Doug's Darkworld

War, Science, and Philosophy in a Fractured World.

Archive for the ‘Israel’ Category

BOMBS AWAY, LITERAL AND FIGURATIVE

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There’s been a lot of, well, violent oppression in Israel and its occupied territories lately. More innocents dead. It’s not really a complicated or nuanced situation. Israel invaded and conquered the West Bank and Gaza in 1967, and since then has refused to either annex them or allow them to declare independence, whilst slowly stealing their land, destroying their homes, farms, infrastructure; and periodically waging war on them. Sometimes the Palestinians fight back, but the violence is overwhelmingly on Israel’s part, and the innocent dead are overwhelmingly Palestinian.

I’d say “what a mess,” but that implies it’s some sort of intractable problem where both “sides” are to blame. Nope, Israel has all the power, all the weapons, all the advantages including the unconditional and uncritical backing of the US. Israel has deliberately perpetuated the situation by denying the Palestians their rights, essentially keeping them as stateless prisoners in open air prisons. It’s not aparteid. It’s much uglier than apartheid. And as long as the US and the international community give Israel their unqualified support, Israel has no incentive to do anything but continue their slow ethnic cleansing of Gaza and the West Bank. Pointing out the injustice of this isn’t antisemitism, it’s just stating the truth.

Speaking of stating the truth, Liz Cheney, the now former GOP leader of the House, has been stripped of her position. She refuses to believe in and support Trump’s lies: Trump lost the election, and he incited a mob to storm the capitol. Not debatable. Trump though is cementing his control of the GOP and, well, inciting a purge. It’s made his remaining supporters more fanatical, while driving away huge numbers of conservatives who have decided enough’s enough. Pretending that Trump was this fantastic president was easy, but at this point Trump is indeed destroying the foundations of our democracy in his obsession with “not being a loser.”

And by driving away, I mean just that. Trump’s popularity has plummeted since the election, which is unprecedented for a former president. He’s at like 32% now, as I’ve been saying all along, about a third of the country is behind him. Some of the Republicans who have abandoned Trump are threatening to create a new party. The “No Homers” party. OK, that was a really old Simpsons joke, IDK what they propose to call it. And honestly, good show. The chances of Trump getting reelected in 2024 are basically zero if he can’t rally all the Republicans back to him. Fine by me.

And there’s definitely schadenfreude on my part here, the GOP lied for decades, sowing the field for someone like Trump. Granted the Dems aren’t exactly paragons of truth and justice, but Fox News and the GOP normalized lying about basic facts. And now a guy who lives in his own made up reality where he lies about everything is running their show. Makes me curious to know if something similar preceded the rise of other personality cult leaders in history. Fodder for future research and blogs.

Speaking of lying cult leaders, a Federal judge has slapped down Wayne Lapierre’s attempt to declare the NRA bankrupt. Basically turns out the NRA had a huge corruption problem, with the people at the top essentially looting at will. They got caught and the state of New York began legal proceedings. Mr Lapierre tried to declare the NRA bankrupt in what was a brazen attempt to get away with the goods. Using the letter of the law to evade the intent of the law usually only works in Hollywood movies, it’s why we have judges. Again, schadenfreude time. Though not really. It’s not really shameful joy when the parties involved brought it on themselves. Just joy.

In other news:: President Joe Biden Approves Nation’s First Major Offshore Wind Farm. 85 wind turbines off the coast of Massachusetts. It will produce enough electricity to power 400,000 homes. Hopefully it’s just the first, the nation’s offshore wind power potential is twice the current total energy output of the US. I am however deeply disappointed by Mr Biden in this. What was he thinking? It should have been placed off the coast of Mar-a-Lago. Hope all are having a good week. #StaytheFHome #WearaDamnMask #FelesRegula #dearMoonCrew

Copyright © 2021 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

(Image: Palestinians fleeing Israeli ethnic cleansing in 1948. Public Domain image. Mar-a-Lago joke credit: FearlessFly.)

Written by unitedcats

May 12, 2021 at 7:16 pm

SCIENCE TUESDAY

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I can probably think of a better title than “Science Tuesday.” One thing at a time though. Today’s pic, a Sundog. Also known as mock suns or parhelia, it’s a little rainbow to one side of the Sun, often two of them on either side equidistant from the Sun. They can also be pretty bright, and look like little Suns. We saw a pair on the way home from Iowa City a few weeks back, it was cool to see. Caused by hexagonal ice crystals floating down horizontally, if I understand this correctly. I didn’t take the above pic though, it’s a public domain Snappygoat image.

This week’s Skeptoid podcast was interesting. It’s usually at least somewhat interesting, but after all these years a lot of the best and well known topics have been covered. (Skeptoid posts every Tuesday morning, another reason for Science Tuesdays.) This week, Our Lady of Zeitoun. Nope, I never heard of it either. It was an apparition of (allegedly) the Virgin Mary that appeared on the rooftop of a church in Cairo for several years starting in 1968. It was a huge deal in Egypt at the time, tens of thousands of people came out to see it, millions may have seen it all together. Various church authorities “investigated” it and determined it was real, no surprise there.

What was it? Distant car headlights occasionally glinting off steeple windows. Why were so many people convinced they were seeing the Virgin Mary? This is where it gets interesting. Yes, of course it was mass hysteria. Interestingly enough though the people of Egypt were primed for just such an event, so it didn’t occur in a vacuum. (Note that the Virgin Mary is holy in Islam as well, so there’s nothing odd about Muslims seeing Mary as a Godly apparition.) They were primed because the previous year the Six Day War happened, where Israel attacked and crushed Egypt, Jordan, and Syria’s militaries in just six days. Ten to fifteen thousand dead Egyptians killed or missing, and a big chunk of Egypt (The Sinai Peninsula) occupied by Israel. Another example of something that makes more sense as part of a larger context. Kind of applies to everything I suppose, but it’s easy to lose sight of.

Continuing yesterday’s Mars news: We Just Got The First Photo of Mars From China’s Tianwen 1 Probe, And It’s Breathtaking. And I didn’t catch this, but a Mars satellite from the United Arab Emirates just entered Mars orbit: Emirates Mars Mission: Hope spacecraft enters orbit. Great, the people of UAE now have a satellite named hope. Actual hope for, say, democracy and human rights, nope. Just another appallingly despotic country ruled for the benefit of the west, so of course it flies completely under the western media’s radar. Fun times: Israel’s Honeymoon With the United Arab Emirates Is Grotesque.

Hey, it wouldn’t be Doug’s Darkworld if I didn’t slip in links like that. In Covid and Facebook news: Big News: Facebook Just Banned More COVID-19 Anti-Vax Content. Sounds good to me. People who want to spread dangerous nonsense shouldn’t be given platforms to do so on. They can start websites or print flyers and stick them under windshield wipers or whatever, it’s not like this is censorship or their freedom of speech is being infringed on. I know a lot of people are concerned about recent efforts by social media platforms limiting hate speech and such, but at this point the damage caused to society by people like anti-vaxxers has grown so great that something needs to be done. I’m all for bringing back the Fairness doctrine, getting rid of it was what started us down the road to Americans living in different realities.

Stuff like this nonsense for example: The latest antivax false claim: mRNA vaccines against COVID-19 are not vaccines but “medical devices” or “gene therapy”. Or this: Covid: ‘How a picture of my foot became anti-vaccine propaganda’. I don’t have a whole lot of patience with anti-vaxxers, since their idiotic ideology is killing people. Anti-maskers either. Or maybe I’m just turning into a cranky old man. Lastly: We Need to Plan Now For The Pandemic That Comes After COVID-19, Scientists Say. Fat chance though, we’re not even taking global warming seriously and it’s going on right now. Fossil fuel use is destroying the climate and killing huge numbers of people, but God forbid governments do something.

We’ve basically built a planetary economy based on weapon sales and oil, the two most profitable industries that ever existed. “Supertankers are the Spanish galleons of our time.” Quoting the alien in Plan 9 from Outer Space: “Stupid, stupid, stupid!” What else is there to say? Stay safe and warm everyone. Likes, comments, shares appreciated. #StaytheFHome #WearaDamnMask #FelesRegula

Copyright © 2021 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

(Image: Sun and sundog. Credit: Diane Renkin. Public Domain.)

Written by unitedcats

February 9, 2021 at 7:39 pm

THROUGH THICK AND THIN

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Good news, bad news, horrifying news, just another day in 2020. This was in the small “good news” pile: Opinion | The Deep State Is on a Roll The article doesn’t mean the traditional understanding of ‘Deep State,’ the author is talking about all the judges, election officials, representatives etc across the country who decided protecting the institutions of democracy across the land was more important than any loyalty to Trump. The people that did their jobs, did their jobs well, and are sticking by them. Yes, Mr Trump, it was a fair and honest election, you lost. Trump’s chances of overturning the results of the election, never good to begin with, are getting slimmer every day. That’s a big national win.

In a local lose: Insane Christians Convinced a South Dakota City to Water Down Its Mask Mandate. And they are insane, wearing a mask is neither a political nor a religious issue, just a matter of public safety. You know, saving lives? In dark irony, I’m betting most of these people would call themselves “Pro Life.” I guess they should change it to “Pro life so long as I don’t have to lift a finger or inconvenience myself in any way to save lives.” I particularly liked the lady claiming “God didn’t intend for us to wear things on our faces!” … while wearing a pair of glasses. I guess she got a special dispensation from God for those? If one out of 800 South Dakotans dying of Covid-19 didn’t make these people see reason, nothing will.

In bigger bad news, or future bad news: What South Korea Can Teach Us About Vaccine Hesitancy. Basically, while it looks like vaccines will become widely available in the US over the next few months, there are real fears that resistance to taking the vaccine will be so high that vaccination rates will be well below the threshold for herd immunity. In fact I fully expect the GOP to politicize vaccines just like they’ve politicized everything in recent decades. If Biden and the Democrats are for vaccines, then by God vaccines are a communist plot to turn Americans into gay transexual socialists! So Democrats will line up to get vaccinated, Republicans won’t. We won’t get herd immunity, but at least there will be far fewer deaths among the vaccinated.

In foreign bad news, a prominent Iranian scientist was gunned down in the street. Almost certainly by Israel. Almost certainly in an effort to scuttle any chance Biden has of getting the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) back in force, the humiliating agreement Iran signed to allow intrusive western monitoring of its nuclear program. Israel more than any other nation needs a scary Iran to distract from its own aggressive foreign policy, mistreatment of its Palestinian citizens, and utter failure to persue peace with its neighbors. We’ll see, maybe I’ll write a dedicated post on the Middle East mess. “Bad actors, acting badly” or some such horror.

In space news, China is about to collect the first moon rocks since the 1970s. Better yet, they are collecting them from a never before sampled part of the Moon, the Mons Rümker formation (photograph above,)  an isolated volcanic formation. It’s believed to be only about a billion years old, while the Apollo Missions landed in regions where the rocks were 3 billion years old or more. Apparently these new samples will help estimating rock ages throughout the Solar System. China has quite an ambitious Lunar program planned. The next step is a permanent robotic base, followed up by a manned base in the 2030s. Humans may well return to the Moon in my lifetime, I’d get a kick out of it.

In other space news, a new mystery: Astronomers Are Mystified by These Ghostly, Unexplained Circles Seen in Space “Seen” is not quite the word, these are only visible in radio frequencies. Big fuzzy rings of radio emissions in space, lots of them, found because we have a new super sensitive radio telescope mapping the heavens. Astronomers have no idea what is making them, we don’t even know how big they are or how far away they are. IE we could be seeing local things in our galaxy all the way up to giant chunks of the Universe itself.

They are however natural, no reason to believe otherwise. I just love as we explore the Universe, we’re constantly finding things no one expected. Pretty safe to say we always will, the Universe is complicated and unexpected in any direction we look. We’re nowhere near understanding it all, nor is it likely we ever will be in anything resembling the near future. On the other hand, our modern scientific understanding of the Universe and the world around us is amazingly accurate compared to most of human history.

On the gripping hand, modern science may well usher in a nightmare world. Until the late nineteenth century, people were more or less evenly matched when it came to dishing out violence. If ten people attacked, ten people could defend. Obviously there are codicils, an armed trained knight could take on a bunch of peasants, but it still basically boiled down to one on one. The invention of gunpowder even more smoothed the odds if both sides had gunpowder.

Then, in the late 19th century, smokeless gunpowder was invented. One person could fight ten people, even 100. Guerrilla warfare suddenly became a viable strategy. And the trend has accelerated since then, small numbers of people with advanced weaponry can kill huge numbers of people. This scary article looks into this. Basically, it’s just around the corner possible to fill a semi truck with millions of mini-drones that can be programmed to seek out, say, human heads, and set off a one gram shaped charge that will, well, blow the brain in that head to bits.

That’s right folks, we are the cusp of an era where OBL could kill millions of New Yorkers, not just a few thousand. This article goes into some of the thought and speculation about how this will play out: Omniviolence Is Coming and the World Isn’t Ready. Best not to even think about what governments could do with this technology. This is why I think intelligence such as ours is an evolutionary dead end, sooner or later some Hitler/Jeffrey Dalmer will kill us all.

Stay safe and sane everyone. Comments, likes, shares, etc appreciated. #StaytheFHome #WearaDamnMask #Omniviolence

Copyright © 2020 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

Written by unitedcats

December 2, 2020 at 8:32 pm

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I will have such revenges on you both  

That all the world shall—I will do such things—      

What they are yet I know not, but they shall be      

The terrors of the earth. You think I’ll weep?       

No, I’ll not weep.

The 19th anniversary of 9/11, when four American airliners were hijacked and flown into civilian targets in the USA, the most infamous being the Twin Towers in New York City. I was in rural Oregon at the time. Had strange dreams that morning, I think events like 9/11 ripple outwards in ways we don’t understand yet. If we can build a device that can detect the collision of black holes billions of light years and ago away, something like 9/11 that must pop all over the planet. 

That being said, what else to say? My biggest memory? The horrifying sick feeling in my stomach as in the days to follow two things were already becoming clear. America wasn’t going to learn anything from this terrible crime, and no one would be held responsible for this utter failure of our nation’s defences. And that a paroxysm of American violence and hatred was going to follow. Sadly I’ve been proved true in spades on both counts. The last time an American leader screwed up and paid the price was Benedict Arnold. And our endless crusades in the Middle East were normalized by 9/11 and continue today.

I say crusades very deliberately. I see America as just a continuation of the Roman Empire, it broke up in the Dark Ages, various factions arose, Christian monotheism became the state religion. The factions fought among one another and were finally unified in 1945 when Japan and Germany surrendered. So by crusading, I mean the medieval Roman Empire sent armies into the Middle East, mostly looting under the guise of religion. They even established a Christian state in Palestine, it lasted like 100 years. No real difference from Israel and America’s Middle East wars starting with Gulf War One.

On to the obvious, Covid-19 is dealing America a 9/11’s worth of death a week, with no end in sight, and the Trump regime has yet to mobilize the nation’s resources to defend against it. In a weird ironic way, I think our reactions to 9/11 and Covid-19 should have been reversed. 9/11 was terrible, but it was a crime committed by a tiny band of extremists, Terrorism before and after 9/11 was a minor threat to Americans, and one we had plenty of defenses against. Covid-19 we should be mobilizing the awesome power of the Federal Government, thank you Lincoln, to defend against. We’d save thousands of lifes a week. 

So yes, it’s really weird that we’re paying huge tribute to 9/11 while we more or less ignore a much more dire ongoing death march. And not even thinking about the pointless carnage the “Global War on Terror” has wreaked. What can I say? I honor the dead on that terrible day, I’m sorry for all the loss. A nightmare for those involved. And the best way to honor their deaths, let’s stop promoting violence as a solution to complex social problems. 

The hippies and pacifists and such were all right, as such it is my inspiration for the meme above. The lesson of 9/11, killing people doesn’t help. Sit down at a table and work things out like adults. We are an intelligent species, right? There are better alternatives? 

Weird day, weird times, where will we be on the 20th anniversary of 9/11? I hope all reading will be safe and sound. Stay safe everyone. Likes, shares, etc. appreciated. #StaytheFHome #WearaDamnMask #InsanusTempora

Copyright © 2020 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

(Quote: King Leer. Image: A meme I made, Public Domain.)

Written by unitedcats

September 11, 2020 at 6:56 pm

TRUMP’S PALESTINE “DEAL OF THE CENTURY” REVEALED

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This was a hard post to write. Palestine is at the fulcrum of the world’s problems, a solution to it would be a huge boost for peace. Alas, I see no light at the end of the tunnel. I must try though, I write this in the hope of promoting justice and understanding.

This is the map President Trump tweeted to announce his “deal of the century” offer to the Palestinians. It speaks for itself. This is not the map of an independent sovereign Palestinian state. It’s a “state” divided into at least six cantons, each  surrounded by Israeli territory. With numerous Israeli settlements situated inside the Palestinian enclaves. It’s a two state solution where the second state, the Palestinian state, is subject to Israel. The Bantustan solution to the issue. The Palestinians, none of whom were consulted in creating this deal, have already rejected it. As they should, this is not a realistic plan for peace, it’s an outline for Palestian surrender.

Or look at it this way, Trump’s offer basically gives all of Palestine to Israel, but allows the Palestinans to live on American style Indian reservations. Just like Indian reservations in America, the Palestinians can call themselves independent sovereign nations, but they are still subject to Israel. Especially with Israel controlling their borders, water, airspace, and defence. This isn’t really debateable. A “country” so divided up would be ungovernable. There’s no country anything like this on Earth, for good reason, it wouldn’t work. Which basically means that Trump’s offer is designed to be rejected. And then Israel can go ahead with annexation and claim “Well, we made them a reasonable offer, but they refused!”

The question that arises, does Trump actually believe this is a reasonable offer? I suspect he does. Decades of Israeli propaganda have cemented in many western minds.the idea that Israel wants peace but the Palestinians don’t.  Also the idea that the Palestinians aren’t a “real” people, so anything Israel offers them that allows them to stay is a generous offer, and they should be happy to get it. Or worse, Trump knows this offer is a joke, but doesn’t care.

I had Trump hopes before he got elected. Granted they weren’t very realistic hopes, but a man can dream? I hoped by being a populist and an outsider Trump might take a new approach to some of the world’s problems. Like actually trying to solve them instead of just perpetuating them. My hopes have been dashed at this point. Granted I’ve had my hopes for every president since Reagan, sometimes people elevated to high office try to do the right thing! Alas, it’s been a long time since we’ve had one of those presidents.

A solution to the Palestinian problem is possible. An actual contiguous West Bank  state, bordering on Jordan, without any Israeli enclaves. Even if it was only half the size of the current occupied West Bank, it would at least be a viable state. If added to modest, essentially symbolic, reparations for Israel’s ethnic cleansing in the past, I think the majority of Palestinians would be happy with it. Oh, an actual independent state too, in every sense of the word. Not a state where Israel controls the borders, airspace, and water … and freely launches military strikes in.

Would this instantly halt all terrorism directed towards Israel? Of course not. There’s always going to be criminals and extremists. Just as there have been in Israel. But in the long run it would make peace workable in Palestine, as long as people have independence and self determination they generally are happy to get along with their neighbours. Ultimately Israel has to make peace with the Palestinians and its Arab neighbours, no nation can survive perpetual war.

I don’t think peace now will happen though. At this point it seems like the extremists control Israel’s heart and soul. And they want nothing less than a 100% Jewish Palestine, with the Palestinians gone. And Trump’s “peace plan” is just another step in the process of the ethnic cleansing of Palestine that has been ongoing since 1948. Israel has held all the cards since 1948. And it’s they that have chosen war and ethnic cleansing instead of negotiation and peace. Not all Israelis though. I suppose there is hope in that sense. I recommend that the gentle reader read The General’s Son. The IRA and Britain negotiated a settlement to their nightmare war, I can only hope that Israel and Palestine can do the same.

Have a great week everyone.

Copyright © 2020 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

(Image: Trump’s images posted on Twitter. Credit: One of Trump’s minions I suppose, as official government tweets they are Public Domain under US copyright law.)

Written by unitedcats

February 3, 2020 at 9:51 am

Posted in Israel, Palestine, Peace, Trump