This starts as follows:
I say. But I have
several problems, and one is Paul Ehrlich
and the other is the idea of
starting a revolution. But first one more quotation:
How do you make sure
billions of people around the world have access to food?
You start a revolution.
At least that’s what two
leading U.S. scientists argue in a new report. Feeding people will
require cleaner energy, smarter farming and women’s rights, but also a
“fundamental cultural change,” according to Paul Ehrlich, president of
the Center for Conservation Biology at Stanford University, and
University of California, Berkeley, professor and researcher John Harte.
“What is obvious to us is
... that if humanity is to avoid a calamitous loss of food security, a
fast, society-pervading sea-change as dramatic as the first
agricultural revolution will be required,” they wrote in their report
published last week in the International Journal of Environmental
For many people across
the world growing, buying or finding food is a daily struggle. More
than 800 million people are estimated to be malnourished, according to
the United Nations.
Billions don’t have
stable, secure access to food.
Well... to start
with, I recall that around 2001 Bill Clinton opined, in one of the
speeches he may have gotten 250,000 dollars for, that 500 million
people were estimated to be malnourished, which means that in the
15 years the numbers of estimated malnourisheds kept about even course
with the growth of the population (or may have grown a little, and that
of Live Aid, and other similar Good Deeds by the rich Western masses).
Then I recall that
the situation was already dire in the late 1950ies and
when Aldous Huxley and Rachel Carson warned for overpopulation and the
destruction of nature. (And I agree with Hucley and Carson, mostly.)
Also, no one
has "stable, secure access
to food", in the world in
which we live, though I agree
the rich have it a lot easier than the poor.
Then to return to Paul Ehrlich
(<- Wikipedia): I read his "The Population Bomb" around 1971 and was
somewhat impressed, but it is 47 years after it was first
published, and many of his predictions did not materialize.
(Some did, also.)
As to the need for a
revolution: I agree with Ehrlich that the situation is and was dire:
what I am doubting seriously is Ehrlich's specific take on it,
in some general sense my guess is that he is more right
There is considerably
more in the article but, while I think in some sense 'a
revolution' is needed if you want to feed all (an idea or a value which
masses" don't really seem to care much about, that is, apart
festivals, some times, and not too often), I am rather skeptical of
ideas, that didn't hold up very well for decades.
2. Win or lose, Jeremy Corbyn has already
changed the rules
of the game
The next article is by Seumas
Milne on The Guardian:
This starts as
The media and the
political class can hardly contain themselves. What’s happening in the
Labour party should simply not be happening. It’s suicidal, puerile,
madness, self-mutilation, narcissistic, an emotional spasm and, in the words of one Tory cabinet member, a
“potential catastrophe for Britain”.
But Jeremy Corbyn’s
runaway leadership campaign shows little sign of flagging. In fact, the
more he’s attacked and derided, the more support he attracts. It’s an
extraordinary example of how utterly unpredictable politics can be. In
the aftermath of the general election, Corbyn’s name was barely mentioned as a possible
candidate, as Labour’s leaders lurched to the right.
A couple of months later
and the veteran leftwing MP is heading the field in polls and
nominations, attracting thousands of young people to the party and packing public meetings across the country. As
Corbyn himself readily concedes, it’s a political insurgency that was
waiting for something to latch on to - and that something has turned
out to be him.
The parallels with the
anti-austerity movements that threw up Podemos in Spain, Syriza in
Greece and are fuelling Bernie Sanders’ campaign for the US Democratic
nomination are clear. And the claim that the influx of new members and
registered supporters is fuelled by far-left “entrists” is time-warp
Yes, indeed. And the
real facts behind it is that social democracy has been dead since the
early 1990ies, except for a few rare supporters of
it, such as Bernie Sanders in the USA and Jeremy Corbyn in Great
It had been killed by
Bill Clinton, by Tony Blair, by Blair's inspirer Margaret Thatcher, and
politicians, also outside the English speaking part of
the world (thus, the Dutch political fraud Wim Kok - currently earning
at least 250,000 euros a year as a bank manager of some kind - is a
typical careerist example).
It enabled the old
left parties to take over a good part of the roles of the conservative
rightist parties, and allowed the rightist parties to grow more and
more extreme right-wing, and that is also what happened.
But in fact, as
Not only that, but far
from being the “fanatical class warrior” of the Daily Mail’s
imagination, Corbyn represents Labour’s mainstream values and is making
the case for a social democracy that has been driven from the
mainstream for a generation.
As one young supporter at a Corbyn rally explained:
“People say he is an old leftwinger or an old Marxist but to my
generation his ideas seem quite new.” What she meant was simply free
university tuition and the public ownership of rail and energy – common
across Europe and popular with the British public.
Yes, I agree - and I
am not a Marxist, not a socialist, nor even a
social democrat, but I am
someone who thinks there is a real and relatively large place
for a genuine
social democratic party, with really leftist values and ideals,
as a basis for the poor and middle class to defend themselves from the
individually much more powerful rightists, Tories etc. who generally
defend the interests of the rich. 
Then again, although
this is an interesting article that I recommend you read, I am not
as optimistic as Seumas Milne seems to be:
I hope Corbyn wins,
simply because that is the only way to get a credible
opposition in Great Britain, but if he doesn't win, New Labour will
and will be what it was since Tony Blair: a Toryist party led by
individual political careerists out
for power for themselves
and lots - millions, if possible: If Tony can get 20
pounds, why not Yvette or Andy?! Eh?! - of money for themselves.
By banning my book, Russia
is deluding itself
about its past
The next article is by Anthony
Beevor on The Guardian:
This has a summary:
historical facts is wrong, whether they concern the Holocaust or Red
which is entirely correct, and it starts as
Over the past 24
hours I have been receiving slightly ironic congratulations by email
from fellow historians. They were prompted by the order from the
Ministry of Education in the Yekaterinburg region of Russia to withdraw all my books from schools and
colleges. They are to be removed “from the access of students and
teaching staff”. (It is interesting that teaching staff are not to be
allowed to make up their own minds.) I am accused of “promoting
stereotypes formed during the Third Reich” and developing the
“propaganda myth” of Joseph Goebbels that Red Army soldiers committed
mass rapes of German women.
Yes, indeed - although I disagree that Stalin's triumph
merits the title "sacred" , and especially
not if this is taken
to imply that one can deny palpable historical facts
(like the mass rapes that took place) so as to keep the "sacred"
triumph "sacred". 
In some ways I am amazed
that it has taken them so long. Thirteen years
ago, in 2002, when my book Berlin: The Downfall was published, the
Russian ambassador in London, Grigori Karasin (now deputy foreign
minister), accused me of “lies, slander and blasphemy against the Red
Army” and then invited me to lunch.
He made the valid point that
the horrors and hardships that the Soviet
people had undergone over at least three generations – the first world
war, the revolution and civil war, the famines, the purges and the
unspeakable suffering of the Nazi invasion – meant that even those
opposed to Stalinism saw the victory in 1945 as “sacred”. By including
the mass rapes I would be causing great offence.
This was clearly true, but to pretend that they did not happen would
have been a Soviet propaganda myth.
But Anthony Beevor is quite right:
What depresses me
is that once again we are faced with a government trying to impose its
own version of history. I am fundamentally opposed to all such attempts
to dictate a truth, whether it concerns denial of the Holocaust or the
Armenian genocide, or the “sacred victory” of May 1945.
Truth comes before
political ideals, and where political ideals - left, right or center -
come before truth, a political dictatorship is close.
Effort to Rebut Torture Report Undermined as Former Official Admits the
The next article is by
Dan Froomkin on The Intercept:
This is a short
article from which I only quote this:
Alvin Bernard “Buzzy” Krongard, who was the CIA’s executive
director from 2001 to 2004 — the number-three
position at the agency — was asked on a BBC news
program if he thought waterboarding and putting a detainee in
painful stress positions amounted to torture.
“Well, let’s put it this
way, it is meant to make him as uncomfortable as possible,” he said.
“So I assume for, without getting into semantics, that’s torture. I’m
comfortable with saying that.”
He added: “We were
told by legal authorities that we could torture people.”
And that’s where Krongard’s confession will be so damaging: It makes it
clear that CIA officials knew what torture was, knew they had been
given legal cover to torture, and knew they were engaged in torture.
I doubt I am as
certain as Dan Froomkin seems to be that this is "damaging".
In fact, while I agree "that CIA officials knew what torture was, knew they had been
given legal cover to torture, and knew they were engaged in torture" I
think it is rather a brazen attempt to hide behind the fact
that the officials were "given
legal cover to torture".
For indeed they were, although indeed these seem to have mostly
come from lawyers acting for the president or vice-president, who claimed
they were allowed to proceed with "extended interrogation techniques".
But I suspect “Buzzy” Krongard's game amounts to this (in
"We were given permission
to abuse prisoners by lawyers who wrote for the goverment, and it
cannot be expected from us to investigate or doubt such
permissions (even if by now we learned that they were far from rock
solid, and indeed may have been illegal themselves)."
We shall see, but I guess my
reading is a bit more plausible.
5. Court Rules Warrantless Cell Phone
The next article is by Jenna McLaughlin on The Intercept:
This is good news (so
A divided appellate court
panel in Richmond, Virginia, ruled
on Wednesday that citizens do not give up their privacy rights
just because their mobile-phone providers know where to reach them.
The decision is the
strongest assertion of the Fourth Amendment rights of mobile phone
users out of three appellate court decisions on the matter, setting up
a likely Supreme Court hearing.
The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals ruling rejected the “third party
doctrine,” a legal theory that private information held by a company is
not protected by the Fourth Amendment’s prohibitions against
unreasonable search and seizure.
The ruling acknowledged
the prevalence and advancement of technology in our lives. “People
cannot be deemed to have volunteered to forfeit expectations of privacy
by simply seeking active participation in society through use of their
cell phones,” the court wrote.
reason is - in the end - exactly the same as paper mail users
did not give up their privacy rights to the firms that sell envelopes
by buying envelopes: That is all utter baloney, total crap, complete
Economist: The TPP is
So I quite agree with the court - but I fear the "likely Supreme Court hearing", for I would not at all be amazed if
these decide, 5 against 4, that by hiding your personal secrets in an
envelope and handing that envelope to a post office, you thereby have
given your secrets, your privacy, and your life to the anonymous spies
of your government, who will check whether you are desirable, and may
remove you (anonymously, in secret) in case they decide you are not
is in the Patriot Act).
The last article
of today is by Yves Smith and Simon Baptist on Nakedcapitalism:
In fact, this is mainly here
because of the title ("The TPP Is Dead") and the source, which is The
Economist's chief economist, Simon Baptist. I will quote only a quoted
bit from Baptist, namely this one:
The latest talks
on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) did not end well and election
timetables in Canada and the US mean that the prospect of a deal being
ratified before the end of 2016 (at the earliest) is remote. The usual
problem of agricultural markets was prominent, headlined by Canada’s
refusal to open its dairy sector. For New Zealand—one of the four
founder countries of the TPP, along with Brunei, Chile and
Singapore—this was a non-negotiable issue. Dairy was not the only
problem. As usual, Japan was worried about cars and rice, and the US
about patent protection for its pharma companies.
All I can say is: I wish
it were true!
The TPP was
probably doomed when the US joined, and certainly when Japan did. It
then became more of a political project than an economic one. Big trade
agreements had hitherto focused on physical goods, while the TPP had an
aim of forging rules of trade beyond this in intellectual property,
investment and services. China was a notable absence, and the US and
Japan, in particular, were keen to set these rules with enough of the
global economy behind them such that China would be forced into line
later on. For now, the shape of international standards in these areas
remains up for grabs. The next step for the TPP, if anything, is
whether a smaller group—such as the founding four —will break away and
go ahead on their own, with a much smaller share of global GDP
involved, and in the hope that others will join later.
I like Nakedcapitalism and I respect Yves Smith, but I am doubtful even
the chief economist of The Economist knows as much about the TPP -
which is a deeply secret treaty, though parts of it have been
on Wikileaks - as he should.
But OK - we will see. For the moment I am not convinced, though
news sounds good.
Incidentally, where am I, politically speaking? That is not such a bad
question, but the answers are personal, and come in three parts:
First, in terms of values and ideals I am on the left side, indeed
probably mostly anarchistic
(though I do believe some sort of
government is needed, and some system of laws needs to be
assumed and maintained), but without finding any group or any person I
can mostly agree with. ("Aren't anarchists socialists?!" I don't know
they are, but the socialism I am against is the state capitalist
where a few holders of power in fact owe or at least run everything.
What first needs to be done is curbing the many abuses of power and authority.)
Second, in terms of politics
I am basically out: I really do not think politics or
politicians are the right way to change the world (and do not
think so since 1970: this is neither a new nor an unconsidered
position!) and I opt for real science and scientific ideas
and values much rather than politics and
political ideas and values.
But that is very much a minority positiom, so:
Third, I follow politics, indeed rather closely, but that is
mainly because the vast majority seems to believe politics
will (or might) deliver them their ideals. I don't believe this
at all, but this does mean politics and politicians remain important,
though one cannot trust the politicians and cannot believe their
publicly proclaimed values and plans.
 But it is the kind of utter crap the United
States' governments have been indulging in ever since 9/11: You have no
right on any privacy, because by buying envelopes you handed your
private information to "a company", which the government then
claims (quite falsely) "is
not protected by the Fourth Amendment’s prohibitions
unreasonable search and seizure." That is: You may have secrets, but as soon as
you tell them to anyone else, you thereby tell them to
the government (who will cease your communications, read them
(anonymously and in secret) and store them, for later use, quite
possibly by a later government.
 After all, Stalin also was an atheist.