Author Archives: kilroy100

 
 

“Have you no sense of decency sir, at long last?” a lesson for today’s Trump Republicans in Congress?


1954, June 9, the Army McCarthy Hearings

“Have you no sense of decency?” Sen. Joseph McCarthy is asked in hearing.

JOSEPH N. WELCH

In a dramatic confrontation, Joseph Welch, special counsel for the U.S. Army, lashes out at Senator Joseph McCarthy during hearings on whether communism has infiltrated the U.S. armed forces. Welch’s verbal assault marked the end of McCarthy’s power during the anticommunist hysteria of the Red Scare in America.

Senator McCarthy (R-Wisconsin) experienced a meteoric rise to fame and power in the U.S. Senate when he charged in February 1950 that “hundreds” of “known communists” were in the Department of State. In the years that followed, McCarthy became the acknowledged leader of the so-called Red Scare, a time when millions of Americans became convinced that communists had infiltrated every aspect of American life. Behind closed-door hearings, McCarthy bullied, lied, and smeared his way to power, destroying many careers and lives in the process. Prior to 1953, the Republican Party tolerated his antics because his attacks were directed against the Democratic administration of Harry S. Truman. When Republican Dwight D. Eisenhower entered the White House in 1953, however, McCarthy’s recklessness and increasingly erratic behavior became unacceptable and the senator saw his clout slowly ebbing away. In a last-ditch effort to revitalize his anticommunist crusade, McCarthy made a crucial mistake. He charged in early 1954 that the U.S. Army was “soft” on communism. As Chairman of the Senate Government Operations Committee, McCarthy opened hearings into the Army.

Joseph N. Welch, a soft-spoken lawyer with an incisive wit and intelligence, represented the Army. During the course of weeks of hearings, Welch blunted every one of McCarthy’s charges. The senator, in turn, became increasingly enraged, bellowing “point of order, point of order,” screaming at witnesses, and declaring that one highly decorated general was a “disgrace” to his uniform. On June 9, 1954, McCarthy again became agitated at Welch’s steady destruction of each of his arguments and witnesses. In response, McCarthy charged that Frederick G. Fisher, a young associate in Welch’s law firm, had been a long-time member of an organization that was a “legal arm of the Communist Party.” Welch was stunned. As he struggled to maintain his composure, he looked at McCarthy and declared, “Until this moment, Senator, I think I never really gauged your cruelty or your recklessness.” It was then McCarthy’s turn to be stunned into silence, as Welch asked, “Have you no sense of decency, sir, at long last?” The audience of citizens and newspaper and television reporters burst into wild applause. Just a week later, the hearings into the Army came to a close. McCarthy, exposed as a reckless bully, was officially condemned by the U.S. Senate for contempt against his colleagues in December 1954. During the next two-and-a-half years McCarthy spiraled into alcoholism. Still in office, he died 4 years later.

(Courtesy History.com)

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Update to: IMPERIAL AMUSEMENTS: as Congress and the Judiciary in the U.S. slide into impotence


Anxious to seize control of Germany’s faltering economy from Socialists and independent Labor organizations, its industrialists lavishly funded the Nazi party and its bid to enter and control parliament.

Having accomplished this via two elections in 1932, and to signal its primacy to the German population, barrels of fuel were rolled through a utility tunnel connecting the building containing Herman Goering’s (Hitler’s Deputy) office and the basement of the Reichstag, Germany’s historic seat of parliament. Ample excuse to dismiss the existing parliament, substituting a “rump” parliament functioning as a cheering section for Hitler.

Upon ignition, the results below, a hapless Dutch fellow was spotted near the scene, arrested, convicted in a sham trial and promptly executed for the crime.

ReichstagFire-clips-27Feb1933ReichstagFire

Today (2019) in the U.S., a version, much more subtle, is playing out, as a launching pad for the Trump Imperial Dynasty is being constructed. It started earlier, when Senator Mike McConnell made the decision to populate our Federal judiciary with robotic Russian dolls united in their zeal to dismantle guarantees provided in the Constitution and its amendments to insure equality of opportunity and access to redress.

The opportunistic candidacy of Donald Trump for the Presidency of the United States, and the intervention of astute entities under the control of Russian President Vladimir Putin presented McConnell and other actors with unprecedented opportunities to fulfill their vision of totalitarian rule to suppress shared prosperity initiatives and inclusive political participation.

Key to this conundrum is something described as Trump’s “base”, committed to massive traffic and commerce in military style firearms, narrowly defined fundamentalist “Christian” criteria applying to every aspect of existence, and exclusion of all “others” from civil, academic, scientific and political life.

NZListener-Cover-Trump

Artist: Joseph Qiu, 2018

EMPERORS OF ANY AGE HAVE THEIR HANGERS-ON AND ___ LICKERS. HOLD YOUR NOSE!

On a related issue, demagogues always coarsen societies, as in the example below, recorded by the Roman writer Juvenal: “These men once were horn-blowers, who went the round of every provincial show, and whose puffed-out cheeks were known in every village; today they hold shows of their own, and win applause by slaying
whomsoever the mob with a turn of the thumb bids them slay.”(the emperor’s thumb down, his subjects slavishly copy him–a choice driven by fear of the emperor’s wrath, or a place at the hog trough?)

Pollice Verso, by Jean-Léon Gérôme

Jean-Leon Gerome 1872

                        Thumbs down, all must die! Hurry up–an orgy awaits!

Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson (middle) will award the winner of the UFC 224 fight with a one-of-a-kind belt that cost $50,000

DJT’s choice in Imperial amusements 2019–no swords or bludgeons, but lethal fists and kicks in a cage–do we need a whip and a chair to make the spectacle complete?

Humans are the only species that will act out fantasies putting themselves and others in danger out of pure paranoia. Paranoia is strictly a human condition.It is, when you think about it, extraordinary that we are not prey for most apex predators, including orcas and sperm whales, the largest predator who has ever lived on earth. The book:            

              Demonic Males: Apes and the Origins of Human Violence (1996)

(By Richard W. Wrangham and Dale Peterson) points out that,  in only two mammal species in the world do males live in social groups with their relatives and occasionally make journeys into neighboring territories to stalk, hunt and kill members of neighboring groups. Those two species are chimpanzees and humans. He also notes that fighting adults of almost all species normally stop at winning: Only humans will fight on, even when there is nothing defensive to be gained by the killing.

 

But are we really “man the hunter,” as was believed in the 1960s? Donna Hart, in an article in the Chronicle of Higher Education entitled “Humans as Prey,” points out that humans were hardly “the toughest kids on the block” for the vast majority of their time on earth. Quite the contrary-we were more like the 90-pound weakling, she says. She and others believe, and I agree, that an urge to cooperate with one another, even if only to help avoid predators, is built in: “Deadly competition among individuals or nations may be highly aberrant behavior, not hard-wired survival techniques.”

    Does “FEAR”, promoted by toxic propaganda in concert with corrupt politicians stimulate the “highly aberrant behavior” referenced? Is this a threat to our survival as a species?

 

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DEATH OF DEMOCRACIES EXPLAINED?


John Adams’ Thesis

Although Adams’ words, quoted below, appear pessimistic on the surface, this is not necessarily the case. After his initial statement, he lists examples of the historical imperfections and follies of democracy in Athens and France, claiming their ambitions were strictly vested in self-propagation and blaming democracies for bloodshed and war. Finally, however, Adams notes that this is no different than other forms of government, such as monarchy. In this, he reveals that his statement is perhaps more ideological than it is political; as much as it condemns government, it affirms the individual. This philosophy reflects another of Adams’ more positive historical quotes: “To believe all men honest is folly. To believe none is something worse.”

PRESIDENT JOHN ADAMS, in office 1796-1800, born 1735, died 1826

“THERE HAS NEVER BEEN A DEMOCRACY YET THAT DID NOT COMMIT SUICIDE”

                               ARE THE ITEMS BELOW THE POISONOUS POTION?

Genie page

A RECENT AUDIO PRESENTATION AT THE COMMONWEALTH CLUB OF CALIFORNIA, 2018 (click below)

https://www.commonwealthclub.org/events/archive/podcast/malcolm-nance-how-russia-destroying-democracy

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WHATEVER TRUMP DOES DOESN’T MATTER (to his “base”). Is below an explanation?


 

Bobby Azarian Ph.D.

Mind In The Machine/Psychology Today, 9/30/19

Cognitive Impairments Can Promote Religious Fundamentalism (and political extremism?)

Scientists have found a link between religious fundamentalism and brain damage.

study published in the journal Neuropsychologia has revealed a connection between a functional impairment in the brain region known as the prefrontal cortex and an inclination toward religious fundamentalism. The findings suggest that brain damage to this particular area indirectly promotes religious fundamentalism by diminishing cognitive flexibility and openness—a psychology term that describes a personality trait that involves dimensions like curiosity, creativity, and open-mindedness.

Religious beliefs can typically be thought of as socially-transmitted mental representations that consist of supernatural events and entities assumed to be real. These kinds of religious beliefs differ from empirical beliefs, which are based on how the world appears to be and are updated as new evidence accumulates or when new theories with better predictive power emerge. On the other hand, religious beliefs are not usually updated in response to new evidence or scientific explanations and are therefore strongly associated with conservatism. They are generally fixed and rigid, which helps promote predictability and coherence to the rules of society among individuals within the group.

Religious fundamentalism refers to an ideology that emphasizes traditional religious texts and rituals and discourages progressive thinking about religion and social issues. Fundamentalist groups generally oppose anything that questions or challenges their beliefs or way of life. For this reason, they are often aggressive towards anyone who does not share their specific set of supernatural beliefs, and towards science, as these things are seen as existential threats to their entire worldview.

Since religious beliefs play a massive role in driving and influencing human behavior throughout the world, it is important to understand the phenomenon of religious fundamentalism from a psychological and neurological perspective.

To investigate the cognitive and neural systems involved in religious fundamentalism, a team of researchers—led by Jordan Grafman of Northwestern University—conducted a study that utilized data from Vietnam War veterans that had been gathered previously. The vets were specifically chosen because a large number of them had damage to brain areas suspected of playing a critical role in functions related to religious fundamentalism. CT scans were analyzed comparing 119 vets with brain trauma to 30 healthy vets with no damage, and a survey that assessed religious fundamentalism was administered. While the majority of participants were Christians of some kind, 32.5% did not specify a particular religion.

Based on previous research, the experimenters predicted that the prefrontal cortex would play a role in religious fundamentalism since this region is known to be associated with something called “cognitive flexibility.” This term refers to the brain’s ability to easily switch from thinking about one concept to another, and to think about multiple things simultaneously. Cognitive flexibility allows organisms to update beliefs in light of new evidence, and this trait likely emerged because of the obvious survival advantage such a skill provides. It is a crucial mental characteristic for adapting to new environments because it allows individuals to make more accurate predictions about the world under new and changing conditions.

reverse damage to prefrontal cortex

Brain imaging research has shown that a major neural region associated with cognitive flexibility is the prefrontal cortex—specifically two areas known as the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (dlPFC) and the ventromedial prefrontal cortex (vmPFC). Additionally, the vmPFC was of interest to the researchers because past studies have revealed its connection to fundamentalist-type beliefs.

For example, one study showed individuals with vmPFC lesions rated radical political statements as more moderate than people with normal brains, while another showed a direct connection between vmPFC damage and religious fundamentalism. For these reasons, in the present study, researchers looked at patients with lesions in both the vmPFC and the dlPFC, and searched for correlations between damage in these areas and responses to religious fundamentalism questionnaires.

According to Dr. Grafman and his team, since religious fundamentalism involves strict adherence to a rigid set of beliefs, cognitive flexibility and open-mindedness present a challenge for fundamentalists. As such, they predicted that participants with lesions to either the vmPFC or the dlPFC would score low on measures of cognitive flexibility and trait openness and high on measures of religious fundamentalism.

The results showed that, as expected, damage to the vmPFC and dlPFC was associated with religious fundamentalism. Further tests revealed that this increase in religious fundamentalism was caused by a reduction in cognitive flexibility and openness resulting from the prefrontal cortex impairment. Cognitive flexibility was assessed using a standard psychological card sorting test that involved categorizing cards with words and images according to rules. Openness was measured using a widely-used personality survey known as the NEO Personality Inventory. The data suggests that damage to the vmPFC indirectly promotes religious fundamentalism by suppressing both cognitive flexibility and openness.

These findings are important because they suggest that impaired functioning in the prefrontal cortex—whether from brain trauma, a psychological disorder, a drug or alcohol addiction, or simply a particular genetic profile—can make an individual susceptible to religious fundamentalism. And perhaps in other cases, extreme religious indoctrination harms the development or proper functioning of the prefrontal regions in a way that hinders cognitive flexibility and openness

The authors emphasize that cognitive flexibility and openness aren’t the only things that make brains vulnerable to religious fundamentalism. In fact, their analyses showed that these factors only accounted for a fifth of the variation in fundamentalism scores. Uncovering those additional causes, which could be anything from genetic predispositions to social influences, is a future research project that the researchers believe will occupy investigators for many decades to come, given how complex and widespread religious fundamentalism is and will likely continue to be for some time.

By investigating the cognitive and neural underpinnings of religious fundamentalism, we can better understand how the phenomenon is represented in the connectivity of the brain, which could allow us to someday inoculate against rigid or radical belief systems through various kinds of mental and cognitive exercises.

How “fundamentalism” in its various forms-political and ideological, is exploited:

“The receptivity of the masses is very limited, their intelligence is small, but their power of forgetting is enormous. In consequence of these facts, all effective propaganda must be limited to a very few points and must harp on these in slogans until the last member of the public understands what you want him to understand by your slogan.” ~ Adolf Hitler

“How fortunate for leaders that men do not think (also, What luck for rulers that men do not think).” ~ Adolf Hitler

 

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TRUMP AND WILHELM II


Former Foreign Secretary Lansdowne said, ‘It is inconceivable that they should provoke a European war, but the Emperor is becoming more irresponsible with every year that passes !
The ambassador in Paris wrote that the ‘Kaiser’s temperament was so excitable and so little to be relied on that it was impossible to say what further follies he might commit.’
Finally, Grey the British Foreign Secretary, informed the Lord of Admiralty that the fleet be ready ‘in case Germany sent France an ultimatum and the Cabinet decided that we must assist France.’
Though this crisis dissipated, Grey was ‘tired of the Emperor; he is like a battleship with steam up and the screws going, but with no rudder and you cannot tell what he will run into or what catastrophe he will cause.’
In all of the above incidents, foreign Politicians commented upon the Kaiser’s mental instabilities, and foreign relations further deteriorated.
           (note from Kilroy: we all know how this circus ended, with WWI and its child, WWII)

 

 

                WHAT TRUMP HAS IN COMMON WITH THE LAST GERMAN EMPEROR

President Donald Trump appears sui generis. Other troublesome populists, like Rodrigo Duterte of the Philippines, hold power. But no other nation of great influence is governed by someone so little rooted in reality and so much dominated by personality.

However, the president has a historical soul mate who ruled a century ago. The similarities are striking, though their lives obviously differed in important ways. One wonders: was the German Empire’s Kaiser Wilhelm II reincarnated as President Trump?

Wilhelm II was born in 1859 in the house of Hohenzollern. A grandson of British queen Alexandrina Victoria, he grew up in a life of wealth and privilege, though he suffered from a withered left arm as a result of a birth injury. This may well have contributed to his psychological need for affirmation, a subject that Thomas Mann deftly explored in his novel Royal Highness.

He took power in 1888 after the death of his grandfather and father. Wilhelm rejected the liberal views of his parents (his mother was British and unpopular among German conservative circles) and favored traditional autocracy. Also, he was determined to rule as well as reign. In contrast, his grandfather, Kaiser Wilhelm I, had mostly left governing to the famed “Iron Chancellor” Otto von Bismarck.

No other nation of great influence is governed by someone so little rooted in reality and so much dominated by personality.

Still, Wilhelm II was no dictator. Germany had a strong constitutional order and an elected Reichstag with a broader franchise than Great Britain. However, the cabinet answered to the kaiser, not the parliament. In that sense, Imperial Germany looked a lot like modern-day America, where the president is both head of state and government, and thereby manages the executive branch, in contrast to Westminster parliamentary rule.

The German Empire was not a superpower, but it was a rising great power. It possessed the world’s second-largest economy, had surpassed Great Britain in industrial strength and enjoyed a substantially larger population than France. The German army was the world’s best army. Kaiser Wilhelm’s attempt to match British naval strength failed, but the potent Kriegsmarine could not be ignored by London. Berlin also acquired a small network of overseas colonies.

The kaiser was particularly interested in international affairs. He dismissed Bismarck in 1890 and embarked upon what he termed the “New Course.” Bismarck was no liberal peacenik, but once he unified Germany and consolidated the empire’s gains, he sought stability. He was uninterested in colonies, opposed a naval race with Great Britain, and sought to keep France and Russia apart. Had his policies remained in place, World War I almost certainly would not have erupted in August 1914. Bismarck famously observed that the Balkans were not worth the bones of a single Pomeranian grenadier. He was right.

Kaiser Wilhelm was aggressive, thoughtless and extraordinarily maladroit. He earned a lengthy litany of criticisms. The Economist recently observed that he “grew up to be emotionally needy, bombastic, choleric, hyperactive and hypersensitive. His personality combined with the militaristic authoritarian culture of the Prussian court to create a monarch who was extraordinarily ill-suited to lead the most powerful country in Europe.”

Historian Thomas Nipperdey called the kaiser “gifted,” but also “superficial, hasty, restless, unable to relax, without any deeper level of serious, without any desire for hard work or drive to see things through to the end, without any sense of sobriety, for balance and boundaries, or even for reality and real problems, uncontrollable and scarcely capable of learning from experience, desperate for applause and success.”

That sounds an awful lot like the current occupant of the White House.

Kaiser Wilhelm insisted on gaining Germany “a place in the sun” by fair means or foul. Although he was nothing like Adolf Hitler in power or intention, he managed to offend ally and adversary alike. There was no Twitter then, but in 1895 the kaiser dispatched an encouraging telegram to the Boers, who were resisting British troops in the Transvaal. This won neither him nor Germany any friends or plaudits across the English Channel.

In 1900 German soldiers joined an international expedition to suppress the anti-Western “Boxer Rebellion” in China. He told them: “Just as a thousand years ago the Huns under their King Attila made a name for themselves, one that even today makes them seem mighty in history and legend, may the name German be affirmed by you in such a way in China that no Chinese will ever again dare to look cross-eyed at a German.” The term “Hun” was put to propaganda use against Germany during World War I.

Five years later, he inflamed tensions with France by visiting Morocco and backing the kingdom’s independence against Paris. His conduct also offended friendly states and lost Berlin support at the international conference called to defuse the crisis. In 1908, Kaiser Wilhelm gave an indiscreet, boastful, condescending interview in the Daily Telegraph, a leading British paper. During the interview, he called the British “mad” and said the German navy targeted Japan. So hostile was the reaction at home, as well as overseas, that the chastened monarch tempered his future foreign ventures.

During the European crisis after the June 28, 1914, assassination of Austria-Hungary’s Archduke Franz Ferdinand, the heir to that empire’s throne, Wilhelm pushed for an aggressive response before unsuccessfully attempting to halt the rush to war with the famous “Willy-Nicky” telegram to his cousin, Russian Tsar Nicholas II. Kaiser Wilhelm was gradually sidelined during the war and forced to abdicate by the Reichswehr after Germany sought an armistice in late 1918. Erich Ludendorff and Paul von Hindenburg ran the show. Kaiser Wilhelm lived out his life in exile in the Netherlands and died under Nazi occupation in 1941.

In both personality and lack of discretion, the Kaiser and the Donald seem to have a lot in common. Thankfully, history never fully repeats itself, but the two remind us of the truth of abolitionist Wendell Phillips’ observation that “eternal vigilance is the price of liberty.”

America has a more powerful legislature, an active opposition and a better developed civil society than imperial Germany-all of which should help hold President Trump in check if his more dubious personality traits lead to trouble. Nevertheless, the presidency has amassed extraordinary authority. Congressional Republicans so far have been largely pusillanimous and understandable popular anger against institutions, such as the media, undercut their influence.

One need not look to history to recognize that the next four years are likely to prove challenging. But President Trump’s closest historical model suggests the urgency of preparing an effective, nonpartisan opposition. Surely, this is a time to be vigilant in the defense of freedom.

Doug Bandow is a Senior Fellow at the Cato Institute and a former Special Assistant to President Ronald Reagan.

 

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Another “Great Dying” event pending?


‘Great Dying’: Biggest ever mass extinction triggered by global warming leaving animals unable to breathe

Study highlights potential for similar event resulting from man-made climate change, scientists say

Extreme global warming that left ocean animals unable to breathe triggered Earth’s biggest ever mass extinction, according to new research.

Around 95 per cent of marine species and 70 per cent of life on land was wiped out in the event often referred to as “The Great Dying”, which struck 252 million years ago

Previous studies have linked it with a series of massive volcanic eruptions in Siberia that filled the atmosphere with greenhouse gases.

But precisely what made the oceans so inhospitable to life has remained an unanswered question until now.

The new study, reported in the journal Science, suggests as temperatures soared the warmer water could not hold enough oxygen for most marine creatures to survive.

Lessons from the Great Dying have major implications for the fate of today’s warming world, say the US scientists.

If greenhouse gas emissions continue unchecked, ocean warming could reach 20 per cent of the level experienced in the late Permian by 2100, they point out.

By the year 2300 it could reach between 35 and 50 per cent of the Great Dying extreme.

“This study highlights the potential for a mass extinction arising from a similar mechanism under anthropogenic [human caused] climate change,” said lead researcher Justin Penn, a doctoral student at the University of Washington.

Before the Siberian eruptions created a greenhouse-gas planet, the Earth’s oceans had temperatures and oxygen levels similar to those present today.

In a series of computer simulations, the scientists raised greenhouse gases to match conditions during the Great Dying, causing surface ocean temperatures to increase by around 10C.

The model triggered dramatic changes in the oceans, which lost around 80 per cent of their oxygen.

Roughly half the ocean floor, mostly at deeper depths, became completely devoid of the life-sustaining gas.

The researchers studied published data on 61 modern marine species including crustaceans, fish, shellfish, corals and sharks, to see how well they could tolerate such conditions.

These findings were incorporated into the model to produce an extinction “map”.

“Very few marine organisms stayed in the same habitats they were living in – it was either flee or perish,” said co-author Dr Curtis Deutsch, also from the University of Washington.

The simulation showed the hardest hit species were those found far from the tropics and most sensitive to oxygen loss.

Data from the fossil record confirmed a similar extinction pattern was seen during The Great Dying.

Tropical species already adapted to warm, low-oxygen conditions were better able to find a new home elsewhere. But no such escape route existed for those adapted to cold, oxygen-rich environments.

Previously, experts were undecided about whether lack of oxygen, heat stress, high acidity or poisoning chemicals wiped out life in the oceans at the end of the Permian period.

“This is the first time that we have made a mechanistic prediction about what caused the extinction that can be directly tested with the fossil record, which then allows us to make predictions about the causes of extinction in the future,” said Mr Penn.

Experts think the Earth is currently going through the sixth mass extinction in its history, an event triggered by humans.

Over-exploitation of the planet’s resources, pollution and climate changes as a result of spiking greenhouse gas emissions have all caused an increase in species extinctions in recent years.

A new book: The Uninhabitable Earth, by David Wallace Wells, has a few points to share on the subject. A sample, text or audio, offers an introduction. (click below)

https://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/books/586541/the-uninhabitable-earth-by-david-wallace-wells/9780525576709/

Missing from the above are measures to slow or at least survive, for some, the apocalyptic future described. The impression given by some authors is that humanity will not rise to the challenge. Are they right? I suppose future generations will find out.                                                                    Kilroy

 

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THE “GREAT DYING” IN THE AMERICAS AFTER 1492, AND ITS EARTH SYSTEM IMPACTS.


The “germs” part of GUNS, GERMS AND STEEL (the PBS series and book by Professor Jared Diamond)

4 December 2018

 

Alexander Koch a, *, Chris Brierley a, Mark M. Maslin a, Simon L. Lewis a, b

a Geography, University College London, London, WC1E6BT, United Kingdom
b School of Geography, University of Leeds, Leeds, LS29JT, United Kingdom

Abs t r a c t
Human impacts prior to the Industrial Revolution are not well constrained. We investigate whether the
decline in global atmospheric CO2 concentration by 7e10 ppm in the late 1500s and early 1600s which
globally lowered surface air temperatures by 0.15+C, were generated by natural forcing or were a result of
the large-scale depopulation of the Americas after European arrival, subsequent land use change and
secondary succession. We quantitatively review the evidence for (i) the pre-Columbian population size,
(ii) their per capita land use, (iii) the post-1492 population loss, (iv) the resulting carbon uptake of the
abandoned anthropogenic landscapes, and then compare these to potential natural drivers of global
carbon declines of 7e10 ppm. From 119 published regional population estimates we calculate a

           pre-1492 CE population of 60.5 million

(interquartile range, IQR 44.8e78.2 million), utilizing 1.04 ha land per
capita (IQR 0.98e1.11).

European epidemics removed 90% (IQR 87e92%) of the indigenous population over the next century.

This resulted in secondary succession of 55.8 Mha (IQR 39.0e78.4 Mha) of
abandoned land, sequestering 7.4 Pg C (IQR 4.9e10.8 Pg C), equivalent to a decline in atmospheric CO2 of
3.5 ppm (IQR 2.3e5.1 ppm CO2). Accounting for carbon cycle feedbacks plus LUC outside the Americas
gives a total 5 ppm CO2 additional uptake into the land surface in the 1500s compared to the 1400s, 47
e67% of the atmospheric CO2 decline. Furthermore, we show that the global carbon budget of the 1500s
cannot be balanced until large-scale vegetation regeneration in the Americas is included.

Global climate change graph

YELLOW BOX IS THE “GREAT DYING” TIMESPAN, BLACK IS “CARBON UPTAKE” due to reforestation, BLUE and GREY are ice cores showing atmospheric CO2 levels

 

THE GREAT DYING OF THE INDIGENOUS PEOPLES OF THE AMERICAS RESULTED IN A HUMAN-DRIVEN GLOBAL IMPACT ON THE EARTH SYSTEM IN THE TWO CENTURIES PRIOR TO THE INDUSTRIAL REVOLUTION.

 

Amerindians in North America

Once, North America was full of Amerindian nations, populations of people ancestrally indigenous to the continent. Researchers estimate population numbers in the millions prior to the arrival of Europeans, but today Amerindians make up only about 1% of the total population. So, what happened? Well, the arrival of Europeans introduced many new things to North America. Some of those things were invisible bacteria and viruses that caused pandemic-level outbreaks amongst Amerindian populations. Now, off the bat it should be acknowledged that diseases did not single-handedly destroy Amerindian civilizations. However, when coupled with slavery, oppression and forced dietary/social changes that came from colonialism, these diseases did have an absolutely lethal impact. One of the most notorious of these diseases was smallpox, a vicious virus that even today cannot be treated except to manage its symptoms and prevent its spread. Of all the colonial empires to touch Amerindian nations, smallpox may have been the most aggressive.

Introduction of Smallpox

Smallpox found its way into the Americas basically in tandem with the first major colonial expeditions. The Spanish started setting up colonies in the Caribbean in the late 15th century, and by the first decade of the 16th century the region was already experiencing widespread mortality amongst Amerindian populations. Now, the obvious question here is why smallpox affected Amerindians so harshly. Smallpox as a disease first transferred to humans around 10,000 BCE. It appeared first in agricultural societies as humans were exposed to diseases carried by animals, and spread across Africa and Europe. But, over thousands of years they built up immunities. This doesn’t mean they were completely safe; a smallpox outbreak in Rome is believed to have killed roughly 7 million people in 108 CE. However, when smallpox appeared in the Caribbean, it encountered a people with absolutely no previous exposure, and therefore no genetic immunities to the disease.

 

Europeans landing in the Caribbean unknowingly introduced new diseases
Columbus

The people of the Caribbean, called the Taíno, were the first to really have to deal with smallpox, and they were entirely wiped out. When Europeans first arrived in the Caribbean, they often enslaved the Taíno and forced them into hard labor. Exhaustion and starvation weakened their immune systems, reducing the little ability they had to fight off new diseases like smallpox. Of the many populations to be decimated by smallpox, the Taíno are amongst the only ones considered to have experienced nearly a 100% mortality rate. In fact, it was because the Taíno had all succumbed to the disease that Europeans started importing new slaves from Africa. This actually made the smallpox problem worse, as African slaves unknowingly carried new strains of the disease.

Impact on European Colonialism

Smallpox ended up being one of the most dramatic factors in the colonial wars that would emerge between Amerindians and European empires across the next several centuries. When Hernán Cortés and the Spanish Conquistadores took on the Aztec Empire, many parts of that empire had already been ravaged by smallpox. Since the virus passes from person-to-person and can hide within a host for almost two weeks before that person shows any symptoms, smallpox worked its way into the continental Americas long before the Europeans got there. In fact, the Aztec capital of Tenochtitlán was ravaged by smallpox while the Spanish weren’t in the city, and the Aztec emperor himself was killed.

The disease likely reached Tenochtitlan when Cortés returned from the coast in June 1520, and by September it had killed perhaps half of the city’s 250,000 residents, including Montezuma’s successor, Cuitláhuac.

The loss of warriors and political disunity caused by the disease was part of the reasons the Aztec Empire fell.

 

Smallpox depicted in Aztec illustrations
Aztec smallpox art

This trend would continue across the Americas. When European traders first made it to what is now Oregon and Washington, they noted that there were already members of the tribal nations there who were sick with smallpox. Researchers estimate that a smallpox outbreak in a community who has never seen the disease before can impact their population for 100 to 150 years. Those who survive are still carriers of the disease, and with each generation the virus can reappear, wreaking havoc.

In 1517 the Spanish conquistadors, led by Hernán Cortés, arrived in Tenochtitlan, the capital of the Aztec Empire. The ruler of the Aztecs, Motecuhzoma II, made the Spanish welcome and things were friendly between the Spanish and the Aztecs initially.

 

Tenochtitlan before Cortes–250,000 people, compulsory public education for all

1024px-LastDaysofTenochtitlanB

CORTES’ SOLDIERS ENCOUNTERING THE SMALLPOX VICTIMS OF TENOCHTITLAN

 

Two years later the conquistadors began their conquest of Mexico, and by August 1521 Tenochtitlan had been destroyed. The Spanish colony of New Spain was established and the Aztec Empire had ended. The reasons for this rapid and dramatic destruction of such a mighty Empire were multi-factorial. The superior weaponry and more sophisticated military tactics of the Spanish, the religious beliefs of the Aztecs, and the long history of ritual sacrifice and persecution of the other peoples living in Mexico all played essential roles. There are a large number of detailed resources available on this subject, and I highly recommend the History on Fire podcast series by Daniele Bolleli if you are interested in the topic.

In addition to these factors, smallpox undoubtedly played a huge part in the fall of the Aztec Empire. When Cortés and his army began their campaign against the Aztecs in 1519, over 30 million people were living in Mexico. One hundred years later, after a series of smallpox epidemics had decimated the local population, it is estimated only around 1.5-3 million natives had survived.

Native Americans Helped the Europeans when they Suffered Disease

Updated on May 9, 2013

Native Americans became exposed to many new diseases when the Europeans arrived in North America. Native American communities were isolated from disease until the arrival of the Europeans. The Europeans had built up immunity to many diseases while living in the Old World. Native Americans had never been exposed to these diseases before and their traditional cures did not work. The transmission of the diseases caused more devastation in the New World than the Black Death had done in Europe. Hundreds of thousands of Natives died from these diseases. Well established trade routes helped spread the diseases very quickly. Diseases that the Europeans brought over were smallpox, measles, malaria, yellow fever, influenza, chicken pox, and many others. Diseases that were spread to the Europeans from the Natives were syphilis, polio, hepatitis, and encephalitis.

Christopher Columbus

Christopher Columbus and his crew landed in Hispaniola, an island in the Caribbean Sea, in the year 1492, and by the year 1600 most of the Natives were dead from disease. The reason they died so quickly is because the Europeans brought over livestock with them. The Natives were hunters and gatherers. The Europeans lived in tight settlements with their livestock, which helped diseases spread faster. Cattle pass measles, tuberculosis, and smallpox to people. Pigs pass influenza and pertussis to people. Chickens pass malaria to people. The Natives did not have these animals until the Europeans arrived, and did not have the antibodies to fight the diseases as well as the Europeans had. Trading with one another helped spread the diseases quickly. Alfred Crosby writes about some of these diseases in his article The Columbian Exchange, Smallpox was the worst and the most spectacular of the infectious diseases mowing down the Native Americans. The first recorded pandemic of that disease in British North America detonated among the Algonquin of Massachusetts in the early 1630s: William Bradford of Plymouth Plantation wrote that the victims “fell down so generally of this disease as they were in the end not able to help one another, no not to make a fire nor fetch a little water to drink, nor any to bury the dead.” European explorers encountered distinctively American illnesses such as Chagas Disease, but these did not have much effect on Old World populations. Venereal syphilis has also been called American, but that accusation is far from proven. Even if we add all the Old World deaths blamed on American diseases together, including those ascribed to syphilis, the total is insignificant compared to Native American losses to smallpox alone.”

Syphilis

The Europeans not only brought disease to the New World, but also brought disease with them back to the Old World. European sailors on their way back to Europe brought syphilis with them. “The origin of venereal syphilis is referred to as the “Columbian hypothesis”, it asserts that the disease causing agent Treponema pallidum originated in the New World and was spread in 1493 by Christopher Columbus and his crew, who acquired it from the Natives of Hispaniola through sexual contact. Upon return to Spain, some of these men joined the military campaign of Charles VIII of France and laid siege to Naples in 1495. Encamped soldiers exposed the local populations of prostitutes, which amplified disease transmission. Infected and disbanding mercenaries then spread the disease throughout Europe when they returned home. Within five years of its arrival, the disease was an epidemic in Europe. Syphilis reached Hungary and Russia by 1497; Africa, the Middle East and India by 1498; China by 1505; Australia by 1515; and Japan by 1569.” The most common remedies for syphilis were mercury and guaiacum.

Native Americans

The Native Americans did help the Europeans when they suffered disease. One example is when the French explorer Jacques Cartier and his crew were trapped in the St. Lawrence River near Montreal. The ships were frozen in the ice from November to March during the winter of 1535 to 1536. As a result, disease broke out on the ships and twenty-five men died. (The disease is what we now call scurvy.) The local Natives saw the Frenchmen’s plight and showed them how to take bark and leaves of a certain tree (either white pine or hemlock) boil them down and drink it every other day. Native American healers, many of them women, knew where to find natural plant remedies. Europeans would have rather received natural healing then the alternative European healing, such as purging and bleeding. Natives would treat wounds with crushed bark of Chionanthus; use Spirea as a purgative like ipecac; apply the pulverized roots and leaves of Dracontium (skunk or polecat-weed) after attacks of asthma; use a decoction of Aralia spinosa to treat rheumatic pains; apply the bark of witch hazel to tumors and inflammations and make a poultice from the inside bark as a remedy for burning eyes; relieve coughs with a decoction of Adiantum; and use the resin from the buds of the tacamahac tree for various illnesses. They also used bayberry roots for toothaches and petroleum to relieve rheumatism and aches and pains.

Europeans

The Europeans also helped the Native Americans when they were suffering. Traditional Native healing practices, such as fasting, taking sweat baths, and plunging into an icy river, did not help them fight the diseases, but made it worse. The Europeans had sought the aid of the Natives for cures for snakebites and other ailments, now the Natives were seeking help from the Europeans. The Huron Natives accepted Baptism from Jesuit priests in hopes that they would be healed. The Europeans had some medical knowledge and supplies and helped them the best they could. Alvar Nunez Cabeza de Vaca writes in Relacions how he helped cure Natives of illnesses. “We remained with the Avavares Indians for eight months, according to our reckoning of the moons. During that time they came for us from many places and said that verily we were children of the sun. Until then Dorantes and the negro had not made any cures, but we found ourselves so pressed by the Indians coming from all sides, that all of us had to become medicine men. I was the most daring and reckless of all in undertaking cures. We never treated anyone that did not afterwards say he was well, and they had such confidence in our skill as to believe that none of them would die as long as we were among them.” In his writings, Cabeza de Vaca tells that the only thing that they did for the Indians was to pray for them. “Every one of the patients offered him his bow and arrows, which he accepted, and by sunset he made the sign of the cross over each of the sick, recommending them to God, Our Lord, and we all prayed to Him as well as we could to restore them to health.”

IMBALANCE IN THE SPIRIT WORLD

 

Native American cultures saw illness as a sign of imbalance in the spirit world. They did not believe that disease was spread person to person. Staying in harmony with others through rituals was very important for a good mind in the natural and spirit world. Illnesses could be caused by violated taboos, witchcraft, or unfulfilled dreams, but could be cured by rituals. Some tribes believe that there are three kinds of diseases. Some are natural and can be cured with natural remedies. Some are caused by the soul of the sick person and are cured by giving what the soul desires. And then some are caused by a spell that a sorcerer has cast upon the person and is cured by drawing out the spell that is making the person sick.

Interestingly, the Europeans thought that the illnesses that were killing the Native Americans were a divine act of God. “According to John Winthrop, God was killing Indians and their supporters to ensure “our title to this place.” And as the “instruments of Providence, divinely appointed to claim the New World from its ‘godless’ peoples,” the colonists felt it was their duty to destroy the “godless savage.” In the words of Captain John Underhill, “We had sufficient light from the word of God for our proceedings” — he refers to the massacre of five hundred Pequot men, women, and children at a village along the Mystic River.”

Helped Modern Medicine

The diseases that affected early American people are very extensive. The treatments varied depending on what part of the country and what culture lived there. As you can see in my research, there are many differences on who helped who and what treatment they received. The Native Americans were natural healers and the Europeans used advanced medical technology. The two groups did not always get along and work together, but when they did it was very advantageous for all involved. The Natives specialized in ways that the Europeans did not, and vice versa. The diseases helped modern medicine and doctors gain more knowledge as time went on.

 

THE “LITTLE ICE AGE”

Hence, the carbon uptake that is thought to have occurred
following the arrival of epidemics in the Americas may have
reduced atmospheric CO2 levels and led to a decline in radiative
forcing that may then have contributed to the coldest part of the
Little Ice Age

Though scientists don’t agree on what caused the Little Ice Age, most agree the climate cooled from the 15th century to the middle of the 19th century, with the greatest intensity between 1550 and 1700. Some scientists peg the coldest period even more narrowly, between 1645 and 1715. During that period the average winter temperatures in North America fell two degrees Celsius.

The NASA Earth Observatory blames diminished solar activity for the Little Ice Age, though scientists offer competing theories.

Historians, on the other hand, agree that the Little Ice Age altered the course of history. It froze rivers and canals in Northern Europe, wiped out cereal production in Iceland and caused famine in France, Norway and Sweden. Colder winters meant denser wood, which contributed to the superior tone of the Stradivarius violin.

little-ice-age-great-snowThe Little Ice Age brought cool summers and bitterly cold winters to New England.  During the Great Snow of 1717, for example, a series of snowstorms buried houses and got search parties lost looking for them.

The Cold Friday of 1810 also belonged to the Little Ice Age. People died in their homes when the temperature suddenly plummeted more than 60 degrees in less than a day. Years later, Henry David Thoreau’s mother remembered how dishes froze as fast as they were washed – right next to the fire

In conclusion, a pre-industrial event such as the “Great Dying”, which was thought to trigger both the reduction in CO2 and increase in carboniferous plant residues captured in ice cores inverts the usual understanding of global climate change due to human activities which, when you think about it, provides unique confirmation of the hypothesis.

 

 

 

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GUN ORCHESTRAS from MEXICO


How about a new approach to gaining control of the lethal weapons trade. “Swords to Plowshares” moving on to “AR15s to guitars”.  Or, instead of tracer bullets sprayed on concert goers (remember Las Vegas) recycled weapons on stage backing up the soloists. 

enhanced-buzz-orig-10472-1379526518-12

Pedro Reyes with guitar and harp built of gun parts.

A new use for the 700+ guns arriving in Mexico daily (via the drug trade return trips) from the U.S. Finally, paraphrasing the NRA mantra:”Guns don’t kill people”, etc., these guns actually don’t kill–(unless you are a music critic).

Pedro’s “raw material” for this project involved some 6700 seized guns, about 10 days worth of guns arriving in Mexico–that authorities know about–.  What about the Rumsfeld quote re: “known unknowns”?

(click on the following links for various sound adventures)

http://www.blog.pedroreyes.net/?p=151    https://www.emdash.net/pedro-reyes/

Supposing that we in the U.S. managed to walk back from our suicidal gun worship, what kind of music we could make with the toxic residue before it found its way into smelting furnaces to make, say, new infrastructure for American cities.

Crazy idea, of course. Ever hopeful, Kilroy

 

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MURDER ON FIFTH AVENUE, the challenge for 2019?


“I could stand in the middle of 5th Avenue and shoot somebody and I wouldn’t lose voters,” Trump said at a campaign rally here.
     “Here”, in this case was a campaign rally in Sioux City Iowa, January 23, 2016.
                                        IS THIS THE BIRTH OF A CULT?

Trump rally with baby crop

People’s Temple at Jonestown, Guyana, November 19,  1978.  913 people died.

EXAMPLE 1, A CULT REACHES IS LOGICAL END

jonestown-victims-army-photo

Branch Davidian compound, April 19, 1993 after 51 day siege, 74 died

EXAMPLE 2, A “LOGICAL END” FOR A CULT, BUT THE INSPIRATION

FOR THE OKLAHOMA CITY BOMBING OF APRIL 19, 1995 168 KILLED, 680 INJURED.

Waco David Koresh

Hitler greeting adoring crowds, 1937

EXAMPLE 3, EVENTS SET IN MOTION BY THIS CULT RESULTED IN THE DEATHS

OF BETWEEN 20 AND 50 MILLIONS, KILLING ON AN INDUSTRIAL SCALE.

HITLER/JAEGER FILE

Eight years later,  in formerly upscale residential district of Berlin. Where are the adoring crowds in the scene below?

DESPITE THE RESULT, NAZI RALLIES, DISGUISED OFTEN BY OTHER NAMES, CONTINUE TO BE HELD IN VARIOUS COUNTRIES, INCLUDING THE U.S.

Oberwallstrasse, in central Berlin, saw some of the most vicious fighting between German and Soviet troops in the spring of 1945

Oberwallstrasse, in central Berlin, saw some of the most vicious fighting between German (at this point in the war, boys as young as 12)  and Soviet troops in the spring of 1945

“The quality of ideas seems to play a minor role in mass movement leadership. What counts is the arrogant gesture, the complete disregard of the opinion of others, the singlehanded defiance of the world.”
Eric Hoffer, The True Believer: Thoughts on the Nature of Mass Movements

 

 

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PANDEMICS?


Pandemics, Personnel, and Politics: How the Trump Administration is Leaving Us Vulnerable to the Next Outbreak

          Thanks to Global Biodefense.com

pandemic picture

Bill Gates warning of future pandemics killing 30 millions in 2018 essay

“The next epidemic could originate on the computer screen of a terrorist intent on using genetic engineering to create a synthetic version of the smallpox virus or a super contagious and deadly strain of the flu.Whether it occurs by a quirk of nature or at the hand of a terrorist, epidemiologists say a fast-moving airborne pathogen could kill more than 30 million people in less than a year—and they say there is a reasonable probability the world will experience such an outbreak in the next 10 to 15 years,” Gates said.
     (quote from an article by Gates in the New England Journal of Medicine, 2018)

Despite this heightened risk of a global pandemic, the Trump Administration has dragged its feet in appointing senior officials to key Federal agencies responsible for preparing and responding to a pandemic or bioterrorist attack. These agencies are also subject to steep budget cuts under Trump’s budget for Fiscal Year 2018. The delays in installing senior leaders at these agencies and pending budget cuts puts U.S. and global health security at risk.

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), National Institutes of Health (NIH), and US Agency for International Development (USAID) ) are four crucial agencies responsible for preparing for the next pandemic. Within HHS, Trump has yet to nominate anyone to fill the position of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (ASPR), who is responsible for building Federal emergency medical operational capabilities, developing medical countermeasures, and providing grants to strengthen the capabilities of hospitals to cope with medical disasters. The CDC, which is tasked with detecting and containing disease outbreaks in the United States and provides grants to state and local health departments to help them prepare for public health emergencies, has played a vital role in responding to major outbreaks at home and abroad. While the agency is currently being led by acting director Dr. Ann Schuchat, a well-respected, 30-year veteran of the agency, her ability to mobilize the resources needed to respond to a pandemic or other health crisis may be stymied by her interim status. Although President Trump wisely asked Francis Collins to stay on as director of NIH, he has also proposed cutting the biomedical research agency’s budget by $5.8 billion, or about 18%. In the event of a pandemic, the NIH will play a crucial role in characterizing the pathogen responsible for the outbreak and supporting research to develop diagnostics, vaccines, and therapeutics to contain the outbreak. And yet Trump’s budget eliminates the NIH’s Fogarty International Center which supports international health research. Finally, the Trump Administration has failed to nominated anyone to fill any of the 11 Senate-confirmed posts at USAID, which plays a key role in helping developing countries improve their public health systems to detect and respond to emerging infectious disease threats.  USAID, together with the State Department, is also poised to take a 31% budget reduction under Trump’s proposed budget. USAID’s $72 million Global Health Security fund is slated for elimination, which would dramatically affect the ability of the U.S. to work with international partners to combat the spread of infectious diseases like H7N9. The only positive element of the budget related to health security is Trump’s proposal to create a Federal Emergency Response Fund to enable more rapid responses to public health emergencies. Although the size of the fund has not yet been disclosed, given the Trump Administration’s stated priorities the funds will likely come from other parts of the health security budget.

These funding cuts combined with numerous vacancies in influential positions in agencies responsible for health security is a dangerous combination. Having confident, informed leaders running these organizations with sufficient resources is necessary to ensure that these agencies can effectively produce vaccines and diagnostics and implement preventative measures to control an outbreak of H7N9 or another strain with pandemic potential.  If a major influenza pandemic were to occur, no wall would be high enough to stop the virus from entering the United States. The best defense against pandemics and other disease threats are Federal, state, and local health agencies and international partners with strong leadership and the necessary resources to fund vital surveillance, preparedness, response, and research activities   Mother Nature doesn’t play politics; Trump shouldn’t play politics with global health security.

Gregory D. Koblentz is an Associate Professor and Director of the Biodefense Graduate Program at the Schar School of Policy and Government at George Mason University. Nathaniel M. Morra is a graduate student in the Biodefense Program at George Mason.

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