Category Archives: Japan

Climate Change, Extreme Weather, Destructive Lifestyles

Throughout the world heat waves, flooding and uncontrollable wildfires have caused widespread havoc, lives have been lost, homes destroyed, livelihoods ruined.

Unprecedented levels of heat have been recorded in North America, Europe and Asia, as well as the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian Oceans. According to The UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCC) record cold May temperatures were registered in “northeastern Canada and the northern Atlantic Ocean, off the southern coast of Greenland.” Global temperatures for the first five months of the year were the highest on record for a La Niña year; higher temperatures, “lead to more frequent and long-lasting heat waves causing adverse environmental impacts.”

These extreme weather patterns are the ferocious signs and sights of climate change in 2018, and, because so little is being done to tackle the causes, year on year they become more and more intense. Planet Earth is becoming a world in which the extreme becomes the expected, the disastrous the everyday.

How bad must it get?

The year began with the coldest first week of January on record for numerous cities in eastern America; freezing temperatures and heavy snowfall swept across Europe in March as the “Beast From the East” hit. Britain was severely affected, with up to three feet of snow in some areas and temperatures down to minus 10ºC.

Floods have affected East Africa killing dozens of people, tropical cyclones hit Somalia, Djibouti, Yemen and Oman, dust storms killed hundreds in India, and Pakistan had an intense heat wave with temperatures exceeding 40ºC. Heavy rains and 70 mph winds in Bangladesh caused landslides, deaths and injuries. California had the largest wild fires ever recorded, and down under, Australia is becoming the ‘Land of Drought’ according to the Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull.

A heat wave of unprecedented temperatures scorched Europe and Japan, where 40ºC (104ºF) temperatures were recorded, 30 people died and thousands needed medical treatment for heat related conditions. A month earlier Japan had some of the worst floods in its history, more than 200 people lost their lives and almost 2 million people were evacuated; the Caribbean is bracing itself for this year’s hurricane season, while “still recovering from last year’s devastation,” which, the UNFCC say, was “the costliest on record”.

The list of extreme weather events across the word is endless; extremes that are increasingly normal as the impact of man-made climate change become more and more apparent, and yet little is being done to address the primary causes. How bad does it have to become before substantive action is taken to reverse the terrible damage we are doing to the natural world?

The mechanics of climate change

Climate change is being triggered by global warming; Global warming, described by NASA as “the unusually rapid increase in Earth’s average surface temperature…primarily due to the greenhouse gases released as people burn fossil fuels” occurs, “when the atmosphere traps heat radiating from Earth toward space.” This happens when so-called greenhouse gases (Carbon Dioxide (CO2), Methane (CH4) and Nitrous Oxide (N2O), being the three main culprits) clog the lower levels of Earth’s atmosphere. This leads to a range of effects: The planet overall becomes warmer (average ground temperature rises), causing “extreme weather events and other severe natural and societal impacts” to become more frequent; glaciers in the Arctic region melt sending huge quantities of water into the ocean, which raises the sea level, oceans are made warmer and expand, further contributing to rising levels. As the sea level rises land is flooded, cities, towns and villages are threatened, lives lost, homes destroyed, communities ripped apart, people displaced.

Man-made greenhouse gases (GGE) are produced by a range of sectors and activities: Animal agriculture produces the largest amount (18% of the total according to the UN, other sources put the figure much higher), followed by electricity and heat production, transportation and industry – all through burning fossil fuels – oil, coal and gas. GGEs have been increasing since the industrial revolution, leading to a rise in global ground temperatures, which to date has reached about 1ºC above pre-industrial levels. Temperatures continue to increase at around 0.17ºC per decade.

One degree doesn’t sound like much but, as the extreme weather events show, the effect of this modest rise on the climate is huge, the consequences far reaching, potentially catastrophic.

In 2015 the Paris Agreement on Climate Change was reached and signed by every country in the world; under President Trump America has since pulled out. Hailed as historic, its central aim is to keep global rises in temperature “well below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase even further to 1.5 degrees Celsius.” Even if these rather optimistic targets are met, a recent study by an international team of scientists writing in the journal, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences suggests, “there is a risk of Earth entering what the scientists call “Hothouse Earth” conditions.” The BBC report that the group believe 2ºC of warming “could turn some of the Earth’s natural forces [forests, oceans and land] – that currently protect us – into our enemies…As the world experiences warming, these carbon sinks could become sources of carbon and make the problems of climate change significantly worse.”

If this occurs they forecast the climate stabilizing at “a global average of 4-5°C higher than pre-industrial temperatures with sea level 10-60 m higher than today.” This would mean that some parts of the Earth would become uninhabitable. In order to avoid this nightmare scenario the authors make clear that “a total re-orientation of human values, equity, behavior and technologies is required. We must all become stewards of the Earth.” This requires a major shift in human attitudes.

Unhealthy destructive lifestyle

Climate Change and the environmental disaster in its various colors is the result of human activity and complacency; we have poisoned the oceans, rivers and streams, cleared 85% of the world’s tropical rainforests, mainly for livestock, and are turning healthy land into desert; we are filling the air we breathe with toxins, creating dead zones in the oceans and causing the eradication of species at an unprecedented rate. Collectively we seem to have no respect or love for the natural environment and whilst some people are acting responsibly, the majority fails to see the connection between lifestyle and disaster and appear content to treat the planet like a giant rubbish tip.

The natural order has been thrown into disarray by the widespread adoption of a selfish, destructive way of life: A particular lifestyle, or collection of related ‘lifestyle choices’, are responsible for the production of man-made greenhouse gases that are triggering the extreme weather patterns we are seeing all around the world.

Hedonism and consumerism sit at the heart of the unhealthy mode of living that is driving the catastrophe and making us ill; mankind’s relentless consumption of stuff, the vast majority of which is not needed, combined with an animal-based diet (common to 97% of the global population), has created a cocktail of chaos within the natural world, bringing about the greatest crisis in the history of mankind. It is a materialistic lifestyle that the global economy, and by extension the corporate state depends on and ceaselessly promotes. This is why, despite the intense urgency of the environmental issue, we hear little on mainstream media and virtually nothing from governments, who are more concerned with economic growth and petty domestic politics than the stability and health of the planet.

The harmony of the natural world has been thrown into chaos by the same approach to life that has separated us one from another, and fuelled internal conflict resulting in a global mental health epidemic. In all areas, where there should be unity and right relationship we see enmity, discord and disease. Restoring the planet to health and creating a world in which human beings can live healthy peaceful lives are inextricably linked. Both require a fundamental change in values, a shift away from divisive modes of living built on competition and greed to inclusive ways in which social/environmental responsibility is cultivated and embraced.

Such ideas are not new and are frequently championed, but the prevailing socio-economic ideology actively works to suppress such principles, and powerfully promotes values of division and selfishness. Despite this widespread conditioning, an unstoppable current of change can be seen sweeping the world; social responsibility is growing apace, and perennial values of goodness – cooperation, tolerance and sharing – are increasingly influencing the minds of men and women everywhere.

To galvanize this global movement a major public education program should be undertaken by governments and schools to increase awareness of climate change and lifestyle and create a sense of urgency and engagement. Change can be slow, but these are extraordinary times, and there is a growing recognition that if we unite all things are possible. If not, if we continue in the selfish, greedy, divisive ways of the past, the weather patterns will become more extreme and unpredictable, the air and waterways will become more toxic, loss of life will increase and the associated environmental ills will deepen. The choice is ours.

Hashima: Brutal History and the Most Haunted Island on Earth

Do you want to see perhaps the spookiest island on earth – Hashima (also known as Gunkanjima – the Battleship Island) – which is located just 30 minutes by speedboat from the historic Japanese port city of Nagasaki? Now you can. Just book online, pay the equivalent of US$40, and then hop on one of those shiny sleek vessels belonging to Gunkanjima Concierge or to some other company.

Gunkunjima – Battleship Island

Do it, and you will see the island which looks like an abandoned monstrous wreck; like a sunken and haunted ship.

You will sail around it. You will even be able to disembark and walk a few hundred meters on a fenced path. Guides/minders will let you take a few snapshots.

But that is all. No stepping left or right off the path. No going ahead of the group. No lagging behind. And please, no ‘provocative’ questions!

The guides are well trained to ‘entertain you’, to tell you just how ‘haunted’ the island is and how ‘vibrant’ it used to be in the past.

Sugary smiles never leave their faces.

But were you to defy their written and unwritten rules, they’d immediately jump and appear next to you. They would even loudly scold you. Suddenly they’d become very rude.

What are they afraid of? What are they hiding? What really took place on this island?

The true horrors of the past will never be conveyed to you. It is all about WWII, and Japan is still in denial.

A Japanese tour guide (designated for the Japanese-speaking visitors) as well as a carefully prepared electronic recording for the English speakers, will recount countless details about the island’s geography and uncontroversial chapters of history, but close to nothing about the terror of the slave labor which the Korean and Chinese people were forced into during World War II.

*****

On 6 July 2015, The Guardian reported:

Unesco has decided to grant world heritage status to more than 20 old industrial sites in Japan after officials from the country agreed to acknowledge that some of them used Korean forced labourers before and during the second world war.

The 23 Meiji period (1868-1912) sites include coalmines and shipyards that Japan says contributed to its transformation from feudalism into a successful modern economy.

South Korea, however, had opposed the application for world heritage status unless clear reference was made to the use of an estimated 60,000 labourers forced to work at seven of the sites, including the island coalmine Gunkanjima, during Japan’s 1910-1945 colonial rule over the Korean peninsula.

Opposition was also expressed by China (PRC).

The issue of forced labor and Tokyo’s stubborn rejection to acknowledge it, delayed the inscription of the sites by UNESCO. However, in 2015, Japan yielded, and its delegation to UNESCO declared:

Japan is prepared to take measures that allow an understanding that there were a large number of Koreans and others who were brought against their will and forced to work under harsh conditions in the 1940s at some of the sites.

The sites, including the notorious Hashima/Gunkanjima, eventually gained world heritage status. In exchange, both South Korea and China expected Japan to highlight the suffering of their people during the occupation and WWII. The sites where forced laborers used to be held, were supposed to carry clearly marked and detailed explanations. But as in so many other cases related to its dark history, Japan did close to nothing to keep its side of the bargain. With the world heritage status, it got what it wanted, but gave almost nothing in return.

Gunkunjima

*****

In May, I spent three days in Nagasaki, visiting my friend, a leading left-wing Australian historian, Geoffrey Gunn.

For many years, I have been coming to this city, searching for answers to a myriad of questions related to Japan’s and Asia’s complex past.

The past of Nagasaki has it all: great old Japanese culture, Christians and their prosecution, the Dutch traders and their settlement, a vibrant Chinese minority. Nagasaki was always one of the most ‘open’ cities in Japan, by choice or by force. But also, this is where the military ships were built, where many slave laborers were brought to from the occupied territories, and this is also where the second A-bomb was exploded by the U.S. at the end of WWII.

Seen from the roof of the imposing Nagasaki Prefectural Art Museum, the bay of the city is still dotted with WWII ‘relics’. Near the water, there is a huge crane, another fragment of an industrial UNESCO world heritage site. The crane belongs to the Mitsubishi shipyards, which have been, for long decades, producing and repairing Japan’s military vessels.

“Officially, Japan does not have a military,” I said, sarcastically. “But look, it is in possession of these huge battleships, docked at the other side of the bay.”

“You are lucky. They just arrived here,” said Geoff. “These docks played an extremely important role in the past. Gunkanjima mines also belonged to Mitsubishi. They were excavating coal there, and then building some of the largest battleships here, in Nagasaki.”

For the rest of the evening we discussed the bizarre refusal of the Japanese governments and public to acknowledge the past. Even now, more than 70 years after the end of the war, these issues are taboo: the genocide committed against the Chinese people, and the terrible crimes against the Koreans.

Often, when the past is mentioned, the famously polite Japanese people suddenly become defensive, even aggressive.

*****

In 2015, Japan began literally blackmailing UNESCO, temporarily withdrawing its payment dues, after the United Nations Education, Science and Culture Agency listed the 1937 Nanjing Massacre documents in its “Memory of the World” program. The funds were eventually released, but the message was sent, clearly and patently.

This stubborn refusal to deal with the horrors of the past is bringing Japan closer and closer to the deadly embrace of the West, particularly the United States, and further and further away from potentially friendly relations with the rest of north Asia, particularly China.

After WWII, the so-called Tokyo Trial supervised by the US (also known as The International Military Tribunal for the Far East (IMTFE)) was clearly designed to punish just a few (28) individuals, while preserving the Japanese industrial, business and political system in its original form, so it could serve the interests of the West. After the trial, Japan was allowed to rebuild and to join the West in its aggressive policy towards the Asia Pacific. It played a significant role in the brutal Korean War, during which the West massacred millions of Korean citizens.

“Modern Japan has no foreign policy,” I was once told by the Irish academic and political analyst David McNeal, who is based in Tokyo. “It is strictly following the U.S. dictate. The same goes for the media coverage of the international events.”

David has no illusions about the Japanese take on its history:

They are rewriting text books; they skip through WWII, dedicating to it only eight pages… Nationalism is rising… There is so much self-censorship in Japanese media, now. And the government is issuing ‘guidelines’, the so-called ‘Orange Book’, for instance: how to treat anything that is ‘contagious’… or anything related to history. There are instructions to writers and translators. For instance: ‘never use words like Nanking Massacre, except when you quote foreign experts’. Or ‘Yasukuni Shrine – never use word “controversial” in connection to it.’ We cannot write about ‘sexual slaves’ from WWII.

The more ignorant about its past Japan gets, the more it seems to strongly dislike its former victims – China and Korea. According to a Pew Research Center poll (2017), 83% of the Japanese people have an unfavorable view of China. Korea does not fare much better. Both countries (PRC and ROK) are now clearly leaving Japan behind, when it comes to the economy and in the case of South Korea, the standard of living. The reaction of Tokyo: moving closer and closer towards the West, while adopting an increasingly aggressive policy towards two communist nations: China and North Korea.

*****

But back to the Battleship Island… You pay, and you get onboard. Right from the beginning, even before the vessel departs from Nagasaki, you get bombarded by outrageous propaganda: about that “samurai spirit” of Japan and the entire Nagasaki area.

There is continuous control, right from the start. You get up from your seat, and immediately someone approaches you: “Where are you going? Do you want to change seat? No, you cannot sit here…” Guides (or call them minders) sound extremely rude: their English is primitive, while their obsession with all sorts of rules and regulations is fundamentalist.

An old dude who is here clearly in order to play the role of the main propagandist, is continuously clarifying things into the microphone. His voice is amplified, and his performance soon turns into an annoying and uninterrupted flow of verbal diarrhea. There is no space for reflection – no time to feel and to pause or let alone to ask some serious questions.

Whenever he stops, some cheaply-made video begins playing on the screen. Then advertisements of Kirin Beer are beamed.

The yacht is sailing towards the place that held thousands of people as slave laborers, where many died, where women were turned into sexual slaves. But the circus goes on. No reflection and no repentance.

On the island, I refuse to follow the group. I lag behind, trying to avoid loud noise and the herd of people. Of course, I soon get confronted by two “guides”, trying to push me back towards the flock.

I ignore them, keep filming.

They become aggressive. One shouts: “This is Japan. Follow our rules!”

I keep filming.

I did not come here to be loved. The reason for my journey was simple: to determine whether the Japanese government sticks to the deal it made with UNESCO, Korea and China – whether it marks and commemorates the sites where forced laborers were pushed into an inhuman existence and work, and where some of them, died.

I found nothing of that kind: no information, no commemoration!

Back in Nagasaki, I asked for brochures explaining the past. There were no such brochures. The organizers of the island visits had no idea what I was asking about.

In a small exhibition in Nagasaki — crimes against Korean and Chinese people

Later, the next day, professor Gunn took me to a small private museum managed by local Koreans, commemorating the terror which Japan committed against the Korean and Chinese people.

Japanese crimes against Korean and Chinese people

At least this is where the truth about ‘the most haunted island’ on Earth can be found. If one could find that tiny museum…

Gunkanjima – a ghost island which resembles, at least from a distance, a mighty destroyer; an island dotted with tall buildings now lacking windows and doors. An island where thousands of miners used to go down into deep shafts, some voluntarily, some by force. An island – Gunkanjima – where many people used to live, and many died. A place so mysterious and so unique, beautiful in its own way, but also both symbolic and horrifying.

*****

• First published by NEO – New Eastern Outlook

The Satanic Nature of the Atomic Bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki

Ahab is forever Ahab, man.  This whole act’s immutably decreed.  ‘Twas rehearsed by thee and me billion years before this ocean rolled.  Fool!  I am the Fates’ lieutenant; I act under orders.

— Herman Melville, Moby Dick

The greatest evil is not now done in those sordid ‘dens of crime’ that Dickens loved to paint…But it is conceived and ordered (moved, seconded, carried, and minuted) in clean, carpeted, warmed, and well-lighted offices, by quiet men with white collars and cut fingernails and smooth-shaven cheeks who do not need to raise their voice.

— C. S. Lewis, author’s preface, 1962, The Screwtape Letters

American history can only accurately be described as the story of demonic possession, however you choose to understand that phrase.  Maybe radical “evil” will suffice.  But right from the start the American colonizers were involved in massive killing because they considered themselves divinely blessed and guided, a chosen people whose mission would come to be called “manifest destiny.”  Nothing stood in the way of this divine calling, which involved the need to enslave and kill millions and millions of innocent people that continues down to today.  “Others” have always been expendable since they have stood in the way of the imperial march ordained by the American god. This includes all the wars waged based on lies and false flag operations. It is not a secret, although most Americans, if they are aware of it, prefer to see it as a series of aberrations carried out by “bad apples.”  Or something from the past.

Our best writers and prophets have told us the truth: Thoreau, Twain, William James, MLK, Fr. Daniel Berrigan, et al.: we are a nation of killers of the innocent.  We are conscienceless.  We are brutal.  We are in the grip of evil forces.

The English writer D. H. Lawrence said it perfectly in 1923, “The American soul is hard, isolate, stoic and a killer.  It has never yet melted.”  It still hasn’t.

This August 6, 1945 file photo shows the destruction from the explosion of an atomic bomb in Hiroshima Japan AP-Photo-File

 

August 10, 1945: Arrow marks the spot where the atomic bomb hit in Nagasaki. Photo by AP

When on August 6 and 9, 1945 the United States killed 200-300 thousand innocent Japanese civilians with atomic bombs in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, they did so intentionally.  It was an act of sinister state terrorism, unprecedented by the nature of the weapons but not by the slaughter. The American terror bombings of Japanese cities that preceded the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki – led by the infamous Major General Curtis LeMay – were also intentionally aimed at Japanese civilians and killed hundreds of thousands of them.

Is there an American artist’s painting of Tokyo destroyed by the firebombing to go next to Picasso’s Guernica, where estimates of the dead range between 800 and 1,600?  In Tokyo alone more than 100,000 Japanese civilians were burnt to death by cluster bombs of napalm.  All this killing was intentional. I repeat: Intentional.  Is that not radical evil?  Demonic?  Only five Japanese cities were spared such bombing.

The atomic bombings were an intentional holocaust, not to end the war, as the historical record amply demonstrates, but to send a message to the Soviet Union that we could do to them what we did to the residents of Japan.  President Truman made certain that the Japanese willingness to surrender in May 1945 was made unacceptable because he and his Secretary-of-State James Byrnes  wanted to use the atomic bombs – “as quickly as possible to ‘show results’” in Byrnes’ words – to send a message to the Soviet Union.  So “the Good War” was ended in the Pacific with the “good guys” killing hundreds of thousands Japanese civilians to make a point to the “bad guys,” who have been demonized ever since.  Russia phobia is nothing new.

Satan always wears the other’s face.

Many Baby Boomers like to say they grew up with the bomb.  They are lucky. They grew up.  They got to be scared.  They got to hide under their desks and wax nostalgic about it.  Do you remember dog tags?  Those 1950s and 1960s?  The scary movies?

The children of Hiroshima and Nagasaki who died under our bombs on August 6 and 9, 1945 didn’t get to grow up.  They couldn’t hide.  They just went under. To be accurate: we put them under. Or they were left to smolder for decades in pain and then die.  But that it was necessary to save American lives is the lie. It’s always about American lives, as if the owners of the country actually cared about them.  But to tender hearts and innocent minds, it’s a magic incantation.  Poor us!

Fat Man, Little Boy – how the words echo down the years to the now fat Americans who grew up in the 1950s and who think like little boys and girls about their country’s demonic nature.  Innocence – it is wonderful!  We are different now. “We are great because we are good,” that’s what Hillary Clinton told us.  The Libyans can attest to that.  We are exceptional, special.  The next election will prove we can defeat Mr. Pumpkin Head and restore America to its “core values.”

Perhaps you think I am cynical.  But understanding true evil is not child’s play.  It seems beyond the grasp of most Americans who need their illusions.  Evil is real.  There is simply no way to understand the savage nature of American history without seeing its demonic nature.  How else can we redeem ourselves at this late date, possessed as we are by delusions of our own God-blessed goodness?

But average Americans play at innocence.  They excite themselves at the thought that with the next election the nation will be “restored” to the right course.  Of course, there never was a right course, unless might makes right, which has always been the way of America’s rulers.  Today Trump is viewed by so many as an aberration.  He is far from it.  He’s straight out of a Twain short story.  He’s Vaudeville. He’s Melville’s confidence man.  He’s us. Did it ever occur to those who are fixated on him that if those who own and run the country wanted him gone, he’d be gone in an instant?  He can tweet and tweet idiotically, endlessly send out messages that he will contradict the next day, but as long as he protects the super-rich, accepts Israel’s control of him, and allows the CIA-military-industrial complex to do its world-wide killing and looting of the treasury, he will be allowed to entertain and excite the public – to get them worked up in a lather in pseudo-debates.  And to make this more entertaining, he will be opposed by the “sane” Democratic opposition, whose intentions are as benign as an assassin’s smile.

Look back as far as you can to past U.S. presidents, the figureheads who “act under orders” (whose orders?), as did Ahab in his lust to kill the “evil” great white whale, and what do you see?  You see servile killers in the grip of a sinister power.  You see hyenas with polished faces. You see pasteboard masks.  On the one occasion when one of these presidents dared to follow his conscience and rejected the devil’s pact that is the presidency’s killer-in-chief role, he – JFK – had his brains blown out in public view.  An evil empire thrives on shedding blood, and it enforces its will through demonic messages.  Resist and there will be blood on the streets, blood on the tracks, blood in your face.

Despite this, President Kennedy’s witness, his turn from cold warrior to an apostle of peace, remains to inspire a ray of hope in these dark days. As recounted by James Douglass in his masterful JFK and the Unspeakable, Kennedy agreed to a meeting in May 1962 with a group of Quakers who had been demonstrating outside the While House for total disarmament.  They urged him to move in that direction.  Kennedy was sympathetic to their position.  He said he wished it were easy to do so from the top down, but that he was being pressured by the Pentagon and others to never do that, although he had given a speech urging “a peace race” together with the Soviet Union. He told the Quakers it would have to come from below.  According to the Quakers, JFK listened intently to their points, and before they left said with a smile, “You believe in redemption, don’t you?”  Soon Kennedy was shaken to his core by the Cuban missile crisis when the world teetered on the brink of extinction and his insane military and “intelligence” advisers urged him to wage a nuclear war.  Not long after, he took a sharp top-down turn toward peace despite their fierce opposition, a turn so dramatic over the next year that it led to his martyrdom.  And he knew it would.  He knew it would.

So hope is not all lost.  There are great souls like JFK to inspire us. Their examples flash here and there. But to even begin to hope to change the future, a confrontation with our demonic past (and present) is first necessary, a descent into the dark truth that is terrifying in its implications.  False innocence must be abandoned.  Carl Jung, in “On the Psychology of the Unconscious,” addressed this with the words:

It is a frightening thought that man also has a shadow side to him, consisting not just of little weaknesses – and foibles, but of a positively demonic dynamism. The individual seldom knows anything of this; to him, as an individual, it is incredible that he should ever in any circumstances go beyond himself. But let these harmless creatures form a mass, and there emerges a raging monster; and each individual is only one tiny cell in the monster’s body, so that for better or worse he must accompany it on its bloody rampages and even assist it to the utmost. Having a dark suspicion of these grim possibilities, man turns a blind eye to the shadow-side of human nature. Blindly he strives against the salutary dogma of original sin, which is yet so prodigiously true. Yes, he even hesitates to admit the conflict of which he is so painfully aware.

How can one describe men who would intentionally slaughter so many innocent people?  American history is rife with such examples up to the present day.  Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Syria, etc. – the list is very long.  Savage wars carried out by men and women who own and run the country, and who try to buy the souls of regular people to join them in their pact with the devil, to acquiesce to their ongoing wicked deeds.  Such monstrous evil was never more evident than on August 6 and 9, 1945.

Unless we enter into deep contemplation of the evil that was released into the world with those bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, we are lost in a living hell without escape.  And we will pay.  Nemesis always demands retribution.  We have gradually been accepting rule by those for whom the killing of innocents is child’s play, and we have been masquerading as innocent and good children for whom the truth is too much to bear.  “Indeed, the safest road to Hell is the gradual one,” Screwtape the devil tells his nephew, Wormwood, a devil in training, “the gentle slope, soft underfoot, without sudden turnings, without milestones, without signposts.”  That’s the road we’ve been traveling.

The projection of evil onto others works only so long.  We must reclaim our shadows and withdraw our projections.  Only the fate of the world depends on it.

Marching for Peace: From Helmand to Hiroshima

I have just arrived in Hiroshima with a group of Japanese “Okinawa to Hiroshima peace walkers” who had spent nearly two months walking Japanese roads protesting U.S. militarism.  While we were walking, an Afghan peace march that had set off in May was enduring 700km of Afghan roadsides, poorly shod, from Helmand province to Afghanistan’s capital of Kabul. Our march watched the progress of theirs with interest and awe.  The unusual Afghan group had started off as 6 individuals, emerging out of a sit-in protest and hunger strike in the Helmand provincial capital Lashkar Gah, after a suicide attack there created dozens of casualties. As they started walking their numbers soon swelled to 50 plus as the group braved roadside bombs, fighting between warring parties and exhaustion from desert walking during the strict fast month of Ramadan.

The Afghan march, which is believed to be the first of its kind, is asking for a long-term ceasefire between warring parties and the withdrawal of foreign troops. One peace walker, named Abdullah Malik Hamdard, felt that he had nothing to lose by joining the march. He said: “Everybody thinks they will be killed soon, the situation for those alive is miserable. If you don’t die in the war, the poverty caused by the war may kill you, which is why I think the only option left for me is to join the peace convoy.”

The Japanese peace walkers marched to specifically halt the construction of a U.S. airfield and port with an ammunition depot in Henoko, Okinawa, which will be accomplished by landfilling Oura Bay, a habitat for the dugong and unique coral hundreds of years old, but many more lives are endangered. Kamoshita Shonin, a peace walk organizer who lives in Okinawa, says:

People in mainland Japan do not hear about the extensive bombings by the U.S. in the Middle East and Afghanistan, they are told that the bases are a deterrent against North Korea and China, but the bases are not about protecting us, they are about invading other countries. This is why I organised the walk.

Sadly, the two unconnected marches shared one tragic cause as motivation.

Recent U.S. war crimes in Afghanistan include the deliberate targeting of civilian wedding parties and funerals, incarceration without trial and torture in Bagram prison camp, the bombing of an MSF hospital in Kunduz, the dropping of the ‘Mother of all bombs’ in Nangarhar, illegal transportation of Afghans to secret black site prisons, Guantanamo Bay prison camp, and the extensive use of armed drones. Elsewhere the U.S. has completely destabilised the Middle East and Central Asia, according to The Physicians for Social Responsibility, in a report released in 2015, stated that the U.S. interventions in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan alone killed close to 2 million, and that the figure was closer to 4 million when tallying up the deaths of civilians caused by the U.S. in other countries, such as Syria and Yemen.

The Japanese group intend to offer prayers of peace this Monday at Hiroshima ground zero, 73 years to the day after the U.S. dropped an atomic bomb on the city, instantly evaporating 140,000 lives, arguably one of the worst ‘single event’ war crimes committed in human history. Three days later the U.S. hit Nagasaki instantly killing 70,000. Four months after the bombing the total death toll had reached 280,000 as injuries and the impact of radiation doubled the number of fatalities.

Today Okinawa, long a target for discrimination by Japanese authorities, accommodates 33 U.S. military bases, occupying 20% of the land, housing some 30,000 plus U.S. Marines who carry out dangerous training exercises ranging from rope hangs suspended out of Osprey helicopters (often over built-up residential areas), to jungle trainings which run straight through villages, arrogantly using people’s gardens and farms as mock conflict zones. Of the 14,000 U.S. troops currently stationed in Afghanistan, many to most would have trained on Okinawa, and even flown out directly from the Japanese Island to U.S. bases such as Bagram.

Meanwhile in Afghanistan the walkers, who call themselves the ‘People’s Peace Movement’, are following up their heroic ordeal with protests outside various foreign embassies in Kabul.  This week they are outside the Iranian Embassy demanding an end to Iranian interference in Afghan matters and their equipping armed militant groups in the country. It is lost on no-one in the region that the U.S., which cites such Iranian interference as its pretext for building up towards a U.S.-Iran war, is an incomparably more serious supplier of deadly arms and destabilizing force to the region. They have staged sit-in protests outside the U.S., Russian, Pakistani and U.K. embassies, as well as the U.N. offices in Kabul.

The head of their impromptu movement, Mohammad Iqbal Khyber, says the group have formed a committee comprised of elders and religious scholars. The assignment of the committee is to travel from Kabul to Taliban-controlled areas to negotiate peace.

The U.S. have yet to describe its long term or exit strategy for Afghanistan. Last December Vice President Mike Pence addressed U.S. troops in Bagram: “I say with confidence, because of all of you and all those that have gone before and our allies and partners, I believe victory is closer than ever before.”

But time spent walking doesn’t bring your destination closer when you don’t have a map.  More recently U.K. ambassador for Afghanistan Sir Nicholas Kay, while speaking on how to resolve conflict in Afghanistan said: “I don’t have the answer.”  There never was a military answer for Afghanistan.  Seventeen years of ‘coming closer to victory’ in eliminating a developing nation’s domestic resistance is what is called “defeat,” but the longer the war goes on, the greater the defeat for Afghanistan’s people.

Historically the U.K. has been closely wedded to the U.S. in their ‘special relationship’, sinking British lives and money into every conflict the U.S. has initiated. This means the U.K. was complicit in dropping 2,911 weapons on Afghanistan in the first 6 months of 2018, and in President Trump’s greater-than-fourfold average increase on the number of bombs dropped daily by his warlike predecessors. Last month Prime Minister Theresa May increased the number of British troops serving in Afghanistan to more than 1,000, the biggest U.K. military commitment to Afghanistan since David Cameron withdrew all combat troops four years ago.

Unbelievably, current headlines read that after 17 years of fighting, the U.S. and Afghan Government are considering collaboration with the extremist Taliban in order to defeat ISKP, the local ‘franchise’ of Daesh.

Meanwhile UNAMA has released its mid-year assessment of the harm done to civilians. It found that more civilians were killed in the first six months of 2018 than in any year since 2009, when UNAMA started systematic monitoring. This was despite the Eid ul-Fitr ceasefire, which all parties to the conflict, apart from ISKP, honoured.

Every day in the first six months of 2018, an average of nine Afghan civilians, including two children, were killed in the conflict. An average of nineteen civilians, including five children, were injured every day.

This October Afghanistan will enter its 18th year of war with the U.S. and supporting NATO countries. Those young people now signing up to fight on all sides were in nappies when 9/11 took place. As the ‘war on terror’ generation comes of age, their status quo is perpetual war, a complete brainwashing that war is inevitable, which was the exact intention of warring decision makers who have become exceedingly rich of the spoils of war.

Optimistically there is also a generation who are saying “no more war, we want our lives back”, perhaps the silver lining of the Trump cloud is that people are finally starting to wake up and see the complete lack of wisdom behind the U.S. and its hostile foreign and domestic policies, while the people follow in the steps of non-violent peace makers such as Abdul Ghafoor Khan, the change is marching from the bottom up.

Okinawa to Hiroshima Peace Walk (Photo by Maya Evans)

1500 Rakan Statues of Mount Nokogiri

People sometimes ask me what religion Japanese people practice.  I usually end up saying that Japanese people aren’t very religious at all.  But paradoxically, if you go to Japan, you encounter huge shrines at tourists’ spots and there are numerous smaller ones across the country in many forms.  You visit a Japanese household, you might also find a shrine, a box shaped prayer spot, called butsudan.

There certainly are indications that Japanese society is bound together, to a certain extent, with beliefs, values and norms deriving from variations of Buddhism and Shintoism.

To me, who grew up in Japan, it is natural to perceive such a traditional framework as a cohesive layer that can be loosely described as sort of “religious”.  It guides traditional ceremonies and rituals of life, death and spiritual, and it contributes to world views of the Japanese people in varying degrees.

However, it should also be noted that this framework really does not address fundamental existential questions for the Japanese people today. In other words, people would go along with the customary rituals as long as they facilitate their social interactions and obligations; however, as soon as they impede their material necessity, they can be set aside. Japanese society is extremely secular and the grip of the socioeconomic hierarchy over its people is very firm.  After all, Japan has played a crucial role as an economic power in the western hegemony for generations after it was incorporated into the order of the American empire.

Our trip to Mount Nokogiri, however, has shown me how the abstract notion of traditional Japan has many layers that are deeply conflicting and it has had tumultuous aspects as we examine it in historical contexts.

Mount Nokogiri is located in Boso Peninsula, Chiba.  As you can see on a map it is relatively close to Tokyo.  My wife and I visited the area once before we had our kids.  I loved seeing rakan statues (stone carved arhat statues) along the path during our hike.  To me they appeared as expressions of lives emanating from the area which had been regarded as sacred for many centuries.

This time, we decided to stay for a couple of nights at a nearby seaside city, Tateyama. The inn we picked had a nice view of the water and hot spring baths.  Since my mother couldn’t take the mountain hike, I wanted her stay to be nice as well.  It was a few rustic train stops away to Mount Nokogiri.

I really liked riding the rural trains in the area.  Going a few hours south from Yachiyo city into the Peninsula made the scenery much greener and it was fascinating to observe a glimpse of country life as we passed fields cultivated with various crops, a house sitting among trees without a discernible way to get there, huge hawks flying over us and the water visibly getting cleaner as we got closer to our destination.

The hike was magnificently wonderful.  It was a bit strenuous for me, with numerous steps. But I’ve never felt a physical exercise to be so refreshing, so invigorating and so satisfying (in fact, it inspired me to start exercising again when I came back to the States).

My son found a Tamamushi (jewel beetle).

 

Nokogiri means saw blade.  The jagged appearance of the mountain stems from its history being a prominent stone quarry.

 

30 meter tall stone carved Buddhist goddess.

 

A Stone observatory called “Hell Peek” sticks out into the air. Terrifying!

 

Mount Nokogiri is also a home for the largest stone carved Buddha in Japan (31 meter tall).

I took many pictures of the small statues as we walked.  If you look at the statues carefully, you will notice that the necks of them have traces of reattachment.  Those statues were all violently destroyed once during the haibutsukishaku movement.  As the rule of the Tokugawa shogun family ended in 1868, the new government, aspiring to be one of the imperial powers of the time, embarked on drastic reforms.  One of them was a separation of Buddhism and Shintoism.  Shintoism was elevated as a national religion while Buddhism was regarded as a part of the old power. There was a strong momentum to see the power of Buddhist entities as an abusive and corrupt part of the past.  The accounts from the time certainly indicate that the deeds of the Buddhist class did reflect such descriptions.  The result was an emergence of a large scale destructive movement across the country against anything Buddhist.  As to Shintoism, it eventually ended up as the backbone of imperial Japan, propping up the Japanese emperor as a living god, prompting a direct collision with the US imperial plan over the hegemonic rule of Asia.  The inhumane momentum of destruction and atrocity took many lives in Asian countries.  In the name of the living god the Japanese colonizers sent young lives as suicide bombers.  The colonizers of the US dropped nuclear bombs on two cities full of people in order to declare its hegemonic superiority against enemies and allies alike.

Today the Buddihist legacy in the Mount Nokogiri area is regarded as a significant cultural asset.  The beautiful trails are well maintained, so are the shrines and statues for many visitors.  It was breathtaking to encounter spectacular views throughout our walk.  The weight of the historical layers also compounded the profound orchestration of the natural elements. The moss covered expressions of the aged statues — sad, tormented, resigned, angered, struggling, peaceful and fulfilled — were voices from the past beautifully sublimated within the harmony of nature and people.

As we were waiting for our bus back home, a man at a tiny local restaurant insisted that we take a look at an underground imperial Japanese fortress in Tateyama.  Although we couldn’t extend our trip for it, according to him, a mile-long tunnel dug during WW2  is something you must not miss if you were in the area.  He also mentioned that the entire Mount Nokogiri was a huge military fortress during the war.  To the imperial Japan, the area, situated at the entrance to Tokyo Bay, was the last defense on the ground protecting Tokyo against the invading US forces.

Famed sculptor Isamu Noguchi said that time can heal stones in describing his stone carving process.  Time can certainly give us a thrust of objectivity while natural elements can provide a layer of harmony, presenting a new way to understand what unfolds before us.  Mount Nokogiri certainly stood as a sacred ground before me.  The overwhelming sense of awe generously erased the scars of human atrocity.

However, it has also made me aware of myself as a captive of our time.  Tateyama’s imperial Japanese base is now a base for the Japanese self-defense force.  The corporate media is eerily silent about the fortification of islands around Okinawa, which lies at the tip of the archipelago and houses an American military base. Japanese regulations have been changed to allow a Japanese “self-defense force,” ostensibly to operate as a part of the western force against China. Those shifts coincide with the US pacific policy to counter China as an emerging economic power. And more urgently, I couldn’t help being reminded of inhumane atrocities of our time–bombing campaign against people, suicide bombing, underground fortress, destruction of environment and cultural heritage and so on and so forth are all elements emerging from the western colonial wars being waged against the Middle East and elsewhere today.

Have we learned anything from the past?  Our ability to see our history and events embedded in it, weaving the flow of time and space, as a unified front, as a collective part of our identity, allow us to tolerate pains of atrocity, allow us to reconcile, allow us to rebuild and allow us to be.  But we do know that the significant portions of the sufferings and deaths are endured by those who are powerless.  How could we allow ourselves to let the momentum of time swallow so many of our fellow humans?  Why are we tolerating colonial destabilization of “other people’s”?  How could we close our eyes as we encounter people sleeping on streets or losing their lives because they can’t afford to be healthy?  Why can’t we focus our hope for renewal for the people who have and will suffer the most?  How could we recognize the fact that our willingness to tolerate the hierarchy of money and violence, as the shape of our species, inflicts pain against “others” and against ourselves at the same time, forcing ourselves to expect nuclear missile attacks instead of reaching out for sharing and peace?

Every time I hear people say that for things to get better, things have to get much worse, I think of what happened in Fukushima.  Three nuclear meltdowns have not woken up the people.  The nuclear industrial complex of Japan is firmly embedded within the war economy of the empire.

This is not the time for conflict. This is the time we need each other to see what has become of us.  Let there be braveness, determination and steadfastness in renouncing the cannibalistic momentum of self-destruction.  The sacred power of nature will always embrace us no matter how we will do.

The Burning Hot Planet

A recent UK newspaper headline read “The World’s On Fire,” which is literally true as extraordinary continent-wide wildfires consume the planet, accompanied by unbearable, insufferable, oppressive heat. Europe, North America, Japan, and North Africa are all experiencing unprecedented scorching heat.

All of which begs the question of when anthropogenic, or human-caused, global warming will be recognized as a reality by America, the second biggest contributor of greenhouse gases (GHG).

Don’t look for confirmation from the Trump administration, the U.S. Senate or House, the leadership of America (ahem). They are all deniers, and thus have blocked any and all efforts of an American “Marshall Plan” for renewable energy.

The reality is that NASA warned the Senate about human-caused global warming way back in 1988. Thirty years later, the planet burns and America’s government has accomplished next to nothing, a big fat zero! In fact, the U.S. government is rolling back some regulations that slow down CO2 emissions. So, the USA is now onside with global warming, an advocate, all-in for more GHGs stoking more heat.

In sharp contrast to America, resourceful Germany is known as “the world’s first major renewable energy economy.”  Over the first six months of 2018, “Germany produces enough renewable energy to power the country’s households for an entire year”. 1

And, canny China has committed more funding (about $150B) to renewables over the past year than the EU and U.S. combined. As the U.S. looks to coal, China invests in renewable energy. China’s National Energy Administration ordered local governments to give priority access to renewable power generators.2

Heat and fire: People hospitalized; People dying. In Japan alone 80 are dead from a pounding heat wave and 30,000+ hospitalized from heat stroke… oh, only 30,000, which number increases by the hour! Kumagaya 106F; Tokyo 104F.

Stifling heat engulfs the planet. Is this what global warming looks like? If not, then just imagine what the real thing looks like!

Nobody has made an official proclamation about the wherefores or causes of planetary heat, but one has to wonder whether anthropogenic global warming is the vicious monster standing behind the curtain. After all, there’s nobody assigned to officially announce the impact of human-influenced global warming, but it sure feels like it!

Temps like 120F in Chino, California are far, far above normal. And, how about 124F in Quargla, Africa? Or, even more bizarre yet, 74 heat wave deaths in Quebec, way up north.

It is indisputable that the planet is not handling the heat very well, but is it the planet’s fault? Did an angry, upset, abused, never loved Mother Earth wake up one day and decide to burn-up? Doubtful.

More likely, some outside force like Homo sapiens (which is Latin for “wise man”) pushed emissions of greenhouse gases (GHG) too far for far too long.

In fact, the science is absolutely 100% clear: It’s indisputable that, over time, GHGs blanket the atmosphere and act like an oven… imagine that!

BBC science editor David Shukman says the striking feature of today’s multiple heat waves happening at the same time is the jet stream. It is meandering in gigantic wacky loops, thus altering climate throughout the Northern Hemisphere as it stalls for long periods of time, trapping zones of high pressure, cloudless, windless, extremely hot zones.

Interestingly enough, for some years now climate scientists have warned that global warming is impacting the Arctic 2-3xs faster than the planet as a whole, which, in turn, throws off normal well-defined spinning jet streams at 39,000 feet into wacky deep prolonged loops that alter weather patterns throughout the hemisphere. Take a guess as to what’s happening now….

Answer: In an article in New Scientist, “Warming Arctic Could Be Behind Heatwave Sweeping Northern Hemisphere,” July 24th,  according to the UK Meteorological Office:

The heatwave across much of the northern hemisphere could continue for weeks, and possibly even months. And, accelerated warming in the Arctic compared to the rest of the planet could be a key contributor.

The Danger Zone

According to Arctic News, “Can We Weather The Danger Zone?”, July 1, 2018:

Earth may have long crossed the 1.5°C guardrail set at the Paris Agreement (2015).

Further to the point, the Danger Zone was likely surpassed as early as 2014 based upon NASA data adjusted to reflect the preindustrial baseline, air temps, and Arctic temps (not in agreement with mainstream science).

And, more distressing yet, according to the same Arctic News story:

The world may also be crossing the higher 2°C guardrail later this year, while temperatures threaten to keep rising dramatically beyond that point.

What? According to the IPCC and the Paris Agreement 2015, countries “voluntarily” (oh, well) agreed to hold back GHGs to prevent exceeding the dreaded 2°C guardrail until 2100, and hopefully beyond. Wow! It’s not even 2020 yet. Is global warming 80 years ahead of schedule?

The Arctic News article suspiciously reads like the onset of runaway global warming. To confirm that suspicion, Arctic News claims (and here’s where it gets kinda scary crazy):

…much carbon is stored in large and vulnerable pools that have until now been kept stable by low temperatures. The threat is that rapid temperature rise will hit vulnerable carbon pools hard, making them release huge amounts of greenhouse gases, further contributing to the acceleration of the temperature rise.

Does that describe Runaway Global Warming? Answer: Yes!

Examples of massive carbon pools: Permafrost – 900 Gt; High-Latitude Peatlands – 400 Gt; Tropical Peatlands 100 Gt; Methane Hydrates 10,000 Gt, and more (one gigaton is equivalent to one-billion metric tons or equivalent to 100,000,000 elephants).

Unfortunately, those massive carbon pools are exposed to unbelievable hot temps recorded at the farthest northern reaches, for example, 92.3°F on the Siberian coastline of the Arctic Ocean, which is permafrost country and methane hydrate territory. Oh really, Miami Beach temps in Siberia?

Maybe the U.S. should alter its climate change/global warming stance re: (1) the Paris ’15 Agreement by joining ASAP and (2) cancel the interminable Republican (mostly) denial about human-caused global warming, or more formally known as: “The Great American Global Warming School of Denial,” nowadays propagated by Trump and minions, especially as runaway global warming appears to be at an incipient stage, or maybe worse.

On the other hand, when is too late too late?

But, then again, thinking more about it: DO SOMETHING!

  1. The Independent, July 2, 2018.
  2. The Global Energiewende, Energy Transition, May 21, 2018.

The Burning Hot Planet

A recent UK newspaper headline read “The World’s On Fire,” which is literally true as extraordinary continent-wide wildfires consume the planet, accompanied by unbearable, insufferable, oppressive heat. Europe, North America, Japan, and North Africa are all experiencing unprecedented scorching heat.

All of which begs the question of when anthropogenic, or human-caused, global warming will be recognized as a reality by America, the second biggest contributor of greenhouse gases (GHG).

Don’t look for confirmation from the Trump administration, the U.S. Senate or House, the leadership of America (ahem). They are all deniers, and thus have blocked any and all efforts of an American “Marshall Plan” for renewable energy.

The reality is that NASA warned the Senate about human-caused global warming way back in 1988. Thirty years later, the planet burns and America’s government has accomplished next to nothing, a big fat zero! In fact, the U.S. government is rolling back some regulations that slow down CO2 emissions. So, the USA is now onside with global warming, an advocate, all-in for more GHGs stoking more heat.

In sharp contrast to America, resourceful Germany is known as “the world’s first major renewable energy economy.”  Over the first six months of 2018, “Germany produces enough renewable energy to power the country’s households for an entire year”. 1

And, canny China has committed more funding (about $150B) to renewables over the past year than the EU and U.S. combined. As the U.S. looks to coal, China invests in renewable energy. China’s National Energy Administration ordered local governments to give priority access to renewable power generators.2

Heat and fire: People hospitalized; People dying. In Japan alone 80 are dead from a pounding heat wave and 30,000+ hospitalized from heat stroke… oh, only 30,000, which number increases by the hour! Kumagaya 106F; Tokyo 104F.

Stifling heat engulfs the planet. Is this what global warming looks like? If not, then just imagine what the real thing looks like!

Nobody has made an official proclamation about the wherefores or causes of planetary heat, but one has to wonder whether anthropogenic global warming is the vicious monster standing behind the curtain. After all, there’s nobody assigned to officially announce the impact of human-influenced global warming, but it sure feels like it!

Temps like 120F in Chino, California are far, far above normal. And, how about 124F in Quargla, Africa? Or, even more bizarre yet, 74 heat wave deaths in Quebec, way up north.

It is indisputable that the planet is not handling the heat very well, but is it the planet’s fault? Did an angry, upset, abused, never loved Mother Earth wake up one day and decide to burn-up? Doubtful.

More likely, some outside force like Homo sapiens (which is Latin for “wise man”) pushed emissions of greenhouse gases (GHG) too far for far too long.

In fact, the science is absolutely 100% clear: It’s indisputable that, over time, GHGs blanket the atmosphere and act like an oven… imagine that!

BBC science editor David Shukman says the striking feature of today’s multiple heat waves happening at the same time is the jet stream. It is meandering in gigantic wacky loops, thus altering climate throughout the Northern Hemisphere as it stalls for long periods of time, trapping zones of high pressure, cloudless, windless, extremely hot zones.

Interestingly enough, for some years now climate scientists have warned that global warming is impacting the Arctic 2-3xs faster than the planet as a whole, which, in turn, throws off normal well-defined spinning jet streams at 39,000 feet into wacky deep prolonged loops that alter weather patterns throughout the hemisphere. Take a guess as to what’s happening now….

Answer: In an article in New Scientist, “Warming Arctic Could Be Behind Heatwave Sweeping Northern Hemisphere,” July 24th,  according to the UK Meteorological Office:

The heatwave across much of the northern hemisphere could continue for weeks, and possibly even months. And, accelerated warming in the Arctic compared to the rest of the planet could be a key contributor.

The Danger Zone

According to Arctic News, “Can We Weather The Danger Zone?”, July 1, 2018:

Earth may have long crossed the 1.5°C guardrail set at the Paris Agreement (2015).

Further to the point, the Danger Zone was likely surpassed as early as 2014 based upon NASA data adjusted to reflect the preindustrial baseline, air temps, and Arctic temps (not in agreement with mainstream science).

And, more distressing yet, according to the same Arctic News story:

The world may also be crossing the higher 2°C guardrail later this year, while temperatures threaten to keep rising dramatically beyond that point.

What? According to the IPCC and the Paris Agreement 2015, countries “voluntarily” (oh, well) agreed to hold back GHGs to prevent exceeding the dreaded 2°C guardrail until 2100, and hopefully beyond. Wow! It’s not even 2020 yet. Is global warming 80 years ahead of schedule?

The Arctic News article suspiciously reads like the onset of runaway global warming. To confirm that suspicion, Arctic News claims (and here’s where it gets kinda scary crazy):

…much carbon is stored in large and vulnerable pools that have until now been kept stable by low temperatures. The threat is that rapid temperature rise will hit vulnerable carbon pools hard, making them release huge amounts of greenhouse gases, further contributing to the acceleration of the temperature rise.

Does that describe Runaway Global Warming? Answer: Yes!

Examples of massive carbon pools: Permafrost – 900 Gt; High-Latitude Peatlands – 400 Gt; Tropical Peatlands 100 Gt; Methane Hydrates 10,000 Gt, and more (one gigaton is equivalent to one-billion metric tons or equivalent to 100,000,000 elephants).

Unfortunately, those massive carbon pools are exposed to unbelievable hot temps recorded at the farthest northern reaches, for example, 92.3°F on the Siberian coastline of the Arctic Ocean, which is permafrost country and methane hydrate territory. Oh really, Miami Beach temps in Siberia?

Maybe the U.S. should alter its climate change/global warming stance re: (1) the Paris ’15 Agreement by joining ASAP and (2) cancel the interminable Republican (mostly) denial about human-caused global warming, or more formally known as: “The Great American Global Warming School of Denial,” nowadays propagated by Trump and minions, especially as runaway global warming appears to be at an incipient stage, or maybe worse.

On the other hand, when is too late too late?

But, then again, thinking more about it: DO SOMETHING!

  1. The Independent, July 2, 2018.
  2. The Global Energiewende, Energy Transition, May 21, 2018.

Open Letter to the Hon. Emmanuel Macron, President of France

The Hon. Emmanuel Macron
President of France

Palais de l’Élysée
Rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré
75008 Paris
France

Mr. President,

It was to our great astonishment, consternation, and shock that we perceived the Japanese Self Defense Forces display the Rising Sun Flag in front of the gathered crowds during the military parade on Bastille Day, 2018.

Japanese GSDF (Ground Self Defense Forces) parading down the Champs Elysees, July 14th, 2018.

Not since the Nazis paraded the Swastika on June 14th, 1940 has there been such a sight on the Champs Elysées.

As you know, the Rising Sun banner is the war flag of the Japanese Imperial Military and the global symbol of Japanese Imperial Terror from 1894-1945. This is the emblem of the military empire that murdered, tortured, enslaved, raped and terrorized their way through Asia and the Pacific, brutally invading and subjugating entire countries and peoples, while perpetrating innumerable crimes of aggression, crimes against peace, war crimes, and crimes against humanity.

The leaders of the Japanese Military High Command, representing command responsibility for the Japanese military, were ultimately found guilty and hanged for these crimes.

Article R 645-1 of the French Criminal Code, rightly prohibits “the public exhibition or wearing of such insignia, symbols/emblems, uniforms that recall those used by…organizations…or persons found guilty of one or multiple crimes against humanity by…a [competent] international tribunal”.

We also remind you of the ineffaceable, irrevocable, inviolable right to redress (“imprescriptibilité“) regarding crimes against humanity, codified in French Law (Law No 64-1326, December 26th, 1964).

We further draw your attention to the fact that these leaders were found guilty of multiple Crimes Against Humanity in the International Military Tribunal for the Far East, convened on April 29th, 1946.

Japanese GSDF marching down the Champs Elysees, July 14th, 2018

We therefore assert that the members of the Japanese contingent parading the Rising Sun were in clear violation of R 645-1.

We request that they be charged and prosecuted according to the law.

Technically, on their own soil, the Japanese SDF are allowed to fly the Rising Sun, due to a 1955 accommodation arising from the US SCAP designs of cold war geopolitics.  However, it staggers the imagination and shocks the conscience that Republican France—to whom we ascribe higher ethical standards and a demonstrated history of banning symbols and actions like this–would, within the heart of the French Metropole, on the very occasion of its commemoration of opposition to Absolutism and celebration of Universal Human Rights, permit the display and flaunting of a flag that represents the worst excesses of Imperialist Absolutism, unmitigated human rights atrocities, and genocidal and femicidal violations of international law.

We refuse to believe that French standards of governmentality, morality, decency, and common sense allow the public flaunting of the Rising Sun.

We refuse to believe that France allows the symbolic legitimation and normalization of Japanese Imperial Militarism with its long, unimaginable train of irrefragable, but unacknowledged, unatoned-for atrocities.

We refuse to believe that a public holiday also constitutes a moral holiday, where the historical oppressor is dispensed legal exemption to parade violent, traumatic, racist symbology at the cost, shock, and mortification of all its survivors and victims.

We live currently in chaotic, troubled, and morally unsettling times.  Symbols have power: the power to incite or to calm, to divide or bring reconciliation, to heal or to harm.  The inflammatory public display of the Rising Sun is a symbol of everything that is harmful, divisive, violent, and destructive of human decency, morality, society, and peace.

We urge you to consider our concerns and request prompt and rapid action and redress.

With Deepest Respect,

CWJC (Comfort Women Justice Coalition)

God Only Knows

If they would just confirm to us that my brother is alive, if they would just let us see him, that’s all we want. But we can’t get anyone to give us any confirmation. My mother dies a hundred times every day. They don’t know what that is like.

In July of 2018, an Amnesty International report entitled “God Knows If He’s Alive,” documented the plight of dozens of families in southern Yemen whose loved ones have been tortured, killed, or forcibly disappeared by Yemeni security forces reporting to the United Arab Emirates (UAE). The UAE is part of the Saudi-led coalition that, with vital US support, has been bombarding and blockading famine and disease-ravaged Yemen for three brutal years. The disappearances, and torture, can sadly be laid at the doorstep of the United States.

One testimonial after another echoes the sentiments of a woman whose husband has been held incommunicado for more than two years. “Shouldn’t they be given a trial?” she asked. “Why else are there courts? They shouldn’t be disappeared this way – not only are we unable to visit them, we don’t even know if they are dead or alive.”

The report describes bureaucratic farces in which families beg for information about their loved ones’ whereabouts from Yemeni prosecutors and prison officials, but the families’ pleas for information are routinely met with silence or intimidation.

The families are appealing to an unelected Yemeni exile government whose president, Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi, (when “elected” president in 2012, he was the only candidate) generally resides in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. The UAE has, so far, supported Hadi’s claim to govern Yemen. However, the Prosecutor General of Hadi’s government, as well as other officials, told Amnesty International the government of Yemen has no control over operations “spearheaded by the UAE and implemented by the Yemeni forces it backs.”
When months and years pass and families of people who are missing still have no news about their loved ones, some try to communicate unofficially with prison guards or with former detainees who have been released from various detention sites. They repeatedly hear stories about torture of detainees and rumors about prisoners who died in custody.

The Amnesty report implicates UAE-backed local forces in Yemen, as well as the UAE military, in the crimes of torture and other ill-treatment of detainees. Of seven former or current detainees interviewed by Amnesty, five said they were subjected to these abuses. “All seven witnessed other detainees being tortured,” the report adds, “including one who said he saw a detainee held in a cell next to him being carried away in a body bag after he had been repeatedly tortured.”

In June 2017, Human Rights Watch and the Associated Press exposed a network of clandestine prisons operated by the UAE in Yemen. Their reports described ghastly torture inflicted on prisoners and noted that senior US military leaders knew about torture allegations. Yet, a year later, there has been no investigation of these allegations by the Yemeni government, by the UAE, or by the UAE’s most powerful ally in the Yemen war, the United States.

“It is shocking, to say the least,” the Amnesty report states, “that one year after a network of secret prisons operated by the UAE and the Yemeni forces it backs was exposed, these facilities continue to operate and that there has not been a serious investigation undertaken into credibly documented violations, including systemic torture in custody.” The Amnesty report calls on the US to “facilitate independent oversight, including by the US Congress, over US military or intelligence cooperation with Yemeni and UAE forces involved in detention activities in Yemen.” It further calls for investigating any involvement of US military or intelligence personnel in detention-related abuses in Yemen.

To date, the US continues selling weapons to the UAE and to its coalition partner, Saudi Arabia, despite several Congressional debates and a few increasingly close votes demanding a full or partial end to US weapons sales considering the terrible practices being carried out as part of the Yemen war.

Since March of 2015, a coalition of nine countries led by Saudi Arabia and the UAE and relying on crucial U.S. logistical aid, has bombarded Yemen while blockading its major port, despite Yemen’s status as one of the poorest countries in the world. Targeting transportation, electrical plants, sewage and sanitation facilities, schools, mosques, weddings and funerals, the vicious bombing has led to starvation, displacement, and the spread of disease including cholera.

On the same day that the Amnesty report was released, Saudi Arabia’s King Salman pardoned “all military men, who have taken part in the Operation Restoring Hope of their respective military and disciplinary penalties, in regard of some rules and disciplines.” It seems likely that the Amnesty report precipitated this royal decree.

Along with three countries in North Africa’s “Sahel” desert region, Yemen has been cited as part of the worst famine crisis in the 70-year history of the UN. In the past three years of aerial and naval attacks, Yemen’s key port of Hodeidah has remained partially or fully closed despite the country’s vital need for relief supplies. And, while Yemenis suffer the chaos and despair characteristic of war, the Saudis and UAE refer to the war as “Operation Restoring Hope.”

Many thousands of Yemenis, subjected to consistent bombing and threats of starvation and famine, have fled their homes. Many seek refuge out of Yemen. For instance, close to 500 Yemenis have traveled nearly 500 miles to reach a visa-free port on South Korea’s Jeju Island. On July 21, during an international phone call hosted by young friends in Afghanistan, listeners heard Kaia, a resident of Jeju Island, describe the “Hope School.” She explained how she and several other young people are trying to help welcome Yemenis now living in their village of Gangjeong. The young people are already committed to peacefully resisting U.S. and South Korean military destruction of their shoreline and ecosystem. Now, they have started an informal school so Yemeni and South Korean residents can learn from one another. Small groups gather for conversational exchanges translated from Arabic to English to Korean. Many South Koreans can recall, in their own familial history, that seven million Koreans fled Japanese occupation of their land. Their Korean forebears relied on hospitality from people in other lands. The Catholic Bishop of the Jeju diocese, Monsignor Kang Woo-il, called on Koreans to embrace Yemeni refugees, labeling it a crime against human morality to shut the door on refugees and migrants.

Kaia’s account of the newly launched school describes an effort that truthfully involves restoring hope. The cynical designation of Saudi and UAE-led war in Yemen as “Operation Restoring Hope” creates an ugly smokescreen that distracts from the crucial need to investigate war crimes committed in Yemen today.

US citizens bear responsibility for the US government’s support of these crimes.

The Yemenis mean us no harm and have committed no crime against us. Congressional votes have come quite close, with bipartisan support, to ending US participation in, and support for, the Saudi and Emirati led Coalition war against Yemen. Ending arms sales to the UAE and Saudi monarchies, supported by both sides of the aisle, will signal to the UAE and Saudi Arabia the US will no longer assist their efforts to prolong war and siege in Yemen. On cue from the initiative and energy shown by young South Koreans, people in the US can and should organize campaigns to educate their communities, educational institutions, and media outlets about the plight of people in Yemen. Conscious of the nightmare faced by Yemenis whose husbands, brothers, fathers and sons have been disappeared or detained by shadowy military enforcers, US people can work toward implementing each recommendation in Amnesty’s devastating report.

Witness Against Torture activists protest at the Embassy of the United Arab (Photo by Witness Against Torture)

God Only Knows

If they would just confirm to us that my brother is alive, if they would just let us see him, that’s all we want. But we can’t get anyone to give us any confirmation. My mother dies a hundred times every day. They don’t know what that is like.

In July of 2018, an Amnesty International report entitled “God Knows If He’s Alive,” documented the plight of dozens of families in southern Yemen whose loved ones have been tortured, killed, or forcibly disappeared by Yemeni security forces reporting to the United Arab Emirates (UAE). The UAE is part of the Saudi-led coalition that, with vital US support, has been bombarding and blockading famine and disease-ravaged Yemen for three brutal years. The disappearances, and torture, can sadly be laid at the doorstep of the United States.

One testimonial after another echoes the sentiments of a woman whose husband has been held incommunicado for more than two years. “Shouldn’t they be given a trial?” she asked. “Why else are there courts? They shouldn’t be disappeared this way – not only are we unable to visit them, we don’t even know if they are dead or alive.”

The report describes bureaucratic farces in which families beg for information about their loved ones’ whereabouts from Yemeni prosecutors and prison officials, but the families’ pleas for information are routinely met with silence or intimidation.

The families are appealing to an unelected Yemeni exile government whose president, Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi, (when “elected” president in 2012, he was the only candidate) generally resides in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. The UAE has, so far, supported Hadi’s claim to govern Yemen. However, the Prosecutor General of Hadi’s government, as well as other officials, told Amnesty International the government of Yemen has no control over operations “spearheaded by the UAE and implemented by the Yemeni forces it backs.”
When months and years pass and families of people who are missing still have no news about their loved ones, some try to communicate unofficially with prison guards or with former detainees who have been released from various detention sites. They repeatedly hear stories about torture of detainees and rumors about prisoners who died in custody.

The Amnesty report implicates UAE-backed local forces in Yemen, as well as the UAE military, in the crimes of torture and other ill-treatment of detainees. Of seven former or current detainees interviewed by Amnesty, five said they were subjected to these abuses. “All seven witnessed other detainees being tortured,” the report adds, “including one who said he saw a detainee held in a cell next to him being carried away in a body bag after he had been repeatedly tortured.”

In June 2017, Human Rights Watch and the Associated Press exposed a network of clandestine prisons operated by the UAE in Yemen. Their reports described ghastly torture inflicted on prisoners and noted that senior US military leaders knew about torture allegations. Yet, a year later, there has been no investigation of these allegations by the Yemeni government, by the UAE, or by the UAE’s most powerful ally in the Yemen war, the United States.

“It is shocking, to say the least,” the Amnesty report states, “that one year after a network of secret prisons operated by the UAE and the Yemeni forces it backs was exposed, these facilities continue to operate and that there has not been a serious investigation undertaken into credibly documented violations, including systemic torture in custody.” The Amnesty report calls on the US to “facilitate independent oversight, including by the US Congress, over US military or intelligence cooperation with Yemeni and UAE forces involved in detention activities in Yemen.” It further calls for investigating any involvement of US military or intelligence personnel in detention-related abuses in Yemen.

To date, the US continues selling weapons to the UAE and to its coalition partner, Saudi Arabia, despite several Congressional debates and a few increasingly close votes demanding a full or partial end to US weapons sales considering the terrible practices being carried out as part of the Yemen war.

Since March of 2015, a coalition of nine countries led by Saudi Arabia and the UAE and relying on crucial U.S. logistical aid, has bombarded Yemen while blockading its major port, despite Yemen’s status as one of the poorest countries in the world. Targeting transportation, electrical plants, sewage and sanitation facilities, schools, mosques, weddings and funerals, the vicious bombing has led to starvation, displacement, and the spread of disease including cholera.

On the same day that the Amnesty report was released, Saudi Arabia’s King Salman pardoned “all military men, who have taken part in the Operation Restoring Hope of their respective military and disciplinary penalties, in regard of some rules and disciplines.” It seems likely that the Amnesty report precipitated this royal decree.

Along with three countries in North Africa’s “Sahel” desert region, Yemen has been cited as part of the worst famine crisis in the 70-year history of the UN. In the past three years of aerial and naval attacks, Yemen’s key port of Hodeidah has remained partially or fully closed despite the country’s vital need for relief supplies. And, while Yemenis suffer the chaos and despair characteristic of war, the Saudis and UAE refer to the war as “Operation Restoring Hope.”

Many thousands of Yemenis, subjected to consistent bombing and threats of starvation and famine, have fled their homes. Many seek refuge out of Yemen. For instance, close to 500 Yemenis have traveled nearly 500 miles to reach a visa-free port on South Korea’s Jeju Island. On July 21, during an international phone call hosted by young friends in Afghanistan, listeners heard Kaia, a resident of Jeju Island, describe the “Hope School.” She explained how she and several other young people are trying to help welcome Yemenis now living in their village of Gangjeong. The young people are already committed to peacefully resisting U.S. and South Korean military destruction of their shoreline and ecosystem. Now, they have started an informal school so Yemeni and South Korean residents can learn from one another. Small groups gather for conversational exchanges translated from Arabic to English to Korean. Many South Koreans can recall, in their own familial history, that seven million Koreans fled Japanese occupation of their land. Their Korean forebears relied on hospitality from people in other lands. The Catholic Bishop of the Jeju diocese, Monsignor Kang Woo-il, called on Koreans to embrace Yemeni refugees, labeling it a crime against human morality to shut the door on refugees and migrants.

Kaia’s account of the newly launched school describes an effort that truthfully involves restoring hope. The cynical designation of Saudi and UAE-led war in Yemen as “Operation Restoring Hope” creates an ugly smokescreen that distracts from the crucial need to investigate war crimes committed in Yemen today.

US citizens bear responsibility for the US government’s support of these crimes.

The Yemenis mean us no harm and have committed no crime against us. Congressional votes have come quite close, with bipartisan support, to ending US participation in, and support for, the Saudi and Emirati led Coalition war against Yemen. Ending arms sales to the UAE and Saudi monarchies, supported by both sides of the aisle, will signal to the UAE and Saudi Arabia the US will no longer assist their efforts to prolong war and siege in Yemen. On cue from the initiative and energy shown by young South Koreans, people in the US can and should organize campaigns to educate their communities, educational institutions, and media outlets about the plight of people in Yemen. Conscious of the nightmare faced by Yemenis whose husbands, brothers, fathers and sons have been disappeared or detained by shadowy military enforcers, US people can work toward implementing each recommendation in Amnesty’s devastating report.

Witness Against Torture activists protest at the Embassy of the United Arab (Photo by Witness Against Torture)