Food and fuel production:

The US has long produced a surplus of food. However, much of our surplus is based on unsustainable methods (of fertilization, etc.) which reduce the nutritional value of the food. These farming methods also increase our dependence on foreign energy and damage our soils. Chemical fertilizer and manure runoff creates huge dead zones in the Gulf of Mexico and elsewhere. This damages the fishing and tourism industries. Organic agriculture reduces consumption of petroleum products and transfers large quantities of atmospheric carbon into the soil. Bio-char technology Repeated plowing worsens several problems, including pollution, soil compaction and especially erosion. Reducing both tillage and chemical inputs is the key to sustainable profitability. Leguminous groundcovers can fix atmospheric nitrogen to the earth, fertilizing and shading it while inhibiting erosion and weeds. It is possible to grow crops in such a “carpeted” soil-bed. Monoculture is a human invention, leading to increases in infestations; nature's plan is a mixture of species growing together. The air we breathe is almost 80% nitrogen- this is fertilizer that hundreds of plant varieties, including trees, can affix to the soil when the symbiotic soil bacteria are present. Pesticides Disrupt Nitrogen Fixation Mulching with agricultural waste is another option.

Government regulations need to be tailored to promote diversification and decentralization of food production. Transporting food long distances lessens nutrition and wastes energy. Most current subsidies should be abolished, since they create imbalances in the world economy. If we are to subsidize, let it be natural methods that are proven by millennia to be healthy for humanity and the earth. Demand for locally produced, organic produce is booming. The best way to keep agricultural commodities at price levels profitable to growers is to promote sustainable and diversified agriculture. Paying farmers to leave their land idle is somewhat misguided; it would often be preferable if they planted crops not commonly grown in their area. It would be better to pay farmers subsidies if needed to make diversification profitable, rather than the current policy of prohibiting harvest for ten years.

Solar energy can be used to boil seawater, producing electricity while removing minerals. Extensive research into salt-tolerant plants is needed. Using wise irrigation practices combining sweet and salty water, and minimizing runoff and evaporation waste, millions of desert acres could become productive for crops such as tomato and barley. Incorporating water absorbing crystals into the subsurface soil layers encourages deep rooting, fostering strong, drought-resistant plants. These crystals last for years before biodegrading. Potassium based acrylic polymer

While it is true that nuclear power is virtually carbon neutral, it has been established that children living near nuclear power plants have increased incidence of leukemia. The long-term ideal would be to build no more nuclear plants and replace existing plants with renewable energy sources when the nukes are decommissioned. The Price-Anderson Act gives nuclear power an unfair advantage while hampering the development of truly sustainable energy technologies. It should be repealed.

The current importation of 70% of our liquid fuels yields an unfortunate dependence. A small percentage of our nation’s farmland might produce all the algae biofuel we would need. If genetic manipulation be necessary to enable this, thorough oversight would be required. The biofuel production/use cycle yields little more CO2 than what the plants absorb from the air when growing.

Foods containing genetic modifications need to be clearly labeled, so that any further adverse effects can be traced. GMOs are often created using bacterial and viral DNA and the long-term risks are many. Perhaps the most frightening is that the “suicide gene” being introduced into certain crops should cross into other plants, causing massive loss of vegetation worldwide. Considerable oversight is needed to help ensure this experimentation proceed based on science and public safety rather than corporate greed. Giant corporations claim blanket classification for GMOs as “Generally Recognized As Safe”, based on supposed “substantial equivalence” to existing organisms. Meanwhile, they wish to obtain patents on these same organisms, knowing that patents are only issued for new and different products. This amounts to dangerous hypocrisy. The current permission to patent life forms should probably be revoked, based on the long-held view that this is unethical. GMOs often increase the need for agricultural chemicals, damaging the environment. Farmers have been improving their own seed for millennia- this is the ideal, not dependence on large companies which limit food diversity and basic human freedom. Seeds spread naturally by way of birds, wind, etc. The people must denounce court decisions favoring large corporations’ patent rights over the crops in fields where their seed was introduced against the farmers’ will. Please refer to the film The Future of Food.

Government should favor a plant-based diet since this benefits planetary and human health. The consumption of meat is one of the main causes of human disease. The dangers of meat  Huge expenditures of fuel and water are made raising animals for food. A US General Accounting Office report found that a single factory farm produces 1.6 million tons of manure each year, which contaminates local water resources through runoff into streams, rivers and lakes, causing more water pollution than the city of Houston, Texas. The same is true of a large fish farm. Meat farming also creates large quantities of methane, a major contributor to global warming. According to a 2006 U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization report, worldwide livestock farming generates 18% of the planet's greenhouse gas emissions. The world's cars, planes, trains, and boats account for a combined 13% of greenhouse gas emissions. Rather than subsidizing animal products, we should tax meat; dedicating these funds to healthcare and health education would be of enormous benefit to public wellbeing. Beef production is especially destructive to the earth. It requires 5,200 pounds of water to produce a pound of beef. The grain currently fed to animals would feed twice the number of hungry people on earth. Since the lack of food and clean water contributes to many wars, the widespread adoption of vegetarianism is a key step towards a peaceful earth. If this is considered too radical, research has found a number of dietary adjustments and medical treatments that help limit the production of methane by livestock. This also increases meat and milk production. Another option is to harvest methane for use rather than letting most of it enter the atmosphere as an unused byproduct. 

 

Peace One Day- September 21

Soldiers of Peace movie

 

Warfare:

Depleted uranium munitions are used by USA and UK, as well as possibly over a dozen other nations. To scatter radioactive materials in this way is a highly unethical way to dispose of nuclear waste. Cluster bombs spread over large and unpredictable areas. Children often pick up cluster bombs and land mines for playthings. In many of today’s wars, 90% of those killed and wounded are civilians.

The use of nuclear weapons against anyone can never be justified in the future, so what deterrent is posed by weapons which won’t be used? Human error, greed or maniacal hatred could devastate earth at any moment, due to the mere existence of nuclear weapons. Political and public inertia could well lead to these arsenals being maintained, replaced, or even expanded for centuries at huge risk and expense to humanity. Historical US spending on nuclear weaponry totals about $5,000,000,000 annually. The US and Russia each possess about 10,000 nuclear warheads and must continue to reduce the number of weapons to demonstrate compliance with Article VI of the nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty (NPT). Under Article VI of the NPT, each party to the treaty undertakes to pursue 'good faith' negotiations aimed at ending the nuclear arms race and securing complete nuclear disarmament under strict international control. The first essential step is for the US and Russia to completely stand down from their Cold War nuclear strike readiness posture. This alone will greatly decrease the likelihood of a tragic mistake.

Chemical weapons include the following: Nerve gas, napalm, white phosphorus and Agent Orange. The legacy to civilian populations of most of these weapons is death, disease and deformity continuing for years and even decades after the end of hostilities. Less lethal weaponry such as the Pentagon’s ray gun should receive additional funding. When a leader is guilty of aggression and crimes against humanity, diplomacy often yields little results. But targeted assassination is often a better option than war that invariably causes great harm to civilians. Constitutional reform may be needed to allow the US to protect its interests with minimum civilian casualties. To enlist the assistance of anyone in a conflict zone and then abandon him to be persecuted and slaughtered is immoral. The Hmong are an example of this; hundreds have been living in hiding in SE Asia since the end of the Viet Nam conflict. The best methods to promote a peaceful world remain constant: respect, justice, cultural exchange, dialog and reconciliation. When war becomes unavoidable for those who love freedom, let ethics ever guide its advance, for those who forget compassion cannot fairly claim to represent justice.

Franklin Lamb: “So between 1982 and 1988, Israel received no cluster bombs from America and the reason was, the Reagan administration found that they had violated American law, and specifically the1976 US Arms Export Control Act, which puts very strict prohibitions on any country’s use of American weapons. And this law has been upheld- it’s been upheld in Asia, it’s been upheld against countries in South America and Central America that have violated that agreement, meaning that there would be an automatic cut-off of any weapons and any aid to that country. The only country that has consistently violated that law, and that the administration has not applied the law, has been the case of Israel. And right now there is a finding sitting in Congress, made by the executive branch as required by law, showing that Israel flagrantly violated American law, including the US Arms Export Control Act, in July 2006. Now the question is, what will the American administration do about those violations? History suggests they will not do anything.

And the reason we hear so much about cluster bombs as being not only the hidden killer but very devastating is that because of the technology; they’re designed for an open area to attack tanks and armored personnel carriers and other vehicles and equipment and troops on a wide, open area- of course they weren’t designed for villages and trees and banana groves and orchards, and that’s why, according to Chris Clark of the United Nations Mine Action Coordination Center, in some cases as many as 40 or 50% did not explode because they’re not designed to detonate on a soft target but on a harder target. And what we found in the South (of Lebanon), as has been widely reported, is that never in modern history has there been such intensive carpet-bombing by any nation, against any nation, including Kuwait, Afghanistan, Bosnia, and Iraq. If you take all the cluster bombs that were used (in those four theaters) and double them, Israel still exceeded that number in combination during the 33 day war here. In other words, our calculations, supported by United Nations, is that Israel dropped more than 4.8 million cluster bomblets, more than 1.1 million in the last 72 hours.” 

Sabra-Shatilla massacre

It is our true policy to steer clear of permanent alliances with any portion of the foreign world.”–George Washington

Excerpt from an interview by Peter Lavelle of journalist Robert Fisk, on Russia Today, September, 2009:

RF    .…UN Security Council Resolution 242, which followed the ‘67 war and demanded the withdrawal of military forces from territories occupied in that war, in return for the recognition of the security of all states in the area, including Israel. But, you see, such is the extent of, let’s use the word, “colony-building” for Jews and Jews only on Arab land, that it’s almost impossible to go back to 242. And unless you have 242 as the basis for peace, I don’t think there’ll be a peace. And the real question for Israelis in government, and there’s plenty of Israelis who agree with what I’m saying, of course, but they’re probably a minority…. The real question…. is…. “Do you want land, or do you want peace?” If you want land, you will not have peace- you might get the land, but you won’t have peace. If you want peace it’s got to be international frontiers, not the frontiers placed down artificially by the Israeli government by seizing, and let’s speak frankly, stealing, in international law, other people’s land.

PL    Of course, Robert, in your writings, you’re very critical of the Israeli government and its decisions and the US backing of Israel. But you’re also very hard on Arab governments as well. They need to be just as responsible in attaining what you call “justice”.

RF    Look, the Arab world has a whole series of problems. Corruption is the cancer that eats through all Arab countries. I have to say, it doesn’t leave the Israeli leadership untainted either, but, the Arab world- it is the cancer of corruption that gnaws away at it. There is no serious democracy, except perhaps where I am now, a kind of para-democracy; the half-democracy in Lebanon. It is a land ruled by secret policemen where torture chambers are the ultimate fear of every individual citizen. But you know this myth of Arab unity…. has been around for a long time, and the Arabs are not united- they are different peoples. The frontiers may not represent the difference between various tribes, but they are different peoples, to the point…. for example, that an Arab in Lebanon usually can’t understand an Arab speaking Arabic in Algeria- they often have to speak in French together. So, you know, there are huge differences. But one of the things you should remember is that after the first world war, while the French and the British were dividing up the Middle East, the Americans- these are the state department officials to the dying Ottoman Empire, and the NGOs, which of course at the time, we would have called missionaries, allasked the United States to create one modern Arab state from the border of Persia (Iran) and Mesopotamia, which is now Iraq, all the way to the Atlantic coast in Morocco, to make it a modern Arab state. And we, the British and the French didn’t want that- we wanted bits of it who would always have to rely on us for support. And that’s pretty much what has come about. The American dream of having one, modern Arab nation was a good one, and it was a moment when, if he had the power, President Wilson after the first world war, might have been able to create that, but alas, he could no more do that than he could create a proper, large state for the Armenians after their genocide. So I think that you’re dealing with a whole series of totally artificial countries, and one of the problems is that because the Arabs feel themselves always under pressure- it’s like the enemy are at the gates, and when the enemy are at the gates, you don’t start questioning your society, or questioning the powers or behavior of your rulers; you have to stand firm. So we have this endless thing about Arab unity. The Syrians always call themselves…. “the mother of one Arab nation” and it’s rubbish- they’re not. But, you know, one of the other problems is that when you don’t really have nation-states, people are always going to be [more] loyal to their tribe, or to their village, or to their town, or to their religious, sectarian groupings than they are to our idea of a nation-state.

PL    Let’s turn to the issue of Afghanistan. Are you disappointed, surprised that Obama seems to be trying to repeat what George Bush did in Iraq with the so-called surge? Will this policy work out?

RF    Look, I’m amazed that Obama has seized on Afghanistan as a war to win. There’s a cliché that it’s the graveyard of empires; the problem is that the cliché is true. You know, the British in 1842, the British in the 1880’s, the Soviets from 1979 to 1989, now the Americans and the British- we lose, we lose, we lose, we always lose in Afghanistan, because we’re always propping up new governments. Hamid Karzai has just had a totally fraudulent election, and we hope he wins, or we hope he hasn’t won, or do we… and who are we going to support again? You know, at the end of the day, I think one of the problems of people like Barak Obama, who is a nice guy- I mean, after all, after George Bush, anyone would be, is that we still feel that we are the superior people, that we must teach the other people how to live their lives. But you see, if you have an NGO, for example, go into an Afghan village and announce there must be equality of education between men and women, the men will see this as an attack on their society, their culture, and their religion. At the end of the day they are the ones who are going to have to come to this decision. And if the delay takes another century, we Westerners have to put up with that. The real problem, I think is you see, you can no more convince a country like Afghanistan to behave as we want them to behave, than you could persuade Peter the Great in the benefits of parliamentary democracy- it just wouldn’t work, you can’t do it. These people have got to learn themselves how they should run their society fairly. We cannot march in as Westerners, I was going to say as Christians, but there aren’t many Christians left now, but certainly as Westerners, and tell them what to do. It doesn’t work.

PL    Now let’s turn to Iran. The Obama administration said it wanted to improve relations with Teheran, but over the last few days, we’ve seen a lot of turbulence. Where do you think this is going to go?

RF    Look, Obama got it right when he referred to the injustice that America inflicted on Iran at the time of Mossadeq in the 50’s, when the CIA and the British secret service staged a coup to get rid of one of the only democratically elected leaders of Iran, Mossadeq, and put the Shah back on his throne with all his secret policemen and his soldiers and so on. And these are wounds that go very deep and one speech and two speeches is not going to solve that. And many times in the recent past, Iran has reached out to America with positive ideas, including ideas about Afghanistan. Remember, the Taliban are as much an enemy of Iran (they used to call them “the Black Taliban”) as they are of America, and over and over again, under Bush, the United States rejected this. One of the key points with Iran was that they did have a very fine man, Mohammad Katemi, who’s now in the opposition, of course, who was the president- he reached out to America in the same way Obama wants to reach out to Iran, and he was slapped down- we weren’t  interested in dealing with Katemi. So what happened? Ahmadinejad becomes the president, and now he’s the president again- whether he actually is the president depends on whether you believe the election results. So, in a sense, you see, politics goes in such a way, that people keep slapping each other down. What can Obama do now? I don’t think he can do anything. I don’t think, frankly, that the Iranians really want a bomb, and if they got one I don’t think they’d use it. There is a country, a Muslim country, filled with fanatics, which does have a bomb and it’s called Pakistan, but we still are obsessed with Iran. And anyway, are we going to go on for the rest of our lives, and generation after generation, saying well, they can have a bomb because they’re on our side, they can have a bomb because they’re on our side in the war of terror, oh, they can’t have a bomb- there’s far too many clergyman in that government. I mean, we can’t do that. At the end of the day, every country will be able, if it wants, to get nuclear weapons. But I don’t think Iran would ever use them. Anyway, it’s not up to people like Ahmadinejad to make such decisions. Because if Iran used nuclear weapons, say, against Israel, it would destroy all the Palestinians, and the Israelis would respond by destroying Teheran, and the Iranians are not stupid. These are wise people and they don’t want to go to war and they’re not going to go to war….

One point of interest concerning Iran's nuclear ambitions-

Since the 1979 revolution, Iran's government has based its authority to lead on its so-called Islamic nature. Rather than simply deny any desire for nuclear weapons, Iran repeatedly declares nuclear weapons as "unIslamic". This may indicate a sincere rejection of such abuse of technology, or it may be a ruse to allow the secret development of these WMD. Whether they really believe they can develop such weapons in secret is one question. Another question is how the Iranian people would react if their Islamic government developed these decidedly unIslamic weapons.

Cannabis

For 3000 years, until 1883, hemp was the world's largest agricultural crop, from which the majority of fabric, soap, paper, medicines, and oils were produced. George Washington and Thomas Jefferson both grew hemp. Ben Franklin owned a mill that made hemp paper. The US Declaration of Independence was written on hemp paper. Hempseeds are one of the most nutritious seeds known to mankind. Hemp can be used to make plastics and other products as well, and could be an important component in decreasing environmental degradation and foreign dependence. Safe hemp products, locally produced, can replace products (notably those derived from petroleum) with known and unknown toxicities. Political shortsightedness causes untold harm by selectively ignoring inconvenient truths.  

Keep in their face every day until they clean up their act. 

Common misconceptions: 

The definition of jihad is not “holy war”. That is one possible application of the word- the definition is “strife” or “struggle”. The Quran uses the word for topics unrelated to war, as well as referring to jihad done by non-Muslims. Many Moslems consider the “major jihad” to be a struggle of the heart to overcome the nafs (evil-commanding soul). Unless specified otherwise, the word “jihad” is taken to refer to strife by a Muslim in a noble cause.

On a related note:

Conversion at the point of the sword has no doubt been more common historically in Christianity than in Islam. Very rarely was major force applied to impel people to convert to Islam during the Arab conquests. It was generally socially and economically beneficial to convert, but great tolerance has generally been the hallmark of Islamic administrations. Some refer to Taliban rule as “Islamic”, but much of their “Islam” would doubtless be rejected by Mohammed. The three monotheistic faiths recognize the primacy of freedom of conscience.

Anti-Semitism- The Quran provides little basis for anti-Semitism. Most of the prophets named in the Quran were Jews, or ancestors of the Jews. Also, among the most admired women in the Quran is the mother of Jesus, after whom a Surah (chapter/book) is named.

The Quran resembles the Bible’s New Testament in pointing out the general rejection by the Jews of Jesus as their Messiah. To twist this into hatred or discrimination is not only despicable, but is unwarranted scripturally. Some claim that the Quran advocates genocide or the like- they could more accurately place such charges against the Old Testament. We must not misuse such texts to attempt to justify hatred and intolerance. Those claiming that Allah is a false god, and not the God of the Bible, are, however unwittingly, spreading hateful falsehood.  

“If we go the way we are heading, I can see that we will be heading towards confrontation…

“Even the idea of people talking about using force ... it would be catastrophic, it would be an act of madness, and it would not solve the issue.” -Mohamed ElBaradei, the head of the UN nuclear watchdog, speaking concerning Iran, June, 2007.

The Arab world has now (March 2009) set a one-year time limit on their peace offer, provided Israel withdraws to her 1967 borders. This may be the last chance the world has to apply effective pressure to facilitate a lasting peace. The US is Israel’s cocoon and Israel needs to overcome her paranoia and realize that the conflict will only worsen without withdrawal. Neither will Hamas likely recognize Israel’s right to exist anytime soon. Nevertheless, Israel faces a far greater threat from Hamas in the current standoff than they would with a Palestinian state. Once Israel withdraws and a full-fledged state is allowed to control her own destiny, the world will be much more sympathetic to Israel’s security concerns. Any cross-border violence after the peace is finalized would be a clear violation of international law. Should a peace treaty prove impossible this year, Israel should consider a unilateral and complete withdrawal to the internationally recognized borders. While I commend to the reader the example of Mahatma Gandhi, the following two exchanges are nevertheless informative.

Prof. Ted Honderich: “…to cut right to the nub, where you and I might partly agree and partly disagree, I happen to be a Zionist, in the very specific sense of that word. I think that the founding of Israel and the necessary defense of Israel, the actually necessary defense of Israel, now, is right and is supported by the great principle called the principle of humanity.

I equally think that Palestinian terrorism, Palestinian self-defense, the resistance to neo-Zionism, something different, the taking of the last one-fifth of the Palestinian homeland from the indigenous people, resistance to that- Palestinian terrorism- is their moral right...”

George Galloway: “…in my view, and I’m not as well educated as you by a long shot, the word ‘terrorism’ has become meaningless- it’s as Peter Ustinov put it, ‘war is the terrorism of the rich and powerful, and terrorism is the war of the poor and powerless’. Just by throwing the word, ‘terrorism’, you can freeze bank accounts, ban people from countries; this security mania which we have developed has actually poisoned the discourse. Every people has the right to defend themselves, and to defend their homes and their land. That’s all the Palestinians are doing, surely.”

T H: “The Palestinians are engaged, rightly, in self-defense; they’re engaged in a freedom fight. They’re also engaged in what is properly called terrorism; I don’t intend to avoid that truth. I won’t avoid, either, the truth that neo-Zionism, the Neo-Zionist state has been engaged in a terrorist war, that is as proper a description, a terrorist war against Gaza. It has been a bestial war. The recommendation of my position is that I’m not going to avoid language when it’s uncomfortable. I shant avoid the word terrorism, and I shant avoid, for example, the word, ‘bestial’ with respect to the neo-Zionist attack on Gaza. That, if you like, is a philosopher’s impulse- I want to keep all things clear and straight. And so I’m not frightened of speaking of Palestinian self-defense or liberation struggle as terrorism- it is that. It’s equally the case that there are terrorist wars.”

G G: “How do we define terror…?”

T H: “Well, it’s pretty easy, roughly speaking- Terrorism is a use of violence which has a social and political purpose, often the political purpose of a people. It is smaller scale than war, it is illegal in some sense, and it is prima facie wrong; since it is violence, it is prima facie wrong. The only difference between terrorism and terrorist war, for example our terrorist war against Iraq and certainly, the terrorist war against Gaza, the only difference is scale- they are both illegal. There is a difference in scale. That’s how I define terrorism.”

G G : “But the Second World War wasn’t a terrorist war, was it?”

T H : “I think not, I think not- not all wars are terrorist, but some are.”

G G : “But some acts within a just war can be terrorist. I’m a strong supporter of the Second World War, and I think it was our finest hour here in these islands, but the firestorms of Dresden could be argued as having been terrorist acts within a just war.”

T H : “I think that is possible. It’s not something I’ve thought about very much, but I’m certainly open to that idea. But with respect to your objection to my use of the word ‘terrorism’ with respect to Palestinian self-defense, I think one thing we’ve got to do is get a hearing for very arguable views. And one way you fail to get a hearing in speaking up for the Palestinians is by avoiding, if you like, the common language of the people and the press, and all that. It is indeed, truly terrorism; it happens to be justified terrorism. It’s terrorism to which the Palestinians have a moral right. That seems to me the way to make things clear, and that’s what I’m going to go on doing.”

G G : “Well, and your voice is crystal clear and a clarion voice, there’s no doubt about that. Let me, if I may, engage you on your first proposition. I‘ve just interviewed on this very program (The Real Deal, PressTV, March 30, 2009), a very distinguished lady in whose company anyone would want to be, who’s from Jerusalem, except on one fateful April morn she was forced out of Jerusalem and has never been allowed to return. The reason is because a Zionist settler came from Europe and claimed her land, her house, her country which was then wiped off the map. That’s why I’m against Zionism, because it exercised what a group of people claimed to be their inalienable rights at the expense, directly, house for house, inch by inch, of another people who were already living there. That’s why I’m an anti-Zionist.”

T H : “And an anti-Zionist in my sense. It’s a position I can respect, but not one with which I agree, for the following, quick reasons. I begin from something called the principle of humanity, which is getting people out of bad lives. If you bring that together with various factual premises, for example, first of all, the Holocaust, it was a necessity to do something by way of recompense to the Jewish people. A second proposition, which then seemed reasonable, was that the place they were choosing to have their homeland in, Palestine, was not the home of people who had achieved, so to speak, the standing of a people- they were not fully a people. Given those two considerations- the hell of the Holocaust, and the territory which was not occupied by humans who were fully a people, there was then a justification for the founding of the state of (Israel). Now if that were all that could be said for the continued, necessary defense of Israel, there wouldn’t be enough. Now, something else has happened; 50 years have passed- more than that, and the lives of the Jewish people are deep in Israel- there’s a humanity consideration there which is strong. It is for that reason that I can be aware as you are of the life of Ghada Kharmi, whom you speak of, and many Palestinians. It is required that one have an equal awareness of what was true in 1948. And if you bring those two things together, George, I put it to you, that you are forced into what I call Zionism, mainly because of what has happened since ,(?)about the Holocaust, but you are equally forced into a totally clear, open moral defense of the Palestinians.

G G : “There are two propositions in that, the second of which I agree with- that after 50 years the Jewish people have acquired national rights in the land  that was Palestine and is now called Israel and occupied Palestine. That means to say that no solution which requires the leaving of the land of the people who have been born and brought up there, is tenable or morally correct. But I’m, if you’ll forgive me, intrigued, a little incensed, by your contention that the Palestinian people who were living there, that Ghada Kharmi, one of the most educated and sophisticated people in my life, were somehow less than a people- that they had not developed, I think the phrase was that you used- What does that mean, Ted?”

T H : “That turned out to be false. I agree that that turned out to be false. But it was a reasonable and rational attitude then. Ghada herself says that the Palestinians were a simple, rural agrarian people and one could say a little bit more- (I’m not simple), I’m not against simple, agrarian people- but they hadn’t distinguished themselves from other Arabs; they hadn’t formed a state, for a start. So there was something that could be believed then, that turned out false. What proved it was false was the intifadas- no one could think, given the heroic defense of the Palestinian people, defense of themselves, that they had come, so to speak, out of a hat, had been created. They must have been there before; they were a people, so it was a mistake.

G G : “Professor Ted Honderich, you and I are going to have to talk again.

I ask you, How many programs provide a philosophy lecture of that level?...” 

When a Haaretz journalist asked Israeli leader, Ehud Barak, what he would do had he been born Palestinian, Barak replied frankly, "I would join a terror organization."

Closing the prison camp in Guantanamo is insufficient. Instead of toppling communism, the US embargo on Cuba provides a handy excuse to the Castro brothers for the failures of their government. It should be rescinded. The US should renounce and denounce all forms of torture and human rights abuses, wherever they might exist, and wisdom should prevail over fanaticism. In a recent UN vote, 180 nations supported the end of the embargo. In the face of this overwhelming consensus, the US and two other nations voted to continue this failed policy, purportedly due to their support for democracy. Why single out Cuba for his type of treatment when we have normalized relations with other communist regimes such as China and VietNam? Chinese hackers threaten the US far more than any Cubans do.

Patrick Symmes’ idea about creating a free-trade zone in the 45-square-mile US base is interesting, although perhaps very unlikely. He says Cuban-Americans can run the businesses and offer to trade with the rest of Cuba. If Castro refused, the claim that the embargo is opposed by Cuba would be brought into serious doubt.

Donald Rumsfeld’s Crimes Against Humanity:

Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo Bay

Aspartame

Cause and effect

When women are able to choose the number of children they have, birthrates decline. The children, especially the girls, are more likely to receive education. Educated females are better able to assume leadership roles and provide the balance needed in governance. The welfare of children and of future generations receives more emphasis. Gender discrimination and forced marriage lose steam. Less population means less competition for resources. In short, access to birth control means fewer wars and more prosperous and educated societies.

This is what it means to be pro-life.

 Half of Asia’s children are illiterate. 

Neither hatred nor ignorance is service to God, nor a family value. 

 

WMD and the City of Walls

Saddam Hussein used weapons of mass destruction against his own people and against Iran. After the war to expel his forces from Kuwait, the UN gathered and destroyed his arsenal of chemical weapons. Saddam was not cooperative and suspicions of additional weapons remained. After the unfortunate 2003 invasion of Iraq, it was determined that the UN had, in fact, destroyed all WMD in Iraq. Saddam had left the issue in doubt while still in power for one main reason; to discourage Iran from attacking Iraq. Saddam had invaded Iran and used chemicals against them, so he was concerned about retribution.

Since 2003, cement walls have been installed in Baghdad to separate different groups and lessen the ferocity of the post-invasion civil war. Six years later, although the walls remain, the violence between different sectors of society has continued. With hundreds of thousands of Iraqi casualties, thousands of coalition casualties, and millions of refugees, the invasion stands as a monumental fiasco. The explosion of AlQaeda activity and increase in Iranian influence point to the abject failure of this military adventure. The nation’s historic treasures were looted and her infrastructure ruined. It can be argued that women’s rights and religious freedom were set back.

Saddam Hussein was a brutal thug, created, in part, by the USA. But he certainly could have been removed from power through other means. “Preemptive war”, based on supposition, is a poor excuse for the death of tens of thousands of innocent children. The attempt to link Hussein to 9/11 was deplorable. The invasion of Iraq has killed more Americans than the 9/11 terrorists did. Instead of combating extremism, this extreme miscalculation has swelled the ranks of global terrorism by the thousands. The US needs to continue exiting Iraq as quickly as can be safely managed. The hope that a resurgence of violence can be avoided is perhaps overoptimistic. The unfortunate fact is that the world must let events take their course in Iraq and hope the nation doesn’t end in a worse state than when the botched invasion began.

Development or Walls?

The inequalities in income opportunities from one region to another will always be a cause of human migration. Attempting to curb this tide through border controls is an extremely expensive undertaking, costing many lives and huge sums of money. A more advantageous plan is to promote economic development everywhere and abolish the inequalities in the world economic system. Unfair agricultural subsidies and the promotion of corporate interests over human rights greatly impede progress. Those nations that enriched themselves at the expense of their colonies should pay restitution to those people groups. Let economic development in the poor nations be based on respect for their desires and the wellbeing of future generations. Sustainable methods of agriculture, energy production and healthcare create jobs and nurture life. Communication and travel should be encouraged so that understanding can flourish. Let tribalism give way to universalism- humanity is one. Divisiveness, misunderstanding and violence go hand-in-hand. Let the people demand construction, not destruction. Militarism generally leads to poverty and contention. Costa Rica is a prime example of the progress possible when priorities are in order. Corporations dedicated to destructive technologies wield enormous power and need to be challenged by informed individuals. The time is now to demand global implementation of the nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty. This will free up billions of dollars for the betterment of humanity. Nuclear holocaust would not benefit anyone. Accidents have already occurred with nuclear weapons and the risk of diversion into terrorists’ hands can not be eliminated without the abolition of these devices. Those technologies and philosophies destructive to life and the future of our planet deserve to be replaced in a deliberate manner with life-sustaining actions. Patent law must be tailored to promote, rather than defeat development. Nature should not be patented, and nature’s solutions to humanity’s problems should be embraced, even when there is no “profit” to be made. The patenting by corporations of natural products and remedies used by people-groups for centuries is an injustice that should not be tolerated. The end result of the patenting of seeds is a type of feudalism- we must denounce this trend.

Freedom of the press is crucial and where prohibited, can be counteracted through TV and radio broadcasts from abroad. The crucial synergy in economic development comes with respect for all human rights, including privacy and private property. Government’s role should be to protect the basic rights of all while providing incentives for innovation and excellence. Any policy opposed to the well-being of future generations demands rethinking. Freedom to speak, worship and promulgate one’s ideas and beliefs unleashes human ingenuity. A free and open exchange of ideas is the basis for accomplishment and often, consensus. Education/communication and food/water are basic human rights. It’s in no one’s interest to isolate those desiring to interact peacefully across barriers. Nor can peace be attained while hunger and disease grip so many people. Excessive government secrecy inevitably leads to abuses.

Limited government is a grand theory but often fails to work in the real world. To rely on free enterprise to supply our basic needs would lead to an endless stream of tollbooths and the like. In many instances, only collective and compulsory measures lead to progress. Taxation and regulation are necessary, for the free market almost never enhances the rights of the downtrodden, nor does it respect the rights of future generations. Unless government defends all the rights of all the people, the wealthy and powerful generally benefit at the expense of the poor and weak. 

Mexico, Migration, & Climate Change

(Based roughly on a broadcast of AprendeTV, August 25, 2009)

Mexico is especially vulnerable to the effects of global warming. Deserts are advancing at an annual rate of 4 km. Food production is severely threatened in Mexico, which will inevitably lead to massive increases in emigration across the northern border.

China and the US produce 40% of global greenhouse emissions. The growth in energy demand and meat production in China and other developing nations is accelerating the problem, as the US pattern of environmental damage spreads globally. If society recognized the true costs of the use of fossil fuels and ceased all subsidies that foster such short-sighted behaviors, alternative energy sources would more easily compete with heavily polluting sources.

Spain and Denmark are examples of the progress possible with currently existing technologies. The world urgently needs legislation based on realistic goals. Now is the time to be proactive, not depressive. We must all find our part to play in the solution, educating ourselves and embracing nature rather than attempting to dominate it.

With an additional 1.5 degrees C in temperature rise, climate change may be irreversible; 2 degrees of warming could be “apocalyptic”, causing flooding 40 km from parts of Mexico’s coast. If global carbon output isn’t reduced 80% by mid-century, the world as we know it will no longer exist. Humanity’s future hangs in the balance.

Moringa, purslane and bamboo are crops deserving of much greater utilization by humanity. Native plants frequently condemned as “weeds” can sometimes be of great benefit to mankind.  

Thomas Carlyle: “Love builds bridges where there are none.”

“The greatest of faults, I should say, is to be conscious of none.” 

Benjamin Disraeli: “Action may not always bring happiness, but there is no happiness without action.” 

Edmund Burke: “No passion so effectually robs the mind of all its powers of acting and reasoning as fear.”

Lactantius: “Where fear is present, wisdom cannot be.” 

We are confident in the victory of good over evil.    

“Today, we are at a crossroads; one path leading towards a comprehensive new climate agreement, and the other towards oblivion.”- Ban Ki Moon  

More energy in the form of sunlight falls upon earth in one hour

 than the energy consumed by humanity in a year.

 

“The Doctor of the future will give no medicine, but will interest his patient in the care of the Human Frame, in Diet and in the cause and prevention of disease.”

 –Thomas A. Edison 

 

Step one towards democracy: land reform.

 

Step one towards a healthier population:

 anti-tobacco education and stop-smoking programs. 

 

Step one towards economic development: micro-finance.  

Patriotism 

A patriot sees her nation for what it is, with the good and the bad. He protects the good and corrects the bad. Patriotism is not arrogance. What many perceive as bias against their nation is nothing more than a different perspective based on a different vantage point. Before a person or a nation can teach, she must learn. To see our own faults is our greatest challenge. Our allegiance is due not only to our nation; earth sustains and unites us as humanity. 

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