Arctic Methane "May be apocalyptic"

SUBHEAD: Increases in methane emissions are likely, and catastrophic emissions cannot be ruled out.

By Dahr Jamail on 23 March 2017 for Truth Out -

Image above: Likely methane off-gassing from the breakdown of carbon in sediments below the lake, keeps the water from freezing in spots, outside Fairbanks, Alaska, October 21, 2011. From original article. Photo by Josh Haner.

A scientific study published in the prestigious journal Palaeoworld in December issued a dire -- and possibly prophetic -- warning, though it garnered little attention in the media.

"Global warming triggered by the massive release of carbon dioxide may be catastrophic," reads the study's abstract. "But the release of methane from hydrate may be apocalyptic."

The study, titled "Methane Hydrate: Killer Cause of Earth's Greatest Mass Extinction," highlights the fact that the most significant variable in the Permian Mass Extinction event, which occurred 250 million years ago and annihilated 90 percent of all the species on the planet, was methane hydrate.
To see more stories like this, visit "Planet or Profit?"

In the wake of that mass extinction event, less than 5 percent of the animal species in the seas lived, and less than one-third of the large land animal species made it. Nearly all the trees died.

Methane hydrate, according to the US Office of Fossil Energy, "is a cage-like lattice of ice inside of which are trapped molecules of methane, the chief constituent of natural gas."

While there is not a scientific consensus around the cause of the Permian Mass Extinction, it is widely believed that massive volcanism along the Siberian Traps in Russia led to tremendous amounts of CO2 being added to the atmosphere.

This then created enough warming to cause the sudden release of methane from the Arctic sea floor, which kicked off a runaway greenhouse effect that led to sea-level increase, de-oxygenation, major oceanic circulation shifts and increased acidification of the oceans, as well as worldwide aridity on land.

The scenario that humans have created by way of the industrial growth society is already mimicking these eventualities, which are certain to worsen.

"The end Permian holds an important lesson for humanity regarding the issue it faces today with greenhouse gas emissions, global warming, and climate change," the abstract of the recent study concludes.

As the global CO2 concentration continues to climb each year, the threat of even more abrupt methane additions continues to escalate along with it.

The Methane Time Bomb
The methane hydrate situation has, for years now, been referred to as the Arctic Methane Time Bomb, and as been studied intensely.

A 2010 scientific analysis led by the UK's Met Office, published in the journal Review of Geophysics, states clearly that the time scale for the release of methane in the Arctic would be "much shorter for hydrates below shallow waters, such as in the Arctic Ocean," adding that 
"significant increases in methane emissions are likely, and catastrophic emissions cannot be ruled out.… The risk of rapid increase in [methane] emissions is real."
A 2011 study of the Eastern Siberian Arctic Shelf (ESAS), conducted by more than 20 Arctic experts and published in the Proceedings of the Russian Academy of Sciences, concluded that the shelf was already a powerful supplier of methane to the atmosphere.

The conclusion of this study stated that the methane concentration in the atmosphere was at levels capable of causing "a considerable and even catastrophic warming on the Earth."

Scientists have been warning us for a number of years about the dire consequences of methane hydrates in the Arctic, and how the methane being released poses a potentially disastrous threat to the planet. There has even been a study showing that methane released in the Arctic could trigger "catastrophic climate change" that would cost the global economy $60 trillion.

Of course, that level of planetary heating would likely extinguish most life on the planet, so whatever the economic costs might be would be irrelevant.

"Highly Possible at Any Time"
The ESAS is the largest ice shelf in the world, encompassing more than 2 million square kilometers, or 8 percent of the world's total area of continental shelf.

In 2015, Truthout spoke with Natalia Shakhova, a research associate professor at the University of Alaska, Fairbanks' International Arctic Research Center, about the ESAS's methane emissions.
"These emissions are prone to be non-gradual (massive, abrupt) for a variety of reasons," she told Truthout. "The main reason is that the nature of major processes associated with methane releases from subsea permafrost is non-gradual."

Shakhova warned that a 50-gigaton -- that is, 50-billion-ton -- "burp" of methane from thawing Arctic permafrost beneath the ESAS is "highly possible at any time."

This, Shakhova said, means that methane releases from decaying frozen hydrates could result in emission rates that "could change in order of magnitude in a matter of minutes," and that there would be nothing "smooth, gradual or controlled" about it. She described it as a "kind of a release [that] is like the unsealing of an over-pressurized pipeline."

In other words, we could be looking at non-linear releases of methane in amounts that are difficult to fathom.

A study published in the prestigious journal Nature in July 2013 confirmed what Shakhova had been warning us about for years: A 50-gigaton "burp" of methane from thawing Arctic permafrost beneath the East Siberian sea is highly possible.

Such a "burp" would be the equivalent of at least 1,000 gigatons of carbon dioxide. (For perspective, humans have released approximately 1,475 gigatons in total carbon dioxide since the year 1850.)

The UK's Met Office considers the 50-gigaton release "plausible," and in a paper on the subject added, "That may cause ∼12-times increase of modern atmospheric methane burden, with consequent catastrophic greenhouse warming."

See also:
Ea O Ka Aina: Climate Change activists' failure 8/2/16
Ea O Ka Aina: Is it time to switch to climate panic? 3/15/16
Ea O Ka Aina: Seascape with Methane Plumes 4/25/12
Ea O Ka Aina: Arctic seabed methane unstable 3/5/10
Island Breath: Worsening Climate Forecast 4/17/08
Island Breath: Permafrost Methane Threat 9/6/06
Island Breath: Climate Change 1/10/06


Climate Change does not care

SUBHEAD: Our opinions are immaterial to Nature. How do we learn the value of reciprocity with Nature.

By Adrian Ayres Fisher on 24 March 2017 for Ecological Gardening -

Image above: Bison grazing in the Black Hills of South Dakota. From original article.

As the Delphic oracle laconically informed the Spartans, Erasmus paraphrased in Latin, and someone later rendered into English, “bidden or unbidden, God is present.”

Regardless of one’s ideas about what is signified by the word “God,” the statement could be broadly interpreted to mean that the universe in general and the earth in particular function the way they do as a result of structure and laws—“God,” if you like—that are always operational, regardless of what anyone thinks about the matter.

On Earth, these operations, governed by the laws of chemistry and physics (among others), include both the behavior of the atmosphere when its greenhouse gas proportions are altered and the subsequent cascading effects on the functioning of the biosphere: our home.

No longer do I think that anyone doesn’t “believe” in climate change, particularly the money-fueled “deniers” and “skeptics.” The disastrous effects already are too much with us.

Everything is more or less as usual, only more—or less—so, sometimes unbearably more or less. There are the generally intensified floods and droughts, new warmth, and new extremes of weather, sometimes unseasonable, often deadly.

To my mind, at the terrible center of the refusal to take serious action regarding global warming stand the orphaned children of Aleppo. They are victims of a war caused in part, some say, by an unprecedented, climate-change-fueled drought.

Those children have the misfortune to live in an already climatically fragile, over-populated country and region that would benefit by people working together to help improve resilience, but that instead has become enmeshed in nihilistic, zero-sum conflict.

Even where there is not war, along the Atlantic seaboard, in the “global south,” and the American heartland—lives are becoming increasingly uneasy due to climate change’s effects.

This is true even in places where the changes continue to be denied, a stance satirized by a recent New Yorker cartoon caption: “Dad, your basement is flooded with over ten inches of left-wing hoax.”

The language we use to describe things is important. It is how we construct reality and make sense of the world.

What the deniers are doing, really, is not only denying reality, but also denying people’s ability to describe that reality and take appropriate action.

But all this has been written, tweeted, filmed, and spoken about before, on and on, while the atmosphere keeps on getting loaded up like a giant piñata full of unusual surprises to be released in the future when a few more childish hits break the structure.

The real question could be what to do about it. Actually, that’s not even a real question any longer, either.

Answers are to be had, ascending in levels of complexity from the very simple, such as that those of us who own cars could drive less and walk or bike more, to the most complex of technological, social and political structures and processes.

And this, too, has been endlessly discussed—and in some places, appropriate actions taken.

To me, there are other, related questions I would love to see at least beginning to be answered, that maybe are beginning to be answered:

How can we make important the idea of sacrifice as something desirable, in the old sense of making something sacred, of giving something up or away for the sake of continued health of the community?

How do we revalorize the idea that the community, from which we are not separate, though we are an individual species within it, is “Nature,” aka the biosphere, and every aspect and part thereof?

And finally, how do we re-learn the value of reciprocity in our relations with the natural world, our community?

These are big questions, big enough to be pondered for a lifetime and more, and I have no answers.

I’m trying to figure it out for myself, and mostly, writing helps me figure out what I think.

What would we give our lives to protect? 
A recurring theme of Tana French’s brilliant series of detective novels focused on the Murder Squad of the Irish city of Dublin is the question posed by Detective Frank Mackey’s father in "Faithful Place": “What would you die to protect?”

Different characters in the series reflect on, act upon, and through events and actions come to answer some version of that question for themselves.

Sometimes they die. Sometimes they figure out who perpetrated a crime. Sometimes simply parsing the question causes a realignment of fundamental relationships in their lives.

One could ask this question in slightly less dramatic terms. Many of us in the US mostly don’t encounter the kind of life and death situations giving murder mysteries their heightened drama.

So: what are you willing to at least risk your life to save; or, what are you willing to sacrifice, to give up or give away—make sacred to god—in order to protect something dear to you? This question, really, is about love.

What is it that you love so much, is worth so much to you that you would give your life in order to make sure it survives? Sometimes the answer is so self-evident it goes without saying. For me, images of my children and husband immediately come to mind, though further reflection offers other ideas as well.

Often, though, it’s easy to avoid even considering this question, especially in a wider sense, unless forced by circumstance.

To have thought about it—or not—and to take decisions and follow a course of action based on whatever one’s answer is—or not—brings one face to face with what is most important in one’s life.

And the answer is often discovered through action rather than cogitation. Sometimes it is the threat of losing something taken for granted that forces a person—or a community—into this kind of self-discovery.

Sometimes the self-discovery leads to new discoveries about the world and about relations with it.

Often the answer is not only about family, but also about our home, our land, about that which gives us sustenance, material and spiritual.

It is in this light that I think about the water protectors who gathered last fall to defend, non-violently, the Standing Rock Sioux’ sacred sites and the Missouri River, sacred in and of itself, as all rivers are sacred, because of their life-giving benefits to all living things within their watersheds.

I do not put that title "water protectors"  in quotes, as so many in the media did, marking it out as a new, not quite legitimized version of the term protesters.

To me the epithet is brilliantly accurate, emblematic of the action they were taking and sacrifices making.

They were not protesting against something, but were, in truth, protecting, in service to their personal values, and the larger set of values and beliefs that leads a person, a group, a tribe, a people, to honor the earth for what it is and what it does, to value and protect those things, perhaps intangible, that are of inestimable value, and on which their lives depend.

The water protectors were making a sacrifice, a chosen sacrifice. They were voluntarily giving up comforts, livelihoods, and certain kinds of social and legal standing while risking their lives to protect what they love, in service to a reciprocal relationship with the earth.

Sacrifice and reciprocity mean giving gifts 
The word “sacrifice” is sometimes suspect nomenclature denoting a troubled, complicated history. At root, the word means making an offering—making something sacred—to god(s).

That idea has had wildly differing interpretations and applications in different times and places, ranging from the Aztecs’ habits of daily human sacrifice to the sun, to Mother Teresa giving her whole life in service to the poor, to parents making sacrifices in their own lives so their children may succeed, to the current president’s claim of having made sacrifices as he avoided duty, obligation to family and society, and integrity in his wealth-fueled quest for greater riches and adulation.

In early days, making something sacred to god often did involve killing some living thing, human or animal.

The Aztecs and Mayans may seem like poster cultures for human sacrifice, but in fact, prior to modern times, wherever humans practiced nature-centered fertility religions, the custom was pretty usual.

This includes South and Meso-American cultures, the ancient Celts, Scandinavians and other pre-Christian European cultures, and others.

The understanding that human sacrifice was not necessary to appease various gods, assure luck in a dangerous venture, or restore the fertility of the earth prior to planting season must have marked a major turning point for many cultures. (Though of course most have invented other, equally spurious religious or ideological excuses for killing people).

This realization by, among others, the ancient Greeks, Old Testament Jews, Buddhists, and North American Indian tribes, is a great invention.

The idea and practice then had room to enlarge into something less literal and transactional; it could become symbolic, as in such different religious realms as the Christian custom of communion, representing Christ’s eternal sacrifice, and certain old North American Indian rites in which pretend “arrows” were “shot” at “victims” during adoption and renewal ceremonies.

It also became personal—regardless of belief, adherents have often made—and make—physical self-sacrifices of various kinds, including living lives of poverty and service, and putting their lives on the line to carry out non-violent resistance in the face of oppression.

And sacrifice and reciprocity do exist in a gift-giving context. On a basic, transactional level, something is given in order to get something back.

A more mature person, group or culture will think in terms of reciprocity, that subtler and more complex concept that has moved beyond the transactional to include altruism, mutual benefit, and love.

We give back because we understand what great gifts we have been given, or how others have sacrificed so we might thrive, and to make the family or community stronger and healthier.

Regardless of the particular elements in a given case, reciprocity involves true relationship that benefits all involved, and respects, rather than attempts to exploit, other parties.

Our friends have us over for dinner. If we wish to continue a strong relationship, we subsequently have them back to our house, or we buy them a meal at a restaurant, or we do something else that lets them know we appreciate them and want to continue the relationship in a way that strengthens the love and support we provide one another.

By contrast, if we buy dinner from a restaurant, we are under no obligation to do so again, nor is the restaurant under any obligation to us.

The distinction might seem painfully obvious, yet our culture has confused these two kinds of relationships, and in too many cases substitutes the transactional for the reciprocal.

“Ecosystem services,” a term that has come into vogue in recent years, along with the idea of putting a dollar value to those “services,” takes us along the transactional path. I understand the concept, and why monetary terms are used, as though to appeal to capitalists in language they can understand, in an effort to save ecosystems.

To me it’s a little like calling “parental services” those things loving parents do for their children—providing love, discipline, food, clothing, housing—and then putting a dollar value to them.

Who will pay? Why do not parents get a salary—from some large corporation—for their trouble?

How does this explain the essential nature of a parent-child relationship, especially the love part?

It is mysterious and complex, the parent-child bond, and when it goes right, is a relationship not transactional, but reciprocal, in a way that grows in reciprocity and mutual benefit over time, and further, benefits the community of which the parents and children—the family—are part.

Thus our relationship with nature, with the biosphere of which we are a part. It is not true that “Nature,” that entity over there, separate from us, provides services either because somehow subjected to us, and there for the exploitation, or because we could somehow pay Nature a salary.

We ought not to say to nature, “We’re going to plant five or a thousand native trees in this city or along this rural stream bank for you, Nature, so you’d better pay us back with cleaner air and stream water” (and meanwhile, the city or farmer might expect payment from some government entity for doing this). We are all familiar with this way of looking at things.

The trees of New York City, for example, are considered to provide 22 million dollars a year worth of carbon sequestration and air pollution filtering; but that is missing the point, as might be expected, given the transactional nature of our culture’s dominant ethos.

We are misunderstanding the actual relationship and in so doing, making a grave mistake.

The crucial point is that Nature, or the biosphere as a whole (the global, interconnected community of which our species is one in possibly eight or nine million), which is subject to the laws underpinning the functioning of the entire universe, though impersonal in its actions, offers us gifts, a livelihood, if we are smart enough to recognize this; and at the same time, lays on us the obligation to give back for the benefit of the whole.

 In a context of reciprocity, more questions abound: What can and should we humans offer of ourselves, or that is precious to us to ensure the continued health of the biosphere?

What actions can we take to maintain the reciprocal relationships so necessary to the proper functioning of ecosystems local, regional, continental and planetary?

How can we best use our talents, to benefit the whole enterprise, especially those, whether in kind or degree, that make us uniquely human?

Getting to choose is important 
Another important thing about sacrifice and reciprocity is the element of choice. These days, a prevailing ethic seems to be that if sacrifice is to be required, better that others should be made to sacrifice for the personal gain of those who are better off.

This attitude pinpoints the difference between willing and unwilling sacrifice and the importance of the context of reciprocity. Not for nothing are the environmentally damaged places where poor people, often of color, live called “sacrifice zones.”

Not by choice, these people lose freedom, health, livelihoods and communities, family bonds, and often their lives to the grinding demands of an economic system and society run by powerful entities and people that prize transactional, exploitive relationships above all else.

There is no reciprocity involved. Nothing is being made sacred.

These places ought to be called “scapegoat zones,” in the sense of the Ursula Le Guin parable, “The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas.” And what happens when a civilization makes pretty much the whole planet a scapegoat zone?

In the question of the DAPL, the investors, the pipeline company and the mostly white citizens of Bismarck avoided making a potentially dangerous environmental tradeoff that would disadvantage their community by “sacrificing,” or scapegoating, the poorer people downriver and, with the collusion of the Federal Government, denying them the right to choose what tradeoffs and sacrifices they, themselves, were willing to make.

And none of these corporate and governmental entities were willing to give the Missouri River (including the watershed and all living denizens thereof) any “say” in the matter.

This, the water protectors turned on its head by rejecting imposed sacrifices and embracing others in alignment with their own values—and the river’s requirement that it be able to fulfill its life giving role in the landscape.

Any successful mitigation of climate change and environmental degradation on the necessary planetary scale will require a similar flip in societal values—and actions—from the merely transactional and exploitive to the reciprocal and regenerative. It will require millions, actually billions, of humans to change aspects of their lives, to become earth protectors, ecosystem protectors, and biosphere protectors.

This change will look very different in different parts of the world and will require very different kinds of sacrifices, from different groups of people, some of which actions might not be obvious or evident to the affluent westerner. It will also require certain kinds of social and environmental justice to take place that the wealthy and powerful will resist, are already resisting, mightily.

The reader will, I’m sure, immediately call to mind individuals, governments and corporations engaged in this last-ditch, retrograde resistance. Yet even they need clean air and water as a condition of life.

Besides choice, a further crucial component of sacrificial, reciprocal relationship is a social milieu in which group social values uphold the practices, and in which all members are in good standing of the group. What is defined as sacrifice will depend on attitudes, individual and societal. Long ago I gave up eating meat.

Vegetarianism, in the context of our industrialized agricultural system, is the quickest way for a relatively affluent American such as myself to lower her carbon footprint. I suppose it is a sacrifice in keeping with my social and cultural identity as an ecosystem protector. Other people have other reasons, beliefs and habits.

For some, meatless Mondays, or, for Catholics, not eating meat on Fridays, or for others, giving up meat for a certain holiday is a chosen sacrifice.

But this is a sacrifice relatively affluent people who can afford to buy meat get to decide to make. It is not a sacrifice malnourished people necessarily can choose, since it might be a condition imposed by poverty and politics, to deleterious results.

Successful vegetarianism, while better for the planet, and good for religious practice, depends nutritionally on having both enough to eat and access to plenty of other healthful foods, and these, in turn, require agency in society; for it is not true that there is not enough food to feed everyone, rather it is that poor people cannot afford to buy much food, healthy food least of all. Their economic—and social—standing bars access.

Sacrifice and reciprocity are not easy, either to talk about or to do, particularly in this America in which the idea of the public good is in such disrepute. Getting to choose means many won’t choose. For one thing, there is required an acknowledgement of privilege, and the need for imposing restraint on a comfortable way of life, a step many are not prepared to take.

For example, climate scientists are among the privileged members of society, and among the global top ten percent of carbon emitters, in part owing to their propensity to fly around the globe attending conferences.

Only recently have a few come out and publicly stated that they, themselves, perhaps ought to be part of the solution in a material way. It has been estimated that if the top ten percent of carbon emitters, including elite climate scientists, Davos attendees, members of the US House and Senate, billionaire cabinet members and all the others, including your average frequent fliers and, not least, the denizens of any middle to upper-middle class American enclave, were to reduce their personal carbon footprints to the European average, planetary carbon emissions would be reduced by as much as 30%.

What kinds of “sacrifices” would this entail?

Unfortunately, at the moment, it seems that having enough wealth means never having to exercise carbon restraint, or if one does, it means one’s house can be that much larger. Al Gore could have avoided a lot of trolling had he opted to build a smaller house.

Peter Thiel and certain other members of the global financial elite are in a position to benefit the public good enormously, yet they abdicate any idea of social and biosphere-related reciprocity by indulging apocalyptic fantasies with real-world bolt holes.

The people and the bison 
Recently, I went to see a film, “Little Wound’s Warriors,” by a colleague of mine. It is composed of a series of interviews with residents of Pine Ridge reservation in South Dakota, a curtailed remnant of the homeland of the Lakota people.

The main interviewees were the high school students at Little Wound School, which educates grades kindergarten through high school. An affecting portrait is built up, as they, and others from the community, describe life on “the rez” and their efforts to strengthen the community after a series of suicides by young people.

The miserable history of the US Government’s genocide and double-dealing, and Anglo culture’s attempt to obliterate native culture by actively suppressing language, religion, and ways of life, is not a matter for history books for the Lakota, who are living with both the direct experience and its pervasive after effects.

While honest in its portrayal of the devastation caused by poverty, drug and alcohol use, there was hope in social engagement and a renewed emphasis on traditional culture. Besides the renewal of ceremonies, beliefs and the study of Lakota language, the people have embarked on the project of bringing bison back to the reservation.

This last is significant. George Apple, a leader at Pine Ridge, was there with several others for a post-film panel discussion, during which the subject of the tribe’s relationship with the bison came up. He said the Lakota have always believed that the strength of the tribe is dependent on the strength of the bison.

The Lakota people are bonded with the buffalo in a relationship of deep reciprocity. As the fortunes of the bison herds go, so go the fortunes of the tribe.

Afterwards I asked George to explain more, and he told me this creation story: long ago, before time began, the people were living underground. Life was good, and they lived happy lives.

At some point they were tricked—how, he didn’t say—into emerging into the land we now call America. The people promptly began to suffer, because they didn’t know how to live here where life is so hard. Not knowing how to get along, they were starving, and had no homes or way of living.

The buffalo came to them and taught them, and in fact sacrificed themselves so the people could live.

The people learned ceremony, to help them stay healthy and keep in good agreement with the spirits—the forces—that govern the world, and they learned how to use every part of the bison—meat for food, hides for warmth and shelter, and bones from which to craft tools. No part was wasted. George then told me that so close is the physical and spiritual bond that Lakota people say that they and the buffalo share DNA.

Now, the herd is increasing. As part of tribal renewal, they have a buffalo hunt each year, during which one animal is killed and the young people are taught the old ways regarding the bison and its uses.

 A lesson I drew from that story is that with reciprocity comes responsibility. In the terms of the story, the buffalo sacrifice themselves, but the terms of that sacrifice entail the human responsibility to live on the land so that the bison might thrive, and this requires ceremony, as well as practical actions in the material world, such as careful stewardship —and sacrifice of our own greed, arrogance and lawless behavior vis a vis what we call the natural world.

Giving our lives, rebuilding relationships 
Sacrifice is another word for giving. We give so that all might benefit. We give to improve the public good. We give because we are given so much and want to continue a relationship of reciprocity. We talk about helping biodiversity increase, about creating habitat for wildlife, for bees and butterflies, for birds.

When we do that, aren’t we also creating habitat for humans? What do we most need to thrive?

Our and other living things’ habitat needs really are one and the same. Saving butterflies and bumblebees, mangroves and seagrass, mountain lions and prairie chickens—and bison—means saving ourselves.

Humans need what all other living things need, including space to live according to the ways of our species, appropriate food, clean water, clean air and a stable climate regime.

If we only focus on what we imagine to be strictly human needs without cultivating reciprocity, there is no productive way forward.

All other species suffer the consequences of over-success and overpopulation, and endure natural correction in one way or another, often tailored to the particular way the species inhabits its niche. Too many deer browsing a woodland understory in the absence of predators will encounter certain starvation, disease and death until some kind of equilibrium is achieved.

A virus too efficient at killing its host will itself will die out over time.

You could say climate change is our own special corrective, tailored to the particular traits that mark us as the species Homo sapiens.

Unfortunately, every other living thing—all our plant and animal relations—will be caught up in the dreadful consequences.

 “Nature,” as we personify the planetary biosphere, is not kind, nor merciful (nor malevolent); but nature will allow our species to live and thrive if we practice reciprocity, which, among species, we are uniquely able to consciously do.

In the long run, we do not get to bargain, nor to we get to choose the conditions for continued survival. We do get to choose to find ways to live in accordance with the laws nature sets.

Millions of people are already engaged in this work, in multiple realms, from the religious to the most steadfastly pragmatic.

At present, ecocentric ideas are reappearing in some religions, monotheistic or not, without also bringing back the idea that we must kill some people in order to ensure the earth’s continued health and fertility.

Old, nature-centered religions have been resurrected, morphed into gentler versions of their blood-soaked prior incarnations.

And quite a few Americans who do not subscribe to any religion, who may in fact not merely be secular but actively anti-religion because they adhere so strongly to the ideology and methods of scientific materialism, nevertheless have embraced a conservation ethic because that is where the weight of evidence moves the scale.

Though there has been progress—world emissions have been flat for three years now—help is mostly not coming from the powerful and rich, the politically connected.

There is no Deus ex Machina. It is up to all of us to do what can and must be done. There is hope, but the time is growing short.

Collapse of Pacific Salmon run

SUBHEAD: The meltdown of three Fukushima nuclear power plants continue to reverberate across the Pacific Ocean.

By Admin on 19 March 2017 for ENEnews -

Image above: Mouth of the Klamath River near Klamath, California. From (

[IB Publisher's note: Certainly global warming, and other factors like tsunami debris, plastic gyres, military operations, over fishing and other factors are contributing to ocean die-off - we believe that the lack of any mitigation of Fukushima radiation entering the Pacific stands in the way of possible recovery of ocean life. The collapse of  northern Pacific Ocean salmon population continues. We recommend not eating fish that has spent time in radioactive waters. See Ea O Ka Aina: Hawaii Seafood Guide. That would include all salmon caught off the west coast of the United States.]

Report: Hundreds of millions of Pacific salmon missing, presumed dead — Government issues emergency order along US West Coast — Japan suffering historic collapse, fish starving to death — All forms of ocean life dying in stunning numbers across Pacific.

South Yuba River Citizens League (SYRCL), Mar 16, 2017
The low salmon run size for the Yuba River appears to be part of another regional salmon collapse. The California Department of Fish and Wildlife point to preliminary data from the Sacramento River that indicates salmon runs have also dropped to record low levels. According to Dan Bacher’s reporting, last year’s salmon run on the Klamath River was a 38-year low… Gary Reedy, SYRCL’s consulting salmon expert reports that “A new crash for the Central Valley Chinook salmon is not unexpected.”…

Mendocino Beacon, Mar 16, 2017:
Returns of spawning Klamath River fall Chinook are projected to be the lowest on record in 2017… “The salmon runs this year will present a challenge for ocean fishermen and managers throughout the West Coast,” said Executive Director Chuck Tracy… “the low forecast for Klamath River fall Chinook is unprecedented”… “This year will be an exceptionally difficult year for ocean salmon fisheries, especially in Oregon and California”… said Council Chair Herb Pollard.

The Oregonian, Mar 15, 2017:
The worst run forecast on record for the Klamath River’s chinook salmon could close all salmon fishing along most of the Oregon Coast this summer…

Juneau Empire, Mar 6, 2017:  
Spring king fishing canceled by emergency order… the Juneau area will be closed for king salmon fishing… biologists expect a second-straight year of record-low king salmon returns on the Taku River. “We’ve been in a period of low productivity, not just on the Taku, but on several rivers up and down the coast,” Juneau Area Management Biologist Daniel Teske said… Nobody knows exactly why Southeast king salmon are struggling, but biologists do know where the fish are being affected: in the ocean… The increased die-off must be happening in a marine environment, Teske said, otherwise numbers on the four rivers wouldn’t fall at the same time…

Minato-Tsukiji, Mar 3, 2017:
The harvest in Hokkaido was the worst in 24 years… Beginning with the Sanriku area, landings all over Honshu were below those of the previous year… The number of returning four-year-olds, which are regarded as the main shoal, was a record low…

Russ George, Feb 3, 2017:  
Hundreds of Millions of Pacific Salmon Missing and Presumed Dead — Across 10,000 miles of North Pacific ocean pasture declarations from Japan and the USA are reporting a cataclysmic collapse of Pacific Salmon. The fish are tragically starving at sea as the plankton pastures have turned into clear blue lifeless deserts… Collapse of North Pacific ocean fish pastures has resulted in near total collapse of Pacific Salmon… It’s not just Pacific salmon that are dying in the North Pacific all forms of ocean life are being reported dead and dying [in] stunning numbers…

Undercurrent News, Feb 1 , 2017:  
Japanese salmon fisheries in historic collapse — Landings in Hokkaido, Japan are the lowest in nearly three decades, reports the blog The volume of salmon caught at main fishing ports, including Hokkaido, plunged 30-40% in 2016 from the previous year. The figure represented the lowest level in 28 years. The collapse has been confidently attributed to the starvation of four-year-old Chum salmon…

Hokkaido Shimbun, Jan 31, 2017:  
Salmon landings in Hokkaido in 2016 are the lowest in three decades — The number of salmon caught in Hokkaido in 2016 plunged 29.4% from the previous year… The figure represented the lowest level in 28 years… Local fishermen have been increasingly concerned over the fact that the trend of meager catch that continued in recent years has not been held in check…

Russ George, Jan 31, 2017:  
News from Japan is terrible for NW Pacific fish… Local fishermen have been increasingly concerned over the fact that the trend of meager catch that continued in recent years has not been held in check and indeed is worsening every year… Given the shortfall of fish and the scrawny condition of the fish that were caught all evidence points to a cataclysmic collapse of ocean pasture primary productivity and fish starving at sea… Across the Pacific ocean salmon pastures have failed…

See also:
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima worse than ever 2/5/17
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima cleanup cost to double 12/9/16 
Ea O Ka Aina: Tokyo damaged by nuclear pellet rain 9/24/16
Ea O KA Aina: Nuclear Power and Climate Failure 8/24/16 
Ea O Ka Aina: High radioactivity in Tokyo  8/22/16
Ea O Ka Aina: Nuclear Blinders 8/18/16
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima and Chernobyl 5/29/16
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima radiation damages Japan 4/14/16
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima's Nuclear Nightmare 3/13/16
Ea O Ka Aina: Fifth Fukushima Anniversary 3/11/16
Green Road Jounral: Balls filled with Uranium, Plutonium 2/19/16 
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima impacts are ongoing 11/8/15
Ea O Ka Aina: Petroleum and Nuclear Coverups 10/21/15
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima Radiation Contamination 10/13/15
Ea O Ka Aina: Radioactive floods damage Japan 9/22/15
Ea O Ka Aina: Fir trees damaged by Fukushima 8/30/15
Ea O Ka Aina: Japan restarts a nuclear plant 8/11/15
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima disaster will continue 7/21/15
Ea O Ka Aina: Too many fish in the sea? 6/22/15
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima prefecture uninhabitable 6/6/15
Ea O Ka Aina: In case you've forgotten Fukushima 5/27/15
Ea O Ka Aina: Radiation damages top predator bird 4/24/15
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukshima die-offs occurring 4/17/15
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima Impact Update 4/13/15
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima - the end of atomic power 3/13/15
Ea O Ka Aina: Where is the Fukushima Data? 2/21/15
Ea O Ka Aina: Fuku-Undo 2/4/15
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima MOX fuel crossed Pacific 2/4/15
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima worst human disaster 1/26/15
Ea O Ka Aina: Japan to kill Pacific Ocean 1/23/15
Ea O Ka Aina: Japan's Environmental Catastrophe 8/25/14

ENE NEws: Nuclear fuel found 15 miles from Tokyo 8/10/14
Ea O Ka Aina: Earthday TPP Fukushima RIMPAC 4/22/14
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima Daiichi hot particles 5/30/14
Ea O Ka Aina: Japanese radiation denial 5/12/14
Ea O Ka Aina: Entomb Fukushima Daiichi now 4/6/14
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima Disaster 3 Years Old 4/3/14
Ea O Ka Aina: Tsunami, Fukushima and Kauai 3/9/14
Ea O Ka Aina: Japanese contamination 2/16/14
Ea O Ka Aina: Bill for Fukushima monitoring 2/9/14
Ea O Ka Aina: Tepco under reporting of radiation 2/9/14
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima Fallout in Alaska 1/25/14
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima engineer against nukes 1/17/14
Ea O Ka Aina: California to monitor ocean radiation 1/14/14
Ea O Ka Aina: Demystifying Fukushima Reactor #3 1/1/14
Ea O Ka Aina: US & Japan know criticality brewing 12/29/13
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima Forever 12/17/13
Ea O Ka Aina: Brief radiation spike on Kauai 12/27/13
Ea O Ka Aina: USS Ronald Reagan & Fukushima 12/15/13
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima Pacific Impact 12/11/13
Ea O Ka Aina: Berkeley and Fukushima health risks 12/10/13
Ea O Ka Aina: Madness engulfs Japan 12/4/13
Ea O Ka Aina: Edo Japan and Fukushima Recovery 11/30/13
Ea O Ka Aina: Reaction to Fukushima is Fascism 11/30/13
Ea O Ka Aina: Radioisotopes in the Northern Pacific 11/22/13
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima cleanup in critical phase 11/18/13
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima fuel removal to start 11/14/13
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima, What me worry? 11/13/13
Ea O Ka Aina: Remove other Fukushina fuel 10/29/13
Ea O Ka Aina: End to Japanese Nuclear Power? 10/3/13
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima & Poisoned Fish 10/3/13
Ea O Ka Aina: Fuel Danger at Fukushima 9/27/13
Ea O Ka Aina: Reactor #4 Spent Fuel Pool 9/16/13
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima is Not Going Away 9/9/13
Ea O Ka Aina: X-Men like Ice Wall for Fukushima 9/3/13
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima House of Horrors 8/21/13
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima Apocalypse 8/21/13
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima Radioactive Dust 8/20/13
Ea O Ka Aina: Cocooning Fukushima Daiichi 8/16/13
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima radiation coverup 8/12/13
Ea O Ka Aina: Leakage at Fukushima an emergency 8/5/13
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima burns on and on 7/26/13
Ea O Ka Aina: What the Fukashima? 7/24/13
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima Spiking 7/15/13
Ea O Ka Aina: G20 Agenda Item #1 - Fix Fukushima 7/7/13
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima and hypothyroid in Hawaii 4/9/13
Ea O Ka Aina: Japan to release radioactive water 2/8/13
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima as Roshoman 1/14/13
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushia Radiation Report 10/24/12
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima Fallout 9/14/12
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima Unit 4 Danger 7/22/12
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima denial & extinction ethics 5/14/12
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima worse than Chernobyl 4/24/12
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima dangers continue 4/22/12
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima children condemned 3/8/12
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima fights chain reaction 2/7/12
Ea O Ka Aina: Tepco faking Fukushima fix 12/24/11
Ea O Ka Aina: The Non Battle for Fukushima 11/10/11
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima Debris nears Midway 10/14/11
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima Radiation Danger 7/10/11
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima Abandoned 9/28/11
Ea O Ka Aina: Deadly Radiation at Fukushima 8/3/11
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima poisons Japanese food 7/25/11
Ea O Ka Aina: Black Rain in Japan 7/22/11
Ea O Ka Aina: UK PR downplays Fukushima 7/1/11
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima #2 & #3 meltdown 5/17/11
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima sustained chain reaction 5/3/11
Ea O Ka Aina: Ocean Radioactivity in Fukushima 4/16/11
Ea O Ka Aina: Japan raises nuclear disaster level 4/12/11
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima No Go Zone Expanding 4/11/11
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima to be Decommissioned 4/8/11
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima Poisons Fish 4/6/11
Ea O Ka Aina: Learning from Fukushima 4/4/11
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima Leak goes Unplugged 4/3/11
Ea O Ka Aina: Stick a fork in it - It's done! 4/2/11
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima reactors reach criticality 3/31/11
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima Non-Containment 3/30/11
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima Meltdown 3/29/11
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima Water Blessing & Curse 3/28/11 


Ninth Ward fights freeway

SUBHEAD: New Orleans plans traffic onto new interstate route through the black neighborhood.

By Michael Stein on 20 March 2017 for Truth Out -

Image above: Public meeting attendees raise their hands to question Arcadis consultant representative Scott Hoffeld. Photo by Michael Stein. From original article.

[IB Publisher's note: You might not think this article touches your life if you live on Kauai, but the events in this story are echoed in our experience on Kauai. You've seen it before -  a consultant advocating a plan your community doesn't want and obfuscating answers from residents and promising all concerns will be handled later in the process. Bullshit! Right now the Kauai County trying to adopt an "update" of our General Plan that will not keep Kauai rural but suburbanize it with double the current population. It will hit the westside hard with a tripling of population and an increased dependence on GMO/Pesticide experiments and further militarization of PMRF to support that population. This will mean a greatly increased presence of Navy, Marine and Air Force activities and personnnel. It's just going to be shoved down our throats. Only pushing back will slow this process to a halt.]

"You say you come to inform, but there's no information. You're playing games with my home." Schoolteacher and Ninth Ward resident Derrick Anthony Renkins Jr. was standing at a rancorous public meeting, passionately opposing the proposed Florida Avenue Roadway, a project that would funnel truck traffic through the Ninth Ward from neighboring St. Bernard Parish.

There were about 200 Ninth Ward community members in the Saint Mary of the Angels church that night to see what the Department of Transportation had planned for their home.

This situation was unfortunately familiar for them. Ninth Ward residents continuously contend with infrastructure projects that disregard their well-being and ignore their input.

It's these polices that isolated the Lower Ninth Ward from the rest of the city, robbed it of public resources and caused it to suffer the worst devastation during Hurricane Katrina.

There was national recognition after Katrina that much of the storm's destruction was human-made, and the US has moved closer to acknowledging the devastating impact of racist infrastructure projects and city planning.

Former Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx admitted that "urban renewal" and highway building have harmed poor Black neighborhoods and recommended that future infrastructure projects benefit communities that "have been on the wrong side of transportation decisions."

Louisiana and the city of New Orleans have left this advice unheeded, and the Ninth Ward now faces another infrastructure project that would damage the community and uproot families.

At the front of the church stood Scott Hoffeld, a representative from the private consultancy firm Arcadis. Many in the crowd watched Hoffeld with frustration while he explained the proposal. When he was finished, he asked the crowd if they had any questions. Dozens of hands shot up.

Most Ninth Ward residents are already fed up with the existing truck traffic saturating their roads. Activists have been working to divert St. Bernard trucks away from the Ninth Ward, but they're now threatened by a plan that would permanently establish a truck route through their community.

"The fact is, freeways ruin neighborhoods," explains Beth Butler, the executive director of A Community Voice, a local nonprofit organization. "It's astonishing that in this day in time they would put a freeway through a Black neighborhood."

Residents complain that trucks pollute their communities, damage their roads and reduce their property values.

There is also concern about the source of these trucks, namely the Chalmette Refinery. This large petrochemical plant ships out an array of dangerous materials, and many worry about toxic spills and contamination. "They've already experienced environmental racism," says Butler. "It shouldn't keep happening."

Then there is the issue of eminent domain. A 2013 environmental assessment concluded that the project requires the acquisition of up to 105.4 acres of land, including 128 residences, nine water resources, six commercial structures and a church.

"Before we rebuilt [after Katrina], we had a big meeting, why didn't y'all tell us then that you were putting the roadway here?" asked Vernice Lyons, a homeowner in the Lower Ninth Ward. "Because we wouldn't have rebuilt it.

We built our houses from the ground up. We had nothing but lots there. But y'all waited till after we rebuilt and now y'all want to take us away again?"

"I'm sorry, that was before our contract," Hoffeld responded. "These projects are sometimes imperfect."

Hoffeld tried to assure the crowd that the roadway was intended to benefit the Ninth Ward, not damage it. But the original iteration of this roadway was a raised highway that didn't include a single onramp in the Ninth Ward, casting doubt among residents that this project was intended in any way for their benefit.

Hoffeld admitted that a central purpose of the new high-speed roadway would be to provide interstate access to trucks coming from St. Bernard. The audience rejected this justification on two grounds. The first was a general refusal to suffer damage in their community for another's gain.

The second demurral came from people who have lived in the neighborhood their entire lives and have a comprehensive understanding of the street grid. They insisted that this road isn't necessary because there is already a freeway that provides interstate access.

The existing freeway takes St. Bernard trucks downriver away from the city, instead of west into the Ninth Ward. Truckers familiar with the area attest to the convenience of this route, and say a new Florida Avenue roadway wouldn't do much to truncate their commutes.

When asked if he would utilize the new roadway once it was built, veteran trucker Lloyd Gaimer said it wouldn't be much quicker. "It's all about the same, I'll take either one."

Randy Guillot, vice chairman of American Trucking Associations and member of the Louisiana Trucking Association, insists that this roadway isn't consistent with New Orleans' contemporary infrastructure needs. "It would be much more appropriate to spend the money elsewhere," he says.

Ninth Ward residents agree, citing a long list of desired infrastructure developments in their community including levee improvements to protect them from future flooding.

Many activists on the front line of the opposition say the Louisiana Department of Transportation appears to be trying to deceive them as to its true motivation for pursuing the plan. "We're not getting the whole picture," says community activist Rev. Willie Calhoun Jr. "You're dealing with ignorance here. I'm not calling the people ignorant, but they lack the knowledge of what the overall game plan is."

At the meeting, the audience continued to push Hoffeld about the roadway's true purpose.
"From a legislative standpoint, there are components of this plan that must be constructed," he told the crowd.

He was referring to a 28-year-old piece of legislation that mandates the construction of a new bridge on Florida Avenue. It's called the Transportation Infrastructure Model for Economic Development (TIMED) program, created by the state legislature in 1989. It was the single largest transportation bill in state history, allocating $1.4 billion for 16 infrastructure projects.

TIMED projects have already cost an estimated $5.2 billion and two of the projects were never completed. One of these unfinished projects is the new Florida Avenue bridge.

Today, the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Ninth Ward residents agree on at least one thing: There is still a pressing need for a new Florida Avenue bridge. The Lower Ninth Ward is cut off from the rest of New Orleans by a canal, and the existing bridges that link the Lower Ninth Ward are often unavailable, regularly closed for construction or raised to allow boats to pass.

This keeps the Lower Ninth Ward isolated from the rest of the city, restricting access to hospitals, jobs and supermarkets.

Louisiana State Sen. Wesley T. Bishop, a native of the Lower Ninth Ward, attended the public meeting and told the crowd, "There is a need to have another way to get out of the Lower Ninth Ward, but the way it's being proposed to us is unacceptable. We're trying to find a way to keep the project."

The current proposal from the Louisiana Department of Transportation combines the Florida Avenue bridge and Florida Avenue Roadway projects.

Butler believes that the current composition of the proposal is meant to force the community to accept the unwanted roadway in order to get the much-needed bridge.

"This is an optional program, that has not been made clear to people," she says. "People were told things that made them think that you had to take the freeway with the bridge."

Calhoun reported that an Arcadis representative told him the bridge wouldn't be built without the roadway. Calhoun and Butler are working to inform people that the state is required by law to build a new bridge, whether or not the Florida Avenue extension project is approved.

This roadway has been proposed many times in the past. As Calhoun recalls, "My father talked about this in the '60s -- this is way more in-depth than you think."

The idea for a thoroughfare from New Orleans into St. Bernard can be traced back to the 1927 New Orleans Master Plan. But the city's needs are very different than they were in 1927, 1989 or even 10 years ago, and some question if this plan is a prudent use of government funds.

The original TIMED program allocated $30 million to build the new bridge. An assessment from 2013 estimated that the entire Florida Avenue extension project could cost over half a billion dollars.

Southern Louisiana is in great need of infrastructure development. Not only are its streets crumbling, but its coastline is also experiencing erosion at a rate of one football field every hour.

The state recently created a $50 billion plan to combat this subsidence, but there is still a $30 billion budget shortfall.

Louisiana is also dealing with one of the largest budget deficits in state history, and many are perplexed as to why the Louisiana Department of Transportation is focusing on an expensive plan that is not only opposed by the community, but offers limited commercial value.

So the question remains, who benefits from the roadway's construction? Calhoun said he doesn't know, but wouldn't be surprised if "this is just more of Bobby Jindal's people getting money," referencing the rampant corruption in Louisiana politics.

But he also suggested that perhaps this is just an infrastructure project that has floated around the state's bureaucracy for so long that it's attained a weight of its own, being pushed by nobody in particular, but advancing nonetheless. "I don't even think our elected officials have been told the real deal on this," he said. "They're trying to promote it just to promote it."

Ultimately, what many Ninth Ward residents say is most frustrating is that they feel ignored. Those attending the public meeting said they believe the state is withholding information and that even if they were fully informed, there isn't anything they can do to stop the project.

Many saw the meeting as only a façade of public outreach, meant to check a bureaucratic box rather than truly hear and integrate community concerns.

"For the Department of Transportation to allow you to come and stand in front of us and not prepare for your presentation lets me know that once again, my life does not matter," Renkins Jr. told Hoffeld at the end of the meeting. "The task at hand is for you to reach out to me, not for me to reach out to you."

The highway authority is scheduled to make a final decision on the future of the project in January 2018. Between now and then, there is only one public meeting and a final public hearing scheduled. It remains unclear whether community leaders have any recourse to stop a project that is so ubiquitously derided in the Ninth Ward.

"Do we have any say as a community?" asked one frustrated meeting attendee. "At the end of the day, ya'll gonna do what ya'll want to do. I don't know anywhere else in the city where they would allow this to happen."

"They don't understand New Orleans," says Butler. "These are communities that are working class. It's the only affordable housing in the city almost.

The history of these communities; they are families that have built this city. They are strong African American families, working class, who just did everything right and were never rewarded for it.

But at least they had their own community, their own churches. This plan is going to pulverize this Black neighborhood that they know nothing about."


Apartheid Israel Report

SUBHEAD: If anyone doubts that Israel is guilty of the crime of apartheid, he should read the UN report.

By Dr. Chandra Muzaffar on 21 March 2017 for Counter Currents -

Image above: "Control + Alt + Delete" graffiti on Israeli "defense" wall separating Palestinians from Jewish state. From (

If anyone doubts that Israel is guilty of the crime of apartheid, he should read the report “Israeli Practices towards the Palestinian People and the Question of Apartheid” commissioned by the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA).

The report released on the 15th March 2017 and posted on the ESCWA website has now been removed on the orders of the UN Secretary-General, pressurized, it is alleged, by the governments of Israel and the United States both of whom have denounced the report in harsh terms.

The withdrawal of the report prompted the ESCWA Executive Secretary and UN Under-Secretary-General Dr. Rima Khalaf, to submit her resignation. In her words, “I resigned because it is my duty not to conceal a clear crime and I stand by all the conclusions of the report.”

 It is worth noting that the report carried a clear disclaimer that “the findings, interpretations and conclusions expressed in this publication are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the UN or its officials or Member States.”

The report was co-authored by two distinguished American scholars — Richard Falk, Professor Emeritus of International Law Princeton University who, from 2008 to 2014, also served as UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Palestinian territories occupied since 1967, and Virginia Tilley, Professor of Political Science at Southern Illinois University and author of Beyond Occupation: Apartheid Colonialism and International Law in the Occupied Palestinian Territories.

Carefully worded, incisively analyzed and succinctly articulated, the report is a significant milestone in the endeavor to understand one of the longest political conflicts in modern times.

Using international human rights law as a basis, the report provides ample evidence to show why Israel practices apartheid in various facets of governance. Land policy is one example.

Land occupied by Israel between 1948 and 1967 can only be owned and used by Jews and by law excludes non-Jews some of whom have documentary claims to the land that go back a few centuries.

An even more insidious mechanism employed by the Israeli regime to exercise control and domination is the fragmentation of the Palestinian population into various categories.

The authors of the report call them ‘domains.’ Domain 1 comprises those who are citizens of the state of Israel. They receive inferior social services, limited budget allocations, and are subjected to restrictions on jobs and professional opportunities.

They live in segregated residential areas and are aware that  access to public benefits are by and large reserved for those who qualify as citizens under the Citizenship Law and the Law of Return, meaning by which Jews.  This creates a system of covert racism and renders Palestinians second-class citizens.

Domain 2, also under Israeli rule, is made up of Palestinian residents of occupied East Jerusalem. They are also victims of discrimination like their counterparts in Domain 1. They have limited access to good educational and health care facilities.

In addition, a Palestinian resident of East Jerusalem can have his residency revoked if he cannot prove that Jerusalem is his “center of life.” Between 1996 and 2014, residency was revoked for more than 11,000 Palestinians.

Palestinians living in Gaza and the West Bank, territories occupied by Israel since 1967, would constitute Domain 3. They are governed by military law. Though Hamas has limited authority over Gaza, it is Israel that has exclusive control over its borders.

And since 2007, Israel has imposed a blockade upon Gaza that affects all aspects of life in that tiny peninsula. While the residents of both West Bank and Gaza are subject to military law, the 350,000 Jewish settlers in the West Bank are governed by Israeli civil law.

This dual legal system underscores stark racial discrimination which manifests itself in many other ways. In contrast to the parlous state of Palestinians living in the West Bank and Gaza, Jewish settlements continue to flourish.

Jews from all over the world are offered various incentives to move to these well-endowed settlements,including employment guarantees, agricultural subsidies, school grants and special recreational facilities.

Unlike the first three domains, Palestinians in Domain 4 are the only ones who are not under Israeli control. These are Palestinians who are refugees from the wars and expulsions since 1948 and their descendants who have been living outside original Palestine, in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, Egypt and a number of other countries in West Asia and North Africa (WANA). There are some who for generations have been staying in Europe and North America.

All of them are affected by one vital dimension of Israeli policy. They are barred from returning home. While they are prohibited from returning to the land of their ancestors, a Jew who does not have the flimsiest link to Israel or Palestine is encouraged to settle down in these territories.

This is yet another blatant example of apartheid.

The report prepared by Falk and Tilley argues eloquently that the emergence of the domains and the apartheid practiced by various Israeli governments cannot be separated from the desire and the drive in the Zionist movement from the turn of the 20th century to establish an exclusive Jewish state in Palestine.

Bringing in Jewish immigrants long before the Israeli state was created, the wars, the expulsions and the laws to prevent Palestinians from returning to their land were all part of that mission.

Indeed, there has been deliberate ethnic cleansing of Palestine — a point which has been elaborated with much lucidity by the outstanding Israeli historian, Ilan Pappe in his ground breaking book, The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine.

In its conclusion, the Falk-Tilley report establishes, “on the basis of scholarly inquiry and overwhelming evidence that Israel is guilty of the crime of apartheid.” It then proposes that an international tribunal examine the report and make an assessment that will be truly authoritative.

If such an authoritative assessment concurs with the finding of the report, the UN and its agencies, regional outfits and national governments should act. They have a collective duty to de-legitimise an apartheid regime and render it illegal. They cannot allow such a regime to continue.
The report also urges civil society groups and non-state actors to step up their campaign against apartheid Israel. Some of them are already doing quite a bit through the Boycott, Divest and Sanctions (BDS) movement. They should organize and mobilize much more through the alternative media.

That the media has given so little attention to the contents of the report on apartheid Israel is an indication of the power and influence of the states and vested interests that do not want the truth about Israel to be known to the world.

This is what we have to struggle against in order to ensure that truth triumphs and justice is done to the people of Palestine.

• Dr. Chandra Muzaffar is the President of the International Movement for a Just World (JUST). Malaysia.

Defund Militarism

SUBHEAD: It's time to dismantle Trump's Murder Budget by refusing to fund America's perpetual wars.

By Maya Schenwar on 20 March 2017 for TruthOut -

Image above: Candidate Trump speaks during a campaign event aboard the battleship USS Iowa at the Port of Los Angeles in San Pedro, California, September 15, 2015. Photo by Max Whittaker. From original article.

During the last three years of the Bush administration, I reported on the military budget, following the supplemental spending bills for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Since Congress has not formally declared war since World War II, these budget bills were the mechanism that was keeping our wars going.

Every time the war budgets came up for a vote, I held my breath. Even though I knew better, I watched C-SPAN for hours, hoping for a surprise. There were a few stalwart Congress members who usually held out -- Barbara Lee, Maxine Waters, Dennis Kucinich -- but for the most part, Republicans and Democrats alike got in line to flood the war coffers, again and again.

Eventually, I stopped watching; I could practically write my articles ahead of time.

If a flight of angels crashed through the ceiling of the Capitol and announced, "The world is ending tonight," they'd still vote to fund tomorrow's wars.

The predictable passage of blank checks for war was an expression of the acceptability of the status quo. The status quo was murder, but within the halls of Congress and, of course, the White House, there was a level of comfort with that.

From the US's early days, the military evolved largely as a vehicle for colonialism and genocide.

As Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz writes in An Indigenous People's History of the United States,
 "The Iraq War was just another Indian war in the US military tradition."
This country's military has long been more of an offensive force -- charging ahead with the winds of white supremacy and capitalism at its back -- than one of "defense." The Iraq War is one moment in its long legacy of actively disrupting, upending and devastating the lives and communities of millions of people of color, both at home and abroad.

Much of the government seems to view perpetual war as an inevitability, the way most of us, in the words of Angela Davis, "take for granted" the existence of prisons.

Davis has written that, although prisons as we know them are a fairly recent addition to the world, they have become so embedded in our society that "it is difficult to imagine life without them."

The US's brand of imperialist militarism, too, is seen as natural. In the mid-2000s, many liberal Democrats were arguing for a strategy of amelioration: a small-scale withdrawal of troops, the cutting of some "waste" from the Pentagon budget, a halt to the production of a couple of bizarrely expensive fighter jets.

These measures were aimed at mitigating the damage, instead of disrupting the overall project of war, militarism and the destruction of communities, most of them in Muslim-majority countries.

The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan did scale down over the course of Obama's presidency, but in one form or another, they've persisted -- and other undeclared wars have been and continue to be waged. In 2016 alone, the US bombed Iraq, Afghanistan, Yemen, Pakistan, Syria, Libya and Somalia.

Every year since 2003, the military has occupied the majority of the US discretionary budget. We are currently spending much more on the military (accounting for inflation) than we were at the height of the Vietnam War.

The way in which US militarism is taken for granted mirrors the ways in which other forms of mass violence are deemed inevitable -- policing, deportation, the genocide and erasure of Indigenous peoples, the exploitative market-driven health care system, the vastly inequitable education system and disastrous environmental policies.

The generally accepted logic tells us that these things will remain with us: The best we can hope for, according to this narrative, is modest reform amid monstrous violence.

Now, we have a president who has no interest in modest reform. His draft budget, released last week, is a caricature of our bad budgets past.

Not only will the Pentagon continue to occupy the majority of our discretionary budget this year, but if Donald Trump has his way, military spending will jump by 10 percent. Vital programs -- programs that support survival instead of murder -- will be slashed or eliminated.

If his administration gets what it wants, the Department of Education will take a 14 percent hit, Health and Human Services will shrink by 16 percent, the Department of Housing and Urban Development budget will decrease by 16 percent, and the EPA will suffer a 31 percent blow.

Under Trump's proposal, funding would be eliminated for the US Interagency Council on Homelessness, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, the Chemical Safety Board, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Legal Services Corporation (which provides civil legal assistance to low-income people).

The proposed budget doesn't simply represent an act of deprioritization or neglect of most people's needs. It is an attack on the lives of poor people and people of color. It is a call-to-arms against the environment, and thus, against the long-term survival of most species on Earth.

It is a battle against the arts, against learning, against recreation, against shared space -- against the things that help give us life beyond mere survival.

We should not be surprised that these attacks on civil society and fundamental human rights are accompanied by a surge in military spending. The cuts and the hikes are part of the same murderous project.
The ground is already laid for that project to be built. Already, the US military budget exceeds the combined military budgets of the next seven countries: China, Russia, Saudi Arabia, France, the UK, India and Germany.

If we are going to confront Trump's proposed cuts to key domestic programs, we have to also confront the legitimacy that has been granted to endless war and militarism over the course of the past 16 years -- and throughout our country's history.

We can't just add the priorities of health and life to the stock priorities of death and destruction. We can't just advocate for a few less fighter jets or a downsizing of Pentagon bureaucracy.

We have to choose life-giving priorities over violent ones. We have to stop taking all forms of state violence -- war, militarism, deportations, prisons, surveillance, colonial destruction, disinvestment and deprivation -- for granted.

One way to start might be to imagine how we could reroute the money currently funneled toward this violence. For example, the National Priorities Project suggests that instead of increasing the military budget by $54 billion, as Trump suggests, we slash the military budget by that same amount.

That $54 billion could provide Medicaid for 15 million adults, or grant 1.6 million students a free four-year college education, or create 1 million infrastructure jobs, or fund the Meals on Wheels program for 7,180 years.

Taking this a step further, military cuts could easily help fund programs that we don't yet have but desperately need, such as Medicare for all.

With real cuts to the budgets of murder and devastation -- including not only the military, but also police, prisons, ICE and other violent institutions -- we could set viable plans to end homelessness, dramatically step up climate justice efforts, provide universal child care and more.

"Real cuts" would not only mean slicing off a certain number of dollars. They would also mean challenging the specific ways in which that money is spent.

As United for Peace and Justice lays out, in addition to demanding a stop to US wars, we must also demand an end to the drone program, the closure of US military bases throughout the world, the start of active negotiations to eliminate nuclear weapons and the demilitarization of local police forces.

I'd go a step further to say that the demilitarization of police forces is not enough -- we should move toward dismantling them.

Moreover, confronting militarism would require a fundamental prioritization of racial and social justice. Both within the US and abroad, the military and other forms of state violence overwhelmingly target, harm, displace and kill people of color.

Within the US, poor and working class people are targeted for recruitment into the military, pulled in via a long string of false promises.

Once we acknowledge that these realities are not accidents, and are not new, we can conceive of how injustice is not simply a side effect. It is embedded in the practice of US militarism.

Trump's budget was released on March 16, the anniversary of the My Lai Massacre, when the US military murdered the majority of people living in the small Vietnamese hamlet of My Lai, including many children and elderly people.

This should serve as a reminder for all of us that rising military budgets are not a prescription for "public safety," as Trump has claimed. They are a prescription for murder.

As long as taxpayers continue to be complicit in filling that prescription, it seems that we have a responsibility to act against it.

We need to call and write to our Congress members and demand they reject the $54 billion increase to our military budget and the brutal cuts to crucial domestic programs.

We have to stop taking our wars, our drones, our bombs, our imperialism and our decades of colossal military budgets for granted.

We have to "imagine life without them." And we have to imagine -- and work to create -- the life-giving, healing, transformational priorities that will take their place.