Pesticides have been heavily scrutinized for years by activists around the world. And now, it seems that the rest of the world is finally waking up. A recent report by the United Nations (UN) has put the spotlight on pesticides — but not in a way that you might expect.
The report has garnered a substantial amount of attention because the UN has actually acknowledged the fact that pesticides can and do harm innocent people. In fact, the UN’s report accuses global pesticide manufacturers of “systematic denial of harms” and indicates that some 200,000 people die each year from acute pesticide poisoning.
As Toxics Action Center explains, pesticides are one of the few chemicals deliberately introduced into the environment with the explicit intent of killing other living things. Whether it’s a can of bug spray for that wasp’s nest on your deck, or tractors spraying farmland, the goal is the same: To kill bugs or other pests like weeds. And no matter how you look at it, if it can kill a bug or a plant, there’s a good chance that it can harm humans too.
Agrochemical companies that create and produce pesticides have long maintained that their products are essential to addressing the global hunger crisis. But is that really true? Experts from the UN certainly seem to disagree with the industry’s sentiments.
Hilal Elver, the UN’s special rapporteur on the right to food, has stated that this widely publicized belief about pesticides is truly nothing more than hot air. “It’s a myth,” Elver commented. She went on to say, “Using more pesticides is nothing to do with getting rid of hunger. According to the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), we are able to feed 9 billion people today. Production is definitely increasing, but the problem is poverty, inequality and distribution.”
Elver also noted that the majority of pesticides are used on commodity crops and not crops that are needed to feed the world’s hungry people. Soy crops and crops used for palm oil are two examples of these commodity crops that rely on pesticides. Elver says that pesticide makers do not deal with world hunger at all, but rather large-scale agricultural efforts.
In the report, Elver and co-author Baskut Tuncak, the UN’s special rapporteur on toxins, detail the shortcomings of widespread pesticide use.
“Reliance on hazardous pesticides is a short-term solution that undermines the rights to adequate food and health for present and future generations,” the report proclaims.
Tuncak also notes that while science continues to demonstrate that there are adverse effects associated with pesticides, proving a definitive link between specific human diseases or environmental damage and pesticide use has been challenging. This obstacle has been made nearly insurmountable by the systemic denial promoted by the agrochemical industry. Tuncak states that the industry has used aggressive and unethical marketing tactics to keep the harms of pesticides under wraps and out of the public eye.
“The power of the corporations over governments and over the scientific community is extremely important. If you want to deal with pesticides, you have to deal with the companies – that is why [we use] these harsh words. They will say, of course, it is not true, but also out there is the testimony of the people,” Elver stated.
Jay Feldman, the executive director of Beyond Pesticides, a non-profit environmental organization, says that the $43 billion organic industry is more than enough proof that you don’t need pesticides to feed people — and it’s certainly hard to disagree with him. Experts across the world have expressly stated that there are more sustainable farming methods out there that would help fight global hunger without the added side effect of poisoning people. The UN report, for example, points to natural methods of pest suppression and the use of crop rotation to boost sustainability and reduce the toxic burden of pesticide use.
Pesticides come with many health and environmental risks — isn’t it time that the world moves onto better and less hazardous things?
A U.N. report published this week accused Israel of imposing an “apartheid regime” of racial discrimination on the Palestinian people. Shortly after its release, the official who approved its publication resigned amid pressure to pull it, and the report has since been withdrawn.
The report, written by the U.N. Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA), concluded that “Israel [has] established an apartheid regime that dominates the Palestinian people as a whole” — a charge Israel vehemently denies.
Israel’s Foreign Ministry spokesman likened the report to Der Sturmer, a Nazi propaganda publication that was strongly anti-Semitic.
It is a unique and beneficial position to be in wherein every legitimate criticism of one’s policies is deemed to be racially or politically motivated. In that sense, Israel wants to be ultimately free of criticism, even when the nation commits serious violations of international law. Unsurprisingly, the U.S. has staunchly come to Israel’s defense.
“The United Nations secretariat was right to distance itself from this report, but it must go further and withdraw the report altogether,” the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, said in a statement, as reported by the Independent.
The ESCWA comprises 18 Arab states in Western Asia and has a view of supporting economic and social development in member states, according to its website. The report was prepared at the request of its member states and notes it reflects the views of the authors only. It was also published without any prior consultation with the U.N. secretariat.
Is the report entirely without merit, as the U.S. and Israel would have us believe? According to the report’s abstract, which Anti-Media cited before the publication was pulled:
“A history of war, annexation and expulsions, as well as a series of practices, has left the Palestinian people fragmented into four distinct population groups, three of them (citizens of Israel, residents of East Jerusalem and the populace under occupation in the West Bank and Gaza) living under direct Israeli rule and the remainder, refugees and involuntary exiles, living beyond. This fragmentation, coupled with the application of discrete bodies of law to those groups, lie at the heart of the apartheid regime. They serve to enfeeble opposition to it and to veil its very existence. This report concludes, on the basis of overwhelming evidence, that Israel is guilty of the crime of apartheid, and urges swift action to oppose and end it.”
South Africa, a country whose infamous history of an apartheid regime shows its people are adept enough to recognize apartheid when they see it, has been a staunch backer of the Palestinian movement for years. South Africa’s International Relations Minister, Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, once famously stated “the Palestinian struggle is our struggle.”
The U.N. report was authored by Richard Falk, a former U.N. human rights investigator for the Palestinian territories, and Virginia Tilley, a professor of political science at Southern Illinois University.
After its publication, U.N. Under-Secretary General and ESCWA Executive Secretary Rima Khalaf resigned amid pressure from Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to withdraw it, Reuters reports. She stood by the report, adding, “It was expected that Israel and its allies would put enormous pressure on the United Nations secretary-general to renounce the report.”
The report is no longer visible on UNESCWA’s website, but can be found in the Internet archive.
“The elites’ myopic response to the looming collapse of the natural world and the civilization is to make subservient populations work harder for less, squander capital in grandiose projects such as pyramids, palaces, border walls and fracking, and wage war. President Trump’s decision to increase military spending by $54 billion and take the needed funds out of the flesh of domestic programs typifies the behavior of terminally ill civilizations.”
The ruling corporate elites no longer seek to build. They seek to destroy. They are agents of death. They crave the unimpeded power to cannibalize the country and pollute and degrade the ecosystem to feed an insatiable lust for wealth, power and hedonism. Wars and military “virtues” are celebrated. Intelligence, empathy and the common good are banished. Culture is degraded to patriotic kitsch. Education is designed only to instill technical proficiency to serve the poisonous engine of corporate capitalism. Historical amnesia shuts us off from the past, the present and the future. Those branded as unproductive or redundant are discarded and left to struggle in poverty or locked away in cages. State repression is indiscriminant and brutal. And, presiding over the tawdry Grand Guignol is a deranged ringmaster tweeting absurdities from the White House.
The graveyard of world empires—Sumerian, Egyptian, Greek, Roman, Mayan, Khmer, Ottoman and Austro-Hungarian—followed the same trajectory of moral and physical collapse. Those who rule at the end of empire are psychopaths, imbeciles, narcissists and deviants, the equivalents of the depraved Roman emperors Caligula, Nero, Tiberius and Commodus. The ecosystem that sustains the empire is degraded and exhausted. Economic growth, concentrated in the hands of corrupt elites, is dependent on a crippling debt peonage imposed on the population. The bloated ruling class of oligarchs, priests, courtiers, mandarins, eunuchs, professional warriors, financial speculators and corporate managers sucks the marrow out of society.
The elites’ myopic response to the looming collapse of the natural world and the civilization is to make subservient populations work harder for less, squander capital in grandiose projects such as pyramids, palaces, border walls and fracking, and wage war. President Trump’s decision to increase military spending by $54 billion and take the needed funds out of the flesh of domestic programs typifies the behavior of terminally ill civilizations. When the Roman Empire fell, it was trying to sustain an army of half a million soldiers that had become a parasitic drain on state resources.
“The death instinct, called Thanatos by post-Freudians, is driven by fear, hatred and violence.”
The complex bureaucratic mechanisms that are created by all civilizations ultimately doom them. The difference now, as Joseph Tainter points out in “The Collapse of Complex Societies,” is that “collapse, if and when it comes again, will this time be global. No longer can any individual nation collapse. World civilization will disintegrate as a whole.”
Civilizations in decline, despite the palpable signs of decay around them, remain fixated on restoring their “greatness.” Their illusions condemn them. They cannot see that the forces that gave rise to modern civilization, namely technology, industrial violence and fossil fuels, are the same forces that are extinguishing it. Their leaders are trained only to serve the system, slavishly worshipping the old gods long after these gods begin to demand millions of sacrificial victims.
“Hope drives us to invent new fixes for old messes, which in turn create even more dangerous messes,” Ronald Wright writes in “A Short History of Progress.” “Hope elects the politician with the biggest empty promise; and as any stockbroker or lottery seller knows, most of us will take a slim hope over prudent and predictable frugality. Hope, like greed, fuels the engine of capitalism.”
The Trump appointees—Steve Bannon, Jeff Sessions, Rex Tillerson, Steve Mnuchin, Betsy DeVos, Wilbur Ross, Rick Perry, Alex Acosta and others—do not advocate innovation or reform. They are Pavlovian dogs that salivate before piles of money. They are hard-wired to steal from the poor and loot federal budgets. Their single-minded obsession with personal enrichment drives them to dismantle any institution or abolish any law or regulation that gets in the way of their greed. Capitalism, Karl Marx wrote, is “a machine for demolishing limits.” There is no internal sense of proportion or scale. Once all external impediments are lifted, global capitalism ruthlessly commodifies human beings and the natural world to extract profit until exhaustion or collapse. And when the last moments of a civilization arrive, the degenerate edifices of power appear to crumble overnight.
Sigmund Freud wrote that societies, along with individuals, are driven by two primary instincts. One is the instinct for life, Eros, the quest to love, nurture, protect and preserve. The second is the death instinct. The death instinct, called Thanatos by post-Freudians, is driven by fear, hatred and violence. It seeks the dissolution of all living things, including our own beings. One of these two forces, Freud wrote, is always ascendant. Societies in decline enthusiastically embrace the death instinct, as Freud observed in “Civilization and Its Discontents,” written on the eve of the rise of European fascism and World War II.
“It is in sadism, where the death instinct twists the erotic aim in its own sense and yet at the same time fully satisfies the erotic urge, that we succeed in obtaining the clearest insight into its nature and its relation to Eros,” Freud wrote. “But even where it emerges without any sexual purpose, in the blindest fury of destructiveness, we cannot fail to recognize that the satisfaction of the instinct is accompanied by an extraordinary high degree of narcissistic enjoyment, owing to its presenting the ego with a fulfillment of the latter’s old wishes for omnipotence.”
The lust for death, as Freud understood, is not, at first, morbid. It is exciting and seductive. I saw this in the wars I covered. A god-like power and adrenaline-driven fury, even euphoria, sweep over armed units and ethnic or religious groups given the license to destroy anything and anyone around them. Ernst Juenger captured this “monstrous desire for annihilation” in his World War I memoir, “Storm of Steel.”
A population alienated and beset by despair and hopelessness finds empowerment and pleasure in an orgy of annihilation that soon morphs into self-annihilation. It has no interest in nurturing a world that has betrayed it and thwarted its dreams. It seeks to eradicate this world and replace it with a mythical landscape. It turns against institutions, as well as ethnic and religious groups, that are scapegoated for its misery. It plunders diminishing natural resources with abandon. It is seduced by the fantastic promises of demagogues and the magical solutions characteristic of the Christian right or what anthropologists call “crisis cults.”
Norman Cohn, in “The Pursuit of the Millennium: Revolutionary Messianism in Medieval and Reformation Europe and Its Bearing on Modern Totalitarian Movements,” draws a link between that turbulent period and our own. Millennial movements are a peculiar, collective psychological response to profound societal despair. They recur throughout human history. We are not immune.
“These movements have varied in tone from the most violent aggressiveness to the mildest pacifism and in aim from the most ethereal spirituality to the most earth-bound materialism; there is no counting the possible ways of imagining the Millennium and the route to it,” Cohen wrote. “But similarities can present themselves as well as differences; and the more carefully one compares the outbreaks of militant social chiliasm during the later Middle Ages with modern totalitarian movements the more remarkable the similarities appear. The old symbols and the old slogans have indeed disappeared, to be replaced by new ones; but the structure of the basic phantasies seems to have changed scarcely at all.”
These movements, Cohen wrote, offered “a coherent social myth which was capable of taking entire possession of those who believed in it. It explained their suffering, it promised them recompense, it held their anxieties at bay, it gave them an illusion of security—even while it drove them, held together by a common enthusiasm, on a quest which was always vain and often suicidal.
“So it came about that multitudes of people acted out with fierce energy a shared phantasy which though delusional yet brought them such intense emotional relief that they could live only through it and were perfectly willing to die for it. It is a phenomenon which was to recur many times between the eleventh century and the sixteenth century, now in one area, now in another, and which, despite the obvious differences in cultural context and in scale, is not irrelevant to the growth of totalitarian movements, with their messianic leaders, their millennial mirages and their demon-scapegoats, in the present century.”
The severance of a society from reality, as ours has been severed from collective recognition of the severity of climate change and the fatal consequences of empire and deindustrialization, leaves it without the intellectual and institutional mechanisms to confront its impending mortality. It exists in a state of self-induced hypnosis and self-delusion. It seeks momentary euphoria and meaning in tawdry entertainment and acts of violence and destruction, including against people who are demonized and blamed for society’s demise. It hastens its self-immolation while holding up the supposed inevitability of a glorious national resurgence. Idiots and charlatans, the handmaidens of death, lure us into the abyss.
With permission from
March 10, 2017
Trump appears to have been right.
By: Tyler Durden / ZeroHedge Legendary NSA whistleblower William Binney (and creator of NSA’s global surveillance system) confirmed to Fox News, that President Trump is “absolutely right” to claim he was wiretapped and monitored… he was.
As Zero Hedge noted previously, Binney is the NSA executive who created the agency’s mass surveillance program for digital information, who served as the senior technical director within the agency, who managed six thousand NSA employees, the 36-year NSA veteran widely regarded as a “legend” within the agency and the NSA’s best-ever analyst and code-breaker, who mapped out the Soviet command-and-control structure before anyone else knew how, and so predicted Soviet invasions before they happened (“in the 1970s, he decrypted the Soviet Union’s command system, which provided the US and its allies with real-time surveillance of all Soviet troop movements and Russian atomic weapons”). Binney is the real McCoy.
Binney resigned from NSA shortly after the U.S. approach to intelligence changed following the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. He “became a whistleblower after discovering that elements of a data-monitoring program he had helped develop — nicknamed ThinThread — were being used to spy on Americans,” PBS reported.
On Monday he came to the defense of the president, whose allegations on social media over the weekend that outgoing President Barack Obama tapped his phones during the 2016 campaign have rankled Washington.
“‘I think the president is absolutely right. His phone calls, everything he did electronically, was being monitored,’ Bill Binney, a 36-year veteran of the National Security Agency who resigned in protest from the organization in 2001, told Fox Business on Monday.
“Everyone’s conversations are being monitored and stored, Binney said.”
Binney also told Sean Hannity’s radio show earlier Monday, “I think the FISA court’s basically totally irrelevant.” The judges on the FISA court are “not even concerned, nor are they involved in any way with the Executive Order 12333 collection,” Binney said during the radio interview. “That’s all done outside of the courts. And outside of the Congress.”
Binney also told Fox the laws that fall under the FISA court’s jurisdiction are “simply out there for show” and “trying to show that the government is following the law, and being looked at and overseen by the Senate and House intelligence committees and the courts.”
“That’s not the main collection program for NSA,” Binney said.
What Binney did not delve into, however, was if Obama directed surveillance on Trump for political purposes during the campaign, a core accusation of Trump’s. But Binney did say events such as publication of details of private calls between President Trump and the Australian prime minister, as well as with the Mexican president, are evidence the intelligence community is playing hardball with the White House.
“I think that’s what happened here,” Binney told Fox. “The evidence of the conversation of the president of the U.S., President Trump, and the [Prime Minister] of Australia and the President of Mexico. Releasing those conversations. Those are conversations that are picked up by the FAIRVIEW program, primarily, by NSA.”
Since Binney designed the NSA’s electronic surveillance system, he would know.