Vandana Shiva sheds light on the current Global food crisis
We must shift America from a needs- to a desires-culture. People must be trained to desire, to want new things, even before the old have been entirely consumed. […] Man’s desires must overshadow his needs.
July 1 marked the start of a new round of sanctions designed to destroy the economy of Iran, create widespread suffering among the Iranian people, and thereby effect regime change in that country. The ostensible reason for the sanctions is that Iran has a nuclear program, which Washington and its allies allege is leading to the development of nuclear weapons. The Iranian government has denied any such intention, stating that its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes.
Iran is far from the first country to suffer from a cutoff or sharp reduction in trade due to sanctions. Over the past several decades, the U.S.—sometimes through the United Nations Security Council, sometimes in coordination with its imperialist allies, sometimes on its own—has imposed sanctions, embargoes and blockades on dozens of countries. Some of the sanctions regimes have lasted for decades, in the case of Cuba a half-century.
The justifications for imposing sanctions have included alleged human rights violations, lack of democracy, military aggression in violation of international law, and engaging in terrorist acts. But a giant asterisk must be attached here, with a notation reading: “Not applicable to the United States, its imperialist allies, surrogates and puppets.”
At Washington’s prompting, the UNSC imposed a blockade on Iraq in 1990. The blockade, which was enforced by the U.S. Navy, lasted 13 years and took over a million Iraqi lives, half of them children under the age of five years. The pretext for the most stringent sanctions regime in modern history was Iraq’s invasion and occupation of Kuwait in August 1990, after a long dispute between the two states. Iraq charged that Kuwait, which it had long claimed as part of its national territory, was stealing Iraqi oil and undermining its economy.
After Iraq was driven out of Kuwait by a six-week U.S.-led bombing campaign that destroyed most of the country’s civilian infrastructure, the sanctions were kept in place. A new pretext was now needed and quickly found: Iraq’s alleged “weapons of mass destruction.”Why are there no sanctions against the U.S.? Why are no U.S. leaders—past or present—currently occupying prison cells or awaiting trial?
Top U.S. officials were well aware of the devastating impact on the Iraqi population. When asked on CBS’s “60 Minutes” in May 1996, whether the deaths of a half-million Iraq children due to the sanctions were “worth the price,” U.S. ambassador to the U.N. Madeleine Albright replied, “we think the price is worth it.” Albright’s remarks actually constituted a confession to war crimes.
In 1998, President Bill Clinton declared that “some want to see the sanctions ended, I am not one of them,” and signed the “Iraq Liberation Act,” declaring the official policy of the U.S. to be what it had actually been all along: regime change in Iraq. The new justification was a supposed concern for “human rights.”
Five years later, having not achieved its goal by other means, the U.S. invaded and occupied Iraq under the resurrected claims of Iraqi “weapons of mass destruction.” It was not some “intelligence failure,” as later claimed by neo-con and liberal imperialists alike.
The U.S. occupation cost a million more Iraqi lives and thousands of U.S. lives. At least 4.5 million Iraqis were displaced and Iraqi society torn apart. Torture was commonplace for the tens of thousands of Iraqis imprisoned. Taken together, the Twenty Years War the U.S. waged on Iraq killed, wounded or forced into exile more than one-third of Iraq’s population. All of this death and destruction in a war justified on fabricated pretenses, also known as lies.
Then, there is the on-going U.S. war and occupation in Afghanistan, and the drone missile strikes killing people every day in Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia. In the 1990s, there was the bombing and blockade of the former Yugoslavia as well as Iraq, and in the 1980s the invasions and interventions in Central America and the Caribbean. And before that came Vietnam, Chile, Korea, Dominican Republic, Haiti, Congo, Iran, Guatemala, etc., etc.—a long and bloody history. Where the U.S. succeeded in overthrowing revolutionary or progressive governments, they were replaced with right-wing, police-state dictatorships.
None of the above countries threatened or could threaten the United States, meaning that all of those wars and interventions were the most serious violations of international law—crimes against peace.
Washington has sent hundreds of billions of dollars and vast amounts of military aid making possible Israel’s ethnic cleansing of Palestine. The U.S. has propped up and protected the most repressive and anti-democratic regimes in the world, like Saudi Arabia and the other hereditary monarchies in the Middle East.
And, of course, the U.S., which possesses thousands of nuclear warheads, is the only country that has actually used those weapons, destroying the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and killing hundreds of thousands of Japanese civilians near the end of World War II.
So why are there no sanctions against the U.S.? Why are no U.S. leaders—past or present—currently occupying prison cells or awaiting trial?
The answer is that the international “justice” system operates much like the domestic one. The rich administer punishment on the poor. The notion of “equal justice before the law” is as mythical internationally as it is domestically. Who ends up in prison or under sanctions has nothing to do with real justice and everything to do with real power.
The Obama administration and congressional leaders are today trying to win popular support for sanctions and other forms of intervention in Iran and Syria by presenting themselves as concerned about “human rights” and “democracy.
No one should be fooled.
The graphic above appears in a July 4 CNN column titled “Drones decimating Taliban in Pakistan.” It indicates that the Pakistan drone program overseen by Nobel Peace Prize winner Barack Obama killed 163 innocent people in 2009, 40 innocent people in 2010, 26 innocents in 2011, and zero innocent people in 2012. Is our drone-strike program really only killing bad guys now?
The casual CNN reader can be forgiven for drawing that conclusion. Why worry about drones if everyone dying from them is now a militant? she might conclude. What the authors neglect to mention is this bit from the May 29, New York Times story that explains how the United States government — and perhaps our allies of convenience inside Pakistan? — define “militant.” Per the newspaper (emphasis added), “Mr. Obama embraced a disputed method for counting civilian casualties that did little to box him in. It in effect counts all military-age males in a strike zone as combatants, according to several administration officials, unless there is explicit intelligence posthumously proving them innocent.”
Whoa! Number 8 is making my mind doooo thinnnngs.
10 Science Experiments That Looked Like the End of the World
It’s official: The Large Hadron Collider helped to find a new particle, and it didn’t turn the world inside out. Everybody relax! But history is full of strange experiments that people predicted might bring about the end of the human race… and in some cases, they might actually have had a point.
Here are 10 scientific experiments that people believed — rightly or wrongly — had the potential to wipe out humanity.
10. Digging the Kola Superdeep Borehole
Initiated in 1970, this Soviet science experiment sought to drill as deep as possibleinto the Earth’s crust. The borehole on theKola Peninsula dug to a depth of 12 kilometers into the planet’s crust by 1994.
While the Soviets did not encounter the Mole Man during digging, drilling a deep hole into the Earth’s crust (which varies from 30 to 50 kilometers in thickness) could have unleashed seismic forces that nobody could control, much like in the Doctor Who story “Inferno,” which aired that same year.
9. New Zealand’s Tsunami Bomb
Known more for a connection to the Shire than innovation in weapons creation, New Zealand experimented with the use of bombs to create artificial tsunamis, between 1944 and 1945.
By strategically placing bombs, the military scientists behind New Zealand’s Project Seal believed they could divert explosive energy through water, causing tsunamis and tidal waves. After thousands of test explosions, New Zealand ceased experimentation, because military scientists kept having trouble with funneling the explosive energy in a horizontal direction. If New Zealand’s tsunami bomb experiments had been successful, tsunami creation could have gone mainstream — allowing anyone with a conventional explosive device to create widespread chaos and death with ease.
8. Operation Cirrus
In the late 1940s, the United States attempted to divert the path of hurricanes by seeding the storms with dry ice. After scientists poured 180 pounds of dry ice into a hurricane moving east into the Atlantic Ocean, the hurricane made an extremely unpredictable move — and changed directions. The hurricane collided with the town of Savannah, Georgia — no stranger to unusual government intrusions , killing at least one person and causing over $200 million in damage.
This early weather-changing experiment eventually led to the UN’s Environmental Modification Convention, banning weather changing experiments conducted as a means of war.
7. Project Mercury and Volcano
From 1987 to 1992, the Russian military detonated nuclear weapons underground, with the goal of disturbing tectonic plates and electromagnetic fields as a weapon, in Project Mercury and Project Volcano.
These experiments sound like the basis for a bad James Bond movie, but four experimental attempts actually happened — until the 1978 Convention on the Prohibition of Military or Any Other Hostile Use of Environmental Modification Techniques banning experiments of this nature. Extended disruption of tectonic plates could cause a series of severe earthquakes and destabilize electromagnetic fields, leading to a number of theoretical and unforeseen issues.
6. Genetically engineered oil-eating superbugs
In the mid-1970s, General Electric R&D scientist Ananda Chakrabarty introduced a plasmidthat allowed the bacteria Pseudomonas putida to digest petroleum. Chakrabarty designed the bacteria with the hope that it would be used to clean up oil spills. But many people were terrified that these engineered bacteria could run amuck, consume everything in their path, and “out-compete” other bacteria and organisms for survival on Earth. The bacterial dominance theory is a “green” precursor to the grey goo theory — and it might be a more likely possibly.
5. Accidentally creating a black hole
Before the opening of the Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider in New York, public fears amassed over the idea of the RHIC creating an uncontrollable black hole during the course course of its operation. This lead to aplethora of sensational articles in 1999, topped off by a story from the The Sunday Times of London running with the headline “Big Bang machine could destroy Earth.”
The researchers at RHIC study aspects of black holes, but they lack the energy available to create a real gravitational black hole. Whether or not the researchers crossed their fingers when they began experiments at RHIC in 2000 is another story, but as far as I know, we still exist and are not suffering the extreme relativistic effects of a journey through a black hole.
4. U.S. experiments increasing the efficiency of Magnaporthe grisea
Wheat blast and rice blast cause huge damage to world crops, but they’re rare in First World countries. The fungusMagnaporthe grisea leaves lesions on individual plants, that can release thousands of spores and contaminate an enormous area in a single night. The fungus exists in over 80 countries, and it entered the United States in 1996.
During the Cold War, the United States experimented with a weaponized form ofMagnaporthe grisea, which could spread via a spray — or via bombs. Nobody knows whether the U.S. intentionally used the weaponized form, but if these “contagious” crop diseases started spreading uncontrollably, two of the world’s most vital crops would be devastated, causing a worldwide famine.
3. Starfish Prime
Detonating a nuclear weapon outside of the planet’s magnetic field just sounds like a bad idea, but the United States decided to go ahead and detonate six nuclear weapons at high altitude, during 1962’s Starfish Prime(and Operation Fishbowl).
How did this nuclear explosion affect the Earth’s magnetic field? Luckily, the magnetic field “snapped back” into place — causing a strong electromagnetic pulse as a side effect. But if our geomagnetic field had been permanently altered, we could experience a loss protection from cosmic rays and solar winds, along with massive earthquakes, as the continents moved around.
2. Weaponizing the plague
The Plague was responsible for killing up to 60% of the population of Europe in the 14th Century — and then, the Soviet All-Union Institute of Ultra-Pure Biological Preparations succeeded in weaponizing it in the late 1980s. After the fall of the Berlin Wall, program director Vladimir Pasechnik went public with this research, which included military preparations to load warheads with a time-released version of the Black Death. In order to handle the plague, the Soviet program encased a powdered form of bacterial agent, Yersinia pestis, in a polymer capsule.
1. The Trinity nuclear test
In the days preceding the detonation of the first nuclear bomb, scientists within the Manhattan Project debated what would happen in the aftermath of detonation, with a few scientists believing the bomb would not explode at all.
Enrico Fermi, however, suggested the detonation of the bomb could create a chain reaction that would set the Earth’s atmosphere ablaze and kill almost all life on the planet. It is disturbing to realize that scientists would go forward, in light of the ruminations of a Nobel Prize winner — but thank goodness, Fermi hypothesized incorrectly.