A Gonzo Journalism Review of Last Week
by Surly1, Doomstead Diner
Originally published on the Doomstead Diner 01 June 2014
“The real owners are the big wealthy business interests that control things and make all the important decisions. Forget the politicians, they’re an irrelevancy. The politicians are put there to give you the idea that you have freedom of choice. You don’t. You have no choice. You have owners. … They’ve got you by the balls. They spend billions of dollars every year lobbying lobbying to get what they want. Well, we know what they want; they want more for themselves and less for everybody else.
“You know what they want? Obedient workers people who are just smart enough to run the machines and do the paperwork but just dumb enough to passively accept all these increasingly shittier jobs with the lower pay, the longer hours, reduced benefits, the end of overtime and the vanishing pension that disappears the minute you go to collect it. And, now, they’re coming for your Social Security. They want your fucking retirement money. They want it back, so they can give it to their criminal friends on Wall Street. And you know something? They’ll get it. They’ll get it all… It’s a big club, and you ain’t in it.”
― George Carlin
It has been a week less potent with news events than with movements and shifts with long term consequences. Not sure than anyone outside the Beltway has begun to wrap their minds around the consequences of the Russia-China energy and trade deal. Besides having a trillion dollars of planned trade not settled in petrodollars, what do you suppose having China as a trading partner is going to do the bite of sanctions? And how will the EU feel when they are shivering in the dark, waiting for the endless flow of fracked hydrocarbons from Saudi America? Mammon remains hungry, as a mounting toll of senseless and preventable deaths reflects our appetite for weapons and lack of common sense. And the Bildaboogers were at it again, enjoying a gathering you weren’t invited to, not that you’re bitter. You’re not in the club. Welcome to “The Week That Was in Doom” – a fascinating week, so let’s go right to the videotape.
Last week, we wrote about Fukushima, and the environmental catastrophe unfolding on the Pacific Rim. All of which will, in the fullness of time, be playing At a Theater Near You. More recent news from the Far East: China and Russia inked a little deal that some say beginning of a new “Eurasian century.”
The agreement between Putin and Jinpeng last week is historic, not only because trade between the two economic superpowers will not be carried out in dollars, but also because locking in China as a customer for all of those Russian hydrocarbons throws a trump on NATO’s plan to use sanctions to punish the Russians for what they are doing (or thinking about doing) in Ukraine.
The deal goes beyond just hydrocarbons. The two countries are considering joint construction of power plants in Russia, including nuclear power plants. Yes, in Russia. What could possibly go wrong? The Chinese are also making suggestions to the Germans that they use existing rail lines to decrease cargo travel time from eastern China to Europe.
And what potential quid for the pro quo might China exact? You might recall China flexing its muscles lately with Japan in the Diaoyu/Senkaku Islands, and this past week with Vietnam in the Paracels (see below). A little Russian help with the Security Council vis-à-vis Japan couldn’t hurt. From the Russian perspective, having another friendly face (and vote) at the UN in re Ukraine, Syria, and Iran might prove useful in further negotiations with Western neocon – controlled regimes.
According to a report in Goldcore, Russia will sail $1 trillion worth of natural gas to China, all of which will be settled in rubles and yuan. If you are scoring at home, you might remember that in July, the BRICS Development Bank was announced as an alternative to the IMF for the developing world. None of which is good news for the petrodollar. If you read the Goldcore article, these guys positively are giddy about the prospects for gold, what with Ukraine simmering and the usual unrest in the usual sewers in the Middle East. Not to mention the potential flight into safety of American wealth as the rentier class wakes up to what the rest of the world is acting like it already knows. Given the state of what passes for media in this country, that won’t be happening anytime soon.
On Tuesday, as China pressed oil drilling claims in the South China Sea off the Paracel Islands (waters which Vietnam also claims). China had amassed a virtual armada of over 70 vessels around the Paracels around its oil rig. Yahoo Japan reported that
“a Vietnamese fishing vessel is sunk after being rammed by a Chinese vessel and the 10 fishermen have been rescued.”
Stern communiqués ensued. Here’s Vietnam’s:
According to new information received, at 16 am on 26/5, the Chinese fishing boat collided number 11209 90 152 DNA sinking fishing boats of fishermen in South southwest of Da Nang, Hai Duong rig – rig by 981 and 17 nm , is a traditional fishing grounds, under the exclusive economic zone and continental shelf of Vietnam.
In 10/10 fishermen on board the ship Da Nang we picked and safe rescue.
At the time of the incident, there are 40 Chinese fishing boats surrounded unruly group of our vessels.
ZeroHedge reported grenades tossed by both sides of the dispute:
Vietnam’s Foreign Ministry held a press conference on Friday when officials stressed the country’s historical claim to the Paracels. Tran Duy Hai, deputy head of Vietnam’s National Border Committee, said
“Historical and legal evidence shows that Vietnam has absolute sovereignty in the Paracel and Spratly archipelagos” .
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang disagreed. He said at a briefing on Monday that
“Seeing that the Vietnamese Foreign Ministry held a press conference last Friday on the subject, I felt it was extremely ridiculous. The Paracels are the indisputable territory of the Chinese people.”
At other times, a face-off between fleets of fishing vessels might seem to be a fit subject for musical comedy. But things are a bit antsier today. Think ahead to the end game: the prospect of the United States intervening to help Vietnam assert territorial claims vis-à-vis mainland China? View that through the lens of someone whose friends and relatives served in the war in Vietnam, and get back to me.
The post-Sandy Hook toll of gun violence continues without respite here in the FSoA, where any suggestion of common sense or political will to curtail the availability of automatic weapons and other mass killing devices is met with the snarling fury of the National Rifle Association, lobbyist for the weapons manufacturers. Any attempt to limit the availability of such weapons is met with righteous indignation as curtailing “our freedom.” Your scribe looks on wistfully, wishing that the ardor brought in defense of the Second Amendment might have been utilized in defense of the First, Fourth, Fifth and Eighth. Just sayin’.
Even before Elliot Rodger went on a shooting spree in Isla Vista California, there were at least 80 gun related deaths across the country, according to Huffington Post.
That these shootings failed to garner the national attention that the one in Isla Vista did shouldn’t shock anyone who has followed the gun control debate. High-profile instances of gun violence are more likely to grab the spotlight than the everyday scourge of gun-related killings. And certainly, the shooting of three (and stabbing of three others) by the 22-year-old son of a Hollywood director who happened to leave a dark, depressing trail of self-made YouTube videos qualifies as high-profile.
But instances such as the one at UC Santa Barbara are rare in respect to gun-related homicides. In fact, FBI data shows that there were 900 people who died in mass shootings from 2006 through 2012. By contrast, firearms were used in 11,078 homicides in 2010 alone, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The Huffpo article notes that many of the shootings failed to garner press attention outside of their own localities. Perhaps we have become as inured to them as acceptable “background noise” for our insane culture as we have to “greed is good.” Both violence and greed are BAU in the FSA.
No need for an alternative blog to mention the work of The Grey Lady, but the New York Times’ Joe Nocera has been publishing “The Gun Report.” It is poignant to read for the matter of factness of it all; pulled from local news reports, the blog recounts in declarative journalistic style the people, many of them children, killed and injured by gun violence the past week. It concludes:
According to the Gun Violence Archive, 7,650 people have been injured by gun violence in America and 4,358 have been killed since Jan. 1, 2014. That number includes 15 police officers killed, 475 children injured or killed and 355 instances of defensive gun use.
To which I’ll add this local item that I came across this morning:
James Andrew Brown II, of Norfolk, Va. was previously charged with assaulting an officer and carrying a loaded weapon, but but he got the charged reduced to a misdemeanor, so that he could exercise his Second Amendment rights, and continue to “open carry”. He was known around his neighborhood as “Wyatt Earp” because he always carried a gun on his hip. Friday May 30 Mr. Brown randomly killed a 17-yr old high school junior and an on-duty police officer, wounded a second police officer, before a third officer killed Brown. Everybody thought he was just another “good guy with a gun”.
Res ipsa loquitur.
The Bilderburgers were it again this week, with all the hue and cry, hand wringing and consternation that their meeting generates. There are those who insist that this notoriously secretive gathering of the world’s most powerful bankers, politicians and business people meet behind closed doors to create a new world government. For its part, the official Bilderberg website as mother’s milk:
Bilderberg is an annual conference designed to foster dialogue between Europe and North America. Every year, between 120-150 political leaders and experts from industry, finance, academia and the media are invited to take part in the conference. About two thirds of the participants come from Europe and the rest from North America; one third from politics and government and the rest from other fields.
The conference is a forum for informal discussions about megatrends and major issues facing the world. The meetings are held under the Chatham House Rule, which states that participants are free to use the information received, but neither the identity nor the affiliation of the speaker(s) nor of any other participant may be revealed.
There is no detailed agenda, no resolutions are proposed, no votes are taken, and no policy statements are issued.
Much was made on RT and some other sites about the so-called “secret agenda” leaked. If you really want to know here it is:
- Nuclear diplomacy and the deal with Iran currently in the making.
- Gas deal between Russia and China.
- Rise of nationalist moods in Europe.
- EU internet privacy regulations.
- Cyberwarfare and its potential effect on internet freedoms.
- From Ukraine to Syria, Barack Obama’s foreign policy.
- Climate change.
- The new architecture of the Middle East
- The future of democracy and the middle class trap
Read RT’s reporting here, and The Guardian’s snark at not being able to get inside here. The Bilderberg Group has been at this for six decades, and any gaggle of the world’s most influential individuals, politicians, officials, businessmen, academics and European royalty (dare we say Illuminati?) who regularly gather to discuss global policy issues is going to attract critics. And there is little doubt that these days this group is under far more scrutiny than before. Some see them as acting as a shadow unelected government, de facto rulers of the world, making decisions affecting billions him behind closed doors, with little regard for the needs or wishes of mere proles. What is ironic is that, of the subjects listed on the so-called “secret agenda,” most have been addressed in this space over the past weeks. But then ironies abound.
And in closing–
Photo credit: Ana Filipa Scarpa
Damn… and from io9, this:
While visiting Leziria Grande at Vila Franca de Xira in Portugal recently, photographer Ana Filipa Scarpa noticed something off in the distance that resembled a funnel cloud. But it wasn’t a tornado, or even a funnel for that matter. Rather, it was something… alive.
What you’re seeing here is an insect swarm. A swarm of mosquitoes, to be exact.
“It was a very high funnel swinging to the left and to the right. I pointed my camera and began shooting before it hit me. But the funnel did not move toward me — and I thought it was so strange — so I got into my car and started to drive towards it, and that’s when I realized it was a mosquito twister.”
As she drove nearer, the mosquitoes actually started entering into her car.
Leziria Grande de Vila Franca de Xira is a highly fertile breeding ground for mosquitoes, Scarpa told me, because there are many water branches to assure water to animals and harvests.
Scarpa says the swarm extended about 1,000 feet high and was nearly a quarter mile (300 meters) from her position.
And if the rest of this week’s analysis is not left your skin crawling, this last item certainly will.