Kamala Harris, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez And Donald Trump, All Racist Bitches?

Kamala Harris, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez And Donald Trump, All Racist Bitches?

 

If you have been paying any attention at all lately to the U.S. news then you have heard a lot about ‘race’ or racism in the conversations within the news programs. First I would like to talk with you about Senator Kamala Harris who is now considered to be one of the front runners (top 5) in the Democratic Presidential debates. Ms. Harris up until the first debate was nothing much more than a ‘also ran’ but it was this debate that has propelled her upward on the ladder. Mainly there was just one question, one moment that did this for her. She was able to slam the front runner Joe Biden on his record about bussing fifty years ago. I am not a fan of Mr. Biden but when a person has been in politics for the past 50 years there are going to be plenty of areas to be critical of a person’s record, it’s just reality, in 50 years a person is going to change their opinions on different issues sometimes. Ms. Harris is a first term Senator from the state of California, her political record is much shorter.

 

This one question was a trap for Mr. Biden for someone to use as being a race issue whether race had anything to do do with his vote back then or not. Ms. Harris was able to use this as a race issue and the media, correct or not, jumped onto the side of Ms. Harris. I had heard of Ms. Harris ever since she became a member of the U.S Senate, but, basically everything that I had heard from or about her has had to do with race. It seems to me via the things that I had heard from Ms. Harris is that she is like a one trick pony and that the pony she is riding is race. I consider myself a moderate, sort of like an old southern conservative Democrat mixed with a liberal Republican. In other words I don’t like either political party at all, this is why I have been a registered independent for decades now. I had always taken Ms. Harris to be a Black person, just a lightly skinned person but evidently I was wrong on this issue. I can’t stand the Trump family but Don Jr. posted a tweet about her race so I started to check out her linage a little bit. Turns out her Mom is from India and her Dad is from Jamaica, so, if this is the truth, she isn’t Back at all. Yet she does seem to cater to the base of the Black voters. Yes she is a ‘person of color’ as is every human on the planet, even White is a color you know. But I do understand where that term came from as racists Whites used to call Black folks ‘colored’. Stupid of them then and now as is reversing the term. Personally I do not care what paint job a person has on their bones, I only care about what is between their ears and if any racism is there, I do not want them to hold any political position, especially not the Presidency. To me, I believe that Ms. Harris is a blatant racists so I would never vote for her.

 

Now I am going to gripe abit about the Bronx’s new Congresswoman Ms. Cortez or ‘AOC’ for short. She and a few of her Freshmen Congress ladies ‘of color’ have been playing the race issue to the hilt it seems, especially Ms. Cortez. She is in a running feud with the Democratic head of the Congress Ms. Pelosi who happens to be a White lady. I very much do not like Ms. Pelosi either but by all accounts I have ever heard including from other Congressmen and women of color, Ms. Pelosi is not a racist person. Yet as soon as AOC started getting shut down on some of her ideas she then went straight to calling Ms. Pelosi a racists because she wasn’t jumping on AOC’s ‘progressive’ bandwagon. To me, this is like the folks who talk about how much they hate haters, in other words, if you don’t agree with me, then you are a hater. Or, if you don’t follow me and my ideas, then you are a racists. Ms. AOC to me seems to be one of these people. To me, it appears that Ms. Harris and Ms. AOC have no other ideas or agenda accept race which to me is the bottom of the basement of human ignorance. Have you noticed during your life that the people who scream the loudest about racism are almost always extremely racist themselves?

 

Now, concerning our “racists, cowardly President”, Mr. Trump. First, I do believe that he is nothing more than a piece of trash as a person. I do believe that he is blatantly racists as well as a cereal rapists and a habitual liar and about as wise as a dead dog in the street. He always plays to the very lowest IQs he can find, it seems that they flock to this cowardly habitual liar. That the so called ‘Christian’ right support him or ‘Tea Party’ support him I find quite disgusting as he is anything but Christian. I call him a coward because of his Daddy getting him six deferrals from military service during the Vietnam war. He could have gone into a reserve unit like George W. Bush did, at least George W. didn’t seem to be ashamed to put on our Nations Uniform. Mr. Trump appears to not only have used his daddy’s money and influence to keep out of combat he didn’t even have enough guts to join the Reserve and with his College credits he could have gone in as an Officer like George W. did. Or is it possible that he simply loathed the U.S. military, or maybe it was just that the Uniform wasn’t “his color”?

 

Now in case you are wondering why I used the title that I did here are the reasons. One I guess was to get your attention, whether for or against my thoughts. Two, I do believe that all three of these people are blatant racists that everyone should totally discard as being credible. Three, from a Christian moral standpoint I believe that anyone who is racist has lowered themselves to the level of dead rabid dog. Also you may be wondering why I used the term ‘bitches’ for these three people is simple, in our U.S. slang it is common to call a hate filled woman a bitch, not meaning that they are actually a dog. Then why did I call Mr. Trump a bitch? That is simple also, in our U.S. slang it is also common to call a man who is considered to be a total coward a Pus-y, and that is exactly what I believe Mr. Trump is, a loud mouthed, racist, coward. Like it or hate it, this is my comment letter to you today. I know that some will hate what I wrote, some because they think I am to critical and some because they think I am not being critical enough. Either way, when I write these letters to you what I am mainly trying to get you to do is to think about the issues listed within the letter.

Four decades later, did the Iranian revolution fulfill its promises?

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE BROOKINGS BRIEF)

 

Four decades later, did the Iranian revolution fulfill its promises?

Ali Fathollah-Nejad

If Iran were to hold a referendum on the Islamic Republic today, over 70% would clearly oppose it—among them the wealthy, academics, clerics, village, and city-dwellers. This remarkable hypothetical was not declared by an exiled Iranian dissident, but by the well-known Tehran political science professor, Sadegh Zibakalam, in an interview during the upheaval that took place in late 2017 and early 2018.

But how is it that even a formerly enthusiastic supporter of the Islamic Revolution has delivered such a devastating verdict? To understand this radical shift and the frustration behind it, we must revisit the promises that the revolution made four decades ago. The 1979 Iranian revolution promised three goals: social justice, freedom and democracy, and independence from great power tutelage.

IRAN’S PARADOXICAL QUEST FOR SOCIAL JUSTICE

Framed in a Marxist–Islamist mindset, the revolution was made on behalf of the mostazafin—the downtrodden—who were left behind by the monarchy’s uneven development model. In the following four decades, intense controversy has erupted over the Islamic Republic’s socio-economic performance. While some claim that under the Islamist regime remarkable progress has been made, others depict an entire country mired in misery. More nuance and contextualization is needed.

Iran has indeed experienced progress over the last 40 years. Whether these successes have been a result of post-revolutionary policies, societal pressures, or the foundations laid by the shah remains hotly debated.

The shift from the shah’s pro-urban, elite-centered policies to a pro-rural and pro-poor (populist) approach under the Islamic Republic included expanding infrastructure and basic services—such as electricity and clean water—from cities to the countryside. In short, the revolution sought to eliminate the rural-urban divide. In rural Iran, the expansion of health and education led to a clear reduction in poverty: The 1970s poverty rate of 25% dropped to less than 10% in 2014. These social policies, biased in favor of the poor, help explain why Iran’s Human Development Index (HDI) has been relatively positive.

Unlike before the revolution, most Iranians today enjoy access to basic services and infrastructure, while the population has almost doubled and most of the country is urbanized. Other measures of social development have similarly improved. Literacy has more than doubled, especially among women, and now encompasses almost all the population. Meanwhile, female students have outnumbered their male counterparts at universities for more than a decade.

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However, while statistics indicate that absolute poverty has declined sharply, a majority of Iranians continue to suffer from socio-economic precarity. Official sources state that 12 million live below the absolute poverty line and 25 to 30 million below the poverty line. Estimates suggest that one-third of Iranians, as well as 50 to 70% of workers, are in danger of falling into poverty. Fourteen percent of Iranians live in tents, according to the Statistical Center of Iran, and one-third of the urban population lives in slums. The living conditions of what anthropologist Shahram Khosravi calls Iran’s “other half,” or working-class poor, are striking: a 17-fold increase in the number of Iranians living in slums; 50% of the workforce have only irregular employment; approximately 10 to 13 million Iranians “entirely excluded from health, work or unemployment insurance.”

And Iran’s socio-economic challenges cannot be separated from its political economy that favors regime loyalists and is marked by mismanagement, cronyism, nepotism, corruption, and the absence of much-needed structural reforms. Although U.S. sanctions have undoubtedly had negative repercussions, their overall impact on Iran’s economic situation is often overstated. For instance, in the summer of 2018, Hossein Raghfar, an economist at Tehran’s Allameh Tabataba’i University, has suggested that as little as 15% of Iran’s economic problems can be attributed to sanctions. The “illiberal neoliberalization” in various Iranian economic policies since the 1990s, featuring client alistic privatizations and de-regulated labor market, has helped form nouveaux riches on one hand and precarious social strata on the other.

A chief failure of the Islamic Republic has been the lack of job creation, with jobless growth even increasing during oil booms. Unemployment rates remain high, especially among the youth, university graduates, and women. Officially, every eighth Iranian is unemployed. According to the Iranian parliament’s research center, the unemployment rate will reach 16% by 2021 in an optimistic scenario, 26% if conditions are less auspicious. Among the youth, one in four is unemployed (but some estimates go as high as 40%). These figures rank Iran’s youth unemployment rate as among the highest worldwide.

Iran’s Gini index of income inequality has remained consistently high at above 0.40, pointing to the lack of inclusive economic growth. Studying levels of inequality in pre- and post-revolutionary Iran, Djavad Salehi-Isfahani found that inequality in 2002 was about the same as in 1972, adding:

The findings on inequality raise important questions about the nature of the Islamic Revolution. Did it significantly affect the power structure as a social revolution of its magnitude should have? This is particularly relevant in the case of Iran because, in addition to changes in the distribution of productivity, the distribution of access to oil rents also affects inequality. Since access is directly related to political power, inequality may reflect the distribution of power. Thus, the finding that inequality in 2002 was about the same as in 1972 raises questions about the significance of the Islamic Revolution as a social and political revolution.

In other words, the class character of Iranian society has remained unchanged, with one ruling class replaced by another only with another social composition. In political cartoons, this was reflected in pictures of the shah’s crown merely being replaced by the mullahs’ turban. Such continuity led some scholars to interpret the 1979 revolution as merely a “passive revolution, a revolution without change” in class relations. Today, there is a strong public perception of high income inequality, given the ostentatious display of wealth and nepotism by the offspring of regime affiliates, the so-called âghâzâdeh, that Iranians observe on the streets of Tehran or on their smartphones through Instagram accounts like “Rich Kids of Tehran.”

The Islamic Republic’s relative achievements in the fields of rural infrastructure, education, and literacy, along with its failure to create jobs, have produced a socio-economic paradox that is politically explosive. Iran’s job market can simply not absorb the hundreds of thousands of university graduates. This paradox has produced a stratum of “middle-class poor,” as described by sociologist Asef Bayat. Defined as those with middle-class qualifications and aspirations but suffering from socio-economic precarity, this group was considered the social base of the 2017-18 uprising and is widely expected to continue to voice its anger and frustration.

On the situation of Iran’s youth under the Islamic Republic, Bayat explained in a 2016 interview:

The youth not only want a secure future—that is reasonable jobs, a place to live, get married, and form a family in the future—they also want to reclaim their “youthfulness,” a desire to live the life of youth, to pursue their interests, their individuality, free from the watchful eyes of their elders, from moral and political authority. This dimension of young people’s lives adds to the existing social tensions in Iran.

As alluded to before, Iranians face another structural impediment to socio-economic opportunities. Regime “insiders” (khodi) or those with access to state resources and privileges also enjoy privileged access to jobs. These frustrations have led many young Iranians to vote with their feet. Even under the Rouhani administration, Iran has continued to experience world record-breaking levels of brain drain, losing an estimated $150 billion per year.

7 Jaw-Dropping Architectural Masterpieces

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TRIP TRIVIA)

 

7 Jaw-Dropping Architectural Masterpieces

Of all the artistic works we humans have come up with over the years, our architectural achievements may be the most powerful. Great architecture combines form and function; it serves a purpose while acting as a symbol of the culture that created it. Much of our understanding of ancient cultures comes from the architecture they left behind, making it a crucial part of world history and our understanding of civilization as a whole.

If you get a chance, pay a visit to a few of these jaw-dropping masterpieces to get a full idea of how powerful architecture can be.

Wat Rong Khun (White Temple), Chiang Rai, Thailand

Credit: espiegle / iStock

Created in 1997 by Thai artist Chalermchai Kositpipat, the White Temple is one of the newest architectural wonders on this list, though it certainly deserves its place. A sparkling wonder of white plaster and glass, the White Temple is an artistic expression that combines traditional Thai beliefs with modern culture.

Though the exterior of the temple was designed in the Buddhist fashion common in Thai temples, the interior contains an expansive series of pop culture imagery, including depictions of Spider-Man, The Terminator, Michael Jackson, and more. Yes, really. And while photos of the inside of the temple are prohibited by Thai law, seeing the exterior alone should be enough to give you an idea of the grandeur of this bizarre project.

Great Wall of China

Credit: SeanPavonePhoto / iStock

Yes, China’s Great Wall certainly makes our list. And while it’s not the easiest architectural wonder for Americans to reach, it’s worth the trip. Sections of the 13,000+ mile wall were built as far back as the 7th century BCE, with new additions and revisions made over the next several thousand years.

There’s not much else to say about this one, because you already know it! The Great Wall of China is one of the most enduring works out there, with historians agreeing that it’s one of the most impressive architectural feats in human history.

Nasir al-Mulk Mosque, Shiraz, Iran

Credit: master2 / iStock

Known casually as “the Pink Mosque,” the design of the Nasir al-Mulk Mosque is stunning.

This isn’t your grandma’s mosque; rather than the plain grays and slates typical of religious buildings, the Pink Mosque features a kaleidoscope of color, with pink floor tiles, rainbow stained glass, and painted geometric patterns adorning every interior wall. The outside is similarly impressive, but for this one, you really need to go inside to see its most impressive elements.

Colosseum, Rome, Italy

Credit: stock_colors / iStock

Another architectural favorite, the Colosseum is one of those ancient works that always seems to capture our imaginations. Completed around 80 AD, modern scholars believe that the Colosseum represents the brutality of Imperial Rome, noting its dark history of public executions, gladiator matches, and violent chariot races.

Despite its brutal history, it’s hard to ignore the Colosseum’s beauty as an architectural achievement. Reported to hold anywhere from 50,000 to 80,000 spectators in its prime, it dwarfs many modern arenas and serves as a constant (and fragmented) reminder of a lost world.

Santorini/Thera, Greece

Credit: 4FR / iStock

If you ever find yourself in Greece, stop by the island of Santorini. One of many islands on the Aegean Sea, Santorini doesn’t feature one specific architectural achievement. Instead, the whole island can be considered an architectural achievement, acting as a modern representation of ancient Cycladic architecture.

On the island, you’ll see a series of white painted villages dotting red island cliffs, with residents adorning their homes in bright yellow, cyan, and red. Combined with the lush greenery of the region and its proximity to the deep blue Aegean, the whole island bursts forth in vivid colors and unique cliffside architecture unlike any you’ll see in the world.

Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco, USA

Credit: fcarucci / iStock

The Golden Gate Bridge is a masterpiece of engineering if we’ve ever seen one. The bridge’s impressive length of 1.7 miles is matched by its height, standing a cool 220 feet above the waters of the Golden Gate Strait. Designed primarily by Charles Alton Ellis, the Golden Gate Bridge is one of the most enduring modern architectural works in the United States, even being named one of the “Seven Wonders of the Modern World” by the American Society of Civil Engineers.

Sagrada Familia, Barcelona, Spain

Credit: TomasSereda / iStock

One of the most visually striking buildings on this list, the Sagrada Familia basilica is an unfinished Roman Catholic church designed by Antoni Gaudi in 1852. However, despite Gaudi devoting his life to the building’s creation, he would die with less than a quarter of the project complete. And while a current team of architects is working to finish what Gaudi started, the fact that the church is unfinished is a selling point to many of the basilica’s 2.5 million annual visitors. With a surprisingly modern design approach that blends traditional church architecture with Gothic elements, this one is worth a visit—finished or not.

Monuments to Culture

From China to Italy to right here in the U.S., our architectural monuments are more than just buildings. They’re tributes to our culture. If you ever get a chance to scope out one of these engineering marvels, we suggest you take it. These wonders won’t be around forever, and when they go, they’ll take huge chunks of history with them.

Brazil: LULA CONGRATULATES CHICO FOR CAMÕES AWARD AND GLOBO PIN

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF BRAZIL’S 247 NEWS NETWORK)

 

White supremacists crash Arkansas Holocaust memorial event

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE TIMES OF ISRAEL)

 

White supremacists crash Arkansas Holocaust memorial event

Protesters in Russellville carry anti-Semitic signs, including one calling Shoah a hoax, in demonstration ostensibly aimed against ADL

White Supremacists protesting a Holocaust memorial in Russellville, Arkansas, May 5, 2019.  (screen capture: YouTube)

White Supremacists protesting a Holocaust memorial in Russellville, Arkansas, May 5, 2019. (screen capture: YouTube)

A Holocaust Remembrance Day event in Russellville, Arkansas, Sunday was interrupted by protesters bearing anti-Semitic signs, including one that read “The Holocaust didn’t happen, but it should have.”

Bearing crosses, a large portrait of Jesus and Christian and Nazi flags, the protester’s anti-Semitic signs also included one reading “YHWH has the oven preheated.”

Joyce Griffis, who organized the event, told KSFM that the demonstrators “were talking to us like we were pieces of nothing.”

Among those at the event were Sir Beryl Wolfson, 96, who shared his story of witnessing the liberation of Holocaust concentration camps while wearing a World War II Veteran cap and Star of David belt buckle.

The demonstrators were affiliated with Shieldwall, a local white supremacist group, and ostensibly were protesting the Anti-Defamation League, Shieldwall spokesman Billy Roper told KSFM.

The son and grandson of Klansmen, Roper is “a nonsectarian hater” affiliated with many white nationalist groups, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center.

In April, the ADL criticized Arkansas Tech University for naming a scholarship in honor of Dr. Michael Link, whom the ADL wrote “repeatedly espoused Holocaust denial and anti-Semitism to his students and in his writing.”

Arkansas Tech said it has found no evidence of these claims.

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Israel PM vows to annex West Bank settlements if re-elected

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE BBC)

 

Israel PM vows to annex West Bank settlements if re-elected

Image caption Israel has established more than 100 Jewish settlements in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem

Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu has said he will annex Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank if he is re-elected.

Israelis go to the polls on Tuesday and Mr Netanyahu is competing for votes with right-wing parties who support annexing part of the West Bank.

The settlements are illegal under international law, though Israel disputes this.

Last month the US recognised the occupied Golan Heights, seized from Syria in 1967, as Israeli territory.

Israel has settled about 400,000 Jews in West Bank settlements, with another 200,000 living in East Jerusalem. There are about 2.5 million Palestinians living in the West Bank.

Palestinians want to establish a state in the occupied West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip.

What happens to the settlements is one of the most contentious issues between Israel and the Palestinians – Palestinians say the presence of settlements make a future independent state impossible.

Israel says the Palestinians are using the issue of settlements as a pretext to avoid direct peace talks. It says settlements are not a genuine obstacle to peace and are negotiable.

What exactly did Netanyahu say?

He was asked during an interview on Israeli TV why he had not extended Israeli sovereignty to large settlements in the West Bank.

“You are asking whether we are moving on to the next stage – the answer is yes, we will move to the next stage,” he said.

“I am going to extend [Israeli] sovereignty and I don’t distinguish between settlement blocs and the isolated settlements.”

A spokesman for Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas told Reuters: “Any measures and any announcements will not change the facts. Settlements are illegal and they will be removed.”

Presentational grey line

Potentially explosive comments

By Sebastian Usher, BBC Arab affairs editor

These comments by Benjamin Netanyahu are potentially explosive over an issue that has helped stall peace efforts for years.

They will resonate with several parties with which he’ll try to form a coalition government if he wins the biggest share of votes.

But the very idea of annexation will rouse new Palestinian fury, as well as international condemnation.

Mr Netanyahu may have been emboldened by the Trump administration, which just last month recognised Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights.

Presentational grey line

What is the political background?

Mr Netanyahu’s right-wing Likud party is in a tight race with the new centre-right Blue and White alliance.

However other parties, some of which support annexation, could end up being kingmakers when they try to form a governing coalition.

In Mr Netanyahu’s own Likud party, 28 out of the 29 lawmakers running for re-election are on record as supporting this approach. Until now the prime minister was the only exception.

What is the situation of peace negotiations?

Mr Trump’s administration is preparing to unveil a long-awaited Middle East peace plan, which US officials say will be fair.

However the Trump administration has carried out a series of actions that have inflamed Palestinian opinion and generally pleased Israel.

In 2017 Mr Trump announced that the US recognised Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, overturning decades of official US policy.

In response Mr Abbas cut off relations with the US, saying the US could no longer be a peace broker.

Last year the US stopped contributing to the UN Relief and Works Agency(Unrwa), which has been looking after Palestinian refugees since 1949.

In March President Trump officially recognised Israeli sovereignty over the occupied Golan Heights.

On Saturday, speaking at a meeting of the Republican Jewish Coalition, he warned a Democratic victory in 2020 could “leave Israel out there”, in an effort to make the case to Jewish voters to support his re-election.

Peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians have been at a standstill since 2014, when a US-brokered attempt to reach a deal collapsed.

Jewish voters are furious at Dems’ defense of Ilhan Omar

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE NEW YORK POST)

 

Jewish voters are furious at Dems’ defense of Ilhan Omar

Jewish voters furious at Democrats’ defense of Rep. Ilhan Omar say they’re done with the party that has held their support for generations.

“We felt we had a home there,” said Mark Schwartz, the Democratic deputy mayor of solidly blue Teaneck, NJ. “And now we feel like we have to check our passports.”

Jordan Manor of Manhattan, who calls himself a “gay Jewish Israeli-American,” laments, “The party I thought cared about me seems to disregard me when it comes to my Jewish identity.”

Mark Dunec, a consultant in Livingston, NJ who ran for Congress as a Democrat in 2014, says, “I’m physically afraid for myself and for my family,” adding, “I see my own party contributing to the rise of anti-Semitism in the United States.”

Omar, a freshman congresswoman from Minnesota, sparked the firestorm in February for using anti-Jewish tropes: saying that support for Israel was “all about the Benjamins” and accusing Jewish-American legislators of “dual loyalty.”

Many, including some fellow Democrats, deemed her comments anti-Semitic — but the party’s lefty activists pushed back.

“No one seeks this level of reprimand when members make statements about Latinx + other communities,” complained Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in a March 5 tweet.

Omar issued only a partial apology.

In response, the House passed a resolution condemning all “hateful expressions of intolerance” with kitchen-sink language that named nearly a dozen different groups.

“I feel confident that [Omar’s] words were not based on any anti-Semitic attitude,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said.

Many Jewish Dems in the city aren’t buying it.

“The fake defense she doesn’t know what she’s saying? I don’t believe it,” said Sara, a Queens teacher who asked not to be fully identified. “This is a grown woman and a member of Congress. Trying to excuse this as naivete is inexcusable.”

For her and others, anger is sparking immediate action.

“The watered-down resolution triggered my decision to walk away from the Democratic Party,” said Allison Gangi of Manhattan.

“I never dreamed anti-Semitism would have become mainstream on the left, but it has.”

Sara said she is “not comfortable anymore being a Democrat” and will register as an independent.

Among his Teaneck neighbors, Schwartz said, “Our only question now is, do we start voting Republican, or do we become Republicans?”

Others say they feel like the wandering Jew of legend.

“I’m homeless. I don’t think I can vote for Trump, even though he’s great for Israel,” said Jason, a start-up owner from Long Island who asked that his surname not be used. “But as a Jew, I can’t see a way to support the Democratic Party. It’s supporting your own destruction.”

Last week, President Trump issued two tweets boosting “Jexodus,” a new advocacy group — advised by a prominent GOP strategist — that encourages moderate and conservative Jews to find a new political home. More than 4,000 people have signed on, organizers said.

“Since launching this, the anti-Semitism we are seeing is so blatant and obvious it’s terrifying,” said Elizabeth Pipko, the group’s spokeswoman and a volunteer on Trump’s 2016 campaign.

The organization’s Instagram and Facebook pages are regularly targeted with hateful messages, she said.

“I leave them up, because people have got to see it,” Pipko said.

FILED UNDER     

Are We On The Road To Civilization Collapse?

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE BBC)

 

Studying the demise of historic civilisations can tell us how much risk we face today, says collapse expert Luke Kemp. Worryingly, the signs are worsening.

Great civilisations are not murdered. Instead, they take their own lives.

DEEP CIVILISATION

This article is part of a new BBC Future series about the long view of humanity, which aims to stand back from the daily news cycle and widen the lens of our current place in time. Modern society is suffering from “temporal exhaustion”, the sociologist Elise Boulding once said. “If one is mentally out of breath all the time from dealing with the present, there is no energy left for imagining the future,” she wrote.

That’s why the Deep Civilisation season will explore what really matters in the broader arc of human history and what it means for us and our descendants.

So concluded the historian Arnold Toynbee in his 12-volume magnum opus A Study of History. It was an exploration of the rise and fall of 28 different civilisations.

He was right in some respects: civilisations are often responsible for their own decline. However, their self-destruction is usually assisted.

The Roman Empire, for example, was the victim of many ills including overexpansion, climatic change, environmental degradation and poor leadership. But it was also brought to its knees when Rome was sacked by the Visigoths in 410 and the Vandals in 455.

Collapse is often quick and greatness provides no immunity. The Roman Empire covered 4.4 million sq km (1.9 million sq miles) in 390. Five years later, it had plummeted to 2 million sq km (770,000 sq miles). By 476, the empire’s reach was zero.

Our deep past is marked by recurring failure. As part of my research at the Centre for the Study of Existential Risk at the University of Cambridge, I am attempting to find out why collapse occurs through a historical autopsy. What can the rise and fall of historic civilisations tell us about our own? What are the forces that precipitate or delay a collapse? And do we see similar patterns today?

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The first way to look at past civilisations is to compare their longevity. This can be difficult, because there is no strict definition of civilisation, nor an overarching database of their births and deaths.

In the graphic below, I have compared the lifespan of various civilisations, which I define as a society with agriculture, multiple cities, military dominance in its geographical region and a continuous political structure. Given this definition, all empires are civilisations, but not all civilisations are empires. The data is drawn from two studies on the growth and decline of empires (for 3000-600BC and 600BC-600), and an informal, crowd-sourced survey of ancient civilisations (which I have amended).

“Historic

Click/pinch to enlarge. Here’s the full list of the civilisations displayed above. (Credit: Nigel Hawtin)

Collapse can be defined as a rapid and enduring loss of population, identity and socio-economic complexity. Public services crumble and disorder ensues as government loses control of its monopoly on violence.

Virtually all past civilisations have faced this fate. Some recovered or transformed, such as the Chinese and Egyptian. Other collapses were permanent, as was the case of Easter Island. Sometimes the cities at the epicentre of collapse are revived, as was the case with Rome. In other cases, such as the Mayan ruins, they are left abandoned as a mausoleum for future tourists.

What can this tell us about the future of global modern civilisation? Are the lessons of agrarian empires applicable to our post-18th Century period of industrial capitalism?

Collapse may be a normal phenomenon for civilisations, regardless of their size and technological stage

I would argue that they are. Societies of the past and present are just complex systems composed of people and technology. The theory of “normal accidents” suggests that complex technological systems regularly give way to failure. So collapse may be a normal phenomenon for civilisations, regardless of their size and stage.

We may be more technologically advanced now. But this gives little ground to believe that we are immune to the threats that undid our ancestors. Our newfound technological abilities even bring new, unprecedented challenges to the mix.

And while our scale may now be global, collapse appears to happen to both sprawling empires and fledgling kingdoms alike. There is no reason to believe that greater size is armour against societal dissolution. Our tightly-coupled, globalised economic system is, if anything, more likely to make crisis spread.

Building falling into sea

Climatic pressures are worsening (Credit: Getty Images)

If the fate of previous civilisations can be a roadmap to our future, what does it say? One method is to examine the trends that preceded historic collapses and see how they are unfolding today.

While there is no single accepted theory for why collapses happen, historians, anthropologists and others have proposed various explanations, including:

CLIMATIC CHANGE: When climatic stability changes, the results can be disastrous, resulting in crop failure, starvation and desertification. The collapse of the Anasazi, the Tiwanaku civilisation, the Akkadians, the Mayan, the Roman Empire, and many others have all coincided with abrupt climatic changes, usually droughts.

ENVIRONMENTAL DEGRADATION: Collapse can occur when societies overshoot the carrying capacity of their environment. This ecological collapse theory, which has been the subject of bestselling books, points to excessive deforestation, water pollution, soil degradation and the loss of biodiversity as precipitating causes.

INEQUALITY AND OLIGARCHY: Wealth and political inequality can be central drivers of social disintegration, as can oligarchy and centralisation of power among leaders. This not only causes social distress, but handicaps a society’s ability to respond to ecological, social and economic problems.

The field of cliodynamics models how factors such as equality and demography correlate with political violence. Statistical analysis of previous societies suggests that this happens in cycles. As population increases, the supply of labour outstrips demand, workers become cheap and society becomes top-heavy. This inequality undermines collective solidarity and political turbulence follows.

COMPLEXITY: Collapse expert and historian Joseph Tainter has proposed that societies eventually collapse under the weight of their own accumulated complexity and bureaucracy. Societies are problem-solving collectives that grow in complexity in order to overcome new issues. However, the returns from complexity eventually reach a point of diminishing returns. After this point, collapse will eventually ensue.

Another measure of increasing complexity is called Energy Return on Investment (EROI). This refers to the ratio between the amount of energy produced by a resource relative to the energy needed to obtain it. Like complexity, EROI appears to have a point of diminishing returns. In his book The Upside of Down, the political scientist Thomas Homer-Dixon observed that environmental degradation throughout the Roman Empire led to falling EROI from their staple energy source: crops of wheat and alfalfa. The empire fell alongside their EROI. Tainter also blames it as a chief culprit of collapse, including for the Mayan.

EXTERNAL SHOCKS: In other words, the “four horsemen”: war, natural disasters, famine and plagues. The Aztec Empire, for example, was brought to an end by Spanish invaders. Most early agrarian states were fleeting due to deadly epidemics. The concentration of humans and cattle in walled settlements with poor hygiene made disease outbreaks unavoidable and catastrophic. Sometimes disasters combined, as was the case with the Spanish introducing salmonella to the Americas.

RANDOMNESS/BAD LUCK: Statistical analysis on empiressuggests that collapse is random and independent of age. Evolutionary biologist and data scientist Indre Zliobaite and her colleagues have observed a similar pattern in the evolutionary record of species. A common explanation of this apparent randomness is the “Red Queen Effect”: if species are constantly fighting for survival in a changing environment with numerous competitors, extinction is a consistent possibility.

Despite the abundance of books and articles, we don’t have a conclusive explanation as to why civilisations collapse. What we do know is this: the factors highlighted above can all contribute. Collapse is a tipping point phenomena, when compounding stressors overrun societal coping capacity.

We can examine these indicators of danger to see if our chance of collapse is falling or rising. Here are four of those possible metrics, measured over the past few decades:

Graphics showing collapse risk rising

Click/pinch to enlarge (Credit: Nigel Hawtin)

Temperature is a clear metric for climate change, GDP is a proxy for complexity and the ecological footprint is an indicator for environmental degradation. Each of these has been trending steeply upwards.

Inequality is more difficult to calculate. The typical measurement of the Gini Index suggests that inequality has decreased slightly globally (although it is increasing within countries). However, the Gini Index can be misleading as it only measures relative changes in income. In other words, if two individuals earning $1 and $100,000 both doubled their income, the Gini would show no change. But the gap between the two would have jumped from $99,999 to $198,000.

Because of this, I have also depicted the income share of the global top 1%. The 1% have increased in their share of global income from approximately 16% in 1980 to over 20% today. Importantly, wealth inequality is even worse. The share of global wealth from the 1% has swelled from 25-30% in the 1980s to approximately 40% in 2016. The reality is likely to be starker as these numbers do not capture wealth and income siphoned into overseas tax havens.

Homeless on Wall Street (Credit: Getty Images)

The rich are getting richer, which in past civilisations has created additional stress on societies (Credit: Getty Images)

Studies suggest that the EROI for fossil fuels has been steadily decreasing over time as the easiest to reach and richest reserves are depleted. Unfortunately, most renewable replacements, such as solar, have a markedly lower EROI, largely due to their energy density and the rare earth metals and manufacturing required to produce them.

This has led much of the literature to discuss the possibility of an “energy cliff” as EROI declines to a point where current societal levels of affluence can no longer be maintained. The energy cliff need not be terminal if renewable technologies continue to improve and energy efficiency measures are speedily implemented.

Measures of resilience

The somewhat reassuring news is that collapse metrics are not the entire picture. Societal resilience may be able to delay or prevent collapse.

For example, globally “economic diversity” – a measurement of the diversity and sophistication of country exports ­– is greater today than it was in the 1960s and 1970s, as measured by the Economic Complexity Index (ECI). Nations are, on average, less reliant on single types of exports than they once were. For example, a nation that had diversified beyond only exporting agricultural products would be more likely to weather ecological degradation or the loss of trading partners. The ECI also measures the knowledge-intensity of exports. More skilled populations may have a greater capacity to respond to crises as they arise.

There are some reasons to be optimistic, thanks to our ability to innovate and diversify away from disaster. Yet the world is worsening in areas that have contributed to the collapse of previous societies

Similarly, innovation – as measured by per capita patent applications– is also rising. In theory, a civilisation might be less vulnerable to collapse if new technologies can mitigate against pressures such as climate change.

It’s also possible that “collapse” can happen without violent catastrophe. As Rachel Nuwer wrote on BBC Future in 2017, “in some cases, civilisations simply fade out of existence – becoming the stuff of history not with a bang but a whimper”.

Factory workers welding (Credit: Getty Images)

Our technological capabilities may have the potential to delay collapse (Credit: Getty Images)

Still, when we look at all these collapse and resilience indicators as a whole, the message is clear that we should not be complacent. There are some reasons to be optimistic, thanks to our ability to innovate and diversify away from disaster. Yet the world is worsening in areas that have contributed to the collapse of previous societies. The climate is changing, the gap between the rich and poor is widening, the world is becoming increasingly complex, and our demands on the environment are outstripping planetary carrying capacity.

The rungless ladder

That’s not all. Worryingly, the world is now deeply interconnected and interdependent. In the past, collapse was confined to regions – it was a temporary setback, and people often could easily return to agrarian or hunter-gatherer lifestyles. For many, it was even a welcome reprieve from the oppression of early states. Moreover, the weapons available during social disorder were rudimentary: swords, arrows and occasionally guns.

Today, societal collapse is a more treacherous prospect. The weapons available to a state, and sometimes even groups, during a breakdown now range from biological agents to nuclear weapons. New instruments of violence, such as lethal autonomous weapons, may be available in the near future. People are increasingly specialised and disconnected from the production of food and basic goods. And a changing climate may irreparably damage our ability to return to simple farming practices.

Think of civilisation as a poorly-built ladder. As you climb, each step that you used falls away. A fall from a height of just a few rungs is fine. Yet the higher you climb, the larger the fall. Eventually, once you reach a sufficient height, any drop from the ladder is fatal.

With the proliferation of nuclear weapons, we may have already reached this point of civilisational “terminal velocity”. Any collapse – any fall from the ladder – risks being permanent. Nuclear war in itself could result in an existential risk: either the extinction of our species, or a permanent catapult back to the Stone Age.

Syria ruin

A woman walks in the ruins of a town in Syria following conflict between fighters (Credit: Getty Images)

While we are becoming more economically powerful and resilient, our technological capabilities also present unprecedented threats that no civilisation has had to contend with. For example, the climatic changes we face are of a different nature to what undid the Maya or Anazasi. They are global, human-driven, quicker, and more severe.

Assistance in our self-imposed ruin will not come from hostile neighbors, but from our own technological powers. Collapse, in our case, would be a progress trap.

The collapse of our civilisation is not inevitable. History suggests it is likely, but we have the unique advantage of being able to learn from the wreckages of societies past.

We know what needs to be done: emissions can be reduced, inequalities levelled, environmental degradation reversed, innovation unleashed and economies diversified. The policy proposals are there. Only the political will is lacking. We can also invest in recovery. There are already well-developed ideas for improving the ability of food and knowledge systems to be recuperated after catastrophe. Avoiding the creation of dangerous and widely-accessible technologies is also critical. Such steps will lessen the chance of a future collapse becoming irreversible.

We will only march into collapse if we advance blindly. We are only doomed if we are unwilling to listen to the past.

Luke Kemp is a researcher based at the Centre for the Study of Existential Risk at the University of Cambridge. He tweets @lukakemp.

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How preserving folktales and legends help raise environment awareness in the Mekong

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF GLOBAL VOICES)

 

How preserving folktales and legends help raise environment awareness in the Mekong

The Mekong Basin. Photo from the website of The People’s Stories project. Used with permission

In 2014, several indigenous communities in the Mekong started recording their stories and legends with the help of a group of researchers who are exploring how these narratives can help exposing the destructive impact of large-scale projects in the region.

The Mekong is one of Asia’s great river systems which flows through six countries: China, Myanmar, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, and Vietnam. It is rich in biodiversity and a vital source of livelihood for millions of farmers and fisherfolk.

In recent years, several large-scale projects such as hydropower dams have displaced residents while threatening the river basin’s ecosystem. Despite protests, the construction of dams has continued, especially in Laos and Thailand.

In partnership with Mekong Watch, a Japan-based group advocating sustainable development in the region, several community elders in the Mekong began recording some of their stories and legends in 2014 that revolve around nature. Mekong Watch believes that these stories “have played an important role in protecting nature by avoiding the over-exploitation of natural resources.”

Mekong Watch asserts that part of the commons that need to be protected are not just natural resources but also “intangible heritages” that can be shared and accessed by the local community. Toshiyuki Doi, senior adviser of Mekong watch, adds:

People’s stories should be regarded, recognized, and respected as Mekong’s commons, especially these days when they are losing their place in local communities to more modern media, and are not passed on to next generations.

Areas in the Mekong where researchers conducted fieldwork. 1. Kmhmu’ in northern and central Laos; 2. Siphandon in southern Laos; 3. Akha in northern Thailand; 4. Thai So and Isan in northeastern Thailand; 5. Bunong in northeastern Cambodia. Used with permission.

The group was able to collect a total of 102 stories in Cambodia, Laos, and Thailand. Stories were recorded, transcribed, and translated into the national languages of Thailand, Laos, and Cambodia before an English version was made. Mekong Watch published these stories as pamphlets in both printed and digital formats, and used them during environment workshops they conducted at the communities.

Since late 2016, we have used people’s stories to provide environmental education to children in rural Laos and Thailand. We have hosted workshops in schools and local communities to guide children, and sometimes adults, to collect stories from elderly people, learn from the stories, and turn them into reading materials.

An example of a workshop involves the retelling of the story of ‘The Owl and the Deer ’from Kmhmu’ people in central and northern Laos. The story is about an owl who lost his ability to see during the day after cheating a deer.

During a workshop, young participants are asked: “What kinds of animals appear in the story?”, “Can you see these animals in your village?”, and “If there are fewer of these animals in your village than before, why do you think this has happened?”

After this, participants are encouraged to connect the story to the deterioration of the environment in their communities.

In Champasak Province, south Laos, the legend of the endangered Irrawaddy dolphin and the Sida bird is used to highlight how a dam project is disrupting the seasonal migration of Mekong River fisheries.

Another story also from southern Laos is instructive on the value of resource management:

The story about the Rhino Head was recorded on November 16, 2014, at the Songkram River bank in northeast Thailand. The narrator was Mun Kimprasert, aged 68. Photo by Mekong Watch, used with permission.

Once, a soldier stepped into a spirit forest. He discovered a lot of tobacco leaves there and collected them. However, when trying to leave the forest, he could not find an exit. It was because he took more tobacco leaves than he could possibly consume for himself. No matter how hard he searched, he could not find a way out of the forest. Realizing what might have been the problem, he finally decided to return the tobacco leaves to the forest. The moment he dropped them on the ground, he was able to see an exit in front of him.

In northern Thailand, a story by the Akha people about the origin of the swingteaches self-sacrifice through a heroic episode of a brother and a sister who put the world in order.

In northeast Thailand, a folktale about Ta Sorn narrated by Tongsin Tanakanya promotes unity among neighbors in a farming community. Another story recalls how the hunting of a rhinoceros led to the formation of salt trading in this part of the country.

In Bunong, located in northeast Cambodia, there are stories about rituals to fix bad marriages and planting and harvest ceremonies narrated by Khoeuk Keosineam. There is also the legend of the elephant as retold by Chhot Pich which reveals how villagers who once poisoned a river were punished by the gods and turned into elephants. It explains why elephants were comfortable living with humans but, after several generations, they forgot their origins and went to live in the forest.

Hea Phoeun from the Laoka Village, Senmonorom, Mondulkiri Province in Cambodia shares a village ritual on how to fix an ‘unfit’ marriage. Photo by Mekong Watch, used with permission.

For Mekong Watch and the threatened communities in the region, preserving these stories is integral in the campaign to resist projects that would displace thousands of people living in the Mekong:

These stories can help form their identity as a community member and identify with the environment. By means of stories, the communities search for ways to accommodate and/or resist changes that are taking place in the Mekong river basin.

(Commentary) Is It Possible, That I Could Wrong

Is It Possible, That I Could Wrong

Who would say such a thing about themselves, and believe it? Their Ego’s must be like a Ball and Chain for those around them! Do you know such a person in your daily life? Have you been blessed to have had one in your close Family Tree? It’s not possible that it could be you, or even me, is there? Ego’s strike down so many good people caring about only the weight of their Meddles, drowning in their own lust. To me these few lines above are supposed to be what I think, yet is it possible that I could be wrong?

We have Politicians and their Lawyers who spread more Manure than some Farmers do with their hay. Folks these Politicians are supposed to be Public Servants, our Servants, not the other way around.  Look around yourself, do you have any such kind Souls that you know of, are they good people? I take some YouGov polls, in some of them they ask if you are affiliated with some Political Parties or are you one of those Independents. For the first time in my life I voted a straight Democratic, the reason I did this is simple, two men, President Trump and Mitch McConnell. But then again, these are just my thoughts, sort of anyway. But remember, sometimes I am wrong.

Everyone has a base down inside them, don’t they? What I mean is a line that a person tells themselves that this point or that point is too much. Beyond this my whole life would most likely change with about a 98% chance of death yet is not 2% better than none? Now the World fills back up with people without any Moral center. Society through their ignorant Politicians create more and more Saddam Hussein, Mr. Stalin and Osama Bin Laden. Everyday it seems that more and more people are joining these hate groups, it seems like it’s a Pipeline from Hell. As long as a society can calm down its lust for rage and blood after watching T.V.’s bloody thrills. Yet it will be a Human experience if we humans could not realize that some humans just love to hate, when you try to help them, they saturate your brain. If you are thinking, is it possible that just maybe the old man with gray beard may be totally wrong!