Saturday, 29 April 2017


I write this on the 2nd anniversary of the loss of my wife of 72 years, so Joan, this essay is for you.
Thank you, Donald Trump and your cohorts.  Without all of you, we probably would have continued on in our ignorant ways, lulled by the relative stability of the last 11,700 years of the Holocene era.  You gave birth to the women’s marches of 21 January that sparked the reawakening of the movement for equality for all in their massive marches of millions on 21 January, organized by the likes of 4 women; Linda Sarsour, Bob  Bland, Tamika Mallory, and Carmen Perez.  Your redirection of government funds from science to militarism and your preference for profit over environment has awakened more millions to  tolerate inclement weather to march in over 600 world-wide locations in support of science on Earth Day, 22 April. Your disdain for Mother Earth resulted in today’s People’s Climate March.  That is a lot of thanks we owe you.
Too many of us had failed to recognize that, after 4 billion years of evolution, one species has managed, all by itself, to introduce the Anthropocene age in which Humans equal, or surpass, Nature in forging self-extinction conditions on this globe.     This screams at us to take a new look at what we are doing, understand what individuals and organizations are warning us about - and get active in building safe paths to survival.
In its 2016 analysis, The Institute for Economics and Peace, based in Sydney, Australia, with branches in Oxford, New York, and Mexico City, rated 163 countries in order of Dangerous Living and thus threats to world peace.  The US ranks 61st.  It borders Mexico that ranks 24th and Canada that ranks a peaceful 156th.  Iceland is rated 163rd, thus winning the prize for the best behaved nation.  North Korea ranks 14th.
Monopolizing today’s stage are two seekers of publicity: Kim Jong-un of North Korea whose 30 million people sacrifice greatly to reserve 950,000 citizens for its military with 70 submarines, 3 frigates, 4,200 tanks, 4,000 multiple-rocket launchers, and enough plutonium to make 6 nuclear bombs which, Kim claims, is more than enough to destroy the aggressive USA.    Sharing the stage is Donald Trump, president of 319 million divided people, noted for wasting enormous sums on the world’s greatest killing force that includes 11 carrier groups, one of which, Trump boasted, was racing for North Korea’s waters when actually it was steaming in what Singapore-area countries think are their waters.   Of course, Kim can actually do great harm to South Korea, the rest is bluff whereas Donald can do great harm world wide.  Yet, North Korea, with China’s backing, offered a freeze on missile and nuclear work in 2015.  It has repeated the offer.  Both were rejected by the Obama and Trump administrations because they included the ceasing of US military manoeuvres in South Korea.
Trump’s military conducted an expensive-to-both-sides surgical strike, costing 8 lives, against a suspected Syrian chemical launch site and dropped an 18,000-pound ‘mother of all bombs’ on a Taliban mountain hideway that also took the lives of some hundred nearby civilians that prompted a Taliban suicide counter-strike,  claiming 140 lives.  This is a never-ending war, unstoppable by military means.  Do we really care about humanity when we justifiably spend months lamenting the deaths of a dozen or so by what we incorrectly call Islamic terrorists, but quickly forget the thousands killed by our drones and aircraft?
We who are blessed to live in countries that tolerate dissent do need to thank Trump for reminding us we must protect what we have come to expect as basic rights.  And we must export our care to countries that currently do not because many times our Greed is a controlling factor in what they do.  
Of course, the bravest of dissidents exist, all too briefly, in countries like China, Egypt, North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, and Turkey where thousands have perished with more thousands languishing in jail.  Then we have all those environmentalists murdered with some 205 in 2015 alone in Brazil, Philippines, Colombia, Peru, Nicaragua, Congo, Guatemala, Honduras, India, Mexico, Liberia, Myanmar, Cambodia, Thailand, and Pakistan, usually while protesting the ravages of mining, lumber, and other commercial interests.  Global Witness has documented 1,176 cases going back to 2002. 80% of lumber from Brazil is cut illegally.
    VP Mike Pence visited Indonesia this month to meet its reformist President, Joko Widodo, known as Jokowi. Trump is building two new resorts in Indonesia, one in Bali and one near Jakarta.  He also has an interest in the Freeport-McMoRan Mining Company, controlled by Trump-advisor Mike Icahn.  While conveying US heartache at the deaths to ISIS terrorists of 5 Indonesians in January 2016,  Pence reminded Jokowi that the US was one of Indonesia’s oldest and strongest defence partners and that Trump intends to strengthen these ties.
According to Allan Nain, reporting for the Intercept, Trump’s associates are working with ISIS to organize a coup to return Indonesia to military rule.   Indonesians who had fought for ISIS against Assad in Syria are backing General Prabowo.  The US also backed the 1967 military coup that ousted Sukarno, Indonesia’s first president after the 1945 independence from the Dutch, and installed General Suharto to whom the CIA gave a list of 5,000 communists which was the start of the massacre of up to a million undesirables.  Ford, Clinton, and Kissinger all praised him.  He was given the green light to invade East Timor where the slaughter was akin to the Nazis.  By 1998, activists in the US managed to cut off the supply of arms to Suharto.  Indonesian human-rights proponents used this and other factors to oust Suharto.  Widodo, president #6, is continuing the policies of President #4 in keeping the military out of politics.  Nairn admits he does not know if Trump is aware of what his supporters are up to in Indonesia but hopes that his exposé will at least alert him.
The Money and Secrecy that command major governments make us all suspicious of governments and of those who control governments.  That governments we wish to call benevolent still persecute heroes like Julian Assange, Chelsea Manning, and Edward Snowden tell us they are afraid of Truth. This lack of openness plus many other factors such as talking to other veterans, and exploring what our for-profit media does not tell us, does foster skepticism.   A good start for sanity would be to force the world’s most powerful country in military might to: make election day a holiday, forbid all monetary donations to candidates but establish a tax-supported fund for candidates to travel and speak, and ensure media coverage is fair.  
The frightening degree of control is exposed when Annie Jacobsen investigated what has happened in such military sites as Area 51 whose 4,687 square miles are hidden away in Nevada’s bleak desert.     It is incredible that no one in Congress knew of the atomic bomb until it was dropped on Hiroshima and then on Nagasaki, not needed to end the war but to test a different design.  Congress was also kept from knowing about the U-2 spy planes being assembled there from Lockheed’s California plants with USAF, then CIA, pilots learning to fly them at 70,000 feet to spy on Soviet nuclear activities.  After the secrecy of the 1947 Roswell, New Mexico, crash of what has been thought was an alien flying saucer, an advanced Soviet flying spy, or a weather balloon had subsided from media attention, the 1950s and 60s saw a rash of sightings revive the UFO mystery, reduced a bit after the silver U-2s were repainted to a black that merged with the darkness of space.
Those in the know made, often self-defeating, attempts at cover up. Several projects culminated in Project Blue Book for which part of my job when on night shifts at NORAD was to log and pass on UFO sightings that were frequently phoned in to me.  Knowing nothing about U-2s, I was disappointed with the lack of feedbacks and concern of those who received my detailed reports.  One of the very few comments I received was that the sightings were simply reflections from melting snow on mountains.
The odds of us having a universe to be alive in are so incomprehensibly low dictates to us who appreciate the experience, brief as it is, to strive to protect it while using our senses and instruments in a feeble attempt to understand it.  Of the 50-odd factors that are involved and need to work together, we are overwhelmed by the enormity of what science now tells us. For instance, if the strength of gravity or the atomic weak force were to vary by only one part in 10 followed by 100 zeros, there would be no life.    The initial explosion of the Big Bang had to be fine-tuned to one part in 10 followed by 55 zeros.
To many, this demands, and proves, the existence of a Sun Goddess, an Allah, the Christian God, or other Supreme Beings.  But that solves nothing as we ask “Who or what created them?”
We all need to reflect on just how amazingly far we have come in a 4-billion-year journey and wonder why there are so many differences among us.  Fortune has not smiled equally on us, so some of us are amazingly smart, some amazingly dumb, some altruistic, some greedy, but all with the same basic ingredients.
There are 7.5 billion of us crowded on a very fragile planet.  We think we are at the apex of intelligence, degrees of which are actually possessed by everything from atoms to trees that do communicate with each other.
Yet, for all our smarts, not one of us knows what Life, or Reality, is.
However, we do have immense potential.  Every day and every century we achieve new realizations.  Time is a vital ingredient.  We must accept the challenge of preserving this globe until our progeny finally achieve the understanding sought by their predecessors.
Our pathways are labelled Science, Empathy, Altruism, Co-operation, Inquisitiveness, Morality, Diligence, and they need to intertwine and merge, while excluding that old, winding, blood-stained road, labelled War.

                                                                                                                            Ye Olde Scribe

Monday, 10 April 2017


  The snake-oil salesman advises; “If your political ratings are low, find, or create, a villain, infuse your military might, and the hawks will lead the press to idolize you.”   Yes, it does work - for a while.
We live in the Age of Information, so are daily bombarded with truths, alternate truths, and outright lies.  We also live in the Age of Materialism where all members of a family feel compelled to pursue whatever currency their society embraces, often to the detriment of the environment, but to the benefit of scam artists.  This leaves little time to sort out  the truth to feed open minds, and the responsibility of researching and extracting the truth even though, like absolute zero in temperature, we can never achieve it.
I know that, as I compose this short blog, my own views will change as I contemplate, some for the umpteenth time, a tiny fraction of facts all mixed up in a mountain too large to see or understand. 
Is there no solution, short of a new French Revolution, to halt the man-made sufferings of millions of innocents in the Middle East and elsewhere?  Actually, it is easy to uncover many culprits if we care to filter through the mountains of evidence and recall history.  But, who really is to blame for the Syrian mess?  WWI, the French, Assad, his father, Syrians themselves, or outsiders including Israel, the CIA, and us?  The puzzling release of Sarin and chlorine gas that caused such pain and death to a hundred sleeping civilians in Khan Sheikhoun is a perfect excuse to mislay the blame and invade Syria to divert its oil (to add to the huge new find in the stolen Golan Heights that Israel is fortifying even more) to the Haifa pipeline to enrich further a few billionaires who have no concern for the millions of humans they have already sacrificed to Greed.  Yugoslavia, Afghanistan, Iraq, and Libya have been left quarreling serfs, and except for Yugoslavia, used to flow their once locally-owned oil into ExxonMobil, Shell, BP, and Chevron profits.  The long history of manufactured atrocities to justify this leaves us highly suspicious of the current one.  Trump, who refuses to help Syrian refugees, or shed a tear for the hundreds of innocents killed in US air strikes, lost little time in ordering the conveniently-off-the-Syrian-shore USS Porter and Ross to rain 59 Tomahawk cruise missiles on the Syrian Shayrat air base, an act of war against Assad for a crime he may not have committed. The evidence, manufactured?, does point in his direction but makes no sense.  Why would he harm himself?  And the horrible loss of life was much less than so many other atrocities we ignore or shrug off or never hear about.  But what is sadly evident is, like so many politicians, slipping in home popularity, Trump resorted to war to unite the country’s press and numerous hawks behind him.   The scary fear is that he will use more war to augment his popularity.
Also disillusioning is the Qatar Petroleum-Rosneft lucrative deal set up in the tax haven of the Bahamas.  Russia and Qatar proxies are killing each other in Syria but that is of little concern to oil giants.
Oil was innocent enough in the beginning.  The world’s first commercial oil field was in SW Ontario founded by James Williams in 1858, followed in Pennsylvania in 1859 by Edwin Drake who stole the publicity for being the first.  Actually, the Baku, Azerbaijan, oil field used in the 900s predates them, and Marco Polo reported it to us in the 1260s.
The first Middle East oil discovery was in 1908 at Masjed Soleiman, Persia, financed by London’s William D’Arcy who in 1901 paid the Shah £20,000 for a 60-year lease to explore most of Persia with a promise of 16% of any profits.  He hired geologist George Reynolds who, after 7 years of fruitless efforts, was ordered to quit but dallied just long enough to strike oil.  The Anglo-Persian Oil Company, (APOC that became BP in 1954), was formed and a refinery built at Abadan which for 50 years was to be the world’s largest producer.  In 1913 Winston Churchill, an early stock holder, to avoid reliance on Royal Dutch Shell and Standard Oil, infused a large UK investment and converted the Royal Navy from British coal to more efficient cheap Persian oil.
After the 1919 breakup of the relatively-benign Ottoman Empire with its ethnic equality, Abadan was followed by finds in Georgia by the Turkish Petroleum Company. In 1920 APOC acquired a 50% interest in it, then, in 1923, an immense oil field was found in Kirkuk - the main reason for the current destruction of Iraq.
Our further search for the real culprits goes back to the 1919 Ottoman Empire break-up which needed a little help, starting in the 1700s.  The British agent, whose code name was Hempher, pretended to be Muslim.  He befriended Sheik Mohammad Ibn Abdul Wahhab (1703-92), gradually convincing him to create a breakaway, extreme form of Islam, now known as Wahhabism  thus upsetting Islamic unity.  When he began teaching this he was evicted from his home town, so, with Hempher’s help, went elsewhere, recruited, with British financial help, a Bedouin army, and allied with Sheik Mohammad al-Saud.  They brutally conquered most of Arabia.
     In 1818, the Ottoman Caliph in Constantinople ordered his Egyptian army to crush them which it did and beheaded al-Saud.  In Bahrain, then part of the British Empire, the Saud house sought, and got, an alliance with Britain.  In 1891, Turkey supported al-Rasheed who attacked Riyadh, defeating the Saudi-Wahhabi clan who fled to Kuwait to rebuild, again with British help.  In 1902, they recaptured Riyadh, burning to death 1,300 people.  They brutally created Saudi Arabia and murdered 6,000 Hejazi.  Imam Abdulazizi destroyed all opposition and many holy Islamic sites, had 300 wives, owned hundreds of slaves, caused over 400,000 deaths including 40,000 public executions and forced over a million to flee the country.  He died in 1953. His 4 sons,  Saud, Faisal, Khaid, and Fahad, all became brutal dictators. 
To gain a US foothold in the Middle East, FDR in 1945 befriended King Abdul Aziz Ibn Saud to form a lasting Saudi-US friendship, taking over the British role.  Today the Saudis are the world largest importer of arms and  the top deniers of human rights.   The US, UK, and Canadian arms industries all have blood on their hands as they continue to put Greed ahead of Humanity. 
The current ruler, since 2015, is King Salman Abdulazzi al-Saud with a net worth of $17 billion.  In Yemen  the Saudis lead a 9-nation Sunni war against the Shiite Houthi (anti al Qaida and supported by Iran).
     But, to get back to Syria: Having made basket cases out of Afghanistan, Iraq, and Libya, but failed to do so in Iran for its oil, our predators turned on Syria, Hezbollah, and Hamas.
Syria was the most tolerant and well-informed society in the Middle East. Tourists claimed it was the safest. Its sin was to retain control over its own oil rather than participating in the pipeline that skirted Russia and led to the Haifa refinery that supplied Europe.  To rectify this our oil manipulators chose the border town a Derra with a population of 150,000 to inject ‘freedom fighters’ to assist those opposed to Assad.  These imports were made up of CIA-recruited-and-paid Al-Qaida, armed with weapons seized from Libya.  They also injected enough ISIS to seize Raqqa.  How baffling!  Having used Al-Qaedda and IS-ISIL-ISIS-Daesh to destabilize Syria, we now fight them, or at least pretend to.
Even Syrian refugees are confused.  Many blame all the fighting on imported thugs while some do blame Assad.  Also baffing are the wars for oil when its profits are now dwindling, leaving only dominance and empire the goals.  Who else benefits?  Netanyahu, a major world criminal, uses Syrian instability as one of his excuses to fight Hezbollah, Hamas, and Iran while fostering an apartheid state and the theft of Palestinian land, shamefully using US-supplied arms and money. 
Most dangerous of all is the fact that continued instability fills the pockets of those who rely on the arms industry.  This encourages them to continue to induce instability.
Greed does lurk in most of us but Much wants More.  The majority of humans can control it.  Too often they have been controlled by those who cannot thus causing much suffering and bloodshed.           The inadequately fed, clothed, housed, and armed Russian soldiers in WWI, being slaughtered in their millions, finally forced Russia to abandon the war.  Marx, Engels, Lenin, et al developed a communism of equality that frightened the capitalistic West so much they invaded with armies and an air force led by a Canadian, William Barker, with 52 victories.  The Red-White war crippled the promises of communism and led to the Stalin atrocities.  Fear of communism led to McCarthyism in the USA and US aggression in Vietnam. 
Manufactured fear remains a disease in the US.  It also contributes to a world of instability in which Leagues of Nations, United Nations, European Unions, BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India, China) encounter problems in achieving a peaceful world.  Of no help is the US military dominance and its adding $54 billion to an already-bloated military budget.  Devoting a further $1 trillion to nuclear upgrading is to guarantee human extinction.  We need, instead, organic farming to rectify the abuses that create poverty and all of those ‘terrorist’ groups.
So, humanity is still faced with the age-old problem of the majority being controlled by the greedy.  Surely, we are now capable of solving the problem of escaping this, shy of another Revolution of the Masses.
This is one world and each of us is part of a cosmic whole.  Your atoms and mine will last as long as our universe does, yet they are destined to soon merge in a vast sea of atoms seeking different associations.  Let us leave with the satisfaction that our current atoms have achieved something worthy of having been associated, even if so briefly.  As my RCAF motto tells me: Per Ardua ad Astra (Through Difficulties to the Stars).

Ye Olde Scribe