Archive for July 2010
Jul 26, 2010 by Richard Heinberg
(Author’s note: This is the Introduction to an inspirational / financial-advice / environmental / diet / dating / self-help / survivalist / humor book that I started to write—and quickly decided should never be finished. Maybe I shouldn’t have taken it even this far. You be the judge.)
What can you do to optimize your chances in the case of hyperinflation, a deflationary economic Depression, an oil crisis, a famine, or a series of horrendous environmental disasters? If you don’t already know, you’d better wise up fast—because some or all of these exciting opportunities are on their way to a neighborhood near you! In fact, one or two may already be tapping you on the shoulder and asking to make your acquaintance.
Pointy-headed intellectuals have been warning us about this stuff for years. Decades. Who cares? Who’s had the time for depressing, worrisome, gloomy, hard-to-understand statistics and graphs? There’s been work to do, money to be made, kids to put through college, new episodes of American Idol to watch.
Until now. We have finally arrived at the fabulous convergence of two Earth-shattering developments: First, real environmental and economic catastrophes are starting to happen and are tugging on our Comfy Cushion of Consumer Complacency, requiring us to actually Do Something. Second, someone (guess who?) has figured out how to frame these mega-scary events in such inviting, entertaining, and potentially profitable terms that the irresistible win/win euphoria of it all can make you almost completely forget just how abysmally awful our situation actually is.
Welcome to my book, YOU can Be a BILLIONAIRE Without Even Trying! In it, you will learn why the U.S. economy is now the butt of jokes in Chad; why the stuff that makes your car go is about to become as rare and valuable as . . . as . . . as something actually rare and valuable; why the global food system is making more and more people watch their waistlines (as they shrivel); and why Mother Nature seems to be puzzlingly mean-tempered lately—almost as if we had done something to annoy her.
Unknown to most Americans is that dengue fever has been the intense focus of US Army and CIA biological warfare researchers for over 50 years. Ed Regis notes in his excellent history of Fort Detrick, “The Biology of Doom,” that as early as 1942 leading biochemists at the installation placed dengue fever on a long list for serious consideration as a possible weapon.
With little fanfare on July 13, Florida officials released the findings of a Centers for Disease Control (CDC) study conducted recently in the Key West area revealing that about 10 percent, or 1,000 people, of the coastal town’s population are infected with the dengue fever virus.
While the July 13 release made little mention of it, the CDC study was provoked by an earlier 2009 report that a woman in New York State, who had returned from a Florida Keys’ visit, had contracted dengue fever. Within a few weeks of this initial report, two additional cases were discovered in people who had returned from Key West. Over the next three months of 2009, an additional 26 cases were identified, all tied to visits to the town.
Because of these reported cases, the Florida Keys Mosquito Control District conducted greatly increased aerial spraying to control mosquitoes. Following the spraying, a small amount of other cases were reported, including that of a 41-year-old Key West man who found blood in his urine and had severely aching joints. Following these additional reports, the CDC launched its study of antibodies in Key West residents and found that 5 percent of the town’s residents have been exposed to the dengue virus. Said CDC dengue expert, Dr. Christopher J. Gregory, “The best estimate from the survey is that about 5 percent of [residents] was infected in 2009 with dengue.” Gregory also stated, “We have known for a while it is a possible risk, but this outbreak shows it is more than possible: It is something that did happen and could happen again.”
Despite the low-key nature of the Florida release, the Homeland Security Administration immediately issued a “terror alert” concerning the findings and Monroe County, within which Key West is located, also issued its own health advisory warning “effective immediately.”
“Our armies do not come into your cities and lands as conquerors or enemies, but as liberators. Your wealth has been stripped of you by unjust men… The people of Baghdad shall flourish under institutions which are in consonance with their sacred laws.”
– General F.S. Maude, commander of British forces in Iraq, 1917
By The Telegraph
Former UK diplomat Carne Ross claimed that the Government ”intentionally and substantially” exaggerated its assessment of Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction (WMD) in public documents.
On Being Led By the Nose
The Unchallenged Power of the Israel Lobby
By James Abourezk
The idea that George W. Bush’s neocon advisers–Perle included–convinced him that the U.S. should invade Iraq received some attention after the Iraqi war started. But to my knowledge, no one, either in politics or the media, pressed the case too hard, lest they discover that those who wanted to invade Iraq had, not America’s interest, but Israel’s interest in mind.
American public discourse has degenerated rapidly over the last half century. Rationality and logical thinking have been replaced with magical thinking and fallacious appeals to authority, encouraged by the cult of celebrity.
Democracy is not possible with such citizens. The destruction of our educational system has been orchestrated with this goal at the same time as our treadmill culture has sped up to minimize opportunities for reflection. We are treated like domesticated animals, and in many ways people have adapted to become such. Welcome to the zoo.
Sunday, July 11, 2010
BOSTON GLOBE COMMENTARY
How facts backfire
By JOE KEOHANE
It’s one of the great assumptions underlying modern democracy that an informed citizenry is preferable to an uninformed one. “Whenever the people are well-informed, they can be trusted with their own government,” Thomas Jefferson wrote in 1789. This notion, carried down through the years, underlies everything from humble political pamphlets to presidential debates to the very notion of a free press. Mankind may be crooked timber, as Kant put it, uniquely susceptible to ignorance and misinformation, but it’s an article of faith that knowledge is the best remedy. If people are furnished with the facts, they will be clearer thinkers and better citizens. If they are ignorant, facts will enlighten them. If they are mistaken, facts will set them straight.
In the end, truth will out. Won’t it?
Maybe not. Recently, a few political scientists have begun to discover a human tendency deeply discouraging to anyone with faith in the power of information. It’s this: Facts don’t necessarily have the power to change our minds. In fact, quite the opposite. In a series of studies in 2005 and 2006, researchers at the University of Michigan found that when misinformed people, particularly political partisans, were exposed to corrected facts in news stories, they rarely changed their minds. In fact, they often became even more strongly set in their beliefs. Facts, they found, were not curing misinformation. Like an underpowered antibiotic, facts could actually make misinformation even stronger…..
then put your hands together and consider the obvious: