Monthly News Review: Introduction
Rather than a monthly news review the first review is a brief examination of humanity as a whole in this present moment. The idea being it sets the stage for the reviews to come.
As a human being born onto this planet, the experience of life that awaits can vary dramatically depending on where you are born and into what circumstances.
For starters you may not make it past the age of 5 simply because you wouldn’t get enough to eat. 13% of the world’s population, all of whom are in the developing world are classified as under nourished. Malnutrition is considered directly responsible for the death of over 3 million children under five each year. This equates to six children dying of malnutrition every minute, or in other words since you started reading this article six children under 5 have died because they couldn’t get enough to eat. Meanwhile 13% of the world’s population, mostly in the developed world, are considered obese. In America, the most developed country in the world, over 34% of adults and 16% of children are classified obese.
In the developing world, one in three of the world’s population or 2.5 billion people don’t have access to adequate sanitation and 500 000 children die each year from exposure to unsafe water, that’s 1400 children a day.
If you make it past the age of 5 in the developing world it’s not going to get any easier, life will be characterised by poverty, hardship and suffering. Half the worlds population live in poverty, over 3 billion people in the developing world live on less than $2.50 a day with 1.3 billion of those on less than $1.25. If you make it past the age of 5 and live in the developed world you are unlikely to want for shelter or nutrition but you are quite likely to be very unhappy.
In the UK for example, at any one time 10 – 15% of the population is classified as depressed and this is measured by those with an anti-depressant prescription. In the USA the use of anti-depressants has risen 400% in the last 20 years. In the UK 25% of the population at any one time is classified as having a mental health disorder. Worldwide 25% of families will have at least one member of the family with a mental health disorder.
Globally every 40 seconds someone commits suicide, this amounts to 800 000 people annually, this doesn’t include attempted suicide for which the number is much larger. It was the second leading cause of death for 15-29 year olds in 2012. As some might imagine the poorest nations have the highest rates but this isn’t true, USA, Japan, South Korea, Finland and France are all in the top 30.
In any nation of the world you can expect at least 10% of the population to have an addiction of some kind. In the USA in 2010, over 20 million people or 8.9% of the population aged 12 and above were classified illicit drug or alcohol addicts. This doesn’t include other addictions like nicotine, prescription drugs, gambling or food addictions.
In the last 200 years, over 200 million people have been killed by wars, this includes military and civilians. This includes the Second World War where an estimated 60 – 85 million people were killed and the greatest genocide in recorded history of the Native American. No one knows the correct figure, estimates range from 20 – 100 million Native Americans killed by European settlers.
However it’s not all doom and gloom, if you’re born into the richest 1% of the world’s population you will be part of the 1% that owns 48% of the world’s entire wealth. Or, if you get really lucky you will be born into the richest 0.1%, where this segment in the US for example earns 22% of all income in the country.
What facilitates the above statistics is the power of corporations and their owners. All the major finance, media, retail and manufacturing institutions are private corporations owned by a handful of individuals and they act only to further their own wealth and power. These individuals could be called international capitalists. The governments of the world are supposed to represent the people but this is no longer true, the corporations and their owners through the financial power they wield have control. This can be seen clearly when examining the regulatory bodies that are supposed to govern the actions of corporations, the term revolving door is often used to explain how individuals go from working in the regulatory body then into the corporations they were regulating and vica versa. Corporations and their owners make massive donations to the political parties and their members in their election campaigns which undoubtedly has a bearing on the favor they receive from elected officials.
The nations of the earth, broadly speaking can be classified into two categories, those that come under the domination of the international capitalists or “the West”, and those that retain their independence. It’s hard to know who still is independent as deception surrounds us. However, it may be the case that the following nations retain independence at least to some degree, Russia, China, Iran, Lebanon, Syria, Palestine, North Korea, Cuba, Palestine, Venezuela, Bolivia and Ecuador.
The armed forces of the USA are the main military might of the international capitalists, it is the largest single armed force in the world by some way and it is this tool that is used to enforce their policies on other nations if they are unable to subdue them by other subversive means. The international capitalists have domination over most of the world and we can see them aggressively bringing their plans into focus in recent years as they attempt to eliminate all opposition and take control of the whole world. Currently the front line in their war for total domination is Syria and Ukraine.
Syria is fighting a war predominantly against foreign backed Islamic militants. The militants receive support from other nation states in their war against the Syrian government. In western media, the war was portrayed as a civil war but that narrative has largely been dropped in the face of overwhelming contrary evidence. The nations that back the Islamic militants are allies of the major nations of the West, in a seemingly contradictory situation, the west has declared its support for the removal of the Syrian government by military means which it directly and indirectly supports, yet at the same time is opposed to the militant Islamic factions that are trying to remove the Syrian government. The west is carrying out air strikes against the militants, the impact of the air strikes has been mostly to assist the Kurdish forces in the north, however, Iraqi news agencies claim that they have evidence of western aircraft actually dropping supplies to the Islamic militants, in addition they have arrested ISIS advisers who are of American and Israeli nationality. If the ruling government in Syria falls, and the country is claimed by foreign backed militants, the last independent nations in the Middle East remaining are Lebanon and Iran, Palestine is all but destroyed. Iraq, although it has the single largest US military base ever built may yet find its own path.
Russia defended Syria from attack from the West after it allegedly used chemical weapons, since then Russia has been the target of the international capitalists. Ukraine is a country that bridges Russia and Europe and was once part of the Soviet Union, it has an ethnically mixed population with ethnic Russians to the east and those who consider themselves more European to the west. The differences among them were exploited to create a civil war that would break the Ukraine away from any Russian influence and bring it into the sphere of control of the international capitalists. The democratically elected government was ousted by force with Western support, the civilian militias that carried out the violent takeover have roots in far right politics, with many in open support of Nazi ideology. This ideology has a very significant component to it, in that it is anti Russian. One might find the reason for this when looking at history, during a period called collectivisation in the Soviet Union, 18 million Ukrainians died from starvation as Stalin forced farmers to hand over their harvests to the state. When Nazi Germany invaded the Ukraine they were seen as liberators and welcomed openly. The ethnic Russians in the east of Ukraine understood that with the new government in power with its far right tendencies they were under threat, if these suspicions needed justification it was clear to see when a recording was released of Tymoshenko, a former pro European Ukrainian Prime Minister now vying for power for the second time, said the 8 million Ukrainian Russians living in the east should be killed with nuclear weapons. So the Eastern Ukrainians formed their own militias and the forces of the Ukrainian government descended upon them. The government backed by the west and the eastern militias backed by Russia went to war, 6000 people have died in the conflict so far.
Russia, shortly after the removal of the Ukrainian government made a move to take the Crimea from the Ukraine, Its military was already there because of its base and a referendum was quickly held with an overwhelming response in favor of returning to Russian ownership. Crimea was always part of Russia until 1954 when Khrushchev the Soviet leader gifted it to Ukraine, its people to this day consider themselves Russian and they were delighted to be reunited with their motherland in the face of the developments in the Ukraine. In the western media this was called a Russian annexing of Crimea with none of the history explained. The referendum was critisisied as a farce even though international monitors were there who made no serious complaints in the way it was handled. In addition Russia have always had a large military presence in Crimea as it is strategically very important as a gateway to the black sea, with the Ukraine falling under the West’s sphere of influence, Russia could never allow a NATO base to appear quite literally on its doorstep. Perhaps we ought to remind ourselves of what the USA did in 1962 when Cuba was attempting to get nuclear weapons from Russia that could potentially hit America. The USA didn’t like it all, and formed a military blockade around Cuba to prevent delivery of the missiles, it was a 13 day stand off with the Soviet Union and most of the world feared the start of a nuclear war until an agreement was reached.
At this point there is a cease fire agreement that’s holding between the Ukrainian government and the eastern militias. The eastern militias have their territory that borders Russia and Russia has the Crimean peninsula. However, this seems to be an unsatisfactory outcome for the west as they continue to beat the drums of war and make provocations with more trade sanctions. Russia is the second most powerful nation on earth, they know as do all who follow these events that the international capitalists will never give up their goals, where will this lead, world war III?
In addition to the situations already outlined the human race faces a potential catastrophe from the damage it is doing to the environment. The environment on planet earth upon which the survival of all life is dependent is being changed as a consequence of the actions of the human race.
The air, land and the sea are all polluted. The oceans have islands of waste floating on them, plastic doesn’t bio degrade, but simply erodes into smaller pieces which can now be found in the bellies of sea birds and fish. The air is full of toxic gasses from industrial plants and the exhaust fumes of 800 million cars, not to mention a recent phenomena termed Geo-engineering where commercial airliners are engaged in spraying chemical compounds into the sky as they fly. The land absorbs all the chemicals from the air and the rain, the fertilisers from farming and the waste that is put directly into the land in land fills.
Perhaps the main threat humanity faces is global warming. As a consequence of the change in chemical composition in the atmosphere, the temperature of the planet is on the increase at a rate never recorded before. Every one of the past 37 years has been warmer than the 20th century average. The 12 warmest years on record have all occurred since 1998. The hottest year ever recorded for the contiguous United States occurred in 2012. Weather is becoming more erratic and more extreme all over the world, in different parts of the world there is increased storms, flooding, and drought as well as an increase in wildfires. Glaciers and ice sheets are breaking up and melting at an unprecedented rate. Sea levels are rising and expected to do so to a point that can threaten coastal cities. How will the ice caps melting in the north affect the ocean conveyor belt that drives the warm water in the south atlantic to the north atlantic, which in turn drives the gulf stream which sends unusually warm weather from America across the Atlantic to Europe? If these concerns are well founded, where this leads is anyone’s guess but it doesn’t look good which ever way you cut it.
Since 2008 the economies of the western world have gone into recession as a result of fraudulent lending and selling practices by major financial institutions, many citizens have suffered a great deal as a consequence. The economies have not recovered yet and the suffering continues for many people. Nearly every country in the world now operates a capitalist economic system and every citizen has to live according to the demands of that system. By definition a capitalist places capital as the most important value in their value system. In other words they place material things or wealth as the most important value in life. As a fundamental part of their ideology, capitalists and capitalism demand infinite growth or an ever increasing accumulation of wealth and material goods. Infinite growth can only be satisfied by infinitely increasing consumption. There is one problem however, the earths resources are finite. How can an ideology that demands infinite resources ever be reconciled with the reality of finite resources. It’s not compatible, so something will have to give, reality wont be changing so the people that live by this system will have to change at some point. Oil, our single most important resource is now running out, we have already hit peak oil. If there is no replacement for oil by the time oil supplies are gone, the civilized world as we know it will essentially come to an end.