Category Archives: India

Dangerous Liaison: Corporate Agriculture and the Reductionist Mindset

Food and agriculture across the world is in crisis. Food is becoming denutrified and unhealthy and diets less diverse. There is a loss of biodiversity, which threatens food security, soils are being degraded, water sources polluted and depleted and smallholder farmers, so vital to global food production, are being squeezed off their land and out of farming.

A minority of the global population has access to so much food that it can afford to waste much of it, while food insecurity has become a fact of life for hundreds of millions. This crisis stems from food and agriculture being wedded to power structures that serve the interests of the powerful global agribusiness corporations.

Over the last 60 years, agriculture has become increasingly industrialised, globalised and tied to an international system of trade based on export-oriented mono-cropping, commodity production for the international market, indebtedness to international financial institutions (IMF/World Bank).

This has resulted in food surplus and food deficit areas, of which the latter have become dependent on (US) agricultural imports and strings-attached aid. Food deficits in the Global South mirror food surpluses in the North, based on a ‘stuffed and starved’ strategy.

Whether through IMF-World Bank structural adjustment programmes related to debt repayment as occurred in Africa (as a continent Africa has been transformed from a net exporter to a net importer of food), bilateral trade agreements like NAFTA and its impact on Mexico or, more generally, deregulated global trade rules, the outcome has been similar: the devastation of traditional, indigenous agriculture.

Integral to all of this has been the imposition of the ‘Green Revolution’. Farmers were encouraged to purchase hybrid seeds from corporations that were dependent on chemical fertilisers and pesticides to boost yields. They required loans to purchase these corporate inputs and governments borrowed to finance irrigation and dam building projects for what was a water-intensive model.

While the Green Revolution was sold to governments and farmers on the basis it would increase productivity and earnings and would be more efficient, we now have nations and farmers incorporated into a system of international capitalism based on dependency, deregulated and manipulated commodity markets, unfair subsidies and inherent food insecurity.

As part of a wider ‘development’ plan for the Global South, millions of farmers have been forced out of agriculture to become cheap factory labour (for outsourced units from the West) or, as is increasingly the case, unemployed or underemployed slum dwellers.

In India, under the banner of a bogus notion of ‘development’, farmers are being whipped into subservience on behalf of global capital: they find themselves steadily squeezed out of farming due to falling incomes, the impact of cheap imports and policies deliberately designed to run down smallholder agriculture for the benefit of global agribusiness corporations.

Aside from the geopolitical shift in favour of the Western nations resulting from the programmed destruction of traditional agriculture across the world, the Green Revolution has adversely impacted the nature of food, soil, human health and the environment.

Sold on the premise of increased yields, improved food security and better farm incomes, the benefits of the Green Revolution have been overstated. And the often stated ‘humanitarian’ intent and outcome (‘millions of lives saved’) has had more to do with PR and cold commercial interest.

However, even when the Green Revolution did increase yields (or similarly, if claims about GMO agriculture – the second coming of the Green Revolution – improving output is to be accepted at face value), Canadian environmentalist Jodi Koberinski says pertinent questions need to be asked: what has been the cost of any increased yield of commodities in terms of local food security and local caloric production, nutrition per acre, water tables, soil structure and new pests and disease pressures?

We may also ask what the effects on rural communities and economies have been; on birds, insects and biodiversity in general; on the climate as a result of new technologies, inputs or changes to farming practices; and what has been the effects of shifting towards globalised production chains, not least in terms of transportation and fossil fuel consumption.

Moreover, if the Green Revolution found farmers in the Global South increasingly at the mercy of a US-centric system of trade and agriculture, at home they were also having to fit in with development policies that pushed for urbanisation and had to cater to the needs of a distant and expanding urban population whose food requirements were different to local rural-based communities. In addition to a focus on export-oriented farming, crops were also being grown for the urban market, regardless of farmers’ needs or the dietary requirements of local rural markets.

Destroying indigenous systems

In an open letter written in 2006 to policy makers in India, farmer and campaigner Bhaskar Save offered answers to some of these questions. He argued that the actual reason for pushing the Green Revolution was the much narrower goal of increasing marketable surplus of a few relatively less perishable cereals to fuel the urban-industrial expansion favoured by the government and a few industries at the expense of a more diverse and nutrient-sufficient agriculture, which rural folk – who make up the bulk of India’s population – had long benefited from.

Before, Indian farmers had been largely self-sufficient and even produced surpluses, though generally smaller quantities of many more items. These, particularly perishables, were tougher to supply urban markets. And so, the nation’s farmers were steered to grow chemically cultivated monocultures of a few cash-crops like wheat, rice, or sugar, rather than their traditional polycultures that needed no purchased inputs.

Tall, indigenous varieties of grain provided more biomass, shaded the soil from the sun and protected against its erosion under heavy monsoon rains, but these were replaced with dwarf varieties, which led to more vigorous growth of weeds and were able to compete successfully with the new stunted crops for sunlight.

As a result, the farmer had to spend more labour and money in weeding, or spraying herbicides. Furthermore, straw growth with the dwarf grain crops fell and much less organic matter was locally available to recycle the fertility of the soil, leading to an artificial need for externally procured inputs. Inevitably, the farmers resorted to use more chemicals and soil degradation and erosion set in.

The exotic varieties, grown with chemical fertilisers, were more susceptible to ‘pests and diseases’, leading to yet more chemicals being poured. But the attacked insect species developed resistance and reproduced prolifically. Their predators – spiders, frogs, etc. – that fed on these insects and controlled their populations were exterminated. So were many beneficial species like the earthworms and bees.

Save noted that India, next to South America, receives the highest rainfall in the world. Where thick vegetation covers the ground, the soil is alive and porous and at least half of the rain is soaked and stored in the soil and sub-soil strata.

A good amount then percolates deeper to recharge aquifers or groundwater tables. The living soil and its underlying aquifers thus serve as gigantic, ready-made reservoirs. Half a century ago, most parts of India had enough fresh water all year round, long after the rains had stopped and gone. But clear the forests, and the capacity of the earth to soak the rain, drops drastically. Streams and wells run dry.

While the recharge of groundwater has greatly reduced, its extraction has been mounting. India is presently mining over 20 times more groundwater each day than it did in 1950. But most of India’s people – living on hand-drawn or hand-pumped water in villages and practising only rain-fed farming – continue to use the same amount of ground water per person, as they did generations ago.

More than 80% of India’s water consumption is for irrigation, with the largest share hogged by chemically cultivated cash crops. For example, one acre of chemically grown sugarcane requires as much water as would suffice 25 acres of jowar, bajra or maize. The sugar factories too consume huge quantities.

From cultivation to processing, each kilo of refined sugar needs two to three tonnes of water. Save argued this could be used to grow, by the traditional, organic way, about 150 to 200 kg of nutritious jowar or bajra (native millets).

If Bhaskar Save helped open people’s eyes to what has happened on the farm, to farmers and to ecology in India, a 2015 report by GRAIN provides an overview of how US agribusiness has hijacked an entire nation’s food and agriculture under the banner of ‘free trade’ to the detriment of the environment, health and farmers.

In 2012, Mexico’s National Institute for Public Health released the results of a national survey of food security and nutrition. Between 1988 and 2012, the proportion of overweight women between the ages of 20 and 49 increased from 25% to 35% and the number of obese women in this age group increased from 9% to 37%.

Some 29% of Mexican children between the ages of 5 and 11 were found to be overweight, as were 35% of youngsters between 11 and 19, while one in 10 school age children suffered from anemia. The Mexican Diabetes Federation says that more than 7% of the Mexican population has diabetes. Diabetes is now the third most common cause of death in Mexico, directly or indirectly.

The various free trade agreements that Mexico has signed over the past two decades have had a profound impact on the country’s food system and people’s health. After his mission to Mexico in 2012, the then Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food, Olivier De Schutter, concluded that the trade policies in place favour greater reliance on heavily processed and refined foods with a long shelf life rather than on the consumption of fresh and more perishable foods, particularly fruit and vegetables.

He added that the overweight and obesity emergency that Mexico is facing could have been avoided, or largely mitigated, if the health concerns linked to shifting diets had been integrated into the design of those policies.

The North America Free Trade Agreement led to the direct investment in food processing and a change in the retail structure (notably the advent of supermarkets and convenience stores) as well as the emergence of global agribusiness and transnational food companies in Mexico.

The country has witnessed an explosive growth of chain supermarkets, discounters and convenience stores. Local small-scale vendors have been replaced by corporate retailers that offer the processed food companies greater opportunities for sales and profits. Oxxo (owned by Coca-cola subsidiary Femsa) tripled its stores to 3,500 between 1999 and 2004. It was scheduled to open its 14,000th store sometime during 2015.

In Mexico, the loss of food sovereignty has induced catastrophic changes in the nation’s diet and has had dire consequences for agricultural workers who lost their jobs and for the nation in general. Those who have benefited include US food and agribusiness interests, drug cartels and US banks and arms manufacturers.

More of the same: a bogus ‘solution’

Transnational agribusiness has lobbied for, directed and profited from the very policies that have caused much of the above. And what we now see is these corporations (and their supporters) espousing cynical and fake concern for the plight of the poor and hungry.

GMO patented seeds represent the final stranglehold of transnational agribusiness over the control of agriculture and food. The misrepresentation of the plight of the indigenous edible oils sector in India encapsulates the duplicity at work surrounding the GM project.

After trade rules and cheap imports conspired to destroy farmers and the jobs of people involved in local food processing activities for the benefit of global agribusiness, including commodity trading and food processor companies ADM and Cargill, there is now a campaign to force GM into India on the basis that Indian agriculture is unproductive and thus the country has to rely on imports. This conveniently ignores the fact that prior to neoliberal trade rules in the mid-1990s, India was almost self-sufficient in edible oils.

In collusion with the Gates Foundation, corporate interests are also seeking to secure full spectrum dominance throughout much of Africa as well. Western seed, fertiliser and pesticide manufacturers and dealers and food processing companies are in the process of securing changes to legislation and are building up logistics and infrastructure to allow them to recast food and farming in their own images.

Today, governments continue to collude with big agribusiness corporations. These companies are being allowed to shape government policy by being granted a strategic role in trade negotiations and are increasingly framing the policy/knowledge agenda by funding and determining the nature of research carried out in public universities and institutes.

As Bhaskar Save wrote about India:

This country has more than 150 agricultural universities. But every year, each churns out several hundred ‘educated’ unemployables, trained only in misguiding farmers and spreading ecological degradation. In all the six years a student spends for an M.Sc. in agriculture, the only goal is short-term – and narrowly perceived – ‘productivity’. For this, the farmer is urged to do and buy a hundred things. But not a thought is spared to what a farmer must never do so that the land remains unharmed for future generations and other creatures. It is time our people and government wake up to the realisation that this industry-driven way of farming – promoted by our institutions – is inherently criminal and suicidal!

Save is referring to the 300,000-plus farmer suicides that have taken place in India over the past two decades due to economic distress resulting from debt, a shift to (GM)cash crops and economic ‘liberalisation’ (see this report about a peer-reviewed study, which directly links suicides to GM cotton).

The current global system of chemical-industrial agriculture, World Trade Organisation rules and bilateral trade agreements that agritech companies helped draw up are a major cause of food insecurity and environmental destruction. The system is not set up to ‘feed the world’ despite the proclamations of its supporters.

However, this model has become central to the dominant notion of ‘development’ in the Global South: unnecessary urbanisation, the commercialisation and emptying out of the countryside at the behest of the World Bank, the displacement of existing systems of food and agricultural production with one dominated by Monsanto-Bayer, Cargill and the like and a one-dimensional pursuit of GDP growth as a measure of ‘progress’ with little concern for the costs and implications – mirroring the narrow, reductionist ‘output-yield’ paradigm of industrial agriculture itself.

Agroecology offers a genuine solution

Across the world, we are seeing farmers and communities pushing back and resisting the corporate takeover of seeds, soils, land, water and food. And we are also witnessing inspiring stories about the successes of agroecology.

Reflecting what Bhaskar Save achieved on his farm in Gujarat, agroecology combines sound ecological management, including minimising the use of toxic inputs, by using on-farm renewable resources and privileging natural solutions to manage pests and disease, with an approach that upholds and secures farmers’ livelihoods.

Agroecology is based on scientific research grounded in the natural sciences but marries this with farmer-generated knowledge and grassroots participation that challenges top-down approaches to research and policy making. However, it can also involve moving beyond the dynamics of the farm itself to become part of a wider agenda, which addresses the broader political and economic issues that impact farmers and agriculture (see this description of the various modes of thought that underpin agroecolgy).

Jodi Koberisnki’s nod to ‘systems thinking’ lends credence to agroecology, which recognises the potential of agriculture to properly address concerns about local food security and sovereignty as well as social, ecological and health issues. In this respect, agroecology is a refreshing point of departure from the reductionist approach to farming which emphasises securing maximum yield and corporate profit to the detriment of all else.

Wei Zhang – an economist focusing on ecosystem services, agriculture and the environment – says:

that ‘worldview’ is important to how you conceptualise issues and develop or choose tools to address those issues. Using systems thinking requires a shift in fundamental beliefs and assumptions that constitute our worldviews. These are the intellectual and moral foundations for the way we view and interpret reality, as well as our beliefs about the nature of knowledge and the processes of knowing. Systems thinking can help by changing the dominant mindset and by addressing resistance to more integrated approaches.

Agroecology requires that shift in fundamental beliefs.

A few years ago, the Oakland Institute released a report on 33 case studies which highlighted the success of agroecological agriculture across Africa in the face of climate change, hunger and poverty. The studies provide facts and figures on how agricultural transformation can yield immense economic, social, and food security benefits while ensuring climate justice and restoring soils and the environment.

The research highlights the multiple benefits of agroecology, including affordable and sustainable ways to boost agricultural yields while increasing farmers’ incomes, food security and crop resilience.

The report described how agroecology uses a wide variety of techniques and practices, including plant diversification, intercropping, the application of mulch, manure or compost for soil fertility, the natural management of pests and diseases, agroforestry and the construction of water management structures.

There are many other examples of successful agroecology and of farmers abandoning Green Revolution thought and practices to embrace it (see this report about El Salvador and this interview from South India).

In a recent interview appearing on the Farming Matters website, Million Belay sheds light on how agroecological agriculture is the best model of agriculture for Africa. Belay explains that one of the greatest agroecological initiatives started in 1995 in Tigray, Northern Ethiopia, and continues today. It began with four villages and after good results, it was scaled up to 83 villages and finally to the whole Tigray Region. It was recommended to the Ministry of Agriculture to be scaled up at the national level. The project has now expanded to six regions of Ethiopia.

The fact that it was supported with research by the Ethiopian University at Mekele has proved to be critical in convincing decision makers that these practices work and are better for both the farmers and the land.

Bellay describes another agroecological practice that spread widely across East Africa – ‘push-pull’. This method manages pests through selective intercropping with important fodder species and wild grass relatives, in which pests are simultaneously repelled – or pushed – from the system by one or more plants and are attracted to – or pulled – toward ‘decoy’ plants, thereby protecting the crop from infestation. Push-pull has proved to be very effective at biologically controlling pest populations in fields, reducing significantly the need for pesticides, increasing production, especially for maize, increasing income to farmers, increasing fodder for animals and, due to that, increasing milk production, and improving soil fertility.

By 2015, the number of farmers using this practice increased to 95,000. One of the bedrocks of success is the incorporation of cutting edge science through the collaboration of the International Center of Insect Physiology and Ecology (ICIPE) and the Rothamsted Research Station (UK) who have worked in East Africa for the last 15 years on an effective ecologically-based pest management solution for stem borers and striga.

But agroecology should not just be regarded as something for the Global South. Food First Executive Director Eric Holtz-Gimenez argues that it offers concrete, practical solutions to many of the world’s problems that move beyond (but which are linked to) agriculture. In doing so, it challenges – and offers alternatives to – prevailing moribund doctrinaire economics and the outright plunder of neoliberalism.

The scaling up of agroecology can tackle hunger, malnutrition, environmental degradation and climate change. By creating securely paid labour-intensive agricultural work, it can also address the interrelated links between labour offshoring by rich countries and the removal of rural populations elsewhere who end up in sweat shops to carry out the outsourced jobs.

Thick legitimacy

Various official reports have argued that to feed the hungry and secure food security in low income regions we need to support small farms and diverse, sustainable agroecological methods of farming and strengthen local food economies (see this report on the right to food and this (IAASTD) peer-reviewed report).

Olivier De Schutter says:

To feed 9 billion people in 2050, we urgently need to adopt the most efficient farming techniques available. Today’s scientific evidence demonstrates that agroecological methods outperform the use of chemical fertilizers in boosting food production where the hungry live, especially in unfavorable environments.

De Schutter indicates that small-scale farmers can double food production within 10 years in critical regions by using ecological methods. Based on an extensive review of scientific literature, the study he was involved in calls for a fundamental shift towards agroecology as a way to boost food production and improve the situation of the poorest. The report calls on states to implement a fundamental shift towards agroecology.

The success stories of agroecology indicate what can be achieved when development is placed firmly in the hands of farmers themselves. The expansion of agroecological practices can generate a rapid, fair and inclusive development that can be sustained for future generations. This model entails policies and activities that come from the bottom-up and which the state can then invest in and facilitate.

A decentralised system of food production with access to local markets supported by proper roads, storage and other infrastructure must take priority ahead of exploitative international markets dominated and designed to serve the needs of global capital.

It has long been established that small farms are per area more productive than large-scale industrial farms and create a more resilient, diverse food system. If policy makers were to prioritise this sector and promote agroecology to the extent Green Revolution practices and technology have been pushed, many of the problems surrounding poverty, unemployment and urban migration could be solved.

However, the biggest challenge for upscaling agroecology lies in the push by big business for commercial agriculture and attempts to marginalise agroecology. Unfortunately, global agribusiness concerns have secured the status of ‘thick legitimacy’ based on an intricate web of processes successfully spun in the scientific, policy and political arenas. This allows its model to persist and appear normal and necessary. This perceived legitimacy derives from the lobbying, financial clout and political power of agribusiness conglomerates which set out to capture or shape government departments, public institutions, the agricultural research paradigm, international trade and the cultural narrative concerning food and agriculture.

Critics of this system are immediately attacked for being anti-science, for forwarding unrealistic alternatives, for endangering the lives of billions who would starve to death and for being driven by ideology and emotion. Strategically placed industry mouthpieces like Jon Entine, Owen Paterson and Henry Miller perpetuate such messages in the media and influential industry-backed bodies like the Science Media Centre feed journalists with agribusiness spin.

When some people hurl such accusations, it might not just simply be spin: it may be the case that some actually believe critics are guilty of such things. If that is so, it is a result of their failure to think along the lines Zhang outlines: they are limited by their own reductionist logic and worldview.

The worrying thing is that too many policy makers may also be blinded by such a view because so many governments are working hand-in-glove with the industry to promote its technology over the heads of the public. A network of scientific bodies and regulatory agencies that supposedly serve the public interest have been subverted by the presence of key figures with industry links, while the powerful industry lobby hold sway over bureaucrats and politicians.

The World Bank is pushing a corporate-led industrial model of agriculture via its ‘enabling the business of agriculture’ strategy and corporations are given free rein to write policies. Monsanto played a key part in drafting the WTO Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights to create seed monopolies and the global food processing industry had a leading role in shaping the WTO Agreement on the Application of Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures (see this). From Codex, the Knowledge Initiative on Agriculture aimed at restructuring Indian agriculture to the currently on-hold US-EU trade deal (TTIP), the powerful agribusiness lobby has secured privileged access to policy makers to ensure its model of agriculture prevails.

The ultimate coup d’etat by the transnational agribusiness conglomerates is that government officials, scientists and journalists take as given that profit-driven Fortune 500 corporations have a legitimate claim to be custodians of natural assets. These corporations have convinced so many that they have the ultimate legitimacy to own and control what is essentially humanity’s common wealth. There is the premise that water, food, soil, land and agriculture should be handed over to powerful transnational corporations to milk for profit, under the pretence these entities are somehow serving the needs of humanity.

Corporations which promote industrial agriculture have embedded themselves deeply within the policy-making machinery on both national and international levels. From the overall narrative that industrial agriculture is necessary to feed the world to providing lavish research grants and the capture of important policy-making institutions, global agribusiness has secured a perceived thick legitimacy within policymakers’ mindsets and mainstream discourse.

It gets to the point whereby if you – as a key figure in a public body – believe that your institution and society’s main institutions and the influence of corporations on them are basically sound, then you are probably not going to challenge or question the overall status quo. Once you have indicated an allegiance to these institutions and corporate power, it is ‘irrational’ to oppose their policies, the very ones you are there to promote. And it becomes quite ‘natural’ to oppose any research findings, analyses or questions which question the system and by implication your role in it.

But how long can the ‘legitimacy’ of a system persist given that it merely produces bad food, creates food deficit regions globally,  destroys health, impoverishes small farms, leads to less diverse diets and less nutritious food, is less productive than small farms, creates water scarcity, destroys soil and fuels/benefits from World Bank/WTO policies that create dependency and debt.

The more that agroecology is seen to work, the more policy makers see the failings of the current system and the more they become open to holistic approaches to agriculture – as practitioners and supporters of agroecology create their own thick legitimacy –  the more willing officials might be to give space to a model that has great potential to help deal with some of the world’s most pressing problems. It has happened to a certain extent in Ethiopia, for example. That is hopeful.

Of course, global agribusiness nor the system of capitalism it helps to uphold and benefits from are not going to disappear overnight and politicians (even governments) who oppose or challenge private capital tend to be replaced or subverted.

Powerful agribusiness corporations can only operate as they do because of a framework designed to allow them to capture governments and regulatory bodies, to use the WTO and bilateral trade deals to lever global influence, to profit on the back of US militarism (Iraq) and destabilisations (Ukraine), to exert undue influence over science and politics and to rake in enormous profits.

The World Bank’s ongoing commitment to global agribusiness and a wholly corrupt and rigged model of globalisation is a further recipe for plunder. Whether it involves Monsanto, Cargill or the type of corporate power grab of African agriculture that Bill Gates is helping to spearhead, private capital will continue to ensure this happens while hiding behind platitudes about ‘free trade’ and ‘development’.

Brazil and Indonesia are subsidising private corporations to effectively destroy the environment through their practices.  Canada and the UK are working with the GMO biotech sector to facilitate its needs. And India is facilitating the destruction of its agrarian base according to World Bank directives for the benefit of the likes of Monsanto, Bayer and Cargill.

If myths about the necessity for perpetuating the stranglehold of capitalism go unchallenged and real alternatives are not supported by mass movements across continents, agroecology will remain on the periphery.

The Empire Strikes Back Leaving Indian Farmers in the Dirt

By 2050, if current policies continue, India could have numerous mega-cities with up to 30-40 million inhabitants and just two to three hundred million people (perhaps 15-20% of the population) left in an emptied-out countryside. Given current trends in the job market, it could mean tens of millions of city-based rural migrants without much work: victims of the ill thought out policies we currently see being pushed through.

In the book The Invention of Capitalism Michael Perelmen lays bare the iron fist which whipped the English peasantry into a workforce willing to accept factory wage labour. English peasants didn’t want to give up their rural communal lifestyle, leave their land and go work for below-subsistence wages in dangerous factories being set up by a new class of industrial capitalists. A series of laws and measures served to force peasants off the land and deprive them of their productive means.

In India, what we are currently witnessing is a headlong rush to facilitate (foreign) capital and the running down of the existing system of agriculture. While India’s farmers suffer as the sector is deliberately being made financially non-viable for them, we see state-of-the-art airports, IT parks and highways being built to allow the corporate world to spread its tentacles everywhere to the point that every aspect of culture, infrastructure and economic activity is commodified for corporate profit.

GDP growth – the holy grail of ‘development’ which stems from an outmoded thinking and has done so much damage to the environment – has been fuelled on the back of cheap food and the subsequent impoverishment of farmers. The gap between their income and the rest of the population, including public sector workers, has widened enormously to the point where rural India consumes less calories than it did 40 years ago. Meanwhile, corporations receive massive handouts and interest-free loans but have failed to spur job creation; yet any proposed financial injections (or loan waivers) for agriculture (which would pale into insignificance compared to corporate subsidies/written off loans) are depicted as a drain on the economy.

Let them eat dirt

Although farmers continue to produce bumper harvests, they are being put out of business by underinvestment, the lack of a secure income and support prices, exposure to artificially cheap imports, neoliberal reforms, profiteering companies which supply seeds and proprietary inputs and the overall impacts of the corporate-backed Indo-US Knowledge Initiative on Agriculture.

For all the talk of ‘helping’ farmers, the plan is to displace the existing system of livelihood-sustaining smallholder agriculture with one dominated from seed to plate by transnational agribusiness and retail concerns. To facilitate this, independent cultivators are being bankrupted, land is to be amalgamated to facilitate large-scale industrial cultivation and those farmers that are left will be absorbed into corporate supply chains and squeezed as they work on contracts, the terms of which will be dictated by large agribusiness and chain retailers.

Some like to call this adopting a market-based approach: a system in the ‘market-driven’ US that receives a taxpayer five-year farm bill subsidy of around $500 billion.

This is clearly a con-trick and not the way forward:

If government can be convinced or forced by the power of the global grassroots to reduce and eventually cut off these $500 billion in annual subsidies to industrial agriculture and Big Food, and instead encourage and reward family farmers and ranchers who improve soil health, biodiversity, animal health and food quality, we can simultaneously reduce global poverty, improve public health, and restore climate stability.

Ronnie Cummins, director of the Organic Consumers Association

Well over 300,000 Indian farmers have taken their lives since 1997 and millions more are experiencing economic distress. Over 6,000 are leaving the sector each day. And yet the corporate-controlled type of agriculture being imposed and/or envisaged only leads to degraded soil, less diverse and nutrient-deficient diets, polluted water, water shortages and poor health.

Although various high-level reports (as I outlined previously) have concluded that policies need to support more resilient, diverse, sustainable (smallholder) agroecological methods of farming and develop decentralised, locally-based food economies, the trend continues to move in the opposite direction towards industrial-scale agriculture and centralised chains for the benefit of Monsanto, Cargill, Bayer and other transnational players.

The plan is to shift hundreds of millions from the countryside and into the cities to serve as a cheap army of labour for offshored foreign companies, mirroring what China has become: a US colonial outpost for manufacturing that has boosted corporate profits at the expense of US jobs. In India, rural migrants are to become the new ‘serfs’ of the informal services and construction sectors or to be trained for low-level industrial jobs.

Even here, however, India might have missed the boat as jobless ‘growth’ seems to be on the horizon and the effects of automation and artificial intelligence are eradicating the need for human labour across many sectors.

If we look at the various western powers, to whom many of India’s top politicians look to for inspiration, their paths to economic prosperity occurred on the back of colonialism and imperialist intent. Do India’s politicians think this mindset has disappeared? The same mentality now lurks behind the neoliberal globalisation agenda hidden behind terms and policies like ‘foreign direct investment’, ‘ease of doing business’, making India ‘business friendly’ or ‘enabling the business of agriculture’.

Behind the World Bank/corporate-inspired rhetoric that is driving the overhaul of Indian agriculture is a brand of corporate imperialism which is turning out to be no less brutal for Indian farmers than early industrial capitalism was in England for its peasantry. The East India company might have gone, but today the bidding of elite interests (private capital) is being carried out by compliant politicians, the World Bank, the WTO and lop-sided, egregious back-room trade deals.

And all for a future of what – vast swathes of chemically-drenched monocrop fields containing genetically modified plants or soils rapidly turning into a chemical cocktail of proprietary biocides, dirt and dust?

Thanks to the model of agriculture being supported and advocated, India will edge nearer to having more drought vulnerable  regions, even more degraded soils (which is already a major problem) as well as spiralling rates of illness throughout the population due to bad diets, denutrified food, agrochemical poisoning and processed food laced with toxic ingredients.

Monsanto-Bayer, Cargill and other transnational corporations will decide on what is to be eaten and how it is to be produced and processed. A corporate takeover spearheaded by companies whose character is clear for all to see:

The Indo-US Knowledge Initiative in Agriculture with agribusinesses like Monsanto, WalMart, Archer Daniels Midland, Cargill and ITC in its Board made efforts to turn the direction of agricultural research and policy in such a manner as to cater their demands for profit maximisation. Companies like Monsanto during the Vietnam War produced tonnes and tonnes of ‘Agent Orange’ unmindful of its consequences for Vietnamese people as it raked in super profits and that character remains.

Communist Party of India (Marxist)

Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership

The Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) could accelerate this process. A trade deal now being negotiated by 16 countries across Asia-Pacific, the RCEP would cover half the world’s population, including 420 million small family farms that produce 80 percent of the region’s food.

RCEP is expected to create powerful rights and lucrative business opportunities for food and agriculture corporations under the guise of boosting trade and investment. It could allow foreign corporations to buy up land, thereby driving up land prices, fuelling speculation and pushing small farmers out. If RCEP is adopted, it could intensify the great land grab that has been taking place in India. It could also lead to further corporate control over seeds.

The dairy trade could be opened up to unfair competition from subsidised imports under RCEP. According to RS Sodhi, managing director of the country’s largest milk cooperative, Gujarat Co-operative Milk Marketing Federation, the type of deals being pushed under the banner of ‘free trade’ will rob the vibrant domestic dairy industry and the millions of farmers that are connected to it from access to a growing market in India.

India’s dairy sector is mostly self-sufficient and employs about 100 million people, the majority of whom are women. The sector is a lifeline for small and marginal farmers, landless poor and a significant source of income for millions of families. Up until now they have been the backbone of India’s dairy sector. New Zealand’s dairy giant Fonterra (the world’s biggest dairy exporter) is looking to RCEP as a way in to India’s massive dairy market. RCEP would give the company important leverage to open up India’s protected market. Many fear that Indian dairy farmers will either have to work for Fonterra or go out of business.

In effect, RCEP would dovetail with existing trends that are facilitating the growth of chemical-intensive farming and corporate-controlled supply chains, whereby farmers can easily become enslaved or small farmers simply get by-passed by powerful corporations demanding industrial-scale production.

RCEP also demands the liberalisation of the retail sector and is attempting to facilitate the entry of foreign agroprocessing and retail giants, which could threaten the livelihoods of small retailers and street vendors. The entry of retail giants would be bad for farmers because they may eventually monopolise the whole food chain from procurement to distribution. In effect, farmers will be at the mercy of such large companies as they will have the power to set prices and will not be interested in buying small quantities from small producers.

Corporate concentration will deprive hundreds of millions of their livelihoods. RCEP is a recipe for undermining biodiverse food production, food sovereignty and food security for the mass of the population. It will also massive job losses in a country like India, which has no capacity for absorbing such losses into its workforce.

Current policies seek to tie agriculture to an environmentally destructive, moribund system of capitalism. RCEP would represent a further shift away from real, practical solutions to India’s agrarian crisis based on sustainable agriculture and which place the small farmer at the centre of the development paradigm. Once you begin to consolidate land, displace the small-scale farm and amalgamate land into larger parcels for industrial-scale agriculture, you implement a more inefficient model of agriculture and undermine food security.

In a future India, people might eventually ask, why did India let this happen when far-sighted and sustained policy initiatives based on self-sufficiency, food sovereignty, smallholder-based regenerative agriculture and agroecology could have been implemented?

They might also ask why was the countryside emptied out and more effort not put into developing rural infrastructure and investing in village-based industries and smallholder farmers?

And not least of all, they might ask why did policy makers buy into neoliberal dogma, the only role of which is to seek to justify a corporate takeover?

Ultimately, it is a case of asking does India want – does any country want – industrial-scale agriculture and all it entails: denutrified food, increasingly monolithic diets, the massive use of agrochemicals, food contaminated by hormones, steroids, antibiotics and a range of chemical additives, spiralling rates of ill health, degraded soil, contaminated and depleted water supplies and a cartel of seed, chemical and food processing companies that seek to secure control over the global food production and supply chain to provide people with low-grade but highly profitable food products.

Solutions to India’s agrarian crisis (and indeed the world’s) are available, not least the scaling up of agroecological approaches which would be a lynchpin of rural development. However, in India (as elsewhere) successive administrations have bowed to and continue to acquiesce to grip of global capitalism and have demonstrated an unflinching allegiance to corporate power. It is unlikely that either the Congress or BJP, wedded as they are to neoliberalism, will ever undertake initiatives for seriously developing agroecological alternatives:

But even if for argument’s sake… the present governance structure were to embrace agroecological alternatives, the problem of extreme inequality that results from the structural logic of capitalism… would require mitigation. Without tempering the ravages of the market, hunger will continue, as will the disempowerment of small producers. Indeed, an agroecological alternative would simply be co-opted by capitalist relations of production and distribution, with community-based initiatives becoming mere decentralised production points within a supply-chain logic that centralises power and profits in the hands of seed corporations.

Milind Wani

Trump is Alienating Europe: This Is a Good Thing

Thesis: the main achievement of the Trump administration to date has been to alienate European allies, in particular Germany, France and Britain, thus weakening the Atlantic Alliance. Originally concerned by candidate Trump’s questioning of NATO’s continuing relevance, they have been satisfied by Trump’s re-commitment to the alliance (even as he moans about the member countries’ general failure to shell out the 2% for “defense” the pact theoretically entails). But they’ve been dismayed by the U.S.’s withdrawal from the Paris Accord on climate, its pullout from the Iran nuclear deal (threatening sanctions on European companies that in accordance with the deal want to trade with Iran), its abandonment of coordinated policy on Israel, its imposition of tariffs on European steel and aluminum, and its general barking tone.

These days Angela Merkel is feeling more in common with Vladimir Putin than Donald Trump. Putin speaks to her in fluent German, treats her with respect, and is generally predictable, unlike the erratic Trump.

He tells her: let’s make more energy deals for mutual benefit, whatever the Americans think. And please don’t support the expansion of NATO; enough already. We are a formidable power, but our military budget is tiny compared to NATO’s and we are not about—and have no reason to—invade you. We just don’t want your military alliance to completely encircle us. We understand that, as a U.S. ally, you had to echo Washington’s condemnation of our annexation of Crimea and apply sanctions to us. But you know as well as I do that if Ukraine had been brought into NATO as the U.S. planned after the 2014 coup, our Crimea naval bases would have been transferred to NATO and we could never accept that. If you make the lifting of sanctions contingent on Russian withdrawal from Crimea, sorry, we will just have to accept them while applying counter-sanctions. Let us work together on the issues that unite us, like combating climate change and implementing the Iran agreement and protecting these agreements against U.S. obstruction.

This is potentially a key moment in which finally the unholy alliance based on a Faustian bargain between the U.S. and European anticommunists in the late 1940s fractures. What is the greater threat to Europe? The Russian state, which has gone through the agonizing process of full-scale capitalist restoration and a period of total chaos in the 1990s giving way to recovery under Putin, and which currently spends about 14% of what the U.S. devotes to military expenses every year? Or the U.S., which (still) wants to dictate European policy, even as its GDP dips relative to Europe’s? The EU GDP is now 90% of the U.S.’s.

Putin told Emmanuel Macron at the recent St. Petersburg economic conference: “Europe depends on U.S. in the realm of security. But you don’t need to worry about that; we’ll help. We’ll provide security.” I don’t think it was a joke.

Imagine a Europe not dominated by German banks deeply invested in support for U.S. imperialism using EU architecture to hold nations hostage to imposed austerity programs. Imagine a Europe of independent countries seeking rational equidistance between Washington and Moscow.

Putin has envisioned a free trade union including the EU extending from Vladivostok to Lisbon. It would be facilitated by China’s “new Silk Road” infrastructure projects, which may indeed unite Eurasia as never before, even as the U.S. recedes into the Grey Havens.

Russia will keep Crimea, as it has for most of the last three centuries; Ukraine will have to accord autonomy to the Russian-speaking Donbas region; Europe will lift its Russia sanctions gradually, because they are not in Europe’s interest (and punish Europe for the U.S.’s sake); contempt for the U.S. will mount so long as Trump is president, and could even deepen if he’s succeeded by Pence. The EU will continue to split on issues of immigration, austerity, Russian ties and other issues and the splits will deepen. The understaffed and clueless State Department will continue to urge trans-Atlantic unity. But having violated that unity repeatedly the U.S. has no moral authority to demand its continuation.

Meanwhile Putin plans a meeting with Japan’s Abe Shinzo to resolve the Northern Islands question. Probably a swap of islands, Russia returning two to Japanese sovereignty. This would end the formal state of war between the two countries and pave the way to huge Japanese investments in Russia. And given the U.S. withdrawal from the Trans-Pacific Partnership Japan will likely be drawn more into the Shanghai Cooperation Organization dominated by China and Russia.

India under Modi is basking in a period of U.S.-Indian friendship. Having (without clear explanation) forgiven India for its robust nuclear weapons program the U.S. seeks more cooperation with India versus China. But the U.S. alienates New Delhi over Iran sanctions. India buys Iranian oil and will continue to do so.

Xi Jinping in China enjoys a good relationship with Trump, having cleverly flattered him and Ivanka. But he is not pleased with Trump’s trade war threats and challenge to Chinese construction on the South China Sea atolls. The Chinese economy grows by leaps and bounds, and China’s military strengthens inevitably. China is the main rival to the U.S. geopolitically, and it is strategically aligned not only with Russia but with Central Asian countries, former Soviet republics, in general.

The U.S. could at least once boast of hegemony over Latin America, where military dictatorships once comfortably secured U.S. interests. Now these are gone.  Latin America in general militates in different ways against U.S. imperialism. The spectacle of a U.S. president demanding the construction of a wall to keep out Mexican illegal immigrants and demanding that Mexico pay for it appears to hundreds of millions of people as a perverse, sadistic move. Reports of kids separated at the border from their parents and disappearing in their hundreds doesn’t help.

The U.S. is alienating Canada, for god’s sake, by steel tariffs. Good good good good good. Let’s break the whole thing, Donald!

The emergence of a multilateral world—in which the U.S. cannot oblige its allies (as it did in the case of the Iraq War) to embrace its own lies, and share in the ramifications of their acceptance—is on the horizon. The world sees a moron in the White House, handles him carefully, its leaders probably trading notes on his disturbing and unstable personality. Leaders assess the U.S. as a declining power with a horrifying arsenal and more horrifying willingness to invade countries for no good reason but diminishing geopolitical clout. The flurry of exchanges between European and Iranian leaders after the U.S. announcement on the Iran deal and stated determination of the Europeans to beat U.S. secondary sanctions, and strong EU statements of indignation at the US. decision, may signal a sea-change in relations.

European Council President Donald Tusk (a former Polish prime minister) last week criticized “the capricious assertiveness of the American administration” over issues including Iran, Gaza, trade tariffs and North Korea. adding: “Looking at the latest decisions of Donald Trump, someone could even think: With friends like that, who needs enemies? But, frankly speaking, Europe should be grateful by President Trump. Because, thanks to him, we got rid of all the illusions. He has made us realize that if you need a helping hand, you will find one at the end of your arm.”

You realize what this means?

These are significant words, under-reported by the U.S. media, that appears to simply assume the continuation of the existing U.S. hegemonic order in the world, is addicted to the cult of promoting military “service” as a good in itself, and—while wanting to bring down Trump for various reasons—cannot challenge capitalism and imperialism or make astute analyses of present conditions because they are paid by corporations that have vested interests in promoting the CNN and NYT concept of reality. The fact is, the post-war U.S.-dominated world is collapsing, as it should. As empires do.

The fact that this collapse is aided by a colorful idiot in the White House merely adds dramatic appeal to the historical narrative. He will grandiloquently preside over some sort of Korean agreement to satisfy his ego, then perhaps attack Iran with zero European backing but frenzied Israeli and Saudi support, inaugurating a major if not world war. This would not further endear this country to the planet in general.

Diagnosing the West with Sadistic Personality Disorder (SPD)

Western culture is clearly obsessed with rules, guilt, submissiveness and punishment.

By now it is clear that the West is the least free society on Earth. In North America and Europe, almost everyone is under constant scrutiny: people are spied on, observed, their personal information is being continually extracted, and the surveillance cameras are used indiscriminately.

Life is synchronized and managed. There are hardly any surprises.

One can sleep with whomever he or she wishes (as long as it is done within the ‘allowed protocol’). Homosexuality and bisexuality are allowed. But that is about all; that is how far ‘freedom’ usually stretches.

Rebellion is not only discouraged, it is fought against, brutally. For the tiniest misdemeanors or errors, people end up behind bars. As a result, the U.S. has more prisoners per capita than any other country on Earth, except the Seychelles.

And as a further result, almost all conversations, but especially public discourses, are now being controlled by so-called ‘political correctness’ and its variants.

But back to the culture of fear and punishment.

Look at the headlines of the Western newspapers. For example, The New York Times from April 12. 2018: “Punishment of Syria may be harsher this time”.

We are so used to such perverse language used by the Empire that it hardly strikes us as twisted, bizarre, pathological.

It stinks of some sadomasochistic cartoon, or of a stereotypical image of an atrocious English teacher holding a ruler over a pupil’s extended hands, shouting, “Shall I?”

Carl Gustav Jung described Western culture, on several occasions, as a “pathology”. He did it particularly after WWII, but he mentioned that the West had been committing terrible crimes in all parts of the world, for centuries. That is most likely why the Western mainstream psychiatrists and psychologists have been glorifying the ego-centric and generally apolitical Sigmund Freud, while ignoring, even defaming, Carl Gustav Jung.

Poster of human zoo at Military Museum in Paris (Photo: Andre Vltchek)

The extreme form of sadism is a medical condition; it is an illness. And the West has been clearly demonstrating disturbing and dangerous behavioral patterns for many centuries.

Let’s look at the definition of sadism, or professionally, Sadistic Personality Disorder (SPD), which both the United States and Europe could easily be diagnosed with.

This is an excerpt of a common definition of the SPD, which appears in Medigoo.com and on many other on-line sites:

…The sadistic personality disorder is characterized by a pattern of gratuitous cruelty, aggression, and demeaning behaviors which indicate the existence of deep-seated contempt for other people and an utter lack of empathy. Some sadists are “utilitarian”: they leverage their explosive violence to establish a position of unchallenged dominance within a relationship…

It is familiar, isn’t it? The Empire’s behavior towards Indochina, China, Indonesia, Africa, Latin America, Russia, the Middle East and other parts of the world.

US sponsored coup in Chile on 9-11-1973 (Photo: Andre Vltchek)

What about the symptoms?

…Sadistic individuals have poor behavioral controls, manifested by a short temper, irritability, low frustration tolerance, and a controlling nature. From an interpersonal standpoint, they are noted to be harsh, hostile, manipulative, lacking in empathy, cold-hearted, and abrasive to those they deem to be their inferiors. Their cognitive nature is considered rigid and prone to social intolerance, and they are fascinated by weapons, war, and infamous crimes or perpetrators of atrocities. Sadists classically are believed to seek social positions that enable them to exercise their need to control others and dole out harsh punishment or humiliation…

Just translate “sadistic individuals” to “sadistic states”, or “sadistic culture”.

Is there any cure? Can a sadist be effectively and successfully treated?

Treating a sadistic personality disorder takes a long time…

And many sites and publications carry a clear disclaimer:

The above information is for processing purpose. The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency…

And humanity is right now clearly at the crossroads, facing annihilation, not only a ‘medical emergency’. The world may soon have to literally fight for its survival. It is because of the SPD of the West and its Empire.

*****

So, what is in store for us now; for instance, for Syria?

What will the sadistic psychopath do to a country that refused to kneel, to prostitute itself, to beg for mercy, to sacrifice its people?

How horrible will the “punishment” be?

We have just witnessed 103 missiles being fired towards Damascus and Homs. But that is only what the Empire did to entertain its masses. It has been doing much more evil and cruel things to the nation which constantly refuses to glorify the Western imperialist and its neocon dogmas. For instance, the Empire’s ‘professionals’ have been manufacturing, training and arming the most atrocious terrorist groups and injecting them into the body of Syria.

The torture will, of course, continue. It clearly appears that this time the script will be based on some latter adaptation of the Marquise de Sade’s work, on his novel Juliette, not Justine. You see, in Justine, women were ‘only’ tied up, slapped and raped. In Juliette, they were cut to pieces, alive; they were burned and mutilated.

While Justine can still be read, no normal human being could go through the 700 pages of pure gore that is Juliette.

But our planet has somehow got used to the horrors that have been administered by the sick Western Empire.

People watch occurrences in places like Afghanistan, Syria, Iraq or Libya as ‘news’, not as the medical record of a severely ill psychiatric patient.

The most terrible ‘novel’ in the history of our Planet has been written, for centuries, by the appalling brutality and sadism of first Europe and then by its younger co-author – the United States.

And the human beings in many parts of our Planet have gotten so used to the carnage which surrounds them that they do not throw up anymore; they do not feel horrified, do not revolt against their fate. They just watch, as one country after another falls; is violated publicly, gets ravaged.

The mental illness of the perpetrator is undeniable. And it is contagious.

Names of, and photos of, murdered Chilean people by pro-US military junta (Photo: Andre Vltchek)

In turn, the extreme violence that has been engulfing the world has triggered various neuroses and mental conditions (masochism, extreme forms of submission, to name just two of many) among the victims.

*****

Exposure to the constant and extreme violence ‘prescribed’ and administered by the West, has left most of the world in a neurotic lethargy.

Like a woman locked in a marriage with a brutal religious fanatic husband in some oppressive society, the world has eventually stopped resisting against the Western dictates and tyranny, and ‘accepted its fate’.

Many parts of the planet have developed ‘Stockholm Syndrome’: after being kidnapped, imprisoned, tormented, raped and humiliated, the victims have ‘fallen in love’ with their tyrant, adopting his worldview, while serving him full-heartedly and obediently.

This arrangement, of course, has nothing to do with the healthy or natural state of things!

Poster of Human Zoo at Military Museum, Paris (Photo: Andre Vltchek)

In Africa, Latin America, the Middle East and Asia, bizarre things are happening! People from those nations that have been robbed and devastated for centuries by the European and North American despots, have been flying happily and proudly to Paris, Berlin, London, Madrid, New York and other Western cities, in order to ‘learn’, to ‘study’ how to govern their own countries. There is usually no shame, and no stigma attached to such obvious intellectual prostitution.

Many victims are still dreaming about becoming like their victimizers, or even more so.

Many former and modern-day colonies of the West are listening, with straight faces, to the Europeans preaching to them (for a fee) about ‘good governance’, an ‘anti-corruption drive’ and ‘democracy’.

The media outlets of non-Western nations are taking news reports directly from Western press agencies. Even local political events are explained by those ‘wise’ and ‘superior’ Europeans and North Americans, not by the local thinkers. Locals are hardly ever trusted – only white faces with polished English, French or German accents are taken seriously.

Perverse? Is it perverse? Of course, it is! Many servile intellectuals from the ‘client’ states, when confronted, admit how sick the continuous global dictatorship is. Then they leave the table and continue to do what they have been doing for years and decades; the oldest profession in short.

Freedom Equality Brotherhood. For French maybe but not for colonized Vietnamese (Photo: Andre Vltchek)

Such a situation is truly insane. Or at least it is extremely paradoxical, bizarre, absurd. Even a mental clinic appears to make more sense than our beloved planet Earth.

However, clinical psychiatrists and psychologists are very rarely involved in analyzing the neuroses and psychological illnesses of the brutalized and colonized planet. They hardly ever ‘analyze’ the perpetrators, let alone expose them for what they really are.

Most of psychologists and psychiatrists are busy digging gold: encouraging human egotism, or even serving big corporations that are trying to ‘understand their employees better’, in order to control and to exploit them more effectively. Other ‘doctors’ go so far as to directly serve the Empire, helping to oppress and to ‘pacify’ the billions living in the colonies and new colonies of the West.

In 2015, I was invited as one of the speakers to the 14th International Symposium on the Contributions of Psychology to Peace, held in Johannesburg and Pretoria, South Africa (hosted by legendary UNISA).

During that fascinating encounter of the leading global psychologists, I spoke about the impact of wars and imperialism on the human psyche, but I also listened, attentively. And I learned many shocking things. For instance, during his chilling presentation, “Human Rights and U. S. Psychologists’ Wrongs: The Undermining of Professional Ethics in an Era of ‘Enhanced Interrogation’”, Professor Michael Wessells from Columbia University, New York, spoke about U.S. psychologists and their participation in torturing political prisoners.

Instead of diagnosing the Empire with SPD and other violent and dangerous conditions, many psychologists are actually helping to torture those who are opposing this unacceptable arrangement of the world.

*****

Those who refuse to ‘learn from the West’, to fall in love with it, or at least to serve it faithfully, are being brutally punished.

Lashes are hitting exposed flesh. Entire nations are being destroyed, genocides distributed to all continents. East Timor, Afghanistan, Iraq: it never stops.

I follow the discourses of the US and especially British UN delegations, ‘discussing’ Syria and even Russia. What comes to my mind is Punjab in India. I recall those old, historic photos of Indian men being hanged by the Brits, pants down, and flogged in public.

Flogging-on-Punjabi-man-by-British-colonialist

They have been doing this kind of stuff for centuries. They like it. It clearly excites them. This is their democracy, their respect for human rights and for other cultures!

If someone refuses to take his or her pants down, they catch the person, rape him or her, then do the flogging anyway.

I also recall what my Ugandan friend used to tell me:

When the Brits came to Africa, to what is now Uganda, their army would enter our villages and first thing they’d do was to select the tallest and strongest man around. They’d then tie him up, face towards the tree. Then the British commander would rape, sodomize him in front of everybody. This was how they showed the locals who is charge.

Brits enjoying Africa

How symbolic!

How healthy is the culture that has been controlling our world for centuries!

One of the most frightening things about mental illnesses is that the patient usually does not realize that he or she is suffering from them.

It is about the time for the rest of the world to treat the West as a mental patient, not as the ‘leader of the free and democratic world’.

We have to think, to gather, to develop a strategy of how to deal with this unfortunate, in fact, terrible situation!

If we refuse to understand and to act, we may all end up in the most dangerous situation: as complacent servants of the perverse whims of a frustrated, extremely aggressive and truly dangerous SPD patient.

India’s setting up a military base in the Seychelles

Last month (January), India signed a contract with the Seychelles to install a military base on this archipelago. This was in the context of an Indian initiative, Security and Growth for All in the Region — SAGAR. Narendra Modi's government intends to deploy its army in the Indian Ocean after China installed two military bases in Djibouti and in Sri Lanka (Hambantota) and is negotiating the installation of a third with the Republic of (...)

Saber-Rattling, Nuclear Threat or an Even More Devastating War?

The World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos has come and gone, and nothing has really changed. The wonderful people of the world struck again – blowing hot air to the four corners of the world. When in reality the poor get poorer, the rich get richer, wars and conflicts are on the rise – and humanity, at least in the western world, is ever more exposed to propaganda lies and mind manipulations, of which then WEF is just one tiny, miserable example.

For instance, was anybody still listening to the bombastic nonsense coming out of Trump’s and Macron’s throat? It is a soft version of “Fire and Fury” — to confirm to the World of the Noble who is in charge, and to assure the elite that nothing, but nothing, will change in the balance of power. That’s the neoliberal Davos Club of always. And they, this elite of beautiful people, would certainly not want a ‘hard core’ nuclear war to destroy their properties and luxury yachts, castles and comfort zone.

So, rest assured, sable-rattling about nuclear Armageddon is just a smoke screen, a deviation maneuver to hide a much worse atrocity. An atrocity, or rather a set of atrocities by which the WEF crowd will most likely never be touched. Trump, for the moment, is the best salesman and mouthpiece the Deep State could muster for their ploy. He is pompous, pretentiously egocentric, and an absurd bully. His America First and Make America Great again, repeated over and over, sounds so silly, but said often enough, it takes hold and becomes the truth in people’s minds.

In Davos Trump’s speech was so simple, it was even catchy: America will always be first; and each one of you, addressing the statesmen in the crowd, he said, should do the same for your country. Then we can work together. This sounds like a complete anti-globalist declaration. The world is now to believe that globalization – which most of the universe has woken up to understand is a disaster – is over, a thing of the past. Another smoke-screen to let the corporate machine push harder to globalize the last corner of Mother Earth – suck the last juice out of the poor, the dispensable “shithole” people.

From 2008 to 2016 Obama was the ideal liar with credibility – so much so that he got the Peace Nobel Prize even before he really started his Presidency. Hectoliters of tears of hope were shed during his inauguration on the Washington Mall. His smooth and charming smile convinced everybody, his eloquent and articulate speeches swayed the world into believing that change was coming, that after the horrible Bush years, the United States wanted only the good for the people of the world. With this false image, Obama managed to leave the Presidency with seven active wars (he inherited two) to his credit – and a record of drone killings – all approved by the Commander-in-chief, Obama, himself – unimaginable. Tens of thousands of innocent people were assassinated or maimed, all extrajudicial killings. That was the Peace Man at the time.

The Donald is, indeed, of a different breed, color and style. Precisely the style needed by his masters for the next at least four years. Maybe eight. We don’t know yet. His controversial preposterous character, crying wolf along with nuclear saber-rattling over and over again, is to diverge the attention of the public at large – within the US, as well as around the globe, so that a much more sinister war can be developed, advanced and rapidly expanded.

The dark elite that pulls the strings, the would-be and wannabe hegemon, has, I honestly believe, no intention in destroying themselves, ‘their’ planet, along with their properties, their fiscal paradises, castles, yachts and casinos, yes, casinos, like the western all dominating central banks. They are the casinos of the rich. They live too well to wanting to see their feudal lives destroyed by a nuclear apocalypse.

They, the new feudals, may think it is all right to use precision nuclear weapons “light” – destined to take out specific targets, but they also know – those who direct the Red Nuclear Button (Trump’s ‘Bigger Button’) – that they don’t know what the reaction from the targeted enemies or their allies might be. Perhaps a total annihilation. Not unlikely. The deep dark elitists may survive. But what is life in bunkers and contaminated air, water and soil, perhaps for decades or centuries? “Fire and Fury” life and in real time are no good. Just screaming and yelling to scare people into submission. That’s always good.

These somber masters of the universe, they are smarter than nuclear war. They have another, a quieter war in mind, a gradual but steady destruction of the useless, expendable humanity, leaving infrastructure and their safe havens in place, increasing their living space of opulence.

It is a war that is already in full swing; not a cold war – a hot war, a medium-to long-term execution of mankind. This strategy will work like an octopus with many tentacles operating simultaneously around the globe. If one tentacle fails, the others will do its job, until the damaged one has recovered. It’s a combat, where hardly anybody targeted can escape.

Think of biological warfare, as one of the tentacles. There exists already more than 100 secret Pentagon – CIA controlled biological weapons labs around the world. Often, their store front is a “scientific research” lab, looking for cures of human and animal diseases or biological means to eradicate agricultural pests. They are coverups. In reality, these labs develop new biological strains, viruses and bacteria, even new generations of vaccines, to be tested on local populations, of course, without their knowledge or consent. Among such research centers is the Richard E. Lugar Centre in Tbilisi, Georgia, known to be a biological weapons lab. See

In addition to developing new bio weapons, the lab is investigating the links between DNA groups and bio weapons, targeting Russia and possibly other geographic and ethnic regions; i.e. the Middle East. Kamens, the author of the above article, quotes Russian Senator Klintsevich as saying, “It is no secret that different ethnic groups react to biological weapons in different ways and that is why the West is meticulously collecting material all across Russia.”  No doubt this or comparable labs around the globe will do similar research on the East Asian populations, with emphasis on China. Latin America. Washington’s backyard will not be spared.

The Ebola outbreak in West Africa – 2014 to 2016 – covering Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea, was very likely a “man-made” bio-trial. Ebola today can be contained. It registered officially close to 30,000 cases and killed according to official statistics more than 11,000 people. Unofficial figures put the death toll way above 20,000. It also reduced the economic output of these countries. Sierra Leone and Liberia suffered the most from the outbreak. It’s a perfect test for what to do to subjugate this kind of developing country. This is applicable, basically for most of resources rich Africa.

Another tentacle of the monster octopus is genetically modified organisms (GMO). Monsanto is known since the late sixties early seventies to be working with Henry Kissinger, the Mastermind of the Bilderberg Society, whose major objective it is to drastically reduce world population. Almost any bio-disease strain can be implanted into GMO seeds. Nobody will notice and know. In the 1990s Monsanto tested a GMO wheat in India that rendered women infertile. The test was carried out on poor women, the untouchables. The exercise blew open, created a short-lived scandal, but was soon muffled by the media. Imagine, GMOs targeting specific populations with genetic diseases? The poor are the most vulnerable and defenseless not only with infertility, but with any kind of deadly diseases or brain or neurological long-term insufficiencies. Some of these health failures develop only over time, so that nobody can trace them back to GMOs.

Climate warfare is another nefarious tentacle of the would be-wannabe emperor, or his handlers. Climate manipulation technology is already at least 50 years old. Environmental modification techniques – ENMOD – is the Pentagon’s ultimate weapon of mass destruction. It is a sophisticated electromagnetic weapon operated from the outer atmosphere.

The technology was developed in the 1990s by the High-frequency Active Auroral Research Program (HAARP), based in Alaska, enabling selectively changing weather patterns, causing excessive precipitations, floods, droughts, hurricanes and other excessive weather phenomena, thereby destroying infrastructure, agricultural production, entire economies of a country or a region, without the deployment of bombs, troops and tanks. In 1977 the UN General Assembly banned ‘military or other hostile use of environmental modification techniques having widespread, long-lasting or severe effects.’ In 2014 the HAARP center was officially closed. However, this secretive technology is alive and well – and ready to be applied anywhere Washington wants to coerce a ‘regime change’, including destroying or weakening a population to facilitate access to the country’s natural resources.

An early version of climate modification was used in the late sixties and early seventies in Vietnam. Cloud-seeding, Operation Popeye, allowed prolonging the monsoon season, thereby blocking or rendering the Vietcong’s supply routes on the Ho Chi Minh Trail more difficult. This was accompanied by the Napalm defoliant which was supposed to expose, maim and kill Vietcong insurgents and allied populations.

While no climate change theorists talk about this secretive technology, it is possible, though not proven, that climate modifications are already ongoing in Africa, for example, in strategically situated Somalia and Ethiopia, causing extended droughts and famine, and in Afghanistan with extremely cold and wet winters, thereby weakening and possibly exterminating entire swaths of populations. Possibly, though also not proven, as an undesired result, by an ever equalizing Mother Nature, the West is also experiencing excessive weather patterns – the record cold in the eastern US, the drought-provoked forest fires followed by heavy rain and mudslides in California, as well as stronger and more frequent hurricanes in the Caribbean Gulf area.

Talking about man-made climate modificationrain forests once covered 14% of the earth’s land surface; now they cover a mere 6%. According to The Guardian, every year an area of about 180,000 km2 of rain forest is lost, the equivalent of the size of England and Wales. At this rate, in 40 years 10 million km2, the size of Europe, will have been razed. At current rates, linearly expanded, all of the rain forest may have gone in 100 years. The good news is that linearism does not apply to long-term projections; this horrendous trend of destruction can, thus, still be stopped by awakened people.

The Amazon rain forest encompassed in 1970 still 4.1 million km2 and in 2015 about 3.3 million km2, a reduction of 800,000 km2 in 45 years. The main reason is cattle farming, beef and leather trade, but also bio fuel and logging, to a large extent illegal logging. The impact of rain forest razing in the Amazon is already noticeable in the form of increased drought in Argentina’s Patagonia, damaging agriculture and Argentina’s beef industry. Deforestation as climate weapon? Capitalism, when left free destroys everything, not just the environment, but mankind’s entire social fabric.

Privatization of water is another weapon of the monster. It is quietly and often clandestinely advancing, driven and coerced by the multilateral development banks, the IMF and often governments themselves. Privatization of water is already going on a grand-scale, and I’m not referring in the first place to the abhorrent water bottling by Nestlé and Coca Cola and thousands of others, destroying the environment and often robbing the water, or making it inaccessible, of poor population. Case in point is Nestlé. Nestlé India with its bottled water brand “Pure Life” was eventually forced to quit India, because of multiple social conflicts with local populations, where Nestlé’s massive groundwater pumping lowered the water level so drastically that the local poor had no longer access to their traditional groundwater, but had to buy Nestlé’s expensive bottled “Pure Life” water.

Nestlé ran into similar problems in Africa and even in the US. In Flint, Michigan, where unpolluted drinking water is scarce, Nestlé paid an annual fee of a mere US $200 for pumping one of the few remaining sources for private rather than public water use. In drought-stricken California in 2015 and 2016, Nestlé in 2017, over-extracted water from the San Bernardino National Forest Park with some 40 million gallons and with an expired license of some US $500 per year, while water to farmers was rationed due to the drought. Regulators eventually forced Nestlé to stop pumping. See the multiply rewarded documentary film, Bottled Life.

Nestlé’s ex-CEO, Peter Brabeck, said “Water has to be our chief priority”, to which Maude Barlow, former Senior Advisor on Water to the United Nations replied, “Nestlé is a predator, a water hunter”. Coca Cola, Pepsi and other water bottlers follow the same unethical ways of basically stealing groundwater from the common people, forcing them to buy their expensive bottled water.

But the real predators of water and those that are massively privatizing the last uncontaminated sources of water in, for example, Amazon’s huge aquifers and the Guarani fossil aquifer, arguably the world’s largest freshwater reserve, are the giant water corporations like the French Veolia, and Suez: followed by US ITT Corporation; United Utilities and Severn Trent, Thames Water, UK; American Water Works, US; and an ever growing number of corporations that see the future in privatizing first the source, then the city water supply of mega-cities, where already today the poor and favela inhabitants are deprived of fresh water, because they can no longer afford privately supplied drinking water which increases intestinal diseases and child mortality all over the globe. And worse is to come, as privatization of water is becoming a worldwide powerful weapon.

Numerous huge water giants install themselves through proxy companies or farmers on top of the Guarani aquifer which is almost entirely fossil water (non-renewable), and receive lifelong water licenses. The Guarani aquifer is said to have the capacity to supply the world population for the next 200 years with some 100 liters per capita per day.  The inhabitants of Frankfurt use some 120 l/c/d. Imagine, this huge non-renewable aquifer in the hands of private corporations which could turn on and off the spigot at will – or according to ‘maximizing profit’ principles. A powerful weapon. If remaining unchecked, it is clear who is losing and who is winning.

Today, RT reports that Greek President Tsipras has just launched a sales pitch to the Greek people, that it would be a good idea to privatize Greek water supply. Can you imagine? After all that this criminal despot leader has already done to Greece – now privatizing water.

Studies carried out by the very World Bank, the institution that pushes for water privatization like no one else, except for the IMF, found that in parallel with water privatization in South Africa – intestinal diseases and child mortality increased in townships. After Nelson Mandela was elected President of a free South Africa in 1994, the western international financial vultures, like WB, IMF, FED via Wall Street, descended on Pretoria to persuade him and his government to privatize most everything. “It was good for paying back the accumulated debt of South Africa.” Yes, of course. People had no choice. Poor people in townships could no longer afford drinking water supplied to their modest homes or yards – but had to resort to traditional sources, like polluted ponds and streams.  How will the Greek cope with privatized water?

France, home to the two largest water corporations, Viola and Suez, started in 2010 remunicipalization of water with the city of Paris, followed by all major cities in France. Authorities realized that the cost of water was way too high for the quality of service provided. Similar motives prompted Berlin to go the same way.

Water is life. And life does not just cave in. It will fight for survival. But the enemy, the privatization corporations, like mining companies that irreparably destroy nature and populations social fabric, are backed by entire armies – the US, UK, German and NATO armed forces – to defend the rights of corporations… and the loser is…. Or would be, if the population would not wake up in time to defend their right to water, their Human Right to Water.

Digitization of money and the economy is another tentacle of the evil octopus. Its advancing very fast with cryptocurrencies leading the way. Digitization of money is a means for the government or any oppressing force to control populations by holding on or confiscating their vital resources to sustain live, their income. Block-chain moneys like Bitcoins, ‘specialists’ say, are more secure than any banking system the world has known so far. That myth seems to have been broken. CNBC reported on 29 January that the Japanese cryptocurrency exchange had been hacked and about US$ 535 million equivalent of Bitcoins were stolen. This is the largest Bitcoin heist in Bitcoin’s relative short history of barely nine years. So much for security.

As of January 2018, there are close to 1,400 different cryptocurrencies on the market and rising. Cryptocurrencies are highly volatile and speculative and therefore preferred currencies for crooks and speculators. One of the major hubs for cryptocurrencies and their ‘marketization’ is – you guessed it – Switzerland, the banking center of everything and ‘smart’ banking. Block-chain currencies are so complex and complicated for the common citizen to understand that even an IT expert has a hard time weaving his way through the maze of cryptocurrency technologies. Which is good. Because propaganda will assure that enough people who have no clue of what they are doing are duped into making a quick buck. They have seen how. The price of Bitcoins is listed on a daily basis along with the regular stock market fluctuations. Bitcoins have increased in value from zero in 2009 to more than US $20,000 at their peak in December 2017. In the meantime, Bitcoin’s value has slipped to about US $10,000 (30 January 2018), but could be way different tomorrow.

But digitization is not just about cryptocurrency. It is also a small octopus, advancing on several fronts, of which block-chain currencies are just one tentacle. There is at least one other more potentially harmful menace to the common citizen, like gradually eliminating cash and replacing it by digital currencies.

This is already happening, almost clandestinely – throughout Europe, starting with Scandinavian countries where certain department stores do no longer accept cash. Imagine what it means when you can’t go anymore to your corner ATM to get cash to buy your groceries? You will be enslaved to the gnomes of banking, of digital banking, that is. It is another powerful weapon to subjugate people to do what they are told, lest sanctions in the form of blocked or outright confiscated accounts might be used as the “new sanctions”. These modes of punishment can induce famine, expropriation of properties and savings, poverty, eventually disease and reduction in life expectancy as a result of ever growing destitution –- see Greece, which has been made poor by sticking to a fake and fiat currency, the euro, that is like digital money, stealing the country’s assets through debt.

If we eventually were to live in a digital economy, it means that every value is electronic, the tangibility of hard work and physical output, the production of labor, is worth only what smart ‘digits’ will allow it to be. If the neoliberal system wants to save on labor costs, the value of labor output can be reduced to almost zero. So, every social value, social statistic, becomes a potential farce, is manipulatable which today is already the case with the figures of unemployment, inflation and ‘growth’, economic growth. For example, in our linear western world destruction is growth. It requires production of weapons (growth) and eventually reconstruction, growth again. And everything in between, like the industry around war injuries and war deaths, is growth. All with a profit motive and an overarching motive of subjugating populations to the hegemon of Washington.

This leads to yet another tentacle – Propaganda – all-embracing propaganda, controlled by six Zion-Anglo media giants that control some 90% of the news the west receives 24/7. The news sells you all evil about Russia, Syria, Iran, Venezuela, Cuba, China, and whoever else does not want to submit to the empires rules. Propaganda in the west is nothing less than propaganda of deceit. It sells you the idea that war is good for peace – hence a never-ending war against terror. Propaganda invents terror and terrorists by making you believe that all those who disagree with a despotic system are terrorists and have to be fought. Propaganda sells you false flags as reality.

Propaganda western style is one of the worst, most deadly weapons to hegemonize the world, as it makes the common citizen root for war, root against North Korea, a country whose only objective is to defend itself, not to threaten the world, as western propaganda has you believe. Propaganda is also omission of facts, important facts, namely, that the western powers, the US and its European puppets, the EU and NATO are the most dangerous rogue nations and organizations populating Mother Earth these days, and have been for at least the last 200 years. But despite the endless killing by these monsters, constituting the head of the evil octopus with its multiple tentacles, people do not realize who is their enemy thanks to western deceit-propaganda.

Take the Olympics. After banning Russian athletes from participating in the Rio Games following the infamous McLaren Report on doping which has often been criticized of being manufactured, the same McLaren Report is behind prohibiting Russia from participating in South Korea’s winter games in Pyeongchang this month. This is sheer politics, Russia-denigrating propaganda. And now banning even the majority of the some 600 “clean Russian athletes” from participating under the most ludicrous arguments, is not only unjustly hurting individual athletes, who have never had anything to do with doping, it’s a repeat Russia bashing.

The President of the World Anti-Doping agency (WADA) said in a recent interview with RT, there was, in fact, not enough evidence to prove a state sponsored doping system in Russia. Nevertheless, he obviously went along – had to go along – with the Russia banning decision. We never know what would be at stake for these officials, if they were to follow their common-sense judgment and internal moral standards. The IOC (International Olympics Committee) is totally corrupt and bought by Washington. This is, by the way true for all International courts and UN organizations. They have all become a travesty.

Nothing prevents Russia from calling and organizing her own Olympic games, the Russian Olympics. It would be interesting to see how many western countries would dare to participate. I bet, many would wake up, because they would love to bond with Russia, if for nothing else but business, but are afraid to do so with Washington bully’s sword swinging above their necks. Sports is always a good reason for mending disagreements, which are actually only imposed ‘disagreements’. How long will fear prevail over reason? The light at the end of the tunnel is in sight.

Albeit, it is a shame and surprising that the world just looks on. People cannot be that dumb not to recognize that this is all a propaganda to portray Russia around the world as evil. This sort of propaganda, adding to the military threat that Russia is said to present to the world, when the real danger comes from the US and its NATO allies, is deadly propaganda, provoking war. President Putin plays it “Tao” – he is relatively quiet, non-aggressive – the non-aggressor will always win in the long run.

The final blow, however, the ultimate tentacle, is conventional warfare, sowing conflicts and proxy wars – what we know too well – what has dominated the last two decades. When none of the other tentacles do their illegal job radically enough, then comes the traditional killing machine, enhanced Regime Change through Color Revolutions, through false flag assassinations, NATO or mercenary invasions, planted “civil wars”; i.e., Ukraine, Syria, Yemen, Afghanistan – and now even Iraq. Take the case of Falluja, where massive weapons of depleted uranium were purposefully used by the US army, leaving the city and surroundings scarred for decades, for generations to come.

It is mass murder perpetrated by Washington and its dark invisible string-pulling handlers. These killings have genocide proportions. Yet, genocide is almost never mentioned when the most atrocious killings are carried out by the United States. I wonder why?

If we do not wake up, we will not escape. If few do, we may. It’s five to high-noon. It would be hell, not nuclear hell, but ‘octopus hell’, as we will be surrounded by different killing techniques or tentacles of the monster – and don’t know where to go and cry for help. Certainly not to our western leaders, not to those, which we believe we elected to do the best for Us, the People. No, these leaders are all corrupted, bought, they all have their little space reserved in paradise, for doing what they are doing helping the minuscule elite to dominate all — literally to reach Full Spector Dominance. That’s what the PNAC (Plan for a New American Century) openly declares as the hegemon’s ultimate goal. At the end of the day, they – our lovely puppet leaders – may get a cold shower, when they have done their job as they were told and find out that they too are dispensable like trash; like Us, The Common People. No scruples by the self-styled dark handlers of the western race. You only live once.

Ending Pollution Requires a Change in Attitudes

Pollution has become an everyday affair; a murderous way of life which, according to a report published in The Lancet, is responsible for the deaths of at least nine million people every year. The air we breathe is poisoned, the streams, rivers, lakes and oceans are filthy, — some more, some less — the land littered with waste, the soil toxic. Neglect, complacency and exploitation characterize the attitude of governments, corporations and far too many individuals towards the life of the planet, and its rich interwoven ecological systems.

The Lancet Commission on Pollution and Health, which is yet another cry for urgent collective action, found that pollution is responsible for a range of diseases that “kill one in every six people around the world”. This figure, while shocking, is probably a good deal higher because “the impact of many pollutants is poorly understood.” The landmark study establishes that we have reached the point when “deaths attributed to pollution are triple those from Aids, malaria and tuberculosis combined.”

Our selfish materialistic way of life is having a devastating impact on all forms of life; unless there is a major shift in attitudes the numbers of people dying of pollution will increase; contamination of the oceans will increase, deforestation and desertification will continue, and the steady destruction of all that is beautiful and naturally given will intensify. Until one day it will be too late.

Plastic oceans, poisoned air

Even climate change deniers cannot blame the natural environment for the plastic islands that litter the oceans, or the poisoned water and contaminated air. Pollution results from human activity, it “endangers the stability of the Earth’s support systems and threatens the continuing survival of human societies.” A sense of intense, life-threatening urgency needs to be engendered, particularly amongst the governments and populations of those countries that are, and have historically been, the major polluters — the industrialized nations of the World.

Although China has now overtaken the USA in producing the highest levels of greenhouse gas emissions, as the New York Times reports, America (which has 5% of the world’s population but produces 30% of the world’s waste), “with its love of big cars, big houses and blasting air-conditioners, has contributed more than any other country to the atmospheric carbon dioxide that is scorching the planet…. In cumulative terms, we [the US] certainly own this problem more than anybody else does,” said David G. Victor, a longtime scholar of climate politics at the University of California.

Russia and India follow the USA as emitters of the most greenhouse gases; then comes Japan, Germany, Iran and Saudi Arabia, which the World Economic Forum relates, has “on a per-country average, the most toxic air in the world.” Australia, Canada and Brazil should also be included amongst the principle polluters; as Brazil’s economy has grown so have the quantities of poisonous gas emissions, their effect made worse by deforestation of vast areas of the Amazon rain forests.

Indonesia, too, warrants our attention. This small country (3% of the global population) in the middle of the South Seas is a major polluter: It has the third largest expanse of tropical forest after the Amazon and Congo, and is cutting down trees at the highest rate on the planet; it produces approximately 5% of worldwide greenhouse gas emissions, is the second-largest contributor to marine plastic pollution after China and has some of the dirtiest water in south east Asia – only a third of the population having access to clean drinking water.

China also has a problem with polluted water; IBT reports that “Government analysis found that more than 80% of the water from its wells was not safe to drink…while about 60% of its groundwater overall was of poor or extremely poor quality.” Water pollution has reached serious levels in America as well: according to the Water Quality Project 32% of bays, 40% of the country’s rivers and 46% of its lakes are “too polluted for fishing, swimming or aquatic life.” The Mississippi River, which is amongst the most polluted rivers in the world, “carries an estimated 1.5 million metric tons of nitrogen pollution into the Gulf of Mexico every year. The resulting pollution is the cause of a coastal dead zone the size of Massachusetts every summer.”

Polluted rivers result in contaminated oceans; chemical fertilizers, detergents, oil, sewage, pesticides and plastic waste flow into the sea from inland waterways. Some pollutants sit on the surface of the ocean, many collect on the seabed where they are ingested by small marine organisms and introduced into the global food chain. The shocking condition of the seas was highlighted recently in the BBC production Blue Planet II. In a sequence that moved many to tears, an Albatross, having been at sea for weeks looking for food, was filmed feeding its chicks with bits of plastic collected from the surface of the ocean.

Recent research has identified 10 rivers as the source of 90% of the plastics in the oceans. Deutsche Welle reports that all of them run through densely populated areas where waste collection or recycling infrastructure is inadequate. Three of these filthy tributaries are in China, four more run through China, two — the Nile and the Niger (regularly the scene of oil spills) — are in Africa. The list is completed by the Holy Ganges in India, which serves as rubbish dump (almost 80% of urban waste is thrown into the river), utility room, bathroom, burial chamber and sacred temple.

Plastic waste is produced everywhere, but five Asian countries produce 60% of the global total, currently 300 million tons (only 10% is recycled): China, Indonesia, the Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam. If nothing changes it’s predicted that by 2025, plastic consumption in Asia alone could increase by 80 percent to over 200 million tons, and global consumption could reach 400 million tons. Greenpeace estimates that roughly 10% of all plastic ends up in the Oceans where it is thought to kill over a million seabirds and 100,000 marine mammals.

The statistics around pollution are numerous, shocking and all too depressing. Here’s a taste:

  • 5,000 people die every day through drinking unclean water.
  • About 80% of landfill items could be recycled.
  • 65% of deaths in Asia and 25% of deaths in India are due to air pollution.
  • Chronic obstructive respiratory disease (caused by burning fossil fuels indoors) is responsible for the death of more than 1 million people annually.
  • Over 3 million children under five die annually from environmental factors.
  • Worldwide, 13,000-15,000 pieces of plastic are dumped into the ocean every day.
  • At least two-thirds of the world’s fish stocks suffer from plastic ingestion
  • For every 1 million tons of oil shipped, approximately 1 ton is wasted through spillage.
  • A million plastic bottles are sold worldwide every minute; forecast to increase by 20% by 2021.
  • Around 1,000 children die in India annually due to diseases caused by polluted water.
  • There are more than 500 million cars in the world; there could be 1 billion by 2030.
  • Shoppers worldwide use approximately 500 billion single-use plastic bags annually. This translates to about a million bags every minute and the number is rising.

Criminal neglect

Pollution and the environmental catastrophe more broadly is the result of insatiable consumerism, selfishness and individual and collective irresponsibility. It flows from a materialistic approach to living, rooted in desire and an unjust economic system that demands unbridled consumerism for its survival. Ideologically rooted Corporate Governments imprisoned in nationalism, and obsessed with short-term economic growth feed the system and the most important issue of the time is relegated to an afterthought, rarely spoken about by politicians who seem to believe that limitless development and mass consumerism is of greater importance than the health of the planet.

Designing policies that will clean up the air, the seas and rivers, and will preserve forests and farmland, should be the priority for all governments around the world, particularly the industrialized nations, who have been responsible for producing the majority of the filth and for cultivating the consumer culture that is perpetuating the crisis. But whilst governments need to take a leading role to stop pollution, individuals, all of us, need to change the way we think and how we live. It is imperative we consume less and that decisions regarding purchases should be made firstly with environmental considerations in mind.  Sufficiency and simplicity of living need to replace abundance, complacency and indulgence.

This demands a major shift in attitudes, not in 25 years, not in a year, but now. As Pope Francis rightly states in his groundbreaking papal letter ‘Care for Our Common Home’, “Our efforts at [environmental] education will be inadequate and ineffectual unless we strive to promote a new way of thinking about human beings, life, society and our relationship with nature. Otherwise, the paradigm of consumerism will continue to advance, with the help of the media and the highly effective workings of the market.”

The ‘market’, aided by the media, is not concerned by such liberal considerations as the welfare of the planet and the health of human beings; it is a blind monster with a compulsion for profit, and if the ecological networks within which we live are to be purified and healing is to take place it needs to be rejected totally. A new way of thinking is required that moves away from divisive selfish ways to inclusive, socially/environmentally responsible behavior based on a recognition that the environment we live in is not separate from us and that we all have a duty to care for it. This requires a fundamental change of attitudes.

“If we want to bring about deep change, we need to realize that certain mindsets really do influence our behaviour.” And, whilst there are many exceptions to this, the prevailing, carefully cultivated ‘mindset’ is a materialistic, self-centered one in which responsibility is passed to someone else, usually a government. It is a mindset that has been conditioned virtually from birth by the motivating mechanism of reward and punishment. This crude tool encourages deceit, undermines humanity’s essential goodness and relies on the stimulation of materialistic, hedonistic desire – the very thing that is fueling the environmental crisis – for its success. It is a method that may well work with corporations and to a limited degree with individuals, but a more potent and cleaner way to change the behavior of the population at large is the Way of Awareness: Awareness that we are brothers and sisters of one humanity, that cooperation, not competition is an inherent aspect of our nature and that that we are all responsible for the world in which we live. It’s up to us, each and every one of us, to consciously live in an environmentally responsible manner – no matter the cost or inconvenience, and to begin to repair the terrible damage we have done and continue to do to the natural world.

India and US Bonhomie: Time for a Reality Check

The ongoing India-US rapprochement has been couched in terms of a pact between the “two largest democracies in the world” and similar superlatives. While geographically-challenged Americans may be forgiven for not recognizing their immediate northern neighbour as both a larger nation and a better democracy, mnemonically-challenged Indian pundits should nonetheless subject India-US ties to trend-based reality checks.

Three recent notable sticking points below should deflate India’s pro-American media.

  • Why does the US continue to withhold David Headley aka Daood Syed Gilani – a key planner behind the 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks—from the Indian justice system? Headley, long fingered as a CIA-ISI asset, is supposedly serving time in a US prison for terrorist crimes perpetrated on Indian soil and against Indian citizens. If one agrees with this bizarre judicial arrangement, then one shouldn’t be offended by US President Donald J. Trump’s faecal rants against Third World nations. India might as well count itself in as a founding member of this lavatorial bloc as Trump’s sentiments have long been trailblazed by the US justice system.
  • Touching on the US justice system, why hasn’t the State Department offered a formal apology to India over the barbaric treatment of diplomat Devyani Khobragade, who was stripped-searched and cavity-checked for an alleged minimum wage offence in 2013? The incident has no parallel in the history of modern international relations. Not even Nazi Germany had subjected a diplomat of an enemy power to such abject degradation.

Indian geopolitical savants should honestly ask themselves whether the US would dare subject a low-ranking female Iranian or North Korean diplomat to such indignities despite Washington’s daily sabre-rattling against both nations. Will either Trump or the State Department proffer an overdue apology or is that unwarranted for a s***hole country?

  • As for the State Department itself, one should ask whether Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been officially removed from a US visa sanctions list under the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998. Even as late as August 2013, the bipartisan United States Commission on International Religious Freedom had opposed granting a visa to Modi due to “very serious” doubts lingering over his alleged role in the “horrific” 2002 Gujarat riots. What changed since then? Did a new US Justice Department review discover exculpatory evidence to exonerate Modi? Otherwise, Modi is still technically on course for a possible indictment at a future date when he no longer enjoys automatic diplomatic immunity as head of government.

Modi remains the only person sanctioned under the Act. Not even Al Qaeda financier sheikhs in the Gulf Arab world carry this stigma. No Pakistani politician has ever been sanctioned under the same Act for the routine rapes, murders and property confiscations of minority Christians and Hindus in his nation.

Yet, instead of questioning US motives; sense of moral proportion; and restitution for past misdeeds, a bovine Indian media is coaxed to play up the China hysteria. It is after all a publicly-stated US policy to use India – and inevitably the blood of Indian soldiers – as a buffer against China. And not just against China. US Defence Secretary Jim Mattis even had the temerity to demand an Indian military presence in Afghanistan during a recent visit to Delhi.

Why can’t the US ask Saudi Arabia, with its vast petrodollar wealth and millions in unemployed youths, to undertake the same task? After all, Washington remains an abiding military patron of Riyadh. Besides, what kind of “war on terror” is the US fighting when its soldiers are routinely photographed protecting opium fields in Afghanistan? This grotesque arrangement with Afghan opium growers has directly resulted in a runaway heroin crisis in Punjab – a state that ironically produces a disproportionate number of soldiers for the Indian army.

As for China, aside from an unresolved border issue and Beijing’s opprobrious support of Pakistan over Hafiz Saeed, no Indian diplomat has ever been arrested and cavity-checked in Beijing.  Indian and Chinese soldiers have not exchanged bullets in Doklam or anywhere else along the Himalayas since the late 1960s. In fact, one potential Himalayan spoiler to the 1975 incorporation of Sikkim was Hope Cooke – the American consort to the 12th Chogyal King, Palden Thondup Namgyal. (David Headley is also incidentally half-American).

American spoliation is not just limited to geopolitics. Just about every notable Indian breakthrough in high technology came in the face of prior US opposition. While NASA may congratulate India on its rocketry and space milestones, it forgets how the US had forced the Soviet Union – or the “evil empire as then President Ronald Reagan called it – to cancel cryogenic technology transfers to Delhi.  When India recently celebrated the unveiling of the Pratyush supercomputer, few retraced its developmental trajectory to PARAM machines that were built in the face of US denials of technology.

Despite its consistent record in stifling Indian innovation, Washington continues to dangle the carrots of military technology transfers along an eternally-stretched dirt road. India buys US weapons systems such as M777 howitzers and GE F404 engines in hard cash. Hardly any major technology transfer has been effectuated despite Washington’s perennial rhetoric.

While some Indian apologists attribute past frictions between Washington and New Delhi to realpolitik and the Cold War zeitgeist, there remains one overriding strategic reason for India to reject any military alliance with the US: None of Washington’s allies can militarily stand on their own in any major conflict despite possessing the technologies and potential manpower to do so. Take a look at Britain, France, Germany, Canada, South Korea, Japan and Australia, amongst numerous other nations, to see how military dependence on the US translates to foreign policy servitude.

Take a closer look at Israel. While US politicians love to bellow their “love for Israel” from the rooftops of Capitol Hill, nationalist Israelis will remember how the Reagan regime had deliberately scuttled the native Lavi fighter jet program and thereby killed a viable competitor to the F-16s and F-18s. The annual military aid to Israel, couched in vacuous civilizational and religious terms, is in reality a quid pro quo to purchase or improvise US weapons systems. India can never be a military-cum-economic superpower if it is ever subsumed into the US security hydra.

On the civilian and commercial fronts, US industrial contributions to India have been patchy, mundane or outright lethal. The 1984 Bhopal tragedy and the ongoing suicides of Indian farmers after the introduction of Monsanto GMO seeds are cases in point.

Of course, US multinationals are undeniably setting up software and R&D centres in India, creating hi-tech jobs in return for low-cost skills. Yet, there is a flip side to this development as Indian ingenuity may be prematurely swallowed up by cash-rich MNCs. Decades-old Indian software prowess has yet to produce native challenges to operating systems from Microsoft and Apple (US); Internet browsers like Yandex (Russia); and mobile apps like Waze (Israel), WeChat (China) or Telegram (Russia).

Finally, one only needs to study how Pakistan’s military alliance with the US had panned out. The global jihadi menace – nurtured by Washington as an ostensible bulwark against Soviet communism in Afghanistan – was predictably re-channelled by Pakistan into unremitting terror in Kashmir.

For now, the US is seen to be acting tough on Pakistan, much to the delight of the visceral Indian “intelligentsia”. However, Indians should remember that no other major power had applied more sanctions on New Delhi, post-WWII, than the United States of America!

So much for the ebullience over the “two largest democracies in the world”….

“Pakistan Is a Fractured Client State of the US Empire, Afghanistan a US Colony”

Afghanistan President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani and US President Donald Trump

New Delhi/San Francisco – Editor’s Note: US Domestic and Foreign Policy Analyst Mark Mason speaks to The Citizen on the current Trump administration and its world view, with specific focus on West (Iran) and South (India,Pakistan) Asia. Mark Mason offers analyses of United States domestic and foreign policies for the international news media. He was trained as a biological anthropologist educated at the University of California, Berkeley, and recently engaged in the Occupy and bioregional green and peace social movements. His recent publications include Demystifying US and Israeli Power. This interview is the first of an irregular series of conversations between The Citizen and scholars in different parts of the world.

Seema Mustafa: In India we often find ourselves discussing whether Trump’s foreign policy is any different from Obama’s. What do you think? Are there any nuances we should be aware of?

Mark Mason: We know the outcome of the Obama administration. At the outset, Trump’s administration is far more dangerous than was Obama’s with respect to international relations. Trump has increased the use of deadly drones in Yemen and Somalia, but recent arms sales to Saudi Arabia were approved under the Obama administration. The potential for accidental nuclear war, and the potential for conventional military conflicts increased under Trump.

His brash bullying tactics are publicly confrontational, yet we should compare Trump with the polite but deadly Bill Clinton and George Bush whose terms in office, combined, culminated in 1.5 million Iraqi deaths. In one year, Trump has managed to weaken NATO and has turned most of the western European elites against his administration. European members of NATO are not catering to the US imperial commands as swiftly.

The recent vote in the UN on the question of the status of Jerusalem was another manifestation of the failure of brute bullying foreign policy. Europeans and others who pay tribute to the American Empire do not like having their noses ground into the dirt by Emperor Trump. They like the US government to pretend that there is no empire. They want to be told that they are all one happy, smiling, chummy love fest of friends of the US.

What transpires next year will tell us what we need to know. If Trump continues insulting everyone in sight such demeanor will weaken US political influence — a very good thing — or alternatively, his governance may convert the potential for a major war into a reality. If he continues insulting enough Europeans, we may witness further weakening of the Euro-American colonial NATO alliance, a development that would decrease global tensions.

We should be less frightened of President Trump, while more concerned about how willing US power elites are to dare pushing blatant demands for obedience to US economic interests. US elites want more payment in tribute. The lack of cohesion manifested in Trump’s foreign policy is a manifestation of divisions within the US corporate elite.

One segment of the economic elites recognizes that pushing for immediate subservience to US power weakens long-term US economic interests, whereas another sector, that includes banking and oil, seem prepared to risk world war and world ecosystem collapse in the interest of increasing short-term corporate profits. The US government that includes the President, Congress, and the courts, are under US plutocratic control.

The USA is not a democracy. The President has little power. Trump is learning the limits to Presidential power.

SM: Iran, of course, is a departure point, Obama sought peace, Trump is back to war. How serious are the threats in real terms?

MM: Obama sought business deals with Iran, not peace. Peace is not something any ambitious capitalist empire seeks. Peace is the end of war profiteering. Let us examine the geopolitics of Iran in the context of the geo-economics of Iran. What applies to Iran, applies globally as the template for US foreign policy. As long as we accept that military arms are manufactured by capitalist corporations for the purpose of selling arms to generate corporate profits that go into the private pockets of a tiny power elite, then peace will be an illusive goal. Few elites profit from peace, and thus we have no peace. War profiteering is a lucrative business model that conflicts with significant sectors of the civilian economy.

What power elites want, they get through their control of every kind of modern state. Complexities arise when giant, powerful US corporations such as Boeing manufacture goods for war and for civilian markets. The context for international conflicts is driven, not directly between the US and Iran, but internal to Boeing Aircraft and other giant corporations. Taking Boeing as an example, both the war and the civilian aircraft divisions of Boeing are in conflict with respect to US policies toward Iran. The geo-economics of Iran is grounded on the foreign policy question: should Boeing make profits by selling military aircraft such as the new MQ-25 drone to the US government for the purpose of bombing Iran, or should Boeing focus attention on selling Iran profitable Boeing 737 Max civilian aircraft? Boeing can’t do both. US oil companies want to strike civilian business deals with Iran, and Russia, also, but are confronted with the power of the military-industrial corporate sector that profits elites from international conflicts. US elites are driving an economy with one foot on the gas pedal of war while the other foot is pressing the brake pedal of war. The economy serves the narrow interests of elites in India, as well as the USA.

US foreign policy has lacked cohesion since the collapse of the Soviet Union. An empire such as the US needs to sell empire to the American public by claiming that some country is an existential threat. The US has no credible enemy — none. Iran, North Korea, Russia again, Venezuela, and China off and on, are presented to the American people as justification for a trillion-dollar military budget. The lack of cohesion in US foreign policy is a manifestation of the collapsing capitalist economy within the US, as power elites become divided due to different sectors of the US elite seek conflicting economic goals. We are witnessing an economic system in collapse, and as a result US foreign policy lacks cohesion.

How serious are the war threats from Trump? What Trump says should always be taken seriously, while also observing how fast the US imperial controls are also being damaged by “imperial over-reach.” We are witnessing the last, desperate gasp of the American Empire. Emperor Trump will either bring down the empire as we witness collapse, or he may trigger world war. The consequences of the Trump presidency may be characterized as most likely the last American presidential administration. Whatever comes of his administration it will likely be the end of the American experiment in capitalist parliamentary government. The charade, the fake democracy, is coming to an end— with a whimper or a bang.

American presidents are particular people with particular personalities and particular personal interests in state power, but observing them over the decades, in direct observation, the evidence indicates that the range of domestic and foreign policies is narrowed to a variety of capitalist schemes that harm both the domestic population and people in distant lands subjected to US imperial abuses of power. Which village gets hit by drone missile attacks ordered by the president is a fearful, existential crises for individuals, but the American system of capitalist domination and exploitation remains little changed over the past two centuries. The American presidency is both boring in its predictable quest for corporate-capitalist hegemony, while it is of the most intense concern for powerless individual victims. If you didn’t like the British Empire, you won’t like the American Empire, either. The only consolation I can offer is that the US Empire will experience the same fate as the British Empire, and be it not so distant in the future.

SM: In the Syrian quagmire, Washington seemed to have found a good friend in Erdogan, but no longer it seems. Is this a setback for its West Asian policy?

MM: Empires have no friends.. Empires have client states that pay tribute to the imperial center, and empires have enemies yet to conquer: no friends. Erdogan understands this truth. US West Asian policy is to smash up stuff and to create cultural chaos. Chaos is good for profits, and it maintains divisions among people who have much in common and thus who would otherwise unify against US imperial domination of the region. Chaos is good because chaos results in more arms sales to the region, and it is used as a bludgeon to keep the local tyrants in line. The US invasion of Libya under Obama served some European and US oil interests, but the primary purpose from the prospective of US foreign policy was to send a message to other African and Middle Eastern states as a demonstration of what happens when the local dictator doesn’t follow orders from Washington.

Erdogan intends to rebuild the Ottoman Empire under his authority. He has his own personal power ambitions. Such people, driven by personal power, are easily manipulated.

SM: India seems to be enjoying a good relationship with the US. As we did with President Bush as well. China and the market, or more than that?

MM: All appearances of good relations are just that: temporary appearances. Indeed, a primary goal of the US government in appearing to cultivate friendship with India is to create a division between India from China. South Asian regional unity must be avoided by the US. Also, Trump and Modi have much in common. They both are servants of corporate power. Prime Minister Modi has been invited to attend the World Economic Forum in Davos next month for the very reason that he has demonstrated allegiance to the US and European colonial banking system.

SM: Is Pakistan a friend, or not a friend? For Afghanistan?

MM: Pakistan is a fractured client state of the US Empire. The government follow orders, more or less. Pakistan allows the US to fly deadly drone missions inside Pakistan, although offering occasional tepid protest. Pakistan allowed the CIA to build and operate bases in Pakistan for the purpose of training the Mujahideen which were given passage into Afghanistan for the purpose of destabilizing the pro-Russian government during the late 1970’s and 1980’s. Trump has been verbally bashing Pakistan recently which will erode political relations with the Pakistani government. Let us keep in mind that the US gives Pakistan billions of dollars each year in military aid. Pakistan cannot complain too much about being a servant of US power.

As for Afghanistan, it is now a US colony. The US will not leave, not before the collapse. US mining corporations are poised to plunder the wealth of the nation. US colonial military presence will also serve to drive a political wedge between Pakistan, India, Russia, Afghanistan, and Iran. More chaos. All this is imperial folly. Much human suffering will ensue from US foreign policy, and then the empire will collapse.

One must put these important immediate deadly-serious conflicts into perspective. All this manufactured human suffering that is due to imperialist domination of the region by the American capitalist plutocracy will soon end. Empires come and go, and this one is on the way down. Global warming, global ecosystem collapse, and the globally inherent instability of parliamentary governments that were long ago captured by capitalist concentrations of wealth portend global collapse.

• Interview first published in The Citizen

In Memoriam: Dr. Shiv Chopra 1933-2018


Growing up in India during the war, Shiv Chopra was shaped by two of Mahatma Gandhi’s guiding principles: “Civil disobedience becomes a sacred duty when the state becomes lawless or corrupt,” and “the first step in fighting injustice is to make it visible.”

On January 7, the former Health Canada scientist and whistle-blower who believed “we should take food out of the economic equation” quietly succumbed to cancer in a Kanata hospice, surrounded by family. Online tributes continue to pour in from all over the world in response to the loss of Chopra’s courageous voice from the front lines of food safety activism.

A microbiologist and drug safety regulator with the Bureau of Veterinary Drugs for 35 years, Chopra is best remembered for leading the resistance to government and bio-tech industry pressure including agro-chemical giant Monsanto to approve bovine growth hormone (rBGH) and other veterinary drugs of questionable human safety. Monsanto insisted on Health Canada’s approval after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration rubber-stamped the drugs for licensing.

But Chopra and fellow scientists Margaret Haydon and Gérard Lambert refused, pointing to gaps in Monsanto’s human safety data. The in-house controversy hit the fan at parliamentary committee hearings in 1998, where Chopra delivered unflinching – many say heroic – testimony that blew the lid off government and industry complicity in Health Canada’s controversial drug approval process.

His unflinching insistence on “my duty to speak out” made him the darling of the non-GMO movement, but he refused to wear the hero’s mantle.

“Canadians owe Shiv Chopra a great deal,” Council of Canadians chair Maude Barlow said in a recent Ottawa Citizen interview.

Despite parliamentary assurances to the contrary, Chopra and his colleagues were subject to severe reprisals from their Health Canada bosses for going public. They would eventually be fired for subordination, receiving notice in the mail on the same day in 2004.

Ian Bron, a researcher with Canadians for Accountability, says Chopra “had an ethical code that disregarded the (senior) status of others and he needed to be made an example of. Textbook stuff.”

Chopra was a model scientist who came up against systemic racism and government misconduct almost the moment he entered the civil service in 1968, transforming himself over the years into an anti-corruption warrior inside the health services branch.

The parliamentary hearings produced a list of recommendations around Health Canada’s drug approval process. But none were ever implemented, according to Chopra, who in 2014 founded the Canadian Council on Food Safety and Health to carry on his advocacy for food safety and sustainable agriculture.

After years of grievances and appeals, an adjudicator ordered the reinstatement of Lambert and Haydon but not Chopra. But his son Anil says that his father wasn’t really fighting to get his job back.

“The case didn’t really matter to him. I think that’s lost on a lot of people. We would say to him that he had already won,” says Anil. “You can’t undo that kind of movement, that kind of legacy. That’s what kept him going. He wanted to make sure Canada was a better place after he left.”

• Article first published in NOW magazine

• Photos by Canadian Council on Food Safety and Health