Monday, 11 December 2017


     First off, I suspect that you believe you are much too busy working on your millions of current species to listen to my pleas.  But you do have self-created responsibility which gives me the audacity to venture into your good and bad characteristics.  I do thank you for fashioning a consciousness for me, but it does question if you designed one for yourself.  You were amazingly quick, this time around, and 13.8 billion years ago (bya) to accept your job by taking only a trillionth of a trillionth of a trillionth of a second after the Big Bang to realize you had only a single force to work with, so you set the thermostat down a tad to create gravity, the weak and the strong nuclear forces, and electro-magnetism.
You played with these, via trial and error, for 10 billion years, enjoying the chaos of explosions and collisions before coming up with a solar system and a planet with the right chemicals to create organisms that could self-replicate.  What a fantastic environment for experimenting!  You created trillions of species, an awesome accomplishment, but, you did take some 3.8 billion years to fashion billions of organisms like me, each with a personal consciousness which does make us question you, and to ask what is your purpose? 
Your exuberance has led to at least one species, homo sapiens, who is beginning to question your strategy   while exploring what meaning or purpose it has.
Over 99% of the species you created are now extinct.  This does question your methods.    Those currently existing number 1.6 billion that we humans have already described, a figure only 20% of what we assume we have yet to find and study.
Your planetary creation is so complex and your humans so limited that we must channel our abilities into numerous specialties: 
Our biological scientists tell me that you have devised 5 x 1037 DNA base pairs, weighing 50 billion tonnes, leaving a biosphere on this Earth of 4 trillion tons of carbon, so you have plenty to still play with.
How trustworthy are you?  You have allowed me a brief lifetime with amazing, but limited, intelligence, quite insufficient to find out, yet you also give me a curiosity to do so.  Is that fair?
  To be fair myself, I cannot blame you for those multitudes of factors over which you have no control.  You awoke amid a maelstrom that would devour anything less persistent than you.
But, Evolution, do you not have many flaws yourself?  Have you not had a one-track mind?      Having created Life, you have an insatiable desire to diversify it.  You have sought reproduction without considering compassion.  You did start out with asexual which is faster, easier, and still used.  Was it not some 1.2 bya that you dreamed up eukaryotic bisexual cells with long-term goals and adaptability to changing environments?
When you divided us into males and females you made reproduction brief and pleasurable for the male but lengthy and burdensome for the female who is saddled with gestation times in days such as: mice 20, rabbits 33, dogs and cats 60, pigs 114, goats 140, bears 210, chimpanzees 227, orangutans 260, humans 266, cows 284, and elephants 640.
By giving males, in most species, superior physical strength combined with stronger sexual drives, but without superior intelligence, you have caused  enormous harm to billions of females.  In fact, my blog #143 Rape vs Love, published 27 January 2016, describes some of them.  Your negligence is revealed shamefully in today’s society that has encouraged the emergence of women to full equality.  We are seeing increasing scores of men, who otherwise contributed much to humanity, having their careers and respect wrecked due to a failure to control the sexual impulses you gave them.
Evolution, have you not overreached yourself and therefore need a rest to contemplate what you have done and how you can correct flaws?  Something is wrong when the environments you evolve, with their varied humans, result in so many who believe that you do not exist even though they can easily see manifestations of your work, and even indulge in it themselves.
We humans, who do believe in you, suspect you are far from perfect.  Your DNA creates humans that visually belong to one sex, yet are endowed with feelings that belong to the other.
You evolved us to where we can discover our cellular composition is only 10% human with the rest bacterial, 99% of which are beneficial.  Being much smaller, bacterial cells provide less than 3% of our mass. So, who is in charge?  Who really runs the show?    Who actually is composing this blog?
Or, is this a good lesson in the importance of co-operation?  If so, why can we not do a better job of commuting with, and taking care of, each other?  
Our sub-conscious mind has always been an integral part of us so why is it only recently that our conscious mind became aware of it and how it accomplishes all those household chores, seldom bothering our much slower conscious mind that sometimes acknowledges that our gut feelings need to be considered?
The most frightening examples of your lack of empathy lie in your creations.  You have given us pain and pleasure receptacles to guide us not only among natural phenomena but also among your numerous and bewildering living organisms.  I give you credit for the plant kingdom in which life and growth depends on inanimate contributors like sun energy and water.  Your Animal kingdom is a cruel battleground where survival is a kill-and-eat necessity.  Eaters must be immune to the pain and suffering not only of the eaten but of their relatives.  Your lack of balance is criminal.  Yes, we humans are quite guilty ourselves, but you set the stage.
Actually, many of us do thank you for giving us, and a few other air, land, and sea creatures, the intelligence to know the harm we do, but we still need the will and ability to enforce changes. 
Humans, after placing themselves as number one, have rated creative intelligence in this order for the highest 15 animals:  orangutan, bottlenose dolphin, chimpanzee, elephant, crow, African grey parrot, pig, rat, squirrel, racoon, veined octopus, pigeon, dog, portia labiata jumping spider, and ant.  Evolution, are you grooming any of these as replacements when you tire of us?
I suspect, Evolution, that you are now using us to do your work for you such as evolving intelligent machines, but you have not given us sufficient intelligence to do the job minus the frightening risk of exterminating ourselves.    
Perhaps your biggest goof was to introduce Greed that has enabled a few humans to become oligarchs, manipulating the rest of us into destroying ourselves.  You must know that humans have killed, over 7,000 years,  the same number, 8 billion, humans that currently exist.
Terrifying is the fact that sores of intelligent and well-meaning scientists have been used to create nuclear arsenals that leaders claim they need for coercion that they call protection.  As reaction time is so limited, responsibility for use has been delegated to a frightening number of military personnel across the globe.
This is a topic deserving of its own blog, so here I will just remind you of just two examples of escaped exterminations and the risks of relying on human fraility:
During the Cuban missile crises when Krushchev had placed nuclear missiles in Cuba to counter missiles the US had set up in bordering Turkey, the US employed aerial and naval exercises, implying an invasion of Cuba was imminent.  The USN also dropped dummy depth charges on Soviet submarines that were nuclear armed.  To the sub crews they appeared real so Commodore Vasili Arkhipov was highly tempted to destroy his attackers - a move that would have ended all of us.  He refrained and the world avoided catastrophe.
In 1957 at the Ballistic Missile Early Warning site in Thule, Greenland, electric pulses were bounced back off the moon that happened to be in direct alignment with a Soviet launch site.  Reactions raced to the highest levels to the Norad deputy commander, Air Marshal Roy Slemon, RCAF, the man on duty to make the final decision.  He quickly, but carefully, assessed the political status that told him a strike was unlikely so he called off a real retaliatory strike.  It is dangerous to assume other humans will posses the same wisdom.
Evolution, your current playground on Planet Earth is only 10 billion years old, yet is well on its way to self destruction.  Do you really want it to end so soon?  There is so much more you could do here and we could have another 1.75 billion years before our sun loses its ability to sustain life.
Sadly, Evolution, everything we are aware of is mortal, but, really, we now have the ability and knowledge to try co-operation.  We could work together to increase our longevity, minus the aches and pains of ageing, to limit reproduction  to sustainable numbers, all of whom could have a much more enjoyable experience on this tiny, but fortunate, speck in the immensity of creation?
Accept, and enjoy, the challenge!

Ye Olde Scribe

Monday, 20 November 2017


Before delving into this topic, remember that only 10.6% of the world’s land is arable. A Western life style requires half a hectare per person to sustain it.  Only Australia, Kazakhstan, Canada, Niger, Lithuania, Uruguay, Paraguay, Ukraine, Latvia, and Guyana, exceed 0.5 and in that order, ranging from 2.0 to 0.6.  Europe and Central Asia average 0.59.  The USA has .49 not counting recent flood and drought damage.
  Whatever Nature can do man can do better.  This is by no means a new boast born of the atomic age.  Homo sapiens has always been jealous of the forces in Nature's inventory, and has striven to better them.  Nature has always burned large areas of forests with fires started by lightning.  How terribly inefficient!  Nature must build huge cumulonimbus clouds, marshal great gobs of positive and negative particles, and expend energy equal to a dozen Hiroshima bombs.  Even Early Man learned how to do the job by simply rubbing a couple of sticks together or by using a bit of flint.  Man made his own forest fires  to drive animals to slaughter.  This method killed far more animals that could be eaten or used, and it often produced deserts, but why worry?  There were lots of forests, lots of animals, and few people.  Homo the Sap may not be very good at mathematics or biology, but he has never stopped competing with Nature.
Nature has made lots of deserts, but she has had to exert prodigious effort, both in raising mountain chains to stop moisture-laden winds, and in pushing land masses all over the globe so that large areas are remote from sea breezes.  Man, on the other hand, has just plodded away - and look at the beautiful deserts he has created by simple methods:
Irrigation:   All you have to do is to apply too much water. This will raise the water table which often permits harmful salt to reach surface layers.  This has ruined irrigated areas ever since man started irrigating.  Just before the 1979 Soviet invasion, this method created new desert areas in Afghanistan.
Ploughing:   Use a "hoe" plough.  It cuts a shallow furrow allowing top soil to pulverize into dust and blow away.  This ox-drawn plough is still used in the Middle East where once-rich soil now has poor or no yield.  Many Syrian towns now lie buried under sand and dust that was once soil on cultivated fields.
Grazing:   Sheep and goats are great desert-builders. Unlike cattle, they crop so closely to the ground that plants lose their recuperative powers.  Over-grazing and intensive farming around the headwaters of the Tigris and Euphrates caused such heavy erosion that silt, deposited in the Persian Gulf 2,700 km away, extended the coastline of Sumerian times outwards by 300 km in 4,500 years.  Over grazing is also a factor in the huge expansion of the Sahara Desert.
Lumbering:   Do not let lush vegetation discourage you, particularly in Mediterranean climates that have wet winters and dry summers.  A little persistence, like the Greeks used, will do the trick.  Greece was once lush and fertile.  Remove some trees for ship building, some more for house building, a few to make charcoal for smelting metallic ores, and just a few more to warm the house in winter.  Clearing all these forests left good soil for farming, and patient winter rains slowly washed it all into the sea.  Yes, you will still find a few olive trees surviving through cracks in the rocks, but that is a desert compared to what once was.  The Greeks were not the first at desert-making.  The Indus Valley was a great civilization in 1500 BC.  Wide streets, flush toilets, and all that.  They were good at using charcoal to smelt metals.  Each year they had to go a little further out to harvest the trees to make the charcoal.  After a few hundred years it does get to be a chore going so far for trees.  Apathy and poor workmanship increased enough to so weaken the civilization that Aryians were able to sweep in to murder, rape, and pillage while the deserts grew.  
Today, we do things on the grand scale.  Throughout the rain forest we are clearing ever increasing areas for farming or ranching or just to sell lumber.  The cleared land will support only a few crops before it becomes exhausted and turns to desert, but we can move on.  If the environmentalists complain, show them all those small circles of trees that are being left intact.  Perhaps they will not stay around to see that this creates large circumferences exposed to the sun and drying.  No trees to provide moisture for rain makes more and greater deserts.    
Deserts in Lakes and Oceans:  Man tries to surpass Nature here. In only 50 years, using industrial wastes and pesticides, he killed Lake Erie, but, in this case, has made some amends.  Now, with oil spills and over-harvesting, he is killing the oceans.  Take the lush Grand Banks off Newfoundland.  In the early 1500's scores of European vessels made three trips per year to fish there among an inexhaustible supply of fish.  Then fleets of European and North American trawlers, using sonar and radar, reaped enormous harvests.  Factory ships would remain on station year round.  This so denuded stocks that Canada imposed a fishing ban in 1992.  Thousands went from a life of hard work at sea to collecting welfare cheques.  
Excitement was provided by frictions when Canada impounded temporarily a Portugese trawler in 1994 and a Spanish trawler in 1995 for illegal fishing.  Spain threatened to send gun boats to protect her right to create ocean deserts.
The Soviet Union, and subsequent entities, have been leaders in water mismanagement.  Lake Baikal  is badly polluted and the Aral Sea has shrunk dramatically due to the diversion of rivers.  Fishing boats are left stranded miles inland.     
Man has always destroyed his own creations. Deserts are no exceptions. Planned obsolescence philosophy perhaps?  But, how is it done?
Terracing:   Where you have removed all that protective covering, you will notice that water really does  run down hill.  You could terrace that area now to control water flow, but you must wait a thousand years for that bare rock to erode to soil.  If you are not that patient, find a virgin area, and terrace it before you remove the trees and grasses.
Wind Breaks and Strip Farming:   Treeless plains offer cultivated soils to the winds.  Planting rows of tree s and leaving strips of land in natural vegetation will deny the wind the long sweep it needs to be an effective desert-maker.    Take a look at Britain and Denmark to see how beautiful this can be.  Their hedgerows, hundreds of years old, are wildlife sanctuaries besides preventing erosion, retaining moisture, providing timber, and giving lovers romantic pathways where they can commune with Nature and each other.  Some short-sighted farmers are now eliminating hedgerows to plant more crops.
Foam Rubber:   This is proving effective in Arabian citrus groves.  Planted under the sand it retains humus and moisture.
Oil Spraying:  Oil, an excellent pollutant, is now being used to stabilize sand dunes, thus conserving moisture and permitting plants to take root.
Cloud Seeding:   Seeding cumulus clouds with silver iodide can cause super-cooled cloud droplets to freeze into ice crystals, releasing latent heat which forces the air in the cloud to rise, causing explosive cloud growth, terminating in seven times more rain than would have fallen had the cloud been left unseeded.
Tree Planting:   In the barren, wind-swept areas of Israel, over 77,000,000 trees were planted and carefully nurtured from 1948 to 1961 (35 trees per Israeli).    A forbidding land is now becoming a promising one. Many of these now-inhabited areas have not seen human habitation since biblical times.  In Africa women are leading the tree-planting effort.
Aswan Dam:  Since 1900 man has increased irrigated acreage 400% to 400 million acres.  The Aswan Dam was to have increased this acreage more.  The Egyptians worked faster at increasing their population than in building the dam, so the increased acreage was unable to feed the increased population.  More problems:  Bilharzia, an intestinal and urinary disease, spread because carrier snails are no longer controlled by annual floods and droughts.  Nile farmlands have become impoverished because they are no longer renewed by annual deposits of silt.  Accumultaed salt, that used to be flushed out by annual flooding, has forced some areas to be taken out of production.  And, sardines in the nearby Mediterranean have decreased 33% due to a drop in the amount of nutrients that the Nile used to wash out to sea. 
The Great American Desert:  Good soil in the southwest needed water.  The last ice age left lots of it underground which is now being pumped to create verdant farmlands.  This water will soon be all gone and we will need to wait for the next ice age to replenish it.  Meanwhile, enjoy the return of the desert.
For this blog we will leave the story there - but adding a PS to argue much more action is required.
PS:  COMMON SENSE: Since 1995 there have been 24 UN conferences in 18 different countries to monitor and promote progress in limiting human-made global warming. Germany has hosted four.  Only one country, the USA, declined to join the world at the week-long November 2017 conference in Bonn, yet a strong US delegation  showed up to insist that they, if not their government, were fully committed.
So, the world has awakened to the threat.  Alas, much too little effort exists in the very costly, but essential, removal of carbon already here.  Perhaps the subject of a future blog?

                                                                                                                       Ye Olde Scribe

Tuesday, 31 October 2017


Real threats to reaching this essential goal lurk in many of our nations where vested interests have even goaded Nature into lashing out at us. Yet, a strong, healthy, individual, and organizational surge is building, but is not a tsunami required for a species largely adolescent? Recent advances include a Nobel prize awarded to ICAN (International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons) which was energized to a large extent by women.  The UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons was adopted 07 July 2017 by 122 members and, so far, 53 have indicated ratification.  It is opposed by all the nuclear-armed powers.  How can we educate them?
Throughout history the lack of concern by selfish humans for other humans (and other life forms) has been colossal, shameful, and criminal.  In that unnecessary WWI, politicians and generals shamed ever more men, and used conscription, to send millions to their mutilations and deaths.  They punished yearnings for peace such as the Christmas 1914 truce initiated by German soldiers and embraced by British that spread 400 miles along the trenches, lasted a week, included soccer games, and needed heavy artillery barrages and troop rotations to force resumption of the killing.  Then, there was the failed Poilus revolt of 40,000 French troops.  Other stoppages also failed on the Eastern Front.  Vietnam was just another example of the sacrifice of human life for what?  Capitalist fears of communism?  We are overpopulated but wars do not kill population explosions.
Humans do feel more comfortable when left safe in small groups, free to trade and inter-marry with other safe small groups.  While it should be argued, even if false, that all humans are born equal, the same cannot be said for the varied and changing land areas essential to growing populations, so we get conflicts, migrations,  and profits. Yet the concept of world unity is well worn and exhibits the desires of millions of us.  For at least 12,000 years we have embraced conquests and expansions, usually for Greed that needs to seduce manpower by such tactics as spreading religions or philosophies and offering spoils of war, especially women.  This has given us a mixed bag of assimilation, bloodshed, personhood, building, commerce, destruction, enlightenment, ethnic cleansing, equality, exploration,  gene-mixing, human rights, inequalities, peace, salvation, slavery, and strife.  Today, we can procrastinate no longer.  Actions, many quite painful, are unavoidable - but is our species sufficiently educated to finally work in global harmony, tolerant of all peaceful diversities that identify us?
In spite of the rapid growth of instant communication that could unite us, we remain easy prey for the Greed of selfish individuals and groups who use it for fraud and scams.
There are now more mobile phones than people and their birthrate exceeds ours.   So, why are we so tribalized that we remain suspicious of those who dwell on the other side of the mountains, across the river or ocean, or even on the other side of the railway tracks, and at the sending end of our e-mails.
On being born, naked and with no set of prior instructions, into a very complex world, each of us has had to rely on forebears to educate us - a task that takes at least 15 years.  Do enough of us sacrifice the time and effort to seek, to learn from, and to act on the wisdom that abounds out there?
Languages and cultures do influence the human mind.  Since the Industrial Revolution and the growth of Capitalism too many current languages have drifted away from intimacy with the environment and other life forms to embrace the God of Greed.  Animals and Plants were put here to serve us we are told.   In many of the nations, that now make up America, from Canada to Terra del Fuego, thousands of European settlers discovered they preferred the native life styles to European even though many native tribes also used torture and warfare.
  “I am a citizen of the world.” replied Diogenes in 422 BC when asked about his origins.  Individuals who considered themselves to be citizens of the world can be found among the ancient Greek thinkers, the Romans, the Chinese dynasties, the Persians, all the way to Immanuel Kant in Königsberg, Germany, who, in 1759, outlined the steps necessary for perpetual peace.   And, yes, Einstein considered himself a world citizen. 
I must mention Alfred Tennyson who, in 1842 in the UK, wrote a poem I have cherished since childhood:
For I dipt into the future far as human eye could see
Saw a vision of the world and all the wonder that would be  
Till the war drums throbbed no longer and the battle flags were furled
In the Parliament of Man, the Federation of the World.
There the common sense of most shall hold a fretful world in awe
And the kindly earth shall slumber, lapt in universal law.
Ulysses S. Grant in 1873 predicted that the great advances in transport and communication would make the  world one, thus eliminating armies and navies. 
Karl Marx, 1818-1883, argued that capitalism depended on competing world businesses so should soon be superceded by socialism that would erase national rivalry thus uniting workers of the world for the benefit of all. 
Kang Youwei published in China his 1885 “One World Philosophy”, concluding that Nature would coalesce the 10,000 countries the world had known into one.
Bahá’u’lláh, 1817-1892, in the Ottoman Empire was imprisoned and tortured for 40 years in Tehran and  Acre because he preached one world under one god.  His son built a religion that accepts major religions as manifestations of God who will reveal further manifestations such as a universal language to a species that will continue to be diverse.  It seeks limits to both poverty and wealth.  It has enticed adherents in Europe, the Americas, and Australasia.  It boasts 5 million members among 2,100 ethnic groupings in 100,000 locations.
The International Humanist and Ethical Union was founded in 1952 in Amsterdam with Julius Huxley presiding.  Current headquarters are in London.  It now embraces 130 organizations in over 50 countries.  It promotes free thought, following science rather than gods, to enhance the welfare of humanity.
Other One-World predictors warn it would be under the control of one of the established nations such as Britain, Germany, Russia, or the United States.  Alexis de Tocqueville (France 1805-1859) warned that the United States, set to take over the British Empire, would go on to dominate the entire world.
The late 1800s and early 1900s was an optimistic age.  Some 450 international organizations were formed.  These included the Red Cross, the Universal Postal Union, the Institute of International Law, and the International Parliamentary Union.  Yet all these were inadequate to prevent the jingoists and profiteers from launching the horrors of WWI and from setting the stage, in the Treaty of Versailles, for Adolph Hitler and his Nazis.
Passports: Restrictions to travel have a long history.  One of the oldest known documents is the letter that Persian King Artaxerxes prepared for Nehemiah in 450 BC requesting safe passage to Judea.  The first true passport is credited to Henry V of England about 1414.  The rapid expansion of railroads prior to WWI led to  a large relaxation of passports.   Church birth certificates were the major use of identification if required.  Two world wars  created a compulsory use of passports, greatly hampered today by the millions of paperless refugees fleeing wars, persecutions, ethnic cleansing, droughts, fires, and floods.   Is the next step a world-wide data base of computerized facial impressions?  Are these foolproof to ageing?
World Unifying Organizations: In March of 1943 I was shocked to see, from the train taking me as a new POW across the entire width of Germany, Coca Cola signs and those of other US commercial interests especially petroleum.  So wars did not stop enemy commercial dominations.  Was commerce an ally or enemy of politics?
      We had tried the League of Nations that failed to prevent WWII.  Why?  Consider the USA.  Divided even before its birth, it was so blessed by the geography it stole that it rose to be the richest and militarily-most-powerful nation.  Its President, Woodrow Wilson, with his 14 points, promoted strong support for the League of Nations but his electioneering train was followed by Republicans intent on keeping the US out of world politics.  Wilson died on reaching Pueblo, Colorado, and the Republicans went on to win and keep the US out of the League thus curtailing its abilities.   After WWII the US partially reversed its stand, providing a HQ location and the largest budget share for the United Nations in the desire to control it, a desire shared with  China, France, Russia, and the UK, all with veto powers. 
     Recently, politicians from 35 nationalist parties went to Barcelona to support Catalan independence.  Included were: Parti Quebecois, Scottish Nationalist Party, Sinn Fein, Plaid Cymru of Wales, and Belgium’s New Flemish Alliance.  Now, we have armed conflict over the Kurdish desire for its own nation. 
       Heart warming is the growing number of individuals who are pursuing Truth and informing the rest of us:
       Ruth Conniff, editor of The Progressive magazine is leaving for a year to immerse herself, her husband, and 3 daughters into Mexican culture.  They will live in a small house at the end of a dirt road in Oaxaca.  The girls will attend Mexican middle and high schools, learn Spanish, and something about the 16 distinct ethnic groups that enrich the area. 
Ai Weiwei was born in Beijing in 1957 to a mother who was a writer and a father a poet.  Named enemies of the people, the family was sent to a hard-labour camp.  Here Ai spent 16 years under harsh conditions with little formal education.  Returning to Beijing at age 19, Ai enrolled in the Beijing Film Academy whose leader was sentenced to 15 years in prison in 1981, prompting Ai to flee to New York, speaking no English and with only $30.  He worked at numerous odd jobs, but returned to Beijing in 1993 as his father was ill.  He founded One World, an architecture firm that became highly influential.  He was also dedicated to art and writing.  After a 2008 massive earthquake in Sichuan he documented the 5,000 children killed due to shoddy government schools.  He was put under house arrest, his blog site was deactivated, and his beatings by police required brain surgery.  His passport was seized until 2015.  He then fled to Berlin, and formed a crew to visit 23 countries, and 40 refugee locations, to produce the current documentary “Human Flow”.
Formidable obstacles to the one-world concept include:
     Ethnic Cleansing:  From Carthage in 149 BC to two world wars to today’s Central African Republic, Botswana, Bulgaria, Congo, India, Indonesia, Iraq, Kenya, Kyrgyzstan, Libya, Myanmar, Niger, Palestine, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, South Africa, South Ossetia, Sudan, Syria, USA, millions have been killed or forced to flee while many of their homes were destroyed.   
     Powerful self-centred Leaders are powerful and dangerous only because they have attracted  num erous powerful lieutenants to control the masses.
One-worlders do face immense barriers.  Only 13% of 190 rated countries have a free press.  In  order of the degree of freedom Scandinavia takes the top 5 slots with Costa Rica leading all of America as #6.  Other selected ratings are:  New Zealand 13th, Germany 16th, Australia 19th, Canada 22nd, USA 43rd, Argentina 50th, Poland 54th, S. Korea 63rd, Japan 72nd, Greece 88th, Israel 91st, Ukraine 102nd, Brazil 103rd, Palestine 135th, India 136th, Jordan 138th, Pakistan 139th, Mexico 147th, Russia 148th, Libya 163rd, Iran 165th, Saudi Arabia 165th, Cuba 173rd, China 176th, North Korea 190th.
Powerful world leaders guilty of crimes against humanity include: Egypt’s Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, Israel’s Binyamin Netanyahu, Myanmar’s generals, North Korea’s Kim Jong-Un, the Philippines’ Rodrigo Duterte, Russia's Vladimir Putin, Saudi Arabia’s royal family, Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdoğen, and, sadly, several US presidents leading to the current one who support 800 US military bases in over 70 countries when Britain, China, France, and Russia combined have 30.  The US has  some 50 in resource-rich Africa where US drone strikes do create ever more “terrorists” to fight.     In fact the current US president has  launched 10,500 drone strikes in Afghanistan, Syria, Yemen, and Somalia.  That is double the Obama record.   It is estimated that US-led airstrikes have killed over 3,200 innocent civilians with Russia adding about half that number.
When, to these threats, we add Over Population, Global Warming, Restless Earth Eruptions, Solar Flares, Colliding Asteroids, Immune Disease Predators, and Inevitable Death we have more than enough reasons to lie back, grab what transient pleasures we can, and accept imminent oblivion.
Or, we can emulate the millions who have preceded us in making this world a better place because they fought back to glorify our species that has, over some 200,000 (400,000?) years, especially the last 2,000, made such amazing progress and have left us with the potential to achieve paradise even if it too must have an end.
Surges can empower tsunamis.  We possess the knowledge and wherewithal to create one world beyond wars.  Let us accept the challenge.

Ye Olde Scribe


Wednesday, 4 October 2017


  I was well into a different blog on world citizenship when Julie Payette gave her inaugural speech on 02 October 2017 without notes and in three languages - English, French, and Algonquin, the language of the original inhabitants of the Ottawa area.  Among the attendees was Perry Bellegarde, president of the First Nations Association.  Over 600 bands, speaking over 60 languages, make up 5.6% of Canada’s 36 million people. Again I was impressed.  My association with Julie is limited to a 15-minute discussion after a mess dinner held by Canadian personnel stationed here at NORAD.  She had been invited as guest speaker.  I was delighted to find we shared similar views.  So, I thoroughly endorse her appointment as the 29th Governor General of Canada.
As head of state, the governor general may not be nominated by, or be part of, any political party.  Representing the Crown and Country, where sovereignty resides, she, or he, must remain above petty politics.
Yet, should the need arise, a governor general can dismiss a prime minister and dissolve parliament if they lose the confidence of the House of Commons.
Julie, a business woman, an engineer, and an astronaut, was born in Montreal in 1963.  She earned a Bachelor of Electrical Engineering at McGill University in 1986, then worked for IBM Canada for 2 years before earning an MA from the University of Toronto in 1990, returning to IBM for a year of research in Zurich, Switzerland.  In 1992 she joined BellNorthern Research in Montreal to work on telephone speech comprehension.
She also has a Baccalaureate diploma from the United World College in Wales, UK.
She can converse in English, French, German, Italian, Russian, and Spanish.
She is twice divorced, and has a son, Laurier, now age 14.   
She is also a pilot logging 1,300 hours, 600 of which were on high performance jets.
In June1992 Julie was one of four selected, from among 5,330 applicants, by the Canadian Space Agency.  She worked in advanced robotics systems before reporting to the Johnson Space Center in 1996.
For 11 days in 1999 Julie was part of the crew of space shuttle Discovery, the first shuttle to dock with the International Space Station on which she operated the Canadian robotic arm.  This STS-96 mission made 153 orbits of the Earth in 9 days and 19 hours.
Of the eleven Canadian astronauts who have flown in space only two were women.
Julie’s second space flight was in 2009 on STS-127, using space shuttle Endeavour.  During this 17-day space station stay, she joined Canadian astronaut, Robert Thirsk.  Julie had brought a signed sweater from Maurice “The Rocket” Richard of the Montreal Canadiens hockey team to honour the team’s 100th anniversary.
During my discussion with her, Julie spoke of her delight at finding the Montreal area cloud free, permitting her to take pictures from space of her home-town area.
From 2000 to 2007, Julie was Chief Astronaut for the Canadian Space Agency.
From 2010 to 2011, she worked at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington while representing the Quebec government as scientific delegate to the USA.  Then for 3 years she was CEO of the Montreal Science Centre as well as Vice President of the Canada Lands Company.  
As if that was not enough, Julie also participates in a confusing assortment of responsibilities including: airport development, drugs-free children, women’s olympic sports, university boards of directors, and so on.  She plays the piano and has sung with the Montreal Symphony Orchestra. 
Queen Elizabeth II welcomed Julie to Balmoral Castle, 20 September 2017, investing her as an Extraordinary  Companion of the Order of Canada, an Extraordinary Commander of the Order of Military Merit, and a Commander of the Order of Merit of the Police Forces.
When I met her, Julie presented herself as just another inquisitive member of the human species.
In her new role, Julie is already urging Canadians to work on world problems such as climate change, refugees, poverty, and to reach goals for the common world good. 
  Canada, and the world, are indeed fortunate to call her a citizen.

Ye Olde Scribe

Tuesday, 5 September 2017


     Human Folly and Resilience have co-existed from the beginning and are often displayed, and
remembered, in single locations. Today’s examples are numerous and worldwide, yet we continue to
treat the symptoms rather than the human-made root causes.  Belated progress is growing. The fear is
great that it is not soon enough nor sufficient.  So, while I still can, let me concentrate on Dresden
because, back in 08-09 February 1945, I was there.
     I had stumbled into a travel agency that I cannot recommend.  I had been locked into a very
crowded boxcar that offered a single view of the outside world through a small slit in its wooden frame.
     We were a mixed lot of aircrew of the Royal Air Forces whose activities had led us into captivity
by the Luftwaffe.  We and our German captors were now hapless migrants fleeing the Soviet advance, having left the relative comfort of the famed Stalag Luft III, in Sagan, Silesia, home of the Great
Escape.  My group was the last to leave the 5 compounds that had housed 11,000 Allied POWs, mainly aircrew.  We had tramped in the snow and cold for a day and a night before reaching, late at night, a railroad siding that contained the last train and driver left.
     For two weeks before we were ordered to evacuate, I had been in the camp hospital that also
contained Soviet prisoners and the camp doctors, one South African and one Luftwaffe.  So, we were
the last POWs to hit the road.  Our tramping column was followed by a lone young woman carrying a
baby. We inferred she was the Luftwaffe doctor’s wife.  All family members of our guards had been
ordered to remain behind to face the mercies of the oncoming Soviet troops. She had followed for a last view of her husband up ahead.
     The 73-year-old German guard for my section of about 100 POWs discarded his heavy rifle, so I
picked it up to carry it for him with others taking turns. Reaching the siding, the German officers were ordered into the first carriage as it had seats, the rest were all boxcars. The tearful girl gave a last hug to her husband as he boarded the carriage, then she stood all alone in the falling snow while the rest of  us were being herded into boxcars with one Luftwaffe guard per boxcar of 54 POWs.
     My group gave our guard his rifle back, then cautiously swarmed out in the dark to surround the
girl and baby, shove an RAF greatcoat over her shoulders and an RAF hat over her head while pushing her and the baby into our boxcar that had a floor-covering layer of straw and a pail in one corner for  a toilet. We POWs were all amazed at how docile the Germans were in obeying orders.
     Our engine, old with many aches and pains, protested loudly at being called out of retirement.  It
needed frequent stops for repairs, one of which was an overnight stop in Dresden.  Our tired driver,
whose family lived in Dresden, grumbled that engine repairs prevented him from visiting them.
     In the morning our guard unlocked the boxcar door to allow us to talk to our driver and view the
immaculate station crowded with civilians, mostly women. We saw no one in a military uniform.
     That night, having pulled out of Dresden, we heard the wail of air-raid sirens then the terror of
exploding bombs. They seemed to be all around us.  But these were Soviet attacks.
     Later, we learned that the Commonwealth Bomber Command, followed the next day by the USAAF had devastated Dresden. This, plus all the other devastation we saw en route to eventually reach Munich and Nürnberg, made us ashamed of being humans.  For several days the only one of us not starving was the breast-fed baby. The war was, in fact, over, so we could assume that the only reason our heartless leaders had to cremate so many thousands in Dresden was to impress Joe Stalin with our might, so that he would not bring communism too far into capitalist Europe.
     Much later we learned Dresden’s statistics. We had known from German newspapers that, on the
night of 25 July 1944, Bomber Command had created an inferno in Hamburg that took 37,000 lives (the atomic bomb on Nagasaki took 40,000 lives). Dresden lost 35,000. Over 8 months in the Battle of Britain the Luftwaffe killed 39,000.
     From 13 to 15 February 1945,  722 RAF, RCAF, RAAF, etc night bombers followed by 527
USAAF day bombers dropped 39,000 tons of bombs on Dresden, Germany’s 7th largest city. They
created a firestorm that rose to 1,500 degrees centigrade, demolishing 12,000 homes, 640 shops, 39
schools, not to mention 26 pubs. The Dresden story is well told by two POWs who survived the
slaughter and helped with rescue work. Victor Gregg, a British paratrooper captured at Arnhem,
describes the 7 hours it took his team to dig into an air-raid shelter that had held 1,000 civilians. No
survivors. Bodies had all melted into a huge green-brown slimy liquid with a few bones in it.
American Kurt Vonnegut, who became a novelist, claims he is the only one who benefited from the
bombing as he made a profit selling the book he wrote about it.
     Many of us Bomber Command veterans still suffer a painful guilt complex as scruples vanished with the difficulties of finding at night and bombing only military targets. Arthur Harris, head of Bomber Command, after a more humane start, embraced area bombing. We called him “Butcher” Harris. Many crews risked taking extra time amid the flak and fighters to attempt to visually distinguish well-concealed military targets. Our electronic navigational aids were all jammed by German counter measures. We did lose 55,573 of our 125,000 aircrew. At least 125 cherished friends remain vivid in my memory.  
     Today, Dresden is once again a charming city but you cannot appreciate it without knowing the
burned and mangled corpses everywhere, the immense piles of rubble, the blown-up sewer, water, and electrical lines - a fate endured by far too many cities.  Dresden survivors then endured Soviet
occupation, followed by being part of the Soviet-sponsored East Germany that denied reconstruction in order to leave Dresden an example of Western brutality. After the fall of the Berlin wall and
Gorbachev’s benevolent rule, Dresden residents, including thousands of women, began rubble clearing.  In 1993 they started the rebuilding of the fabled Frauenkirche, finishing it in 2005.
Today, Dresden is again a tourist attraction with its old charm restored, but you must include the
museum to realize what a miracle of rebuilding has been accomplished. Of course we can say the same for cities elsewhere, even Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Human resilience is awesome, yet . . . .
     Homo the Sap remains with us in his millions. Those who suffered the most, including defeat,
oppose the return of military non-solutions. A few of the victors still waste billions if not trillions of
dollars on weapons of destruction, basking in the profits, but neglecting the real threats of man-made
over-population, global warming, income inequalities, nuclear extinction, control-resistant bacteria and viruses, and so on.
     Finally, Al Gore can now tell us that the train has left the station on the route to curbing global
warming but Donald Trump nullifies this by axing environmental laws, and insisting the “Western”
world devotes 2% of GDP to enriching those billionaires who control the arms industries.
     Yes, we do have enemies, but we created them, with the help of countries like Saudi Arabia, Israel,
and Egypt. Rather than addressing root causes like despotism, corruption, greed, ethnic hatreds, and
resistant bacteria and viruses, we build smart bombs and drones that, in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, and
Yemen, kill far more innocent civilians than do those we call Terrorists like the Taliban, Al Qaida, and Daesh. Even Kim Jong Un, a menace also to his own country, is a product of our senseless and
devastating bombing of North Korea. Who really deserves the sanctions?
     The pen still has a long way to go to replace the sword. But it must for our species’ survival.
   Most encouraging are: the co-operation and interchanges of personnel among universities worldwide, the Russia-West joint participation in space and in physics such as the new, world’s largest, X-ray facility hear Hamburg, the world-wide recruiting of talent by the Perimeter Institute of Waterloo, Ontario, now a world-leading theoretical physics centre, and all those famed world research centres.
     The outpouring from millions of help, money, foods, and goods to victims of droughts, fires, and
floods reveals what is best in our species which still needs to fully accept how delicately balanced our
atmosphere is. Much safer than devoting ever-more money to the military with no permanent solutions.                                                            

Wednesday, 23 August 2017


“That is an impressive list of instructions, boss, but there is a problem - I cannot read.”
My cherished Inuk friend, Ed Ruben, had just been presented with a long list of typed duties, mainly janitorial, at Cape Parry, one of the 8 main stations of the Distant Early Warning Line (Dewline) along the Arctic Ocean coast where, for 13 months 1962-63, I happened to be the military commander. The code name for this 500-mile long (750 km) sector was PIN, so I was known as Pinhead which suited my situation.  I did feel like our Queen. She was head of state but it was parliament who ran the show.  Likewise, I had the authority, but it was Federal Electric Corporation of Paramus, New Jersey, a unit of the ITT electronic warfare giant that did the hiring, firing, and maintenance of the main station and its 4 satellites, two east and two west of Cape Parry.  Our resupply consisted of a weekly lone Douglas Dakota (C-47) aircraft whose stewardesses would claim that, for every mile they flew north of Winnipeg, the more attractive they became. We also had summer resupply by barge down the Mackenzie River and east along the Arctic coast to our sandy beach at the tip of the peninsula.
FEC would hire men on 18-month contracts for 54-hour-weekly shifts.  Salaries were good and the food, served 5 times per day, was varied and excellent.  My military staff was 4 RCAF and 2 USAF officers.
This boondoggle of short-lived radar lines, demanding amazing and expensive efforts in hostile environments  were all due to imagined, but well publicized, threats from the Soviets, those people whose enormous sacrifices were a major factor in winning WWII for us.  We were told that Soviet bombers, might sneak over the North Pole with nuclear bombs to devastate the USA whose congress in 1947 voted $161 million to build the Pinetree Line of radar-detection sites across the northern USA and persuading Canada to join in with southern Canada sites. I was to serve briefly at the Bird, Manitoba, site that became operational in Apr 1957. Then came The Mid-Canada Line, known as the McGill (University) Fence of 8 manned and 90 unmanned stations along the 55th parallel, operational in January 1958.  That cost $225 million.  In 1954 the USAF contracted with Western Electric to build, in a mere 3 years, 63 radar stations along 10,000 km of Arctic Ocean coasts from Alaska to Greenland.   Western Electric did it with 3 months to spare.  Their reward was watching ITT get future contracts. 
Ed was one of six Inuit, whom we called Eskimos back then, hired for our main station.  Nearby housing was built for their families who, in spite of overcrowding, kept them neat and tidy.  They had trekked north from the Inuit hamlet of Paulatuk, 95 km (59 miles) south.  They were followed by a score of relatives who built 10 shacks in what we called the “The village” 2 miles south of PIN Main.      The only true building there was Jim Stephen’s  Hudson Bay Store where furs could be exchanged for food, clothing, and utensils.  Father Leon DeHurtevant had also moved his church there, but it now was a small building.  To say mass he would fold up his bed and move in benches that were stacked outside in the snow.  He was allowed home to his native France for a month every 5 years.           He did miss the trees and greenery so, when a generous Winnipeg donor flew us in a score of Christmas trees that fire regulations prevented me from allowing into our modules, Bill Cann, one of my RCAF officers, and I loaded them into our truck when we knew “Papa Leon” was sleeping and planted them in the snowdrifts around his home.  The dogs who watched us had never seen a tree, but knew what trees were for, so were quick to use them.   When he awoke, Father Leon was amazed and delighted with his miraculous forest but gradually surrendered all but two to villagers to use as firewood for which I scolded him for being too generous for his own good.   
The name “Eskimo”, meaning “Eaters of raw flesh”, is not considered polite by the Inuit who have been in the North American Arctic since at least 1000 AD.  It took us southerners until the 1980s to realize our ignorance.   While meaning well we did make numerous mistakes as we used “our” north for short-lived mining and military operations, leaving quite a mess behind.  I had first encountered the Inuit in 1946-49 when I flew three B-29s, one C-54, and one C-47 out of Edmonton and Fairbanks to test fly over vast distances up to the Pole and down to Bermuda, plus many days of ground monitoring at isolated airstrips, the chain of Low Frequency Loran stations installed along the Arctic coast.   I learned to criticize the Canadian policy of collecting children from remote locations and flying them to residential parochial schools for an Alberta-style  curriculum, then on graduation dumping them back home, fit for neither culture as there was no southern-type employment.  During the summer, school-free, months I enjoyed the company of many of these teenagers.
Jessie Green was an 83-year-old Inuk who told me, after I got to know her well, that she was adopting me and would be my mother while I was in her country.  I was fortunate in being able to host frequent tours of scientists, politicians, and the like, from the deep south.  I introduced many to Jessie.  One of them, noticing that Jessie spoke only Eskimo (now Inuktitut) to her Inuit associates, asked her why she did not speak English.
I was proud of Jessie when she retorted in perfect English, “If I were an English woman I would speak English.  I am an Eskimo woman!”  Jessie loved corncob pipes, Hers was old and blackened when I met her, so I had my wife, Joan, mail me a packet of six new ones much to Jessie’s delight.         Jessie was sharp and took a keen interest in politics.  When a sealed voting box for the federal election arrived, Jessie was too sick to allow me to fetch her to vote, so I took it in my truck and got most of the way before stopped by several huge snowdrifts, forcing me to lug the box over them to allow Jessie to deposit her vote.
With the connivance of Doc Roche whom we shared with the Cambridge Bay sites, a remedy was found for Jessie’s age-related ills.  To avoid disastrous fires, alcohol was restricted to 6 cans of beer per person per week.  The doctor and I smuggled in a bottle or rye whiskey from which we filled smaller bottles labelled as “Medicine” for Jessie.  This actually helped her considerably and she thanked us frequently but she was sharp enough to know what we had done, so kept our secret that she was the only one at Cape Parry allowed liquor.
Returning to Ed Ruben who never complained:  In his tiny duplex that he shared with the Kuptana family, 13 people were dependent on him  His first wife died giving birth to their 5th child, the eldest of which was unmarried but had 3 children.  His second daughter, Sarah, at age 15, gave birth to twins while I was there.  Both soon died in spite of Doc Roche and my help.  Ed’s eldest son was working for FEC at a distant site.  Ed had remarried.  Pretty, and likeable, Mable had a child when Ed married her and she had 3 more by Ed.  I got to babysit them to permit Ed and Mabel to attend movies and bingo games on the base.  Ed and Mable also took responsibility for 3 people living in a shack in the village: Mary the dwarf and her two normal children.
Ed would take his annual leave to bundle Mabel and some children up on his dog sled to hunt caribou south of Paulatuk, cover the carcasses with rocks, then return at intervals throughout the winter to fetch still-fresh meat from his Arctic refrigerators.   Ed also tried to teach me how to build an igloo.  I was not a very adept pupil.  Inuit have some 50 words for snow of different consistencies and Ed would take me hunting for the right one for igloos.  With sure strokes from his snow knife he could cut slanted snow blocks and erect a crack-free igloo in two hours while alongside I would struggle to build a smaller one with numerous cracks requiring me to stuff them with snow.  For 3 weeks, using seal-oil lamps, temperatures inside igloos were quite warm until the snow became cold ice and a new home had to be built, but the material was just outside and free.
  Villagers, in their shacks made from surplus lumber discarded by FEC, had oil heat.  They used empty FEC oil drums that were everywhere and always containing a residue of oil that failed to get pumped out.  Draining the oil from many drums into one to set aside, they would make smaller stoves from retained drums for heat and cooking.   
There were 4 dog teams tethered side by side in an area of the village.  To me they always seemed hungry, being fed by seal meat.  Each day I drove to the village I would first stop at our kitchen to collect the many scraps of meat and bones. When I got within a mile of the village the dogs would set up a chorus of howls to greet me.  They then sat patiently as I passed down each row with a tasty gift for each dog.  The Inuit tolerated me doing this, but I was to learn that the starved Inuit dogs lived longer than the well-fed and pampered RCMP  dogs.  Nevertheless I continued the habit as I did bask in the love shown by the dogs.
Relations between the military and FEC were excellent but I did have to submerge my anger one day when several dogs got loose and trotted up to our station to wander about our buildings.  The FEC manager shot 4 of them.  For several weeks thereafter I ate my meals at the table reserved for the Inuit rather than with him, but I did avoid verbal rebuke.  The Arctic was no place for anger.
The Inuit were typically a reserved lot - very respectful but remote - a behaviour that changed dramatically with time.  A good example was 5-year-old Renee Ruben.  When I would arrive she would run up to me with “Squadron Leader George!’  She knew that I carried oranges in my parka pockets and would reach in to extract one.  Yet she remained silent as we strolled across the tundra, eating oranges.  One day we passed an outboard motor left in the snow for the winter.  When I called it an outboard motor, she corrected me with: “That’s a kicker!”  What an immediate change!  When she discovered there was something she could teach me she became quite verbose and our subsequent walks became full of enjoyable conversations.  
    Later I was to walk back to the kicker with 16-year-old Adam Ruben.  I warned him he would never get that neglected kicker to work again.  And it did not.  Unperturbed, Adam took the engine apart with bits and pieces strewn over the hard tundra.  I said, “Adam, if you ever get that mess to work again I will pay you $10.”  For an hour I watched in amazement as Adam cleaned and re-oiled every small bit and then reassembled it all.  It worked!  He was happy with my $10 and bought cigars from the HBC to advertise his affluence.    He then put the kicker onto his sled to take to the Listers, another Inuit family who had a small boat they were getting ready to take them on a visit to Paulatuk. 
On another occasion our dentist was making his annual visit to us.  An Inuit with a severe toothache ache came in for a drilling and filling.   Two Inuit friends accompanied the patient.  While drilling away the dentist was call away, returning in 20 minutes to discover one of the Inuit using his equipment to continue the drilling.  After the dentist finished the job, he got quite the ribbing from us, telling him he did not need all that expensive training to be a dentist as just being an Inuit would suffice.
One summer day a Norwegian-Canadian FEC employee and an Inuk rushed in to report a sub surfaced in Franklin Bay off our western shore.  I sped to our airstrip to scramble my entire air force - one Dehavalland Beaver - but the sub had submerged and fled before I could see it.  I could not resist matching famous terse war communiques with “Sub sighted, Beaver Scrambled. Sub Fled”.  Yes, I followed it up with a detailed report but I never got a word back from either HQ: ADC in St Hubert, Quebec, or Norad in Colorado Springs.  Who knows, or cared, whether it was one of ours or one of theirs?  
A lone Inuit family drifted into the village to build their own shack. The husband was caught stealing from  other families so we called in an RCMP corporal to arrest him.  Waiting for return airlift the corporal took his prisoner to a movie on base.  Mounting the steps the Inuk turned and disabled the corporal by kicking him where it hurts the most.  The lightly-clothed Inuk then took off into the bitterly-cold night.  Justice was now my responsibility.  I called Bob Hornal, a fellow RCAF officer, and we raced in our lone truck to the village, believing the escapee would head there.  We alerted the villagers then borrowed two shotguns from the HBC store and spread out to begin a foot search of the intervening tundra.  Eight hours later I stumbled across a bleeding, sobbing, shivering, and totally-exhausted Inuk.  I called to Bob and both of us carried him back to the HBC store where we stripped and washed him to dress him in warm clothing, taken from the HBC shelves.  By this time the corporal had recovered and handcuffed his prisoner for the first time.  Two days later he was flown to Inuvik to a warm jail with good food for the winter while the government footed the bill to feed his family.  He was released in the spring on the promise to never steal again.  He did become a worthy resident of the village.
This, and the submarine incident, emphasized the fact that we Dewline military had zero defences, so I sent a request to headquarters for some token weapons.  A year after I left the Dewline, a few WWII Lee Enfield rifles arrived.  If all militaries were so armed there would be no wars!
      When missiles replaced bombers as threats, the US in 1958 invested $28 billion in BMEWS (Ballistic Missile Early Warning Sites) and most Dewline sites were abandoned, leaving messes to be cleaned up, complicated by global warming and melting tundra.  The original target date of 2011 has been extended to 2018.  Cape Parry Inuit returned to Paulatuk where, among the 300 residents, Rubens and Kuptanas remain among the executives.
The future of the Inuit as an equal participating partner in Canada shows great promise, yet many problems persist.  There are 700 Inuit owned and operated businesses including airlines such as Air Inuit that has a fleet of 26 aircraft of 5 different types. On 01 April 1999. Canada carved Nunavut out of its Northwest Territories.  Cape Parry and Paulatuk remain in the NWT.  Nunavut in Inuktitut means “Our Land”.  It is a huge area.  With 1,750,000 sq km it is the size of Western Europe, but it has a population of only 36,000, 85% of it Inuit.  It has 3 official languages: Inuktitut, English, and French.  Its capital is Iqaluit (formerly Frobisher Bay) with a population of 7,740.  Prince Charles had visited Iqaluit in 1970. His second was with Camilla 29 June 2017.
I knew of no suicides while at Cape Parry but the current Inuit rate has leaped to 11 times the Canadian average, especially among young women.  Vast cultural changes, the dramatic warming, increased traffic in the Northwest passage, lack of sufficient infrastructure and unemployment all contribute.  For a nation of 36 million, huddled in the south, the north is a very expensive burden, but one that must be enthusiastically embraced.
The $188 million Canadian High Arctic Research Station at Cambridge Bay to be operational in 2018 is encouraging - and look at all that geology to study such as 4.5 billion year old (bya) lava when we thought our crust did not form until 4.3 bya.  The North has much to teach us.         

Friday, 28 July 2017


     In its 300,000-year history, Homo the Sap, self-named Homo sapiens, has existed for a large part of it in self-made troubled times.  Quite understandable, as all of us are trapped in a world we do not understand.  The curious among us are making amazing progress but we have a very long way yet to go  Throughout my previous 174 blogs I have dwelt on this, based on what I have gleaned over my 98 tours around the Sun.
My own observations have been accompanied by the writings of thousands of curious, dedicated, and investigative minds.  As we are almost out of time to save ourselves from extinction, let me choose for this blog one of them that you may, and should, know:  In my large library I have Naomi Klein’s July 2017 book “No Is Not Enough”, as well as her earlier books “The Shock Doctrine” and “This Changes Everything”.  Also I have watched her numerous appearances on Amy Goodman’s PBS  “Democracy Now!” and interviews with such as the UK’s Jeremy Corbyn, leader of the Labour Party.  She is co-author of The Intercept, and a frequent contributor to many magazines.  Her books have been translated into over 30 languages.
      Before I go any further, I want to say that I admire you, Naomi, for leaving your comfortable Vancouver Island home to travel in December 2016 to the cold and snowy North Dakota to join the protectors at Standing Rock - a total of over 10,000 protectors that included members of other US and Canadian tribes and, heart warmingly, 2,000 US Veterans of Vietnam, Afghanistan, and Iraq who had come to stand with the Sioux and to apologize for all the wrongs their country had done and is continuing to do to them.   This pipeline was originally designed to go under the city of Bismark but the residents objected, so the builders nibbled further on dwindling Sioux treaty lands to re-route it to go under Lake Oahe, the sole source of drinking water for the Standing Rock Sioux.  The joyous feeling of success when Obama halted the digging, insisting on further study, was dashed when Trump nullified Obama’s efforts and the oil is now flowing.  Again, profits won over people.
But, Naomi, you do have itchy feet, chasing around the globe, interviewing and investigating. You have jogged my failing mind with so many well researched happenings, putting them all together in books, loaded with facts and figures I had lived through but have forgotten or dimly remember.           Gratifying, Naomi, is the fact that there is a growing number of individuals and organizations joining you in pushing us into a new world beyond war (and a so-named organization is thriving) into those broad sunlit uplands envisaged by Winston Churchill, by Buddha’s awareness, by the poets of WW1, and by so many troubled minds over the centuries.  
Can we ever achieve this without the leap you envisage?  We must get beyond Pax Romana, The League of Nations, The United Nations, to a mindset where the world has the will and ability to prevent atrocities, highlighted currently by the crimes in Syria and Yemen where those who suffer most had little to do with the violence.  
Naomi, your Shock Doctrine that, in many countries, produced oligarchies of billionaires exploiting the rest of us, also produced Donald Trump whom we must thank for giving you the incentive for your recent book and for uniting a host of organizations that have struggled with limited, and often short-lived success, but now are finally joining in persistent resistance.
Your so-typical example is that of the four arrested protestors, finding themselves in the same paddy wagon en route to jail, discovering that each belonged to an organization unknown to the other three, but all opposing the same political actions.     
I applaud your leading role in the two Toronto conferences that produced “The Leap Manifesto” - a call for Canada based on caring for the Earth and for Each Other.  It includes totally renewable energy, mass affordable transit, racial and gender equality, fewer work hours, respect for indigenous rights, innovative and democratic ownership. energy-efficient homes, localized and ecological agriculture, welcome for refugees and migrants, reduced military offensiveness, town hall meetings, education and justice reform. Numerous like-minded organizations have been quick to join your unifying call. 
Actually, Canada is a good place for starting foundations.  With a population that rose from 7 to 11 million between World Wars I and II and in which Canada punched well above its weight and did accomplish amazing infrastructure gains in a huge country. It has gone from a top belligerent to a top peacekeeper. For instance in WWI, of the top 45 air aces, 17 were German, 8 Canadian, 6 UK, 5 French.  In WII Canada trained 137,739 aircrew, provided a quarter of the D-Day invaders and got the furthest inland.  Yet, post war,  Canada led in peacekeeping roles, offering 5,000 troops to start a UN standing force that never materialized.  But Canada, now with 36 million, has slipped from first place to 67th as the UN now relies on poorly-paid-and-trained troops from poorer countries.  I also suspect that some Canadian generals prefer to hobnob with wealthy US generals rather than with generals from poorer countries that are much less influential.  But, much of this slippage can be blamed on oil and munition industries promoting turmoil, thus nullifying UN efforts. 
Naomi, your books give me ample statistics of the ill-gotten wealth of Trump and his associates, how brand names can reap fortunes without investments, how great wealth influences politicians, the media, and the common voter who believes those endless TV ads that insult true intelligence but watched by so many who lack the time or will to dig deeper. To return the US to democracy we must eliminate donated money to politicians and their parties.  I still get a daily dozen of repeated e-mail-donation-requests from politicians plus another lot of requests from worthy charities I much prefer to help.  The politicians ask for a mere $3 but, if you activate the donate button, you find that what they are asking for is a recurring monthly donation of $35 or more plus a tip.  
It is essential that electioneering be financed only by fixed grants to contesting parties paid for by taxation, permitting politicians to govern rather than spending half their salaried time fund raising.   The 2012 US election cost $6.3 billion, the 2016 one $6.5 billion.  In 2016 Hillary spent $768 million while Trump got away with $398 million due to the free time the media gave him as his antics were making profits for them. Bernie Sanders, who covered the most issues, raised a surprising $234 million from small donations.
Another huge waste of money, but also lives, is in the military reactions to reactions to initial aggressions, both real and inferred.  Our smart bombs and finely-tuned drones have killed more civilians than have our enemies that we created: Taliban, Al Qaida, and Daesh.  Death statistics may be highly inaccurate but the known numbers are frightening.  Between August 2014 and March 2017 the US admits causing 352 civilian deaths while the UK-based “Airwars” tabulates 3,100 and estimates thousands more from Russian air strikes.
These deaths, added to the immense destruction of homes, utilities, and infrastructure, provide huge recruitment incentives for never-ending bloody strife.  This only speeds the decline of the US Empire with so many other nations finding other associations including a world currency to supplant the US Dollar.
Awareness:  Has our media drowned us in so many dire warnings of imminent disasters, from global warming to a hunk of outer-space rock colliding with us, that millions in islands of prosperity around the globe have shut their ears and eyes to the woes of others?   
Several weeks ago I was alone in a booth at Village Inn when a young man approached me, surprising me with “Do you believe in God?”  I pushed my plate aside and asked him to sit down. For fifteen minutes we had a wide-ranging conversation.  He had returned from duty in Iraq, thoroughly disillusioned.  He had gone there to serve his country and to help the Iraqi people.  Instead he found his sole duty was to guard the oil with no regard or time to help the suffering people.  Losing faith in country and God, he told me his main goal in life was now to protect his two male friends and the woman he hoped to make his permanent girlfriend.  He returned to them in another booth at the opposite end of the room where they finished their meals, but before leaving all four came over to my booth to give me hugs.  Somehow, I had helped a troubled youth.
For a decade after the Cold War democracy had its best flourishing.  Over the past decade this has turned into a steady decline.  Freedom House (a think tank founded in 1941 by Eleanor Roosevelt and Wendell Willkie) assessed 195 countries, finding 87 were free, 59 partly free, and 49 not free. Sadly, their 2017 report reveals civil-rights setbacks in 67 countries and gains in only 36.  Voters in free countries, impatient with the slow, bickering progress, have turned to strong autocratic leaders, a course that always proves disastrous.
We (Canada, UK, US, etc) impose sanctions on Russia and Iran when we should impose sanctions on ourselves for our crimes such as lack of concern for common people when we support, and sell arms to, oppressive regimes such as Saudi Arabia who is now in its 3rd year of using US aircraft and US/UK bombs for indiscriminate bombing of Yemen, a poor country where 20 million of its 28 million people need humanitarian aid.  This infrastructure destruction has caused, among other criminal woes, a massive cholera outbreak with, to date, 1,818 killed and 400,000 infected.   Meanwhile we excuse nuclear-armed Israel’s continued theft of Palestinian land and continuing its unbearable jail of 2 million in Gaza.  
So, Naomi. You are a big wave among many others that are forming the tsunamis necessary to sweep away from our beaches entrenched opposition, but, tsunamis can be destructive so this one also needs to be regulated. 
     It is a daunting, but essential, task.


Saturday, 8 July 2017


      Five thousand years of recorded history reveal that we, who do the suffering and dying, too often for the benefit of the few, are slow learners.  Strange, because we have the numbers and intermittent organization to do better.   Yet, some 4 billion of us have been sacrificed to major wars, not to mention minor conflicts.
Our gullibility is too massive for a single blog, so I will skip along through recent turmoils such as Palestine, Vietnam, Indonesia, Philippines, Tibet, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Libya where so many of our woes are self-inflicted and avoidable.
That brings us to North Korea’s Kim Jong-un, South Korea’s Moon Jae-in, China’s Xi Jinping, and somebody’s Donald Trump.
My interest in Korea started in 1952 during the Korean War when I was with 426 Squadron that flew North Star aircraft on the Korean Air Lift, making 600 casualty-free, round-trip, flights from Dorval (Montreal) loaded with supplies for our 26,000 airmen, sailors, and soldiers there, and often returning with wounded from the fighting.  There was a 5-day crew stopover in the Australian-run Marunuchi Hotel at  Haneda, Tokyo, airport.
The Koreans and Japanese that I was fortunate to meet were all friendly, efficient, and helpful.
Korean history starts in 2333 BC and is a long story of peace and turmoil with numerous invasions and takeovers leaving an enduring distaste for foreigners.
The 400-year “Golden age of art and literature” Chinese Han Dynasty embraced North Korea in 108 BC.  It is argued that those who consider themselves Han still think of others, like Tibetan, Yi, and Dai as somewhat retarded.   In 527 AD Buddhism was adopted, The Mongol invasion began in 1231. Paper currency was introduced in 1402.  The first Manchu invasion came in 1627.  It was the strangest and most frightening.  Considered barbarians, the Manchu numbered fewer than 250,000 yet developed military strategies that conquered the Chinese empire to establish the Qing Dynasty that faded into today’s minority of 3 million scattered in China.  This conquest by the uncouth Manchu was a huge humiliation to the Koreans and Chinese of Han persuasion.  It increased their isolationism.
The French campaign against Korea was an 1866 punitive expedition in retaliation for the earlier Korean execution of several French Catholic missionaries. The encounter over Ganghwa Island lasted nearly six weeks. The result was a French retreat and a check on French influence in the region. The encounter also confirmed Korea in its isolationism for another decade, until Japan forced it to open up to trade in 1876 through the Treaty of Ganghwa.
The first US intervention in Korea came in 1871 on Ganghwa Island.  Aboard two US warships, a diplomatic mission had been sent to open trade.  They were fired upon by Korean shore batteries of the isolationist Joseon Dynasty.  Ten days later the US landed 650 troops, captured several forts, and killed over 200 Koreans for a loss of 3 US marines.  Korea then refused to negotiate with the US until 1882. 
In 1895 China granted Korea independence.  Empress Myeongseong (Queen Min) urged closer ties with Russia to balance Japanese influence.  She was assassinated in 1895 at age 43 by the Japanese who considered her an obstacle to their overseas expansion after their victory in the first Sino-Japanese war.  Japan received international rebuke and Korea clung to it isolation.  Queen Min’s husband, King Gojong, spent 1 year of refuge in the Russian embassy.
In 1905 Japan made Korea a protectorate. And, in 1907, forced King Gojong to abdicate in favour of his son, Sunjong.  Unrest in Korea led to the assassination of the Japanese Resident-General, Japanese military invasion, an attempt on Emperor Hirohito’s life, and general unrest until Japan’s WWII surrender in 1945 when Korea was divided at the 38th parallel between USSR and USA occupation zones.  Opposition to a divided Korea was led by Kim Gu who was assassinated in his bed in 1949 by a South Korean.
  The 1950-53 Korean War was an episode in the Cold War between the USSR and USA each striving for world dominance without stumbling into a hot nuclear war.
The excuse was Syngman Rhee of South Korea boasting that he was going to invade North Korea.  In 1949, Kim II Sung of North Korea visited Stalin to persuade him that he, Kim, could conquer South Korea.   Stalin did not think that the US would get involved, so gave his consent.   Kim II Sung also went to see Mao Tse Tung, the leader of China, to get his support.
The US got involved because of Harry Truman’s belief in the Domino Theory.  If Korea fell so would Japan, a vital asset for US trade.  He also had the goal of containing Communism that was advancing in eastern Europe and Asia.  China adopted it in 1949.  In 1950 the US National Security Council advised abandoning containment in order to roll back Communism aggressively.
  The US remained in military control of South Korea until 1948 and repatriated 700,000 Japanese.
During the Korean War, six million men fought, half from China, Russia, and North Korea against half from 21 UN countries.  Casualty statistics are:  
For the North: China 900,000, North Korea 600,000
For the South: South Korea 984,400, USA 169,365, UK 5,017, Turkey 3,349, Australia 1,991, Canada 1,396, France 1,135, Thailand 913, Greece 715, Holland 704, Columbia 686, Ethiopia 656, Philippines 488, Belgium/Lux 453, New Zealand 115, South Africa 42.
     During the war the USAF bombed North Korea so heavily that there was nothing left to bomb so the idle bomber crews were allowed to breach the dams thus destroying huge acreages of rice and inducing starvation, thus increasing hatred of the US to the highest levels.
With help from Canada and France, South Korea developed a successful nuclear capability and toyed with a nuclear arsenal to deter North Korea’s.  Jimmy Carter warned that, if it did, it would lose all US support.
So, with that skimpy background, let us concentrate on the current impasse:
Christine Ahn, founder of Women Cross DMZ, criticizes the West for dragging its feet to prolong the dispute that provides an excuse to sell more armaments to a world with too many created tensions.  She reminds us that, in 2015, North Korea offered to halt its nuclear missile deterrent if the US and South Korea stopped their military maneuvers and anti-missile installations.  Repeated offers were rejected by both the Obama and Trump administrations.  Instead the US installed the THAAD anti-missile system against the wishes of South Korea.  Even Bill Perry, ex US Secretary of Defense, admits it is there to protect US bases, not people.  She claims that Germany, Australia, and France are among those supporting her arguments.
She also claims that, in 1999 and 2000 under the Clinton administration, we were very close to offering North Korea the assurance it needed to stop its missile program that is designed to bring the USA to the negotiating table.  In fact Bill Clinton had scheduled a visit to North Korea to do so when political priorities at home caused him to postpone it, never to be reinstated.  North Koreans argue that US lying in Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan, and Libya force them into spending more than they can afford on defense.  Amy Goodman's "Democracy Now!" has also been helpful in airing her views.
While its nuclear arsenal will always remain puny, North Korea has the insane right, as long as the US, Russia, UK, France, India, Pakistan, and Israel do, to maintain nuclear weapons.
Of course in our highly-unsafe and accident-prone world, it is essential that all nuclear weapons be banned.  We can start with listening to North Korea’s worries before it develops a missile that can hit the USA other than Alaska. (no slight, Alaska, you are also loved)
That, Donald, is now your vital responsibility.   Do remember that War is not the Answer,

p.s. Do note that on 09 July 2017, when 122 UN countries voted to ban all nuclear weapons, North Korea was the only nuclear nation to vote yes.

Ye Olde Scribe