Do The Freakin Math

Liberals and conservatives alike frequently rely on limited evidence, personal experience, religious beliefs or gut emotions to determine solutions for complex problems. From immigration to global warming - taxes to terrorism - or health care to free trade - analytical study is rare. Science based policy making isn’t the way of Washington. And the consequences are catastrophic. Change is urgently needed. Just do the freakin’ math.

Sunday, November 29, 2015

What is fomenting terror in the EU?

Dear Editor,

Foment.  A word defined as “A verb used with objects. To instigate or foster (discord, rebellion, etc.); promote the growth or development of:”
“Foment terror”.  These two words concluded the Washington Post’s subtitle to “Attacks in Paris expose European security flaws” (front page 11-29-15). They were used with the ‘objects’ “Intelligence breakdown, radicalization and open borders” in the same subtitle.

If lives really matter, headline words to prevent the future loss of lives should matter too.

Do the three objects in the Post’s subtitle really ‘promote the growth or development of “terror”?  Or, do they reflect the consequences of the fundamental flaws cemented into the system of global governance’ that a few nations agreed to after the end of World War II?   For seventy years the United Nations’ system of international law has fostered global lawlessness and injustices that really underlie the security of Europe and the rest of the world.

A report released this summer by the Commission on Global Security, Justice and Governance (co-chaired by Madeline Albright and Ibrahim Gambari) offers 85 recommendations to strengthen the post war’s flawed structures and systems that perpetuate with immunity the many local injustices that ultimately have global security consequences. If Europe, the United States and the rest of the world’s people truly seek sustainable security they will give each of these recommendations serious and swift attention.

In the context rapidly escalating global violence and environmental degradation the Commission’s grand proposal for a “World Conference on Global Institutions” for the year 2020 (the 75th anniversary of the UN) seems to lack urgency. 

This December 10th is the anniversary of the creation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, a profound document intended to prevent future conflict and offer fundamental freedoms to all the world’s people.  It’s past time to reconsider this document’s rational and take solid steps in putting the global protection of human rights, over the rights of nations to employ unjust policies whenever their leaders believe it is in their interest. 

Real efforts to construct institutions for global justice would put most of humanity on our side.  Time is not.

Home address: 315 Dean Dr., Rockville, MD 20851
 (the views expressed above are mine and not necessarily the views of the UNACO)

Friday, November 27, 2015

Bombing of Doctor's w/o Borders Hospital was 3rd degree mass murder.

The “principal blame” for the shelling and leveling of the Doctors Without Borders hospital killing 30 innocent people and leaving tens of thousands without medical attention does not lie with the “gross negligence” of those fighting or the ‘malfunctioning’ weapons of war they were using.  It lies with the very ‘laws of war’.   In war, collateral damage is acceptable.  According to ‘international law, the ‘laws of war” makes the murder of innocent lives legal.  But international law is neither enforceable or just. Thus it and the ‘laws of war’ are not laws at all.  They are escape rules for murderers.
Military personal involved in this slaughter of innocence will likely be demoted, but that is not justice for those who were accidentally mass murdered.  These third degree murder charges should be brought against any political leaders who authorized waging war. 
Wars do not stop war. World War II set the stage for the Cold war. And the Cold war set the stage for the Global War on Terrorism.  The time between wars isn’t peace.  It’s just a pause to rearm. 
Lasting peace and security is a function of justice.  There is no justice in war.  And if there is no justice in peace time, there will be war.   Choosing war to defeat an enemy or ‘save lives’, is like speeding while drunk because you’re in hurry to get sober.  Inevitably, innocent lives will be lost.  That’s third degree murder.  And an elected title or uniform should allow any individual to avoid trial and accountability for the crime of mass murder.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Terror in Paris on Friday the 13th

News reports sound surprised by the mass murder in Paris.  American’s were surprised on 9-11.   It continues to surprise me that they are surprised.  This is what a global war on terrorism looks like.  And it’s only going to get worse unless we stop waging war, which is in itself a form of terrorism.  A war where the world is a battle field with no front lines, no borders, and no rules.
War by definition is lawlessness.  And every war spawns terror for anyone caught in the middle.  Even for the soldiers who volunteer or were drafted, war is hell and thoroughly terrifying.
Being on the receiving end of a suicide bomber and stealth bomber there is no difference except cost.   They both kill innocent people.   There is no justice in that.   A Pope once offered the solution in four words  “no justice, no peace”.  Last month on the 20th anniversary of the Million Man March you heard a 3 word prediction, “justice or else!”  In June the report from the Commission on Global Security, Justice and Governance stated the obvious in just two words. “ Just Peace”.  The summary of their detailed report makes the self-evident case that without justice (the protection of human rights) there will be no security! 
On December 10th  the world should be celebrating the 67th anniversary of the signing of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.  It’s a list of 51 specific inalienable human rights in 30 “Articles”.
There is no way to prove this assertion, but I believe it’s true.  If in creating the United Nations 70 years ago, the victors of World War II would have made this an enforceable global ‘bill of rights’, superior to the rights of nation states (the national sovereign system of unenforceable international law we have today), there would be no terrorism.  No genocide.  Far fewer deaths from poverty, hunger, disease (which still kill more people than war and genocide combined).  The world we live in today wouldn’t be perfect. But we wouldn’t now be increasingly forced to choose between our freedoms and our security.  
Those who created the UDHR after the terrors of World War II (genocide, atomic bombs and millions of death by war) essentially acknowledged our global interdependence.   But today we cling to the illusion that we are independent.  A global state of anarchy that allows nation states to do as they please, especially if they have nuclear weapons, regardless of the consequences on other people in other nations or in other religions.
Our great but troubled nation is based on this illusionary concept of ‘independence’.  In reality it is just a word that exists only on paper in this increasingly interdependent and troubled world.   Even worse, it is a mental illusion that goes beyond our national and state governments.  It is embedded in each government agency.    After 9-ll our nation attempted to reconcile the consequences of the separation between the CIA and the FBI in terms of cooperation in identifying in advance, those who might be plotting harm against us.  Our government then consolidated 18 formerly independent agencies into one.  The Department of Homeland Security.  But, then kept it separate from DOD, which remains separate from EPA , and every other federal  agency responsible for various aspects of our national security.  
It gets worse.  Our minds are addicted to the illusion of separateness.   We have a mind/body/spirit separation then spend time and effort to seeking and practicing various techniques to resolve this separateness.   We also separate ourselves from one another by skin color, religion, nationality, sexual preferences, culture, political parties, and tax loop holes.  And we wonder why things aren’t working?.  We have a growing obesity epidemic, distrust of police and politicians, and a ‘dysfunctional government’ that is now our nation’s second greatest national security threat.  You read that correctly.  Our nation’s top national security experts, put our government’s “dysfunction”, in second place behind, Russia, China, North Korea and Climate Change.   They saw jihadists as a greater threat.
Soon after I first started working on world hunger issues in the late 1970s.  I read President Carter’s “Presidential Commission on World Hunger”.  In the summary of that report it concluded ‘if we don’t end hunger soon we will increasingly see disease, war, revolution, refugees…’
Scientists now believe AIDS originated in the Congo in the 1930s and 40s when  the eating of bush meat spread the virus to the human population where there was no immunity.  Then wars and prostitution pushed the virus up the Kinshasa highway where it was seen as a ‘hunger’ related problem.  According to genetic tracing the virus first appeared in the US in the mid 70s when it was brought in unknowingly by a Haitian airline steward.
A few years later HIV/AIDS started killing gay men in SF where I was living with my wife.  We had our first child in San Francisco General Hospital…and a few months later received a letter requesting we  come in for an blood test.  Would it be twisting a word too much to say we were ‘terrorized’?  Long before the US attacks on 9-11 I had been studying terrorism.  I was shocked by the lack of agreement on a definition.  There were over 200, many contradicting each another.  But after witnessing my first child coming into this world I understood for the first time what true joy was, and true terror.  I would have done ANYTHING to keep her safe and healthy.  And, I assure you. There is no greater terror in the world than experience of a parent thinking about the loss of their own child.  Yet today, like every day, approximately 17,000 children under the age of 5 die from easily preventable malnutrition and infections.  And it’s not news!   
I believe it’s not reported because of our illusion of separateness.  This blinds us to the actual connections between the suffering of those parents and a growing list of lethal and expensive consequences that show up in our own lives.   From the export of US jobs to lower wage nations, to the import of infectious diseases by immigrants or Americans on vacations or business trips abroad.  From the terrorism we see on TV to the excessive birth rates that fuel population growth.  
I believe the global enforcement of the UDHR back then would have profoundly reduced most of these problems and threats today. And those that were not preventable, we would be that much better able to react to or recover from today.
And that is why I believe, December 10th is the most important day of the year.  Unfortunately, it will continue to be ‘just a day’ like any other.  Until ‘we the people’ of the world demand that our inalienable rights be put superior to the currently uncontested rights of nation states (and corporations) to do whatever they want, whenever they want, to whomever they want.
For those unpersuaded by this logic.  Consider this.  The exponential growth of technology is putting unprecedented power in the hands of almost anyone with a small bank account or a grudge.   All of it is duel use technology.  Capable of doing amazing good, or catastrophic harm.  Our linear minds can’t quite grasp the significance of this reality.  And, worse yet, our ‘independent’ governments are seem increasingly incapable of changing in response.    If we allow war to continue as a solution to resolving issues instead of ‘justice’ determined by democratically elected law making body and a global supreme court, our species may not recover.   Albert Einstein who supported this change in human behavior was once asked what World War III would be fought with.  He said he didn’t know.  But he was quite certain, “World War IV would be fought with sticks and stones.”
No justice.  No security.  No civilization.  No humans.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

GOP Debate misses fundamental issue. Our Government isn't just broke. It's broken.

Our Federation is in crisis.

In 364 days American voters will get the chance to choose our nation’s next President.  As usual, nearly half will not vote (the US is now 120th in the world for average voter turnout – well below Tunisia, Yemen and Iran).   These ‘not political’ players have several reasons for not casting a vote, and few care that not voting is actually a vote ‘in favor’ of  the status quo. 
But, just doing the math, they figure their one vote in 150 million doesn’t really matter.  So why bother?  And, while it can certainly boost one’s pride (stepping out of voting booth, even knowing your favorite might lose) having done your civic duty, it is astronomically remote that your vote will make any difference outside of your own emotions.  Some know the Constitution’s electoral college system effectively cancels every vote for the most important person in our land.
Some potential voters have become so jaded by their party, or disgusted by dirty politics, they rationalize ‘why bother?  It only encourages them!  Then there are the spoilers who know their favorite independent candidate won’t win, yet cast a vote for them simply out of principle.  And now, with so-called ‘independent’ voters out numbering voters in both major party’s independent voters could actually be a game-changer.  But only if a truly independent candidate appeared with enough appeal to draw independents who have defected from the extremes or moderations of both parties. Don’t hold your breath.
But there is one other increasingly valid and monstrous reason why voting for any Presidential candidate is a farce.  Our federal government is not only dysfunctional.  It is fundamentally, broken and even fatally flawed. 
Dysfunctional?  It goes beyond the extremist party’s refusal to compromise, and the lack of civility between parties.  A recent survey of US national security experts were asked to rank the top threats to our National Security.  They put “government dysfunction” second only to terrorism.  Russia, China, Climate change, North Korea, Cyber attacks…all less threatening.
Broken?   Some have claimed that since 9-11 the US Constitution has become a suicide pact.  Keeping Americans safe from another mass casualty terrorist attack or even a series of smaller mass murders, is no longer deemed possible without infringing on our prized Bill of Rights.  Even Obama’s recent decision to put 50 special forces troops into Syria is a violation of our Constitution and international law. But how else can he demonstrate a commitment to fighting ISIS and/or gain a negotiating lever in dealing with Russia and Iran in ridding Syria of Assad?
Lethally flawed:  The monstrous reality is that the US government, regardless of who is President, or how much money it spends on the Department of Defense, Homeland Security, the NSA or CIA it is incapable of stopping or preventing some increasingly likely (some say inevitable) catastrophic consequences that will come from beyond our borders.  Or even some of those within.
A pandemic?  A flu strain comparable to the Spanish flu that killed nearly 500,000 Americans during World War I.  A comparable virus today could kill several million healthy and productive Americans and destroy an already sluggish economy.
Collapse of our Electrical Grid:  For a society dependent upon communications, refrigeration, lighting, and electrical security systems the US is immediately vulnerable to solar flares, nuclear Electro Magnetic Pulse Events, cyber destruction of our electrical grid, or covert conventional attacks on multiple power stations. A commission studying this issues predicts that a worse case scenario could result in the deaths of up to 200 million Americans in a year.  Those who study the sun, believe there is a 10 percent chance that in the next ten years the US will take a serious hit by a coronal ejection that could take out some of our electrical grid or communication satellites.
A bioweapons attack or accident. An intentional or accidental release of weaponized smallpox would change civilized life on earth as we know it.  Natural small pox had a 3% kill rate and killed more people in the last century than all the wars and revolutions combined.  Weaponized smallpox was designed to kill over 90% of those infected.  Other bioengineered pathogens are plentiful and increasingly easy to manufacture…and very difficult to control.
A cyberattack on our financial system could send the world into a recession that would make 2008 look like a cake walk.
And continued CO2 emissions are moving us into a world of historically unprecedented climate chaos and weather extremes that will have a variety of national security impacts from floods, to floods of refugees, to the spread of deadly diseases. The Syrian civil war was sparked by protests of hungry farmers in Damascus who had left their farms due to a 4 year draught that left them hungry and poor.
The one thing all of these interdependent threats have in common is the incapacity of any one nation, let alone any one person, to stop them from catastrophic consequences on our nation and most Americans.
The Millennial generation is shifting conventional wisdom on political engagement. They are more skeptical of institutions and less likely to identify with political parties but they are also more progressive then previous generations.
Unless the Baby Boomers and Millennials discover the value of effective global institutions, and even more important, the need for these institutions to focus on the global protection of human rights, humanity will face these and other increasing threats to our freedoms, security, prosperity, and most important our sustainability.
So no need to get all wrapped up in the 2016 US Presidential election….unless you find one individual willing to tell the American people the truth.  They won’t be able to handle the truth…but at least you have voted your conscious and did what was needed.