The John James Newsletter 246

posted Sep 4, 2018, 6:57 PM by Clement Clarke

The John James Newsletter  246

2 September 2018

You said you wanted the truth. Now what are you willing to do with it?
      Monika Zands

A fire has been lit in my soul, I want change. I want to help, express and empower. It's crazy because I didn't expect to be able to do the things I'm currently doing. I am no longer scared and ashamed. I am no longer afraid. This is it.  It's important, art can heal and inspire and I have the means to do it. I have a clear view of what I need to do, a focus that fuels my art and my expression.
      Charlotte Allingham

In 2017, 18.8 million people were internally displaced by natural disasters, compared to 11.8 million displaced by conflict. Many more people are displaced each year by disasters than by conflict. Climate change intensifies this risk
      Jane McAdam

The environment will be fine, we can leave a little bit, but you can’t destroy businesses
      Donald Trump

Humanity is facing the greatest threat to its existence in its entire history. Climate Change, resource crisis and the resultant resource wars, floods, droughts, human rights violation, environmental degradation and losses, to name a few
       Binu Mathew

Food companies have invested heavily in designing products that use sugar to bypass our appetite control mechanisms, and packaging and promoting them to break down what remains of our defences, including through the use of subliminal scents. They employ an army of food scientists and psychologists to trick us into eating more junk (and therefore less wholesome food) than we need, while their advertisers use the latest findings in neuroscience to overcome our resistance. They hire biddable scientists and thinktanks to confuse us about the causes of obesity. Above all, just as the tobacco companies did with smoking, they promote the idea that weight is a question of “personal responsibility”. After spending billions on overriding our willpower, they blame us for failing to exercise it.
      George Monbiot

If we don't do anything about climate change now, in 50 years' time we will be toasted, roasted and grilled
      Christine Lagarde, IMF

Determined to keep its economic engine running at maximum torque, China plans to spend three decades and trillions of dollars to build ports, airports, train lines, roads, power plants, transmission networks and online communications capacity for new international trade routes across 70 countries on three continents.
      Keith Schneider

Do butterflies remember being caterpillars?
We have caterpillars at home. I would like to know whether they will remember being caterpillars when they are butterflies. – Evan, age 5.     Read more

Is Capitalism Killing Us?
Manufacturing and industrial corporations, corporate farming, city sewer systems, and other culprits have passed the costs of their activities onto the environment and third parties.
  • Glyphosate in all but 2 of 45 children’s breakfast foods including granola, oats and snack bars made by Quaker, Kellogg and General Mills.
  • In Brazil 83% of mothers’ breast milk contains glyphosate.
  • 14 of the most widely selling German beers contain glyphosate.
  • Chemicals used for decades on military bases and in the manufacture of thousands of consumer items are in the water supply.
  • Glyphosate has been found in Mexican farmers’ urine and in ground water.
  • GMO feeds are also taking a toll on livestock.
  • Roundup’s “inert ingredients can kill human cells, particularly embryonic, placental and umbilical cord cells.”
  • Germany has accepted a Monsanto-led glyphosate Task Force conclusion that glyphosate is not a carcinogen.
There is also controversy about what level of contamination is necessary for products adulterated with glyphosate to be classified as dangerous. It does seem to be the case that the concentrations rise with use and time. Sooner or later the concentration becomes sufficient to do the damage. When we get right down to it, all of the profits that capitalism has generated over the centuries are due to capitalists not having to cover the full cost of their production. They passed the cost on to the environment and to third parties and pocketed the savings as profit.
For the links to the above, read this
Pollution is killing more than war, smoking, hunger or natural disasters
Environmental pollutants are killing at least 9 million people, more than AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria combined. One of six premature deaths in 2015 could be attributed to disease from toxic exposure. In the West, we got the lead out of the gasoline, so we thought lead was handled. We got rid of the burning rivers, cleaned up the worst of the toxic sites. And then all of those discussions went into the background" just as industry began booming in developing nations. Asia and Africa are the regions putting the most people at risk, while India tops the list of individual countries, with China second.     Read more
4 Million EVs on the Road Globally — To Hit 5 Million in About Six Months
The number of EVs on the road in Europe has hit 1 million with a 42% growth rate January to June. Meanwhile, Global EVs have hit 4 million with nearly 2 million sales projected for this year. From January to July, Tesla took the crown as top-selling EV automaker.     Read more
Is this the price of Empire, or is this a showcase for how empires would like to treat the rest of us? At the height of the British Empire in the 1880s poverty was at record levels, as it is in the US today. Why would we think that the US, or the Chinese or the Indians or any other burgeoning power, would treat us differently?
Why suicide is on the rise in the US—even as it falls in Europe
Suicide now ranks in the top 10 leading causes of death in the US. In 2015, 44,193 Americans died by their own hand. That was more than the number killed in motor vehicle accidents (37,757) and over twice the number who died through homicide (17,793). The rate in the US has increased 30% whereas in western Europe it has fallen. The rising rates were closely linked with reductions in social welfare that is only 18% of US GDP while most of the OECD nations spend at least 25%. Also the higher the level of income inequality the higher the probability of death by suicide. According to social strain theory, when there's a large gap between the rich and poor, those at or near the bottom struggle more, making them more susceptible to addiction, criminality, and mental illness than those at the top.     Read more
Indigenous architecture saved lives in Lombok quakes
Where houses made of concrete and brick collapsed or were severely damaged in the quakes, traditional houses made of wood and bamboo remained standing. The customary homes in Beleq draw on the centuries-old traditions of the Sasak people, who make up most of the population of Lombok. While wooden homes can sway, or “breathe” when earthquakes strike, concrete houses cannot; they have no flex and topple easily.     Read more
As temperatures keep rising, ‘heat belt’ cities manoeuvre to stay liveable
people have long made accommodations to the heat, but climate change and urban development are forcing far more considerations. An increasing number of cities face extreme heat for much of the summer, with highs surpassing 100 and even 110 degrees for weeks at a time. Even in the final days of August, Phoenix is sweltering at 107 and San Antonio at 104. Such relentless, triple-digit temperatures — the equivalent danger of rising seas in many coastal communities — are straining power grids, buckling roads, grounding planes and endangering lives. The Phoenix area reached a dubious record last year: at least 155 heat-related deaths. “Extreme heat is not just an inconvenience, It is killing people, and it’s making people sick to a higher and higher degree.”     Read more
Allen Weisselberg, the Man Who Knows Donald Trump’s Financial Secrets, Has Agreed to Become a Coöperating Witness
Weisselberg knew who was paying or lending money to Trump, and he knew to whom Trump was giving money. Worse, for Trump, if Weisselberg, fearing prosecution himself, tells prosecutors of other criminal activity in the organisation, that information will likely be referred to other federal and state prosecutors, thus broadening the investigation of Trump’s business. Weisselberg has worked exclusively for the Trump family for his entire adult life.
Read more
Bali is celebrating victory against a multi-billion-dollar land reclamation project
The Benoa Bay reclamation project, valued at $2 billion, would clear much of the bay’s rich mangrove ecosystem that feeds the local fishing community. Thousands of Indonesians, from environmental activists and local fishermen to artists and rock musicians, have staged a series of protests and demonstrations in an attempt to shut down the project. Opposition has also come from Bali’s government and provincial legislature.     Read more
Warming stripes
A set of climate visualisations communicae the long term rise in temperatures as a changing set of colours from blue to red. Each stripe represents the temperature of a single year, ordered from the earliest available data to now. This shows the annual temperatures for Australia (1910-2017).      Read more

The vast Amazon forest was known as the "lungs of the world", and as it is slashed and bulldozed the air quality on earth has become worse, and more are dying from the toxic pollution we breathe and eat. Is this not a crime against us all?
Deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon continues to trend higher
Report from Imazon, a Brazilian NGO that independently tracks developments in Earth’s largest rainforest indicates 778 square kilometers of forest were cleared in July, a 43% increase over a year ago.      Read more
California Has Already Cut Carbon Emissions to 1990s Levels
California has reduced its electrical power sector related carbon emissions by 35 percent — enabling it to achieve a goal set for 2020 early. Looking ahead, California will need to rely an synergies between batteries and clean energy both in power and transport as it moves to cut emission further.     Read more
Joint Statement of Rights Groups on the Arrest of Public Intellectuals
The raids and arrests, as well as statements by Pune police that more raids will follow are naked and concerted attempts to intimidate and stifle voices of dissent. These unjustified and illegal raids on and arrests of these human rights activists are nothing but an attack on Indian democracy and an attempt to undermine the democratic fabric of our society. Certain media houses who, in collusion with the state and its law enforcing authorities, have indulged in an incredible attack on these human rights activists, defaming them and profiling them as “Urban Maoists” and calling them anti-national.     Read more

Power Worth Less Than Zero Spreads as Green Energy Floods the Grid
Wind and solar farms are glutting networks more frequently, prompting a market signal for coal plants to shut off. Bright and breezy days are becoming a deeper nightmare for utilities struggling to earn a return on traditional power plants. With wind and solar farms sprouting up in more areas the amount of electricity being generated is outstripping demand during certain hours of the day. The result: power prices are slipping to zero or even below more often in more jurisdictions. That’s adding to headaches for generators. Periods with negative prices occur when there is more supply than demand, typically during a mid-day sun burst or early morning wind gust when demand is already low. A negative price is essentially a market signal telling utilities to shut down certain power plants. It doesn’t result in anyone getting a refund on bills -- or in electric meters running backward.   Read more
Myths of baseload and intermittent energy: It’s not what you think
Over the next few months, with the right wing shift in the federal Coalition government, expect to hear a lot about “baseload” and “intermittent” generation. It will be the core of the conservative push for more fossil fuel generation. They argue that because “coal” is “baseload”, it must therefore be “reliable”. And wind and solar are intermittent, so they cannot be relied upon to keep the lights on. It’s political rhetoric that belies the reality of the electricity system, the biggest and most complex machine in the country. Australia’s grid has challenges, but they are not necessarily ones that can be solved just by having more “baseload”.     Read more
The fundamental operating model of Australian politics is breaking down
There has been a dramatic polarisation of Australian politics over the last two decades. In 1996 more than one in three Australian politicians (37%) rated themselves as “moderate” – that is, centre-left Liberal and centre-right Labor. This share has shrunk dramatically. At the most recent federal election only one in 10 politicians described themselves as moderate. The ideological drift towards the extremes of the political landscape is one of the causes of Australia’s broken politics. Getting legislation requires broad, often cross-party, support. That support is easier to build when there is a critical mass of centrists in both parties who can compromise and negotiate, with shared values as common ground. Fewer centrists makes serious reforms harder to get. An obvious example is climate change policy, where the polarisation of politics has made meaningful reform difficult for years.    Read more
Sodding the Australian Voter: Accidental Prime Ministers
None of the individuals who found themselves in the leadership roles had articulated any specific vision of the country prior to entering the party room where the bloodletting process was ceremonially affirmed.  Now, a man ruthless as immigration minister, and blustering as treasurer, has become the accidental prime minister.  Read more
Crop losses to pests will soar as climate warms
ncreasing heat boosts both the number and appetite of insects, and researchers project they will destroy almost 50% more wheat than they do today with a 2C rise, and 30% more maize. Rice, the third key staple, is less affected as it is grown in the tropics, which are already near the optimal temperature for insects – although bugs will still eat 20% more. Rising heat stress on crops is already expected to cut cereal yields by about 10% at 2C of warming, but the new research indicates rising pest damage will cause at least another 4-8% to be lost. With 800 million people chronically hungry today and the global population rising towards 10bn, increasing pest destruction will worsen food security.     Read more
Australia’s Drought Likely to Continue for Another Three Months
The entire Australian state of New South Wales — which accounts for a quarter of the country’s agricultural output — is experiencing drought conditions. Half of neighbouring Queensland is in drought, as well as parts of Victoria and South Australia. The country’s current drought conditions have been developing for years. Australia experienced its hottest winter on record in 2017, with average maximum temperatures 2C. South Australia then had its second driest autumn on record in 2018, with rainfall measuring 57 mm below average. Less than 10 mm fell in the region last month. The Australian Bureau of Meteorology estimates an 80 percent chance of drier-than-average conditions along much of the country’s east coast over the next three months. It also estimated that dry weather could hit western Australia, another major agricultural zone.     Read more
Asia To Lead Pilot Demand Over The Next Two Decades
China is expected to need 128,000 pilots between now and 2037 while Boeing estimated that 40 percent of its new aircraft deliveries will go to customers across Asia.      Read more
China’s Mobile Payment Ecosystems Are Making Banks Obsolete
Giant Chinese tech companies have bypassed credit cards and banks to create their own low-cost digital payment systems. The US credit card system siphons off excessive amounts of money from merchants, who must raise their prices to cover this charge. In a typical $100 credit card purchase, only $97.25 goes to the seller. The rest goes to banks and processors. The future of consumer payments may not be designed in New York or London but in China. There, money flows mainly through a pair of digital ecosystems that blend social media, commerce and banking—all run by two of the world’s most valuable companies. That contrasts with the US, where numerous firms feast on fees from handling and processing payments. Western bankers and credit-card executives who travel to China keep returning with the same anxiety: Payments can happen cheaply and easily without them. The nightmare for the US financial industry is that a major technology company – whether one from China or a US giant such as Amazon or Facebook – might replicate the success of the Chinese mobile payment systems, cutting banks out.     Read more
The "Economy of Resistance" Russia is buying gold to save it from 
At the same time as Russia is buying gold, Russian dollar reserves have been reduced drastically over the past years. They were replaced by gold and the Chinese Yuan. Since about two years the Yuan has been an officially recognised reserve currency by the IMF. The accumulation of gold, has made Russia the world’s fifth largest gold owner. They have increased their gold holdings from less than 500 tons in 2008 to almost 2000 tons. The Russian ruble today is covered twice by the value of gold. The ruble is no fiat currency like the dollar-based western monetary system, including the euro. The ruble is a solid currency, despite contrary western propaganda. When the western media demonises the Russian currency as having lost 50% of its value due to sanctions – it is a manipulated half-truth. The loss of value as compared to what? – Compared to the US dollar and other western currencies? With a western de-linked economy any devaluation is irrelevant. Being decoupled from the dollar, Russia will no longer be vulnerable to western sanctions – and no longer needs the western economy,      Read more
The Countries Polluting The Oceans The Most
China and Indonesia are the top sources of plastic bottles, bags and other rubbish clogging up global sea lanes. Together, both nations account for more than a third of plastic detritus in global waters.     Read more
Report on environmental impact of vast Chinese investments in Penang
Determined to keep its economic engine running at maximum torque, China plans to spend three decades and trillions of dollars to build ports, airports, train lines, roads, power plants, transmission networks and online communications capacity for new international trade routes across 70 countries on three continents. Skeptical of China’s commitment to green growth, some analysts say it is pursuing minerals, fossil fuels, farm commodities and timber from its new trade routes. To become a blueprint for responsible development, the Chinese must fundamentally change the way they do business internationally.        Read more
Future war will result in destruction 'beyond our comprehension'
The number of megacities - those with populations over 10 million - is expected to jump from 31 today to 60 by 2030. By that time two-thirds of the world's population is expected to live in urban areas. Fighting in such areas means "we must prepare for a scale of destruction we have only read about in history books,”  In Mosul a force of 90,000 soldiers took nine months to finally defeat the 5,000 Isil fighters in Mosul. It took seven days to clear the last pockets of resistance, contained in an area about the size of a premier league football pitch. Eventually the Iraqi army deployed a specially designed armoured bulldozer to bury alive the remaining Isil fighters. Soldiers patrolling behind the bulldozer were used to kill any Isil suicide bombers that ran out to stop the vehicle.  It was a low-tech and brutal form of war. Do Western armies have the stomach for such a fight.     Read more
Street trees set to weather threats of climate change and heated suburban warfare
npredictable and drastic weather is affecting the livelihood of the humble suburban street tree. The expectation of harsher winters and hotter summers is forcing city planners to ensure tree-lined avenues stay green and resilient. The ANU has witnessed the deaths of 100-year-old trees all around Canberra.    Read more
Pictures show some of the world's most stunning lighthouses
And among the breathtaking pictures featured in the book are images of the Gadeokdo East Breakwater Lighthouse in South Korea which looks like the prow of a ship and the Jeddah Port Control Tower in Saudi Arabia - one of the tallest in the world.     Read more

We examined every Indigenous death in custody since 2008. This is why
147 deaths in a decade is in itself a national shame but Australia should know the stories behind the statistic. We learned that Indigenous people are more likely to die in police pursuits than non-Indigenous people, and that many of those who die in such circumstances are teenagers who committed minor crimes. We read stories of people complaining of excruciating pain but receiving no painkillers, of gravely sick people complaining of the symptoms of septic shock and being treated for dehydration, of families having to watch their loved being shackled to a hospital bed despite, on many occasions, being in a coma or reliant on machines to breathe. The result is a resource that we hope will be used by researchers, lawyers, community advocates, and most importantly, families, who have lost someone in the justice system and are trying to navigate what can be a very complex and dense coronial process.    Read more
Sovereignty was never Ceded

Charlotte Allingham is a 25 year old Wiradjuri woman from New South Wales. As a creator, she has expanded her abilities in a range of mediums, from traditional painting, embroidery to digital design and illustration. "A fire has been lit in my soul, I want change. I want to help, express and empower. It's crazy, because I didn't expect to be able to do the things I'm currently doing. I am no longer scared and ashamed of my fair skin. I am no longer afraid. This is it.  It's important, art can heal and inspire and I have the means to do it. I have a clear view of what I need to do, a focus that fuels my art and my expression."     Read more

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