Category Archives: Japan

Cultivated Delusions at the Tokyo Olympics

Australia’s Channel 7 team was all about ignoring history as its selected commentators went into describing, poorly, the closing ceremony of the Tokyo Olympics. The trio was poorly equipped culturally, geographically and totally (the Japanese component was barely credible: “We want to make things warm for you,” she chirped), to deal with the eclectic groupings of the athletes as they assembled.  Clichés and platitudes clogged the commentary as each team strode into the stadium.

It would have been interesting had they noted the militaristic, political echo that follows the beginning, and end, of each Olympic Games.  “In the Olympic Opening ceremony,” remarked Australia’s foremost sporting journalist Gideon Haigh in 2016, “serried ranks of well drilled, well resourced, uniformed national exemplars march behind their country’s flag.  Nothing could be a more political event than that.”

And political it was.  The torch relay was not, as the intoxicated romantics on the International Olympic Committee payroll claim, a creature of Greek antiquity but one of Nazi creativity. Nazi Germany’s Adolf Hitler and his propaganda chief Joseph Goebbels were enamoured with the idea, though it was Carl Diem, secretary general of the organising committee of the 1936 Berlin games who first proposed it.  That great German armaments institution, the Krupp Company, did its bit, creating and sponsoring the torches which were intended to burn for ten minutes. “The first torch manufactured,” writes German sports historian Arnd Krüger, “was used to ignite a new furnace for the production of long-range Krupp canons.”

Behind Tokyo 2020 was a sense of financed apology, with most of the Olympic commentariat bulging with self-interest in keeping this indulgent exercise on the road, even in the face of the worst global pandemic since the Spanish Influenza.  This was a tournament imposed upon a populace by cadres of sporting officials, an anti-democratic, despotic, insensitive gesture based on revenue incentives and broadcasting rights.  The focus had to be on the athletes, the show pony alibis, who distracted from the logisticians and backroom players.

The distraction was, at points, impressive: streamed images of torrential tears, the mingling of sweat from exhausted bodies and tormented competitors, the meeting of flags across competing tracks and ecstatic expressions of the human spirit.  There was video footage of vulnerable winners and those barely defeated; sharp camera focus on such noble acts as the sharing of a gold medal between Italy’s Gianmarco Tamberi and Mutaz Barshim of Qatar in the men’s high jump.  This was flesh and feelings made substantive in film.  “When people experience inwardly periods of greatness, they represent those periods through external forms,” said that man of theatre, show and murderous finality, one Adolf Hitler.  “Their word thus expressed is more convincing than the spoken word: it is the word in stone.”

This was all meant to make a difference, and outside the main Olympic stadium and the venues this was taking place, Tokyo was facing an aggressive pandemic and public health restrictions. The stadium hosting the closing ceremony, from the air, looked like a capsule of insulated distraction.  Those interested were watching at home; the stadium seats remained empty.

The pandemic-minded types were also far from impressed by the implications of holding the event.  IOC president Thomas Bach opined that the COVID-19 infections surging in Tokyo had no links, directly or otherwise, to the Games.  Tsuyoshi Masuda, head of the Japan Federation of Democratic Medical Institutions, disagreed: “[H]olding the Olympics sent a strong message to citizens that infection control measures would become less strict.”

The budget minded types (how dare they question the uplifting image of the Games?) would certainly have raised their eyebrows at the official price tag: $15.4 billion.  The calibration led to other options as to where the money might have been better spent: building 300 hospitals with 300 beds each; 1,200 elementary schools. “The problem is disentangling what is Olympics cost and what is just general infrastructure spending that would have happened anyways but was sped up for the Olympics,” suggests sports economist Victor Matheson.

The bidding process itself demands that host cities and authorities will cover excess costs. “This means,” contend the authors of a study in Environment Planning, “that hosts get locked in to a non-negotiable commitment to cover such increases.”

Bach, being his usual ostensibly noble self, put the case that finance was no bar to the events.  “We would have cancelled the Games 15 months ago,” he told The Associated Press.  “Financially, it would have been the easiest solution for the IOC.  But we decided at the time not to cancel the Games, not to draw on the insurance we had at the time.”

Such views should be treated with a healthy dose of stern scepticism.  “For the IOC,” sports editorial writer for the Mainichi Shimbun Takiguchi Takashi points out, “what is important is not whether there are spectators in the stands, but that the games go ahead and are broadcast to the entire world.”  Broadcasting rights constitute 70% of IOC revenue, characterised by such lucrative arrangements as that of NBCUniversal’s $12 billion payment for rights to broadcast all Olympic events from the 2014 Sochi Winter games to the 2032 Summer Olympics.

The response to the Olympics by its defenders has generally been one of cultivated delusion.  NBCUniversal CEO Jeff Shell was banking on it, given his network’s promise to broadcast 7,000 hours of the Tokyo games.  From the moment the opening ceremony takes place, he insisted, “everybody forgets [concerns like COVID-19] and enjoys the seventeen days.”

This ploy has worked, at least in the past.  Robert Baade and Matheson note the buoyancy that follows the holding of the games: in London 2012, for instance, there were those proud to be British and even happy to pay amounts “above any costs associated with actually attending any of the events.”  Despite Japanese success in the medal tally, Tokyo 2020 promises a different story.

The post Cultivated Delusions at the Tokyo Olympics first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Cuba Is Putting Its Heart into the Olympic Games in Tokyo

When dawn broke this morning on the fourteenth day of the Olympic Games, Cuba was in 15th place in the Tokyo medal standings. It is admirable and not fortuitous that the small island of only 11 million people is 15th among the 204 countries attending the world games.

Each of the talented athletes who represent the Cuban flag in Japan trained and sacrificed to represent their country. The passion they exhibit on the field, including those who have not won medals, moves us here.

Cuba will not forget the tears of young Juan Miguel Echevarría, who was hampered by a femoral bicep injury that prevented him from jumping for the sixth time during the final competition on August 1.

He knelt just above the takeoff board and hit the ground with his fists. “I cried, but not from the joy of the silver medal, but from the pain of losing the gold,” he told the press.

The island will also not forget the joy on the face of four-time Olympic champion Mijaín López when he defeated his rival Iakob Kadzhaia in Greco-Roman wrestling on August 2. All of Cuba was awake at 4am local time to watch the match of the irreducible Cuban giant, who won with little effort and became the best wrestler in the history of this sport.

“I think I’m just doing my job,” Mijaín said minutes after the victory as if he had not just accomplished this tremendous feat.

“I am fulfilling what I learned, what I was taught by my ancestors, my parents, my children, my grandparents… No matter how great you are, humility will always be greater than virtue,” he added.

Then on August 2, a photo was taken by a Cuban photographer that took Cuba by storm: the legendary Mijaín López carrying Luis Alberto Orta, who also won the gold medal in Greco-Roman wrestling, just 30 minutes apart. A Cuban flag was shining brightly between the two of them.

Athletes have not only gone to Japan to leave their hearts, but they have also gone to defend their country from any provocation or expression of hatred. This was the case of young boxer Julio Cesar la Cruz, who faced Cuban-Spanish Enmanuel Reyes during the most awaited fight of July 30.

The fight occurred shortly after Reyes, who was representing the Spanish flag in the ring, threatened to “tear off the head” of his opponent, regardless of the fact that both were born in the same country.

“I will be the first person to shout ‘Patria y Vida’ (Homeland and Life) in the Olympics,” he added, alluding to the song that has allegedly become the anthem of the Cuban right-wing.

La Cruz won after beating Reyes in the first and third rounds. Before getting out of the ring, he shouted at the top of his lungs, “Homeland and Life, no. Homeland or Death. We will prevail,” in honor of Cuba’s historic leader Fidel Castro.

Not only have the athletes given their all in these Olympic Games. The sports reporters have also been heroes, and they have served as a bridge between Cubans and the emotions experienced in Tokyo.

No Cuban will forget journalist Renier Gonzalez’s narration of the 1,000-meter double canoe race, in which the Cubans Serguey Torres and Fernando Dayan Jorge Enriquez won the gold medal by a mere 0.2 seconds.

As the final-second battle between the Chinese canoe and the Cuban canoe, Gonzalez fired off words as he sat up and stood from his seat; “Here comes the Cuban canoe, here comes the Chinese canoe… Seguey, Dayan. Come on, let’s all paddle, Cubans. Come on. We will have a medal. China, Cuba, Cuba. Gold medal for Cuba! The Cuban canoe is gold!”

Cuban President Miguel Díaz-Canel, who has called each medalist after every victory, could not contain his emotion as he congratulated Torres and Fernando Dayán. “The final seconds were electrifying. You rowed your hearts out,” he told them.

The feat of this small Caribbean island in Tokyo has been historic. The athletes are holding Cuba’s name up high amid the most difficult conditions. The country is fighting against a seemingly unstoppable pandemic while media attacks are gaining strength, and food and medicine shortages persist. However, Cuba perceives the Tokyo Olympics as a shining example of the resistance of the Cuban people to hatred, to adversity.

The post Cuba Is Putting Its Heart into the Olympic Games in Tokyo first appeared on Dissident Voice.

The Politics of Cheering and Booing: On Palestine, Solidarity and the Tokyo Olympics

When the Palestinian Olympic delegation of five athletes – adorned in traditional Palestinian attire and carrying the Palestinian flag – crossed into the Tokyo’s Olympic Stadium during the inauguration ceremony on July 23, I was overcome with pride and nostalgia.

I grew up watching the Olympics. All of us did. Throughout the month-long international sports event, the Olympics were the main topic of discussion among the refugees in my refugee camp in Gaza, where I was born.

Unlike other sports competitions such as football, you did not need to care about the sport itself to appreciate the underlying meaning of the Olympics. The entire exercise seemed to be political.

However, the politics of the Olympics is unlike daily politics. Indeed, it is about something profoundly deeper, related to identity, culture, national struggles for liberation, equality, race and, yes, freedom.

Before Palestine’s first Olympic participation in 1996, with only one athlete, Majed Abu Marahi, we cheered – we still do – for all the countries that seemed to convey our collective experiences or share part of our history.

In our Gaza refugee camp, in a small, often hot, simply furnished living room, my family, friends and neighbors would gather around a small black and white television set. For us, the opening ceremony was always critical. Though the camera often allocates mere seconds to each delegation, a few seconds were all we needed to declare our political stances regarding each and every country. It was no surprise, then, that we cheered for all African and Arab countries, jumped in joy when the Cubans came marching in, and booed those who have contributed to Israel’s military occupation of our homeland.

Imagine the chaos in our living room as a small crowd of people made loud and swift political declarations about every country, making a case of why we should cheer or boo, all simultaneously: “The Cubans love Palestine”, “South Africa is the country of Mandela”, “The French gave Israel Mirage fighter jets”, “The Americans are biased towards Israel”,  “The president of this or that country said the Palestinians deserve freedom”, “Kenya was occupied by the British too”, and so on.

The judgment was not always easy as sometimes none of us would be able to offer a conclusive statement to make a case for why we should cheer or boo. For example, an African country which normalized relations with Israel would give us pause: we hated the government but we loved the people. Many such moral dilemmas were often left unanswered.

These dilemmas existed even before I was born. The previous generation of Palestinians also struggled with such pressing quandaries. For example, when African American athletes, Tommie Smith and John Carlos, raised their fists during the award ceremony in the October 1968 Olympics in Mexico City, that, too, must have been a difficult philosophical question to be readily answered by the residents of my refugee camp. On the one hand, we loathed the historically devastating role played – and continues to be played – by the US, in arming, funding and politically supporting Israel. Without such support, Israel would have found it impossible to maintain and profit from its ongoing system of military occupation and apartheid. On the other hand, we supported, as we continue to support, African Americans in their rightful struggle for equality and justice. In these situations, it is often resolved that we should support the players while still rejecting the countries they represent.

The ongoing Tokyo Olympics were hardly the exception of this complex political system. While much media coverage has been placed on the Covid-19 pandemic – the fact that the games were held in the first place, the safety of the players and so on – the politics, the human triumph, the racism, and much more were also still present.

As Palestinians, this time around, we have more to cheer for than usual: our own athletes. Dania, Hanna, Wesam, Mohamed and Yazan are making us proud. The story of each one of these athletes represents a chapter in the Palestinian saga, one that is rife with collective pain, besiegement and ongoing Diaspora, but also hope, unparalleled strength and determination.

These Palestinian athletes, like athletes from other countries who are enduring their own struggles, whether for freedom, democracy or peace, carry a heavier burden than those who were trained under normal circumstances, in stable countries that provide their athletes with seemingly endless resources to reach their full potential.

Mohamed Hamada, a weightlifter from the besieged Gaza Strip, competes in the 96 kg men snatch. In actuality, the 19-year-old is already carrying a mountain. Having survived several deadly Israeli wars, a relentless siege, lack of freedom to travel, to train under proper circumstances and, of course, the resulting trauma, by taking his first step in Tokyo’s Olympic Stadium, Hamada was already a champion. Hundreds of aspiring weightlifters in Gaza and throughout Palestine must have watched him in their own living rooms, filled with hope that they, too, can overcome all the hardship, and that they, too, could be present at future Olympics.

Yazan al-Bawwab, the 21-year-old Palestinian swimmer, embodies, despite his youth, the story of the Palestinian diaspora. A Palestinian, who grew up in the United Arab Emirates, now living in Canada while carrying dual Italian and Palestinian citizenships, he represents a generation of Palestinian youngsters who live outside the homeland and whose life is a reflection of the constant search for home. There are millions of Palestinian refugees who were forced by war, or circumstances, to constantly relocate. They too, aspire to live a normal and stable life, to carry the passports of their own homeland with pride and, like al-Bawwab, to achieve great things in life.

The truth is, for us, Palestinians, the Olympics are not an ethnocentric exercise. Our relationship to it is not simply inspired by race, nationality or even religion, but by humanity itself. The dialectics through which we cheer or boo conveys so much about how we see ourselves as a people, our position in the world, the solidarity that we wish to bestow and the love and solidarity that we receive. So, Ireland, Scotland, Cuba, Venezuela, Turkey, South Africa, Sweden and many more, including all Arab countries without exception, can be certain that we will always remain their loyal fans.

The post The Politics of Cheering and Booing: On Palestine, Solidarity and the Tokyo Olympics first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Tokyo’s Pandemic Games Open

The auguries are not good for the Tokyo Olympic Games.  Resignations have filled the ledger, including Japanese composer Keigo Oyamada, organising committee president Yoshiro Mori and the creative director Hiroshi Sasaki.  Then there is the lamentable behaviour of the authoritarian International Olympic Committee and the obsequious conduct of the Suga government.  The continued prospect of COVID-19 infections in the Olympic camp and public, have all been marked off as manageable.

It will not matter that athletes suffer infections.  It will not matter that they will be spread. It will be irrelevant that the Japanese public do not want these games. The IOC will throw money and a range of threats to make sure that officials comply. Some of this was on show with the curt remarks by IOC official John Coates to an Australian state premier, Queensland’s Annastacia Palaszczuk, who was visiting Tokyo to receive news that the city of Brisbane had been awarded the 2032 Olympic Games.

As Australian Olympic President, Coates wished to impress upon the Queensland Premier that she had to attend the opening ceremony in Tokyo and learn the ropes.  “You are going to the opening ceremony,” he berated Palaszczuk.  “I’m still the deputy chair of the candidature leadership group and so far as I understand, there will be an opening and closing ceremony in 2032 and all of you are going to get along there and understand the traditional parts of that, what’s involved in an opening ceremony.”  Gruffly, he issued an instruction.  “So none of you are staying behind and hiding in your rooms, alright?”

While much hot air has been made about Coates, this vulgar episode served to show that the IOC is a body that dictates rather than advises. The dictatorial behaviour by Coates may well have been unintended, but was symbolically potent.  Used to years of giving directions, he slipped into his comfortable norm of chastisement.  The direction to an elected politician superbly captured the problems associated with an organisation that has done its best to warrant abolition.

To justify Tokyo 2020, the IOC has opted for a specially minted rhetoric that focuses on the human spirit and global solidarity in times of crisis, ignoring its own bullying and money hungry ways.  Think of the athletes and their challenges, the body tells us, a celebration that supposedly signals a halt to hostilities of countries as their sporting folk participate.  Forget the ballooning costs and resources that fall into ruin after the tournament.

This has been the special approach of IOC president Thomas Bach, who misspoke by calling the Japanese “Chinese people”.  He stated on July 15, with an almost contemptuous air, that there was “zero” risk of athletes passing on the virus to residents of the Olympic village or to the Japanese populace in general.  The Mainichi newspaper put paid to that assertion, noting how athletes arriving in the country’s airports were doing so in a state of “disarray” with some “coming close to general travellers and fans asking for autographs”.  The idea of maintaining hermetic “Olympic bubbles” is already proving spurious.

Bach has become a despot in full form, dominating the IOC even more so than such predecessors as Juan Antonio Samaranch.  In this, he keeps good company with Coates, who lectured Japan by insisting that the games go ahead despite the pandemic and continuing state of emergency.  All health requirements and prescriptions outlined in the organisation’s health playbooks were sound, and opposition to the staging of the games, he confidently observed, would wane as vaccination rates improved.  “I think that there’s a correlation between the numbers who are concerned about their safety with the numbers who have been vaccinated in Japan.”

As it happens, Japan’s vaccination rate continues to be poor, as is the general public impression of the games.  Major sponsors such as Fujitsu, Asahi and Panasonic have turned up their nose at the opening ceremony.  Toyota has joined them and is refusing to run advertising connected with the games “out of sensitivity to the COVID-19 situation.”

Public health specialists are beside themselves with worry, though a contribution to the New England Journal of Medicine earlier this month could still praise the games as connecting “us at a time of global disconnect.”  Despite such enthusiasm, the authors were damning in claiming that the IOC playbooks were “not built on scientifically rigorous risk assessment, and they fail to consider the ways in which exposure occurs, the factors that contribute to exposure, and which participants may be at highest risk.”  According to one of the authors, Michael Osterholm, the planning had focused on dealing with respiratory droplets prevention.  “The science is now convincingly showing that this is an airborne virus, largely, which means it’s like cigarette smoke, it will float wherever.”

Japan’s officials also find themselves in a bind.  Japanese Olympic Committee board member Kaori Yamaguchi was brutally frank in writing that the games had “already lost their meaning and are being held just for the sake of them.”  The organisers had “been cornered into a situation where we cannot even stop now. We are damned if we do, and damned if we don’t.”  The opportunity to cancel had passed.  This mad, costly pandemic experiment is upon us.

The post Tokyo’s Pandemic Games Open first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Solidarity with Resistance to Extraction

People the world over are opposing fossil fuel extraction in an incalculable number of ways.  It is now clear that burning fossil fuels threatens millions of Life forms and could be laying the foundation for the extermination of Humanity.  But what about “alternative” energy?  As progressives stand shoulder-to-shoulder with those rejecting fossil fuels and nuclear power, should we despise, ignore, or commend those who challenge the menace to their homes and their communities from solar, wind and hydro-power (dams)?  The Green Party of St. Louis/Gateway Green Alliance gave its answer with unanimous approval of a version of the statement below in May, 2021.

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Global Conflicts Over Fossil Fuels, Nuclear and Alternative Energy

The monumental increase in the use of energy is provoking conflicts across the Earth.  We express our solidarity with those struggling against extraction, including these examples.

Standing Rock, North Dakota.  We stand in solidarity with the on-going Native American protests at Standing Rock in North Dakota protesting environmentally irresponsible and culturally damaging pipelines that transport crude oil extracted from tar sand, destroying their ancestral lands. So-called “clean” and “renewable” energies depend on the climate killer oil for their production.

Ogoni People vs. Shell.  We stand in solidarity with the Movement for Survival of Ogoni People against Shell. The Niger-Delta was devastated and traditional culture weakened by soil, surface and groundwater contamination that makes farming and fishing impossible.  Local communities still seek to receive denied compensation, clean-up, a share of the profits and a say in decision-making.

Coal extraction in India.  We stand in solidarity with the Centre for Policy Research in India as it opposes efforts by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to open 41 new coal mines because burning coal is a major factor in climate change, leads to asthma, premature births, and spreads toxins (including mercury) by air, water and land.

Fracking in Pennsylvania.  We stand in solidarity with the Green Party of Pennsylvania which has opposed fracking since 2008 when it realized that use of volatile chemicals could harm local communities and waterways and contribute to climate instability. Local residents have become ill and major waterways and delicate ecosystems have been damaged.

Nuclear power and Olympic Games.  We stand in solidarity with the No Nukes Action Committee of the Bay Area who are demonstrating against the Olympic Games slated for Tokyo in order to raise awareness of the ongoing disaster of Fukushima nuclear power since nuclear power is deadly and intimately connected with the potential for nuclear war.

Uranium Mining in Africa.  We stand in solidarity with “Solidarity Action for the 21 Villages” in Faléa, Mali against the French multinational COGEMA/Orano. After years of struggle, this NGO defeated a uranium mine through community mobilizing.  Aware of the detrimental effects on health, environment, agricultural land, water sources and cultural heritage, they are still fighting to undo already done infrastructural damage.

Solar arrays in Washington State.  We stand in solidarity with rural Klickitat County, WA residents who are being invaded by industrial solar facilities which would exceed 12,000 acres and undermine wildlife/habitat, ecosystems, ground/water, and food production because solar panels and lithium ion batteries contain carcinogens with no method of disposal or re-cycling and could contribute to wildfires from electrical shortages.

Wind turbines in Broome County NY.  We stand in solidarity with the Broome Tioga Green Party’s fight against industrial wind turbine projects that would increase drilling and mining, dynamite 26 pristine mountain tops, and destroy 120,000 trees while requiring precious minerals and lithium for batteries and being dependent on fossil fuels for their manufacture, maintenance and operation.

Hydro-power in Honduras.  We stand in solidarity with the indigenous Lenca people opposing the Agua Zarca dam on the Gualcarque River in Honduras whose leader Berta Cáceres was murdered for uniting different movements to expose how dams destroy farmland, leave forests bare, disturb ancestral burial sites, and deprive communities of water for crops and livestock.

Lithium mining in Thacker Pass.  We stand in solidarity with activists aiming to stop Lithium Americas’ Thacker Pass open-pit mine (Nevada).  Essential for electronic devices including electric cars, the mine would destroy rare old-growth big sagebrush, harm wildlife including many endangered species and lower the water table. Its operation would require massive fossil fuel use and toxic waste ponds.

Cobalt Extraction in DR Congo.  We stand in solidarity with the child laborers slaving and dying in Democratic Republic of Congo cobalt mines.  Cobalt is an essential ingredient for some of the world’s fastest-growing industries—electric cars and electronic devices. It co-occurs with copper mining, used in construction, machinery, transportation and war technology worldwide.

Child Labour in Democratic Republic of Congo

Most of all, we stand in solidarity with thousands upon thousands of communities across the Earth opposing every form of extraction or transmission for energy which seeks to cover up human health and environmental dangers.

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The version adopted by the Gateway Green Alliance differs only by referring to its organizational name in the text.  If you would like to join those spreading the word regarding the need to challenge all forms of energy extraction because we can provide better lives for every society on Earth by reducing the global production of energy, please contact the author at the email below.

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Suicidal Games: Tokyo’s Coronavirus Olympics

A pandemic crisis.  A state of emergency.  Overwhelming public opinion bristling with alarm.  Notwithstanding these factors, Tokyo is still on track to host the Olympics that was cancelled last year in response to the global pandemic.  The first sports team – Australia’s softball crew – has touched down.  Is all this folly, bravery or self-interest?

On a daily basis, the tally of reasons against holding the games grows.  Currently, the Japanese capital and nine other regions in the country labour under a declared state of emergency, one that will extend, at the very least, to June 20.  Overseas fans have been barred and some 600,000 tickets refunded.  Travel warnings have been registered, none more unequivocal than the US State Department’s advisory: “Do not travel to Japan due to COVID-19.”  As the grave Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga warned, “The next three weeks are an extremely important period in achieving results in infection prevention and vaccine inoculation, a two-pronged strategy.”

An important point here is the sheer porcine obstinacy of the administration wonks whose very existence depends on an event that takes place every four years.  They form what can only be described as the “show must go on” brigade, given the billions of dollars at stake regarding television rights.  These furnish the International Olympic Committee some 75 percent of its income, with the US broadcaster NBC being the major contributor.

The President of the IOC, Thomas Bach, has shown little concern as to what Japan is facing in terms of public health.  “We have to make some sacrifices to make [the games] possible.”  World Athletics President and IOC member Sebastian Coe is convinced that competitors will be “hermitically sealed from local people”.

The IOC vice-president John Coates, filled with the lunatic spirit of the Light Brigade, insists that the games proceed as scheduled.  “The Prime Minister of Japan said that to the President of the United States two or three weeks ago,” Coates told reporters after the AOC annual general meeting in Sydney.  “He continues to say that to the IOC.”  Coates felt that the “playbook” of health regulations covering participants was an adequate “guide for a safe and successful games”.

Administrators such as Coates have taken it upon themselves to assume some depth of public health knowledge.  Regarding the situation in Japan, he was happy to prognosticate.  “The numbers [of infections] are very small, particularly amongst the elderly.  And so as the vaccine is rolled out in Japan, I think that will improve.”  It was incumbent, he urged, that Japanese authorities reassure the public that all was well and that the safety measures were more than adequate.

The much touted Tokyo 2020 Playbook has had a few iterations.  As it stands, an extensive testing regime will be in place both before, during and after the event.  Social interaction will be limited.  Eating is to take place in designated areas.  The use of public transportation and sightseeing is prohibited.  Athletes must abide by various rules or be barred from competing: undergo testing at least once every four days, maintain a distance of 6 feet apart, eschew high-fives, hugging or sex.  The latter injunction is to read alongside the odd promise to distribute 150,000 free condoms, a classic example of absurd committee logic.

Seiko Hashimoto, President of the Tokyo Olympic organising committee, is almost blithe in assuming that the crisis will plateau.  With pandemic restrictions in place, there was an expectation that “the infection situation” would “improve”.  “Once the state of emergency is lifted, we will assess how many spectators we can allow in.”

Tokyo 2020 CEO Toshiro Muto, in response to objections being levelled at holding the games, considered it “natural” that “different media organisations have different views”.  As with other organisers, he felt that the “stringent measures” that had been put in place by national and local governments would improve the situation.

In the face of all of this is a clamour for the game’s cancellation.  This is the position taken by the Japanese paper Asahi Shimbun, an official Games sponsor which has called upon Prime Minister Suga to “make a calm, objective assessment of the situation and make the decision to cancel this summer’s Olympics.”  The editors also took issue with the “self-righteous” disposition of Coates and other IOC Committee leaders, rebuking them for being “out of step” with Japanese public opinion.  “Saying ‘yes’ without demonstrating any clear grounds for it once again drove the self-righteous image of the IOC.”

Others have been even more acid in their comments.  The chief of the Japanese online retailer Rakuten, Hiroshi Mikitani is baffled by the determination of administrators to proceed with the event.  “The fact that we are so late for the vaccinations, it’s really dangerous to host the big international event.”  To hold it would be tantamount to staging “a suicide mission”.  Chief executive of the Softbank Group, Masayoshi Son, has issued dire warnings about 100,000 people from 200 countries descending “on vaccine-laggard Japan”.  The arrival of mutant variants could see the loss of more lives, the need for subsidies and more economic losses.  “If we consider what the public has to endure, I think we could have a lot more to lose.”

Most troubling of all for concerned Japanese citizens is the way Suga’s government has ceded authority to the IOC in what can only be regarded as a disgraceful abdication of responsibility.  Last month, the prime minister went so far as to defer authority to the sporting body: “the IOC has the authority to decide”.  No wonder Bach and Coates are so confident.

The post Suicidal Games: Tokyo’s Coronavirus Olympics first appeared on Dissident Voice.

How John Hersey Blew the Whistle on the Reality of Nuclear War

In this crisply written, well-researched book, Lesley Blume, a journalist and biographer, tells the fascinating story of the background to John Hersey’s pathbreaking article Hiroshima, and of its extraordinary impact upon the world.

In 1945, although only 30 years of age, Hersey was a very prominent war correspondent for Time magazine—a key part of publisher Henry Luce’s magazine empire—and living in the fast lane.  That year, he won the Pulitzer Prize for his novel, A Bell for Adano, which had already been adapted into a movie and a Broadway play.  Born the son of missionaries in China, Hersey had been educated at upper class, elite institutions, including the Hotchkiss School, Yale, and Cambridge.  During the war, Hersey’s wife, Frances Ann, a former lover of young Lieutenant John F. Kennedy, arranged for the three of them to get together over dinner.  Kennedy impressed Hersey with the story of how he saved his surviving crew members after a Japanese destroyer rammed his boat, PT-109.  This led to a dramatic article by Hersey on the subject—one rejected by the Luce publications but published by the New Yorker.  The article launched Kennedy on his political career and, as it turned out, provided Hersey with the bridge to a new employer – the one that sent him on his historic mission to Japan.

Blume reveals that, at the time of the U.S. atomic bombing of Hiroshima, Hersey felt a sense of despair—not for the bombing’s victims, but for the future of the world.  He was even more disturbed by the atomic bombing of Nagasaki only three days later, which he considered a “totally criminal” action that led to tens of thousands of unnecessary deaths.

Most Americans at the time did not share Hersey’s misgivings about the atomic bombings.  A Gallup poll taken on August 8, 1945 found that 85 percent of American respondents expressed their support for “using the new atomic bomb on Japanese cities.”

Blume shows very well how this approval of the atomic bombing was enhanced by U.S. government officials and the very compliant mass communications media.  Working together, they celebrated the power of the new American weapon that, supposedly, had brought the war to an end, producing articles lauding the bombing mission and pictures of destroyed buildings.  What was omitted was the human devastation, the horror of what the atomic bombing had done physically and psychologically to an almost entirely civilian population—the flesh roasted off bodies, the eyeballs melting, the terrible desperation of mothers digging with their hands through the charred rubble for their dying children.

The strange new radiation sickness produced by the bombing was either denied or explained away as of no consequence.  “Japanese reports of death from radioactive effects of atomic bombing are pure propaganda,” General Leslie Groves, the head of the Manhattan Project, told the New York Times.  Later, when, it was no longer possible to deny the existence of radiation sickness, Groves told a Congressional committee that it was actually “a very pleasant way to die.”

When it came to handling the communications media, U.S. government officials had some powerful tools at their disposal.  In Japan, General Douglas MacArthur, the supreme commander of the U.S. occupation regime, saw to it that strict U.S. military censorship was imposed on the Japanese press and other forms of publication, which were banned from discussing the atomic bombing.  As for foreign newspaper correspondents (including Americans), they needed permission from the occupation authorities to enter Japan, to travel within Japan, to remain in Japan, and even to obtain food in Japan.  American journalists were taken on carefully controlled junkets to Hiroshima, after which they were told to downplay any unpleasant details of what they had seen there.

In September 1945, U.S. newspaper and magazine editors received a letter from the U.S. War Department, on behalf of President Harry Truman, asking them to restrict information in their publications about the atomic bomb.  If they planned to do any publishing in this area of concern, they were to submit the articles to the War Department for review.

Among the recipients of this warning were Harold Ross, the founder and editor of the New Yorker, and William Shawn, the deputy editor of that publication.  The New Yorker, originally founded as a humor magazine, was designed by Ross to cater to urban sophisticates and covered the world of nightclubs and chorus girls.  But, with the advent of the Second World War, Ross decided to scrap the hi-jinks flavor of the magazine and begin to publish some serious journalism.

As a result, Hersey began to gravitate into the New Yorker’s orbit.  Hersey was frustrated with his job at Time magazine, which either rarely printed his articles or rewrote them atrociously.  At one point, he angrily told publisher Henry Luce that there was as much truthful reporting in Time magazine as in Pravda.  In July 1945, Hersey finally quit his job with Time.  Then, late that fall, he sat down with William Shawn of the New Yorker to discuss some ideas he had for articles, one of them about Hiroshima.

Hersey had concluded that the mass media had missed the real story of the Hiroshima bombing.  And the result was that the American people were becoming accustomed to the idea of a nuclear future, with the atomic bomb as an acceptable weapon of war.  Appalled by what he had seen in the Second World War—from the firebombing of cities to the Nazi concentration camps—Hersey was horrified by what he called “the depravity of man,” which, he felt, rested upon the dehumanization of others.  Against this backdrop, Hersey and Shawn concluded that he should try to enter Japan and report on what had really happened there.

Getting into Japan would not be easy.  The U.S. Occupation authorities exercised near-total control over who could enter the stricken nation, keeping close tabs on all journalists who applied to do so, including records on their whereabouts, their political views, and their attitudes toward the occupation.  Nearly every day, General MacArthur received briefings about the current press corps, with summaries of their articles.  Furthermore, once admitted, journalists needed permission to travel anywhere within the country, and were allotted only limited time for these forays.

Even so, Hersey had a number of things going for him.  During the war, he was a very patriotic reporter.  He had written glowing profiles about rank-and-file U.S. soldiers, as well as a book (Men on Bataan) that provided a flattering portrait of General MacArthur.  This fact certainly served Hersey well, for the general was a consummate egotist.  Apparently as a consequence, Hersey received authorization to visit Japan.

En route there in the spring of 1946, Hersey spent some time in China, where, on board a U.S. warship, he came down with the flu.  While convalescing, he read Thornton Wilder’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, The Bridge of San Luis Rey, which tracked the different lives of five people in Peru who were killed when a bridge upon which they stood collapsed.  Hersey and Shawn had already decided that he should tell the story of the Hiroshima bombing from the victims’ point of view.  But Hersey now realized that Wilder’s book had given him a particularly poignant, engrossing way of telling a complicated story.  Practically everyone could identify with a group of regular people going about their daily routines as catastrophe suddenly struck them.

Hersey arrived in Tokyo on May 24, 1946, and two days later, received permission to travel to Hiroshima, with his time in that city limited to 14 days.

Entering Hiroshima, Hersey was stunned by the damage he saw.  In Blume’s words, there were “miles of jagged misery and three-dimensional evidence that humans—after centuries of contriving increasingly efficient ways to exterminate masses of other humans—had finally invented the means with which to decimate their entire civilization.”  Now there existed what one reporter called “teeming jungles of dwelling places . . . in a welter of ashes and rubble.”  As residents attempted to clear the ground to build new homes, they uncovered masses of bodies and severed limbs.  A cleanup campaign in one district of the city alone at about that time unearthed a thousand corpses.  Meanwhile, the city’s surviving population was starving, with constant new deaths from burns, other dreadful wounds, and radiation poisoning.

Given the time limitations of his permit, Hersey had to work fast.  And he did, interviewing dozens of survivors, although he eventually narrowed down his cast of characters to six of them.

Departing from Hiroshima’s nightmare of destruction, Hersey returned to the United States to prepare the story that was to run in the New Yorker to commemorate the atomic bombing.  He decided that the article would have to read like a novel.  “Journalism allows its readers to witness history,” he later remarked.  “Fiction gives readers the opportunity to live it.”  His goal was “to have the reader enter into the characters, become the characters, and suffer with them.”

When Hersey produced a sprawling 30,000 word draft, the New Yorker’s editors at first planned to publish it in serialized form.  But Shawn decided that running it this way wouldn’t do, for the story would lose its pace and impact.  Rather than have Hersey reduce the article to a short report, Shawn had a daring idea.  Why not run the entire article in one issue of the magazine, with everything else—the “Talk of the Town” pieces, the fiction, the other articles and profiles, and the urbane cartoons—banished from the issue?

Ross, Shawn, and Hersey now sequestered themselves in a small room at the New Yorker’s headquarters, furiously editing Hersey’s massive article.  Ross and Shawn decided to keep the explosive forthcoming issue a top secret from the magazine’s staff.  Indeed, the staff were kept busy working on a “dummy” issue that they thought would be going to press.  Contributors to that issue were baffled when they didn’t receive proofs for their articles and accompanying artwork.  Nor were the New Yorker’s advertisers told what was about to happen.  As Blume remarks:  “The makers of Chesterfield cigarettes, Perma-Lift brassieres, Lux toilet soap, and Old Overholt rye whiskey would just have to find out along with everyone else in the world that their ads would be run alongside Hersey’s grisly story of nuclear apocalypse.”

However, things don’t always proceed as smoothly as planned.  On August 1, 1946, President Truman signed into law the Atomic Energy Act, which established a “restricted” standard for “all data concerning the manufacture or utilization of atomic weapons.”  Anyone who disseminated that data “with any reason to believe that such data” could be used to harm the United States could face substantial fines and imprisonment.  Furthermore, if it could be proved that the individual was attempting to “injure the United States,” he or she could “be punished by death or imprisonment for life.”

In these new circumstances, what should Ross, Shawn, and Hersey do?  They could kill the story, water it down, or run it and risk severe legal action against them.  After agonizing over their options, they decided to submit Hersey’s article to the War Department – and, specifically, to General Groves – for clearance.

Why did they take that approach?  Blume speculates that the New Yorker team thought that Groves might insist upon removing any technical information from the article while leaving the account of the sufferings of the Japanese intact.  After all, Groves believed that the Japanese deserved what had happened to them, and could not imagine that other Americans might disagree.  Furthermore, the article, by underscoring the effectiveness of the atomic bombing of Japan, bolstered his case that the war had come to an end because of his weapon.  Finally, Groves was keenly committed to maintaining U.S. nuclear supremacy in the world, and he believed that an article that led Americans to fear nuclear attacks by other nations would foster support for a U.S. nuclear buildup.

The gamble paid off.  Although Groves did demand changes, these were minor and did not affect the accounts by the survivors.

On August 29, 1946, copies of the Hiroshima edition of the New Yorker arrived on newsstands and in mailboxes across the United States, and it quickly created an enormous sensation, particularly in the mass media.  Editors from more than thirty states applied to excerpt portions of the article, and newspapers from across the nation ran front-page banner stories and urgent editorials about its revelations.  Correspondence from every region of the United States poured into the New Yorker’s office.  A large number of readers expressed pity for the victims of the bombing.  But an even greater number expressed deep fear about what the advent of nuclear war meant for the survival of the human race.

Of course, not all readers approved of Hersey’s report on the atomic bombing.  Some reacted by canceling their subscriptions to the New Yorker.  Others assailed the article as antipatriotic, Communist propaganda, designed to undermine the United States.  Still others dismissed it as pro-Japanese propaganda or, as one reader remarked, written “in very bad taste.”

Some newspapers denounced it.  The New York Daily News derided it as a stunt and “propaganda aimed at persuading us to stop making atom bombs . . . and to give our technical bomb secrets away . . . to Russia.”  Not surprisingly, Henry Luce was infuriated that his former star journalist had achieved such an enormous success writing for a rival publication, and had Hersey’s portrait removed from Time Inc.’s gallery of honor.

Despite the criticism, Hiroshima continued to attract enormous attention in the mass media.  The ABC Radio Network did a reading of the lengthy article over four nights, with no acting, no music, no special effects, and no commercials.  “This chronicle of suffering and destruction,” it announced, was being “broadcast as a warning that what happened to the people of Hiroshima could next happen anywhere.”  After the broadcasts, the network’s telephone switchboards were swamped by callers, and the program was judged to have received the highest rating of any public interest broadcast that had ever occurred.  The BBC also broadcast an adaptation of Hiroshima, while some 500 U.S. radio stations reported on the article in the days following its release.

In the United States, the Alfred Knopf publishing house came out with the article in book form, which was quickly promoted by the Book-of-the-Month Club as “destined to be the most widely read book of our generation.”  Ultimately, Hiroshima sold millions of copies in nations around the world.  By the late fall of 1946, the rather modest and retiring Hersey, who had gone into hiding after the article’s publication to avoid interviews, was rated as one of the “Ten Outstanding Celebrities of 1946,” along with General Dwight Eisenhower and singer Bing Crosby.

For U.S. government officials, reasonably content with past public support for the atomic bombing and a nuclear-armed future, Hersey’s success in reaching the public with his disturbing account of nuclear war confronted them with a genuine challenge.  For the most part, U.S. officials recognized that they had what Blume calls “a serious post-`Hiroshima’ image problem.”

Behind the scenes, James B. Conant, the top scientist in the Manhattan Project, joined President Truman in badgering Henry Stimson, the former U.S. Secretary of War, to produce a defense of the atomic bombing.  Provided with an advance copy of the article, to be published in Harper’s, Conant told Stimson that it was just what was needed, for they could not have allowed “the propaganda against the use of the atomic bomb . . . to go unchecked.”

Although the New Yorker’s editors sought to arrange for publication of the book version of Hiroshima in the Soviet Union, this proved impossible.  Instead, Soviet authorities banned the book in their nation.  Pravda fiercely assailed Hersey, claiming that Hiroshima was nothing more than an American scare tactic, a fiction that “relishes the torments of six people after the explosion of the atomic bomb.”  Another Soviet publication called Hersey an American spy who embodied his country’s militarism and had helped to inflict upon the world a “propaganda of aggression, strongly reminiscent of similar manifestations in Nazi Germany.”

Ironically, the Soviet attack upon Hersey didn’t make him any more acceptable to the U.S. government.  In 1950, FBI director J. Edgar Hoover assigned FBI field agents to research, monitor, and interview Hersey, on whom the Bureau had already opened a file.  During the FBI interview with Hersey, agents questioned him closely about his trip to Hiroshima.

Not surprisingly, U.S. occupation authorities did their best to ban the appearance of Hiroshima in Japan.  Hersey’s six protagonists had to wait months before they could finally read the article, which was smuggled to them.  In fact, some of Hersey’s characters were not aware that they had been included in the story or that the article had even been written until they received the contraband copies.  MacArthur managed to block publication of the book in Japan for years until, after intervention by the Authors’ League of America, he finally relented.  It appeared in April 1949, and immediately became a best-seller.

Hersey, still a young man at the time, lived on for decades thereafter, writing numerous books, mostly works of fiction, and teaching at Yale.  He continued to be deeply concerned about the fate of a nuclear-armed world—proud of his part in stirring up resistance to nuclear war and, thereby, helping to prevent it.

The conclusion drawn by Blume in this book is much like Hersey’s.  As she writes, “Graphically showing what nuclear warfare does to humans, Hiroshima has played a major role in preventing nuclear war since the end of World War II.”

A secondary theme in the book is the role of a free press.  Blume observes that “Hersey and his New Yorker editors created Hiroshima in the belief that journalists must hold accountable those in power.  They saw a free press as essential to the survival of democracy.”  She does, too.

Overall, Blume’s book would provide the basis for a very inspiring movie, for at its core is something many Americans admire:  action taken by a few people who triumph against all odds.

But the actual history is somewhat more complicated.  Even before the publication of Hiroshima, a significant number of people were deeply disturbed by the atomic bombing of Japan.  For some, especially pacifists, the bombing was a moral atrocity.  An even larger group feared that the advent of nuclear weapons portended the destruction of the world.  Traditional pacifist organizations, newly-formed atomic scientist groups, and a rapidly-growing world government movement launched a dramatic antinuclear campaign in the late 1940s around the slogan, “One World or None.”  Curiously, this uprising against nuclear weapons is almost entirely absent from Blume’s book.

Even so, Blume has written a very illuminating, interesting, and important work—one that reminds us that daring, committed individuals can help to create a better world.

The post How John Hersey Blew the Whistle on the Reality of Nuclear War first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Virtual Bunny Hugging: Boasting About Climate Change Goals

He seemed frustrated.  While Scott Morrison’s international colleagues at the Leaders Summit on Climate were boastful in what their countries would do in decarbonising the global economy, Australia’s feeble contribution was put on offer.  Unable to meet his own vaccination targets, the Australian prime minister has decided to confine the word “target” in other areas of policy to oblivion.  Just as the term “climate change” has been avoided in the bowels of Canberra bureaucracy, meeting environmental objectives set in stone will be shunned.

Ahead of the summit, Nobel Prize laureates had added their names to a letter intending to ruffle summit participants.  Comprising all fields, the 101 signatories urged countries “to act now to avoid a climate catastrophe by stopping the expansion of oil, gas and coal.”  Governments had “lagged, shockingly, behind what science demands and what a growing and powerful people-powered movement knows: urgent action is needed to end the expansion of fossil fuel production; phase out current production; and invest in renewable energy.”

Deficiencies in the current climate change approach were noted: the Paris Agreement, for instance, makes no mention of oil, gas or coal; the fossil fuel industry was intending to expand, with 120% more coal, oil and gas slated for production by 2030. “The solution,” warn the Nobel Laureates, “is clear: fossil fuels must be kept in the ground.”

To Morrison and his cabinet, these voices are mere wiseacres who sip coffee and down the chardonnay with relish, oblivious to dirty realities.  His address to the annual dinner of the Business Council of Australia took the view that Australia would “not achieve net zero in the cafes, dinner parties and wine bars of our inner cities.”  Having treated environmental activism as delusionary, he suggested that industries not be taxed, as they provided “livelihoods for millions of Australians off the planet, as our political opponents sought to do when they were given the chance.”

US President Joe Biden had little appetite for such social distinctions in speaking to summit participants.  (Unfortunately for the President, the preceding introduction by Vice President Kamala Harris was echoed on the live stream, one of various glitches marking the meeting.)   After four years of a crockery breaking retreat from the subject of climate change, this new administration was hoping to steal back some ground and jump the queue in combating climate change.  The new target: cutting greenhouse gas emissions by half from 2005 levels by 2030.

Biden wished to construct “a critical infrastructure to produce and deploy clean energy”.  He saw workers in their numbers capping abandoned oil and gas wells and reclaiming abandoned coal mines.  He dreamed of autoworkers in their efforts to build “the next generation of electric vehicles” assisted by electricians and the installing of 500,000 charging stations.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken laboured the theme of togetherness in his opening remarks: “We’re in this together. And what each of our nations does or does not do will not only impact people of our country, but people everywhere.”  But Blinken was also keen, at least in terms of language, to seize some ground for US leadership.  “We want every country here to know: We want to work with you to save our planet, and we’re all committed to finding every possible avenue of cooperation on climate change.”

A central part of this policy will involve implementing the Climate Finance Plan, intended to provide and mobilise “financial resources to assist developing countries reduce and/or avoid greenhouse gas emissions and build resilience and adapt to the impacts of climate change.”

While solidarity and collaboration were points the Biden administration wished to reiterate, ill-tempered political rivalries were hard to contain.  On April 19, Blinken conceded during his address to the Chesapeake Bay Foundation that China was “the largest producer and exporter of solar panels, wind turbines, batteries, electric vehicles.”  It held, he sulkily noted, almost “a third of the world’s renewable energy patents.”

Environmental policy, in other words, had to become the next terrain of competition; in this, a good degree of naked self-interest would be required.  “If we don’t catch up, America will miss the chance to shape the world’s climate future in a way that reflects our interests and values, and we’ll lose out on countless jobs for the American people.”  Forget bleeding heart arguments about solidarity and collective worth: the US, if it was to win “the long-term strategic competition with China” needed to “lead the renewable energy revolution.”

Others in attendance also had their share of chest-thumping ambition. The United Kingdom’s Boris Johnson was all self-praise about his country having the “biggest offshore wind capacity of any country in the word, the Saudi Arabia of wind as I never tire of saying.”  The country was half-way towards carbon neutrality.  He also offered a new target: cutting emissions by 78 percent under 1990 levels by 2035.  Wishing to emphasise his seriousness of it all, Johnson claimed that combating climate change was not “all about some expensive politically correct green act of ‘bunny hugging’.”

Canada also promised a more ambitious emissions reduction target: the Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) would be reduced by 40-45 percent below 2005 levels by 2030.  “Canada’s Strengthened Climate Plan,” stated Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, “puts us on track to not just meet but to exceed our 2030 emissions goal – but we were clearly aware that more must be done.”

Brazil’s President and climate change sceptic Jair Bolsonaro chose to keep up appearances with his peers, aligning the posts to meet emissions neutrality by 2050.  This shaved off ten years from the previous objective.  He also promised a doubling of funding for environmental enforcement.  Fine undertakings from a political figure whose policies towards the Amazon rainforest have been vandalising in their destruction.

Japan’s Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga also threw in his lot with a goal of securing a 46 percent reduction by 2030. (The previous target had been a more modest 26 percent reduction based on 2013 levels.)  This did little to delight Akio Toyoda, president of Toyota Motor.  “What Japan needs to do now,” he warned, “is to expand its options for technology.”  Any immediate bans on gasoline-powered or diesel cars, for instance, “would limit such options, and could also cause Japan to lose its strengths.”

Toyoda’s sentiments, along with those of Japan’s business lobby Keidanren, would have made much sense to Morrison.  In a speech shorn of ambition, the Australian prime minister began to speak with his microphone muted.  Then came his own version of ambitiousness, certain that Australia’s record on climate change was replete with “setting, achieving and exceeding our commitments”.

It was not long before he was speaking, not to the leaders of the world, but a domestic audience breast fed by the fossil fuel industries.  Australia was “on the pathway to net zero” and intent on getting “there as soon as we possibly can, through technology that enables and transforms our industries, not taxes that eliminate them and the jobs and livelihoods they support and create, especially in our regions.”  His own slew of promises: Australia would invest in clean hydrogen, green steel, energy storage and carbon capture.  The US might well have Silicon Valley, but Australia would, in time, create “Hydrogen Valleys”.

With such unremarkable, even pitiable undertakings, critics could only marvel at a list of initiatives that risk disappearing in the frothy stew.  “Targets on their own, won’t lead to emission cuts,” reflected Greenpeace UK’s head of climate, Kate Blagojevic.  “That takes real policy and money.  And that’s where the whole world is still way off course.”  Ahead of COP26 at Glasgow, Morrison will be hoping that the world remains divided and very much off course.

The post Virtual Bunny Hugging: Boasting About Climate Change Goals first appeared on Dissident Voice.

If Fukushima’s Water is Safe, Then Drink it!

By now, the world knows all about the decision by Japan to dump tritium-laced radioactive water into the Pacific Ocean. According to Japan’s Deputy Prime Minister Taro Aso, the treated and diluted water will be “safe to drink.” Furthermore, he claims the country should have started releasing it into the ocean earlier. 1

In response to Deputy PM Aso, Chinese Foreign Minster Lijian Zhao replied “the ocean is not Japan’s trashcan” and furthermore, since Japan claims it’s safe to drink, “then drink it!”

Mr. Zhao may have stumbled upon the best solution to international concerns about TEPCO (Tokyo Electric Power Company) dumping tritium-laced radioactive water into the Pacific Ocean. Instead, TEPCO should remove it from the storage tanks at Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station and deliver it to Japan’s water reservoirs where, similar to the ocean, it will be further diluted but not quite as much. After all, the International Atomic Energy Agency/Vienna (IAEA) and the Japanese government are full of praise and confidence about how “harmless” the radioactive water will be. Let Japan drink it and/or use it for crop irrigation!

Japan has approximately 100,000 dams of which roughly 3,000 are over 15 meters (50’) tall for flood control, water supply and hydroelectric power some of which are used exclusively for irrigation of crops. These water reservoirs are more than adequate to handle TEPCO’s “harmless” radioactive water. In a straightforward approach, Japan should use water trucks to haul the Fukushima radioactive water to various dam reservoir locations throughout the country. The bigger the reservoir, the better it’ll be for dumping/dilution purposes.

For example, one of the largest drinking water reservoirs in Japan is Ogouchi Reservoir, which holds 189 million tons of drinking water for Tokyo. TEPCO is currently storing 1.3 million tons of radioactive water at Fukushima Daiichi and nearing full capacity. Ogouchi alone should be able to handle at least 1/4, and maybe up to 1/2, of the radioactive water without any serious consequences, especially as both the IAEA and the government of Japan have clearly given thumbs up. No worries, it’s safe.

The citizens of Tokyo should be okay with this plan since their own government and the IAEA and the U.S. have re-assured the world that dumping Fukushima’s radioactive water into a large body of water is safe, in fact, safe enough to drink. Eureka! Problem solved!

With the blessing of the IAEA and the U.S. via Biden’s Climate Envoy John Kerry, Japan’s government plans to start releasing radioactive water from Fukushima Daiichi’s water storage tanks into the sea effective 2022, allegedly removing the toxic deadly isotopes like Cesium-137, leaving behind less deadly toxic tritium. Why not dump that “harmless water” (according to Japan’s own statements) into their water systems rather than into the sea? It doesn’t make sense to dump drinkable water (according to Japan’s Deputy PM) that simply needs a bit of dilution in a larger body of water, like the sea, when reservoirs are nearby to put it to good use and of adequate size to effectively dilute the toxic water, similar to the ocean.

Identical to all radioactive substances, tritium is a carcinogen (causes cancer), a mutagen (causes genetic mutation), and a teratogen (causes malformation of an embryo). The good news: Tritium is relatively weak beta radiation and does not have enough energy to penetrate human skin. The main health risks are ingesting or breathing the tritium-laced water in large quantities.

Cancer is the main risk to humans ingesting tritium. When tritium decays it emits a low-energy electron (roughly 18,000 electron volts) that escapes and slams into DNA, a ribosome or some other biologically important molecule. And, unlike other radionuclides, tritium is usually part of water, so it ends up in all parts of the body and therefore, in theory, can promote any kind of cancer. But that also helps reduce the risk because tritiated water is typically excreted in less than a month.2

Some evidence suggests beta particles emitted by tritium are more effective at causing cancer than the high-energy radiation such as gamma rays. Low-energy electrons produce a greater impact because it doesn’t have the energy to spread its impact. At the end of its atomic-scale trip it delivers most of its ionizing energy in one relatively confined track rather than shedding energy all along its path like a higher-energy particle. This is known as “density of ionization.” As such, scientists say any amount of radiation poses a health risk. 3

Tritium is very mobile and can enter biological systems and has the potential to damage living cells. 4

Tritium can potentially be hazardous to human health because it emits ionizing radiation, exposure to which may increase the probability that a person will develop cancer during his or her lifetime. For this reason, it is very important that human exposure to any radioactive material, such as tritium, is minimized within reason. 5

Perhaps TEPCO, the government of Japan, the U. S., and the IAEA are counting on the hedged statement in the aforementioned paragraph as their primary rationale for dumping radioactive water into a larger body of water: It’ll be “minimized within reason.” Hmm.

In point of fact:

The storage tanks now hold seawater that has been used to continue cooling the reactor cores, and this water is contaminated with such radionuclides as Cesium-137, Carbon-14, tritium (including the more dangerous “Organically Bound Tritium”), Strontium-90, Cobalt-60, Iodine-129, Plutonium-239 — and over 50 other radionuclides. Some of this has reportedly been removed, but some has not (e.g. radioactive tritium and C-14). The Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) that owns Fukushima, and is now responsible for the cleanup (that is likely to last the remainder of this century), didn’t admit until recently that the wastewater contains significant amounts of radioactive Carbon-14. As C-14 has a half-life of 5,730 years, and is known to bio-accumulate in marine ecosystems and cause cellular and genetic impairment, this is a very serious concern. 6

According to the aforementioned article, TEPCO’s treatment system is subpar and likely not up to the task of thorough cleansing.

Furthermore, according to Ken Buesseler, marine chemist at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution:

Would this open the door for any country to release radioactive waste to the ocean that is not part of normal operations? 7

Based upon the news flow on the international front, Japan’s government did not consult its neighbors about the plan. China issued a warning, “the international community is watching” calling on Tokyo to “fulfill its international responsibilities to the environment.” A harsh South Korean Foreign Ministry complaint said Japan will “directly and indirectly affect the safety of the people and the neighboring environment… difficult to accept… without sufficient consultation of neighbors.” Meanwhile, local Japanese fishermen are fit to be tied because dumping radioactive water into the ocean is essentially a death sentence for their industry.

On the other hand, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) is just fine with the scheme since it meets “global standards.” They say it’s a normal process for nuclear plants around the world to release some amount of tritium into the seas. There is nothing positive about that, nothing whatsoever.

TEPCO has deployed an Advanced Liquid Processing System that purportedly removes 62 isotopes from the water, all except tritium, which is radioactive hydrogen and cannot easily be filtered out of water. Thus, allegedly all radioactive isotopes will be removed, except tritium, which is hard to separate.

Greenpeace/Japan has expressed strong reservations, more than once, about the comprehensiveness and adequacy of the removal cleansing process, claiming that several highly toxic/deadly radioactive isotopes remained after processing. Who knows whether this still holds true?

It is highly unlikely that the international community, other than the United States, will ever be totally comfortable with Japan’s decision to dump toxic radioactive water into the sea. Therefore, the country should take it upon itself to dispose of all radioactive water in their extensive network of water reservoirs.

Of course, nuclear power advocates argue that it’s insane to dump the radioactive water into any body of water other than the ocean because of its massive circulation capabilities, which will disperse the radioactive water throughout the world. But, that’s precisely what other countries do not want!

Deliberately, Japan has made the problem a simple one to deal with by publicly admitting that the treated water will be harmless, good enough to drink. As follows, they can keep it. Enough said!

Postscript: Doubling down-

Japanese Deputy Prime Minister Taro Aso repeated his claim Friday that it is safe to drink treated radioactive water accumulating at the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant after China asked him to personally prove it. 8

  1. “China to Japan: If Treated Radioactive Water From Fukushima is Safe, ‘Please Drink It’”, Washington Post, April 15, 2021.
  2. “Is Radioactive Hydrogen in Drinking Water a Cancer Threat”, Scientific American, February 7, 2014.
  3. “How Radiation Threatens Health”, Scientific American, March 15, 2011.
  4. Bundy, et al. (2012) Tritium, Health Effects and Dosimetry: Meyers R.A. (eds) Encyclopedia of Sustainability Science and Technology. Springer, New York, NY.
  5. HPS- Health Physics Society, Specialists in Radiation Safety, Tritium Fact Sheet, March 2011.
  6. Rick Steiner, “The Danger of Japan Dumping Fukushima Wastewater into the Ocean”, The Hill, April 17, 2021.
  7. “Japan Plans to Release Fukushima’s Wastewater into the Ocean”, Science, April 12, 2021.
  8. “Japan Plans to Release Fukushima’s Wastewater into the Ocean”, Science, April 12, 2021; “Taro Aso Repeats Claim That Treated Fukushima Water is Good to Drink”, The Jakarta Post, April 16, 2021.”
The post If Fukushima’s Water is Safe, Then Drink it! first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Denying the Demonic

In March of last year as the coronavirus panic was starting, I wrote a somewhat flippant article saying that the obsession with buying and hoarding toilet paper was the people’s vaccine.  My point was simple: excrement and death have long been associated in cultural history and in the Western imagination with the evil devil, Satan, the Lord of the underworld, the Trickster, the Grand Master who rules the pit of smelly death, the place below where bodies go.

The psychoanalytic literature is full of examples of death anxiety revealed in anal dreams of shit-filled overflowing toilets and people pissing in their pants.  Ernest Becker put it simply in The Denial of Death:

No mistake – the turd is mankind’s real threat because it reminds people of death.

The theological literature is also full of warnings about the devil’s wiles.  So too the Western classics from Aeschylus to Melville. The demonic has an ancient pedigree and has various names. Rational people tend to dismiss all this as superstitious nonsense.  This is hubris.  The Furies always exact their revenge when their existence is denied.  For they are part of ourselves, not alien beings, as the tragedy of human history has shown us time and again.

Since excremental visions and the fear of death haunt humans – the skull at the banquet as William James put it – the perfect symbol of protection is toilet paper that will keep you safe and clean and free of any reminder of the fear of death running through a panicked world.  It’s a magic trick, of course, an unconscious way of thinking you are protecting yourself; a form of self-hypnosis.

One year later, magical thinking has taken a different form and my earlier flippancy has turned darker. You can’t hoard today’s toilet paper but you can get them: RNA inoculations, misnamed vaccines. People are lined up for them now as they are being told incessantly to “get your shot.”  They are worse than toilet paper. At least toilet paper serves a practical function.  Real vaccines, as the word’s etymology – Latin, vaccinus, from cows, the cowpox virus vaccine first used by British physician Edward Jenner in 1800 to prevent smallpox – involve the use of a small amount of a virus.  The RNA inoculations are not vaccines.  To say they are is bullshit and has nothing to do with cows. To call them vaccines is linguistic mind control.

These experimental inoculations do not prevent the vaccinated from getting infected with the “virus” nor do they prevent transmission of the alleged virus. When they were approved recently by the FDA that was made clear.  The FDA issued Emergency Use Authorizations (EUAs) for these inoculations only under the proviso that they may make an infection less severe.  Yet millions have obediently taken a shot that doesn’t do what they think it does.  What does that tell us?

Hundreds of millions of people have taken an injection that allows a bio-reactive “gene-therapy” molecule to be injected into their bodies because of fear, ignorance, and a refusal to consider that the people who are promoting this are evil and have ulterior motives.  Not that they mean well, but that they are evil and have evil intentions.  Does this sound too extreme?  Radically evil?  Come on!

So what drives the refusal to consider that demonic forces are at work with the corona crisis?

Why do the same people who get vaccinated believe that a PCR test that can’t, according to its inventor Kary Mullis, test for this so-called virus, believe in the fake numbers of positive “cases”?  Do these people even know if the virus has ever been isolated?

Such credulity is an act of faith, not science or confirmed fact.

Is it just the fear of death that drives such thinking?

Or is it something deeper than ignorance and propaganda that drives this incredulous belief?

If you want facts, I will not provide them here. Despite the good intentions of people who still think facts matter, I don’t think most people are persuaded by facts anymore. But such facts are readily available from excellent alternative media publications.  Global Research’s Michel Chossudovsky has released, free of charge, his comprehensive E-Book: The 2020-21 Worldwide Corona Crisis: Destroying Civil Society, Engineered Economic Depression, Global Coup D’Etat, and the “Great Reset.”  It’s a good place to start if facts and analysis are what you are after.  Or go to Robert Kennedy, Jr.’s Childrens Health Defense, Off-Guardian, Dissident Voice, Global Research, among numerous others.

Perhaps you think these sites are right-wing propaganda because many articles they publish can also be read or heard at some conservative media. If so, you need to start thinking rather than reacting. The entire mainstream political/media spectrum is right-wing, if you wish to use useless terms such as Left/Right.  I have spent my entire life being accused of being a left-wing nut, but now I am being told I am a right-wing nut even though my writing appears in many leftist publications. Perhaps my accusers don’t know which way the screw turns or the nut loosens.  Being uptight and frightened doesn’t help.

I am interested in asking why so many people can’t accept that radical evil is real.  Is that a right-wing question?  Of course not.  It’s a human question that has been asked down through the ages.

I do think we are today in the grip of radical evil, demonic forces. The refusal to see and accept this is not new.  As the eminent theologian, David Ray Griffin, has argued, the American Empire, with its quest for world domination and its long and ongoing slaughters at home and abroad, is clearly demonic; it is driven by the forces of death symbolized by Satan.

I have spent many years trying to understand why so many good people have refused to see and accept this and have needed to ply a middle course over many decades. The safe path. Believing in the benevolence of their rulers.  When I say radical evil, I mean it in the deepest spiritual sense.  A religious sense, if you prefer.  But by religious I don’t mean institutional religions since so many of the institutional religions are complicit in the evil.

It has long been easy for Americans to accept the demonic nature of foreign leaders such as Hitler, Stalin, or Mao.  Easy, also, to accept the government’s attribution of such names as the “new Hitler” to any foreign leader it wishes to kill and overthrow.  But to consider their own political leaders as demonic is near impossible.

So let me begin with a few reminders.

The U.S. destruction of Iraq and the mass killings of Iraqis under George W. Bush beginning in 2003.  Many will say it was illegal, unjust, carried out under false pretenses, etc.  But who will say it was pure evil?

Who will say that Barack Obama’s annihilation of Libya was radical evil?

Who will say the atomic destruction of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and the firebombing of Tokyo and so many Japanese cities that killed hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians was radical evil?

Who will say the U.S. war against Syria is demonic evil?

Who will say the killing of millions of Vietnamese was radical evil?

Who will say the insider attacks of September 11, 2001 were demonic evil?

Who will say slavery, the genocide of native people, the secret medical experiments on the vulnerable, the CIA mind control experiments, the coups engineered throughout the world resulting in the mass murder of millions – who will say these are evil in the deepest sense?

Who will say the U.S. security state’s assassinations of JFK, Malcolm X, MLK, Jr., Robert Kennedy, Fred Hampton, et al. were radical evil?

Who will say the trillions spent on nuclear weapons and the willingness to use them to annihilate the human race is not the ultimate in radical evil?

This list could extend down the page endlessly.  Only someone devoid of all historical sense could conclude that the U.S. has not been in the grip of demonic forces for a long time.

If you can do addition, you will find the totals staggering.  They are overwhelming in their implications.

But to accept this history as radically evil in intent and not just in its consequences are two different things.  I think so many find it so hard to admit that their leaders have intentionally done and do demonic deeds for two reasons.  First, to do so implicates those who have supported these people or have not opposed them. It means they have accepted such radical evil and bear responsibility.  It elicits feelings of guilt. Secondly, to believe that one’s own leaders are evil is next to impossible for many to accept because it suggests that the rational façade of society is a cover for sinister forces and that they live in a society of lies so vast the best option is to make believe it just isn’t so.  Even when one can accept that evil deeds were committed in the past, even some perhaps intentionally, the tendency is to say “that was then, but things are different now.” Grasping the present when you are in it is not only difficult but often disturbing for it involves us.

So if I am correct and most Americans cannot accept that their leaders have intentionally done radically evil things, then it follows that to even consider questioning the intentions of the authorities regarding the current corona crisis needs to be self-censored.  Additionally, as we all know, the authorities have undertaken a vast censorship operation so people cannot hear dissenting voices of those who have now been officially branded as domestic terrorists. The self-censorship and the official work in tandem.

There is so much information available that shows that the authorities at the World Health Organization, the CDC, The World Economic Forum, Big Pharma, governments throughout the world, etc. have gamed this crisis beforehand, have manipulated the numbers, lied, have conducted a massive fear propaganda campaign via their media mouthpieces, have imposed cruel lockdowns that have further enriched the wealthiest and economically and psychologically devastated vast numbers, etc.  Little research is needed to see this, to understand that Big Pharma is, as Dr. Peter Gøtzsche documented eight years ago in Deadly Medicines and Organized Crime: How Big Pharma Has Corrupted Healthcare, a world-wide criminal enterprise.  It takes but a few minutes to see that the pharmaceutical companies who have been given emergency authorization for these untested experimental non-vaccine “vaccines” have paid out billions of dollars to settle criminal and civil allegations.

It is an open secret that the WHO, the Gates Foundation, the WEF led by Klaus Schwab, and an interlocking international group of conspirators have plans for what they call The Great Reset, a strategy to use  the COVID-19 crisis to push their agenda to create a world of cyborgs living in cyberspace where artificial intelligence replaces people and human biology is wedded to technology under the control of the elites.  They have made it very clear that there are too many people on this planet and billions must die.  Details are readily available of this open conspiracy to create a transhuman world.

Is this not radical evil?  Demonic?

Let me end with an analogy.  There is another organized crime outfit that can only be called demonic – The Central Intelligence Agency.  One of its legendary officers was James Jesus Angleton, chief of Counterintelligence from 1954 until 1975.  He was a close associate of Allen Dulles, the longest serving director of the CIA.  Both men were deeply involved in many evil deeds, including bringing Nazi doctors and scientists into the U.S. to do the CIA’s dirty work, including mind control, bioweapons research, etc.  The stuff they did for Hitler.  As reported by David Talbot in The Devil’s Chessboard: Allen Dulles, the CIA, and the Rise of America’s Secret Government, when the staunch Catholic Angleton was on his deathbed, he gave an interviews to visiting journalists, including Joseph Trento.  He confessed:

He had not been serving God, after all, when he followed Allen Dulles.  He had been on a satanic quest….’Fundamentally, the founding fathers of U.S. intelligence were liars,’ he told Trento in an emotionless voice.  ‘The better you lied and the more you betrayed, the more likely you would be promoted…. Outside this duplicity, the only thing they had in common was a desire for absolute power.  I did things that, looking back on my life, I regret.  But I was part of it and loved being in it.’  He invoked the names of the high eminences who had run the CIA in his day – Dulles, Helms, Wisner.  These men were ‘the grand masters,’ he said.  ‘If you were in a room with them, you were in a room full of people that you had to believe would deservedly end up in hell.’  Angleton took another slow sip from his steaming cup.  ‘I guess I will see them there soon.’

Until we recognize the demonic nature of the hell we are now in, we too will be lost.  We are fighting for our lives and the spiritual salvation of the world.  Do not succumb to the siren songs of these fathers of lies.

Resist.

The post Denying the Demonic first appeared on Dissident Voice.