Can electric cars kill the oil industry & save the planet?

This is just a rant, and a half hour or banging the keyboard because it is raining and not nice for going out to plant more seeds in my back yard.

I noticed a lively thread on social media where I had commented that I did not feel strongly that electric cars would kill the oil industry or the dependence on fossil fuels, mainly because electricity, by and large, will continue to come from fossil fuels, unless we consider nuclear energy, which has its own bag of issues. That generated a nice and healthy chain of comments from learned and well meaning folks. I did not wish to bother them with any more lengthy posts from my cantankerous self. But, it was raining outside, and I was stuck indoor for a while. The coffee was hot, and so here I am, on my own blog.

As to having a choice on what kind of electricity one gets may be relevant in very few spots on the planet. For a vast majority, on a global scale – there is no choice. What you get is what is on offer, and fossil fuel burning plants that produce electricity is the global norm right now. So, I do not see electric cars to bring a death knell to fossil fuel industry.

Of course, there are many many other issues far more relevant than a car, with regard to fossil fuel industry. Folks say, though I have not read the actual measurements, that a single flight by a single person on a cross Atlantic round trip in a year, as one passenger in a three hundred passenger carrying commercial plane, makes you responsible for a higher carbon footprint annually, than you driving around as a travelling salesman clocking 300 KM every day of the year.

So, perhaps one should talk about electric aircraft, rather than electric cars, or perhaps conscientious folks should start a movement to boycott air travel altogether to save the planet.

But, again, on a global scale, one can consider how much of the fossil fuel goes into industrial scale agriculture used in new world nations such as Canada, USA and Australia and compare it with fossil fuels used for on surface of air transportation, to get a perspective on our fossil fuel consumption.

This of course does not cover the non commercial flights such as cargo flights that bring goodies to our neighbourhood but was produced in China or Indonesia. It also does not cover our tax payers money used to fly bombers over Syria to drop bombs over civilians in the name of fighting terrorism.

Fossil fuel usually means hydro-carbon. This means a series of molecules, of a thousand different variety, that has carbon and/or hydrogen in bond. ON one end of the spectrum is pure carbon. Folks think coal is pure carbon, but it is actually not so. It has hydrogen too, but much less. As the percentage of hydrogen increases, the fossil fuel gets lighter and lighter, into liquid mode and eventually into gaseous mode.  Among the lightest that is still around on earth in plentiful quantity are gasses like natural gas or methane, Liquified petroleum ( a mix of propane and butane) etc.

They are all called fossil fuel because, billions of years ago, they along with carbon dioxide (CO2) and water vapour constituted our atmosphere. There was no oxygen at all. One could argue that the CO2 in our atmosphere back then came from burning up whatever oxygen was available at the time with too much hot carbon. Either way, the atmosphere was full of stuff that would not allow us to live even one minute.

Then came a long chain of slow reactions, thought to be triggered and engineered by tiny living creatures we generally identify as micro-organisms, or bacteria. They invented photosynthesis, used sunlight as a source of energy, started splitting CO2 to grab the carbon, pull hydrogen out of water vapour and other hydrogen containing molecules and started constructing biological molecules that would be the foundation for a whole plethora of life forms. In the process, it did a few interesting things. It removed carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, produced oxygen as a byproduct, sequestered excess carbon and hydrocarbons into the ground and away from the atmosphere, and made it possible for plant and animal kingdom to evolve. And all those sequestered hydro-carbons are today known as fossil fuels, handiworks of billions of years of industrious micro-organisms that changed the planet and made it habitable for us air breathing animals.

Up came man or man’s predecessors, found out how to make fire out of wood, and started a two million year process of reversing the four billion years of work done by the bacteria.

It took our ancestor hominids and modern humans around two million years to finish off easily available wood on the surface of the planet, so clear cutting of forests became the next major source of energy. Around five hundred years ago, Europe finished off most of its forests so no more wood was available for energy. Man had invented a thing called “technology”, so buried “fossil fuel” called coal, could be pulled out of the earth, and used in place of wood.

Steam engine got invented so water that flooded coal mines could be emptied without manual labour. The rest was an inexorable march of human “technology” to undo the work of the bacteria.

It took around 400 years or so, for man to run out of enough coal on a global scale, to satisfy its ever increasing greed. So, around the beginning of the 20th century, large deposits of the next best thing – oil, was discovered and technology developed to use it for energy production. Being liquid, it had its other advantages that could be exploited better.

However, unlike wood that lasted us two million years, or coal that lasted about four hundred, mans ever increasing demand is finishing off oil is just over a hundred years. So we finished off solid fuel and liquid fuels and the last remaining frontier in fossil fuels is fuels that would be gaseous, but are somehow kept underground by those industrious micro-organisms as part liquid in strange conditions of pressure and temperature that is only possible deep underground or underwater.

So the next, and last, remaining source of “fossil fuel” appears to be natural gas and its other cousins such as LPG etc.

By now, demand for this gas, in places such as BC, Canada, is making the industry cut away last of the remaining forests, flood good agricultural lands, in order to make gigantic dams using the last of the meltwater fed rivers to produce hydro-electric power that can be used for hydraulically fracturing our stone foundations on an earth-quake prone continent, to get at the trapped natural gas, so that more “fossil fuels” can be extracted to power our ever more thirsty civilization.

How long would this natural gas last, compared to wood, coal and oil of the past? Your guess is as good as mine, but my guess is it would last far less than a hundred years. What the bacterial world achieved over 4 billion years, man will finish off in less than a hundred.

When hydro-carbons, or fossil fuel, is gone, what kind of energy is there in nearly inexhaustible quantity that man’s ever increasing greed is not likely to exhaust any time soon?

Far as I can see – it is nuclear fuel, and not wind power or solar or ocean waves etc all of which will remain as fringe. Nuclear fuel has kept the core of the earth hot, molten and magnetic ever since the planet formed and there is enough of it around.

However, just like burning fossil fuels have a nasty side effect. So has nuclear fuel. The reason mankind particularly chose Uranium for power generation and not one of the less dangerous nuclear fuels is because Uranium is a particularly good dual-technology fuel. It not only allows power generation, but it, and its synthetic derivative Plutonium also helps greatly in making atomic and eventually hydrogen bombs. Its great for warfare and weaponization.

So, in the long run, just as I do not believe electric cars are going to solve the planet’s environment on a global scale, I also do not see natural gas to solve it either, and do not see an end anytime soon, of an unending increase of nuclear power plants across the planet either. Till now, Uranium-Plutonium duo remains the most favoured technology which has allowed at least nine nations to develop nuclear bombs (USA, Russia, France, UK, China, Israel, India, Pakistan, North Korea) and at least a few more merely months away from making one if needed.

Meanwhile, an equally increasing number of nations have now the capability of building rockets than could carry such bombs across continents and deliver it at your doorstep, raining death and destruction from the sky, all following the age old model of warfare designed to enhance someone’s economy.

There are, meanwhile, environmental scientists that are beginning to predict that the current business-as-usual model of world civilization is long past the point of no return and the planet has absolutely no chance of maintaining life forms as we know it now. We are already in the midst of the sixth mass extinction phase, which is not even a disputed argument any more. The last mass extinction happened 65 million years ago that make the dinosaurs go extinct. Today it is recognized to have happened because of a massive asteroid strike on planet earth. However, the current sixth mass extinction is not due to any extraterrestrial phenomenon. This one is wholly man made.

So, how much time does the planet have left. Again, your guess is as good as mine. But a rising group of scientists, mostly kept out of mainstream and out of public eye, are claiming that this century, the 21st will not end with the business as usual model still in place.

Some are predicting 95% of living animals we can now identify will be gone by the end of the century, along with 99% of human population. What will the earth look like – I have absolutely no idea, but cities as we know it will be gone, as would be civilization.

Maverick scientists like ex-Jet propulsion laboratory and NASA notable James Lovelock predicted some years ago through his gaia series works that world has less than thirty or so years left before all hell breaks lose. That was made a decade  ago, so perhaps today, by his calculation, we have less than ten years left. His advise at the time was – there is actually nothing one can do to reverse this cataclysm, so might as well put your feet on the table, have a coffee and enjoy life while it still lasts.

I do not know if Lovelock’s prediction and time table is correct, but instinctively, I believe him to be fully correct even if the time table is arguable, and the reason I believe this to be correct is not just on account of man using up fossil fuel alone, but on an increasing different ways including our economy, money creation, agriculture, ever increasing population, ever increasing material demand made by the so called ‘Developmentality’ of civilized humans etc etc etc. So, in my mind, we are the very last generation of living people that are seeing the world as a continuum and peaking of a specific trend of human civilizational evolution and planetary sustainability.

For the next generation on – it is going to be a dog eat dog downward slide where it gets to be impossible for the bacterial world to keep maintaining the earth’s environment in a habitable range for air breathing animals in a manner that we humans of today can still relate to.

Time for a coffee ?

Judy Hoy on Glyphosate and Wildlife

I had a telephone interview with Judy Hoy on January 24, 2017, regarding effect of glyphosate (RoundUp) on wildlife. Judy is a wildlife biologist that has cared for wildlife all her life and is 77 years old.

She had a lot more to say beyond what is covered in this eight and a half minute video, regarding birth defects through glyphosate affected newborns, and how some of the deformation can be cured through the right kind of treatment, though the doctors do not like to acknowledge that, and claim the deformations are genetic, from the parents and cannot be cured. That conversation has not been recorded for inclusion in this video.

Here is her statement, and the talk recorded over the phone and converted into this video


I would like to address atmospheric transport of pesticides (an umbrella term that includes herbicides, insecticides and fungicides) and the consequences of those pesticides falling in rain and snow downwind of where they are applied. With regard to so called organic crops, rain containing pesticides, especially those extensively applied, like Roundup with its primary ingredient glyphosate, contaminate all of the foliage on which the rain falls, including organic crops. Such pesticides also contaminate the surface water used for irrigation of all crops, including the otherwise organically grown crops. This causes most organic crops to have measurable levels of glyphosate and/or metabolites, but much less than crops that are directly sprayed with Roundup. With regard to pesticides sprayed by aircraft, studies have shown that approximately 20 percent of the chemicals fall on the area sprayed. The rest of the chemicals are carried by the winds far from where they are initially sprayed, sometimes hundreds of miles in just one day.

Studies have shown that the environmental toxins travel across North America in a northeasterly direction so a large amount of the pesticides sprayed here in Western United States goes across the United States and north into Eastern Canada. It has also been shown that most pesticides sprayed in the Northern Hemisphere north of the equator travel around and around the earth towards the north, eventually ending up in the snow and ice above the Arctic Circle. Environmental toxins sprayed in the Southern Hemisphere go around the earth in a southern direction ending up in the snow and ice in the Antarctic.

Animals all over the world now have the same birth defects, many being far from sprayed cropland. For example, Roundup is not used in the extreme backcountry of Yellowstone and Glacier National Parks, but the animals in remote areas of both parks have the same facial and male reproductive malformations reported in studies of big game animals and documented on domestic grazing animals here in the valleys of Western Montana. This observation is based on pictures of the animals in documentaries and photos taken by photographers who hike far from roads in the national parks to photograph wildlife.

The Forest Service person I contacted by phone emphatically stated to me that they do not and have not used Roundup on the National Forest here in Western Montana. That is because Roundup kills everything and the forest service does not want to kill the native plants and trees. Yet, the examined hunter-killed deer and elk that live on the Forest Service land full time, well away from the valley where sprayed fields are, have the same birth defects. And the birth defects there appear to be at the same high prevalence as the animals living in the valleys. I would like to state that when collecting the study data from accident-killed big game animals, I didn’t separate the animals I examined into valley animals and forest animals.

My biologist colleague and I have examined a fairly large number of mule deer and pronghorn antelope from Eastern Montana and the same birth defects were higher in prevalence on those from Eastern Montana than on our Western Montana mule deer. We don’t have pronghorn antelope here in extreme Western Montana where most of the white-tailed deer I examined came from. White-tailed deer from Central and Eastern Montana brought to my colleague or to me to examine have an equally high prevalence of underbite and a much higher prevalence of overbite than our white-tailed deer here in Western Montana. My colleague examines the bite of each animal when he cleans the skull for the hunter. Those animals lived on the open prairie or in small isolated mountain ranges until the hunter harvested them, so we don’t find much difference in the birth defects with regard to where the animals live. They all have the same birth defects at very high prevalence. Some birth defects, especially underdeveloped premaxillary bone and male reproductive malformations are close to or over 50%. Biology books state that any birth defect with a prevalence of over 5% should raise a red flag, so the prevalence of those birth defects on wild ruminant species here in Montana is 10 times more. It is far past time to raise that proverbial red flag.

Severely underdeveloped lower jaw or overbite was found on over 5% of the white-tailed deer taken to a butcher shop in New Brunswick, Canada. The butcher who reported the overbite on the deer did not look for underbite on other deer brought to his shop.

The evidence shown by the extremely widespread identical birth defects on the wild and domestic animals and the evidence that Tony Mitra reported was found in the Canadian glyphosate test levels, indicates a high level of contamination in the rain and snow. Most of the pesticides in the weather fronts that come through our area are on dust picked up by the winds as they move across the bare fields in the states to the west of us. The millions of acres of bare fields in states upwind of our Western Montana valley are the source of large dust storms when the autumn months are dry. Even if there aren’t large dust storms, when the wind in the weather front passes over the bare fields, the soil particles on the very top of the dirt in the field is blown up into the air. When Roundup is used as a desiccant and applied just prior to harvest, glyphosate and other chemicals in the Roundup are still on the top layer of soil just prior to winter. When the weather front carrying the pesticide laden dust particles hits the high mountains, it slows down, dropping the contaminated snow or rain on the mountains and into our Western Montana valleys.

The snow is especially significant because the toxins that melt out of the snow during the spring and early summer are released into the creeks, rivers and dams that provide the irrigation water. When the water evaporates after the crops are sprinkled with the contaminated water, it concentrates the Roundup and other toxins on the leaves and in the top surface of the soil. In the winter the highly contaminated soil from organic fields and directly sprayed fields is picked up by winds and carried in the weather fronts to be deposited in the snow and surface water downwind and the whole contamination cycle begins again. It will take years to rid the environment of biologically significant levels of Roundup if they never spray another drop for the rest of time.

As many researchers have stated and shown so emphatically in studies, the biologically significant levels of glyphosate that cause birth defects and health issues in developing young animals are hundreds or even thousands of times lower than what is present on the foliage, in the rain and snow, and in the air throughout North America and now likely throughout the world.

Judy Hoy


Meanwhile, for those interested might read up on a dozen year old report from environment Canada on the spread of pesticides through the Canadian estuarine and aquatic environment, and results of its presence from various such samples.

Click on the image for browsing the file from Environment Canada

About New Brunswick Herbicide Spray

IN the last few days, I have had a number of exchanges from people in New Brunswick, regarding a near collapse of big game wildlife, suspected through herbicide spray over the forests on one side, and a long lasting sad story of people getting sick from the same as power companies spray the ground under power lines that border human habitation. Here are a few quick observations and calculations. New Brunswick is under a peculiar and undesirable condition of a single corporation having a stranglehold on the province and able to manipulate government regulations to suit its business model. It is also alleged that the spray chemicals might actually be paid for through taxpayer dollars.

Wall mounted deer head with overbite

Meanwhile, people of the province are pushing for a ban on spray and the effort is going door to door, having garnered tens of thousands of signatures in a province that is low in population.

Wild game meat cutting shops in Fredericton are reporting strange cases when they receive animals that were killed by hunters for butchering, where the deer heads show lower jaw severely under developed (having an overbite). Others have seen similar animals in the wild, including animals with only one horn developed. Same is also observed and a few of such heads are also collected by wildlife scientists, looking to have them meaningfully tested somewhere.

Then there is the case of continuing and long lasting history of the province under a crippling history of a higher percentage of people being sick and dying of all kinds of  ailments suspected from exposure to toxicity that are much less prevalent elsewhere. Some areas are so bad that almost every single family has dear ones that died, or are dying, or are suffering from severe illness, including permanent disabilities, even in young children and youths. And the suspected culprit is excess use of herbicides too close to these habitations for too long.

Deer killed by hunters with great overbite

The area is also well known for military testing of nasty chemicals such as agent orange and others that have been for decades and reportedly are still being tested over the ground in secret locations out of bounds for the people or media, and the effects may be spilling over to the local flora, fauna and humanity.

To make things worse, the province is under a sustained recession. There are no jobs except with the Government and a single corporation that owns everything, including involvement in the forest management and herbicide application. So, the people have nowhere to complain without risk of losing their job, and nowhere else to go. They are suffering silently.

It almost sounds like wilful genocide being committed on the Canadian people of the province through a sustained chemical attack ongoing for multiple generations.

Some of them contacted me.

My thoughts – it is neither easy nor perhaps the best idea to have the deformed deer heads sent off for some lab test for presence of Glyphosate. Why? Because:

  • Canadian labs are not offering testing of animal tissue or body fluids for glyphosate, to the best of my knowledge. They only offer glyphosate testing on soil, water and some kinds of food and plant matter (foliage might be tested by labs that test plant matter, but if they will accept samples from the public or only from Govt needs to be investigated, since only one lab does this plant matter test and I am not sure if they only do it for the Govt or also for the people)
  • The bone malformation in the deer are suspected to be caused through epigenetic effects from toxic influence while in embryonic stage in mother’s womb, or soon after birth while still going through major development process and before they have had time to develop a robust immune system. Therefore, testing for presence of glyphosate on an adult dead deer might not point to the root cause.
  • Glyphosate might not be the only chemical involved in this malady, although it is the most used herbicide and suspected to be linked to a whole swath of ailments in humans and the living planet. Other chemicals equally suspect could be Killex, Mecoprop-P, 2,4-D etc.

Next – it may be a better idea to actually start a practice of measuring pollution levels of these chemicals in soil, water, and plant foliage periodically over some suspected areas.

Average test using Liquid Chromatography (HPLC-MSMS), for glyphosate goes to say around CAD 300 to 400 per sample, and cost for ELISA test goes to just over CAD 100. So, a mix of the two systems used might result in an average cost of say CAD 200 just for a rough estimate. ELISA test is indicative but considered not accurate or consistent (repeatable) enough to hold up in court. However, if the results also show up similar in multiple tests or also show similar results in LCMS methods, they will be good enough. Also, any suspect results can then be cross checked and verified by a more costlier test.

So, with an average cost of CAD 200, if sample of ground water, soil and foliage is collected from a sample test area (three samples) and if tests are done say four times a year, to see seasonal variation depending on spraying cycle, foliage growth period, pregnant animal foraging period, and newborn period (say four seasons in a year), then a single area will have 3×4 – a dozen samples to be tested. At CAD 200 that makes it CAD 2,400 annually – from one area and for one chemical (glyphosate). This breaks down to a budget of say CAD 2,000 per month.

Now, if one wishes to check against five chemicals and not just Glyphosate alone, and assuming test costs will be very similar for other chemicals too, then a single area would need a budget of 2,000×5 = 10,000 per month.

If ten such places need to be placed under continuous monitoring, in order to get an idea of the degree of chemical pollution to environment, then a monthly budget of 10k x 10 = 100K is needed.

In other words, a million dollars will cover ten years of data accumulation, covering ten test areas, for five pollutants, from three kinds of samples, tested four times a year.

This kind of money is unlikely to come from volunteers or the people. This can however be made available from provincial government, even if started small and then expanded.

The trick might be gathering enough public support to lean on their government to cough up with this testing regime.

At the end of the day, this problem may not be dealt with purely on a scientific platform because of two basic problems with science today:

  1. Independent study and verification of the safety of the industrial biocides are not being allowed, on various pretexts.
  2. Scientific institutions by and large are no more public funded, and are supported by the same industry that benefits from the production, sale and application of these biocides. And industry is not interested in funding any science project that might find a problem with their herbicides. Therefore science has become biased, and has lost its neutrality and objectivity.

So, if it cannot be solved within the ambit of science, how might it be addressed? A million dollar question, but I suspect it cannot also be solved by money. In other words, people donating to a good cause will not solve the problem. Why ? Well, if money could be the deciding factor then the people have already lost the battle because the herbicide pushing corporations and lobby have far more money than the people, and can easily outspend the public and also buy the government if the government is for sale.

So then, in my thinking, the only ace that the public has that has not yet been taken away, is their vote – at the federal, provincial and municipal level. How the people might get together on this issue – remains a million dollar question. But building a grassroots movement to resist this chemical attack seems to be a good place to start.

The people of New Brunswick already have performed a near miracle – they have dedicated people working towards the petition to ban spraying in NB, and have garnered over twenty thousand signatures, going literally door to door. That is a support base that, if used properly, should begin to make a difference.

My heart goes out to the people of New Brunswick, and I stand in solidarity, helping them in whichever way I can, starting with, but not ending with, this blog.


Meanwhile, I am looking for people in New Brunswick who have a story or  an observation, or a personal statement, for making the rest of us more aware and alarmed at what appears to be a sustained chemical attack that the people of the province might have been subjected to, and how to find ways to stop this madness, and how initiate a public funded and transparent scheme of measuring the levels of toxic pollutants in the forest and residential environment, and how to trigger an independent analysis and study of the effect of such practices on the flora, fauna, people and biological diversity of the land, skies the estuaries and the oceans around New Brunswick. Everybody stands to benefit from such an endeavour, but most of all, it helps the people and the wildlife of NB who are at the front line of this chemical assault.

Any interested person – feel free to contact Tony Mitra by email.


Recent Blog attendance map.

Above blog attendance map shows degree of interest in the New Brunswick story. The red areas are sort of “hot” meaning multiple hits from them since this blog came up. Clearly, there is high level of interest from both coasts in Canada and also USA. It also shows some noticeable interest from pockets in western Europe as well as some of the eastern block nations such as Poland and also from the western part of Russia. This shows that some of the issues faced in New Brunswick might have a parallel, perhaps at a lesser extent, in matters of forest management in Northern Europe and Russia.

India has a long and sustained grassroots movement against GMO in general and a rising awareness about the herbicide that goes with GMO, though they are not, far as I know, too aware of herbicide use in forests. Anyhow, India has a healthy grassroots activism against chemicals in environment, who are also curious on similar goings on across the world. That might explain their level of curiosity here.

Then there are isolated points of interest in Taiwan, Malaysia, New Zealand, and the populated arc of south western Australia. Add isolated points of interest from Panama, Antigua, Colombia and Brazil – and that covers up central and south America. One would have to post in Spanish or Portuguese to get more response from there.

In the middle east, there is some interest from Israel and Iran – an indication that hazards of herbicide spray can find common ground among even arch enemies.

Africa is mostly missing, perhaps due to lack of internet access, or preoccupation with more pressing issues of their lives. Cape Town is the sole exception.

That’s all for today. So far so good.

Russia-China vetoes Aleppo ceasefire resolution

Well, the goings on in UNSC is perhaps an indication of geopolitical shift in the issue of regime toppling efforts by western interests.

The issue is the town of Aleppo in Syria. There is a multi-pronged warfare going on in much of the country. A lot of different groups are trying to topple the current government of Assad.

According to the US, the people fighting the government are local Syrians that wish to topple a brutal regime there.

According to other reports, the country is infiltrated by jihadists, ISIS, mercenaries etc, sent there specifically to start the next phase of the middle east war, and to topple the Assad government.

Assad

To complicate matters, there are also Kurdish resistance groups who wish to have a homeland of their own, and currently occupy strips of Turkey, Syria and Iraq, and are treated as second class citizens most everywhere. I am not sure which side of the war they are on, but Turkey, who hates the Kurds (Because the Kurds in Turkey also want independence) would either like a piece of land carved out of Syria so all the Turkish Kurds could perhaps also go there and stop bothering Turkey, or perhaps hoping that all the Turkish Kurds would cross the border and join the fight in Syria, on whichever side, as long as they vacate Turkey.

Obama

These are reasons why the issue may be too complex to fully comprehend, and many folks have opinion based on one or another point of view.

There are other factors about Syria that might be relevant. Assad does not allow western banking and oil interests to benefit from Syria’s land or its assets.

Also, Syria, while Muslim, is largely secular and do not promote a sunni version of lifestyle. Women are not required to cover themselves or stay home.

There is also additional issues of two competing oil pipelines proposed to go through Syria. The US plan leads gulf oil from Qatar to reach the west via Turkey to the Mediterranean.

Putin

There is apparently another Russian plan to help Iran develop a pipeline going through Iraq and Syria and reach the west through a Syrian terminal facing the mediterranean.

Saudi Arabia, Israel and the US do not want Iran to benefit from pipelines, and do not want Syrian ports to benefit from the business, unless Assad regime is toppled and a pro-West, Pro-Saudi, Pro-Israeli group rules Syria.

IN the middle of all this, is the issue of the current legitimate government of Syria inviting Russia to come and help fight the opponents of the regime, who they claim are foreign terrorists being funded by Saudi, Israeli and US interests, and are using US weaponry. Russia accepted the offer.

Jinping

This pits Russian military in direct confrontation with US-Saudi-Israeli interests.

Things have reached a pitch where nothing USA says about Syria, including what comes out specifically from Obama and Hillary (before she lost the election) could be believed.

It was better to look for independent reports emerging from the ground in Syria, such as Canadian reporter Eva Bartlett

Now, the epicentre of the fight is concentrated around the city of Aleppo. It was completely in control of the rebels, and there were reports of horrific treatment of the civilians coming out from there too, including mass graves and using the people as human shields against Syrian forces trying to free the town.

Anyhow, now the rebels are apparently surrounded by the syrian forces who are also being supported (I am not too sure of the details) by Iraqi forces who also want ISIS and jihadists defeated, since they believe these people actually came from Iraq, and if they succeed in Syria, would turn and haunt Iraq again. Anyhow.

Maduro

Now the battle around Aleppo has apparently turned a decisive corner, and much of the town is liberated by the govt forces. The rebels, which are perhaps the concentrated mass of ISIS forces and mercenary soldiers on pay, are surrounded and cannot flee and regroup because their escape route through the desert is blocked by Russian missiles, fighters and bombers.

USA and its supporters have been pushing for a no-fly zone for a long time, specifically in areas where the rebels move around. But since the area is under control of the Russian air force intent on cutting off rebel movement, this pitches the US directly against the Russians. USA has not put their own airforce to enforce a no-fly zone here, presumably because US generals warned Obama that this move would trigger a direct war against Russia.

Hillary herself has spoken often about wanting a no-fly zone there, fully toting the Obama-military-industrial wish. Putin’s intensions are not very clear, but this much is accepted by most – Russia does not have a wish to control the assets of the region. Rather, Russia is more interested in ensuring the region does not become an US stooge and hostile to Russia.

So, now, three countries pressed a resolution in the UNSC to force the security council to adopt a 7 day stopping of bombings around Aleppo, in order to “pass humanitarian aid” to suffering residents of Aleppo.

What has happened today, is that Russia, China and Venezuela voted against it, and 11 other security council members (some non-permanent and some permanent) voted for it. Russia and China are permanent members with veto power.

In essence, this perhaps is the first time China has openly joined Russia in a veto about the war in Syria.

I take that as the beginning of a new phase of China. They are also, slowly, beginning to bring assistance to the Assad regime, in paramilitary and military sphere.

I believe one of the main reason for China to decide to help Syria and defeat the insurgency, even at the cost of openly opposing western commercial and military interests, is because China itself has a lot of boundary provinces with substantial muslim population, and it believes some of the Islamists and Jihadists are fomenting trouble in those Chinese provinces, hoping to start a revolt and turning those areas into an expanding Islamic state. China believes some of the mushrooming or budding terrorists from these regions have already been recruited and are right now being trained first hand in insurgency through the war in Syria.

Therefore, China would like the rebels to be defeated. It considers this mushrooming of Islamic terrorism that spreads from nation to nation, and is apparently supported by Saudi Money, Israeli political support and US weaponry, poses a threat to China’s own security and integrity. In other words, its not a joking matter for them.

Ohh.. well .. we are all living in interesting times..

Ag Ministry of Saskatchewan joins the glyphosate testing deniers

The petition for local governments to test local food for glyphosate is slowly gaining ground. As more people are joining up, I am getting more feedback on potential decision makers to enter into the petition. One such recent entry has been the minister of agriculture for the Canadian province of Saskatchewan.

I was impressed by the promptness of the response, but not by its content. Passing the buck and sidestepping the demand to test local food for glyphosate and not depend on another branch of Government which is obviously not testing anything for the people – seems to be the preferred method used by politicians to tap dance around the burning necessity for letting the people know the quantity of glyphosate in their food, and to deal with it in anyway they like.

These answers are not considered to be depressing. It gives us knowledge of what to expect from the fence sitting governments. It also bolsters the notion that the petition is needed more as a tool to develop grassroots movement, where people pressure begins to trump corporate lobby, and clean food trumps toxic one.

Anyhow, I wished to preserve this piece of information, not only because it deserves to be in the general body of information attached to the petition, but also as a blog and perhaps a near future book of essays, on my experience as a food security activist, and the journey of trying to push back from the toxic avalanche we are all subjected to.

tony mitra

Are US warmongering and illegal immigration joined at the hip?

Many articles of the mainstream are covering Donal Trump’s to-do list.

I have read through quite a few of them, and decided to write this blog covering something that I wished the mainstream would address. There are mainly two items of importance here – one is what all these “Trump Special” articles avoids mentioning, and another, the the most visible and incessantly discussed one – illegal immigrantion.

1) What the mainstream media seems to consciously and deliberately sidesteps and keeps out of public view – is US Warmongering. There is in my view no other topic, other than climate change and the sixth mass extinction now ongoing, that is more important and relevant, not just to the American society, its politics, culture, and its economics, but to the whole planet. Trump has mentioned, whether he means it or not – a wish to de-escalae and step back from constant militarism and doctrine of a perpetual war. I find it mind-boggling, that Washington Post or other mainstream media do not even mention it.

The issue of climate change, the age of anthropocene and the impending catastrophe to the living planet is not part of this blog, but shall cover it in just three sentences. a) Trump says he does not believe in climate change. b) The democrats, the liberal media and the rest of the “aware” population makes a show of being aware of it (they are not), but are as much in denial of truth as Trump, and are prepared to do absolutely nothing about it except provide lip service, tokenism and hypocrisy. The planet is going to cook itself whether the deniers of the pretenders have sway.

2) The second, and often the most visible one, is about deporting illegal immigrants that have a criminal record. There has been a hysteria raised against Trump as a racist, xenophobic and what not, because he said he would erect a wall to stop further illegal immigration, and would deport all that are undocumented and same time committed certain crimes in the US.

Just think of it – almost every nation that I know, has some sort of a system that promotes restricted legal immigration (some do not even allow that), and prevents within its means any illegal immigration. I am yet to see any major country that promotes a fully open border for outsiders to come and take jobs from locals, and also free to commit crime without threat of deportation.

Many many countries erect walls to keep unwanted people from coming in. The most classic case of inhuman activity might be in occupied Palestine, where Israel erected walls so locals themselves cannot freely move in their own country, so that the stolen land can be freely used by Israeli citizens without the bother of having to see disgruntled Palestinians.

India has erected walls and tall fences and guard posts along border with Pakistan and Bangladesh, to keep illegal immigrants and potential terrorists from entering. Many countries do that.

But this article essentially tries to claim that the US economy depends on illegal immigration. This is really startling.

This may be a tacit acceptance of the corporate culture that prefers to employ undocumented workers who will accept lower wages and demand less support than local citizens would. Therefore, products and services can be cheaper with illegal immigrants even if that results in unemployment for the locals.

Not just that. If the nation stopped this practice, and the jobs went back to locals, the cost is likely to rise and perhaps make things even more difficult to run.

There is one related issue here that is kept hidden. This illegal employment and suppression of wages should not be necessary for the “richest” country on the planet. So where is the money going, if locals cannot even be hired with respectable wages?

The money is going to feed this perpetual war machine, taking half of all US tax money.

That is why the war mongering cannot be mentioned, and that is why the US economy has gotten used to hiring illegal immigrants at dirt poor wages at the expense of local and legal citizens.

I may not be a Nobel prize winning economist – but in absence of any mainstream covering these issues – I do what best I can, thinking this trough and trying to make sense.

And Trump had hinted at these, though not with bullet points. I do not fault Trump for it, because nobody else – not even Bernie Sanders seem to have the necessary number of family jewels to spell this out.

Tony Mitra
tony.mitra@gmail.com

The decline and fall of mainstream media

Ten years ago, I used to subscribe to, or read often, daily and weekly news outlets such as Financial Times, International Herald Tribune, New York Times, Washington Post, The New Yorker, Time magazine, Newsweek, New York Times etc, as well as many other sources, and web sites, blogs and the social media.

I slowly stopped subscribing and reading the mainstream, as began to realize that these vaunted news sources were not real news, but market manipulations and perceptions of some of the writers, all of whom were stuck to a few universally accepted ideas that I was beginning to doubt – that constant rise of GDP measured in an unsustainable yardstick was the first and only measure of development, that constant upward development was a must, that only news was financial news, war news, sports news, or trivia.

In the last few months, I got thoroughly disappointed by almost all major news sources as I could clearly and plainly see that it was engaging in a concentrated attack on Donal Trump for minor or trivial issues, inflating them and turning him into a demon, while giving the nasty deeds of Obama-Hillary a total pass. I found it increasingly difficult to take any of these news sources seriously.

I came to realize another factor – the Democratic party of Hillary was far to the right of Donald Trump, and in fact, Hillary was likely more a fascist than Trump himself. And yet, even Jill Stein was identifying Trump as the fascist instead of Hillary! The world was gradually turning upside down and black was being painted white and vice versa.

I used to be an instinctive Democratic party supporter, somehow influenced in my school days by the charm of John & Jacqueline Kennedy. But I began to understand, now, that my fixation with the “liberal” wing was kind of wrong because the liberals were pretend liberals, and dishonest to boot.

I came to understand in the last fifteen years, the real dangers of removing the glass-steigel act and implementing NAFTA, the de-linking of currency from gold, and the ability of western economies to create vast amounts of money out of thin air, without any backing, and that all money thus created were in essence counterfeit money, legalized by state governments.

I came to understand the real goals behind the agendas of IMF and the world bank, and the reason WTO failed and the new drive for the west to create regional trade agreement so that difficult components and nations could be bypassed, thus writing down TPP and many other such localized trade deals, all of them designed to make money for multinational corporations and hurt local labour forces and remove the rights of nations to resist these efforts.

Dwight D. Eisenhower

I also came to understand that the war mongering of the US government was more a democratic party gift than a republican one. I remembered that the only ex-president that warned the American people of the threat posed by an all consuming military industrial complex was Dwight Eisenhower, a republican and not a democrat. I also came to understand how the one living Democratic ex-president that to me appeared to be morally straight and willing to call a spade a spade – Jimmy Carter, would denounce Israel’s apartheid policies in his book with regard to the treatment of Palestinians and US governments incestuous relationship with Israel. He identify USA not as a democracy any more, but as an oligarch with unlimited bribery. And now, the democratic party was trying to create as much distance as it could, with Jimmy Carter.

I found it hard to identify reliable news sources anywhere. Aljazeera english remained an interesting alternative, but it was way too far leaned towards Soudi and Qatar Governments and their obnoxious record in human rights and anti-shia blood letting and joining hands with Israel and the US to create a phoney civil war in Syria so the war machine can continue rolling.

I even found google news to be heavily biassed in favour of Hillary and I had to seriously fine tune google news asking it to specifically restrict sources like New York Times, Washington Post and the like.

I now find it amusing that The New York Times is asking me, here, to get back on board and start subscribing again….

Hahhhhh …. not a chance, buddy, you are not a news outlet. You and most others here are all paddlers. What I see is the death of mainstream news, replaced by rubble and a few paddlers, and a promising grassroots movement of a mass of citizen journalists mushrooming up through the social media.
___

Thought I’d move all these from ranting on Facebook, into a blog.

Pay any price – a book worth reading

Reading the prologue section of the book by James Risen, to influence listeners to consider buying this book and reading it through and through.

This book, written by James Risen, an investigative journalist of a type that is today an endangered species, shows how the “war on terror” apparatus put in place by George Bush, has been expanded, bolstered, enriched, and made permanent by the Obama administration – making sure that USA will be perpetually in a state of war with imagined “terror”, and how this has been fine tuned now, including spying on its own citizens and extraordinary powers to put away anybody anywhere without proper legal courses, as a national geopolitical doctrine that covers the entire planet, and how this “state of war” has become so profitable to so many people around Washington, that there is no real incentive for ending it.

The journalist James Risen almost faced jail when the Obama administration wanted him to testify in court to reveal the sources that gave him the information of administrations controversial doings, which the author refused to divulge. It is a miracle that he is still outside jail, though the Obama administration has tried hard, and is perhaps still trying, to find a way to put him behind bars.

Why do I read the prologue for twenty minutes, in my strange “Indian” accent?

In order to influence other questioning minds to go buy or borrow this book and read it, instead of gobbling the snippets of propaganda that is doled out through the stupid TV channels. There is a real world that is being affected by what is happening in Washington, and the people need to wake up.

There is another reason. Obama is going to go in a few months. But Hillary Clinton is likely to expand the state of war much more than even Obama did, if she can reach the White House.

As the saying goes – be afraid – be very afraid. But whatever else you do, try to read some good books, including this one.

Thats why I am doing it.

A blind and arrogant India

My puja greetings
___________________

India ranks 97th, near the bottom, of the 118 nation index of hunger. Indians do far worse than neighbours Bhutan, Nepal, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Iran, Iraq, China, or even Ghana, Senegal, Malawi, Congo, Uganda etc.

But we can take pride that India is less hungry than Pakistan, and a very short list of unfortunate countries like Haiti, Zambia and Central African Republic etc.

When thinking this item through, I can identify as the root cause of this to be no other than the voting and upwardly mobile middle class of India – people like you and me.

In the age of virtual world and instant messaging and electronic media and TV channels by the dozens, I see no mention anywhere of the fact that half of India’s population cannot get a healthy meal a day, that nearly half of all children of India are malnourished, or that India, despite all the hoopla about progress, is among the poorest countries when it comes to basic minimum food requirement and access to health care.

For the educated people of India, the other half dose not exist. It is not in their TV, nor in their incessant messaging on whatsapp, Facebook, pinterest, instagram or whatever other platform a huge number of folks are spending millions of collective hours every day to catch up with each other. The endless plethora of soap opera on Indian channels never cover the story of the hungry and dying India.

We are ignorant despite education, and arrogant without any justification.

So, on this so called auspicious occasion when everyone with a laptop, a smart phone or a tablet is wishing everyone else seasons greetings and শুভ বিজয়া, I would write the last paragraph of Tagore’s poem “হে মোর দুর্ভাগা দেশ ”
—–

দেখিতে পাও না তুমি মৃত্যুদূত দাঁড়ায়েছে দ্বারে ,
অভিশাপ আঁকি দিল তোমার জাতির অহংকারে ।
সবারে না যদি ডাক ‘ ,
এখনো সরিয়া থাক ‘ ,
আপনারে বেঁধে রাখ ‘ চৌদিকে জড়ায়ে অভিমান —
মৃত্যুমাঝে হবে তবে চিতাভস্মে সবার সমান ।

Happy holidays – ignorant and arrogant Indian middle class.

Kickstarting a grassroots movement on testing our food

This is a movement in need and in waiting.
This was not possible a year or two ago, cause we did not have enough labs, but is possible today.Here is something this movement is NOT about:
Its NOT about debating if glyphosate is safe or unsafe to be in our food.
Its NOT about what the “science” might say about it.
Its NOT about passing new laws by federal or provincial Government about labelling.
Its NOT about if our farmers can or cannot do without Glyphosate.
So, what is it about ?
Its about people’s right to know if Glyphosate in in their food and how much.
Its about recognizing that labelling GMO does to give the full picture since non GMO crops are now desiccated with glyphosate and people can be more poisoned by some of these non-GMO crops than even GMO crops.
Its not about labelling – its about measuring and disclosing the contamination.
In order to kick start the movement, which should have a corresponding petition on change.org, it would be necessary to influence people that this is supposed to be a people’s movement that needs more than arm-chair activists.
Signing petition and sharing them on Facebook is not the goal. The goal is to appeal, for each of us, to our respective municipalities, to set aside a budget and start testing food, both locally grown and/or sold in stores, for glyphosate content, using Canadian labs, and to make the results public.
Irrespective of the debate, the science and the politics around Glyphosate/ RoundUP, the people will decide if they like some of the food brands that have more glyphosate or they like other brands that have less. Its about people’s right to choose without ever having to explain to any politician or scientists why they prefer to have one kind and not the other. That is their right.
Municipalities do not have the authority to get involved in scientific debate. Their job is to fulfil people’s wish. People wish to know which brands of their bread or other food items have how much glyphosate – and the MUnicipality’s job is to provide the answer. Thats it.
In order to kick start this effort, we wish to have a short 10-15 minute video where committed grassroots activists are ready to discuss this under a camera. Once it is done, we shall make more from others around our country that have found novel ways to approach their municipalities. How some of our compatriots manage to get our largely do-nothing municipalities to get off their hind quarter and start testing food.
Anyhow, for the first brainstorming, idea-exchanging video, I am inviting like minded and committed food security activists from nearby to respond, so we can arrange a date, time and venue, to get this off the ground.
Mind – we are not looking for arm-chair activists, but real people committed to approach municipalities and stubborn enough to be at it.
Interested parties please contact. My email – tony.mitra@gmail.com. my phone 604-649 7535.
Thank you

Relevant links:

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