des vieux réacteurs comme Fessenheim en Alsace (qui a trente ans) parce que "plus il est vieux, mieux on connait un réacteur" - you couldn't make it up. Anyone for a 30yo mobile phone?
Je suis en colère quand on nous dit que l'on ne peut se passer du nucléaire en France, parce que cette énergie fournit près de 80 % de notre électricité. C'est oublier que l'électricité n'est pas la principale source d'énergie (c'est le pétrole) et que le nucléaire ne représente que 17 % de notre énergie. Si l'on voulait s'arrêter, on pourrait s'appuyer sur une solidarité au niveau de l'Europe : là, le nucléaire ne représente que 35 % de l'électricité et seulement 9 % de l'énergie ! Il suffirait donc d'économiser 9 % pour s'en passer ! These numbers have to be considered carefully. Electricity, like money, is very fungible ie can be used for many different applications. Fossil fuel power stations to date have probably caused more death and environmental destruction (eg acid rain/ waldsterben/ climate change) than nuclear (although waste storage will be a problem for many thousands of years) and renewables have a variety of potential drawbacks eg wind not blowing, tidal schemes interfering with wildlife, dams silting up. It is probably best, after addressing efficiency, to have a varied supply, but ideally focussed on widely disseminated/ localized renewables. If local communities are directly responsible for their own power supply, they will look after it carefully and be less inclined to waste it. Strawbale buildings would minimize indoor heating requirements (cf Scandinavian ultra-insulated homes) - space and water heating is hugely inefficient especially in Britain and probably offers the biggest area for savings (the other is private travel, but reducing this would necessitate some massive rethinking of planning laws, urban design, social structure and attitudes etc etc ie long lead-in)
Je suis en colère parce qu'au nom de la défense de la croissance économique, les programmes énergétiques français ou européens, négligent toujours plus ou moins le potentiel des économies d'énergies, préférant la surconsommation, éventuellement alimentée par le recours aux énergies renouvelables. Or l'énergie la plus propre reste celle que l'on ne consomme pas. En adoptant les meilleures techniques disponibles et en évitant les comportements énergivores, nous pourrions diviser par 4 notre consommation en une vingtaine d'années. Again, Amory Lovins,, Hunter Lovins and Ernst von Weizsacker covered this in Factor Four - Doubling Wealth, Halving Resource Use. It is a strongly held canard that spending money on stupid stuff is an important way to maintain economic growth.**
Je suis en colère quand j'entends mon gendre, 25 ans, ingénieur dans le photovoltaïque, me dire qu'il cherche un nouveau travail car la profession est sinistrée suite aux récentes décisions du gouvernement. UK government in process of taking away shortlived feed-in tarriff for large-scale photovoltaics despite earlier saying it would promote the 'green economy' (I think they mean green as in we're fucking thick and don't know when we're being shafted)
Je suis en colère quand mon fils, 20 ans, me dit : "à quoi ça sert de faire des études si dans cinq ans on a tous un cancer" (et il ne pense pas qu'au nucléaire, mais aussi à la pollution atmosphérique, aux pesticides…). OK hang on we're not all going to get cancer. On most measures most humans are far healthier and have far better prospects than at any time in the past. A MASSIVE exception being Africa of course, HIV/AIDS/TB malaria. For me the thing about energy consumption at present, apart from the horrendous waste, is that it is so inequitable and the losers (through lack of affordability and regressive pricing, exposure to pollution, lower safety, etc) are the usual suspects women/children/ill/subsaharan Africa.
* What I find frustrating is that there is so little discussion at the political level about rationing (or quotas which amount to the same thing). There have been studies carried out on personal carbon quotas (eg by Environment Audit Committee UK Govt), obviously there are quota and tarriff schemes such as the European Emission Trading Scheme, and Milk Quota, and the hoary old chestnut of rationing during and after the Second World War shows that it can be done. Taxing energy consumption is much more sensible than taxing the amount of work people want to do, and could be phased in as income tax is phased out (this has been explored under the heading Unitax)
**If you measure success in terms of a single criterion, eg money output, and 1/ you can trade in that criterion itself (the tool becomes the goal) you get an unsustainable financial bubble which distorts the rest of the economy (done that) 2/ the intrinsic value of that money output depends on a distorted value for energy (ie energy much too cheap, failing to take into consideration full costs) - you get another massive distortion in the form of wasted energy resources (doing that) 3/ you fail to allow for the mathematical certainty that in any given system, only one criterion can be maximized, so choosing that criterion to be money means that ALL other criteria you might wish to consider (human health, community cohesion, biodiversity, etc, etc, etc) are AT BEST aportioned second place. This has been address by people like William Nordhaus and Richard Tobin, also in For the Common Good (Herman Daly and John Cobb) (got the tee-shirt)
Alors j'agis, je me suis investi depuis une trentaine d'années dans les médias écologistes pour faire circuler une information moins déloyale et j'incite les journalistes et les lecteurs à prendre le temps d'eux aussi chercher où est la vérité. Comment peut-on encore minorer l'importance de la pollution radioactive au Japon alors que les images sur internet nous montrent les réacteurs en flamme ?
Alors j'agis et je m'engage dans l'une des 875 associations qui animent le Réseau Sortir du nucléaire pour demander à nos élus de faire pression pour un changement de politique dans le domaine de l'énergie. (www.sortirdunucleaire.org)
Alors j'agis au niveau local en rejoignant les nombreux groupes locaux qui travaillent à des plans de descente énergétique qui nous permettront de diminuer la menace nucléaire, mais aussi notre dépendance à un pétrole qui va être de plus en plus rare. (www.transitionfrance.fr)
Alors j'agis car aujourd'hui si le lobby nucléaire arrive à manipuler élus et médias, c'est parce que nous ne nous indignons pas assez ! I INDIGNE ALL THE TIME! NOBODY CAN HEAR ME!
Journaliste à la revue Silence
from Edward Herman :
Date 1 April 2011
Subject: "Exposed: The U.S.-Saudi Libya Deal"
from Al Burke :
Date: 27 March 2011
Subject: A NATO officer apologizes to Yugolavia.
In case you haven't seen it -- interestng "mea culpa" by former Norwegian KFOR solider in attached PDF document.