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Ghost Dog

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Gender: Do not display
Hometown: Canary Islands Archipelago
Home country: Spain
Member since: Wed Apr 19, 2006, 01:59 PM
Number of posts: 16,678

About Me

A Brit many years in Spain, Catalunya, Baleares, Canarias. Cooperative member. Geography. Ecology. Cartography. Software. Sound Recording. Music Production. Languages & Literature. History.

Journal Archives

Q: Do you understand irony?

A: Yes of course. Ever since my mother stopped understanding it for me.

Leonard Cohen: The Traitor

"The Traitor is about the feeling we have of betraying some mission we were mandated to fulfill and being unable to fulfill it; then coming to understand that the real mandate was not to fulfill it; and the real courage is to stand guiltless in the predicament in which you find yourself".

An Ocean of Lies on Venezuela: Abby Martin & UN Rapporteur Expose Coup

On the eve of another US war for oil, Abby Martin debunks the most repeated myths about Venezuela and uncovers how US sanctions are crimes against humanity with UN Investigator and Human Rights Rapporteur Alfred De Zayas.

Food for thought from Chernobyl

Socioeconomic collapse in an affected society can be more damaging to human health in the aggregate than a large nuclear accident such as Chernobyl, taking into account the then Soviet society's quite well-organised reaction to the latter catastrophe (immediate evacuations, medical treatment, social support, containment...). It is predictable that varying degrees of socioeconomic collapse in various societies worldwide will be caused by forthcoming now unavoidable anthropogenic rapid climate change and accompanying natural systems instability (shifting ecosystems homeostasis), and could also be caused by large-scale warfare using modern weapons as well as natural causes such as earthquakes, volcanoes and asteroid strikes. Rapid socioeconomic collapse can also be more directly caused by financial meltdown and consequent economic paralysis as almost occured in 2008.

It would interesting, I'd like to suggest, to examine and theorise about what can render a society less vulnerable to socioeconomic collapse, whatever the cause, with a view to setting up experiments...

... Analysing dust for radioactive contamination is just a small part of the decades-long study of this vast, abandoned area. The accident turned this landscape into a giant, contaminated laboratory, where hundreds of scientists have worked to find out how an environment recovers from nuclear catastrophe... Today, though, this part of Ukraine is not easily delineated into two categories - contaminated or clean. Research has shown that Chernobyl's aftermath is more complicated, and the landscape here much stranger - and more interesting - than the stringent "do not touch" rules in Narodichi would imply... "Natural radioactivity is all around us - it varies from country to country, from place to place. Most of the area of the exclusion zone gives rise to lower radiation dose rates than many areas of natural radioactivity worldwide."...

... Many suspect that the radiation has or will cause other cancers, but the evidence is patchy at best. Prof Richard Wakeford, from the University of Manchester's Centre for Occupational and Environmental Health, points out that health studies look for a "signal" of a specific health effect linked to Chernobyl. They aim to pick out that signal above the "background noise" from other causes. That has been incredibly difficult, primarily because of the huge background noise that was the almost simultaneous upheaval of the Soviet Union's collapse.

"It's assumed that there will be some cancers linked to the accident in addition to the thyroid cancers, but detecting them amid that socioeconomic chaos - that had its own impacts on people's health - has proven almost impossible," says Prof Wakeford. Cancer also affects between a third and a half of people in Europe, so any Chernobyl signal is likely to be imperceptibly small.

Amid reports of other health problems - including birth defects - it still is not clear if any can be attributed to radiation...


The new elite's phoney crusade to save the world - without changing anything (re. Davos)

... Conferences and ideas festivals sponsored by plutocrats and big business – such as the World Economic Forum, which is under way in Davos, Switzerland, this week – host panels on injustice and promote “thought leaders” who are willing to confine their thinking to improving lives within the faulty system rather than tackling the faults... By refusing to risk its way of life, by rejecting the idea that the powerful might have to sacrifice for the common good, (the elite) clings to a set of social arrangements that allow it to monopolise progress and then give symbolic scraps to the forsaken – many of whom wouldn’t need the scraps if society were working right. It is vital that we try to understand the connection between these elites’ social concern and predation, between the extraordinary helping and the extraordinary hoarding, between the milking – and perhaps abetting – of an unjust status quo and the attempts by the milkers to repair a small part of it. It is also important to understand how the elites see the world, so that we might better assess the merits and limitations of their world-changing campaigns.

There are many ways to make sense of all this elite concern and predation. One is that the elites are doing the best they can. The world is what it is, the system is what it is, the forces of the age are bigger than anyone can resist, and the most fortunate are helping. This view may allow that elite helpfulness is just a drop in the bucket, but reassures itself that at least it is something. The slightly more critical view is that this sort of change is well-meaning but inadequate. It treats symptoms, not root causes – it does not change the fundamentals of what ails us. According to this view, elites are shirking the duty of more meaningful reform.

But there is still another, darker way of judging what goes on when elites put themselves in the vanguard of social change: that doing so not only fails to make things better, but also serves to keep things as they are. After all, it takes the edge off of some of the public’s anger at being excluded from progress. It improves the image of the winners. By using private and voluntary half-measures, it crowds out public solutions that would solve problems for everyone, and do so with or without the elite’s blessing...


The UK must invest in a "People's Debate," leading, in time, to a "People's Decision." (Varoufakis)

... Yanis thinking big, and outside the box!

... With weeks left before the UK leaves the EU by default, none of the three main options on offer – a no-deal Brexit, Prime Minister Theresa May’s withdrawal agreement with the EU, and rescinding Article 50 in order to remain in the EU – commands a majority in Parliament or among the population. Each generates maximum discontent: The no-deal scenario strikes most as a dangerous plunge into the unknown. May’s deal appalls Remainers and is seen by most Leavers as the kind of document only a country defeated at war would sign. Lastly, a Brexit reversal would confirm Leavers’ belief that democracy is allowed only when it yields results favored by the London establishment... If any of the three immediately available options were endorsed, say, in a second referendum, discontent would increase and the larger questions plaguing the UK would remain unanswered. Britons’ reluctance to endorse any Brexit option at present is, from this perspective, a sign of collective wisdom and a rare opportunity to come to terms with the country’s great challenges while re-thinking the UK’s relationship with the EU. But to seize it, the UK must invest in a “People’s Debate,” leading, in time, to a “People’s Decision.”

The People’s Debate must address six issues: the British constitution, including the creation of an English parliament or multiple regional English assemblies; the electoral system and the role of referenda; the Irish question, including the possibility of joint UK-Irish sovereignty over Northern Ireland; migration and freedom of movement; Britain’s economic model, particularly the outsize role of finance and the need to boost green investment across the country; and of course the UK-EU relationship.

To be democratic, the People’s Debate must take place in regional assemblies, leading to a national convention, where a menu of options is finalized before the next House of Commons translates them into referendum questions that will enable the People’s Decision by 2022. Thus, the UK government must secure a transition period after the country formally leaves the EU on March 29, lasting at least until the people can decide three years later.

During the transition period, the UK should remain in the EU customs union and the single market, with freedom of movement and full rights for EU nationals in the UK. Then, in 2022, voters can choose whether to stay in the customs union and the single market, exit completely, or apply to re-enter the EU as a full member...


UK Gov defies Parliament to defend BOT tax haven corruption

The (UK) government has been accused of defying parliament by delaying plans to require British tax havens such as the British Virgin Islands to bring in public registers that reveal the true identity of owners of companies sheltering assets.

Foreign Office ministers have caved in after a rebellion in the British overseas territories (BOTs), including threats to take the government to court or even to secede from the UK. The British-administered tax shelters have always been seen as a blight on the Conservative claim to be fighting the multibillion-pound corruption industry.

The Foreign Office told the overseas territories that they did not need to introduce compulsory public registers until 2023 – three years after the date MPs had thought they had set by law in a fractious debate last May... "It as if the government has become the Department for Procrastination. It means the British overseas territories remain Britain’s achilles heel when it comes to financial corruption, money laundering and dodgy money.” ...

... "This takes (the government's) contempt for parliament to a new low.” ...


... Surely one unspoken high priority goal of the leadership of the brexit side of the tory party and allies is to take some EU pressure off these corrupt and corrupting tax-haven BOTs, for obvious reasons. Please note, btw, that where France, Portugal and Spain have Outermost Regions of the EU, the UK insists on its City of London-affiliated outlaw BOTs which, except Gibraltar, are outside the EU.
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