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Welcome to the April 2019 Satya Center State of the World Update. Your editors, Curtis Lang and Jane Sherry offer you warm greetings from sunny South Florida where orchids are in full bloom and spring weather has turned, giving us summer greenhouse heat and max humidity.



As expected, the cold civil war in America has escalated with the release of Robert Mueller's long awaited report on the investigation into Donald Trump's alleged collusion with Russia to manipulate the 2016 elections, and on potential obstruction of justice charges related to that investigation. 

New York Times columnist and Nobel Prize winning economist Paul Krugman had declared in a July 22, 2016, New York Times op-ed that Trump was a “Siberian Candidate,” in the thrall of Vladimir Putin.

Following that initial allegation, the TimesWashington Post, MSNBC and other news media carried hundreds of articles and daily TV cable news coverage advancing the theory that Trump won the 2016 election through a nefarious conspiracy with Russian cyberwarfare and intelligence agents. News reports contended that Trump had obstructed justice by interfering with investigations into that alleged collusion by the FBI and Special Counsel Robert Mueller.

Recently, The Washington Post posted a YouTube video featuring prominent Congressional Democrats solemnly predicting that the release of the Mueller report would trigger the implosion of Donald Trump's presidency and possible impeachment. 

Prominent members of the US intelligence community, such as former CIA Director John Brennan, consistently claimed to have access to information unavailable to Congress or the public showing collusion between Trump and the Russian government.


 Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump at the APEC Vietnam 2017Kremlin.ru [CC BY 4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0)]


Now these claims have been undercut by the release of the Mueller report, which was based on 2,800 subpoenas, 500 witness interviews, the execution of nearly 500 search warrants, and the results of 230 orders for communication records.

“ [T]he investigation did not establish that members of the Trump Campaign conspired or coordinated with the Russian government in its election interference activities,” the report concludes, according to a direct quotation given in an official letter by U.S. Attorney General William Barr.

The Mueller report constitutes a tremendous setback for the Democrats and for media outlets that staked their credibility on the Russian collusion theory, leaving Donald Trump in a stronger political position.

“No Collusion, No Obstruction, Complete and Total EXONERATION,” Trump declared on Twitter. Now, heading into the 2020 Presidential election season, Trump will have the political wind in his sails.


John Brennan, Assistant to the President for Counterterrorism and Homeland Security, in the Oval Office, Jan. 4, 2010. This image is a work of an employee of the Executive Office of the President of the United States, taken or made as part of that person's official duties. As a work of the U.S. federal government, the image is in the public domain.


“After previously insisting there was collusion between President Donald Trump and Russia, former CIA Director John Brennan completed his 180 on the issue . . . by admitting he ‘suspected there was more than there actually was,’" according to a report in Mediate. "'I don’t know if I received bad information, but I think I suspected there was more than there actually was,’ Brennan told MSNBC’s Morning Joe. . . Brennan has previously suggested he had special information on the investigation, claiming in a March 5 TV hit that ‘Friday is the day that the grand jury indictments come down,’ and insisted that Trump’s claims of no collusion between his campaign and Russia were ‘hogwash.'” 

Immediately after the release of Attorney General William Barr's brief summary of the Mueller report, Trump took to the stage in Michigan to address a throng of followers.

"One by one in front of a packed audience, Trump ticked through those who he felt wronged him over the 22-month Russia probe that dogged his presidency — from lawmakers to television pundits — egging the adoring crowd on as it chanted, 'Lock them up,'” according to the website Politico.

In response, Democrats imply there was a coverup by Trump's Attorney General William Barr and demand the full release of the Mueller report. Democrats contest Trump's claim of exoneration.

Mueller's report did not reach a definitive conclusion regarding potentially impeachable offenses such as obstruction of justice and other alleged crimes and high misdemeanors and leaves both sides with plenty of ammunition for their entrenched positions.

“While this report does not conclude that the President committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him,” writes Mueller, as quoted by Barr.

Those who have followed the Russiagate story closely know that the claims of Russian interference in the 2016 elections are vastly overblown. 

"New Yorker writer Adrian Chen, who wrote what is probably the definitive profile of the Russian 'troll factory' known as the Internet Research Agency, has been downplaying the influence of the IRA," according to an article by Matthew Ingram reviewing the effectiveness of Russian trolls in the Columbia Journalism Review. In an interview with Chris Hayes on MSNBC, Chen said that while some commentators have compared the troll campaign to Pearl Harbor and other major global events, it was 'essentially just a social-media marketing campaign.' Atlantic writer Alexis Madrigal seems to concur: He says the Russian troll campaign 'wasn’t that sophisticated,' and that if the IRA had been a Silicon Valley startup 'they probably would not be picking up a fresh round of venture capital' because their methods were so haphazard."


"Look at them," troll mother said. "Look at my sons! You won't find more beautiful trolls on this side of the moon." John Bauer - Illustration of Walter Stenström's The boy and the trolls or The Adventure in childrens' anthology Among pixies and trolls, a collection of childrens' stories, 1915. This work is in the public domain in the United States because it was published (or registered with the U.S. Copyright Office) before January 1, 1924.


Despite the fact that allegations of Russian interference in the 2016 election have little to no factual evidence supporting them, political polarization continues to accelerate around the issue and the news media continues to focus on the conflicting views of reality put forth by Republicans and Democrats. This war of opinionated partisan political journalists now threatens to undermine the credibility of the American news media, which has long rested on a dubious claim to objectivity and political neutrality.

Just take a few minutes to surf the Internet for news and you'll find legions of journalists attacking one another and defending their views on the Mueller report and alleged Trump crimes with every rhetorical weapon at their disposal, including but not limited to scurrilous ad hominem attacks on the ethics, mental acuity and emotional stability of their peers.

This is the new normal for American journalism, and it indicates the breakdown of civility and the demise of any semblance of a consensus reality among Americans as a whole.

American journalism in the Internet age of shrinking advertising budgets and infectious social media memes has collapsed the long-held journalistic distinction between news and opinion, rendering efforts to inform and educate the public about contentious, complicated issues a matter of mere opinion rather than a search for truth.

"The media’s role [in overhyping the Russiagate story] was complicated by the fact that revelations uncovered by professional reporters, once published, became engulfed in a toxic fog of hot takes, opinion masquerading as reporting, and hyper-partisan competition," argues Steve Coll, in a March 31st editorial in The New Yorker. "The news organizations that employed the best workaday reporters on the Mueller beat are not entirely blameless in this regard. At the top of the Times desktop homepage, these days, as many opinion pieces appear as news stories, and the Washington Post has been expanding its opinion sections (though such pieces are careful about facts). Cable television, meanwhile, mixes field reporting and news-making interviews with personal asides from prime-time personalities and roundtables of bombast-mongers. Journalists have long harbored a belief that readers and viewers understand the difference between editorializing and reporting. It would be unrealistic to expect them to make such a distinction now."

"The economics of news is partly responsible for this state of affairs," Coll continues. "In an age of distraction, many Americans now get their news from social media. At the same time, Facebook and Google have broken the advertising models on which newspapers and digital newsrooms previously relied. The survival strategy adopted by many papers—persuading readers to buy digital subscriptions—requires them to publish content that readers find indispensable or, at least, touches on their sense of identity. In cable TV, channels that viewers feel they can’t live without command the highest fees from distributors. Fox News’s deeply devoted audience makes that network exceptionally valuable. As a result, the temptation in media businesses is to exploit political tribalism."

When the search for truth is reduced to a mere contest of conflicting, confrontational opinions, there is no common ground for reasoned debate, no path toward reasoned solutions to intractable problems, and no perceived difference between propaganda and scientific, psychological, historical or spiritual verities that underpin human civilization. We enter into a post-modern version of the Dark Ages.

We are living in what many pundits and scholars have called "the era of post-truth reality". It is more accurate to say that we live in a time when the denial of truth has become convenient for politicians of all political persuasions. 

Democrats deny that their Russiagate narrative rests upon a thin tissue of supposition, gossip and flimsy evidence, even when faced with evidence to the contrary. Rather than face the fact that because they had no substantive policy prescriptions to address the country's pressing social, environmental and economic problems, they lost the 2016 election to a reality TV star and mobbed up Manhattan real estate developer with Klu Klux Klan forbears, the Democratic party prefers to blame Vladimir Putin for their abysmal failure.



The majority of Republicans deny that global warming exists, and see no problem supporting a President whose lies multiply so quickly there is no counting them. Fossil fuel companies and the Trump administration, along with authoritarian strongmen like Brazil's Jair Bolsonaro, claim that climate change is a hoax, and they are believed by hundreds of millions of people around the world.

In response to the climate catastrophe deniers, the fractured, tribalized opinion obsessed American news media has subordinated reporting on the existential crisis of climate change which threatens to destabilize the Earth's eco-system to coverage of a non stop barrage of opinionated gossip about Donald Trump and Russiagate. This too constitutes a form of denial in which the public's attention is focused consistently away from the issues that threaten to undermine our entire global civilization.

"Media hysteria around the Mueller Report has nearly eclipsed news of historic flooding in the midwest that has already caused $3 billion in damage to farms, homes, livestock, and infrastructure," explains environmental blogger James Howard Kunstler. "With spring rainfall already at 200 percent of normal levels, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) issued a statement in late March saying, 'This is shaping up to be a potentially unprecedented flood season, with more than 200 million people at risk for flooding in their communities.'”

Here is a handy map of current flooding from the the United States Geological Survey. As you can see, there’s rather a lot of it:

 

Weather Underground describes the causes of the flooding:

The flooding was triggered after an intense “bomb cyclone” pushed strong winds, mild temperatures, and heavy rain across frozen, snow-covered ground on March 12-14. The result was a flash melt that clogged rivers and streams with huge ice chunks and massive amounts of water. The cyclone itself also caused widespread wind damage and blizzard-related impacts.

And Grist describes the effects. In fact, it’s not just the Midwest:

The record-breaking flooding disaster in the Midwest is just beginning.

On Thursday, the National Weather Service issued its annual spring flood outlook, and it is downright biblical. By the end of May, parts of 25 states — nearly two-thirds of the country — could see flooding severe enough to cause damage.

Pretty much every major body of water east of the Rockies is at elevated risk of flooding in the coming months, including the Mississippi, the Red River of the North, the Great Lakes, the eastern Missouri River, the lower Ohio, the lower Cumberland, and the Tennessee River basins.

“This is shaping up to be a potentially unprecedented flood season, with more than 200 million people at risk for flooding in their communities,” said Ed Clark, director of NOAA’s National Water Center, in a press release. That represents about 60 percent of all Americans.

Curbed comments:

The midwestern floods join the lengthening list of unprecedented and unexpected natural disasters accelerated and made worse by climate change. And, just like other climate events that have caused widespread damage, our planning, resiliency, and flood insurance programs are ill-equipped to cope.

"We have never seen anything like this before. According to satellite data that was just released by Reuters, 'at least 1 million acres of U.S. farmland' were covered by water for at least seven days this month. That is an agricultural disaster without equal in modern American history, and yet the mainstream media is treating this like it is some sort of second class story," argues conservative financial blogger Michael Snyder. "It isn’t. This is the biggest news story of 2019 so far, and people want to know what is going on. A few days ago, I posted a story entitled As Many As A Million Calves Lost In Nebraska” – Beef Prices In The U.S. To Escalate Dramatically In The Coming Months, and it has already been shared on social media more than 145,000 times. Farming communities all over the central part of the nation now look like war zones as a result of all this flooding, but the media elites on the east and west coasts don’t want to write about it. And with more flooding on the way for the next two months, this crisis is only going to get worse."

"This is the time of year when farmers are gearing up to plant wheat, corn and soybeans, and now a substantial portion of our farmland will not be able to be used at all this year," Snyder continues. "According to Reuters, at least a million acres of farmland were covered by floodwaters for at least seven days this month, and that 'will likely reduce corn, wheat and soy production this year.'"

Although the failure of our political and media elites to adequately address the onset of global climate catastrophe represents the greatest failure of imagination and moral courage in human history, politicians and the news media are far from the only ones who routinely seem to deny obvious truths they see as inconvenient or threatening.

Business as usual in the 21st century seems to rest to a significant degree upon denial of truth, as our global civilization fails to respond to the existential crisis posed by accelerating climate change. 

Here in South Florida, the booming real estate development market in Miami presents a stellar example of how business as usual depends utterly upon denial.


Digital photo taken by Marc Averette. The southern extreme end of en:Biscayne Boulevard in en:Downtown Miami5/10/2008 {{self|cc-by-3.0}}

 

"The sea level in Miami has risen ten inches since 1900; in the 2000 years prior, it did not really change," reports Sara Miller in her excellent article Heaven or High Water: Selling Miami's Last 50 Years on Popula.com. 'The consensus among informed observers is that the sea will rise in Miami Beach somewhere between 13 and 34 inches by 2050. By 2100, it is extremely likely to be closer to six feet, which means, unless you own a yacht and a helicopter, sayonara."

Sara went to Miami and posed as a wealthy real estate shopper to find out how realtors and developers would answer pointed queries about the future of Miami real estate, given the inexorable onset of accelerating climate change.

Sara's journey began in Sunset Harbour, a low-lying neighborhood on Miami's east side, which already experiences especially bad sunny day flooding. 

"I asked how the flooding was," Sara recounts.

“'There are pump stations everywhere, and the roads were raised,'” he said. “'So that’s all been fixed.'”

“'Fixed,'” I said. “'Wow. Amazing.'”

"I asked how the hurricanes were."

"He said that because the hurricanes came from the tropics, from the south and this was the west side of Miami Beach, they were not that bad in this neighborhood. 'Oh, right,' I said, as if that made any sense."

"I asked him if he liked it here. 'I love it,' he said. 'It is one of the most thriving cities in the country, it’s growing rapidly.' He pointed to a row of buildings in a neighborhood called Edgewater that were all just three years old. 'That skyline was all built in the last three years.'”

"Wow, I said, just in the last three years . . . 'They’re not worried about sea level rise?'”

“'It’s definitely something the city is trying to combat. They are fighting it, by raising everything. But so far, it hasn’t been an issue.'”

"I couldn’t wait to steal this line, slightly altered. 'I am afraid of dying, sure, but so far, it hasn’t been an issue,'" Sara joked.

"Later, I texted Kristina Hill, an associate professor of urban ecology at the University of California, Berkeley, whose main work is helping coastal communities adapt to climate change. I told her that a real estate agent had just told me hurricanes were weaker near Sunset Harbour, because it was in the east side of Miami, and hurricanes come from the south. She wrote back, 'That’s ridiculous!'”

The National Hurricane Center’s 5 a.m. forecast Sept 8 shows Hurricane Irma going up the center of Florida. Graphic courtesy of NOAA.


"The next open house was not far and I decided to get lunch beforehand in Sunset Harbour. I popped into a store where the sidewalk had been raised. 'There used to be flooding here,” the owner said, as she folded a soft sweater. She had long dark hair and, as seemed to be de rigueur in Miami Beach, lash extensions. 'But they put in pumps and it’s been fixed.'”

“So I hear,” I said.

“Yeah,” she said. “It’s amazing.”

“I don’t know if I understand this,” I said. “The sidewalk is raised, but—where does the water go?”

“Into the drain,” she said. “Well. Except for one time. One time the store was flooded. But it’s fixed.”

“Great!” I said.

“Yeah, it’s fixed,” she said. She put her hand over her heart in an expression of extreme gratitude.

This is just the tip of the Miami real estate denial iceberg Sara encountered. For more on Sara's mind-boggling tour of luxury real estate and the cognitive dissonance that is epidemic in Miami, read the rest of her story.

What is the answer to our social, political and psychological problems in this troubled time of truth denial and post-truth spin?

"Believe in truth," historian Timothy Snyder suggests. "To abandon facts is to abandon freedom. If nothing is true, then no one can criticize power because there is no basis upon which to do so. If nothing is true, then all is spectacle. The biggest wallet pays for the most blinding lights."

The era of post-truth is an historical indication of a period of crisis. Italian anti-Fascist Antonio Gramsci, who was imprisoned by the Fascist government in the 1920s observed that fascism and similar political insanities are born of a time in which “the old is dying and the new cannot be born [and that] in this interregnum a great variety of morbid symptoms appear." 

We are now in an epochal period of transition between the Age of Pisces and the Age of Aquarius, between the age of hydrocarbon civilization and the renewable energy age, between the Holocene Age and the Anthropocene Age, between the age of Utopian laissez-faire capitalism and a new economic and political regime yet to be determined. 

Long cycles, some a few hundred years old, and some 10,000 years long or more, are coming to an end, and new cycles are waiting to be born.

This is the moment of worldwide labor, just prior to the birth of a planetary human consciousness. This is the moment known to mystics as The Dark Night of the Soul.

Will humanity birth a planetary consciousness based on scientific rationalism placed in the service of elite social structures and hierarchical dominance, resulting in environmental destruction and continuous warfare or a consciousness of love and spiritual science, bringing about environmental balance and peace, bringing us untold breakthroughs in every realm of earthly existence? 

That is the question, that is the transition we face, that is the opportunity, and that is the clue to the nature of our role, as midwives to the embryonic new World Consciousness.

Let us approach that birth with reverence, with confidence, with bravery, with a clear mind and a heart singing with faith, devotion and yes, surrender, to the New. In this way, we join our life force, our soul force and our mental energies to the Divine Plan and to the legions of lightworkers and spiritual beings who prepare the way, even now, for the coming victory of the forces of Light.


Our goal in these newsletters is to be your human news filter, providing links and key quotes to important news stories about topics of global interest from this former journalist who has extensive training in academic research methods in the humanities, and extensive experience as a financial, political, cultural and lifestyle publisher, editor and writer.

Jane and I hope that this service will be empowering for those who would like to stay well informed about the burning issues of the day, and help the spiritual community to engage more directly in political issues on behalf of social justice, financial democracy, and environmental resilience. We consider this work to be part of our spiritual practice and we hope to reach a virtual community of like minded spiritual people who will participate in the creation of a new post-carbon post-capitalist global society for the Aquarian Age.


If you know people who might enjoy these newsletters please forward them freely. We do this work as a service, and we are always delighted to share with a larger audience!

 

State of the World Update 


Rethinking the Normalization of Fascism in the Post-Truth Era, Tikkun, By Henry A. Giroux | April 1, 2019

Talk of a fascist politics emerging in the United States is often criticized as either a naive exaggeration or a failure to acknowledge the strength of liberal institutions. Yet, the case can be made that rather than harbor an element of truth, such criticism further normalizes the very fascism it critiques, allowing the extraordinary and implausible to become ordinary.  After decades of the neoliberal nightmare both in the United States and abroad, the mobilizing passions of fascism have been unleashed unlike anything we have seen since the 1930s. The architects and managers of extreme capitalism have used the crisis of economic inequality and its “manifestly brutal and exploitative arrangements” to sow social divisions and resurrect the discourse of racial cleansing and white supremacy.



In doing so, they have tapped into the growing collective suffering and anxieties of millions of Americans in order to redirect their anger and despair through a culture of fear and discourse of dehumanization; they have also turned critical ideas to ashes by disseminating a toxic mix of racialized categories, ignorance, and a militarized spirit of white nationalism. While there is no perfect fit between Trump and the fascist societies of Mussolini, Hitler, and Pinochet, “the basic tenets of extreme nationalism, racism, misogyny, and a hatred of democracy and the rule of law” are too similar to ignore.

In this instance, neoliberalism and fascism conjoin and advance in a comfortable and mutually compatible project and movement that connects the exploitative values and cruel austerity policies of casino capitalism with fascist ideals. These ideals include: the veneration of war, anti-intellectualism; dehumanization; a populist celebration of ultra-nationalism and racial purity; the suppression of freedom and dissent; a culture of lies; a politics of hierarchy, the spectacularization of emotion over reason, the weaponization of language; a discourse of decline, and state violence in heterogeneous forms. Fascism is never entirely interred in the past and the conditions that produce its central assumptions are with us once again, ushering in a period of modern barbarity that appears to be reaching towards homicidal extremes. 

. . .The urgency of addressing the rise of fascism both in the United States and abroad might begin with the regime of untruth and manufactured illiteracy that allows and normalizes the catastrophic conditions that make neoliberal fascism a potent source of identity, fantasy, and pleasure. One place to start would be a critical analysis of the Trump administration’s efforts to abandon and discredit traditional sources of evidence, facts, and analysis in its attempt to normalize fake news, a culture of lying, and the world of alternative facts. At issue here is making visible a radical new relationship between the public and truth and the ensuing demise of civic culture and the public institutions that make it possible.  As the public’s grip on civic literacy weakens, language is emptied of any substantive meaning and the shared standards necessary for developing informed judgements and sustained convictions are undermined. In a world where nothing is true, all that is left to choose from are competing fictions. One consequence is that everything begins to look like a lie. As the historian, Timothy Snyder points out “To abandon facts is to abandon freedom. If nothing is true, then no one can criticize power, because there is no basis upon which to do so. If nothing is true, then all is spectacle.”

More startling is the assumption that what matters in an age of deep divisions, exploitation, and precarity is not whether something is true or false but the promise of a consistent narrative in which people can recognize themselves while willing to “abolish their capacity for distinguishing between the truth and falsehood, between reality and fiction.” Of course, there is more at stake here than the creation and normalization of a culture of lying and what Walter Benjamin, Guy Debord and others identified as the theatricalization of politics, there is also the threat to democracy itself.

We do not live in a post-truth world and never have. On the contrary, we live in a pre-truth world where the truth has yet to arrive. As one of the primary currencies of politics, lies have a long history in the United States. For instance, state sponsored lies played a crucial ideological role in pushing the US into wars in Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan, legitimated the use of Torture under the Bush administration, and covered up the crimes of the financial elite in producing the economic crisis of 2008. Moreover, we have been living the lie of neoliberalism and white nationalism for over forty years and because of the refusal to face up to that lie, the United States has slipped into the abyss of an updated American version of fascism of which Trump is a both symptom and endpoint.


Hemp Supercapacitors Bring Green Tech to a Higher Level, Ministry of Hemp, by Elijah Pickering, January 2, 2019

Outperforming standard supercapacitors up to 200 percent, hemp-based supercapacitors could be the future of green technology.

. . .One innovation we recently discovered? Scientists discovered how to use hemp in supercapacitor electrodes. A supercapacitor is the lesser-known alternative to traditional electrical energy storage. Right now, a supercapacitor is the second best option for storing power, after batteries. However, more research could change that.


Photo of Cannabis plant, Hendrike 14:33, 23 November 2006 (UTC)
[CC BY-SA 2.5 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.5)]


Today’s supercapacitors commonly use graphene, a carbon nanomaterial to create electrodes. But making graphene costs up to $2000 per gram.

In 2013, Researchers at the University of Alberta National Institute for Nanotechnology found a more economical material in hemp. These scientists discovered how to process raw hurds (the plant’s woody core) into activated carbons through hydrothermal processing and chemical activation. The final product is one that’s able to soak up more electricity, providing better energy capacity. The solution produces not only a cheaper material — $5000 per ton — but one that performs up to four times better than graphene. Better yet, the solution uses the hemp stems, the part that is often left unused during other forms of hemp processing. With this, the entire plant is used, and no part is left to waste!

. . .If this solution can be easily reproduced, it would affect far more than just the electronics industries. Supercapacitors represent a fundamental shift in energy storage. Imagine if every battery powered object used hemp powered instead! It would mean that hemp would be undeniable in its utilitarian value. Remaining anti-hemp governments would be hard-pressed to keep the plant banned from commercial use.


The breakthrough that could actually reverse climate change, Grist Creative, April 8, 2019

So we need to have a little talk about concrete.

We take it for granted, but concrete is the foundation (no pun intended) of countless buildings, homes, bridges, skyscrapers, millions of miles of highways, and some of the most impressive feats of civil engineering the world has ever known. It’s the most widely-used human-made substance on the planet.

It also happens to be incredibly bad for the climate. Portland cement, the most commonly used base (the goop that gets mixed with sand and gravel, or aggregate, to form concrete), is made with limestone that is quarried and then heated to staggeringly high temperatures — releasing huge amounts of carbon dioxide in the process. Add to that all the fuel burned to mine and crush the aggregate, and you’ve got a climate disaster.


Pouring Concrete, en:User:Pollinator [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/)]


By some accounts, concrete alone is responsible for 4-8 percent of the world’s CO2 emissions. And it’s only getting worse. Between 2011 and 2013, China used more cement than the United States used in all of the 20th century — about enough to pave paradise and put up a parking lot the size of Hawaii’s Big Island. Cement production worldwide could grow another 23 percent by 2050.

But a solution on the horizon could switch up the math completely. A new method of creating concrete actually pulls C02 out of the air, or directly out of industrial exhaust pipes, and turns it into synthetic limestone. The technique, which has already been demonstrated in California, is part of a growing effort to not just slow the advance of climate change, but to reverse it, restoring a safe and healthy climate for ourselves and future generations.

To do that, the Foundation for Climate Restoration estimates that a trillion tons of CO2 must be removed from our atmosphere on top of additional efforts to curb emissions. The National Academies of Science agrees that “negative emissions technologies,” as they’re known, are essential.

It’s a massive undertaking, but if we change how we think about concrete, capturing a trillion tons of CO2 may not be so pie-in-the-sky after all.

Blue Planet [is a company] based in Los Gatos, California. Its goal is “economically sustainable carbon capture.”

The company’s technology. . . builds on the power of corals. Corals turn millions of teeny polyps into stunning, full-grown reefs through a process known as biomineralization. Inspired by this phenomenon, [Blue Planet] developed a similar “low-energy mineralization” technique that turns captured CO2 into the same bony stuff that corals secrete: calcium carbonate.

Jurakoralle, Acrosmilia depressa, Wolfbenni [CC BY-SA 4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)]


Blue Planet’s process starts with collecting CO2 and dissolving it in a solution. In the process, the company creates carbonate that reacts with calcium from waste materials or rock to create calcium carbonate. Calcium carbonate happens to be the main ingredient in limestone. But rather than superheating it to create cement (which would release all that CO2 right back into the atmosphere), [Blue Planet's process will] turn the resulting stone into pebbles that serve as aggregate.

This is easiest to do where there’s lots of CO2 — smokestacks at factories, refineries and power plants, for example — but it can also come from “direct air capture,” using less concentrated air anywhere, a technology whose costs are rapidly declining.

Do this on a large scale, [Blue Planet] said, and you could help satiate the growing global demand for rock and sand, and make a massive dent in the climate crisis at the same time: Every ton of Blue Planet’s synthetic limestone contains 440 kilograms of CO2. While it still needs to be mixed with cement (the goopy stuff) to make concrete, using this in place of gravel or stone that needs to be quarried and crushed creates a finished product that is carbon neutral, if not carbon-negative, according to the company.

The annual use of aggregate is over 50 billion tons and growing fast. Making it from synthetic limestone instead of quarried rock could sequester 25 billion tons a year — meaning that, in 40 years, this solution alone could remove a trillion tons of CO2 from the air, enough to restore pre-industrial levels.


The big lie we’re told about climate change is that it’s our own fault” [Vox].

Given the sheer enormity of climate change, it’s okay to be depressed, to grieve. But please, don’t stay there too long. Join me in pure, unadulterated, righteous anger.

The dominant narrative around climate change tells us that it’s our fault. We left the lights on too long, didn’t close the refrigerator door, and didn’t recycle our paper. I’m here to tell you that is bullshit. If the light switch was connected to clean energy, who the hell cares if you left it on? The problem is not so much the consumption — it’s the supply. And your scrap paper did not hasten the end of the world.

Don’t give in to that shame. It’s not yours. The oil and gas industry is gaslighting you.

 

That same IPCC report revealed that a mere 100 companies are responsible for 71 percent of global climate emissions. These people are locking you and everything you love into a tomb. You have every right to be pissed all the way off. And we have to make them hear about it.


Disintegration Of Global Capitalism Could Unleash WWIII (Nafeez Ahmed)

A senior European Commission economist has warned that a Third World War is an extremely “high probability” in coming years due to the disintegration of global capitalism. In a working paper published last month, Professor Gerhard Hanappi argued that since the 2008 financial crash, the global economy has moved away from “integrated” capitalism into a “disintegrating” shift marked by the same sorts of trends which preceded previous world wars. Professor Hanappi is Jean Monnet Chair for Political Economy of European Integration -an European Commission appointment- at the Institute for Mathematical Models in Economics at the Vienna University of Technology. He also sits on the management committee of the Systemic Risks expert group in the EU-funded European Cooperation in Science and Technology research network.

In his new paper, Hanappi concludes that global conditions bear unnerving parallels with trends before the outbreak of the first and second world wars. Key red flags that the world is on a slippery slope to a global war, he finds, include: • the inexorable growth of military spending; • democracies transitioning into increasingly authoritarian police states; • heightening geopolitical tensions between great powers; • the resurgence of populism across the left and right; • the breakdown and weakening of established global institutions that govern transnational capitalism; • and the relentless widening of global inequalities. These trends, some of which were visible before the previous world wars, are reappearing in new forms. Hanappi argues that the defining feature of the current period is a transition from an older form of “integrating capitalism” to a new form of “disintegrating capitalism”, whose features most clearly emerged after the 2008 financial crisis.

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If the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps is a Terrorist army the Authorization for Use of Military Force Applies, Sic Semper Tyrannis Blog, by Colonel Pat Lang, April 7, 2019

"Washington is planning to designate the Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) as a terrorist group, the Wall Street Journal reported on April 5, citing unnamed U.S officials.

According to the officials, the decision will be officially announced by the U.S. State Department as early as April 8. This will be first time Washington to formally designate another country’s military a “terrorist group.”

The President Donald Trump administration reportedly hopes that this decision will increase pressure on Tehran. However, some U.S. officials believe that this step could endanger U.S. troops deployed near IRGC forces in the Middle East.

The Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) on terrorism has been used far and wide as a hunting license to attack any armed group that could even distantly be thought a terrorist enemy. The anti-terrorism AUMF makes such attacks legal under US law. 

[ed. note:] The Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) is a law passed after the 9/11 attack that allows the president:

to use all "necessary and appropriate force" against those whom he determined "planned, authorized, committed or aided" the September 11th attacks, or who harbored said persons or groups.

The official designation as "terrorist" of the IRGC which is a 125,000 man army with its own navy and air force makes it legal for the US Armed Forces to attack the IRGC and its people wherever they are found and under any circumstances that may occur. It is a declaration of war.

The neocon nitwits (Pompeo, Bolton, Hannah, etc.) may think that Iran's reaction to this declaration of war will be submission to their will but IMO that is very unlikely. IMO it is more likely that the IRGC will absorb the new reality and will prepare for war with the US. 



Flooding Displaces Tens of Thousands in Iran. And More Rain is Forecast, The New York Times, by Megan Specia, April 6, 2019



Nationwide floods in Iran have displaced tens of thousands of people and left dozens dead in the past two weeks. More rain is forecast in the coming days.

Heavy rain began in mid-March in the northeastern province of Golestan, which received 70 percent of its average annual rainfall in one day. The flooding has steadily spread across the nation, inundating communities in at least 26 of Iran’s 31 provinces.

“Iran is under water,” said Sayed Hashem, regional director of the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent. “The scale of this crisis means that more help is needed.”

 

The Rise of Drug-Resistant Infections: Fungus Immune to Drugs Secretly Sweeps the Globe, The Indian Express, April 8, 2019

In May, an elderly man was admitted to the Brooklyn branch of Mount Sinai Hospital for abdominal surgery. A blood test revealed that he was infected with a newly discovered germ as deadly as it was mysterious.

The germ, a fungus called Candida auris, preys on people with weakened immune systems, and it is quietly spreading across the globe. Recently C. auris reached New York, New Jersey and Illinois, leading the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to add it to a list of germs deemed “urgent threats.”

A strain of Candida Auris cultivated in a CDC Laboratory, 

This image is a work of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, part of the United States Department of Health and Human Services, taken or made as part of an employee's official duties. As a work of the U.S. federal government, the image is in the public domain.



The man at Mount Sinai died after 90 days in the hospital, but C. auris did not. Tests showed it was everywhere in his room, so invasive that the hospital needed special cleaning equipment and had to rip out some of the ceiling and floor tiles to eradicate it.

C. auris is so tenacious, in part, because it is impervious to major antifungal medications, making it a new example of one of the world’s most intractable health threats: the rise of drug-resistant infections.

For decades, public health experts have warned that the overuse of antibiotics was reducing the effectiveness of drugs that have lengthened life spans by curing bacterial infections once commonly fatal. But lately, there has been an explosion of resistant fungi as well.

Simply put, fungi, just like bacteria, are evolving defenses to survive modern medicines. A study the British government funded projects that if policies are not put in place to slow the rise of drug resistance, 10 million people could die worldwide of all such infections in 2050, eclipsing the 8 million expected to die that year from cancer.

In late 2015, Dr Johanna Rhodes, an infectious disease expert at Imperial College London, got a panicked call from the Royal Brompton Hospital outside London. C. auris had taken root there months earlier, and the hospital couldn’t clear it.

“‘We have no idea where it’s coming from. We’ve never heard of it. It’s just spread like wildfire,’” Rhodes said she was told. She agreed to help the hospital identify the fungus’ genetic profile and clean it from rooms.

It was spreading, but word of it was not. The hospital, a specialty lung and heart center that draws wealthy patients from the Middle East and around Europe, alerted the British government and told infected patients, but made no public announcement.

This hushed panic is playing out in hospitals around the world. Individual institutions and national, state and local governments have been reluctant to publicize outbreaks of resistant infections, arguing there is no point in scaring patients — or prospective ones.

C.D.C. investigators theorized that C. auris started in Asia and spread across the globe. But when the agency compared the entire genome of auris samples from India and Pakistan, Venezuela, South Africa and Japan, it found that its origin was not a single place, and there was not a single auris strain.

A Mysterious Infection, Spanning the Globe in a Climate of Secrecy, The New York Times, by Matt Richtel and Andrew Jacobs, April 6, 2019

Last May, an elderly man was admitted to the Brooklyn branch of Mount Sinai Hospital for abdominal surgery. A blood test revealed that he was infected with a newly discovered germ as deadly as it was mysterious. Doctors swiftly isolated him in the intensive care unit.

The germ, a fungus called Candida auris, preys on people with weakened immune systems, and it is quietly spreading across the globe. Over the last five years, it has hit a neonatal unit in Venezuela, swept through a hospital in Spain, forced a prestigious British medical center to shut down its intensive care unit, and taken root in India, Pakistan and South Africa.

Recently C. auris reached New York, New Jersey and Illinois, leading the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to add it to a list of germs deemed “urgent threats.”

. . .The genome sequencing showed that there were four distinctive versions of the fungus, with differences so profound that they suggested that these strains had diverged thousands of years ago and emerged as resistant pathogens from harmless environmental strains in four different places at the same time.

“Somehow, it made a jump almost seemingly simultaneously, and seemed to spread and it is drug resistant, which is really mind-boggling,” Dr. Vallabhaneni said.

There are different theories as to what happened with C. auris. Dr. Meis, the Dutch researcher, said he believed that drug-resistant fungi were developing thanks to heavy use of fungicides on crops.

Dr. Meis became intrigued by resistant fungi when he heard about the case of a 63-year-old patient in the Netherlands who died in 2005 from a fungus called Aspergillus. It proved resistant to a front-line antifungal treatment called itraconazole. That drug is a virtual copy of the azole pesticides that are used to dust crops the world over and account for more than one-third of all fungicide sales.

A 2013 paper in Plos Pathogens said that it appeared to be no coincidence that drug-resistant Aspergillus was showing up in the environment where the azole fungicides were used. The fungus appeared in 12 percent of Dutch soil samples, for example, but also in “flower beds, compost, leaves, plant seeds, soil samples of tea gardens, paddy fields, hospital surroundings, and aerial samples of hospitals.”

Dr. Meis visited the C.D.C. last summer to share research and theorize that the same thing is happening with C. auris, which is also found in the soil: Azoles have created an environment so hostile that the fungi are evolving, with resistant strains surviving.

This is similar to concerns that resistant bacteria are growing because of excessive use of antibiotics in livestock for health and growth promotion. As with antibiotics in farm animals, azoles are used widely on crops.

“On everything — potatoes, beans, wheat, anything you can think of, tomatoes, onions,” said Dr. Rhodes, the infectious disease specialist who worked on the London outbreak. “We are driving this with the use of antifungicides on crops.”

The Path To Liberating Humanity Is The Same As The Path To Liberating The Individual, by Caitlin Johnstone, April 7, 2019

The path to enlightenment is the process of becoming clearly aware of all the different aspects of the way you operate inside, which enables you to relate to life as it’s actually appearing instead of through the filters of old conditioned mental habits. The path to the liberation of our species is the process of collectively becoming clearly aware of the reality of our situation as opposed to the false narratives about it, so that we can begin solving our problems as they actually are instead of the way the establishment media describes them. These two processes are recursive mirrors of each other; one describes the process on the micro scale, the other on the macro, but they occur in the exact same way.

People sometimes complain that I talk about the problems that humanity faces without ever offering any solutions. I disagree with this criticism; I talk about the solution to our problem all the time, using plain language that anyone can understand. It just often goes in one ear and out the other, because it’s not the sort of answer that people have been conditioned to listen for.

When people ask for solutions to our problems, they’re conditioned by the standard rhetoric of our time to get an essay about labor organization, political activism, consumer activism, cryptocurrencies or technological innovations, depending on where they’re at on the political spectrum. What they are not conditioned to listen for is the most direct and honest answer that I am able to give them: that we’ve got to move from an unhealthy relationship with mental narrative into a healthy one.

. . .There are a great many ways in which humanity is asleep at the wheel, and we’re going to have to bring the light of truth to all of them.

 


We’re going to have to bring the light of truth to the ways we’ve all been lied to by our teachers, by our politicians and by our media. We’re going to have to bring the light of truth to the horrors of war and the sinister motives behind it. We’re going to have to bring the light of truth to what we’re doing to our ecosystem and the forces which incentivize us to play along with ecocide.

We’re going to have to bring the light of truth to the ways we enslave and are enslaved by each other in our interpersonal relationships, and how we enslave and are enslaved by our current social systems. We’re going to have to bring the light of truth to racism, sexism and other forms of bigotry and the ways that they prevent us from having wholesome relationships with each other.

We’re going to have to bring the light of truth to the manipulations of the financial sector, money in politics, the evils of factory farming, the prison system, the war on drugs, and the structures which keep economic injustice in place. We can’t fight problems if we can’t see them clearly, so we’ve got to help each other turn the lights on in all of those areas. We’ve got to enlighten them.

 


Jane and I will be back with you in a little over a week with our regularly scheduled Cosmic Weather Forecast! Until then we send you love and light!

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