Squawks Of A Dying Empire

I’m going to make reference to a racist text that deeply influenced my youthful thinking about societies and how they die. Gone With the Wind was around my house and I probably read it when I was 10 or so, seeing the movie only years later. Did I notice that the Black characters only existed to be servants to the white protagonists, for instance, protecting them from the “bad” i.e. not servile Black people? No, I did not. Nowadays, it would be impossible not to notice that aspect of this story published in the 1930’s.

My takeaway from GWTW was something different: the deep denial of citizens of an empire in decline. Confederate adherence to their cause led to blindness and hubris; they still believed they were winning long after they were sure to lose. And the failure to adapt meant literal starvation for many. I’m sure I discussed the book with my parents and they no doubt encouraged me to see the heroine as someone who was able to look reality in the face, adapt, and survive. My mother called the people who failed to adapt dinosaurs. 

Possibly my parents sensed that they were preparing me for a future they could but dimly imagine. Which brings us to today.

I can think of no more iconic artifact of the rise of Asia and the fall of the U.S. and Europe as world influencers than this brief exchange between Singaporean Shou Zi Chew, CEO of TikTok, and Richard Hudson, a congressman from North Carolina.

Link to video if embedded version doesn’t work for you: https://youtu.be/IhvEU-6bnrM

Congressman Hudson and the other members of the subcommittee contemplating a ban on TikTok clearly think they are playing hardball with China. Here’s another gem making the rounds under the title, “I’m Singaporean.”

Link to video if embedded version doesn’t work for you: https://youtu.be/AvsIogVNs7w

Youthful comics have had a field day making fun of the hearing, while tech commentators have written about how a Congress concerned with egregious data mining should be focusing on all social media platforms, and maybe even on passing laws to protect data privacy such as other countries have. 

Meanwhile, and irrespective of this nonsense, China brokered the resumption of diplomatic relations between Iran and Saudi Arabia and possibly an end to proxy war in Syria. China also proposed a peace plan to end the proxy war in Ukraine.

China announced it will launch 13,000 low earth orbit satellites this summer to reserve space in that critical communications field. (Satellites are used by U.S./NATO to target Russian-ethic regions in eastern Ukraine and Russian military forces.)

China, Russia, and India are the C, R, and I in BRICS, the economic powerhouse that Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt, Algeria, Argentina, Mexico, and Nigeria now want to join. Negotiations to use a currency other than the dollar to settle energy purchases between nations are well underway, with some saying it will occur as soon as August.

The United Nations Security Council, never quite the independent international body it was claimed to be when given a home in New York City, held a vote on Russia’s resolution to investigate the Nord Stream bombing. The UN’s press department reported:

By a vote of 3 in favour (Brazil, China, Russian Federation) to none against, with 12 abstentions, the Council rejected the draft resolution, owing to a lack of sufficient votes in favour.

ChinaDaily.com reported:

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Mao Ning questioned on Tuesday why the US is hesitant about investigating an incident that seriously threatens international peace and security, when it is so enthusiastic about conducting so-called investigations on developing countries. 

“It is playing double standards. What is the US afraid of? We expect early progress from relevant investigations so that the world knows what truly happened to hold those responsible accountable,” she said at a news conference in Beijing.

The U.S. empire is in for a rude awakening but it seems to be dreaming of its glory days as it barrels full speed ahead toward a world war it cannot win. That’s why I fear that the dinosaurs will unleash their nuclear weapons when they finally realize their days are numbered.

If Ukraine Uses Depleted Uranium, Then It’s Already A Nuclear War

Source: Medical Association for Prevention of War presentation on Depleted Uranium, 2006

My late friend Cecile Pineda wrote a powerful book arguing that nuclear war was already with us. As I wrote in my eulogy for CecileDevil’s Tango: How I Learned the Fukushima Step by Step (Wings Press, 2013) argued a thesis that acted as a tsunami demolishing my lifelong dread of nuclear war. It’s not that I don’t still dread it (and notice it creeping closer with each passing day), it’s that I followed Cecile’s carefully reasoned argument that nuclear holocaust is already here. Constant pollution from radiation leaks, accidents, and deliberate use of ordnance composed with depleted uranium already have global cancer rates and birth defects skyrocketing. Continuing to build nuclear weapon systems without any meaningful plans for containing the waste is collective suicide. 

On March 22, China and Russia issued a joint statement of their intention to avoid the use of nuclear weapons.

Within days, Great Britain announced it will ship DU ammunition to Ukraine for use in the proxy war against Russia. Meanwhile, research physicist Chris Busby published data showing elevated levels of uranium in the atmosphere over the British isles. That’s a fact, and his hypothesis about causation is that DU is already present in munitions used by Ukraine.

The British government’s announcement has had several consequences.

☢️ Some commenters wondered if the plan to irradiate Ukraine’s prime agricultural land would sit well with big corporate players like Monsanto that have been buying up real estate there.

☢️ Russia announced it plans to move nuclear weapons into Belarus this summer. (Naturally the U.S. and NATO nations are crying foul without acknowledging that they already have nuclear weapons in position in Belgium, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, and Türkiye if not Poland, too.)

☢️ More attention was paid to data on the long term effects in Serbia of being bombed with DU munitions by NATO during the Clinton administration e.g. “5,500 out of every 100,000 Serbs suffer from some kind of carcinoma, a rate nearly three times the global average.”

☢️ Same for data on the use of DU by the U.S. and NATO in Iraq, especially concentrated in the area of Fallujah. Clusters of birth defects occurred early there attributed to DU, and these persist. 

The Coalition for Nuclear Disarmament (CND) condemned the UK decision to send depleted uranium shells to Ukraine and elaborated thus:

A byproduct of the nuclear enriching process used to make nuclear fuel or nuclear weapons, DU emits three quarters of the radioactivity of natural uranium and shares many of its risks and dangers. It is used in armour piercing rounds as it is heavy and can easily penetrate steel. However on impact, toxic or radioactive dust can be released and subsequently inhaled. 

DU shells were used extensively by the US and British in Iraq in 1991 and 2003, as well as in the Balkans during the 1990s.

It is thought that the extensive use of these shells is responsible for the sharp rise in the incidence rate of some cancers like breast cancer or lymphoma in the areas they were used. Other illnesses linked to DU include kidney failure, nervous system disorders, lung disease and reproductive problems. However, a lack of reliable data on exposure to DU means no large-scale study on its true impact exists. 

DU sidesteps frying its targets to a crisp. In other words, the thermo part of thermonuclear is absent. And that is a good thing.

My friend Fang used to protest during the Iraq war using a sign that said D.U. = war crime. I used to tease him about what passing motorists made of his message, guessing that they read D.U. as the Homer Simpson exclamation, “Duh!”

Maybe I was underestimating how informed the general public is, but after watching highlights of the congressional hearings about Tik Tok this week I don’t think so. 

To end this grim post on a lightly humorous note (and the promise to do another geography quiz post soon):

Link to tweet if embedded video does not work for you: https://twitter.com/caitoz/status/1639087482380910594