The Link Between Watergate and US Recognition of China

Trump in Asia: How Power Has Shifted Since Richard Nixon's ...

Watergate – Chapter 2

The History Channel (2016)

Film Review

I found Chapter 2 the most interesting. It mainly focuses on major foreign policy coups Nixon used to keep Watergate off the front page during the 1972 presidential campaign.

1972 was the first year since the 1949 revolution in which the US (under Nixon’s leadership) engaged in formal diplomatic relations with the Peoples Republic of China. He also negotiated a nuclear weapons treaty with the Soviet Union in 1972, as well as launching a staged troop withdrawal from Vietnam and ending the draft. Anticipating this would be extremely popular with young Americans, he also lowered the voting age from 21 to 18.

Ten days prior to the election, Secretary of State Henry Kissinger announced he had negotiated a peace agreement with North Vietnam.

The other interesting revelations in Chapter 2 concern the dirty tricks campaign the Committee to Re-Elect the President (CREEP) engaged in (under former Attorney General John Mitchell) against Nixon’s Democratic opponents. This included paying front runner Edmund Muskee’s chauffeur to copy all his boss’s campaign documents and planting fake news stories slagging off Muskee’s wife. The latter ultimately led to Muskee’s withdrawal from the race.

This episode also reveals threats Nixon’s White House Team reportedly made against Washington Post reporters Woodward and Bernstein, the paper’s publisher Katherine Graham and CBS White House correspondent Dan Rather.

The film can be viewed free on Kanopy.

https://pukeariki.kanopy.com/video/watergate-0

Dmitry Orlov: Predicting Collapse

Military, economic prowess can't stop America's inevitable ...

Below is a link an extremely informative podcast interview with Russian-American engineer and writer Dmitry Orlov.

After living through the Soviet collapse, Orlov identified five aspects of collapse for people to use as signposts to identify when the process had begun.*

Orlov clearly believes the collapse of the US empire has already begun. He asserts most Americans aren’t aware of it because they only believe what the TV tells them, ie that current problems of US are only temporary.

Orlov, who predicted imminent US collapse nearly a decade ago, points out the fulfillment of each of his predictions.

  1. Financial Collapse – early signs of runaway hyperinflation, with skyrocketing levels of money creation disguised as debt that will never be repaid. He also points to growing unwillingness of various countries, especially Russia and China, to accept the US dollar as currency.
  2. Commercial collapse – total unwillingness of businesses to invest in new factories.
  3. Political collapse – total corruption (and incompetence) of executive branch of federal government. This is reflected in major recent military losses (the interview preceded the hasty and undignified US exit from Afghanistan). At 10.00 min, he points to a recent announcement the US isn’t going to the moon (and never did, according to Orlov).**
  4. Social collapse – total breakdown of community and civil society, ie the networks and groups which ordinarily look after people who slip through the “safety net” of government welfare programs.
  5. Cultural collapse – loss of faith in the goodness of humanity.

Orlov believes the US collapse will be more catastrophic than its Soviet counterpart (at 21 min) because the Russians had stronger family and community ties. Absent in the US, these resulted in a strong moral obligation to help one another survive the life-and-death struggles Russian people faced in the early 1990s.


*See also https://www.resilience.org/stories/2013-04-11/the-five-stages-of-collapse-by-dmitry-orlov-book-review/

**According to Orlov, the US never possessed the rocket technology to carry off a moon shot.

 

Renewable Energy: The Real Cost

Bright Green Lies - MonkfishMonkfish

Bright Green Lies: How the Environmental Movement Lost Its Way and What We Can Do About it

By Derrick Jensen, Lierre Keither and Max Wilbert

Monkfish Book Publishing Company (2021)

Book Review

The main premise of this book is that fossil fuels, especially oil, are functionally irreplaceable – that there is no way we can run our present industrialized society on renewable energy alone. A “Bright Green” environmentalist, according to the authors, is one who believes that green technology and design, along with ethical consumerism, will allow our modern, high-energy lifestyle to continue indefinitely.

The bulk of the book examines the massive environmental degradation associated with each of the renewable technologies, alongside major economic obstacles that prevent them from replacing fossil fuels. The authors devote an entire chapter to Germany. Despite spending tens of billions of dollars annually subsidizing renewable energy, the country derives 11.5% of its energy (30% of it biomass from clear cut forests*) from renewables.

Solar

Mining and manufacturing processes that produce silicon PVC’s are enormously energy intensive. In addition to producing hundreds of tons of CO2, the process produces large amounts of hexafluoroethane, nitrogentrifluoride and sulfur hexafluoride, greenhouse gasses tens of thousands of times more potent than CO2. They are also turning vast areas of China into wastelands where nothing grows and residents experience high cancer rates.

Wind

One Bright Green environmentalist calculates we must build 3.8 million 5MW wind turbines by 2030 to phase out our fossil fuel use by 2050. This will require 1.4 billion tons of steel for the towers and 1.9 million tons of copper for the nacelles.

The world’s largest iron mine is in an area of clear cut Amazon rainforest in Brazil. In addition to displacing hundreds of thousands of indigenous Brazilians, it (like other iron mines around the world) disseminates toxic wastes that cause cancer, birth defects and lung disease in nearby residents. Steel manufacture is the third largest source of green house gases after fossil fuels and electrical generation.

The largest global copper mine is the Rio Tinto Kennicott open pit copper mine near Salt Lake City. In addition to contaminating the region’s groundwater, the mine has contaminated the Great Salt Late with mercury, arsenic and asbestos-related chemicals.

Recycling steel and copper doesn’t significantly reduce the massive amount of energy required (and carbon emissions produced). At present, roughly 80% of steel is already recycled (the rate’s even higher for copper). Steel’s massive carbon footprint stems from the fossil fuel energy required for the 3200 degree F smelting furnaces used.

In addition, expanding US wind energy to produce 20% of the country’s total electricity is estimated to result in the death of 1.4 million birds yearly from collisions with its turbine blades. This doesn’t include bird deaths from habitat destruction or collision with towers and power lines.

Energy Storage

Unlike fossil fuels, which store energy, renewable energy technology requires separate storage infrastructure for days when the sun isn’t shining and the wind isn’t blowing.

The most efficient storage batteries use 40-year-old lithium based technology. Fifty percent of the world’s lithium comes from high desert basins in Nevada, Tibet, Bolivia and Chile. Lithium mines in Chile’s desert basin have totally wiped out fish and unique desert vegetation, in addition to deprive the area’s subsistence farmers of scarce water resources. Lithium batteries aren’t recycled because it makes no economic sense: It’s complex, hazardous and more expensive than mining lithium.

Other storage technologies explored include

  •  green (produced from hydrolysis) hydrogen fuel cells – which suck up scarce clean water resources and release carcinogenic polytetrafluoroethylene (aka Teflon) to the environment.
  • pumped hydrostorage, which requires large artificial reservoirs similar to those used for hydropower schemes. At present artificial reservoirs are responsible for 23% of all methane emissions linked to human activities.
  • Compressed air – which is only 50% efficient and requires massive investment in CO2-producing infrastructure and freshwater consumption.

The conclusion the authors reach is that serious environmentalists should stop campaigning for corporate interests promoting renewable energy technology. What they recommend instead is

1. Campaigning to stop all environmental destruction caused by so-called green energy projects; oil, gas and coal extraction: urban sprawl; road building; industrial agriculture; deforestation; the destruction of coastal wetlands and peat bogs and the production of nuclear energy and weapons

2. Helping to heal the planet  by promoting natural carbon sequestration

  • through regenerative farming and pastoral management** and
  • restoring wild grasses, forests and seaweed.

3. Campaigning to downsize energy consumption by transitioning from a perpetual growth to a steady state economy.

4. Campaigning to reduce hyper consumption and overpopulation (by liberating women***).

5. Adopting the same attitudes and behaviors required to prepare for the collapse of civilization (which looks increasingly likely). In other words, working to rebuild local communities to be self-sufficient and respectful of all life (including human beings).


*At present Germany imports timber and wood chips from clear cutting operations in the US, Canada, South Africa, Sweden, the Czech Republic, Norway, Belarus, and Ukraine to feed its biofuel industry. Much of this timber is sourced from US Southern wetland forests that are being cleared four times faster than the Amazon.

**The nacelle is the cover housing that houses all of the generating components in a wind turbine, including the generator, gearbox, drive train, and brake assembly.

***Research reveals that increase the carbon content of our soils by 2% would offset 100% of our greenhouse gas emissions to the atmosphere.

****Empowering women to pursue secondary and tertiary education is consistently associated with lower fertility rates.

Orlov on US Collapse, the Great Reset, Klaus Schwab and the Apocalyptic Climate Cult

No Escape

Dmitry Orlov (2021)

Film Review

In this fascinating interview, Russian-American author and journalist Dmitry Orlov discusses the impending US collapse and the Russian view on what he refers to as “the apocalyptic climate cult,” Biden’s meeting with Putin, Klaus Schwab and the Great Reset, the impending cyber wars, geoengineering and the Russian closed cycle nuclear program.

10.00min The West’s “apocalyptic climate cult.”

According to some climate scientists, ice core records suggest the Earth is due for another Ice Age “any century now” (Orlov writes about this in more depth at https://cluborlov.blogspot.com/2019/11/avoiding-coming-ice-age.html). He predicts humankind would have to triple their fossil fuel consumption to prevent it, which would burn up the Earth’s entire coal reserves.

While he’s not advocating this as a policy (one downside would be catastrophic mercury levels), he deplores the reluctance of climate scientists to study the impending Ice Age – to better understand the potential triggers and the possibility of preventing it.

He states that no one in Russia takes seriously what they refer to as the West’s “apocalyptic climate cult.”  While he acknowledges the reality of the greenhouse effect, he questions the reliability of Western climate scientists’ doomsday predictions. The latter are almost totally based on computer models, and it will take at least 1,000 years to gather sufficient evidence to test the models.

24.00min The Great Reset

Orlov doesn’t believe the Great Reset will happen, because it has no support whatsoever from either Russia or China. He describes Klaus Schwab as a “moneybag whisperer” for the super rich. It’s his job to “fluff up” their egos by publishing vanity fiction like The Great Reset. Owing to America’s weakening global position, the WEF was forced to invite Putin and Xi Jinping this past January. Both dismissed the Great Reset categorically – they have their own future development plans.

28.00min Putin/Biden Summit

Orlov quips that the purpose of the summit was to “negotiate the terms” of (US) surrender. He points to a dangerous hyperinflation the US is entering that will reduce living standards by 90% and lead to civil unrest. He predicts the US will be forced to abandon its global military bases in the near future and repatriate its troops.

Orlov believes Biden’s main goals for the summit were

  1. For Putin to affirm that Biden (not Trump) is the legitimate president.
  2. To persuade Putin to put the brakes on plans to sell its oil and gas in currency other than US dollars.

At present, Russia is the third largest supplier of oil to the US, which has no other source (due to US sanctions on Venezuela) for the heavy oil it needs for diesel, jet fuel and kerosene and can’t run its transport network without it.

1.20min Renewable Energy in Russia

Russia is focusing on solar and wind energy in Russia in remote areas where renewable technology is cheaper than the cost of transporting coal.

1.26min Russia’s Closed Cycle Nuclear Program

At present Russia’s main nuclear investment is in fast breeder reactors that reprocess depleted uranium by burning long half life isotopes and converting it to low level short half life waste (which can be safely buried). At present Russia is buying nuclear waste from other countries for reprocessing.

https://thebulletin.org/2019/06/will-nuclear-waste-disposal-challenges-limit-a-significant-expansion-of-global-nuclear-power/

Time to Choose

Time to Choose

Directed by Charles Ferguson (2015)

Film Review

The appraisal of the renewables market is clearly out-of date in this 2015 film. Nevertheless  it contains excellent new material on mountaintop removal (for coal) and coal mining and pollution in China; the growing rollout of rooftop solar in the Third World (as of 2015, 70% of Bangladeshi residents still lacked access to electricity); and the disastrous replacement of Indonesia’s tropical forests with palm oil plantations.

As of 2015, 70% of the world’s carbon emission come from burning fossil fuels and 30% from destroying the world’s forests for agriculture.

The filmmakers link Brazil’s ongoing destruction of the Amazon to the country’s growing export of soy to Chinese pig farms. The country’s massive rainforest destruction has significantly reduced rain fall, leaving Sao Paulo’s 20 million residents to confront chronic water shortages. Illegally driven from their land to create soy plantations that only benefit a handful of billionaires, many subsistence farmers are left with no way to support themselves.

Illegal destruction of Indonesia’s tropical rainforests for palm oil production also displaces many of the country’s subsistence farmers, as well as leading to the near-extinction of orangutan populations. Palm oil is the main ingredient in many processed foods.

Owing to the clear cutting and burning of their rainforests, Indonesia currently has the third highest level of CO2 pollution after China and the US.

The main premise of this film is that we already have all the necessary technology to end rainforest destruction and replace fossil fuels with cheaper and cleaner renewable energy. For decades, the main obstacle to environmental reform has been billionaire oligarchs blocking forest conservation and the roll-out of renewable energy technology.

Filmmakers also emphasize the contribution industrial agriculture plays in increasing carbon emissions. This relates to the abandonment of traditional farming practices that capture carbon in the soil. At present real food (ie non-processed foods produced by traditional farming methods) is referred to as “specialty crops.”

Anyone with a public library card can view the film free on Kanopy. Type “Kanopy” and the name of your library into your search engine.

 

 

 

The Petroleum Industry: Shifting from Fossil Fuels to Plastic

Plastic Wars

PBS Frontline  (2020)

Film Review

This documentary reveals how the climate movement and the exponential growth of renewable energy has led the petroleum industry to shift their focus from fossil fuels to plastics production. At present they are investing tens of billions of dollars in new plants to transform gas and oil into plastics.

Meanwhile the plastics lobby still tries to shift responsibility for widespread plastic pollution pollution to consumers and local government (for their failure to recycle them). This despite the reality that only 10% of plastic can be economically recycled. Because the price of new plastic is so cheap, the vast majority of recycled plastic is far too expensive to compete.

Prior to watching this film, I had no idea the concept of plastic recycling originated with an industry lobby group known as the Plastics Council. They’re also responsible for the little recycling symbol stamped into the bottom of all plastic containers. Its purpose is to deliberately mislead consumers into believing the containers are recyclable.

Up until 2018, China accepted most of the plastics recycled from the industrial North. They, too, could only recycle 10% of them (the milk and soda containers). They burned the rest, greatly aggravating their deadly air pollution problems.

At present, Indonesia has replaced China as the major recipient of First World plastic waste. They convert about 10% of it into tiny pellets which are used to make new plastic. The rest is either burned or illegally dumped on empty fields.

Sixty percent of the plastics clogging up oceans and killing sea life originates from Asia.

 

North Carolina’s Chinese-Owned Industrial Pig Factories

Soyalism

Directed by Stefano Liberti and Enrico Parenti (2018)

Film Review

The title of this documentary is somewhat misleading: it actually concerns the industrial production of pork for the growing Chinese middle class. Under our present globalized system of industrial agriculture, pigs raised on factory farms (both in China and the US) are fed industrially produced corn and soybeans. Most of this (genetically engineered) soy comes from recently deforested areas of the Brazilian Amazon.

Given the current US trade war with China, I was astonished to learn that a Chinese company (having acquired Smithfields in 2013) is operating gigantic factory pig farms in North Carolina. Most are located in the state’s poor rural (and black) communities that struggle with the toxic aerosols from the (illegal) open pits adjacent to buildings warehousing tends of thousands of hogs.

In addition to visiting North Carolina hog factories and their distressed neighbors,* the filmmakers travel to Brazil to film the massive soybean plantations, as well as local small farmers whose livelihoods have been destroyed by industrial soy production. Together with local environmentalists and indigenous activists, these farmers are fighting the ongoing destruction of the Amazon rainforest by expanding soy plantations.

Predictably only a handful of farmers and international agrobusinesses are becoming fabulously wealthy, while more and more Brazilians struggle to feed themselves.

The filmmakers also visit Mozambique, where local grassroots organizers are successfully fighting the Pro-Savannah initiative. This is a (currently suspended) government initiative involving Japan, Brazil, and Mozambique. It seeks to drive local subsistence farmers off their land to create factory farms producing soy, cotton, and corn for export to China.

Most activists blame these trends on the continued drive, both in the industrial North and China, for cheap meat – irrespective of its quality. Sadly most Chinese consumers are totally unaware of the true cost of their cheap meat. Brazil’s GM soybeans are sprayed with massive amounts of Roundup and other carcinogenic pesticides. This results in serious potential health consequences for human beings who eat pigs that are fed on them.


*North Carolina has its own grassroots organization, the North Carolina Environmental Justice Network fighting their exposure to health-damaging pollution and industry harassment. See https://www.facingsouth.org/2017/02/step-toward-environmental-justice-north-carolinas-hog-country

 

The Role of the Industrial Revolution and Modern Warfare in Third World Colonization

History of the World Part 7 – The Age of Industry

BBC (2018)

Film Review

This second-to-last focuses on the role of the Western industrial revolution in facilitating wholesale colonization of the Third World: British opium wars launched against China to make the world safe for western industrial capitalism, the US Civil War, Japan’s war against their traditional Samurai class, and World War I.

In the middle of the episode, the filmmakers take a break from war to depict the brutal enslavement of the Congo (as his personal fiefdom) by Belgian King Leopold II and to re-enact the invention of the steam engine and railroad, as well as Leo Tolstoy’s efforts to educate and free his serfs.

Part 7 begins with the brutal opium wars the UK used to force China to open up to western trade. At the beginning of the 19th century, a massive British demand for tea was draining their treasury of the silver European countries had expropriated from South America. However because China refused to import western goods, the British had no legal way to get  this silver back.

They eventually fell back illegal opium smuggling to pry open the Chinese import market. The result was an estimated 17 million Chinese opium addicts by 1839. The emperor’s clampdown on smuggling led to a British declaration of war. China’s primitive wooden warships were no match for the gunships born of Britain’s industrial revolution. After two wars, the peace treaty the UK imposed ceded Hong Kong to British control and forced China to open all their markets to western trade.

Modern weaponry would also give the industrialized North a clear advantage over the agricultural South in a Civil War resulting that killed over 650,000.

When Japan refused to open their country to international trade, it was US warships that fired on their capitol in 1853. When Japan modernized their military with Western weapons and tens of thousands of new recruits, their elite Samurai class, solely responsible for centuries for the emperor’s protection, rebelled. In 1877 an army of 40,000 Samurai faced certain defeat against a modern military force with at least twice as many men and Western military hardware.

The segment about Leopold II’s personal conquest of the Congo (and its rich mineral and human resources) under the cover of a “humanitarian charity” is well worth watching. Likewise the one about German foreign minister Arthur Zimmermann’s efforts to form a military alliance with Mexico during World War I – to help them reclaim territory the US stole during the US-Mexican War (1846-1848).

Otherwise the openly anti-German propaganda in the final segment totally obscures the real origins of World War I, as revealed by recently declassified British and US documents. This is covered really well in James Corbett’s 2018 documentary The World War I Conspiracy:. The World War I Conspiracy

 

 

The Politics of Asbestos: Banned in EU, But Not China, Russia, Brazil or US

Deadly Asbestos

DW (2019)

Film Review

This documentary is about the international asbestos industry and its aggressive penetration of developing countries following the EU’s decision to ban it in 1998. The first study linking asbestos to lung cancer and mesothelioma was published in 1964. Asbestos also causes a chronic (eventually fatal) lung condition known as asbestosis. Sadly, as with smoking and lead poisoning, it took decades of sustained organizing to get western governments to acknowledge the fatal health consequences of asbestos exposure. The US enacted a “partial ban” on asbestos in 1989.*

Because mesothelioma can result from a brief single exposure to asbestos fibers, EPA rules regarding asbestos removal from old buildings are far more stringent. In fact, an entire industry has evolved around asbestos removal.**

The filmmakers focus primarily on the Belgian asbestos manufacturer Etex-Eternit (aka Everest) and its expansion into India in the 1990s. India has been a primary industry target of the industry, owing to its lax regulation of asbestos manufacture, use and disposal.

Asbestos sheets are sold widely in India for use as walls and roofs in makeshift shacks. Over 100,000 Indians develop asbestosis annually.

India has more than 50 asbestos manufacturing plants. Filmmakers visit an asbestos factory Everest built in 1995 and sold to an Indian family in 2002. In addition to filming a 600,000 square meter asbestos waste dump, they also visit a makeshift clinic treating thousands of local residents for asbestos-related problems. They also talk with Indian lawyers and activists who are bringing a lawsuit against Everest in Belgium.

The film concludes by looking at World Health Organization efforts to institute a global ban on asbestos. Brazil, China, and Russia, which still mine asbestos, continue to vociferously block the ban.

Last year, the Trump EPA approved new rules that soften regulations against asbestos use in the US.  In response, one Russian asbestos manufacturer now proudly displays features Trump’s image on all their products.


* History of EPA asbestos regulation

  • 1989 Partial Ban on the manufacture, import, processing, and distribution of some asbestos-containing products. EPA also banned new uses of asbestos which prevent new asbestos products from entering the marketplace after August 25, 1989. These uses remain banned. The April 2019 final rule does not provide a way for these uses to return to the marketplace.
  • April 2019 Final Rule to ensure that asbestos products that are no longer on the market cannot return to commerce without the Agency evaluating them and putting in place any necessary restrictions or prohibiting use. The uses covered under this rule were not already prohibited under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) and could have returned to the market at any time.
  • Risk evaluation of asbestos under TSCA. EPA is reviewing a handful of very limited, still ongoing uses of asbestos. The evaluation of the risks associated with ongoing uses of asbestos is required under TSCA section 6. If EPA finds unreasonable risk, the Agency will take prompt action to address those risks.

** See https://www.epa.gov/asbestos

 

 

 

Why Germany Resists the Transition to Electric Vehicles

Running on Empty: Will Germany’s Car Industry Survive?

DW (2019)

Film Review

This documentary focuses on the resistance of Germany’s government and auto industry to the transition to electric vehicles.

Germany car industry, the world’s largest, contributes 2% to global carbon emissions. Under the 2015 Paris climate agreement, their government pledged to produce one million electric vehicles by next year. Without a single major electric vehicle manufacturer, clearly they won’t meet this goal.

The filmmakers contrast Germany with Norway, where 77% of new vehicles are electric. And China, which will ban the sale of new fossil fuel vehicles after 2027.

Due its failure to transition to electric vehicles (EVs), industry analysts predict the German car industry has only a 50-50 chance of surviving. Many key auto designers are emigrating to other countries where they can work on developing EVs. Moreover without a domestic EV market, environmentally conscious drivers will buy imported EVs instead of Germany’s old fashioned gas guzzlers.